Here’s your challenge.
Choose one of the following wild animals:
Now, write a three-sentence story from the perspective — first person POV — of that animal.
You are encouraged to anthropomorphize the animal — meaning, the animal acts and thinks as a human would. It’s okay to write about the animal as an animal, or the animal in the animal’s expected spaces, but it’s also fine to think outside of the box (a spy story featuring a cougar, a science-fiction story starring a wolf, a morality tale starring a mouse, etc.).
Any genre will do.
The stories should be PG-13. No sex or gore or strong profanity.
I know. Unusual for this site.
And here’s why:
Bear71 is a documentary and installation about the life and death of a tagged grizzly bear and the surveillance that surrounds this bear. The experience will present at Sundance New Frontier this year — information here — and the best stories of this bunch will become a part of the overall installation (they may, for instance, show up at the installation itself or be included as a part of the Bear71 social media outreach).
Why submit a story? It’s for a good cause and a poignant storytelling experience.
(Also, you retain all rights to your story and can do with it as you wish.)
You’ve got one week — till January 20th, noon EST, to get your stories in.
To submit: please post your three-sentence story in the comments below. Make sure to include a name to receive credit and/or a Twitter handle where appropriate.
Go forth and write.
120 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: “Three Sentences For Bear71””
I foraged all day, finding the biggest, tastiest seed for my newborns. When I returned to my hole, however, smoke was pouring into the sky from the field fire. The seed fell from my mouth, and I watched in mute horror, smelling the charred mouse flesh in the air.
I was out patrolling when I found some fresh meat. He was a bear cub barely weaned from the teat. Nothing’s too young for a cougar.
Pathetic perhaps, but someone needed to make the joke.
OK, this one does have some profanity in it. So consider it an unofficial entry – I’ll write another one later that meets the guidelines better. But this one popped into my head and wouldn’t go away:
Yes, mom, you’re right.
I know, I shouldn’t have done it.
But damn it – the little bitch ate my porridge!
I’m honestly not sure if sentences that containing multiple spoken sentences count as one sentence or one per spoken sentence, If you get me. Is anyone able to clarify that, or is it just near-pointless pedantry?
Here’s my entry.
“So,” said the mouse “how’re you keeping? When are you due?”
“Oh, I’m good thanks. The kittens aren’t due for a few weeks yet though… Get ready, John’s coming!”
The cat’s owner walked into the room and the cat and mouse put on their act for him once more.
I felt the thirst again. It’s been happening more often ever since Dave pounced on my pupa. I may give in just this once; after all human egg blood is supposed to be the sweetest of them all.
I just get so tired of it. Hunting down food, scaring off enemies, marking out the territory – all for some thankless Alpha.
Intriguing, here’s my entry:
Oh yeah, they call me the bighorn sheep. All the ladies love me.
What do you mean, “You are a lady”?
Here in Maine they say us mosquitoes are so big we can stand flatfooted and butt fuck a turkey.
That is not true.
We have to stand on our tippy toes.
Reminder: the challenge is PG-13. Please stick to it. Thanks!
Can I enter more than once? If so, here’s the first entry:
I can smell her, concealed somewhere behind me, deep between those dappled columns, hidden in the cavernous temple beyond the glade. The hackles of my neck rise in a sullen acknowledgement of her presence – I feel the growing urge to breach that trust between us, to fly, to start the chase before she is ready to run. She takes me by surprise, leaping from the right; vicious and brutal, I fall under her weight.
If not, give me until the end of the week…
More than once is fine!
Son, I’m sorry I stepped on your paw. I know you were just trying to play. But if you can’t keep up with the pack then we can’t take you with us anymore.
I did catch that PG13 caveat, but well the evil me couldn’t resist. I will endeavor to come up with something more suitable and acceptable.
The cars, the people, the stores; none of these things bothered me as I wandered into the centre of the mountain resort town, because that bush in the garden outside the hotel looked too delicious to ignore. As two curious, meddling, stupid human tourists passed by, their wonder and excitement at my “unusual” and “amazing” presence was palpable as they reached for their cameras. Leisurely, I munched down on the bush just to get a mouthful, and to show these tourists how much I appreciated their visit, I spun my white-tailed buttocks towards them and kicked dirt in their faces.
Never before had I seen a bear so up close, and the smell was much stronger than the other mice had suggested. I myself was no bigger than one of his front teeth, and my little heart raced when his paw flopped toward me. Thank the Creator that he was dead.
