FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING (PARTS ONE AND TWO)

This blog post was created for Chuck Wendig’s FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: THE FOUR-PART STORY (PART TWO).

The basic idea is that this week everyone involved will extend other writers stories from week one, and that those extended stories will be expanded upon in the next two weeks.

I chose to extend the short story Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Peter MacDonald/pikabot. If you click on the aforementioned link, you’ll be able to read part one on Peter’s tumbr blog. I’ve also included the entire text of Peter’s work below, save the very last line. I omitted that line because I think its absence helps with flow and pacing. My additions to the story start under the heading Part Two.

Should anyone choose to further extend this story, I’ll update my blog to include their additions and links to their content. Similarly, any author who further extends this story may feel free to repost my additions on their site and/or link back to it.


Edit 1: Casondra Brewster/CaszABrew decided to pick up the story where I left off. My thanks go out to her for her time and effort! You can find her blog where she posted all three parts of this story here. Also, I’ve updated this posting so that her addition appears under the heading Part Three.

Edit 2: John Freeter and Alice E. Keyes decided to pick up the story where Casandra left off and finish the story off. Thank you both! You can find John’s website where he posted his last installment of this story here and Alice’s website where she posted her last installment of this story here. Also, I’ve updated this posting so that his addition appears under heading Part Four A and her addition under head Part Four Bee.


snowyforest1


Part One


The snow was up to Jake’s knees and still wasn’t quite done falling. While most of the snowfall had passed, there were still a handful of wayward flakes drifting down from the heavens, belatedly joining their brothers and sisters on the ground. It was the first real snowfall of the year, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last; before the month was out, the passes leading into the mountains he called home would be completely blocked up, and he would be alone until the spring thaw.

He bent down to check the last trap on this run. It was, unsurprisingly, empty. Game had been scarce for the past week, which boded poorly. If this kept up, he would have to dig into his stores, which might mean a lean winter. With a dejected sigh, he stood up, brushed the snow off of his knees, and started down the mountain towards his home. As he walked, he began to sing out loud a poem his father had taught him:

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

He took a deep breath between stanzas, and the crisp winter air chilled his lungs. The warmth of his breath had fogged up his glasses, and he took them off for a moment, cleaning them with his shirtfront. He’d been wearing the same pair for three years now, and they were starting to wear thin; one of the legs had been clumsily repaired with bailing wire two weeks ago, after he’d taken a nasty fall on some frozen ground. Hopefully, a trader would come through with a new set before the pass closed.

If any more traders came through at all. It had been more than a month since he’d seen one.

My little horse must think it queer

to stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

the darkest evening of the year.

As he finished the second stanza, a distant rumbling made him look up, and see the black storm clouds moving in from the distance, the setting sun resting behind them. It seemed he’d misjudged the snowfall; it was letting up now, but it was only a brief reprieve before a true winter storm came down upon him.

I should cut through the woods, he thought. He normally avoided the deep woods whenever possible; he’d lived around them his whole life, but he still got turned around in them sometimes. Plus, the woods were full of unfriendly animals. The last thing he wanted was to accidentally stumble into a bear’s den, or get surrounded by a pack of wolves. But he wanted to get caught by that storm even less, and taking the direct route through the woods would get him home a lot quicker than walking long way around.

The woods were dark and twisted, and as he peered through his broken spectacles to keep track of the path, he sang the next stanza to keep his spirits up:

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

of easy wind and downy flake.

As he spoke the final words, he stepped into a clearing and stopped short at the sight in front of him. The snow – including, he slowly realized, the very snow he was standing on – was stained red, and covered in the bodies of…creatures. There was no better way to describe them, but they were unlike anything Jake had ever seen in the twenty-three years he’d lived on the mountain. They were messes of tooth and claw, amorphous masses of limbs and mouths and eyes and tendrils. There were more than a dozen of them, but no two of them were alike, except for the one thing they had in common: they were all dead, rent apart by deep gashes and still slowly oozing blood.

