Thursday, August 22, 2019

Don Travis: Mixterns (A Fantasy), Part II of II Parts

Don Travis: Mixterns (A Fantasy), Part II of II Parts: dontravis.com blog post #351     Courtesy of PNGtree.com You guys are strangely silent. Maybe not into Fantasy. Or perhaps, your a...

Mixterns (A Fantasy), Part II of II Parts


dontravis.com blog post #351
  
Courtesy of PNGtree.com
You guys are strangely silent. Maybe not into Fantasy. Or perhaps, your author’s not into it, and the posts show it. Whatever the case, you are now being exposed to the second and final installment to the story.

*****
MIXTERNS

          I didn’t hear them, but Brute did. He hopped off the couch and ran to the front door barking his head off. And from outside the door, came, “Yip, yip, yip!” He scuttled back to the couch and wiggled his way underneath it.
          Something brushed against the back door.
          “Go ‘way! I shouted.”
          “Go ‘way!” the thing echoed.
          I heard others at the windows. The creatures had surrounded the house. I snatched up the tactical flashlight, ran to the closest window, and pressed the lens against the pane before switching the light to strobe. By the flickering light, I saw a monster outside, but he wasn’t flinching, and his head wasn’t deflating. He wasn’t doing anything but peering in the window, his eyes covered by something dark. Sunglasses! Well, not like any I’d ever seen, but they must have done the same thing. When he swung an arm at me, I dropped the curtain and scrambled backward on my behind. I heard it scrape the glass, but the window didn’t break.
          I scrambled up and ran to my room. Without knowing why, I put on my Cut Scout uniform. Maybe my brains were scrambled from terror, but I felt more prepared. Until Brute started going crazy in the living room, that is. Then I heard a different kind of yelp.
         Racing back to the front room with my weapon—it wasn’t just a flashlight anymore—I found one of the creatures holding a terrified Brute by the nape of his neck. I’d have thought my buddy was dead but for his eyes frantically searching the room for me.
          “Leave him alone!” I yelled and rushed forward with the light strobing fiercely. I didn’t get       far. Something snatched the flashlight from my hand and lifted me off my feet with what felt like a cable wrapped around my chest. It took a second to realize it was another creature holding me against him. Before I lost reason to terror, I remember thinking the thing wasn’t flesh and blood at all. It was a machine, like in that old movie the War of the Worlds. But it wasn’t metal imprisoning me. Not flesh, either. Not human flesh, anyway. It was something in between.
          No matter how much I struggled, I couldn’t get free. Kicking the thing holding me didn’t seem to bother him. He marched out the back door, which they’d opened without kicking it in, and started for the potato field. Others fell in beside him, making me think of army guys marching in step. An occasional whine let me know the one carrying Brute was right behind me.
          In the trek across the yard and the field, I forgot to be scared, especially as we neared the big ship sitting partially buried in the mud. Big and black and mysterious, it had a ramp in the side where we seemed to be headed. Lord, were they kidnapping us? I mumbled the first prayer I thought of, which was the one about laying me down to sleep, as fear took possession of me again.
          Several of the creatures swarmed around holding what looked like tools, working at another hole in the side. One that seemed like a compartment of some sort. As scared as I was, a little common sense penetrated my brain. Something had happened to their ship. They’d crashed—it seemed more like a crash landing—and were trying to repair things. A thousand-million crickets seemed to be chirping like crazy as they chattered among themselves. A sudden bolt of lightning struck about a mile or so beyond old man Wilson’s farm across the road, and every one of the creatures ducked. The ones without the sunglasses—or whatever—held arms or tentacles to their heads. Then they went about their business again.
          Light! They couldn’t stand white light. That’s why all the lights around us were blue.
          We entered the ship and went straight to a big hall where one of the creatures sat in a big chair raised up like it was a throne or something. A few other creatures clustered around a nearby table studying something, maybe the operating manual for this big airship. The chirping noises stopped as they all turned to stare at us through huge uncovered eyes as we neared.
          The one holding me threw me to the floor before the throne; the other one dropped Brute. As my fearless protector scrambled over to cower between my legs, the creature holding my flashlight bowed before the one on the throne and handed over my weapon. The thing in the chair examined it briefly, accidentally turning it on. Everyone cowered before the flashing light, but the creature managed to get it turned off. Suddenly, he leveled a finger or claw or something in between at me and emitted a loud, scratchy sound My knees went weak, almost dumping me on top of Brute.
          Another creature, bent and leaning on a stick of some kind, addressed the creature cricketing at me. The king or chief or ship’s captain or whatever he was stopped chirping and looked at me. He extended a long, cable-like arm and raised his chin—if he’d had one. I blurted the only thing I could think of.
          “I’m T-Tommy.”
          “I’m T-Tommy,” he parroted.
          I shook my head and managed to keep from stuttering. “Tommy.”
          He leaned back and pursed tiny lips. “Tommy.” He folded his long whip-like arm and touched his chest. “Akachetto.” He waved his arm toward the others and said something that sounded like “Mixterns,” so that’s what they became to me.
          He chirped some more, and others came bearing what looked to be stretchers. They folded back metallic blankets to expose two of the creatures with withered heads. I caught my breath and exclaimed, “Dead?”
          “Dead” he parroted, pointing first to me and then to the forms lying before him. “Tommy. Dead.”
          My heart about jumped out of my chest before I figured out he was trying to ask a question. I nodded and said. “Accident. It was an accident!”
          “Accident.” He chirped back and forth with the old one before nodding at Brute. One of the creatures snatched him up before I could protest.
          “No!” I yelled as they handed my pet to the old one. He pulled out something that looked like a hypodermic, except it had no needle. He pressed it against Brute’s neck, and the thing made a hissing sound. Brute yelped and went limp. One of the others—guards, I guess—handed Brute to me.
          The touch of his soft, fur, the half-closed lids on his once-bright eyes released me from my paralysis. “You killed him! You killed my dog!” Tears came flooding, making speech impossible.
          “Bobby dead Mixterns,” the thing on the throne said. “Akachetto dead dog.”
          At his bidding, the guards shoved me in a far corner of the big hall and stood by as the minutes and hours tolled. I sobbed over my dead friend until exhaustion brought me a troubled peace.


