This week on Flash Fiction Fridays, the flash fiction shows what it was like for Leo to receive his power for the first time.
He sat on the doorstep of their cottage, shivering, for a few minutes. He’d given up on crying and pounding on the door after there was no answer. Father wouldn’t let him in no matter how he begged, and he had some pride even if he was six. Not that it meant much. Everyone still picked on him even when he did his best to be seen as one of the strongest kids in camp. All because he didn’t have any power. All because he was UnInherent.
And once again, he hadn’t lived up to their expectations. The adults and the kids mocked him for his sensitivity and his hatred for their disgusting practices. He stood up and started walking through the dark woods under the thin light of the moon. He glanced up at it with a sneer. That moon that everyone here worshipped. How he hated it. It was the reason why his father hurt his mother. It was why his father expected him to grow up to treat his woman that way too.
Being six didn’t mean he was stupid. He could look around and figure out that, when they visited town for supplies, the women and children there didn’t cower away from the men in fear. This wasn’t right. He clenched his fists and picked up his pace, a pressure building in his chest.
He could leave now.
His father had thrown him out and told him to come back when he was ready to act like a man instead of a blubbering little girl. He had no intention of ever being the man his father wanted him to be. His mother was right. His father’s idea of manhood was warped. His father was no man. He was a monster.
Leo paused on the path leading to the lake where he and his mother often spent their summer days. If he left, he would be deserting her. His mother had been everything good and right in his world since the day he was born. No way could he leave her with his father after what he’d just seen. But staying meant he’d have to endure his father’s abuse himself.
He raised a hand to his stinging cheek with a snarl. This night was proof of that. After slapping him, his father had turned him out. It wouldn’t get better. Violence ran like blood through his father’s veins. And he couldn’t stop him yet. He was too small, too weak.
The ache and pulsing, stabbing pain in his chest grew. He pressed his palm to the spot over his heart with a hiss and rubbed it. Why did it hurt so badly? In his soul, the pain and horror he’d felt at seeing his father’s behavior tonight welled to the surface and blended with white-hot anger. His fingers dug into his skin through the thin cloth of his tunic. His father should pay. He should die for what he’d done.
He took another step on that road, deeper into the shadows beyond their house. The pain in his chest faltered then flared higher, accompanied by a searing under his skin. He staggered and stumbled into a tree on the side of the path. What was happening to him?
The shadows around him swam, and he shook his head. Surely he hadn’t been hit that hard? His father had made certain he learned just how to throw a punch so it would bruise, maybe even break bones, but not kill. Not the kind of thing he’d wanted to learn, but it was handy now. He rubbed at the spot where the pain centered just under his sternum and groaned. A hit to the head wouldn’t cause this.
He lurched forward one more step into the swaying, rippling shadows and collapsed. Fire licked through every nerve, and he curled into a ball with a scream. A ringing filled his ears, and he sucked in a breath. As he did, the darkness around him swirled and poured into him on every side. White heat pressed behind his eyes, and he released another scream before rolling onto his back. His chest heaved, and he coughed. The darkness pressing in around him came from within now, drowning him and choking him.
But still he drew it in, unable to stop. He sensed something else now too. Beneath his fingers, the grass wilted then withered. Cold slipped into him to ease the raging inferno, and he exhaled, his muscles relaxing. The darkness sighed out of him with his release of breath, and the heat receded, leaving behind only a tingle of warmth. He closed his eyes with a sob. What had that been? What kind of freak was he?
He dug his fingers into the withered grass, opened his eyes, and sat up. On every side of the path, tiny winged forms lay still. The moon shimmered off iridescent wings of loraidhs and glowed in the blue plumage of the tails of kytlets. Cold fingers crept down his spine, and he stiffened. That glow inside him came from those birds. He bit the inside of his cheek until he tasted blood. He had stolen their very life force without even a touch. What was he? He stared down at his hands. Hands that should be bloody with all the death he’d caused tonight.
He stood on shaky legs. If he’d killed these birds, had he killed anything else? How far had this explosion of arcane darkness spread? His feet stumbled into motion, carrying him forward back toward the cabin before his mind had registered what he was doing. The lights still glowed, and he could see two shapes moving behind the curtains of the living room.
Leo collapsed on his knees with a tremulous sob. She was alive. He hadn’t killed her. His hands shook, and he glanced back at the forest. He might not have killed her tonight, but if he wasn’t careful, if he didn’t find a way to control whatever this was, he might in the future. His fingers dug into the damp earth of the path. His father might be a monster, but after tonight, he wasn’t so certain he’d fallen far from the tree.
That’s it for this week! If you guys have something specific you’d like to see on here, let me know! I’m always up for suggestions, so feel free to leave a comment for me.