The smell came upon him suddenly, and he doubled over with a sudden rush of nausea. His mouth filled with the taste of iron, and he nearly threw up onto the snow. He stepped forward in a daze, compelled to investigate. The creatures’ forms sickened him, but they fascinated him as well. He had to know more. Had to see more.

There were only a few of the creatures at the clearing’s edge, but the center was a solid mass, bodies piled together and on top of each other until you could barely tell where one ended and the next began, all of them coloring the snow with their ichor. Jake approached slowly, suddenly acutely aware of the sound of his boots crunching against the snow, of the fogging of his breath, of that terrible, terrible smell. He extended a hand to touch one of them. It was still warm. It had not been dead long. Its skin was thick and rubbery.

Jake jumped backwards as he heard a groaning sound. Panic made him clumsy, and he tripped over his own feet, falling down to the bloody snow. A moment later, another, louder groan could be heard. Jake lay very still for a moment, and then slowly rose to his feet as he realized that none of the creatures were moving. They were not the source of the noise. He stepped forward again and peered over the very top of the pile.

At the center of the clearing, at the very center of the mound of flesh, lay a woman, no older than he was. Her hair, blonde, her body, slim. Her cloak was stained with blood, and he could see that her clothing had been torn by tooth and claw. Her shoulder was a horrific mess, covered in what looked like teeth marks. But she was breathing. She was alive.

“Holy shit,” he gasped, clambering over the dead to get to her. “Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.” His mind seemed to be stuck, unable to process any more than that. He knelt over her, quickly stripping off his gloves and then doing the same for her furs, wincing at what he found beneath them. Whoever this woman was, she was badly hurt.

His eyes fell on something bright: a pendant, hanging around her neck, which seemed to glimmer in the non-existent moonlight. For a moment, her injuries were forgotten. He reached out carefully to touch it, then lifted it up to inspect it. It was made of wrought silver, and shaped into a complex spiral of loops and whorls. He lifted it higher still, captivated by its light.

A sickening noise lifted up from the other side of the clearing, shocking him out of his stupor. He dropped the pendant and sat up, looking fearfully in its direction. One of the things – almost in the shape of a wolf, but with too many arms, too many jaws, and a body of roiling tendrils – was moving. It let out another sound, a rumble which got right into his gut and churned it, and then to his horror it sloughed up off of the ground and started coming towards him. Its legs were broken, its body covered in cuts, more than one of its limbs ended in stumps – but it was coming, leaving a blood red trail on the ground as it dragged itself towards him. It made it two, maybe three paces, and then with a keening moan it slumped over and died.

Jake crouched fearfully for a moment, waiting to see if it would start moving again.


Part Two


That moment stretched out for what felt like an eternity. He stooped there, frozen. Adrenaline surged through his body while it prepared to possibly fight or fly. He could feel his blood thundering through his veins and hear his heart thumping in his ears. He could see every breath he took as it condensed in the bitter winter air.

As the moment started to slip away and the tension started to leave his muscles, his eyes glanced over to the prone young woman and he whispered:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

The eldritch chimera Jake had been watching roared to life. Its chittering howl resounded throughout the clearing as it erupted forth in a splattering of fresh gore. Deep in the most ancient parts of the young man’s brain; a simple command was issued:

Fly.

Scooping the distressed damsel up in his arms, he pivoted away from the many mawed beast that lunged at him and immediately felt his world give way underneath him. His feet had not been able to find their footing under the combination of half melted snow, oily ichor, and rubbery flesh.

Tumbling down the mound of bodies, he felt the pile shift. The malformed mutant struggled its way to the place where Jake had just been, and he heard the snap-crack-crack-snap-snap of its many jaws. Holding the woman close to him as he fell, he did his best to protect her already wounded body from any further harm.

