01 April 2020

“He looked into the eyes. They looked alive” — Flash Fiction 2020

The winners of the 2020 John Lyon Flash Fiction competition, Joshan Minhas and Husain Abedi, with stories of war and politics.

Flash Fiction — maximum 200 word stories on any topic

Flash Fiction

He looked into the eyes. They looked alive. They were staring back at him, but there was no life left in them.

The body was a mangled mess, the insides falling out, and the rough green army clothes soaked with blood.

But it was those piercing eyes that haunted him. Once full of life and excitement. They belonged to a young soldier who was keen to help out his country, to make his parents proud. But now this body is just one of many.

The ground was littered with them, and they were all piled up against the churned-up mud that had become their graves. Looking up, Jo could see the sun shining down on a red and green sea of bodies snaking up the hillside, who all had one goal – to reach the opposition stronghold at the peak.

But this operation had failed, and the once cheerful soldiers who had set out in hope of a famous victory, all lay there, defeated. The dawn rays shining down, reflecting on the jewellery and lucky charms that were glistening in the sunlight.

The medic took a sigh and began to sift through the masses.

Teacher of English, Mrs Maria Trafford: “A very powerful snapshot of a devastating battle scene. Joshan’s flash fiction creates a lot of interest at the start by focusing on the soldier’s eyes, ‘staring’ but lifeless. The piece is cleverly structured with the colours of green and red on the hillside leading to the climactic image of a sea of bodies highlighted in a dawn light. The medic, who narrates, has a job to do and the reader’s final focus is on his own grim journey up the hill presumably in a futile search for some life.”

Flash Fiction

0600. Croissant. A French delicacy. Coffee. Originally a closely guarded secret of Arab merchants. Pennsylvania Avenue. One of many such streets in the Nation’s capital named after one of the Nation’s many states.

Andrew Simcoe’s legs lagged behind his mind – a crucial flaw for a State Department official. Crises could be created by careless, cantankerous characters cajoled by cruel dictators. He used to call his job “whack-a-mole”, but a Senator from Vermont overheard and had taken great offence as he saw it as an affront to the proud tradition of Groundhog Day. Strange. An old man on the verge of death could fire him. His livelihood little more than crumpled paper, worn and creased. Ink splattered in a pollockesque cacophony of reports and dossiers that no one, no one, would read.

Simcoe’s wife had warned him against taking the job. Was that the problem? His life hijacked by the hijinks of others not concerned with a hardly sentient staffer as him, Simcoe – Junior Liaison to POTUS. President Drumpf had shaken his hand once, though he knew not if he felt honoured. For that very hand could undo in seconds what he had taken painstaking hours to plan, write and submit.

Mrs Maria Trafford: “I like the snappy start and strong sense of setting in the opening paragraph. It’s clear our protagonist is plagued with a sense of his own failure before he’s even finished his morning coffee. Husain has done a good job of injecting this short with wry humour – he plays with words and even gives a satirical nod to the process of entering a writing competition in his final sentence. We’re left with no answer as to whether Simcoe will lose his job today or not, but it’s certainly hanging in the balance, which is a clear reference to the fickle state of the world of politics that Husain imagines here in his flash fiction.”