Happy April and Happy Easter! Grab your drink of choice, put your feet up, and take a ten-minute break with some flash fiction.
Inside the Forest
Deep within the forest’s interior, water cascaded over wide steps and through jagged rocks within a pristine river. As a Forest Ranger, Sarah had been there before, although few others hiked so far into the wilderness. She’d chosen to camp at a perfect place for solitude, one of her favorite spots near the river.
After arranging large river rocks in a circle, she lit a blazing fire within the center and set a pot of water on to boil. While the water heated, she pitched her tent then sat on a giant rock and savored a dinner of freeze-dried beef stew. Tomorrow she hoped to have fresh fish.
Listening to the water’s melody and relishing the privacy, Sarah watched the constellations. When a stifled yawn reminded her of how late it was, she climbed inside her tent and quickly drifted into dreamland. It was almost daybreak when a sharp cracking sound startled her awake. Instantly alert, she listened. Half a minute went by before another loud snap was followed by a deep growl. Illuminated by the full moon, the shape of a huge creature was visible through the light-colored nylon of her tent.
Reaching for her bear spray, she hollered, “Go away, bear!”
When the critter pressed his foot against the tent, Sarah was afraid that it might burst open, so she aimed the pepper filled canister toward it, as she yelled, “Stop! There’s no food here. Go away!” Making noise was usually enough to frighten a curious bear.
Although she couldn’t see the detail, there was enough moonlight for the creature to cast a shadow across the tent. He was no longer pushing against it. Instead, he rose to his full height, and when he did, Sarah’s breath caught in her throat. He stood still for a few seconds, then tilted his head and chirped.
In amazement, she murmured, “You aren’t a bear, are you? And that wasn’t your foot, it was your hand.”
For years, she had heard stories of huge, fur-covered creatures that lived deep in the forest. Although she never refused to investigate a report of one, she had never found any evidence and was not convinced of their existence. Cautiously, she placed her hand against the tent’s flap and pushed. From the other side of the nylon wall, he crouched and gently stroked her palm with massive fingers.
The connection she felt toward the creature was magical. “The stories were true,” she whispered.
He replied with a soft whistle before, with astonishing speed, he sprang to his feet and dashed toward the tree line. By the time she’d crawled out of her tent, he was gone.
With sunrise only minutes away, Sarah got dressed and grabbed her fishing gear. In awe of her encounter, as she sat by the water, she relived every second of what she had witnessed and wondered if she would ever get a glimpse of her elusive visitor.
As the sun rose, the forest came alive. Squirrels played tag on the riverbank, a fox wandered in for a drink at the river’s edge, and the birds harmonized. After over an hour without any luck catching breakfast, Sarah’s stomach grumbled.
Figuring that she’d scramble some eggs and go back to fishing later, she pulled her line in, covered the hook with a rock, and left it at the river’s edge. Some trout would be as good for lunch as for breakfast.
Walking back to her tent, she noticed that the forest had gone silent. When a splash broke the stillness, she glanced toward the river, just as something smacked her shoulder. Expecting to find a branch that had fallen and hit her, when she looked down, an eleven-inch trout was laying at her feet.
A trout can jump from the water to the shore, but it cannot throw itself twenty yards from the river and land on a fisherman’s shoulder. But she knew who could toss one.
Sarah lifted the stunned fish above her head and hollered, “Thank you!”
A distant whistle sounded in reply, and a moment later, the sounds of the forest erupted once again.
As she inhaled the aroma of the sizzling trout, she knew she would never tell a soul what had occurred. Some magic moments were better kept secret and her experience with a Bigfoot was one of them.