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.

A – Z Challenge Day 14

We’re past the halfway point of this April’s Blog Challenge! Hooray! Let’s keep the momentum going and keep enjoying ourselves!

Today’s word was suggested once again by my Twitter pal, Sakina, and the word is “NORTH”. Now, this word has proven to be deceptively simple, as it didn’t lend itself to any solid story ideas right away! I needed to sit and think for a while, so well done, Sakina! A sneaky choice!

Here is what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.

NORTH

By Adam Dixon

“How can I explain it?” the scruffy man spread his arms across the bar, tapping his calloused finger on the wood as he frowned in concentration. The other patrons of the tavern droned on behind him, chatting away about their labours that day and how good it was to sit by the warm hearth.

“Listen, you’ve heard of birds flying south for the winter, right?” The barmaid nodded, her fair hair sweeping across her forehead. “Well, it’s like that for me, only it’s in the opposite direction and winter never ends.”

“Plus, you’re not a bird!” The barmaid laughed, winking at him as she brushed her hair from her eyes. The man smiled sadly and nodded once. He lowered his head and gazed thoughtfully at his drink as if he could divine some answers from its depths. The barmaid’s smile faded as she watched him. He was a strange one, there was no doubt about that, but there was something appealing about him as well. Whilst the whole world was mired in uncertainty, here was a man who actually had a purpose.

“So, you really don’t know where you’re going?” She asked, looking at him seriously. The man glanced up, his kindly blue eyes matching hers.

“I’ve got no idea, miss,” he shrugged, opening his palms in resignation. “Since I asked that wizard to help me find my happiness, I’ve felt something tugging at me, urging me to get moving, and always to the north. All I know is that I have to keep going. Maybe I’ll know once I get there, but who can say?” He scratched at his beard for a moment before lifting his tankard and draining his drink. The floor creaked and groaned as he pushed his stool back and stood upright, smiling at the barmaid once again.

“Well, I’d best be off, miss,” he said, plucking his drooping hat from the bar and placing it on to his head. “The lonely road calls!”

“Wait!” the barmaid called as he moved away. He stopped and glanced back, surprised. The barmaid felt herself blush as she fidgeted with her apron. She didn’t know why she had called out to him, but something had compelled her to.

“You could stay here, you know,” she began nervously. “I mean, we might be able to clear a space in the hay loft for you…erm, maybe you could sleep down here? Sometimes the mistress lets the regulars do that, if they’ve drunk too much to stand…” She trailed off into an embarrassed silence. The man stood watching her, smiling.

“Thank you, miss, for the kind offer,” he said, bowing his head and placing a hand on his heart. “But I think your lack of room tonight is another sign that I need to keep moving. That poxy wizard didn’t plan on making this easy for me, it seems!”

“Oh,” the barmaid was crestfallen. “But, what about bandits? We get lots of reports every day about them causing trouble outside of town, especially at night!”

“I’ve got nothing to offer them, miss,” the man chuckled. “Look at me! I’m wearing a battered old coat, I haven’t shaved in days and my boots are nearly worn out; any bandits marauding along the road will take one look at me and realise that I’m not worth the bother!” He laughed heartily, and the barmaid couldn’t help but smile too.

“Besides,” he continued, a far-away expression crossing his face. “I don’t think that wizard gave me this opportunity only to see me die at the hands of petty criminals. No, I believe I’ll be just fine. Thank you all the same, miss. You have a good night, now.” He turned away from the barmaid and strode towards the door.

“Farewell, sir!” the barmaid shouted to him with tears in her eyes. “I hope you find your happiness!”

“Aye, me too, miss,” the man waved but did not turn back. He opened the door to the tavern and disappeared into the cold, windy night. The door slammed shut behind him, and the barmaid felt tears rolling down her cheeks.

A-Z Challenge Day 1

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The day has arrived for me to plunge headlong into the A-Z Challenge this month!

To kick things off, my first prompt has been provided by the lovely Niki, and her word is ‘ABANDONED’. Quite a powerful word right from the start and one which threw up plenty of ideas right away. Here’s what I was able to come up with.

Quick note: As the word suggests, this story leans heavily on the emotional side, so consider yourselves warned!

