Flash Fiction: No Laughing Matter

Flame crowd audienceThis is my entry to Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds.com flash-fiction challenge. This week the challenge is called ‘The Torch’. I was required to write a piece of 1000 word flash-fiction using this photo as inspiration.

Hope you enjoy it.


“…Who would do that? I mean seriously.” Coreen was on fire. Not literally of course, but as she stood there on the stage firing off joke after joke, and witty one-liners the audience were captivated. Usually open air gigs are a wash-out especially in winter but not this one. She had them all enthralled.

“This is it, I’m gonna be big.” she thought to herself.

“So, have you heard about the new bill that’s going through Congress? Apparently, they…”

“Doooom! Death!” wailed a robed figure from the back of the amphitheatre.  “The shadows of evil hang over this place.”

“Mum?” Coreen joked. She was no stranger to hecklers but this was a little different. Still it wasn’t going to throw her off her game. Plus things were going too well for some freak in a dressing gown to ruin it for her.

The crowd laughed nervously as they began to realise that this latest addition wasn’t part of Coreen’s act.

“Do not mock what you do not understand, child. You do not know as much as you would like to think. People will die tonight. Two people will die, husband and wife but so many more will die because of it.”

“Child? You look younger than me and unless you sit down the only person who’ll be dying here tonight is me on this stage.”

“You think death is something to mock?”

“No, I think you’re something to mock.” Coreen retorted.

“It is easy to mock those like myself, those who can…” she paused to find the right word “see things.”

The crowd was silent. Although no longer laughing they were still completely engrossed by the crazy looking woman. Coreen felt that as long as they weren’t booing her off the stage this was probably the best she could hope for now.

“Ok old woman. What can you see?” Coreen couldn’t help adding a snide tone in her voice when she pronounced the word ‘old’. She wasn’t even sure why.

The soothsayer stared thoughtfully up into the night sky. “I saw a giant bird. Death upon wings. I saw myself bringing forth the light. If I do not destroy this evil people will die.”

“So, this light you bring? Is this the light of prayer? Do we all need to hold hands?” Coreen almost contemplated bringing this woman on tour with her, the way she had caught the attention of the entire audience was something her act needed.

“The light is literal, I saw… this flare.” The soothsayers voice changed as if a different personality had taken over.  The echoing wails disappeared and were replaced by a very matter-of-fact voice that seemed to take everything in it’s stride.

Then it was gone and the wails returned. “You see light destroys darkness. Without the darkness there are no evil spirits. Without the evil spirits no-one shall come to any harm.”

“A flare can destroy evil? So, let me guess a good compass helps against vampires?” the mocking tone returned in Coreens voice and the audience once again laughed with her. She was getting the audience back, she was in control now. “You heard it here first folks. The next time you’re attacked by Dracula, just make sure you have your thermos with you.”

“I do not need you to fulfil my work…” the soothsayer shrieked.

“No, by the sounds of it you need a Camping store.” Careen was back and the audience were laughing madly, clapping and cheering at her every word. “Do you need anyone to get your coat for you? I assume it’s the white one with the long sleeves that handily tie behind your neck.”

The face of the soothsayer remained stoic and silent. Seconds passed. Eventually the laughter died down.

“Oh my god!” An elderly woman in the audience pointed into the sky. “What’s that? Is that it?”

The audience followed her pointing finger to a large winged creature in the sky flapping it’s wings. Whatever it was it was flying straight towards them.

Flame crowd audience

“It’s here but I can protect you all.” The soothsayer loaded her flare gun and fired it straight up into the air. The flare lit up the area with a pinkish light, including the now quite terrified owl who retreated towards one of the remaining shadowed buildings.

“An Owl!” Coreen snapped “An Owl? This was the death on wings that you were to protect us from?”

“But, I don’t understand I’ve never been wrong before. I saw it so clearly, the bird, the light and I know two people will die and more will follow.” The soothsayer looked broken as if her very purpose was in doubt.

“Go home. Look into your crystal ball and try to find something useful to do with your life.” Coreen spat.

Without saying another word the soothsayer turned around and walked back out of the theatre. Coreen tried her best to continue with the show but the audiences enthusiasm had long since gone so she brought the show to a close early. She still got paid but she couldn’t help wondering why this crap always seemed to happen to her.

Coreen threw her stuff in the trunk, got in her car and started her long drive home from Denver. She flicked on the radio in an attempt to drown her irritation.

“… tree has been here for many years and although people continue to fight against its destruction, is there anything that can be done to stop to halt major development like this?”

“Great, the news.” She sighed sarcastically.

“…and news just in. We’re hearing reports of a bi-plane crashing in Denver. At around nine fifteen this evening a bi-plane was brought down over Red Rocks. The plane belonged to Professor Mancunis and his wife. There were no survivors. This comes as a double blow as the professor was to conduct a speech on his mould-breaking cancer treatment at the World Health Symposium tomorrow. Investigations are underway but the initial reports indicate that the plane was brought down by a flare gun…”


8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: No Laughing Matter”

    1. My god! You’re right. That’s awful. I just went back in and saw them all. Just staring at me.

      I think I’ve sorted them. Hopefully, it’s readable now.

  1. My internet stopped working as I was commenting, not sure if it’ll ‘stick’ or not…so I’ll explain myself again:

    My commenting on your blog was a case of the straw breaking the camel’s back, as I’ve seen a fair bit of grammatical mistakes around lately, including my own spelling mistake in my earlier comment. I’d had a bit to drink at the time – perhaps posting it terribleminds was a rash decision. Thinking about it know though, if someone saw something similar on my blog I’d hope they’d tell me about. Anyway…I do like the premise behind this story as well as the twist in the tail.

    1. You’re not the first person to have a drink and write something they maybe shouldn’t online 🙂 You had a good point. It was delivered a little harshly perhaps but it was a good point. If i’d have seen it on someone elses blog I would have thought the same thing.

      Thanks for your comments.

  2. This was nicely thought out – good tone from the character’s thoughts and I liked the sense of timing and being onstage. Fun and twisty too.

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