Saturday, May 4, 2013

Prompt: Chewing on the Bones

She crouched in the dark corner, leaning against the cave wall. Hand in front of her mouth, she tried to keep her breathing slow and silent. She must have been keeping all of the screaming inside her head, because none of them came closer.

Exhaustion drove her to the cave. Night fell, and she was cold and hungry, stumbling on feet too bruised to carry her any longer. She stood outside for long moments, listening for any sound of life inside. Creeping in step by wary step, she had feared an attack at any moment, until she crept all the way to the far wall. The cave was dark and empty and, if not warm, dry and out of the bone-chilling wind. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, only rest for a little while and then continue on her way.

She woke to the sounds of teeth crunching bones. Gripped in terror, she listened in the dark, pressing against the wall and trying to place the sounds around the cave. One to her right, another in front, another to the left. At least three. Maybe more. No light filtered in, and she could not tell what kind of animal, monster, had joined her in the dark shelter. Nor what they feasted on. Teeth scraped on bone, crunched down. Bones dropped to the floor, claws scrabbled to hold them again.

Over time, she slowly moved from lying down to sitting against the wall, hoping nothing would brush against her, discover her. She closed her eyes, no difference in her sight, and prayed to every god and goddess she had ever heard mentioned in the village inn. If she survived the night, she would visit every temple, every roadside altar she ever saw, and give thanks.

The gnawing sounds went on and on. Teeth and claws, heavy bodies sliding against the stone. The smell of blood and viscera filled the darkness, and she fought the urge to vomit. She pressed her hand against her mouth and bit her fingers to keep from making any noise.

How could she fall asleep again? She woke with her cheek on the cold stone floor. She held herself still and slowly opened her eyes. Dim light filtered in. She was alone. Bones and discarded body parts littered the cave, but nothing living remained. She sat up slowly, fearing hidden danger.

Moving slowly, silently as she could, through the bloody remains, she crept to the cave entrance, peered outside, and waited for a long time. No movement, no sound, not even birds or little animals rustling around in the early morning light.

She crept out of the cave, leaving bloody footprints in her wake. Back to the stream that had led her so far away from home, she knelt to drink, then stood. Considering her direction, her fate, for a long moment, she finally turned away from home and continued along the stream’s mossy bank. Watching her feet on the slippery rocks, she saw no shadows, no movement behind her.

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Bacon

Time writing:
~15 minutes

May word count:


  1. Prompt: Chewing on the Bones

    Karl swept the carved bone counters from his desk and lay his head down. It was counter-productive: he would have to pick those up again. But for the moment, he closed his eyes and searched for calm.

    If he had known how badly his father was running the business into the ground, he would have...probably done nothing. The irresponsible, fun-loving boy--and he could not call himself anything other than that, for all that he was in his twenties--had not cared where the money that paid for his leisure came from.

    But his father and elder brother had been so responsible. How could they let this happen? _Why_ had they let this happen? It made no sense. And despite searching through the records for the last three weeks since word of the ship wreck, he could not find where all those funds had gone.

    _I'm sorry, Papa, I was not the son you expected me to be_. But it was too late. Words never to be said; his father beyond reach now. The grief had not really come on full yet, for he still believed--just a little-- that it could not be real. Papa and Arthur had been gone for months on their trading mission, and not expected home for months more. It was only scrawled words on parchment that let him know they were gone.

    And the hounding of the creditors wanting what was due from a dead man's estate. Karl could have given up, vanished like the wastrel son he was, to leave the vultures to pick over what was left. It was clear by now that handling the estate would leave him no better off than simply stealing his own horse and making a new life somewhere else. But somehow he now felt the need to redeem himself. Papa would never know--unless it wasn't true, unless they came back.

    He leaned over and picked up the counters. One had rolled far under the desk, and he kneeled to go after it. As he patted forward in the dark underside, his hand touched a raised metal bar--a handle. He lifted it.

    1. Ugh! Really like pulling teeth tonight. Well, writing when it doesn't flow is probably even more important than when it does. Got to get a little more rested!

  2. I like it! Nice characterization and back story, and a great hook at the end!

    I know what you mean about the struggle, and I agree that's probably the most important time to write! I'm so glad you're keeping me company on this adventure!