Posts tagged ‘fiction’

But For the Pumpkins

I think I must have my holiday season associations mixed up.
I know some people like to think of winter as starting in November, or spring starting in April and so forth, (it might as well be around here), but I happen to know and stress otherwise.
For example, even though Thanksgiving and Halloween are both Autumn holidays, turkey day to me has always been a festive harvest occasion, while Halloween always gets me excited for winter.

If this is the point where your brain just screeched to a halt, you can go back and read that again, but it was right the first time. I don’t know whether it’s to do with seven-headed rodent kings, skeleton Santas or Dickens’s ghosts, but something about that last day of October, (it should always be chilly), just gets my toes curling in anticipation for fur-lined boots crunching through snow and snuggling under warm blankets and listening to the wind howl outside.
Those readers who have been with me since the days when I was more prolific can probably appreciate the strangeness of this admition.
And now I offer you a story, one day late, but I was feeling inspired.

As soon as Kaylie pulled her head up, she began searching for Billy. Her wet hair whipped against her face as she looked wildly around the room.
“That wasn’t funny Billy!” she shouted to the emptiness; her little fists clenched. Then she went tearing out of the room to find mama.
Mama had gone inside earlier with a headache and left Billy in charge. Mama had headaches a lot, but one time when Kaylie had come inside to get a bandaid for her cut and to tell on Billy for pushing her, she had caught Mama kissing a strange man in the laundry room. She must have had a real headache today though because Kaylie found her in bed; a glass of water on her nightstand.
“Mama! Mama Billy’s being mean again.”
Mama opened and closed her eyes without looking at Kaylie.
Kaylie tried again, but Mama didn’t so much as glance at her. Patches the cat came over and sniffed at Kaylie. Then his fur got big and fluffy and he hissed at her. Patches had never hissed at Kaylie before. She backed away.
Billy had gone back outside to join his friends after he had let Kaylie go, and that was where she found him.
“Mama’s really mad at you Billy,” she lied; hands on hips. “She’s going to come down any minute to whup you.”
Billy ignored her; continuing to throw the green and white ball around with his friends.
“Whadja’ do to your dumb little sister anyway,” one of the boys asked.
“Don’t worry about her,” Billy dismissed.
Mad now, Kaylie ran up and got right in his face.
“I AM RIGHT HERE! STOP IGNORING ME!”
But Billy just danced away and threw the ball to one of his friends. Kaylie ran and tried to catch the ball, but the boys were all taller than her and so it was easy to keep it out of her reach.
When finally Billy got the ball again, he turned and threw it hard. Kaylie had to duck out of the way as it came right at her face. Then she went running inside and began hollering.
“MAMA! MAMA BILLY’S THROWING BALLS AT ME NOW!”
Mama came staggering downstairs then and nearly tripped over the bucket of water in the middle of the dining room. She swore; then fast walked to the kitchen door and leaned out.
“Billy,” she called, “what’s this bucket doing in the middle of the floor?”
“I donno,” Billy called back. “Kaylie musta brought it inside.”
“Nuh uh,” Kaylie countered. “He brought it in to show me how to bob for apples.”
“Well it doesn’t belong there,” Mama finished. “Now send your friends home and come clean up all this water that got spilled.
Kaylie watched smugly as Billy laid newspaper down over the wet spot while Mama dried and put away the rest of the apples. When Mama came back in to the dining room to put the bucket away, Billy jumped up and ran to her.
“Mama don’t.”
She shook him off as he grabbed at her arm.
“I’m putting it away. The closet’s where it goes Billy.”
“Wait, I wanted to use it for something else.”
“Not now,” Mama said firmly.
“She pulled open the closet door and shoved the bucket inside, but it wouldn’t go in. Yanking aside an old suitcase, she tried again. Then she stumbled back as something fell out. Her hands flew up to her mouth; the bucket forgotten beside her.
Kaylie’s small form lay crumpled on the floor; still in her little blue dress. Her curly dark hair and shoulders were soaked through from the water; bits of apple still in her mouth.

