Flash Fiction: A Stag in the Night

Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy Friday, everyone! The weekend is only one day away which means sleeping in, reading, and trying to accomplish insane writing goals. 

I'm participating in a Flash Fiction Challenge (short piece of fiction, <1,000 words.) today held by Rachelle over at The Ink Loft. I'm never too terribly keen on sharing my work with other people, and originally wasn't going to sign up for this challenge, but Rachelle convinced me otherwise and I'm so glad she did. It was fun writing something different for once rather than Song of the Desert. (more on that tomorrow. Eek!) If you have any critique, I'd be happy to hear it!

(If you want to read my other flash fiction, here it is. I'm quite proud of it, if I'm allowed to say so.)

I was given the song Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift for a prompt. I used aspects from the video and the lyrics, so if you want to understand where the inspiration from my story is coming from, here it is: 

(It's such a pretty song and gives me all the feels from the Hunger Games. <3)

Anyways. Let's get to the flash fiction. 

- - - - -
It was almost time.
White frosted trees dusted the horizon, cold air nipping at their silver leaves. The woman walked through them, barefooted, skin pale like her surroundings.
The dim sun dipped behind the horizon, casting shadows—ugly shadows with sharp, jagged corners and ragged spine—from crooked branches on the ground.
Rule number one: Don’t look at the shadows.
The woman followed this rule with ease. As the shadows danced at her feet, she merely lifted her chin and quickened her pace. If you watched closely, you would see her gaze travel to the setting sun every few minutes.
Rule number two: You must be there for your patient by dark.
At the pace she moved, violating the second rule was highly probable. The trees waved as she rushed by, bowing and moaning with their creaking voices: Hurry, hurry, hurry. Keep him safe.
A small flutter of annoyance breached the woman’s face as she grabbed the thin white material of her dress, starting to run. Run—with her golden hair stretching behind and pounding footsteps scattering the lurking shadows deeper into the forest.
Then, there it was. A small, wooden cabin in the center of an equally small clearing. Two windows dotted the uneven frame of the front, outer wall. Light spilled through these windows.
The woman slipped inside. She had made it.
Rule number three: By all means, protect your patient from the nightmares of the world.
In an old, dilapidated armchair sat a man by the fire, right where he had left yesterday. His hair almost, but not quite, reached his shoulders. The ends curled around his cheek instead, tickling his beard.
The woman sank into the armchair next to him with a sigh, attempting to make her breathing sound like she had totally not run the whole way here.
She was failing.
The man tapped his boot on the ground idly, staring in his way that made him seem just not quite so real and just not quite so there.
The woman’s breathing finally slowed, settling to the tap, tap, tap rhythm of the man’s shoe.
Hours passed. Quiet, for a long time.
Then—crack!—outside the cabin.
Both the man and the woman stiffened simultaneously. She leapt up, balanced on the balls of her feet, poised for action.
The curtains fluttered with the drift of air from cracks in the wall. She had not remembered to close them.
Where are you hiding him? The wind carried in the whispers from the creatures of the shadows outside.
“Don’t look,” the woman hissed sharply to the man in the armchair, ignoring the wind’s voice. “Keep your focus on the fire.”
A growl sounded—too close to the cabin for her liking. Shortly after, something scratching at the window.
The woman blinked. Claws at the window flashed—reflecting for only a moment—from sparking of the fire.
Clawing, growling, spitting, and slithering. The man’s nightmares were strong tonight.
She took a step closer to the window, hand reaching out to yank the curtains shut.
But a vision of the nightmare’s face stopped her from moving and started an earsplitting scream from her throat.
The man’s gaze tore from the fire.
”Don’t!” the woman cried.
Don’t look at the shadows.  
He leapt to his feet.
“Look away!”
And the man stared the nightmare in the face.
That’s all the nightmare needed to snag its invitation: one look. The window shattered; the man paled, unable to move.
In slithered the nightmare. In crawled darkness, enveloping the room and the fire.
The man’s screams rang out—desperate and terrified.
Calmly, through the darkness and the spitting beast, the woman stepped forward, protecting her patient. She snapped her fingers together and in a matter of moments something pounded on door—beating. And then that something smashed through the wood, darting into the cabin filled of darkness.
The woman stayed where she was as ugly snarls and growls erupted throughout the cabin. Scuffling, fighting. A deep groan sounded. The woman gritted her teeth, eyes squeezing shut.
Then, nothing.
Away the darkness went and back came the warmth of the fire. The man sat crumpled on the ground, silent sobs racking his body.
Everything back to normal like nothing even happened.
But there—in the middle of the room—stood a stag, hair soft and shining. Its antlers glistened silver, and on its shoulder was a sharp, deep, and bloody scratch.
The woman twisted around. She winced. On her shoulder was a seemingly similar scratch compared to the stag’s. A crimson stain had leaked into her white dress.
She directed her attention to the man. He trembled oh-so-hard, mumbling incoherent phrases under his breath. The woman frowned. Something needs to be done about these nightmares.
“It’s alright. You're safe,” she said calmly, wrapping her arms around his figure. “This is just a dream.”
The woman only partially told the truth.
Slowly, with time, the tears stopped running. The man returned to the ragged armchair, just missing a glimpse of the silver-coated stag slinking out of the cabin.
The woman sang to him softly, keeping a close eye on the broken window until the sun began to rise.
This was when the man’s eyelids started to droop and head sink to his chest.
“Go,” the woman encouraged with an exhausted smile. “We’ll see each other yet again when the night comes.”
His eyes closed and breathing stilled to a steady pace.
By all means, protect your patient from the nightmares of the world.
The woman relaxed. Rule number three—avoided, but just barely. Her patient was alive, but back in his world, he would have side effects.
Back in his world?
Earth—not the very real world of dreams and nightmares.

