Keep Away


The overripe fruit burst under her finger in a splatter of pulp. Ilva curled up like a bug at the sound, counting to 10 before she lifted her head.

The field was still the same—vines heavy with rotting fruit, their sticky smell, and the quiet undisturbed by even the sound of a fly. Ilva looked at the meager collection of fruit in her basket. It had to be enough.

The plop of a fat raindrop on her hand startled her again. But this time she smiled, looking up at the darkening clouds. Heavy rain would muffle the sound of conversation. Taking it as a good sign, she scurried back to the crumbling building that served as her latest home.

Ilva, along with several others, made it in before it really came down. The tense lines around everyone’s mouths eased the longer it went on. Except the Keeper’s. She had her usual sorrowful expression on her old-young face.

Ilva hated her eyes. They always looked seconds away from tears. But what she hated most was the Keeper’s cheeks, plump from eating the best of everyone’s harvest.  When she asked Pa about it, he shook her until Ma stepped in.

It was her turn to take the best from each basket and feed the Keeper. Ilva grabbed what she could and walked to where she sat. Her fingers brushed up against a fruit spotty with mold. Before she could think about it, Ilva popped the rotten fruit into the Keeper’s mouth.

Let her see what it’s like, she thought.

The Keeper began screaming when Ilva turned away. Someone ran to the Keeper and shook her hard enough to crack her head on the side of the wall. But it was too late. The luck keeping them safe fled along with her life. The Finders had certainly heard the noise. And they would be coming.


Photo by Del Barrett on Unsplash


Song Choice: In Hiding by Pearl Jam

This flash fiction was created for Poets United's Pantry of Prose. This month's theme is gothic stories.

32 comments:

  1. I didn't realized I was covering my mouth, until I needed my fingers to type this. You built the suspense so slowly, so deliciously slowly that I didn't see the ending coming. It hit me right in the senses, I tasted the fruit and heard a wet crack. I always felt like saying, "Come and take your medicine!" in a Stephen King(ny) voice.

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    1. Squee! If there was anything in there that inspired thoughts of the King, I am more than delighted.

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  2. Yes, you built this masterfully, with an ominous ending. So well crafted!

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  3. That’s a brilliant opening, Rommy, the burst of the overripe fruit and the splatter of pulp! I love the way you set the scene in the field, the smell and the sound are so evocative. You’ve painted a scantily detailed portrait of the Keeper that is chilling and makes me wonder how terrifying the Finders might be.

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    1. Thanks Kim. I played around with various iterations before I stumbled on the opening. I am so happy with how it turned out.

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  4. What a wonderful and haunting story you have beautifully crafted Rommmy! It kept me on edge until the ending. You have a cool and amazing imagination for story telling!

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    1. Woot! What a sweet compliment. Thanks so much. :)

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  5. What a wonderfully immersive story

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  6. Oh my! You created a great scene their. I wish I know what happened next!

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  7. I love how you created the whole world here with those keepers and finders, and how even the good guys can suck up the life of those who have to server them... suspense was brilliant, and I love that you leave the end to us, maybe in the end, the finders are just a lie fed to the people by the keeper.

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    1. Hee, hee... oh yes, I absolutely wanted the idea of lies and secrets in here. And who do the lies serve in the end?

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  8. Finders! Keepers! An ominous, doom-laden ending! Love it!

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    1. *Giggles* Yeah, I could have gotten a bit more creative with the names, but I kind of digged how they sounded in the end.

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  9. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers. But the keepers were not the finders, and in the end they might all be losers under a weeping sky. I really liked the book-ending of this piece with the splitting open of fruit becoming the splitting open of heads. This has a very dystopic feel that makes me wonder what happened that led up to this and what will happen next.

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    1. Yes, the image in my mind was that this was a dystopic setting. I am so stoked that came through in the brief space I had to work with.

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  10. And I'm just going to run screaming from the room. :) Great story, unexpected and very vivid ending.

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    1. Yaaaaaaaaaasssssss. That a wonderful response to get!

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  11. Beautifully written with such great imagery. Now I want to see the TV series!

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    1. LOL, I think I do need to revisit this as a larger story.

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  12. Oh gosh, now I'm left in terrible suspense!

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  13. A wonderful suspense story. Very quickly even before the Finder comes a new Keeper must be selected. I nominate Ilva, she seems to be a stir-the-pot person.
    I am ready to see what will happen next.
    ..

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    1. Aw! Thank you. I think I just may have to. :)

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  15. I agree, your story is suspenseful. The enticing overripe fruit makes a wonderful opening, and contrast well with the title. An interesting world of finders and keepers.

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    1. Thanks Khaya. I was happy I was able to set the mood early on and keep that suspense going.

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  16. Love the imagery. A really great work.

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    1. Thank you, Anonymous. I don't know who you are, but I appreciate you stopping to read my blog AND your kind words.

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