Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stewart's Pets

Stewart set an assignment to write a story from a pet's point of view, not first person, under 1000 words. Well, I took it upon myself to write one tonight (it was due today, so I see I haven't changed much since WAY back in the day when I was in school, writing the assignment minutes before class.)

So here's my pitiful little offering.


Alien Comforts

Strange creatures inhabited the land--monstrous, ugly creatures that came and went with alarming frequency. Abe never knew when another would pass by, sending him scurrying for shelter, praying he’d remain unseen.

He couldn’t recall exactly how he came to be in this strange place; the details were starting to fade. He did recall bright lights and a great shiny thing hovering over him just before he was yanked from his home. He still had nightmares about those burning moments of pain when he thought his lungs would burst just before he was dropped into a cramped space where the atmosphere settled and he could breathe again. Soon after, he was transferred with sickening speed to another location that was similar to, yet vastly different from his own world. Where he was, or how long he’d been there, he didn’t know.

The landscape was bleak, less forgiving than home with cruel lights, sharp rocks, and harsh plants. He’d learned about the cutting edges of the foliage the first time he’d fled in terror from the aliens. He’d hoped to find shelter within the leaves of the large plants, but their barbs gouged his face and sides as he escaped. He had feared the drops of blood would lead them to him, but thankfully, they passed by, their large snouts seemingly insensitive to the smell.

Abe shuddered at the memory. They were huge; creepy, pale things that reminded him of mutant sharks. Their eyes were bigger than his whole body; long, squid-like tentacles hung at their sides, and fangs of various shapes and sizes filled their enormous mouths. After his narrow escape among the plants, Abe knew he had to find another hiding place. He tried tunneling out a shelter among the smaller rocks but the ground was shallow, and a hard, smooth surface barred further digging. Abandoning the effort, he went back into the forest to wait until dark before he searched again, terrified of who or what else might be nearby.

An eternity of anxiety passed before he finally ventured forth, damning the relentless light that never dimmed, and sought refuge in the foreign land. He moved swiftly through the trees, heart pounding, eyes darting left and right as he sped out over the rocks, trying to stay in what shadow he could find. His eyes adjusted to the light as he scanned the horizon, noting an opening in the craggy hills he’d found. It appeared to be a small cave. With some effort, he made his way up the slopes and discovered the hole in the rock. It was dark and silent inside. As quietly as possible, he went back down the hill, gathered some smaller rocks, and carried them up to stack on the ledge near the entrance, terror spurring his movements. He needed a hiding place in case the cave had an occupant who was merely sleeping.

Abe hid behind the mound of smaller rocks then flicked one of them into the cave. Only a thud as the small blue rock connected with the sand colored cave interior greeted his effort. With great caution, he went around and poked his head inside the cave’s opening. It was empty. He went inside only slightly relieved; and after a long while, he slept, hunger in his belly, despair in his heart.

Then the Others came.

The Others were similar in appearance to the huge monsters, but were smaller, more aggressive. Deadlier. Their clawed tentacles nearly fit into the opening of his cave, forcing him to press back against the rock until his body ached. When they finally left, Abe knew it was only a matter of time before they caught him. He shivered, hunger and fear warring within. He didn’t know which would kill him first: fear, starvation, or the aliens. He contemplated killing himself before allowing any of the three to take him--better to die on his own terms. There was nothing left for him. Even if he somehow made it home again, no one would believe what he’d been through; they’d think he was insane, and if he stayed here much longer, he would be.

He wondered how to end it--slice himself open on the rocks--when he smelled something wonderful. It smelled like food. He dared a glance out of his cave, searching the horizon and sky. He was alone. Still trembling, he slowly inched forward to find the source of the smell. Odd, flaky bits of something fell from the sky, littered the rocks and decorated the trees with heavenly aroma. Abe sniffed, then dared a taste. It was good. He didn’t spare a thought whether it might kill him; the taste was divine and it filled his emptiness.

Maybe he’d live another day.


Charles Gramlich said...

