Don’t Do That

Below is flash fiction inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds writing prompt. The three random words chosen for me were a library, a found dog, and a bomb.

Wendy parked the car and took two steps toward the library and then changed her mind, pivoting to follow the path that led through the woods. The sun was shining, just a slight breeze ruffling the leaves on the oak trees. Everything was starting to turn varying shades of green. She could hear the river to her left, but she couldn’t see it through the new leaf growth. It was a perfect day and in Minnesota we got so few that she couldn’t squander the day being indoors the whole time.
The path twinned through the woods only giving her a vision of the next ten feet, making her feel like she was alone in the forest. This path was peaceful, but today a shiver flashed through her and she scanned the trees wondering if she was really as alone as it appeared.
There was a rustle in the underbrush and she dropped down slightly into a fighting stance, keeping her hands loose but above waist level. A dog bounded out of the greenery, tongue hanging, tail wagging, and smiling in the way only golden retriever’s can. He danced around her three times and thrust his head into her hand for petting.
“Hey buddy.” She leaned down. “You are all covered in burrs.
Petting him lightly as she began to remove burrs she felt his ribs.
“No collar. Who do you belong to buddy?” She pulled out a granola bar. “No chocolate and no raisons so this should be okay. It looks like you’ve missed a few meals.”
She held out the treat and he gulped it down in one bite.
The dog whined. It’s okay. Patted the golden on the head. Took a step and the whine turned into a growl. “What has gotten into you?” His mouth clamped down on her jacket and pulled her back.
His eyes were wide and his sides were heaving.
“It’s okay. Not everyone is a reader. We will skip the library for today.” She took a few steps back away from the building.
A whooshing sound was followed by a flash. The building exploded. Glass and debris flew.
She stumbled backward and landed hard on her hip. The dog yelped and she pushed a flaming board off of him, burning her hands as she patted down his singed fur.
She pulled out her phone and called 911.


* * *
Hours later, her ex-husband sat on her couch.
He took a gulp of coffee. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, just shook up. Thanks for letting us go.”
The dog patted across the faded flowered linoleum to get a drink of water. He continued to watch her as he lapped the water.
“I think he’s in love.”
“Yeah. I attract dogs.”
He lifted a brow.
“You left that wide open. I had too.” She lost her smile. “If he hadn’t have stopped me from going into the library I would be dead now.”
She took a deep breath. “I called the shelter. If no one claims him, he’s mine. “
“I’m pretty sure he’s already claimed you.”
She turned away from the dog and focused on Randy. “The news said it was a gas leak?”
His face devoid of emotion, he said, “That’s what they said. “
The cold chill she’d first felt in the forest returned. She rubbed her arms.
“I think you should come with me.”
She felt the smile come upon her, warming her. “I’m sure your wife would love that.”
“You used to be friends.”
“That was a lifetime ago.”
“I don’t want you to be alone.”
Every light in her apartment was on. There was no way she was going to be able to sleep tonight. “I’ll go to my brothers for the weekend.”
* * *
Her brother met her at the door. “Randy called. We agree you’re a magnet for trouble.”
“You like him better than me don’t you?”
Brent waved his arms dramatically. “Your woo woo powers draw in trouble.”
“Shut up, Sir Cranks-a-lot.”
His voice lowered, and his gaze scanned the empty dirt road, “Did you sense anything? Before it happened I mean.”
The chill she’d felt in the woods. “That hasn’t happened for a long time.”
He watched her. He could let the silence gather for days, she wouldn’t crack, she was the one who’d come up with the silence-to-answer game.
He patted her on the back, hard enough that if anything had been lodged in her throat it would have flown out.
He walked to the truck and then peered around the end of the car at her. “How long are you planning on staying.”
“For. Ever!”
“Shut up.”
Tiny hairs rose along her skin at the same time Buddy’s hackles rose. He growled softly.
“Brent?”
“Get in the house.”
They ran up the porch steps and into the house. Brent slammed the door shut and locked it.
He waved her off. “Back door!”
She sprinted down the hall and slid around the corner of the dining room, stumbling toward the door and locking it.
“Brent!” she yelled.
“What?” he asked from directly behind her.
She jumped and covered her heart with her hand. “Don’t sneak up on me.” She forced herself to take a deep breath. “There wasn’t a single car behind me. How did it follow me?”
“Why are you calling it it?”
The phone rang. They both jumped.
“Yeah,” Brent said into the receiver. “Hang on I’ll put you on speaker.”
“We recovered some of the bodies, ones protected from the blast by a bookcase. They didn’t get their injuries in the blast.”
“No niceties? No, you made good time or how was the drive?” she asked.
He sighed. The familiar sound of his irritation calmed her.
Randy continued, “I already called for a squad car to come by and watch the house.”
Brent’s eyes narrowed. “I see it pulling into the driveway now.” He pulled her in for a one-armed hug. “Always good to see you sis.”

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