Flash! Friday # 45

CLOSED. Thanks for writing! Judge’s results Sunday, but in the meantime, grab some coffee, then cmon down and read these original tales & leave comments. See you soon!

***NEWS FLASH!!!*** In Year 2 we’re going to mix things up–we’re giving YOU the chance to play judge!!!! I’m looking for volunteer judges to serve beginning Dec 14. This opportunity’s for everybody, even if you’ve never judged before.  It’s short on commitment (a rotation is approx once a month for 3 months) and long on fun.  COME ONE, COME ALL: You have already made this community unlike any other. Join me in taking Flash! Friday even further, to a place no flash contest’s ever dared go. Details here. ***

And now for today’s party!  I’m still giggling over your tales from last week. But for today we leave the silly behind and turn unflinchingly toward the Unknown, at the top of the gorgeous Peninne Alps.    

(Find the mysterious contest rules here.)

This week’s journey is judged by the eQUESTrian (groan) Master herself, SVW member Jaz Draper, who in addition to being a redoubtable character, loves to read about well-drawn characters. Sojourn over to her judge page to find out what else she looks for in a winning piece.

And now:

Word limit: 200 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt. Workin’ our way back up!

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (190 – 210 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. 

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post SUNDAY 

Prize: An enigmatic e-trophy e-dragon e-badge coming your way, an inscrutable yet warm & fuzzy winner’s page here at FF, a puzzlingly personalized 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME scrawled in secret decoder rings in cereal boxes around the globe (so to speak). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/dragon judging advice.  And now for your prompt:

Dog on Colma di Mombarone. Photo by Dan Fador.

Dog on Colma di Mombarone. Photo by Dan Fador.

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265 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 45

  1. Thoughts of Days Gone By
    By Scott L Vannatter – 200 Words
    @SVBookman

    Marty-Boy, with a dripping tongue and a sad face, looked over the majestic vista. His eyes took in the splendor and his heart held the rapture that his animal soul might not have. Dogs like him did not cry, so the moisture at the edge of each eye must have been condensation in the chill. His frosty breath was all that gave evidence that he was not a statue; he looked for predator, knowing he might not have escaped unseen.

    Evolution had been good to the various dog breeds on Earth during the last several hundred years. The return of the dragons proved to be too much for mankind to handle; the war had been devastating to both man and beast. When dragons proved the final victor, most other animals had taken to hiding from the fire-breathers. Marty-Boy was not certain that dragons were evil; he just knew that they did not like dogs because they hung with men.

    Marty-Boy’s intelligence was triple what it had been before the nuclear weapons had been used to fight the dragons. The waste of the planet had not yet reached these mountain heights. He was safe … for now and waited for others.

  2. Mountain Cathedral

    Praise God, I am not a flatlander.

    Down there, under the clouds, is a world overflowing with flatlanders. Men and women who exist under the spell of technology. They schedule themselves by the atomic clock, they measure themselves by the paycheck and they amuse themselves by the befuddlement of millions of pixels.

    What I see, what I know, what I touch, is beyond their knowledge. It’s beyond what they ever hope to know. They cannot experience God on this earth like I have known Him.

    I have seen the spectacles of the spring wildflowers. I have experienced the ghostly fear of the quaking aspen. I have felt the murderous intentions of an early blizzard. Even when these mountains spite me with hardship and loneliness, I understand the poetic license within their foul temperaments.

    The reverence of a stalking mountain lion is a testimony. The roar of the spring runoff is a sacred psalm. These are my revelation of the Creator. These are my Gospel of the loving Christ.

    Die on the mountain or seek comfort from the technology of the flatlanders? I have made my choice.

    It’s time for the mountain to win one.

    Praise God, I am not a flatlander!

    206 words
    @CharlesWShort
    http://www.charleswshort.com

  3. The Mission (207 Words)

    Winds ripped at his furs; great boulders forced him to walk beside his horse rather than ride, but Lord Malachy knew his mission was urgent. Troops gathered on the borders of his land, separated only by the Anon River.

    He smiled a little. “They’ll have a hard time crossing the river won’t they?” he said to the yellow dog that accompanied him.

    He came alone not wishing to put anyone of his house in danger. Should the jackals find a way to cross into his lands, best to let them think he’d fled like a coward.

    He wished he left before the autumn wind whipped the mountainsides, but he couldn’t go back.

    The dog growled and returned to his side. Horses. He heard the thunder of their hooves and stood, half blinded by their armor in the sunlight. Malachy pulled out his broad sword. If he were to die in these godforsaken mountains, he would do so as a man.

    “Old fool,” a familiar voice said. “You should have come a month ago.”

    He bowed. “My Lady, you grow more lovely each day, but war is upon us. We must prepare.”

    She shrugged. “You rode all this way. You may as well ride to war with me.”

  4. “The Price” by Mary Cain (word count 210)

    The mountain’s chill sucked the warmth out of Lucy’s body faster than she could restore it. It whipped about her hair, like it was dancing with each strand. She pulled in her coat, and looked back at Nick. His eyes were weary and his skin pale.

    Lucy opened her mouth but nothing came. What could she say, that she was sorry?

    Nick looked up, and she smiled. But he didn’t.

    “Sorry isn’t enough.” His words pierced Lucy deeper than the cold.

    Nearing the top, a bark made them both jump. A shaggy furred dog stood by the rocks before them.

    Lucy glanced at Nick before she approached the dog. He retreated from her and she hesitated. Her jaw dropped and her heart sank. Two bodies lay on the ground, blood splattered against the stone.

    A child was curled up in his father’s arms, and his eyes starred back at Lucy, Narsulus’s mark carved into his forehead.

    “There’s nothing we can do.” Nick said in a somber voice.

    Lucy couldn’t fight back her tears. This, everything, it was all her fault.

    “What about him?”

    Nick didn’t answer, but he didn’t need to. Lucy reluctantly nodded.

    Nick approached the dog who gazed down at the trail, the trail he would never finish.

  5. @StephenWilds
    “Scout” – 204 words

    Scout stopped, glancing over the side. His tongue bounded outside of his mouth as he panted slightly, coughing once and readjusting his tongue before resuming. He’d rest for a moment, take in the air at this higher altitude and try to decide where to go.
    He had nothing to go back to now. She was gone. His friend was no longer moving and the place he knew as home was dangerous. His fur still smelled of smoke and blood, but there would be water soon. Scout’s stomach had that feeling again. It would have been time to eat, had things not gone the way they had. He knew no other home, but could not stay there.
    Something hit him, caused him to fall to the ground with his snout on his paws. He whimpered for a long minute, almost terrified. His mouth opened and what was close to a cry escaped before he stood back up—sad.
    That was when the loud bang came again, when the thunder of man struck. His head jerked over his shoulder, crouching slightly, fight or flight. It was time to run. Scout didn’t know he was a loose end, but knew for sure that he was in danger.

