Friday Flash, Short as They Come

This is a story that I entered into a 250-word-max contest, and did not win. I have little problem getting my work published, when I manage to ignore the internet long enough to bang out a story, but have yet to place in a contest.

*EDIT* After a suggestion from circlesunderstreetlights in the comments, I have removed what used to be the last line.

This is fantasy, dark and gritty. The way I like it. 

Midnight Hill

Unseen, Even in the Lightning

Kaledon saw the knights at the top of the hill, suddenly visible in the brilliance of wild lightning. They seemed still as mere statues, only the billowing of the horses’ manes in the midnight storm gave truth to the illusion. In the wake of inevitable thunder, Kaledon felt his heart begin to race. He had never really expected all of the knights to return, but his breath caught as he counted only seven.

Four days previous, the villagers had sent forth the bravest knights to make a final assault against the enemy and Kaledon watched in unfettered admiration as the fifteen knights rode off to make war. Victory or death. They had fought the savages for years, driving them back a mile, and another mile. Never fully defeating them.

He stirred from his thoughts now and sent his brother running from their hideout, back to the village to bring news of the brave heroes’ return. He watched as he flew with haste and hope towards the village lights, barely visible in the flowing curtains of dark rain. As the knights drew closer Kaledon stepped out.

“Hope and valor, good knight,” he said, exited to be the first to greet them.

Only one turned towards him.

A flash of fresh lightning and Kaledon saw the knight’s face clearly. Jaundiced eyes rested deep in a dented helmet, streaked with blood and umber, and burned back at him with an unflinching intensity. Kaledon watched frozen in place as the knight slowly raised his weapon.

5 thoughts on “Friday Flash, Short as They Come

  1. I liked this – very atmospheric and gorgeous imagery. If I were to make one suggestion, it would be to leave out the final line (Was that the tattoo mark of the enemy?), which seems to imply that this piece is part of a larger story / Universe.

    I actually missed the final line the first time I read it through, simply because it was below the fold on my screen, and I *loved* the penultimate line as an ending. It leaves so many questions and it doesn’t dispel any of the tension, which is how a great piece of flash should be.

    What do you think? Hope you don’t mind the input – I tend to blurt out ideas a lot, but it’s only when I’ve really enjoyed engaging with something!

    x

    Like

    1. I do not mind at all, thanks.

      The line is there mostly because part of the challenge included using the word “tattoo”, and somehow that’s where it ended up. But, now having read it without the last line… I see that you are right.

      I’m gonna cut it right now.

      Like

      1. Ohhhh, I see. I think, if you wanted to still use the word tattoo in there somehow, you could use it in the less traditional sense – like the tattoo of the horses’ hooves down the hillside or the tattoo of the thunder on Kaledon’s ear-drums, for example.

        Really enjoyed the piece, and look forward to reading more from you :)

        x

        Like

  2. Having missed the original version, I don’t know what it changed from. The present cryptic close works for me, even if the raising of the weapon telegraphs what will soon happen. Liked the dramatic flair of the piece throughout, very enjoyable.

    Like

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