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Flashfiction #8: Nature

Discussion in 'Reader's Corner' started by Lucaniel, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. Lucaniel non serviam

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    Theme #8: Nature

    1. Your work must be within constraints of the theme.
    2. Of course, all themes can be interpreted in any number of ways.
    3. 500 words maximum per entry, or else the entry will be disqualified.
    4. Only post one entry per theme. The highest rated entry will choose the next theme.
    5. You may not rate/review your own work.
    6. Add a rating out of ten at the end of your "review".
    7. Be constructive/honest when criticizing a piece. No mindless flaming.
    8. You do not have to enter a flashfic to rate.

    starting late on 17/04, monday. finishing 26/04, wednesday. crits start 27/04 and finish with any luck by 30/04 (sunday)

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    I close my eyes and relax my mind. I let the crashing sound of the waterfall cascade through my fatigued body. I let the aroma of the pounding rain infiltrate my chipped nostrils. Inhale. The wintry wind whisks through my limbs with a biting persistence, but I do not quiver or shudder, unlike the leaves and branches of the monumental mighty oak I meditate under.


    The birds warbled happily. I've been out here forty-two days, so I am starting to become attuned to the ambiance.

    I know for instance that the birds are particularly cheerful on this day because they will engorge themselves with the earthworms that will inevitably surface in this weather.

    I know that this downpour is simply a cloudburst and will end in a minute, and after another minute, a thunderclap will alert me to a nearby storm encroaching with a fury that will definitely make my skin shiver and the trees tremble.

    I know that every three days the hulking grizzly comes to fish about a kilometer upstream, and if I keep three seconds of running distance between us he will leave me to my own devices.

    There's something serene about living in the wilderness. Something pacifying. Something tranquil. This was the first time in my life I have felt in harmony. It is a feeling that supersedes the ephemeral nature of joy.

    I open my eyes and gaze across the gorge and I'm transfixed by the migration pattern of what appeared to be some geese flying in their famous V-formation. How truly splend-

    I hear the clicking of a hammer being pulled back and reflexively tumble away to avoid the shot that follows and suddenly I am alert and awake. Damn, I was so focused I had not noticed the song had changed tunes and the rain had stopped. The dirt from the bullet hitting the nearby ground pellets my shins with fragments of root as I reach into my ankle holster to draw my own weapon. Gunshots continue to plaster the bark providing me cover, but as I listen carefully, I am able to identify the one producing those shots. Colt. Revolver. Six bullet cylinder.

    The fifth shot whizzes past my left elbow.


    The sixth shot strikes wood and I immediately strafe to the right and identify the target I'm returning fire at: Fifteen paces. Older man. Scraggly beard. Probably a biker, definitely a bounty hunter. He's reloading.


    I squeeze the trigger three times and let the recoil adjust my aim. The first shot strikes him the abdomen, the second in his right shoulder, and the third his right ear. All non-lethal wounds. He yelps and crumples to the ground.

    I rush over to him and straddle him before he can struggle, unsheathing my skinning knife.

    "Mercy...", he groans.

    I flicker my tongue and grin.

    "You may be a hunter, but you are no predator. I am - that is my nature."

    He shrieks as the blade carves into him.

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
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  3. Lucaniel non serviam

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    There's a moment before the sun rises when the light is spreading across the sky. It's clean, all one cold blue colour, and there's no wind. I feel total clarity. I can make out every needle on the pines when I breathe the winter in and it bites my lungs.

    It was a day like that in the forest when I met the wolf. My rifle was slung by my shoulder while I walked, and there it was. There he was. I'd seen him before and remembered him for his color - so close to white you might lose him in the snow. They never attacked, but you heard stories. He stood out from the snow that day. Blood was smeared across his muzzle and paws and flank.

    He padded towards me.

    I unslung the rifle. He kept coming till he was twenty feet away and my finger was twitching on the trigger, then stopped dead. His mouth was closed, his neck extended and ears flat. The language of his body was deferential, full of fear. Then he looked up at me, set his head back down, turned around, and started walking away. I was standing stock-still, baffled, when he stopped and looked over his shoulder at me. It was almost human.

    I followed him. My clarity was gone, replaced by a dreamlike fascination. Every now and then he would stop and look back at me to make sure I was there. If it was possible, I would have suspected he was leading me to a trap.

    We were walking deeper into the forest, the canopy thick enough to block out the encroaching sunlight. I could hear a stream flowing. There should have been rustling and birdcalls, but the stream was the only sound in that suffocating gloom.

    The canopy stopped at the edge of mountain, running out, and I saw it where the light beat down on the rocks and shone from the blinding snow. I understood.

    His mate was lying there, a rent in her flank where the bullet had stuck, eyes glassy. He keened in anguish and trotted to her, licking her muzzle. I could tell there was no saving her when I saw it had entered her lungs. There was a pink froth around her mouth and her breath whistled painfully, slower and slower.

    There was no comprehension in his eyes. He couldn't accept it. He nudged my hands with his nose as if I could save her and I didn't know how to explain.

