A Patchwork of Short Fiction

Typewriter

Each week, I challenge myself to write and post a piece of flash fiction. Fridays are flash fiction posting day, so around there they’ve become known as “Flash Fridays.” You can find my weekly flash fiction piece posted in my regular blog feed.

When others heard about this idea, they wanted to try it, too. Below, you’ll find some fun stories from other writers who’ve joined Flash Fiction Fridays but don’t have their own blog.

Please join on next Friday by posting a story on your own blog and Tweeting a link to @LisaWEngland hashtag #FlashFriday.

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wolf

The Hunted

By Jason Enderle – Oct 24 2014

The wind whipped the torrents of rain through the wooded land. A flash of lighting lit up the dark figure standing in the cover of a tree. For the briefest of moments one could see his breath as another flash of lighting broke the sky. “Wrong, this whole mission was been wrong,” he thought. A slight groan issued from behind him adding a painful exclamation to his dark thoughts.

From the very beginning this mission had been off.  The four of them had been sent out to put down a wolf that had gone feral. At least they had been told it had gone feral. As they had tracked its path of destruction, they had been led to out of the way homesteads and had found the families butchered, their blood splayed over the entire building.

From the first homestead, something had been off. His suspicions seemed to be reinforced upon reaching the third homestead. Instead of simple butchery, this family had shown signs of being tortured before being murdered. “I should have listened to my instincts,” he thought.

When they had reached the fourth homestead, things went wrong. The wolf had been waiting for them. He had hidden in the smell of blood and destruction. As they began their search, it attacked and tore the head right off their fourth companion, and struck the third, breaking her arm and sending her sprawling.

It was only because of the man lying behind him now that they had managed to get away. He had charged straight at the beast and crashed into the homestead. The man in shadow wasn’t sure exactly what happened next, but the home seemed to explode into a blaze of fire sending the dying man flying out the doorway in a ball of fire. The man of shadow and the third companion carried him into the woods as far as they could risk. They knew the fire would only slow the wolf down. “A feral wolf that reveled in its ferocity,” he thought in disbelief. They had not been prepared to deal with such a beast.

Another moan drew his attention back to the present. As the man in shadow looked back he saw the hawk look up at him with tears streaming down her face. Those two had been close. As he walked silently over, he confirmed that this man’s life was at an end. They had no elixirs strong enough that could heal such grievous wounds, and it was only by his force of will that the man had not already died. The hawk looked at him with tears streaming down her face, imploring him to live. “Wolf,” groaned the dying man quietly.

“Yes,” the man in shadow replied. “Protect… her…” he said with ragged breathing and blood covered lips. “S..swear it.”

“I swear on my life that we will live through this,” replied the man in shadow.

At that the bear died, and the hawk silently wept into his blood covered body. The sound of a howl broke the sound of the rain. It was close. The man in shadow draped his cloak over the body of his dead friend and drew his twin daggers. He stood silently, straining every sense for the approach of the hunter. snap. The man in shadow spun toward the sound as a great darkness leapt out of the blackened forest. With growls the two met, blade to fang as lightning streaked across the sky.

The caravan guard awoke with a start. He heard a wolf howl in the darkness. The wind had begun sometime in the night and the sky was filled with dark clouds. The guard sitting in shadow looked up into sky. “Promises…” he muttered under his breath, before drifting back off to sleep.