ABANDONED

By Adam Dixon

It was cold and wet and Jasper wanted to go home. The wind had picked up, chilling his sodden fur and making him tremble. He tugged pathetically at his lead but it had been tied securely to a fence post. He lay back down and gazed forlornly in the direction his Master had gone.
Jasper didn’t know why his Master had seen fit to leave him alone in the rain. He knew that there must be a reason for, as his Master was not an impulsive Man. Perhaps he had been BAD again…Jasper knew that he was a BAD DOG because his Master so often told him so. He wanted to be GOOD and tried to do all the things that a GOOD DOG should, but he was still BAD and his Master was angry with him an awful lot.
Perhaps this was his Punishment then? When Jasper was BAD he would often be driven from the house and be made to sleep outside. When he had been VERY BAD, like when he had accidentally knocked over the Man-Pup, he had been kicked several times and then locked outside for two days. It was his Punishment for being too big and too clumsy, and Jasper knew this well. He couldn’t help being so big, but he should be more careful, especially around the small Man-Pup.
But what had he done this time? He must have been VERY BAD to deserve this kind of Punishment! Jasper racked his brains but could not think of anything he had done recently which was especially BAD. Perhaps that was the point, and that he once he acknowledged his behaviour his Master would return and allow him to get back into the Car. Then they would drive home once more, and Jasper would be better…
By the third day Jasper was very hungry. He had been able to drink from various puddles of water due to the constant rain, but hunger was gnawing at his belly with the same level of commitment Jasper gnawed at his squeaky Toys. He looked up expectantly every time a Car approached the field, but his was never his Car and so it continued past the unhappy dog. Jasper began to whine softly. He’d be a GOOD DOG if his Master came back soon!
Later that third day, a big Car approached and stopped on the roadside, a few feet from where Jasper lay. It was not Jasper’s Car, so he remained where he was and ignored it. The doors opened and a Man and a Woman climbed out. The Man was short with black hair and a beard, and the woman was tall with blond hair and freckles. Both were dressed in dark uniforms with a blue badge across their left breast. They approached Jasper cautiously, wearing large smiles and speaking in hushed, soothing tones. They moved almost within touching distance before Jasper seemed to finally notice them and shied away, whimpering. Who were these people? Where was his Master?
The Man and Woman stopped and looked at each other. They exchanged some brief words before the Man strode back to the Car. The Woman stayed where she was, crouching in the pouring rain and smiling at Jasper.
“It’s okay, boy,” she was saying softly, looking earnestly at him. “Me and my friend are here to help you! Look at you, you poor thing! Who would leave a lovely big boy like you out here in the rain, eh?” Jasper stood as far away as his lead would allow, shivering and watching the Woman anxiously. The Woman maintained her crouch until the Man returned, carrying a large umbrella. He passed it to the Woman who opened it slowly and shimmed closer to Jasper. Jasper still trembled, but he allowed the Woman to shelter him from the rain. It felt like a very very long time since Jasper had been out of the rain. The Man and the Woman sat at the roadside, holding the umbrella over Jasper, talking to him continually. The Man went back to the Car once more to fetch a packet of biscuits.
Jasper’s ears pricked up as soon as he smelled the biscuits, but he was unsure whether or not to trust these new people. They seemed nice enough, but where was his Master? He began to whine in distress, tugging at his lead and glancing up the road.
“Come on, boy,” the Woman insisted, holding out a biscuit and blinking rainwater from her eyes. “It’s okay, you’re safe now.” Jasper looked at the biscuit, then up at the Woman. He took a tentative step forward, sniffing the offered treat. After another moment of hesitation, Jasper’s tongue flopped out and he stood munching with crumbs falling from his chops. The Woman whispered encouragement and offered another which Jasper accepted readily this time. Then, something happened which hadn’t occurred for three days: Jasper’s great, rope-like tail began to wag. Jasper had decided that these people were very kind and he was glad of their company. He ate biscuit after biscuit as his new friends attempted to fill his empty belly, and they patted and stroked him as he did so.
“I never get used to seein’ this kind of thing,” the Man said sadly as he closed the back of the Car. Jasper had been untied and with a lot of coaxing they had managed to get him into the vehicle. He now sat inside the Car, wagging his tail vigorously.
“Me neither, mate,” the Woman sighed, shaking rain from her hair. “But it’s a bloody good thing that someone called us. This fella wouldn’t’ve lasted much longer. C’mon, let’s get him to the shelter.”
Presently they got into the Car and began to drive away. In the back, Jasper realised what was happening and began to howl. How would he find his Master now?

Where Were You?

