57 minus 14: spices and mellifluous

Posted: 3 August 2021 in 57 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s Tuesday, so a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, one from 2007, the other from 2008.

Two stories, as different as can be, though I supose both could be said to deal with the concept of consequences. For once, I remember what provoked each of the story ideas, but for once I’ll keep them secret, as the memories aren’t exntirely pain free.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

Enjoy them…

Title: Single White Fee Male
Word: spices
Challenger: [Livejournal: perspexavenger]
Length: 200 words exactly

The papers and the weapon had been on the table for an hour when the two of them arrived, walking into the building through different doors, entering the sterile air-conditioned atmosphere, away from the sounds and scents of the street; spices and exhaust fumes left far behind.

Escorted by security people hired by their mutual employer, they walked to the room that had been set aside for their meeting, but even in that shared experience the differences between them were evident.

While the larger of the men walked in long strides, forcing his companions to a speedier pace than they preferred, the other took his time, almost dawdling, his casual tread belying the tension in his face.

Entering from opposite sides of the boardroom, the assistant commercial director and the financial controller met at the large oak table. Smiles full of faked sincerity and meaningless obsequiousness lasted for less than a second before they appended their signatures to the documents. They bowed deeply and then the man to the left of the table fell to his knees, while the other lifted the sword from the table.

And thus the junior corporate whore was promoted to Senior Courtesan to the Board.

© Lee Barnett, 2007

Title: For No Money
Word: mellifluous
Challenger: [Livejournal: glowering]
Length: 200 words exactly

The woman was ill: the cancer had done terrible things to her face and body. She could have been any age between thirty and sixty; she was in fact thirty-two.

The young man in obvious pain limped forward to the foot of the bed, then began to sing. Clear, pure notes rang out into the room, and the older man watched as his daughter reacted to the mellifluous sound.

Soon enough, the sound faded. It had happened too often for him to be surprised at its effect any longer, but the woman’s father had tears in his eyes as he looked at her pinkish skin and gentle smile. It wouldn’t last long; no more than a week or so, but she’d be in less pain during that time.

As always, the young man refused any fee, simply saying that he’d be back.

Where he’d come from, no one knew. Where he went after each appointment was an equal mystery, though often discussed.

However, as he left each patient, he was limping just a little bit more noticeably, and leaving in just a little bit more obvious pain.

But no one ever turned his treatment down. Ever.

That was his curse.

© Lee Barnett, 2008


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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