28 Days to Master Flash Fiction – Day 2

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 is linked below.

Story 1 – Version 3

Rilke stares at the frothing river from the stump of the broken bridge and curses the gods. No birds sing in the Grimwood, not at dusk, not at dawn. He does not want to get caught out here after dark. There are worse things than beasts that stalk this forest. 

Rilke hurries down to the riverbank, to find a ford. Charred woodchips are scattered all around, some caught in the grass, others buried in the mud. Wherever he tests the water, the current is too strong. He’s seen man and horse drown, pulled under by the riverfae. Always hungry that one is. No, that’s not going to happen to Rilke.

There is no way he can get home before dark now. 

Damn shame, someone says. 

Rilke turns around and takes a step back, almost losing his footing and tumbling into the water. 

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.

Stay back, Rilke says, pointing his staff like at the imp, as if it were a spear. The imp smiles, without baring its teeth, and gestures at the river.

Looks like you’re stuck, it says.

Rilke spits between its feet, his arms trembling. His heel moves back, to find no bridge beneath his it any longer. He is such a fool. Why did he go out alone, this close to dark.  

He glances over his shoulder, at the water. He should jump in. Between the riverfae and the imp, he is better of with the fae. But he does not want to drown. 

The imps wings, as black as night, spread wide like a vulture in flight, and Rilke’s knees buckle. He dares not jump , he dares not run

Forebears mercy, Rilke says as his knees hit the ground. All he has to do is jump.

Rilke wails and the imp’s wings crush him, and night falls upon the Grimwood.   

Story 2

Version 1

The man bowed before the king, so deep that his straw hat fell from his head. Some of the courtiers chuckled, others whispered and pointing, all adding to the man’s embarrassment. 

He fumbled after his hat, which was carried away by a gust of wind, and tumbled, face first onto the ground. This drew a laugh, and tears now shone in the man’s eyes. Flustered as he was, he got back up on his feet, but dared not look up. 

The prince rose from besides his father’s seat, and, with the grace of a leopard, loped down the stairs of the dais, bowed down, nearly as if to pay his respects to the man, and picked his hat off the ground. 

The courtiers went silent, and the prince looked around, taking note of every man and woman who had thought it permissible to make fun of the poor man in the tattered clothes. His petition may have been simple, his presentation was poor, but at least he was honest. 

The man dared not look his prince in the eye, and casted his eyes down. 

With one hand, the prince dusts the sand from the hat. Then he takes the rim in two hands, and, as if he were placing a crown on the man’s head, returned the hat to its owner.

Then he looked around his father’s court one more time, and spoke. 

Why do you remain standing while I am stand amongst you with my honored guest?

Immediately all the courtiers dropped to one knee, for all, no matter how powerful, feared their prince’s wroth 

What if: the prince (king) is incredibly cruel and, although it may not seem so at first sight, uses all his actions to demonstrate the absolute power he holds over his courtiers and his subjects?

Version 2 

From his throne, the king looks down upon the poor farmer, who bows so low that his straw hat falls from his head. The farmer stumbles after his hat, and falls face down before the dais. 

The king hears the courtiers chuckle, and sucks in some air through clenched teeth. Do they think they are his equal, that they can laugh at the expense of this man?

While the farmer pushes himself upright, the king rises, and the murmurs amongst his courtiers fade. All eyes are on him, and he stands to make sure they can all see. 

With a leopard’s grace, the king walks down off the dais, his mantel draping the steps behind him. 

The flustered farmer looks up, and now prostrates himself, pressing his forehead to the ground, nearly groveling. 

Courtiers gasp as the king kneels down, picks up the straw hat and dusts it off. The king looks around, and snarls, marking that all of his courtiers are still on their feet. They need a lesson indeed.

With one hand, he he commands the farmer to rise. The farmer gets on his knees, shaking, his eyes cast down. 

The king takes the hat by its rim, and with as much care as if he were placing a crown on his own head, he returns the hat to its rightful owner. The farmer stares up at him, eyes wide with fear, and the king smiles back at the man, then turns to his courtiers.

“At least,” the king says, “this man has the sens to know he is beneath me when I walk the earth.”

All the courtiers drop to one knee, and stay there, and the king marks the man he believes was the last to do so. The Duke of Arly. Just like the farmer served as an example of his kindness, the duke will make a good example of his power. 

He snaps his finger, and the duke bursts into flame and is turned to ashes, as his crown falls to the ground, striking the stone with a sharp chink. 

None of the couriers are laughing now, the king thinks, and returns to his throne.

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