Copyright –Douglas M. MacIlroy

Nightmare (100 words)

“Let’s move to the country,” she’d said. They’d bought a colt and a dappled filly – hard to break. “I’m calling her Nightmare,” she’d smiled.

Then a pair of silver Purdeys, and they’d learned to shoot. Hours spent picking shot from their game.

They’d rode hard, she fearless, streaking through the woods, him trailing behind.

Not any more.

He’d buried her broken body with her Purdey.

He watched Nightmare trot towards the car.

They’d shared a spirit those two he thought, getting out and loading a shell.

Nightmare whinnied.

He raised his gun.

64 thoughts on “Nightmare

  1. Oh, you are a fast learner!! This was excellent. Only one suggestion–colt and filly shouldn’t be capitalized as they’re not names, just sexes. Nightmare was an apt name, both because of what happened and because she was a mare (although she wasn’t black.) Love the Purdeys!



  2. Not sure i know exactly what’s going on here, jwd, but it’s late and I’m tired so maybe i need to read it again in the morning. In the meantime, I have a feeling “They shared a spirit” would read better – as it’s a quoted thought you shoudl use the tense he would use in his head, not the tense of the narration


    1. Hi Elmo, sadly she had an accident riding the horse and broke her neck and died. He has made up his mind that he cannot live with this horse and blames Nightmare for her death. The use of ‘they’d shared’ was because she was of course dead and that was how he thought it. I felt that ‘they shared a spirit’ seemed current and rightly or wrongly opted for ‘they’d’ on the basis that it was recollection of something that had been, and was no more. The tense by this point had already changed as we joined him in the car, so it was not a continuation of that tense. I hope that clears up my thinking and sheds a little light on the story. Thanks for stopping by and taking the trouble comment, it is appreciated. πŸ™‚


      1. Thanks for taking the trouble to explain, jwd! My confusion stemmed from the fact that she was buried with her Purdey – which then led me to wonder whether the Purdey had been involved in the accident, and even whether “those two” refered to the Purdey or to Nightmare as it seems odd for him to want to shoot the horse if he thinks of it as carrying his lover’s spirit.


  3. I wondered if Nightmare killed her, right up until she whinnied, then I knew it was him. Her body was broken, he must’ve been brutal.


    1. Interesting take Michael and entirely plausible. I must admit I hadn’t thought of that possibility. Have you ever thought of volunteering for jury service? πŸ™‚


      1. Whut, y’mean that she died by accident? Nuh, I don’t believe that furra secund. Nahp, I reckun he dunnit. Durned varmint; wah, ah noo he dunnit as soon as he walked up to the bar an’ ordered that large whiskey with that sly grin on his face…


      2. S’what you say. I heard tell that you wus up t’a no good. I heard tell as you done fur Wilbur’s daughter up north, an you buried her out in the woods so’s none would find out whut you done to her pretty self…


  4. Nice to have an explanation. But there is only so much you can post with 100 words. I kinda guessed something like that. But she could have died for any reason and he still might have shot the horse not to be reminded of her. Just the fact that the horse did throw her…that just added to tension.

    Thanks for your visit.


    1. You are absolutely right Jules, I read somewhere that in this very short form of flash fiction it is important to leave the blanks for the reader to fill in with their imaginations, and of course it gives us all something to talk about!


  5. Why isn’t there a “don’t like” button when you need one 😦
    LOL no, I’m not saying I don’t like your story, just don’t like where you w-w-w-went with it ~sniff – snuffle- reaches for Kleenex~


  6. Dear JWD,
    I had to Google Purdey. This is a good thing. I read your story twice. Without giving adjectives or assigning emotional descriptions you made me feel his anger and grief. Well done. Well done, indeed.


  7. I loved how you crafted this, and how I didn’t know what to expect until right at the end. I suspected he’d killed her himself, but I’ve read the comments and your explanation, much better that it was an accident (though a little hard on the poor horse).


    1. Thanks Trudy, you weren’t the only one who thought it might be him. I think FF brings out the detective in all of us. Thanks for visiting and your kind comments. πŸ™‚


  8. I like the cliffhanger. I hope the man repents. I will never like a character who blames a crittur for his own bungling ignorance, or in this case, his wife’s. Maybe, being a rotten shot with a gun, he’ll shoot and miss, then see the error of his ways! πŸ™‚


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