          Loud, excited chirping roused me. Mixterns came flooding into the ship, jabbering at one another like crickets gone wild. At last, Akachetto took his place on the throne and one of the creatures bowed before cricketing at him rapid fire. Akachetto nodded and pointed in my direction. The guards came for me while the rest scurried about like they were on a mission. And I guess they were. The problem with the ship was probably fixed. Now we’d soar off into space, and I’d never see Mom or Dad again. I tuned up for a little crying before the two guards prodded me to my feet and herded me through the ship, me still holding my dead friend. Then I saw the ramp. Were they gonna let me go? Before they shoved me through the hatch, the old one with a cane appeared with his syringe in hand.
          I jerked away. “You can’t kill him twice!” Leave him alone.” Oh, Lord! Was he gonna use it on me and leave our bodies in the potato field?
          The old one ignored me and pressed the thing to Brute’s neck. It hissed again before I managed to tear away and run down the ramp. I didn’t stop until I got to the windbreak, then I turned, expecting to see the creatures coming for me.
          But they weren’t. The ramp was folding in upon itself, and the hatch was closing. They were leaving. I felt movement in my arms. I glanced down through the still-dark night and saw Brute give a big yawn. Then he reached up and licked my face.
          “Brute! You’re not dead!”
          Joy flooded my whole being. My friend was back. They’d undeaded him.
          I glanced up as a loud hum built. The earth shook as the craft pulled itself out of the mud with a big sucking sound. It hovered a moment a few feet off the ground before moving straight up in the air and then simply vanishing.
          Putting Brute down, I skipped around to the back door, which still stood open. I examined the door and the frame but didn’t find any damage. How’d they get in?
All of a sudden I was so tired, I almost didn’t make it to the couch. I’d barely stretched out with Brute snuggled against my belly when I passed out.


