#55WordChallenge – 2014, Week 1

Bobby was warm, but stiff in his snow gear. Dad walked with him to the holly bushes jutting from the snow along the back fence. Red berries were all over them. All kinds of birds ate the berries. “Any closer and we’ll scare the birds.”

“We care for nature, son, and she’ll care for us.”

55 Words
@LurchMunster


I’m slowly staggering back to the world of Flash Fiction after the holidays. Here’s what I came up with for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge this week. It feels good to be getting back to writing. Go read all the entries in this week’s challenge. If you find one you like, leave a comment.

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Fairies : For Rose (Part 6)

Sword slept in on the fifth day of his journey. He didn’t mean to. But he was so exhausted he couldn’t help it. By the time he woke the day was half gone. When he woke up, he found he was surrounded by birds and squirrels.

One of the squirrels had a rose stem in its mouth. With a beautiful yellow rose bloom on it. The bloom had bright red edges on each petal. The squirrel walked up to Sword, and put the rose in his lap. Then he squeaked several times, and walked back where he’d come from. At that point, Mystica popped out of nowhere, and said, “It’s from Rose. She sent her friends to check on you.”

“Mystica?”

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m not really here. I’m just communicating. Figured I’d say good afternoon, and tell you what was going on.”

Sword smiled, and shook his head. “I’m just tired.” At which point his stomach growled, and he added, “And hungry.”

“Obviously,” Mystica smiled. And up walked several squirrels, making a small pile of nuts in front of Sword. “The squirrels told Rose they’d make sure you ate something.”

Sword looked at the nuts. Acorns. Walnuts. Pecans. Pine nuts. All kinds of nuts. He looked at the squirrels, “Thank you, my friends.”

“Well,” Mystica spoke, “I’ll be going now. You just follow the birds. They’ll guide you down the shortest path to get here. And they’ll make sure you find plenty to eat.”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” Mystica smiled. “Rose asked them to.” And with that, the image of Mystica was gone.

Sword looked at the nuts, wondering how to open some them. It was like the squirrels could read his mind. One picked up two nuts, and cracked them together. Sword watched as the shells on the nuts cracked, and the squirrel was able to pull the nuts out.

“So. I’m having nuts for breakfast today,” he shook his head, and smiled. “Mom won’t ever believe this one.” And he sat there, with the squirrels, cracking nuts open and eating them. And every time he had problems opening up a nut, the squirrels would show him how. It was actually a lot of fun. And by the time the nuts were gone, he was laughing, and smiling, with a couple of squirrels in his lap, and one on each shoulder.

When he was ready to resume his journey, he said good-bye to his squirrel friends, shaking hands with each of them, and watching as they disappeared into the trees. He couldn’t help but smile. “It’s going to be a beautiful day.”

A couple of sparrows landed at his feet, and flapped their wings. Then they flew off toward the West, and a couple of red-winged blackbirds flew to his feet. They also flew toward the west. And Sword realized the birds were saying, “Follow us.”

So he did just that. Moving from tree to tree, following the birds. Always there were birds that flew from the tree he was in, to the next tree he should move to. Sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, robins, bluejays, and even a few cardinals. Sword watched them all. He’d never realized how pretty birds were. He’d never studied the grace they moved with. And he had so much fun following them, watching them, listening to them sing.

When he got thirsty, he stopped, and declared he needed water to drink. And the birds showed him where the closest water was. Sometimes, to his surprise, the water was in the leaves of the trees. Sometimes, in little puddles in small indentations where limbs branched off from the tree trunk. He found he didn’t have to go down to the ground to find a drink.

The birds also showed him where nuts, and berries were up in the trees. And they watched him as he ate. He watched the birds too, and was surprised by how much they ate. The birds ate all the time. It was like they were born to eat. He never knew birds ate so much. But when he thought about it a bit, it made sense. The way the birds were always moving. Always flying around. They had to use a lot of energy. They would get hungry. And so, they would eat. All the time.

And every time he stopped to eat or drink, the birds would sing songs to him. Sometimes, a cardinal would even land on one of his shoulders, and just sing up a storm. And the songs always felt happy, making Sword smile as he ate.

