Survival of the Sneakiest

Here’s something a little bit longer – a story of mine which was one of five winners of the 1000 Words flash competition in December 2014. Since has disappeared and my story with it, I’ll put it up here. In a way, the success I had with it encouraged me to start the blog. so it is relevant.

194 words about surviving in harsh circumstances
photo by Anders Jildén

‘The ground is frozen. I’ll burn more calories than I’ll bring home,’ he protests when I ask him to go digging for roots.

‘It’s that or starvation. Go right to the edge where the sun’s been warming the ground the longest. Should be softer there.’

I hand him the hammer and one of the nine-inch nails. They’re coming in useful, the nails. I insisted we take them when he said they’d be nothing but ballast.

He puts the tools into his pouch and slouches off. I stoke the fire and put another log on. I retrieve the blowgun. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d better take care of the bait first. I wait for him to get settled by the edge. When I hear the pings of hammer hitting nail, I go after him. I pick up a rock. I never take my eyes off him, stay behind his back.

‘Sorry. I can’t keep feeding us both.’

He doesn’t have time to turn around before I bring down the rock. He slumps, tumbles over the edge and lands on the plateau beneath.

I fetch blowgun and nails and wait for the birds.

13 thoughts on “Survival of the Sneakiest

  1. Wow, powerful and awful at the same time. Poor guy, I feel bad for him. But perhaps, it is mercy not to let him starve to death.

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      1. Keep meaning to ask you how Scarlett’s going. You still rewriting at the moment? Not sure if it’s any consolation, but skimming the net, it seems possible that Hodderscape won’t take up any books from the open submission – certainly not taken up any writers on forums I’ve seen. Should that make us feel better? Maybe, maybe not 🙂

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        1. Scarlett is still a work in progress, yes. Currently very much on the back burner, though, since I’ve got an international move to prepare for… The problem with Scarlett is that the Britain it’s set in was supposed to be dystopian, but it’s becoming more and more real – so I find I have to go back and adjust some of the stuff I made up to make it fit what’s happened since.

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          1. Is it definitely a move to Ireland, then? Sounds like it must be soon. Tough to have to keep rewriting as you’re doing – blooming frustrating too, I should imagine.
            It’s a big job, a rewrite, isn’t it – a big commitment. I need to tackle another YA rewrite here, but I’ve been enjoying writing the new book and the flash too. Bit of a bugger I have to work and shop and decorate etc etc etc on top 🙂

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          2. Yes, the fella’s officially employed by the Dublin office from 1 September. I’m hoping summer’ll turn up while I still live in walking distance of a beach…
            Yes, rewriting is a massive task – much harder than writing the first draft. If I could just work on it with minimal interruption for a month or so, I might get somewhere. Until the stars align, I’ll just have to muddle through somehow…

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          3. Dublin should be wonderful, though – a brilliant, vibrant city. Do hope you love it.
            Yeah, rewriting hard work. It does make you just want to lock yourself in a shipping container for a few weeks (with tea and coffee making facilities, of course) and not come out again until it’s done. I always feel like I’m muddling through. I think ‘muddling’ is my default setting 🙂


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