Casterbridge - Flash Fiction

Flash fiction stories for your enjoyment! Stories may be tweaked over time. Permission granted to individuals to create personal copies to read on other devices e.g. e-ink devices. For reproduction in anthologies and other formats, please contact me via Mastadon or email.

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Back on the island

“Three days. Just three days back on this island and you’ve had the police round asking questions, there’s talk all around and you’ve told me nothing. Always some scheme or trouble when you are around. Do you enjoy living in this chaos? Why do I let you through my door?”

“I guess to liven up your dull life. But you are in luck, tonight I just want to stay in enjoy the quiet life and drink a single whisky. Who knows maybe I am changing my ways? Your good influence finally rubbing off on me. I admire your life. I really do.”

“Don’t mock me.”

“I’m not. Truly. You’ve worked hard. This cottage is a lovely quaint home and stability. You’ve had that job since we were kids.”

“I own the shop now. You could have had a settled life too. If you wanted it.”

“I did. I do. But… we all want to rock the boat, kick over the ants’ nest, light the fire, wake the sleeping dog… even you just a little. Just more of an irresistible compulsion for me. Don’t tell me you never daydream of shaking things up. We all do. I am not content with the status quo.”

“Maybe I am playing the long game with your ‘quo’. Maybe that’s my revolutionary daydream.”

Moments of silence passed. The whisky was sipped.

“Maybe that’s why I come to visit you”, he said with a rare honest tone.

Posted May 2021

A Day Off

It’s the end of the world and I have the day off. Day after day of scavenging, zombie skull battering and avoiding unsavory types wears you out. Despite living solo (once again), my stash is in a good state, the shelter is secure and no recent injuries, so I am enjoying the moment and having a proper rest.

No plans for the day yet. I could try the radio again. Did I keep that deck of cards? I’ll find out once this tea brews. The blue crate has some paperbacks. Almost everyone reads now. Helps escape from the chaos and pass the time.

With friendlies, you can trade novels once food and equipment are dealt with. Maybe I should write down my story. In a hundred years, when things are rebuilt, it could be a classic text. Must find paper that will last like those ancient manuscripts. Good ink too.

I have the catchy title; ‘Regrets: How I Created A Zombie Virus’. I wonder if anyone would believe me.

Posted May 2021

First Day On The Job

“Come sit down my dear brother. You must be tired. How was you first day as a fully qualified wizard? I’ll take your staff and hat. Soup in half an hour.”

“Thank you Meridith. My day was a little slow to start with but by the afternoon I had undone numerous hexed items and lifted an invisibility spell from an incredibly old but much-loved cat. Some clients remarked on my youthful appearance. I should grow my beard longer. It would help with credibility. My rivals look much older and wiser.”

“Erodun, I am so proud of you for making this career change. All those years of study. Those months of sitting in a cold dark cave. And that quest you never talk about too.”

“Ah yes. That quest. One day I will tell you. I don’t keep secrets from you, dear sister. There are just tales I am not ready to tell. That reminds me, first thing tomorrow there’s a delegation from the adventurers’ guild needing shields enchanted. They pay well.”

“Mother would have been so proud to see your success.”

“Father would not. He tried to beat the magic out of me so many times. No wonder a spirit took him.“

“Shame that you had to waste ten years as a blacksmith until then.”

“No shame in an honest trade. Taught me patience. Made me a better wizard.”

With a satisfied smile, Meridith silently glanced at the spot in front of the fire where, years ago, she had performed the forbidden rite to summon the demon from the shadow realm.

Posted April 2021

The Mission

“Look! It has got to be in the next two hours. Before the next security sweep. I can pay more.” I said impatiently.

My last potential pilot stood up abruptly, clipped a helmet over his left head and walked out. The uncovered head hissed something in the reptilian tongue to the android behind the bar.

That was my last chance to make this run successful gone. I sighed and pulled out my communicator and pushed the two red buttons at the same time. Three floors below the bar, my guest in my storage unit was painlessly disintegrated, as they had ordered. There were now just seven of their kind left in the galaxy.

I had another long journey ahead of me to get back to the safe house. Sneaking on cargo ships and switching the cargo at the ports. Success would prevent me being guilty of genocide, albeit somewhat voluntary. This debt was a burden but better than another prison stretch.

Posted April 2021

Home

This was my first time visiting the chosen island. We had not visited while Diana was alive. It was my second night and I stealthily crept through the jungle. Even the nights were hot here. The area was guarded to keep looters from the evacuated villages and thrill seekers out of the red zone. The earthquakes had been intensifying. A major eruption was likely in a day or two.

I paused at the jagged rocks where the slopes began. I took a drink, adjusted my pack and then began my ascent to the crater rim. By the time I reached the top, the sky was getting light. The air was unpleasant. I opened my pack and lifted out the urn. I gripped it tightly then relaxed. Chose my spot. With a few rapid steps and an over-arm throw. It flew deep into the rumbling crater below.

“Goodbye my love.”

Wasting no time, I turned and headed down the slope.

By late afternoon, I was ordering a drink on a packed boat heading to the neighbouring island. I ached from the climb and had not slept. A thunderous sound ended all conversation and all eyes turned to the volcano.

The ash cloud reached to the heavens.

Posted April 2021