‘Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021.’ Week #32 Entry Part 8) by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #WritingCommunity #FlashFiction

Hello everyone and welcome to Author SuzannE Burke’s “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week She features an image and invites Everyone to write a Flash Fiction, or Non-Fiction, piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of their choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. In Addition to running a wonderful Blog, Suzanne has written many exciting books. Please a have a look at her site: Wecome to the world of Suzanne Burke

Here is my contribution to this week’s prompt. Enjoy!

Here is the image prompt 

Sophie hated these woods at night. During the day, they were cheerful. Cicadas played their endless rattle songs in the trees, while black-capped chickadees fed from your hand.

This trail was usually lit by sunlight, its rays marked the path ahead with the promise of a refreshing dip in Potters Lake, or, if you went the other way, the back door of Nanny and Pappy’s cottage. On most afternoons, the smell of fresh baked cookies would reach your nose before the brown walls of the cottage could be seen.

Yes, the daytime was safe time, but not now, out here, in the dark, and with only an old lantern that Pappy had used as a kid . . . now that was old.  

Her teacher, Mr. Palmer, had said darkness was just the absence of light, that everything was the same. She’d love to have that man here, now. If only he could here the thumps, the rustle of branches as they were parted by the claws of who knows what. Sophie tried to ignore them, to keep the lantern pointed only at the path ahead. She was weirdly mad at the lantern for lighting up the edges of path. It showed a pair of glowing eyes that stared at her very soul, before disappearing back into the woods.

Every ounce of her wanted to run back to the cottage. Her desire was increased when she heard the crazy call of something on the lake to her right, just beyond the bushes. Sophie had jumped then . . . had almost dropped the lantern, and then what? Complete darkness!

She felt the gross things squirm at her side; disgusting, slimy, and terrifying. She tried to imagine they were not there. But they were, and the sooner she got to the lake, the sooner she’d be rid of them. Sophie shuddered at the thought of what was to come.

Something grabbed her right sneaker, and she was pulled towards the bush.  A scream was caught in her throat, it wouldn’t do her terror justice, anyways, and who knows what blood thirsty monsters it would attract.

Claws tore at her jacket and snatched her hair. In her panic, she dropped the lantern and it smashed as she fought for her life.

Trees are good for the environment. Not these ones, Palmer, not all trees were good! Some were evil and would grab you . . . these trees kill you! Find that in your stupid Life Science book, Palmer.

Then she was free of them. She raced towards the lake. Scared to death, running like a crazy person down a trail that was almost as dark as her closet. But there was a weird satisfaction that she’d at least ripped off some of their spiny fingers They were still freakishly stuck in her hair, though.

Their angry brothers and sisters tried to stop her, by grabbing at her feet, but she was ready for them, this time. She was an expert dodgeball player. Nimble as a mountain goat, her gym teacher had said. Well, all those games had certainly paid off.

She didn’t have the nerve to get the broken lantern, but the slimy things were still with her. She hated her luck.

A monster screeched in the trees and her feet seemed to float over the path. Up ahead, was the last corner before the lake. Another screech, this time directly overhead, was answered by a bone chilling yodel!

There was nothing for it, no turning back for Sophie. She had a job to do and no self-respecting girl would let it go undone.  

Sophie put her head down, to avoid it being torn off by the screechy thing and raced to the lake. The slimy creatures bounced off her right side, and it felt like every monster from all the horror films she’d ever heard about were after her.

The lake appeared. The job was finished!

“Sophie! What on earth happened to your hair? Are you alright?” Pappy’s worried face looked at her from his boat, that was still tied to the dock.

Sophie ran onto the dock, nearly of breath. It was difficult to speak, but she managed, “I-I’m okay, now.”

She reached into her coat pocket and cringed. Her hand grabbed the carton of those slimy devils. “Here’s the worms we forgot.”  

 “Thanks, Sweetie, that was brave of you to go back in the dark. Especially with all of those roots on the trail. Now, let’s get those twigs out of your hair.”  

Six-Word Story

callofnature

John answers the call of nature!

