Flash Fiction Challenge: In Hungry Pursuit

army dog 1980s
Army dog
Photo by K.S. Brooks

Rowdy and I are part of a wilderness search and rescue team. We’ve worked plane crashes and avalanche victim recovery. Sometimes all you find are bodies. Sometimes you find a toddler who wandered off from a campsite.

But it’s not all high drama. Every once in a while, you get a good laugh. I remember one case we worked where a pair of teenagers had run away from a remotely situated fat camp…

In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. 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!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: In Hungry Pursuit”

  1. Rowdy butt sniffs all comers. His promiscuous nose makes him an ubertalented search and rescue dog.

    Search teams gathered at a camp for overweight teens. The hefty, but holier-than-thou, Director described the kids as addicted to texting with Cheeto fingers. Our target, two escapees who had bolted before the lettuce and water lunch, with the Director’s stash of M&Ms, teriyaki jerky, homemade cookies, and Gatorade.

    As we tuned our radios, Rowdy tuned his nose like a Stradivarius on the kids’ Fruit-of-the-looms. He’s a pro. The Director almost choked.
    “Cripes,” he said. “If their parents saw him doing that.”

    Teams headed out. At 50-yards, Rowdy stuck his nose to the ground, crashed through the forest for a mile to the base of a tree, and sat. He gnawed jerky, his tail swished. An M&M hit my head.
    I looked up at the kids. “Okay, come down now.”
    “No can do,” said one.
    “Why not?” I asked. “You climbed up there.”
    They snorted.

    I radioed the Director.
    “They’re not fat,” I said. “They’re up a tree and won’t come down.”
    “Did they eat the cookies?” he asked.
    I asked them, they had.
    “Cripes,” he said. “That was pot. If their parents find out.”

    “Stoned in a tree” was broadcast by hooting searchers, even the dogs howled. The Director muttered that we sounded pretty judgmental.

    Rowdy and I hunkered down to wait out the novice tree stoners who giggled and pelted us with jerky and M&Ms, munchies they would come to regret wasting.

  2. Hungry for combat the trained soldier be. I know. I’m one. Friends call me Nikki. Enemies scream and run. I peruse. Bring ‘em down. Master carries the gun. I watch his back. It’s a good life.

    Barely four combat no more. Soil tastes home! America!

    Chained to tree. Not understand. Master not love? What ‘bad-boy’ I do?

    Chain stops me short. Female man-pup eyes say innocence. She yaps soft words. She’s no enemy. Her alpha is. I growl my warning.

    I smell bone. She throws one. She means no harm.

    Only master feeds me. I hate dry stuff in my bowl. Bone waters my mouth. “Master loves not. Risk it,” tummy howls. Raw meat! Chow time!

    Sunrise, sundown there’s more. I like this man-pup.

    Many sunrises master brings no water, no food. I grow weak. Not can lift head when man-pup calls. I smell bone. Mouth’s dry. I need water.

    She nears. I smell fear. I think-say, “Friend.” Man-pup understands?

    Her alpha growls. I challenge back. His gun points at me.

    Water! She gives it slow. Food too. I sleep in her arms. She leaves only for more. Two sunrises I’m strong to stand.

    That’s how friends we make, she and me. Hungry for combat pursuit no more. We share bunk. I protect my man-pup. My new master she be.

    Long ago I crossed rainbow bridge. Commanding General grants my requests. Once she called me Bremmer. Once Bear I be. Now it’s MysT. Forever I’ll guard my man-pup’s back.

  3. I let Rowdy get a strong whiff of the mortadella. He has the best nose in the business. I admired his professionalism – not many four legged creatures could resist taking a bite out of baloney packed with pistachio nuts and fat.

    “Okay Rowdy, track!”

    Rowdy turned his head and moved quickly in the direction of the local open-air market, home of the best artisanal food Seattle has to offer. He slowed at Mandy’s Cheese, barking loudly until I correctly chose a provolone picante.

    “We’re looking for two, um, rather large adolescents. They’re runaways and they’ll be carrying a mortadella.”

    “They were here a minute ago,” Mandy offered. “Shame on you for judging them.”

