The Puppy

The Puppy

Introduction: Discovering a puppy in a post apocoliptic world makes a little girl’s day but the puppy draws more attention than she bargained for.

The little girl paused in the hallway of the old hotel listening. She was 10 years old and alone searching for uncontaminated food and useful things to use back at her hiding place.

She strained to hear the faint noise-there it was again! A whining noise of some sort. She wondered what it could be. Not many good things were alive anymore. Watching her step she continued her search.

It was 2018 and ever since the crippled nuclear reactor explosion went underground in Fukushima it was like this in San Francisco. Instead of the fog the city used to be famous for, it was now a thick, unromantic radioactive haze filled with vile things that will kill you eventually and for good. And you don’t want to come back as one of them!

She was drawn nearer to the noises that were coming from room 11. She was hunting for food, water anything she could find to keep surviving. She was one of the lucky one’s but did not feel lucky today. Looking for untainted food was a full-time job and she was hungry.

She was a pretty little girl although you would never guess as her hair was matted, she was filthy and she lived like an animal. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she counted the beats to calm herself as she pushed the door open.

At least she still had a heartbeat; the older one’s turned first. She kept her blade sharp just in case but she must be fast. She lived this long because her blade was always ready and she was quicker than most.

She heard the noise again, this time, louder and looked around the room still not believing her ears. Animals were pretty much dead now everything alive was killed and eaten. Yet there it was again and it sounded like a dog.

When she saw it she fell in love. The black puppy was terribly excited now his sharp barks piercing the silence. It was straining to get to her tied to a table leg in the middle of the room with a rope. It was skinny and dirty but it was a real puppy!

She saw no one just a wreck of a hotel room that from the looks of it had no food and nothing to offer her but she found a puppy and now, there it was!

She stopped in her tracks, surely this was a trap! She drew her blade her blue eyes searching the hotel room very carefully. Surely they were not smart enough for tricks?

She came out of the shadows tentatively holding her hand out to the puppy. When she got close enough it licked her face and she laughed at the rough tongue tickling her skin. She put down her blade and picked up the puppy. It was warm and didn’t seem sick, but where did it come from?

The puppy struggled in her arms yelping and she tried to quiet it. She cut the rope and surveyed the room as it was getting dark and it was bad to be out at night. She spent too much time tracking the puppy and now it won’t stop making noise. She pulled it into a closet so they weren’t out in the open.

Suddenly, one of them entered the room! She tore her shirt and stuffed a piece of it into the puppy’s mouth. It struggled and made too much noise so she automatically broke it’s neck as the thing passed their hiding place.

She was used to being near them and became very still. She noticed that the puppy was bleeding from the nose but she stayed quiet, thinking how she might salvage the day. They never found her this way she was good at hiding.

The vile thing had almost left the room but it spun around at the door. Her soul went cold as she realized it had caught the scent of the puppies blood and it was all for naught.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2014

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The Bridge

The Bridge

Introduction: When you’re alone, pay attention to where you’re going and don’t talk to strangers.

It was a foggy day but I jog daily no matter what kind of weather so I trotted out to my car. I arrived at the park and grabbed my gear for my workout. It was like pea soup outside but I finished tying my shoes and promptly got started.

I’d been jogging for a half hour when I entered the glen. The fog suddenly dissipated and although the sun was not out the area had an eerie light. I saw my path ahead but it looked different. I stopped and uncapped my water bottle taking a long drink as I looked nervously about. Everything seemed just fine I was lost and just being silly. Then I saw the bridge!

It was just down the path through the glen. Surely I took a wrong turn? The path I take every day has no glen or bridge. I could see it clearly but I rubbed my eyes anyway. I consider myself a very sensible person and at the moment I was feeling a little mad.

I looked up to gain my bearings. Trees were blocking out the sky and I didn’t recognize anything. I walked closer and couldn’t believe it but the bridge was beckoning me I felt drawn to it.

