Flash Fiction Challenge: Half Dead

Flash Fiction prompt 015 leaning palm COMP
Photo Copyright K. S. Brooks

Over the course of many months at sea, petty grievances between shipmates can take root and fester into insensate hatred. So it was between Flynn and Avery.

On the beach of some nameless uncharted island off the coast of Cuba, the men walked their ten paces, turned, and simultaneously discharged their flintlocks. Avery lay on the sand, shot in the face, just beneath the left eye.

The unscathed Flynn left Avery for dead. Had it been any man but Avery, that would surely have been the case…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Half Dead”

  1. The sun beamed on a sunken beach. Golden sand. Golden, metallic sand. Flynn, who stood only ten paces from Avery, spat on the ground. “I know ya got my medallion and I’m gonna shoot as many holes through ya as it’s gonna take ’till I find it.”

    Avery’s hand hovered over his flintlock. “I don’t have your medallion. I’m sure you lost it. You’re just paranoid.”

    “Me? Paranoid? We’re gonna see about that!”

    Avery grabbed his weapon almost at the same time Flynn did.

    They both fired.

    The smoke cleared. Avery gaped and shifted his gaze to the hole in his chest before thumping face first on the sand.

    Flynn laughed. “I got ya, ya robbing mackerel. That’s what happens when someone tries stealin’ from me.”

    Flynn sauntered to Avery’s body and poked him with the tip of his boot. He grinned to himself. “He’s deader than dead.” Content, he sheathed his flintlock.

    Avery’s face rose from the sand. “Not yet.” He rolled over, pointed his gun at Flynn and fired. The birds nearby flew away at the sound of it.

    Flynn covered his wound with his gloved hand, blood dripping through his fingers, and fell to his knees. “How did ya…?”

    Avery searched inside his shirt and took out the golden medallion. It had a bump on it.

    “I guess sometimes you got a right to be paranoid.” He pointed his gun at Flynn’s face. “But when you do, you better be paranoid ‘till the end.”
    The gun thundered.

  2. “That’s the last time you clip your fingernails over my bunk,” said Flynn. His lip twisted into a sneer. “No more clip, clip. No more flying toenails.”

    That little habit had rankled Flynn’s patience for months. He holstered his flintlock and nodded, satisfied that Avery would never disturb him again. No one could survive a shot under the eye, not even Avery.

    Dealing with that man on board had been bad enough. Getting marooned together was more than either of them could handle. He plopped down under the lone palm tree on the uncharted island and leaned back, relishing the sound of lapping water. He’d worry about rescue later.

    “The least you could have done was close my eyes,” growled Avery. “I’m still seeing spots.”

    Flynn leaped to his feet. “How…You were dead….” he sputtered.

    “I fired. My cheek stung. Then I felt the sun burning my eyes.” Avery glared at him. “You can’t even kill a man right.”

    ***

    Do you think they will behave now?” said Catherine. Her golden-bronze tail flicked back and forth. “That’s the third time we have healed those men.”

    Tom sighed as he watched Avery and Flynn argue on the view screen. “I believe it will take more than nanites to fix these humans. They are nothing like the young man we hosted last year.”

    “What a shame. I thought for sure they could get along eventually,” said Catherine. “Very well, end the experiment and sent the results to headquarters on planet Mau.”

  3. Flynn leaned against his side of the palm tree on the little island, and Avery leaned against his.
    “I’ve had enough,” said Flynn.
    “Me, too,” said Avery.
    “A duel then?”
    “A duel.”
    They spent a day polishing their rusting guns with the abundant sand. At dawn, they went through the solemnities of a proper duel. Back to back, they each took ten paces, turned, and fired. Avery’s shot was wild, but Flynn’s hit Avery right below the eye. Just like in the movies, Avery fell over backwards and bled.
    Flynn closed his eyes. Finally, a little peace and quiet. He slept for a while, and opened his eyes. He was leaning against his side of the palm tree on the little island, and Avery’s skeleton was leaning against his side.
    “I’ve had enough,” said Flynn.
    “Me, too,” said Avery.

  4. Brought back at the moment he thought he would breathe his last. The metal ball had mushroomed against his titanium skull. A robot sent from the future to restore the natural order of history, he prepared himself to end Flynn’s life. Trapped on the island without witnesses, he lost all pretense as he rose from the sand.

    Flynn spun at the sounds though surprise did not register on his face. “I was told that you would come,” he said. “I never believed, the truth was a wild fiction.”

    “It’s over Flynn,” Avery-bot said. “You will perish here. The timeline will be restored.” Avery-bot stomped through the sand, his movements fluid, human. The silver metal, exposed by the flintlock’s round glistened with red fluid. He reached up, fingers like pinchers and pulled the flat ball from through the flesh, then tossed it on the ground.

    Flynn lifted his left hand. The ring on his index finger reflected the bright sun into Avery’s eyes. He placed his right index finger on the band and spun the ring. Blue and yellow light circled his hand then spun out toward Avery. “I was given this long ago. They said I would know when the time came,” he said. “Never did I suspect that this would be the time. The light pulsed through the hole in Avery’s cheek.