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Story Prep

Have you ever written an outline fora story you were about to write?I remember writing outlines in high school
because they told us to, andI’ve found them helpful for speeches I’ve had to give. I’ve even written outlines for some of my college papers to make sure I had enough information to at least reach the required minimum page length. I was never great at making my papers longer than three to five pages. But I’ve never written an outline for any creative writing.
It isn’t often I get a full-blown story idea in my head. Usually these things come in the form of a character or scene that get’s kicked around my imagination until either more comes to me or I decide to write it down somewhere. A lot of them are still up there.
Of course the question of outlines doesn’t usually matter simply because my pieces fall into the flash fiction range. I do however toy with the idea from time to time of writing a longer piece; one with chapters even. I know, gasp!
Almost every author interview I’ve ever heard always contains the question where did you come up with the idea for x. Another favored question among interviewers is about the author’s writing habits or practices. “How do you write?” “How often do you write?” “When” or “where do you write?”
Different authors give different answers as you’d expect, but most seem to say something along the lines of “write every day.” One author even went so far as to say that waiting for inspiration was lazy.
Now if you’re writing fiction inspired by actual events, or if you’re, for example, Janet Evanovich who has said she knows what is going to happen in each book, writing a page or more a day doesn’t seem as daunting. At that point, it’s probably more about getting the piece written before some self-imposed deadline, or making sure it gets done at all. But I must confess to being a “lazy” writer. I don’t sit around and wait for my muse to speak to me exactly, but it does take some brainstorming before I’ve figured out exactly what I want to happen with the storyline. Once that happens, it’s full spead ahead.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I am curently considering writing a longer piece. The idea I have is a fun one, and I really want it to work. Part of me wants to just start writing now and worry about the details later, but part of me really wants to plan it more carefully to avoid what’s sure to be one heck of a lot of rearanging.
So, outline, or not?

The Rider

I really do keep meaning to post earlier, but it is still Monday and Monday means fiction!
Picking up from
here
where I last left you,the tale continues.
For those of you who are new to this story or who just want to refresh your memories, just follow the “dragon story” category.
And now. . .

The rider was a curious sight sitting astride his horse. He was short for a man, and thin too as he dismounted. Kaylin straightened up and took a firmer grip on the sledgehammer she had brought out with her.
“Papa isn’t here,” she said as the rider came toward her.
He had, in fact, been called away on special errand to the castle. They had come late for him; two of the kings soldiers as for a prisoner. Kaylin had said as much to the men, but Papa had told her to hush and not to worry. He hadn’t done anything against the law, or that might displease the king and queen. Kaylin worried though. And now here was this mysterious rider.
Had they come for her now? Had her papa been a prisoner after all? But why only one man? And he did not look like a soldier.
The horse was quality though; Kaylin had seen enough of horses to know a rich man’s horse from a poor man’s horse, and this one was certainly not a commoner’s mount. He was a gleaming chestnut who nosed insistently at his rider. He was fat and well groomed.
“Why do you not bow to me?” the rider replied in a high strange voice.
Kaylin felt herself bristle.
“And why should I bow to you? Because I’m small? Because I’m a girl? Who are you and what right have you to demand my respect?”
To Kaylin’s surprise, the rider seemed actually to be considering the question. Then the dark hood came down and the pretty face of a young girl shown in the light from Kaylin’s candle. She might have suspected it had she not gotten so angry, but now she stood blinking at the other; having forgotten herself.
She was several years older than Kaylin; with long hair the color of wheat that she had tucked beneath her cloak. Sapphire blue eyes stared out from the pale oval of her face and looked nearly black in the light. Her expression was troubled.
“I’m princess Alish,” the girl said. “I need your help.”

How Not to Make Pizza Dough

A little late for the holliday, but I have for you a story!
Remember Zack and Suzie, that crazy couple I shared with you back in June? Well if you don’t, you can just follow the tags.
But for now, without further ado, I give you the story.

