Friday Fictioneers -Animal Instincts

ff140514By the rutted, single-track road, worried mothers stood guard as their newborn chomped on soggy nettles. Up ahead bug-eyed rams remained unmoved by the angry glare of oncoming headlights. These were the Laird’s prize stock – Charlie McPherson’s stock.

The hills and glens of Atlnasheean had been Charlie’s home and office for nigh on 30 years – he’d never once let the Laird’s beasts out of his sight. 

Back at the estate, Charlie’s cottage lay dark and empty; cold embers dying in the hearth. On the hat stand his crook swung in the breeze – Charlie never went anywhere without his crook.

The rain was getting heavier, and louder; the gurgling hillside streams now foaming red.


These words form my entry into this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt challenge. A couple of weeks ago a few of you said you liked stories which left you wondering what had happened, well here’s another!

10 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers -Animal Instincts

  1. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    Hi Paul,

    I once called you genius, so I hope you’ll excuse me when I say that this one… falls short for me. The writing’s excellent, of course — you are a true wordsmith — but while I get that Charlie’s dead, I’m left with a sort of ????? as to what happened here, and not in a “mysterious longing to know more” type of way, but rather in a frustrating way.
    I’d love to hear what you were thinking, because maybe I’ve just missed something.
    Honestly yours,


    1. paulmclem Post author


      Fair comments. In the past I haven’t been a great fan of totally open ended stories, but others do them so I thought I’d give ’em a try. Perhaps I should have given some sort of clue i.e a paw print, a tooth mark etc in Charlie’s cottage. However, it is what it is. To be honest I only did it because the last unexplained ending job seemed to go down ok.

      Thanks for the comments,


      ps are we still boycotting you? #boycottHelena

      1. Helena Hann-Basquiat

        You’re a comedian! Sorry you were witness to my social suicide attempt. Thanks for talking me back off the ledge.

  2. Jan Brown

    I like the open end. The clue of the hanging crook is enough. I walk with a cane, and couldn ‘t get more than two steps without it. So the crook is a very impactful clue for me.

  3. Sandra

    I do like open ended stories, and I’m quite partial to doing them myself. I took it that someone had forced him from his home and murdered him. If it hadn’t been for the line ‘never went anywhere without his crook’ I would have assumed he had fallen and hit his head on a rock by a stream, which somehow was more convincing to me. But it was fine as it was. Very well done Paul.

  4. aliciajamtaas

    Paul, I admit I had to read this three times, but I think it was because I read it too quickly the first couple of times. The swinging cane gave me a chill and “hillside streams now foaming red” brought the smell of blood. Well done.

  5. patriciaruthsusan

    Paul, Good story and I understood that Charlie met with foul play because enough clues were there. This would make a great hook for a longer mystery story. Well written. 🙂 —Susan

  6. Nan Falkner

    Dear Paul, What a good mystery! This is extremely well done and leaves the reader wanting to know more. Poor Charlie – where did he go and what dastardly deed was done to him. Good job! Nan Claire 🙂


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