Flash Fiction Challenge: Betrayed

Photo by K.S. Brooks

Captain Benedict halted the column at the crest and waited for Mr. Morton to return from scouting ahead.

The men’s nerves were on edge after a long hard day. The extra vigilance of being deep in enemy territory adds considerably to the heavy burden of surviving in the wilderness.

When Morton finally rode up, we could see him exchanging a few words with the captain. I saw the scout pointing off to the passage at the Northwest. Then Captain Benedict pulled out his pistol and shot Morton right in the head.

I swallowed hard and wondered whether Morton had betrayed us or if the Captain had gone mad. There was no comfort in either answer.

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.

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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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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Betrayed”

  1. Ursula’s eyes popped open. “Bjorn, wake up,” she whispered, jostling him with her elbow. He groaned slightly then rolled away from her. This time she shook him more violently. “Wake up. I’m pretty sure I just heard a gunshot.”

    Bjorn’s brown eyes finally opened into a suspicious glare. “That means white man. Let’s go see.”

    Ursula sighed. “I don’t know. Don’t you think it would be safer to stay here?”

    “You know that the white man always brings food. Maybe we can get some.”

    She shook her head. “There are plenty of berries right now. We don’t need to take the risk.”

    “Berries, shmerries. I’m sick of them. I want some meat.”

    “We could go down to the river, and catch a fish.”

    “The river’s too far,” he grumbled. “Besides, the white man usually has buffalo cooked with spices. Mmmm, delicious.”

    “If you could figure out how to make fire, we could do that, too.”

    Bjorn looked at her like she was crazy. “Too much work.”

    Ursula sighed, exasperated. “You are beyond lazy. My mother was right about you.”

    Then came another gunshot. Their eyes widened. “Maybe they’re hunting deer – or elk!” Bjorn said excitedly.

    He crept through the thick forest until he reached the camp, Ursula right behind him. Smoke from a freshly extinguished fire rose up as the men mounted their horses. Bjorn watched as the last tail swayed into the trees and out of sight.

    “I don’t see an elk,” he said with a frown. His expression brightened when his eyes fell on a woven willow basket. “Ursula, check this out! It’s a pic-nic basket!”

    “So what, Bjorn. Who cares? Let’s get out of here.”

    “Hey, look!” He pointed with a long, sharp claw. “Two dead guys!”

    Ursula moseyed over to the soldier closest to her. “This one’s name is Morton.”

    Bjorn growled. “You’re such a show-off, Miss I Can Read.”

    “Whatever,” she replied, rolling her eyes and heading towards the mountain of a man lying in front of Bjorn.

    “I bet this shirt would fit me. Help me get it off of him.”

    “You’re out of your mind, Bjorn. It won’t fit you. Besides, it says Yogi.”

    “Yogi? I like that name.” With that, he took the man’s hat and put it on. “Now let’s see what’s in that pic-nic basket!”

  2. Squad leaders were called to the front of the lines for a meeting. It didn’t take long before they were barking orders at their squads. My section leader directed our fire-team to the ridge line overlooking the valley.

    A great view, until I saw the troops in the valley below.

    Corporal Benton and I set our mortar up ready to rain on the forces in the valley. Not a lot of good would come of it, but maybe we could slow them down enough to get out of here when it came to it.

    “You see that ridgeline over there?” Staff Sergeant Manx asked us. “I need you to hit it. There is a good chance we can send a rock slide right into there camp.”

    I pulled my range finder out and set to work. The margin for error was working against me on this one. A few calculations on some scrap paper and Benton and I were making the changes to the mortar. The other three mortar fire-teams were set to fire at the same time we were.

    The call came and we dropped the round down the tube. A thunk came from the other tubes near us as our shell lifted into the air. The explosion rocked the mountain as four shells hit the ridgeline within heartbeats of each other.

    This was the problem. Other than the explosions nothing happened. And now they were on the move.

