March 4, 2012

An excerpt from Justin Joschko's Statues

Our next excerpt is from a great story with a  mysterious feel and a fast pace. I found the tone and description just right to allow me to be in the same place as the characters... whether I wanted to be there or not. The descriptions were familiar and drew out the imagination, rather than force it.

... I have now spent more time than I would like at my key board reflecting on how to use a certain phrase... it isn't going to happen. It might be easier to draw blood from a stone... So, I present an excerpt from Justin Joschko's Statues.
Dawn came in full plumage, its brilliant colours undiluted by the light pollution that leaves city sunrises looking washed-out and grainy – old footage poorly stored. I greeted it amicably on our veranda, a mug of green tea cradled in my lap, then went inside to wake the others. We’d agreed on an early start. Tonya was already awake, reading by the sunlight streaming through the slightly parted curtains of a nearby window. Kyle, however, required some prodding, shaking, and a semi-serious threat from both Tonya and I that we would leave without him. Grumbling, he dressed, and the three of us set off.
The road undulated beneath us, rising and falling with the land and weaving around large outcrops of stone. The radio dissolved into static as we progressed and by the time we approached Verde, we could hear only the purr of the engine and the occasional rustle of one of us shifting in our seat.
The town came suddenly and without fanfare. A small sign, its edges jagged with rust, announced our arrival at Verde, population 300. The trees spread out, revealing a single road lined on each side with clapboard buildings, a few tributary cul-de-sacs branching off from time to time. We stopped the car and got out.
“Well,” Tonya said, “it certainly doesn’t seem occupied.”
“Told you,” replied Kyle.
The town was windswept and solemn, its air heavy and somehow stale, though the surrounding forest should have produced the opposite effect. It felt wrong, though there was nothing overt that would have made it so— there were no shattered windows or spray paint tags or other marks of vandalism, no signs of poverty or despair amongst the disappeared populace, no apparent natural or chemical disaster that might have driven the people who had once lived here away. Only the statues.
Tonya was the first among us to approach one of them.
Justin Joschko is a freelance writer residing in Ottawa, Ontario. His work has appeared in echolocation magazine. He writes and draws the weekly web-comic series Flannery Row.

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