* * *

The Orphan - Enderle

The Orphan

By Jason Enderle – Oct 17 2014

“It’s gonna be getting cold soon,” thought the young orphan as he used the moon’s light to scour through the dark alley for something to eat. With that thought, he gripped his “sword” tighter. Well, it wasn’t really a sword; it was more of a metal bar, a piece of scrap he had found outside a blacksmith’s shop. It didn’t even have an edge, but it brought him comfort and he would often slay dragons and save princesses with it when the weather was fair. His empty stomach rudely reminded him of why he had come down this alley to begin with. “There’s gotta be something here,” he thought, “this place usually has decent scraps.” All of the sudden he heard a deep belly laugh emanating from the inside of the tavern. “Well at least someone’s having fun…” thought the boy. At that he let out a sigh and plopped himself down on the cold cobblestones, the metal bar he fancied as a sword clanking in the shadow of the tavern. The laughter reminded him of his parents. They had been good, honest, and happy people. Then his momma got sick, and then his dad did. They didn’t have enough to pay for the good healers. So they died. His eyes began to grow blurry with tears. The tears always came when he thought of his parents. He wished he could hold them one more time. Simply hug them close. He wished he could once again hear his father’s heart beat as his father held him close. He wished his momma would once again tell him to go fetch wood or water or anything. The tears came then and he couldn’t make them stop… in reality he didn’t want to make them stop. He sat there in the shadow letting the tears fall until sleep took him.

The orphan awoke to the sound of the old wooden back door creaking open. The orphan hunched deeper into the shadows so the person wouldn’t see him. Most people didn’t like stray kids hanging around. “It looks bad for business” he had heard one person say as they had run him off. This time was different, however, for out from the light of the doorway stepped the most beautiful person he had ever seen. She reminded him of one of those princesses his mother had told him stories of. She had the most serene and warm smile on her face, it was as if the world was not a dark place and her smile could warm even the coldest of winter nights. He found himself unable to speak or move. He could only watch in silent awe as she quietly closed the door behind her, stepped in the alley, and set down a small saucer. She then sat down and waited. The orphan found himself wondering what she was doing. Then, on silent paws, a small kitten emerged from the shadows and began to lick up the contents of the saucer. The young princess, for he could think of no other way to describe this young girl of beauty, began to stroke the kitten’s head and talk to it in a voice so quiet he couldn’t hear. The whole scene seemed to have an air of magic about it. Seeing the peaceful smile on this young girl’s face was something he knew he would remember for the rest of his life.

“Whad’we got here?” came a gruff voice from the shadows. At the sound the kitten bolted and the young princess stood up. Again he marveled at the grace she had. The girl made towards the door but the one with the gruff voice got there first and pressed his hand against it. The young girl stared up defiantly toward him then moved to run down the end of the ally. Too slow another shadow emerged and grabbed her arm and threw her into the wall hard enough it probably rattled her teeth. Before she could catch her breathe and scream the first one’s hand was over her mouth. “No,” thought the orphan, “don’t hurt her.” He had to do something, but what could he do? He was only ten winter’s old. He was just a kid. Then the words his father had told him time and time again, “You do what’s right because it’s right and that’s the only reason you need.” With that thought firmly in his mind the orphan charged out of the shadows with a scream and swung his sword at the man holding the princess to the wall. The metal bar connected with the man’s knee and the orphan felt something give as the man released the girl and fell to the ground in pain. Before the boy could take a swing at the other attacker, he felt the man’s fist connect with the side of his head and send him sprawling across the alley. Somehow he managed to hang onto his sword. He saw the girl staring at him. “RUN!” he shouted at her and she sprinted to the end of the alley. “Good,” he thought, “at least she is safe.” The boy tried to stand but was kicked by the other attacker. The wind left his body and his world began to go dark. Then he heard boots running. A moment later he felt small hands touch his face and heard the most beautiful voice say “it’s alright, I got help.” His final thought before consciousness left him was “I did it, I saved the princess.”

* * *

Blood On Wall

The Brigand

By Jason Enderle – Oct 10 2014

“So this was it,” thought the Brigand. His mother had warned him to take up an honest life. “If you run with those boys your going to get into trouble,” she had told him. He hadn’t listened. At first it had only been little things like stealing some fruit from one of the street vendors, then it became coins, then came the day when he killed someone. He could still remember that first time. He had been caught by the owner of the house while attempting to steal some trinkets. The owner had a bludgeon and attacked him. He had come out of it alive while the owner lay in an ever-growing puddle of red. The red was on him too. He still remembered trying to wash it off his hands. To this day he could still remember the face of that man, the look in his eyes as the light of life faded into whatever eternity awaited him. He had gone on to kill others and the more he did it the easier it became, but that first one never left him.