“So let me get this straight, your parents are having a get-away weekend, Robby’s going to a birthday party, and he won’t be back until tomorrow afternoon? What time does the party start?”
Suzie laughed. She and her best friend, Marcy Raindeer lay stretched across Marcy’s living room floor eating bowls of cereal and flipping through pages of a magazine, while Robby rode his bike up and down the street just outside.
“I say we have a movie night,” Suzie suggested.
“I’m game. What should we watch?”
“Blood and Guts 7.”
“No-o, We’ve seen Blood and Guts 7 three times already,” Marcy complained.
“No, that was Blood and Guts 5.”
“Blood and Guts 5 we only saw once remember? We were so freaked out that we staied up all night and called Zack?”
“He was so tired.”
“I just remember how mad he was at us.”
By the time Suzie had to take Robby to his birthday party, the girls still hadn’t decided on a movie, but Marcy had promised to rade her cabinets for snacks. Her parents always bought more than enough snacks for their daughter and any of her friends to eat when they were over.
Suzie did laundry, cleaned the house, made sure there was plenty to drink, then she called Zack. Marcy came first ringing the doorbell at 6:30. She had an armful of snacks and a girl named liz from work with her. Zack showed up some 15 minutes later with just himself.
“So do we know what we’re watching?” Zack asked.
“Suzie and I never made it that far,” Marcy told him.
“How about Blood and Guts 4 then,” Suzie suggested.
“That was the worst movie I have ever watched,” Zack complained.
“No way,” Suzie objected. “ Blood and Guts 4 was awesome! That’s why we were so anxious to go see 5.”
Zack shuttered, and Marcy changed the subject.
“How about we don’t watch something that’s going to send our sugar-crazed brains in to LSD nightmares.”
Everyone stared at her.
“Let’s put all the movies in a bag and just pick one at random,” Suzie suggested. “Liz can pick first.”
“Just make sure none of the B and G movies are in there,” Zack put in.
“Once the movie was in, everyone settled down and began snacking.
“Hey can we order pizza?” Liz said suddenly.”
“Oo yeah, let’s order some pizza,” Suzie agreed.
“As long as it’s not from dino’s,” Zack said.
“But I love Dino’s,” Suzie pouted.”
“Doesn’t Johnson’s make a really good pizza?” Marcy put in.
“Didn’t the health department shut them down?” Zack asked.
“Let’s make our own pizza,” Suzie suggested. “It can’t be that hard.”
“I don’t know that’s such a good idea,” Zack hesitated.
“Oh come on,” Suzie said going in to the kitchen. “It’ll be fun.”
After the dough had been set in the oven to rise, they all went back in the living room to continue the movie. They were about half way through the second movie before anyone remembered the dough.
“Hey wasn’t the dough only supposed to rise for an hour?” Asked Liz.
“Shoot! You’re right! I’ll go,”Suzie said.
“No it’s ok,” Liz interrupted, “I don’t mind.”
She got up and went in to the kitchen; they could hear the sound of the oven being opened. Then Liz call to them.
“Hey guys, is it su …”
“What did she say?” Suzie asked.
Zack and Marcy both shrugged, but Marcy got up to go check. After ten minutes Suzie poked Zack’s arm.
“They’ve been in there really long and I don’t hear anything,” she said. You think everything’s alright?”
“You want me to go check?” Zack asked.
“No, I’ll do it.”
Seconds later Suzie came running back in to the living room, a look of horror on her face.
“Zack there’s a giant ball of dough in the kitchen and I think it ate Liz and Marcy!”
“Suzie,” Zack said calmly, “This is why we don’t let you watch scary movies.”
Rather than try to explain, Suzie grabbed Zack’s arm and pulled him off the couch and to the kitchen.
Coming out of what had once been the kitchen door was a doughy mass of a thing;alive and on the move.
“I think they’re in there,” Suzie pointed.
Zack put his hand to his forehead.
“Not again. Suzie, when you looked up that recipe for pizza dough, what did it say?”
“Oh the monster pizza dough recipe?”
Zack’s voice was quiet.
“What?”
“Monster pizza dough.”
“Suzie, think about what you just said.”
“So you believe me then?”
In answer, Zack grabbed Suzie’s hand and fled the fast approaching ball of dough.
“You think it’ll eat the house?” Suzie panted as they tore down the street.
“Forget the house; let’s just worry about getting out of here!”
“But we have to fix it!”
Zack’s mother was in the kitchen when he and Suzie burst through the door. She looked up at them and smiled.
“Oh hello Suzie. What are the two of you up to?”
“You wouldn’t believe us,” Zack answered.
His mother put her head on one side.
“Suzie wanted to make pizza so she looked up the recipe for pizza dough only it was some kind of monster pizza dough and then it ate Marcy and her friend and now it’s chasing us.”
You’re right.”
When his mother had walked away shaking her head, Suzie turned to Zack.
“Well now what do we do?”
“Heck if I know; you guys are the ones who made the pizza dough. What even goes in to pizza dough besides flour?”
“Yeast, and salt, and water … water! Zack water!”
“You said water already.”
“No, I mean I bet if we add more water it’ll all just fall apart.”
“And how?”
“The hose. Come on, we have to get back to my house before it escapes.”
They made it back just as the dough ball was oozing out of the back door. Suzie stood ready with the hose while Zack kept watch. When the ball cleared the door and had ooz rolled nearly in to the middle of the back yard, Suzie blasted it.
Liz and Marcy were soking and slime-covered by the time they were visible again. Marcy glared at her best friend.
“We are never making anything from that website again.”
“That was awesome!” Liz cried as she shivered.
They all stared at her.
“Are all your parties like this?”
They all kept staring.
“So,” Suzie ventured, “who wants to help clean up?”
They all lay sprawled in various parts of the living room when Suzie’s parents walked through the door along with Robbie.
“Hey,” Suzie said lifting her head when her mother looked in. “You weren’t supposed to be back till tomorrow. What happened?”
“Oh, Robbie got sick and they called us. It’s ok though, we’ll go another weekend.“
“Are your friends hungry?” asked Suzie’s dad. “We could order pizza.”
The four teenagers shouted at once.
“NO!”

