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You're All Alone · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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All Alone
The warrior leaned against a tree and tried to catch his breath as a faint trickle of blood oozed out of his wound. The forest stretched around him, calm and cool after his fierce battle and the terrible rout that followed their defeat. The chieftain was slain, the shamans captured, and all of the warriors fled before the hungry spears of the victorious. Many had fallen to the warrior’s blade, but the enemy was numerous as the grass, and fast as rabbits. Now as the sun began to rest, he could also.

“At least I am alone,” he murmured to himself. “My dishonor is without witness.”

“Who said you are alone?” A tall woman stepped out of the growing forest shadows, gesturing with one long-fingered hand. “All around you are the creatures of the forest, living their lives in the shadows of the trees. They are born, they grow, and they die here.”

For a time, the warrior listened according to the woman’s advice. As the darkness grew, he could hear far more than he had thought at first. From the distant call of wolves to the chirps of insects underfoot, he could no more be alone in the forest than in a crowded bar, drinking with his lost companions.

“You are right,” admitted the warrior. “A great multitude of beings surround us, but I was speaking of humans such as ourselves. Our battle is lost and I am greatly fatigued, but it is a good thing to find unexpected companionship in this place. Come, young maiden. Sit with me while I bind this injury before it attracts the beasts of the forest.”

The warrior seated himself on a fallen log with a wince, drawing out supplies to deal with the bloody wound. Thankfully, the spear had gone straight through the muscle and broken, leaving only a stub of iron and wood amidst the mangled flesh. It was painful, but he had endured worse during his life and recovered, so he set to work with quiet complaints and muttering as the tall woman drew nearer.

“You are obviously a brave man,” she said. “What matter of man did bring you to these woods in such a state?”

“War,” he grunted. “It matters not the reason. Men have always fought. One chieftain is insulted by another, land fails to produce money so the poor raid the wealthy, the women of a village are barren so others must be captured. At least I have human companionship tonight.”

“You are correct in many regards,” said the woman as she moved closer, “and wrong on the most important.”

She smiled with sharp teeth.
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#1 · 1
I like the descriptions and imagery in this. One thing that may just be a mistaken impression on my part, but I always find it strange when warriors like this sound like they're well educated. It would depend on the kind of society they're from and what rank they are, I guess, but I just don't often expect a foot soldier to sound so highbrow.

As to the ending, it feels like a twist for the sake of a twist. It does surprise, which is the main goal of flash fiction, but it's not that he was tricked by the enemy that he'd been fighting, or that he missed the signs that he was in danger, or that it adds some new meaning to the story. It's just there to surprise, and that's it. He's even potentially in a position to defend himself, so the outcome isn't inevitable. It makes me wonder about the setting, too. Is he fighting far from home, such that he wouldn't know this forest had a reputation as dangerous?
#2 · 1
Ah well. Did you read the famous book by Bram Stocker? Because this woman resemble much one of the three brides of the count.

I agree with Pasco this warrior sounds a bit toffee-nosed. All the more than you describe what I'd think is a Barbarian (in a AD&D sense), which implies both some form of uncouth-ness and knowledge of forests.

Otherwise, there is little to say because there’s no real plot here, it’s just a scene, an encounter. The twist feels contrived, much like you felt you couldn't drag that dialogue much longer and you needed a clincher to conclude with a semi-shocking line.

You could’ve created some sort of plot around the same theme, like the warrior runs into a home where he finds that girl/woman who prepares him food, heals him, w/e. And then when night comes and the warrior goes to sleep morphs into some sort of demon. Anyway.
#3 · 2
I have a small gripe with the simile, “as numerous as the grass, and as fast as rabbits”. Rabbits eat grass, so is the enemy enclave chasing down itself? I can put together the intended meaning, but the gap diminishes the clarity of the image and breaks immersion in your fantasy storytelling.