As I approached I saw a very old arched bridge made of hand laid stone. It had ivory growing all over it and the trees nearby were very thick so all I could see was green. I heard the water underneath as I got closer although I knew there was no creek in this part of the park but there it was!

Before walking onto the bridge I paused, held my breath and then stepped forward. I felt a strange electricity run through me as I walked to the middle of it taking in the illusion. Or was it real? I pinched myself like in the movies and I felt it!

“It’s a beautiful day today isn’t it?” Said a voice.

Startled I blurted back automatically, “Well, actually it’s been foggy and…” I glanced around frantically yet saw nobody on the bridge.

“Down here! On the creek bank,” he called out.

Then I saw “him.” He was strangely dressed in earth colors and blended in like an optical illusion and I was thinking he was precisely that.

I finally found my voice; “I don’t believe it” I said flatly.

I surprised myself at how calm I felt but I was confused and felt light headed. The man had 2 arms, 2 legs, and a head firmly on his neck where it belonged and I could tell he was a man but that was where any comparison ended.

“Excuse me for surprising you like this but I’m a troll and surely you’ve heard of trolls and their bridges?” He was smoking a pipe and I was wondering what was in it.

“I don’t believe in trolls and this bridge does not exist so I must be dreaming.” I needed to finish my workout and had things to do deciding I must be in a section of the park I didn’t know about.

“Sorry to be rude but I must be on my way can you please tell me how to get back to the main parking lot?”

“Not so fast! You can’t leave this bridge without paying the toll.” His face remained smiling but his features took on a menacing look. He was short and stout but looked a lot more dangerous and had sharp pointed little teeth.

I was speechless! I still had to get some work done today, I was lost and now I had some homeless freak accosting me after getting lost. I found my voice, “I’m sorry err….whatever your name is, but I must be on my way now. I don’t carry money on me when I do this…”

“One gold coin you can pass, no gold coin trespass. You will not cross without it.” He rudely interrupted.

What could I do but look at the little troll spouting rhymes and laugh, “Okay, I enjoyed our little talk but you have kept me far too long.”

As I reached the end of the bridge I was bounced back hard on my rear. Surprised and angry now I scrambled to my feet.

“Ho..ho..how?” I stammered. As I spun around the troll was on the bridge facing me and he seemed much bigger now.

“I will give you nothing,” I screamed at him.

“You will not cross,” he said and now he stood squarely in the way. “One gold coin you can pass, no gold coin trespass.”

He kept growing and was even larger as he continued, “I have been waiting a long time to escape it was easy to fool you into coming here. You really must pay more attention to where you’re going.”

His head was cocked quizzically to one side like a cocker spaniel. “What’s the matter cat got your tongue?”

And indeed it had. My head was spinning and I felt light headed. He smelled of cinnamon but something very bad on top of that and he seemed to fill the sky it was making me sick. I saw the whole world turn upside down as everything went dark.

I awoke in the dark and I jumped to my feet in surprise scattering the pile of damp leaves I was lying in. As they landed around me I dropped my gaze to my bare feet and screamed. I didn’t recognize it as a scream really, kind of pitiful.

Then I remembered the troll was gone, and my feet were not mine! I was under the bridge and ran to the water’s edge to see my reflection. My mind raced with past events as I looked at the stranger looking back at me. I had on earth colored rags and no! Surely that could not…be…me?

“It is you and you are now the toll-keeper,” someone said. I knew that voice.

His reflection was in the water his face near mine only he was now a normal looking man. I twisted my head around to look behind me and he was not there! I heard his voice as he spoke in a monotone telling me my fate.

“One gold coin they can pass
no gold coin trespass.
No gold coin then you must trap
another person to take the rap.
Trespass they take your place
taking tolls with a troll’s face.”

It sounded like a bad fairytale surely it’s not real! My mind was slow and sluggish to comprehend as he finished.

“I lost track of time under this bridge but you will remain here until you lure someone here that can’t pay. It may sound easy but the trick is finding a person in the right frame of mind and getting them to step on the bridge. When you put your foot on the enchanted stone you were caught in my trap. Didn’t you feel it?”

