28 Days to Master Flash Fiction – Day 1

Here’s a log over every iteration of the flash I’m writing as I try to improve my grasp of this craft. I’ll update this log every day. If you want to write a long with me, today’s session was almost an hour long.

January 31, 2021 – first draft

Rilke is sweaty, hungry and in a hurry. His clogs beat the quick rhythm of his journey on the cobblestone road he walks. His journey will take most of the day. Oh, the poor woman, he thinks, and with his sleeve, dabs sweat from his brow. He taps the satchel on hanging from his side. He must get to his mother before sundown. She needs what he carries, desperately.   

Midsummer is not the season for travel. Sure, the days afford him more time, but the sun lashes those who toil without mercy, and Rilke is not the young hound he used to be. Once, he would have ran from the village to the coast, and back, mind you, and back, in the same day. Yes he would. But not anymore.

A copse offers shade, and Rilke is glad for it. Maybe he should rest awhile, so he can journey on in the afternoon. He sits down, and whets his mouth with a sip from his waterskin.

“Might you share some of that with a fellow traveler?” a voice says from the bushes. 

The whisper startles Rilke so that he spills some of the water, and coughs as he crawls away from the bushes. “Who’s there?” he demands.

“Please,” the voice says, “I did not mean to startle you, friend.”

“Show yourself!” 

Rilke gasps as a small creature, as tall as a sheep, limps into sight.  

February 1, 2021 – second draft

Rilke curses the gods as he stares at the frothing river from the stump of the broken bridge. He’s no fae creature, able to sprout wings and fly across, and he’s no fish either.

  He pats the glenblossom in his satchel. That herb will save lives, if he can get it back to town before the night. 

Dusk is upon him, and tonight the moon will be full. He shivers, and glances back at the path through the forest, where creeping shadows grow long and dark. 

Best get on. Strange beasts are about the Grimwoods at night.  

He hurries down to the riverbank, which is littered with charred woodchips. Wherever he tests the water, trying to find a place to ford, the current is too strong and cold droplets spray his face and hands. 

He’s seen man and horse drown here. No, that’s not going to happen to Rilke.

A high-pitched voice calls from the shrubs by the road.“Pardon me, good sir.” 

Rilke turns around, holding his staff with two hands. Can’t trust anybody these days.

“Show yourself!” he says.

“Are you a kind man?” the voice asks.

“Depends on who I’m dealing with,” Rilke says.

“I can get you across the river.”

Rilke looks at fading band of light upon the horizon, and takes a hesitant step forward. 

“Just like that?”

The voice chuckles. “You know that nothing in live is free, Rilke.”

“What is your price?”

Leaves rustle an a winged imp limps out onto the riverbank, its fine clothes torn and soaked with blood, and the spike on its left shoulder is jagged, as if its tip was snapped off.. Rilke stumbles back.

“Stay away!”

The imp raises a claw and frowns. “I mean you no harm. All I want is that glenblossom you have.”

Rilke’s hand drops to his satchel. “You can’t have this.”

“Then you will not cross this river.”

“This is medicine for the townsfolk.”

“What good will that do you if you cannot get back to town.”

To deal with a fiend, is to trade your soul. Rilke knows the rhymes as well as anybody else. 

“Meaner things than I stalk the Grimwood, Rilke.”

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