#MidweekMusings 1×06 : Carry You Home

She was still alive. The man next to her was dead, the hole in his head, the mush that was the back of his head. They’d shot him. He’d been in the way.

Frank knew what they’d done to her. Naked and tied to a tree. His blood turned to ice as he remembered Beth. He’d saved her body, but couldn’t save her heart.

The ice calmed him. “First, make sure no one’s still around.” He pulled his bow off his back, set an arrow, then moved, silently, like a wolf, through the trees and the brush. A predator, hunting. He listened, but heard no one. He searched the ground, and the trees, ready to fight if needed. A trained warrior. A trained killer.

The woman was still alive. Damn it. He should have walked away. Should have let her die. One more victim of the violence filled world. But, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t sleep that night if he did. He might never sleep again if he left her there.

He searched the woods until he found them. Three of them in the trees, four of them on the ground, arranged in a half circle around the woman, waiting for anyone to show up. A classic trap, she was the bait. Outnumbered, seven to one, Frank could have walked away. Waited until the men gave up. That might be a day, or two. That might be a week. They might stick around until their bait died. Either way, they’d move on, find someone else.

The woman, and her friend, lost in the woods. They’d probably been hunting a safe place. A village, a town, where people would welcome them. Take them in. Plenty of lost couples wandered in the forest, the mountains. Most of them starved to death. They didn’t know how to hunt for food.

Bands of men hunted them. Always killed the male. Always raped the female. Always set a trap. Frank knew they set traps because it always worked. Others lost in the woods tried to help. They rushed in, blindly. And the men who waited had another woman to rape. And they did. Endlessly.

Frank wasn’t lost in the woods. He lived there. Hunted there. Survived there. Alone.

Carefully, he pulled two more arrows from his quiver, propped them against the tree he stood next too. Frank knew what to do. He targeted one of the men in a tree, let the arrow fly. It struck the man in the neck. The second arrow struck the second man hiding in a tree. It caught him in the belly. The man howled in agony and fell. Idiot probably broke his neck in the fall.

The other men knew something was wrong, but hadn’t started to react. Frank fired the third arrow. It caught the third tree dweller in the chest. The man stood on a tree branch, and looked at the arrow sticking out of his chest. He looked surprised, like something was wrong, something didn’t make sense. He sat down on the branch. Frank wondered how long it would take for him to die. But he had no time to watch. He dashed through the brush to his left, toward the closest of the men on the ground. He pulled an arrow from his quiver as he ran. The man never figured out what was going on. Frank pounced on him, and drove the arrow into his neck. The man fell, silently. Unable to scream.

The other three did what Frank expected. They left their hiding spots, wandered into the open, headed toward the tree dweller who’d screamed. Frank put an arrow in the back of one of them. The other two turned, drew their guns, and started shooting at everything.

One arrow struck a man in the left thigh. Another struck the other in the right hip. Both howled in pain. Frank stayed hidden, and waited. The two he’d wounded panicked, dropped their guns, and started to rip the arrows from their bodies, which only caused them to bleed more profusely. The other five were no longer threats.

Frank walked to the two wounded men. He kicked their guns away, into the woods. They looked at him, pleaded for help. Frank never made a sound. He approached the woman. Untied her. She was too weak to walk.

“I know a place you will be safe.” He pulled the shirt off one of the dead men, helped her put it on. Then, he carried her. “A place you can call home.” He looked to the sky and screamed the cry of an eagle. An eagle answered. Frank screamed again. He knew, the eagle would fly to Jessica.

“I know someone. A woman.” Frank looked at the woman he carried. “She’ll take care of you.”

And he carried her away from that place of death.

808 words
@LurchMunster


For week 1×06 of #MidweekMusings, a flash fiction adventure hosted by #FlashMobWrites (Ruth Long and Cara Michaels). Please, go read all the stories for this week’s prompt.

#55WordChallenge : The Fence – Part 18

As we raced along, I heard an eagle’s scream pierce the sky. Cynthia stopped, and looked up, her eyes pleading, her voice reduced to a whisper, “No.” She shook her head, “No,” as a teddy bear fell from the sky. She picked it up and began to cry, “No,” as the eagle screamed once more.

55 words
@LurchMunster


This is part 18 of the serial story I’m working on for Lisa McCourt Hollar‘s #55WordChallenge flash fiction challenge. Please, go read all the other entries in the challenge this week. It’s flat amazing what gifted writers can say in just 55 words.

