(1000 words) So, there I was, just come out of the Castlehorn public ladies’ loo, when a woman stopped right in front of me. She was short and fat and clad in a flimsy two-piece summer outfit that looked as out of place as a homosexual in a monastery. Her face was bloated, and her lips were pale and thick. For all the world, she reminded me of Sheppard’s illustration of the toad, dressed as a washerwoman, in The Wind in the Willows. “‘Scuse me, Luv, I’m bursting. Could you look after Angel here whilst I pop into the ladies? I’ll be as quick as I can, and he’s as good as gold?” I looked down on a huge black dog at the end of the lead the woman was gripping with one pudgy hand. With the other, she clutched a large bag. I really didn’t fancy ‘dog sitting,’ but, having just done a ‘kindness workshop’ down at the local church, remembered their dictum, ‘Have faith in humanity.’
(800 words) “David’s deer, where are they, mate?” A man in a dark green top and blue trousers stopped his work, brushing the floor of an animal enclosure. He eyed the young man – clad in dirty jeans and a grey hoodie – disapprovingly, “Père David’s deer, oh, they’re on loan for a few days.” “Well, they weren’t here last week neither. The bloke on duty said they were sleeping.” The zoo keeper sighed. “Well, animals have to sleep!” A girl with blonde hair in a pony tail joined them, linking arms with the young man. “Well, I went to see the giraffes and there was only one, in a smelly building. None out in the paddock.” The keeper began to brush the floor once more. “Well, what do expect me to do about it?”
So, the drop-down system has been consigned to the bin and a new streamlined system employed. All stories were categorised by subject and found to fall into eleven main categories (some stories fell into two or even three categories). Accordingly, these new subject categories have taken pride of place at the head of each page. And mobile and tablet menus work just fine too. So, it just remains for me to say that clicking on a subject category will take you to a table of all stories in that category, listed in alphabetical order, together with original publication date and word count. So, you get the best bang for your buck before deciding to plunge into actual reading!
Gregory padded along outside our patio doors, a young rabbit, obviously alive, suspended obscenely from his jaws. It hung there, almost touching the ground, petrified and staring blankly ahead as it swung from side to side, its silky brown fur ruffled by the breeze.
Like a little girl abducted from outside her school by a ghoul lusting for fresh lean meat, or a shrieking schoolboy plucked from his bed through an open window by the enormous hand of a ravenous giant, the rabbit was doubtless heading for the same fate.
“Oh my god, Paul, not another!” exclaimed Amanda, coming into the sun room. “He had one yesterday and I saw him with another one a couple of days ago. That poor little rabbit.”
“It’s nature. That’s what predators do, catch and kill their prey.”
It’s been over two and a half years since I last published a post containing excerpts of stories from my blog, so now seemed a good time for another one! As before, I’m posting short extracts from twenty stories, but this time with a strong animal connection: there are dogs and cats aplenty plus the odd duck, red kite and puma!
As always, I state the word count, to give an idea how much time it would take to read the full story. There are tales old and new here, so I’m confident you’ll find something to enjoy!
Duck Surprise (200 words)
Sheldon paddled nonchalantly, maintaining his favoured position in the middle of the pool. He watched the other ducks near the bank scrabbling for bread with disdain – his mother had always told him he had superior intelligence.
If Only They Could Speak (650 words)
“Rudyard, here Rudyard!”
Rudyard’s ginger face appeared in the doorway. He hesitated, seeing a stranger in the room.
“Here kitty, good kitty!” called William Wilde, professor William Wilde as he now was.
Gingerly, Rudyard came into the study, studiously ignoring Willy and jumped onto my lap, purring. His huge yellow eyes looked up at me quizzically.
“God in a box, gimme a break, I've been writing my balls off all morning!”
“Come on, you pwomissed. Anyway, how long does it take to write a five-hundred-word story for God’s sake?”
“All morning – if it’s for a magazine; it’s gotta be just right.”
“Well, what’s it about?”
“It starts like this. ‘You’re not going to eat that thing raw, are you?’ asked Prunella.
Jack laughed. ‘If it’ll keep still long enough!’”
“Yuk, what’s next?”
“You’ll have to buy the magazine to find out!”
“I think I may not bother. Now come on, Uncle Doris is waiting.” I sniggered at our private joke.
Their mother's voice became serious. “Now the moon has gone through one cycle, it is time to make your own way in life. I will no longer be here to suckle you, and you must continue to wean on the fruits of the woods and farmers’ fields.”
“But will we still see you, mother?” asked Blackberry, Sycamore’s brother, with a tear in his eye.
“Yes, son, I will still frequent the same woods and fields, but it will only be a few moon-cycles before you will father leverets of your own. And just a few more before Bluebell, your sister, gives birth to her first litter.”
“How exactly does that happen?” asked Sycamore, bemused.
“You will find out son, never fear!”
An older hare lolloped onto the moss. His coat had many curls and grizzled areas.
Mother cleared her throat. “Now, I want to introduce someone to you. This is Uncle Ditch.”
On Sunday 1st October 2017 I lost Oscar, ‘my little friend’ and companion of the last fifteen and a half years, after a short illness. I took in a stray cat, Cleo, in 2001 and she had four kittens on the 27th March 2002, coincidentally the same day as my own birthday! Here they are … Continue reading Memories of Oscar
(850 words) Waves lap at his toes. Gentle, quiet, rippling waves. Benny Saris stares out over the undulating blueness. Here goes. He begins to wade out. The water is freezing and goosebumps cover his body like a rash. Muscles cramp agonisingly in his groin. He looks back at the desolate beach and the empty guesthouses … Continue reading Salvador
- (650 words) - “Tinker, here Tinker!” Tinker’s ginger face appeared in the doorway. He hesitated, seeing a stranger in the room. “Here kitty, good kitty!” called William Wilde, professor William Wilde as he now was. Gingerly, Tinker came into the study, studiously ignoring Willy and jumped onto my lap, purring. His huge yellow eyes … Continue reading If Only They Could Speak
- (500 words) Eyes, beady all-seeing eyes, watched from above as I stood at my father’s graveside. I turned my binoculars to watch the bird circling high above an adjacent field. It was russet with white patches at the end of each elegant, outstretched wing, a span of at least five feet I adjudged. Although … Continue reading Scene in a Lincolnshire Churchyard
- (400 words) - Persistence had paid off. The lady in the purple coat had shadowed the hunt many times without success, but today she came upon the hounds, surrounding a fox, the huntsmen yet to arrive. A window of opportunity! The fox was cornered, although the foxhounds seemed curiously indifferent. The L.I.T.P.C. rushed towards … Continue reading The Fabled Fox