Flash Fiction Challenge: Toucan Rescue

Photo by K.S. Brooks

The toucans calmly regarded the human on the ground. He seemed in a terrible hurry about something.

“Well, that one’s making an awful racket,” said Sam.

“He looks as if he’s trying to run away from something.” Winona replied. “Maybe he’s frightened of those humans behind him.”

“Ground dwellers are such ridiculous creatures.” Sam snorted derisively.

“I feel a bit sorry for him. They have such pitiful little beaks, can’t fly a lick – I’ve really no idea how they manage to feed themselves at all. Perhaps we should help the poor thing.”

“Oh really, Winona! You do carry on so. It’s only a human, after all. Besides, even if he outruns those others, he’s headed straight for that Jaguar.”

Sam’s indifference aside, Winona took flight to see what she could do about it.

“Winona!” Sam called after her. “I’m not coming along this time. Do you hear me?” He shuffled from one foot to the other, agitated at the whole situation. Why can’t we ever just enjoy a quiet breakfast? I’m going to sit right here. You are on your own, old girl.

He shifted once more and ran his elegant beak down the length of his wing. As if there aren’t enough humans. Ridiculous. He craned his neck, but could no longer see Winona or the running man. The little herd of angry humans was just passing below the tree. Well, perhaps I’ll go over and just have a look.

In 250 words or less, tell us 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 Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, 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 afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Toucan Rescue”

  1. The empty nest

    “I’m sick of it, Terry – this place, the humidity, everything.” Tessa flicked her feathers in frustration, fanning an arc of water droplets out and down to the jungle floor. “Nothing’s the same since the kids left.”

    “Don’t be like that, Tes. You’ve still got me.”

    “I’m sick of you too. Your chirpy optimism, your constant preening, your inane humor–

    “Inane? What about my toucan jokes? Two can play at that game… gold!” Terry laughed to accentuate the point – it was greeted with disdained silence. “You used to love that.”

    “Only because it made the kids laugh.”

    Terry studied his partner. “It’s a phase, Tes. You need to find yourself again.”

    “I wouldn’t know where to start. Everything reminds me of them. Do you hear that noise?”

    “No.”

    “Exactly, it’s the noise of no children, it mocks me everyday. So does this tree – dark and twisted – like me. And the nest – it’s tattered, I can barely smell their scent anymore.” Tes let out a curdled cry.

    Terry scanned his world, through Tes’ eyes. He thought, long and hard. “Let’s leave.”

    “What? Where?”

    “Wherever life takes us.”

    Tes sniffed in the thick air through her tears. She looked at Terry – confused but understanding – she thought about her kids and her new forever. “An adventure?”

    She flapped her wings, lifted skywards then swooped down to dislodge the nest from the tree. She laughed as it fell. “Two can play at that game.”

    She flew into the future with Terry following in her wake.

  2. He soon spotted Winona. She was calling to the human from the top of the tree. The stupid creature didn’t understand her, of course, but he had wit enough to clamber up the branches and attempt to hide in the foliage there. Sam landed on the branch with an elegant swoop.
    “Just in time, old gal. Looks like things are about to heat up. That jaguar is on his way here. He should run into that mob though and that’ll solve this creature’s problems.” He fluffed his feathers.
    Winona shot him a warning look. Don’t Sam!” she murmured. The human was below them panting in fear. Sam coughed politely .The human turned his head upwards at the sound.
    “Spot of bother, old chap?” said Sam in perfect human speak. “Good thing Old Winny got you up here. Fancy a fruit loop?”
    The human opened his mouth in astonishment. He raised his arm at Sam. “You…you can…talk!” he said. With that, he lost his balance and fell from the branch, into the path of the jaguar that tore at him eagerly.
    “Oh Sam,” said Winona sadly. Sam looked at the bloody mess below. “Ever since you got that contract with Fruit Loops you’ve been a nightmare to live with. That’s the third human that’s died after you’ve chatted to them.”
    “Clearly, they are very stupid creatures.” Sam looked at the mob fast approaching and took off. “Follow my nose! It always knows,” he called. Winona shook her head and followed.

  3. “Damn it, Winona, leave that thing alone. Humans are nothing but trouble.” Sam flapped his wings and clicked his long yellow beak. The vine they stood on swayed with his movement. “My cousin went to investigate a human and was never heard from again.”

    “This one doesn’t carry a thunder stick. He isn’t even fully grown. Poor child looks absolutely terrified. See how he’s running, crashing into every bush and bramble?”

    Sam plucked a nearby berry, ignoring the human and those chasing him. “The silly land dweller won’t live for long. There’s a jaguar fifty feet ahead.”

    “Look out! Look out!” Winona dashed after the child, swooping low over his head. “Turn around.”

    The human stopped, hiding his head with his featherless wings and gasping for air. His eyes widened at the sound of running feet and began to leak fluid. Winona didn’t need to think about it. She swooped down and grabbed one of the flailing limbs and yanked him to the side. At first he resisted, but finally, he followed her to a nearby hiding place. The child crouched behind a rock just as a whole herd of humans came into view. These humans waved thunder sticks, yelling as they barreled right into the waiting Jaguar.

    The boy closed his eyes, trembling at the sounds of battle. Once the jungle had quieted, he pulled a young toucan from his bag and held it out to Winona and Sam.

    “Goodness,” said Winona. “I told you this one was different.”

  4. He spread his wings and took to the air. The Jaguar was gone, frightened away by the racket of the lone runner.

    “Well, that is peculiar,” he said to himself. He spied Winona on a branch ahead of the lone human. She was positioned in a good spot to see the human and then the others as they came running by. “I better check on her.”

    “Did you see it?” she asked when he landed beside her.

    “See what?’

    “The pretty rock in the human’s hand,” she said. “It was big and glittery. I wonder if that is why they others are chasing him?”

    “I told you this is none of our business, big glittery rock or not.” As the human came upon and then passed them he spied the rock she was talking about. “Oh that is pretty. I bet it would look nice in the nest.”

    “I don’t think he is going to make it to his own nest,” she said. The mob were throwing spears at the lone figure. He ducked as a few whistled over his head. It was the spear that lodged in his thigh that brought him down, like a fleeing gazelle.

    The rock flew from his hands as he crashed through vines and branches to the ground. Sam saw his opportunity. He swooped down from his perch and caught the rock in midair.

    He and Winona flew back to their nest setting the pretty rock in the pile of other pretty rocks.

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