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Friday, 9 July 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #14: The Trap is Sprung

You can read the UCF Stories from the beginning here.


As Pogmorton crept slowly forward, the Wyrm gave no indication it was aware of his approach, its attention focussed completely on the fairies' frantic fortification of their border. Creeping as close as he dared, Pogmorton did as Botchett had instructed and whispered, 'Psst! Wyrmy.' Immediately he sensed the Wyrm stiffen, its tail stopped swishing from side to side and he was sure it turned its head imperceptibly towards him, but when it made no move in his direction, Pogmorton repeated the call, a little louder this time. Still nothing.

I must be mad, thought Pogmorton as, wiping the sweat from his palms, he inched the barbed pole forward and, Botchett's instructions ringing in his head, worked the tip between the Wyrm's scales and prodded forcefully.

The effect was instantaneous. Rearing and snorting, the Wyrm turned, steam jetting from its nostrils. An eerie, visceral screech escaped from deep within its throat.

On the border to the fairy kingdom the prisoners and their guards froze in terror. Pogmorton caught only the briefest glimpse of a familiar face among the fairies' work gangs before diving out of the way as the Wyrm lunged, it's huge shovel-shaped head slamming into the earth inches from where he'd been crouching, clods of earth flying in all directions.

Scrambling to his feet, Pogmorton took off at a sprint, jinking this way and that. A terrible rumbling sound filling his ears as, giving chase, the Wyrm bulldozed its way through earth and vegetation. Glancing over his shoulder, Pogmorton saw steam being sucked back into the Wyrm's nostrils, a sure sign according to Botchett, that things were about to get hotter.

Just as he threw himself behind an outcrop of rock, the Wyrm began a long rumbling exhalation, and liquid fire splattered against the rock and surrounding vegetation, barely missing Pogmorton's body and singeing the hair on the right side of his head and burning away the tip of his pointed Pixie hat.

The Wyrm smashed its head down onto the rock, dust and stone chipping raining down over Pogmorton. He rolled quickly to his right and, just for an instant, came eye to eye with the beast. Time seemed to slow as Pogmorton took in the baleful glare of a huge reptilian eye, centuries of pain and fury seeming to exude from within the creature's soul. Pogmorton felt a stab of pity at the sight of scars from old injuries around the beast's head, then the Wyrm slowly bared its fangs and Pogmorton's nose was assaulted by the stench of rotting flesh, the remains of a fairy's arm stuck between two of the creature's wickedly sharp teeth.

Great slimy gobs of saliva dribbled slowly from the Wyrm's mouth onto Pogmorton's trousers. He winced as the acidic drool began to burn his leg and saw the Wyrm's eye snap instantly into focus as he moved. Scrabbling desperately backwards, Pogmorton jumped to his feet and dashed away towards Botchett's trap, the Wyrm snapping sideways at his retreating form.

* * *

'Here they come,' yelled Swazzle.

As Pogmorton streaked under Botchett's net, Botchett and Swazzle took up their positions. The Wyrm, now fully focussed on its Pixie prey, followed Pogmorton straight into the mouth of the trap, but it was only Botchett and Swazzle's quick reactions that avoided it barrelling out of the other end before the net could be released. Howling in rage and pain, the Wyrm thrashed as Botchett's net tightened itself, biting cruelly into the beast's hide. Swazzle and Botchett scurried this way and that, pegging the net down until, at last, the Wyrm lay immobile, seething with impotent anger. The net was designed to be tightest around its head, preventing the Wyrm from using its fiery breath.

Once the Wyrm had been contained, Swazzle and Botchett wandered over to where Pogmorton stood, doubled over, sucking in great lungfuls of air while his clothes smouldered.

'Well done, bonny lad!' Botchett beamed, clapping Pogmorton on the back. 'You're a natural. Couldn't have done it better myself, like.' He pulled a flask of dandelion whisky from his pocket, 'Here you go, looks like you could do with a drop.'

Botchett turned to Swazzle, 'Keep an eye on him, like,' he said quietly, 'While I go and sort the travelling box out.'

