Sunday, March 31, 2013

Red Dots

Do you remember, back during NaNoWriMo, when I agonized over writing a short story for my writing group? This was the assignment: Write a short story about [Firefly, Star Trek, getting lost in Nebraska, etc.] and include [Galway hooker, ninjas, pirates, plot bunnies, etc.] that will entertain our former ML while she heals.

I spent some time thinking about the assignment. I know Firefly. It is one of my favorite shows. And I'm pretty familiar with plot bunnies (little things that happen solely that destroy - or at least temporarily derail - a planned out plot). I decided to make that work. A few days into the competition, it hit me- the Reavers in Firefly are plot bunnies!

I spent a few days examining each of the characters from the show and deciding what animals their personalities matched the best. Mal was a wolf. Shepherd Book was the sage turtle. Kaylee was a squirrel. Wash was a raccoon  Jayne was a ferret. The Tams were parrots. Zoe was a jaguar. Inara was a cat. The animal characterizations made perfect sense. From there, I just needed to decide if I would rewrite an episode from the show (because Lord knows I pretend Serenity never happened) using my anthropomorphic animals, or if I'd write a new episode in that way.

I went back and forth on this idea and they both sucked. It was a time of amazing self-discovery. I learned:

  • I am not a fanfic writer.
  • Rewriting some else's stuff is hard and boring.
  • I dislike writing short stories.

I almost gave up on the entire assignment. It just wouldn't work. But the Reavers = plot bunnies idea just wouldn't go away. I knew there was a story in there. I sat down again, a week before the project was due and decided to do my go-to when I'm frustrated with my work in progress- I started drawing.

In my drawing, I drew a Reaver/bunny as I saw it in my mind. Broken. Savage. Reconstructed with metal and scar tissue. My Reaver bunny came out amazing. I'm not an incredible artist by any amount but I was proud of my drawing.

So a new idea hit me. Use the bunny but set it in the real world. And that is what I did.

What started out as a Firefly fanfic turned into a dark tale that even I was surprised with in the end. Click after the jump to read the short story RED DOTS and see the picture I drew. I hope you enjoy it because it was hard as hell to write. *Caution for adult language, descriptions of gore and violence, general scary-ness*