Fairies : For Rose (Part 3)

On the first night of his journey, Scream found he didn’t sleep well at all. He kept waking up, afraid he would fall out of the tree. So, with the coming of the dawn, he decided he should find a good vine he could use as a rope, to hold himself in place while he slept at night. Or, he had to learn to sleep on the ground, which his mother had suggested he not do. He also noticed that he slept bent at funny angles, so he was stiff, and sore when he woke up. And sleeping in a tree, he felt as if his body had tried to conform to the shape of the tree. It took a while for the pattern of the tree bark to fade from his skin that morning.

He concluded the journey would be a bit more difficult than he’d expected. But, that was OK. Rose and her sisters would be there at the end of his journey. He’d spend some time with them, and have fun.

He continued to move from tree to tree. The trees continued to grow taller. And the woodland changed into a forest. There was no clear line or marker. But somehow, Scream knew he’d reached the edge of the Northern Forest.

He saw several wolves that day. It amazed him how silently something the size of a wolf could move through the forest. Along the ground. Through the brush, the fallen tree limbs, and the dead leaves along the ground. From his perch high above the ground, he watched each wolf he encountered. He even followed one for a time. The wolves were not just silent. They were very quick. Able to cover large distances easily, and rapidly. And they did not tire easily.

Scream also saw an eagle. And several hawks. The eagle was majestic. The way it rode the air currents, its wings extended, catching the wind and gliding along. He saw the eagle’s tail feathers adjusting to keep its flight level. He decided that one day, he would learn to soar through the sky, effortlessly, like that eagle. Riding the wind, and not endlessly flapping his wings to just stay aloft.

The hawks flew in much the same way. But they flew lower, closer to the ground. And they used their wings more frequently. Scream was surprised to see a hawk fold its wings, and plummet toward the ground, extending its wings just before reaching the ground, extending its talons, and capturing a small rabbit as it flapped its wings and returned to the sky. The hawk had landed in a tree, and started consuming its prey.

The raw power and grace of the hawk making it’s kill convinced Scream that a skilled warrior knew, and used technique to best his opponent. A skilled warrior knew, as that hawk knew, that technique provided a warrior an edge in battle.

Scream saw many bird nests on his journey. He stayed a safe distance from them, so he didn’t frighten the parents, or their young. After seeing several bird nests, he realized he didn’t have to tie himself to a tree. He could use tree limbs and leaves to make a small, temporary nest of his own to sleep in. It would take practice, and it would take time. But he knew he could learn. And he felt that learning to build simple places to rest in the trees would allow him to sleep better on his trip, and would keep him from falling out of the tree while he slept.

“Mother,” he thought, “you were right. There is much we can learn about life simply by watching the animals. The animals were here before we were. They know how to live in the forest, in the sea, on the land.” His appreciation of his mother increased. He remembered Mystica’s home, and the homes of her daughters, in the trees. Made by the trees. How natural they were. How simple. How solid. How safe. He could learn much about living in the forest from them.

He had plenty of water to drink that day. He found a stream of water running through the forest. He realized there were a lot of streams and rivers in the forest. There was plenty of water to drink, and plenty of water for things to grow. It was something he hadn’t expected. He’d expected trees, and water to be separate. Much like the river and the lake where Rose lived. He didn’t expect them to be so thoroughly mixed together.

He decided to take a bath in one of the streams. He splashed water all over himself. Rinsing the dust, the sweat, and the dirt of his journey off. It was refreshing to feel clean. He stayed on the ground long enough to eat some dried fish, and some of the sea weed. He marveled at the way the sunlight filtered through the trees. The way he could see beams of light passing through gaps in the limbs and leaves. The way the ground was always in shadow, never brightly lit.

While he was on the ground, he got to see a couple of deer, and a raccoon visit the edge of the stream, and drink. He got to watch the raccoon stand in the stream, and watch the water. He watched as it plunged a front leg into the stream, and pulled it out, holding a small fish. He hadn’t realized raccoons had workable hands.

He took back to the trees, when he was ready, and continued his journey. That evening, as the sun began to set, he found some tree branches that had fallen. He placed them across the gap between a couple of tree limbs, and tested the resulting surface to see if it could hold his weight. He had to try several times to get the right branches, and to get them positioned properly, so they acted like a little floor between the limbs. He covered that little floor with dead leaves.

As he prepared for sleep on the second night of his journey, he thought of Rose. Of holding her hand. Of her smile, and how it made everything seem OK.  He remembered how, when he was lost, and alone, and wondered if he’d ever see his mother, and his home again, Rose had smiled at him, and held his hand.  And he felt like everything was OK. Like being lost forever wouldn’t be so bad.

That night, he slept on his own little nest in the trees. And he slept well, finding he wasn’t afraid of falling. And having dreams of walking with Rose among the trees, holding her hand, and getting to see her smile.