Air Traffic

Owl and Raccoon threw paper planes from their respective bedroom windows, trying to get as close to the other as possible. The lawns were littered with their failed attempts.

And so far neither had crossed the fence between their houses.

In the afternoons, they watched whatever movie was on tv. Only discussing new plane folding strategies after the action scenes had finished, and it was in the boring talking bits.

The wind picked up one evening,  just before the sun set. The discarded planes lifted, rose flying above the fence.

Neither were at their windows to witness this paper tornado.

Bed Sheets

The ghosts conferred on the corner. Owl hefted his half-empty pillowcase. “It’s getting late.”

They skipped the next three blocks. House too far back from the street, and they made sure you didn’t cut across their lawns. Now the houses bunched up against the sidewalk. A few blocks later, haul cradled against their chests, Owl and Raccoon started home.

They cut through an alley, and started telling each other scary stories.

“I’ve got one I’m sure you’ve never heard,” a third ghost, materializing suddenly, said. “If you’re willing to share your candy.”

Owl and Raccoon told them to help themselves.

Air Strike

Owl and Raccoon tossed rocks at the thin ice on the edges of the creek.

A struggling whine of an engine broke through the morning’s quiet. They looked up the hill, and saw a shadow cast by the low morning sun. “Plane,” Raccoon said. They hopped over the creek and sprinted to copse of thin birch and alders for cover.

A biplane flew low enough overhead for them to spot the sun glinting off the machine gun perched on its nose.

“Gonna spot the camp, for sure,” Owl said. Raccoon nodded, knowing they couldn’t possibly warn their squad in time.

Where the Heart Was

Raccoon went home again.

“Here already?” his mother asked, drying her hands and moving from the sink to the front door. Her smile growing as she approached. “We thought you didn’t get in until tomorrow morning. You should have called.”

“Caught an earlier flight,” he said.

“Well, come in. Don’t stand in the doorway like some stranger. Go freshen up.”

Raccoon hesitated. Then he lifted his bag and started up the stairs.

“Your room’s the same place it was,” his mother called after him.

He looked out his window, and saw the empty spot where Owl’s house used to be.

Den Site

“What do you mean you aren’t coming out?” Owl asked, pushing his the brim of his cowboy hat back with his plastic revolver, as he stood on Raccoon’s porch in the quiet, wet, dark evening.

Raccoon made a face. Owl recognized what it meant.

“Ok,” he said, keeping his voice down. “Do you want to come over then?”

Raccoon looked back over his shoulder, past the dark kitchen, to the sliver of light showing under a closed door.

“My sister’s there,” Owl said, “With some of her friends.”

They hurried away. Halfway between the two houses, they heard something howl.

Iris

Owl and Raccoon set the notched doubloon in the hole bored through the stone wall.

“Think it’ll work?” Raccoon asked.

“Positive,” Owl said, taking a few steps back.

The sun began to set. He hurried back to the wall and rotated the coin’s position in the hole, so that it mirrored a nearby paint-flecked stone.

“Look at the shadows the sun makes through the crack and fissures.”

“A skull!”

In the growing, purple night, they followed the narrow beam of light from the coin’s notch, and dug where it landed.

“We’ve finally found it,” Owl said, his shovel striking wood.

Prompt courtesy of Sue Vincent’s Writephoto Challenge.

Also, 31 stories in 31 days for August.

Hindwing

An eyeball, a somehow darker than black, appeared between the slats of the fence.

“What do you boys want?” the thing on the other side of the fence asked.

“Nothing,” Owl and Raccoon said in unison. “You called us over.”

Someone cackled.

“Good, good. You two’ll do. You’ll do. Come over to the gate.”

The eye moved in one direction, and they followed it. A door in the fence creaked open just wide enough for a jar and the bony fingers holding it.

“Take this to the river. Set it free. I’ve learned my lesson.”

The jar contained a dragonfly.

Amazonia

Owl and Raccoon took off their pith helmets and used them as cups, scooping water from the shallow river. They’d been exploring the jungle for weeks. Four days ago, a rock fall swept their guide, and most of their supplies, away.

