The sudden impact made Eric drop the paddle into the fast-flowing water. His kayak slammed against the hitherto invisible rock, jolting his entire body. In less time than it took him to blink, Eric found his head underwater as his craft capsized. Less than a second later, thanks to a well-practiced body lean, he righted himself. To his left, he could see the yellow blades of his paddle slowly floating down the mud-colored river.
Not seeing much of an alternative, Eric put his hands in the water and used them to direct his kayak towards the paddle. The water craft got him close enough that he could grasp the aluminum shaft and drag the paddle back into position. Eric resumed his course down the river, keeping his eyes open for more hidden rocks. As the waning sunlight began to paint the horizon in shades of purple, Eric saw something gleaming in the water ahead of him.
He piloted his kayak towards the glinting object. It was a blue gemstone about the size of his clenched fist, tinted purple by the sunset. Eric pulled the jewel out of the water and let the sunlight play on all the intricate facets of the stone. He weighted it in his hand, surprised by its lightness.
Eric tossed the gem beneath the fiberglass hull of his kayak, where it nestled between his feet. He paddled to the river bank and disembarked from his craft. After changing and stowing away the kayaking gear in his battered SUV, Eric retrieved the jewel and placed it on the passenger seat. As he began the drive back to Cleveland, he could hear a low arrhythmic rumbling pulsing from the front of the vehicle. Initially he turned the radio off but that didn’t end the noise. Hairline cracks started appearing among the jewel’s various facets. These cracks grew wider and wider until a diamond-shaped reptilian head burst forth from the gem and lunged at Eric’s hand, sinking its fangs into the soft webbing between his thumb and fingers. Eric screamed with pain and instinctively jerked his hand away, swerving into the next lane of traffic before passing out of consciousness and life.
As followers of this blog are no doubt aware, back in March of this year, I participated in a Flash Fiction writing challenge known as “Four by Flash,” which had the goal of producing sixteen flash fiction pieces (four a week for four weeks) in a single calendar month. However, the full extent of that challenge was to repeat that schedule four times in a calendar year for a total of sixty-four pieces. I had earmarked June as my second month to attempt this feat, vowing to do better than I did in March, where a late start meant that pieces were still dribbling out in April.
With today being the nineteenth, I should have nine or ten pieces completed and posted by now. As ever, my flexible approach to deadlines renders this somewhat inaccurate, as this is my third piece for this set.
I have two separate sources of inspiration to try and get things done this time. The first, and the inspiration for this piece was a comment made by a good friend of mine, “Fo Facy,” who said something about “fighting the wind for dominion.” A sentence I found so evocative I had to write about it. I promised that she would receive the credit for being my muse this time, hence that link there.
My “prompt bingo card” provided the inspiration for this 363-word piece, which combined with my last piece means I have two squares marked off. This piece was prompted by the square reading “Glitter in gutters,” so my card currently looks like this:
Stock photo courtesy of Andreas Krappweis