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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: “Birthright”

Flash Fiction Friday has come up with another prompt for this week and I’m as excited about this short story as I was about the last prompt I participated in. I still have trouble sticking to the word limit (I’m 300 words over after extensive editing), but I can feel myself improving with each story I write.

Here’s the story and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Prompt: A car pulls up to a lake with two occupants inside.  Explain why they are there and who they are.
Genre: Any
Word Limit: 750 words
Deadline: 10/12 by 9:00 P.M. EST



Jeff turned the Mercedes sharply off of the trail he was following, showering the roadside with dirt and rocks as he slammed the car into park. Looking at the wide expanse of lake in front of him, he let out a cheer and gave his passenger a light punch in the arm.

“Woo! Here we are! I told you I wasn't lost.”

“Are you sure all these rocks won't hurt the rental? It's a really nice car. Maybe we should've gone with the Jeep.”

“C'mon, Drew, live a little! My 'rents got it all covered.”

“Yeah, I'm just not used to stuff this fancy. Not everyone's as well off as you are, you know.”

Jeff and Drew got out of the car and headed down towards the lake's edge. Jeff fiddled with a camera case while Drew stopped to look for smooth, flat stones he could use to skip across the lake's surface.

“O.k., I got the camera ready. Let's go face your destiny, Your Highness.”

“Will you cut it out with the 'Your Majesty' stuff? I never should've told you about that.”

“About what? The fact you could potentially be related to King Arthur himself? You'd really keep a secret like that from your best friend? We practically grew up together. We're bosom buddies!”

“It's just a silly story my mom told me when I was growing up. It's not like I have any proof or anything.”

Jeff spotted an outcropping of large rocks at the lake's edge and rushed over to it. “C'mon. Stop lagging behind and get your royal butt over here. This rock is perfect for your big scene!”

“You know this is retarded, right? You've had some stupid ideas but this one really takes the cake.”

“Stop whining and get over here. This is gonna be awesome! O.k., so you're gonna lift your arms up and say something ancient sounding like 'Cometh fortheth, Excalibur, my swordeth!' I'm gonna get it all on tape. Once I add the special effects and stuff on the comp and upload this to YouTube, do you know the number of hits we're gonna get?!”

Drew shot Jeff a look that made it clear Jeff had lost him again. “How is me waving my arms around and acting like a doofus going to get us hits?”

“Did you forget where we are?! We're in England, dude, and this is THE lake where Arthur threw his sword before he died.”

“It was Girflet. Arthur ordered Girflet to throw Excalibur into the lake. Although Malory's version says it was Sir Bedivere who threw it in.”

“Yeah, that's what I said. Anyway, the point is, you owe it to your heritage to try and call the sword from the lake. So what d'ya say?”

Drew gritted his teeth and kicked at the ground. “Will you get off my back if I do it?”

Jeff whooped and slapped Drew on the back as he led him to the rock outcropping. “I'll do you one better! I promise to stick to the tour schedule for the rest of the trip and stop busting your balls if you do this, alright?”

Drew rolled his eyes and slapped away Jeff's Boy Scout salute. “Let's get this over with, then.”

Jeff grinned and bounded away to get a better shot of the scene. When he was in position he shouted “Action!”

Drew rolled his eyes again and raised his arms. After a few seconds of thinking, he yelled “Come forth, Lady of the Lake! I am here to claim my birthright, Excalibur!” He kept his arms raised for a few more seconds, then turned to Jeff. “Good enough?”

“Yeah, man, that was good, but can you did it one more time with more feeling?”

“More feeling? How am I supposed to feel more retarded than I already do?!”

The boys' argument was cut short by a whooshing sound coming from the center of the lake. To their surprise, a geyser appeared. When it cleared, it left in its place what appeared to be a hand holding a sword straight up.

Drew was the first to speak after the sight. Turning to Jeff, he demanded “Did you do this?”

“How can I rig a lake?!”

“So you're really not just screwing with me? Just tell me if you are, o.k.?”

“Whatever that thing is out there, I didn't put it there, o.k? Why don't you get out there and see what it is?”

“How?! It's not like we have a boat. You want me to swim? You know the kinds of things that live in lakes? I don't want some worm swimming up my dick!”