          I woke at the sound of my mom’s voice “Tommy! Tommy! Let us in.”
          “He’s barred the door. Smart kid. I’ll go around back,” my dad said.
          I still wasn’t completely awake when he came into the room and headed for the front door.    “How you doing, sport?” he asked, as he let my mother in.
          “Fine,” I mumbled. Then I came awake. The Mixterns. I needed to tell….
          But my lips remained sealed. I’d probably dreamed it all. Bad dream. Nightmare. Except… it came out all right.”
          “Tommy,” my mother exclaimed. “Why are you in your scout uniform? And there’s mud all over your boots. Did you go outside?”
          “Yes’m. For a minute.”
          Despite that, I convinced myself last night had been a dream… until my dad looked out the window and exploded.
          “What the hell happened to my potato patch?”


*****

Okay, the ordeal is over, and I’m freed of my compulsion to try something new. Let me know what you think of the effort.

Dreamspinner’s publishing date for my next BJ Vinson book, The Voxlightner Scandal, is November 19, 2019. A buy link follows:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Mixterns (A Fantasy), Part I of II Parts


dontravis.com blog post #350
  
Courtesy of PNGTree.com
I’m not a Sci-Fi or Fantasy writer (although I’ve done a couple of short stories), but the yarn that follows inserted itself in my head, so there was noting to do but write it. That’s all I have to say on the subject. You can have the final say after you’ve read both parts of the story.

*****

MIXTERNS

          I must have been pretty grown up for my folks to leave me alone at home after dark. Alone except for Brute my gray Schnauzer, that is. My parents had gone to a birthday party at Aunt Mitzi’s and Uncle Darrell’s house in town, but I’d begged off. Wouldn’t be any kids there, and the gifts would be grown-up things. The TV in our living room was more interesting than a bunch of people talking about things I didn’t care anything about.
          The freak thunderstorm rattling the shutters took a little wind out of my sails until Brute plopped down on the couch beside me with his head in my lap. But just as Marshal Dillon was about to draw down on a sneaky bad guy, the television went black. I hadn’t even had time to recover from that before the lights went out too. My heart lurched as I sat in the dark, watching a dying spot of light on the TV set.
          I didn’t panic—maybe scared a little but didn’t panic. Heck, I was ten-years-old and a Cub Scout to boot. In a couple of years, I’d be a Boy Scout, and they were always prepared. I groped my way in the darkness, listening to the rain thump on the roof and rattle against the glass panes, until I reached the kitchen cabinet where dad kept the big tactical flashlight he’d bought for emergencies like this. Long and heavy as a club, it cut a big swath through the darkness when I managed to get it on. I liked to make it strobe, so that’s the way I set it, but the flickering light made walking back to the living room too uncertain. I made it quit.
          I no sooner sat down on the couch again than the telephone on the table in the hallway rang. I scooted over, wondering how come the phone worked when nothing else did. It was my mom.
          “Are you all right, Tommy?”
          “Yes, ma’am. Raining like blue blazes and the lights went off, but me’n Brute are okay.”
          “You know where the flashlight—”
          “Yes’m. I got it right here.”
          “Your father wants to speak to you.”
          After a moment he came on the line.
          “You okay, sport?”
          “Yessir.”
          “There’s been a flash flood at the creek, so your mom and I won’t be able to get back home for quite a while. Maybe not until morning. You all right with that?”
          “Y-yes, sir.”
          Was that something moving in the corner? I swung the flashlight around. Nothing there.
          “I—”
          A big crash followed by a bright light made me just about jump out of my skin. The phone went dead in my hands. Lightning. Close. I stood quietly as chill bumps puckered my skin. I swallowed hard and spoke into the dead phone. “Brute and me’ll be all right, Dad.”


