Flash Fiction: 47 Days

Day 1:

Hello, my name is Madison—or Maddie—Parker; age 23. I was asked to keep a digital log upon landing on our new home, Planet Unger; named for the woman who discovered it, Sheila Unger. I’ll send updates as often as I can about our new home to give you all insight on what life will be like here.

Our vessel, the Blue Titan, carried fifty passengers safely to the surface at 10 a.m. this morning. We set up tents and shelters, found a nearby water source with fresh, blue water that’s at the perfect temperature for drinking and getting cleaned up. The sky is a constant glow of red and orange. The air is fresh and warm; cleaner than the atmosphere of Earth before she collapsed.

So far, Unger appears to be the perfect new home for us. Without other life forms to get in our way, we’re free to do as we wish to this land and we plan to start first thing in the morning.

Day 4:

We’ve been busy the last few days and I didn’t have time to update the log. With the tools we brought on the ship, we managed to build an infirmary shack out of the native trees. They’re stronger and more durable than the once mighty oaks on Earth. We also began construction on an irrigation system that will bring water from the blue river to our little village. We will have that finished in two days, then we’ll begin building the housing units. The guy in charge of the village, Hank Testin, believes we can have an established society by the time the rest of humanity arrives in a year from now.

I’m pretty excited for all of you to see this place. The tall, skinny trees are beautiful shades of pink, red, and purple. The ground is soft and supple which is perfect for planting and growing food of our own. I can’t get over how refreshing the water is. It’s like bathing in a pool of heaven.

Maybe that’s where we landed; Heaven.

Day8:

We hit a snag with the irrigation system the other day. Some type of underwater plant clogged the pipes and we had to start all over. That put a damper on other work and we barely got started on the first cabin.

On another, more horrible note, one of the harvesters stepped on a poisonous, black root and has been unconscious since last night. Kaleb’s not responsive and is barely breathing. Not sure if he’ll make it.

Day 10:

We had our first funeral at noon today. Kaleb succumbed to his wounds which left both of his legs black and swollen. The poison from the root spread through his bloodstream faster than the doctors could handle and they didn’t have the proper medicine to control it. I’m grateful to admit that Kaleb went peacefully in the middle of the night and we had a lovely ceremony for him near a ridge overlooking a vast canyon with yellow grass growing far below. I sang with the other women while the men buried him under three feet of burgundy dirt and multicolored rocks we gathered from the river.

I didn’t know Kaleb very well, but he was a funny man in his thirties. He always found a way to make people smile. It’s heartbreaking now that he’s gone.

Day 14:

I went with a small group to explore beyond the village yesterday. We found a cave system with odd colored stalagmites jutting from the ground. Also found a plethora of gorgeous crystals and gemstones we gathered to make jewelry. I can’t leave out the amazing, green berries growing in a field on the other side of the cave. They taste like every amazing flavor all rolled into a tiny ball of glorious deliciousness. Can’t wait for you all to try them!

Day 18:

Don’t try the green berries! I’ve been puking my guts out for the last four days. Haven’t been able to leave my tent or communicate with anyone outside.

I repeat: DO NOT EAT THE GREEN BERRIES!

Day 25:

Now that I’m no longer sick, I finally left my tent. We got the irrigation system up and running and no longer have to carry buckets to and from the river for drinking water. They also managed to get two cabins built for Hank and another member of his counsel. Two more are in the works and should be finished shortly. It’s wonderful how much progress we can get done when everyone pulls together and puts in the effort.

Day 29:

Something strange happened about an hour ago at midnight. Another moon rose; which makes four, white balls of light that make it difficult to sleep. It’s an odd sight to see when you’re used to only seeing one.

Day 32:

The fourth moon stays up at all hours of the day and night. I checked it out through a telescope to see it up close. The surface is dimpled with craters and trails cutting through the dust. It’s similar to Earth’s, only a bit smaller.

