Flash Fiction written by members and friends of the MuseItUp Club. Submissions are invited for this page.*
The winning entry in our 2009 Flash Fiction Contest:
Crypts and Pockets
by Dawn Boeder Johnson
“All that remained was dust.” Abe folded the newspaper and set it aside.
His grandson sat at his feet, face glowing in the firelight.
“Read another article, Grandpa,” Karl pleaded.
“No, it’s time for bed.”
Abe shooed the boy to the stairs and followed him up to the attic bedroom. As he tucked him in, he brushed a hand over
the boy’s troubled brow.
“What’s the matter, Karl?”
“You have to work tonight, don’t you? That’s why I’m going to bed so early.”
“What if something goes wrong and you don’t come back?”
“We’ve discussed this a hundred times. You must go to the priest.”
“I hate those old priests.” Karl’s lips pursed into a pout. “They’re so pious and meek.
I wish I could come with you and help. I—”
“Now, there’s no use getting worked up. In six years, when you’re fifteen and a young man, you may
become my assistant, just like your father. For now, stay here and the Lord will watch over you.” Abe adjusted the crucifix
hanging over the bed.
“Will you bring me a souvenir?”
“What a silly question. I don’t know why would you want such a thing.” He kissed Karl’s forehead.
“Rest, now. I’ll see you for breakfast.”
Abe blew out the lamp and descended the stairs. In the kitchen, he slipped a sandwich into his coat pocket and donned
his fedora. With his tool bag slung over his shoulder, he departed the cottage, tramping along the disused path to the old
church on the hill. He’d done this a thousand times in hundreds of villages, and each evening the same fear crept into
his heart. What if something went wrong? What if he didn’t return home? His adopted grandson would be truly alone then.
Abe still felt responsible for the death of Karl’s father and mother. If only he’d been just a little quicker—or
a little younger.
When Abe reached the chapel, he unpacked his tools on the stone bench at the entrance to the cemetery. Feeling grateful
for the northerly latitude’s late solstice sunset, he set to work methodically inspecting the mausoleums in the waning
daylight. Abe enjoyed his job, though it was often foul, and he hummed a valiant hymn as he dispatched the lecherous vermin
cowering in the depths of the crypts.
Sunset approached as he opened the most-recent burial. A low hiss caused him halt on the stair. Abe swallowed hard
and forced himself forward. The beast lunged out of the shadows, fangs bared. Abe reeled backward, tripping up the stairs.
His tools clattered to the floor as he pulled himself to safety. Abe scrambled from the crypt and retreated, skirting headstones
as he rushed toward the bench for more tools. Panic welled in him when he discovered it was empty. He had to think quickly
or Karl would eat a lonely breakfast. Eat! Yes, that was it! Abe dug in his pocket and produced the sandwich he’d packed
for his supper. The beast hissed and halted. It sniffed the offering and growled with rage. Abe advanced, forcing his assailant
backward into the tomb. He tossed the sandwich into the darkness, slammed the door, and slid the latch into place.
Abe spent the remainder of the night concealing the evidence of his activities. At sunrise, he trudged home.
Karl greeted him with hugs and clamored for stories of his grandfather’s adventures. The old man obliged him,
even describing his misfortune in the last crypt.
“How did you repel the beast, Grandpa?”
“My sandwich, of course. I’d used garlic sausage.”
“I’d have never thought of that!”
“That’s why, someday, I’ll teach you all I know.”
“Tell me again, when you were done, what was left?”
“Why, you know all that remained was dust.”
There was also a pocketful of fangs, but Abraham Van Helsing kept those mementos to himself.