As the sun started to set, the birds led him to a bigger tree. And he was surprised to find a set of branches that had formed a little flat floor. No other word applied. And there was a pile of leaves that could act as a pillow for his head to rest on. And a big pile of nuts and berries for him to eat.

He knew the floor was Mystica’s work. She’d spoken to the trees, and used her white magic to give him a place to sleep.

That night, Sword slept very well indeed. Thanks to the birds and squirrels, he wasn’t nearly as hungry as he’d been when he woke up. And having a flat surface to sleep on, and a pillow. As tired as he was, how could he not like sleeping on those.

And as he slept that night, he swore he could hear flute music. Beautiful flute music. Playing a tune he’d never heard. One that made him feel safe. And welcome. And loved. One that reminded him of friends he hadn’t seen in months.

Sword slept with a smile on his face that night. And dreamed sitting by the edge of the lake, with Rose. Holding her hand. And he knew that on the 6th day of his journey, he’d reach the lake. And maybe make that dream come true.

Fairies : For Rose (Part 4)

When the sun rose on the third day of his trip, Sword welcomed it. While he’d slept better that night in the bed he’d made in the tree, he’d been awakened endlessly. By the sounds he’d heard all night long. He had no idea what they were. He didn’t know they were normal sounds of night life in the forest.Birds, crickets, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels. The sounds they make were all there. All night long. Sword would drift off to sleep, and then wake up with a start to a strange sound. The sound of a screech-owl. The sound of a wolf howling. The sound of a woodpecker hammering against a tree. The list went on and on.

Sword was so tired. This journey was tougher than he’d ever expected it to be. But he remained determined to make the journey on his own, without help from the Dragons, or from Mystica.

He helped himself to some of the dried fish and seaweed in his provisions. And noticed he’d run out of both. He sighed. His journey had just gotten a bit harder. He knew finding water wasn’t going to be a problem. He’d learned that the previous day. But, he wasn’t at all sure about finding food. He had no practical experience in finding food on land. He had to take some time that morning, and figure out what to do.

He remembered his lessons with Oceana. She’d shown him pictures of things on land he could eat. He’d learned their names. Blue berries. Strawberries. Back berries. Raspberries. Apples. Grapes. Carrots. Potatoes. Peanuts. All kinds of fruit and vegetables from plants. He also knew he could find meat from birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals. But he didn’t want to hunt animals unless he had to.

He continued his journey through the tree tops. Until he heard noises. People working, talking, singing, laughing. He became very cautious. Oceana had told him to do his best to avoid towns and villages. To remain hidden in the trees, and quietly move around them. So, he quietly moved from tree to tree, until he came to a clearing. He could see several small houses. A well. Some horses and cattle. A barn. And crops.

He watched the people of the settlement go about their daily lives. Working in their crops. Farming. He knew what that was. In his home, they farmed all kinds of sea weed. Kelp was especially good. It grew well, and was nutritious.

After a good hour, Sword resumed his journey. He moved back from the clearing, then went from tree to tree, around the clearing. He was careful to stay hidden high up in the trees. He’d been taught that humans don’t look up in the trees to see if there’s something there.

It took him a half an hour to work his way around the village. Then, he resumed his journey. And that’s when things changed for him.

He heard a scream. It wasn’t far away, so he decided to move as quickly as he could, to investigate. He wanted to know who had screamed and why. As he moved through the treetops, toward the scream, he heard a second scream. Then a third. And he heard something lout. It roared. It growled.

Suddenly, he’d found the scream. It was a human woman. Screaming for help. She was running through the forest as quickly as she could. Ziging and Zaging through the trees. Something big, and dark brown was following her. Gaining on her. Scream saw it was a bear. And he saw it would catch her soon. And then, it would kill her.

There was nothing else he could do. He took to the air, leaving the trees, and using his wings to dive at the bear. As he approached, he watched as the bear swung a big front paw, claws and all, at the woman. He heard her scream. He saw he fall. He saw the claws had torn through her clothing, through her skin. She was injured.

He took his arms, and extended them as he dove at the bear. Before he ever reached it, the wild magic that was his extended invisible swords before him. Those swords penetrated the back of the bear. And ran clean through it as the momentum his dive drove those swords deep into the bear, penetrating 3 feet before his hands struck the bear on the back.