Day 35:

Three people went missing overnight. Not sure what happened to them. They didn’t take their belongings or bothered leaving a note. My neighbor was one of them and I checked over her tent for clues. It looked like she was dragged out in her sleep by something. Her blankets and pillows were in a pile by the tent flap and the grass was flattening for a few feet outside. The other two had the same, eerie features and now everyone’s afraid to sleep alone. Some even rigged their tents together to make a large, community sleeping tent with two guys keeping watch.

I’m taking my chances alone. I like my privacy.

Day 38:

There’s something living in the water. We thought this place was void of all life except plants, but we were wrong. A long, thin creature with five limbs and a very round head swims a few feet below the water’s surface. We believe it only comes out at night, but no one has seen it yet.

To add to the confusion, four others went missing in the middle of the night again—despite our watchful efforts. Hank’s been talking about relocating the village to a safer place that’s further away from the river. He sent a team of men in search of new land to call home.

Day 41:

We lost communication with the search team. One minute they were there, talking and describing the landscape. The next, we heard a low grumbling noise in the background and screaming immediately followed. What’s worse than that, we hear the same noise emanating from the river.

With this update, our original count of 50 souls is now down to 37. Make that 33; I forgot to count the few that took off after the last four went missing.

Day 44:

The growling from the river intensifies at night. It sounds like more of those creatures are moving to our location and will strike at any moment. Six more people are gone and the rest of us are starting to get our gear together to head out. Hank’s plan is to leave this place behind at first light and never look back. If we had more people, we could get back on the Blue Titan and head for the Mother Ship, but we need more people to handle the controls. Unfortunately, we’re stuck here on Unger, praying we make it another day.

Day 45:

Hanks dead! I’m sure of it. His tent was empty at dawn this morning with a trail of blood leading into the woods. Everyone’s freaking out and no one has a clue about what to do.

Day 47:

This will be my last post. I don’t have much time, but I needed to make time to send this out before it’s too late. There are only six of us left now. The rest are all dead or still missing. Those creatures pulled them into the woods and river to eat them while they screamed for their lives. They watch our village like hawks and take out anyone who tries to leave.

I know my time is up soon; I can hear the screams outside my tent and the growling is getting louder by the second. I just have to warn the rest of humanity to stay away from Unger. This planet is NOT our new home. You have to keep searching. You have to find a more viable…

THE END

By: Tahnee Fritz 2017

Short Story: The Far Beyond

The ground is thirty-feet below. If I mess up this jump, I’ll snap my ankles for sure. The pain won’t be the worst of it, either. They will catch me and lock me away for being a nutcase and believing in worlds their eyes could never see. But I have seen them. I have dreamt of the wildest and most beautiful places this human world could never imagine.

I have longed to go there for years. I’ve searched far and wide, losing those I once held dear because they failed to see the wonders of this place beyond the stars. The land that is far away from time and space, where human life can be transformed into something mystifyingly beautiful. Every day will be an adventure and have a purpose that will only be meant for me.

After ten years, I finally found the portal to the land in the far beyond and I haven’t much time to make the leap.

The tree is dying and it will take the powers of that land straight to the gates of heaven. I will forever lose the opportunity to discover the true meaning of my existence.

How can I go on with my life if that life is dull and relentless?

I need to make this jump and stick the landing with perfection. It is the only way to escape the madness chasing after me through the woods. I hear them shouting my name and ordering me to return. They threaten and curse, claiming me insane for having visions they could never fathom.

They will never understand the dreams I have.

A dog barks; low and terrifying. They’re getting closer by the second. The sunlight casts their shadows over the grass and heavy boots trudge through fallen leaves of an early autumn. Men, women, and even children are hunting down me—the wild girl standing on the highest branch in the tallest tree.

I inch to the edge, nervously clutching the strap to my satchel. I packed only what I may need to survive whatever lives in the land far beyond. Clothes, water, a loaf of bread, and the only photo I have left of my parents. They disappeared when I was seven and left me with dreams of the place I seek. It’s a longshot, but my gut is telling that I will find them there. That they will be waiting with arms wide open for the daughter they love.

I can’t mess this up.

