Sun’s hot. Day’s long. Good.
Time to heal.
Damn bird nearly killed me. And all I wanted to do was have a look. No harm in that, right? I didn’t want to cause trouble- I’m just a peaceful bird-watcher. Unarmed, even. That hen charged me for no reason, other than she’s just evil. My bird-dog Bonum is sitting by my side on the edge of Skitty Coot swamp bed, faithfully guarding me in case the devil hen returns. She’s such a good dog.
I lie on my back, and now and then gently tap my crusted-over solar plexus. The blood and dog saliva goop has dried. Bonum knew just what to do after that Stank Hen went stab-crazy with her beak on my chest. They say a dog’s spit is dirty, but I say a dog’s spit has healing powers. Special microbes and antibodies that fight germs. That’s why you always see a dog licking her wounds after a skirmish. Dogs have good instincts- especially my Bonum.
At high noon, I scoot on my back to my backpack and get rations for Bonum. She eats and drinks, then licks my hand. I’m not really hungry or thirsty myself. I doze a little here and there . . just passing the time and resting until we head back home. I don’t want to make the trek in the heat of the day. Come nighttime, when it’s cooled off a bit, I’ll have the strength to get out of Gallinule Forest, back to my cabin and my dinner and beer and soft cozy bed and my love . .
I open my eyes and the sun has dipped behind the trees. Time to rise and get my backpack and my dog and get out of this place. I slowly push myself up to sit, and-
grrrr . . grrrr . .
I look over my shoulder and it’s Bonum. If I didn’t know better I’d say those growls are meant for me. She must see that Stank Hen’s come back for round two. I look over my other shoulder and- nothing. I look back at Bonum and-
grrrr . . grrrr . .
Her teeth are bared and her lips are quivering. She’s hunkered down and her fur’s all up-ended.
Looks like she could charge any second.
My chest gets tight and tingly. My solar plexus throbs. I look down. Cripes. Right smack dab in the middle it’s swollen up like a purple golf ball.
It pulses, I touch it- YEOW not gonna do that again. Bonum takes off. She’s never heard me scream that loud before, poor thing. I look back down at the purple ball jutting from my chest . . a black point pushes out of the surface. A tiny stalk. I stagger to my feet and stumble to the nearest tree and slump forward and grab the trunk. If I could just catch my breath . . I could figure out what to do. After a few minutes panting and hanging on to the tree I straighten up, turn around, and lean back. My legs are all wobbly, my knees give out, and I reach up and back and grab the trunk.
My arms are still strong. Surprisingly strong. The rest of me is turnin’ to puddin’. My guts cramp up and I wet myself and the ground below.
My head pitches forward. Now my chin rests against my chest. Through watering eyes I see the tiny stalk grow, like it’s reaching for my nose. I watch it, unable to close my eyes or turn my head away . . it lengthens to almost four inches . . or maybe five . . hard to tell at this angle.
If there was any way I could let go of this tree I would and rip that damn stalk outta my chest, even if it killed me. But my arms are steadfast and tight and solid around the trunk. The bones of my wrists and elbows and shoulders are fused.
I can’t move or speak or even roll my eyes around to look for Bonum. Only she can save me now. She’ll get help . . or maybe bite that thing off my chest, or pull me off this tree somehow. She’ll know what to do.
The sun is nearly set and I hear a creeping across the grass. Then I see she’s come up to my side. She’s such a good dog. She sniffs the air, like she’s not sure what to make of my predicament, poor thing. Now she’s sniffing around my feet, and whining. She knows it’s me from the wet stink. She’s such a smart dog.
Bonum raises up on trembling hind legs, and braces one paw against the tree trunk-
She’s trying to tell me something. I’ve never heard her make those noises before. She shivers and she shakes her head, then drops back down to the ground and backs up just out of sight and-
teeth dig into my neck and dig and dig and she hangs off my neck her jaw clamped tight shaking and twisting
. . I’m still holding on to this tree. Peaceful. Light-headed. Warm.
My blood drains, falls, I fall . .
. . Into my soft cozy bed with my love.
I stared down that Stank Hen, my love. That bird was mean and nasty, but Bonum saved me in the end. She knew what to do. She’s got good instincts.
She’s such a good dog.
As with all my flash fiction, I welcome constructive criticism and comments!