Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 4
Challenge #2: Write a four-part story featuring four different settings. Each part must have an identical word count and the settings must correspond to the four classical elements.
Once upon an ancient time, a terrible giant rose from the land. A remnant of a savage age, the giant had no taste for peace: his only joys were destruction and strife. Stone was his skin and stone was his heart, so neither arrow nor entreaty could end his assault upon the good people who lived in those parts. But still they had one hope:
“Cornwall John, Cornwall John!” the people cried. “Save us from the terrible giant who tears up crops with his stone hands and treads upon our livestock with his stone feet.”
So Cornwall John strode out upon the plain to face this dire foe.
Now, Cornwall John was big as a house, but the stone giant was big as a castle, and it laughed to hear his challenge.
“Go on then,” the giant said, leaning down and pointing to its chin. “I am generous. I shall let you throw the first punch, since any punch of mine is sure to be the last.”
Then Cornwall John drew back his fist, and with a single strike cast the great stone giant into the sea, where he sank and drowned. For you see, not only was Cornwall John as big as a house, but his fists were made of brick! This, in the end, was the giant’s undoing.
Peace reigned in the giant’s absence, but sadly not for long. The giant’s fall, you see, had woken a great serpent that slumbered in the depths. Angry at this intrusion, the creature sought out the people that had so disturbed it. When at last it learned where it was those people dwelt, the serpent lashed itself into a frenzy, whipping waves against the town. All the archers of that place came forth to face the serpent, but because of the waves and sand that stung their eyes, none of them could see to shoot.
“Cornwall John, Cornwall John,” the people cried. “Save us from the terrible serpent who now plagues us with great waves from the sea!”
So Cornwall John strode out to the sea to face this dire foe.
Now, Cornwall John was big as a house, but so strong were the serpent’s struggles that it could have overturned a fortress.
“Come closer,” it taunted, “so that I may sweep you out to sea!”
But Cornwall John took not one step more. Instead, he took up a great spar of wood and hurled it through the serpent’s heart, straight and true. For you see, not only was Cornwall John as big as a house, but his eyes were panes of glass! This, in the end, was the serpent’s undoing.
Once more peace reigned in that good place, but sadly once again it did not last for long. The serpent’s carcass, you see, drew in a monstrous bird that carried it to the top of the church tower. There it gorged itself upon the meat, harrying any who came near and keeping the people from prayer. So high was the bird’s perch that no archer could strike it, and so terrible was its breath that no warrior could approach it.
“Cornwall John, Cornwall John!” the people cried. “Save us from this terrible bird who threatens our faithful and smells so bad!”
So Cornwall John strode up to the tower to face this dire foe.
Now, Cornwall John was big as a house, but the bird was more vast than any creature that had come before, and the stench of its breath could strip the paint from a palace.
So terrible was the bird that it did not even turn away from its meal to taunt Cornwall John, for it thought its foul odour would surely keep him away.
But Cornwall John climbed the tower regardless, and snapped the monster’s neck with ease. For you see, not only was Cornwall John as big as a house, but his nose was made of plaster! This, in the end, was the bird’s undoing.
Yet again peace reigned in that place, though the people hardly dared hope that it would last. Yet last it did! Cornwall John buried bird and serpent beneath a hill of soil and rubble, and no more monsters came to plague the town.
“Cornwall John, Cornwall John!” the people cried. “We must have a feast, to celebrate your heroic deeds, which will surely become legend in centuries to come!”
So Cornwall John strode out to the feast to savour his victories.
Now, Cornwall John was big as a house, but the mound of food the people placed before him was big as a mountain, so thankful were they for his work.
Famished from his exploits, Cornwall John ate the mound and more besides. All the food was very good, and at the end of the meal the pastor brought forth a pipe and his best tobacco for Cornwall John to enjoy, for he was more thankful than anybody that the dire bird had been defeated.
Cornwall John struck a match and puffed upon the pipe, but no sooner had he done so his whole head burst into flames, and his body followed! For you see, not only was Cornwall John as big as a house, but his hair was made of thatch. This, in the end, was Cornwall John’s undoing.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.