Short Stories

Quiet Conflict on an Old Dirt Road

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Written for The Literal Challenge

It was a typical day in Florida: sweltering hot and so humid you were almost swimming in the air; but Joanna felt it down to her very bones, something on the horizon, something was coming, and she didn’t know when or how or from where, but she knew with every fibre in her being that her life would never be the same, that her world would be turned upside down, and instead of shrinking away from that feeling of danger like any normal person would, Joanna felt herself running towards it—she wanted to meet this enemy face-to-face, this terror because she knew that to do so would be to prove herself and everything she was worth. 

And there the danger was: in the form of a shabby and shaggy dog with foaming mouth (Rabid!), dragging his paws shakily and haphazardly along down the lonely dirt road that stretched from the center of town, crossed in front of the threshold of her lonely home on the outskirts of her small community and continued on towards the next small town, a place to which Joanna never wandered because she had everything she could possibly want right where she was: a comfortable home, a quiet life in her cozy little home, an endless stretch of independence and peace before her, and absolutely no one to whom she owed any fealty, and though she was utterly and totally alone, that was the way she wanted to be. 

Joanna knew that she was the only person standing in between this dog and the next town where her unknown neighbors lived their lives, ignorant of the danger coming their way, and because it was a larger, more bustling neighborhood than the community she belonged to there just outside of the town called Hapsburg, she knew that a rabid dog would easily exact a tremendous amount of havoc on the unsuspecting people there before anyone would know just how to respond in turn, how to take down a rabid beast running wild that would destroy anything and everyone before he was killed, so Joanna had to act because she knew that she was the last barrier standing between this now-languid but soon-to-be ferocious animal and a town full of innocent people, but alas—Joanna did not have a gun!

Despite this disadvantage, Joanna acted bravely: she ran inside her home and found the largest knife she had, and she searched around her kitchen to find some kind of object that she could use as a shield, and though she had to act so quickly, she had armored herself with a butcher’s knife and a small cutting board that she could use to block any snaps of the jaw from a dog that would be riled into a crazed frenzy once she met him on that lonely, dusty road and blocked his passage to the next town; and with that, Joanna ran out to meet the beast, and as he saw her hasty and aggressive approach, she saw the beast ground his legs firmly and lower his head, readying for her impending attack.

Joanna met the beast with the full force of her quiet resilience, and with a guttural scream momentarily escaping her lungs and a with menacing growl foaming from his bared teeth, they clashed into each other like a large cymbal in a marching band, and the dog leaped for Joanna’s neck; and she dashed his efforts with a swipe of her cutting board to the side of his fearsome face; and he was knocked to the ground, but he was not yet defeated as he quickly recollected himself and sprung back up on his four legs, preparing for the next assault, and he could now see Joanna coming at him with the knife that he tried to dodge but the smack of the cutting board had left him reeling on the ground, giving Joanna enough time to assess just how to strike, and strike she did: one swift stab to the dog’s outstretched neck as he was going in for another bite to her arm, and down the dog went in a confused, deathly haze as the knife plunged deftly into his flesh, just under his left ear, far enough away from his teeth that were covered in a poisonous froth: and so the dog went down, and Joanna was victorious.

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