Oct 27, 2012

The Outsider

By Abbas Murtaza

Write a short story called the outsider where you describe the reactions of the community to the arrival of an unusual or eccentric character.  

The town of Grove was proud and quiet. It sat in solemn silence in natural harmony with the forest, cloaked in the susurrus of insect-life and the green sheen of the trees. Sadly, its isolation led to the development of a very rigid society. The general of Grove ran a well-trained barracks. Times were difficult as a strange enemy spread its eldritch magic to the farthest reaches of the planet. In such times, even Grove was forced to lead a small army that General Baccus took great pride over.

One day, an outsider approached. The wind made him circle in dizzying patterns that led him to the town. Sometimes, when the wind dropped, he’d fall down and trudge with his torn slippers through the undergrowth. His hair was long and coal-black, hanging over his face and filled with grass and sand. His face was soiled, and in his mouth was a small willow-reed. His torn and patched, beggar-like clothes wrapped him comfortably. Like a fallen leaf, the strange outsider floated in the wind, tossing and turning, but heading in a general direction, seemingly without any weight.

The second he entered, the people stopped to stare. The well-dressed community eyed the outsider with long, poisonous glares. People strutted around the man, in wide, bold steps. They had creaseless clothes in neon tones and scoffed silently at first, to the slouched “ragamuffin” whose face was altogether hidden by the shadow of his hair. The outsider was unconcerned.
Intently he pushed through the crowd, as the wind might, without a single apology, bumping into people. Some of them objected and got the courage to shout after him, but he drifted on seemingly without direction. As the outsider entered Bacchus’ barracks, people got to work on gossiping about him. Talk spread like wildfire in minutes, turning speculation into fact:

“Did you see that uncouth and unkempt beggar person?”

“He’s the wind demon, they say.”

“He made a pact with the evil lord himself.”

“He’s aligned with Satan.”

As the door of the barracks closed, the outsider dropped to his feet softly. He picked the reed from his mouth, and spoke with a shrill, though smooth voice, without looking up at the General.

“You must be Bacchus. I’ve come for help.”

Bacchus slumped in his chair, a cup of ale clutched in his large hands.

“Oy can ‘elp ya!”

The outsider laughed. “Funny. I meant that I’ve been sent to help you.”

The shocked General stood up clumsily and slammed his fist against the wall in a show of brutal force.

“How unnecessary,” was the reply.

“What are ya?” Bacchus scowled.

“I’m a Drifter.”

“Who sent ya?”

“The king.”

“The king’s gotta screw ‘is ‘ead on straight, then,” he spat. “I never needed any scumbag’s help.

“Not now, not evah!”

There was another casual laugh. “Was all of this a breeze blowing through your ears? I can walk out. It’s simple enough. But you need to know something, General.”

Bacchus pushed him violently. “LEAVE!”

The Drifter, with a calm countenance, stepped on the wind, flinching from Bacchus’ attack. His body swirled on the breeze as the door opened, and whirled outside. Both of them sighed.
In the marketplace, the Drifter tried to ask for food, but the salesman rebuffed him annoyingly, asserting he didn’t have enough money and forcing him to leave so that he wouldn’t "disgust" other customers. The children, suddenly bold enough, laughed and joked about this appearance, and their parents let them. The Drifter tried harder not to care.

“This town doesn’t need street rats like you to dirty it up!” a rowdy teenager shouted, and a friend of his laughingly hurled a pebble at him, which he deflected with a wave of his hand.
The women talked amidst themselves, sometimes with a fear of his abilities to walk on air, but most of the times, they would comment on how they didn’t want to get their children near him because he might be loaded with disease. One woman pointed to the outsider to show her young sister on how ‘misery and poverty’ looked like in real-life, which is why she would have to study really hard in school.

“That miserable General has some nerve letting dirty apes like him sully our peaceful town. This big army he brags about should kick him out right now.”

The Drifter watched the sun starting to set, an orange haze flooding the town, staining the people with a dirty light.

Finally, a man wearing a big suit of armour stepped forth. He pushed himself through a large crowd, his eyes red with ale.  He had biceps larger than his own face, and a muddy, angry visage able to scare children. He approached the Drifter from the behind, and kicked him off the wind, so that he faltered and fell onto the earth, and nearly tripped over.

An uproarious laughter echoed, followed by snickering.

The Drifter got up.

“You have to tell your General, that…”

“Shut up, dog!” he screamed.

The Drifter danced out of his grasp the minute he lurched forward. He was like a dandelion seed that seemed to evade your grasp no matter how hard you tried to catch it. The giant warrior grew tired and enraged.

The Drifter hovered above them all. “Willows are weak, yet they bind other wood. A lesson you won’t learn until it’s too late.”

They didn’t listen though. They chased him with fire and stones and abuses and all the barbaric acts unfit to any civilized society. Behind their roar, the thunder of an approaching army of black knights could be heard.

Annoyed, the Drifter drifted away, like a petal on the clouds.


Post a Comment