Issue 127 of Fiction brings you great beginnings. Our fellow soldier in ink, King Wenclas, hosted a contest for the best beginning to a story. The top picks are here for your journey, each under 200 words.
It was just like every other day in the land, full of darkness and evil. The evil king sat at his throne, thinking of what to do to the citizens next that would give him pleasure. At that time, a man dressed in black garments ran into the great hall. He didn’t waste any time.
“It’s been found!” he yelled. The king’s eyes grew wide. It was the very thing he had hoped to never hear. He stood up quickly and looked all around. He shook his head in fear. He thought he had hidden the diadem well. Such a good hiding spot, that even he had a hard time remembering where it was.
“Who has found it?” the king asked. “How much time do we have?” It had been long told that he who found the lost diadem would have the power to overtake the king. He would have the power to rid the land of evil and become the most powerful man ever lived. He knew it was only a matter of time.
“A boy?” the king asked. Laughter filled the great hall. He sat back down and seemed to relax. There, he continued to laugh.
I’d almost forgotten I wanted to keep an eye out for this certain customer after having seen him at a restaurant with his wife and kids two weeks prior—he walked into the store and I nodded hello before I’d even looked up. It was him, certainly the man from the restaurant. He lingered around the new release wall, then slyly ducked through the curtained partition into the adult section.
I let Teresa take her break before me, waited almost half hour for the guy to come out with the usual stack of six pornos—three newish ones, three random older ones. Norman Wynol—he looked just like his name, smelled like his deodorant and the fabric of his suit. Wedding ring still on the hand, which I’d wanted to confirm, then I got a glimpse in his wallet that there were photos of his kids, younger than they’d been at the restaurant, two boys and a girl in department store portrait.
As soon as he was gone I pulled his account back up, scribbling down his telephone number, address. I pulled up his history, hit print, nervous that Teresa might ask me “What’s going on?” if she noticed the machine spitting out papers before it got through.
The stars that were shining at the beginning were the same stars that were shining at the end; and though to the casual observer they looked unmoved, they had in truth been traveling at incredible speeds: some caught in the orbits of others, some colliding in gargantuan explosions, and some crossing the paths of others , separating, and moving on.
Three people were gazing at those stars.
The first was….
The month my brother returned from prison, girls went missing again.
We were new in town and kept to ourselves on purpose. Our house sat up a hill with a long sloping lawn. Everything was arranged so we’d be hid.
In the place we lived before, three teens disappeared in the same month. They were all similar in build, blonde, closer to the pretty than plain. They all resembled me.
There was no concrete evidence linking Daryl. His crime had been a drunk driving murder charge. But the day he was jailed, the abductions ended.
Worrisome for me was his bedroom wall of posters: blonde cheerleaders and blondes wearing school girl tartan, hundreds, all identical to the missing girls and then, down on the bottom, pinned at an angle was a picture of me the summer Daryl and I went canoeing on Storm Lake.
Daryl had wanted to go skinny dipping, and so I agreed reluctantly. In the water, he came upon me fast, much like a shark might. He said he was only kidding, just tickling me, but I know a tender touch when I feel it.
Now Daryl’s home and it feels like Storm Lake all over again.
King Wenclaus presents new and exciting short fiction on his site, American Pop Lit.