Swazzle, puzzled, turned to find silent tears streaming down the Pogmorton's face.

'By the gods, what's up? You're all right, I'm all right, so is Botchett, and we caught the bloody Wyrm.'

'They have her,' Pogmorton sniffled, 'The fairies have Rushalka.' He caught sight of Swazzle's shocked expression. 'I thought she was dead. We all did. How was I to know what had really happened?'

Swazzle whistled in disbelief. 'I had no idea...' he began, then paused, the colour draining from his face. 'You hear that?' He cocked his head to one side as the familiar droning grew louder.

'Fairies.' He turned, 'Botchett...'

'I hear 'em, bonny lad.' Botchett had set up what looked like the horn from an old gramophone on top of the travelling box and was frantically turning the handle on the side of the box. The Wyrm was drawn gradually from under the net, shrinking as it went, the tip of its tail had just disappeared into the mouth of the horn when the first fairy appeared on the horizon.



Laura Eno said...

Oh, my...I think I felt a bit of pity for the Wyrm there.
Another fast-moving installment, Sam!

Mari said...

Wheee, loads of action on this one!

I wanna know who the heck is Rushalka (what a name, heh) and I want it now! Man, this is getting more and more complext -- and interesting!

You have a novel in your hands my friend. :)

Anonymous said...

Aah! Now what??

I like how you made the Wyrm sympathetic. I wonder if he's under some nasty spell? Waiting to find out...

Looking forward to the next one. :)

Deanna Schrayer said...

Oh Sam, this has to be the best one yet. What incredibly exciting action! Love it, love it, love it!

Eric J. Krause said...

Another good installment! Looks like there's more fun on the horizon for them.

Anonymous said...

Cool, you have a totally fresh style. Well suited for pixies and fairy folk battles. I also love the shrinking horn, kind of a groovier version of the Bag of Holding, cheers.

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, my goodness, let me hear a swallow of that dandelion whiskey to help settle my nerves after THAT episode!

And continuing intrigue with your last paragraph. Really wonderful, Sam.

Laurita said...

Another great episode, but I loved this line in particular - "Scrambling to his feet, Pogmorton took off at a sprint, jinking this way and that." It creates such a fun image.

mazzz in Leeds said...

The action is well paced and vivd.
I am intrigued about Pogmorton's stab of pity over the Wyrm. Some foreshadowing of thw Wyrm not being purely evil, perhaps?

The grammophone is the icing on the cake!

ThomG said...

So vivid, so rich. Like the way this is all building.

John Wiswell said...

Poor Wyrm. A far sight better than fairies. Blow the horn at them and let fly the dragons of war!

Anonymous said...

As always, you kept me totally engaged in the story and then it was over... I'm edgily waiting for more :)

Anonymous said...

You turned the angry, fire-breathing dragon we've feared so long into a sympathetic creature in one quick turn of perspective. Brilliantly done, Sam! A fantastic and heart-pounding -- as well as heart-rending -- installment!

Now on charge the Fairies! I can't wait.

Monica Marier said...

I LOVE the descriptions of the Wyrm! Very exciting stuff! I was sucked in!

Leah Petersen said...

What great writing. And so imaginative. I'm jealous of writers who can go such fantastic places.

Josie said...

Looking forward to finding out who Rushalka is, and I loved how you got the Wyrm disappearing into the gramophone - all very ingenious. Nice one :-)

Alan W. Davidson said...

Top-notch writing, Sam. I really enjoyed the attention to detail, such as the old scars, the stench of the breath and a fairy's arm stuck in the teeth of the Wyrm. A compelling and fast-paced read.

Valerie said...

So there were prisoners hoarded on each side, eh? War really does suck. What a neat way to store that Wyrm... wonder how you get it back out of there. Why do I get the feeling that we're going to find out someday?

G.P. Ching said...

