The Devil’s in the Detail: ‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #17 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! #IARTG #ASMSG @pursoot #WritingCommunity
Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again … Friday fun flash fiction! This week’s picture had my muse doing its happy dance 🙂 Without further ado, here’s my take on this prompt …
The Devil’s in the Detail
His life oozed out of the bottle, along with the liquor.
He never should have read that message. …
  
As he did every year, John took a stroll along the beach in memory of his dear departed wife. The big C had taken her three years ago. John missed her every single day. They would come here as many weekends as they could manage to escape the noise and fug of the city. A stroll along the beach, hand in hand, always put their minds and hearts at ease.
On one of those special days, a message in a bottle had washed up at their feet. Ever curious, his wife had retrieved the bottle from the surf, wrestled out the cork, and held the note by the string, cautious lest she damage the parchment. With utmost care, Emily unwrapped the twine and unfurled the delicate paper.
Amazingly, it had come all the way from Australia—if the missive could be believed. A child had cast it into the ocean some three years ago, and now here it lay, all the way on the English east coast.
Shortly after that magical day, the diagnosis had come. And then the long, hard months of decline. At the funeral, John had gripped the bottle—with its bound note safe inside and corked once more—and contemplated burying the artefact with Emily. He’d gotten as far as drawing back his arm and then had second thoughts. A small voice urged him to keep hold of the memento.
For months, it had sat in pride of place on his mantle piece while John’s life unravelled around him. It had started with a fray here, a bit of thread there, and then he’d come apart at the seams.
The message in the bottle had given him the initial idea.
The doctors told John that the city’s pollution had caused the horrific and aggressive cancer.
His first victim had been the mayor. And then each official responsible for city planning and health. Repulsion and glee mingled and mixed within.
Glee won out. And soon, John gained a taste for it. He would watch each sensationalised news report avidly. And then he found his victims closer to home. Five years on and no one suspected the meek widower.
A gift of wine with a fake name on the card, all delivered by some anonymous and unremarkable courier on a bike. John took care to always wear a cap pulled low and keep his face angled away from cameras.
A neat trick: serial killer in a bottle.
  
The old message from Emily distracted John. As fate would have it, she’d also sent a bottle out to sea before she died … either that, or this was a message from the dead. And in a quirk of fate, the bottle had washed up at his feet during his annual pilgrimage along the shoreline.
Filled with grief and remorse, John didn’t read the label properly. One sip was all it took. His life oozed out of the bottle, along with the liquor. And while he might have sent his message of revenge in each and every bottle, the devil—he discovered to his detriment—is found in the detail.
© Harmony Kent 2020
I’d love to know what you think of this short story … so please don’t be shy and leave me a reply.
Have a great week, everyone!
Please put your entry (or a link to it) in a comment HERE or email it to Sooz at her email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, September 17th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to THIS page would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: The response to the prompts has been just wonderful. As a result, Soooz be sharing all entries received, and her own contribution on her blog AS SHE RECEIVES THEM. Rather than posting all of them only over a few days.
Again, you can find the prompt post HERE.
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