The random selections for this month’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge (as drawn by ‘Nathan Burgoine) were; a fantasy, involving hot chocolate, set in a junkyard or scrapyard. Here’s what I came up with:
Caliburnus and Chocolate
By Jeff Baker
“Okay, there it is!” I pointed at the rusted sign on the side of the muddy road, next to the gate.
“Watch where you’re aiming that thing!” Terry said, almost dropping his thermos.
“Sorry!” I said, pulling to one side of the fence. I didn’t want the old pickup to be mistaken for scrap which was a distinct possibility. I’d borrowed my Dad’s old pickup because I couldn’t use my car and Terry didn’t have one.
“Gate’s locked,” Terry said, pulling on it with one hand clutching the thermos with the other. I stared at the gate; wire mesh, with what looked like metal siding wired to the sides, surrounding the yard. I could see piles of scrap towering over the fence. There was a sign that said 7 to 5.
“No doorbell,” I said. “Guess we’ll have to knock.”
“Or yell,” Terry said banging on the front gate. I hadn’t seen a number anywhere or I would have used my phone.
“Who are you?” came a voice. I jumped. The siding had moved and an old man was peering out of the closed gate.
“Uh, hi,” I said. “I’m Geoff Monmouth…”
“They call him Mouthy,” Terry said with a grin. I glared.
“We’re looking for a couple of replacement parts for my, uh, for a 1974 Chevy Nova,” I said. “A rear bumper and a left rear taillight.”
The man stared at us another moment, then unlocked the gate.
“Enter, then,” he said. “I am Foremann Aurelian, keeper of this place.” The man was old, he was so weather beaten I couldn’t tell whether he was Native American, Latino or any ethnicity. His hair was scraggly and pure white with a fringe of beard around his chin. And he was big. At least six-foot-two. I was six feet even, but this guy looked like he might be solid muscle under his jacket. Of course, it could have been the layered flannel shirts.
I wished I’d worn my jacket. At least Terry had his damn thermos of hot chocolate.
“I will let you in, but first I must know of your lineage,” Aurelian said. He stared at us squinting with one eye. “Ah, you!” He pointed at Terry. “You did not know your father!”
Terry bristled. That was a sore spot with him.
“Yeah, so what? He ran off before I was born,” Terry said. “My stepdad’s the one who…”
“I know, I know,” Aurelian said. “You might be the Destined One, the Fulfiller of Prophecy. Enter and behold.” Aurelian stepped back and the gate swung open. We walked in and I checked behind the gate expecting to see a couple of goons. Nobody.
We stared. Junk. Cars. Old engines, torn up stoves, refrigerators (minus their doors) and a glittering, shining pile of what I thought were steel rods of some kind.
“Man, those are swords!” Terry breathed.
“Only one is important, mighty Caliburnus,” Aurelian said. “Destined to be wielded again in battle by the mightiest of warriors or his descendent. Caladbolg was found, but it is not part of the prophecy. You may select and if this is the Time of Need you may select Caliburnus.”
“Um, how about that bumper for my Nova?” I said.
Aurelian stared at us.
“Yes, yes, I have been blind! If it is his destiny, it is yours as well! For you are linked for life in love as well as honor.”
We stared at each other. We didn’t wear it on our t-shirts; we were careful.
“Gruffudd yn Aur was such as you,” Aurelian said. “A paladin of honor and duty, loyal to the crown and to the man he had chosen. Later generations had his name stricken from the Chronicles, but I recall him battling, and also raising high the tankard, and, wait, put that down.”
I had picked up an old bulb horn from a stack of hubcaps.
“That is a destiny for others,” Aurelian said, “Though it may not be the Horn of Bran Galed, The search for mighty Caliburnus is your destiny.”
I set the bulb horn down.
“Sounds like thirsty work,” Terry said, unscrewing the thermos and slurping his hot chocolate.
“That scent!” Aurelian said. “Where did you find it? The sacred draught of the Aztecs! its power rivaling Caladbolg!”
“This?” Terry said. “It’s hot chocolate. You can buy it all over the place.”
“I have truly been away,” Aurelian said. “Now, what destiny do you feel calls to you?”
I pulled the pickup back onto the highway, having a funny feeling that even if we went back down that old dirt road we wouldn’t find the junkyard again. The bumper and parts for the Nova clattered in the truck bed. The silvery sword lay wrapped in a cloth in the storage box.
“Crazy old man just gave us the bumper, and that old sword he said was, what did he call it?” Terry said.
“Caladbolg,” I said.
“Yeah, something-blog. I knew that was it,” Terry said. “What did he call hot chocolate? A holy grate?”
“Something like that,” I said. “When you’ve been living in a junkyard like that, you’re bound to go little nuts.”