Damn I’m getting far too addicted to writing flash … like some virtual crack head I find myself trawling blog upon blog looking for another hit, somewhere else to get high. Anyway I subjected those poor folk at Finish That Thought to a submission this week, coming second (joint I should add) …
Their prompt mechanic is taking the beginnings of a sentence, in this case “fingers trembling she slowly unrolled the ancient document”, and taking the narrative onwards from there. 500 word limit etc and I really enjoyed the idea it prompted …
Lost in Translation (497 words)
Fingers trembling she slowly unrolled the ancient document, a small yellowing page, placing it carefully onto the table. Dust spiraled lazily off of the dry page, instigating a coughing fit that echoed back and forth between the barren stacks of the deserted library.
Astrid took a swig from her canteen, quelling the rebellion within, before returning her attention to the page. As she had suspected the faded print was discernible yet, as she had also feared, unfamiliar. She cursed Max for his hot headedness, if he hadn’t threatened the hermit whose treasure this was, if Max hadn’t fired off that round trying to persuade the hermit to translate. If the resultant ricochet hadn’t split the Hermit’s head apart.
Well that was the past, like Max now was. Astrid had last seen him walking back towards the wasteland. His tail between his legs, the gun in her possession. She knew that by now she would have convinced the Hermit, lured the secret of the page out of him.
Astrid willed the black lines on the page to form into something even her basic grasp of English could understand. Whatever it meant was important, the Hermit’s behavior told her as much, hiding it within a thin steel tube, coveting it, protecting it. Whatever the words meant, they offered something worth dying for.
The toll of weeks spent traversing the wasteland threatened to overwhelm her. The constant battle against heat, thirst and brigands had almost thwarted their journey here. Astrid rested her head on the table, giving in to the tiredness.
When she awoke a new day had dawned, Astrid sprung to her feet, revolver drawn. Yet the library was empty, just the page on the table and the rotten corpses of books decomposing on the floor. She was gutted to see that the markings still made no sense, the truth tantalizingly out of her reach.
Astrid paced between the stacks, eating a ration pack, working out her options. Returning to Big Smoke was foolish, finding someone to translate very unlikely. Suddenly Astrid found herself on the floor, tripped by a book sticking up out of a pile. She was about to throw it away in anger when she realised that the cover had markings like the page. She focused hard on the English words she recognised alongside: Ch …I … Nese … to … Eng …Lish.
This was it! She ran back to the table, fingers tracing the black marks: 這是一個虛構的工作。名，人物和地方的產品 …
By the time she had finished the sun had fallen and risen again. Ration packs lay around her feet as for the hundredth time her fingers traced the translation she had carved into the wooden table.
She wanted to scream in frustration. What did it mean? What was the secret? She read again:
“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and places are the products …
image courtesy and property of James Charlick