I was too stupefied to answer him still staring at the water.

He continued,”I am just a man as you see here but made the same mistake as you, losing everything because of one weakness.”

“What was that?” I managed to croak and he answered me as his reflection faded from my sight.

“Vulnerability my dear, you were vulnerable enough to fall into my trap!”

© Rebecca Sanchez 2013

Without Wings

Without Wings

Introduction: We don’t always get what we want but existence has a way of surprising us.

I have done the unthinkable. I have done the one thing that no angel should do! I have fallen in love with a mortal and tried to be with him but they have found out and it’s time for my punishment.

I don’t let out a sound when the other’s strip me of my wings. I hear their music but can’t feel the joy anymore. It was once beautiful to me and even now my body aches for it and my mind wanders as I feel them pulling at me.

I once saw a boy pull the wings off a common housefly; first one wing and then the other as the fly squirmed in his dirty fingers. I watched the tiny carcass become still as the boy smiled, obviously pleased with himself.

I am brought back by another more ominous sound. My wings, now detached and battered fall to the floor with an ungodly racket! I feel my flesh crawl and call out to them but it’s too late. I am alone.

I am bleeding profusely now it won’t be long. I smell the sticky slippery liquid as it pools everywhere. Even now I am healing for this is not the end for me it’s the beginning of a new life. Soon I will be by his side.

Now the lesson begins as I become like him, to live as he does by the fruits of this earthly realm. I will never hear the joyous music of my race or feel the ultimate love of my lord again! No matter! I am in love with a man and now I can have him.

My new emotions feel suffocating and these clothes are confining! The ground is hard and cold under my bare feet. I suddenly felt such an urgent need I can’t quite describe.

In unfamiliar desperation, I run on shaking untested legs to see my lover for the first time as a mortal and now my equal. I remember his muscled body and fine brown hair. Surely he will fill me with new music and happiness when now we meet now.

He is in the fields when I approach with his brown back to the sun. I am blinded for moments until he comes into my full view. Look how he stands there with his arms outstretched as he sees me, but wait!

His face is turning into a hideous mask as I gasp, accompanied by a grotesque organic body. I smell an unfamiliar smell that’s coming from him and he fills me with absolute repulsion as I am taken aback by this change.

Without thinking I prepare for his embrace but quickly grab the knife from his belt stabbing him through the heart. He is still reaching for me and I can see the confusion and pain in his eyes as he slumps to the ground.

I crouch down and gaze at his eyes but still can’t recognize him as he slowly bleeds out into the dirt. I stand up to brush the dirt off and take another look but all I see is a disgusting lump of mortal flesh.

Confused, yet strangely satisfied as I stand there I am confronted by a black robed figure. He motions to me and as I look down I am in a black robe. He hands me a sickle and it feels good in my hands.

I swing it in a wide arch as it glistens and sings to me! It’s a much louder music and I hear the mortal’s heart beats in it and around it. The music and feelings fill me with an even greater joy as I realize I will live forever and I revel in it.

My hearing acute I listen as one heartbeat stands out more; a little louder compared to the rest and I have no doubt about what I must do next. Instinctively, I fly on the wind without wings to seek out that heartbeat and use my beloved sickle, for I am death.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2013

Potatoman

Potatoman

Introduction: You don’t push people too far especially people who are dead serious about their potatoes.

It was hot, so hot that even the birds were absent from the sky as Potatoman stood up and smeared the dirt from his hands onto his overalls. He was 25 years old and at 6’5” weighing 290 lbs. was a formidable man.

He was a simpleton, a town clown that everyone made fun of although he didn’t really understand this. Potatoman was singularly aware of one thing and one thing only. His potato’s, and they meant everything to him.

It was harvest time and he needed the money this year badly. That’s what the nice lady had told him when she came out to his place. The farm could be taken away. He didn’t understand the why’s but he couldn’t lose the farm!

