AL Kaplan is the readers’ choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge.
The winning entry is rewarded with a special feature here today and a place in our collection of winners which will be published as an e-book at year end.
Without further ado, here’s the winning entry:
Feast of Color
by AL Kaplan
A chill wind catches my frozen breath and whisks it away. I shiver, but not from cold. Something about our wagon-master isn’t right. The rabid cougar that took down two horses and a man last week didn’t faze him. With all our other delays it’s too late to traverse the mountains. Food already runs low. If I don’t find help soon, my daughter and the rest of the wagon train will die. Our only hope hangs on the thin wisp of smoke I spotted across the valley this morning.
The forest is silent as I enter a large clearing carpeted with red and gold leaves. Wood is piled high on the perimeter. A deer slowly rotates unaided over a fire. My stomach flips even as my mouth waters. Was this built by friends or foes? My daughter’s life hangs on the answer. I’m afraid to move forward, yet can’t go back.
“Don’t be afraid.”
I spin around. A man with silver-blue eyes stands at my side. Garbed all in green, feathers and leaves weave through his long braids.
“Who are you?” My voice shakes.
“Not your enemy. This circle will keep all of you safe until spring.”
With a shaky hand I point to the deer. “How?”
“Magic. The Devourer leads your group to his feeding grounds. We will stop him.”
My gaze drifts. When I look back the man is gone. Silver-blue eyes study me from a huge gray wolf. It nods, then lopes away.