Here’s the result of my third flash fiction challenge. I’m embarrassed by it. No, I’m not kidding. No, it’s not false modesty either. I figured out what I’m doing wrong though. I’m trying to tell a whole story in one thousand words or less. Of course it won’t be any good. Well, here it is anyway.
The prompt I started with was:
Who the @#%& is my D&D character?
Check this sh*t out, I’m going to be a @#%&-ing curious dragonborn barbarian from a travelling band who is afraid of heights.
My story doesn’t happen in the D&D world. I explained why in this post. If I would have pretended to know anything about D&D this story would have been truly awful … er.
by Ada Ireland
Devlin didn’t need to look down to know he was hanging over a precipice. He could feel its deadly pull down to the very marrow of his bones. Heights didn’t make him dizzy, they paralyzed him. His blood slowed down to an icy crawl. His muscles froze. Even his mind became numb. Almost as if rigor mortis was setting in although death hadn’t claimed him yet.
He heard Kata’s soft whimper. The fall must have left her with at least a few broken bones. She wasn’t moving. She was just hanging below him like a dead weight in his grip. He could tell she was alive only from the occasional whimper and the warmth he could still feel coming from her arm .
His right hand was clenched into a fist around the rope that had stopped their fall and had them hanging more than thirty feet from the top of the rift that was ready to swallow them. Blood was slowly dripping from the way the rope was cutting into his flesh. Pain wasn’t going to open his fist though. He doubted even death could.
Kata whimpered again. Her breathing got harder. She was coming to. He heard her gasp followed by a painful grunt. “Damnation!” she whispered. A quick glance was enough to let her know how bad things were: a thousand foot sheer drop below them, a smooth rock wall above, Devlin frozen in a height induced paralysis, her left ankle broken, and her right wrist painfully immobilized in Devlin’s stony grip. Neither of them would be able to climb up the rock wall or the rope they were hanging by. She had to find a way to reach Devlin’s mind and heart, and help him unlock the power that had always been there.
“I know you can hear me,” she started. “Since you decided to ‘play statue’ I’ll tell you what our choices are. You can let go of my hand. I’ll plunge to my death but it will be quite the dive. I’m sure they’ll fix me up when I get to Valhalla. I’ll be pretty enough for when we meet again, in the afterlife.”
Her voice got serious. “Or you can listen to your blood, Devlin. You can unleash the power that has been passed onto you by your parents. You know you have it. You have the power to soar. It’s not the fear of heights that takes your strength away. It’s the KNOWLEDGE that you could triumph over anything, that you’d be greater and stronger than any leader your people ever had … and that you’d have to stop running and go back where you belong.”
Devlin didn’t move. Kata’s words were getting to him but they were not enough to thaw his frozen blood. He knew she was right about his power, but she failed to see its danger.
His father had been a formidable dragon lord who could fly with the strength and swiftness of a thousand eagles. His mother had been a beautiful nature fairy who could summon the wind and conquer the skies with fearless abandon.
They were both killed when Devlin was ten years old. He watched them die at the hand of Ryar, his father’s nemesis. The rage he felt that moment turned him into a beast of supernatural strength. He didn’t know how to control any of it. He seemed to be lost in a dark, red haze. When he woke up there were hundreds of dead bodies around him. Most of them where Ryar’s soldiers but some were not. Some were people he used to know, people who fought for his father and their land. He could still remember the incredible power coursing through his veins, the feeling that the earth and the sky held no limits for him, the desperation that none of that had been enough to save his parents. Even worse, it killed the ones he was meant to protect.
That was the day he ran away. It was the day his body started to go numb every time he felt the urge to use his supernatural strength. Heights were the worst reminder of the rush he felt when he became a mindless beast. His body shut down completely as soon as his feet were off the ground.
Kata could almost hear his thoughts. She could also hear the coiled threads of the rope snapping slowly, one at time. It was not strong enough to support both their weights. She had to cut herself loose. At best, someone would pass by, see Devlin, and save him. Most likely though, he’d stay frozen like that until the rope gave away completely. He would be dead shortly after her.
She started unsheathing her sword. If there was even a small chance for Devlin to live, she wasn’t going to take that away from him.
Devlin’s labored words came out like a plea and a threat also.
He guessed what Kata wanted to do but losing her was not something he would be able to live with. If they were going to die anyway, it didn’t really matter if his beast was going to kill them or a deadly fall.
The blood in his veins started moving again. Heat spread out from his core. He felt the rush of invincibility in every cell of his body … and with it, came the raging, red haze that covered his eyes and his mind. He was a beast again.
Kata’s wrist was getting crushed in Devlin’s grip. She felt her bones cracking. She forced herself to drown out the pain and not make a sound. She saw the changes in Devlin and wanted his true to nature to finally come out.
With a roar that held all his pain, his fear, and his love, Devlin let go of the rope. He didn’t need it. The beast was unleashed and soared to the sky. A savage cry followed, “Death can’t have you yet. You’re MINE!”