The sobbing of one of his comrades brought him out of his revere and into the present. Here they were, what was left of there gang. They had escaped the group of soldiers by escaping into the Forrest. He had known going in that they had little chance of escaping the elves that lived here. After the War, the Elves had retreated to these woods. The uneasy truce allowed the Elves to retain the Forests as their domain, and the Elves had in turn vowed to not attack any human settlements. Neither side had been pleased with the agreement, but both had, thus far, abided by it.

The unpleasant aroma he began to smell told him that the man who had been sobbing had lost all control of his body. Escape was impossible at this point. Each one of the five men who had reached the forest had been quickly captured by the Elves and were now on their knees bound and awaiting execution. There was a guard behind each of the men ready to impale any of them who made the slightest attempt to flee. The brigand did remember that if an elf declared a person a friend, they would not be executed. As he glanced around, he could tell that was a hope with less chance then of him breaking his shackles and fighting his way out. “No,” he thought, “if this is my end, then I will face it like a man. The heavens know I deserved this fate long ago.”

He noticed one of the Elves begin to move toward him, and draw a blade from it’s sheathe. The blade was indeed beautiful and mesmerizing. It was the darkest blade he had ever seen. Black as the darkest night, the blade seemed to draw light into it rather than reflect it. Whoever had forged that blade had indeed been a master blade-smith. 

Upon seeing the blade, the sobbing man began to beg for mercy. “SHUT IT!” the brigand shouted, “we earned this end long ago. At least face your eternity with dignity.” With that he turned his head back to the elf with the Dark Blade. The Brigand looked directly into the eyes of the elf and thought he saw the slightest hint of approval. He raised his chin, exposing his neck for a clean swipe and calmly said “do it.”

The brigand didn’t even feel the blade cut, for such was the precision of the swing and the quality of the blade, and for the slightest moment thought the elf had missed. Then he felt the blood begin to weep from his throat. “What a beautiful blade,” was his final thought as the world faded and eternity embraced him.

* * *

Beer steins

The Barmaid

By Jason Enderle  – Oct 3 2014

As a scarred fist crashed into a grizzled face the young barmaid slinked farther into the corner away from the drunken brawl that had erupted spontaneously. It seemed as if these fights were happening more and more frequently, the young girl thought. Ever since the war, roving bands of mercenaries and adventurers came through the city stopping for drinks and companionship. “Males,” thought the girl. “All they ever do is fight, kill, and drink.” Her real mother had been a victim of the war, claimed as a spoil after their city had fallen. She had been born because of it.  After wandering for several winters, her mother had become ill and died. She remembered the look on her mother’s face, just as she remembered everything, in vivid detail. The tears, the sunken cheeks, the pointed ears… at that thought the young barmaid pulled her bandana down a little lower. “You must never let anyone know,” her mother had warned, “humans do not like us, do not trust them.” Those were the final words her mother had spoken to her.

All the sudden a hand with a vice-like grip, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her down just as a tin mug flew where her head had been. The young Barmaid found herself sitting half on a bench and half on the lap of a stranger. “Where did he come from!” she thought with eyes wide. “I didn’t see anyone in this corner.” Then she heard the grind of steel being pulled out of sheathes, and saw the two men, who had started the brawl going for blood. Another crash and the sound of booted feet alerted her to the town guards coming in the entrance. Shouts and curses could be heard as the Captain attempted to gain control of the brawl. Some of the unconscious men were being drug out while the ones still standing were busy blaming the other side for the fight. The Captain seemed to care little for the excuses of either side and decided to haul them all out. Then, as fast as it had begun, the brawl was over and everything was as it was. Albeit, with fewer patrons and many overturned and broken stools and tables.

