The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Cracked Fairy Tale

brown wolf

A shepherd boy’s mother was turned into a werewolf who ate his father, leaving the child alone to tend the flock.  The child developed an idea.  He went into town and shouted, “Wolf!  Help!”

The villagers sprung into action.  Once they arrived at the pasture, they saw no wolf and chastised the child.  The child argued, “Your response time is terrible!”

The townspeople stomped back home.

A few days later, a sheep bleated.  The boy’s werewolf mother had returned for slaughter.  He sprinted to town and cried, “Wolf!”

“Buzz off, liar!”

Soon after, his mother ate all the townspeople.

Moral: Always participate in preparedness drills.

***

This was written for a Carrot Ranch prompt a long time ago, but I still like the story I made for it.  Hope you enjoyed!

Love in the Hidden Valley

empty room

My hand touched hers.  I pulled away instantly and looked into the stranger’s face.

Luscious lips.  Doe’s eyes.

“Sorry,” I said.  I flexed my fingers.  “You first.”

She batted her eyes, showing off those long lashes.  Her tent dress had a psychedelic pattern in blazing hot pink, and a tight, yellow ribbon cinched her waist.  After she gave me a sheepish grin, she took the handle labeled ‘ranch’ and drizzled a helping over her lettuce and tomatoes.

She pursued some raisins, leaving an opening for me to grab the ladle.  “You like ranch too?” I asked.

She nodded.  “Yes.”

“I just found out about it.  It’s so fresh, you know.”  I cleared my throat.  “So, uh, you come here to get salad often?”

She shook her head, and her beehive remained solid with all the hairspray.  “First time here.  My dad just got a new job in town, and he said the prospects of landing a good man in LA are slim.  So here I am.”

I walked with her, forgetting the sour beans I’d wanted to add.  I held my plate with one hand and flicked some ashes from my cigarette into an empty table’s ashtray.  “Get outta town!  This is only my third time here.  You think Daddy would let you out of sight long enough to grab a drink sometime?”

She chuckled.  “You look like you couldn’t hold much.”

“That just means I spend less money getting wasted than the other guys.  Economic bargain.”   I felt around in my pockets for a pen.  “Here.  This is a good bar – bit hole in the wall, but not too communist, you know?”

She chuckled.  “Friday?”

“Sure,” I answered.  “I show up at around eight.”

She gave me a wink.  “I’ll tell Daddy not to wait up.”

***

This was written for the September 25th Free Write on the Carrot Ranch.  The prompt was ‘Ranch Romance,’ and the first, second, and third things I thought of were literally all Bonanza or Gunsmoke plots – but I couldn’t submit that! 

So, time running short and my brain about to explode, what did I come up with? 

A story where people fall in love over ranch dressing.  In the 60’s.  

That’s why this exists.  You can thank Clorox (who owns Hidden Valley Ranch).

The Long Drive Home

Road beyond Denver

She was quiet, hands clutched tight to the steering wheel, cheeks still puffy from sobbing.

He was noiseless in the passenger seat.  He gripped his water bottle tight, as if afraid it would disappear.  His clothes hadn’t been washed since he’d taken them off a couple weeks ago, and storage hadn’t done the lingering scent of sweat any good.

The skin on her hands was thinning, and her hair greyed at the temples.  Her lips wiggled, constant reminder of the words she couldn’t let out.  Instead she reached into the purse in her back seat and removed a granola bar.

He snatched it.  His hands were youthful, his face not yet stubbled with hair.  His arms were covered in bruises.  Swiftly his fingers found the serrated foil and tore open the package.  Though crumbled from having been in the purse for so long, he gobbled it down.  His eyes fluttered in pure delight at the taste.

She reached for the console, but then stopped midway, leaving the radio off.

He looked pensively at her, wishing she’d turned the dial.  “Are you mad at me?”

She swallowed.  “I’m glad you’re coming home.”

“But are you mad at me?”

She silenced him with a quick turn off the highway and a narrow avoidance of oncoming traffic.  The road turned to gravel beneath the wheels, crunching loudly and jolting the car.  She held the wheel steady and kept the tires from shifting over the loose rocks.

At the end of the long drive home, she shifted the car into park and killed the ignition.

They sat in the car, hesitant, testing the lonely air in their lungs.

“Are you mad I got taken to juvie?”

