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Monday, December 10, 2012

FREE short story

It's been a journey getting Wandering Weeds published. But, that's a story for another post.
You can buy the anthology here:

Print in Createspace store:

And find the rest of our blog hop here:

Lots of stories of evil weeds, some intelligent, some not, but all very bad news. We hope you enjoy the book. To whet your appetite, here's a story that isn't in the book but captures a lot of the flavor of the collection:

Lassie, Go Home
by Jaleta Clegg

"Come on, girl. Let's see what's over that ridge." The boy trots up the steep slope, dust puffing from his footsteps.

Silly human offspring. Always running away from the pack. It's my job to keep him safe. I stop at the crest of the ridge, posing for anyone who might notice my magnificent coat and perfect form. The wind ripples my fur. My nostrils expand, sniffing the bone dry air.

Why can't my pack live where the air is moist and the ground green? The harsh desert sands wear my paws to nothing. I almost envy the boy his shoes as I bound after him.

I bark. He's straying too far.

"What is it, girl? Do you see a rabbit?" The boy barely slows. "I think I see that spring I told you about yesterday. Down there by that abandoned mine. Betcha there's gold in that mine, big nuggets just waiting for me to pick them up and take them home. Won't that make mom smile. We could buy her that washing machine she always wanted. And a big refrigerator. And an air conditioner. Then we could build the town dad always wanted, you know, the tourist center and everything. Boy, I can't wait to bring home all that gold." His yellow hair disappears into the darkness of the abandoned mine.

I bark. It does no good. I sigh. My night vision isn't good. My keen nose informs me that the mine shaft is an evil place. I do not want to enter. I bark, but the boy does not return. I whine as I try to place the odd smell emanating from the dark cave. My skin twitches.

"Lassie, come on, girl. Help me find a lantern or something."

I do not want to enter the cave. I sense something amiss. But the boy might be in danger, stupid human child, and he is my responsibility. My foot scratches my ear, sign of my distress.

"Wait, there's something glowing down here. It's sticky. There's a bucket. I'll scoop some up."

My ears perk forward. Every sense screams of danger. Growls emerge from deep in my chest.

Green light oozes from the cave, reeking of malevolence. A soft hum filters from the darkness.

"Ah! It's got me!"

I bound up and down, unable to force myself to enter the darkness. The boy's screams rip the air. I run in tight circles, barking frantically. My ears prick as I detect the sound of rustling branches. I freeze, assessing the new threat.

Balls of greenish-gray limbs roll over the ridgetop. The tumbleweeds stop just above the entrance to the mine. Their branches wave though the air is still. Traces of greenish light define the thicker center, flickering like beating hearts. My hair rises along my neck. Pure evil watches me without eyes. The tumbleweeds roll closer, branches tracing lace in the dry dust. I crouch, whining, torn between protecting the stupid human boy child and retreating from the danger encroaching on the mine.

A small weed, barely larger than a rabbit, bounces from a ledge and lands just beyond the mine entrance. The thorns lining the branches drip green ichor.

I bark, once, then bound away. The boy needs help, more than I can offer. I dash bravely around the hill to the small house where my pack resides.

I paw the screen door, whining low in my throat. The woman sings as she prepares the evening meal. I thump the door with my paw. She continues to sing. I bark once. Her voice shrieks off key as she hits a high note in her song. I cover my ears with my paws.

"Here, girl, whatever is the matter?" The man, alpha of my pack, leans his shovel against the porch.

I bounce on my paws. "Bark! Barkbark bark bark barkbarkbark. Bark!"

"Beautiful day, girl. I'll second that."

What is the problem with these stupid humans? "Bark bark barkbark bark!"

"Did you see a rabbit?" The man sits on the porch, scratching behind my ear.

My tail thumps in pleasure. But the boy is in peril, I must bring help. I back from his reach, front paws low. "Bark! Bark! Barkbark!"

The man frowns, scratching under his cap. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

The woman screeches the chorus to her favorite song.

