1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.

    Contest Winner! Congrats to @BookLover for "Coffin Forest", contest #170

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Mar 19, 2015.

    Short Story Contest # 170
    Theme: "Twins" courtesy of @Lancie

    Congratulations @BookLover for the excellent story,"Coffin Forest". You've earned a gold medal this time! Send me your contest theme for the next contest.

    This was a tough contest with 5 people tied for the top two slots. @BookLover's story took the runoff by a landslide. Everyone who entered should be proud of their work. We've been discussing the stories in the runoff thread.

    I'm also excited that we had 20 people contributing to voting. I do hope that trend continues. :D

    Coffin Forest [2536]

    “Where did you find a two-headed dog?” asks the bearded man next to me as we both peer through the tower bars at the dogs wagging their doubled tails twenty feet below us.

    I grip the bars with all the fingers that I have left. “That's a long story. And it's not a dog. They're dogs. Two dogs. Conjoined twins means they're supposed to be identical twins, but the egg never split all the way. There are still two of them. Two brains. Two dogs.” Absinthe barks at me, and I make kissy noises back at him. More tail-wagging ensues.

    “I've been in this prison a quarter of my life.” The disheveled, bearded man backs against the cobbled wall and frowns. “And will be here until I die, so I guess I have time for a long story.”

    “Well, the short version is that I got my two headed dogs here, in Boondania." I pause and retie the bloodied bandanna around what's left of my hand before continuing. "There are fifteen inhabited planets, and I swear I've been to prison on every single one of them. I don't mean to. It's not like I'm trying to break any universal records. I just always end up on the wrong side of the law, and every damn planet seems to have a different set of laws! You know what I originally got thrown in here for? Pissing on sacred ground. That pile of rubble didn't look sacred to me! They should have a sign or something... Luckily my escape skills are unmatched and I've been able to break out of every prison I've been in, including this one.”

    The man looks up and smiles at me, a glimmer in his eyes. "You got out?"

    I smile back and nod, then stare off at the wall to better remember my story. “So the last time I escaped from this horrible, nasty place, I went east because I knew the ocean was a short distance east, and once I was on the ocean I'd be outside of Boondanian jurisdiction.

    “I'm running east, Boondanians on my trail, and I hit this gloomy, foggy forest, and I think, 'Great! It's dark and shadowy. The Boondanians will have a hard time finding me here.' And I was right, the Boondanians never even tried to follow me in because they knew something I didn't. That forest was deadly. It's official name is The Coffin. Who needs barbed wire fences when nature has provided it's own death trap on one entire side of your prison?

    “So right off some cat starts stalking me. A varc panther, or whatever they're called, the kind that have two sets of claws and a shitload of teeth. Luckily, I've been hunted enough to know when I'm being hunted, so I do everything I can to stay out of it's reach. I know I can't outrun it, but I try to outsmart it. This goes on all day. I throw every trick I know at this cat, and I'm tired, and I'm just done! Done! Luckily, I haven't heard the panther for a while. I think I've lost him when I happen upon this cave. I rush in and it looks good, I mean I can't see shit, the sun is setting, but I'm feeling up the rock walls and things feel good. It's solid, solid, solid, but then I stick my hand into a crack and find there's a whole back room to it.

    “That's when I hear the growling, and I see these glistening blue eyes. I slowly back away as this animal approaches, making this low gravelly, growly noise. A wolf. A big ass wolf, nearly twice my size. And then out of nowhere the damn panther attacks me from behind! I'd never lost him. He stalked me right into that cave. Probably thought he had me cornered, but he hadn't counted on seeing a wolf either. So the wolf becomes real agitated, seeing a second intruder in her cave, and she attacks the panther that's attacking me. Somehow, hell if I know how, I roll out of the mess and the two go at each other. I press my bloodied, torn up back against a wall and watch the whole thing in the dim light. It's a fight for the death. I mean, literally, they both die. So I'm like, 'Alright, two dead corpses, I'm not sleeping here.' But it's dark, I'm injured, and the forest seems to be screaming with predators, so I feel my way to that little back nook in the cave. I slip through the crack and see four sets of tiny eyes staring up at me. Pups. That mamma wolf was protecting her babies.