The car slid to a halt, screaming in protest as the rubber melted on the asphalt. She stood frozen, unable to look away as the car slid toward her and shuddered to a stop inches from her face. The driver stepped out, swearing and waving his hands. He stomped as he yelled profanities at the creature standing in the middle of the road.
“Get out of the way!” he screamed.
She blinked. Looking around, she was surprised to find herself standing on a road in the middle of the afternoon. Fresh cuts burned over her body, her forearm sporting the largest gash that oozed under almost dried blood. She looked up at the man and back to her arm. His voice sounded far away. The car swayed in front of her and then the earth tipped sideways.
Before everything went dark, she spied a pair of red dots in the weeds visible under the car exhaust. A sliver of silver glinted in the afternoon sun just below those red dots. She tried to point at the approaching red and flashing silver as it awkwardly bounced through the weeds but she couldn't move her arm. The angry man wouldn't understand anyway.
When she toppled over, the man stopped screaming. He didn't think he had hit her. He was certain he stopped in time. But she collapsed in the road, covered in open wounds- she looked like he might have hit her after all. He glanced around, searching for witnesses.
“Shit. Did I hit her?” he asked himself.  “Should I just leave her here?”
He looked at the fallen squirrel again and sat back down. He shut the door with a bang and threw it into reverse. He checked his rear view mirror. No one was around on this back country road. When he glanced in the rear view mirror again, he stopped, slamming his breaks and making the wheels scream again. Sitting in the back passenger seat, Moomoo sat buckled in where his three year old daughter Sierra left her. The stuffed cow stared at him with cold black eyes. If nothing else, she would know what he had done.
He thought about calling the police. He shook his head. They’d just laugh at him. Who calls the police about hitting a squirrel? Sierra would. She would at least call to ask for help and then do what she could to save the poor stupid animal. He sighed and threw the car into park. “Dammit,” he groaned.
Sierra’s blanket draped over the rest of the seat, abandoned last night when he’d carried her into the house after dinner at the in-law’s house. He twisted in the seat to snag the blanket and dragged it up front with him. Moomoo fell to the floorboard as he jerked the blanket free. He glanced over his shoulder quickly, thinking he saw some movement in the weeds. He stared but nothing moved.
“Get a grip, Gary,” he said to himself. He balled the blanket up and threw the door open. He stepped out of the car and shook the blanket out. As he stood, he felt a pinch in his ankle. He glanced down and saw a small drop of blood welling up from a pin prick hole just above his heel. To be such a small wound, the blood ran fast. It dripped onto his sock and then his loafer.
“What the-“
His question cut off. Under the car, a flashing of metal lanced out, swiping into his ankle. He screamed, clutching his severed tendon as he fell. Blood squirted between his fingers as his heartbeat hammered in his throat. He stared under the car in horror as he lay on the asphalt. From that vantage point, his attacker became clear. A pair of red eyes stared at him from the shadows. It peeked around the tire, shaking a long brown ear out of its face. It clutched a bloody steak knife in one paw.
“Nice rabbit,” Gary said, eyes wide from fright. He was pale, though that was as much from sudden blood loss as it was fright.
The brown rabbit shuffled out from behind the tire, wiggling its nose. It turned its head when he spoke, as if it were trying to make sense of his words. When it turned its head, Gary saw hunks of metal embedded into its little furry cheek and angry red scars bordered one eye. The metal pulled the right side of the rabbit’s face up into a permanent sneer, exposing little rectangular teeth. Its teeth were stained dark red.
“Oh my God,” Gary said. Even as the rabbit menaced him with the knife, approaching one slow shuffle-hop at a time, he couldn't help but wonder who would do such a thing to a poor little rabbit. Sierra loved rabbits. They were her second favorite animal next to cows. This rabbit had seen better days: more metal embedded in its stomach; it was missing part of an ear, a few toes, and most of its other forearm; and a broken arrowhead festered in the tip of its other ear.
A muffled scream startled Gary and his attacker. The rabbit wiggled its nose, turning its head toward the car. Gary stretched and found his attempted hit and run victim awake. She stared at him in horror and screamed a second time as the rabbit peeked its head beyond the tire. Gary scrambled away when he saw the rabbit’s tail quivering, mostly fur-less and green tinged necrotic skin.
“Zombie?” he thought. He looked back at the gray squirrel lying prone on the ground. She tried to stand up. A pool of blood gathered below her, turning her gray fur sticky and black.
The rabbit glanced at him and back to the squirrel. It looked torn, as if it couldn't decide who it should get first. Gary looked at the open car door. If the rabbit went after the squirrel, he could make it inside. He watched the rabbit, praying it would go for the easy prey first. He almost cried in relief when the squirrel collapsed again and the rabbit took advantage of the opportunity.
It moved faster than he expected. In a blink, the brown rabbit darted under the car and out the other side. The squirrel didn't have time to cry out a third time before the rabbit brought the knife down in a killing blow. It tore into her soft exposed skin with its bloodstained teeth, squeaking and grunting as it crunched through bone, sinew, and soft tissue. Gary saw his chance.
He climbed to his knees and shoved himself up on his good foot. He almost fell and in a panic, he realized he couldn't see the rabbit anymore from that view point. He heard the rabbit’s continued feeding frenzy though, so he knew it was occupied still. That poor squirrel. He shook his head. “Don’t think about it,” he told himself.
He threw himself into the car and slammed the door shut. The keys hung from the ignition. He spied his forgotten cell phone sitting in the passenger seat. Again, he thought to call the police. “Screw it,” he said. He threw the car into drive and gunned it. The rabbit jumped out of the way, pulling the half eaten squirrel away amid snarls. It still clutched the steak knife in one paw.
Gary checked the rear view mirror as he sped away. His heart dropped into his stomach as he watched a warren of rabbits shuffle-hop out of the weeds. Dozens of tiny brown rabbits poured from the high grass, watching his escaping car. Each of them carried some sort of sharp instrument- scalpels, miniature meat cleavers, steak and paring knives, broken slivers of mirrors. He sped up, eager to get far away from the demonic red-eyed beasts.
On the floorboard, huddled beneath several forgotten teddy bears and Moomoo the cow, red dots blinked in the shadows.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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