Tag Archives: #fridayflash

25Jan/13

A Dangerous Man

I found this story lurking in one of my writing books, and did a little polishing to get it here. This is for #FridayFlash. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Lighter

image by code1name at sxc.hu

Carl Murphy looked harmless, with his white socks pulled halfway up his shins and one hand in the pocket of his plaid shorts. Not even the well-worn Metallica t-shirt gave any indication of his true danger. When he walked into the dilapidated house, several people looked up to smile and wave. 

“Yo, it’s Murphy! What took you so long?” A man with stringy blond hair walked up and gave him half a hug, holding his cigarette at arm’s length.

Carl nodded a greeting. He didn’t even need to talk anymore. His strength was in being both charming and vague, attaching a wisp of personality to his constantly changing face.

“Here, man,” said another guy, this one sporting a well-trimmed goatee and a pair of greasy cargo pants. “We saved this one for you.” Goatee held out a small roll of paper, a fresh joint.

Carl took it with a smile. “Thanks, man,” he said. No one ever used names. It was part of the scene. In his mind, they were Goatee and the Scruff, but ‘man’ and ‘dude’ tended to get the job done. 

Carl took a moment to glance at the crowd. He recognized a few faces from previous gatherings, but not all. He wouldn’t feel bad for any of them, except maybe a few of the girls. The girls looked young, too young to be here, but old enough to know better. 

The Scruff shoved a purple lighter in Carl’s face. Carl smelled stale cigarettes and saw the yellow stains on Scruff’s fingers. They matched the yellow stains on the man’s teeth. 

“Fire it up.”

Carl looked at it, feigning suspicion. The Scruff leaned in close and half-whispered, half-shouted the words Carl was waiting for. 

“White Widow, man! There’s more where that came from.” Scruff lowered his voice slightly. “Pierce scored three pounds today. We’re gonna be rich!” He broke into a chortling laugh that ended in a painful-sounding cough.

Carl grinned, but not for the reason Scruff intended. Carl avoided looking at the door and kept his anticipation secret. As he waited for the imminent raid, he fingered his police badge quietly in his pocket.

04Jan/13

In Darkness

image by Leeca at sxc.hu

image by Leeca at sxc.hu

This is a story of a time when a land fell into darkness. Once full of wealth and structure, the empire was conquered, ravaged, then deserted. Sickness came and devoured the people, one by one, one thousand by one thousand.

In those days, there were no kings, no chiefs, no lords. There were small groups of people scattered across the countryside, huddling together for survival. There were no conquerors. There were no leaders of men. Fear led them. Death held them in its tyrannical fist. Despair ruled their villages.

In those days, the secret to survival was whispered to the sleepy children and recited in hushed voices across crackling fires. The secret was wrapped in the words of other times and other people, in stories and myths. There were once people, the stories said, who were strong and golden, people not wasted away by disease and grief. The people in the stories were proud and fearless. The lands in the stories were paradise. The gods in the stories were just and mighty and made all things new.

As the words flowed out into the chilly night air, something magical happened in the minds of the listeners. Across the dark grey of a winter’s expanse, they looked out and saw the promised land: a bright sun shining over glowing green hills. The harsh call of the carcass-eating crows was heard as the soft trill of a lark singing in a dense forest. Warmth spread across the listener’s skin to fill the voids of their hungry stomachs, and for that one moment in time, all was well. Instead of the despair crushing a man’s shoulders, he felt hope lifting his chin. Instead of the weakness of hunger, he felt power coursing through his arms and legs. Then he would look down at himself, through the eyes of the story, and see a hero, golden and strong.

In those days, the story was worth more than bread.