Fiction Fursday/Death Vision

Today’s story prompt was provided by JustAnotherTeenager over at Solitary Haven. The prompt was to write about characters who know that they are going to die, but not how they will die. I thought this was quite an interesting one so I dived right in. I ended up gravitating towards a fantasy story this time, which I’m always happy to to be writing. Thanks, Teenager! 🙂

I hope you enjoy what I was able to come up with.

P.S. If anyone would like to suggest a prompt for me to use in the coming weeks, please feel free to let me know via the comments section. I am using any and all prompts, so don’t be shy!

P.P.S. I currently have enough prompts lined up for four more weeks, so don’t be dismayed if I don’t use one of yours right away. I will get round to it, I’ve got a list and everything!

 

Death Vision

By Adam Dixon

“I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday,” the old man said, his rheumy eyes misting over. “You certainly gave your mother a hard time! Ten hours of labour and nothing the witch-doctor did seemed to make you want to hurry up! Ah, but you were always a stubborn one!”

“That’s great, dad, now will you give me a hand, please?” The young woman was painting an intricate warding spell on one of the bare walls of the small room. The paint was blood red and bold against the grey plaster. The old man sighed and placed the jug of water he was carrying on the windowsill. He leaned down and picked up a brush, completing the warding with ease. The room was not ventilated and the pungent, nauseating smell of the paint was strong. It didn’t help that it was so warm in the room, either, and the old man began to feel dizzy. The woman regarded the warding and nodded, brushing a loose strand of blond hair from her eyes.

“Great, thank you!” she said with relief. “You always had a better eye for these things than me.”

“Your mother taught me the difficult ones,” the man replied, rubbing the small of his back. The woman poured herself a glass of water and drained a huge gulp through a straw before picking up her paintbrush again.

“I’m going to miss you, Jennifer,” the old man said, his eyes brimming with tears. “I wish it didn’t have to be today.”

“Dad, it doesn’t!” Jennifer turned on the old man. She had a wild look in her eyes borne of desperation and determination. “I’m not going to die today, stuff what the doctor says!”

“Jennifer, I know it’s hard to accept,” the old man said, resting his hands gently on her shoulders. “Believe me, your mother and I barely accepted it ourselves, but the witch-doctor is never wrong. He tasted your blood the day you were born and we’ve known ever since. Why fight it?”

“Why not?” Jennifer retorted, glaring at her father. “I can do so much good in the world, so why shouldn’t I try to stay alive? Because some blood-drunk freak had a vision twenty-four years ago?”

“That’s exactly why, Jennifer, and you know it!” the old man said. “The witch-doctor’s Death Vision is never wrong, and it’s been that way for centuries! In a way, it’s a blessing to know when our lives are due to be over, that’s what your mother always said.”

“Yes and you didn’t try to save her either,” Jennifer said, shrugging off his hands and returning to her painting. The old man stared at her, deeply hurt.

“Your mother knew that her time was near, just like I did,” he said, his voice quivering. “We knew since the day we first met, but that didn’t change anything. In fact, she always said that it encouraged her to enjoy every day as much as she could. I was grateful to know that she wouldn’t suffer the indignities of age, something which you ought to be grateful for as well.”

“Well I’m not,” Jennifer replied, dabbing at her new warding. It was a powerful one, the strongest defensive spell she knew. “I want to grow old, I want to have that chance. Anyway, mum didn’t know the exact day like I do. You don’t know the exact day you’re expected to die, either!”

“That’s down to your rare blood type, my darling” the old man said, smiling. “It’s as if the universe singled you out as someone special and allowed the witch-doctor to be more precise! Come on, Jennifer, please don’t be like this. I…don’t want my last memory of you to be of us having an argument.”

“Dad, it’s not going to be your last!” Jennifer said in exasperation. The old man looked at his feet, his face the picture of misery. After a few minutes of listening to Jennifer muttering to herself, he approached her and pulled her into an embrace.

“Goodbye, my darling,” he said, smiling through his tears. “Be at one with Our Magic again, and I will join you soon.” Jennifer dropped the paintbrush, splashing her leg with red paint as she hugged him back. She broke down and began sobbing in earnest.

“Oh, dad, I love you,” she whispered. “But I’m not going anywhere without a fight!” The old man rubbed his weathered cheek against her smooth one, savouring her warmth and the wetness of their mingling tears. He pulled away and cupped her face with his hand, nodding and gazing into her eyes.

“I love you too, Butterfly,” he said. “I’ll be with you and your mother again soon.” Jennifer squeezed his hands tight and stepped back, drying her eyes on her sleeve.

“You’d better leave now, anyway,” she said quietly. “I’m about to set up a Circle and I don’t want you to get hurt.” The old man nodded again and moved towards the door. He shuffled past the threshold and took a lingering look at Jennifer as she began sprinkling a large sack of herbs around the room. She glanced up and winked at him.

“See you tomorrow, dad.” Her smile was weak. The old man smiled back sadly and closed the door. He sighed and leaned his back against it, suddenly feeling older than ever. Knowing that the day had been coming for years didn’t make it easy now that it had arrived. He stood listening to Jennifer casting spells and chanting incantations until the light faded. He fought the desire to enter the room and keep her company, warding spells be damned. But he did not. He became dimly aware of his knees aching and of his back sliding down the door frame…

He awoke sitting on the cold wooden floor with his knees bent and his joints as stiff as a rusty bike chain. He groaned and heard bone and cartilage creak and scrape together as he struggled to get up. His knees, hips and back cracked as he stood, dragging a rare expletive from his lips. He rubbed his body, fuming at its betrayal and thanking the universe for his wife’s early death. The thought stopped him in his tracks. He turned and faced the door, his heart heavy as he noted the silence behind it. He turned the handle and pushed it open, knowing what he would see. The room was colder than it had been the night before, and the stench of paint was gone. Lying in the centre of a huge circle of herbs, salt and animal bones was his Butterfly. Jennifer was dead.