I take a deep breath. The voices grow louder. One of them shouts that they’ve spotted me and startles me. I nearly fall off the branch before I’m ready. The limb wavers and creaks beneath my wobbling legs. I stretch my arms out wide to obtain my balance. Down below, I see them. They’re running toward my tree now. They carry torches and pitchforks as if I am some type of monster. If only they could see the monsters in themselves before destroying the dreams I hold dear.

The tree begins to quake and I glance to the lowest branches. Two, strong men with thick beards and axes are hacking away at the trunk. I shake my head and breathe a faint no.

I’m out of time now. If they succeed and the tree falls, I will die right along with the land I love so much. My heart pounds wildly and I let my right foot dangle over the branch.

This is it; I think with a smile crossing my face, this is the start of something wonderful.

I step over the branch and shrieks of terror erupt from the hunters below. The wind whips through my hair as warmth wraps around my soul. I bask in a light that blinds me and slip into the land of the far beyond.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 32

Silence flooded the ship. Pirates stood in awe, their mouths agape and curiosity in their eyes. Instead of jumping into a rage-filled battle or fighting to kill the girl who pulled the trigger, they stayed at bay.

Blood pooled around the feet of the men standing closest to her body. All life has been drained from her face in a matter of seconds when the bullet crashed into her chest. She dropped with a thud to the wooden deck and no one came to her aide. Not a single one of her crew stepped up to check on her or even see if she was still alive.

As thunder boomed in the sky, the eyes of many turned to Sam. They lowered their weapons, sheathed whatever sword they carried. Flint quickly got to his feet and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.

The gun fell from her fingertips. The only sound to echo amongst the ship. Sam slowly stepped backwards, her eyes wide open in fear of what just happened. She clenched her shaking hands to fists and crept backward until she bumped against the railing.

“I can’t believe she’s dead.” A raspy voice broke through the silence as a thin man knelt by Alyssa’s corpse. “The bitch is finally dead!” He shouted.

Cheers erupted from the dead captain’s crew. They jumped for joy and slapped each other on the back. Their cheers were soon joined by the rest of the pirates on the ship in a joyous outburst.

Flint limped toward Sam, his eyes were bloodshot and bruised. He got within a few feet of her before Darrick rushed to stand in his way. He didn’t have a weapon but would do whatever it took to protect her.

“You killed her.” Flint managed to say.

Sam nodded, “I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to stop her from killing you.”

“Why?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” Sam replied.

Flint nodded and glanced to each face belonging to his prisoners. Sarah and Rusty held each other by the life boat. Jonah waited by the pulleys, ready to lower the small vessel to their freedom.

Flint turned back to Sam and looked between her and Darrick. He saw the caring determination in his eyes and realized he no longer wanted to be in the way.

“Take the boat and go. The lightning won’t last for long and you’ll need it to get back to where you came from.” Flint ordered, then turned away and headed back to his men.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 31

Sam ran for Darrick. Her heart raced as she listened to the thunder clapping overhead. It grew loud right along with the shouting coming from the pirates.

She ducked out of sight of the men surrounding Flint and Alissa. Darrick had been thrown to the floor and was slowly pushing himself to his feet when Sam rushed to his side. She reached for his arm and helped him stand. Instead of wasting time by asking how each other was, they moved away from the crowd.

Jonah was waiting for them by the door leading to the captain’s quarters. He seemed frantic and in a hurry, desperately trying to pry open the door to release the others. The knife in his hand was weak and the metal was bending as he used it to pry the door open. It took a few tries, but the latch eventually gave way and the door swung open.

“C’mon we gotta go!” Jonah shouted to the two prisoners hiding inside.

Rusty grabbed Sarah’s hand and ran with her to the doorway. With tears in her eyes, Sarah braced herself for the fighting on deck. She stayed close to her man and glanced to Sam, making sure her best friend was okay.

Lighting flashed brightly through the sky and Jonah said to the others, “We don’t have much time. We need to find a boat and get the hell off this ship.”

