Man Trap

Stop! Wait!

Let me catch my breath…didn’t you hear me shouting from behind you? I saw you heading right towards where it lay, buried in the leaves.

Don’t move. Not an inch, not even a millimetre. You’re lucky that it hasn’t gone off already.

What on earth is something like that doing way out here in the hills? Maybe it’s some kind of eco-terrorism designed to stop grouse hunting. Why, any countryman could be raising old Betsy to the sky, setting himself for the shot, when WHAM! Kiss goodbye to your Achilles heel, old fella.

No. Don’t look down. Not even out of the corner of your eye. Anything could set it off. I’ll try and get a better look at it…

Is it an antique? Some relic from the middle ages when bears and wolves still roamed these fells? The mechanism certainly looks medieval – large enough to clamp around the hock of a bucking stag, that’s for sure.

Don’t! I can see you trying to look down. For the love of God, don’t take the risk. It’s not even as if there’s much to see – just the edge of a rusty jaw biting up from the soil.

I think it’s okay…the thing’s half buried to tell you the truth. I’d be surprised if the mechanism still works. Maybe we should just risk it; you’re starting to shiver.

The worst that could happen? Well, I suppose an unsprung trap like that could do untold damage, tearing through sinew and ligament, scraping along and shattering bone. Gangrene would be a risk, but hopefully we’d get you proper medical assistance before that set in. Tetanus, though, that would be what I’d worry about. When was your last booster? Hm. It’s a gamble then, and that’s assuming you avoid losing your foot in the first place.

I can’t make the choice for you. Should you choose to run on and be successful in avoiding injury, I shall of course cede victory to you. On the other hand, and I feel foolish mentioning the possibility again, but should you lose your foot, I’ll happily use my vest to staunch the bleeding. They can do marvels these days; get those wiggling piggies into an ice bucket and to a surgeon pronto and you’ll probably not even have much of a limp.

Whoa there, easy fella. Don’t faint on me. Give yourself a slap. Get some blood flowing again.

I see you’re decided. I’ll get help, I promise. I’ll return.


That’s how I left him, his race number fluttering against his chest in the breeze and his running shoes buried in amongst the most benign pile of autumn leaves you’ve ever laid eyes upon. I’m not proud of it, but who’s to say where the line between psychological edge and cheating really is? All I know is that the East Ayrshire fell running champion 2018 shield sits proudly on my mantlepiece.


***Thanks for reading, folks. Any comments or likes much appreciated***

14 thoughts on “Man Trap

  1. Ha! I like the way you tell a story in such a way that I don’t know exactly what’s happening till the end. Loved this line “That’s how I left him, his race number fluttering against his chest in the breeze and his running shoes buried in amongst the most benign pile of autumn leaves you’ve ever laid eyes upon.” Very sneak(er)y. And my 15yo (sitting beside me) was riveted through the gruesome prospecting.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What do you feel helps make an engrossing short story? Is it vivid scene-setting that pulls the reader in from the start? Immersive dialogue that sets up the conflict well? Small-scale character developments with a solid payoff by the end? What have you found helpful when brainstorming yours?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good idea – also I personally like including direct dialogue as a way to pull the reader right into the scene. Limiting the story to a brief snapshot helps stop me being overly-descriptive just for the sake of it. Sometimes I’ll try to make the character actively change something in their world, whether it’s helping out someone else or intervening in a situation.

        What do you particularly enjoy about the stories I’m writing? Is the scene-setting realistic? Does the dialogue feel natural? Are there some characters you can empathise with?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think some of your scene setting is cracking. I always think back to your Victorian one right at the start. Great authentic voice and took me right in the to the alleys and closes. I’ll agree with you re description. So easy to slip into a long paragraph of synonyms. Keep it short. Keep it snappy.

        Liked by 1 person

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