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

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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 Four

They set sail, leaving the pier and the worries of the work week behind them. No more thinking about what they needed to get done at the shop or figuring out what to do next. The four of them were on the ocean, enjoying the salty breeze and the warm sun hitting against their skin.

Sarah was wearing a yellow bikini top with a pair of black shorts that were skin tight. Her hair was pulled back into a tight pony tail and she laid on a padded chair on the deck to get a tan. Rusty was busy navigating, trying to make sure they don’t end up getting lost. His father taught him everything he knew about sailing so he was pretty confident with his abilities to control the small yacht.

Darrick stood at the railing, wearing nothing but a pair of navy blue swim trunks that tied around his waist. He peered over the top of his sunglasses and watched Sam as she applied sun screen to her pale arms and neck. He could tell she wasn’t the type for being on the ocean or doing much sailing at all. He was surprised to see her change out of her jeans and put on a pair of shorts that showed off her long, white legs. She wasn’t very tan but she did have a line on her upper arms indicating that she did get out in the sun once in a while.

Sam approached the railing and let a smile cross her lips as she met eyes with Darrick. He could feel her scoping out his muscular chest and stomach, lingering at the hair just above the tie on his shorts. He was checking her out as well, trying not to make it noticeable that he was staring at the cleavage poking out of her tank top. She was definitely not what he expected when Sarah said her friend would be joining them.

“Having fun yet?” he asked, leaning against the railing.

She faked a laugh and replied, “Oh, of course,” a bit too sarcastically, “I really just can’t wait to start drinking.”

Darrick chuckled, “Yeah, same here.”

The boat went over a slight wave and Sam had to grip onto the railing in order to keep herself from falling backwards. She held on tight and Darrick could see a hint of fear in her eyes.

“You alright?” he asked, feeling genuinely concerned.

She nodded her head, then stood up straight, “Yeah, like I said, I’ll be good once we start drinking.”

“Then maybe we shouldn’t wait too much longer to get that started.” Darrick replied.

Sam loosened her grip on the railing and passed him a smile.

Another Series on the Blog!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of another fictional series to post on my blog. It would be just like the last one I did, Beauty and the What?!, and I’ll post a new chapter each week, probably around Friday. I have a few ideas in mind and I might even just take something I alreayd have written and share it with all of you one chapter at a time.

Beauty and the What!?

Installment #29

Without hesitation, Shawn jumps to his feet. He squints his eyes, trying to see through the years of dust now billowing through the room. He waves his hands in front of his face in an attempt to clear the air around him.

“Sally!” he shouts her name and squints to the area where the floor used to be.

The only response he gets is the sound of pain filled grunting coming from the concrete basement under the house. A few of the men are hurt and one of them sounds like he’s in a lot of pain. The dust begins to clear and the hole in the floor comes into focus. Shawn can see Anson in the corner of his eyes. He’s still sitting in the corner of the room, astonished at what just happened. Shawn rolls his eyes and peers into the hole.

“Sally?” he calls again.

He still doesn’t get an answer from her. He crouches near the floor and sits carefully on the edge. Using all of his strength, he lowers himself down into the basement and jumps to the concrete below. None of the men are on their feet. Two are unmoving, blood spilling out of the corners of their mouths and their eyes are closed. Two more are lying in pain as they clutch their arms and legs. He scans the rest of the room, searching for the only one he cares to see.

He hears movement coming from behind him and he quickly spins around. On the floor a few feet away, is the man who just held a gun to Shawn’s head. He’s lying under a pile of wood from the floor and a bloody gash is on his forehead. His right arm is bent at an awkward angle and he is trying to get to his feet. Shawn quickly moves to the man’s side and sticks his hand out to help. Anson’s father stares at him for a long moment, questioning his next move. He reluctantly takes Shawn’s hand and gets help standing.

“You alright?” Shawn asks.

Anson’s father nods his head and says, “The girl is over there.” He points to a corner of the room, “Go, help her.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment # 26

“Tell me where it is so we can put it out of our misery, Sally.” Anson’s father demands.

She keeps her mouth shut and shakes her head in a refusal to answer. She doesn’t even know the whereabouts of the beast and she wouldn’t tell them if she did. It’s still strange to her, but she has feelings for that creature that are hard to explain and she’s not willing to let those feelings go.

“C’mon tell us where it is.” A man in a flannel shirt says, “I’m itching to kill the damn thing already.”

“You’re not going to kill anything.” A strange voice came from the opposite corner of the room.

Sally looks past Anson’s father and stares at the stranger in the room. He’s tall and pale, with dark hair that matches his eyes. His jeans are torn and aren’t long enough and his hands are shaking as he stands.

“Who the hell are you?” Anson asks, storming up to the stranger.