Metal clanked from the sword fighting pirates across deck. Many of them were too busy watching their captains battle to the death to pay attention to the escaping prisoners. They shouted and cheered after each time the swords banged together.

They kept their feet light as they raced across the deck toward a lifeboat attached to the starboard side of the ship. Jonah knew exactly what to do and got to work getting the ropes untied and the boat ready to be lowered. He urged the others to climb inside while he and Rusty worked with the pulleys.

Flint shouted in pain and Sam looked over her shoulder. He had fallen to the floor with blood gushing from a wound on his shoulder. Alissa’s blade had sliced him clear to the bone and she stood over him with a happy rage on her face.

“Sam,” Darrick called to get her attention, “We have to go.”

She nodded, but felt something holding her back. An unknown force kept her in place, unable to leave the man to die so she and her friends could get away.

She stepped away from the lifeboat and found a dead pirate on the floor a few feet away. A gun was stuck in his grip and she snatched up, then stepped toward the group of pirates. She raised the weapon and took aim, letting the sharp blast fill her ears and end the cheering from the men.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 30

Sam kept the barrel of the pistol pressed against her temple. Her heart raced and her hands trembled. Her eyes never broke with Darrick’s and she feared what she thought she had to do in order to save him and their friends.

Darrick’s eyes pleaded with her not to do anything crazy. He was being held down by one of Alissa’s men, unable to break free and rush for Sam. For a woman he barely knew, he already had strong feelings for her, enough to never want anything bad to happen to her. He needed to protect and felt weak knowing he couldn’t at that moment.

Flint gripped the handle of the sword as his eyes darted back and forth between Sam and Darrick. He saw the love building in their eyes and knew she would never feel that way for him. He turned his gaze to the amused Alissa and grimaced. The woman he had loved for so long seemed like a stranger invading his ship.

He turned toward her and steadied his hand with the sword. The longer he stared at the beauty on her face and the hatred gleaming in her eyes, the more she became the enemy he needed to destroy. He was the captain of that ship and Alissa was trying to take it over. He grit his teeth, tightened his fingers around the hilt of the sword and stepped forward.

Lightning took over the sky and the wind steadily picked up. Flint let his feet rush to Alissa and he wrapped his arm around her body and held the sword to her throat. In one swift movement, all of her men raised their weapons at Flint, completely taking their guard away from Sam and Darrick.

“This ship belongs to me!” Flint shouted. “I will not have you and your pathetic excuse for men destroy it. Either all of you leave or I’ll kill you Alissa.”

Alissa chuckled and said, “You drive a horrible bargain, Flint. I’m sure you don’t want to start a war between us here.”

“Then leave.” He replied, turning his eyes to Sam, directing his speech to her. “Take your men and get off my ship.”

Sam raised an eyebrow out of confusion and the gun slowly lowered away from her head. She noticed that the other pirates paid her no attention and Darrick had been released. Flint shouted an order to leave once more and she quietly jumped down from the railing.

Alissa’s men had them surrounded with their weapons raised high. They were ready for a fight to the death to win whatever battle would start between the conflicting captains. Flint’s own men prepared themselves, gathered whatever sword and gun they could find, and inched closer to the enemy.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 29

Sam’s heart raced as the eyes of the crowd turned to her. She stood on the railing with a pistol pressed against her head. She managed to steal it from the pirate who had a hold of her and was willing to use it to end her life in order to save Darrick and her friends.

Alissa laughed at the sight of the girl and a few of her men chuckled along with her. She moved forward and sheathed her sword, then stared up at Sam with wonder in her eyes.

“It would bring me great joy to watch you pull the trigger. I’d get to witness Flint’s heart breaking for a nobody like you.” Alissa said.

Flint rushed forward, pushing men out of his way until he stood within a few feet from the railing. Sam took a breath, then threatened to shoot him if he came any closer. He raised his hands and backed up a pace.

“Put the gun down, darling,” he spoke calmly, “I’d hate for you to do something you might regret.”

“Let my friends go.” Sam demanded.

A clap of thunder erupted in the sky behind her. Her heart was pounding as she waited for Flint to answer her request.

