a flash fiction piece by Alyssa inspired by a project by students in Mr. Kerrins’ Technology Education class
“Alra, they’re going to call it soon,” Will murmured, stirring me away from my chaotic thoughts. I watched him intently, his drooping shoulders, heavy eyes, and slow trudge through the house.
“I have to do this, Will. Not just for us or Dad, but to save the lives that would be taken,” I pressed gently.
“I know. But remembering how Dad went makes me worry for you all the more.” Even his voice seemed weak, vulnerable.
“I’ll be home by breakfast or earlier, so I expect an extravagant feast when I return, Brother.” I teased him, hoping to ignite his familiar, crooked smile.
The smirk was small, but evident. He embraced me in a hug, squeezing tightly as he whispered he loved me.
“Love you too, Will,” I replied before I left our comfortable house.
Entering the town, I breathed in the fresh air and admired the other houses scattered throughout the courtyard.
They were more cabins than anything, put together sloppily. But this was home, and I wasn’t sure I could handle another place to live in.
The mayor approached me then, placing his hands on my shoulder. “Alra, the new moon has risen. Are you sure you are willing to put your life at risk?”
I nodded firmly, confidence unwavering.
“Then you know where to go,” the mayor concluded, gesturing towards the bridge before sprinting towards the entrance to the fortress underneath the town.
The fortress. I was tired of hiding away in the protective area each Full Moon, waiting for the Wenlin to take its next victim. Whether the fort kept out the beast, but not the muffled screams of the terrifying Offering.
I drew my sword before jogging to the old drawbridge, worn down by countless battles and panic. My footsteps created hollow echoes against the rough surface, and my armor clanking added to the otherwise silent night. The air was heavy with tension, grappling at my throat before giving way to a horrendous shriek. The piercing sound cut through the sky, and my blood ran cold.
Hold your resolve, I thought to myself, before adjusting the grip on the hilt of my sword.
“You’re not an offering,” an unearthly howl called through the night. “You’re a threat!”
“Come and face me,” I demanded coolly, looking wildly through the sudden fog that had erupted through the treeline beyond the town for my opponent.
I barely had time to duck before the creature lept toward me at top speed. I tucked my legs and rolled underneath it, but couldn’t land a strike with my blade.
There was a laugh, one that could inflict paralyzing fear in even the bravest of soldiers.
Without hesitation, I advanced towards it, jabbing with my sword. The beast dodged all but one of my attacks. I was able to nick its arm, to which it responded with a powerful swing. It knocked me back a few feet, and I crashed against the wooden bridge. My head pounded, but I recovered quickly.
The battle waged on; our strikes were evenly matched, but we landed blows, drawing blood on equal terms.
“Where is my offering?!” The creature was screaming now, and even in the dim light I could see the rage in its red eyes.
“Not this time. Your existence has brought nothing but despair to my people.”
With that statement I ran forward again, straight to its outstretched arms, if they could be called so.
At the last minute, I slid next to him, rolling behind it and leaping upwards.
The movement surprised me, but I took my sword and swung it against the foul beast’s neck.
No matter the creature, no one could survive decapitation. The Wenlin’s eyes were glazed over, and a small amount of blood trickling down its mouth, covering its long fangs. Blood was pooling around its body and my leather boots.
The battle was over, yet I did not feel victory. I myself was covered in my own blood, and the impact of my wounds started to take its toll. Dropping my sword, slick with scarlett droplets, I limped back towards the town. The rising sun illuminated my path, dropping flecks of gold and red across the worn oak of the bridge.
They’ll be out soon, I told myself. They’ll come to get me.
I felt as though my walk was labored and continuous, until Will rushed to catch my trembling body. The townspeople surrounded me a moment later, questioning and demanding I tell them the results of my battle.
“You won’t have any more trouble for the Wenlin,” I promised them weakly. Their cheers were loud and full of glee.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” Will whispered. His voice was strong, and I knew he had assured himself that I would recover. “You’ll have some pancakes to eat.”
I grinned to myself, and turned closer to my brother as he lifted me gently, carrying me bridal style back home.
My people were at peace. Life was at peace.
Alyssa is in ninth grade.