I wrote “Sionnach” and “Into the Lair” (below) the morning I should have been packing (I had a plane catch Friday afternoon).
Flash Fiction Friday’s prompt included this picture of St. Kilda, an island in Scotland with a sad little history. The element for necessary inclusion was a baby.
During the writing of both, I got picked up several Gaedhlig (Scottish Gaelic) words. The first was the title of the first story: “Sionnach” is the word for fox, and I probably should have defined it in the title, because I’m not sure folk picked up that my characters are foxes. For the second, I wanted to do a flash completely of dialogue, but I also wanted one of the main characters to be the baby. Most of the stories up before mine didn’t give the baby a voice. Since I could only submit one more, I attempted to meld those two desires. I used many of the speech patterns from the squidlet.
The experiment didn’t play very well. In a community that is generous with feedback, no one wanted to touch that one–probably the only story to get zero comments. Ah, well, that’s what these contests are for: experiment, see what works, go at it again.
The winning stories are posted here. Once again, I’m baffled by the huge difference in tastes between judges. Only one of my favorites made it to this week’s podium, so if I ever get to judge, folk will most certainly be baffled by my choices.
Anyway, here are mine:
“Sionnach” @160 words
A screech claws the moorland like metal talons over bedrock. A sound more terrifying than Sweepers.
Halted in hunting, Rainche’s ruddy head pokes up from the heather.
“What’s that?” I ask.
She bolts, an orange streak aimed at the rock dens.
“Wait! Sky-drop soon!” Sky-drop sweeps the land of prey—foxes only sometimes prey. Still, I follow my mate.
In the den, the shrieking deafens. Rainche snuffles at rags where a bald cub squirms, its face squeezed red. It smells of fresh grouse.
“Human,” she declares.
I spin a startled circle. “Impossible!” Humans were swept up long ago.
“Quiet it,” she says, “before sky-drop.”
She bares her fangs, yellow eyes deadly.
I swipe its belly with my tongue. Rainche growls. The cub’s wails cease, face softening.
A rumble lowers from the clouds.
Whimpering, Rainche curls around the cub. It grips her tail, mewling. I curl with my mate, concealing the human, as the sky drops over the den.
“Into the Lair” @160 words
“What? Moira, you can’t be here. Mamadh’s working.”
“Help get the shiny circles.”
“Why aren’t you home? Where’s Dadaidh?”
“Want to get new circles.”
“Coins. I’ll bring you some. Now, go home.”
“Can help Mamaidh.”
“I don’t need—Wait! Moira!”
“It’s big, Mamaidh. It’s big.”
“Shush! Yes, it’s very big. Now go back to Dadaich. He has honey custard for you.”
“Great Skatha! Moira, get back! It’s waking up.”
“Those are the dragon’s eyes. Hi, Dragon!”
“M’Lady, please don’t be angry.”
“Mamaidh’s on the ground.”
“Moira, come back to Mamaidh.”
“Dragon can sing.”
Leave now, slave. I accept your offering.
“It’s not so noisy. Ooo, sparkle tickles!”
“Please—oh, Mighty One, eat me instead.”
I don’t intend to eat her, wretch. I intend to foster her.
Begone, Moorlander, before I change my mind and incinerate your entire brood.
“Oh, my little star…”
“Bye-bye, Mamaidh. More magic!…Please.”
As you asked nicely, little one, I shall show you how.