I’m probably as competitive as the next person but I learned the hard way as a kid that competition is only fun when you win, or in my case, manage not to humiliate yourself too badly. If there was a foot race I’d be the kid limping in last. Swimming? More like drowning. Tennis? Oh is that young Andrea flat on her face because she’s tripped over her own racket? Basketball? Duck!
I was ok at badminton and table tennis because the balls were a manageable size but you don’t get too many people cheering at either one of those sports so… I learned to avoid competitions of all sorts like the plague, which is why entering a flash fiction competition on Indies Unlimited is such an amazing turnaround for me. I have no expectation of winning but I discovered that coming up with an ultra short story on an interesting theme can be masses of fun!
The theme that sparked my interest so much can be found here, as can all the other entries, all of them good. Mine is down in the pack somewhere so I thought I’d cut and paste it here as it’s so short [250 words]. But please do check out the theme first otherwise this story may not make much sense.
The dogs came back for Beth. Snow was the first. She crept up to Beth and licked her face before flopping on the ground, sides heaving as she panted open mouthed. Coal and Emba joined them once they realised the trek was not a game. Together the three dogs and Beth lay still for another hour until the blistering sun finally relented and left them alone for the night.
As desert cold replaced desert heat the dogs licked dew from their coats before getting to work on Beth. They nudged her face with their cold noses, whined in her ear, tugged at her clothing, pushed and pulled until she finally opened her eyes. Then they shepherded her back to the plane.
The trek back was a nightmare of thirst and stumbling feet for Beth but the dogs would not let her be, let her give up and just before the sun rose they all reached the downed hulk. It glittered with condensation in the grey light.
The helicopter spotted the wreck a day later. When the rotors stopped two black dogs staggered out of the shade of the one, remaining wing, their tails wagging. The woman and the small white dog did not greet them but they were still alive. The men were found over the next five days. All alone. All very dead.
I think I’m the only entrant so far who has killed off most of the human protagonists in four short paragraphs but I consider that poetic justice for the many scary movies where the dog [or sometimes the cat] always gets bumped off in some horrible way to convince the audience that ‘the killer’ means business. Besides, there was no way I was going to let that cute little dog die so if it was to live then the others had to live as well. Dog Power!