Friday’s Flash—From the War Zone to…

Last week we had a science-fiction piece set in the near future. Today’s piece is a short joined-worlds fantasy that forms the February 1st entry in Another 365 Days of Flash Fiction.

From the War Zone to…

Karaval thought the sky was about to fall, or, perhaps, just the ceiling. The whole building shook as the bombardment continued around him. Dust and small pieces of ceiling fell around him, as he curled under the desk. He had been meaning to go straight through it to the alley beyond, but now…
He listened as something whistled and roared overhead, and wished there was a hole he could crawl into. Maybe coming into the warehouse office had been a mistake. He was sure of it when, moments later, two arms reached out of the solid, concrete floor and pulled him through it, and into the tunnel below.
He was even more sure, when the monster that held him, tucked him under its arm, and loped down s concrete-lined corridor. Kicking didn’t help, and wriggling only made the arm draw more tightly around him. Karaval tried pushing, but found his arms hopelessly trapped. He was still struggling when the monster came to a halt in front of a large iron-bound door.
It set the boy on his feet, and looked into his eyes.
“I take you here, and you maybe not return.”
Karaval spun on his heels and bolted, coming to a shuddering stop a short time later, to the sound of howling—and suddenly the monster was not interested in permission. It bounded over, grabbed him, bounded back, and wrenched the door open, taking him through.
“Sorry,” it said, when they reached the other side. “Did not save you for the wolves to eat.”
The wolves? From what he could see they were now the least of his problems.
The clatter of hooves drew his attention, and he lifted his head. The monster muttered something that mixed Arabic with something else and was far from polite. It made the beautiful man on the leading horse raise an eyebrow and smile.
“Really? Come now, Shavich, you are late with your tribute.”
He prodded Karaval with the butt of his spear.
“This will go a long way to make up for it.”
The monster sighed, and shifted its grip on the boy.
“Be good,” it said, then added, “Be careful, too.”
For a moment, Karaval thought it might apologise, again, but it didn’t. Instead, it looked at the incredible human looking down at it.
“I go, now?”
The man nodded, his eyes moving to the boy.
“You go. Boy, you will ride with me.”
He’d what? Oh no he wouldn’t.
Karaval turned, intending to wrench open the door and run back through. Surely the wolves would be gone, by now. It was an idiotic hope, but he didn’t get to find out, because the door wasn’t there. Nothing but a winding stretch of road lay behind him.
And that made it easy. Karaval took a step… and stopped as the sharp point of the spear touched down between his shoulder blades.
The man’s voice was cold.
“Your choice, boy.”
Karaval froze.
“I’ll ride with you,” he said, and breathed a sigh of relief when the spear tip went away.
It was followed by the sound of hooves and then the man’s horse was beside him, a hand reaching down to assist him into the saddle in front of the rider.
“There is a lot you need to learn,” he said, and Karaval looked out over the land, saw the creatures and near-human folk moving through it, and had to agree.
You can find the first two flash fiction collections at the links below, until the covers are updated. The third collection will be released later this year.