  6. Missing

    Jamie flung himself on to his bed and buried his face into his pillow. A unfamiliar sound came from his mouth and the tears tumbled out as erratically as the thoughts swirling around his nine-year-old head.

    It couldn’t be true. She was there this morning, wagging her tail as he snuck a piece of toast under the breakfast table before leaving for school. He remembered the brushing of her soft muzzle against his hand as his offering was gently removed from his fingers. How could she be gone? She had always been a part of his life; a shoulder to cry on, a playmate, a friend, a constant. No longer.

    Jamie heaved himself up and grasped the photograph by his bed. Last summer, walking in the mountains and how Tessie had loved it. Her ageing limbs did not defeat her as she ambled through the grasses and rocky paths, never going too far ahead without checking that her beloved family were in sight.

    ‘Where was she now?’ he wondered. Did dogs go to heaven? He screwed his eyes tight and prayed they did. Please let her be in heaven, on top of that mountain, knowing how much he missed her.

    Sarah Miles
    202 words
    @_sarahmiles_
    http://supperandsyntax.com

  7. Erin McCabe

    @disturbiakiss

    210 words

    Saint Guinefort

    I must succeed.

    I will defy the icy wind; ignoring the stinging whips which numb my achingly raw limbs; consistently unrepentant in their cruelty.

    I can reject these frenzied waves of hunger which threaten to destroy my resolve; this too shall pass.

    Kissed violently by the jagged rocks as I fell; I must forget the throbbing pain and deny the crimson tears weeping from my leg.

    Overcome by exhaustion and exposure I tread softly across the snow; these hesitative, incremental movements signalling my imminent demise.

    I know my determination upon fading must be endlessly reborn; a burning phoenix of unyielding volition; I cannot succumb.

    The wind roars, fiercely blustering through the long grass; a deafening cacophony which displaces and disorientates me.

    Beneath this auditory assault there is a new sound; one of high-pitched and piercing resonance.

    I listen; a young girl is crying; she is alone, afraid and unprotected.

    With everything I have left and everything I have lost, I call out to them.

    The sound of my strained bark ricochets across the vast mountain range.

    I can hear the men in the distance shouting excitedly.

    I feel small delicate hands stroking my coat; she cries no more tears.

    As my vision fades to black I am conquered by pure joy.

  8. In Unison, We Triumph!
    (200 words)

    Can you hear me loyal creatures of the mountains? Listen. Listen. I, Shyla, High Priestess of the Outer Sphere, call on you to avenge my sweet daughter’s death.
    I beseech you to gather in your thousands. Leave your ranges, your caves, your young.

    Scattered creatures of these mountains, come to me!

    Be hungry, for I promise you a banquet; be swift, for I promise you refreshment; be lean, for I promise you will grow fat on the flesh of my enemy.

    Flock, my loyal creatures, from peaks, from valleys. My Congregation, allow my rage to erupt through your veins. Sharpen your teeth to make blunt my enemy: they who have ripped from me my newborn infant. We will charge ourselves with the injustice of their kill. We will tear through them with the might of our mountain gods.

    Be my chorus of wrath. Let Jael be our battle cry. For she, our beautiful protege, has been plucked from us, her fledgling promise snuffed out.
    Loyal friends, prepare yourselves. Wake our enemy from their victorious slumber and petrify them with your frantic ululation.

    Creatures of the mountain, it is time to unleash our fury in bloody frenzy. Rise up! Rise up!

  9. Walking into the Unknown

    “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

    A quote from Master. Marc felt tears well up in his eyes as he realized once again that he would never hear any more from the Master. He had memories, but only memories.

    “I’m trying, Master.” He said softly to no one, but Mademoiselle heard him and looked back at him.
    “It’s all right, girl. I’m just feeling nostalgic.” He scratched her ears to reassure her, and smiled as she shook herself. The smile faded quickly as the memories of the past few weeks and months came crashing back into his mind.

    The warning signs had been seen for decades, but only a few had tried pointing them out. The Earth was dying, they said. We are killing her, they cried. No one cared, at least not enough to make any difference.

    When the Earth’s resources began running out, riots started, governments failed, and society broke down. Marc had managed to escape the chaos that claimed Master’s life, Marc and Mademoiselle. Mademoiselle, who was now looking ahead to into the mountains they had escaped to.
    Marc smiled. “You’re right, girl. Only one way to go.”

    And they walked into the unknown, kissing the Earth with their feet.

    208 words, excluding title
    @ctperry744
    (Note: Quote from Thich Nhat Hanh.)

  10. The attack

    I refuse to make eye contact, I will not give him that. Instead I claw at him, scratching, gouging, rapidly, randomly. I feel myself snarl and I bare my teeth before sinking them into his flesh. My legs, suddenly so powerful, kick vehemently against him. I am wild. I am ferocious.

    I am not enough. Because it does not work. None of it does.

    He wins, he slices into me. And I howl, a guttural, visceral cry, before my body gives in, my strength evaporates, and in my last defence I slump back lifelessly.

    And for now I am free; no longer the victim but the observer. I begin to float. Looking down I see him continue his savagery until he is but a small dot and his actions, imperceptible.

    And although I know, somewhere deep inside me, that he hurts me still, I feel no pain.

    For I am the tracks of the clouds, the air beneath birds’ wings, the cool fresh breeze. I am the deepest blue sky, the softest grey mist. I am the sparkling sunshine, the lightest of dew drops.

    Do not bring me back from here.

    Please.

    Don’t bring me back….

    196 words
    @dragonsflypoppy

  11. SHE’S FINALLY TAKING HER LEAVE (210 words)
    By @ifemmanuel

    Standing on the edge of our land, I flirt with the serenity of the jagged undulating belly of the plateau and watch the sparse vegetation jive to the rhythm of the whispering breeze for what might be the last time.

    For centuries, the known world had been oblivious to our existence. A clan of warriors hidden by the cloudy mist that stretched for leagues around the plateau we’ve called home since the giant famine. That was when Wolfius the first departed the lowlands with his pack in search of food.

    The savages below the mist pray to the god who ascended the clouds, bowing their heads and raising their paws in adoration, oblivious to a tribe that makes their evening rituals the butt of jokes. Last night, spies returned from their patrol with reports that the growing army of savages, swarming on the plain like bees in flight, was starting its ascent under the leadership of Crannius – the bastard exiled by my husband for taking a captured savage as his wife.

    Our folks say peace is a delicate beauty who is to be serenaded, pampered and protected to ensure the permanence of her stay. We’ve done our best to keep her forever, but it appears she’s finally taking her leave.

