Write a story that opens with this:
“He woke up and was shocked to see that it was autumn…”
By Becca Resner
He woke to see that it was autumn. The golden sun peaked through the red, orange, and yellow leaves on the trees above him. A gentle breeze blew those fallen past his head. Those leaves seemed to giggle in whispers as they wandered by him. Aidan settled back into his hammock. Overnight the world transformed to this serene wonderland.
The quilt his grandmother made him was damp with dew on the outside but mercifully dry on the inside: its warmth cocooned him against the early-morning chill. The day was going to be lovely. He tumbled out of bed, which is the best part of sleeping in a hammock, and took care so that his quilt didn’t fall to the dewy, dirty earth.
Aidan’s feet hit the dusty earth, and he arched his back in a stretch to work the exhaustion out of his muscles. As he did so, he inhaled the crisp, clean Wisconsin air. Its scent, a clean grass and damp earth smell with traces of burning wood filled him and served in waking him more effectively than a pot of coffee.
Oh coffee! The thought of it, no matter how fleeting, filled his brain. He walked a pace on the powdery dirt and knelt to the slightly smoldering embers of his fire. A few minutes bustling benefitted his cold hands and feet with a flare of warm flames licking the bottoms of the two logs he placed on their eager tongues.
Barefooted though he was, and damp though the ground was, Aidan deftly padded to a shallow stone feet away from his hammock. He pried the stone up and uncovered his stash: a rusty kettle, an old can containing a few scraps of coffee grounds, a carton with a sole egg that remained of the original dozen from the beginning of the week, and a few strips of dried beef sitting in a bed of sage he found on his way to this spot. He replaced the rock, grabbed the kettle, and walked a short way through some brush down to the stream for some water.
After the kettle was full, he cautiously glanced to the left, then to the right. ANd only after he determined that he was completely alone, he peeled off his clothing, layer by layer. He was sufficiently naked and knelt by the cool water. Aidan splashed and patted until his body was covered in goose pimples. He ran out of soap, so his wash wasn’t nearly as successful as it was refreshing.
He didn’t want to, but he pulled his clothes back on. Thankfully, the sun was climbing high enough that he knew he wouldn’t be uncomfortable long. Aidan picked up the kettle and trudged back up to the fire. Aidan set the kettle on a flat warming stone by the now crackling fire.
He dug up the egg, coffee, and jerky and began to prepare the last of his food.
He had just dropped the egg in the can that held both coffee grounds and water to settle grounds for the liquid gold. Having satisfied himself that the egg successfully sank the grounds, he poured out the coffee into the empty can that held the grounds.
Aidan bit off a piece of jerky and set about frying the coffee egg on the warming stone when he heard it. A bear.
He gulped. His pulse sped up to a whirring hum and sweat beaded on his upper lip. HIs hands started to tremor with fight/ flight jitters. Every instinct he had screamed at him to run, fly, escape. Now!
Aidan didn’t move. The bear wasn’t overly large. A black bear, he knew it wouldn’t eat him. And as these thoughts presented themselves through the thick fog of fear that clouded his brain, he appreciated that he could still think.
He had fire. Fire might deter the bear, unless it was rabid. No, not rabid. One glance told him that the creature wasn’t feral, yet it was still advancing. It was maybe fifty feet away.
Aidan decided to act. He stood up. As he did so, all of his dad’s wise words flooded back into his head. When he stood, the bear hesitated. Aidan grabbed two burning sticks and waved them.
The bear resumed its advances. Scarcely twenty feet away now the black beast cautiously paced towards him.
“Ya!” he yelled. He gesticulated, waving his arms like a madman. The bear kept its steady crawl, advancing deliberately.
Aidan stopped once the bear came within ten feet of him. Fear froze his muscles. He couldn’t even blink. And still it came.
Five feet away, Aidan inexplicably relaxed. Nothing compelled him to it, but he did. He closed his eyes as the weird calm washed over him. He felt the bear’s hot, sweet breath on his face.
The bear’s right paw settled on Aidan’s left shoulder. Its left rested on his right, and he felt the tongue explore his forehead and his ears.
Before he knew it, the pressure left his shoulders. Aidan opened his eyes. The bear was gone. He drew a breath, realizing that he hadn’t been for awhile.
He stooped and picked up the coffee. After the reassuring smell of charred egg reached his nostrils, he ate the egg.
An air horn sounded in the distance, and Aidan started to pack up his meager camp and pick his way towards his dad. Two weeks alone in the woods and he had nothing to talk about, except the last twenty minutes.
A Place Outside of Seasons
by Lindsey Bartlett
He woke up and was shocked to see that it was autumn. The trees above his head were full of leaves colored orange, yellow, and red. The grass beneath him was starting to fade from green to brown. Rubbing his eyes he pushed himself into a sitting position to better take in his surroundings.
Suddenly, from beyond the hill where he had just awoken there came the sound of voices singing. From over the hill emerged three children, all girls. When they saw him, the children stopped short, their singing died on the breeze.
A girl with long brown pigtails, and a blue denim dress addressed the disheveled looking man sitting by a giant Oak tree. “Hello, sire.” She said in a syrupy polity voice. “Who are you and what are you doing?”
“That is a good question,” he responded. “Maybe it is one you three can help me with?”
“Oh?” The pigtailed girl crossed her arms while her two companions loitered quietly by her side. “And just how could we possibly be of help to you?”
“Well, you see,” he paused for a brief moment. “I just woke up in this, um, forest, and I haven’t the faintest idea how long I have been asleep. I see that we are well into autumn. Could you perhaps tell me what month and day it is?”
The pigtailed girl eyed each of her friends in turn with a look the man couldn’t quite read. Their was a pause in which the only sound were leaves rustling overhead, and somewhere in the distance a crow let out a loud KawKaw! KawKaw!
“If you must know” the girl finally responded. “We don’t really know what month or day it is.”
“You have to be joking. Please don’t kid me right now” he begged. “This is serious. I need your help.”
Again, the girl tuned to her companions, neither of whom had yet to speak. In fact the youngest (or so the many assumed anyway) looked positively frightened.
“I’m not joking,” insisted the pigtailed girl in something of a huff. “We don’t keep track of time here. In fact we don’t keep track of time here. I’ve only vaguely heard of this autumn of which you speak.”
Flabbergasted the man shook his head, hoping against all hope that everything would make sense or that these three young children would disappear and in their place someone with more reasonable answers might appear. Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed, he was still as confused as ever, and the three girls still stood before him.
“Fine.” He grumbled. “So you don’t keep track of time here. You don’t have days, months, or apparently seasons. At least not names for those things. Do you have a name for where I am?”
“The same place you were before,” the pigtailed girl answered brightly. “Just a different version of that place is all.”
“A place without autumns” the man couldn’t fathom such an idea.
“Sure. What is so wrong about that” responded the girl her brunette pigtails bouncing almost as if with indignation. “Who cares about this autumn garbage? Why does it matter to you if we do or do not have time or autumn?” She spit out the word “autumn” as if it tasted badly.
“Well, it isn’t necessarily any skin off my back if you don’t have an autumn or not,” he answered. “I just find it odd.”