    “I always kind of liked dogs so I snuggle in with the pups. It wasn't the best sleep I've ever had, and the little fat pup kept licking my wounds, but it was do-able. When you're tired, you'll sleep anywhere. Morning came, and I knew I had to keep moving, keep heading east, but those babies weren't up to snuff yet. They'd probably die on their own, get eaten by panthers or some shit, so I do the stupid thing and take them with me.

    “The sun's not shining into the cave. I can't really see what I'm doing, but I know there are four of them because I made out four sets of eyes the night before. I make a sling out of my folded shirt and start stuffing the pups into it. I pick up the big fat one. Put the little one on top of him and a third body on top of that. One, two, three, and I can't find the last one. I bend over, I feel all around the cave corners, make kissy noises, and nothing. I've got two rotting corpses at the front of the cave that are sure to attract predators. I have to move. I think I'm abandoning the last pup and I feel pretty shitty about it, but I have to move. I tumble out the cave, trip over some hills, and finally trample my way to a stream to unwrap the pups and drink some water, and then, in the light of day, I see it. I had four pups the whole time, it's just two of them shared a body. Two heads, three front legs, two back legs, and two tails. I figure whatever. It's a forest in Boondania; nothing surprises me anymore. Sure it's weird, but you should see some of the other shit in that forest. The bugs have toes and the flowers have teeth.

    “I went the next four weeks trying to protect those puppies and myself from predators. It was hell. The big fat one was always getting himself in trouble and growling at everything that moved. Not to mention every time I got a scrape or cut, he was there licking it like it was dinner. The little, white female was bit by a snake. I had to suck the poison out and carry her feverish little body around for three days. She was such a sickly thing. And the twins constantly fought with each other. It's like they couldn't agree on anything, including how to walk. One pulling left, the other pulling right. They were all four too loud. They attracted every predator within miles. After a short time with them, I really wanted a drink which is why I named them all after my favorite drinks. See the one on the right?” I motion through the bars. “That's Whiskey. The one on the left is Absinthe. Those two and their fat brother and little sister followed me all the way to the coast. We never met up with another human, but, Christ, did we run into all manner of creature.

    “We were about a day's walk from the coast when I knew we were being hunted again. This time by wolves. We hit the sand by nightfall, and I climbed a tree. I don't know what my thinking was at that point except that dogs can't climb trees. The wolf pack starts to show, one by one slinking out of the shadows and into the moonlight, making their way toward the tree. My four pups they're at the base of the tree looking up at me and looking back at the dogs. I intentionally left them down there. I thought they should be with their own kind. I figured they were still young enough that the pack would let them in. The little white one was the first to leave the tree trunk. She always was the curious type. Then my big, fat puppy leaves. But Absinthe and Whiskey are still at the trunk. They're not budging. The wolves hang around most of the night howling and growling at me. That's what hell must sound like, an angry wolf pack right below you.

    “They're nice to the pups though. They even nudge the twins with their snouts to get them to come along with them, but my boys don't move. They just sit there looking up at me with their big, sad, puppy eyes. Finally the wolf pack leaves at daybreak, and I climb down. A couple days later I get lucky and catch the eye of a pirate ship and me and my twin boys are gone, never to go back to The Coffin, or so we think.” I pause and scratch at the itchy parts of my wound, the bandanna unraveling itself once again.

    My celly shuffles his feet a bit before eagerly asking, “So... How'd you end up back here?”

