There are days when working in the Forestry Service is quiet and peaceful. There are days when you fight fires.
Then there are days like this. Just a little canoe filled with supplies and a small dog drifting down the river.
Maybe this is the dog version of Moses. Maybe somebody forgot to tie off. Maybe there has been some trouble upstream.
In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.
Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.
Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012.
On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.
On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!
Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.
Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.
For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.
By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.
6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Drifter”
Tails (249 words)
I stand in my orange jumpsuit, look over my shoulder… sure enough, she’s there, the little mutt is there too, wagging his tail. ‘Wag away stupid mongrel, when I get out of prison in eight years, you’re first on my list’.
Perfect planning, Denise was the beneficiary of my life insurance, millions if anything happened to me. I loaded the canoe , drove to Chuparosa and camped there . I left the car and sailed down river a couple of miles. Then, I threw the oars disembarked and pushed the canoe to drift on. With my back pack, I trekked to Vilanova and I checked into the Paragon Motel with a fake ID to wait for Denise to join me as soon as the insurance check cleared.
Perfect plan except for the beef-jerky. I had put a bag of it In the canoe as part of the provisions to make the trip seem real. Capuchon, Denise’s dog smelled it, climbed into the canoe, crawled under the tarpaulin and ate six pounds of it. Then he fell asleep.
He only awoke when the park-ranger found the canoe.
Denise had reported me missing, claimed the insurance and was on her way to join me at Vilanova. Capuchon, took a long drink of water, then, wagging his tail, he led the ranger all the way to my motel room.
Insurance fraud: eight years… all because of that stupid dog.
‘When I get out in eight years, Capuchon, you’re first on my list!’
“We’ll only be a few minutes,” they said, stepping out of the canoe. “Stay. Good boy.” And they patted him on the head.
He stayed. That’s what dogs do when they’re told to stay. Well-behaved dogs, anyway. And he was nothing if not well-behaved. He watched them run, hand in hand, behind the trees by the bank.
But it was more than a few minutes. Much more. He began to feel hungry. He was too polite to open the cooler and eat the roast beef sandwiches he knew were inside. But he worried.
Maybe they needed his help, he rationalized, jumping onto the bank and dodging behind the trees, barking.
Her clothes, folded, in a pile. His clothes, thrown anyhow. And… blood. A lot of blood. And a hand. He knew the ring. Her hand. Chewed off at the wrist.
He trotted along the path, sniffing the metallic smell of fresh blood as he went, It wasn’t the only thing he could smell. Something large. Something wild. Something scary.
His instincts got the better of him. He yelped, turned, and fled back to the canoe, his tail between his legs.
The roast beef sandwiches tasted good.
Title: “Some Days Are a Dream”
They told me we were going for a canoe ride—whatever that is? They said they had almost everything loaded. It was getting pretty crowded. They taped down their foam cushions, but forgot one for me. They did bring my blanket and they even made a space for me.
The early morning wake up, long ride and walk up that lengthy trail, tired me out. They told me to get in the boat, lie down and stay, but they didn’t tell me for how long. I’m glad they remembered my soft blanket though. The fresh air was nothing like I had ever experienced before. The pine tree smell blocked the familiar scent of my blanket.
The last sound I heard was the rushing water. However, I noticed the pine trees moving fast not far from the water’s edge. I got tired of waiting for their return; the boat’s rocking was putting me to sleep.
It took me a minute to realize there were loud noises. I guess some days are like today with sirens screaming in the distance, men and women in uniforms running around yelling to each other. I wondered if I did something wrong because they were pointing at me and then frantically looking through binoculars.
Speaking of a problem…where are my masters? I looked around and my dog tag made the familiar tinkle, and I wondered if my masters had theirs.
“Suzy…WAKE up…you’re rocking the boat.”
Greg had been a park ranger for years. This abandoned canoe was nothing new, but the little dog with the wagging tail was. Who would ditch their dog in this heat? Then again, maybe something bad had happened to whoever had piloted the canoe. The low water level from the lack of rain made that option doubtful.
Greg gazed out over the muddy waters. Something felt different, wrong. When the dog suddenly barked, he realized what was giving him that feeling. Aside from the dog’s bark, the wind, and his own breathing, the forest was dead quiet—no crickets chirping, no birds calling, nothing. Greg didn’t even have to swat away any of the mosquitoes that had been so plentiful due to the slow-moving waters this year.
“What’s going on?” Greg asked, looking down at the little white dog as if it could answer.
Greg scratched the dog’s head and noticed something peculiar. The canoe’s surface was lightened in a circular pattern at both its front and back. The whitish circles were perfect.
The dog started barking again, staring up at the sky. Greg looked up, putting a hand to his brow to block out the gleaming, afternoon sun. He could have sworn he saw a black, ovoid object high in the sky, but it disappeared so quickly that he wrote it off as imagination.
Sighing, Greg picked up the dog and headed to his truck. “Don’t worry, little guy, we’ll figure what happened to your owners.”
“OK. Let’s make sure we have everything. Sleeping bags? Check.”
“Water bottles? Check.”
“Freeze-dried food packs? Check”
“First aid kit? Check.”
“Tent and tarps? Check.”
“Sun block and bug repellent? Check.”
“Camp stove? Check.”
“Rod and real? Check.”
“Deer chow? Check.”
“Wait, what? What about the dog biscuits?”
“Have we forgotten anything? Oh, the bird seed. Check.”
“BIrd seed? BIRD SEED?”
“Cat food? Check.”
Fiction and The Forest
The morning began like any other morning. We loaded up the canoe with just enough essentials to make the hour and a half journey down the Flint River. The water table was low due to the drought so I threw in a few more bottled waters, kibble and protein bars just in case we ran into an emergency of some sort.
As a former novelist in my earlier years and a true nature lover, The Georgia Forestry Commission seemed like a great fit for my retirement years. Fiction, my Jack Russell terrier and I have been making this trip once a week now for 12 years in December. After my wife’s passing, he was a blessing to me, a great story…too good to be true. He’s smarter than many humans I know but his many years of loyalty are beginning to show. I no longer take him on hikes to check out suspicious activities for fear his once finely-tuned senses will fail him. However, things were about to change.
Half way in to our trip, I heard the loud consistent cry of a fawn. You know the one that sounds almost like the cry of a sheep – that eerie call of distress. I quickly rowed the canoe over to the bank and left Fiction to stay and watch over our belongings.
As I hurried through the brush, there it was. Just as I had feared, the fawn was in dire need of immediate medical care. A large branch had fallen on him as he laid waiting for his mother to return. His leg was badly broken, the skin was torn and the bone was exposed. I picked up the biggest branch I could find to use as leverage. I was going to have to pry the large log off the deer. On the third try, it finally rolled. I was immediately startled by a large rattling sound. I looked down and my worst fear was lying right in front of me. It was a diamondback rattler, coiled and ready to strike!
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