    He never understood how it worked but the thing that came toward him dropped to the sand when the light attacked it. It never rose again.

  5. But Avery was no ordinary man. He was as clumsy as he was lucky. At the age of five, attempting to catch a dagger between his teeth like a circus performer, he tragically lost his left eye. He was given a black patch to wear over the empty eye socket, and with it, a destiny to become a sailor.

    When the lead ball struck Avery’s face, it ricocheted through his cheekbone into his barren eye socket where it came to a rattling stop. Bloodied, but otherwise uninjured, Avery sat up. Noticing the odd sensation in his face, he leaned forward, lifted his eye patch, and watched the ball fall into his hand.

    “Ain’t that something?” he said, clutching the ball tightly.

    Remembering his duel with Flynn, he looked around to find him. He spotted Flynn and his shipmates ambling back to the rowboats.

    Avery searched the ground for his flintlock. Finding it, he checked it to make sure sand wasn’t lodged in the barrel. Certain that the flintlock was in working condition, he began reloading it while jogging to catch Flynn.

    “Flynn!” Avery yelled.

    Flynn spun around, surprised to see Avery still alive.

    “Catch!” Avery said, tossing the lead ball into the air.

    Flynn watched the ball arc towards him. At the same time, Avery fired a shot directly at his chest.

    Flynn caught the ball in his hand but the sailor standing next to him dropped dead. He laughed heartily as he watched Avery flee back up the beach.

  6. “I’m captain of this ship now.” Flynn grinned, exposing his stained and crooked teeth.

    Glances of uncertainty spread throughout the crew.

    Flynn glared at them. He’d expected a hero’s welcome after ridding them of the tyrant Avery. “You ungrateful lot. Prepare to set sail!”

    Flynn sneered then headed to the captain’s quarters. He twirled his moustache, pondering where in the room to start his search for Avery’s riches. When he lifted the lid to the trunk at the foot of the bed, he heard a creak. He froze, listening intently.

    After shrugging it off, Flynn rummaged through the bounty of the chest until he heard the sound of a flintlock’s hammer being pulled back. Flynn straightened up, his eyes narrow with anger. He assumed it was one of the crew, vying for his new captain’s title. “What kind of coward shoots a man in the back?” he asked confidently.

    “Who said I was going to shoot you in the back?”

    A chill spread over Flynn upon recognizing Avery’s voice. Slowly he stood, turning to see what he couldn’t believe. But there was the captain, his wet clothes dripping on the grungy wood floor.

    Flynn swallowed hard. “But how?”

    Avery pointed at the cavity in his cheek. “This? ‘Tis but a scratch. You fool, do you know how many have tried to kill me? I’ve been cursed by a witch with eternal life.” He rolled up his sleeve, revealing a fresh wound. “I hear the sharks are hungry. Time for you to walk the plank, traitor.”

  7. As my awareness creeps back, I struggle to open my eyelids. Unbelievable pain explodes all through me. After the initial wave of pain eases, I slowly become aware of my surroundings.
    I am lying face down in a mixture of sand and my own blood. I have an immense almost unbearable pain below my left eye and…….Now I remember….That rat Flynn had given me a pistol with wet powder, a pistol incapable of firing! My arms and legs feel as if they were made of lead. With a great effort, I roll over. With an even greater effort, I sit up.

    “FLYNN!” I scream into the night. I struggle to raise myself to a standing position with only one thought in my tortured brain. Revenge!

    Flynn awoke with a start. Had someone screamed out his name? Somewhere in his rum soaked brain, he recognized or thought he recognized hearing his own name. Despite the warm topical night, a cold chill ran through his body.

    Flynn knew as soon as the deed was done he should have left the island. After all the weeks a sea a chance to spend a night on the beach with a small fire and a large bottle was more than any man could resist. Now in the dark hours before the dawn he doubted the wisdom of that decision.

    There, in the jungle! What is that sound? Go calm yourself, Flynn, the rumors of an island of the undead were just that, rumors.

  8. Mutineer’s Conscience

    Captain’s Log found onboard the floating wreck St. Mary’s Revenge, August 1st 1870:

    10th of September 1867,
    It has been two weeks since I saw him in the marketplace, two months since Cuba. He was standing by the fruit vendor, staring right at me through the crowd. I was making my way back to St. Mary’s Revenge when I saw him, those fiery eyes burnt through the bustle of the market straight to me. But as soon as I recognized his face, it was gone like a puff of smoke in the wind……

    12th of September 1867,
    I saw him! I saw him on St. Mary’s Revenge! That sly devil! Thinks he can slink his way onboard with the supplies for our return trip to England. Thinks he can kill ol’ Captain Flynn, he does! Well I’m onto you Avery Jones!

    23rd of September 1867,
    I got him!! Dastardly sneak thought he could hide down by the galley, in the cook’s quarters! I tossed both of them overboard in the night, quiet as can be, to make sure there was no chance of a counter mutiny!

