Nick Bryan Dot Com

Friday short story time: "If You Build It"

This week, a new story about over-reactions and animals and stuff. I like this one, so will spare you the pre-amble/excuses. Click the ‘More’-type link below to read it.

If you like this too and want some other stories, there are a few online here now, surely there must be at least one you haven’t read. Thank you to everyone who has read previous efforts and left nice comments, I do read and appreciate all.

If You Build It

By Nick Bryan

‘Careful… I said careful!’

Wilf leapt backwards, hands still pointing at the middle of his lawn.

Still kneeling down next to that very spot, his daughter Becky tutted.

In the indicated location was a bear trap, two jaws splayed apart on the floor, ready to clamp over anything that strayed into its path. It was spring loaded, razor sharp and could easily sever a man’s foot if he stood on it by accident. But both of them were so hyper-aware of its exact location that this would be impossible.

Finally, she finished playing with the mechanism, and there was a clinking sound as she let it rest. Wilf flinched, which only made her tut again.

‘Okay,’ she stood back up to join him, ‘I think we’re finished.’

The sun was beginning to set, and the trap was already nestling down, disguising itself in the grass. Overhead, a bird squawked, as if warning his friends to stay far, far away.

‘And you’re sure this isn’t an over-reaction?’

Wilf seemed unable to hold back his reservations, and Becky tried to seem reassuring rather than impatient. ‘Look, Dad, you said the seagulls keep flying in and eating the breadcrumbs from your bird-feeder, don’t they?’

‘Yes. I did try buying a cat to scare them off, but it just lies there all day waiting to be fed.’

‘So we set this trap up, with some breadcrumbs on the middle, that’ll stop them.’

Wilf remembered the breadcrumbs all too well. Becky had waited until after she’d loaded the trap to sprinkle the bait onto the centre, and he’d had to watch through his fingers, convinced it would go off any moment.

‘Couldn’t we have…’ He searched for the correct phrase. ‘Wasn’t there any simpler way than a bear trap?’

‘I had this lying around in my shed,’ Becky informed him matter-of-factly, as if that alone made it sensible. Presumably, had she found an atom bomb in there, both his garden and the seagulls would be dust by now. Wilf sighed. He knew he was old now, but he didn’t think he was so out of touch that he didn’t know when something was a stupid idea.

‘Isn’t it a bit… jagged?’ By which he meant, didn’t it appear downright evil? With huge spikes and slight rust, not to mention the way the mechanism quivered hungrily.

‘Well, it’s a cheap one. Newer models have padded edges and stuff.’

But not this one, he thought. This was a special, extra nasty edition.

‘If a seagull lands on that thing, won’t it be bitten in half?’ He nodded towards the trap, hairs floating loose across his head. ‘Or just pulped.’

‘Dad,’ she cooed, ‘didn’t you want them to stop?’

‘Yes, but not by serial murder. Can’t we install a nice scarecrow?’ He perked up visibly at this concept. ‘Scarecrows are great. I have some old clothes upstairs I could dress it in.’

‘This will be much more efficient.’

‘And you’re sure it’s not illegal?’

‘Don’t worry Dad, we’ll burn the bodies.’

‘Lovely.’ With another deep sigh from Wilf, they both began to trudge back towards the house.

‘Say,’ he added, ‘have you seen Wilson anywhere?’

‘The cat? No.’ She snorted back a laugh. ‘Can’t believe you called the cat that; one day you’ll get confused who’s who.’

‘When I’m old and senile?’ Wilf laughed. ‘Thank you, Rebecca.’

The next morning

Blearing down the stairs, Wilf rubbed his eyes. He’d been troubled by strange nightmares, monsters and other growling things that didn’t usually come to mind.

But dreams are just pictures. He lurched into the kitchen to his fridge, seizing the normal carton of orange juice. A quick sharp drink, he thought, would set him right again.

As he poured it into a nearby glass, his mind finally reminded him of the existence of that damn bear trap in his garden. And that, he realised, there could easily be a partially dissected bird in there by now. Wilf groaned.

Perhaps, he thought, he would call Becky to come over and inspect it for him. He wasn’t sure he was in the mood to peel gull goo off vicious metal teeth.

Still, he now had to rinse out his orange juice glass, and the placement of the window gave him a clear view out over the back garden. He crept up to the sink, trying not to look forwards. Finally, though, a combination of neck cramps and morbid curiosity got the better of him.

After all, he reasoned, how would he get Becky over to hose it down if he didn’t at least look?

So, screwing up his courage, he gazed out over his garden.

Lying there, amidst the morning dew, was a huge dark shadow. Not a sea gull by any stretch of the imagination; a huge, brown mass of fur. Snout, claws, eyes, it was hard to doubt any longer. No, that was a genuine bear. He didn’t think they were that common in Portsmouth.

The trap was clamped around his foot, there appeared to be a few sticky wounds down there. At that, he finally looked away, too quickly to ascertain whether the thing was alive or not.

Well, he thought sadly, this gave him an idea what had happened to the cat.

This story copyright me, as I wrote it. One day, I should build this disclaimer into my blog template so I don’t have to keep typing it out, but I always forget. Want to use it in some way? Definitely email me.


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