Fiction Fursday/Reblog

Today’s story comes in the form of a shameless re-blog of my own material. Some months ago, (EIGHT, to be exact! Where the bloody hell does the time go?!), I wrote a story which was all about my beloved Brighton. This week’s choice is mostly a cop-out because I wanted to post something and have nothing ready, and partly because I miss Brighton so. It’s been more than six months since I moved up north and I haven’t thought about it much, but this week has found me strangely reflective and a bit sad to have left that lively, vibrant place behind. Still, I hold it dearly in my heart and will return very soon; I have a particular friend who lives there whom I owe a beer or five, for one! She knows who she is…

Anyway, here is an extract from a fun little story, “Pride and Seagulls”. It made me smile and cheered me up to re-read it; I hope it interests you enough to follow the link and that you enjoy it if you do.

P.S. If you would like to suggest a story for me to write in the coming weeks, please feel free to let me know in the comments section. I will take on any genre and any prompt!

P.P.S. In reaction to the changes in my life and my ambitions, I have been giving some serious thought to the future of this blog. I will explain all in a post very soon. Watch this space!

 

Pride and Seagulls

By Adam Dixon

“I’ve always wondered why that worship that one,” said Waark the seagull, wiggling his scruffy feathers. “I mean, what’s so special about him anyway?”

“You sure it’s a he?” Kai-Kai replied as he dug his beak into his wing. “I’ve always thought it was a female.” He shuffled to adjust his balance as a gust of wind nudged him sideways.

“Nahh, can’t be!” Waark scoffed, but he still cocked his head for a better look. From their vantage point on the roof of the American Express Community Stadium the two gulls had a very good view of the whole building. They were scrutinising the gigantic image of a seagull in flight which decorated one of the walls facing the freshly-cut pitch, the same gull which was depicted onto several rows of plastic seating. They stared at the image in silence for several minutes.

“No, it’s definitely a male!” Waark said triumphantly.

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Fiction Fursday/Flossy’s Chance

It’s Thursday again and time for another short story. This week my prompt comes from the Ben Kenobi to my Luke Skywalker of short stories, Geoff Le Pard. By the way, did you lot know that he’s published his Nano stories in a collection? Well then, now you do and you can visit the Amazon page and take a look! Go on, they’re very good!

Geoff’s suggestion is an interesting one. He challenged me to write a story in the 2nd person involving a rescue dog. Now, I don’t believe I’ve ever written a story in the 2nd person before so I’ve taken on the challenge with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I hope it turned out okay! Thanks again, Geoff!

P.S. If any of you lovely people would like to challenge me to write a story one week, please feel free to leave a comment and let me steal your ideas!

Flossy’s Chance

By Adam Dixon

Do you remember when they first brought you home? The word hadn’t prompted feelings of security or solace before, only thoughts of misery and pain. The big place with the cages hadn’t been much better as you had missed your old master terribly despite all he had done. You liked the new humans a lot, in fact you believed that you loved them, but you weren’t sure about “going home” again. Your fears were allayed almost immediately as soon as you stepped into their house, your three legs quivering. It was much, much bigger than the last one you lived in and it smelled better too. It smelled cleaner, more inviting, with barely a hint of alcohol anywhere. It smelled of happiness and comfort, without the pervasive taint of anger and bitterness. The two little boys even gave you a new name to signify your new life: Chance. It was a good name and you loved it.

Do you remember when you saw Flossy for the first time? You were quite a shock to her as well! The old black cat was extremely put-out by your arrival, viewing you as an invader to her home of peace and pampering. You were frightened of her to begin with, but then again you were frightened of everything back then. Flossy resorted to passive-aggression anyway: she would hiss at you if you approached her food bowl and she would demurely ignore you whenever you sniffed her but she would never touch you. You grew confident and happy with that thought in mind and began to truly enjoy your new home. The young boys would take you out for your daily walks, laughing merrily as you hobbled along to keep up. You would cower whenever another dog drew near, whimpering as they tried to greet you. You even ran from adoring strangers who wanted to stroke you and call you a good boy. You were so frightened of everything, but you knew that you were safe with your new family nearby.

Then, the incident happened. You remember it well, although I’m sure that you wish you didn’t. You had been playing with the boys and had retreated out into the garden as they chased you. Barking with delight, you had stumbled into the grassy paradise eager for more. The boy’s mother had called them back, however, so you were left to amuse yourself. You knew that you shouldn’t have gone anywhere near the wall, but curiosity got the better of you. You approached the low wooden structure and after sniffing about you scented your neighbour. Too late. With a bark more akin to a roar, the gigantic hound from next door leaped over the fence and stood in front of you, his eyes alight with fire. You were so frightened! You had heard the nightly declarations of the great beast for months, listening to him boast about his strength and cunning and of how he could tear any of the local dogs apart. Staring up at his bared fangs you believed it completely. The big dog mocked you with his laughing growl and approached with deliberate menace. You whimpered and begged, crouching as low as possible because fleeing was futile. Your almost-forgotten memories of the beatings and the cruelty came flooding back and you almost died of fear then and there.

