#trifecta – “Unexpected Guests” #flashfiction


This post was written for the Trifecta Writing Challenge, which was to write between 33 and 333 words including the word “Brand”, using the following definition:

BRAND (noun)
3a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership
(2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron
(2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma

“Unexpected Guests”
by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
[333 words]

“We’re looking for an escaped slave. Has a brand on his left cheek.” the leader of the posse spoke to no-one in particular.

“How are we supposed to know that. They all look the same.” chuckled one of the impromptu audience, who turned out to be the captain of the settlement. His crew laughed and egged him on.

“The other left cheek. It should be visible even for one as dimwitted as you.” the newcomer spat from his higher vantage point. Both those mounted and on foot readied their weapons, but were stood down by their respective leaders harsh looks or gestures.

“Hey! You’re needing our help, remember.” the standing figure reminded the mounted one. “Any distinguishing marks?”

“Apart from the brand? No. It’s Human, which should narrow it down.” the posse leader steadied his mount, which had sensed something that didn’t agree with it.

“Well squit, they DO all look the same. Can’t you sniff it out? It’s not like they can hide their stench.” he looked to companions for approving smiles. “I don’t know why you farmers even have them around. Enough to put me off my food, for one!’

“They have their uses. The animals won’t eat them, because they taste so disgusting, so they are good at tending the herds.”

“Oh, so that’s why we don’t just eat them ourselves. Makes sense… Anyway, we haven’t seen a Human in these parts for three… four cycles. Have we boys?” The crew quickly agreed. “So, maybe you could try the next valley. These humans can run, I hear.”

“That they can. Be seeing you.” The posse was led towards the outskirts of the settlement. “We’ll be back this way, in case you see anything.”

After the visitors were out of earshot, the captain whispered to one of his crew, “Go pull the Human out of the vessel. It should be safe now.”

“Really?”

“And tell the damn cook to throw the rest of it away. He’ll have to start again.”

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