Red Herring

Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Red Herring is the complete collection of stories from my second round of Flash Fiction Month–a month-long event in which participants write one story every day. The stories must be between 55 and 1000 words in length, and about three times a week there is a challenge, meaning that the stories must meet certain criteria. A more thorough explanation (and a not-particularly-rigorous analysis) of the event can be found in last year’s collection, OCR is Not the Only Font. Go check it out–it’s free and always will be!

Red Herring can be downloaded free from the online retailers listed below. But because clicking is just soooooo much trouble, a ready-to-read Red Herring story is available right on this very page! You may still have to scroll down, though. Poor you.

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Find the book at:

Smashwords   Available DRM free in any format you could ask for, including Kindle. You can also read the whole thing in your browser if you so wish.

Wattpad   Probably the best place to read in your web browser. The book can also be downloaded through the Wattpad app, though it is not quite as good as the other versions listed here.

Kobo   #1 for Android, and good for multiple devices.

Barnes & Noble   For Nook in the USA.

Nook UK   For Nook in the UK

deviantART   It may not be the actual book, but this folder of my deviantART gallery contains all the individual stories and is the place to go if you’re interested in finding out more about one in particular.

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Do Your Thing

“Quickly!” Sidric Lightfoot made a dash for the entrance of the treasure chamber. “This way!”

“It’s no good,” cried Argola Quicksnatch. “Already the sounds of the Lich-King’s ghouls reach my elven ears. They are loudest from that direction. We must run this way, instead!”

“No!” Khagg the Plunderer barred her way with one vast arm. “From that passage, I detect the stench of a Caversberg tunnel troll! All orcs are taught to recognise it from childhood, so dangerous are these beasts. But I spy a third way. Through this narrow crevice we must go!”

“No.” Kibbert ‘Many Pockets’ Lockbane shook his head. “My dwarvish eyes see what yours cannot. That crevice is crawling with undead pygmy slaughterbaboons. But I know another way we can escape. You see that ornamental pool? It is fed by a small stream—part of the Caversberg river system, I am sure.  I could lead us through those caves, and as you know the Lich-King’s minions can cross no running water.”

But “Wait!” shouted Sidric as they neared the pool’s edge. “Those are no ordinary fish lurking in the water: those are leather-nosed gravesharks! We’d all be eaten alive before we could get halfway across.”

A chilling laugh—literally chilling—filled the chamber. The whole party turned to find the Lich-King himself standing behind them. Behind the Lich-King stood his retinue of ghouls. Behind the ghouls stood the Caversberg tunnel troll, staring dumbly over the crowd, while the slaughterbaboons hunched down in front, greedily eyeing the adventurers. There was an uncomfortable silence, broken only by the sound of a lone graveshark jumping in the pool.

“Any last words?” A curl of smoke unfurled from the Lich-King’s unholy mouth.

“Actually…” Sidric Lightfoot stepped forward, only the slightest tremor in his voice. “I’d like to introduce my friend, Horatio Hexwright: Hero of Angath’s Fjord, Saviour of Barrowmede, Wielder of the Wand of Shalmanar.” He beckoned the wizard forward. “Horatio, do your thing.”

***

“Right.” Kibbert turned to Sidric as they reached their usual booth in the tavern. “I think this round’s on you.”

“I think the next several rounds are on you,” added Argola. Khagg the Plunderer grunted in assent.

“Whaaat?” Sidric looked stung. “Come on. We got out of there alright!”

“Like taking coin from a halfling, you said!” Khagg slammed a massive hand against the table, causing the room to go quiet for a moment. “Well, halflings don’t normally have armies of undead pygmy slaughterbaboons, do they?”

Sidric shrugged. “You have to weigh the risks against what you stand to gain! You seemed pretty keen on the idea when I told you how much the Lich-King’s sceptre would go for.”

“Yes,” said Argola. “You were very clear about that. What you neglected to mention was quite how much of that money would go to paying off your gambling debts.”

“Though how anyone can lose that much at noughts and crosses, I’ll never know.” Kibbert glared.

“Hey. We all got an equal share of what was left.”

“Yeah?” Khagg stood. “Well you’d better use yours to get us some drinks!”

Sidric pushed the coins around in his palm. “I think it’ll have to be halves, I’m afraid.” He walked over to the bar and, after a brief argument with the barkeep, came back again. “And someone else is going to have to chip in.”

Kibbert sighed and went back with him. An awkward silence hung over the table for a minute as they paid for the drinks.

It was Khagg who broke it. “You have to admit, though, how we got out of there was pretty impressive.”

“Yes,” agreed Argola, looking to the wizard sitting quietly in the corner. “Though when Sidric asked you to ‘do your thing,’ I think he meant magic. Not naked breakdancing.”

“Hey!” Horatio Hexwright shrugged. “It worked, didn’t it?”

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4 comments

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