          After I crawled onto the couch again and got over that scare, things didn’t seem so bad, even though the old house made noises I’d never noticed before. The rain passed, but the wind that came after it kept my mom’s rose bushes scratching at the front window like they were trying to get in. My heart stopped racing when Brute lifted his head and gave a big yawn. He was asleep before his head hit my lap again. Nothing to worry about.
          With nothing else to do, I fiddled with the flashlight, making it strobe, widening the lens so half the room was alight and then narrowing it down so I could pretend a laser was boring a hole in the wall. Eventually, it dawned on me that I’d better save the batteries. When I shut it off, everything was as black as I’d ever seen it before. Long before my usual bedtime, my batteries needed recharging, and I dozed. I must have, because I came awake with a start when the bang came. Bang… it was more of a crash. Or a crash bang. From outside somewhere.
          When I turned on the tactical flash, Brute was standing on the couch, looking out the west window. “Yap!” he barked. Then he followed with some yips before hopping off the sofa and going to stand on his hind legs at the window. I was right on his heels, but the glass reflected back in my eyes, so I killed the flashlight. As soon as I recovered my night vision, I saw a bluish glow coming from the potato field my dad left fallow this season.
          “What’s that?” I asked.
          Brute answered with a bunch of yips and yaps.
          Before long, curiosity won out over fright, and I pulled on a jacket against a night colder than it oughta be and took the flashlight outside on the front porch, Brute hard on my heels. The storm had passed but lightning still played in the distance. Peering through the moonless night, I made out something big and indistinct in the far field. The glow came from there. I couldn’t be sure, but there seemed to be shapes moving around in the blue light. Maybe someone needed help. But who? There ought not be anyone in our potato field. The only thing I could think of was an airplane crash.
         With a glance at the boiling clouds overhead, I abandoned the porch and walked through a stiff headwind toward the distant glow. I hadn’t even reached the edge of the yard before I came to a dead stop. Something in the windbreak line of elms caught my eye. A shape. Like a man… sort of. My heart went crazy when he moved forward. Brute went down on his forelegs, his rear end in the air, and growled.
          The hair on my neck prickled when the thing—it sure wasn’t a man—made a noise like a cricket, except a lot louder.
          I managed to get my words out without stuttering. “Who’s there?”
          “Who’s there?” came back at me.
          “I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here.”
          “I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here,” the thing said.
          “No, you’re not! I’m Tommy.”
          “No, you’re—”
          “Stop that!” I yelled. Freaked, I switched on the flashlight, but in my excitement, I set it to strobing, surprising me as much as it did the man… the thing. The flickering light exposed a big head and huge eyes over two holes where a nose should have been. The next blink of light showed the thing’s head wrinkling, like it was collapsing. With a horrible shriek, the creature fell to the ground and lay still.
          “Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?” I muttered aloud.
          I about jumped out of my boots when another voice came back at me. “Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?”
          Brute was halfway back to the house before I had time to swing the strobing light to another big-headed, pale man… creature… thing, who flung hands or claws to his face as his head seemed to collapse too.
          Other shapes moved, but they seemed to be retreating. So did I, catching up with Brute on the front steps. We almost tripped one another getting through the door. I slammed it, latched it, and for good measure, lowered the bar that Dad had installed when we had a rash of robberies in the area a year back to hold it fast. Then I locked the back door—wishing it had a bar too—and latched all the windows, closing the curtains as I did so.
          After that, I collapsed on the couch and held a terrified Schnauzer tight against my chest until my heart quit thumping and some of the panic ebbed.
          “What were those things?” I asked aloud. Brute didn’t bother to answer, he just burrowed deeper into my armpit.
          Fear shrank and curiosity grew. I got off the couch and went to the west window. Pulling the curtain aside enough to peek outside, I saw that blue glow in the distance. Then something blotted out the light, and I made out the faint shape of a creature’s head right outside the glass pane. Except I couldn’t see the big eyes. Something was covering them.
          Giving a yelp that matched Brute’s yip, I dropped the curtain and ran back to the couch, curling into a ball and clutching a shivering dog close against me.
   