I like this. It certainly seems like a promise of a longer piece. I'm curious about Abe. Where did he come from? Who or what is he? The mystery of it is intriguing.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

yes, kate, who is this abe fellow? i like this narrative immensely, it is as if i found pages torn from a journal so that i am unsure what has occurred before the passage you wrote, and perhaps after. i agree with charles, this could/should be a longer piece, even if you hadn't intended that to be the case. and please don't use the word pitiful towards your writing again.

Kate S said...

Thanks, guys. :)

Now I'm a little disconcerted. I deliberately left out some of the parts that would have immediately identified Abe, but thought I'd left in enough clues that would make it easy to figure out.
Abe is....a fish.

Charles Gramlich said...

Now that you tell me, I can see the "fish" imagery, but I'll tell you where my mind went. I thought Abe was a human, perhaps a child, who had been captured as a pet by aliens and was being kept in some kind of zoo like cage. The sharp spined plants through me off of the fish idea because I wasn't thinking of coral. And when Abe "flicked" the pebble into the cave I was thinking he had hands of some type instead of using his tail. Good stuff in any form.

Kate S said...

Oooh, Charles, I like your idea better! I wish I'd thought of it. :)

Actually, the plants were hard plastic in the aquarium so they scratched him--the "Others" were the bratty little kids who put their arms in the tank. :)

Sidney said...

Very nice, I think you capture the feelings well and I like the choice of words for the point of view - like the emptiness for hunger.

Charles Gramlich said...

The "others" reminded me a bit of the giant aliens in William Tenn's "Of Mice and Men," which may have been in the back of my mind when I first read your piece here. I agree with Sid, you captured the feelings well. I love the food floating down from above. Now it seems obvious but it had a nice surreal touch to it when I first read it.

Susan Miller said...

This is fantastic, intriguing, wonderfully written and on and on. I am so impressed.

And I agree with Wayne in regards to never use pitiful again.

I hope you continue to contribute to Stu's assignments.

Kate S said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words--it means a lot coming from you.

Charles, after I posted this, I started to go back and rename it "Manna" because of the food floating down, but people had already commented, so I left it as is. :)

crunchy carpets said...

Oh wonderful!
I kept thinking 'aliens? but this about pets!..where is the pet thing, what am I missing....'


Lucas Pederson said...

Yeah, Aliens was what popped itno my head at first too. Then everything got, well, a bit strange. It wasn't until closer to the end when I thought that maybe Abe was a goldfish or something. I guess I was right. Great wrting and I look forward to readin more of your work.

Stewart Sternberg said...

This was good. Abe...Abe may be a fish, but behaves more like my dog Leo.

I love your description: An eternity of anxiety passed before he finally ventured forth, damning the relentless light that never dimmed, and sought refuge in the foreign land.

This was well done Kate. I am so glad you decided to join in on the assignment. It's fun to see what people do with different ideas, twisting them to their own styles and techniques.

Outstanding, really.

Kate S said...

Thanks, Lucas, I'm glad you got it. I actually got the name "Abe" (and I'm only a little embarrassed to admit this) from the old tv show "Different Strokes" -- Arnold had a pet goldfish named Abraham, so you were right on the money. :)

Stewart, what have you been doing to your poor dog that he acts like Abe? Telling him tales of murderous cats? :) Thanks for the compliments.

gugon said...

This is a really good story. You chose what is probably one of the most difficult animals and made it realistic. I knew from the second paragraph that it was a fish - personally I don't think it was too vague at all.

There are so many great details - like hiding in the plants only to discover that they are hard and sharp. The comparison of the human arms to tentacles. It really felt like a fish's perspective. Bizarre and horrifying.

EXCELLENT job on this.

H.E.Eigler said...

Hi There - I surfed over from Razored Zen. This was fun! At first I thought Abe was some kind of lizard - I got that he was in a glass tank right away and once I read about the flake food I knew Abe was a fish. Gee, I hope the fish in my tank are a little more at ease ;)

Kate S said...

Thanks, gugon & h.e. for stopping by and for your nice comments--both are much appreciated. :)

DonkeyBlog said...

Kate, this was really well put-together ... I haven't yet decided what Abe was, but I guess it must be very frightening and distressing for any animal to be taken from the wild and placed into suburbia. The fear was palpable and affecting. Good job!

Kate S said...

Thanks, Donkey--may I call you Donkey? ;)