Flash fiction: The School Trip

Tombstone flash fiction Curtis Bausse blog

‘And here we have – Jonathan, are you listening? A row of ancient stones, behind which are… anyone?’

‘Tombs, Sir?’

‘Good, Georgina! Now, further up, you’ll – Jonathan! Any more trouble, it’s the next plane home.’ Mr. Higgins sighed. School trips… never again! He strode up the path.

Jonathan lingered, unsure what to do. Was it just his imagination? He crouched by the stone again – then leapt away, fell on his back, a shiver running through him. ‘Mr. Higg- ‘ But the group was already disappearing. He scrambled after them, the faraway moan still echoing in his ears. ‘Help! Is anyone there? Hello?’

In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where the prompt was Adele’s song Hello. When I follow Matt’s prompts, I generally use just the title and listen to the song afterwards, but we’ve already had the completely different song called Hello by Lionel Richie. Of course, I could have cheated and posted my answer to that one (you’ll find it here), but instead I listened to Adele and was struck by the line, Hello from the other side.


The Answer

The road across the moor was spectacular, but not one where you’d want to break down or have a puncture. Something about the wildness of it, the brackish water of the marsh on either side, and the trees shrouded in mist. Nice to admire from the warm interior of the car, and Colin was glad that his Volvo, though getting on, could be relied upon to see him safely across.

“Looking for an answer, they say.” The landlord’s words came back to him. The tale of the missing travellers – amusing enough in the bar of the Brigands Inn where he’d slept, not very well, the night before. Out here, the story felt different.

“Answer to what?” Colin asked.

The landlord scraped the froth from the top of his pint. “It was a long time ago. Seventeen something.” He raised his glass. “To your good health, Sir.”

Colin switched on the radio. Any Questions. “Does the panel think that it’s time for Queen Elizabeth to abdicate?” He smiled. Ah, the comforting questions of the present! And of course, everyone had an answer.

In the distance, by the side of the road, was a car. As he drew closer, he saw the bonnet was open. He slowed. A man stepped out onto the road, waving him down. Colin turned the radio down. “Having trouble?”

“Something electrical.” The man came closer. “Any chance of a lift to the nearest garage?”

“Haven’t you phoned?”

“Out of battery. Typical.” He was young, well dressed, with a northern accent, Lancashire perhaps, he’d learned to keep in check.

“Hop in.” Solidarity. Must be a salesman too. “Not the best of places to break down. Lucky I came along.”

“Very lucky.” The man turned slowly towards Colin. “I’m sure you can tell me the answer.”

A little story in response to Izzy’s May I: The Write post about open endings. Sometimes it really helps to know the answer.