Chuck Wendig is hosting a flash fiction challenge over on his blog. Following on from a ‘write a kick-ass opening line’ challenge, this is to write a piece of flash fiction starting with one of the handful of opening lines Chuck picked out as ones he likes. I chose ‘Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself,‘ by Brad. Here’s my effort:
Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself. I’d never heard such a tune before, and I’ve certainly never heard the like since. I hope I never do. The melody was soft and gentle, but the chill that accompanied it was unnatural. The notes were fashioned from pure ice.
I stood for a moment, watching. Max must have sensed my presence. He looked up at me, into me, through me. And I thought then that maybe he hadn’t noticed me at all. I wasn’t sure he was even seeing me. I started to take a step towards him, and he stopped whistling. The silence that followed was more chilling than the hypnotic melody had been.
‘Are you okay?’
Max focused now. He stopped looking through me. His eyes found mine. I repeated the question. His eyes widened, but then he lowered his head, until his chin rested on his chest. I watched his hands snake out from his sides. They hesitated when they made contact with the bodies strewn around him. But only for a moment. They moved up and down the naked forms until they found what they were searching for. Hands seeking hands. And when they found them, they held them. I stared as Max sat there, head down, holding the hands of two people lying either side of him. A woman and a child. A girl, I think. Despite her nakedness, it was too difficult to tell. He held their hands in the same way as he might if they were a family out on a picnic together. And he wept.
‘Max…’ was all I could say, before I could feel myself choking on the words. I cleared my throat. ‘Max. Come on now. Get up. What if they see?’
Max looked up at me once again.
‘They won’t see. They can’t see. Not any more. How can they? We killed them.’
‘Not the Jews, Max. The other guards. Or even the Oberleutnant. What if he sees? You’ll be shot as a traitor to the Reich. C’mon Max, please. Before they see. Pick up your shovel.’