Flash Fiction Friday: Dreams of Snow

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They slept in two tents side by side, the scientist and her wife. It had started as a joke back at base camp. Like those poor married couples in old  Hollywood films doomed to spend their onscreen marriages in separate beds. But the joke had taken on a life of its own.

The ground was covered in frost and snow, and a cold, biting wind was blowing from the north. The tents flapped and shuddered and more than once they seemed to be lifted bodily from the ground.

The scientist lay in her sleeping bag, listening to the groans and creaks of the storm. This will pass. She told herself. One day all this will be just a memory. 

One day your wife will forgive you.

It was a prayer as much as a hope, although the scientist believed in no god but the snow.

She hadn’t wanted her wife to come to the Arctic. There had been a litany of reasons and arguments, but her wife hadn’t listened. She never did.

“This is our chance to be together!” she had said. “You’re always running all over the place, and even when you’re home you’re still dreaming of snow.”

The scientist had sighed unable to think of an answer. She was right. Over their two years of marriage, the scientist had spent all but four months in the Arctic.

“It’s too dangerous,” she tried half-heartedly.

“I’ve climbed Everest,” her wife replied.

“Yes,” the scientist agreed. “I suppose you did.”

But she still wasn’t happy.

The Arctic was hers. The solitude. The snow. The dreams.

“I just want to be alone!” she said finally.

Her wife came anyway, but she slept in another tent.

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Flash Fiction Friday: An Apocalypse of Alpacas

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The Alpacalypse? Llamageddon?

Where were you when the apocalypse came? When the alpacas descended in their thousands and lay claim to our cities, our homes, and our fields? Do you even remember the time before?

My brother is too young. George was only three when our alpacan overlords arrived. He has known no other world but the mist and the Alpacaracy–one llama one vote. But I remember.

I was nineteen and cycling through Belgium, the last summer before real life was supposed to start. Jobs and rent and mortgages. A thousand and one worries. Two thousand and one dreams. All gone in an instant.

We were just outside the town of Lambert Saint-Martin, peddling up the winding hills when the fog rolled in, thicker than I’d ever seen. We could barely see the path in front of us, let alone the curves in the road or the sheer drop waiting for us.

Jake and I wanted to stop, to find a safe nook or cranny, snug against the mountain where our footing was secure, and wait out the fog. But Molly was having the time of her life, laughing and yodeling at the top of her lungs. We had no choice but to follow her into the mist.

It was a long, slow, nerve-wracking ride and I was certain that at any moment I would ride my bicycle over the edge and plummet to my death. To this day, I’m not sure how we survived. Perhaps Molly’s pure, unalloyed joy was enough to hold back the grave.

After what felt like hours, but was probably twenty minutes at most, we reached Lambert Saint-Martin, an isolated outcropping of houses clinging to the mountainside and drenched in mist and fog. There was not a soul in sight.

Apart from the alpacas.

They were everywhere. Lying insolently on the road and along the edge of the cliff and staring. Their eyes were terrible to behold. They seemed to look right through you, as if humans were barely worth their notice.

It wasn’t until that night, huddled around a tv set and the local pup, that we learned the alpacas were all over the world–in every city, town and road–as if they had multiplied over night.

Even listening to the Belgian newscaster’s breathless report, none of us took them seriously. They were alpacas for christ’s sake. The world was supposed to end in nuclear war, or global warming, or asteroid impacts. Or aliens. No one expected the Invasion of Alpacas.

Then the killing began.