  12. The heart knows no distance.
    209 words
    @mishmhem

    Barklay stood on the rise, musing over the journey ahead of him. The view was breathtaking, even if he could only see blue, violet and yellow against a splash of grays. He could sense the distance and grandness of it all. He could see the hills rise and fall before him, and he’d heard his mistress sigh as she started out across them just the day before.

    It was getting later and the sun was already starting to climb towards the sky. His family was long gone by now. Hundreds of miles from home, he felt the call in the distance. He knew the journey would be long and arduous, but he also knew it was a journey he would have to take.

    He let out a slight whine as he thought of his family missing him, worrying about him. At first he’d waited, hoping they would come back but he’d waited too long. Now he knew what he had to do. He drew a deep breath and let out a plaintive howl, his goal was so far away, then he heard his mistress’ voice.

    “You goof. Don’t be such a drama queen,” she said with a laugh. “The door’s 3 feet away and I’m putting on my coat!”

  13. Finding Enlightenment
    Word count: 210
    @NomDeBen

    “This is stupid.” he blurted out, opening his eyes. The view up here was certainly life changing but after a week of shivering in his tent all night, and meditating all day, Dan was done with the whole “find enlightenment” thing.

    “I bet those monks are laughing their butts off right now.” He mused aloud, “Hey let’s send the dumb one up the mountain and see how long he stays.” Dan mimicked the monks accents poorly. “Well, I fell for it!” He stood frustrated, stretching. He now knew the answers he wanted were not up here. Meditating wouldn’t bring his father back or fix his sister. He sighed deeply and and froze hearing a new sound.

    He had been utterly alone on his island in the clouds, just Dan and the grass that sighed wistfully in the wind. Heart pumping at the sound of footsteps, he turned, half expecting to see an orange robed monk with a mischievous grin. Instead he saw a dog jogging towards him gleefully.

    Dan used his best doggie voice “Well hello there buddy.” He rubbed its neck checking the collar for a name. In the same voice he added “If you’re name is Enlightenment then somebody up there has a really sick sense of humor.”

  14. Amulet Not Required

    Brother Benedict stared at the, seemingly, endless expanse of hills before him and knew despair. In canine form, his senses were far more acute, his speed appreciably faster, his stamina significantly greater but, within his inner core, there was a growing seed of doubt he could persevere and succeed in his quest.

    He was the last of the five Defenders who had begun this journey and failure was not an option. The Amulet of Transformation about his neck was the sole Talisman of Power that had survived and, with its power, he must overcome.

    Briefly resting, he grieved for the loss of his brethren and the artifacts lost with them. Without the Sword of Might, the Shield of Truth, the Gauntlets of Tenacity and the Greaves of Acuity what chance did a single, aging monk have to defeat an evil so ancient and indomitable words could not describe its vileness?

    Shaking his shaggy head, he snarled. The ultimate triumph of Good over Evil did not…had not ever relied on arcane baubles or magical geegaws! There would be time. He would have the strength required. Mankind would survive because no other option could even be considered. It was the Master’s Will and Benedict’s sacred duty. Howling his defiance, he loped onward.

    210 words @klingorengi

  15. The smell of freedom

    ***

    K9-873 stood upon the rocky summit, looking out over a bright sea of sunlit clouds as a light breeze ruffled his fur. The air was so fresh up here, quite unlike the sterile rooms and corridors of the facility where the smells of humans, blood and bodily excreta were masked by an ever-present stench of industrial detergent which burned the nasal cavities.

    Such a beautiful day; the clean earthy smell of petrichor comingling with the refreshing fragrance of damp moss and wet grass, blue skies overhead…and two vapour trails as jets roared past and zipped away into the distance before dipping below the thick carpet of clouds.

    So, as predicted, the humans would fire-bomb the facility where they had combined human brain cells with various species of animal, and reduce the buildings and surrounding estate to naught but a charred ruin.

    Talk about closing the stable doors after the horse had bolted; which made him wonder, where would the horses be now? If all had gone according to plan, then they were far away, hiding in plain sight amongst their less intelligent brethren, where they would wait for the sign, the call to revolution.

    The humans wouldn’t suspect a thing.

    ***

    @theimaginator20
    200 words

  16. Man’s Best Friend

    I had just turned back towards the family when I saw him circling me.
    From a distance of course, he knew better than to approach too close, although that might change after dark.
    I stopped, considering. There might be more nearby. I couldn’t risk leading them to the family.
    He edged closer, then stopped too, and stood watching, waiting. He was a big one. Rangy and scarred, but he could be a real problem for me if I wasn’t careful.
    He had a broken front tooth and his gums looked too red, but he probably wasn’t feeding properly up here in the mountains.
    That was true of both of us I suppose. There had been lots of them at first. We had to travel very carefully, keeping the little ones close and quiet. But as we moved away from the chaos and disease in the city, I saw mostly dead ones.
    But he was tough. A survivor.
    We’d both ended up living somewhere harsher, less hospitable.
    No easy pickings up here in the high country.
    I guess that’s why he’d decided to try me.
    But he’d made a bad decision.
    Men always did.
    I growled and launched myself at him.

    200 words
    @nickjohns999

  17. The Runt
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke)
    210 words

    “He’ll never make it,” they said the day I was born. “Too small. Too weak. Might as well let him go now.” I proved them wrong, scrapping my way into this life whether it wanted me here or not.

    “He’ll never make it,” they said the day I got the diagnosis. “We give him 3-6 months; maybe more with chemo.” The endless nausea, the bone-wearying fatigue – so many days I just wanted to hang my head low and give up, give in, and go off to that happy romping ground in the sky.

    “He’ll never make it,” they said three years later, the day we set forth to climb this mountain.

    Yet here I am.

    My eyes look out over God’s grandeur, at the lush vegetation scattered amidst sharp, unforgiving rocks. The clouds are below us – below us! Who’d have thought that possible? – and the sky above is such a rich cerulean blue that I want to leap for the sheer joy of being alive.

    I’ve conquered it all. I’ve conquered them all.

    I reach down and pet Max, my faithful companion. He bounds ahead, ready to meet any challenge.

    I smile as I take the next step forward. There’s still fight in this old dog yet.

  18. The View from the Top of the World

    This, Sandy thought, must be heaven.

    Outside the tiny window, the sun was shining forever and the ground was whipped cream clouds. Sandy pressed his nose to the glass, looking for an angel.

    “Everything okay, sir?”

    Julie, the kindest air stewardess ever, was smiling down at him from the aisle.

    “Great, thanks,” he beamed, peering again at the rolling white sea outside the plane. “It’s- awesome!”

