Chimera (flash fiction)

| Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Today's Tune: Homeward, These Shoes

So Chuck Wendig is hosting a flash fiction challenge (like he does), and I decided to partake in this round because it's been a while since I've written some flash. The rules for this particular incarnation were to randomly select a topic from three categories (I used the number generator he linked in his post) and include them in a story of less than 1000 words. PIECE OF CAKE LOLOLOL.

This was my challenge:

Subgenre - Science-Fantasy
Conflict/Problem - Assassin!
Element to Include - An Ancient Sword

Below is the story I came up with. ENJOY.

*****

The chimera are anxious today.

A griffin-manticore hybrid paces behind his glass, spitting at me with enough ferocity to leave a smattering of yellow-tinted saliva on the window. I stare into his golden eagle eyes long enough for a low rumble to start deep in the caverns of his chest, warning me to back off. His scorpion tail straightens and shudders. My fingers find the button to release his evening meal and our staring contest is over.

I win. Again.


The kelpie-mermaid and phoenix-dragon are whipped into an almighty frenzy, as well. They must sense something in the air. I shiver as I pass beneath the icy vent leading back into the main lab. Alcohol and iodine sting their way up my nose. I snap on a pair of latex gloves and get back to my research.

An ache is building between my eyes from staring at spliced embryos through microscopes all day. I pinch the bridge of my nose and slide into my chair. My paperwork taunts me, its black scritch-scratched letters reminding me I've an hour of work left to do before I head home. I squeeze my eyes shut and wonder why I do this to myself.


Because it's necessary. Because it's the only way.


The hiss of a door makes me whirl in my seat. There's no one there. I'm the only one left in the lab this late. Still, I swear I heard something. I scan the room twice before returning to work.

I barely have time to register the hairs at the base of my skull standing on end before a pair of powerful arms grab me from behind.


My shriek cuts through the room and raises matching screeches from the chimera.

"Quiet, Meena! It's only me!" The arms release me and I turn to find Bran laughing.


I hit him in the arm. "I've told you not to do that. What if I'd been holding a scalpel?"

He shrugs. "I'd bleed a little and get over it."


When he moves back in, I let him. This time, the arms are gentle, exploring. He smells like redwood and smoke. His kisses are a welcome warmth in this freezing, lifeless laboratory full of creatures so sad they make my soul hurt. I trace my fingers down his torso until I get to his waist and feel the hilt of a sword. My breath hitches.

"Man, I must be good," he teases.


My eyes are on the scabbard attached to his hip. "Why are you wearing that in here?"

His grin slips away. "My father ordered it moved to a safe house. I'm leaving tonight. That's actually why I came by."

"Is it?" I whisper, my gaze never leaving the intricate leatherwork of the scabbard. It's singing to me.


It's the only way.

Bran holds me close. "I'll miss you."

His heart beats against my neck. My pulse answers.


I close my eyes. "I'll miss you, too."

Before I can think, before I can stop myself, I've pulled a serpent fang from my lab coat pocket and pierced his chest.

"What --" He stumbles away from me, looking incredulously between the fang and my face. The poison drops him in seconds.


His eyes are spilling a thousand emotions as I kneel to remove the ancient sword from his belt. I pull it from the scabbard, wincing as I see all the notches that have been chipped from it.

I put my hand on Bran's cheek, which isn't fair. He can't push me away.


Tears shred my voice. "It shouldn't have been you. Never you. Your father made this choice when he stole it from us. This power was never meant for cutting magic to pieces and stitching it into monsters. He's cost the world so many of its protectors. His repayment is his son. I'm sorry."

I brush my lips against his forehead. It's cruel, but I can't leave him to die without love.


The chimera clatter in their cages, screaming for blood. I flip the switches for their doors before I go. He'll feel nothing. The poison I chose will ensure that, at least.

With the sword strapped to my back, I leave this clinical place of mismatched horrors for good. The moon wraps me in silver and my sorrow burns right through it.


 

6 comments:

{ Seabrooke } at: October 3, 2012 at 9:36 AM said...

Great short story, Steph! Love the concept, and of course the writing is wonderful. Now I want to know the rest of what happens/ed. :)

{ Fraser Alexander } at: October 3, 2012 at 9:46 AM said...

That was great fun. Really cool approach to those categories. Though part of me wishes Meena had set loose the kelpie-mermaid instead. Death by flipper! Painless, but humiliating.

{ Old Kitty } at: October 3, 2012 at 1:37 PM said...

Well I didn't see that coming!! Yay!! Great story - got me from the start and didn't let me go till the bitter-sweet bloody end! Yay! take care
x

{ Gary Weller } at: October 4, 2012 at 10:43 AM said...

That was fantastic.

Great pacing and characterization for such a short piece.

{ Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan } at: October 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM said...

OH MAN! This is SO not a short story. This is like the skeleton of a novel (or at least novella) that DEMANDS fleshing out!! <3

{ Brooke R. Busse } at: November 12, 2012 at 8:19 PM said...

I love this, Steph! But of course I love all your writing. That's why I'm very glad we're critique partners. :)

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