This week’s flash fiction challenge was to start with a color in the title. Shocker that I went with…
My numb tongue retracts, attempting to absorb nutrients from the frozen froth.
Who ordered the sunflower seed Slushee?
My right eye flutters open to a vast expanse of white. A glaring, blinding white.
Snow? Makes sense.
Not sense like remembering an Arctic sojourn in my recent past. But logical sense – the cold, the wet.
My left eye struggles open through resistance, hindered by the frozen drift. The radiance becomes blurry , tainted by my dominant eye’s limited range of vision. The white becomes more muddled with each blink, mixing and merging with shades of yellow. Canary blinks to ochre blinks to tan.
The snow isn’t white, my viscous brain processes. It’s yellow.
I start the rest of the way awake, spitting. Reflexes bolt my body upright and my hand to my mouth at the same time.
Pain. A splitting headache, but more than that. My legs feel weak, my stomach feels raw. Groping beneath me in a failed and flailed attempt to stand, I finally settle for a kneel. Eyes drop down from the reflected sunlight to the shadow of my body.
The snow beneath my body’s divot is a pool of faded yellow. Another smaller pool of creamy off-white is to my left. Another and another, smaller splotches trail away in regular intervals
If your stream is losing strength, you may have an enlarged prostate, pops into my head as I trace the tainted drippings. Oh joy, I face planted in the latrine.
The reverie is broken by a blood curdling sound. Something between a scream and a howl pierces through the crisp air. My neck rotates still dilating eyes around searching for the source direction amidst countless echoes
No luck. The field lay as vast and barren as before. No prehistoric animals, no smoky apparition of a beheaded goddess, which seemed the only two things capable of such a cry.
A glance behind me, in the direction of the trailing off yellow snow, sees a copse of trees fifty yards distant.
Certain that the sound is coming across the snowy field, I take one unsteady step toward the trees. My ankle buckles under my weight, and I plummet back toward the snow. I’m unsure if my ankle is twisted or if this is just a city slicker attempting to cross country in tennis shoes, but instinct dictates I shuffle to safety before finding out. Using my calves and knees like a snowshoe, my hands reach forward and pull through the frozen sea, half swimming and half crawling, toward safety.
I refuse to look back as the sound gains on me. A gusty wind blows upon my back, except the unnatural heat in this frozen tundra makes me sure it isn’t wind. The howls become deafening as I lurch through the thin green line.
The wailing stops. I close my eyes and curl up behind the cylindrical wooden forcefield of an ancient oak. After the horrifying sounds of the run, this blanket of silence is serene.
Until the smell hits my nose. Musty. A car left in the rain with the windows cracked. Rancid. That car had some leftover McDonalds. Putrid. That old McDonalds is in the trunk next to a dead opossum.
Eyes open to a drooling mandible of matted grey-brown fur. A glistening black nose twitches above an open mouth of sharpened canine teeth. Atop it all are two black eyes, intense yet toying at the same time. My ears register the satisfied, guttural growl that has replaced the howls of the hunt.
Whatever energy I have left forces me up the tree. Halfway up, I learn the extent of my injuries. Stomach is indeed raw. Rough bark bites through two layers of cotton clothing, scraping skin that feels like this is not the first tree it’s encountered. The legs feel chaffed and punctured as they attempt, but fail, to find traction around the shaft. Wounds I was unaware of open anew.
The furry harbinger of doom below me skulks around the base, sniffing and attempting to climb. Growls transitions back to howls, but a different howl than before. More of a whine.
Or a call to action. Other howls respond from the thicket of woods. A prey has been treed. The pack is coming to dine. I look back out to the snowy open field, still vast and empty, virgin minus a few splotches of yellow.
They can’t leave the woods, screams my brain, or perhaps my instinct. Whether through reason or intuition or blind hope, I know I must leave the tree before the other creatures arrive.
A leap of faith vaults me over the hunter. I tweak the other ankle upon landing and pitch forward yet again, a position to which I am becoming quite adept at and averse to. But no time to consider my current plight nor position as the canine makes a final dash toward his escaping prey. Claws scrape through denim, shredding the legs beneath, as I revert to the familiar crab-swim into openness.
The howling returns, this time behind me for sure. Energy fading, I stumble out as far as I can go. The blood from my legs drips past the constricting jeans just as I get to the urine spot. Another two steps, with bright crimson drops merging with faded tan drips.
Three steps forward, I fall for the final time. The stomach wounds open as a bloody pool forms right where the yellow snow had been.
As consciousness wanes, it occurs to me that blood fades over time. Wash out a white shirt, the blood will turn brown, then tan. Eventually a creamy yellow.
What about in snow? Would it turn yellow? Probably.
And it sure tastes salty.
At least I wasn’t lying in piss.
Then white and red and yellow fuse together to become black.