Time for another one-hour flash story. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, these are 1,000-word stories I wrote in one hour for a writing contest/exercise. I’ve done a lot of these exercises, and sometimes those stories go on to bigger and better things, like getting published. The others wind up here.
This is an urban fantasy story that centers around an agency called the BFA (the Bureau of Fae Affairs), which I’ve used in a bunch of stories. One of these days, I might try and write something more coherent with the BFA than a bunch of disconnected flash pieces. Until then, here’s “Fairy Bad Behavior.”
Fairy Bad Behavior
“What’s next, Jenkins?” Sergeant Ivan Danforth asked as he and his partner threaded their way through the tangle of desks and moving bodies in the BFA command center.
Agent Ryan Jenkins glanced at his clipboard. “Let’s see,” he said scanning the list of names and charges. “Looks like a Mr. Koruk.”
“Troll?” Danforth asked.
“That’s a first for me,” Danforth said, his hand sliding down to the butt of the huge revolver at his hip. The S&W .500 was the biggest he could find, and it was a pain in the ass to carry. You couldn’t fit it under a coat, and even on your hip it was like dragging around a sack of lead shot. Still, he often found the gargantuan revolver wholly inadequate. “What’d he do?”
Jenkins grimaced. “Jesus. Ate three kids in West Seattle.”
Danforth sighed and shook his head. “What is with these fairy-tale motherfuckers and eating kids? Remember that witch last year? She barbecued eleven before we caught her. Then she acted like it was the most normal thing in the world to do.”
Jenkins nodded and offered his partner a tired smile. “Well, at least work at the good ‘ol Bureau of Fae Affairs is never boring.”
They had reached the far side of the office. It was completely clear of desks, its only feature a massive steel door set in the plain white wall. Two guards armed with oversized rifles of black steel and carbon fiber—Barrett M82s—stood in front of the door.
“Gentlemen,” Danforth said. “We’ve got an interview in room ten.”
One of the guards nodded and spun the steel wheel set in the door’s center and pulled. it open At nearly four feet thick it made most bank vaults look tiny in comparison. Beyond stretched a long, wide hallway constructed of concrete. More steel doors were set at various intervals along the hallway’s length. Some were human-sized, others towered fifteen feet high.
Jenkins and Danforth entered the tunnel and the door shut behind them. Their destination lay at the far end—one of the oversized holding cells. Outside the cell, they found two more guards armed with the same heavy rifles as the last two.
“He’s chained,” one of the guards said as the two BFA officers approached. “But keep your guard up; one smack from this asshole and you’d look like a bug on windshield.”
Danforth smiled and unsnapped the S&W 500 in its holster. “Don’t worry. This isn’t our first rodeo. Go ahead and open up.”
The door opened and they stepped into a cavernous room with concrete floors and walls. At the far end of the room, chained to the wall was Mr. Koruk, their suspect. He was smaller than Danforth had expected—only ten feet tall—but what he lacked in height he made up for in bulk. The ogre wore a pair of grubby trousers, and his bare upper torso gave the two BFA agents a good look at his barrel chest, massive round belly, and arms corded with great slabs of sinewy muscle.
The ogre sat on the floor near the wall, and he turned as they entered. His face was coarse and ugly, with a wide brow, drooping jowls, flabby lips, and a squashed nose the size of large potato in the center of the whole mess.
“Officers,” the ogre said and held up his manacled wrists. They were bolted to the wall with a length of titanium chain. “Can you explain this violation of my rights?” The ogre’s voice was a deep baritone with a slight Irish lilt.
Danforth sat down in one of the two chairs near the door, well out Mr. Koruk’s reach if he decided to get rowdy. Jenkins sat in the other.
“Rights, Mr. Koruk?” Danforth said. “The BFA has been quite clear with you and your kind on what we expect of our relocated guests. Eating school children is pretty much at the top of the list of behavior we’d like you to avoid.”
The ogre frowned. “What am I supposed to eat? I have certain, uh, dietary needs.”
“We know, Mr. Koruk,” Jenkins said. “The BFA has made suitable artificial alternatives available to all ogres, trolls, witches, and giants.”
The ogre grimaced and stuck out his tongue. “That stuff doesn’t taste right.”
Danforth leaned forward in his chair. “I don’t give a goddamn if it tastes like a troll’s hairy asshole. You can’t eat children, you gigantic sack of shit.”
The ogre shrugged. “Old habits are hard to break.”
“Here are your options, Mr. Koruk,” Jenkins said. “You can write and sign a full confession to the crime or we can send you back to Jotunheim and let the frost giants deal with you.”
The ogre blanched, his yellowish skin taking on the color of sour milk. “What? You can’t send me back to Jotunheim. I’ve got asylum.”
“You’ve got asylum as long as you don’t break any laws,” Danforth said. “And although it’s been a while since I checked the codes, I’m pretty sure grinding up eight-year-olds to make sausage is still against the fucking law.”
“So it’s a confession, a last meal, and the needle, or we turn you over to Thrym and let him and his boys deal with you,” Jenkins said, a thin smile playing across his lips. “I hear they still cut the blood eagle on defectors. That’s a nasty way to go.”
“I’ll do it,” the ogre said and slumped against the wall. “I’ll confess. Don’t send me back.”
“Excellent,” Danforth said and stood. “One of the guards will be in shortly with pen and paper and to get your final meal request.
Jenkins grinned. “I suggest the vegetarian option.”
Okay, so what’s wrong with this one? Well, like a lot of failed flash, this is basically the beginning of something longer. I like the characters and concepts it introduces, but it doesn’t feel like a complete story (because it isn’t). I spent way too much time in the intro, so there was no word count left for anything else. Thus, you get a rushed and, let’s face it, unsatisfying ending. Still, I had fun with the dialog, as I often do in these BFA stories, and maybe, just maybe, there’s the seed of a longer (and better) story in here.
If you’d like to check out the previous installments in the One-Hour Flash series, click the links below.
Can I bite? I agree with your analysis. Specifically:
As a reader I find the introduction of Danforth’s weapon superfluous, especially as it isn’t actually used in the story. Ditto the bit about the witch. Ditto the bit from ‘The ogre frowned’ to ‘sack of shit’. Other bits, like the discussion of the race of the prisoner could be tightened up and condensed. This would leave you an extra few paragraphs to provide a more satisfactory ending. And I’m sure it should be ‘and let him and his boys’. A basic grammar error like that jumps me out of the story, especially deadly near the end of the tale.
Anyway, thanks for sharing. It’s still way better than anything I could produce.
Hey, Quentin. That’s all spot on. Superfluous details are pretty common in these one-hour things, unfortunately. I think even if I were to clean that up, though, and gain some room toward the end, this still wouldn’t work as flash. The real problem is a lack of conflict; there’s no obstacle for the characters to overcome, So, I’d need to expand the story for that. Like maybe the ogre escapes and they have to hunt him down. Then, this might work as a decent act one to a longer story, and some of the details, like the weapon, wouldn’t be superfluous anymore.
I fixed the grammar error. Can’t let that stand. 😉