Tuesday 10 – Hall

Each week, we will spend ten minutes writing and attempting to complete a flash story. We hope that the exercise will allow us to grow as writers, as well as provide a small amount of entertainment for you. Further, we hope to inspire you to do the same.

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The Shattering

The man stood. Perfectly still. Perfectly silent. There was too much at stake to waste even a single step, and he couldn’t even let a single wayward breath escape his lips. He waited, ignoring the burn on his cheeks as the freezing wind blew against his face. The forest was oddly quiet, usually alive with a chorus of bugs and beings this deep into the night. Did the silence mean the fire was near?

He instinctively reached up and felt for the quiver strapped onto his back. His fingers found the single arrow, and he slid it out slowly, careful not to make a sound. It was one of a kind. The beautiful glass tip glinted in the moonlight. The most beautiful things were always breakable, the man had found. He knew that when he had his shot, if he ever had it, he’d only get it once. If he missed or if he hit, the arrow would shatter, and there would be no further attempts.

Movement in the distance caught his eye. Instantly his heart was racing. He slid the arrow back into the quiver and prepared himself to run. He focused his eyes, trying to push them beyond their capabilities. It was out there in the dark. He could sense it, this elusive fire. But he couldn’t see it, not yet.

Waiting was a dangerous pursuit, and as he stood he saw a forest predator slither from its hole in the base of a nearby tree. The man had no protection against this predator, his only option was either to get bit or to flee. But to run was risking the fire, spooking it, sending it even deeper into the infinite forest through which he pursued. So he stood, eyes focused on the slithering creature as it came ever closer. It was as if it knew his predicament, and it taunted him, first circling his boot before slithering up onto it. It raised its head, and for a moment they locked eyes. Man and beast.

The creature bit into him, then slithered away. The man bit the inside of his cheek, doing whatever it took to stay silent. The metallic taste of blood filled his mouth, and for a moment it dulled the fiery pain in his foot where he’d been bitten.

That’s when he saw it. Not the fire itself, but a faint flicker. A wayward shadow that could only have been cast by the fire. There was no time to doubt, no time to second guess. It was the closest he’d ever get, of this he was certain.

He pulled the arrow and notched it to his bow in a single motion, then pulled and loosed. The entire motion took only a few seconds. He could see the flickering growing, the shadows lengthening. Was his arrow flying true? The burning sensation in his foot spread up his leg and he fell to one knee, losing sight of his arrow.

The sound of shattering glass sounded out across the entire forest.

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