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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford

One Page Wonders VIII - Flirting In A Fate's Town

Flash fiction is a love of mine, and so are geeky tropes and pulp-style stories of every variety. Sometimes it's the characters that spur the writing. Other times it's atmosphere, concept, magic system, or a twist. One Page Wonders blogs started as a writing exercise. Now they're digestible, one-shot stories you can read on the bus or while sneaking 5 minutes at work!

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Deities are hubris incarnate, she says into my mind. Certain they can beat anyone at anything and always hungry to prove it.

I smile a rogue’s smile at the goddess waltzing into the tavern. She’s broad-shouldered, dark-haired, and packing zero visible weaponry on top of all that leather. No revolver, no knife, not even a gladius or a hand-and-a-half worn with the purpose of announcing godliness and invincibility.

I’d almost have preferred it that way. No need to hide that I’m a chemist on the sheriff’s books if a deity’s that brash. But she seemed unarmed, so the act goes on.

Squinting both eyes at her, I curl one lip up enough to say, ‘confident deputy’ without words. My clothes, the dust-covered jeans and gunbelt, and the small silver star on my collar sell the act even harder. I’m just some local muscle what took up deputy work for the food and flirtin’. I swivel around on the stool and down one of the three shot glasses on my spot at the bar. Rye burns down my throat with a hell of a stronger kick than usual as the goddess pushes through the crowd of miners, gold seekers, and cattle wranglers. She seats herself next to me.

Without a word, she raises one hand and snaps her fingers at the barkeep, Geane. The aproned man with slicked-back hair slings a rag over each shoulder and approaches. He wears his wedding ring, a worn gold band, on his left hand. His voice cuts through the ruckus of card players and drinkers like a scythe in a wheat field. “Thanks for gracin’ us with your presence tonight, miss. What’ll it be?”

Treat every guest like a god, Geane’s wife Alex says into my mind again. It’s so you look hospitable and they don’t have an excuse to light you up.

The goddess gestures to the two full shots of rye in front of me and the lone empty. “I bet you twenty dollars I know which shot glass contains the laced nectar.”

Her diction and body language say she expected that to shake me into getting out of dodge. Reveal she’s a Fate who knows I’m faking, knows I’m trying to trap her, and knows where I’ve placed the laced nectar. If she knows that, she’s got to know every way I could possibly attack or immobilize her. Instead, I push the shot glass I’d emptied a moment ago right back at Gaene. “Looks like the lady wants rye whiskey, barkeep.”

Never give them your names if you can help it. If I’d learned that sooner, this town would still have a woman named Alex instead of a spirit named Alex.

I lean closer to the Fate as Gaene pours from the same bottle what filled the other two shots. Now there are three shots. Classic shell game. I hitch up that smirk again and spin the glasses round and round, spilling some over the edges and onto my hands.

She watches both of my hands as much as the glasses, playing along, clearly confident and about to end me. She points to the shot I’d drank from the instant I stop.

Then her eyes meet mine. She’s going to take me here just to prove she can. Those green irises slide down to my lips and she steals the kiss I’d planted there the moment she’d entered.

That too-hot ‘liquor’ burn surges back out of my mouth and into hers. She writhes and freezes mid-gyration, mouth parted wide. A statue in a saloon.

I pull back from the goddess’s lips and say, “We mortals can drink the tainted nectar. It’s the real stuff that kills us and sustains you. Shame you were too cocky to remember that tidbit. However you planned to kill the rest of us, forget it.” Producing a vial from a small sack at my belt, I shake the chemical concoction and add, “You will forget Alex’s name. You will forget any of us are here, along with anything associated with us. You godly types don’t get to walk all over my best friends’ lives.”

With that, I pour the chemicals into the Fate’s still open mouth. Her eyes glaze.

“Forget your home,” I finish.

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