He came down from the mountains as autumn aged, before the paths could pile with snow and the bridges bowed with ice. After eighty-nine days he had still not found a trace of his goal. Every morning he had trekked the, by now familiar, circuit looking for any signs that his quarry had passed by, always with the same negative result. It had been the same for the past three years. his hunting skills had been slowly diminishing. He knew that he would not spend another season on these mountains. He had made friends with bears, the wild mountain goats, the eagles that swooped high over the mountain. He called them friends without receiving anything in return but the pleasure of fleeting sightings as armed only with camera and binoculars he had watched the parent beasts and their offspring, in their battles for life in this harsh territory. There were good and bad times but they had all given him the pleasure he craved. He had but one regret. With two more cameras to check, once again he was beginning to feel disheartened. He saw the red light blinking as he approached, at least it had caught something. Could this be the one he was looking for. He crouched down on the damp soil and removing his knapsack reached in to pull out his laptop. Releasing his fingers from the thick mittens he plugged a lead into the top of the box and crossing his fingers, once more waited for the picture to appear. The screen looked snowy at first. Interference providing it’s own blizzard conditions but as it started to clear he felt the usual tense stirrings of excitement. In the top corner were two dots of light, pinpointed in the infra-red beam. Could this be the one? Eyes, and they were coming closer. It was unmistakable, a round off-white, cat-like face, black whiskers trembling. His first snow-leopard. Proof that they were still in the area. He started to cry. Nothing else would or could ever compare to this moment.
Category Archives: Flash fiction
The snow is falling harder now. I love the way the air always seems a little warmer just before the first flakes start to drift lazily down, instantly forming minute droplets of water on the surface of my jacket and legs. I’ve been sitting on my three-legged stool for what seems like hours, my gaze fixed on the gap between the trees. The leaden sky has finally decided to release it’s heavy load.
Without warning he suddenly appears, pawing at the ground. He surely realises that if the snow gets any harder the grass will soon become buried and he will have to move to the edges of the field. Already the does have moved back into the shelter of the trees. He doesn’t want to join them but will have to if he is desperate for food. He will be forced to try to strip some of the few remaining leaves from the branches, curling his long tongue delicately around each scarce morsel. Rough sustenance that will have to suffice if the hard frozen ground remains covered for too long.
My bent legs are beginning to ache but to move now would be to tempt disaster. Although I am downwind and he is unlikely to pick up my scent, the slightest rustle and he would probably bound away across the, by now, white coated grass.
His head rises, the magnificent antlers broad, curving in a wide arc from his dark, tawny brow. He turns and stares in my direction, proud, defiant, as if he knows what I must do. I blame the wind for the wetness I can feel in the corners of my eyes and the thin trickle on my cheek. Can he sense the inevitable? In one slow, easy movement I am able to get in one, two, a burst of shots. He jumps back in surprise and a sudden gust whips a flurry of snow around him obscuring my view.
I don’t care what has happened for I have what I came for. A check in the viewfinder shows me how successful the shoot has been.
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My friend was just a shadow of his former self.
I sighed in my loudest resigned manner, in the hope that someone, or something, would gauge my anger and frustration. As I replaced another clean puppy pad, the hound-dog from Hell had released another stream of steaming fluid onto the caramel coloured shag pile. Time to make my stand. “That’s it dog, once more and you’re banished,” I shouted, through my smile.
The villagers hated to see the magpie who nested in the old elm tree. To them it seemed the bird had been sitting up there forever, with it’s mocking call and loud chattering every time any one passed by. It wasn’t so much that they disliked magpies, in fact most admired his contrasting black, blue and white plumage.
To them though this one was different, he had never been seen with a mate, in fact no other magpies had ever been seen or heard near the old tree where he was perpetually on guard. This caused the villagers, both old and young distress, for in accordance with the old, well known saying, “One for sorrow, two for joy, ” it was customary to greet a solitary magpie with a, “Good morning, mister magpie, how’s your wife. ”
To ignore a single magpie was sure to cause evil to the observer. It now seemed that any event that could be ascribed to bad luck was the fault of someone failing to pay the necessary respects to their resident bird. As he got older he had taken on the mantle of, and was often referred to as, “The Harbinger of Doom.”