"Bark barkbark bark." Can't they understand a simple statement? The boy is in grave danger and the man sits and scratches!

"What is it, Lassie?"

"Barkbarkbarkbark bark barkbark!"

The man jumps to his feet. "Little Timmy is in the well again?"

I whine, pawing my face. Stupid humans! "Bark barkbarkbark bark!" I waggle my tail, circling to the trail and back.

"Martha! Little Timmy fell into the well again!" The man grabs his shovel.

The woman's singing stops abruptly. Blessed silence falls in the little valley.

No, not silence. Rustling edges over the ridge, like an army of shrubbery creeping towards us. My hair rises. I growl deep in my throat.

The man rushes forward, heedlessly running for the well. Tumbleweeds pour from the ridge. Green light traces their descent. The man screams as they envelop him. His body disappears in the mass of mutant vegetation.

I bark, but I cannot stop the tumbleweeds.

The screen door slams. The woman emerges, damp dishcloth dangling from her limp hand. The wave of tumbleweeds crests, surging along the path to the farmhouse. I rush in circles, barking a warning. The woman flaps her dishtowel.

"Hush, girl. Strange weather we're having. You say Little Timmy fell into the well again? Fool child." She hums as she clips her cloth to the clothesline.

The green-gray plants advance, swallowing the shed. The woman pays no attention to the threat now creeping into her yard.

"Bark bark!"

"Lassie! Go home, girl!"

The tumbleweeds creep around the woman, encircling her with their glowing fronds of thorns. She sings. The branches tremble as the tumbleweeds prepare to pounce.

I cannot stand helpless while my pack is devoured by the mutant plants, but I cannot stop them by myself. I dash away, paws flying as I rush to the town. The man with the shiny badge and the man with the great, red, water-breathing monster will help.

I bound across the park. Delicious smells waft through the summer air, but I am determined they shall not distract me. I must save my pack. I leap over a small child playing in the sand. Nothing will deter me, not today.

The man with the water-breathing monster stands outside, washing the beast with a hose. The great square beast sleeps.

I rush to him, barking.

He pauses, water pooling around his feet. "What's that, Lassie? Is there trouble at the farm?"

Finally! A human who can think! "Bark, barkbark yip!"

"Little Timmy has fallen in the well again?" The man drops the hose.

I wrap my paw over my eyes. Why do they not understand?

The man dashes into the den of the monster, leaving me alone with the great red beast. I whine, impatient to save my pack.

The fat orange tabby leaps from her perch on the windowsill of the den. She flicks her tail. "Mrow."


"Mrow?" Eye-blink conveys her assurance that no plant would dare invade her home.

These are not normal plants. They are monsters, evil hybrids fed on the toxic waste stored in the old mine. These tumbleweeds can think, move on their own. And they eat humans. I scratch my ear as I share with the tabby.

Her fur bushes. She hisses.

"Bark." I thump my tail once.

She leaps the fence to the alley. She will bring help to my pack.

The man who tends the great beast hurries from the den, followed by the other servants of the beast. They climb onto the monster.

"Lassie, come on, girl! We have to save Timmy!" The man pats the seat in the monster's head.

I jump. I have never been allowed inside before. I sit tall, tongue hanging loose as I taste the new smells.

The man wakes the beast. It roars and squeals as it charges through the town. I brace myself as it rushes around corners. Within moments, we have reached my pack's residence.

Masses of glowing tumbleweeds cover the house and yard. They wave sickly branches, threatening with their oozing thorns. The great red beast drives into the mass, crushing them beneath its round black feet. I bark, rejoicing in our triumph

The tumbleweeds hunch together, retreating up the slope behind the house. Green light sparkles along each narrow thorn. They tangle branches, rolling atop one another. A giant form emerges from the mass. Rudimentary arms sprout, tangles of smaller tumbleweeds forming stumpy limbs.

"Well I'll be tarred and dipped in mustard." The man scratches his head. "Your little Timmy is quite the genius, to build a statue from tumbleweeds."

