Flash Fiction: Desert Music

flash fiction sand hot sun desert dunes saharaFor this weeks flash fiction challenge at Terribleminds.com we were given a list of ten ‘ingredients’ that could be used in a piece of flash fiction. We had to choose five out of those ten ingredients and use them in a piece of 1000 word flash fiction. I could have chosen the ones I wanted but I felt that the ingredients were all of a similar vein so it might be more interesting if I randomly picked the five I had to use.

I used random.org to generate a random number which lead me to the following five ingredients.

  • A Missing Corpse
  • A Broken Music Box
  • An Ancient Curse
  • A Half Burned Notebook
  • A Venomous Creature

As usual comments are both welcome and encouraged. Let me know what you think.

Flash Fiction: Desert Music

The scorpion burrowed out from the bleached sand with its barbed tail held high, and scurried across the desert as a well-aimed bullet ripped the unaware creature into tiny pieces.

‘Heh heh’ laughed the larger of the two men who stood still pointing his gun towards the messy remnants of the scorpion. He had a body like a beer keg sitting upon two posts and the dirty army fatigues he wore didn’t fit him. ‘Having a bad day little bug?

‘Finished Rover?’ asked his much thinner and suited companion, pushing his glasses further up his nose and inspecting the hand-drawn map within the notebook. ‘I thought we were here to find our fortune, or maybe even that magic box that can get us everything we could ever want, but please, keep wasting both our time and ammunition instead, if you want. It’s very helpful.’

Rover looked back at his companion ‘You want me to waste our ammunition, Luis? You sure?’

Luis’ eyes rolled involuntarily.  With sarcasm having no effect he changed his tack ‘let’s just press on. The book says that it should be buried just over this dune.’

Luis had read the notebook he’d bought from a passing trader from cover to cover. He had been told that it once belonged to an adventurer who had found an artifact that could grant wishes. Most of the entries were routine diary stuff, but towards the end it mentioned a magical music box that will grant the user everything their heart desired.  All they had to do was wish for something they wanted and then open the lid.

Rover always walked in front of Luis, who stepped only in the large booted footprints of his colleague. After about fifty yards Rover stopped and bent down to look at something.

‘You found something boy.’ Luis afforded himself a little smile, at yet another dog reference that Rover had been oblivious to.

‘Small box.’

‘What type of box?’ Luis rushed up and stood next to Rover and looked at the small rather unsuspecting box peering out of the sand. The box was wooden and finely carved, but the lid was clearly loose on its single rusty hinge.

‘This is magic music box? Open the box.‘ Rover reached down with his large hand and plucked the broken music box out of the sand. ‘I want money’ he announced as he flicked upon the lid with his thumb.

A soft gentle tune wafted out from the music box, a tune that Luis recognised as Moonlight Sonata. They stood in silence as the gentle music played; the desert winds drowned out by the soft melody.

‘I don’t feel rich’ said Rover eventually, swatting a fly away from his face.

‘Maybe you have more money in the bank’ Luis responded ‘You won’t know that until we get home. My turn I think.’

The fly annoying Rover was joined by another one, buzzing around his face, then another, and another. Fly after fly came out of the music box and buzzed around his head.

‘Rover!’ Luis shouted but it was too late. A thick black plume of flies was now pouring out of the music box, enveloping Rover in a dark cloud. Luis backed away, his eyes fixated on the cloud when a pink skeletal hand reached out of the cloud. Luis couldn’t look away, compelled to watch as the flesh and muscle around the large arm disappeared; gnawed off by the swarm of insects. A few flies broke away from the main cloud and started to nibble on Luis. Each bite felt like he had been stuck with a white-hot needle, and they were getting more frequent.

In a split second Luis knew he was going to die. He had never heard any stories of people outrunning swarms, especially not carnivorous ones but he could at least destroy the notebook and the music box. No-one else had to die, he could make his last act a heroic one. Luis threw the notebook on to the music box that had dropped out of Rover’s hand and took out the hip flask in his inside jacket pocket emptying the contents over the items. He took out his gold cigarette lighter and looked down at the flesh-less bones that were all that remained of his companion. The swarm over Rover was thinner and the bites he was feeling were intensifying, he was going to be next, no doubt about it and he did not have long left.

Luis flicked the lighter and threw it down just as the swarm enveloped him. Flames curled around the notebook. The pages curled and blackened as they succumbed to the flames. When the swarm had finished there was nothing left of Luis or Rover, every square inch of flesh, muscle, bone, cloth, and metal  had been devoured, they had gone.

The swarm thinned as an old man hobbled up to the scene, his bare feet making little impression in the sand. He reached down to the sand and picked up the half-burned notebook. As the mysterious man held the book, the pages uncurled, and the blackened pages faded to their usual off-white colour. Within seconds, the notebook looked exactly as it did when Luis had bought it.

‘Easiest five hundred dollars I’ve ever made.’ said the old man as he walked off, fading into the distance.


6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Desert Music”

  1. I love a gruesome death. Great job! I used the unborn child, missing corpse, half-burned notebook, impossible doorway and ancient curse.

  2. Never trust a stranger in a bar who wants to sell you a treasure map. I’m pretty sure I learned that during my first RPG game. 🙂

    Great story — really liked the carniverous insects. Your descriptions of the two guys at the beginning were fabulous, too.

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