This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the old lady and the beast.” What does age have to say about the story? Who is the beast and why? Go where the prompt leads!
This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.
The Old Woman and the Beast
Beyond the village, where trees grow thick and tall, lives an old woman in a tiny cottage. Self-sufficient with her gardens, chickens, and one milking goat, she rarely ventures far.
By day, she whistles as she works. When darkness falls, she locks the doors, bolts the windows and draws the curtains. Then the beast arrives, landing heavy-footed on the roof. Soon the monstrous grunting, growling, screeching and hissing begin. She covers her ears and rocks, humming calming songs without effect. Eventually, the beast retreats. The night grows quiet and still, and she sleeps, awakening at daybreak, another night survived.
This story was inspired by a cute Australian marsupial, a brushtail possum who just happened to be outside my window making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I read Charli’s prompt. I didn’t have to go far for inspiration.
While you can listen to a little of the brushtail possum’s repertoire in this video, it is only a fraction of what I heard.
Although they are totally harmless to humans, the sound can be terrifying, even when you know what it is. It sounds like the creature from the black lagoon standing at the door wanting blood. The first night I heard one, maybe almost thirty years ago, it totally unnerved me. I went from window to window trying to find out what was making the sound that seemed to envelop our house. I had no idea what it was. The next day, a little sheepishly, I phoned the museum and informed them that I’d heard noises I could not explain. The fellow said, “Did it sound like this?” and mimicked it exactly, though not quite as loudly. When he told me what it was, I was greatly relieved. Although they are not big creatures, they make a hell of a noise on a tin roof.
You can find out a little more about this very cute Australian in this video.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.
Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Impossibly Blue, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.