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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
So this is a first for Flash Jab- an unsolicited submission! It comes to us from across the pond from fellow pulper Daz aka Darren Sant, who runs the gritty Close to the Bone flash site. I first read this when he submitted to the Crime Fiction Writers Group for a critique. I'm including it here because it's a damn fine tale!
It's an intriguing little flash that juxtaposes fate and reality- but which is which?
The Sad End of Ernest Winthorpe
by Darren Sant
Ernest looked up at the sky. Bruised angry clouds hung just beyond his reach. He scratched his bald pate and looked down the hill it had taken him all morning to climb. Bedraggled gorse had nipped and scratched at his ankles for the entire ascent. He sat and patiently waited for the storm he knew was brewing. A strange little smile crossed his face. As the first rumble of thunder charged the air he thought of his beautiful wife, now absconded with his former business partner. Before leaving their scornful note they had made sure to clear out all of the bank accounts. Ernest held aloft the length 15mm plumbers Copper that had served as a walking stick for his trek."Do your worst you bastards! He yelled with a primal ferocity at the roiling skies and any Gods that might be listening.
Two elderly men sat playing chess their faces creased deep in concentration as they battled for supremacy."Rook takes pawn." said the man dressed in white.
As if in answer to his prayers a mighty finger of fire reached down from the heavens. His knuckles were white as he gripped the length of copper tightly. He tried not to imagine his blackened dried up form being stripped of all moisture before roasting like a Christmas turkey when the lightning hit him. At the last minute the lightning veered away and blasted a nearby oak tree. Ernest stared in dismay at the now burning oak tree. The worst of the storm quickly abated but not before he was soaked to the skin.
As he loomed menacingly over the ornate pieces on the board the man in black simply nodded and said "Impressive." as he moved a pawn forward.
He threw the copper over his shoulder and trudged back down the hill. At the base of the hill he sat shivering in his aged Mazda. The heater was cranked up full as tried to start the engine which coughed and spluttered but failed to cooperate. Breathing a deep world weary sigh he stepped out of the car, locked it, and set off in the direction of town.
In the shadowy streets on the wrong side of town Ernest’s wrinkled face twitched into a smile as he spotted a group of hoodies drinking and smoking near the park. Their loud shouts and loud banter making all who passed near give them a wide berth. Can of lager littered the ground near them and the tangible smell of dope hung in the air.
"Oi come get some you little mother fuckers. Come on BRING IT ON!" yelled Ernest with an anger he didn’t really feel.
'I might get lucky,' he thought 'with a good beating they might even kill me.' His heart pounded with anticipation of the violence to come. This could be it. The hoodies looked nervous for a moment. One of them threw a can at him and they laughed.
“Piss off back to the funny farm old man before we hurt you,” yelled back the biggest of them.
Ernest’s nerve left him and he halted in his tracks. This wasn’t the way to do it.
With an angelic smile the man in white smugly exclaimed, “Knight takes rook.”
Whole universes seemed to be contained within the man in black’s ancient eyes as he gave his competitor a disgusted look.
Despair stabbed at Ernest like a physical entity and he wondered if he would ever be able to do this one thing right. The sound of distant traffic sparked an idea and he walked onward and away from the threat of the hoodies. As street after grey lifeless street passed him by he felt more despondent about life. He was going to end it one way or another. He found himself stood before the busy A6278. Cars and lorries whizzed past with frightening speed and Ernest knew he couldn't fail.The man in black spotted a sudden opening and moved in for the kill...Closing his eyes Ernest stepped out into the traffic. He heard a screech of brakes and the loud blaring of horns. He knew there were just seconds left but those seconds stretched out for eternity as he waited for death and a welcome release from his misery of life without Claudette.
With a casual nod the man in white smiled and his eyes seemed to shine in the small dimly lit room."Bishop takes knight." The man in black blinked in surprise and shock.
When Ernest opened his eyes he saw that a truck was just inches from him. It had jack-knifed and completely blocked the carriageway. The driver wound down his window and hurled a string of abuse in a foreign language at Ernest.Ernest wandered numbly away and decided that the fates didn't mean for him to die just yet. The nameless bastard gods out there had decided to toy with him. He decided that it might be best if he kept his appointment after all.
With a sudden grin and then a wink the man in black cracked his ancient knuckles before moving his queen into position.