All the sudden she felt the grip on her arm release and realized she was awkwardly sitting half on the lap of a complete stranger. “If you are going to work in such an unsavory environment, you must learn to keep your wits about you when fights are occurring,” said the stranger with a smile. “Ummm… thank you, sir” said the Barmaid rather sheepishly. As she stood, she caught the movement of his left hand as it slid off the table, and swore she saw a black blade. “The pleasure was all mine, Little One,” replied the man. With that she felt her ears grow warm. She hated being called “little.” She was nearly thirteen winters now, and while she was small of stature for a girl her age, by human standards at least, she was as tall as the bar when she stood up straight.  “HA!” laughed the man with a huge grin, “I meant no disrespect young lady.” She felt herself becoming a bit embarrassed at the whole event. “It’s ok to laugh Little One. Life is too full of things that make people sad. We must laugh at things when we can.” With that she found a smirk begin to touch her lips. His smile seemed strangely infectious. “My name isn’t ‘Little One,” said the Barmaid with a smirk. “Nope, I suppose it’s not, but I think I will call you that anyway,” replied the stranger with a smirk and a twinkle in his eye. “You can’t just call people whatever you want,” exclaimed the Barmaid. “Why not? Are you gonna stop me?” asked the stranger. “Then I’m going to call you something,” replied the girl.

“Oh really? And what might that be?” said the man. With that she thought for a moment. “VIOLET!” she exclaimed, it was her favorite color after all. At that, the man let out a laugh from the depths of his belly that was so loud everyone still conscious and remaining in the building, indeed some who were simply walking by the building, stopped and looked. The Barmaid felt very self-conscious all the sudden. As the stranger regained his composure he looked at her with a gleam in his eye and stated, “It’s settled then, you can call me Violet and I will call you ‘Little One.’” “This man was strange indeed,” thought the Barmaid. Despite that, she found herself genuinely smiling for the first time in many years. “Well, I must be getting to cleaning up this mess before I get in trouble, thank you again Violet,” said the maid with a grin, as she turned and began the long process of cleaning up.

* * *

Knife

A Tool

By Jason Enderle – 24 Sept 2014

As the light of the moon broke through a whole in the clouds, a lone shadow in the woods looked down at the object in his hand. The object was a knife about two hands in length from point to pommel.

“A knife is just tool,” he could hear his father telling the old bitty when she told him that knives were “only meant for killing things,” and “boys should not be allowed to carry them.” His father had kindly but firmly told her to mind her own affairs and he would see to the raising of his sons.

The memory brought a smile to his face.

“A knife is an important tool for a man,” his father would say, “and a man should never leaver home without it. With a good knife, a man can cut rope, whittle a stick, filet a fish, and clean a wild game for supper. Why, when you go out your doors into the wild, you should always have a trusty blade by your side because you never know when you might need it.”

Indeed, thought the figure. He once again looked into the barely visible waves ingrained into the knife. They were almost hypnotic as they moved out from the scales and along blackness of the blade terminating at the point.

The dark man thought on the rarity of such a blade. He recalled how a nobleman came to his father’s forge. This nobleman had heard of the skill his father possessed as a blacksmith and had hired his father to craft a sword as a gift for his future son-in-law. The pay was more than his father would have made in five summers combined. Arraignments were made and the ore was handed over to his father. Then his father began to mold what would become his greatest achievement. Over and over again he worked the metal into the shape he desired. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months until the blade was finished.

Well did the shadow remember the sword. It was truly magnificent. It was black as the darkness of night. Only upon close inspection could one see the waves along the blade.

The nobleman had been extremely pleased and had allowed his father to keep the remnants of the ore as gratitude. With the remnants of the ore, his father once again set his hand to the forge and fashioned twin knives, on for each of his sons.

The shadow’s hand dropped to the handle of an identical knife, and memories of fire burned into his vision. Anger roiled within him. The shadow clenched his jaw trying to push back the pain and anger. “A knife is just a tool,” he could hear his father say.

Tonight, thought the dark man, these tools will minister final justice.

With the memory of fire in his mind and cold judgment in his heart, the shadow crept toward the group of men in a soon to be eternal sleep by a now burnt out fire.

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 More flash fiction from Friday, September 26th:

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