Fantasy Fiction posted May 15, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
Anthro animal fantasy flash fic

I Held the World

by Heather Bagley

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

It was ambitious, I understand that. Three-against-one is not a fight I should've picked, but rage blinded me. They were all canines. Filthy, stinking, jeering dogs. They began taunting me as soon as I left the tavern I work at. How could they not? I'm famous in their world; the street-fighting world. I go by many names: Tiger, after my species; Fangs, after my two saber-teeth. Few know my real name.

Frankly, I don't care what they call me, as long as they never, ever call me kitty. Unfortunately, that's exactly what they did today. I snapped. I almost want to say I regret it, but the sight of them running away, wounds dripping, and tails between their legs made it all worth it.

Now I'm lying on the ground at the end of the alleyway, watching my own blood ooze from my body, staining my black-and-white fur, reddening my vision. Something possesses me to raise my head and gaze at the street opposite me. Through the crimson haze I recognize the shape approaching me.

He's a hyena; I don't mind that, after all, hyenas are more closely related to cats than to dogs. He's come to my aid a few times in the past, and I to his. We're both loners; not subscribing to any gang, group, or family. Perhaps that's the reason for the uncharacteristic plea sliding from my lips now that he's within earshot.

"Please," I whimper, "help me."

He's crouched in front of me, looking me over. At least I think he is. The whole world's spinning. "Are you sure?" he asks me.

I nod. The more time passes, the more blood I lose, the weaker I feel. Momentarily, I wonder if he'll leave anyway, and I'll die alone, on the concrete—cause of death being pride—until I feel his arms, warm and sturdy, slide underneath my legs and back, lifting me from the ground.

The walk to his apartment is short; maybe that's why we crossed paths so frequently. He places me on the edge of his bathtub, turns on the faucet, and unzips my leather jacket. We don't speak. It's not the kind of silence with jagged edges that forces you to talk, rather the kind that comfortably blankets the air.

My new-found companion places my first leg into the water and starts washing. It burns hellishly. After gently cleaning the gashes, he bandages it and repeats the process with my remaining limbs.

He leaves briefly returning with a small meal. I appreciate the gesture, but I feel tension. He has a question for me, I know it. It still catches me off guard.

"Don't think I caught your name," he remarks, "what is it?"

My quick answer startles me almost as much as his request, "Alara. Yours?"

"You can call me Atlas."

"Atlas?" Strange I think, he said, "You can call me" not "My name is."

He places his paw on my cheek and smiles, "Because I held the world in my arms tonight."

Story of the Month contest entry

I wrote this a little over a year ago for a The Writer Magazine contest. It's one of my favorites, seeing as the main character is one I've had since eight years old.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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© Copyright 2023. Heather Bagley All rights reserved.
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