His father had dropped dead in the potato field when he was 2 years old leaving his mother to work the farm and raise him by herself. Potato farming was back breaking work even for two people, the dirt in the field was hard and the hours long.

When his mother noticed that he wasn’t developing the skills that most children had at his age she took him to the doctor for the first time since birthing. When the doctor told her the bad news she hardly reacted and quietly took him home.

That night she shot herself in the head leaving him alone in the world without even a proper name. As he got older the town dubbed him Potatoman.

Potatoman didn’t have a tractor but he had a draft horse to pull his plow. A gentle giant of a plow horse muscling through a potato field with a simple giant of a man lumbering behind him.

As they reached high ground in the field they were silhouetted on the ridge by the setting sun. It was time to head back to the barn and supper.

When he got near the barn Potatoman noticed his small field of prize potato’s for the County Fair were disturbed. He couldn’t believe his eyes as he stood there, mouth agape and rubbing his eyes. Could he trust his eyes?

He closed them and peeked through his eyelashes, but no, it was true! He quickly tied the horse and ran over to the field as fast as he could as the dust scattered around his feet.

He dropped to his knees in the dirt wildly looking around. He hurt himself falling hard but he didn’t care. His heart was pounding and he shook with rage.

Usually, Potatoman had no use for words but he managed to moan; “My potatoes, what happened to you?” He didn’t expect an answer but talked to them all the same.

Someone had dug them all up and piled them into a shallow hole just like a grave and he knew who. It had taken him awhile to come to this conclusion, after all, he was slow and he figured he had spent some time on his knees in the field as it had gotten dark. But it had to be Ed.

Ed was a townie who drank too much and his farm was falling apart but Ed made money working at the local plant and didn’t care much for the farm. In fact, he despised farms and farmers, his father had been a farmer and he hated every minute of growing up as a dirt pusher.

Being the only son, he had inherited the farm anyway after his father had died penniless and it was just miles away from Potatoman’s farm.

He was constantly harassing Potatoman driving his truck past the farm and throwing beer bottles at him, scaring his horse and calling him names. He had even hit his poor horse with a bottle once and Potatoman threw it back expertly taking out a tail light as he pulled away.

He was a mean, foul, smelly man and Potatoman was sure he had done it. His hands clenched into fists and his stomach hurt as he felt the anger surge through him once again. He had never felt this way before and it was a powerful feeling.

Hearing the horse whinny broke him out of his spell. It was late and the horse was hungry but could wait. He stood up surprised at feeling no weariness in his legs for he had been kneeling for so very long.

He felt surprisingly calm as he walked the short distance to the barn to get his ax. He decided to sharpen it for good measure. Tools are to be taken care of!

Potatoman headed off to Ed’s farm to confront him. He white-knuckled his ax handle seething as images of his ruined potato’s danced before him along with images of Ed bloodied and limp. As he was passing the ruined pile he swore he saw a light underneath it.

He stopped in his tracks confused and blinking. It was a light and looked to be under his ruined potatoes. Keeping his ax handy he ran back over to the patch and resumed his kneeling position over them taking in the sight of it. His rage stymied as he was mesmerized by this sight.

He set his ax aside and ran his hands over them lightly. He felt afraid, yet great excitement as he picked one up. “Put me down!” A voice screamed out.

He jumped out of his skin dropping the potato with a thump as he heard; “Ouch! That hurt, you dummy!”

He sheepishly looked around searching the ring of darkness for the person speaking to him. There was no one that he could see. It was a new moon and in his rush, he didn’t have a lantern.

It sounded like it was coming from his pile of ruined potatoes, something to do with the light? By now he was stumped and his mind was not grasping much more.

“Who is there?” He asked searchingly. There was no answer except for his thumping heart pounding in his ears.

Suddenly the light went out and the darkness closed in around him as he heard snickering in the darkness. He felt the breeze as a bottle flew by his head-it was that close.

Now Potatoman was slow but he still felt the same emotions as anyone else and he was terrified. He knew it was Ed and his no good townie friends and at that moment the full impact of what they had done finally filtered into the right part of his mind to reconnect with his earlier anger just as a bottle hit him in the head.

