Return of Four by Flash Piece 1: Charybdis


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 fifteenth, I should have seven or eight pieces completed and posted by now. As ever, my flexible approach to deadlines renders this somewhat inaccurate, as this is my first 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 other source of inspiration came from the Richmond WriMos Facebook group, specifically Brandy Spicer, who came up with the concept of a “prompt bingo card” for moments when inspiration doesn’t come. As a result, I will be using this as my card to get all sixteen pieces done. This first piece doesn’t actually let me mark off a square, so no bingo for me yet:


Now that preamble is out of the way, here’s the piece which clocks in at 436 words:


Priscilla splashed her feet in the ocean. For as long as she could remember, water had been her element. Her mother joked that Pris (a nickname she hated) was born with gills. The family vacation to Punta del Faro, Sicily began four days ago, and Priscilla had spent almost every daylight hour out on the sandbars or in the sea itself. When the clouds receded, Priscilla could see the Italian mainland in the distance.

Priscilla swam out to sea, letting the salt water mat her red hair against her head and shoulders. She rolled over on to her back, floating happily. Priscilla stared up at a cloudless blue sky, shot through with languid sunbeams, as she drifted away from the shore.

As the sounds of the beach receded, Priscilla felt rocks in the water scratch at her back. She turned back over, and saw six jagged stones poking through the spume, moving as if somehow alive. Instinctively, Priscilla pushed off against the rocks and left them behind her. To her left, she could just about see the promontory of Punta del Faro and angled her body towards it.

It proved a fruitless effort as a gust of wind from nowhere dragged her away from both the rocks and shore. A churning sound immediately in front of her presaged a whirlpool, with an angry funnel cloud piercing it from the otherwise clear sky.

“Daughter of Poseidon,” the cyclone said in a voice like a thousand hurricanes, “this is your end.”

“You must have the wrong girl,” Priscilla said in panting breaths, “I’m the daughter of Adam and Felicia Bassinger.”

The whirlpool continued to roar formlessly as it pulled Priscilla closer. Desperately, she kicked out to shore, fighting the wind for dominion over her own body.

The funnel cloud took a humanoid shape, though the cyclone still raged within and about its body. “Aeolus will have his sacrifice,” the gale force voice exhaled.

Priscilla beat against the water, swimming as hard as she could back to shore. It made no difference as every stroke brought her closer and closer to the whirlpool. Fatigue numbed her body and dulled her senses to oblivion. As she sank, she closed her eyes…

When she opened them again, she was completely dry and on a bed in the beach house her family had rented. Next to her was a trident with a waterlogged scrap of paper tied to the central tine. She read the almost illegible words scrawled on the paper:

“Keep Swimming, -P”

Priscilla wrapped her fingers around the trident’s handle and felt something like an ocean current course through her.


Whirlpool photo courtesy of Vikaadi


4 thoughts on “Return of Four by Flash Piece 1: Charybdis

  1. Pingback: Return of Four by Flash Piece 2: Expectations | Thoughts of a Lost Limey

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