Another SFF World entry, this time on the theme of revenge. We usually have a 1,000-word limit for these flash fiction contests, but as I was writing this one, I felt a natural conclusion coming on and didn’t see the need to keep going. Usually I’m trimming and trimming trying to get down to the 1,000 words, so it was nice to have the luxury of going back and adding with room to spare. The folks at SFF World liked the results, as this story won the contest for that month. Enjoy!
His blood coats my hand like a warm, wet glove, but it is his eyes I want to see. I want to drink in their wide, staring fear, to remember their place in his disbelieving face. I want to make sure he sees me, so that he knows from where his death came. I want him to see my eyes, and see her there, to know by whose death his own was sealed. I do not simply wish him to die, but to die knowing he pays a price.
In my mind, I am a blazing red fire, come to burn him on the pyre of vengeance, my flames proclaiming me to all who would dare to gaze upon me. I am filled with righteous purpose, and will not stop until the one who took so much from me loses all he has himself.
But our eyes meet, and I see that he does not know me. He does not remember her. To him, I am a man with a blade, nothing more, and her even less. We were but blinks in those eyes, eyes which now hold nothing to quench my thirst. They are as empty as my soul has been these long, lonely years. Neither can the blood staining the polished marble of his chamber floor wash away the arid ache in my heart. He slides off the blade with a bubbling breath, and crumples to the floor in a pile of robes and silks, amidst his own blood and waste, both spilled when my blade found his gut.
And still nothing has changed, save that another one who has defined my life is now gone. For what do I make myself keep drawing breath in a world where I see her smile no more, where the one who stole that smile buys me no peace with his death? No, my purpose lies buried beneath a cairn in the mountains, and my purpose oozes life at my feet.
In the distance I hear muffled shouts; they’ve found the guard, they know I’m here. I look to the window, knowing the wagon waits below. I do not deserve the blue sky I see. That is for men who hope.
I drop to my knees. It will end here. All of it. The one who was taken, the one who took her, and the one who is lost without either. I hear footsteps and voices growing closer.
As the door bursts open, I close my eyes. In my mind, the flames dim, and I am nothing but a burned man with a tarnished blade. Take it. Take this twice-emptied life. It will never be full again.