 *****

There you have it. The first half of the story, at any rate. See you for the finish next Thursday.

Dreamspinner’s publishing date for my next BJ Vinson book, The Voxlightner Scandal, is November 19, 2019. A buy link follows:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.



Thursday, August 8, 2019

Meow


dontravis.com blog post #349
  
Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.
I didn’t realize it until I posted this story, but this is the third tale in a row featuring an animal… with a tail. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Let’s visit another part of the great state of New Mexico with the following piece of fiction. As the name infers, Silver City is a mining town. Copper, gold, silver, and other minerals have attracted people throughout history. Silver City sits in a valley which was once the site of an Apache camp. Spaniards mined copper there. After the Civil War, a settlement called La Cienega de San Vicente (Oasis of St. Vincent) took root there. The town of Silver City was founded in the summer of 1870 after discovery of silver ore at Chloride Flats, west of the farm of Captain John M. Bullard and his brother James. The captain was killed by Apache raiders on February 23, 1871 and is supposedly buried in the first grave in the city cemetery.

The town suffered substantial violent crime during the 1870s, but Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill started putting the brakes on the trouble. He was the first lawman to arrest Billy the Kid… in fact, he did it twice. The town’s first marshal, Dangerous Dan Tucker, one of Whitehill’s former deputies continued to bring things under control. Now Silver City is considered one of the safest towns in the state… until our fictitious killer shows up. Now to the story.

*****
MEOW
Monday morning, Jonathan Biggersby listened to the excited chatter around the water cooler at Mars and Larson Architects, LLC. Sarah Reynolds, the firm’s receptionist, professed to be terrorized by the sixth murder in Silver City in the last six months. Most of the men kept a stiff upper lip—preferring to confine their pithy comments to why the authorities failed to catch the killer—but the women were clearly frightened.
An amateur historian, Jonathan knew this southwest New Mexico town was born in violence in the 1870s, but in recent years it was rated 63rd safest out of 100 cities and towns of any size in the nation. But now an elusive murderer sowed fear and suspicion throughout this town of 10,000 souls.
Several of the M&L employees expressed a fear of venturing outside their locked homes at night. Some of them curtailed their children’s evening activities, adversely impacting attendance at Western New Mexico University’s Mustangs sports venues.
Tired of all the fear mongering, he returned to his desk to resume work on drawings of a small apartment complex. He worked carefully and efficiently, even though a part of his mind mulled over the water cooler topic.
According to news reports, Dr. Josephine Rasmussen had been garroted in her home this past Wednesday night. Three weeks prior, it had been John Harginess, a pastor returning home after a welfare visit to one of his parishioners. The good parson had been found stabbed to death in Big Ditch Park near the city’s police department. Before that a gardener died of a gunshot wound, teenage athlete Billy Boyce had his throat slashed, and…. Jonathan took a moment to shake out his tense shoulder muscles as the names and circumstances of the other two killings escaped him.
The only thing that led the police to conclude these disparate killings were committed by the same individual was a one-inch square note with a printed number accurately enumerating the victim, each in turn. According to news reports, the authorities confirmed the handwriting was done by the same hand—likely a man in his prime—but they learned nothing else from the deliberately placed clues.
This modern killer was beginning to spread as much terror as some of the more notable characters who resided in, visited, or raided the town in the old days. People such as Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, Cochise, Geronimo, Victorio, and Mangas Coloradas. Jonathan, a mature, rational man, refused to be ruffled by the notorious modern-day killer, but he did go to the trouble of obtaining a concealed carry permit, and his little APV .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol hung heavy in his right coat pocket at this very moment.
Jonathan finished his workday and, as usual, accompanied two of his workmates to a neighborhood bar for one glass of the house ale before saying his goodbyes. His companions hoisted glasses to his departure and warned him to guard against being Number 7, a raucous way of saying be careful.
In deference to the humid August afternoon weather in full monsoon flow pattern, he loosened his tie and shrugged out of his suit coat before sliding into the driver’s seat of his 2015 Audi sedan. The drive was a short one… as were most drives in Silver City. He parked in the driveway in front of his detached one-car garage and walked around the front of the house to pick up his mail and latch the gate, which was unaccountably agape.
Jonathan shuffled through the four pieces of mail—three bills and a letter from his cousin George in Albuquerque--before looking around for Oscar. The black tom with red-rimmed eyes usually met him at the front gate. Jonathan always let the cat out as he went to work each day, and they met one another in the evening on the front porch. Today… no Oscar. Unusual but not unheard of. The cat was an independent sort, but he had become a great comfort after Jonathan’s divorce two years ago.
He paused in the front yard to admire the structure he called home. Best thing about it? It was paid off. Free and clear. He retained the blonde brick, pitched roof house in the divorce settlement, because Elizabeth wanted to go to the big city. Albuquerque wasn’t that appealing to him, but it must hold an attraction for some.
He stooped to smell some of the miniature red roses Elizabeth had planted along the front of the house. They drooped from the heat, but even so, emitted a nice aroma. Tripping up the steps, he keyed the lock and entered his home. After securing the door behind him, he tossed his coat on the back of the couch, taking comfort from the thump of the little gun in one pocket against the cushion, and opened the drapes to look out the picture window, pleased by the condition of his green, flower-rimmed yard. Intelligent watering. That was the key.
As he stood taking pleasure in the moment, something brushed his leg. He glanced down. Oscar sat on his hind legs and looked up to greet him.
“Meow.”
“How in the blazes did you get in?”
Had he forgotten to let the cat out this morning? No, he distinctly remembered….
A chill played up his back as he lunged for his coat.