“We’re going to die,” Raccoon said. He kicked a stone into the jungle. But it hit something solid. Curious, the adventurers chopped at the vegetation.  After several hours, they found two small dark tunnels carved into the earth.

“This must be the temple,” Owl said, excitedly flipping through his notes. “From my empty eyes, you will find untold riches.”

Prompt courtesy of Sue Vincent‘s #writephoto challenge.

In the Undergrowth

Owl and Raccoon found something in the woods behind their houses. Someone had chipped or chiseled away the bark from the middle of a fallen white pine. Smoothed it down so that it seemed like a table.

A single thrush sang from somewhere above.

This was a place to be solemn.

They knelt, the ground covered in fallen needles, elbows against the smoothed trunk, hands clasped and heads bowed. Breathing in time with the breeze.

The spirit had been watching them since they jumped over the creek and made their way between the trees.

But, for now, it stayed away.

The Hermit’s Apothecary

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller
PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Fuller

“If you aren’t spending any of that gold I smell in your pockets,” the Gnome said. “Then get lost, I don’t got all day.”

Owl and Raccoon looked at the list the Cunning-Woman gave them, and scanned the shelves.

“Hand that over. Cripes.” the Gnome snarled, snatching the list. He began filling a skin and ticking off the items with greasy pencil, grumbling and cursing as he did.

“That’s everything,” he said, “It’ll cost exactly what you’ve got. Hand the gold over and get lost, we’re closed.”

They paid and left, hoping to make it through the forest before dark.

 

Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

Bit Players

Owl liked the actors whose names he could never remember. Probably even never knew. The ones that showed up in a scene, chewed out the star and left. The bit guys, the funny looking ones, the ones you could be sure would never get the girl, never even have the girl look their way.

In some ways, he figured, they were more part of the scenery than an actual actor.

These were the people he should look up to. They were the kind of men he felt he would grow up to be. And that was just fine by him.

Sanctuary

Owl had just finished reading the latest Amazing Man issue when Raccoon climbed up to the tree house, his eye purple and swollen. He started to say something, but then instead went and pulled the rope ladder up. Someone hollered coarsely, the sound bouncing off the trunks and muffled by the thick pines surrounding them.

“There anything to drink?” Raccoon asked.

Owl pulled a pretty warm soda from his bag and handed it over to Raccoon who pressed it to his eye.

The yelling outside was getting closer.

“What happened in that,” Raccoon asked, pointing at the comic.

“Nothing much.”

 

Prompt courtesy of the Daily Post.

Fair Game

Owl and Raccoon got off the Ferris Wheel and went to the spot stand where Owl’s sister said she would be waiting. She wasn’t there. They wandered through the crowds. Stopped at the shooting range.

“Step right up,” the barker called. “Ten shots for five dollars. Seven hits earns you a prize.”

His arm drew their gaze to the prize wall with a practised flourish.

They refused, melted into the crowd.

An hour later, they found Owl’s sister by the Hall of Horrors.

“Where were you two?” she asked, shifting the man’s arm off her shoulder. “I was worried sick.”

Schuleschwänzen

The bus stopped, and Owl and Raccoon trudged outside, just another filthy, faceless pair of prisoners of war. They landed in a fenced in yard, leading to a squat, ash coloured building.  Someone yelled, and the guards turned their attention to a fist fight erupting between inmates. Owl and Raccoon wasted no time, and dropped and crawled under the bus, coming out on the other side. They ran to the left, towards a forested area, and slid down a gully’s walls.

A small stream flowed away from the prison, and they followed it, as an alarm rang in the distance.

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Illustration by Alex Pilon

And The Wind Was A Dirge

Owl and Raccoon stood on a hill, half-hidden behind the willow said to be haunted. They looked down, and watched as the black cloaked figures moved slowly from the church across the fields, careful to keep between the rough hewn tombstones. One removed his hood, a mute shock of white hair against the leaning shadows. This one performed rites, his arms thrown up, fingers stretched wide. The thick branches above them swayed. Shook. Groaned. Brown leaves fell.

Then all was quiet.

The figures bowed. Six lowered the long box into the ground, white hair tossed a handful of damp earth.

(Skin of my teeth, but 31/31 in May)