Flash Fiction Presents…”Truth be told”

There was a grimace, a release, and then pain.

Kerin stared at the dagger hilt protruding from his chest and slumped down against the cell bars.

“You’re a liar!” Kerin wheezed, his chest cavity already filling with blood.

“How so?” asked the guard from the other side of the bars. “I said I’d release you from this cell if you told me where you’d hidden the letters.”

Kerin shifted around and stared at the chain around the guard’s neck.

The guard glanced down, “Oh this?” He stifled a laugh as he lifted the chain to reveal a large, iron key. “I could open the door if you wish, but I doubt it would make little difference. Your fate was sealed the moment you took those letters.”

There was a groan, a cough, and then dizziness.

“But we had a deal,” Kerin whispered, his body felt detached.

The guard leaned in. “Isn’t it ironic that the man whose letters you stole blamed me – the guard – for losing them and not the petty thief who took them?  So, whilst you were safe in your little iron cage, it was I who faced a death sentence if they weren’t found. Truth be told, until you gave up the location, you were making a deal with a dead man; and dead men have nothing to lose.”

Kerin spun with as much speed as a dying body could muster and grabbed through the bars. “You’re right; taking those letters did seal my fate. I knew I’d never leave this cell alive. So, it was you who made the deal with a dead man.”

A look of panic broke over the guard’s face. “So, they’re not…..”

“Like you said; dead men have nothing to lose.”

There was a grin, a splutter, and then darkness.

Flash Fiction Presents…”Something Nasty in the Woodshed”

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed!”

That’s what we told each other as kids whenever we passed the old house at the edge of town. With its cracked windows and broken frame, it was a vision from a child’s nightmare, but the woodshed was worse; a decrepit lean-to sagging against the back of the house. It had cobwebbed windows, moldy wood and a door that threatened to swing open if ever the wind had enough courage to try. Even if you looked hard, it was impossible to tell if the woodshed was holding the house up, or trying to pull it down.

“No there isn’t,” Billy Pratt argued. He hadn’t heard about the woodshed, so I’d felt it my duty to tell him of its reputation.

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed and anyone who goes in never comes out!” I shouted back.

“I’ll prove it to you,” he’d said smugly before walking around the back of the house.

And that was the last anyone ever saw of him…

***

That was twenty years ago. Yet, as I stand across the street, the house still looks the same. I can’t see the woodshed from here, but it’s there, I can sense it.

Turning, I see young Billy approach. He stops. He gestures. There’s no-one else there, but I know who he’s talking to. All too soon he walks away.

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed!” I shout. 

But he’s already disappeared behind the house.

Flash Fiction presents… “A Beach in Winter”

The warm wind that once wrapped itself around you like a comforting blanket has long gone – emigrated South with the birds and replaced by bitter, cold gusts intent on pushing you away. Light spray or heavy drizzle? It’s hard to tell; the sharp, salty tang lingers in the air and lasts on the skin. Thirst comes from licking lips – water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Wrap up warm to brave the elements; it’s good for the constitution. “A thick jumper and a sensible coat is what you need!” Mum always used to say. “A hot flask of coffee, someone to share it with and a march, not a walk, won’t go amiss…”

Indecisive weather makes good company for nature’s wintery palette. Some days the light grey rises up to meet dark grey, on other days it’s the opposite. But who’s watching? If a wave crashes on the shore with no-one around, does it still make a sound? Maybe the white gulls know the answer as they flit and swoop over the high tides searching for an ice-cold snack.

Lonely and sad at the lack of attention, nature’s play continues with its’ daily shows. No bronze, tanned, fair-weather friends anymore, it now makes do with shivering dog-walkers and out-of-their-mind joggers.

Now the show has finished and the tide recedes for an intermission. Fishermen descend with their spades and their buckets stab at the sand in search of wriggling life. Stab, hack, stab, chop – don’t they realise the beach is already dead?

 

Editing and Time

Quite a combination…

A few days ago, I entered a competition by writing a short story about celebrating New Year’s Eve. As with everything I write for submission, I went over it many times and made a few changes here and there. When I was finally happy with it, I pushed the submit button and fired it out to the competition website. All was then good in the world.

Until last night…

I was tucked away in bed watching a little known TV comedy in the UK called Count Arthur Strong. (Personally, I don’t think it’s that good, but it makes me laugh so it’s become one of my guilty pleasures.)  This particular episode was about problems with changing the clocks back (and forward) for Daylight Saving time can cause problems.

After it finished and the credits rolled across the screen, I had a light-bulb moment…

The ending of my New Year’s Eve story had the main character lose his clock minutes before midnight so I ended the story with him starting ‘a steady count to three hundred’.  Not a problem? Well, my brain suddenly reminded me that I mentioned the time was 23:57 when the clock broke.  Three minutes is not three hundred seconds and so the final line that the whole story had worked towards fell completely flat.

I’d read that story close to three dozen times picking out grammar errors and tidying up the text to meet the word count.  On each run through, I’d completely missed the emphasis on the content of the story. Fortunately, I contacted the website and, as I was still within the submission period, they let me resubmit my corrected version.

So many times I read that we writers should keep the internal editor away whilst we write.  This particular episode has taught me to allow the writer back in when I edit.