*****

Oh, boy! Some of you are going to be pleased as Punch I gave you the opportunity to finish the story. Others will be red-faced mad at me for not doing so. But it’s up to you, dear reader, to complete the story. I hope you’ll send me your resolutions at don.travis@aol.com.

Likewise, some of you at Worwrights Writing Class will take me to task for telling a story, instead of showing. And in truth, this is telling. But some stories are made to be told, not shown.

Dreamspinner’s publishing date for my next BJ Vinson book, The Voxlightner Scandal, is November 19, 2019. A buy link follows:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Foxy Fox


dontravis.com blog post #348
  
Courtesy of public domain files
I guess I’m “animal-obsessed” these days. Last week, a dog. This week, a furry-tailed red fox. Hope you enjoy my tail… er, tale.

*****
FOXY FOX
          There were humans in the woods! Instinctively, she dropped behind a fallen log near the path their kind usually trod. One was nearby, although the odor was somewhat different. Her sharp nose detected no scent of the savage dogs they sometimes used to hunt her. The big beasts could smell as well as she could, but they weren’t as fast. Couldn’t scoot through the underbrush as easily as she could, either.
          She cocked her ears as a mewling sound reached them. A crying sound, like one of her kits would make. Except… stranger. Foxy, no longer able to contain her curiosity, raised up enough to see over the rotting log. The season of falling leaves had arrived, and she peered through a veritable rain of them at a human. A tiny human walking on its two hind legs—the way they all did—although with halting and uncertain steps. Its mouth alternately opened to emit wails and closed to make sobs. The peculiar fur he wore was the color of the sky on top and like damp sand on the bottom. One of his paws—she was almost sure it was a little dog fox—was covered in something, but the other one was bare, fat little toes—one more than she had—topped with short little claws that looked to serve no purpose at all.
          Something moved at the edge of the far side of the forest. A wolf! No, a coyote. The beast watched quietly for a moment and then moved for the child. He probably wouldn’t hurt the little human, but sometimes coyotes like to play with their prey, and this one probably looked like a giant ground squirrel to him.
          As the coyote moved in for a closer look, the child backed up too quickly and ended up sitting on the hard ground, raising a cloud of dust as it plopped down. The abrupt movement and a following screech of terror brought a snarl from the coyote.
          Foxy reacted as if it were her own kit in danger. She bounded forward, snarling and nipping at the bigger animal. The coyote snapped back, but his heart wasn’t in it, so he slunk off. The baby let out a howl, it’s big eyes the color of ripe acorns wide with fear. Moving slowly and gently, Foxy licked dirt and twigs from the human’s filthy face. In moments, the child went silent and allowed her ministrations. Finished, she backed of and sat on her rump. The human child gurgled and reached out to stroke her fur with fat little forepaws. She allowed it until she sensed the kit was surrendering to exhaustion. It was too open here. Too dangerous, so she poked him with her nose until he roused. Then she walked toward the tree line, glancing over her shoulder and giving a short bark.
          The baby leaned forward on his front paws, lifted his rump, and stood uncertainly on his two hind feet. She yipped again, and he tottered after her.
          Once she reached a sheltered place, Foxy settled down, her long red tail curled around her comfortably. As she hoped, the child plopped down beside her. Moments later, she heard a yawn and felt his body slump down, his belly touching her back. Good. He would rest now. So could she.


