Kristin hated herself, which made her invincibility downright infuriating, but right at that moment all her anger was directly well and truly towards someone else.
‘Like I said, it happens more than you think.’ The man in the high viz jacket scratched the back of his neck and rocked his considerable wight back on his heels. ‘These sort of places, well they can be a bit…’ he thought about the word for a few moments. ‘Temperamental.’
‘You think?’ Kristin spat. The ground in front of them had opened up to reveal exactly nothing. Ziltch. Diddly squat. She focused on projecting her fury down into that emptiness and not on to the idiot standing next to her. How many men had they lost down there? Six? Eight?
‘Well we are looking for something that ain’t suppose to exist,’ he shrugged. ‘We’re unlikely to strike gold the first time.’
‘I told you. We’re not looking for gold.’
‘If you insist but I’ll have you know, you ain’t likely to find much else out here. A lot of the tombs have been cleared out for well over a generation. All that’s left is the odd bit of gold broken bone.’
Sucking in the side of his cheek he started to chew.
‘You sure it’s here?’
The urge to shove the idiot down into the hole with the lost workmen rose like a tidal-wave.
‘Yes,’ Kristin gritted out. ‘I am sure that it’s here. I’m the one who left it here.’
‘Two thousand years ago?’
‘Two thousand, one hundred and sixty five years, eleven days, and sixteen hours ago.’
The idiot’s looked at her with one damp, glistening eyebrow raised.
‘Sure lady. If you say so.’ He shook his head and glanced back at the hole. ‘Poor bastards. I’d suggest sending someone down there but I-‘ his head shot up.’For fuck’s sake.’
Still resisting the urge to shove the idiot into the hole, Kristin turned to look in the direction he was now staring.
‘What is he doing here.’ The idiot yanked a sweat stained cloth from his belt and dragged it around his face. ‘We should have had another three weeks!’
Kristin’s mouth puckered into a scowl.
‘I thought you dealt with him?’ she said, watching the narrow health inspector wind his way towards them. He avoided the carefully cordoned zones where more men, in yet more brightly colour jackets, dusted away at the ruins. She said dusted… she flinched as one of the men swung a pickax down into the dust and something cracked beneath the tip. Well, she had insisted on cost before experience.
‘Ah Sir, Madam.’
The narrow health inspector wavered to a sort-of stop. While his head remained perfectly still the rest of his body appeared to twitch and vibrate, grating on Kristin’s nerves as she forced herself to focus on his eyes. Stupid eyes.
‘I believe that after we last spoke-‘
‘Yes, yes, of course!’ The idiot clapped a beefy hand around the narrow health inspectors arm and steered him forcefully back the way he had just come. ‘I was meaning to call you, I really was.’ He continued to ramble as he ushered the man, more than a little forcefully, away from Kristin. ‘About our little arrangement…’
The pair wandered off, leaving Kristin standing alone by the hole.
‘Morons,’ she muttered.
She rolled her shoulders and popped the kinks from her spine. Invincibility didn’t mean she couldn’t feel old every now and again.
‘You know,’ said the young boy who appeared at her elbow. ‘I thought he would never leave.’
‘Hello Everan.’ Kristin finished stretching. ‘You’re getting lazy. I heard you coming that time.’
The boy frowned. ‘How? I only decided to visit you a moment ago?’
‘Long enough for me to hear you coming don’t you worry. Anyway, I would have been disappointing if the Rest didn’t send someone.’
‘The Rest didn’t send me.’
‘Of course not.’ Kristin felt a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. ‘I must be close, if you’re here.’
‘Close to what I- oh.’ The boy went quiet. ‘I hate it when they do that.’
‘Don’t we all,’ Kristin shrugged. ‘Why do you think I stay so far away?’
‘Because everyone hates you? Because you murdered one of the Rest and threatened to uproot every system of beliefs in the entire universe until all that is good and hopeful had been stamped from the world?’ He waited a beat. ‘Because Jamie is a really, really horrible cook?’
‘He’s not that bad.’
‘He really is,’ said the boy.
The sun was setting and Kristin watched as it dropped lower in the sky. She’d seen others much like it but she pretended to enjoy the colours.
‘What are you planning on doing with it?’ asked the boy. He was watching the sunset with her, his hands tucked into the pockets of his shorts. The pair of them did not belong. Kristin in her wide brimmed sunhat and velvet dress, and the boy in his woollen jumper and knee high shorts. Cliches out of time and place.
‘I’m going to end it all,’ she replied.
‘You’re going to kill yourself or you’re going to end the universe?’
Smiling Kristin tilted her head towards him. ‘It’s the same really isn’t it? If the universe ends then so must I and if I end then- well who knows. None of us have ever died. Nothing might happen at all. It might even improve things.’
She turned towards the idiot and the narrow health inspector, now stopped by the ramshackle hut that doubled as the site office and the lavatory. The smell was potent enough from where Kristin was stood to make her wonder why the pair had chosen that spot to talk but talking them seemed to be. Loudly, with hand signals, and spittle.
‘I don’t want you to go away.’ The boy pouted as he spoke. ‘I like it better with you here.’
‘How would you know? It’s never been any different so there is nothing to compare me being here to.’
‘I know,’ nodded the boy. ‘In here.’ He tapped his chest, just above his liver. ‘And I’m never wrong.’
‘Very rarely,’ agreed Kristin. She took his smaller hand in her’s and squeezed it tightly. His fingers were cold.
