Thursday, 30 October 2014

An Unlikely Allie by Jenny Brigalow






                                                        An Unlikely Allie by Jenny Brigalow

Cloud hung like a black anvil on the horizon. It was still. Sweat trickled  and tickled down Helen's spine . Her horse's black coat was as  slick and shiny as liquorice. White foam waved over his neck. The great flat landscape stretched away out of sight. The only sound was the steady clip clop of shod feet. Even the cicadas in the Coolibah trees had subsided into silence.
And then she heard it. A soft  grumble. Forked  tongue of lightening split the air. Ozone zinged. An ice cold drop of water plopped onto her arm.  Despite her horse's fatigue, she put the spur to his side and he broke into a trot. Anxious now, Helen cursed herself. She should have stayed at home. But the brindle bull had pushed through into the heifer paddock.  And besides, the geeks at the bureau had been forecasting storms for a fortnight. And not a drop.
As if to spite her, bullets of rain danced on her Akubra. They bounced on the dusty dirt sending up small geysers of red. And then it poured. Water surfed off her hat and stuck hair to the back of her neck. Her reins were slippery as eels.  Then the  wind wailed like a banshee across the outback. It sent the rain scudding and the black horse skittered  like a sheet of newspaper. She patted his shoulder. "It's alright  Sesame, just a bit of a storm." But she couldn't hear her own voice as thunder rent the air.
She didn't panic. What was the use? It'd pass.
But it didn't. The storm raged on. Streams of water began to swirl across her path. Helen halted Sesame, suddenly unsure. Where was the fence? It had been there, on her right, just a moment ago. Still, it couldn't be far. She pushed Sesame to the right, although he was reluctant to walk into the rain. Her eyes slitted against the maelstrom as she strived to sight the wire that would take her home. Like it always did.
When the lightning struck, she wasn't expecting it. Which was crazy. The tree exploded like a firecracker. Poor Sesame panicked. He reared and screamed. Helen clung on like a limpet. But the boggy soil betrayed them. Sesame's back legs slid out and they crashed.
 Helen was trapped beneath the dead weight of her horse.  Fear raised its ugly head. If she couldn't get out she would drown. No one was home. They'd all gone to the camp draft. Wouldn't be back 'til late.  Not for hours. Sesame convulsed and Helen thought he was a goner.  His back bowed and, with a groan,  got back up on his feet. Helen sat up and cried out. When she looked, her ankle was swelling like an angry toad. Not good.
She reached out to snag the reins that trailed in the water. Relief flooded her as her fingers found them.  Lightening cracked like a stock whip. It was too much for Sesame. He bolted. The reins slid through her fingers like soap.
For a moment Helen was breathless with fear. Her fingers scrabbled into her jeans pocket and pulled out her phone. No signal. Dammit to hell. She'd have to walk. Or hop. Slowly she levered herself up, cursing crudely, which helped. She found she could get along slowly.  The rain fell so hard she could barely see an arm's length around her. A stream rose to her ankles. Cold. As she hobbled on, it crept up her legs. To her calf.  Then her knee. And she could hear the water  now.  Like a cauldron simmering. Any stronger or faster and she'd be in trouble.
At the next tree she paused. Could she climb up? She tried. But it was impossible. The pain made her nearly pass out. With no other option she carried on. Surely she must find the fence soon? She stopped. What was that noise? She had the answer as a wall of water scooped her up and swept her away. She struggled and fought like a wild thing. Water filled her. She was heavy. So heavy. And tired.
Then she hit something. Something solid.  Two strong hands gripped and lifted her from the maelstrom.
 "Dad!" Her hands went to his neck and she hugged him.  The  sky lit up and Helen's joy turned to horror. It wasn't Dad. It was a monstrous mountain of a man. His face was scarred and disfigured above a thick  dark beard.  Long hair plastered to his massive head like kelp. Heart pounding like a stampeding herd, Helen began to struggle, longing to be back in the  water.
But he locked her to his chest and waded like a giant brolga through the raging river.  On he went. Like a tireless machine. The rain stopped and frogs began to serenade .  Helen lay still. She could hear his heart beat slowly. The clouds rolled away and a vast lake sparkled in the sun.  Cautiously she looked at him. His disfigurements less terrible in the light. Maybe he was sick. Or had skin cancer real bad. Some surgeons were hackers. He stopped and grunted. Above them she saw the homestead, perched on the ridge. High and dry.
And she was home. He carried her to the verandah and settled her in a chair. And then he turned and walked away.
"Stop!" she cried. He stopped and turned and looked at her. He had fine eyes. Amber and clear. Like a single malt whiskey. "Who are you?"  she said. " What's your name?"
"They call me Frankie," he said huskily. "Frankie Stein."
"Thank you, Frankie," she said. But he was on his way. She watched until the Outback swallowed him up.
                                                                        The End

 945 words
Thanks to Denise Covey for this wonderful opportunity!  http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com.au/



24 comments:

  1. An interesting take on an old story; Frankenstein and Beauty and the Beast. I Like that you brought out the 'heart' in the monster. A nice twist.