A sudden gale blew as the storm picked up ferocity again. A supermarket carrier bag danced around being controlled by an unseen puppeteer as the winds manipulated it. Leaves blew from the trees and people dashed for cover and still Ernest plodded along. A hefty barrel tile flew off a nearby roof and struck Ernest solidly in the head. He went down silently crumpling to the ground like a deflated balloon. A steady drip of blood leaked from the fatal head wound as the gossamer thread of his existence was slowly snipped.
The man in white cursed and stood up fuming.
“Where the hell is Ernest tonight? At least I can beat him and it’s his turn to buy the coffee.”
(c) 2012 Darren Sant
Darren Sant is a 41 year old writer living in Hull in the UK. Since reading and contributing to Byker Books Radgepacket series his writing has been transformed. He tries daily to bring a little more darkness to the world through writing. He fails in this and adds humour and morality subconsciously.
Find his website here: http://darrensant-writer.yolasite.com/
Sunday, January 1, 2012
This month Graham Smith accpeted the challenge and has flashed us a great one.
Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well respected review site Crimesquad.com for over two years.As well as reviewing for Crimesquad.com Graham has also interviewed such stellar names as David Baldacci, Jeffrey Deaver, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Matt Hilton, current CWA Chair Peter James, Mark Billingham and many others. When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.
And now, the story!
HOMECOMING by Graham Smith
I had returned to my grandmother’s home after her death. It was the first time I’d been back since I’d ran away aged sixteen with a head full of ambitions and dreams. Nearly twenty years had passed since I last crossed this threshold. Time had healed the wounds but the scars remained. Our truce had been tentatively agreed last year and we’d always met on neutral ground. Now she was gone, I could admit to myself she was right.
A knock at the door startled me as I paced around the empty house. When I opened the door a handyman was standing there with a vacant expression. I’d seen him attending to next door’s garden. Expecting him to tout for business I was surprised when he pushed his way into the house.
He was a big bugger, I’ll give him that. He towered over me by at least five inches, his black locks and jagged teeth giving him a wolf like appearance. He outweighed me by about seventy pounds.
There was no waiting for my mind to decide on a course of action as instinct kicked in and my body screamed flight not fight. By the time my brain had sent the message to move it was too late, my legs had already mutinied and I was halfway down the corridor.
Old habits caused me to seek safety in the most familiar place. My former bedroom was at the end of the passage and I flew in and slammed the door behind me.
Shooting the tiny bathroom bolt across I almost laughed at the idiocy of the action. I could probably kick the door in without even breaking the heel on my Manolo’s. A brute the size of the handyman could break the bolt’s fastenings by simply leaning on the door.
Frantically I looked for some other way of securing the door. The keyhole at eye level fronted a lock that hadn’t worked twenty years ago and wasn’t likely to work now, even if I had a key.
I grabbed a dresser and jammed it under the golden handle in an attempt to jam the door. I could hear heavy footsteps clumping down the corridor as he lumbered after me.
A quick jerk at the window confirmed it was painted shut just as it had been all those years ago. A glance round the room for a weapon I could use to smash the glass yielded only a lamp which was hardwired into the wall. Yanking it free caused a shower of sparks. Ignoring the flashes of death I wound the end of the flex around my hand and swung the lamp like a mace into the centre of the window.
Disaster struck three times as the lamp smashed into two pieces, the window smashed into no pieces and the door crashed open.
He just stood beside the door with a leer on his lips and lust in his eyes. I felt a jagging pain as the half of the lamp still attached to its flex cut my leg.
With no other course of action available to me I went on the offensive and swung the remains of the lamp once round my head before stepping forward and aiming for his face.
Instead of raising his arms to defend himself he just leaned back and tilted his head backwards. He obviously thought that he was out of range, as he started to smile milliseconds before the shattered porcelain gouged his exposed throat sending a spurt of bright red arterial blood onto the door. As he fell to his knees clutching at his throat the severed jugular vein pressured from within by his still beating heart, pumped more gouts of blood between his fingers.
I sank to a sitting position on the bed and noticed for the first time that the room looked exactly like it did the last time I was in there.
© Graham Smith 2012
Where to find Graham:
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Harry Charters Chronicles http://www.amazon.co.uk/Harry-Charters-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B006OG2IR2/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2