Short Story 3rd place adults: “Young and Alone”

Karen Steinson’s story won third place in the Quesnel Short Story Writing Contest.

I wake up hungry. My hunger drives most of my activities. A born wanderer, I am as willing to go searching for a meal as my brother is wiling to stay close to the shelter of our mother. Foraging has taught me some of the ways of my world. My world is remote, sometimes harsh, and always wrapped in winter white.

I adapted partly because of necessity but also for the universal wish to survive. I have seen the corpses laying wretched upon the earth. Fodder for the scavengers.

As I leave the protection of my family, an unknown lure urges me further until I am completely isolated from all I know. I had been warned, been made aware of my lack of experience, but my youthful enthusiasm carries me unrestricted. In the distance I see a sight completely foreign. Something is screaming in an escalating pitch beyond what my ears can tolerate. Swiftly, without legs, it crosses the frozen landscape. The wailing sound, the sight, a flash against the brilliance of its surroundings overwhelms my senses. I see on its back the creature that carries the killing stick. No longer transfixed, I am jolted into a run by a burning feeling of dread. I have seen the horror of the creature’s stick.

Exhausted, I stop, no longer aware of my direction. I scan my surroundings, assessing. Here there is no horrid sound, nor sight of the footless alien carrying the creature. I am safe but disoriented. I no longer know where to find the ocean. Realizing this brings a gnawing hunger. Having failed to find food I move in a direction some inner instinct pulls me.

In the vastness I see a lone raven on the flat snowy ground.

This is the way I must travel. Wearily and hungrily I plod over to where the raven sits on one of my own kind. The thick snowy coat, a remnant of its formerly white plush beauty. The sorrowful body emaciated beyond recognition. I am both saddened and repulsed. My world has been shaken, and I know for certain I must move on.

After years of evolution, my ancestors sit proud at the top of the food chain. How is it I have yet to find something to eat. Food and the ocean become one and the same as I wander following some inner compass until finally catching that familiar salt laden scent on the wind I am rejuvenated.

I hurry on eager to reach the shore of that vast and fertile source of aquatic meals. As I reach the water’s edge my ears are numbed by a colossal roar as the ice shelf breaks away and I am floating forever free on the vast ocean of the north. Stranded.

READ MORE: Quesnel writers rewarded for short stories

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