While the nameless terror glibbed and roared from atop the mound, Jake felt himself slide into the fresh, soft snow at its base. He wasted no time gathering himself to his feet and scanning tree line. Without even thinking, he began to susurrate another poem his father had taught him.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Jake didn’t notice the silver pendant around the woman’s neck start to shimmer again. He didn’t notice the thousands of brilliant sparkles that formed in its endless, Escher-esque loops and whirls with each of his words. His eyes were fixed the edge of the forest – at the path in the snow he had made to reach the clearing.

There’s no way he could make it back to the other side of the glade. Not with that thing chasing him. Looking down, he saw a small trail of fox prints leading off into a thicket; only a few feet from where he stood. If he was lucky, the underbrush would be thick enough to slow or stop the nightmare behind him.

Then took the other, just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

Congealing blood, melting snow, and liquids perhaps better left unknown had seeped into his boots; mixing into a sickening, thick slurry that now encased his feet. The biting cold of winter had seeped in too, and the chill worked its way up his legs and into his bones. The riotous chattering of teeth rang in his ears. He covered his mouth with his hand to muffle the sound, but the chattering continued.

A shower of severed limbs and bodily fluids exploded over his head and were accompanied by an explosive whickateracking. Not sparing even a second to look behind him, Jake forced himself forward; ducking down under the low hanging branches. Hunched and cradling the unconscious woman, he trudged with as much speed as he could muster through the knee deep snow.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

Above him, the empty boughs had grown to form an impenetrable canopy, yet the knee deep snow still seemed to be piled just as high as it had under open sky. Behind him, he heard a great cacophony of crashing, snarling, galumphing, and tchixicoring, but he dared not look back, even as the sounds grew more and more faint.

He pressed on into the dark, thick underbrush for what felt like hours. His thighs and calves burned from being forced to hobble swiftly though the thick snow, his back groaned and ached from being hunched over, and his arms felt so weak under their load; but that the least of Jack’s concerns. He couldn’t feel his fingers or toes anymore. It wasn’t that they were cold. He couldn’t feel them at all.

He knew this wasn’t good. He needed to get home to his cabin, and fast; but he didn’t even know where he was at this point. He didn’t want to look down; to see the state of his unprotected fingers in the cold. Yet, he glanced down anyway, and saw the woman’s silver pendant twinkle.

There was no way any light could be shining down from above. No illumination could make it through the thick, interwoven branches above them. Endless, inky black yawned out before them. Just as he was opening his mouth to speak, his eyes caught glimpse of a yellow-orange flicker in the distance. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, maybe only twenty yards way. In the distance, unearthly gnashing and wailing still echoed.

Digging deep inside himself, Jack drew up all the strength he had left and made his way down the last leg of the trail. When he reached the mouth of the path, he peered out from the sheltered darkness. Reaching up, he crudely adjusted his broken glasses with his numb fingers. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.


Part Three


First it was the malformed mutants, now this. Jake’s mouth gaped open. Even though he didn’t go through the woods normally or often, he had been through this place before. This, however, this place, had not been here. He was certain. Jake stared, his eyes moving rapidly over this near wall in front of him. It was a forest inside a forest. Vines everywhere, but within the vines Jake could faintly make out openings, like windows. He blinked, not trusting his broken glasses. From the windows a warm glow of light blasted out onto the path. He strained his neck upwards, and could make out the outline of what looked like a castle turret. Yes, the trees around, the vines, the growth, it all silhouetted a castle turret. He shuffled the unconscious woman in his arms and then moved forward. With ever step he felt a heat, but it wasn’t coming from the …what would he call it? A cave? a castle?

WHEN the wind works against us in the dark,          

And pelts with snow   

The lowest chamber window on the east,       

And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,

“Sanctuary,” a whisper came from the bloodied waif he carried. Although she was slight, after the chase from the unnatural creatures, she didn’t feel insubstantial anymore. He was aching with the weight of her, his feet and hands still numb from the gore and cold. He needed a sanctuary for sure.

