Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday Flash - The Duel

A veil of fog hid Browning Hall from view. Disappointed tourists in brightly-coloured raincoats milled around on the lawn. They'd come early to avoid the crowds, but the English weather thwarted their plans to see the house in all its splendor with no people in the way.

Brenda Whitstaff weaved in and out of the throng, trying to usher her coach party into the house. They shooed her away, insisting that they wanted to see Browning's famous Palladian facade. The tourists looked this way and that, as if they expected the house to loom out of the fog.

It’ll be like something out of a Hammer flick if it does, thought Brenda.

"Excuse me? Excuse me? We want to see the house," said a rotund woman in green wellies. She pointed in the vague direction of the Hall.

"And indeed you can, Mrs Lazenby. But why not have a look inside the house while you wait for the fog to clear? They've got a fine collection of early Impressionist paintings, and they do lovely cake in the cafe," replied Brenda.

"We want to see the house," said the woman. Her mouth set in a firm line.

"Mummy! Look!" cried the little girl beside the woman. She tugged at her mother's sleeve.

All eyes followed the girl's finger. The swirling fog thinned over the lawn. Brenda made out a figure in the remaining mist. He was tall, wearing shiny knee high boots, and an enormous hat that was almost engulfed by the feather sweeping around its brim. A white collar spilled out of the fitted jacket that fell to mid-thigh. He leaned on a sword. Brenda could see the walled garden beyond the lawn if she looked through him.

"It's Charles I! It has to be!" exclaimed a woman to Brenda's right.

"No no no, Charles was a short man, very weak. This fellow is too tall," replied a red-haired man in plaid. He peered at the Cavalier over the top of his gold-rimmed glasses.

A second figure emerged from the mist, looming behind the Cavalier. Clad in full samurai armour, the newcomer raised a katana in a fighting stance that Brenda recognised from the movies. The samurai sprang forward. The Cavalier feigned surprise at the attack but swung his sword to meet the katana. The metal sang in the cool morning air. The samurai dipped and wove, his katana seemingly everywhere and nowhere at once. The Cavalier parried and thrust, the fresh sunlight glinting through his blade.

Silence fell among the tourists as they watched the battle. They stared with open mouths, unsure what to do. Some of them looked at Brenda, wondering if this was a new visitor experience put on by the owners of the Hall to boost numbers. She shook her head – this was new to her too.

The samurai lifted his arms to swing the katana in a killing stroke. The Cavalier darted forward, exploiting a tiny gap in the warrior’s armour. The Cavalier buried his sword up to the hilt. The samurai dropped his katana, wheeling around in a dizzy circle. Brenda saw the rest of the sword protruding from his back. The samurai dropped to his knees, and keeled over. The Cavalier looked down at his fallen opponent and bent to pull his sword free. The pair vanished from sight.

The tourists erupted in a clamour of questions and exclamations. Half of them crowded around Brenda for answers. The other half tottered around on the lawn, taking photographs and pointing at empty patches of grass.

* * *

"I say, old chap. Are you alright?" asked Fowlis Westerby. He stretched out a gloved hand to the samurai. The warrior accepted it, and clambered to his feet.

"Fine," replied the samurai.

"That was a most impressive show. Can't thank you enough."

"Is nothing. I won last time."

Fowlis chuckled, remembering their melodramatic duel in the ballroom at Chatsworth House. Then he remembered the sword through his gut and winced. The samurai might be the finest stunt actor in the afterlife, but he did get rather carried away.

"Until next time."

The samurai shook Fowlis' hand and winked out of sight, recalled to HQ for reassignment. Fowlis gazed across the lawn at the tourists, still gawping and snapping photos of thin air. He chuckled again. The story of a seventeenth century Cavalier and a seventh century Samurai having a fight to the death on the lawn of a nineteenth century manor would be all over the Internet by tea time.

That's sure to win me the title again, thought Fowlis.

He straightened his hat before he disappeared, bound for HQ.

* * *

This marks the third flash fiction outing of my Cavalier ghost, Fowlis Westerby. He's the star of his own supernatural YA novel, currently in the redraft stage. You can enjoy his other adventures here - First Impressions and The Priest Hole.

28 comments:

Sam said...

Oooh, I like this! Fowlis is a great character and I love your descriptions of the fight sequence. Looking forward to more of these stories, for one thing I want to know what this HQ is of which they speak.

afullnessinbrevity said...

Loving Fowlis. Such a gentleman and a whole lot of fun. Something tells me he fits in well in the 21st century. You nailed the attitude of the tourists so well in the opening paragraphs.
Adam B @revhappiness

Jason Coggins said...

