Smote on the Water 

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Winds whisked the clouds from ash to soot above a roiling sea painted by murky upheavals of the seabed.  The sun hid its face, surrendering to the shadowless composition.

Amassed along the shoreline, Pharaoh’s cavalry stood side by side with their emancipated slaves and freshly shaved men in cargo shorts and flap hats. Set back and above the scene, the movie’s director surveyed the view from the hand of a large metal crane, his practiced eyes considering the image through a converter lens that simulated the epoch expanse of mythology. He welcomed the dynamic weather as a gift and hurried the crew and cast to their places.

Spotlights crackled awake, casting shards of incandescence across the water’s surface, finding luminance on the crest of waves. The director called for shutter adjustments to capture sufficient light and his vision.

A multitude remaining at the fingers of the sea lifted a roar to the darkening sky, their shouts echoing cries from past millennia that implored a reward from faith and the fulfillment of a promised milk and honey happiness.

The ground shook in thunderous response, throwing the director from his perch and his beverage from its mug. Cursing his good fortune and those on whom he depended to execute his objective, he heard each tick of the clock twice while accepting raised thumbs confirming universal readiness. He braced himself against the sides of his roost and released the building pressure like a pin on the skin of a balloon.

“Action!” he demanded.

Again a roar, more vital and urgent, rose from the throats of those along the muddy banks. A spray of brilliant spider webs crashed against the opaque sky and a breath, less divine than demonic, creased the sea, its waters swallowing the congregation transfixed at its edge.

“Are you rolling on this?” the director shouted, rushing down from the crane.

A storm of panic blew by him, seeking escape from the oncoming torrent. He ran too – too late to flee the deluge.  Lifted, tumbling, beneath the flood, the director’s storyboard was revealed to him as a surreal reflection of his cinematic blueprint. A stench, like sewage and death, filled his nose with each desperate search for air. His face appeared in a passing camera’s eye that tarried to torment him with a picture of terror.

Before his chest could expand in a breathless plea for life a sudden silence stilled the tumult. Souls thought lost were saved while others perished in a haphazard application of mercy or fate.

Silt and sludge grasped his legs, holding firm, insisting witness to the surrounding ruin.  On one knee, his balance lost in the yielding muck, the Director looked beyond broken bodies, dreams and futures scattered around him. He thought, could a live camera have captured the calamity? He smiled, clawed to his feet, surveyed the carnage, but sank forever away from the sight of man.   

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Since he will likely not be playing centrefield for the Yankees, Barry has devoted his energies towards his love of writing. His stories have recently appeared in Dali’s Love Child and Coup D’Etat, Boston University’s literary journal. Barry is also currently deep into the completion of his first novel.

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