Jellybeans!

What, did you think I had disappeared again?
Silly you.
I’ve just finished writing a story that I originally wanted to share with you, but then I realised I hadn’t ever posted the story that comes before it. So I will do that now, and you can have the other one later.
This story started off as a joke, but I enjoyed the characters so much that I decided to do more with them.
Enjoy!

Zack frowned at his girlfriend.
“Shut up,” Suzie replied. “I do not eat too many jellybeans, and I’m not going to stop anytime soon.”
She dropped the bag of jellybeans into her basket and eyed the skittles.
Zack shrugged and headed for the frozen food isle.
“Get me a vanilla ice cream too?” Suzie called.
Suzie sat in her living room, her little brother and the dog snuggled against her sides, a bowl of ice cream with jellybeans in front of her. Every now and again the dog’s head would drift toward the jellybeans, and Suzie would push him back.
“Why do you like jellybeans so much?” Robby asked.
“Because they’re pretty and colorful and they can taste like anything,” Suzie answered.
“Anything?” Robby’s eyes were wide as he looked up at his sister. “Chocolate?”
Suzie picked out a chocolate jellybean and handed it to him.
“Blueberry? Banana?”
“Mmn, not in the pack I just bought, but yes.”
“Can I eat jellybeans with vanilla ice cream?”
“Of course; go get a bowl and I will educate you.”
Long hours after her brother had gone to sleep, Suzie sat cross-legged on her bed surfing the internet. The half full bag of jellybeans leaned against her knee. Her best friend Marcy Reindeer was going on about how some girl at work had started making fun of her name and asking if it were really Raindeer.
“And I swear,” She typed, “if one more of those little snotty kids makes fun of my name …,
“Can’t you get a different job if you hate kids so much?” Suzie interrupted.
“=O I don’t hate kids! I like Robby. How is the little booger?”
“I am educating him on jellybeans :-)”
“Lol. Suzie ur crazy obsessed.”
“Lol. Pretty sure Zack thinks so too.”
“u should plant a few &c if they’ll grow a bean stock lol.”
“u r nuts Marce.”
“Yeah, bedtime for me. gn.”
“gn :-)”
But Suzie continued to internet surf until she fell asleep.
She was never sure what woke her. One minute her laptop screen had begun to look blurry and the next thing she knew, she was lying across the middle of her bed on her side. She rolled over and heard a crinkling sound. Her hand brushed some spilled jellybeans. Then, knowing she was not going to fall back asleep any time soon, Suzie got up and headed into the bathroom.
She hadn’t wanted to wake her family on her late night excursion, so hadn’t turned on any lights. As she felt her way back down the hall, she stopped short. She hadn’t remembered closing her door. Her foot brushed a collection of small, roundish somethings. She kicked them away, thinking they must be some of Robby’s marbles. Suzie turned the knob and was met by an avalanche of jellybeans
She squeaked, stumbled backwards and yanked her phone out of her pocket. She began dialing frantically.
“Hello?”
“Zachary this is not funny!” She half whispered, half shouted.
Zack’s voice came back sleepy and confused.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You didn’t fill my room with jellybeans?”
There was silence on the other end.
“Suzie, think about what you just said.”
Suzie shrieked as more jellybeans hit her legs.
“Gees, I’m awake now,” Came Zacks dry reply. “What’s wrong?”