When he came to, he was lying in the dirt where he had fallen. He felt his head and found a large throbbing lump on the side of it. He remembered a light under his potatoes. He was foggy about the details when he heard his horse and it was screaming.

He spied his ax where he had left it and grabbed it. He rose to his feet slowly feeling his head injury start to bleed as a ribbon of blood ran down his face and into his eye. Blinking it away he tried to clear his head. His horse was in the barn, no, he had left it tied up…

Then he heard it again, only this time, he sprang into action closing the ground between them quickly, so quickly that they didn’t have a chance to react. They were drunk by now, so full of hard liquor that they could hardly stand, but that didn’t keep them from beating his horse as they tried to make it pull the plow over the unforgiving ground and his remaining potato crop in the field.

The lantern light showed his poor horse floundering in the mud they had driven it into and they were whipping it into a frenzy as foam poured from its mouth. Potatoman was livid. First his prize potatoes and now his poor horse!

He snapped like a dry twig grabbing the first man by the jacket and spinning him around; “Who; oh, it’s Potatoman!” The drunken man sputtered as Potatoman nearly split him in two with his ax.

“Ed! Potatoman is awake!” Someone cried and the lantern went out.

Potatoman didn’t need lanterns as he knew every blade of grass on his property. They had abandoned his horse and he comforted it as he listened to them hide. He looked around the field at his potato crop and as he took it all in, buried his head in his horse’s mane and sobbed like a baby.

Not for long because a tiny thought was working its way into the creases of his very simple mind. A thought with a hint of anger, no more than a hint, then like a flood!

Without drying his tears he gripped his ax tightly and feeling every inch the monster they thought him to be he went after them. He’d kill them all but he really wanted one person.

Potatoman had the upper hand whether he knew this or not because Ed’s car was parked nearby and they had not found it to get away. They were drunk and with no place to really hide had been stupid enough to hide in the barn.

Ed was busy hiding behind a large barrel wondering where his friend had gone. Their plan had been to stay together. He wanted to call out and was mighty drunk, but he wasn’t stupid. He waited.

Potatoman entered the barn and stopped, listening in the darkness. He already knew where one man was he could hear him as he stumbled around in the unfamiliar territory.

Ed could hear him too and cringed inwardly. Potatoman was on the unsuspecting man in an instant and Ed heard every whack of the ax as he was cut and then pummelled into a pile of his former self.

Ed moved quietly under the cover of darkness as the noise subsided. He peeked at the scene. He could just make out a large glistening pile of something…he crept forward trying to see where Potatoman was. He had to make it to his car but he had lost his keys!

Suddenly a large hand sprang from the darkness and grabbed Ed from behind. He found himself looking into the eyes of Potatoman.

Not the childish, stupid, clown of a Potatoman; the one he grew up with. No, because Ed had awakened something bad in Potatoman, and he could see it on his face.

“Potatoman, you know I was just kidding around like always.” Ed had that old twinkle in his eye and for a moment Potatoman hesitated.

Then he remembered, he had no use for words or people and Ed was one of the worst people! Ed was screaming, just like the rest of them screamed but not for long as Potatoman axed him into tiny little pieces.

For good measure, he stomped on his remains until they resembled his drunken friends in the other puddles and Potatoman finally felt better.

When he was finished without a sound Potatoman walked out of the barn. He returned with Ed’s car parking it near the puddle of blood that was once Ed. He had a can of gas just for emergencies like this and distributed it evenly around the straw on the floor. He made sure his animals weren’t hiding anywhere inside and lit it.

Without looking back he walked outside over to his horse and patted it. The barn fire was huge and only the rising sun peeking over the ridge could demand more attention. In no time it was engulfed with flames His farm was lost and so were his beautiful potatoes!

Potatoman unhooked his horse from the plow rigging and led him across the ruined potato field they had been plowing just the day before. He walked towards the ridge and the rising sun.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2013