This week’s challenge at Terribleminds.com is called ‘The Fire of the Gods’ and so too must be the title of the flash fiction. At first I figured that It would be easier to write something with the title already given, after all the clues to the story are right there in the title, right?
Nope, turns out I was wrong. With the title already decided, my brain just flat-out refused to work. It stood there with its arms folded, and stomped its feet. So I did what anyone would do, I dragged my brain kicking and screaming out of the corner and forced it to work.
I finally got my inspiration for this piece of flash fiction from the post that inspired the challenge.
Here’s the result. Hope you like it, if you have anything to say, well that’s what the comments bit is for.
‘Hey there, Pete. Watcha doing?’ said Roger as he popped his head into his son’s room.
‘I’m doing my English Lit homework.’ Pete said in response, sucking on the end of an old biro. ‘I have to write about my favorite author, and how they found their inspiration.’
‘Inspiration, huh?’ Roger sat down on the bed.
‘Yep, although I don’t know who my favorite writer is.’ He said returning the end of the biro to his mouth.
‘You’ll be fine; you’ve never had anything lower than an A, but if you think it would help, I can tell you the story of quite possibly the greatest writer of all time.’
Pete put down his pen and turned to face his dad ‘Sure, why not. It can’t hurt.’
‘Well, there was nothing really special about him at first. He lived in a one bedroom flat, and wrote for a small local paper, but he dreamed of being a famous writer. He tried his hand at everything, articles, short stories, screenplays but nothing he wrote was ever picked up and published.’
‘He’s not sounding very inspirational, dad?’
‘That’s just the intro, stick with it.’ Roger continued ‘This went on for years; if it wasn’t for his column in the local newspaper he would have had to think of himself as a failure. One day he received a large crate through the post. He opened it and inside was an ornately carved wooden trunk with flames and angels carved along the sides. When he read the attached letter, he was told that one of his great-uncles had died and left him the trunk in his will. It was also stipulated that the trunk is said to provide the owner with ‘creative riches’, and should on no account be opened.’
‘Creative riches? What the hell does that mean?’ Pete said.
‘He didn’t know either. He didn’t even know he had any great-uncles. Anyway, the very next day he received a phone call from the editor of a national newspaper. Apparently, she’d been travelling through the town and had broken down, so she read the local paper to pass the time. When she got to his column she was so impressed by his writing style that she knew she needed him to write for her paper. National papers pay considerably more than he was getting now so he agreed.
His luck didn’t stop there. Agents flocked to pick up and publish his books and screenplays and within a matter of months he was the most talked about writer. He moved out of his tiny flat and bought a large house in the suburbs. Everything was going right for him.
One day he grew dissatisfied with his life. He wanted more, and he got greedy and curious. He was curious enough to ignore the words of caution on the letter and open the trunk in the hope that whatever was in the trunk would make him an even better writer and even more famous. As he lifted the lid, blue flames burst from the trunk. They lapped at the sides of the trunk but then quickly spread throughout the room. It took less than five minutes for the house to burn to the ground, our writer was lucky to make it out of there alive.
Then everything started to go wrong. Stories about the writer’s infidelity got leaked to the press, and they crucified him. His agents and publishers dropped him like a hot coal. Even the national paper stopped his contract. ‘
‘So what happened to him?’
‘He moved back home, back into his one bedroom flat. He was unemployed for a few months; no-one would hire him. He had nothing to do except think everything he had thrown away due to his greed.
One day there was a knock on the door. When he went to see who it was, there, sitting in front of his doorway was a familiar looking crate. He picked up the piece of paper stapled to the front of the crate, ‘Be more careful’ he read. Inside the crate was the trunk, unlocked, and empty but completely undamaged. The carvings were as perfect as they had been when he first received it.
After that, his life picked up again, he was not as famous or as rich as he was before but he got his job back at the local newspaper. He married the woman of his dreams, who was smart, and funny with a body to die for and a year after that, they were blessed with a little baby boy. The writer never wanted anything more.’
‘So, the moral of the story is what? Don’t open magical boxes?’ Pete said with a smile.
‘Alright Mr. Facetious, I best leave you to your homework but when you’ve done tidy this room a little eh?’ Roger walked out of the door, and went downstairs.
‘Sure, OK.’ Pete said as he grabbed handfuls of clothes off the floor, and bundled them in his arms. He walked over to his old clothes trunk, lifted the lid, and dumped the bundle in. Then he saw them, something he had never noticed. Carved on the side of the trunk were a number of angels, and they were dancing in fire.
Pete shook his head ‘Whatever, Dad?’ he said as he dropped the lid and returned to his homework.