This is in response to a challenge by Haley Whitehall – to write a flash story in 500 words or less. Unfortunately, I forgot one of the rules, which was to start the story with, “She had been warned, but now it was too late.” So I used it as the title. No way was i going to write another 500 word story (this is 497 words *pant pant*). Fortunately, the title IS relevant to the story, but you have to read it all to find out.
This is the shortest story I have ever written, and it was indeed a struggle, the next shortest being 1,000 words. It is sort of a dark fantasy, but I hope you enjoy it.
She Had Been Warned, But Now It Was Too Late
The boy was 12. His slender frame stood defiantly, facing the other kids. The black patch over his right eye contrasted starkly with his pale face.
“Nyah, nyah, sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven,” a big boy said.
The rest of the kids picked up the chant, “Sissy Kevin, on his way to heaven.”
Kevin’s face flushed, but he kept silent.
“Cat got your tongue, Heaven Kevin?”
That was too much. A name like that would stick for the rest of his life.
“No,” the younger boy said softly. “My name is Kevin Shawn O’Reilly.”
“Folks’s saying you was given some gift by Irish fairies when you was a baby,” the older boy, whom everyone called Viper, said.
He glared at Kevin’s eye patch. “You hiding something gross behind there?” he growled. “Let’s take a look.”
The younger boy backed away desperately. “You’ll be sorry if you take my patch off.”
“Who’s gonna make me sorry?” Viper sneered. “Your piss-ant dad ain’t here no more.”
A tear slid down Kevin’s cheek. “Why are you doing this to me?” he cried. “I never did anything to you.”
“You’re different, see?” Viper said, advancing on the younger boy. “We don’t like piss-ants who pretend they’re better ‘n everyone else. We don’t like pukes with pussy secrets, like your bad eye here.” He leaned over Kevin.
Viper grabbed for the patch just as Kevin bobbed his head out of the way. Impatiently, Viper smashed Kevin in the face. The boy sagged and Viper snatched the eye patch. Triumphantly he turned and held it aloft. “Behold!” he cried, like he’d seen in the movies. Kevin tried to cover his eye with his hand.
“No, you don’t,” Viper said prying Kevin’s hand away. The younger boy quickly closed his eyes. The glimpse Viper saw puzzled him. The eye looked normal. Maybe it had to be open for pus to start oozing. Maybe that was what was making him feel nauseated. Yeah…the hidden pus.
He threw Kevin onto the ground, forcing his eye open. The boy was no match for Viper.
“NOOO!” he howled. Curiosity pulled the other children closer. For a moment Kevin kept his eye rolled back into his head, just showing the white.
“Good trick, piss-ant,” Viper snarled. He jogged his knee hard into Kevin’s stomach. The breath whooshed out of him as the eye flew open.
Viper stared at it. “It’s just the same as…” He never finished the sentence.
His limp body collapsed on top of Kevin, who was crying now in earnest.
The rest of the children screamed and scattered.
Kevin finally stopped crying and wiggled out from under the body. Gently he pried the eye patch out of the boy’s hand and slipped it back on over his right eye.
“It wasn’t a gift,” he told the empty schoolyard. “It’s why Da died. It’s a curse on the O’Reilly men.”
He plodded home and opened the door. “Momma,” he called tiredly. “We have to move again.”