This week’s flash fiction challenge was to use a random fantasy character generator and write a 1000 word story about him/her. I’m not going to lie, I hated just about everything that the generator created for me, but then I got something interesting: “A forlorn farmer is searching for a legendary weapon.”
Whoa. That’s cool. I decided then and there that the weapon would not be a sword. And this is what I came up with. Enjoy!!
“My God, you are beautiful.” The voice of my husband penetrates through the screams of the dead, their voices of pain and anguish blending together into an incomprehensible howl.
“No less than before and certainly no more now,” I strain to reply, taking away yet another precious bit of my energy. My presence here at the edge of all things is enough to hold back the riptide of souls that is in front of me, clawing at me, trying to go through and beyond me. They don’t recognize their master. My husband can’t see the danger. He sees his front yard, filled with newly plowed rows of just seeded soil. He sees his farm. He sees paradise.
“Come inside with me. I’m leaving tomorrow.” He puts his arms around my waist and their strength and warmth go through me in a way that no mortal can ever seem to achieve. His hands, still caked with the clay of the soil that he so loves, begin to knead and prod, his chapped lips searching for curvatures to attach to. “I want to try again. Before I leave.” He hesitates. I know that my husband wants to say “just in case,” but he has never been a pessimist.
I don’t need him to be a pessimist. I just need him to have a profound sadness. I need him to have a searching and yearning soul. It wasn’t hard to cultivate. His seed is bad and this body was never meant to produce.
With the warmth spreading through me, I’m not going to resist. He is leaving tomorrow to finally retrieve what is mine. I turn to my husband and he stares into my eyes with a furrowed brow. “I’m worried about leaving you here.”
“Why? I navigate around here all day without you when you are at market.” I flash a smile. I know his house like the back of my mortal hands.
He isn’t convinced. “I’m worried about other people…”
I put a finger to his lips. I don’t need to focus to know where they are. Some things in this world I still needed to see, but most things, including these lips, I can feel.
“You’ll be sure to check twice before stepping down? And you’ll be extra careful when milking?” The fear in his voice isn’t because of me. I know that and I kiss him.
“We’ll both be careful. I’ve lived in the darkness a long time, Silas. I’ll be fine.”
He picks me up and we go to bed. He tries to put a live baby into this body but I know that one will not emerge. He knows it too, and it makes his soul all the sadder.
When we wake up before day break, he gets dressed with urgency. “The men said that only the true of heart can find it. They said that a soul of sadness but no vengeance could find it.”
“I’m sure they also told you that they don’t want to trust a negro with their lives…” I guffaw. To see what these men do to my husband every day gives me a deep longing for my blade.
Silas is not amused, but he doesn’t say anything. The men are liars and simply don’t want to put themselves in danger. The fools don’t know how close they are to the truth: Only a sad soul can reap, and thus, only a sad soul is able to find a reaping tool.
“Maybe… maybe it will heal you,” He says as if praying, “as well as stop the tremors, and the earthquake.”
We walk onto the front lawn. Vibrations come up from the ground. Another tremor leading to what they think will be the greatest earthquake known to the region. Again, they don’t know just how close they are to the truth. I am nearing the end of my strength.
“What they don’t know is what to do once I find it. The pastor doesn’t know, but he’s sent for help all the way from Rome.”
“Catholics helping Lutherans. What a world.” I chuckle. He frowns. He has never liked my humor. There is no way that he could understand all that I have seen and all that I know. I put up my hands in apology. “Just bring it back here, baby, and we’ll figure it out.”
He puts a hat on his head and tests his walking stick against the ground. Its deep thud sends a welcome ripple through my legs. It is better than the tremors that remind me of just how weak I have become. He kisses me passionately and watches me walk back up onto the porch. “I’ll watch your shadow as you leave,” I call.
“I’m giving this twenty days, Sammy. Twenty days.” He touches the ten little grave stones in our front yard, saying a prayer in front of each one of them before he walks off.
I know that he won’t die, but I worry that he that he could be unsuccessful. He’s probably the smartest man in this little town. There is no one else up for the task. This has been my first shot in nearly three hundred years, and it may be another few centuries before I can try again.
I’m standing on the edge of everything, watching the souls snap and rage. Their claws are starting to penetrate through, the sulfur seeping through the tiny scratches that they are making. They are hungry for me and for the living beyond me. Ever since the First Day, I’ve stood here at the edge of everything, delivering souls to their destinations and holding back souls who would seek to reenter the realms of the living.
The sigh of exhaustion that I let out allows for a crack to open in the earth. The escape of souls is soon upon us. I cannot perish, but I can fail.
I am forced to hold on for twenty days to find out if I do.