Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix. Based on a single word, write a short story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
This week’s word: “Bestial”
1. of or like an animal or animals.
2. savagely cruel and depraved.
The moon was rising.
A young boy, barely nine summers, sat on a fallen log in the forest behind his family’s manor home. The great house was locked and boarded – ever window shuttered and chained, and a great iron lock wedged into place on all outside doors. The last violet rays of twilight cast a haunted look on the place. Shrubberies looked like skeletons and the silhouettes in the far orchard stretched like hump-backed giants.
Above, the round globe glowed behind a cloud. Tears streaked down the little boy’s cheeks. He dug his fingernails into the soft wood. None of it mattered. The change would happen, and there was nothing he could do about it. He was on his own out here and the faolchú was coming.
It started the same each time – the hunger came. Harrowing and deep, it consumed him in physical pain, pushing him down on his hands and knees like the wild beast his father told him he was. His father never came near enough to his eldest son to touch him anymore. He preferred to view the boy through doorways and at the far end of corridors. More than once, he heard his father beseech his mother to end the boy’s life – that it would have been far kinder to the family to let the child die. These thoughts normally sent a shiver up his spine, but at the Changing, he thought only of the hungry. The faolchú was always hungry.
His fingers stretched, bones cracking and creaking as though they were being pulled at odd angles by invisible ropes. A shrill cry of pain escaped his lips, but even to his own ears it more closely resembled a howl. His face elongated into a muzzle, small square teeth stretching into sharp canines with two pronounced fangs that hung over his lower lip when he closed his mouth. He felt his consciousness being pushed backward, deep in the dark confines of his mind. He struggled, but the faolchú was stronger. It always had been, and he had never been able to conquer it.
The final sensation he felt before his body was no longer his one was stabbing. Millions of soft brown hairs erupted from his skin in a sleek coat of fur. He had just enough time to whimper before the faolchú glared at him with its sharp yellow eyes and locked him in the dungeon at the back of his mind.
“I am Daniel. I am Daniel,” he told himself, rocking back and forth in the infinite darkness. He was too small to see through the windows in his mind, and he did not wish to see through the bestial gaze to whatever havoc the faolchú would cause. He must remember himself, his mother said, even when he was not himself.
She kissed him on the forehead before locking him outside.
Daniel Hawthorne is one of the characters in my favorite story, THE WIND PRINCESS. This project is my heart project, the one I will die writing while I try to perfect it. It is an epic fantasy world, a battle between good and evil, the supernatural and the ordinary, the light and the dark. Daniel is the knight in shining armor with a dark and terrible secret. I have been writing and re-writing and tuning and refining this story for most my life. This excerpt takes place a decade before the start of the story.
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Remember to read everyone’s ficlets, and to have fun! 🙂