We smelled them on the air at the start of November, those humans in their awkward coats and boots, with their ridiculous orange hats, carrying their big stupid guns. We ran, crossing streams, counties, highways, and entire states, to get away from their stink and the monstrous hum of their trucks and brainwashed dogs at their heel. Then my fawn tripped on a fox hole, snapping her ankle and then there were two booms of thunder; her blood splashed against a stinging fire in my ribs and now I lay here paralyzed with my dead child, licking snow and listening to the crunch of their boots and the howls of their dogs as they rise over the bank, pinpointed by peaks of bright orange.
My submission, courtesy of the deer in my backyard:
I haven’t seen anything fresh for four moons. Everything’s brown and dead, and I’m hungry.
I wouldn’t tell my fawn, but some days I pray to hear howls.
What’s with all this cougar urban myth malarky?
I mean really… do I LOOK like I like younger cats?
Simply a way to hunt bigger prey you know; I mean any classy feline with any sense at all knows younger males sniffing around tells the big cats where to find her.
I twitched an ear out of nervous habit as the terrarium loomed ahead, floating in the pin-pricked void, gravity in a bubble. Inside, I could see the herd I was destined to join, their heads rising and turning to view the incoming craft, then lowering again without a sound, unnaturally accustomed to the sight, knowing they were safe out here. I shivered against my will; deer don’t belong in space but someone forgot to tell the humans that.
My mom always told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach, that I spent too much time grazing. But I can assure you that my horns are not bigger than my toes. I prefer eating to fighting, and I can make a narrow trail through the mountains to the pasture without trepidation.
I am a golden eagle and I sit on this rock in the morning light. There are people in vehicles below me on the road, waiting, waiting, and waiting for the Pilot Car. They are trapped and I am free.
Bearlog: day 567. Phone continues to ring. That bitch in my stomach needs to answer it, or things are going to get ugly down in the duodenum, if you know what I mean.
Eyes barely open, I awoke from the sound that is all too familiar on a work day and yearned for the chance to get my grizzly paws around a hot cup of coffee. Ah yes, that dark creamy brew will do just the trick on a day like this. The fire rises.
I decided to become the premiere Wolf Life Coach after seeing so many of my brothers and sisters go down the path of blowing houses down for corrupt corporate developers. I taught them to lower the volume of their howling, to channel their chi for more efficient hunting, to cut back on red meat and trans fats, to avoid women in red cloaks. All the money I’ve made has done wonders for my wardrobe: this new sheep-skin overcoat will go great for my Sunday brunches on the Andersons’ farm.
“Leave him alone,” dad snarled, “woodsmen taste too gamy—all tough and pickled in their own testosterone. Do you see the shadows cast by that raging campfire in the “radio-friendly” area? Let’s go bag us some nice juicy metrosexuals.
As i spread my majestic wings i yell into the clouds “Where are my monuments?” These mortal choose ME as their symbol. Am I not worth more then the value of my face, precariously placed upon their monetary ideology.
Did you hear something?
Between droughts and forest fires, I can’t catch a break! This is one bear that’s going to hibernate soon. I’m so hungry, even these cubs of mine are starting to look. . . good.
I made it back to the cool pond, the one shaded by willows, the one full of the croakers. I feel like crap after my carousing; my nose feels like spongy moss, my eyes are closing up, my muscles ache after that sudden burst of ursine speed that sent me into fight and flight mode. It doesn’t matter anymore, though, I got my prize – a little more of the fuzz of the bee that stung me, and I’m going to be out of it for the rest of the day.
My prey barely holds on to the cliff, his face red as his rifle’s strap cuts into his neck, fingers grasping for a better hold. I stand above him, antlers held high. I bring down my hoof and as he falls away to the green sea of trees below, a hunter was born.
Oh your sweet breath, full of promise and CO2! I want to pierce you with my proboscis, taking your blood and heat. Vulnerable only to your spurning slap, I leave you with a pink histamine release and the memory of my voice buzzing in your ears.
I ran through the forest, leaving a trail of my blood. I had to stop, to rest, to think. Things weren’t likely to get better.
Like most dudes among the insect population, I’ve got a bum rap.
One look at me and the average hairy mammal assumes I’m headed straight for the wave of carbon dioxide emanating from their heat trap of a “mouth”.
But if these pesky anthropoids gave me half a chance, they’d realize that I’m nothing but a quiet homebody who loves to sip plant nectar and listen to the music of the woodland cricket.
Whoops! Small grammatical edit:
As I reached the clearing, the pack’s scent finally started to lessen, and Ataneq’s howls grew more distant and less urgent, announcing to the others “This hunt is no longer of interest to our clan. Akira’s banishment is complete, we will let either nature or our enemies finish the job.” But few things remain secret in the cold barrenness of winter, and I knew whatever caused my eventual demise, my spirit would not rest until the truth of Tanaraq’s slaying came to light.