    No……he’s dead, he’s dead in the sea. That couldn’t have been him at the helm……but…. those eyes…….

    15th of December 1867,
    It’s been over two months……only half the crew is left….there are whispers amongst the men…..they must be helping Avery somehow……..

    30th of December 1867,
    I trapped the remaining crew in the brig….I’m coming for you Avery!

    30th of January 1868,
    Whereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyouwhereareyou……….

  9. “Time out. That’s not fair. We always shoot below the head.”

    Flynn turned and laughed – a big rolling belly laugh – as he put his pistol into its holster and walked away. His brother lay in the sand with a red mark already forming on his left cheek. A few more inches and the BB would have hit him square in the eye.

    “I’m telling mom”, Avery cried out.

    Flynn stop in his tracks and looked back. “Ay’ you scurvy dawg. You have your reward. No one tries to steal the treasure of Errol Flynn Rodgers, and lives to tell about it.”

    When you are ten years old your imagination can truly run wild. Living on Florida’s southern coast, only a stone’s throw from the Carribean, lends itself to fantasies about pirates and gold doubloons. Where boys in the midwest might play cowboys and indians, the Rodgers’ boys are often found combing the beach for “signs” of buried treasure or pirate activity. Today, Avery got a little too close to what Flynn was sure was the mother load.

    The only way to settle this squabble was a duel; march ten paces, then turn and shoot. Avery, being two years younger than Flynn, was just trying to go along with his brother’s game. He didn’t mind. At least he was allowed to tag along.

    While still a little frightened by what his mom might do when she finds out that he indeed shot his brother, Flynn was still quite the Jolly Rodgers.

  10. They’d seen it all before. No one ever came back the same after killing a crew
    mate. They were haunted, changed, and eventually they were all found dead in one way or another.
    He’d seen Avery fall to the ground, the blood pouring from his face. He sat and watched the dead man to make sure he was, in fact, dead. The crew never came back for him.
    Damned cowards, Flynn thought. They’re all just scared I’ll come for them next.
    The island was a strange place, the trees dead, the sand rough and dull. None of the beauty they usually found on these islands.
    Flynn had wandered for what felt like days. There was no other life – no animals, no humans, not even any plants. Everything was dead. As dead as Avery back on the beach. He could…no. He shook his head rid himself of the thought. There were some things even he wouldn’t do.
    But even he had his breaking point. He went back to the beach, and found no body. Avery was gone.
    Flynn gave up. He lay on the beach, willing himself to die. And the last thing he saw was Avery, standing over him, laughing. “Foolish mortal. You could have had everything, but instead you tried to kill me. And now you will never know the gifts I could have given you.”
    Light poured from his skin, and wings unfurled from his back. He followed the direction of the ship, laughing the entire way.

  11. Amerie watched as the large ship finally sailed away. She had witnessed the curious events unfolding on the beach from a safe distance, and now that the men were gone, she was eager to inspect the unmoving body lying on the beach. The man, however, was too far inland for her to reach from the water.

    She raised a silvery, white arm in the air towards the rising moon and with the other she pointed, fingers splayed, toward the land.

    “Waters, from your boundaries I release thee. I command you to bring his body to me.” She watched as a wave rose from the water and rushed towards the beach. It enveloped the body in its grasp and brought it before her.

    She stared tenderly at the face of the floating body. He was young. Barely a man. She touched the hole in his face that distorted his features.

    “Such destruction,” she whispered.

    Normally she stayed out of the affairs of men, but as she pressed her hand above the man’s heart, she could see in her mind his goodness and the face of his younger sister praying fervently for her brother’s safety. Amerie felt compassion for them both.

    She knew what she was about to do was forbidden, but she did not hesitate as she leaned over the young man and gave him a kiss.

    Avery’s eyes fluttered open. A lone palm tree cast against blue sky stared down at him.

    With a smile, Amerie vanished under the water.

  12. All was dark except a steady flashing cursor in the upper corner of the screen. The right audio sensor, still online, could detect movement like footsteps heading off to the north. It was probably Flynn, but with his visual display still suffering the effects of the round, Avery had no way to be sure. His hand twitched as routine diagnostics began. With a flash his eyes came to life:

    REBOOTING…

    Core Processor – ONLINE

    Audio Sensors (L) – OFFLINE
    (R) – ONLINE

    Visual Display – ONLINE

    Weapons System – DISABLED

    Avery slowly rose to his feet still getting his bearings. He could not understand why Flynn had made him participate in such a barbaric activity, but he was beginning to understand the emotion behind it. For the first time since he was created he was feeling anger,

    …no even anger didn’t compute. This was rage!

    He stared for a long time at the Weapons System prompt, vaguely recounting each component that was installed. He cycled through each item in the inventory till he found exactly what he was looking for. Never in his life cycle did he feel a need to use such archaic tools, but now as he eyed Flynn’s sandy imprints heading off into the woods he wanted nothing more than to taste each one’s power.

    The display before him turned blood red.

    Weapons System – ENGAGED

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