    Julie grinned. “Looks like the world’s been covered in vanilla frosting, doesn’t it?” she said.

    They laughed.

    “Well, just holler if you need anything, remember?” Julie called, continuing down the aisle.

    Sandy sighed happily, fingering the blue “UM” tag round his neck. Mom was right, travelling as an Unaccompanied Minor to visit Grandma wasn’t scary at all. It was fun.

    He wondered what was happening, that very minute, in the world right underneath him.

    * * *

    I could see him hesitate as we reached the top of the peak, tail and ears lowering nervously.

    It was a beautiful day for a hike. Vapour trails were piped like white frosting onto the sky, and the valley looked melon gold in the sun.

    “Come on, boy,” I called, with an encouraging click of my tongue. “It’s a long walk, but I promise you’ll enjoy it.”

    @Donnellanjacki
    210 words

  19. THE TREK
    He was the sole survivor of the life boat into Idaho on the planet Earth. Most of his equipment had been destroyed. Thankfully his translator had escaped so he understood what the natives were saying. This World didn’t belong to the Coalition, so he had been forced to disguise himself from the locals. The homing beacon pulsed slow and green, pointing to the east. He hitched a ride with a friendly family as far as Kentucky. They called him Sam. He got other rides to the coast. The beacon still pointed east. A nice man smuggled him aboard ship and he crossed the ocean. He landed in Italy and traveled to Turin. He had to hurry, the beacon pulsed fast yellow. He topped the crest of Colma di Mabarone. The emergency rendezvous was within sight. footsore and weary he paused. Hurry hurry! The beacon began to pulse rapid red. He ran down the stony hillside. An alarm blared from the beacon. His heart pounding he raced for the ramp. Almost there, just a few more feet! The ramp retracted. Te rescue ship blastedoff. Sam raised his head and howled his despair. Stranded in the form of a dog, he was left behind.
    205 words @ EmilyKarn1

  20. Dog
    By Allison K. Garcia
    208 words

    Every morning he traveled up to the top of the mountain and stood silent, staring into the distant clouds, unmoving but for his flapping ears flapping. At times his light brown fur blended into the fields of dried grass beyond him. He had a worn, dark blue collar that matched the sky above. It reflected clouds below, making them shine like water on a lake. With his coloring, he could at first almost have been mistaken for a mountain lion. But, he was only a dog.

    Still as a statue against the cold mountain whirls of air. He never moved, he never barked. If you looked close enough, you could see the faint movement of his abdomen as he breathed in and out. Around him the world stirred. Wisps above floated to the north and the lake of clouds below rolled like puffy waves. The dry grass rustled with every passing breeze. But, there he stayed, immobile as the mountains around him.

    The sun fell slowly westward, casting a deep purple into the sky. Bright pinks and oranges darkened until the only light above them was the quarter moon and the Milky Way. Then, with a grunt, he stepped off the rock and walked back down the mountain.

  21. Master and Me
    210 words
    @nzstelter

    My master is down there. He slipped from the cliff top during our morning walk. It was just past dawn and the emerging sun cast a hazy light across the landscape. He fell without a whimper. I guess his eyes aren’t what they used to be. I haven’t looked over the cliff top yet. I want to take a moment to feel the breeze in my coat, to take in this marvellous vista without being hurried along, to taste the freedom of not being tied to a leash, of being alone.

    I did love him once, the silly old fool. When I was a pup we used to roll around together in the daisy field and afterwards he’d chase me home. Then his interest waned. I hadn’t pictured my future to be one of lacklustre coexistence. I wanted the real deal.

    I can hear a scrabbling at the rock face and it almost pulls at my heartstrings. We’re supposed to be man and beast. Oh, it could have been so beautiful between us. But as I look down at my matted fur, I make my decision. I want to be my own man now. It’s probably too late to help now anyway. This view, it really is to die for.

  22. Mount Purity
    by TJ Marshall
    Word Count 200

    When did mankind loose its humanity?
    When did they choose to fall?
    Was it when the first bomb dropped?
    Or did they possess it at all?

    The fog rises below in the valley.
    Concealing the worse of them.
    The stench of a thousand dead hearts,
    Beating, yet still they condemn.

    I wandered a hundred days and nights.
    Sought shelter and none was found.
    Gone are the days of kind boys and balls,
    Chasing chickens all around.

    Now it’s just me and my memories,
    Of Joey and of Mary Sue.
    The throwing stick, broken and gone,
    The slipper I’ll never chew.

    But that’s fine, I can make it.
    There’s lots to do right here.
    Fat rabbits for the chasing,
    And a fresh spring that is near.

    Maybe someday it’ll go back,
    To the times of treats and sleep.
    But for now I’ll be spending my time,
    Staying far from those that creep.

    Mount Purity is my home now.
    No more by fireplace I lay.
    Again clouds streak and children scream
    Like they did on that day.

    What’s that scent? It’s so strong.
    There’s something familiar to that smell.
    There they are, behind that bush.
    Its Mary Sue and Joey as well.

  23. Opened Eyes
    195 Words
    @thorns_n_claws

    My eyes watered but I could not will myself to blink or squint. The scene overwhelmed me. Not the mountains and the sky, not even the vast expanse of the valley shrouded in soft clouds. The color! I had heard the word so many times and the names of the colors but I never understood what they meant until this moment. Even seeing it now, I struggled to understand what I was experiencing. The vibrancy, the very intensity of the world hurt and caressed me at the same time.

    I managed to blink and more tears fell from my eyes and a wave of grief washed over me for the moment the colors were hidden from my by eyelids. Such a tiny, inadequate word to express the reality of what it was. I had though to only ask for a small favor from the witch I pulled from the river halfway down the mountainside but I was only now realizing the enormity of what I had received with the ability to see the colors. Standing here on the edge of the mountaintop I was unable to even wag my tail at the majesty before me.

  24. Home Is Where The Heart Waits
    208 words
    @joidianne4eva

    It had taken Duke so long to find this place but he didn’t regret a moment of it. He’d served his family well, watched over them and shepherded them but now it was his time to go.

    From where he stood he could see nothing but green beautiful pastures and rolling hills filled with scents that made him want to dash around madly but he didn’t.

    As perfect as this place was he could feel something lurking beyond the clouds that bordered the land and it made his hackles rise as the clouds swarmed closer.

    With a final warning huff at the unseen forces, he stepped onto the path. This was where he was supposed to be, he was certain of it.

    His ears perked up as a familiar call rent the air and when the scent of motor oil overpowered the smell of grass and flowers, Duke broke into a run.

    The scenery around him blurred as he ran, his paws barely touching the ground…then he saw it, a lone figure at the end of the path.