She looked at his face and stopped fighting back her tears.  “I still love you.”

***

This was written for the 19th September Carrot Ranch 2018 Free-Write challenge. “The Long Drive Home” was the prompt.  I was having an absolutely horrible day at work, and I wrote this during that lunch break.  As a result, all I could remember was this semi-memoir type of work.  I wasn’t either of the characters in the above, but I knew them.  When his mom left to get him from juvie, I didn’t envy her.  I don’t know how the drive went in real life, but this is how it occurred in my head. 

On October 1st, on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page, the TUFF challenge begins with an announcement of the winners.  If you want to read a really cool set of flash fictions, stay tuned!  I may or may not get in, but either way I know this is going to be fun!

Tears in the Wadi

desert caravan dune ride

My head spins from the throbbing gash left by the highwayman.  The sky overhead hangs heavy with the rare blessing of rain.

I groan and stumble over a trail of footprints to the body of my fellow herdsman, Rabbel.

I hold his stiffening hands in mine and hold back tears.  We had shared many encampments when on caravans.  I kiss him on the forehead, close his eyes, and vow to avenge his death.

After I hug his corpse tight, I look up.  A male camel, a strong stud never broken and only to be sold as breeding stock, chews his cud at the top of the next dune.  To my surprise, the unruly male remains calm at my approach.

I choose not to degrade him by hopping on his back and trying to ride.  I hold onto the reins and allow him to guide me toward his herd of females.

While traveling, I note the footprints of my biggest female behaving erratically.  The thief appears to have struggled against my caravan line.  The cool rain begins to sprinkle.

Just as the rains begin in earnest, I spot my females huddled at the center of a dry wadi.  I release my male’s reins and hurry to see what they crowd around.  The vagabond that killed Rabbel lies, leg broken, in the middle of the dune funnel.  I take a sip from a waterskin he can’t reach.

“Help,” he begs.

I tie my caravan line together and place my male at the head so the females will follow.  I tug the line, and my camels follow me easily.

“Don’t leave me here!”

Goddess Al-Uzza will cry a thousand cool tears of vengeance for each wail of sadness I’d howled for Rabbel.  The wadi will flood, drowning my sworn enemy.

***

This was written for the September 13th Free Write on the Carrot Ranch.  As soon as I read the prompt, I thought of both the Good Samaritan and The Flight of the Phoenix, both stories that contain water in a desert setting.  I spent most of the free write time researching the Arabian desert and the Nabataeans who lived long ago (and built Petra). 

Unfortunately, the Good Samaritan only showed up here in the form of his opposite. 

 

Level Up

hellscape

My left hand snapped off at the wrist.

I didn’t scream.  There was no use of screaming, not anymore.

My body swung out over the abyss.  I scrambled against the cliff face, mistakenly looking down at the abyss of Hell, and gripped the ashen fingers of my right hand even tighter.  I shoved my stump into a crevice.

Someone else’s blackened fingers clutched onto my ashen left hand and dragged it onto the ledge.

“Hey!  A little help, here?” I pulled my left arm out of the crevice, watching as pieces of the forearm flaked and fell.

“Why should I help you?”  She peeked over the edge of the cliff.  Flames degraded her just as they burned me.

“What you got to lose!?”

“More than you realize.”

“Like what?” I tried to scoff, but part of my throat fell down into my lungs.  “I’ve been to the top before and just got a trip straight back to the ninth level.  You won’t win anything by getting there first.”

“I don’t know if I can trust you.  He said that everyone here was evil.”

“Please!  I’m just feet away from the second level.”

She whimpered and reached over the edge of the cliff. Blackening fingers grasped my upper arms and dragged me over the ledge.

“Thank you.  They say I’m crazy, but there’s got to be a way out.  So I climb.”   I coughed a bit of my lung up.  “I’m going to escape one day.”

I barely heard through my ashen ears, “I believe you.”

I closed my mouth on my disintegrating.  The next question or answer would probably be my last.  “Where are you from?”

I felt her touch the side of my head and assumed she was actually screaming when I heard a whisper, “Heaven.”

***

This was written for the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo under the ‘scars from climbing’ prompt.  I immediately thought of this idea, about climbing up from lower levels of Hell, and set to writing. 

If you’re a writer (or even if you’re not!), I’d encourage you to check out the Rodeo at the Carrot Ranch website.