“Sam!” Darrick shouted. “Whatever you’re thinking, don’t do it.”

He pushed his way through the men, fighting the pain in his arms and legs. Someone grabbed onto him before he could get close to the railing and a large arm found its way around his chest. The man held him in place and drew his sword to keep Darrick from trying to get away.

Lightning flashed bright in the sky, getting closer to the ship. Darrick knew they wouldn’t have much time to get away but he knew Sam had to be one of them to get home.

“Let him go!” Sam shouted.

Her voice was left unanswered. Alissa merely smiled and Flint stared at Sam with worry in his eyes. His heart was drawn to her from the moment he laid his eyes upon her and it broke him to see that she was hurting because of him.

He gripped the handle of the sword tight in his hand and knew exactly what had to be done to keep her alive.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 26

The crowd of pirates backed away, forming a circle around Flint and Darrick. They chanted Flint’s name and cheered for the fight. All of them knew who the winner would be and all of them were prepared to celebrate.

Alissa stepped closer to Sam with a smile on her face as she watched two men preparing to fight to the death over a random girl. She lived for times such as that and the voices of her men and everyone around her made the scene even more exciting.

A long sword with an ivory hilt was thrown to the floor at Darrick’s feet. He stumbled back a step and the pirates laughed. He rolled his eyes, took a breath, and handed the pistol to Jonah. As he reached down to pick up the sword, his eyes met with Sam’s. She was terrified, yet seemed to stay strong as a large man held her in place. Her eyes were pleading with Darrick to win or try his damnedest to stay alive. His heart was pounding as he made a mental promise he wasn’t sure if he could keep.

Darrick clutched the handle of the sword, unsure of the correct way to hold it. He looked to some of the pirates standing near him and tightened his grip and angled it the way they had theirs. Next, he turned to Flint and took a nervous step forward.

Flint smiled and pulled the blade from the sheath at his waist. He sliced it through the air, twisting his wrist in a way no other man could dream of. He was very well skilled with a sword, never defeated in a fight. By the uncoordinated look on his opponent’s face, he knew he had this one in the bag as well.

He stepped closer to Darrick and said, “Say goodbye to my Sam while you’ve still got a tongue to speak with.”

His crewmen cheered and clanged their swords against each other’s. Darrick tried to ignore the threat, looking to Sam once again. His heart was pounding and his mind was frazzled.

Flint noticed that the boy was not paying attention. He took the opportunity to make the first move. He raised the sword high above his head, charged toward Darrick, and came down swinging at his head.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 24

Darrick clutched the single-shot pistol tight in his right hand. Smoke rose from the barrel and the bullet went shooting into the air. Those fighting around him fell silent and turned their attention his way. Many of the pirates aimed guns and swords at him while he stood on the railing of the ship.

Jonah stood on the deck beside him, a small dagger with a Dragon etched into the steel blade was in his left hand. His heart was pounding at the mere sight of so many weapons and he waited for one of then to pull the trigger ending his life in a single blow. He held his breath as a man stepped forward, but the shot never came.

Darrick scanned the faces of the men until he spotted the tall, lanky fellow with his meaty hands wrapped around Sam’s arms. He turned his angry glare toward him and raised the empty pistol in am ill attempt to threaten him.

“Let her go!” Darrick shouted and the pirate simply spat black tar on the wooden deck while Sam struggled in his grip.

A set of footsteps clanked on the wood and Darrick turn his attention to Sam’s look alike. She was walking toward him with a devilish grin on her porcelain face. She sheathed her sword, showing him no sign that she would hurt him.

“You are a handsome young man, aren’t you.” She spoke. “What do they call you?”

“Darrick.” His voice was shaky.

“They call me Alissa.”

“Tell him to let go of Sam.” Darrick demanded, motioning to the lanky pirate.

Alissa smile and crept closer, “Why would I want to do that? I believe I’ll throw the entire crew of this pathetic craft into the sea and keep you for myself.”

Sam struggled once more in the pirate’s grip, only making him hold on tighter. She was forced to watch as Alissa inched her body closer to Darrick.