The bear howled in pain. Sword withdrew his swords, and then he swung both arms, his invisible swords cut deeply into the  bear’s neck. The bear sagged. Then fell. Sword knew it would die soon from the wounds he’d inflicted on it. He turned to face the woman. She had pulled herself into a seated position and was watching him. Sword asked her, “Are you OK.”

The woman was silent. She looked absolutely terrified. Sword heard voices approaching. He knew some of the villages had heard the woman’s screams. He couldn’t wait for them to get there, so he flexed his young wings, and took back to the trees. Moving quickly from tree to tree, putting the woman, the bear carcass, and the village behind him.

That afternoon, he searched, and found blue berries, and raspberries to eat. He drank all the water he wanted from a forest stream. He rinsed himself off again in the water. And he made another nest in a tree.

And then he went to sleep. Knowing he’d done something good that day. He’d saved a human’s life.

That night, he dreamed once more, of sitting by the lake. Holding Rose’s hand.

A Clip From Chapter 24 Of JuNoWriMo 2012.

The first night, they reached the Gray Hills. They stopped in a little clearing that Mystica spotted from the air. It was next to a little stream. With trees all around. They spent the night there, sleeping on the ground. They drank fresh water from the stream. And they ate berries, and cheese that Mystica had carried with her. It wasn’t anything special. But it meant so much to Sunshine. To do something so simple. So normal. So quiet. To just be able to spend time with her mother.

They told stories that night. Sunshine told stories of playing with Musica in the castle. And Mystica told stories of the birds, and rabbits by the lake. How they played games with each other.

Sunshine fell asleep that night, with a smile on her face, and her head in Mystica’s lap.

The second day of the trip, they crossed the Gray Hills, to the foothills of the Black Mountains. Sunshine saw so many things she’d never seen before. She saw wild animals roaming through the hills, in groups. Like deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, and even wolves. But what she liked most of all were the birds, and the butterflies. She’d seen birds in the kingdom. But she’d never seen such flocks of birds before. And never knew that butterflies flew in such large groups.

Sunshine also saw lakes, between the hills. Where streams, and creeks, and rivers came together. And next to some of them there were villages. The way the surface of the lakes reflected sunlight was so amazing to her. How the lake sometimes looked like liquid silver in the sunlight.

That second night, in the foothills of the mountains, They had another simple meal. And they settled in a small clearing that overlooked the Gray Hills. Sunshine had stood there for a couple of hours, just looking at the hills. “They’re beautiful, Mommy! They’re so beautiful!” She watched as fog began to form around the lakes, the rivers, and the creeks. And then slowly spread. Covering the Gray Hills as far as she could see. “I know why they call them the Gray Hills, Mommy! I know! The fog at night turns everything gray!”

The third day of the journey home was through the Black Mountains. The heights of the mountains were so high that nothing grew on them. they were bare rock. Many of them were covered in ice and snow. On that day, Sunshine saw her first waterfalls. She’d never seen anything like them. Water flowing over a big cliff, and falling to the ground below, where it returned to being water in a river once again.

She saw her first snow. She’d never seen snow. It never snowed in the Southern Plains. Sunshine had no idea what it was at first. Mystica had stopped, and let her explore the snow for a time. Sunshine learned it was cold. And if you picked up a handful of it, that it would met in your hand, and turn to water. “It’s frozen water!” She looked at the snow some more, and realized the water froze in little flakes. As they were on the ground, it actually started to snow. And Sunshine learned that snow was a lot like frozen rain.

Sunshine also saw her first iceberg. A river made of ice. Flowing between two mountains. As icebergs go, it was a small one. The big icebergs were all in the land of ice and snow to the north. But at the tops of the Black Mountains, it was cold enough for a few icebergs to form. Sunshine.

The two of them had spent the night in the northern foothills of the Black Mountains. They had their usual berries and cheese. And they drank water from a mountain stream. They slept beneath the stars that night. And listened to the animals sing. The sounds of crickets chirping. The sound of frogs croaking. The sound of birds singing their songs. It was a veritable orchestra of wildlife. And Sunshine spent hours listening to the music of the animals before she fell asleep.