Fragments 6/10: Vulpine

I began a 10-day experiment on October 30th. For 10 days, I am:

  1. Setting a timer for 15 minutes
  2. Writing what I can during that time
  3. Stopping when the time is up
  4. Posting what is written without any final editing

For additional context, check out the first post in this series by clicking here.


The hair on its back bristled with the sound of approach. 

Is it one or many? The sound of swift feet obscures their number.

The cherry-colored sentinel broke its stillness by ducking its head under a twig. The subtle motion was like that of an oiled mechanism; precise, silent, intentional, programmatic. Through its black mask, its muzzle pointed like a rifle barrel through a lattice of foliage. There was no recognizable scent.

A sudden breeze threw the surrounding trees into life, the silence exploding into the excited applause of fir needles and a small tornado of fallen leaves, thoroughly cloaking the approacher’s sounds. The muzzle swerved not from its steady survey of the land from left to right, despite the amber and gold now obscuring its vision. 



This is a continuation of fragment 1/10. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of animal stories and I’ve enjoyed writing these small bits. I expect that I’ll be coming back to this plot during the rest of the fragment series or as a separate story altogether.

The thing about animal stories is that they are not obligated to follow the same rules as humans are, but you can add or subtract almost any of those same rules to animals and get away with it. In Watership Down by Richard Adams, the rabbits can communicate with english and their own native language (adding a human rule) but they communicate with humans, operate machinery, or understand many concepts that are familiar to humans (subtracting a human rule). On the other hand, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia feature many animal characters that have all of the same intelligence and capacities of the human characters with whom they regularly interact (adding multiple human rules). As readers, we hardly bat an eye at such rule-breaking.

For these fragments, I’ve been wanting to convey an animal story and use very few human rules. Although I haven’t yet gotten to the point where this would be relevant, I’m interested in having the characters interact without any sort of verbal dialogue. Also, notice that I haven’t written any monologues or thoughts for the character. I haven’t even revealed what kind of animal it is (although you may know by now). I’m trying to strip away the human-bound rules and introduce the reader to the world and its characters the way an animal would be introduced if suddenly immersed in a new environment. The narration doesn’t tell you anything other than what you would see, hear, touch, and taste with your eyes, ears, muzzle, and paws. My hope is that the reader will understand just enough of the plot to follow the flow of events but just barely not enough so that they can have the same curious, mysterious, and uninformed experience as any other animal in the forest.


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