“Hey, you’re going to be okay,” Jake said. “Stay with me.” As he surveyed her condition the pendant on her necklace glowed and was emanating the heat he had been feeling. Inhaling in disbelief, he suddenly felt a wave of strength and trudged in packed-down snow, which made approaching the entrance effortless. He was a mere feet from the lowest level of vines when the sound of stone on stone echoed, followed closely by another unearthly echo of snarling.

The beast,                  

‘Come out! Come out!’—          

It costs no inward struggle not to go,

Ah, no!

A bright light poured out from in front of Jake, enveloping him and the barely conscious woman. The light moved around them, as if in corporeal form. Arms of warmth twisted and turned around Jake’s near-frozen feet and hands. As the golden brightness swirled around him, he began to feel sensation in his fingers first, allowing him to get a better grip on the woman. Then before he could actually wiggle his toes, the light shoved him forward and the echo of stone on stone punctuated his rapid movement. The sounds of the monsters behind him were gone. In front of him was a great hall with a ceiling that rose near the whole height of what Jake thought was the entirety of this jungled turret. Shadows of the vines from the windows were peppered throughout the hall. At the end of the hall sat a woman, much like the woman he still carried, slight, blonde, pale. She raised her hand and motioned toward him. Jake wondered in a whisper if he must be passed out in the snow, the storm already crushing him.

“This can’t be real,” he finally said clearly and loud enough to any and all in the room.

As he got closer to the woman seated on an unremarkable chair, he saw she wore a necklace much like that the injured soul. At that moment, both of their pendants shone and vibrated, and Jake watched in complete awe as the woman was elevated out of his arms and floated to a table to the right of the seated woman. More waves of light swirled and flittered about her. Jake watched as the bloodied cloak became an illuminated ecru, all evidence of the blood, tears, and bite marks erased.

I count our strength,       

Two and a child,           

Those of us not asleep subdued to mark         

How the cold creeps as the fire dies at length,—        

“Wait,” Jake stuttered. “How?” He gasped as the woman sat upright and smiled at him. Both the creatures before him were ethereally beautiful and he took his now warm fingers and pinched his arm. He was awake. He was living this moment.

The waves of light moved away from the woman he’d found near that pile of blobby-toothed creatures and towards him again. It cleaned the fifth and entrails off of him and warmed him more. He felt completely rejuvenated, as if he could run a marathon without getting winded.

“Where? I mean, Who?” Jake tried to get the questions out, but the woman on the chair shook her head. He watched as the woman in the chair dematerialized and turned into a swirl of light, mimicking the pendant of her necklace and then bursting away.

How drifts are piled,  

Dooryard and road ungraded,           

Till even the comforting barn grows far away                   

And my heart owns a doubt   

The woman on the table now moved to the chair. Jake watched as she pressed her hand on the armrest and a panel opened and a box of gears rose from within the armrest. He watched her pale finger press one of the buttons. A chair was pressed into his backside forcing him to sit, as if gravity was suddenly a thousand times more powerful. He couldn’t even move his feet or his hands. His butt was planted in the chair.

Whether ’tis in us to arise with day    

And save ourselves unaided.

His breathing slowed. He felt a pressure, like when you’re super sleepy but still need to drive home. He wished he could get fresh air to wake up. The ground beneath him shook and shimmied – an earthquake. But he knew better. They were moving. This turret, covered in overgrown brambles and vines and filled with waves of light creatures, was moving.


Part Four A


Jake turned to the windows. Sure enough, the forest’s snow-crested canopy rushed by as the tower plowed through it, snapping branches and cracking trunks. He struggled to get off the chair but couldn’t even budge his numbed limbs. Despite his terror, he could barely feel his heart beating in his chest. The woman he’d rescued smiled from her chair and tipped her head to the side. She didn’t seem to be mocking him, though. Pity was all Jake saw in her warm hazel eyes.

