Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Flash Fiction: The Last Wish

By Michael Seese

The other week, I learned of yet another flash fiction adventure. This one is Alissa Leonard's "Finish That Thought." The judge provides an opening sentence, and an optional special challenge.

This week, they were, respectively, "Two wishes wasted; this third and final one was [our] last chance" and "Include at least two of the following: a genie, a magic carpet, a magic lamp, a magic ring, a Grand Vizier, a clever woman named Morgiana, a talking bird, Cerebrus, a Cyclops!"

So here is "The Final Wish."

Two wishes wasted; this third and final one was our last chance. In baseball, two out of three is great. To hear Meatloaf tell it, two out of three ain’t bad.

“Here…” I said, drawing a thumb across my throat. “We need to think of something.”

“I know!” she said. “We could ask for three more wishes.”

“It’s against the genie rules. You saw Aladdin.”

“Yeah. I sure miss Robin Williams.”

“Me too. But irrelevant. And keep your voice down, or they’ll hear us.”

“They” would be our hunters, a menagerie of mythical beasts chosen specifically to pursue us. Chimera, minotaur, and who knows what else, chasing us through this confusing, often shifting, labyrinth. Mazes are the worst, because they have dead ends. In the literal and… well, the other literal sense.

“Which way?” she whispered.

“I’m thinking.”

To the left, utter blackness. To the right, an orange glow.

She spoke the words rattling around in my hopeful mind. “That could be the key vault.”

“It could be. Or, it could be…”

“The dragon.”

“I don’t think we can chance it,” I said. “Their sense of smell is pretty good.”

We felt our way along the carved rock wall. Thick gloves protected our hands from the occasional “surprise” embedded in the stone. Broken glass, razor wire, cobras.

The wall unexpectedly gave way, and we stumbled into a large room, apparently disrupting the nap of a satyr. He grimaced and growled. I took her hand and took off running. Twenty feet ahead was a “T.”

“To the right!” I yelled, dragging her to the left, then into the first alcove. The hoofsteps approached, then faded.

“I think he bought it.”

“I think so. Good thinking.”

“Thanks. We’ve got to find the key, then the exit. We only have 15 minutes,” I said, checking my watch. “We need a plan.”

“Let’s use the last wish for a magic carpet. Fly over the maze, find the vault, get out.”

“It won’t work. It’s got a roof.”

“I don’t see one,” she said, scanning the starry welkin.

“Trust me.”

“Let me test.”

Before I could scream “No!” she pulled an apple from her backpack and tossed it straight up. The electrical grid arced and sparked. A pleasant smell of baked apple wafted down.

“I guess you were--”

The lumbering footsteps stomped through my happy childhood memory of fresh-baked pie. The audio preceded the visual by a scant second. Thundering toward us was the one-eyed giant. He was slow. But his torso filled the passageway. Escape? Impossible. Death? Imminent.

“We have to bail!” I shouted.

“But we’re so close.”

“The Cyclops is closer. I’m getting us out of here. Magic lamp, exit two.”

The avatar’s soft voice cooed the life-altering news, “I’m sorry. You only have enough strength points for one to exit.”

She looked at me. I looked at her, shrugged, and disappeared just in time to avoid hearing the scream which at that very moment was blowing out my speakers.

What do you think?

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