A few months ago, I tried my hand at some flash fiction and, despite being mildly terrified while deciding if I should actually post it or not, I actually came out the other side determined to do it again one day.
So here I am, only four months later, with another flash fiction to share with you awesome people! Look at me, actually achieving goals. 😂
Technically flash fiction isn’t meant to be more that 800 words, give or take. This one cleared the 1,000 word mark, but I’m still pretending it’s short enough to be called flash fiction, so just humour me. 😛
This story is about an antihero character of mine, haunted by his past. Because mysterious backstories are a must. There’s also some magical elements in the story, which is a new experiment on my part, because I haven’t written a book with an actual magic system in it yet, other than the first novel I ever wrote (not a good choice when you’re only just learning how to do the novel writing thing).
Anyway, let’s get right into it. This one is a lot more mysterious and dark than my first one, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. 😉
I tapped the edge of my cards against the table, letting the corner of my mouth twitch upward. My knee jogged as the man across from me cleared his throat.
“You think you’re lucky?” his voice growled a little over the last word, but that just stretched my lips a little wider.
I leant back against the back of the chair, rubbing my thumb against the rough parchment cards. “That’s what people call me.” I reached forward with my free hand and flicked my final stack of coins forward.
They went clattering across the table into the pile near the center. The sound of their landing placed dull glints in my mental picture; a mix of copper and silver coins, four men gathered around the table, fingers clenching around stained cards, leaning forward by now.
My luck would hold out. I needed it to. Needed the money so I could get out of this wasted town and leave my baggage behind.
I propped my elbow over the back of my chair, turning it around a little so I could sit sideways more comfortably. The picture of the table dulled a little as more coins clinked onto the pile and I breathed out. The scene painted into reality in my mind again as my Glimpse refreshed the image—this time clear enough to see the other tavern patrons peering in our direction.
Vultures for the game, all of them. I didn’t blame them.
My smirk twitched wider and I adjusted the blindfold across my eyes. “Are we all quite ready yet?”
Dice rattled against the wood of the table, and one man uttered a curse to curdle milk. Not a bad roll, but not good enough to beat my cards. I settled back, following the dice around the table by the sound.
Only two of us left. “You first.” The man to my left shifted.
The rough cubes bumped against the back of my hand and I scooped them up into the cup of my palm. I didn’t need to let out another breath to feel their gazes set on my every movement. Time to show them some real gambling. I flicked the dice, rolling them over the back of my hand, then tossed them in the air, caught them, and spun them onto the table.
I released a breath, counting the glimmering dots in one Glimpse. Even I winced. Two threes and one five. The second worst possible roll in the game. My fingers tightened around the cards, but other than that I didn’t shift.
Five disastrous rolls in a row. That added up to one disgusting lot of chance. But bad luck didn’t work on me.
The familiar tingle went down the back of my neck, and I forced myself to relax. All odds might be against me, but that didn’t mean I’d lost.
The men around me relaxed back; one let out a laugh. “Tough luck, beggar.” The man to my left snatched the dice and rolled a hand for himself.
Three twos. My knee started bouncing again. Ordinarily that roll would completely smash any hope I had left.
The other men let out groans, and the roller hooted a laugh, slapping his palm onto the table so hard the coins jumped into the air with a clatter. I just cleared my throat.
“Let’s see you beat that,” the man said, flipping his cards into the open.
One breath, and I got a Glimpse of the classic double wizard-guard combo. Not too risky, but paired with a good roll, it was almost guaranteed to win.
There was only two ways to beat it. Use wizard-guard yourself and roll better, or go for something more dangerous.
My fingers tingled on the cards in my hand, but I still didn’t look at them. I knew what I’d see if I did.
“You still with us?” The man on my other side elbowed me hard enough to be impolite.
I quickly scanned the rest of their cards, spread on the table in front of each player, then shrugged. “The outcome is pretty much decided already.”
“Ha! Accepting defeat. Not so lucky after all.” The man to my left tipped back in his chair with a laugh.
I held up a finger. “Actually.”
They snapped into silence instantly, and the smirk pulled up the corner of my lips. I cleared the image in my mind with a deep exhale, just so I could see their faces better.
I twirled my cards between my fingers. Ink formed dark lines on the thick parchment cards and Luck made his choice. I leant forward and splayed my cards out onto the table.
Four Jesters echoed my smirk, the bold outlines showing up like faint ridges in my Glimpse.
The man on my left slammed his chair back from the table, launching to his feet. “That’s an illegal move!”
I tilted my face toward him. “Only if paired with good rolls. As it happens, I rolled abysmally so that’s not a problem.” I jabbed my forefinger on top of my cards. “Full hand of Jokers beats wizard-guard.”
“I know the rules,” he growled.
The rest of the table shoved back their seats, pushing past me hard enough to bump my chair sideways several inches. I twisted. “Should play again some time, eh?”
The nearest man turned a glare on me and dropped his hand to his knife. “I prefer playing a fair game.”
“That was a fair game.” I draped my arm over the back of the chair. “I didn’t cheat. I just took a risk.”
A second of silence. “Luck,” one man spat out the word like a curse, then shoved past my chair, stomping toward the bar.
I let out a slow breath, my fingers curling against the wood of the table. Footsteps tramped past as the rest of the group headed over to the bar. Luck indeed. I grabbed my pouch from beside my chair. Time to grab the goods and hit the road. And never come back to this town again. I’d had my fair share of memories for the next decade.
I scraped my winnings into the pouch, waved away a barmaid trying to offer me ale. Could be poisoned, and I had no plans to die yet. Besides—I swung the pouch over my shoulder and wove my way easily through the pattern of tables and chairs, finally pushing into the chilly bite of the outdoors—I was just here for the money.
It wasn’t my fault that I was haunted by Luck.
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What did you think? (I’d love any/all feedback!) Have you ever tried flash fiction/short stories? Chat with me in the comments!