Jeff pointed to Drew's pockets and said “Didn't you pick up some rocks earlier? Throw 'em at it and see what happens.”

Lacking a better plan, the two turned back to the lake. By then, the hand and sword were gone.

“Um...Jeff? I did what you wanted. Let's just get the hell outta here, k?”

“But we saw something! There was something out there, dude!”

“Look, you probably got it on tape, right? Let's get back to the hotel and look at it on the computer. I'm sure it'll turn out to be nothing.”

Defeated, Jeff turned to walk back to the car and came face to face with a woman. She was wearing a long white dress that had detailed gold embroidery on the sleeves and skirt hem. Any other details, including the woman's face, were hidden behind a mess of long, wet blonde hair. In one hand she held a sword, the tip trailing on the ground.

“Oh shit! It's that dead girl from The Ring! Drew, run!!”

Jeff sprinted over to the car but before Drew could make it, the Lady moved to block him with the sword. He stood in front of her, his hands palm up to his sides to show he meant her no harm.

“Are you o.k., m'am? Do you need something? We're just tourists but-”

Before Drew could finish the Lady brandished the sword in front of her, the tip now pointing to the sky.

Jeff shouted to Drew from where he crouched behind the car. “Don't worry, dude! I'm calling 911 on her dead ass!”

“It's 999 here, you idiot!”

Taking advantage of the opening Drew's distraction afforded, the Lady ran the sword through his chest.

“Oh shit! She got you! Shit!” Jeff cursed and hunted around in the back of the car for something he could use as a weapon. Seizing the tire iron, he rushed out to help his friend. He'd only taken several steps towards the Lady when a blinding light erupted from Drew's chest. Dropping the tire iron, Jeff fell to his knees and covered his eyes. When he opened them, Drew and the woman were gone.

Photo credit: Nickel Media


I love it, great dialog and a wonderful relationship between the two main characters. Excellent!

Bill and Ted meets the legend of Arthur - lovely!

Your dialogue is amazing! I've got much to learn from you. The ending leaves my clamoring for MORE!!!

First off, I love the realism of the dialogue. I was glad to see you were not afraid to include some "bad" language. It was very believable. I am glad that you didn't have any qualms about endowing your characters with the appropriate language/vocabulary. Had you been a prude and chosen to "keep it clean" would rob credibility from the story and the characters.

I did not know what to expect when I read it, and I honestly felt that nothing was gonna happen. That they would have a heart to heart conversation about life and what not. I foresaw it was going to be about drama and their conflict and their accepting reality for what it is, or something like that. But I was amused and taken aback at the sudden twist. I did not expect the lady to come out of the water, and her body language is hard to read. You don't know if she's going to split them in half for disrespecting the Arthurian legacy or knight them. I loved it :)

I loved more than anything (yes, even more than the plot twist) the fact that their actions seem so natural. Therefore it becomes believeable, like an urban myth. It has the elements of good story telling. Way to go :) can't end it there?! :-o
I, too, imagined Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in my mind!
I'd like to read the next instalment, if you please - get to it, ma'am!

Me too, I wanna see what happens next. The suspense is killing me. It makes me wonder about the friend that was left behind. What is he gonna do with the video footage? Something that strange would no doubt end up circle the world : )

Thanks so much for your warm comments, you guys! I've been so fortunate to find Flash Fiction Friday now when I need the writing practice more than ever. I looked for other flash fiction prompt sites, but honestly, F3 has the most welcoming, supportive community of them all. It feels like being part of one big family - a family that's not afraid to tell you what's wrong with your work, but always gives criticism constructively, not maliciously. I hope F3 stays around for many years to come :).


I'd really like to know what happens next!

I actually meant to come back and check on this several days ago. I wasn't sure if my comments had been saved. I see they didn't... 'curse you, Blogger!" Haha!

I really loved this story... the dialogue is so realistic. It carries the whole story.

This is a great 're-telling' of a classic; I love the twist. Would love to see you do more with it... a lot of questions... mainly... what happened next? :)

I really enjoyed this, Carmen... as all of your stories. First rate writing!

Thank you for sharing.

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