A monstrous growl rattled the windows. The woman got up and took cover behind the chair, her fingernails digging into the wood. The tentacled abomination crashed into the tower. Its mass of limbs and jaws quivered as it slammed on the stone floor, thick streams of crimson blood pouring from its many wounds. The woman shrieked, and the waves of light flowing through the tower gathered beside her, materializing into her twin. The monster circled the women, limping but baring its fangs.

Jake’s fingers twitched. The putrid smell emanating from the beast somehow broke the spell holding him in place and he dashed for the exit, but before he could reach it, thorny vines sprouted from the cracks in the walls and rushed towards him. Jake crossed his arms over his face, expecting to be shredded by hundreds of thorns.

An anguished howl rang out behind him. Jake turned to see the monster fending off the thorny vines while the newly appeared woman waved her arms around, as if conducting an orchestra. The monster flailed in agony. Dozens of new vines shot from the walls and windows, ensnaring it, but still the beast struggled, clacking its jaws at the woman. She creased her brow and her slender arms shook with effort. The vines lifted the monster. Its blood poured to the floor.

One of the creature’s bloodshot eyes looked straight at Jake. The familiar drowsy feeling took hold of him, and he heard a voice in his head.

You must stop them, human. You must stop Death and Rebirth—the mountain’s goddesses. Kill Rebirth while her sister’s distracted. One can’t live without the other.

“Wha-what?” Jake whispered. He took a step back, ready to flee.

Your kind has defiled their mountain, and they’ve decided to wipe you out. See for yourself.

Jake stumbled to the window. The tower soared over the town nestled at the foot of the mountains. It was covered in snow and ice. Not a single light shone in the night. Only the church’s steeple emerged from under the white blanket, its bell glinting in the moonlight. Everyone he’d ever known and loved was dead. Jake couldn’t help remembering one of his father’s poems.

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice,

From what I’ve tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor fire.

Jake looked back at the beast. Its bones cracked, the vines tightening around its body, but it kept its eye on him.

We, the spirits of the forest, tried to stop them. We know that just like the Goddesses, you hold the capacity for both life and death within you. Alas, we have failed. You must not, human.

The beast wrapped a tentacle around one of its fangs. It yanked it off and threw it at Jake. The fang bounced on the stone floor and clattered at his feet. The mountain goddess Death shot an icy glare at Jake. She waved her hand and a torrent of thorny vines lashed at him. Jake squealed, not having time to even raise his arms. The vines froze inches from his face.

You’ve been granted sanctuary. They cannot harm you.

Jake grabbed the fang. The vines opened a path for him as he took one uncertain step after another towards the Goddesses. Death tried to summon more vines to stop him, but the monster—the forest spirit—tore some of the ones holding him, and Death had to use those vines to replace them. Jake’s body became warmer and warmer the closer he got to Rebirth, who stood behind her sister. He’d actually begun to sweat once he was within striking distance.

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t kill her. Jake tried to summon courage by recalling the vision of the town, buried in snow, but looking into Rebirth’s warm hazel eyes made his knees wobble. Although the goddess was beautiful it wasn’t lust or even love that stayed his hand. It was something more like awe. Somehow Jake knew that stabbing her would be like trying to snuff out a fire by spitting on it. He dropped the fang.

Rebirth smiled. She picked up the fang, studied it for a few seconds and looked back into his eyes. The goddess placed a hand over his chest, and Jake felt as if his body dissolved in waves of warm light, even as he remained standing there.

Forgive us, Jake.

The goddess raised the fang.

And stabbed herself in the chest.

Death screamed. Her vines tore the forest spirit to pieces. A drizzle of warm blood hit Jake in the face as the lumps of shredded flesh hit the floor. Death grabbed her wounded sister, Rebirth. A faint glow engulfed them both, and they soon dissolved in waves of light.