The old man approached the corpse slowly, paying no mind to the crunch of the scattered detritus as he stepped on them. They were useless anyway, the spells would have died with the user. A mixture of scents assaulted his nose, some bitter, some sweet and others sour, but he barely noticed them. He fell to his knees, ignoring the fresh, angry waves of pain which lashed out from his bones. He looked at Jennifer’s beautiful, pale face and noted with relief that there was no trace of pain etched into her features. He hadn’t wanted her to suffer. He glanced over to the jug of water he had brought her the night before and saw that it was empty. He nodded.

“You drank it all,” he said, smoothing Jennifer’s hair from her face. “Good girl. I hoped you would do…it would have made it quicker.” He knelt over Jennifer’s body and gazed at her through hot tears.

“I love you, Butterfly.” he said. He took comfort in the fact that he wouldn’t live past the end of the year and so would have very little time before he joined her. He didn’t regret what he had done; the witch-doctor’s prediction had been fulfilled and everything was correct in the universe. Just as it had always been.

Fiction Fursday/ Brick Wall

Hello everyone! As some of you may have noticed, I recently celebrated reaching 100 followers. I’m still very excited about this news and thrilled that so many people have enjoyed my scribblings thus far. I wanted to find a way to write more regularly on my blog, as I am always writing but not finishing work very quickly. I feel like I need something to focus my creativity, a bit of pressure to get the cogs turning in my head. I’ve been following some wonderful bloggers for a few months now and if they can manage to write a blog post every day whilst juggling their own busy lives then I can at least write one short story every week!

So, from today I am launching a weekly project which I have very cleverly named “Fiction Fursdays”, and I will require a bit of help. Upon completing the A-Z Challenge set during April, I found that prompts from other bloggers not only fired up my imagination but also helped me to feel part of the wider blogosphere. So, I’d like to request that you lovely people send me suggestions for my Fiction Fursdays! I’ll take on board every suggestion given and store them away for the upcoming weeks. This will not only give me a big group of stories to be getting on with but it will also provide me with a DEADLINE for each of them. I seem to work quite well when a deadline is set so I think this will be a good move for me!

So, if any of you would like to propose a story for me to write about in the upcoming weeks, go right ahead! I solemnly promise to give each and every suggestion a bash, regardless of the genre or narrative style etc. Anything you think I can tackle or would like to see me attempt to write just let me know. I’m very excited about this! I’ll be posting a short story which I wrote a while ago underneath this main post, which will then be the first and (hopefully!) last “Fiction Fursday” short I put up here.

Sorry for the rambling, but I wanted this post to convey my excitement and eagerness to get started! I do hope you’ll honour me with a suggestion, whoever you are! Of course I will give a shout-out to anyone who suggests something to me.

Now that that’s out of the way, here is a piece of flash fiction I wrote few months ago for a competition. Sadly it wasn’t placed, but it was fun to write. I hope you enjoy it.

Brick Wall

By Adam Dixon

John padded into the kitchen, blinking at the morning sunshine. He scratched his unkempt hair, followed by his bare stomach as it growled audibly. ‘What to have for breakfast?’ he thought, casting his eyes lazily across the room. He shuffled towards the fridge and wrenched it open, examining its contents. ‘Hmm…bacon and eggs, maybe?’ he pondered. ‘Nah, not today. Cuppa tea, though.’ He took out a bottle of milk and put the kettle on. The clip-clop of shoes on tiles announced her arrival. He didn’t turn around.

“John, we need to talk,” her quiet voice floated into the kitchen. John plonked a tea bag into his mug and began opening cupboards. ‘Hmm…cereal? Frosties or Coco Pops? Hmmm…

“Things…haven’t been going well between us for a while now,” she continued hesitantly. She took a step into the kitchen, placing a small pink suitcase next to her smart black heels. “I feel like we can’t talk to each other properly anymore. Do you know what I mean?” John took out the box of Coco Pops and looked at it briefly before he put it back.

“I think…I think we should have some time apart,” she persisted, speaking quickly. “You know, to think about our futures…because I don’t know if I can do this anymore.” Her voice cracked slightly as she spoke. John poured boiling water into his mug and hummed to himself as he added the milk.

“John? Are you listening to me? This is important!” John continued humming. ‘Actually, bugger it, I will have bacon and eggs!’ John smiled triumphantly and fished about in the fridge once again.

“John? John! Why won’t you say anything, for Christ’s sake?!” Her heeled shoe stamped down on the tiles. A single tear followed it, splashing onto the white marble. John cracked two eggs into a glass bowl and began to whisk eagerly, still humming softly.

“I can’t believe you…how can you stand there and make fucking breakfast while I’m suffering over here? Is this why Jenny left you? And Suzie?” John stopped humming. He paused for a moment mid-whisk, before scraping a generous lump of lard from the packet and into the frying pan. The humming resumed. There came a long, exasperated sigh from behind him.

“I don’t know why I bother. I loved you, John, but I can’t talk to a brick wall. I’ll send someone round for the rest of my things.” There was a hopeful pause before she picked up her case and clip-clopped out of the room. A moment later the front door slammed.

John scratched his stomach and added bacon to the frying pan. He began whistling as his breakfast started to come together, and the mouth-watering smell of bacon and scrambled eggs filled the kitchen. ‘Oh yes’, he thought cheerfully, ‘today is going to be a good day!’