My entry in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction challenge!

Well folks, this is what I’ve spent all weekend working on, and now that I’ve had notification that they have received and are judging my story, I am free to post it on my blog  🙂  So here it is!  The Genre: Fantasy, Location: a Factory, Object: a Dozen eggs.   I do not normally read fantasy and I have most assuredly never written fantasy but I have to say I really enjoyed this exercise!  I won’t know until midnight on October 1st how I ranked in the first round of the contest and then i’ll get the feedback from the judges after that.  I will let you know what I hear back from them but please feel free to leave a critique of your own.  I would love to know what you think  🙂

The Task

He crept through the old shoe factory looking for a means of escape. He’d entered through a window by the Gryphon’s nest in the attic, but he dared not leave that way. She would be returning soon through that same window and when she found her precious eggs gone she would be livid.

He became conscious of the dozen eggs he was carrying and tucked them under his threadbare coat. Why was he sent to do this task he wondered in frustration?  He wasn’t the brave one. The Wise one had said the ancients came to him in a dream and that this was the task he had to complete to follow his destiny. He shook his head – he wasn’t certain the ancients meant him, could they be wrong? Suddenly from behind and above him came a slow hiss, as if someone was letting their breath out in frustration. Knees weak, he turned.

Through the hole in the ceiling above him some dust and wood lath fell, he looked up just in time to see the tip of a golden tail slide past, its weight knocking more rubble through the hole. She had returned. Biting back a scream, mind racing, he quickly looked around to see what opportunity for concealment this room afforded him.  To his left were what had at one time been cordwainers benches, and on his right were the remnants of shelves on which the finished shoes would be stored.  Setting his feet down with slow deliberation and keeping one eye on the hole in the ceiling above him, he turned towards the benches.

Behind the first bench, between it and the wall, was a small space – no bigger than a large carpet bag. He ducked down and wiggled into the space, carefully cradling the eggs and hoping against hope that he would not be found. He sent a silent prayer of gratitude to the rulers that be for not making him bigger than he was. Cobwebs and dust swirled around his face making his nose twitch and his eyes water.  He tried to take a deep breath but the air was full of dust and choked him. Carefully he slid the satchel out from under his jacket and folded the leather back to see if the eggs he had taken were alright. Even this weak light could not disguise their beauty, the gleaming shells a mosaic of colours. Was it his imagination or did something within one of the eggs shift? Sweat beaded on his brow – they could not be ready to hatch yet could they? He squeezed his eyes shut and concentrated on dropping the shield that was cloaking his thoughts; it was risky but he needed to know. He reached out to the eggs with his mind. And there they were: He could feel them, restless and seeking. It would be soon. He had to get them out of here quickly. He cloaked his thoughts again and hoped that he hadn’t revealed his hiding place.

Suddenly he heard the thump of something heavy hitting the floor. With earsplitting noise the shelves began flying across the floor as the Gryphon made its way through the room hurling and tumbling everything about. The hair on the back of his neck stood up. It knew he was here.

Suddenly the bench lurched forward and was flung across the room.  There before him stood the Gryphon. She was enormous.  Ears pricked forward, the nasty beak opening and closing with a vicious click, talons scraping the floor as the creature flexed them in frustration.  The beautiful feathers on its torso stood up slightly like the hair on an angry cat, making the Gryphon look even larger than it was. The huge lion tail was lashing back and forth and the hind legs were crouched as if ready to pounce. When he looked up into its eyes, they stared back over the hard yellow beak, blazing with anger.

‘I want them back’ the Gryphon hissed ‘I want them back now! You will not take them for your own’ She flexed her talons again, digging them into the ancient stone floor as if it was dirt, the surface crumbling under her strength and bits of stone flew popping and pinging away from her grasp.

Sweat sliding down his spine, he shook his head.  ‘No’ he said weakly. Jumping to his feet he stood, shaking ‘No’ he said more forcefully. ‘They were unguarded!’ he choked out, red faced and sweating, ‘Unguarded! And according to the ancient books when they are unguarded they are anyone’s treasure!  The eggs are mine!’  The Gryphon looked down at him, clicking its beak in an ominous way. He was more afraid than he had ever been but he had to protect them, he had been charged with this. His mind was turning over possibilities, each one more impossible than the next it seemed.

Suddenly he remembered what the wise one had told him. “Here!!” retrieving an egg from the satchel he held it out to the Gryphon on a shaking hand.  “You may have one, but the rest are mine” The Gryphon lashed its tail again, crouching and lowering its head. With razor sharp talons it reached for the egg in his palm. He stared into the Gryphons eyes, faking a bravery he did not have. The Gryphon touched the egg and in an eerie silence, disappeared into a cloud of sulphurous smelling vapor. A single iridescent feather lay on the floor where the Gryphon had been. He picked the feather up and put it in the satchel with the eggs. He realized the Wise one was right: Ancient laws could not be broken by anyone and this was his destiny. Quickly he made his way through the rubble to the door “The Wise one will be pleased” he thought as he entered the street.

Categories: flash fiction

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10 replies

  1. Thank you! The Eggs did indeed need to be a full dozen (that was one of the paramaters). And indeed – what is inside those eggs? That will be in the next part of the story -stay tuned 😉

  2. I enjoyed your story. The gryphon, talons, shields, these elements evoke a fantasy feel to the story. The story made me want to know more about the eggs; were they the gryphon’s offspring or was the beast merely guarding them for someone else? Was it important that our hero had a full dozen? I was hoping that the egg tossed near the end would have turned out to be a decoy.


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