    Eventually, I swept my hand over her brow and closed her eyes. I thought he'd attack me for my uselessness, but he lay by her side and made no sound. I put my hand on his head. He stiffened, then relaxed, like he understood.

    Standing up, I looked around helplessly, and saw, far away, the footprints next to the shell casing. Everything turned bright and shivering. The cold flowed into me. I knew what I could do.

    I picked up the rifle.
  4. afgpride Well-Known Member

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    Chief noticed a peculiar scent in the forest night. Freshly wetted grass, leaves, bark and dirt complimented the rich petrichor covering his territory, but traced within their redolence was an odour he didn’t recognize or welcome.

    He stalked it intently.

    As his companions followed, the ambience of his surroundings gave off its own peculiarity; nightbirds and nightbugs hooted and ticked louder than usual, almost as if to signal their mutual concern. As the scent grew stronger with closed distance, it came off more abnormal as well. Hints of lilac, sulfur, carbon dioxide, ammonia and milk all condensed together in various potencies to form the quiddity of a foreign creature. Chief knew it was a creature because it began shrieking from a distance away, its sounds as strange as its scent, echoing around dense thickets foliating the woodland. At first the cry was alarming enough to demand caution, and Deputy even let out a distressed growl. But its perpetuation revealed an obvious vulnerability absent in typical predators, so the tracking pursued intrepidly.

    The crying had stopped by the time the intruder was located. At the bottom of a fat tree trunk lay an irregularly furred varmint fidgeting its legs in a supine position. The group circled around the odd creature as Chief approached it imposingly. To his surprise, it didn’t show any ostensible signs of fear when he showed his teeth. It didn’t even flinch at his light growl. Instead it let out an innocent cry of its own and pawed at Chief’s nose playfully. He nipped at its paw in suspicion. Its furless texture tasted bitter, unlike any exposed flesh he’d savoured before. He showed his teeth again. Nothing.

    Before Chief could decide his next move, Deputy charged at the critter unpermitted. Chief promptly leapt over the creature and growled ferociously, digging his paws into the grass with the intention to kill. Several rolls and bites later, Deputy lay prone and submissive, whimpering in concession as blood patterned with his sullied fur. Chief licked some of it clean before letting him go.

    As the investigation resumed, the critter kicked a portion of its fur clean off its body. Puzzled, Chief bit on the flatter spots of fur still on its skin, tugging at it curiously as it stayed on the body. Out of spontaneous boredom the animal eventually turned on its abdomen and began walking clumsily toward Chief’s female. Its hind legs were bent and unfit for efficient movement. The female curled into the odd creature instinctively in protective embrace, sheltering it from the cold with her warm fur. At that sight, the pack members all eased their tension and aggression. One thing seemed apparent; this was neither food nor predator.

    A howl-like cry then echoed faintly from the distance. Spotted perched atop a nearby cliff was a vague figure standing on two feet, looking toward Chief’s direction. Before he could react, the figure disappeared from view. Chief bayed out a howl of his own.

    The others followed his lead.
  5. Nighty the Mighty swm n outer space Retired Staff

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    Sometimes – while you’re out there floating on water so deep and blue you can’t describe a separation between sea and sky – you forget about being human. You forget about Harry and his fucking dogs that keep you up at night, you forget about Mary’s miscarriage last month and how she’s been depressing the whole office ever since. It all evaporates out of you, the coalescence of some cloud of human mundanity. It stops mattering for just a while, just an instant, just a second, just a minute or two minutes.

    Then the fish pulls at the line you’ve tied to your toe because you saw it up on a silver screen once and you’re pulled back down to earth but it helps. That tranquillity doesn’t vanish as quick as your transcendence does and you still haven’t remembered you’re just a cog in the great human machine. It’s almost profound but not quite because it’s not conscious and whenever you try to recapture it later – after you come home to your own ocean of glass and concrete – it never quite comes out right.

    The fish escapes of course and your serenity gets caught up in its wake so you wake and remember.

    That wasn’t you just now; it was someone else, it must’ve been. When was the last time you had a deep thought about the nature of reality? Not once, when would you ever have the time for that between work and sleep and taking care of the kids and cleaning and learning to cook and reading about all kinds of tragedies in some village in Africa.

    Maybe you should go to Africa sometime, not the bad parts of course but somewhere nice and safe. Surely you could go on a fishing holiday in Africa somewhere, when you get back you’ll google it and forget to bookmark the travel page and when you get back out here next April you’ll be thinking about Asia or Europe. Is Africa even affordable? You work an office job from nine to five and you pay thirty thousand in taxes each year. Will the spouse even want to visit Africa? Maybe they’d prefer sightseeing stateside instead though you’d have to take the kids and isn’t that a nightmare?

    You’d have to put in more hours somehow but the only way to do that is overtime next to Sheryl and her seemingly unwashed feet and god it’s hard enough as it is even with a lunch break and all kinds of excuses to go take a drag and wash the taste from your mouth. You’re already picturing your prison of disposable, environmentally friendly whatever a cubicle is made out of, you don’t miss it.

    this is kinda cheating cause late but HEY

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