    “Well, I've got a drinking problem, and I get really stupid brilliant ideas when I'm drunk. So three years after escaping this prison, I happen to be back around these waters with my dogs because they go everywhere with me. They've got that dumb pack loyalty. And I'm drunk, and I say, 'Hey, boys, your brother and sister live in that forest right over there. You want to go there and have a family reunion! Let's do that!' The next thing I know, I wake up on solid ground in what looks like the middle of the forest with an empty bottle in one hand and a self written note scribbled on my belly. I do that sometimes, write myself notes when I get to the point of blackout drunkenness.” My good hand pushes up what's left of my shirt to show off the lovely, upside down manuscript to my cellmate. It reads:

    Dear Sober Me,

    In case you don't remember, you're back in this deadly forest for the family reunion. But don't worry, you came prepared this time. There's a knife in your boot, and it doubles as a flashlight so everything will be fine.

    Love Always,
    Drunk Me

    I pull down my shirt and continue, “So sober me pulls out the knife in my boot and the blade is only about two inches long and I don't know why the hell I thought it turned into a flashlight because it didn't. I really don't understand my drunk self. So after cursing myself to hell for a few minutes, me and the boys head east again. Luckily drunk me hadn't made it too far into the forest, and it's only about a half a day's travel to the coast. But hungover me had awoken so late in the day that it's dark by the time we get there, and those damn nocturnal wolves find us again. A slender, white one comes out first, spitting and baring teeth. Whiskey and Absinthe are in front of me growling right back at her. You don't see white wolves very often. I doubtfully whisper, 'Vodka?' And she stops, looks at me, and whimpers. My twins get confused for a moment and stop growling and then she jumps right over them and onto me! But not in a 'I'm gonna kill you' kind of way. She was all play and kisses.

    “I couldn't believe it was her, but the rest of the pack they're coming out of the forest now and making all those low gravelly, growly noises, so the boys start growling again, and this time Vodka stands in front of them and starts making yapping noises at her own pack! I'm looking for a tree, but it's a bit late for that. Suddenly the alpha comes forward and he looks like a brick wall. He's the biggest dog I've ever seen, and I'm sure we're all dead. He ignores Vodka's protests and practically walks over her, but my dogs, they're ready for a fight. They're growling and jutting out their chest, and a fight they get. The big one and my two just start tearing each other apart. Fur's flying. Blood's flying. Me and Vodka are both on the sidelines sort of crying together.

    "I'm trying to bargain with the flying spaghetti monster, telling him I'll never drink again if you just let my dogs live through this, but it's no use. My dog's are losing. I'm hearing bones crack. I'm hearing my pups' cries, and I can't take it anymore. I grab my little tiny baby knife, and rush into the fight. I thought if I got a good aim I could hit a main artery or something, but instead that brick of a dog bit my knife and two of my fingers right off my hand! I'm screaming in pain as he's chewing on my fingers, and he stops. Stops everything, and looks at me. Then he licks my hand.

    "I say, 'Rum? Rum is that you?' And he makes this little puppy noise which sounds downright comical coming out of a mammoth like him. I guess the taste of my blood brought back childhood memories. So we had our family reunion after all. I did my best to fix up my boys and what was left of my hand, and then the five of us cuddled the rest of the night. Rum kept his pack at bay. I can see how he managed to become the alpha as big as he is. It sure didn't take long; it was only three years ago he'd been that chubby puppy.

    "Anyway, a day later I get picked up by the Boondanians. They still won't set foot in the forest, but they're patrolling the coast these days. Now here I am once again, up the metaphorical tree with my two loyal dogs waiting at the base. Vodka and Rum won't come. They're all wild and shit now, back with their pack. But the twins... they're my pack. They're my pack forever. We'll probably never see their brother and sister again because I hate that forest. But to answer your question, that's where I got my two headed dogs, the stupid Boondanian Coffin Forest.”

    The bearded prisoner looks down the tower at my boys and then back at me. “I like your dogs, and your story, although it seemed a little hyperbolic... Anyway, a bit off topic, but... you're an escape artist you say?”

    I grin. “Yeah, but when we hit the ground, be sure to go west.”
    Ivana likes this.
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