Flash Fiction – Translation

Flash fiction archaeology dig jack jeri carveAfter not having time for Chuck’s flash fiction challenge last Friday, I had to make darn sure I made the time for it this week. So here it is.

First we had to click here, which would generate a random sentence. This sentence was then to be used as the opening or closing line in a piece of flash fiction of no more than 1000 words.

Well I clicked on the link and I was given…


“Why won’t a story collapse across another confidential paint”

Hope you like my story and want to comment on it. I enjoyed writing it, but I have gone back to my tendency towards darkness.

Flash Fiction – Translation

‘Why won’t a story collapse across another confidential paint?’ Jack read the words out slowly from the carvings on the large stone wall in front of him

‘Right, ok. Cool’ Jeri looked up at Jack as she opened and closed her mobile phone.

‘Are you even listening?’

‘Uh-huh’ was her only response.

He turned his attention back to the wall ‘Why did you bother coming all the way here, paying all that money and trekking 15 days in the desert if you’re going to spend the entire time checking your phone?’

‘Sorry, I’m a little distracted.’ Said Jeri.

‘Still thinking of tall, dark, and sinister?’ Jack said facetiously, not taking his eyes from the wall.

‘Who?’ Jeri stopped rummaged around in her hand bag, long enough to look up at Jack although her confused expression was completely lost on the back of Jack’s head.

‘Your boyfriend. That tall guy with the black-suit you were talking with back at the university. You were doing your best intimidated puppy routine that all the guys just fawn over’ Jack said bitterly.

‘Who? Oh him, he’s not my boyfriend. So what does confidential paint mean?’

‘Confidential Paint? no idea.’ Jack said. ‘Wait, hang on. This symbol here is similar to the one for paint, but this extension alters its meaning. So what is it? Hyena? Battle?No of course not.’ Jack spoke to himself as if he was his own student, casually correcting and scolding himself for mistakes. ‘Hang on’ said Jack pushing his glasses up his nose as he peered at the carvings. ‘Oh I’m such an idiot. This isn’t in Messanian, it’s Rodian.’

Jeri’s mobile phone rang making them both jump. She answered it, but not with the usual ‘Hey girl’ or ‘Howdy gorgeous’ or one of her other chirpy optimistic greetings. This time all the caller got was a sombre ‘hello’, Jack probably would have thought it was strange on any other day, but his brain couldn’t focus on anything other than Rhodian translation.

‘Nearly’ she said calmly. Jeri turned her head away and spoke softly into the phone ‘I can’t do this… Surely there has to be another…’

‘Ah hah!’ Jack jumped up ‘I think I’ve got it’. Jeri was just putting her mobile phone back into her bag, and was smiling through what looked like bad news, bad news that Jack failed to notice on any level.

‘You’ve done it? You know what it says?’Jeri asked.

‘Oh, yes and it is very exciting.’ Jack ran back to the carving and stood in front of it like a weatherman, gesturing to certain symbols and words. ‘When we use Rhodian, the structure of the sentence changes almost completely. Confidential becomes invisible or hidden. Story becomes dream; collapse is really to finish or maybe it’s death.’

‘So what does it say?’

‘This series of symbols is not ‘Why not’! It’s not even close. It means wall. The inflection on the second character is the key there.’

‘Jack? What does it say?’ Jeri cleared her throat ‘The carving? What does it say?’

Completely ignoring her Jack carried on, too happy and excited to listen to anything other than his own voice. ‘This bit here?’ Jack pointed to an obscure set of markings ‘I didn’t even see this bit before, and it’s the best bit. Wealth or money maybe? Maybe it’s gold, I’m not sure.’

‘Jack!’ Jeri screamed, her patience gone. ‘What does it say?’

Jeri’s scream was loud enough to get through to Jack. He stopped and looked at her for a few moments, as if he was having trouble understanding any other words not coming from his own mouth.

‘Right, of course, sorry.’ He said ‘It says “The wall hides the wealth of your dreams and death.”’

‘So behind this wall is what? Some kind of treasure?’ Jeri stood up and rummaged around in her bag.

‘What? Oh yes, probably. A wealth of research. So many things to study and examine. Things that could give us such an understanding of what they did and who they….’

‘Will it be worth a lot?’ Jeri asked, Jack noted her lack of enthusiasm about the find. In fact she actually looked upset at the discovery.

Jack turned round to face the carving ‘It’s difficult to say until we get in there, but if it’s like any of the other chambers that were found, we should both be very, very wealthy indeed.’ A tiny metallic clicking noise stopped Jack in his tracks. He’s heard the sound before many times but this was the first time he’d heard it for real, and maybe if he didn’t turn round he could convince himself it was just Jeri playing with her mobile phone.

‘I’m sorry, Jack.’

When he turned round he saw Jeri, holding an old-fashioned pistol. Her hand was shaking and her makeup had started to run around her eyes. Jack had no words to say, the fantastic discovery forgotten in his mind and replaced with nothing but fear, and paralysis.

Despite Jack’s complex and over-developed mind, his last words were the simplest of all ‘Why?’

‘I’m sorry Jack.’ Jeri dropped to her knees and sobbed, still clutching the gun that she couldn’t even feel anymore.

Her mobile rang once more, and she answered it. Speaking through her tears and misery ‘Yes, it’s done.’ The person on the other end of the phone spoke, Jeri nodded sadly.

‘Where is it?’ Just look for my body?’ Jeri hung up the phone, and replaced it in her bag. She sat down on a rock, straightened her clothing, placed the end of the gun to her temple and pulled the trigger.


8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – Translation”

  1. I love your idea for dealing with the incomprehensible sentences that generator sometimes kicks out. One of those, “ah I wished I’d thought of that!” sort of things.

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