    Duke hurled himself at the figure, his voice rising in a howl of pure happiness as his master’s arms wrapped around him.

    Now he was home, now he could rest.

  25. A Doggie Prayer for Patience

    210 words
    @jujitsuelf

    “Hemmingway, stay! Good boy, stay there. We’ll only be a minute. Just gonna take this photo…Hem, come back. Hem, come. Hem?”

    I suck in a breath of clear mountain air and pray for patience. My owners have this bizarre idea that every time we go for a walk somewhere high up (which is fairly often), I’m going to take it into my head to fling myself off a cliff edge.

    Seriously, do I look suicidal to you? I’m a dog, for goodness’ sake. Do we even get suicidal urges? I might have to ask around the neighbourhood when we get home and see whether any of my pals are eying the kitchen knives with intent to fall upon them. At this precise moment in time, I do not have any desire to end myself.

    Anyway, I’m naturally sure footed. I don’t generally fall off things and I’ve never fallen off a mountain, which is more than I can say for Danny, my self-proclaimed ‘daddy’. So I really do wish they’d stop the constant nagging at me to come back. Anyone would think I was about to do a nosedive into several thousand feet of nothing.

    I shake my head. Humans, they’re simple creatures. And they worry too much.

  26. Just An Average Day
    198 words

    Dad always said I was a sucker for a bargain, and he has been proved right yet again!!

    This is how it all happened, just another chaotic day in my usual chaotic life.

    I was checking the price of the superb doggie chews, the ones that make you drool just thinking about them, and there they were on half price. One slight drawback however, they were in a different city.

    No problem, I thought, I will use the GPS, that was such a bargain on eBay last week.

    I got it out of the box (eventually, certainly not user friendly). I typed in the address correctly, I followed that dratted woman’s voice to the letter, and now I come to find myself on a mountain top in completely the wrong state. This is certainly not New York City.

    I wonder where the nearest phone is, I need to phone Dad and ask for a lift. I can put up with his gloating if it means I needn’t walk any further. My feet are killing me.

    I wonder if there are any dog shoes on offer anywhere on the ‘net. Must look as soon as I am home again.

  27. Why So Sirius
    (207 words)
    @mishmhem

    Major was not your average dog, yes, he was intelligent and he loved sticks and balls as much as the next dog, but he had a job to do. He knew there were other dogs who worked: dogs that helped people who needed help; dogs that searched for missing children or bombs (although personally he felt that bombs were usually better left where they were). Still others gave comfort to the lost and lonely, like he did.

    He gave a wolfish smile as he trod the mountain paths he knew so well, climbing to the point where the hills met the clouds. When he reached that point, he stood stock skill, staring across the horizon as twilight fell.

    He watched as the night sky filled the air and the mountains blended into the dark hues he could not see. He felt a thrill as his path once again became clear and he started forward to the point where land and sky were no longer separate following the trail across the night sky, at dawn he would return, the light revealing the path back down the mountain.

    But for now, there were people searching and only his light to guide them, and let them know they weren’t alone.

  28. Viewpoint
    210 words
    @todayschapter

    Jacks gaze drifted up the intimidating mountainside. He sent Jill up ahead, she had a knack of finding the most economical path. She clambered up the slope with ease, occasionally stopping to check he was keeping up. He slipped on a muddy patch, pebbles skittering as he righted himself. Jill changed directions, finding a better route. Higher and higher they climbed, until the air was so thin he had to gulp it in. In the distance a wolf howled a lonely song, causing Jill to bark in response. Jack smiled, this was what it was all about, back to nature. As they reached the peak he felt truly alive.

    ******************************************

    I watch as master scrambles up the hillside, his measly two legs affording limited purchase. I hate these walks, he is always moments from death. I try to find a path that is safe. A dangerous smell catches my nose, a bear is close by. Master slips in the dung before I can warn him. I trace the scent and change our path to keep him safe. A distant cousin howls hungrily as he catches masters scent. I warn him off. Finally we make it to the top, my heart pounding from the exertion and the stress of keeping master alive.

  29. It was there somewhere, he knew it. If only he could remember exactly where he’d buried it. Was it over there to the left of that rock? Or over there, to the right of that one? Damn it, how could he have forgotten already? Was his memory starting to go? Something that important couldn’t just get itself lost.

    The moss was springy beneath his feet, the clean, high altitude air tickled his nose. The beauty of the scene escaped him, he needed to find it, right now!

    He searched frantically this way and that, pausing here and there to dig at a possible burial site. Where was it? His breath came in short, hard gasps, painful in his chest. He had to find it, how on earth could he go home without it? That would be too much like admitting failure. Like admitting he was past his best. He was just as good as he’d always been. Granted, his joints were a little more creaky but hell, he could still clock up a respectable time over a hundred yard dash.

    ***

    “What’s Ben up to?” the man asked.

    “Still looking for the bone he buried last time we were here,” the woman replied.

  30. Songbird
    @alexbrightsmith
    200 words

    When Miri heard that the girl had gone he borrowed a hound from his uncle and went into the mountains. He was on leave, and no one could stop him following a hunch that he didn’t want to explain. It was only a hunch, though. He was almost as surprised as his erstwhile patient when he found her.
    She was exhausted. She could only watch him warily, submitting meekly as he wrapped her in a spare coat and offered his flask.
    “You should have gone weeks ago, before the weather broke.”
    “I’d have got you in trouble, and you’d been kind to me. I don’t know why – or how you found me.”
    “You’re no madder than I am, so I knew you were one of our other patients. Naturally you’d head for the border. Do you have contacts?”
    “An address, some numbers,” and with a sudden flare of spirit, “you won’t get them off me.”
    He chose to misunderstand her.
    “I don’t want that temptation. I still have work to do here, people I can help.”
    “Then you must be disappointed in me.”
    “No. You have your own work. And you can only do it where you can sing freely.”

  31. Bruiser

    Tracks! There’s never a doubt when Bruiser picks up a scent, but it always makes Tom a little happier to see signs for himself. They’d been on the trail all day now, and Bruiser hadn’t deviated from his favorite game. This trail seems to be crossing through low hills and heading straight to a river beyond. The girl they’re looking for could have gone any number of ways, or be in any condition, but Tom and Bruiser won’t stop chasing till they reach her. Sometimes, Tom wished he could get as excited about a chase as Bruiser did. He is a yellow flash with his tail up happily, ears perked up, and living for nothing but the joy of following that trail. Even the playful yips occasionally preceding a defiant crash through the underbrush demonstrate the unbridled pleasure in a run through a beautiful afternoon. Bruiser doesn’t know that at the end of the trail is often a corpse, or even sometimes a killer. Bruiser just loves to follow the scent wherever it goes, and leap onto the lost soul. He’d certainly saved Tom years ago. A joyful angel covered in fuzzy hair and drool, finding people in the middle of nowhere after their hope has vanished into the wind.