The magical vines became limp, and the tower shook. The table and chairs hit a wall as the whole structure leaned to the side. Jake’s blood rushed to his head. He was floating… falling. The tower plummeted to the ground. Jake closed his eyes.


Cold. A numbing cold washed over him. Jake opened his eyes, and saw nothing but darkness. He realized he was lying face-down and tried to move, but his body felt heavy. He gathered his strength and got up, emerging from the feet of snow in which he’d been buried. He wiped his glasses and looked around. He was at the empty glade. No debris from the tower was around, nor the bodies of the slain creatures. His clothes had no blood on them. Did… did I pass out?

He patted himself down to make sure he was okay, and found a silver pendant hanging form his neck. The Goddesses’ pendant. The cold left his body, replaced with a warm, peaceful feeling.

“Fuck this. I’m moving to the city.”

Jake muttered a few lines of poetry as he trudged through the snow, back to his home.

But if it had to perish twice, 

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.


The End (A)


Part Four Bee


“Cease!” said a third woman while she pounded her fist on the wall. The pendent on her necklace shone brighter than the other two pendants. “We shall not leave this place without retrieving the chimera. Verdandi, bring the chalice, your sister and this man are in need of its strength.”

The spinning stopped and the chair returned to its original form.

“Yes, Urdir, but Skuld was injured and this man spoke of the woods through poetry, and-”

“Go, my sister, haste is needed.” said Urdir and she went to the women I rescued. She cradled her in her arms and a tear ran down her face. “My dear, Skuld, you should not have ridden the chimera. It would destroy the dyr without your aid. You cannot be near when the beast’s thirst for blood is enraged.”

Verdandi returned with a gold and gem encrusted stemmed chalice and knelt beside Skuld.

“Drink and your strength will be returned,” she said.

“Take but a sip; the man will need the rest to capture the chimera for us,” said Urdir.

But,” started Verdandi.

“We cannot leave it on this land. If this man did speak with poetry, he is the keeper of this woods and must stay. You know it is not our place to change the destiny of man, but to help man achieve it. Give the rest of Thor’s mead to him.”

And it is my place to give it to him,” said Skuld and she stood, taking the chalice, and walked to me.

“Drink,” she said and took one of my hands in hers and placed it on the cup. I peered into her eyes and the depth of the blue, I sawwas never ending. Her touch was soft, and as I drank, the warmth spread through my body and a surge of strength touched every cell.

When I had drank every drop of the sweet liquid, this bit of poetry came to my mind and I recited it to the women:

One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was

“He will subdue the chimera,” said Urdir when I stopped.

The rest of poem came to mind and had my means as to capture the beast. A howl outside announcing the beast was near and calling me out to my destiny.

“Veroandi and I will assist you, but Skuld must stay in the sanctuary,” said Urdir.

“The beast is mine to command,” said Skuld.

It was yours to command, but now it’s hungry for you and is seeking you. The chimera will not recognize your command until its blood thirst is subdued. Give this man your pendent and the beast will hunt him. He will tame it and we will remove its form from this forest.”

Skuld removed her necklace. I stood to receive the gift, bending my head, so she could reach for now, I stood a foot taller than her. My height wasn’t so great when I first entered the sanctuary. The breadth of my shoulders now seemed to fill it.

“I am grateful you rescued me and now my sorrowful duty is to send you out to complete my task.”

After she had placed the necklace and glowing pendant around my neck, she cupped my face with her hands and brought my forehead to hers. “May your strength and knowledge of the forest guide you.”

My head swam with her touch. I said in return keeping my forehead on hers;

I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

When the words, “swinger of birches,” left my mouth I knew it was time to tame the chimera. I pulled away from the lovely Skuld and went to the door that now appeared in front of me.

“You will need this,” said Verdandi and handed me an ax.

And you will need this,” said Urdir as she handed me a skein of rope.

Heading directly to a stand of birches, I went to work chopping down twenty trees with ease. The young birches formed through bending with my hands and lashing with the rope into a cage the size of boulder that was taller and broader than me.

