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24-Hour Short Story Contest entry- Ruby

Story ID:3766
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Year:2008
Person:Ruby
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This is my entry for the 24-Hour Short Story Contest

The topic they sent was:
TODAY'S TOPIC!

She thought she heard water trickling over rocks and turned toward the sound, ignoring the thorns that sliced her short, chubby legs. She sat down, drinking as fast as she could. She jumped up when she once again heard all those strangers calling her name, somewhere behind her, higher up. She wasn't sure. She quickly stepped back and her hair got tangled on a low branch. She wrenched it free, her panic having dulled all pain hours ago. The forest canopy swallowed her as she sobbed and stumbled, repeatedly whispering to herself...

~~~~~

WORD COUNT Stories for today's topic must not exceed 1000 words.

Here is what I came up with.
I did it in under 800 words

Ruby

The explosion knocked Ruby from her bed. She jumped to her feet, ran to the
door, pushed it open, and stepped into the hall. Thick black smoke made her cough.

Ruby ran in the direction of the kitchen, but the smoke forced her back. Beyond
the blackness, she felt the heat of the flames. She called out for Mother. Above the roar of
the fire she heard Mother’s scream, “Ruby! Get out! Go outside!”

She hesitated and called for Mother again. “Run, Ruby! Go outside!” Mother
screamed. Ruby turned and followed the wall to where she knew the door should be. As
she neared the door, which had been blown out by the blast, Ruby felt the blessed cool
air. She slipped into the dark night and ran.

The forest closed around her. In the darkness, she bounced off trees and kept going. “Run, Ruby!” Mother had yelled. Ruby did as she was told and kept going.

The heat and flames were gone. Darkness surrounded her. Ruby ran. Branches
slapped her face and poked at her eyes.

She walked into a tree. The rough bark ripped the skin off her nose. Ruby
bounced off , landed on her butt, and cried. A branch snapped! Something or someone
moved through the forest to her right. Ruby held her breath and moved away from the
sound.

She crawled on her belly. The ground dropped beneath her, and she found herself
in a depression covered by thick pine branches. She curled up under the limbs and hid.
Night sounds surrounded her. Branches scraped together with each gust of wind. An owl
hooted. Mosquitoes swarmed around her, sucking blood from her body. Exhaustion took
its toll. Ruby fell asleep.

Dreams of smoke, fire, Mother screaming, “Run, Ruby!”, and the warmth of the
sun penetrating the thick canopy of trees woke her. She stood. Her hips ached from a
night of sleeping on the hard ground. Birds chirped their blessing to a new day in the
trees around her.

She crawled from under the branches that hid her through the night. She thought
she heard water trickling over rocks and turned toward the sound, ignoring the thorns that
sliced her legs. She sat down, drinking as fast as she could. She jumped up when she
heard strangers calling her name somewhere behind her, higher up. She wasn't sure. She
quickly stepped back and her hair got tangled on a low branch. She wrenched it free, her
panic having dulled all pain hours ago. The forest canopy swallowed her, as she whined
and stumbled. Repeatedly, in her head, she heard Mother, ”Run, Ruby! Run!”

“Ruby!” a familiar voice called. She knew the voice. It was a friend of Mother. “It’s OK, Ruby We’re here to help.” The voice said. “You’ll be OK. Come to me Ruby.”
The night in the woods, exhaustion, and hunger overcame Ruby. She walked into the
arms of her rescuer.

*********************


Ralph heard the doorbell. He didn’t want to answer. Neighbors and friends
knocked on his door. He ignored them. He wanted to be alone. His wife fought for her
life in the hospital. Burns covered more than 80% of her body. The doctors said she
wouldn’t survive.

Ralph had just returned from the hospital. Dried tears stained his cheeks. His wife
clung to life. Their little one was missing. The doorbell rang again. He sighed, lifted
himself from his chair, made his way to the door, and opened it. “What do you want
fro … “ he started to say.

“Ralph, we found her.”

Ralph stepped outside. “You found Ruby?”

Ruby heard her father’s voice, broke free from the man holding her, and ran in the
direction of her Dad.

Ralph dropped to his knees, “Ruby!”

Ruby slammed into him – knocking him to the ground. Her tongue licked his face.

Ralph hugged Ruby and looked at the man. “I was worried.” Tears streamed
down his face. “My wife wanted a weekend alone. She took Ruby with her to our
camper. There was a gas leak. The camper exploded.

“My wife is in the hospital. We don’t … “ Ralph paused. Emotion overtook him.
“They said she might not make it.” he sobbed.

Ralph gained control. Holding Ruby, he looked up at the man. “Thank you for
finding her. She was the runt of the litter – different from the others. The Vet said she
was blind and suggested we put her down. We couldn’t. I’m glad we didn’t. Ruby is all I
have now.

Michael T. Smith