Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Flash Fiction 14: The Survivor

And so continues the month of one story... To any new to this, it really will make far more sense if you read the previous editions :)

For those new or interested the story begins here: Knowing
Part two is available here: The Next Step
and part three: The Watcher

Thanks for reading!

The Survivor

Jezina followed in silence throughout the morning. She was tempted to question Kale, but knew he'd never deign to answer. Jezi decided she'd go with him to the village and then venture out on her own; surely that was all he intended anyways. It was a four day hike to the village, and as much as Jezina had been apprehensive about traveling alone, she wasn't at all sure Kale's presence was an improvement.

She was glad when they finally stopped for the day. He'd set a pace she'd found exhausting, and since she didn't have to be anywhere for a specific time, she couldn't see any reason to push herself to keep up with him. Perhaps that was the easiest thing to do -- tomorrow she'd simply walk slower and enjoy her travels and Kale could go wherever he was going without her. Problem solved.

As disturbed as she was by him, Jezina was surprised to discover they worked reasonably well together. With no obvious communication it was decided that Jezi would set up camp while Kale scavenged for food. When he returned the fire was going and her bedroll unpacked -- she wasn't brave enough to touch his, even to help. They ate in silence. Jezina shivered, the warmth of the fire not nearly sufficient to overcome the chill of the watcher's gaze.

Several times she started to make conversation but his countenance was such that she froze before the first word was uttered. Defeated, she silently cleaned up the remains of their meal, rinsed briefly in the nearby stream, and curled into bed for her first night on the road.

Hearing Kale shifting restlessly in his sleeping roll, Jezina's less charitable side smiled a secret smile. Beds in the village where Jezi had grown up were nothing more than wood slabs raised off the ground -- often with hard knots in them. To her, the soft moss on which she now lay was luxurious. But to one accustomed to the feathers and foam Jezina had experienced over the last few months, the ground would be uncomfortable at best.

The next morning Jezina awoke in a great mood. Refusing to be cowed by the watcher's intimidating gaze, she took her time gathering berries for breakfast and leaves for tea. She could tell Kale was impatient to be off, and half of her hoped he'd be impatient enough to leave without her. She didn't want a fight, just an enjoyable journey, and that was unlikely to happen with him continually glaring at her. Her manners were ingrained enough that she made enough breakfast for two, and the devil on her shoulder was active enough that she asked "sleep well?" all too innocently as she handed it to him. The temperature only dropped a fraction of a degree at his silent reply and Jezina tried to convince herself that meant she was getting used to him.

Kale finished breakfast rapidly and was up, clearly ready to be off, while Jezina dithered about randomly taking her time, while trying to appear constructively busy. Finally Kale sat down with a sigh -- the first sound he'd purposefully made since they'd left. "I'm not leaving without you," he stated. For the first time since she'd met him, Kale addressed Jezina directly. She looked up at him, her initial surprise that he was speaking to her overwhelmed by his eyes. They were no longer the deadly cold gray she'd come to expect from him, but rather the palest of blues. Convincing herself it was merely a trick of the light, Jezina jumped on the opportunity to ask what she'd been trying to since they'd left.

"Why not?"

"I have no choice," he said bitterly. "You're the survivor," he all but spat the word out as his eyes chilled once more. A trick of the light.

Jezina looked at him uncomprehendingly, torn between telling him to just leave her alone and wanting to know what he was talking about. "I'm what?" she asked, thoroughly lost.

"From the woods, none shall return.
When the white-haired survivor approaches, the watcher must serve her.
She is the only hope."

Kale recited the memorized prophecy in a monotone while Jezina listened incredulously. A hand unconsciously drifted to her snow-white hair. She found it hard to believe that nobody outside her village had pure-white hair – it was the most prevalent colour in her village.

Her mind quickly flipped through the rest of the prophecy. The watcher. Ok so that was a little too eerie and she couldn’t argue with it since she'd been mentally calling Kale that since the day she'd first seen him; a name she'd never said aloud. She had a moment's fear that he could read her mind, but with a quick glance at him, shrugged that off as highly unlikely. But the survivor? She had survived the woods sure, but only because Elder Kesa had helped her. She shuddered at the memory of that horrific night. She hadn't done anything particularly brave or interesting, she'd just run away. Hardly something that would qualify her to be the only hope. And the only hope for what? She was having enough trouble getting herself to the village!

"You're insane." She stated emphatically, almost believing it. "Who are you to assume the prophecy refers to us? Rather full of yourself aren’t you?” she said with a nastiness born of fear. “And if you're really convinced you're this watcher, then perhaps you'd better get back home and watch for whomever else comes out of the woods! You could be missing her right now." Jezina rolled her eyes at him and stalked off in an attempt at a dramatic exit, determined to dismiss his tale. Yet deep inside, knowing what she knew of her village's history if nothing else, she feared there might be a ring of truth to the words. She could feel his icy eyes on her back as she marched away. If she hadn't been so aware of him she would've missed his barely whispered comment as he followed her:

"The prophecy is nearly five thousand years old, and all that time we have watched; over the years, it faded to the realm of family myth. But how do you dismiss a myth, when she walks up to your door?"


Pretty neat, Laur! I'd read more of this.

Two teeny criticisms:

1) w/ instead of with in a short story? I think you text too much :P

2) "monotonous tone" sounds a bit awkward. Monotone?


Argh - you're so right! hahaha that's the 2nd time I've been called out on using w/ instead of with. Sheesh :) All I can say is I type shorthand to get it all out first and evidently don't catch them all in the edit. Clearly time to start adding in the find-and-replace option. Don't know what I was thinking with monotonous tone -- that's gone now. Thanks!


Really am enjoying your story! Despite his demeanor, love the watcher.

May I be bold and point out two typos?

In penultimate paragraph, 7th line, I think it should be "whomever" comes out of the woods rather than "whoever."

Also, same paragraph, 10 line, you wrote dramatic "entrance" and I think you meant "exit."

Anyway it's a great story!


oh man I was really not with it editing today clearly! Thanks Marisa, I've made those changes. P 10 was actually originally an entrance -- then the whole scene got rewritten and apparently I neglected to change that rather key detail! hahaha as to the first - sheer sleep deprivation I'm afraid. Appreciate the help!


Fantastic web site, I hadn't come across before in my searches!
Keep up the fantastic work!


Hey - I am certainly glad to find this. great job!


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