Barry is snoring again. Meryl nudges his flank, causing him to growl in his sleep as he rolls over.

She crouches down and hisses in his ear, “Wake up!” Meryl is not here for Barry’s slacking. The stakes are high. This only happens once a year. 

“What?” He bolts up to his haunches, looking around. 

“You fell asleep. Again.”

“Did not.” He blinks his beady black eyes, sitting. He looks like he actually believes it. “I did not fall asleep.”

Meryl paces, cutting tracks through the fresh snow. “If they come and we miss it…”

“We won’t miss it.”

Meryl frowns. An icy fog has settled over the tundra. “You sure this is the right spot?”

“I’m positive, Mer. This is exactly where they come through before they lift off. Every year.”  

“This score would get us through to spring,” Meryl sighs.

“I know.” Barry’s voice drops. His snout looks narrower than ever, his filthy white fur loose on his bones. 

Meryl goes back to pacing. It was another lean autumn. She feels the fatigue deep in her bones from long months spent paddling between ever-shrinking ice patches. 

She closes her eyes, almost able to smell the warm, sticky blood staining the snow. The sweetness of the fresh meat, the scrumptious steaming entrails. And the sheer plenty of it, if they can take down all nine of the antlered beasts. The fat human would be a bonus.

“Meryl?” Barry interrupts her reverie. He’s staring at the horizon, his gaze fixed on a faint reddish glow. “I think it’s time.”

When Shelby Van Pelt isn’t feeding her flash-fiction addiction or scribbling out some wacky idea of a novel, she’s stumbling over cats while wrangling children. Her work has recently been featured by f(r)iction, Funny Pearls, The Daily Drunk, and TL;DR. Find her at or on Twitter: @shelbyvanpelt.


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