Great installment. I enjoyed the action in this one. the Wyrm gives me the creeps! That part about it drooling acid on Pogmorton's trousers - eeewww.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the edge of my seat here, Sam! I love the series. I sat down and read them all back to back. They are wonderfully crafted and you have some beautifully descriptive passages in these. My favorites so far are #2 and #12. You've got to put them together in an e-book when you're done. It's a great series! Can't wait for the next installment.

Sam said...

Laura - Thanks. Yes, there's more to the Yyrm than just a Pixie-munching machine. :)

Mari - Russalka, eh? Ah, that would be telling! All will be revealed shortly.

Gracie - I always intended to do more with the Wyrm, I'm enjoying writing it as a character.

Deanna - Thanks, very kind of you to say so. I really wasn't sure about whether I'd captured the action right in this piece.

Eric - I don't know that I'd call it "fun," but there's certainly some excitement to come. :)

admin - Thanks, very kind of you to say so.

Laurita - It took me ages to convert my mental image of Pogmorton into words, I'm really pleased you liked it.

Marisa - I'll borrow a bottle from Botchett for you. Thanks for your kind comment. *proffers bottle*

mazzz - Yes, could mpossibly be, but I couldn't possibly comment however. ;)

ThomG - Thanks. I appreciate your comments.

John - It's funny you should mention dragons... ;)

estrella - Thanks, I'm pleased you're enjoying my serial.

jdanetyler - I'm really pleased that particular twist in the story went down so well, thanks for mentioning it.

Monica - Thanks for those kind words. I must admit to having become quite fond of the Wyrm myself.

Leah - Very kind of you to say so, thanks. I don't know how I do it, but I've always found it easy to slip away to other worlds.

Josie - Yes, Rushalka's identity will be revealed shortly. :)

Alan - Thank-you! I really wanted to make morw of the Wyrm, the little details help set the tone, I think.

Valerie - Oh yes, prisoners were taken on both sides and, though the war was officially over some time ago, the fairies never returned those they had taken. I also suspect Botchett won't keep the Wyrm locked up in that box for too long. ;)

G.P. Ching - Aww, old Wyrmy's quite cute when you get to know it, and when it's not drooling on your trousers!

Danni - Thank you so much! And kudos for reading the whole series back to back. I really appreciate your kind comments, and thanks for telling me which episodes are you favourites. Ya know, this publishing/e-book idea keeps cropping up again and again. I think, once I have finished writing my serial, that I would quite like to collect the stories and do something with them.

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on this episode of the UCF Stories, I really appreciate it. :D

Walt said...

The attention to detail was great. Acidic drool, steam before liquid fire, well done.

I expected the Wrym to just be a nasty creature but the way you describe it, it feels like character rather than just a plot device.

Again, well done

Sam said...

Walt - Thanks! Very kind of you to say so. I always intended to develop the Wyrm as a character, I just wasn't sure initially whether or not I'd have an opportunity to work its backstory into my serial. Stay tuned, there's more Wyrmy goodness to come!

Pamila Payne said...

What a fantastic world you've built. Your action and dialog are spot on. Very enjoyable fantasy.

Sam said...

Pamila - Thanks for those kind words. I'm pleased you like my world and enjoyed reading the story. Stay tuned for more fun and games in the next episode.

Carrie said...

Great little installment. Eeek that wyrm. O.o

Sam said...

Carrie - Aww, the Wyrm's not that scary, is it? Thanks for reading, I', glad you enjoyed this installment.:)

Cecilia Dominic said...

Poor Wyrm! I felt the most sympathy for it even though it didn't say a word. I was immediately drawn into this story, and although I haven't read every installment, I can still get into each piece -- great job!


Sam said...

Cecilia - Thanks for your lovely comments. If you want to catch up on the installments you've missed, there's now a tab at the top of my blog that will take you to a page with links to all the episodes. :)

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Aw, I was wondering how the Wyrm was going to go, and was thinking I would be glad, but I feel bad for him. I know he had to go, but he was a fierce noble creature.

Really great series!

Sam said...

Anne - I so want to give you a proper answer to your lovely comment, but I can't. Stay tuned!

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