The Lonely Mountain gets a Makeover

 

A seed landed on an ancient, beardless Mountain. Upon seeing the specimen, the mountain scoffed, surely nothing would come of it. Such a puny, insignificant thing could not possible affect a massive, immortal being such as he. His rocky exterior was impenetrable. Over the eons, neither rain nor wind, had been able to topple him.

Creatures such as the mountain goat, the eagle, and the mountain lion had lived and died in his peaks. As agile, mighty, and ferocious they may have been, a mere slip of a boulder had crushed more than a few. Who, or what, was this speck of dirt? What right did it have to habitat his body?

Day after day, the winds blew and Mountain waited for the seed to blow away, yet nothing of the sort occurred. Unknown to its rocky host, the seed had found a small alcove and was protected from the wind. It had also found a small crack in the rock and had begun to take root. Tiny string like roots were, at first, the only things preventing a freefall. Eventually the seed outgrew the alcove and was subject to the brunt of the wind’s fury.

The mountain rejoiced, for it thought surely this was the end, but the little beast hung on. Time passed and the tree grew, in spite of, or because of the storms. Mountain was shocked and impressed, he could feel the roots growing deeper inside of him, splitting rock and gathering nourishment from the slightest source.

One day, when spring arrived, Mountain woke up to see that tree was covered in thousands of beautiful blossoms. Such color had never adorned his drab exterior. This time, he rejoiced for a different reason. This time he was glad his friend had possessed the resilience to not only survive but thrive.

And so, it is with you. In this time of pandemic, economic fallout, and great uncertainty, find an alcove and set down roots in whatever bit of hope and joy you can find. Bloom where you are planted!

 

Swept towards Eternity

waterfall

Swiftly swept – no say have we; For time’s torrent waits not for thee. Youth flows post-haste – Looks will flee. The soul remains for eternity.

Love is all – the rest’s fool’s gold. Guard thy tongue and don’t let it scold. Warm thy heart’s core – Don’t grow cold. For Heaven awaits with joys untold.

Saving the world, one coffee cup at a time!

So, we’re into another week of COVID craziness here and the kiddos are looking at extended time off. It’s a fortunate thing that our wonderful school had the foresight to create some online learning videos, paired with the opportunity for messaging their teachers with questions, during certain times of the day. That being said, by the end of last week, cabin fever had set in and the isolation of social distancing was beginning to wear on this family.

The recent thaw of winter revealed humanity’s “best” behavior in the form of trash in the ditches. If you’d read my previous post, you’re aware that we don’t live in town and that we get some strange items dumped close to our doorsteps.

Wheelchairs aren’t the only thing that turn up on our beautiful countryside. In my nearly sixteen years here, I’ve seen countless beer bottles, coffee cups, flooring, an air conditioner, tires, televisions, a FULL- sized refrigerator, and once, a large, black plastic garbage bag that every crime show said I should NOT touch. Of course, I opened it. The contents, hold your breath, was potting soil. No, buddy just couldn’t dump out that “toxic” stuff and keep the bag. It’s a sad statement that people feel the need to use our neighborhood as a garbage dump.

This is not a rant, well, not all of it anyways, this is a post about teaching my kids social and environmental responsibility. Yes, this past weekend I took my offspring on a mission to clean up those ditches, I bought them each a ‘grabby-thing’ and they cheerfully went to town bagging recycling and garbage alike. When we were through, and after getting several compliments and thumbs up from neighbors and strangers driving by, there was a sense of pride and accomplishment among our trio.

My youngest, surprised and concerned, commented on just how much some people litter. I’m hoping that this experience has left an indelible impression on the value of good stewardship on their young minds. Here’s hoping for a more environmentally responsible generation. Below are just a few pics from our day.

 

triogarbage

Saving the world, one coffee cup at a time!

 

Isabelstream

Braving the “fast flowing” depths of ‘Ditch Canyon’ to get that piece of plastic and check out the baby minnows.

 

tiretree

Man Verses Nature, a discarded tire next to a beaver dam.

 

shingles

Hey folks, shingles belong on the roof, not in a marshland.

I’m sure that all of my readers are environmentally conscious, but if you know of anyone who considers the countryside as their personal landfill, please remind them that this world is ‘Borrowed from our children.’