Fearful of dire repercussions if they did anything to harm the bird, the villagers realised that all they could do was wait until they saw the bird no more, in the hope that this ill-starred resident had finally taken his leave, then hopefully his place would be taken by a pair or perhaps more of his kind.
Mournful, I stood observing the once ornate merchant’s houses that looked out over the empty, deserted wharves, My sense of nostalgia rising as I remembered the times before, when with each rising tide the hustle and bustle would begin. The rasping breath of steam-powered cranes as they swung the heavy bales from ship to shore. The grunts of heaving stevedores manhandling the trucks, each piled high with sacks and bale, to the gaping wooden, warehouse doors. The squeal of the pulleys calling the unwary to the hooks plummeting to the ground, hungrily anticipating the next profit-making mouthful to be hoisted.
The elevator stopped on the thirteenth floor with a lurch. Sarah’s heart leapt into her mouth. The doors opened. She stepped through and immediately looked from left to right hoping that there would be a sign for a bathroom. She was in luck, an arrow pointed down the corridor to her left. Nervously she tripped down the uncarpeted passageway, conscious of the unfamiliar click of her recently purchased high-heeled shoes on the polished tiles.
She checked her wristwatch, breathing a sigh of relief, finding that she was still fifteen minutes early. She had plenty of time to make final adjustments to her hair and lip gloss. Despite meticulous preparations a girl could never be sure could she. She swung the door open and found it empty. Only then did she realise that there had been no-one in the corridor either. Resting her clutch bag on the side, she stared at her reflection in the mirror, pleasantly surprised that no adjustments were necessary. In fact she was thinking that she had seldom taken this much trouble over her appearance and she hoped that it would pay off.
She heard the door open and, turning, saw a young girl enter. Smiling she stepped toward the door, which the girl was holding for her. Exiting she turned to the right and once more saw an empty corridor. She counted the doors till she found the number she required and steeling herself gave a firm double knock. From inside she heard a deep voice, “Please come in, the door is unlocked.”
Setting her face into what she imagined was a confident expression she gently pushed against the door. It swung inwards easily. Trying to look self-assured she took a step through and was astonished at the sight that greeted her.
What was Sarah doing, why was she there, what so surprised her, answers in the comments box please, just to see if anyone comes close.
Hanging his set of spare clothing on the gate, the invisible man leaned back. He braced himself as he let his soaking wet trousers and underclothes fall to the floor. Kicking them to one side he rested while he planned his next move.
This was the first day of their public courtship.
Everything was prepared to perfection.
All the servants had been dismissed.
Perfumed fragrance filled the air.
Opening the shutters she bowed, inviting him to kneel.
Their first tea ceremony was about to begin.
“I liked the rush, I liked the crunch. Never did look back at the fallout. Perhaps that was my first and probably biggest mistake. It’s a character trait that has plagued me throughout my life. Happy go lucky, no caring about the consequences of my actions, just settle for the buzz, the adrenalin high. This is beginning to sound like the words of that song, you probably know it, be it upon your own head if you don’t. It goes something like, “Lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink, and the devil take the hindmost in the morning,” sums me up spot on.
Now to get back to the point, just one backward glance and I would have noticed there was something incredibly wrong with the scene I had left behind. Instead of a mass of red and yellow flame with a sky-obscuring plume of oily smoke there was just a white glow and the crater which should have opened was rapidly filling in again. The whole expanse of earth, tarmac and brush started to flow like a river and no matter how hard I pressed my foot to the throttle, the car was still slowly moving backwards with me in it. This was more than unexpected, it was impossible, surreal and I did not want to be part of it. I surmised that the only way out was to get out and be very quick about it. With one hand I managed to release my seat-belt then I wrenched open my door and rolled out onto my side, leaving the car going away from me. By the time I finished rolling and got unsteadily to my feet I realised the error of my ways. It was like standing on a moving walkway and the sand-covered verge was slowly but surely pulling me back to the bomb-site. I didn’t have much time to figure out my next move. Wishing that I was Superman or any other of my childhood heroes I started to wonder what they would do. Then it hit me.”