With my back to a tangle of dense wall of pines trees and Verdandi and Urdir to the right of me, I waited at one end of the cage.

A roar echoed through the forest. The ground shook. My feet planted firmly, I held an length of rope in one hand and the ax in other.

The chimera was at the cage opening. I hoped my design would work and would look like a tunnel leading straight to its target, me.

“I’m here, beastie,” I said and the pedant’s glow intensified.

The chimera leapt into the cage. I dropped the lid that covered the entrance. He pushed his lion head through the opening in front of me and snorted as I took the end of the rope that was connected to lid and looped it around his muzzle. It snorted spraying me with snot.

Verdandi whooped.

Urdir said a bit too calmly as if she knew what the outcome would be all along, “Well done and thank you.”

“Please give this back to Skuld,” I started to take the necklace off.

Urdir stopped my motion with a smile full of knowledge and said, “Skuld will be back to retrieve it.”


The End (Bee)


A lot the stories from week one of this challenge were really good. I managed to narrow it down to 16 stories that I thought were interesting, well written, setup for easy continuation, and seemed written in a fashion that I hoped I could mimic or would be compatible with my native style of writing. I picked Peter’s story by out of those 16 by pitching plot summaries to my SO – and she liked my pitch for this one the best.

If you are reading this Peter, I hope you enjoyed my addition to your story!


While I’m a fan of Robert Frost and his poem Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, I actually don’t really like The Road  Not Taken. It’s ok, but I would have preferred to use a poem of Frost’s that I like more, such as Mending Wall; Good-bye, Keep ColdFire and Ice; or Dust of Snow. Unfortunately, The Road Not Taken just seems like it fits the narrative best at this junction – even though its not particularly snowy.

I think the poem complements a flight scene really well, and is about the right length for the story’s word count. On the other hand, both Mending Wall and Good-bye, Keep Cold are a little long, and would probably be better suited for whenever the main character has gotten where he’s going. As for Fire and Ice or Dust of Snow, they could be great capstone-finishers, but I think using either so early would have been premature.


Edit 1: Casondra’s Part Three used the poem Storm Fear.

Edit 2: Jeffery’s Part Four A used the poem Fire and Ice. Alice’s Part Four Bee used the poem Birches.


The first part of this story, all the Robert Frost poems, and the image used in this post were used without seeking permission. I believe their use falls under fair use. If they are yours, and you feel their use is inappropriate; please contact me and let me know.

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6 Responses to FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING (PARTS ONE AND TWO)

  1. caszbrewster says:

    I’m thinking STORM FEAR will guide part III. Thoughts?

  2. poorerdick says:

    Oh, that is a nice choice. It links up with both the beast and the cabin quite excellently – if that’s where you’ll be taking your story. No spoilers please!

    (A link for those not familiar with Robert Frost’s ‘Storm Fear’: http://www.poetry-archive.com/f/storm_fear.html)

    I wait with bated breath to see what you come up with. Given your setup with “I’ll Take Monday” and what you did with ‘Spoiled Bacon’, I suspect it will be quite good. (n.n)

  3. poorerdick says:

    Wow – I can certainly say that I did not see that coming at all. I hope someone picks it up and runs with it next week. There are still so many unanswered questions: who are the women? and what’s up with their necklaces? what are the beasts? why is there a castle? and why is it moving?

    I’ll update my blog with your addition on Friday.

  4. Alice says:

    I see John and I both went with the goddess type solution to end the story in the wood. I was drawn to include known poetry into a story. The juxtaposition of Robert Frost’s nature poetry and fantasy beasts was a fun approach made by the initiator of this four part story.

    • poorerdick says:

      There were so many good stories to work on – it was really hard to choose. That said, melding Lovecraftian horror with Frost’s naturalism… it was certainly a winner. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how all the stories have grown over the past month. It’s been really amazing.

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