Escape by Randal Houle

It floated downstream. I tracked it from inside a blackberry bush lining the shoreline. The lazy river carried the body like an Irish funeral, on shoulders of tears.

The body, he is after all a man, bumped into a collection of overhanging branches and held there for a moment. The tree had spent its decades-long life bending low to the river, as if to sip the cool water. Now it only held the strap of my dear friend’s suspenders. The man’s body, though my friend had left it, either said goodbye or “come along, it’s not far.” I shifted. Twigs cracked behind me, leaves rustled, and dogs growled. My grip tightened on a piece of bamboo, a hollow we were going to use in the river.

I could nearly feel the dog’s breath sniffing around the brush for me. There wasn’t much more to think about. I pushed through to the tree. The bush sided with the mob, held my every movement. Hatred and malice like thorns dug into my clothes. My friend’s eyes were wide open to the world and I bade his silent but urgent call. Leaving my shirt with the bush, I jumped. There was a splash, and the water was cold, but I moved under the corpse, for after all it is a corpse, and floated downstream.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Escape by Randal Houle

  1. Blackbirdsong

    Amazing flash story Randal. I love the circular aspect of this story. You begin and end with a corpse, but what happens in-between is riveting.

  2. Catherine Davis

    Dense, intense, vivid. A mystery, perhaps solved in itself, in its own reading and rereading. Strange to be at once Faulknerian and its opposite, in conciseness, brevity. Excellent work.

  3. Excellent piece here, Randal. I love the tension, the mystery that unfolds from one horror to another. Nice!

  4. Len

    great start and wonderful writing from beginning to end. “the lazy river carried the body like an Irish funeral.” terrific.

  5. Incredible. The way this unfolded, and in the end his friend helped him- even in death.

  6. Powerful tension and menace in the story…your narrative details, create an effective claustrophobia…the twigs cracking, thorns, the unbroken gaze of a dead man’s open eyes. Well written and full of dark edged energy.

  7. This story contains such tight prose, great evocative descriptive choices, pared down details. The power of how you left interpretation up to the reader is amazing also. I like the darkness, and the movement of water. Wow.

  8. Love the tension, echoed with the water. Your descriptions so powerful I felt I was there, heart hammering away. One of your best (though I love them all!).Peace…

  9. Pingback: Week #34 – Floating away | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  10. Kim Hutchinson

    Great tension! I’m so curious about the backstory…

  11. Pingback: Flash Favorites! | Wink/Nudge

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