Write about now

May 21, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Random Fantasy Character Generator

The Flash Fiction Challenge is as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/05/17/flash-fiction-challenge-the-random-fantasy-character-generator/

I got five random character concepts from a generator and decided to go with:

A cynical warlord is doomed to wander the world

And may I say, I had a blast writing it!

The story is set in or around the present time, but I am deliberately vague as to the place, since I didn’t have time to do proper research on an actual location.


The door opened and Natasja looked up. She was surprised to a see a costumer, since the rainstorm was keeping even the most thirsty of the townspeople indoors. She was even more surprised that the man who entered wasn’t a local. She could barely remember the last time she had served someone who wasn’t from around here. The highway took the rest of the world past their little town and there was no reason for anyone to stop.

He was soaked; the water dripping from him had already formed a small puddle beneath him. Had he been out walking in the storm?

The man pulled off his long dark coat and draped it across the back of a chair, before walking up to the bar. He had grey hair, but his face was smooth, except for a few crows’ feet around the eyes. She thought she had seen him somewhere before, but couldn’t think of where.

Natasja tried her biggest, brightest smile, even though something about the man seemed a bit odd. Maybe it was simply the fact that there was a faint smell of wet smoke surrounding him. Not cigarette smoke, but real smoke, as if he had been warming himself by a bonfire, before going back out into the rain. She wished that there had been other customers. “Hi!” she said. “What can I get you? Something warm?”

He sat down. “Coffee, please. Would it be possible to get something a little stronger in it?”

She shook her head. “Uh-uh. Sorry, but we don’t have a license.”

He sighed. “Just coffee then.”

“Cream and sugar?”

“No thank you, miss.”

She poured the coffee into a mug and watched him take a sip, then carefully put down the mug. He made no comments on the content.

“It’s … an awful weather,” she said. The words sounded lame, even before she was done uttering them, but he got a thoughtful look, like she had said something important.

When he spoke however, it was only to say something almost equally banal. “It is a lovely little town. Very peaceful.”

“Thank you.”

“It wasn’t always like this, you know.”

“It wasn’t?”

“Oh, no.” He gave the coffee another try. “This place was once the site of a great battle.”

She ran a hand through her hair. Why was this guy weirding her out? He was obviously just some history buff. “I didn’t know,” she said. “Or, you know, I did know. I heard about it in history class. But that was a long time ago. So is that why you’re here? To study local history?” I’m babbling, she thought. “I’m afraid you’re out of luck. There was a fire in the local archive this morning. They’re still sorting through it, but a lot went up in flames.”

“No, I have been here before, but I am afraid that this time I am just passing through. However, you can be sure, that if I get the chance, I will be visiting this peaceful little town again and make it a longer stay.”

Why did it feel like he was making a threat, when all he was doing was making polite small talk? She smiled nervously. “I think the rain is letting up.” She could have kicked herself because of how stupid that sounded. It was raining as hard as ever; just then a gust of wind blew the rain against the windows with a sound as if someone had thrown a bucket of water at it.

But the man didn’t seem to hear her. “Tell me,” he said, after a moment, “have you ever heard the saying that a man dies twice? The second time is when he is forgotten by everyone.”

She nodded. “The old people say that.”

“Do you think it would work the other way around? That if everyone forgot about someone, then he would die?”

“I don’t see how.”

“Of course not.” He shook his head. “A young thing like you have probably never given much thought to death and being forgotten.”

She smiled. She hoped it didn’t look as fake as it felt.

“I should be on my way.” He placed a handful of coins on the bar, before getting up to get his coat.

Natasja looked at the coins. There was money for the coffee and also a generous tip. And then there was a big, slightly irregular coin. “Um, sir?” she said and he looked up from buttoning his coat. “Don’t you want this coin back? It looks old.” She picked it up. The year on the coin was the year before the war. The smell of wet smoke seemed to wash over her, demanding to no longer be ignored. He smelt of smoke and there had been a fire at the archive earlier today. And suddenly she remembered, why he seemed so familiar. There had been a picture in the archive, from the war, of a man in uniform, who looked just like this stranger. She looked up from the coin at him.

He once again looked thoughtful. “I see you remember now. We can’t have that.” He took a gun from the pocket of his coat.

This can’t be happing, she thought. This isn’t happening. “Don’t,” she stammered. “I’ll open the cash register. There’s not a lot, because of the weather, but you can have it all. Just don’t”

“I’m sorry,” he said pointing the gun at her.

And in that moment, he looked and sounded just like the insurance agent, who had told her and her mother, that the life insurance would not be paid out, since her father’s death had been a suicide and he was very sorry about that.

“No, you’re not,” she said.

His smile seemed to flicker as if he wasn’t sure if he should go on pretending or let it drop. “No. Not really,” he said. Then he pulled the trigger.


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