The last thing you expected was for Flossy to get involved. You were dimly aware of the sound of the cat-flap bursting open and before you knew it a black streak of fur sailed over your head and struck the big dog. The dog yelped and leaped backwards, bleeding from deep scratches on his face. Flossy stood between you and the beast, her hackles raised and her tail erect like a sword, spitting and hissing furiously. The big dog was shaken by the sudden interference and stared down at the old cat in disbelief. Flossy screeched and charged, her claws extended. The big dog yelped like a new-born pup and scrambled back over the wall in a panic. Flossy nimbly jumped on top on the wall and hurled more abuse at the hound as he raced away. You were saved!

From that day on, Flossy rarely left your side. It’s strange, isn’t it? The way Flossy saw herself as your protector after months of dislike? Clearly it had all been an act and you had never been happier to realise it. Your new-found guardian angel stalked a few feet behind you whenever you hobbled into the garden and could be spotted watching you play in the park with the children, calmly licking her fur but keeping a wary eye on everything. Feeling her watchful green eyes on you at all times made you feel as if you were wearing armour. Nobody and nothing could touch you when Flossy was around!

Sadly though, Flossy was an old cat…her death hit you hard, didn’t it? You knew that she hadn’t been well for a long time and tried to stop her from following you when her legs were aching. Flossy ignored you and followed you anyway. She was a stubborn old thing, wasn’t she! She never shirked one day from her duties as your protector, did she? It was heart-breaking for you when she passed during the night and your piteous howls of pain awoke the family to share in your grief. It was a dark day when Flossy the Super-Cat wasn’t watching you anymore…

You’re still going to lie there, then? Ever since she was buried under her favourite apple tree you’ve spent hours lying there in the evenings. Do you mean to watch over her as she once did for you? If so, you’re a very sweet dog. Flossy would be happy knowing that you still cared. But it is getting dark now, so perhaps you had better come inside. There’s a good boy.

Fiction Fursday/The Animals’ Advice

Today’s Fiction Fursday story was prompted by my wonderful blogger friend, Kate. Kate gave me a flurry of excellent prompts during my A-Z Challenge in April, so I knew that she’d suggest something brilliant for my new weekly project! Her suggestion was for me to write a story where a bloke who is down on his luck sneaks into a zoo and tells the animals about his problems. I loved the idea from the start and was excited to get writing! Here is what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.

Also, if any of your would like to suggest a prompt for me for my Ficiton Fursday posts, feel free to do so in the comments. It could be a single word, a first/final line or even a theme. Use your imagination and to kick-start mine!

The Animals’ Advice

By Adam Dixon

“She just wouldn’t listen to reason,” Bob sighed, taking a slow swig from his beer can. “She wouldn’t listen, then she left me…just walked out the door…haven’t seen her in four weeks now…” Bob lowered his head as a tear forced its way through his closed eyes. “Oh, Xena, what am I going to do?” Bob looked pleadingly at the sleek lioness in her enclosure. She sat as still as a statue, watching him with amber eyes and flicking her tail to and fro as he spoke.

“You come here at this hour, disturbing my rest, in order to spout this drivel?” she replied. The noise came from within Bob’s head rather than issuing from her mouth and her voice was cold and calculated. Bob fidgeted on his perch on the wall above her.

“Erm, yes…” he replied, feeling sheepish. “I was hoping you might have some advice for me. You know how to deal with your mate and his pride so I figured that you might have an insight I could use.”

“I care less about your trivial relationship problems than I do about tasting your warm flesh, human,” Xena growled, licking her lips. Bob shuffled further away, for once grateful for the iron bars ringing the enclosure.

“It is merely an instinct, human, take no offence,” Xena said with a lazy swish of her tail. “Nothing personal, although I must insist that you take your problems elsewhere. I require sleep or else I shall be cantankerous in the morning; the cubs will not enjoy that. Good evening to you.” With a regal bowing of her head, the lioness turned and gracefully walked away. Bob sat watching her, marvelling at the strong muscles and beautiful fur whilst at the same time feeling quite put-out.

