Category Archives: Flash Fiction

A Classic Tale

He both enjoyed seeing her and did not. Elation was there, but also retraction. He could not be fully himself with her, but more himself than he was elsewhere. Indeed, he lived a divided life. At court, he needed her presence and yet dreaded it. At war, he was thankful for her absence, but he also missed her.

 

The war ended abruptly. The heroes were honored. Traitors who had once sought refuge outside their native land were returned. Their tortured bodies dangled from the gallows, being finally granted relief. In his mind, the heroes fared no better than the traitors, only their pain was of the soul and of the heart. From these they had no respite.

 

He sat at the right hand of the king that first night back. His deeds were lauded. They claimed he had slain hundreds, that he had ended the war. He knew otherwise. He knew the exact number of men whose lives he stole, whose chances at love he took from them. He had looked into their eyes as his own were tinged with the red rage of battle. He had heard their last words, words that should have been spoken while lying old in bed…at peace.

Her voice brought him back from his somber speculation. He looked up. His joy shone through his eyes, but he only partly smiled. She poured him a glass of wine, spilling a few red drops unto the table around his goblet. She apologized and moved on.

 

He stole glances at her, ignoring his king as much as he could, deflecting the admiring comments of the king’s daughters as though they were blows in a battle, rough and sharp. Her blue gown stood out from the dull browns and flickering fire reds of the feast hall. She moved gracefully, yet with a vigor. A passion for life was obvious in the slight bounce of her walk, in the dancing of her hair, and in her very eyes. He laid his hands down and made ready to stand. He was going to approach her, admit his feelings, an act that took more courage than he had ever needed in battle.

 

Greasy, gelatinous animal fat covered the hand that grabbed his and raised it high. He heard his king proclaiming his name, then something about being an ambassador. His heart stopped. Then it sank. His determination turned to dread. He tried to smile, but it lost what mock sincerity it had when she looked at him and drew his eyes to hers. He steeled himself as the king bid him stand. He let one tear unsheath itself from his eye, allowing it to flee to the dirty floor below. Flight, retreat, escape, all things he could not do.

 

The morning after the next full moon came too quickly. He had talked with her some, but he never once confessed. He learned to treasure every moment with her, every sound of her voice. When she was gone, however, his thoughts always turned to his future and her place in it. Her place being one that he dearly wanted, that is, at his side, but he knew his new career was even more dangerous than his last. His enemy would no longer be in front of him, yelling and wielding shining weapons. His enemies would now be everywhere.  Nor did he want to take her with him into a place where even he, hero of the war, would not feel secure.

 

He looked down on her from his saddle. His robes were new, different from those of the warrior. He needed to look his part, but remain himself; a task more difficult than most would expect. But then she handed him a letter. They met eyes. He smiled and placed the letter next to his heart. Then, with a reverent bow, he left her behind. He laid his hand to that letter as he rode away, swearing that with it he would remain himself and that he would return for her.

Copyright 2013 by Joshua A. Spotts

 

 

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Filed under 1000 word limit, Flash Fiction, General, Short Stories

Pain is Purpose

I was born in a laboratory, separated from humanity by seals and protective clothing; I died in a mouth, exposed, utterly raw and naked, to the innermost parts of humanity. This is my story. These are my thoughts to the moment of my death.

I am Strychnine. My purpose is pain. I work for the mob, threatening people. They do not like being referred to as “the mob,” but what can they do to me? I’m already dead.

The majority of my work is done in dark rooms; a single glaring light illuminating me and casting shadows across the terrified face of a person. These people range in importance from small store owners who have not paid their dues to senators. It is a fantastic feeling of power; watching those people cower before me.

No words were ever spoken between the person I am threatening and my partner, the enforcer. But eventually the person, be he senator or store owner, would crack and mutter, “I’ll do it,” as they broke into sobs. I never knew how much pain I could cause until my death, but I knew I must be capable of terrible things when I saw them cower before me in such degrading ways, submitting to the mob’s will.

When the day came for me to truly exercise my purpose, to truly administer the pain I was capable of, I was not ready. The setting was wrong. I was brought into a room full of light. The walls were a sterile white, the table was silver. On the table, instead of seated on one side of it, lay a man. He was strapped down and his mouth held open by some strange apparatus. His face was the worst part. It was not shrouded and I could see the full terror in his wide eyes; in the sweat that beaded and ran on his bald head; in the very way he breathed.

I was powerless to resist when I felt the enforcer’s hand close around my container. The cold air in the room rushed in on me with a burst of savage energy as the cap was removed, finally exposing me to the world. The sensation was strange, but wonderful. Then the enforcer moved me above the man’s open mouth and all my pleasure in the new feeling of air, life-giving air, rushed away.

As the enforcer tipped my container upside down and tumbled, completely naked and exposed, through the life-giving air, I realized that through my purpose I would find my own death by causing death in a most terrible way. I landed on the man’s tongue, some strange sound rushed up from his throat. Then I saw his jaws close above me and no more air entered his body.

Bit by bit he was forced to swallow me, and I caused him to convulse in pain, then I caused his throat to swell shut as I slid down it; In that short moment I regretted ever having existed, regretted my enjoyment of my power, and felt the pain I caused the man. Then both he and I died, both regretting our lives, but only I truly sorry.

Story by Joshua A. Spotts

Copyright 2013

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Filed under 1000 word limit, Flash Fiction, General

Oceanic Grand Canyons

Jonah’s career was that of an Oceanographer, his chief interest, the inspection of oceanic trenches, but he had never set foot on a boat. The very sound of crashing waves made him queasy. Rainfall simply annoyed him when he was underneath a roof; outside, however, it terrified him because he felt as though he were drowning. When he showered he did so with a snorkel and never stayed in for more than five minutes. Indeed, he much preferred dry land.

“You’re a genius, Jonah,” his friends had said. They came to him and begged his help with their assignments. He knew every fact there was about the oceans of the world; and, as he was an avid reader of scholarly journals on oceanography, he always learned the new facts almost as soon as they were published.

To illustrate to his friends what oceanic trenches were like he would always say, “they are like the Grand Canyon, but in the ocean.” His friends always laughed at that description as they hung out with him at The Well, the local bar. There his throat was never dry because of the beers his friends would buy him. Those had been warm days, safe from the elements outside, that dreaded rain, that frustrating wind, and that hated snow. But those were his college years, things were different back then.

When he graduated from college he was hired right away as an Oceanographer. But when they wanted him to go out on a boat to investigate the Puerto Rico Trench, things went awry for him. He refused to board the boat, no matter how much urging the company used. They even offered him a raise to his already substantial pay. He refused and resigned his job.

Now Jonah sits on a wooden bench in the snow, a park ranger in Northern Michigan because he could not overcome his fear.

By Joshua A. Spotts

Copyright 2013

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Filed under 1000 word limit, Flash Fiction, General