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June 6, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge – Choose Your Own Words

Filed under: flash fiction challenge, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 6:04 pm

Challenge courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here. My five words, chosen by a random number generator were: Scorpion, legend and holiday.
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It was the day of the Festival of the Slaying. The street was filled with small girls in white dresses, all holding a wreath of white flowers in one hand and wielding a small maul with a long shaft and a head of crystal glass in the other. They were making their way – some running and laughing, others walking solemnly – to the statue in the middle of the town square, to lay their flowers before spending the rest of the day playing and eating buns.

Hane sat in the shadowy side of the square, nursing a pint. He was looking at the statue. It depicted the hero of the city, Rhida the Slayer, standing proud with one foot on the broken body of a giant scorpion, the size of a rhino. She had slain it a hundred years ago, but the statue had been erected only some twenty years ago.

Back then, Hane had tried to tell the stonecutters that they were doing it all wrong, but they didn’t want to listen, even though he was one of the few persons still alive, who had seen Rhida in person, when he was a boy around 10. Now at the age of 110 he was the only one left, but people still wouldn’t listen to him, when he told them about Rhida.

Oh, the scorpion was perfect. He should know, he was also the last person alive to have seen one of them and it was because of that, he only had one leg. The other had been chopped off to stop the poison from spreading.

The giant scorpions had lived in caves underground and, most of the time, had threatened no one except unlucky spelunkers. But they could live for more than a hundred years and never stopped growing and when they grew too big to survive on the meagre prey in the caves, they came to the surface.

The villagers had killed the rest of, them smaller ones, but this was the queen, the biggest of them all and she had killed everyone who came after her, until Rhida showed up. She had destroyed its eggs and then killed it, thus rendering the giant scorpions extinct, but had died right after, from blood loss or poison. She had never stood triumphantly over the dead scorpion like the statue did, where the only weakness showing was her leaning on the diamond maul, she had used to smash the scorpion.

Furthermore the statue had a serene face shining with beauty and wisdom. The real Rhida, Hane remembered, had a nose that had been broken so many times that it now looked like a turnip. She has also been ill-tempered, selfish, lying, greedy and with a foul mouth. She was a woman who looked after herself first and last. The string of events that had led to her eventually going down into the caves to rid the village of the last scorpion before it could breed, had been strange indeed. Hane thought that it might have been the one unselfish thing she had ever done in her entire life and of course it had ended with her getting killed.

But the villagers would hear none of this. The wanted to believe that Rhida had been a hero with every virtue imaginable and that she had sought out the village, looking to rid them of their plague. This was the story they told their children and they held up Rhida as shining example of all things good and proper.

Once a year, they dressed their little girls up in white dresses – never mind that Rhida properly never owned a white piece of clothing in her entire life and would have dirtied it within moments, had she ever gotten one – and let them lay their flowers and wield their little glass mauls, in honour of the great hero.

Hane sighed, took a sip of beer and closed his eyes. Why couldn’t he let it go? These people believed what they wanted to believe. What they needed to believe. What was wrong with using Rhida as a role model for little girls and boys?

He could hear a noise, but it was at the edge of his hearing and he couldn’t make out what it was. Probably some overenthusiastic children. What was wrong, he thought, was that it wasn’t true. Rhida had been brave in the end and a great warrior, but she had had her flaws and plenty of them. They weren’t honouring her or her sacrifice, because they were in fact honouring a completely different person, who they had made up for the occasion and had given Rhida’s name and credited with her deed.

Hane opened his eyes. He could hear screaming and it did not sound playful or even like a spoiled child having a tantrum. It sounded genuinely terrified. The real Rhida had been careless. She might have gone searching for the scorpions eggs, but she most likely hadn’t found all of them.

The screaming was growing louder as both more people joined in and as they came running this way.
Now, if people hadn’t made such a paragon out of her, beginning right after her death, maybe someone would have checked up on her. Maybe someone would have gone into the caves to look for remaining scorpion eggs. But oh no, Rhida could do no wrong, so of course she had gotten all of them.

A crowd of people streamed into the square, screaming and crying and tripping and trampling each other. Behind them Hane could see something black and shiny, the size of a rhino. He took another sip of his pint. He was old and dying with a belly full of beer was not the worst way to go.

He felt a bit sorry for villagers, but only a bit. After all, he had tried to tell them, but they hadn’t wanted to listen.

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