“Ok maybe you didn’t do it, but my room is full of jellybeans and they’re spilling out into the hallway.”
Zack sighed.
“give me a sec,” he said, then disconnected.
Suzie went into the bathroom, shut the door behind her and opened the window. In about ten minutes, Zack climbed through. He stared at Suzie. She was dressed in her t-shirt and shorts from that day, but they looked as though she had fallen asleep in them. Her hair had been pulled out of its tale and stuck up in places. She was still clutching her cell phone.
“Should we get plastic bags and just start picking them up?” He asked.
“Yeah … let’s do that,” Suzie agreed.
They pulled open the bathroom door, and immediately jellybeans began spilling in.
“What the?” Zack said, jumping back.
“You see?” came Suzie’s whisper as she backed in to him.
Zack slammed the door, crushing several jellybeans in the process.
“Do you think that’ll make them mad?”
Zack stared down at the top of Suzie’s head for so long that she finally looked up at him.
“You watch too much TV,” he told her. “Are your parents still out?”
“Yeah, It’s just me and Robby here. Oh my gosh Robby! Do you think he’ll be ok?”
“As long as he doesn’t open his door. But we can’t stay here, come on.”
Zack pulled the bathroom door open and waded through the flood of jellybeans that surged forward.
“What are you doing? You have a plan?” Suzie asked, holding the back of Zack’s shirt.
“No, but we’ve gotta do something. It started in your room, right?”
”Yeah, I think so.”
By now the jellybeans were up to their knees as they made their way down the hallway to Suzie’s room. Zack pushed the door wider and another wave of jellybeans flowed out, hitting them in the legs. Suzie squeaked. The Jellybeans clearly weren’t coming from outside somewhere, because as Zack had helpfully pointed out, all the windows were closed. There was also clearly nothing falling through the ceiling from the attic.
“My bag!” Suzie said suddenly.
Zack was silent.
“My bag of jellybeans. I had nearly finished It before I went to sleep, but when I woke up I remember a bunch had spilled out.”
“So they’re spilling out of the bag and invading your house?”
But Suzie was now searching through the mound of jellybeans on her bed and didn’t answer. With a triumphant flourish, Suzie pulled the once empty jellybean bag from among the mound. Impossibly, it was pouring jellybeans from some kind of invisible bottomless supply. Seconds ticked by, as Zack and Suzie just stared. Then Suzie held the bag by its bottom corners and ripped it in half.
“Nice Suzie, now there’re two of them,” Zack commented.
Twin streams flowed from the halves as Suzie held them.
“It’s like a tick. How do you kill ticks?”
“I don’t really think that’ll help stop the jellybeans.” Zack took one of the bag halves and stared at it. Then he began to pull the sealed bottom edge apart.
Suzie watched him, her eyebrows raised. Then the jellybeans stopped. The last few dribbled out, but no more poured out as they had been doing. Quickly Suzie did the same to her half, and soon the flow of jellybeans from her bag stopped as well.
“Well,” said Zack finally, “Now we’ve just gotta figure out how to get rid of all these jellybeans.”
Suzie, Zack and Marcy Raindeer lay stretched out in the sun, their expressions queasy, their stomachs full. The dog was off a ways, puking rainbows and whimpering.
“I don’t know how you put up with her, Zack,” Marcy said.
“Sometimes,” Zack said, “I wonder myself.”
Suzie merely groaned. “I never want to see another jellybean again in my life.”