- Katie Grace

Thanks for reading! *hands pizza*
Have you tried writing flash fiction?
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  1. This.is.fabulous. Really, you did a great job, Katie. I will be back at some point this weekend with a proper critique.

    1. Thank you so, so much, Rachelle. And also thank you for convincing me to do this again. I'm really glad I did and it was good to learn how to push my creativity even when I didn't have much of an idea to start. :P

  2. I love the style of this! :)

    1. Thank you! I wanted to give it a more lyrical/dreamlike feel. :)

  3. Katie! I love it!
    Will you expand on this world/idea???

      I really hope to, someday? I feel like I could definitely expand on this and it could be really interesting. So I'll keep gathering ideas so I can make it into a full novel, and maybe in a couple years I'll write the whole thing. :D

  4. This was amazing!!! I think it needs to be a full novel!

    1. Thank youuu! I'm considering that. o.o It just MIGHT someday be made into something more than a piece of flash fiction. :D

  5. I LOVE THIS TO PIECES OKAY, KATIE? I kid you not, I want to read it over and over, print it out and highlight all the little sentences and wordings that I loved about it and shriek about it forever. THIS WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. I. THIS. I CAN'T WORDS NOW, OKAY? I love this so much.

    Okay now that I've shrieked incoherently about it I'll leave now to regain my composure xD

    1. Oh my gosh oh my gosh Anna YOU REALLY KNOW HOW TO MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY. I'm grinning like a fool and ohmygoodness you are so amazing. <3


    2. I've read it so many times now. Argh, it's just so pretty.

      Hey, I'm just being honest here, I really do love it.

    3. *happy feelings* You should post a flash fiction or more snippets from your novel so I can flail over your novel. xD
      Okay. Good. *nod* :P

  6. You had me glued. Gosh, Katie! This is AMAZING. The pace is excellent, totally love your choice of description. :D Loveeeeeee!

  7. Woooooow, Katie! 0.0
    This. This is so very good. ^-^ I'm sitting here grinning like an idiot about it. xD
    *glomps* This is so good!

    1. Awww, Faith! *glomps you back* You're awesome. xP

  8. Oh my gosh Katie o.o Your writing is the best and ughhhh. *flails*

    1. Oh my gosh Aimee you are just so lovely thank you. <3 *flails*

  9. Ooh. This is pretty awesome. Great job!

  10. o.o
    *is afraid to sleep because what if my guardian white lady isn't as cool as his*
    You're too cool. This is too cool. GAKJFhsdLFKSDH

    1. o.o
      sjdal;djfasjldf;j 129 DAYS AAAAAH. *dances around forever* *so many ugs* ;)
      *runs away jellyfish flailing* :P

  11. *accepts pizza and eats it for breakfast*
    Wow. Wow. Wow. THAT WAS SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL, KATIE!!!! :D I can't think of any critique to offer it was just...so good. ;) You're super talented.

    1. *is it weird that I've never eaten pizza for breakfast?* *needs to do so*


  12. Wow. Wow wow wow, what did I just read?! This is SO good Katie! I can't ... I can't even ... I absolute agree with everyone who said this must be turned into a full novel. Because it must. *nodnod*
    And thank you for the pizza. *eats all the pizza*

    1. adjfkal; Savannah, have I ever told you how kind you are? Because every single one of your comments make me squeal and super happy. YOU ARE AMAZING. <3

      Well, maybe SOMEDAY it'll turn into a full novel. I hope so. o.o *must... edit... so I can... write... more...* *flops*

      *mwahaha* *eats all the pizza with you*

  13. Oooh, this was very good. O_O I might have had a small heart attack. *eats pizza to calm self* NOW I WANT TO KNOW MORE.

    1. *incoherent squealing* *has a heart attack from your nice words* xD MAYBE IF I WRITE MORE SOMEDAY YOU'LL GET TO KNOW MORE. YES.

  14. What a cool concept! It was very interesting. :) I didn't notice anything that needed changing right off the bat, but I'll look again soon. Excellent work, Katie!

    1. Let me know if you do, Emmarayn! :D Thank you sooo much for reading. <3 *hands cookies*

  15. Oh, oh. Katie. KATIE.

    I have this thing for eerie, whimsical type stories and THIS has that exact feel that I love. Kind of vague and eerie with an otherworldly beauty. This was absolutely breathtaking. I LOVED! LOOOOVED. <333

    1. Oh, oh, oh CHRISTINE. You are too kind. THANK YOU.

      I love eerie, whimscial, dream-like stories, so it was sooo much fun to write one. And I'm so glad it came across that way! Thank youuu! <3

  16. I love pizza!
    Katie, you did an AMAZING job!!!! This would be a great novel!


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