In which I post the first flash fiction since…oh, last month. Anyway…this is another Zero & Five fic, and to bring you all up to speed, it’s a modern/thriller retelling of the fairytale Jorinde & Joringel. I also have a Victorian Steampunk-ish retelling in mind too.
“A cemetery? We’re meeting our contact in a cemetery?” Ten asked as he looked around. Scores of tiny American flags dotted the graves of those who had borne the title of soldier.
“Don’t ask,” Zero replied. “I honestly have no idea why he wanted to meet us here. I wanted to meet in an alley.”
Ten rolled his eyes. “That’s such a movie move.”
“Yeah, let’s not turn this situation into a movie,” Five said. She stuck her hands in her pockets and began reading names, silently.
Zero stopped in front of a grave with a flag and a bouquet of flowers in front of it. “Sergeant Dean Carter,” he mumbled. “Beloved son, husband, and father.”
For a split second, he thought he saw the ground in front of him turn to a freshly dug mound of dirt.
He shook his head and everything was as it was again.
“Zero? Are you okay?” Five asked.
“Yeah. Fine. You see our contact yet?”
They went on with their business, but Zero couldn’t brush off the nagging feeling of déjà vu. It persisted into the night. He tossed and turned in his struggle to sleep. The gravestone wouldn’t leave his mind. Each time he closed his eyes, he saw the fresh mound of dirt again.
Finally, after two and a half hours, he resolved to keep his eyes shut.
Rain mixed into dirt. Men and women dressed in black towered about him, and there was a sensation of weight on his shoulders. Somewhere, a woman wept.
A folded flag appeared in front of him and everything else melted away. The flag repeatedly unfolded and folded in midair, and behind him, a man was saying something…a grateful nation?
“I’m sorry, Ruth.”
Ruth? Who was Ruth?
“Come here, sweetie.”
“Zero?” Five’s voice came from the other side of the door. “Are you awake yet?”
He raised his head, rubbed his eyes, and glanced at the alarm clock on the bedside table. 8:56 AM.
“Yeah…now I am.” He sat up, blinking away the last bits of sleep. Fragments of his dream came back, and he frowned. What was that even about? Who’s Ruth?
As he finished preparing for the day, his mind came to the only logical conclusion: Another visit to the cemetery was in order.
©H.S. Kylian 2020. Edited 2021.