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The Orbs

Based on a True Story

By Bernadette JohnsonPublished 2 years ago Updated 10 months ago 4 min read
The Orbs
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

He peeked out from underneath the structure of wooden slats attached to the rocky edifice. The green blades surrounding the structure towered above him, giving him both an amount of cover and a view of the terrain.

There they were. The treasures he sought. The orbs. The light green irregular orbs. So close. So many. Scattered about under the immense woody tendrils that dropped the bounty each year.

But he mustn’t venture out until he was sure. He must look out for danger. He must beware of the beast.

The beast guarded the orbs. And the wooden and rocky structures. And everything else within the barrier. She stalked the perimeter, all fur and claws and fangs, hunting for interlopers like himself.

But the beast wasn’t always there. Sometimes she was locked in the rocky structure. Sometimes he could see her behind the clear panes and wooden slats that made up its exit. But sometimes she was deep within. And then he was free to seek the orbs.

He hadn’t yet figured out the beast’s routine, although he often watched from the other side of the barrier. Sometimes with a warning scratch on the wood and panes, and sometimes without warning, she and her giants would emerge. Day or night, at whim, it would seem.

He’d been in the mouth of the beast many a time, held by her steely jaw, her sharp teeth grinding into his armor, only to escape by some miracle. By the grace of the gods, or the grace of the giants. Perhaps they were one and the same.

The giants were terrifying in their own right. Vastly tall. Far taller than any of the rocks and green blades and shoots and blooms. Taller than the beast. Being trodden under their enormous feet was a danger, but the giants didn’t seem to take much notice of him. Or of the orbs, for that matter. That he couldn’t understand. So juicy. So delicious. But the giants ignored them.

The orbs. He could see two just a few paces from one side of the wooden structure. Perhaps if he offered an orb to the beast. Perhaps the beast would be content to crush the orb in its jaw and leave him be to eat the others.

But the orbs were there now and the beast was nowhere to be seen. If he was quick—If the beast remained indoors—.

He could stand it no longer. He crept out from underneath the wood slats and made his way for the nearest orb. Each step seemed to take an eternity. But he reached the closest one at last. Light green and brown mottled skin, smooth to the touch. He bit into the orb. Juice dripped down his chin as he chewed its flesh. So soft. So filling.

He ate happily for some time. Then a dreaded sound came. A scrape across the panes, soon followed by a crack of wood on wood as the rocky enclosure opened its mouth. The rhythmic pounding of the beast as she emerged, followed by one of her giants.

If he was quick and quiet, he might escape notice. He crept back toward the wooden structure, crawled underneath, backed all the way to the rocky wall, and lay still. Watching.

The beast walked the perimeter as usual. He might be safe. He could hear her steps and her breath grow far. And then near again.

On the way back to the opening, the beast stopped and sniffed the air. She stuck her furry head under the wood slats and sniffed again.

Disaster. He receded into his armor and didn’t make a peep.

The beast emitted a guttural growl. Then its horrible cry pierced the air. He could hear her coming closer and closer.

And he was in the air. He could feel the pressure from the beast’s jaw and sharp teeth. He was shaken to and fro. He felt them travel. And a wash of warmth. They were back in the sun, no doubt.

He said a prayer to the gods. For only they could save him now.

“Molly, no!” the giant woman yelled. With some effort, and no small amount of consternation from her terrier, she pried the small box turtle from the dog’s maw.

The woman grabbed a shovel that leaned against the house, went to the back fence, placed the turtle on the shovel, and carefully lowered it on the other side of the chain link fence, sliding the hapless reptile off the shovel-head to safety.

“You really should find a yard without a dog, Mr. Turtle.” The woman trudged back to the house, leaned the shovel against the wall, and said to her dog, “Come on, Molly. I’ll get you a chicken strip.”

The panting beast, forgetting she was robbed of her true prize, wagged her tail, and followed the giantess back into the house. The door with the window panes shut behind them.

After an adequate time had passed, Mr. Turtle emerged from his shell and slowly made his way back to the gap in the fence. Back to the yard of the pear tree. And of the beast.

Short Story

About the Creator

Bernadette Johnson

Bernadette “Berni” Johnson is the author of The Big Book of Spy Trivia, many tech articles, movie reviews, short stories, and two novels in perpetual editing.

You can find her blog, other work, and mailing list at

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