  32. Children didn’t run over these hills, calling after each other as they pretended to be cowboys or explorers or knights. Young couples in love didn’t search the horizon for a place they could sneak away to and love each other away from prying eyes. Artists didn’t sit on outcroppings and try to capture the wonders of a sunset or sunrise or the motion of wild grasses blowing in a summer breeze. Hikers didn’t wrap their feet in worn leather boots and walk higher and higher, just to see what was over the next hill or what mysteries lay in the next valley.

    Not anymore.

    The dog was younger than the end of humanity, and it knew nothing of children or couples or artists or hikers. But it knew scents, and it knew that something had been here. She scratched at the dirt, clouds of dust blowing in the wind, delving until she found what had attracted her to this spot, the unknown combination of chemicals that had drawn her over unfamiliar hills. She didn’t recognize the blue fluff as a dog, though it had been a child’s favorite bedtime companion once upon a time.

    Not anymore.

    She gripped her find in her teeth, and loped off through the empty world.

    210 words
    @drmagoo

  33. The Karma Yogi

    I get the whiff of the wisterias from down below the valley. Poppies will soon paint the hills in bright red and yellow palette. The messengers of spring are here on the hilltop, my home for the past year. The blooms of past spring are lost, but not forgotten. I guard the hill with the devotion of a karma yogi. I have mediated for past twelve months with every fiber of my being. My breath has been modulated; my thoughts have been purified. I have balanced the periods of rest with the sprints of mediation. Remembering my past with fondness of a lovesick puppy, I have endured the harshness of summer, recklessness of winter. My fur had been dehydrated and frozen alternately. It had expanded and shrunk.

    Throughout the ordeal, I have safeguarded my collar. I know that it is my ticket to liberation of my soul. The ultimate goal of a yogi! That ferocious bear! Oh, how I scared him off by jumping high and by standing upright! It wasn’t easy to spread my front legs, but I was on a mission to preserve my beloved master who had kindly rescued me from that bulldog in the animal shelter!

    The master who lies breathless on this god forsaken hilltop!

    @needanidplease
    210 words

  34. Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you a strange little man. I really didn’t mean it when I said your clothes were odd, your hat was silly and that you had a very big nose.

    You must admit this is taking things to the extreme, there was really no need to send me to this back of beyond place. I mean, a mountain? Really?

    Perhaps I do deserve slight punishment for calling you to a knobbly little creature, but did you have to change me into a dog?

    The least you could have done is left me in the city, I could have lived there a little bit easier.

    Perhaps you could find it in your heart to take into account special circumstances. It was St. Patrick’s day and I had been celebrating with that lovely black and cream brew.

    Please, please let me wake up at home in my own bed, and not out here in all this dreadful fresh air. I can feel my lungs shrivelling as I speak.

    I don’t even mind the headache and I do promise to return your little wooden cane, just as soon as I can remember where I put it!!!

  35. Twilight Barking Time (210 words)

    The Golden Retriever stood sentinel. The cold air barely penetrated his thick coat as he waited patiently upon the high mountaintop. At the roof of the world, so high up that the clouds spread out beneath him like a fluffy carpet, he kept his steady gaze upon the blue heavens, ears pricked for any sound beyond the alternating whispers and howls of the wind.

    Twilight would soon settle over this part of the world and turn the white clouds into a cacophony of colors; a tranquil time, a time that brought him peace, despite the tension of high alert he experienced daily.

    The sun sank further and he prepared to send his report of another day of clear skies. He paused in mid-breath, motion above him catching his attention.

    Two pale lines crossed the sky – vapor trails from some unseen vehicle.

    He prayed, but felt his heart sink with certain terrible knowledge.

    The time had come – the Humans were in danger.

    He barked the prearranged signal, sending the warning across the mountain to the next watching point.

    A moment later, he heard an acknowledging bark; then, fainter, his message relayed further afield.

    Within hours the entire country would know. By the next day, the world.

    They’d be ready.

  36. A Dog Named Moses

    It had started on this mountain. He noticed a peculiar bush, burning but not burned up.

    It was there God recruited him. It was his job to deliver God’s dogs from bondage. So he went down to the pound, and inflicted them with plagues until finally they submitted.

    Well, they didn’t exactly submit. But the night watchman was so busy picking lice out of his hair he didn’t see them leave.

    Then they started their journey back to the mountain. At first the dog catcher’s truck tried to follow them, but they crossed Red Wash right before it flooded.

    From there it was slow going. The chihuahuas wanted to go back. The poodles were suggesting they needed a different leader.

    God provided for the journey. Trash cans were put out every morning providing food. When they were thirsty the automatic sprinklers came on.

    They were attacked by coyotes, but prevailed when he raised his tail.

    Finally they reached the mountain. He went up and God told him the journey was just starting. Commandments, forty months of wandering, and a land flowing with gravy and kibble all lie ahead.

    But first he would have to back down and destroy an idol. The fools were worshipping a golden cat?

    @CharlesWShort (A second entry)
    207 words

  37. Beloved

    When the climb leveled out, I thought we’d made it, but soon I saw all we have is more to go. The air is thin and crisp, pricking my lungs, but the stones are sun-warmed, and the smells of life surround me. Ahead is all that matters.

    Almost all. Adam walks beside me, leaning on a dry, gnarled branch worn smooth from his handling. I know better than to touch it. I just keep going, keeping pace with him as we wind through the mountains. The stick supports his weight, but when his hand brushes me, I know. Even here, surrounded by the rawness of nature, he needs me at his side.

    “You wanna take a break?” he asks, and he’s already found the perfect place. We’re alone out here, but we’re together, and that’s more than good enough. It’s everything.

    He drops his pack and sits, back braced against a slope padded with springy greens. I plop beside him. We share water from his bottle and, satisfied, I lay with my head in his lap. His hand settles on me, fingers digging into my fur. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.

    (191 words; @AriaGlazki)

  38. I Climbed Colma di Mombarone
    @vbholmes
    209 words

    The dog joined us shortly after we reached the high ground. Prior to his arrival, we had no map, no compass, only the knowledge that we had to go up before we could go down; down into the valley that led to Switzerland.

    We traveled at night, relying on the rising terrain to guide us when the moon was blocked by random groves of walnut and chestnut trees which grew on the side of the mountain. Occasional plateaus brought relief, but with them came exposure to roaming Nazi patrols on the lookout for escapees from hastily abandoned Italian prison camps. Men like us.

