Friday Fictioneers – Last Stop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPiss stop!” spat the Guard.

Tired, chained bodies stumbled out into the baking heat.

A faint peal of church bells drifted across the scrubland. In the shimmering distance the familiar whitewashed walls of a village. An old man on a donkey stopped by the track.  The donkey’s tail swished at buzzing flies. The grey-bearded man took a deep swig of water from a battered canteen  – his eyes narrowed as they locked in on mine.

Back inside!

The carriage door slammed shut: glistening, warm sunlight once more replaced by stinking, oppressive darkness.

It would be a long time before I saw my home again.


These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge

28 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Last Stop

  1. David Stewart

    Interesting, Paul. Is this supposed to be during the Holocaust? That’s what I thought of, although I suppose it could work with any oppressed group in similar situation. Great job.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Had a spaghetti western scene in mind…perhaps American Civil War prisoners. That sort of thing. Admit most of that is up to the reader to guess. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. dmmacilroy

    Dear Paul,

    You captured the slow movement of time, which I expect will be the case for your protagonist for some years to come. Great descriptions and an atmospheric piece. Well done.



  3. Claire Fuller

    I really want to know what’s going on here – you’ve written a really atmospheric piece here. But I’d also say to watch those adjectives…I counted about 16 in this short piece. (Just my opinion though!)

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks, Claire. With regards to adjectives, they can be overdone i.e. we don’t always need to know the man’s beard was grey, or the door was blue etc. It can look like you’re overworking the scene – adding too much paint. Suppose you then have to be wary about not describing the scene enough. Would be keen to hear more input on this point.

      1. Claire Fuller

        I think it’s a case of examining each adjective and seeing whether the noun already does the work, or whether you can change the noun to one which will work harder, and then to also allow your reader some space for their imagination.

        So, ‘a faint peal of church bells drifted across…’ is a lovely image, but for me, the word ‘drifted’ suggests that the noise was distant and quiet, and so you might not need ‘faint’.

        And another example – you have an ‘old man’ also later described as a ‘grey-bearded’ man. I don’t think you need both, and grey-bearded gives us much more information than ‘old’. But it might be better to have ‘grey-bearded’ come before the first instance of ‘man’ so that we get a picture of him right away.

        And similarly with ‘deep swig’. I think ‘swig’ implies drinking deeply – you don’t ever have a ‘deep sip’.

        Just my tuppence worth. Feel free to ignore or argue back!


      2. paulmclem Post author

        Thanks, Claire. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I totally agree with what you’re saying. The grey-bearded and old man bits were telling the same thing. In truth what happens is I write these things at work (around 10am) and then play with them on and off until lunchtime. Each time I go back I can often be guilty of adding another adjective. Ends up too much, I know that now. You’ve given me food for thought here. I’m hungry for input on my writing otherwise I’ll go nowhere. Don’t feel afraid to crit more often – I won’t be offended. Thanks again, PaulC.

  4. Margaret Leggatt

    Wonderful. I love how you’ve slowed the pace – it fits the narrator’s situation. Time will move very slowly for him from then on, and I like that he gets to savour every detail of his last glimpse of life outside.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Thanks, Bjorn. Is a tricky one between not enough and too much. For now I think I’ll make a conscious effort to ration them i.e. paint a picture with just enough paint – leave some to the reader’s imagination. Cheers!


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