Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

Wounded Bear

by Thomas D Reynolds

Winter is
a wounded bear,
fierce and proud,
that stands atop
the cliff and
screams for blood.

Even the aliens
hear the rumbling
of his breath,
deep, deeper,
as they adjust
to the farmhouse
atop the hill.

On the morning
of the first blizzard,
two days after the crash,
they fled the ravine
and flew across
the gray sky
on icy wings to
this human hut.

Only the old woman
was in the home
when they smashed
the windows and pulled
themselves through,
warming themselves
against the wood stove,
digging their claws
into the faded rug.

The old man ran
from the rusted shed
to the stand of pines
clutching his gun
and a bucket of shells,
screaming “Mabel,
Mabel! Oh, God!”

Inside the bedroom
where she fled,
the old woman still
screams every hour,
weaker and weaker,
as daylight fades,
and the old man
with a shotgun still
hides somewhere back
in the snow-draped trees,
firing at the windows,
already shattering their pilot
above a scaly wing.

In the deepening dusk,
the aliens huddle in mid-floor,
as their pilot begins to sag.
Eyeing his dark green blood,
a widening pool around him,
they judge how coarse it is,
how inhospitable this planet is,
how long the old woman
can maintain her screams,
how they could smash the door
and finish her off by shrieking
while extending their wings,
whether the old man will freeze before
he runs out of ammunition.

© 2007 Thomas D Reynolds

Thomas Reynolds teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including Combat, American Western Magazine, Flint Hills Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, New Delta Review, The Green Tricycle, Ariga, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, Sidereality, and Prairie Poetry. My poem "How to Survive on a Distant Planet," published in Strange Horizons, was nominated for a Rhysling award for best short poem.

Find more by Thomas D Reynolds in the Author Index.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.