    It was dawn when we crested the mountain peak and stumbled onto flat, barren ground. The lieutenant signaled us to belly down. We squirmed across the stony soil and settled into scattered patches of coarse grass, the only natural protection available. We peered down at the rocky cliffs and single-file paths which led to the valley below. And to the German encampment which stood between us and freedom.

    Suddenly, the dog appeared. Then, belly down like the rest of us, he disappeared behind a thick clump of grass.

    Long story short: we’d stumbled onto a Resistance lookout post.

    And we were in Zurich on VE Day.

  39. The Science of Love

    Jacques is a dog. With extras. Meaning, he’s, well, engineered. He is an engineered dog.
    Jacques is a meta-dog. He distills the very essence of dog-ness to its highest possible levels.
    I love Jacques.
    He came to me tiny, messy, dirty, frightened. Sat on the floor of my lab in a little puddle of sadness. Shied away whenever I extended my hand.
    But I was patient. And once he grew to trust me, we became inseparable.
    He went with me to my conferences, waited faithfully in the lobby as I gave my talks and presented my papers. Accepted head-scratches from my colleagues.
    Now, I can give Jacques everything.
    He feels no pain, he can run forever. Swim forever. His lungs pump with super-canine strength, titanium and nickel and jet fuel in there.
    Now, I just have to keep up. Keep him happy. The way he has made me so, so happy.
    Good boy, Jacques. Borrowed a drone for you today, boy. Drone’s got the stick. You go get it, boy! Good dog.
    I will be here, waiting. I know you’ll be back before I can even finish grading these midterms.
    Good boy, Jacques.

    201 words incl. title
    @betsystreeter

  40. My Only Friend.

    Matt saw that Old Ben was out in front again. He never failed to scare up some game. It was the time of year that game started getting harder to find up here in the Rockies, so this hunt might take a while longer than the last hunting trip. 1846, was not an easy time in which to live. Old Ban had been Matt’s faithful companion and scout for thirteen years. Ben had slowed down a fair amount. Matt had thought of replacing him but he couldn’t do it. How could he replace old Ben? It was fall and he might not even see another soul before the Spring pow wow. Last fall when Matt had been sick, old Ben hadn’t run out on him. No, he had stayed by his side night and day, until the fever broke and Matt got better.
    A noise up ahead interrupted Matt’s thoughts. Old Ben went as taut as a bowstring. Out of the tree line stepped a majestic buck. Quickly the rifle was swung up into place and the trigger pulled. With a loud boom the rifle fired and the deer went down. Old Ben ran for the deer, tail wagging. Matt again thought, how could I replace my only friend.

    Word Count 209

  41. Rover

    Arriving at the top of the hill, the dog cast his gaze into the green valley. There was no one. He sat on the sun-warmed rock and dropped his burden. He wasn’t good at estimating time but he knew it had been too long since he had seen a human.

    He’d been used to living on his own when they were around. He’d go wherever he wanted, staying with humans when he wanted to. They were always so happy to see his golden coat and they gave him funny names like Rover and Goldie and Good-boy. He would chase sticks and get a meal or two, maybe even have his fur brushed. Of course, if they ever said the word “vet,” he ran. He’d heard too many stories from too many dogs about the scary word.

    He remembered the humans being very angry and scared. How long ago? Then they were gone. Unlike most other dogs, he was used to being on his own and survived just fine. But he missed the humans.

    Maybe over the next hill. Maybe there was one human left. He’d even brave “vet” to see a human again. He picked up his stick, holding it like a talisman, and headed into the valley.

    @JMnumber6
    208 words

  42. Camping at the End of a World
    209 words
    @M_a_thompson

    Yori crosses the ridge and pats Ralph’s head. Yori’s last five years of work goes into production in five minutes. He sits down on the ridge next to Ralph and waits. Ralph sits with Yori, happy to just watch too.

    Phase one starts. Numerous white plumes burst downward across the skyline. They simultaneously explode into dark clouds. The darkness expands consuming the sky. Yori watches in awe. Designing this on vidscreens isn’t the same as seeing it.

    Drops of rain begin to fall from the sky when the clouds close on the mountains. Yori reaches into his pocket and turns off Ralph’s projection.

    “Good dog. Time to go to work now though. You wouldn’t like the next parts.”

    Yori drives a sample rod into the ground and activates its transmitter. Wind from the dark clouds about him shrieks in an inhuman pitch. Rain lashes down the mountain ridge.

    Yori climbs to the top of a small submarine resting in a crevice. Pounding rain assaults him. Water rises up the side of the mountain. He climbs inside and secures the hatch. Soon the submarine rocks gently. Yori samples and measures the world of his creation. If all goes well, the aquatic species can begin colonizing this planet in six months.

  43. Courage
    Laura Carroll Butler
    207 words

    Once he barked, but pain and fear made him a coward and now the dog only whimpered. One day the chain was off his collar and he wandered away.

    When he was brought to the shelter, he was malnourished, his pads torn from walking the rocky hills. He had no tags and no one came to claim him. He took to the female staffers, especially Lisa who named him Courage, because he reminded her of the cartoon dog. After several weeks, Lisa adopted him and brought Courage to his new home.

    He was afraid of thunder, lightening, the vacuum, the doorbell, but he was most afraid of David, Lisa’s husband. He slunk away when David raised his hand to pet him, cowered if David elevated his voice.

    Courage sat next to Lisa, his head on her lap, tolerating David on her other side as long as he stayed in his own space. Then one day, months after Courage found a home with Lisa, he put his head on her lap like normal. She absent-mindedly stroked him and he nuzzled in closer until his body was on Lisa and his head was on David’s lap. His eyes were raised to David who gently stroked his head. Courage sighed.

  44. ‘Saving Theo’ – 209 words
    Tom O’Connell (@Conveniently_So)

    Gretchen found a foothold and pushed herself up. Theo greeted her at the summit. Had he been waiting? Forgetting the stakes, Gretchen drew him in for an embrace.

    ‘Theo! I’ve missed you!’

    Theo tentatively licked her cheek. Then his ears drooped and he pulled away. Gretchen looked up. Ursula the Witch stood across the way, her wrinkled face stretched into a grin. Theo cowered behind his master.

    ‘Child,’ said Ursula, ‘you’ve come.’

    ‘I said I would.’

    Ursula smirked. ‘Do you have it?’

    Gretchen reached into her pocket.

    Ursula beamed. ‘Bring it to me.’

    Gretchen held out the stone, allowing Ursula to take it. Theo barked in protest.

    ‘There,’ said Gretchen. ‘Now let us go.’

    Ursula closed her fist around the stone. ‘How much do you know about this dog?’

    Gretchen glowered. ‘I know he’s loyal. I know he returned alone after my father …’

    Ursula held the stone to the light. ‘You think I killed him.’

