Jungle Cat

Dan's Leopard     FWS Director Dan Ashe Visits Tanzania


Look up into the branches on the right and consider the title of this picture… how could there not be a story here?


This photo was taken by Dan Ashe.
I discovered it on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/18711181066/in/dateposted/

(Does this photo inspire you too? Write your own story and link to it in the comments if you want to share).


Here’s my take on the scene….

            A good photographer, thought Dan, cannot accept every warning he receives at face value. Hell, in Indonesia, the volcano smoked for days but never erupted. The fiery shots of smoke and ash he was able to capture were brilliant. He had them framed in his own home, adding black and fire-orange accents to his open spaced living room.

            Local villagers danced around him as he came upon the trailhead. They expressed their concerns and blessed him with words and rhythmic movements, telling him again not to go. But, as he had told them time and time again, this was his destiny. The National Geographic World Photo Contest deadline was soon approaching and he was determined to win. That prize, he reminded the villagers, was his destiny!

            The villagers liked Dan. As far as foreign photographers and journalists go, he was keenly aware of his outsider status. Although he stumbled through a few things, he did his best to follow the lead of others around him and ask questions when he wasn’t sure what customs he might be intruding upon.

            Saddled with camera equipment, including his two brand new telephoto lenses, he stepped purposefully down the narrow dirt trail, into the jungle. Shadows from the trees and vines and bushes around him comforted his mind, as he thought about all of the small creatures hidden in them, perfect for a leopard to eat. A human, he figured, would be all skin and bones compared to one of the other tasty morsel species of the jungle.

            Eventually, a Colobus monkey caught Dan’s eye and he spent the morning looking for the perfect angle and waiting for a captivating motion from the black and white primate, with feathery side-fur reminiscent of wings. After filling a perfect frame with jungle and monkey, Dan moved over to clear spot and pulled out his lunch. He watched the monkey perk up and streak away into the forest.

            Suddenly, the air around him seemed exceptionally still. Not a single breeze moved the air. A nano-second of silence descended like a fog as Dan instinctually brought his camera to his eye squeezed the shutter. Before the echo of the click was gone, he felt something like the force of a softball thrown directly into his neck, followed by… a loss of all the senses. Feel, touch, smell, sight. – all gone. Not even the taste of blood in his mouth was there.

            When Dan didn’t return to the village, a small group of people started up the trail. They rattled and shook dried fruits and stomped their feet and sang, making as much noise as they could. They walked as a team, keeping watch in all directions around them.

            When they saw a new telephoto lens resting against a rock and then a camera in the mud, they knew. They looked up into the trees, noticing the millions of shades of green in the leaves and high up in the branches. Hidden in the forage, they also spotted a leopards’ stash. When they returned to the village, their story would include a set of glowing, yellow eyes.

            To honor their friend, they pulled out Dan’s film and developed his photos. There were dozens of beautiful shots of a grand Colobus Monkey – and the villagers knew that Dan had found his destiny. The very last image looked straight through pointed, white teeth, and down the throat of a black-spotted jungle cat.




Flash Fiction – Beach Vows

It’s a contest!
SSFFS shared the above photo with the guidelines found HERE for their Flash Fiction Friday Contest.



Beach Vows


            As their guests kicked shoes to the side of the dance floor and flirted with the band to hear their song requests, Ellenora and Braden tiptoed down the boardwalk to the beach. Hand in hand, they splashed through the surf, admiring everything –tiny seashells, wave caps, seagulls calling in the wind, and all of the family that had managed the trip to their dreamy, destination wedding.

            When they got to the sleek, yellow, Mustang convertible that Ellenora’s uncle had rented for them, Braden stopped and kissed Ellenora on the forehead. She closed her eyes and felt the weight of her love for him, the way she felt completely wrapped in his presence and protection. She tried not to cry.

            Braden opened the trunk and pulled out his bag. He changed into jeans and a button-down shirt, and pulled on his boots.

            Ellenora stuffed herself, all of the billowing edges of the giant, white dress, into the driver’s seat of the car. Braden slammed the passenger door and they sped off down the highway. She shifted into high gear and reached for his hand. Braden squeezed it hard and grinned.

            When they got to the airport, they hugged out a long goodbye. Ellenora walked back around to the driver’s side of the mustang when a scrawny and irritable security guard told them to move the car.

            Braden disappeared through the sliding glass doors and Ellenora headed back out for the road. She thought about everyone dancing in the sand to the south, and turned the car north. She needed a few miles to herself before she could go back to the beach. She always needed a little bit of time to let Braden go.

            Ellenora would have a few more days on the beach before she returned to her normal life and job at the café. She smiled as she looked down at the small diamond and emerald ring on her left hand. She pictured the giant offshore rig in her mind, surrounded by deep, blue ocean, and imagined the smell of grease and hard work that would adorn her husband when he returned home in three months time.

            She stomped on the gas pedal, letting her tears and the yellow mustang fly.


Also  –  This  is  different

I’ve  finally  decided  to  join  that  “new-fangled”  Twitter  thingy!

Natashaski @ VBchick004


Dust Bowl

Flash Fiction contest, with photo prompt.

ghost-town-pic.jpg  –  from Short Story and Flash Fiction Society

When the old man died, her heart went with him.
Their children came and brought her favorite flowers.
She placed them in water, but did not smile.
“Please, open the windows” she whispered.
The wind blew, and brought dust in from the desert outside, and she could smell the wild sage.
The tiny grains against her toes reminded him of his feet rubbing against hers at night, calloused from years in work boots.
The children did their best to mimic her recipes and brought her the dishes she liked best.
She felt the warm aromas in her nose, but she did not smile.
“Please, open the back door” she whispered.
Grains of sand blew in across the threshold, and she could sense the distant thunder storm in her skin.
The rough grains began to pile against her ankles, and she thought of the weight of the blankets that he would bring her, on cold february nights.
The children moved the furniture, so that she could see the sunrise though her bedroom window.
She let the soft colors from the sky touch her eyelids, but she did not smile.
“Open the front door” she whispered.
Sand rolled in, over the living room floor, and settled in around her waist, letting her mind go to the heavy tools he would set in her lap, while she watched him lovingly make household repairs.
The children set the radio to her favorite station and put wind chimes up on the front porch.
She listened to the violins dancing out of the stereo, and the dripping sound of the chimes, but she did not smile.
“Please, turn it off, and take them down” she whispered,
“and open the front gate.”
In round whirls, the wind brought the desert inside. She could feel the dry air move though her blood.
As the pile grew up around her, peace began to settle into her soul. The gravity of the grains felt absolute, like the love of the old man.
As the sand came up over her chest, the muscles in her face relaxed.
And finally, the woman smiled, as she was buried forever, beneath the dune.