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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: Flee?
By Joanne Sher


Nicholas Siphonaptera gestured for his younger siblings to come in closer. The five of them - two more boys and three sisters - sat body to body in a semicircle on the ground, their eyes fixed on their elder brother.

He tried to calm his heart and look at ease. If Nicholas was certain of anything, it was the need to instill confidence in his siblings. The worst scenario would be for fear to dominate their hearts and paralyze them, leading to their destruction. Their own parents had lost their lives when panic overtook them. Nicholas himself had barely escaped with his life.

I don't have much time, either. He knew neither he nor his siblings would survive very long without their food source. They had a trek to make, and they needed to get going much sooner than he'd like. He had to prepare them, and do so quickly.

"Okay, guys, I think we should review what our parents taught us. Who can tell me one of The Three Rules?"

All of his siblings raised their limbs, and Nicholas couldn't help but smile. His mother had taught them the rules before she died. She'd used a little trick to help them remember - each rule began with one of the letters from a word that was central to their lives.

Nick gestured toward Oliver, the middle brother. He lifted his head and spoke calmly and clearly, like a student reciting a lesson.

"'O' is for 'out of sight, out of danger.'" Oliver glanced toward Nick. Seeing the approval on his older brother's face, he cleared his throat and continued. "That means we need to stay hidden. Right, Nick?"

"That's right, Oliver. Staying out of sight is a big way to keep ourselves protected." Nick winked at his brother. "You picked the 'O' rule because your name starts with 'O,' didn't you."

Oliver smiled sheepishly and nodded.

"Okay, that's one. Who can tell me another?" Nick scanned the limbs waving wildly, finally deciding on Ginger, the middle sister.

"'G' is for 'gravitate toward others.'" She smiled confidently.

"What does that mean?"

Ginger blushed crimson. "Um, I don't remember."

"It's okay, sis. I'll bet Margaret knows." The oldest sister nodded.

"It means we need avoid being alone." Margaret's tone was serious. "That way we can look after each other, and help one another."

Nick nodded. "Just one more, guys. David, do you remember the first one?"

The youngest boy smiled. "'D' is for 'distance yourself from the mist.'" As soon as he said it, his smile changed into a grimace.

"I know what it means, too." The whole group nodded.

"I'm scared, Nick." Sarah, the youngest, bowed her head slightly. Nick came closer and rubbed her back.

"I know, sis. We all are. But we can die from starvation here, or take a chance and head in. If we stay, we'll die for sure. But if we go in, we could have all the food we need and a wonderful life. Sure, we may die there too, but think of what we will gain if we survive. And besides, we have The Three Rules, and each other."

Nick opened his front limbs wide. His brothers and sisters gathered in his embrace. Kissing each on the head in turn, he brought a smile and a touch of confidence to every one of them.

Stepping back, he smiled. "So, are we ready?"

The entire brood nodded and fell in line behind him.

"Okay then. Here we go."

The Siphonapteras marched watchfully up the hairy leg of Fido, looking for the perfect spot to sink their teeth into.

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This article has been read 2101 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rhonda Clark08/30/07
What a hoot! Here I was worried about the kids surviving. Now I know what they are, I really hope they don't. :)

You are too funny.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/31/07
Hehehe, Fun! Someone else told me ahead of time what this story was about (spoil sport), but I think I would have gotten it anyway. Good job!
Loren T. Lowery08/31/07
I have a sneaking suspicion this is about FLEAS! Good grief, now not only do they invade, but they teach each other survival skills! Someone else wrote about Noah and his ark...I've often wondered why fleas had to be included...and flies...and, etc! This was just a hoot. Great job!
Lynda Schultz 08/31/07
Just one more question to ask O.G.D. (ooops, God) why did You make fleas? This must be one of those "His thoughts are higher than our thoughts" moments. This is great stuff.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/07
I must admit...You hooked this big fish. I was having trouble though, seeing how those three rules would help the children. Oh my! What an entertaining story you wrote!
Dianne Janak08/31/07
It hooked me and fooled me. I was confused about calling their arms limbs... but other than that I assumed it was a people family! FIDO! Hysterical... Not sure I care that much about whether they live either...fun read!
Ann FitzHenry09/01/07
How cute!!! I could only hope to be half this creative! I loved how you played with the reader's natural assumptions. Great work!!! (And the title is perfect, too!)
Sue Dent09/01/07
Oh, you master story teller you! You knew we'd be mad if you didn't give us a clue in the title so's we wouldn't care as much as we did for these children after reading. Even at that, I was still mad it was about fleas!!!! WHAT? Something just bit my leg! OH, now look what you started! :)

I LOVED the dialogue. Tasty and excellent.
Ann Renae Hair09/02/07
Did anyone else google siphonaptera? I was curious (and suspicious) how you came up with a name like that! Joanne, you are truly an amazing and creative writer. I am so blessed to have you as a friend and mentor!
Pat Guy 09/02/07
You stinker! You got me ... and you got me good! It was getting close to the end and I thought, "You better give us closure on this!"

