This weeks Flash Fiction challenge hosted at Terribleminds.com is a picture based challenge. He gave us a link to a website that showed us 24 truly astonishing pictures from places you would struggle to believe actually existed and weren’t Photoshop creations. All we had to do was to choose one of them and use it as inspiration for your piece of flash fiction.
I choose this photo of the Crystal Caves in Skaftafell in Iceland. Luckily the flash fiction challenge stipulated that I only had to be inspired by the photo and not actually include it, because I deviated a little from my original idea. Hopefully, you can at least see where I got my inspiration.
As usual, I am always looking for comments, help and advice etc. So if you have any of that, please leave it in the comments below.
Here it is…
Flash Fiction: Sparks of Guilt
Jonny stopped to catch his breath. He couldn’t stop for long, the police would have heard the shots and they would be coming after him. He threw his gun into the parched grass, and looked behind him, he was still safe but for how long. He wasn’t even sure where he was going to go. Surely everyone would be looking for him by now. He needed somewhere else to hide, somewhere away from people, somewhere he could just lie low until everyone had stopped looking for him.
He could see the town of Cloverbrook behind him, and he certainly wasn’t going back there. But apart from the ploughed cornfields and rusted water towers there was only one other thing on the landscape, an old tin-mine that nestled below the purple mountains. He couldn’t just stay here and even though the tin-mine was a pretty obvious place to hide, it was his only choice.
Jonny took off, running as fast as he could over the dry earth. The mine entrance was dark, and the sun had bleached the wooden boards that had been put up but failed to deter entry into the abandoned tunnels. Ducking underneath the boards he ran down the mineshaft until he was in complete darkness, with only the sound of his breathing to keep him company. Jonny held his breath and listened, there was nothing; no sounds from outside the mine and nothing from down the tunnel. It was completely silent.
Then he noticed something, something small and bright flickering gently in the corner of his eye, when he turned to look it darted out from the rock it was hiding behind and flickered in front of Jonny’s face, its light becoming so brilliant that the tunnel was lit up, causing him to squint.
“What are you? Some kind of fairy?” Jonny said making the instant leap that most people do in that all strange creatures and monsters somehow speak their language. The speck of light waved and swayed in front of Jonny’s eyes as if in its own limited way was trying to communicate. The speck danced and darted quickly, the gentle movements becoming much aggressive and angry, until the light disappeared altogether into Jonny’s head with a tiny almost inaudible popping sound.
Instantly Jonny began to sense things; pictures, sounds, smells and sensations filled in his mind; memories that were so familiar to him but they weren’t his, they weren’t from his past. There was a child, a young girl with auburn pigtails playing but there was someone else there as well? Who was he? Someone with an eye-patch and a cut lip. Jonny gagged a little when his mind was invaded by the final memory, the same young girl; her fine features bruised and covered in mud, lifelessly staring out into the darkness, before the memory faded.
“What the hell!” Jonny tried to see down the tunnel but the darkness had returned. Had it been in his mind? It couldn’t have. That girl, who could do that to someone so innocent?
“Innocent?” the voice was inside his head “What do you know of innocent?”
Jonny looked around struggling to see anything in the darkness. There was nothing there, nothing… except, wait, there was a glow coming up from the bottom of the tunnel. As Jonny kept watching, two more tiny glowing specks came up from the dark and brightened up the tunnel, as if the sun was shining inside.
Just as the first sprite had done, the two sprites swirled and raced around Jonny before disappearing into his head, and just like the first sprite Jonny’s mind was filled with memories that weren’t his own. A botched bank raid, in which corpses littered the bank’s floor, a family drowning, trapped in their car, a man with a blood spattered face smirking, and a woman crying over a pauper’s grave. Were all mixed together, with other mismatched symbols and gestures too many to identify.
The memories faded in his mind but this time the tunnel hadn’t returned to darkness, in fact it was brighter than ever. Hundreds of glowing sprites had filled the tunnel, they reminded Jonny of the summer fireflies as they danced and played together. Although, when the swarm realised they had been seen, they became agitated. They swirled and moved quickly down the tunnel until they resembled a tornado angrily surging towards Jonny, enveloping him in a frenzied cloak of tiny,bright lights.
As each sprite disappeared into Jonny’s head, more and more horrific memories were visited upon him, each one combining with the hundreds of memories that had preceded until he could no longer discern one terrifying memory from the last. A disembodied head, a blood soaked axe, a badly rotted body reaching out. Jonny’s eyes flickered and his jaw hung low, allowing a dribble of drool to escape.
As the final memory faded from his mind, Jonny smiled, a broad toothy grin from ear to ear then he started to laugh, so hard that it hurt his stomach and brought tears to his eyes. Although there was no happiness within his laugh, the tears he was shedding were not of joy and probably never would be again. As the laughter consumed him, Jonny sat down on the cold hard floor.
“I’m sorry” he said, as the tears of laughter rolled down his cheek.
“I’m so sorry.” Jonny put the barrel of his revolver up against his temple and pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened, Jonny looked at the gun in his hand. “Hadn’t I thrown my gun away?” Jonny looked back and saw the rock in his gun-hand and burst into a new fit of hysterical laughter. Still laughing, Jonny stood up and slowly walked further into the dark mine.
As the police gathered outside the entrance to the mine, amidst the clicks of weapons being primed and dogs barking, all they could hear was Jonny’s maniacal laughter slowly fading into silence.