Sorry, I’ve just spotted that whole from the animals POV thing. So, I’ve rewritten it to fit in with that.
Please don’t scold me, I won’t do it again.
‘So how’re you keeping?’ I squeaked to her ‘When are you due?’
She told me that the kittens weren’t due for a few weeks, and gave me a bit of cheese to say sorry for last time.
Her owner then walked back into the room, so once again we had to perform our little act for him.
He keeps her true skin locked in a trunk in the attic, bound with chain and key and three different types of puissant magic. At night she dreams of simple things: honey sweet on her tongue, the reek of pine needles and marmots strong in her nostrils, the red, rich flavor of salmon oily between her jaws. During the day she stands at the kitchen sink with a dishrag hanging limply from one human hand (paw; a great brown paw studded with claws as long and sharp and yellow as slices of the crescent moon) and wonders what the fat around his kidneys will taste like when finally she finds a way out of this leg-hold trap.
“Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?”
I’ve heard your children sing it, and it echoes crazily through my head now as I run desperately across the tundra, away from the helicopters and guns and the bloodied corpse of my mate.
For the truth is I fear you far more than you could ever fear me, and my only hope now is that my children will ever have the chance to sing at all.
Dammit, missed the first-person requirement. Oh well. Shrug.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t ~edit~!
He keeps my true skin locked in a trunk in the attic, bound with chain and key and three different types of puissant magic. At night I dream of simple things: honey sweet on the tongue, the reek of pine needles and marmots strong in my nostrils, the red, rich flavor of salmon oily between my jaws. During the day I stand at the kitchen sink with a limp dishrag hanging from one human hand (paw; a great brown paw studded with claws as long and sharp and yellow as slices of the crescent moon) and wonder what the fat around his kidneys will taste like when finally I find a way out of this leg-hold trap.
I’ll braid your fur, deer-sister, if you’ll cross this fence. I’ll garland your antlers in the moss I’ve combed with my teeth. I’ll sing with you: a star-song, a knowing-song, a song that says together we’ll look the future in the eye, in all our finery.
Humans. They always seem so surprised to see me in their bathroom. Honestly, where else is a bear supposed to go?
Oh, I have to be quieter, somehow, but it’s all so noisy here in this capsule — the sounds are so much larger than the motions! And the spaces so much smaller, you would think this noise could not fit, but it is the largest thing about this place, the noise. I need to chew, to think on this… this tube that leads to the oxygen cylinder looks just about right…
From unbroken lineage; Counts, Lords, Kings, Gods…
I settle, uninvited to her throat; tasting sweat, wine, poor dental hygiene.
And am obliterated, by a heathen hand.
Sometimes the old magic is the best. A full moon, a still night and the sounds of the pack around you. Time to hunt.
The big black wolf was stalking me. I stayed down wind and hid behind some snow covered shrubs, whispering softly, “you won’t eat me tonight, you bastard”. Suddenly, a slight sound from behind, and as I turn around, its mate smiled at me, “Hello bastard”.
I, mouse without name, am being launched into space today. I shall sit concernedly upon a V2 rocket, and be fired towards the stars for human dreams. My ears have heard of questionable parachutes; I do not think I will see home again.
I can hear the pack calling me, their howls echoing through the moonlit woods. I just bury my head beneath my paws and try my best to ignore them. Why can’t they just accept that I’m a vegetarian now?
A squawking child with a snot-crusted snout threw a caramel apple at me while flashbulbs exploded throughout the howling crowd and that was it, I snapped. I threw the unicycle to the dirt then, with one swipe of my paw, the leather straps of the muzzle ripped free and I stretched my jaws, releasing a long-suppressed roar. After that it was a blur of blood, screaming, and snapping bones, until their weapons pierced my flank and my world tilted and went dark.
Oops, small edit required:
The big black wolf was stalking me. I stayed downwind and hid behind some snow covered shrubs, whispering softly, “you won’t eat me tonight, you bastard”. Suddenly, a slight sound from behind, and as I turn around, its mate smiled at me, “Hello bastard”.
I have hunted, and I have eaten. I have mated, and now I rest…watching. Life is good.
We all respect our alpha. His fence and his key make him the boss of our pack. I’m going to kill him and take over.
“There’s no way out Ermine, you dirty rat, ” spat Mickey, standing full height to block the entrance. “You and your gang of weasels will never take over another burrow if I have anything to say about it.” The weasel regarded the mouse thoughtfully, and then he ate him.