Flash Fiction time again. I haven’t written a piece of flash fiction of a thousand words in quite a while, so it took me longer than I would have liked to finish this one. This is part of Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds flash fiction challenge.
Chuck gave us two lists of words, we randomly chose a word off each one and that became the title for this week’s flash fiction. I got Helical and Potion ergo my title is Helical Potions. I took a small amount of creative license and added the ‘s’.
Let me know if you like it, let me know if you don’t. That’s what the comments are for, after all.
Flash Fiction Helical Potions
Alchemy is an occupation that requires discipline, a steady hand and wherever possible a good sense of taste. George had none of these things. His taste buds hadn’t worked since he had miscalculated the amount of flame root used in a love potion.
Though wilfully useless at alchemy, he was born with a silver tongue and prided himself on being able to sell any of his ill conceived potions to anyone who ventured into his shop. His father had told him “Not being good at something should never stop you making money from it”. Those words of wisdom were said roughly three minutes before his father turned himself into a small puddle of bubbling green gook while attempting to perfect a particularly tricky recipe for Gespacho soup.
After this accident George inherited his father’s alchemy store ‘Potional Rarity’ and quickly found that as long as he only sold the bad potions to travellers he could get away with selling them anything. The locals didn’t bother going in anymore, though friendly enough to them, he quickly found that customers rarely came back if a simple Bunyan –B-Gone potion removed their entire foot. At least that customer couldn’t complain about the potion’s effectiveness’.
‘What are we gonna do, Mr Parrot?’ George asked the straggly feathered bird sat on the edge of his desk.
‘Nobody comes in here anymore.’
The bird responded by squawking and shuffling up and down the only bit of desk that wasn’t covered with half-scribbled-on paper, bottles of coloured liquid and half-melted beakers.
‘Yeah, I know but this time will be different, and anyway, the Mayor was happier being a woman, so it worked out alright. There has to be some way we can offload this crap to the villagers. What about a memory loss type of thing?’
There was a loud thudding on his door. George stood up and knocked a potion over. His desk started to smoke and burn from the purple liquid. ‘Wart remover’ he said casually as he walked to his front door, slipping slightly on some discarded paper.
The thudding on the front door continued.
‘Alright, alright. Geez, I’m coming.’ George limped over to the door and opened it. Standing on his doorstep was a man with a bright orange beard wearing a golden robe. The rain was pouring, and the wind was icy cold.
‘George?’ began the salesman.
‘George Albright, owner of ‘Potional Rarity?’
‘Yes, that’s me.’
‘Excellent. It’s an honour to meet someone of your skill and integrity. Would you be interested in selling our potions? I’m sure a recognised alchemical trader like yourself will be able to recognise a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rich.’
George’s eyes lit up. ‘Of course, please come in’ he said.
‘So this opportunity?’ asked George, shutting the door behind them.
The salesman smiled, opened his leather bag and took out a small glass bottle filled with slightly, murky liquid ‘I’m from Helical Potions. With us the answer really does lie in the bottom of a bottle’. George took the small bottle from his hands and read the finely printed label.
POTION OF LIFE: AILMENTS CURED.
(EVEN BODY ODOUR)
‘One of our best sellers’ continued the salesman ‘Try it. It cures everything. ‘
George uncorked the bottle and sniffed at the contents. It didn’t smell of anything, and the salesman was still grinning when George brought the bottle to his lips and took a careful sip.
George stretched and bent his leg and it did feel better. It was now less stiff and that weird clicking noise had stopped, well the clicking wasn’t as loud anyway. Had his headache gone as well? It certainly wasn’t as bad. It’s incredible, he thought.
‘Hmmm, seems alright’ said George. ‘OK, I’ll sell these potions of yours.’
‘Excellent. I knew someone of your skill would know how to spot a deal.
‘Well, I’ve been in this game a long time’ George responded with a level of smugness he could have bottled and sold.
‘…and I could tell just from looking at you. These potions retail at 250 gold each. I’m selling them for only 200 gold pieces a vial.’
‘200 gold pieces each! They’re not worth more than 150’ though George clearly though otherwise.
‘You’re a businessman, and you have to protect your profits. I can appreciate that. ’ said the salesman who hadn’t stopped smiling at George for several minutes. ‘OK, you’ve beaten me down 150 gold pieces it is. How many do you want?’
‘Ten? I knew you were smart man.’
‘Wait right here.’ George scurried off to an old desk at the back of the room, and returned with a large purse. ‘Here, 1500 gold’ He dropped the purse into the salesman’s hands.
‘You will not be disappointed, sir.’ The salesman opened his bag, took out two racks of five potions and handed them to George, dropping the purse of gold in to his bag.
‘No, I don’t think I will be’ said George starring wondrously at the potion.
‘It has been an absolute pleasure’ said the salesman shaking George’s hand vigorously. The salesman looked back towards George, smiled and then walked back out into the rain.
The salesman had scarcely got to the end of the road before George was calling out after him.
‘Wait! What if I need to buy more?’ shouted George.
The salesman turned round, and smiled. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back. There’s a lot more where that came from.’
George disappeared back into the shop.
The salesman grinned as he looked down at the horse trough at the side of the road, filled with a familiar, murky looking liquid.
‘Yes, there’s an inexhaustible supply’