“Yeah, whatever then, princess,” he muttered as he shuffled further into the zoo. He gulped at his beer as he wandered, enjoying the cool breeze and shade offered at night. He had been working there during the sweltering heat of the daytime, guiding packs of sweating tourists around to gawk at the basking animals, making him grateful for the drop in temperature. Gravel crunched under his boots as Bob approached another cage, this one filled with trees and wooden climbing frames. He sat on a wooden bench next to it, cracking open another beer.

“Hello? Anyone home?” he called. There was a rustling of movement within the trees and a dark human-like face ringed with white fur peered out at him. Bob waved.

“Evening, Scamp,” he said. “Aren’t you up a bit late?”

“Could say the same to you! Heehee!” The gibbon replied playfully. Bob raised his can.

“Touché!” He said, and took a long swallow. Sighing, he watched as Scamp swung up to a stronger branch in order to converse with him comfortably.

“Scamp, where’s Ursula?” Bob asked. “I thought you two were always together?”

“Not tonight, she’s resting with our young,” Scamp grinned, his throat-sack enlarging and shrinking as he laughed. “They gave her a good run-around today and now they’re all exhausted! Works for me! Heehee!” Bob smiled and shook his head. Scamp’s voice echoed in his head more resonantly than the other animals, and Bob assumed it was due to their evolutionary closeness. Scamp leaned closer from his high perch, gazing down at Bob. He lifted a horned finger and pointed.

“Say, Bob…could I have one of those?” Scamp asked hopefully. Bemused, Bob pulled a beer can from his pack and tossed it up into the tree. Scamp leaned backwards and caught it deftly, whooping in delight. He snapped open the ring-pull and cackled as foam erupted over his hand. Leaning further backwards he splashed beer down his face and chest as he gulped noisily. He balanced precariously on the edge of the branch for a few seconds before sitting upright once more. Scamp barked a quick laugh and belched.

“Ahhh, thanks! Heehee!” Scamp imitated Bob’s salute, tilting his raised can and nodding. Bob shook his head again.

“That’s alright, I suppose,” he replied, chuckling. “I just hope the guys at security aren’t watching! They didn’t mind letting me in at this hour but they’d have something to say if they saw me giving alcohol to the attractions! Technically you’re a minor, too, so I’d be in loads of trouble!”

“Our little secret then! Heehee! Why are you here, anyway?” Scamp asked, hanging from a branch one-handed as he sipped more beer. “Don’t we get enough of your ugly mug during the day? Heehee!”

“Woman troubles,” Bob admitted. “You’re always happy with Ursula, Scamp. What d’you reckon I should be doing?”

“You could try singing for her, that’s what I do,” Scamp replied, leaping back on to the branch and rubbing his throat-sack with pride. “My Ursula has always enjoyed my singing. Or if that doesn’t work, find another male to fight and prove your worth that way! Rip his fur out and toss him in the bushes with his bottom smacked! Heehee!”

“Hmm…well I can’t sing and I doubt there’s anyone relevant I could beat up,” Bob frowned. “It doesn’t really work like that with humans, anyway.”

“Can’t help you then, sorry!” Scamp laughed and crushed the empty can in his hand. He raised his arm and threw it, whooping with glee when it bounced off the side of Bob’s head.

“Heehee! Gotcha! Can I have another one?”

“No, that’s enough for you,” Bob said flatly, standing up to leave. “I’ll see if anyone else can help me.” He trudged off down the winding path, feeling more and more like he was wasting his time. Why should the animals have any kind of helpful advice to give me? Bob thought, cross with himself. They don’t know how humans behave! After a few minutes, however, Bob found himself leaning over the edge of another enclosure, chatting with a beautiful male peacock.

“So what do you think I should do, Narcissus?” Bob asked after he had explained his situation. He was watching the blue bird strut around and flick his gorgeous feathers to and fro.

“Well, what I would suggest, darling, is that you flaunt your natural beauty to win her back!” the peacock said eagerly. “Flaunt it, darling! Flaunt it shamelessly! Show her what she is missing!”

“Erm…okay,” Bob was unconvinced. “The thing is, I don’t really have a lot of natural beauty to flaunt. The moles and the receding hairline hardly make women swoon, and I can’t say I had better luck when I was younger. My parents were a bit on the plain side, you see.”

“Oh, daaaarling! That is unfortunate!” Narcissis crowed with genuine sympathy. He fanned his own natural beauty for effect. “Then I simply don’t know what to suggest! That course of action always works for me! See how stunning I am! What female could possibly resist?” He spun his feathers with a flourish, sighing with delight as the radiant colours flashed in the night sky. Bob sighed too and thanked the peacock, leaving him to prance about as he walked on. He began to wonder if he should just go home and drink his remaining beers in solitude, but he knew that he wouldn’t. I don’t want to be alone anymore, Bob thought miserably.

