I was all set to post the silliest of flashes today and realized that this is my fiftieth story posted on Yardsale of Thoughts, and it just felt special and worthy of something a bit more epic. Thank you for reading my stories: the silly ones, sad ones, and even the absolutely absurd and nonsensical ones.
I wrote this story a little over a year ago for a flash fiction contest with NYCMidnight. I wanted to test my talent, and also get feedback on my writing. I was assigned the Action/Adventure category, the barn as a place, as well as the object of a hose. This story placed third in my group. It was a huge boost to my ego and taught me to never be afraid to embrace all sorts of inspiration. This story is a bit out of my regular wheelhouse, so I hope you still love it.
Come and See
The timber of the porch creaked under Neven’s boots, in a way he could tell it was being taken slowly by an invisible infestation. He spat on the wood and shifted the crossbow in his hand. Thunder his only greeting.
“This is the last one, old friend. I can feel it. How many miles have we traveled together?” Ramiel ignored his companion and wrung out his raincoat. He reached for the doorknob in silent prayer. They had slain so many in this quest that his resolve was wavering.
Inside, a wall of protective gear ranging from cloth coverings to full gas masks. Pestilence and contamination now peaking beyond humanity’s abilities to contain them. Ramiel covered his nose. The stale smell of cleaning supplies scrubbed on wrinkled wallpaper, ripples of yellow covering powder pink with hints of a whitewashed wall, a story in layers of self-defeat.
A full photo spread on the wall tremored slightly from the thunder roll outside. In the center frame, a white stead rearing up on his hind legs.
“He’s here.” Ramiel made the sign of the cross before the photo then sliced through the house, foyer to back sliding door with clean, quick steps, lightning briefly illuminating a nine-angled drawing on the wall.
“I told you, friend. Our mission is finally complete,” Neven licked his lips and tugged on the glass door. It didn’t budge. He crouched to see if there was a barrier in the frame but found a thin tan wire, rigged around the edges of the glass. He pointed to Ramiel, who shook his head in understanding as together the pair traced the wire around the frame, up the crack of the wall to the ceiling, a thin snake of a cord haloing the room before coming to rest behind a light blue curtain. Ramiel pulled the curtain back to reveal a bundle of dynamite; the countdown read 00:59.
Neven immediately took out a metal arrow and sent it sailing through the back glass, tiny shards tinkling the planks outside like a long-forgotten toast. Both men sprinted through the raining glass out onto the planks of the deck, hovering over a steeply sloped backyard. A cracked concrete patio below. No stairs.
“Lower me down,” Neven dropped his crossbow over the edge and went to the side of the deck, slick with rain and early rot. Ramiel grabbed his wrists and hooked his feet into the railing, saying a prayer in the process. “Hurry Ramiel, there’s no time for prayers.”
Ramiel gingerly let go and watched his companion drop the remaining feet to the concrete floor.
“Help me, Neven!” Ramiel watched as Neven scooped up his crossbow and headed down the slope to the barn in the backyard. Ramiel unwound his sacred stole from his pocket. Tied the red cross in a figure-eight knot around the spindle and swung his weight over the edge, tarzaning off the side of the deck. He scratched against the concrete just in time to feel the impact of tiny exploding shards, sharp wooden stakes.
Ramiel was certain now of what had to be done. It was with clarity and faith that he found a way to begin his slow crawl downhill to the barn, trailing Neven’s sinister silhouette.
Neven never looked back to see if his old friend had found a way off the deck. The blood-red barn at the bottom of the hill held his destiny: to mount the pale white horse and emerge the leader of mankind. Ramiel had served his purpose, leading him to this place. Months of meditating with the monk while his mind conjured the admiration of nations visualized victory as he led his people past the pestilence of their time and into a new era.
The barn doors were heavy, unoiled sentinels before him. He checked around their edges, just as Ramiel taught him, before tugging with all his might and stepping inside.
There was death behind those doors. Carcass after carcass of every variety. Pigs lay postulate, chickens heaped up, their petrified hocks and eyes froze forever. Neven steadied his bow and entered the animal tomb, which much like the great pyramids of ancient times held the true prize of a master buried with his flock.
Deep snorting from the rear of the barn almost like a saw-scaled viper in the center of the road. Neven took timid steps through a flock of fallen sheep, walking through the heavy clouds on their backs. Beyond their cumulus bodies, his true and faithful steed stood. A striking figure in a silk white coat, blemishless and without a trace of blood, although he was surely the only living animal in the barn. Touching his withers, Neven could envision his victory ride across the continent, ruler of all on his route.
He seized the mane with two fists, determined to hoist himself onto his destiny when from the ground below a hand caught his ankle. Slithering through the guts of the barn was Ramiel, cloak red with blood from all the slain animals in his path. Neven looked into his eyes, flares in the darkness, illuminating the carnage around them. A barn hose in hand, Ramiel looped Neven’s ankle, slicing his Achilles tendon with the brass nozzle then quickly completing a constrictor knot.
Falling to his knees, Neven’s pain leaked from his lips as Ramiel climbed up his body like a step ladder, seizing his bow, and sliding the barn hose between the steed’s teeth to form a makeshift pair of rubber reins. Righteous truth behind each tap of the horseman’s boots, his head circled round with the straw from the empty manger, Ramiel galloped from the barn, dragging the body of his fallen friend out into the stormy sunset, the expanding thunder a heavenly stampede.
Do you have a favorite story from my first fifty Story Time posts? If so, please share.