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Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words)

The steps seemed to go on forever. I paused to catch my breath and looked back to see the distance I had covered. Only half way up. There was nothing for it, but continue and complete my mission. Turning back was not an option. I had to reach the top where stood the ruins of an ancient monastery. That had been the instruction. Wearily I put one leg before the other and climbed.

All around me the countryside was quiet. Not even a leaf stirred. The sky was overcast. Later today, there would be rain. Was that a bird? It sounded like a shriek from high above in the trees. There was something moving in the undergrowth to my right. It jumped out, startling me. A dog. A straggly stray who looked at me with sad eyes and disappeared into the undergrowth on the opposite side.

At last I was at the top. With a sigh, I stepped on to the cobbled courtyard. To the left there stood an old stone building, the bare structure still in place. The roof was long gone. The main doorway looked like a wide open mouth without a roof. On the steps leading to the doorway, silhouetted against the sky she stood, waiting. In her hand was a gun and it was pointing straight at me.

Even in my agitated state I noticed how beautiful she looked, and determined. Just like her mother. She stretched the hand with the gun and I heard a soft click. I raised my hands slowly in surrender. What choice did I have? None. I was merely a player in a game scripted by her. Please don’t kill me, I said, my voice feeble. The climb was having its effect on me. I felt faint. I just wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. She smiled at me in triumph, and pulled the trigger.

I held my chest and in slow motion, fell to the ground. Lying there, I heard footsteps coming towards me. She probably wanted to check if I was dead. I slowed by breath to the barest minimum. Somehow I had to convince her I was indeed dead. Her face was right above mine now. I could feel her breath as her eyes peered into my face intently.

“Are you truly dead, Grandma?” she asked.

“I am not talking to you.” I replied in mock anger, opening my eyes. “Why did you leave me behind and run away? Besides, I am dead. Dead people don’t talk, you know!”

“You are so slow Grandma! Like a tortoise. But by the time you reached I killed all the bad people hiding in the old building.”

“And then you decided to shoot your poor old Grandma?”

“I was only pretending to! This is a toy gun.” She scoffed.

I stretched my hand and pulled her down on top of me. She smelled of sunshine and the ripe mangoes she had relished at lunch time. I kissed the top of her head. She hugged me hard and kissed me on both cheeks before rolling over to lay down next to me. We lay there on the sun-warmed stones of the courtyard, hands intertwined, looking at the sky and the clouds.

© Shail Mohan 2020