Yes, I know it’s only Wednesday, but it’s time for Friday Fictioneers once again, meaning those of you who follow my blog will get two posts today and probably none tomorrow (but you never know).  This week’s picture prompt is quite unique and thanks to Lura for it.  Thanks to Madison for the whole shebang and to all of you for reading, writing and commenting.

Speaking of comments, I love to hear from any and all of you, so comment away as long as the comments aren’t mean and nasty.  Constructive is great; even better are things such as “Wonderful!”, “Best thing I’ve ever read,”  etc.  LOL.   Click on the little frog link after the story to read as many of the stories as you have time to read.  I work my way through all of them each week and it’s worth it.

Deaf and Dumb

 His horse refused to go closer, so he tied the reins to a tree branch and walked.  Dumb animal. He was sure he’d seen something in the crook of the tree just ahead.  Balancing on a large rock, he peered up. What a prize!  A nearly intact mountain sheep skull, complete with horns!!

The horse screamed and as he twisted, he saw her yank the reins free and run.  “What the…” he began.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a tawny shape fall from the tree.  “Oh, shit, I should have listened…” was his last pain-free thought.

  1. Nifti says:

    Ick… What are does little evil pigmy thingies called? Thinking of a movie I saw once, and can’t remember the name. Anyhow, nice imagery. 🙂

  2. I agree. It was kind of nice to have to imagine the next couple of lines!

    • Thanks. What did you imagine?

      • I went between two ideas. The first was that the horns were connected to a dead animal that fell out of the tree and landed on him. That didn’t fit with the horse getting so upset, so I altered it to be the mate of the dead one coming for revenge. There were several other good ones, but those were the initial ideas.

      • You’re right–the first one wouldn’t work. At the most, the horse would start but not pull away and run off. I hadn’t thought of the second one, but it obviously would work, too, although the skull and horns have been there for some time. But revenge is a dish best served cold…

      • Oh, that’s it! Now, you can have pages of a real story centering around the mate’s anger inside and building…

  3. Adam Ickes says:

    The phrase “his last pain-free thought” makes me think many pain-filled thoughts followed. Nicely done.

  4. I’m always interested when animals understand but humans don’t, in fact the way animals might think is really fascinating. This one made me want to read more, especially from the horse’s POV!

  5. Sandra says:

    Good take on the prompt; it was mountain lions all the way for me. Nicely done.

  6. JKBradley says:

    It must be something powerful to pull such a large animal up a tree to feed upon. I wonder if the predator enjoys the taste of human?

    • Hmmmm. We’ll see. Lots of predators do, even if they don’t seek humans first. However, it could have eaten part of the animal on the ground, then taken the head to the crook of the tree. Or the skull may have been hauled up there later, even by a different animal or “animal.” Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. vbholmes says:

    Can’t help but wonder how many curious seekers had preceded the rider to the tree and if the tawny predator had the cunning to recognize the ongoing potential of his perch. Good story.

  8. Cindy Marsch says:

    I was thinking mountain lion or maybe a big tawny snake. An alien? Hmmm . . . I can certainly see how your recent vacation inspired this particular take. Fun one!

  9. Mike says:

    Whatever it was in the tree, it definitely wasn’t friendly.
    A great take on the prompt.

  10. rochellewisoff says:

    Definitely an “oh shit” moment. Well written.
    Thanks for commenting on mine.

  11. Whatever it was that fell, it was pretty scary. And that horse had enough “horse sense” to take off. Like Rochelle said…it was an “oh, shit” moment. lol. I’m #30.

  12. Oh dear, not a great day for your character, it seems! Glad the animal instincts at least saved one of them.

    Thanks for your comment on ours.

  13. erinleary says:

    This prompt just begged for the sinister twist. I’m enjoying everyone’s dark side. I think his horse had good sense – certainly much better than his own!

  14. Anne Orchard says:

    Ah, I hadn’t thought about how the skull actually got there! Shame he didn’t have the sense to trust the horse – who wasn’t the dumb one in the end. Thanks for stopping by mine, too

  15. Jan Brown says:

    Loved this. We should listen to our intelligent friends, other animals who are so much better “tuned in” to their surroundings than we poor humans!

  16. 8teen39 says:

    Sometimes the comments help to illuminate the story. Not this time. I’m so confused. Alien? Never would have thought it. But now even that makes sense. I love the sense of foreboding. Why don’t you listen to your horse you stupid…! My only quibble, and it’s just me, is that I try to stay away from any swearing in my fiction (definitely not in my life as I’m constantly filling the swear jar in our office) and for me it would have been much stronger just stopping at “Oh, …!” I’m sure no one would agree with me, though. Nice job!

    • I virtually never swear and never use swear words. But in this case, I felt that most people would have let off something even worse than this, so I went out of my comfort zone in aid of realism. I guess that tells you what not to expect from most of my writing!! I really dislike crude language or swearing. I needed to get in the “I should have listened…” part, too. Glad you liked it otherwise, though.

      I didn’t think “aliens” at all, either, but with this sci-fi-oriented group, they were bound to creep in somewhere. 🙂

      • 8teen39 says:

        It’s not an “otherwise, I liked it” comment. I liked it, period! Just the word took me right out of the mood of the story. If that happened to me, you’re right! I would have been screaming every expletive I know. I’d even probably be inventing some. It’s funny about the sci fi group you mention. My first story- last week- was sci fi oriented. At least to me. And I have no idea where it came from. I usually stay away from that genre.

      • 🙂 Me, too. I did get one in a few weeks ago but I tend to be distressingly upbeat for the most part. And that’s OK with me. Horror’s not really my thing, either. I think it might be catching around the Fictioneers, though!!

    • You have to discriminate, though. I’ve spent countless hours looking for something scary where my horse acted like there was at least a bear and have seen nothing. But you never know!

  17. You came up with a really great story on a tough photo prompt. I’m not sure what the tawny shape was, maybe a snake? Really liked the animal intuition part. Great hook. Thanks for reading and commenting on my story. Ron

    • Thanks, Ron. My thought were on mountain lions as we’d just spent a week in the mountains of Wyoming where, fortunately, we didn’t see any mountain lions or bears, although we did see a bear a few years ago right ahead of us on the trail.

  18. Brian Benoit says:

    You did a nice job building suspense with the way the horse reacted, and the nice piece of foreshadowing with the discovery of the skull. Good work!

  19. elmowrites says:

    ew, I don’t like the sound of “late pain-free thought” – that doesn’t suggest a quick end for this guy. Great story, I love how the horse sees so much more than your MC.

  20. I loved the tawny shape falling and the last pain free thought. Each is a wonderful way of adding much more to your story than is at first apparent. Mountain lion must have been hungry, though.

    A lovely story and a clue to the origins of the phrase ‘horse sense’.



    • Horses also have a great sense of which way is home. Even after years and years of riding, I’m always amazed at how much more quickly the return trip goes than the first half!!

      Thanks for the feedback and for reading.

  21. Russell says:

    a very well crafted tale. One of the advantages of commenting late is that I get to read everyone’s comments/interpretation of the story. Readers found a variety in this one, which speaks highly of the writer.

    • Thank you, Russell. That’s very nice of you. I try to read all the stories each week because it’s so much fun, even though time-consuming. It may be tough this week as I’ll be in Philly taking Megan to art school, but we’ll see how it goes.

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