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Dying Later

Just a minute Challenge entry. (I got the idea to string three of my micros together and edit down to span a minute of her flight and struggle in the snow. No idea if it's worked well - the challenge is about to close, so not as much time as I'd like to polish this one! TICK TOCK!)

By L.C. SchäferPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - May 2024

Cold bites with mean blue teeth, and it bit her savagely now. Cheeks and nose-tip raw, and the rest of her fairly frozen to match, all the way down to her bones.

Stumbling through the drifts in the silver twilight, she'd been pushing forward on the strength of will alone, the baying of dogs behind her.

Every breath raking her nose and mouth. Each step under protest by muscles that had enjoyed too little nourishment these many months.

She'd have sobbed in a panic, but that would have wasted energy. Eyes wide and teeth gritted, she pushed on. The baying sounded closer. Her muscles screamed as if in answer, and she ignored them, except to try forcing them to move faster.

Her whole life distilled down to a frozen handful of terrified moments. Whatever she had left. Nothing visible beyond that. Everything was now. The universe full, edge to end and back again, with nothing but fright, and cold, and death nip nip nipping so close at her heels.

A thought crept up and squeezed in where there was barely any room not taken up with sheer survival, and it was this: Running is useless, they're faster than you.

They were definitely closer, if she wasted precious seconds and energy looking over her shoulder she'd surely see them, loping over the white with their eyes and teeth flashing.

No time to turn and face them, they were to close, she needed to-

Was that hot breath on the back of her legs?

Down she went.

She lost precious seconds, face down in the snow.

They were so close now, she had no time to stagger to her feet.

She rolled, one hand clutching a rock, bringing it up in an arc. Yelping, the dog was knocked aside.

It shook its head, lip curling. Pained, but not incapacitated. Not deterred. It readied for another leap.

She flung one arm up to protect her face. Hot, smelly breath filled her nostrils. She thumped anywhere she could reach with the rock. The snarling ratcheted up a notch. Teeth found her forearm, hardly stifled by the tattered layers she wore, and the smell of blood was hot and sharp in the cold air.

The others (how many? she wasn't sure) were close. She loosed the rock and dug her fingers into its throat, squeezing the windpipe.

Finally, its jaw loosened. Still squeezing, a sob escaped her lips at last, because is it dead? and too late! too late! they're already upon me-

She abandoned protection of her face to scrabble at the throat and face of the next one with vulnerable fingers, red and wet with her own blood.

Another lunged for her leg; she kicked at it. Teeth met shoes that hardly earned the name; she jerked her foot back and kicked again, hard.

Before this one could sink his teeth into her arm, she thrust her fist into his mouth as far as she could. A brief flicker of satisfaction, seeing those eyes widen.

At last, her questing fingers found something solid in the snow and she brought the icicle up point first.

The first stab got his soft belly, the next hit ribs and her weapon broke in her hands. She pushed him away, and scrambled to her feet.

Now she heard the shouts of men hunting her.

The dogs hesitated, eyeing her. As long as she stood her ground, they'd stand at bay, the men getting closer. The moment she ran, the dogs would bring her down.

I'm not going back there.

No way out of this. The men's shouts were louder now, closer. Time was running out. She stood her ground, eyeing the bristling fur, the bared teeth, the pairs of intense eyes skewering her to the spot.

The dogs had skill, working together seamlessly. They spaced themselves so she couldn't watch all of them at once. When her eyes swiveled right, the beast on the left took a step towards her. When she looked left the one on the right moved in. Always inching closer, trying to get close enough to sweep behind her.

The one in front made the most noise, the most threatening display. As if to keep her attention there, and let the others move around her all the quicker.

Her eyes flashed, left! right! as if marking time.

tick. tock.

The dogs seemed to stand still on stiff, furious legs. Yet impossibly, they were closing in.

To turn is to die. Or to say it better, to turn is to die now. To hold is to die later. Isn't Dying Later what it's all about? For everyone? Across species, even? Isn't that Hope?

They grind Hope out of you in the camps. Or they try to. It doesn't work on everyone. Some found a way to keep holding on to it even if it was only a grain of it, like sand. Even if it was only by a fingertip. Sometimes it was some steel in their character, forged by the fire that was supposed to put them out. Sometimes it was something external, a person, a symbol. Sometimes it was belief in a god like Job's, who only seemed to have deserted them.

She'd not got this far by choosing the Die Now option. Always, always, choose to Die Later. Spin out another second, buy another breath.

Something whistled past her head and struck the dog on her left, then a thump to the right. Whizz, thump. Yelps of pain, and then now now now now now

sobbing

running

to trees

allies

safety?

another breath

freedom

dignity

hope

to live

Short Story

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Book-baby is available on Kindle Unlimited

Flexing the writing muscle

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for nudes.

Here be micros

Twitter, Insta Facey

Sometimes writes under S.E.Holz

"I've read books. Well. Chewed books."

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Comments (21)

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    I am back to say congrats.

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on your Top Story!

  • Rosie𐙚2 months ago

    An intense read! Congrats on top story~

  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    Action packed and what a great idea to put them together. I’m behind on reading so sorry I am late commenting. 👏👏 The photo at the top pulls readers in!

  • Lamar Wiggins2 months ago

    Loved the title and how it was used in the story. Very intense stuff, indeed! Well done, L.C.

  • Belle2 months ago

    Powerful! I love those last lines, breaking up her sentences and her thoughts, aching and hoping to survive. Beautifully written as always, L. C.! Congrats on top story!!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Back to say congratulations

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! ❤️

  • G. A. Botero2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Magnificently intense!!! Congratulations on Top Story!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    You did a great job putting it all together. All the best part patched into one. It was so intense and packed with action and a really quick read. Felt like only a minute. I think this is a great entry. Well done.

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    You are unstoppable.

  • JBaz2 months ago

    I believe you succeeded with this, I do remember parts of this and really like that you took micro stories to extend them. After all isn't that the reason for writing a micro story. You built great tension and a feeling of desperation.

  • C. Rommial Butler2 months ago

    Well-wrought! I recall reading the snow story, and this was a good reworking with a nice buildup and poetic ending! Fun fact: hard-boiled crime writer Raymond Chandler would take from his own stories and rework them this way. He called it "cannibalizing". Haha.

  • I love where this is headed! So many unknowns yet you can't put it down because you "must" know what comes next! Well done LC!

  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    Seamless! I thought this was epic.

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    You strung these out really well! They’re very strung out! Great work! Really enjoyed this! Intense, as always, and well written! ❤️♥️

  • Mark Gagnon2 months ago

    I remember the individual stories and they fit like puzzle pieces to form this one. Well done!

  • Great work as always L.C. you are master storyteller!!!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    I hate competing against you in these challenges! I can tell a damn good story. But when you tell one you bring a level of depth and drama that makes me green with envy.

L.C. SchäferWritten by L.C. Schäfer

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