I still have some time left over so I thought I’d have another go at Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. First one is here and it has all the details of the contest, so I won’t bore you with it again. This time I am going to write another piece of flash fiction based on the words that are left over.
So here we go… Hope you enjoy it.
Jeremy looked around the coal shed, the dim light only just registering. His eyes had adjusted as much as they could to the dark, but he still couldn’t see much. He sat cross-legged, wide-awake listening to the sounds of the guard dogs howling outside. The orphanage had always been Jeremy’s home. He’d once approached the matron and while tugging on her dress asked innocently who he was and where he had come from. For this he had received a cane across his knuckles for the impertinence. ‘He wasn’t wanted and nobody loved him’, they were the words barked at him every day by Sister Lucinda, and the rest of the nurses at St Bernadette.
Sister Lucinda was a large battle-axe of a woman, squashed into a Victorian whalebone corset with charcoal-grey hair in a bun that delighted in tormented the young boys. She would serve only a thin, watery broth at mealtimes. Of course, for appearances the nurses would eat the same things as the children but Jeremy knew that the nurses would finish all the leftovers and then they would feast on cakes, wine and succulent meats when the children had gone to bed. He could always smell the food, wafting through the halls from their dormitory.
“They are only being tough on you because they’re looking out for you.” The words of the resident professor, Mr Winston always sounded rehearsed and insincere. It was always like he knew what to say, but all his fight or the belief in the words he was saying had long since gone. He wasn’t married, he never went out, and as far as the boys knew, he didn’t do anything other than teach. The only time Jeremy had ever seen Mr Winston get excited, was during a Chemistry lesson when one of his chemical bottles had been stolen. He made quite the fuss. Jeremy hadn’t seen it for himself as he had left the class to go the toilet, but the other boys were talking about the spectacle for days afterwards.
Jeremy’s stomach rumbled and gurgled as a slight wave of nausea crept over him. He had been sent to bed without any dinner this evening. He’d been caught sneaking out from the kitchen, and even though they couldn’t find any evidence of food on his hands or his breath, he was still punished. Punished to sit in the dining hall and to watch the other boys eat their dinner without having even a mouthful for himself.
Before anyone had sat down to dinner, Jeremy had stood up on one of the tables, and announced that “Fatty Fatty Piggy Sister Lucinda should stick her snout in a trough full of cakes as she always did.” Then Jeremy proceeded to run around the dinner hall, and spill over as many bowls of food as possible. The other boys found this hilarious and joined in despite the inherent fear that Sister Lucinda demanded. Sister Lucinda shook with rage and shouted louder than she ever had done. She ordered Jeremy to be sent to the coal shed until the morning and sent everyone else up to bed without dinner. This angered all the other boys who took out their annoyance on Jeremy. They would understand in the morning, he had to do it, he didn’t have a choice.
Jeremy listened at the silence outside the coal shed. All of the boys would be in bed now. Probably still grumbling about how he was responsible for them not having any dinner. A pang of guilt ran through him but they didn’t know anything, he was doing it for them after all. Everyone’s lives are going to be better because of him. Tomorrow they won’t be grumbling about him, they’ll be celebrating him as a hero.
The silence was shattered by a crash from inside the house that sounded like someone dropping a tray of glasses followed by a feint thud. There were more screams, the sound of retching and more thuds. Jeremy listened carefully, everything was happening as he hoped. He could hear people rushing about downstairs, the panic was almost tangible to Jeremy, and a smile crossed his lips.
Jeremy knew exactly what had happened. The nurses had now sat down to dinner. Dinner that consisted of the usual thin watery broth liberally dosed with acid from the stolen chemicals bottle. By now the acid broth would be dissolving its way through the throats of the nurses, destroying their evil from the inside. He had won, he had beaten them, they had paid…
The cane cracked down again on Jeremy’s knuckles, the pain knocking him back to reality. He looked up, his eyes red and bleary from his tears.
“Did you think you could just pick this up, put it in your pocket and walk out from Mr Winston’s class and we wouldn’t notice?” shouted Sister Lucinda holding up the bottle of acid.”This stuff is dangerous, you stupid child. No wonder you were left here. Is it any wonder that nobody loves you. What were you planning on doing with it anyway?”
Before he could answer the cane cracked down on Jeremy’s knuckles.
Jeremy yelped in pain. “Next time” he thought. “Next time”