It’s time for Wednesday Briefs again! This is a group of writers/bloggers who on Wednesdays post a piece of flash fiction, between 500-1000 words, based on a prompt list sent out by the moderator. This week I decided to use the prompt “Who Are You?” I really had fun writing this short. Aber collects some data for her research, and runs into someone who’s looking for Colt. As always the other blogs will be linked below, so once you’ve finished with my piece, go ahead and check out the others!
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Aber followed along the winding path, patches of sunlight cutting through the evergreen canopy. The trails were muddy from an earlier rain, and she kept a tight grip on her hiking stick. Her day pack was heavy duty canvas and weighed her down but she had slipped a couple times coming off of the trailhead. The walkie-talkie at her shoulder hummed with static, her only tie to the ranger’s station if things went south. The main trail turned left, and she climbed over a fallen tree to continue on a game trail. She paused, pulling her hunter orange cap lower on her brow and pushed down the sleeves of her shirt. It was cooler here, and the deeper into the woods she went the more persistent the bugs were.
There was no way she was going to spend her date with Colt scratching. Not when there were other, more fun itches to scratch–paths that more often than not her thoughts had turned to. She shook her head, and continued down the narrow trail. A massive hemlock tree rose up in front of her, and she stopped, swinging her pack off her shoulders. She unlocked the metal box and took out the digital camera. She popped out the memory card, replacing it with a fresh one, and changed the batteries before replacing, and relocking the camera in place.
The trap cameras were the main part of her research. They snapped pictures of animals and their movements whenever the creatures tripped the motion sensor line. She had ten cameras set on a ten mile loop. A few times a week she went out and gathered up the memory cards and checked for other physical proof of predatory patterns.
Cameras two and three were easily accessible, and she swapped those out without any problems. Camera four was at the top of a ridge. When she had plotted out where the cameras were going, Aber hadn’t expected anything to show up except for the occasional goat. Instead a wolf had started to show up rather consistently, and sit in the path of the camera. If she knew any better she would have said that the wolf was playing for the camera.
Sweaty and muttering under her breath, Aber crested the ridge. Two men stood by the gnarled pine that she had fixed the camera box to talking. The breeze carried their words away from her. One was tall, dressed in jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. Over the top he wore a vest in the same screaming hunter orange color as her cap. The other man was dressed in a ranger uniform. Aber considered Colt to be tall and well built, but the ranger put him to shame. He towered over the hunter, and was broad, built like a football player. Long blond hair was tied into a savage knot at the nape of his neck.
“Can I help you?” Aber said. Her identification and permits were clipped to her bag, and she unclipped them as she approached the men. When she got closer she could see that the box was smashed.
“Is this yours?” The ranger said. He took her identification and smiled. “Glad to put a face and a name to a voice, Aber.” He handed them back. “I’m Finn, I’m normally the one you check in with while you’re on the trail.”
Aber relaxed, recognizing the rough voice. “The camera?” She hoped that it wasn’t damaged but from the look of the box the chances were highly unlikely that it made it out unscathed.
“It’s fine.” The other man said. He had an accent that she couldn’t quite place. He had the same height and build as Colt, but was still dwarfed by Finn.
“Who are you?”
“Riven,” He said, and turned to hand her the camera. Aber bit back a gasp when she saw his face in the full sun. Deep, furrowed scars ran from his temple, down his face and neck and disappeared under the collar of his shirt. The hand that offered the camera had fresh stitches in it, his skin discolored with bruises. In a strange way the scars didn’t take away from his features, but brought them to light creating a complex beauty.
“Thanks.” She said. Riven looked away, posturing so his scars were out of her line of sight.
“I have to call for a new box.” She tugged on the dented metal and it came off in her hands. “These things cost more than the cameras.” She dropped her pack to the ground and managed to shove the box inside.
“Aber, do you want me to take you to the other cameras?” Finn asked her. “I’ve got the jeep downhill.”
“I’ll be fine, thanks though.” She adjusted the pack and swung it up onto her back.
“You were going to take me to Colt, asshole.” Riven shoved at Finn. “I’m the cripple here.”
“Yeah, but she’s a lady.” Finn shoved back. Aber shifted her weight, unsure at first, but realizing that they were playing with each other.
“You said that about your mom–she wasn’t much of a lady last night Rhett.” Riven said howling with laughter.
“Don’t call me that, you stupid son of a bitch.” Finn said through clenched teeth.
“Yup.” Riven said, a wide smile on his face. He went down laughing, crashing to the ground as Finn tackled him. They wrestled around, all arms and legs and a lot of cursing. Aber watched, fascinated and amused by how the two men interacted. She only had an older sister, and never dreamed of talking to Zoey like that.
“You alright Aber?” Finn said as she scooted past them. She nodded, lips twitching when Riven flipped them, thumping Finn to the ground.
“I’ll check in with the station as I go.” Her fingers brushed the walkie out of habit. “Say hi to Colt for me, will you?”
She took off, pausing halfway down the hill when she heard Riven’s incredulous:
“That’s the Aber?”
I hope you enjoyed this week’s short. If you’d like to leave a comment please go ahead and do so. I’m going to continue with this story for a few more weeks at least as I world build some more. I’ve been bitten by this muse and it might end up being pulled and turned into something much bigger. But for now, please enjoy the weekly installations.
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Julie Lynn Hayes