Friday, January 24, 2014

Flash Fiction: The Call of the Bremen Town Musicians

Another one of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenges, this one is Fairy Tales, Remixed. I chose The Bremen Town Musicians as my fairy tale, which I picked because it might have given me a chance to write something whimsical and different, and I rolled 17...Lovecraftian.
Okay, whimsical? Not so much. I actually had two ideas for this rewrite, and I might do the other one later, but I'll have to see if I finish all the things I need to work on over the weekend first.

In at 630 words I give you...

The Call of the Bremen Town Musicians

It had only been moments since they'd fled their cabin, but the sounds from which they'd run would not be easily forgotten. It had been more than sounds, though. Screeches, braying and howls so loud that the window by the wood-burning stove broke. Glass shards sprayed across the room, followed through by the wind, and a creature that none of them had stayed long enough to get a look at.

Light still flickered through the dingy windows and shadows played upon the sackcloth curtains. The group of bandits watched their cabin from a distance. But didn't talk about what they had seen because they couldn't. They couldn't reveal those secrets that they were still unsure of for fear their sanity would be called into question. But they couldn't let the others know what they hadn't seen—all the while assuming that at least one of them had seen it. They'd at least heard it. And it was still in there.

The bandits' leader wasn't willing to call the whole thing a loss at this point. So they stayed at the treeline. Moonlight drifting between the clouds brightened the clearing just enough, but the warm orange glow of lamplight intermixed with shadows remained in the cabin. Time passed at a length they could not measure, but the end of that length was marked by the extinguishing of lanterns.

The newest member of the group stood up first. Elbert. New enough to be both bold and foolish, and looking to impress his new family. He held back a while longer, and then crept toward the darkened building. After pulling a long knife from its sheath, he moved soundlessly across the field. He placed his hand on the door, which was open just a crack already, and nudged it inward.

Silence. Darkness. Something glowed on the table. Perhaps a withered wick. Elbert set the blade down so he could strike a match. As he held the flame near the wick, he saw fur instead, and then it moved.

It leapt at him, tearing at his face with its talons. When he fell backwards, the screeching started all around him. He covered his ears, and headed for the back door. A loud howl startled him, and he tripped as teeth set into his leg seemingly from the floor itself. He flung the door open, falling outside just to be struck in the hip by something he could not see in the darkness. The force hit him, reversing his momentum. He grabbed the door frame. Whatever unseen thing he'd encountered outside the door, it was trying to push him inside the cabin where he knew he'd certainly be torn apart by all the teeth and claws rising from the darkness.

As Elbert staggered a few steps from the doorway something screamed down at him from the rooftop. The screeching, crowing and howling peaked. Different shaped shadows circled around him. Darker than the night's natural darkness. They twisted as a group, disorienting him as they closed in. He saw his opening, moonlight and stars showing between the frenzied figures, and escaped.

Elbert had barely made it away, and dragged himself back to the treeline. His condition gave each bandit pause. The leader issued her decision. They would move on from this cursed cabin.

Upon further investigation they found all manner of tracks in the muddy trail leading through the woods. Obvious paws, scratch marks and the heavy imprints of cloven hooves moving in close formation. Each of the bandits agreed that they'd made the right decision. They might have lost their their supplies and hideout, but at least they had their lives for now. They'd rather face the kinds of animals they knew might be lurking in the woods, than confront that unknown creature in their cabin.

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