See, we all read tons and tons of flash each year; but you know damn straight come 12 months time there will have been only one story about a sword fight between a spectral cavalier and samurai that passed our eyes. A testament to your relentless imagination, Icy.

isabeljoelyblack said...

Loving it - a really entertaining take on life in the... afterlife! Well done.

Laurita said...

Great character in Fowlis. I can imagine him finding all sorts of adventures.

M. Tate said...

That was really fun to read. I loved the way that focusing so stongly on the tourists in the beginning made the ghosts actually seem like ghosts.

Plus the fight scene was well done. Great imagery.

Steve Green said...

When the samurai appeared, I did wonder where you were going to take this to, nicely tied up Icy.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Sam - Oh, all will be revealed in the novel...

Adam - Fowlis has been bugging me since 2007. I suspect he shall bug me for a long time to come! And I've seen people like that on my various jaunts to stately homes. Sadly no ghost swordfights. Yet.

Jason - One aims to please!

Isabel - Thanks!

Laurita - Oh he does. If Fowlis can find some amusement, he will.

M - All that time watching movies really does help write action scenes!

Steve - Haha, I see what you mean!

John Wiswell said...

Fowlis deserves one kind of sword or another in one orifice or another. Meanwhile, Icy just gets applause.

David Barber said...

Icy, that was great. Some fantastic imagery in so few words. I'm off to read his first 2 outings.

BTW - I live in Crieff, Scotland and just outside the town is a amll village called Fowlis Wester. Here's a link to it.....http://www.scottish-towns.co.uk/perthshire/fowlis-wester/index.html

Have a great weekend!

Icy Sedgwick said...

John - You don't like Fowlis?

David - I know! I drove past it on the way to Glamis Castle. I saw the road sign and BAM! Fowlis walked into my head and started talking.

theothersideofdeanna said...

Super description of their fight Icy, as well as the setting, and the voices are great, well, it's all great!

Tim VanSant Writes said...

I've been to plenty of tourist destinations in poor weather, but I've never been treated to a spectral sword fight. Cool story.

Harry said...

You have a beautiful imagination and a deft pen. A combination mightier than the sword!

Rob said...

Very nice! I loved it. Looking forward to seeing more of Fowlis in the future, should he make any further appearances to you.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Deanna - Fight scenes are one of my favourite things to write.

Tim - I'll put in a word with Fowlis to see if he'll oblige. You won't be able to miss that hat.

Harry - Aw, shucks, dude! (Ironically, I did write that one by hand originally!)

Rob - Oh he will, he will. There's the redrafting of the first novel, then he wants a sequel...

FARfetched said...

Wow, why don't I ever get treated to two ghosts dueling at a tourist attraction? That was one cool story, Icy! And I loved how the duelists made their manners afterward.

laradunning said...

What a great piece. Fowlis is quite a character. I like knowing both sides of what is happening in this scene-makes it all the more humorous.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

DVery cool beans. Fowlis seems awesome.

G.P. Ching said...

You write a great action sequence. I love the gentlemanly and witty quality of your ghosts. And the change in POV worked well. Great story.

Chuck Allen said...

I love the story and the setting. I do believe that Fowlis Westerby is a character I'd like to meet.

Eric J. Krause said...

That was a lot of fun! Imagine the stories that would circulate all over the Internet after that showing. Wonder where they'll choose to have an afterlife duel next?

flyingscribbler said...

Nothing left to say Icy: Fowlis is fantastic and your story is simply a marvellous feat of your ridiculously vivid imagination. I predict great things....

Reginald Golding said...

I'm totally with Sam on this one; must know more about HQ and what it does, and especially how it remains secretive. A fun read! Thankyou!

Icy Sedgwick said...

FAR - Maybe you're just not at the right attractions? ;-)

Lara - I love Fowlis. I'm attached to all of my characters, but he's my favourite!

Raven - He's a lot of fun to write.

GP - I like doing action sequences better than anything else. Probably watched one too many John McTiernan movies as a youngster!

Chuck - Haha, he'd be very polite if you did!

Eric - It depends where they get assigned! Though I think the middle of Westminster Abbey could be interesting...

Justin - I hope so!! I've had this idea on the backburner for ages but Fowlis wouldn't leave me alone so I had to write it.

Reginald - You'll find out!

AidanF said...

I like the idea of ghosts staging fights and the supernatural angle. Nice hook with HQ at the end that pulls you into the deeper world.

Mari said...

I'll have to get this novel of yours. I want more!

daniellelapaglia said...

I love the whole idea of this story and the execution (of the story) was brilliant as ever. Your words draw me into your world immediatly. Great job, Icy.

Post a Comment