The other men who ride the beast gather to stare at the monstrosity.

I growl and snap my teeth but they do not listen to my warning. The tumbleweeds engulf the men, covering them with oozing green ichor. I leap to the head of the great red beast, barking warnings at the evil plants. The giant creature stumps forward, humans wrapped in its thorny embrace. I stand my ground. They will not devour the water-breathing beast, not while I breathe.

The mutant creature stumbles closer, clumsy in its new manifestation. A mouth forms in its featureless face, a hole lined with tumbleweeds.

I bark, standing firm on the water beast's head. The flashing lights rotate beneath my paws, streaking the abomination with red.

A sound emerges from the thing, like a wind roaring through the desert canyons. My fur rises at the eerie wailing. Little Timmy's head appears in the thing's eye socket. His eyes glow with green light. I bare my teeth. I must save Little Timmy. The stupid human offspring is my responsibility. I leap to the nose of the great red beast.

The tabby cat appears, landing lightly beside me. Her tail bristles at the sight of the thing and the humans now embedded inside. She flicks one ear. Help is on the way.

I rush at the thing, confidence renewed. It swipes one stubby arm downwards. The female of my pack dangles within the branches of tumbleweeds. I dart back, barking and snarling my rage. How dare these plants perpetrate such horror on my humans!

Rabbits pour from the hillsides. I leap to the safety of the red beast's head. Rabbits frighten me with their vapid stares and gnawing teeth. Eyes flash with reflected red light as the horde pours into the valley. Teeth glint as the creatures fling themselves upon the mutant plants.

The giant form sways, howling like wind trapped in the chimney. The suicidal rabbits leap up its torso, biting and kicking. Their eyes glow madly, insanity incarnate. The tumbleweed creature has been damaged; one arm dangles, the humans trapped inside writhe with mouths open in soundless screams. But even the rabbit horde is too small, their numbers too few. The monstrosity shakes itself free of most, howling in rage as it swings its remaining arm at the square, red beast.

I bark, thumping the beast with my paws. Why will it not breathe water upon the tumbleweed monster? Why will it not slaughter the thing with its powerful spray? The beast remains in slumber.

The cat hisses, swatting her paw across my nose. She deliberately glances over her shoulder, pausing to lick a spot on one paw.

Deer pour into the tiny valley, eyes rolling white in panic. Cats from the town drive them into the monster's embrace. The deer kick and buck, knocking tumbleweeds loose to scatter across the remains of my female's garden. The rabbits rise from the ground, devouring the loose tumbleweeds.

The creature howls, Little Timmy's head rolling in the eye socket as the beast falls. The rabbits swarm its carcass. The deer trample the human bodies within the thorns. In moments, the thing lies in pieces too small for even rabbits to devour.

I perch on the head of the water-breathing beast. My pack lies dead on the churned ground, among the servants of the slumbering monster. The deer flee into the hills. The rabbits fade into the brush. The cat flicks her tail as she saunters back to town and her sunny windowsill. I contemplate my failure to protect my family from this horror.

I raise my muzzle and howl my grief to the uncaring afternoon. I shall stand vigil at the site of their destruction until my beautiful coat is dusty and faded and my ribs show from starvation.

The man stirs, groaning. The woman sits, pushing strands of hair from her face. Little Timmy sprawls in the road, snoring. The servants of the beast stir.

I bark in sheer joy. My pack lives! I have saved them from the abomination of tumbleweeds. I have proven my worth yet again.

"Bark! Bark!"

"Lassie! Go home, girl! And stop that infernal barking." My alpha male holds his head, blood seeping through his fingers.

I bound from the beast to lick his face. He shoves me away.

All is right and proper. I have saved my people from danger. It is only my job.


  1. I enjoyed reading this story. I especially like Lassie's ironic perspective and the idea of being misunderstood. I also like how it is suspenseful but not too gory. And I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

  2. Thanks, Karen. I had way too much fun writing the story. I'm all for silly horror that's family friendly. And I love me some happy endings. ;)


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