          Abruptly, she lifted her head as sounds reached her sharp ears. Other human. More than one. Two, possibly, although she could hear more remote voices, each making the same sound. Could they be looking for the lost kit? Had this little human strayed from his protectors?
          Foxy stood quietly, so as not to rouse the sleeping child. After a few steps out on the trail, she stopped to listen and smell. No scent of hounds. Nor the unpleasant, oily odor of the shooting sticks they sometimes carried. If they were searching for the little human, they were on the wrong trail. Glancing back at the sleeping child, Foxy made a decision. Never before had she consciously courted danger, but she would now.
          Following the nearest human noises, she made directly for them. Close now, she lay silently in the shade of a berry bush until two of them appeared on the deer trail. They still called, each making the same sound. These two must be part of a larger group searching for the child. And if they continued down this trail, they wouldn’t find him.
          Foxy examined the two approaching figures. Men. Males. Not old and grizzled like some of them. Young, perhaps. They carried no shooting sticks, merely trimmed limbs from some tree. When they were close enough, she made her move, darting directly in front of them and halting in the middle of the trail.
          Each shouted something, but she paid no attention except to watch their forepaws for danger. When one clawed at his side and drew out a short shooting stick, Foxy scooted back the way she’d come. No explosion followed, so she dared to stop and look back. One had his hand on the shooter’s arm and was shaking his head. Encouraged, she allowed them to get close again, almost too close. When they started hurling rocks, she scampered through the trees before halting. Sure enough, they were following, pausing now and then to pick up more stones or broken sticks to throw.
          After a couple of near misses, she understood how far they could throw things, and stayed just out of reach. When their interest waned, she approached enough to tempt them a little farther. She had almost reached the trail when the human’s demeanor changed. They seemed to have figured out she was trying to lead them somewhere. Maybe they had the capacity to think. Who knew?
          More secure now, Foxy went straight to the baby still sleeping where she left him. With a final lick on the child’s chubby cheek, she scampered into the underbrush and circled to watch as the two men caught sight of the child. They barked a single word and rushed forward to sweep the surprised little kit into their forearms, planting kisses where Foxy had bestowed hers only moments before.
          Slightly alarmed when one of the humans drew out his short shooting stick, she understood when he pointed it skyward and made it go bang three times. Then he repeated the gesture.
          In moments, Foxy was aware that other humans—some with dogs—were converging on the spot. Time to go.
          But before she could move, one of the humans who’d followed her, turned to face the forest and doffed those silly things they put on their heads to cover the only natural fur they had. At least this one had enough sense to figure things out.
          Foxy answered with a sharp yip and headed for her den. Time for a good nap.


*****

Sounds far-fetched? Perhaps so, but there are real-life tales along these lines that will astound you.

By the way, Dreamspinner has released a publishing date of November 19, 2019 for my latest BJ Vinson novel, The Voxlightner Scandal.  They’ve even given me a buy link:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
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See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


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