This-is-awesome! No.1 in my book. I don't think I will recover for awhile ...

Kristen Hester09/02/07
This is cute. This is clever. This is WONDERFUL. You did a great job getting us to care about little fleas. Bravo! Thanks for the smile! Blessings.
Dee Yoder 09/02/07
I was hooked, too! And, I was suspicious of the name, but I kept right on reading. A clever, well written entry!
Jan Ackerson 09/03/07
Hilarious, and I love the rule about avoiding "the mist." Made me snort a little bit. So clever--I love the way your mind works.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/03/07
What a hoot. You've got me itching and scratching, though. Dafinitely creative!
Tammy Johnson09/03/07
Okay, the "limbs" gave it away for me - I figured something was up was NEVER guessed fleas! ROFL :0)

Delightful read - very engaging and creative with the "rules" letters matching the names, etc. No mistake in you being in the Masters!!
Tammy Johnson09/03/07
Oh! Silly me - the title should have tipped me off. Too fun!!
Patty Wysong09/03/07
Oh, you got me!! LOL --Too funny! Where on earth did you come up with that one?! It's great! Hugs! ps-thanks for the laugh! :P
Laurie Walker09/03/07
Are you tired of hearing this yet?

FANTASMIC! I loved it. I couldn't help wondering where it was these little "children" were going. Too much fun.
Jacquelyn Horne09/04/07
Yes, I bit too! (no pun intended).
Teri Wilson09/04/07
Eeeeewwwww! Seriously, this is fantastic. And the title is PERFECT! Loved it. Blessings, Teri
Teri Wilson09/04/07
Joanne!!!???!!! Okay, I liked this story so much I had to go to the hinting thread just to see who wrote it. Wow! Way to go, girl.
Linda Watson Owen09/04/07
ROFL!!! DOG GONE IT! Didn't see that one comin'! HAHAHA!! LOL! You're somethin' else, you great writer you!! Still ROFL!
Dara Sorensen09/05/07
I spot a winner in this one! It's so creative--I absolutely love the twist in it. ^_^
George Parler 09/05/07
Excuse me while I go have this hook removed from my lip. LOL This was wonderful. I'm partial to a good twist and this was a doosey. Great job.
Sherrie Jackson09/05/07
Can I say that I knew, from the last name Siphonaptera, that something was up? :-p I am just endlessly amazed at the creativity here. The Three Rules were so ominous, and then...fleas. I love it! I sense a winner. Can't say for sure, but I hope so.
Lynda Lee Schab 09/05/07
LOL - very creative! You definitely got me too, although I did wonder why you kept referring to "hands" as "limbs." he he. Great writing!
Julie Ruspoli09/05/07
Very creative Joanne and well written. Although I did picture the story while reading it, I certainly pictured it wrong. Now that I know, I'm afraid my compasion is gone though, due to my poor dogs. Great article.
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
Well by golly Joanne! You hooked me too. I didn't have a clue until the very last! I thought this was a story about the tribulation! sheeeesh - can everyone see me blushing? lol
Betty Castleberry09/05/07
You sneak! This is really creative. Somehow, I kept thinking you were going to work trees in here, with all of the "limb" talk. Well done, and lotsa fun, too.
Brenda Welc09/05/07
Here I am at 10:57 pm on Wednesday nite writing and submitting my story and you have this masterfully written cute little story here! This was so perfectly written! Loved it!
David Butler09/06/07
LOL. Very clever! :)
I'm a bit slow, so I had to read it a second time to get the acronym. I thought at first it was a fugitive family from ancient Greece or something. Certainly had me fooled.
(Funny!? Why do I feel itchy all of a sudden?) Love your sense of humour.
Diane Bertrand09/08/07
Ha! I loved it! Thanks :)
Beth LaBuff 02/16/08
How did I miss this before? Ha...this is one story that I definitely understand. :) I love the three rules and Nicholas Syphonaptera's name! ;) Your title was a big (well, tiny) clue. :)
Catrina Bradley 06/29/11
Hah! Even tho I read this when it was first posted, I still couldn't remember the "twist." Still giggling. :)
Benjamin Graber06/29/11
This is hilarious, Joanne! I love the twist! :-)