Feast

Welcome!
Guess what?
I have more story for you. I hope you enjoy. I will not post all the links to the previous parts here, but this part picks up after
this post here
And The whole thing started off with
this post.
And now here it is.

She didn’t like his eyes. Or perhaps it was the way he had been looking at her, and he had been looking at her, that made her turn away. But now Tavish, always clever had caught her eye and was making a perfect imitation of the knight’s face before she had to turn away to keep from giggling. Alish had wanted to ask her brother about the other nights that had come and especially about the griffin, but there hadn’t been time before this dreadful feast.
Her father’s voice broke in to her thoughts and as she knew her mother would be watching, Alish hastened to look as if she had been paying attention. She could see the knight’s eyes on her again; greedy eyes that took what they wanted and tossed the rest away. This was a man, Alish knew, who would not hesitate to switch loyalties should her father’s kingdom ever come under attack. Surely her mother did not intend this man for her husband. Surely he would only find the dragon and be rewarded with a portion of its treasure? Alish had her doubts about that though. Surely a man with such greedy eyes and a coward’s heart would be burnt to a crisp by any dragon he found. Tavish caught her eye again and winked.
“How do you intend to capture this dragon,” he said; politely entering in to the conversation. “It cannot be easy, or have you captured and slain many dragons before?”
The knight looked unsure as he searched for an answer. Alish could have hugged her brother.
“By any means necessary,” the knight said finally. “As I am well trained and very skilled; I think I shall have no trouble with a mere dragon.”
“Yes your majesty, I am so great and skilled that no mere dragon could stop me,” Tavish mocked. “No razor sharp claw nor fire breath is a match for me. I’m twice the man any dragon is.”
On the floor of the library princess Alish laughed and laughed until her sides hurt.
“Someone will hear you and come in here,” she gasped.
“Hardly,” Tavish dismissed. “The halls are probably still ringing with his great ego, and how could anyone here over that?”
“Were the others as bad as him?” Alish asked sitting up.
“Some were worse, but he did show better skill than them. I do hate to say it, but it’s true. There was one though, that mother would not even let in.”
“Did you see him?”
“I did not, but Jim the groom did. He said it was a shame mother turned him away without even seeing him.”
Later, no one saw the princess escaping in to the night on horseback. Only the groom knew her destination, but no one ever listen to him, as he was not right in the head.

The Capture

I posted
a story
here a while ago that I had written for a friend. While this is not a direct continuation, all the usual players are there
Enjoy