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    1. Hi D.G, thanks for dropping by. I love the Romantic era and Frankenstein is one of my favourites. The open ending always makes me wonder what happened when Mary Shelley's story ends. I reckon that the Australian Outback can hide a man (or a monster) if anywhere on Earth can.

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  2. Cool. I'm with DG, I got the mixed B&B and Frankenstein also. The theme is well done

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    1. Thanks Dolorah, its on oldie but a goodie, as they say.

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  3. I really enjoyed this. Some parts made me laugh, e.g. "her ankle was swelling like an angry toad". I admit I also was thinking it was set in 'old' times, despite your mention of the akubra hat. I think I had visions of a Wuthering Heights type of landscape, at first. Then I read she had jeans on and realised it was more modern than that.

    Great description - I could picture it all so well, and could feel the coldness she was feeling.

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    1. Hi Trisha, glad you could find the light hearted end of it all! I tell you what, those cane toads are a horror story all of their own!

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  4. Enjoyed the story, the simile-studded writing, and the allusions. Very neatly done. Storms are such scary things to be caught in.

    A Sarah mentioned towards the end, an error?

    Thanks for a great read.

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  5. Hi Nilanjana, and Happy Halloween. Glad you dropped by and - yes - it is an error. Well spotted and thank you. I will fix it up !

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  6. Great read! Loved the twist! I'm so glad Sesame was alright too! Will this turn into a love story - if zombies can find love why not monsters?

    Happy Halloween!

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  7. Happy Halloween to you too, Yolanda! I don't think that Helen and Frankie are fated to become an item. I do hope that Frankie finds love one day, the poor lonely creature. I wonder what fate Mary Shelley imagined for her monster?

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  8. Glad to see Frankenstein is still alive and well on Halloween. When I was a kid he was one of the most popular costumes.

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    1. Hi Stephen, great to have you on board! I don't think Frankenstein ever goes out of fashion!

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  9. Hi Jenny. Very cleverly done. I love the similes, descriptions and allusions. The suspense was certainly there! Love the Aussie outback feel and references. Is this part of a longer piece, or did you pen it just for the challenge? It could certainly be part of a larger story.

    Thank you for participating in the WEP challenge again. Your stories are always unique!

    And sorry I'm so late popping by. Have been very busy under the surgeon's knife (melanoma!)

    Denise :)

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    1. Hi Denise and welcome! Very sorry to hear you've been suffering the dreaded skin cancer. Hope you are not too uncomfortable and the surgery not unduly invasive. Get well soon!
      Glad you enjoyed this story. Its not part of a longer story. Thank you for being such a wonderful hostess on this Halloween tour, I do so enjoy it.

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  10. Wow, Jenny this was very well done. I was right there and even though I didn't know some of the things you referred to, the different words helped set the scene in that it placed it somewhere I wasn't familiar with. Good job and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Gosh Lisa, thank you. I really love this Haunted blog, so many different takes on a theme. Fantastic. to see you again. Happy writing !

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  11. Quite scary to be stuck in that storm and with the horse too. Nice twist towards the end. Great story.

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    1. Hi Sally, thanks for dropping by. Pleased you enjoyed my offering.

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  12. I've been in such downpours and lightning. No fun! Sally is right: great twist at the end. She was lucky she hadn't run into Drac U. Lah!

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    1. LOL! I think poor Helen was traumatized enough without wishing any more monsters on her! Great to have you aboard the ghost train Roland.

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  13. Hi Jenny
    I could feel the cold. Descriptions were great and the struggle had just the right amount of tension. I can't help wonder what happened to the horse. I'm glad Frank showed up, though I might have wet my pants if I'd been her. Well written.
    Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy, lovely see you. Have to agree, I think I'd have probably succumbed to a stroke under the circumstances! Just as well Helen's made of sterner stuff. Let me reassure you that Sesame made it home unscathed!

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  14. Loved the excellent descriptions. Great writing.

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  15. Thank you, glad you enjoyed. . Hope your Halloween was haunted!

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