Bob came to a wider cage near the end of the park and gazed at the impressive shapes moving around within it. Two elephants were sleeping peacefully in the centre of the cage, a great bull elephant and his calf. The baby, who was nearly as big as Bob, was snuggled up against her father with her small trunk draped over his neck. Bob felt a pang of regret as he stroked the cold, oppressive bars of the cage. The cruelty of their fate upset him profoundly.

“I’m sorry you’re in here…” he whispered.

“The fault is not yours, young man,” a kindly voice said in his head. “Do not assume the guilt for it.” Bob glanced towards another shape as it moved closer to him. The baby’s mother was massive and beautiful, her intelligent brown eyes meeting Bob’s without fear or hesitation.

“I know, Maggie” Bob replied, scratching the back of his head. “But it doesn’t make me feel any better about it, especially not since I’ve been moaning about my life all evening. I don’t have it this bad! Stupid, selfish bastard that I am! At least I’m free!”

“Oh, you needn’t feel too bad, Robert,” Maggie said, her eyes creasing with amusement. “You help us in your own way through your Gift. If you did not come and talk to us all during the day, I am sure we would all have gone beserk by now. Do not be too hard on yourself, my dear.”

“I suppose so,” Bob replied, feeling slightly better. He turned to look at the sleeping baby once again.

“She is growing so fast, Maggie!” He breathed, his eyes widening and a wondrous smile creeping across his face. “Soon she’ll be as big as you are!”

“Oh, hopefully not too soon!” Maggie chuckled. She looked at Bob seriously, her large ears flapping as she frowned.

“Now, Robert, tell me,” she began firmly. “What is all this about you moaning about your life? What is the matter?”

“Oh, that,” Bob scratched his head again nervously. “I…erm…my partner left me. She doesn’t…erm…She wants to get married.”

“Well, that sounds like wonderful news!” Maggie exclaimed. “Why has she abandoned you? Is this how you usually operate? I don’t understand human couplings, I’m afraid.”

“No, it’s not the usual way…” Bob replied, feeling ashamed. “I…erm…it’s my fault. I told her…that I don’t want to get married.”

“I see,” Maggie’s expression became stern as she moved closer to Bob. Her great head moved to within inches of his, separated by the iron bars of the cage. “Why ever not, Robert? Do you not care for her?”

“Yes! Of course I do!” Bob said, hurt by implication. “I love her dearly! I can’t imagine life without her! I don’t want a life without her!”

“Then why do you hesitate?” Maggie asked, holding Bob’s gaze. Bob was flustered as he found himself unable to answer the simple question.

“I…she…oh, I don’t know!” He cried, throwing his arms in the air. “It’s just not something that has ever meant much to me as a concept, that’s all!”

“But it seems to mean a great deal to your partner,” Maggie said, twisting her trunk as she spoke. It was almost like a shrug. “Perhaps you need to consider whether your indifference is more important than your mutual happiness. Take myself and Rameses for example.” She swung her trunk and gestured at her slumbering mate. “Rameses was a wild one, that’s for certain, and he never considered having children before I explained to him how important it would be to me. Putting his pride behind him was the best decision he has ever made; he adores our little one and he would give his tusks for her in a heartbeat.” Maggie turned her gaze back towards Bob. “You must think about what course of action will make you and your partner the happiest. Make your decision soon, whatever it may be, before you regret it.”

Bob rested his forehead against the cool bars of the cage and reached his arm through to stroke Maggie’s trunk. It was thick and strong but full of warmth. Just like Maggie, Bob thought.

“Thank you, Maggie,” he said, tears filling his eyes. “I’ll do that. You are very wise, you know that, right?”

“Oh, it has been implied!” Maggie chuckled and tenderly wiped an escaping tear from Bob’s cheek with the end of her trunk. “But you do not reach my age without learning a thing or two about life! Now off you go, Robert. The dawn will soon come and I daresay that you have a female to speak to.” Bob straightened and wiped his eyes.

“Yes, I suppose I do,” he replied, smiling. “Bye, Maggie. I’ll see you soon.” Maggie raised her trunk in farewell before moving back towards her family. Bob strode back the way he had come, feeling lighter than he had felt in days. Maggie’s words had lifted a great weight from his shoulders and her simple probing had unlocked answers he had kept barricaded deep in his heart. He glanced up at the lightening sky, breathing in the cool scent of the approaching morning and looking forward to the day ahead. He knew what he was going to do. As he passed the Ape Section, Bob whistled and tossed his final beer can into the trees. Scamp the gibbon caught it and his surprised laughter rang out across the zoo, and Bob laughed with him.