“My name is Shawn and you need to let her go.” he says.

Sally stares at his face, squinting her eyes hoping to recognize him. She’s seen those eyes before, stared into them and wondered about them. He’s different now, no longer the beast he was forced to hide inside. She pushes her way around Anson and his father, moving closer to the man she’s been waiting to see.

“Is it really you?” she asks.

He nods, “It’s me.”

She keeps her eyes on him, trying not to gawk at his bare chest and good looks. His hair is a tousled mess and he seems like he can barely stand on his own. She can’t hide the smile on her face as their eyes meet.

“I’m sorry, but who the hell is this guy?” Anson sounds annoyed and angry.

“He’s the beast.” Another, deeper voice catches their ears and Sally turns her attention to him.

The man in a flannel shirt is holding an old photograph of a younger Shawn with his mother. The facial features are the same as well as the hair and eyes. Something he can’t hide.

“See,” the man holds the photo up higher for everyone to see, “he’s older now, but this is him.”

Anson’s father glances from the picture, then back to Shawn, “I guess it was human after all. That doesn’t make up for all those people you hurt and the trouble you’ve caused over the last decade.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment #25

Sally has no time to react. The men standing before her, led by Anson’s father, shove past her and enter the house. One of them even goes so far as to push her out of the way and she falls to the creaky floor. She bangs her elbow on the hardwood flooring and winces from the pain. She clutches her arm, trying to rub the pain away. She expects Anson to help her to her feet, but he just walks by, ignoring her completely.

“Where is the damn thing?” one of the men shouts when he realizes the monster isn’t in the room with them.

Sally hears him and she searches the room for him. He’s not standing where she left him and he’s not hiding in one of the corners of the room. She could only hope that he was smart enough to run away instead of staying back, getting himself killed for her. She cared about him too much to let someone like him die for her.

Anson’s father marches over to her and stands over her. His glare meets her eyes and he quickly bends down, grabs both her arms, and forces her to her feet. Fear surges through her as she stares into his angry, hate-filled eyes.

“Where is it?” he seethes, his hot breath caressing her cheek.

Her lips quiver, “I don’t know.”

He lets go of her arms and backhands her across the face. She lets out a gasp and catches herself on the wall behind her before falling to the floor once more.

“You think that thing cares about you?” he screams at her. “Then let’s see if I can coax it out.”

Beauty and the What?!

Installment # 22

The beast walks through his house. The same as he’s done for the last ten years. The same places in the floor creak under his feet as he walks into the living room. Things just don’t feel the same. He’s never had to stand up for something he wants. Never had to do defend his property and especially never had to fight for a woman who has feelings for him. He honestly never thought he’d have that happen in this lifetime.

There is glass on the living room floor surrounding a small brick. The tattered curtains billow in and out of the newly created hole in the window. He stares at what has been done to his home. Those men out there, they are there to destroy him. They are there to take back what they think he stole from them. He can see them standing on his grass in his yard. He might be the creature who trespasses on their properties every night, but they are on his turf now. This is where he makes the rules.

“What are you going to do?” Sally’s soft voice asks from behind him.

Without turning to face her, he simply states, “Whatever I have to in order to keep what’s happening to me.”

Beauty and the What?!

Anson follows his father to the trail leading to the woods. It’s been two days since the beast got the best of him and revenge has made his strength return. More than revenge. That monster has the woman he’s in love with and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get her back and make sure she’s safe. He helped his father come up with the plan. They hand-picked fifteen strong men to go with them. To walk through the woods and gain back the young woman who doesn’t belong there.

A gun is clenched in his fist as he walks through the grass, catching up to his father, “Dad, you think we’ll finally kill that thing?”

Not a hesitation as his father nods his head, “I think it’s about time someone does. That girlfriend of yours just gave us a good enough excuse to go up there and kill it.”

Anson nods, “She doesn’t get hurt, by the way.”

“We’ll do our best. But you also said she wanted to find that creature. That she tried to protect it.” his father replies.

“I know, dad, but you can’t hurt her.”

His father stops walking and faces him, “We won’t hurt her. Our goal is only to kill that monster and get her back. She’ll be fine. This will be over before you know and you two can ride off into the sunset.”

Anson gives him half a smile and says, “I hope you’re right about that. I just don’t understand why she’s not in love with me yet. After all these years, you’d think she would be crazy about me.”

His father starts walking again, “Women are difficult, son. One minute they’re all over you, the next they’re swooning over a man-eating monster. You’ll just have to get her to see that she belongs with you.”

Anson nods, “Then maybe I should be the one who kills the monster that kidnapped her. Killing that thing will prove to her I’d do anything for her.”

His father places a hand on his shoulder and says, “Nothing would make me prouder, son.”