Today’s post is something of a milestone. It marks the 20th short story to be uploaded on to my blog! Well, technically it is the 16th, but due to a bit of a cock-up by yours truly it ended up being sent to the lovely Esther Newton and was first published on her blog on 29th January 2016. I had marked it for use in a flash fiction competition, but I was happy for Esther to use it and my mistake did make me laugh! But anyway, I’ve recently remembered that I didn’t post it on here so tonight I am doing just that. I hope you enjoy it if you haven’t read it already!

Also, please check out Esther’s blog! https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/

 

Where Were You?

By Adam Dixon

 

“Hush, my darling,” Sylvia crooned, stroking his thick, curled hair as he sobbed into her chest. She and her fiancé had just finished making love, their bodies bathed in sweat and their mutual ecstasy fading. Seconds after its conclusion, Dion had gazed at Sylvia, his shining brown eyes filling with tears. She held him close, her heart aching at his sadness.

“I shan’t be gone for long, my love,” she whispered. “In fact, you will barely notice my absence. Doctor Jonas has assured me that I will return within hours of my departure.”

“But what if you don’t?” Dion’s head came up, and he fixed Sylvia with an imploring stare. “There are no guarantees with time travel, and you know it. Christ, Sylvie, you might not even make it back!”

“We both knew the risks when I accepted the mission, Dion,” Sylvia replied, her voice still gentle but with a stern edge. “We knew what could happen when the time came, and we were both prepared for it. Or at least, I thought we both were.” She gave him a reproachful look and cocked her head to one side. Long red hair spilled across her left shoulder and covered one of her breasts. Dion’s eyes followed her hair, and he reached out to tangle his fingers in it as he cupped her cheek.

“I know, I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just that now it’s finally here…I don’t know…I can’t bear the thought of never seeing you again.”

“But you will, Dion,” Sylvia said earnestly, running her hand across his dark forearm. “A few hours we will be apart; a few days at most. We’ve endured longer periods than that!”

“True,” Dion smiled weakly, brushing the tears from his eyes. “I’m just worried about you, I suppose. I’m sure you’re right.”

“I am,” Sylvia said, winking at him. “Doctor Jonas has calculated every possible outcome to a minute detail. He is certain that I will return to this very house, and in this very room! Now, hush.” She pulled him close to her and they lay down on the double bed, drawing warmth from each other’s bodies. Dion nuzzled her neck as he got comfortable, and closed his eyes with a sigh. Sylvia gently played with his short, wiry hair, recognising that he would soon be asleep. Before he slipped off, he mumbled something.

“What was that, my love?” Sylvia turned her head to hear him.

“I’ll wait for you…” he said, almost asleep. “I love you, Sylvie.”

“I love you too,” Slyvia whispered, a lump in her throat. She lay in the darkness with Dion’s arms around her, listening to his breathing as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

***

Sylvia stepped out of the time capsule, the air crackling with the surge of quantum energy. The floorboards vibrated beneath her feet from the burst of power. She glanced around her and smiled. The doctor had been correct; she was in her old bedroom! It was night-time, so perhaps just a few hours on from her departure if her luck was in. A snort of surprise nearby caused her to turn around. She saw an elderly black man sitting in a chair across the dark room, his eyes agape.

“Oh, I do apologise!” Slyvia rushed over to the man, resting a hand on his shoulder. “It is rather startling, isn’t it? I was warned that there may be a temporal shift upon my return! I do hope it didn’t shock you too much! Are you alright, sir?” The man stared at Sylvia, his eyes wide with astonishment. Sylvia began to feel uncomfortable.

“Yes, erm,” she said, unsure what to say. “I wonder, who are you, sir? You see, I was expecting to surprise someone else entirely tonight!” She smiled at the old man, hoping he would say something. He did, and it chilled her to the bone.

“You’re back…” he rasped. “I waited…so long.” Tears filled his rheumy, brown eyes and recognition hit Sylvia like a slap in the face.

“Dion!?” She cried in disbelief. “Dion, is that you? It can’t be!”

“I waited for you…Sylvie,” Dion stroked her hand with his wrinkled fingers and wept. Sylvia stood dumbstruck, the horror of the situation creeping into her like a virus.

“Dion…” she stammered. “I…but how long…how?”

“Where were you?” Dion repeated between sobs. “It’s been forty years! Where were you?!”

The white-haired old man wailed into the night, and Sylvia’s heart broke at the sound of it.