Flash Fiction Friday Four

As I mentioned last week, my new plan is to do my writing prompts here on Fridays, as part of rolling out Flash Fiction Friday. This is similar to what I was doing in my Muse Monday Feature. Today’s prompt is from the 3 A.M. Epiphany, and it is called War.

The four phases of war, according to James Fallows in the January/February issue of The Atlantic, are “deterrence and engagement,” “seize the initiative,” “decisive operations,” and “post-conflict”… In this exercise create an outline rather than a filled-out piece of narrative, a set of quick and dirty instructions for a scene that only occasionally bursts into full-throated song. You should also be funny. War is hell, but it can also be grimly funny, or at least it can be ridiculous and absurd. Make us laugh at this little war. 500 words.

Their mom called them little angels. But war is hell. And I guess that means even angels fight.

It wasn’t a good time or place to be anyone around here. The water, sloshing, moving, the spray, the waves. The pool isn’t supposed to be like that. It’s supposed to be calm, relaxing. It’s supposed to fill a parent with confidence, so they can ditch their kid there and go pursue more adult endeavors.

Another wave, and there they are: the enemy. About as mean and rough looking as they get. You can tell they didn’t volunteer for this. Three of them, maybe a bit bigger, definitely a bit meaner. There’s two what already have the pool, and were treating it as their own. The move of the ship, the sea, the storms, moving the water back and forth at an alarming rate. No one else seemed to want it.

But now these three are here to take it by force. They clearly think their time has come. That it can’t be shared.

The two groups share a look. Long. Slow. The three split up. One just starts to ease right in to the water. Shallow end. He’s the bait – leave him, kids. The waves move. He gets a spray in the face. Comes up sputtering. Should’ve seen it coming.

The other two are working their way around to the handrails. The floor is slick, a half-inch of water standing everywhere. And it’s moving, half alive, half dead in battle. The salt smell of it, preserving what came before.

The two in the water move to block the space they hold. The water fighting them every step, every stroke. They lumber forward like slow behemoths, every movement exaggerated.

They make it to one of the handrails, and hang on for dear life. Another wave. Someone slips – into the drink. Sputtering, and coming up saltier than a pirate. No scurvy, though – you can see the orange smoothies from here.

From the side, the last one has produced, as though from nowhere – though surely he came armed with it – a pool noodle. The movement and waves gives him no control of it, and he knows it. So he flings it into the water, hoping that someone else can get it.

The first one in the water, there! He’s finally made the slow way, the waves fighting the whole time, to the noodle. He grabs it, flinging its length – as long as he is tall – towards the others. They duck, they drink. They swim – retreat. They try to pull themselves out, but it’s too wet. A splash. A wave. They make it to a handrail, and out they go.

Timing is on their side, though. There’s a parent, and more importantly, a Cruise Card. They go off for hot cocoa, retiring the field. Leaving the other side wondering why they bothered fighting for this pool, that is trying so hard to fight back against them. The wind blows coldly.

They’ve got it all wrong. The hot tub is the place to be in a storm. I turn back to my book. Is this the trash they’re passing off as military history these days?

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About CompGeekDavid
Co-founder, editor, podcaster, web comicer, forum moderator, and writer for Comparative Geeks. Father, husband, geek, nerd, gamer, librarian, Christian, Libertarian, Science Fiction philosopher, and probably a number of other descriptors.

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