Weltchys Notebook

Part Time Writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Hopefully a blog for Stories, both Long and Short

Duty Calls

46 Comments

Below is my 100 word (ish) submission to the Friday Fictioneers. Photo prompt this week is courtesy of Jan Wayne Fields.

As always, comments are appreciated. I will try to read everyone’s submission, but with submissions reaching triple digits each week, it’s sometimes difficult to get round to each one. Therefore, I will tend to read those who I follow, or who like / comment my story. And finally, I also try for a random selection from the list.

Finally, a quick word on the weekly challenge. The Friday Fictioneers are a friendly group of online writers from all over the globe who endeavour to create short but fantastical tales with which to enthral and inspire both reader and writer alike. The genres and styles of writing are varied, so there’s something for everyone to be found within its midst.

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright - Jan Wayne Fields

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

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Duty Calls

Wolves gather at the door, my friend, but with them comes circumstance.

I pause, quill dripping ink to splash unnoticed onto yellowing parchment. The letter needs rewriting, but I am too distracted.

Outside, a squad forms, pathfinders to blaze a trail through the mountain. Their sojourn, I hope, will offer escape from this outpost, besieged as we are by an army that offers no mercy.

With sunset approaching, I nod to my squire. A boy of fifteen winters, he struggles silently with his armour, ready to serve no matter the cost.

I allow him his stoicism, if only to spare him the coming horror. Freed from my writing, I stand; war beckons, and with it, a duty to survive.

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Author: Weltchysnotebook

Part Time writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy, both long and short!

46 thoughts on “Duty Calls

  1. A real sense of time and history in this short piece; nice. The only bit which puzzled me was ‘the wall beckoned’ – obviously you don’t mean this literally, but I’m not sure what wall you mean.
    Claire

    • Thanks for reading. The original draft was 170 words and probably made more sense, but after cutting out some content further up, I probably lost the context of the wall. Anyway, after Rochelle’s comment, I’ve Just made a quick adjustment, and switched out ‘For the wall beckons’, with ‘War beckons’. Hopefully fixes the confusion

  2. Dear Welchy,

    This reminds me of the lieutenant’s log in Dances With Wolves. Nicely done. Could you mean “war beckons?”

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • Thanks for reading Rochelle, as well as the suggestion. ‘The Wall beckons’ fitted in with the original draft of 170 words, but after a few cuts to reduce word count, I think it lost context. Have gone with your suggestion, as it works equally as well and also dropped word count a bit more, without losing feel, which is always a good thing.

  3. There was a clear sense of impending conflict and danger in this piece, short though it was. The voice of the narrator is very convincing in its delivery. Well done.

    • Thanks Sandra. Can’t make up my mind whether I prefer 1st or 3rd person when writing, but when 1st person works, it works really well

      • I prefer to use first person, particularly in flash fiction, so I can then use ‘he’ and ‘she’ without having to waste words clarifying who is who, where there are more than 2 characters. The over-use of names to resolve any ambiguity always seems to stand out like a sore thumb in a short piece. Just what you feel comfortable with I suppose. I think this worked well.

      • Was just thinking that 1st person suits the shorter story better as well. Not tried writing anything long in 1st person, but I imagine its difficult, as you also can’t “drift off” for descriptions like you can in 3rd

  4. What strikes me most in the story is the ending. “a duty to survive”.. it talks not so much about heroism but of what war is really about.. to get through… There is a sense of meaninglessness that you have captured I think.

    • Thanks for reading Björn. Interesting you mentioned about heroism and a sense of meaninglessness. It’s easy to romanticise in this type of story, but I wanted a more gritty feel to it. Glad I managed to impart some of what wanted.

  5. I loved the atmosphere in this, I could picture him sat there in his Hessian boots, long coat, arrogant set to his chin….. Sorry I was getting a bit carried away there, lol. Great job 🙂

  6. somehow i feel it was a lost cause. but hopefully, he’d find a way survive.

  7. This is a wonderfully moody piece full of emotion. I agree with the 1st person 3rd person quandary. I’ve written an entire novel in first person an it’s worked well. The only issue was getting around saying “I” all the time.

    • I enjoy the experience of writing 1st person, but I do find it quite an intensive process. I guess this is why my longer pieces fall into the more classic 3rd person. Regarding the “I”, I agree that it does get repetitive after a while. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

  8. Weltchy,
    Yes, “war beckons” makes sense here. So many differences lie between a 100-word story and a 170-word story, but I believe you’ve navigated the necessary trims well, leaving us with a beginning, middle and end. Good work.

    Marie Gail

    • Thank you Marie. Must admit that whilst what I published is enjoyable to read, it’s tempting to have expanded this story to maybe 1000 words and give it more depth and content.

      • That’s one option. Or you could take this as one piece and write a series of stand-alone flashes that can also be read together as a collection to tell the full story. Have fun, whatever you do.

      • stringing a few together also came to mind. And of course, thank you for reading

      • I’ve sort of stumbled into doing that recently. In fact, my FF story this week is one of them. I’m getting much different responses from people who have read just this week’s story versus those who know the characters. I love that–it adds so much diversity to the reader response, and ever reader’s response is valid. Fun times!

  9. Interesting discussion re first vs third person. Dickens used first person in some of his works as did Jane Austen. They sold a few books.
    So they do they duty. And die? Sad. Ban all flags.

  10. “a duty to survive”– an honest line, i like that a lot. i also loved the voice in this one. your story made me miss the game of thrones series. can’t wait for 2015. 🙂

  11. Very good, Weltchy! I was in it all the way. Fields and moors and whatever else, good experience.

  12. Nice writing voice, Weltchy. It felt intense, and definitely gritty. There’s nothing romantic about war, and dressing for it, putting his armour on, must have been a painstaking to know what lies ahead. I could feel the quiet in the room.

  13. Weltchy, Good story with a realistic feel to it. What makes me sad is that children were and are sometimes caught up in it. I hope both he and his squire escape the fighting which will very well kill them both. Well written. —Susan

    • I think I’ll have to do a follow up to this at some point. Already been mentioned in a previous comment. Regarding children, it is very sad and unavoidable unfortunately. Anyhow Susan, thank you very much for reading

  14. Well done. I was right there hoping they find an escape through the mountains.

  15. A very atmospheric piece – I hope they make it. The word sojourn puzzled me?

  16. Thanks for swinging by. In the context of the story, sojourn could be replaced with either journey or travels, but highlights that the journey may take considerable time, as in a temporary stay on the mountain as they journey through it. For me, it also means that the journey will be eventful and possibly hazardous.

  17. I was impressed by the depth you manage to bring to the character in so few words. Here, for instance: “I allow him his stoicism, if only to spare him the coming horror” – it immediately brings to mind all the previous battles the war-weary, pragmatic commander has seen, together with his understanding and compassion for those about to lose their innocence.

    • I think knowing that the squire is so young before that specific line allows the reader a good contrast for the commander. A bit of luck and five or six reworks got me there. Anyway, thank you very much for taking to read as well as respond.

  18. Good historical detail in the language used – ‘A bouy of fifteen winters…’ And I liked the sentiment behind ‘I allow him his stoicism’. Your narrator portrays so much by what he doesn’t say in this. Well done.

  19. Dear Weltchy, It’s almost as if you were there! Fantastic writing – I feel I was there too! Great writing! Nan 🙂

  20. This is an excellent piece. Your choice of words created a sense of a particular time frame, but at the same time allowing the reader to chose a period. And those same words make this story flow like a river, deep and strong. Wonderful!

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