Flash Fiction Challenge | Exile

Hey, it’s a writing challenge piece! This one is for Chuck Wendig’s current writing challenge, which is the second in a five-part challenge. Participants write 200 words as the start of the story. The next part sounds pretty fun (and challenging):

you’ll take someone else’s 200 words and continue that story for 200 more (for a total of 400 words). The goal being to end up with a 1000-word story after five total challenges. Each time around you’ll grab someone else’s story and add 200 words to it. We’ll play this weird narrative whisper-down-the-lane variant until roughly the end of the year.

As this is the second of five parts, I’ll be continuing this story, adding 200 words of my own. The original was a little long (225), so my addition is just under 200 words.

Feedback always appreciated.

The accursed shoreline sat in the hazy distance, the beach from this distance a delicate piece of golden thread. Beyond, a few rolling hills of verdant forest were visible before the land was lost in a low, thick fog that sat like a cushion over the land.

Jorick couldn’t see them, but he knew the mountains were there. The mountains, the source of his suffering, the reason he was here, trapped on this fat tub of a ship, exiled from the land.

Both hands gripped the rough, sun-scarred wood of the ship’s taffrail as he looked at the land.

He thought of his mother and father, both lying dead on the floor of their home. He had found them there. There was nothing he could have done. It had all happened so fast. The image had flashed through his mind countless, painful times over the past two months.

He dropped his head between his shoulders and listened to waves slap the ship’s hull and the creak of its bones. A breeze tussled his chestnut hair and it was fresh, salty sea air.

“Jorick,” a man’s voice said from behind him. “The doctor needs you. It’s happened again.”

Jorick took a lungful of fresh air and turned to descend into the stinking belly of the ship to rejoin the hundreds of people exiled along with him.

“I don’t know what help I can be,” Jorick said to Captain Wray. His regalia was old and tattered, but it still carried its meaning. When he summoned, a man should follow.

Captain Wray and Jorick cut through the crowd until they had almost crossed the length of the ship. Jorick saw a tiny girl had curled up behind a barrel. The doctor’s face showed restrained concern.

“What is it?” Jorick asked. The doctor’s eyes were the white-gray of ash, light and haunting. She motioned to the girl. Jorick sighed and dropped into a familiar squat, careful not to topple over. He placed a calloused hand on the girl’s forehead. It was damp, and just a touch colder than it should be. Jorick tried to temper his reaction. He did not look back, but spoke low enough for the doctor to hear.

“Neither you nor Captain Wray said she was in a trance.”

“Does it matter?” The doctor let out a deep sigh. Jorick heard her patience float away with her breath. “I cannot gain answers from her now. You can.”

Jorick closed his eyes and searched for the girl in the shadow.

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