Flash Fiction Friday: The Wise Man and the Wisent

Flash Fiction Friday #6

All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. In today’s, I play with the “holy beheading” tale. (This is possibly a bit esoteric these day, but they were all the rage in the middle ages!)
Microfiction Summer Week #6

 

 

The Wise Man and the Wisent

Inspired by Mike Kenyon, who suggested “bison, 5:17 a.m., green.”

Fredrick knew better than to walk through the woods on his own. If his mother had told him once, she’d told him a thousand times, and now that he was adult-aged himself… well, he knew better. There were all sorts of creatures in the woods, and he lived far enough in the countryside that no one would come to help in time even if he could get a hold of anyone.

But Rick had a little trick up his sleeve for deterring foxes and muggers. It ran in his family. So, really, walking in the woods alone at just past 5 a.m. wasn’t so terrible. He was, you could say, a wise man after all.

Rick smelled the river nearby, cool and clear, and he headed for it. Overhead, the trees lifted their green boughs to heaven. Springtime wind shushed through their leaves, and birds chirped on their limbs. Rick snapped a hanging shrub and gnawed it like an American racecar driver would a toothpick.

He spotted the weeds that spewed fluff at the river’s edge when a bellowing roar seized his stomach and froze his legs. The boom shook Rick’s heart against his ribcage and set the birds above into screeching flight.

It was time to pull out his secret weapon. Rick twitched and shuddered. Another bellow wailed through the woods. And then:

A full adult wisent—bison, in the American vernacular—lumbered where Rick had been. He had a great, shaggy mane and four legs where once he’d had two.

From between the trees, the noise-maker lurched into view. It was a natural wisent, the same size as Rick and far more wild. Pointy horns obscured its face. Rick spread his four legs in the muddy riverside ground and lowered his head.

Snorting, the woodland animal galloped forward. Rick surged to meet it. With a mighty crack, their horns locked. Rick’s brain rattled against his transformed skull. He should never have come out in the woods!

The rampant wisent tossed its head from side to side. Rick’s softer, tamer body lashed along with the movements. Would his horns be strong enough to hold?

The animal grunted, unwashed breath snaking into Rick’s nose. Rick sneezed and, in so doing, lost any grip he may have head.

The animal bellowed its triumph and thrashed its horns more strongly. They caught on Rick’s once again, and then shhhraack

Rick’s head was forcibly separated from his body. His neck snapped, his hide parted, and his skull landed in the weeds by the river.

The natural wisent pranced around Rick’s decapitated body, snuffled his lost head, and then lumbered off between the trees once more. Docile and victorious.

But this was not the end of semi-foolish Rick. He waited until he was sure the animal was truly gone, then transformed back to his human shape and retrieved his head from where the river water lapped at it. Good thing the beast hadn’t pierced his heart; he wasn’t immortal, only special.

Slinking into the woods in the opposite direction the wisent had gone, head tucked under his arm like a helmet, Rick set off for home. Along the way, he came across a group of campers. “There’s a wisent in the area,” he told them. “You may want to camp elsewhere.”

To their credit, the campers didn’t scream. But they definitely told all their friends about the headless man in the woods. For centuries after that, people made pilgrimages to Rick’s house and to the river. Even travelers from the lunar colonies left flowers on his lawn and at the site of the attack.

Flowers for remembrance. For bison deterrent.

Rick, of course, was allergic.

 

 

 

 

THE END

Click the links below to read the previous weeks’ stories.

“Werewolf-Friendly Hair Straighteners Are Hard To Find” (Week #1)

“Operation: Orange Chicken Casserole” (Week #2)

“Peal and Ring” (Week #3)

“Spaceships Aren’t Compostable” (Week #4)

“Seattle Freeze-Frame” (Week #5)

Flash Fiction Friday: Seattle Freeze-Frame

Flash Fiction Friday #5 All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. Today’s is a contemporary piece set in my home city of Seattle.     Seattle Freeze-Frame Inspired by Mark Hirschman, who suggested “camera, 5 p.m., matte silver.” Richard had no friends. He had a lovely craftsman triplex in Seattle, where he…

Flash Fiction Friday: Spaceships Aren’t Compostable

Flash Fiction Friday #4 All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. Today I’ve chosen a contemporary, humorous piece since Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story is on sale today and tomorrow for 99c. It seemed like a good match. (I’ve also chosen it because today is the compost pick-up day at my house.)    …

Flash Fiction Friday: Peal and Ring

Flash Fiction Friday #3 All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. This one is my copy editor’s favorite.     Peal and Ring For Gretchen. Inspired by Bob Bauman, who suggested “church bells, 3:23 p.m., turquoise.” Marie was in love with the boy who rang the church bells. She’d never met him,…

Flash Fiction Friday: Operation Orange Chicken Casserole

Flash Fiction Friday #2 All summer, I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. Click to read last week’s (“Werewolf Friendly Hair Straighteners Are Hard To Find”).     Operation: Orange Chicken Casserole Inspired by Jayson Potter, who suggested “plant, 1:30, orange.” Let me tell you about Operation: Orange Chicken Casserole. This was back when…

Flash Fiction Friday: Werewolf-Friendly Hair Straighteners Are Hard To Find

Flash Fiction Friday #1 For the next 9-10 weeks, you can read free fiction right here on this website. I’ll be posting a flash story every Friday. These pieces are inspired by Kickstarter backers for the Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story project. Their ideas are awesome, so I want to share them with you. This…

Weekend Schedule – Anglicon 2015

My schedule is packed this weekend. There will be panels, there will be workshops, and I will be sitting in the Anglicon dealers’ room hoping that someone will want to discuss the divergence of Teen Wolf and Wolfblood. If you’ll be around, please come see me. We can chat about all the awesome stuff. Plus,…

Call for Submissions: Magic iPhone Stories

iPhones are magic. That’s probably why I published a book with a magic iPhone earlier this year. (If you follow this blog, you’ve read all about Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story.) It’s been doing so well that I’ve decided to put together an anthology of other people’s stories involving magical iPhones. Yay! If you want…

Have Someone Read a Book to You

Reading! If you live in Seattle or Portland (or are visiting during the first week of May), you can come see me read from Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story. I’ll be joined by two other PacNW genre authors, Cat Rambo and Fonda Lee. Cat Rambo also edits my Hive Queen Saga novels, which makes her…

Book Launch Party – Feb 6 in Seattle, WA

Have you ever been to a book launch party? Well, I’ve never held one, but since I’ve got this lovely new book that just came out, I thought now would be the time to try. Here are the details: Who: You! And also me… the award-winning, Seattle-based author of this excessively-geeky, Seattle-based book. What: The…

About
Janine A. Southard is a Writer & Editor for narrative projects. She's a proven talent when it comes to mimicking voices and crafting content for videogames, articles, & fiction.