    I had no time to answer because Rowdy was dragging me in the direction of the bakery. Not Very Amish was famous for all manner of bread, but their signature loaf was their deli rye. Rowdy barked and wagged his tail furiously until I let him smell a slice without seeds.

    “I know who you’re after,” Jeb scolded. “The Lord loves all his people, big and small. Who are you to judge?”

    I could tell by Rowdy’s agitated state that the scent was growing fresher by the second. Our last stop, a gourmet mustard stand, brought us to the perimeter of the market.

    Rowdy pulled me in the direction of a park bench where the two rotund teens sat, happily munching and laughing.

    “Okay, Mister we’ll go back,” they agreed. “All we wanted was a mortadella sandwich.

  4. Well this was just great. Chunky Children Fat Farm was not situated at the edge of the Haunted Forest because Disney owned it. The location was meant to deter kids from escaping. Obviously, these two had more appetite than sense. The morbid tales of mutilated bodies and ungodly sounds at night was enough to keep most kids within the compound. Rowdy and I both knew we needed to find these boneheads before nightfall.

    He picked up their scent pretty quickly. We marched ahead, leaving the crying, panicking parents far behind. The deeper into the woods we got, the more gnarled and twisted the trees became. Long, straggly strands of moss hung from knuckled branches. The air was still and heavy with a swamp-like humidity. It smelled like decomposition – like death.

    Rowdy’s nose directed us to a candy bar wrapper. Not that I ever doubted my companion’s abilities, but it was good to know we were on the right track.
    I checked my watch: 6:45 pm. Darkness was already creeping in. I really couldn’t imagine that a few chocolate bars were worth the fate that would befall these kids if we didn’t get them out in time.

    A twig snapped ahead at 2 o’clock. Rowdy’s attention perked in that direction. So did mine. Instinctively we started forward at a quickened pace. But it was too late. When we got to the boys, huddled beneath a tree, I could already feel tufts of fur sprouting up against the inside of my uniform.

  5. Yep, you heard it right, a fat camp. I had a feeling this wasn’t the first time they had escapees. But the word we got was, they had been missing for more than a day.

    Ordinarily this could be an issue. Rowdy’s good and all but quite a bit can happen to a trail over time. We caught them before wash day. Oh my, those kids clothes were something else. Rowdy took to em right away though. Didn’t take him long to pick up their scent either.

    The kids didn’t have much to worry about in the woods, well except for maybe the occasional bear. They were more in danger of just being lost. I couldn’t believe the path they took through the woods. For fat kids they sure took some of the most convoluted paths.

    We caught up with them about an hour outside of camp, just off the main road. Turns out an enterprising camper had established a culinary oasis with a dedicated clientele.

    He built a mini retreat into a cave, a fancy French bistro out in the middle of the woods. Kids from the camp had been going there for years. Crazy prices but these kids were desperate.

    Turned out the current menu didn’t agree with the pair of hooligans. The black truffle soufle had been far too rich after the camp food. They spent the night in the back of the cave to sleep it off.

  6. “Rowdy, find.”

    Nose twitching, Rowdy traced back and forth across the meadow. This wasn’t our first wilderness search and rescue, so I knew the moment he caught the scent. We took off like a shot, Rowdy in the lead, me trailing behind on the other end of the twenty-five foot leash. The overly nervous camp director disappeared from view. Something about that man didn’t seem right. Rowdy didn’t like him either. The sooner we found the missing teens, the better.

    I pushed aside my doubts and hurried after Rowdy. We always found our target, even buried under feet of snow or deep in the backcountry. How hard could it be to catch up to a couple of fat-camp escapees?

    Rowdy stopped just behind an inkberry bush and barked. His tail swished back and forth. I hurried over, expecting an exhausted pair of hefty teens. What I found was a pile of oversized clothes and a huge mound of foam latex. I stared at the pile and scratched my head for a minute before Rowdy pulled me down a narrow trail. A quarter mile later we found the teens scrubbing off their make-up in a stream.

    “I wondered when someone would find us,” said a tall skinny boy. He looked half starved. “We’ve been undercover at that hell hole for a month trying to nail the director. He killed our friend last summer. Now we have the proof to put him away and close that place down for good.”

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