Timber

image from www.wikipedia.org
image from http://www.wikipedia.org

The timbers were stained black, weathered by years of peat fires filling the house with smoke. hey were the constant, the bones of the house. As children were born and lost, as minds were moulded and shaped, still they remained, unchanging. Hair greyed and skin sagged. Holes were dug and generations lost. Suns rose and set, and still the timbers watched over the family, a constant, silent guardian.

Wire

image from www.dexknows.com
image from http://www.dexknows.com

It was the wire that saved my life.

It was the summer of my twenty-second year, and I was apprenticing as an electrician. A good job for a small town; even though my boss was a drunk, people still went to him because there was no one else.

It was the lamppost outside Macy Thompson’s house. It had been flickering for several weeks and when it finally died, she called me and Bob to come fix it. He was drunk; he was always drunk. But I knew enough to figure out the problem alone.

A hot day in summer, at high noon. After only ten minutes, I was sweltering. Macy saw and offered me lemonade. I would have been a fool not to accept.

It was light. Refreshing.

When I was finished, I thanked Macy for her hospitality and I went back outside.

The sky was dark. Curious, but only a cloud passing over the sun, I thought. I went back to my work, and saw what might have been the problem: an exposed wire dangling from the lamp. I got my ladder and set it up, and just as I was staring up at the wire, about to climb, the first feather fell.

Forty years have passed, and still we don’t know why the pheasants destroyed our town. For years, Bob’s screams haunted my dreams. But now I have made my peace. I was able to warn Macy Thompson and save our lives that day, because of the exposed wire.

Cherries

image from http://www.mrwallpaper.com/
image from http://www.mrwallpaper.com/

They look weird.

What are they?

I dunno. Touch one.

Why me? You touch one. You’re the one who found them.

Yeah, but…

C’mon. You found ’em.

But they look like balls.

So? You can’t touch balls? Grow a pair and touch them.

Fine! Fine. If I die, tell my mother this was all your fault.

Pants

 

image from www.wikihow.com
image from http://www.wikihow.com

He had been following the trail for days.

It could have been longer. He lost track of time around the fourth pair.

Well, he was finding a pair a day, generally speaking, and he had how many now?

With a weary groan, he lowered himself to a mossy boulder by the stream and pulled his bag off his shoulder. Folded neatly atop his foraged food and camping gear were his finds – his curious treasures. One, two, five… eight… eleven. Eleven pairs altogether. So he had been on the move for eleven days, more or less.

He folded them back into his bag and hoisted it onto his shoulder with a grunt, then cupped his filthy hands and filled them with water from the stream he had been following all day. Refreshed, he reoriented himself and set off through the brambles and branches.

Sunset came, washing the valley in a burnished glow. He paused, panting softly, to admire it. One good thing about his strange quest, he supposed, was how he was subject to the intricate beauties of the wild.

He turned back to the deer paths he had been following – and froze when the glorious sunlight filtered through a jagged hole. His heart swelled and he raced over and snatched them off the branch from which they dangled. Another – and a new direction in which to search.

With a renewed sense of accomplishment, he set off into the woods, clutching the twelfth pair of ripped and ragged pants.

Ants

image from http://medimoon.com/
image from http://medimoon.com/

They came in a swarm.

One by one at first, a steady trickle of polished black, like the heartwood of ebony hacked at random. Then they came together. Gossiping back and forth—Did you hear? The news is out. It’s all anyone can talk about!

They came in a swarm.

Viscera and carnage lay untouched for mere moments, then word spread like wildfire and the gossiping biddies came calling.

They came in a swarm.

Hair tangled but untouched. Clothes smeared and stained. Bones picked clean and hollow, just waiting to be bleached by the sun. Bit by bit they feast. Bit by bit they heave their roasts home. Devourers of death. Decomposers of life.

They came in a swarm.

Trigger

image from http://www.amherstmediainvestors.com/
image from http://www.amherstmediainvestors.com/

The reek of black powder stung her nose and clung to the back of her throat. The cough jerked out of her, and she clapped a hand to her mouth as if she could stifle it after the fact.

With a thud muffled by padding, the gun lowered. A face appeared through layers of wool and linen, brows arched in question.

She choked back another cough, eyes burning, and shook her head. She was fine. It was nothing.

Fathomless brown eyes gazed at her for another long heartbeat, then he nodded and turned back to his work.

Standing on her toes, she peered over his head. It was as much to do her job as it was to escape the sharp odour of gun powder.

The snowy expanse was untouched save for the delicate tracks of the creatures they stalked. He hadn’t hit anything.

Fine black grains streamed from the tip of the horn into the waiting maw of the barrel. She watched it disappear, like the tiny wriggling worms frantically consumed by the baby robins in their tree. Ugly bald heads poking up over the rim of the makeshift nest—she had watched them for hours.

A grunt to get her attention, then they stood from their hideout and crunched through the snow, to follow the tracks of their prey.