Sunset-rust Red

The grass danced, silver-headed, like a thousand serpents tasting the wind. I felt my hackles raise, felt the weight of dawn’s approach and knew the night was ending too soon, too damn soon. Golden fingers touched the sky and pools of murky, half-lit shadows laid claim to the morning.

The wind bit at my throat, sending dandelions into frantic flight, sending a shiver down my spine.

No time to hide the body.

I turned and hit the meadow, galloping.

But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.

Always tell a story from the beginning, not the end.

#

She was being leaned on, heavy. She came to me for help ’cause she was tired of running. She came to me ’cause there was nowhere else to go.

She stepped into my burrow, all ears, sultry, seductive. She was barking up the wrong tree. Business and pleasure don’t make great bedfellows. It always turns bad – and hell, I’ve gotta get paid. She was getting leaned on, heavy. The squirrel wanted his money, and they don’t mind how you pay, whether in digits or dollars. They get their money’s worth. How much? Twenty large, she made it, but my ears pricked up when she mentioned the rodent. I know what it’s like to live under his thumb.

“You came to the right place, sweetheart,” I whispered, all snakeoil, all confidence, trying to charm her out.

I already knew how this was all going to go down.

“You got spine comin’ round here, I’ll give you that.” The Squirrel raged – he thought it’d scare me, intimidate me. It didn’t. “Some nerve, showing yourself underneath my tree!” I told it to him straight, told him just how it would be between us.

I told him she came to me, that she needed protection.

I told the Squirrel the score.

“I do this for you and we’re square, Squirrel. Understand?” I spat the question. He nodded.

Her eyes…she begged, pleaded, grovelled before me.

BANG!

BANG! BANG! BANG!

She fell forward, an arc of sunset-rust red, a choking, spluttered wheeze.

She fell. I hit the meadow, galloping.

This story was written in response to the sketch above, “Sketch 36“, tweeted by Brisbane illustrator Terry Whidborne

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33 thoughts on “Sunset-rust Red

  1. “The wind bit at my throat, sending dandelions into frantic flight” ~ lovely. Great detail, Chris!

  2. Draug419 says:

    It’s like WATERSHIP DOWN as if written by a noir author. Very different, very cool, though a bit over the 333-word mark…

  3. jannatwrites says:

    That double-crossing rabbit is a rat! Didn’t expect it to go down like that. A pack of coyotes could take care of the body in no time.

  4. Gabriella says:

    Very original point of view here and a great noir tale too!

  5. Mike says:

    Brilliant! Much enjoyed this classic exposition.

  6. Perfectly fits the sketch. Great story Chris.

  7. Bryan Ens says:

    Great story!

  8. I enjoyed reading the nuances of your story and then connecting back to the characters (rabbits). A juxtaposition to be sure but one that added another level of interest. I think you’ve done an excellent job on this story, Chris.

  9. Emma says:

    I didn’t expect the rat too be a double crosser!!! fantastic work again chris!!

  10. Annabelle says:

    Great intro, and I love the noir rabbit twist!

  11. I really enjoyed this. I could hear the voice of the narrator. Very old school. Or something. Whatever it is, I like it! And the unexpected ending. BANG indeed. Well done!
    – Alicia Audrey

  12. Kitty says:

    I love the dark noir feel as well as the animal characters.

  13. Great, original story. It really fits the sketch wonderfully. One thing: The way you use “charm” seems to fit the first definition (1b) rather than the third, which is a verb. I think you could easily revise it to fit the prompt though, if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂

  14. I apologize in advance if this comment shows up three times. WordPress is trying to ruin my day today. 🙂 Like I already said twice, I loved this. You gave us something new without making it feel gratuitous or cheesy. It’s not easily done. My word count still has you at 356 or something like that, and I’m wondering if we’re both counting the top part of your story or not. Anyway, remember to come back and vote at the end. It’s community judging this week. Thanks for linking up.

    • I like the rhythm and pacing of your writing. Not to mention the creative characters! This is great.

    • I voted, and I’ve no idea why the story ended up too long (damn you internet wordcount tools! Sometimes they count hyphenated words as one word, sometimes as two…all I’m asking for is a little consistency!) Glad the Trifectans liked the story, and a shame it couldn’t get under the word count.

  15. debseeman says:

    Draug compared it to Watership Down and I’m hearing characters from the movie Hoodwinked. It had a noir attitude and funny.

  16. Joe Owens says:

    This must be a cousin of Bugs Bunny. I would hate to have to research the family tree to know for sure!

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