The challenge that faced the Phoenix Writers this week was to write a 200 word piece that included the following elements – a barge approaching a set of locks, a bullock and a rifle.
Here’s what I came up with . . .
“Don’t worry, Kid,” said Don, squeezing the shoulder of his eldest.
“I ain’t scared,” replied Ryan, bristling with teenage hubris.
You should be, thought Don, cutting the barge engines and letting her drift towards Lock 17. It was almost dark, hinted moonlight on distant clouds. He’d wanted to get back before Sundown and knew Emily would already be fretting for their safety. Nearly there.
“Careful, Son,” said Don, as Ryan scampered off the boat to open the bottom gates.
Seconds later Don heard the sound, barely audible over creaking wood. His eyes darted to the left. He grabbed the rifle, listening as he squinted down the barrel towards the rotten oak tree obscuring the towpath just beyond Ryan. There it was again, much closer. Before he could alert his son, a hulking white bullock emerged from the trees pulling a wagon, upon which sat canal pirate, Jonny Moondog, his pump-action shotgun casually levelled at Ryan.
“Drop the rifle mate,” said Jonny.
Don obliged. A pause. “You idiot!” Don laughed, “You scared us half to death!”
Ryan ran to embrace his uncle Jonny.
“Ring ahead before your next visit, will you?” said Don.
“Sorry, mate,” said the pirate, “what’s for tea?”
It was definitely more difficult to write something so short, with such a specific set of elements to include, and for a while I thought I was writing a dystopian tale of dwindling resources – until my natural inclination for levity kicked in and spoiled the climax.
I would love to hear your feedback on this or any other of my flash fiction, which I am now posting on a weekly basis. Just click on the flash fiction category to see the others. What are you working on at the moment?