  3. Captain Benedict holstered his side arm and turned to address his men.
    “Corporal Morton was a traitor, gentlemen. He said that the pass ahead is all clear. He didn’t know I watched him through my spyglass. A lyin’ blue-belly stepped out of the trees and took his reins. I figure the hills on either side of the ravine are crawlin’ with ‘em.
    Men, we got one chance.
    Sergeant Potter, take four men and cut me forty arm-lengths and forty leg-lengths of pine but don’t shed the needles.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “The rest of you are goin’ native. Take off your coats and britches and start stuffing the middles with whatever you can find. Use the pine branches for the arms and legs and tie them to your mounts. Mr. Sharper will you see to gettin’ Corporal Morton secured on his horse?”
    “Yes sir, Cap’n”
    “…Alright, that looks good. Sergeant Potter, take ten men and climb the west peak. Mr. Sharper you’ll take the rest of the men to the east ridge. I’ll give you an hour before I lead the pine troop here through the pass. Now gentlemen keep your powder dry, but save you guns. You’ll have to bloody up knives for this one.
    One last thing before you go, I’ve heard the Lord watches over fools and drunks, and gentlemen we’re fresh outta whiskey so let’s pray that this plan is fool hardy enough to get the Lord’s attention.
    Mr. Casper, would you mind leadin’ us in prayer.”

  4. There we were, high on the mountain, minding our own business, waiting for the Captain to determine our next plan of action when “BAM!”

    The horses jumped sideways and we nearly fell off our mounts. We all turned towards the noise just in time to see Mr. Morton fall off his horse, hitting the ground with a loud thud and a small puff of smoke rising from the Captain’s pistol.

    “What the heck just happened?” the young Indian to my left asked me.

    “Danged, if I know, little Wannabewhiteman. But perhaps we better be on our best behavior from here on out if we don’t want to end up like Mr. Morton.”

    I noticed the young Indian sit up a little straighter on his painted pony. I’m sure he wondered like the rest of us what Mr. Morton could have done that was so bad to have gotten himself shot.

    “You don’t suppose the scout brought some trouble with him, do you?” Wannabewhiteman asked.

    “Either that or the captain has done lost his mind since we didn’t hear what was said between them. But I’m not going to be the one to ask.”

    “Hmm, that is a thought. I think I might know what is going through the Captain’s mind. Follow me.”

    I followed Wannabewhiteman a few yards back in woods until he brought us to a small clearing full of mushrooms. The Captain must have gotten his hand…and mouth on some and they clearly had messed with his mind.

  5. “Move out,” was all Captain Benedict said.

    As I passed the dead man sprawled in the dirt, I offered up a silent prayer. Morton had been my friend. He’d never been anything but loyal. What game was Benedict playing?

    I watched the captain through narrowed eyes. As we approached the mouth of the northwest passage, he seemed to tip his hat. But to whom?

    I scanned the landscape. Then, on impulse, I looked up – just as the massive cube uncloaked. I shouted, but there was no escape; a column of light shot down, engulfing us.

    My stomach lurched. A million angry insects seemed to be taking me apart, cell by cell.

    A moment later, or maybe many thousands of moments later, the sensation passed. Our whole column – one hundred fifty men and women – had been transported from the pristine wilderness to an alien cargo bay.

    As my fellow soldiers stumbled and retched, I forgot about rank. I marched up to Benedict and yelled, “Damn you! You’ve betrayed us to the enemy! Why? Why?”

    Laughter bubbled from his lips. “Only way to save you,” he wheezed.

    “He’s crazy,” someone said.

    “Not at all,” said another voice, oily and alien. The vile creature approached, its tentacles slapping the floor. “He’s become one of us. As will you.

    “We will have this world. Your people must choose: assimilation or death. Your captain has already chosen for you.”

    The last thing I heard, before I was turned inside out, was Benedict’s eerie laughter.

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