Thursday, 8 May 2014

Half Full

(A response to a  prompt from Light and Shade Challenge - inspired by the phrase "Optimism is like a spiritual magnet")

(Image courtesy of Hills22 via

The young man would die unless he received aid, that was clear.  Nobody was more surprised than him.

“Can’t be killed,” he said, almost petulant as he lay there doubled over in the moss, “Prophesy.  When I was a child.”

“Aye, well,” Lucas crouched down, stroked sweat-slick hair from the youth’s forehead, “maybe the Hive didn’t know about that, eh?   Typical of them.  Never do their research.”

The Scotsman’s weak jest drew a grin from the pained face of the other.

“We’ve changed context,” the youth said, only now taking in the scene.   Tall old trees and thick undergrowth, a sky of deep blue.   Moments ago it had been night, with steel and concrete towers twisting in anguish through the blazing sky, sirens howling from all directions.

“We have.   No drones here, we can rest.  Well you can rest anyway, lie there till help turns up.”

“Is help coming?”  There was sudden hope in the young man’s voice.

“Someone’ll turn up,”

The youth laughed, then winced, clutching at the wound in his side, a spreading continent of dark inevitability on his tunic.    “Never… never figured you for an optimist Lucas.”

“Optimist?”  Lucas spat the word.  “Me?”

“Expecting help to arrive.   Optimist.    Glass half full, that’s you, secretly, that’s you.  You think the glass is half full.”

“Oh aye,” sarcasm sizzled in that syllable, “Optimist thinks the glass is half full, pessimist thinks it’s half empty, right?    Well I’m a realist.”   He paused for effect.   “The glass is entirely full.   The top half’s full of air, the bottom half’s full of whisky.   Not empty at all.   And don’t tell me air’s not important or I’ll prove you wrong.”

The young man smiled at the familiar chiding.   “Why whisky?” he asked.

Lucas shrugged.   “Why not?  Anyway lie still.  Help will be along shortly.”   He stood up and walked a little way, toward the rough track that snaked through the woodland.   He ignored the mocking cry of “optimist” that followed him.

Lucas could already see the horsemen approaching, just as he’d expected.   Half a dozen mounted men on barrel chested dark steeds.   As they drew closer he saw the lofted banner with the scarlet hunting dog on the sable field, and thrust his hands into his pockets and waited.

The leader of the horsemen drew to a halt by him and looked down, raising his hand to the visor of his half helm and raising it.   The face beneath was cruel and carved from stone and war.

“You,” the warrior said.

“Incisive as always,” said Lucas.

“You know the king’s edict.  It’s death for you to return here.”

Lucas shrugged.   “There’s a warrior back there with a stomach wound.  Do you still have that senile old healer at the castle.   Aye, good.  Well he’s a bloody genius.   See to my friend and I won’t even resist arrest, how’s that.”

“Resist?” the mounted man said, “You, alone?  Against six armed knights?”

Lucas just smiled until the other man nodded once.