‘Could I-‘ his voice wavered. ‘Could I come with you?’
‘To where? I’m dying, not going on a trip.’
‘It’s a trip of sorts.’ His face rippled and his body lengthened. ‘You made me a promise remember.’
His hands were no longer small in hers, now the encompassed her slender fingers, tough and strong.
‘This isn’t a new place to explore,’ Kristin explained. ‘We ran out of new places, long, long ago. This is a none place. An end.’
‘And back in the beginning it was just you and I so why not mirror that now.’ His lips hovered above her’s. ‘You promised.’
‘I lie. Ask anyone.’
‘No,’ Everan chuckled. ‘You don’t.’
He kissed her, once on the lips and then again on each cheek.’
‘Find the eyes and when you have summon me. This isn’t a task you have to face alone.’
‘It’s not one you need to face either.’ The words hung in front of her, the space where he had been stood empty. ‘Prick. Skipping out on me in the middle of something.’ She swiped at the air and kicked a flurry of stand down into the hole still beside her. It kept falling.
‘What!’ Kristin spun to find the idiot behind her, the health inspector at his elbow. They stared at her with grey faces and soft chins.
‘You better come see,’ said the idiot. ‘The men, they found-‘ He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. ‘It’s better if I show you.’
Grumbling, Kristin followed him across the site. He pointed down at one of the excavation pits, the surface covered over with a piece of sheeting to try and keep some of the heat off. She lifted it and bent down.
‘Well shit.’ Kristin let go of the sheeting and straightened. ‘That’s unusual.’ She lifted the sheeting again and peered inside, squinting against the dimly lit interior.
Yes, she was certain the four bodies she was seeing were four of the men who had been working for her. Whatever they were now might have been something all together more disturbing but that didn’t change the facts.
One lifted a decaying hand and whined at her.
She tutted and batted it away.
Needy children, always reaching for more.
‘We’re close,’ she announced. The idiot was standing close but the health inspector and the workforce had retreated.
‘Deal with them and keep digging.’
The idiot rung his hands together.
‘Ma’am. I’m not sure…’
Kristin’s face split into a needle point grin.
‘Dig,’ she instructed. ‘Or end up like them.’
The idiot swallowed but remained silent.
‘Good.’ She patted him on the shoulder as she walked past. ‘That’s what I like to hear from my employees.’
Any further reluctance left him as her hand connected with his skin, and so did his soul.
‘Bugger.’ Kristin frowned and focused on trying to cram in back inside the body. ‘No, no, no.’ She could hear him panicking inside her head.
Sighing she poked the corpse with her index finger.
‘Go, work,’ she ordered. It wasn’t perfect but it would do. The corpse nodded stiffly and lumbered away.
Picking out the idiot’s soul she turned it over and noted the soft spots in it, the pieces she could pull out and consume first. It started screaming. She let it go, feeling it retreat into a dark corner where it curled, shivering and afraid.
If it had remained calm she might have been able to put it back, but panic tended to make souls latch on. She was foolish for forgetting what would happen if she touched a mortal.
She chuckled at herself. Yeah, she forgot, that was it. She soul seem to settle a little in her head and she took the moment, shredding it before it had chance to realise what was happening.
Delicious, she thought, a familiar sickness inching its way up her throat. The sooner she was done the better.
That evening the corpse approached her, its palms clasped tightly around two small, marble like objects. It dropped them into her hands and promptly turned to dust.
Kristin brushed away the remains from her dress and rolled along her fingers.
About time. The eyes burned in her grip but she tightened her hold. They were her’s, bright and beautiful, dark and deadly.
Her mind flashed to Everan and for a second she considered summoning him.
No, she decided for one she would not drag him closer to the edge. She would keep this from staining him as well.
She clenched her hands into fists and felt the objects break.
Sometimes the only thing left is to build a fire. That was what she was doing, building a fire big enough to burn the whole dam universe to ashes.
She heard him before she saw him.
‘Kristin.’ He wrapped her body in his. ‘What did I say?’
She opened her mouth to speak but it was lost under the roar of everything exploding.
Together, she remember. He said they would always be together.
Well this was a pain and a half to write. It’s not exactly a free-write because I went back a couple of times to tweak things, but I tried to let the story form as naturally as I could and I did keep in mind the fact that I was supposed to be writing without editing most of the way through. [That is my excuse if you see any typos.]
The three sentences I chose for Chuck Wendig’s ‘Pick Three Sentences and Write‘ challenge were:
‘Kristen hated herself, which made her invincability downright infuriating.’ Sir Exal.
‘Sometimes the only thing left is to build a fire.’ Rich Hayden
‘Like I said, it happens more than you think.’Broken Sea
There were lots of fantastic sentences so if you fancy writing a piece of flash fiction then make sure to go over and pick out three awesome sentences for yourself. If you’re doing a piece of free-write Friday fiction as well, feel free to stick a link in the comments below and I’ll hop over and check you out.
I endeavour to do a piece of free-write fiction every Friday [
Does not always happen happens on rare occasions it’s like seeing a unicorn dancing with heffalump!] It’s a great way to get ideas down on paper and focus on writing rather than self-editing the crap out of everything you’re typing.
Please do let me know what you think and if you liked it then there are some more stories under the Short Stories and Flash Fiction tab. Better yet, check out the home page and the slightly longer reads in that section.
Until next time.