“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Friday Fiction: "Flee?"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Yvonne at My Back Door. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is an old writing challenge entry. The topic was "fearful." I must say that I enjoyed reading the responses to it at FaithWriters ALMOST as much as I enjoyed writing it. Looking forward to your impressions!


Nicholas Siphonaptera gestured for his younger siblings to come in closer. The five of them - two more boys and three sisters - sat body to body in a semicircle on the ground, their eyes fixed on their elder brother.

He tried to calm his heart and look at ease. If Nicholas was certain of anything, it was the need to instill confidence in his siblings. The worst scenario would be for fear to dominate their hearts and paralyze them, leading to their destruction. Their own parents had lost their lives when panic overtook them. Nicholas himself had barely escaped with his life.

I don't have much time, either. He knew neither he nor his siblings would survive very long without their food source. They had a trek to make, and they needed to get going much sooner than he'd like. He had to prepare them, and do so quickly.

"Okay, guys, I think we should review what our parents taught us. Who can tell me one of The Three Rules?"

All of his siblings raised their limbs, and Nicholas couldn't help but smile. His mother had taught them the rules before she died. She'd used a little trick to help them remember - each rule began with one of the letters from a word that was central to their lives.

Nick gestured toward Oliver, the middle brother. He lifted his head and spoke calmly and clearly, like a student reciting a lesson.

"'O' is for 'out of sight, out of danger.'" Oliver glanced toward Nick. Seeing the approval on his older brother's face, he cleared his throat and continued. "That means we need to stay hidden. Right, Nick?"

"That's right, Oliver. Staying out of sight is a big way to keep ourselves protected." Nick winked at his brother. "You picked the 'O' rule because your name starts with 'O,' didn't you."

Oliver smiled sheepishly and nodded.

"Okay, that's one. Who can tell me another?" Nick scanned the limbs waving wildly, finally deciding on Ginger, the middle sister.

"'G' is for 'gravitate toward others.'" She smiled confidently.

"What does that mean?"

Ginger blushed crimson. "Um, I don't remember."

"It's okay, sis. I'll bet Margaret knows." The oldest sister nodded.

"It means we need avoid being alone." Margaret's tone was serious. "That way we can look after each other, and help one another."

Nick nodded. "Just one more, guys. David, do you remember the first one?"

The youngest boy smiled. "'D' is for 'distance yourself from the mist.'" As soon as he said it, his smile changed into a grimace.

"I know what it means, too." The whole group nodded.

"I'm scared, Nick." Sarah, the youngest, bowed her head slightly. Nick came closer and rubbed her back.

"I know, sis. We all are. But we can die from starvation here, or take a chance and head in. If we stay, we'll die for sure. But if we go in, we could have all the food we need and a wonderful life. Sure, we may die there too, but think of what we will gain if we survive. And besides, we have The Three Rules, and each other."

Nick opened his front limbs wide. His brothers and sisters gathered in his embrace. Kissing each on the head in turn, he brought a smile and a touch of confidence to every one of them.

Stepping back, he smiled. "So, are we ready?"

The entire brood nodded and fell in line behind him.

"Okay then. Here we go."

The Siphonapteras marched watchfully up the hairy leg of Fido, looking for the perfect spot to sink their teeth into.

hehe (hope I don't need to duck!)

Be sure to stop by Vonnie's blog for more great fiction.


  1. giggle... I forgot that I had read this before, until I got to the end. You got me again!

    I had to go back and read it again, to pick up your clues.

    Funny, funny!

    I love the characterization of the kids.
    Great writing!

  2. The whole time I was trying to figure out what O-G-D meant...ha ha ha!

    Oh...the dreaded mist!

    thanks, JO!

  3. I always love reading your stories. You come from such a unique point of view that drives me towards the ending to figure out the "big picture."

  4. This is so very good! Love the flow of the dialogue, too.

  5. Hehe... you had me going there. I kept wondering why they were raising and waving limbs and not hands or arms. Then I thought, "Oh well, I guess that's just the way this story is going."

    The-e-e-e-e-en I realized they were the flees and the children weren't going to flee. HEHE.

    Great story.

  6. Very amusing and entertaining, though I suspect our pooches might not think so.

    The characters would have lost any sympathy from me, though, if they'd been ticks.

    Nasssssttyyyy tickses. We hates them, we do.

  7. That is a beautiful story. You are a very talented writer. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. Blessings Joanne...busy day for you with Friday Fiction! (sorry I did not take the time to read it)

    I just wanted to let you know that YOU have been chosen as one of my Loyal Commenters this week over at my blog. Please stop by & see today's post. Thanks for being a great commenter! SAY IT FORWARD!

    I so enjoyed participating in MONDAY MANNA...sorry I overdid it!
    Just so much came to me like a flood...as I kept that verse before me. Thanks for "An Open Book"! keeps me open and honest unlike you an avid book reader & writer! Love how you share!

  9. You got me...AGAIN! As soon as I read where they were headed I felt the need to kick myself. Such a cute story. I was actually relieved that it wasn't a more serious situation with human characters.

  10. Giggle, very cute! Nice set up.

  11. Okay, kick me right in the noggin. How do you do that? lol. INCREDIBLE!

  12. Haha, I remembr that one.

  13. I knew they weren't real children but was thinking deer or something. Very good story, as always - and yes, ducking would be a very good idea!

  14. Oh man, that is so clever! I thought this was going to be a holocaust survivor story, and O-G-D was God...you led me down the wrong path on several levels! Incredibly clever!

  15. I was thinking "rabbits" until the mist part--then I couldn't think of anything "misty" that would hurt bunnies, but I knew it had to mean something! Very clever, Jo!

  16. I love this one, Jo! It's such a fun a read! You had me totally the first time I read it, and it was a wonderful treat to read it here!!!


  17. Cute . . . very, very cute! Totally enjoyed this read. Thanks for a smile this morning, Joanne.


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