Odd Prompts

Odd Prompts: Falling Down

The dogs were afraid. They whined, and crouched low by her feet, with their eyes rolling to the whites. She bent and patted them, one with each hand, then straightened to look for her husband. Until a few moments ago she had been happy in camp, with their cosy tent and the cunning little fire where she was preparing a meal for their supper. He had gone out, rifle over his shoulder, telling the dogs to stay with her as she took a laughing kiss from him. She wasn’t quite sure when the feeling of dread had crept over her, but when the dogs came to lean trembling on her legs, she had known something was wrong. 

Her hand pressed over her heart, she looked up the path where he had disappeared, and gasped aloud when he came around the corner and back into sight. Her worry was lessened, but only a little, as he was walking fast, nearly a run, towards her. He waved a hand, and she ran to meet him, the dogs darting ahead of her. 

“Nico!” She ran into the clasp of his arms. 

He released her almost as quickly as he’d embraced her. 

“Something is wrong.” 

“I don’t know… the dogs…” 

The dogs had run past them, upward, and then stopped to look back at their humans. Their ears flat to their skull, they rushed back, almost to the two standing on the soft mat of pine needles, and as soon as they were sure they had the attention of the two-legs, they ran singlemindedly upwards again. 

“What is it?” She had her hand on his arm, almost unconsciously. 

“I don’t know. Emie…” 

“Oh, let’s follow them. Something, I don’t know what it is, but something doesn’t feel right.” 

“All right.” He turned and they walked together towards the dogs, who were whirling about almost in a frenzy, urging them faster and further up.

“Run.” He said. 

A mule deer crashed past them, blindly unaware of the danger they posed, in an unreasoning fear. 

“Run!” He caught her hand. “Remember the bald knob, where I took you yesterday?” 

“Yes.” She didn’t question his guidance, her feet already hurrying into action. 

The dogs flew ahead of them as though they had wings. Later, Emie wouldn’t swear that she and Nico hadn’t wings of their own. The mad race to the rock outcropping seemed to have been impossible, but they reached it, scratched, breathless, and she was hicupping with the stitch in her side. Nico pulled her down to lie on the rock beside him. They were not the only ones on the mountain to have sought this refuge. Three elk stood aside, the bull with his neck outstretched as though he would bugle, his throat working soundlessly. 

“Look!” Nico threw out his hand, and his bride followed his pointing finger. 

Below them, the tops of the trees tossed as though they were caught in the outer bands of a hurricane, but there was no wind at all. All the way up the slope, they moved in a strange, jerky motion. There was a sound like tearing, and then a roar that sent Emie into her husband’s arms. She buried her face in his chest, as the earth heaved beneath them like a ship on the sea. She couldn’t hear anything above the noise of the trees and the rocks all around them moving, moving, sliding… 

Nico wrapped himself around her as much as he could. The dogs lay on either side of them, as close as they could manage. The rock of the mountain shifted, groaned deep underneath them, and then settled. The outcropping of bedrock had stood for long eons, and this was not the time that it would finally slough off and join the other parts of the original crust at the bottom of the valley. They were safe. All around them the forest slipped away down and fell like a vast child’s game in a tangle of trunks and boulders, revealing the shattered bones of the earth hidden beneath the green mantle  that had been drawn up over the shoulders of the mountain. Until now. Until it slid away and revealed the new skin, piling up at the feet of the slope and choking the streams that ran there. 

After an interminable time, the last clatters of pebbles skipping merrily down the new scree were the only sounds they could hear. Nico raised his head cautiously, feeling a bruise on his leg and shoulder from flying pieces of something. 


“I’m here.” She looked up at him, tears making trails through the dust on her cheeks. “I’m here.” 


I was prompted this week by Becky Jones with “There was no wind, yet the trees swayed as if getting hit by the outer bands of a hurricane.” 

I prompted Fiona Grey with “They lifted off with the rocket’s assistance” 

You can read all of the prompt responses – or play along yourself! – over at More Odds Than Ends.

Guardian Angel (art assisted by MidJourney)

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