“Come down from there,” Alissa demanded, “let me get a better look at you.”

Darrick shook his head and said, “Let Sam go.”

Alissa turned her steely eyes to Sam and sneered.

Pirates Of Hardwood

Chapter 22

Darrick heard the commotion and the fighting just outside the door. Men were screaming for their lives and gunshots blasted through the air. His heart pounded hard in his chest as he stood beside Jonah and stared at the wooden door that was open half an inch.

The force from the explosion was enough to break the lock on the door which gave them a chance at freedom. The violence and death coming from the other parts of the ship were enough to hold them in place.

Darrick’s hands were shaking and he jumped at the sound of a cannon blast. He turned to Jonah whose nervous eyes were twitching back and forth. A shrill scream interrupted the silence between them and Darrick’s mind shot into action. There was something familiar about that scream.

“Sam!” He shouted and his feet ran toward the door.

Jonah followed quickly behind him. Darrick pulled the door open and rushed into the madness before them. Men were scrambling to get to the cannons while trying not to get shot in the process. Another explosion shook the ship back and forth and Darrick held onto a support beam to keep his balance.

He held on for a short moment then located the stairs that would take him up top. With his heart pounding, he heard the ear splitting scream echo through the ship once more before he and Jonah sprinted to the stairs. Darrick skipped two at a time until he burst through another door and stepped foot on the deck and into an all-out war between pirates.

He ducked out of the way of bullets and the many angry men that covered the deck. He spotted the captain arguing with a woman and the second he saw her face, he stopped running.

There was something familiar about her. The waves of her brown hair and the dimples on her cheeks. She looked just like the girl he was falling for but he knew she just couldn’t be Sam. With her menacing apparel and eyes so dark with black makeup, Darrick knew she couldn’t possibly be his Sam.

“Let go of me.” He heard a woman’s voice and he quickly turned his attention to a few dark men dragging an angry Sam toward her pirate doppelganger.

Darrick balled his hands into fists, gritted his teeth and mentally prepared himself for what would happen next.

Pirates of Hardwood

Chapter 21

Flint ran to the deck of the ship with many of his crewmen rushing alongside him. His men were shouting orders frantically. Some were manning the cannons and others grabbed their pistols preparing for a battle. When he got on deck, he could see why his men were in such a panic.

A ship, larger than his own, had approached from behind and was drifting up beside it. Smoke was bellowing from one of the massive black cannons on the enemy ship and Flint saw dozens of other pirates scrambling to board his ship. They began swinging on ropes, lowering tall ladders, not caring at all while Flint’s men shot at them. A few souls were lost to the sea but his ship had been boarded and a battle was starting to take shape.

The screaming voices were unbearable and the gunshots grew louder. Another cannon exploded and sent a ball of fire soaring through the air. Flint’s ship rocked back and forth and he held onto the railing to keep his balance.

He glanced to his left just in time to see a mangy beast of a man running at him with a sword raised above his head. Flint didn’t hesitate or even think as he pulled the pistol from his belt and aimed at the man’s gut. The pirate fell dead to the wooden deck with murky blood forming a puddle around him.

“Horse!” Flint shouted, scanning the faces of his men for his first mate.

He spotted the tall man fighting bravely under the mast of the ship. Flint rushed away from the stairs, knocked two men out of his way as he ran. He needed to get to Horse so they could take down the enemy together. They were stronger as a team and always had each other’s backs.

Flint managed to make it about halfway to his friend before he felt a painful jab to his lower back. He grunted from the pain and quickly spun around to face his attacker. He raised his gun, taking aim at the air, and instantly froze when he saw her face.

“I was really hoping to avoid a fight but you made this happen, Flint.”

He recognized her voice and adored the calming way she spoke. He stared at her lips and the dark make-up around her eyes and his arm lowered the gun. The longer he stared at her face, the angrier he became with how she left him.

“Alissa,” he spoke, trying to hide the anger and passion in his voice, “I thought I’d never see you again.”