Ben peered in to the bush.
“It’s ok, you can come out,” he encouraged, holding out the chunk of pb&j sandwich.
A reddish snout poked its way out, sniffed cautiously, then sneezed. Ben pulled back.
“Not a fan of pb&j?” Ben frowned.
He crawled back to where he had left his backpack and Rummaged around until he finally came up with a package of beef jerky.
This time the snout came out quickly and snapped the meat from Ben’s fingers. He winced as the sharp fangs grazed him. The second piece he held further away from the bush; forcing the animal to come out further. Slowly, warily, it slunk forward, until it crouched just in front of the bush; eyes focused on the meat, ears alert and twitching, its body tensed to flee. Ben stared at the little creature.
He knew it must be a stray dog, but he had never seen its breed before. It had the pricked ears and wolf-like snout of a husky. Its paws were huge; its tail bushy and straight, and its coarse thick fur was a beautiful shade of reddish brown. The black nose twitched.
“It’s ok boy, you …”
The little dog sneezed.
“Girl?” Ben amended. “It’s ok girl, I won’t hurt you.”
The little dog slunk forward; body hunched, tail down, ears back. When she reached Ben, she stopped and waited. Ben kept perfectly still and held out the jerky. He really hoped she wouldn’t try to take his hand off, but she seemed more scared than vicious. Tentatively she took an edge of meat between her teeth and tugged. Ben let her have it.
“You must be lost,” Ben reasoned. “I can’t imagine someone would leave a poor little pup all by itself on purpose; especially one as pretty as you.”
The puppy had allowed Ben to feed her a few more beef jerky strips before stretching out beside him. She was about two feet away, but Ben thought she was starting to trust him; a sure sign in his mind that she was a stray dog and not a wild animal. Her ears still twitched though.
“Mom never let me have a dog,” Ben sighed. “She says they’re too expensive.”
Then he perked up.
“But I bet she’d let me keep you. I wouldn’t have to pay anything for you girl.”
The boy reached out tentatively for the pup and waited. She sniffed his hand cautiously, but made no move to run away. Slowly Ben crawled closer, until he was right next to the pup. Then he picked her up. She looked curiously at him, but did not wriggle away. Encouraged, Ben picked up his backpack and headed back toward his camp.
“But Mom, she’s all alone with no one to take care of her, and look how cute she is.”
“Benjamin you don’t know where that dog has been or even if she already belongs to someone.”
Mother and son stood just outside of their tent; Ben still holding the puppy, his mother looking at him sternly with her hands on her hips.
“Well we can’t give her back until we know whose she is,” Ben argued. “Can’t we at least keep her until then? She likes me mom, and we’re in the middle of nowhere. She could get eaten.”
In spite of herself, Ben’s mom laughed.
“I don’t think anything in these woods is big enough to eat a dog; even a puppy.”
“What about bears?”
“There are no bears here.” Then the woman sighed. “Alright Ben, if your father says it’s ok, we can keep her.”
Ben had set the puppy on her generous paws and was nearly airborne in order to give his mother a grateful hug, when she stopped him.
“Just until we go home. Then we’re putting up fliers.”
But Ben’s father—his stepfather to be exact—had other ideas. He screamed something about big paws and a wolf and getting his rifle, but the little creature was long gone by then.
She was a wolf cub of course, but there had been no need to tell anyone that. Besides, that beef jerky had been delicious. Now she just had to get as far away from the yelling man with his big gun as possible. The little cub didn’t even see the car as she ran out on to the middle of the highway.
Hugh slammed on his breaks and swore. He wasn’t sure what he had almost hit, or whether or not he had actually hit it, but he felt he ought to check if it were still alive. The little creature stared up at him with frightened gray eyes. He wasn’t in the habit of collecting stray dogs, but he could probably find some kind of animal hospital for this one.
He picked up the little shaking thing and deposited it in the back seat of his car. The second time he slammed on his breaks had Nothing to do with anything outside his car and everything to do with what was now inside it. He whipped out his phone.
“Hugh?” answered a sleepy Taylor. “What’s …?”
“You’ll never believe what I’ve got in my car,” Hugh said.
“No, You’re probably right. Tell me.”
“Your werewolf niece.”
There was a pause.
“Dale? Is she alright?”
“I’m not sure. She was a wolf when I almost ran her over, and now she’s changed back.” Hugh’s tone was exasperated.
“It’s not full moon yet; she shouldn’t be changing,” Taylor reasoned.
“Well, apparently she can now change whenever she likes.”
“Scott and Wendy must be frantic. Bring her over to my place; I’ll take care of her.”
Hugh hesitated; his eyes looking everywhere but the back seat.
“There’s a problem.”
“Which is?”
“I’m a bit far from your house right now.”
“So just drive here. She’ll be ok in the car.”
“That’s not the problem.”
Taylor’s tone became impatient.
“Hugh.”
“When she changed back she had no clothes on; do you know how that could look if I got stopped?”
Taylor was silent for a beat, then,
“Did you cover her?”
“I threw my coat over her.”
“Alright. Just pull over somewhere and let me know where you are; I’ll be right there.”
When Hugh spotted Taylor’s car, He straightened from the door where he had been leaning to get some fresh air and came toward her.
“I called Scott and Wendy and told them I had her and that she was fine,” Taylor said in a rush. “I can’t imagine what could’ve happened if you hadn’t been the one to find her. How is she? Is she ok?”
The two peered in to the back seat of Hugh’s car. The only signs of anyone having been there were the few red hairs sticking in a small patch of blood. Even the jacket was gone. Taylor turned white; Hugh swore.