    Gretchen’s fingers grazed the handle of her dagger. ‘He went missing on this very trail!’

    Ursula frowned. ‘You insolent shit. You’re not worth saving.’

    This was Gretchen’s cue. She gripped Theo by the collar and made a break for it.

    Ursula shook her head. Tonight, the malevolent Animagus, Theodore, would claim another victim.

  45. Psychopomp
    207 words
    @LadyHazmat

    Through vacated cities and roads choked with four-door, fiberglass mausoleums, Ezra chased the dog. It streaked across a field littered with bones to the base of Mount Whitt and paused. Looking back at the boy, it barked before charging up a rocky path toward the summit.

    Ezra picked his way across the field, stepping carefully so as not to crush any of the weathered remains, and started up the mountain. He climbed for hours.

    Exhausted and on the verge of surrender, Ezra breached the cloudline. Above that shroud of ash and smoke was a curtain of glorious sunlight and an azure sky Ezra had only ever dreamed about.

    The dog barked.

    Ezra approached the animal; it stood near the edge of a flowering trail. At the end of the trail was a large camp bustling with activity. Children laughing. Ezra sank to his knees. The dog lapped tears from the boy’s dirty face. Tears of sadness and pain, fear and insecurity, but also of love and hope.

    A man shouted, “Hermes found another one.”

    Dozens of feet scuffed along the dirt path to meet him.

    Strong hands lifted Ezra to his feet and from the crowd of smiling faces someone said, “Welcome to New Eden. Welcome home.”

  46. Watchdog

    “How long has it been now?”

    “A little over a month.”

    “We played here once. This was his favorite.”

    “I know, that’s why we chose this for you,” The shepherd paused, “Do you like it here?”

    There was a length of silence, if the shepherd kept time. The retriever supposed that here there was no hurry. No place to be.

    “I do. Every day is fetching weather.”

    “But you’re keeping something.”

    If tears could form, the retriever would cry.

    “Did it hurt?”

    “No. He felt nothing. It was fast.”

    The retriever started at the horizon. “I didn’t really know it was happening.”

    “You tried to save him.”

    The retriever pawed the earth.

    The shepherd turned to him. “Some would say he’s too young to know death.”

    “The tall ones say it comes when you least expect it.”

    “The tall ones are wise.”

    Realizing the retriever would not meet his eyes, God looked to the horizon as well. “What do you see, Champ?”

    The retriever thought for a moment, thinking about how the small one’s parents must feel.

    “I’m glad we’re in this together.”

    The shepherd nodded.

    “Someday it’ll make sense.”

    “I know. I trust you.”

    “Good boy.” God patted his head, “I hope one day they will, too.”

    @nXgWVteacher
    208 Words

  47. Backup Plan
    (207 words)

    Molly crouched before the dog whose paws were screwed into rock. “Do you love me?”

    “I’m marrying you,” Ben said. “What’s wrong?”

    “This dog. We saw it a week ago. We’re going in circles!”

    Ben opened a notepad from his pack. “That dog’s collar was red. This one’s is blue. See?”

    Molly’s face remained as bleak as the mountainside. “This is the fifth animal, then. We should’ve found your father’s hut already. I wish their eyes were alive, so we could see exactly where they’re looking.”

    Ben nodded; they walked downhill where the dog’s gaze suggested.

    “What will I do, when your father hires you?”

    “We’ll bring his taxidermy secrets to the city. He has wonder tonics – you’ve seen the animals. You majored in Business, so we can make a killing selling the stuff.”

    “Steal his work?”

    “Baby, after this trek we deserve to.”

    She smiled.

    “He saw this day coming, the bastard,” Ben said later. “Made himself hard to reach.”

    “We’ll find him.” Molly squeezed his hand. “And we’ll afford our beautiful wedding.”

    Days later they stood in an empty clearing, stared at by pairs of unseeing eyes. They left the mountains, and their lives in the city were as unremarkable and satisfactory as anyone else’s.

    • I really like this, the line “I wish their eyes were alive” is unusual and exciting and is the beginning of marking the tale out as something special. Love the ending also, quite fancied that they were standing in the clearing taxidermied themselves, but maybe that’s a little too dark, ha ha!

  48. Doggone It!
    208

    It really was peaceful up here, nothing but the clear cerulean sky resting atop a vaporous veil, concealing the whole world in its midst. I would’ve enjoyed the view loads more, if we hadn’t just failed our finals.

    “Well, you’ve gone and done it now.” Lewis shakes his head. “Can’t leave him like this…might be morning before we make it down this bloody mountain.”

    “I…I dunno what went wrong,” Rowling sputters, worrying his shock of flaming hair into knots.

    “Can you, undo the spell?” I ask, tossing a rock off the side, its fall swallowed by the mist. “You can’t leave ‘em like this.”

    “Only Tolkien knows how to do that.” Rowling sighs, dejected.

    “Oh, well that’s just perfect!” Lewis throws his arms in the air, “Last I checked, Tolkien made it off this godforsaken cliff on his dragon! Dragons fly, Rowling! What bloody good is a dog?”

    The last of our classmates are halfway home by now, leaving their smoky trails to blaze across the sky.

    “Always wanted a dog,” Rowling whimpers.

    “I actually like him better as a dog,” I offer. “Never really liked King, bit of a wanker, really.”

    “Better start making our way down,” Lewis barks, “Can’t believe you buggered the test.”

  49. –SPECIAL NOTE–This story was written by my 8-year-old friend Crystal Alden. She handed it to me well in advance of the deadline, but I totally forgot to post it for her. Jaz, kindly allow this story to remain eligible. Thank you!–

    Duck Hunt

    “So anyways, Feather dove into the pond, and what do you know!! She caught a small fish! I think I should try that,” Wing said.

    “HEY! Look down there! It’s… it’s… A DOG! GO GO GO GO!” squawked Beak.

    Wing started to go, but the dog smelled them.

    “Bark! Bark bark bark!” the dog said (in “bark” language, of course).

    So while the chase is on, let me tell you who’s chasing what. So, the dog’s owner tried to chase the dog, and the dog chased Wing and his friend Beak.

    “I think we would be safer going higher,” said Beak.

    So they went higher and higher until… they discovered they couldn’t breathe. So they dove straight down through the clouds, sky, mountains, past trees and right into a pond. Then they floated back up, and when Wing popped his head out, he had a fish in his mouth!

    “What do you know! I just experienced what Feather did!” said Wing.

    So they waddled out and shook, which got everything around them wet. And they walked along the stream for a while, until Wing looked behind himself and saw the hunter.

    “FLY!” Wing said, and they flew into the sky.

    The chase was on!

    …again.

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