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Flash Fiction: Destroyer

New flash fiction featuring Coyote from my blog fiction, Bella Diana. It's also linked at Three Word Wednesday which is a great place to drop in and read new writers.


Coyote fidgeted in the saddle. The sun had set, but a faint glow remained, just enough to see the twin rails stretching into the distance. He sighed with impatience.

On time.

"Don't lie," Coyote said. It was bad enough that he heard disembodied voices, but the deceptions and half-truths were enough to drive anyone mad.

He turned his attention from the horizon to the valley floor. From his vantage point halfway up the mesa, he would be able to see everything unfold if it were daylight. Unfortunately, this was an operation that had to be carried out by night. A part of him wondered if he should be doing it at all.

Trains kill.

Coyote had an affinity for all things mechanical, but trains were special. As a child, he slipped away from his mother at every opportunity and went to the depot, where he became such a fixture that he would sometimes be allowed to hand tools to the maintenance workers. The best days were when the engineers would let him climb into the idling engines where he gazed in rapturous delight at the switches and controls. What wasn't there to love about trains?


"Shut up." Coyote hated it when they taunted him. He picked up his binoculars and squinted at the horizon again. Was it his wishful thinking, or did he see a pinprick of light?

Always right, always right, always right...

"Except when you tell me too late, you fucking bastards."

Coyote looked again at the steadily growing light of the approaching train and his mind flashed on memories of gears and pistons, and the perfect way they moved. He would've loved to have been a train mechanic. It seemed more appropriate to build such beautiful things than--

Trains are death. Your parents...

"You always mention them, as if it was anything other than an accident. Maybe I don't want to do this. Someone else's parents might be on this train, you know. Parents like mine."

Now he could hear the chugging of engines, the hum of wheels and the faint rattle of swaying cars. In his mind, Coyote saw it as if it were daylight - the dusty engines hooked front to back, the spinning wheels, the flat cars and box cars trailing behind, rocking to the rhythm of their own song.

A shrill metal-on-metal squeal of brakes. The engine's headlamp had illuminated Coyote's blockade, but it was too late. The sound of the crash ricocheted down the line as cars crashed into each other, sparks flashed, and cars toppled off the tracks. Even in the dark it was breathtaking, and Coyote sat transfixed.

A few small fires caught in the dry desert grass, and in their glow, Coyote saw cars scattered about like great dying beasts, and felt an unexpected surge of pride.

You are powerful now.

"It's only just one train."

There will be others.

Coyote opened his mouth to argue, but thought better of it. Yes, there would be others, now that he knew how easy it was. He loved trains, but a train had taken the lives of his parents, and that couldn't be forgiven. His mother and father hadn't believed in the voices he heard, but that was the only failing Coyote could think of. They had been otherwise perfect and deserved to be avenged. "Which one should I try next?"

The voices didn't answer. They were like that sometimes.

With a sigh, Coyote turned his horse and started up the switchbacks.


If you want more, Bella Diana is free and online.


Old Egg said...

This is sad in that Coyote cannot see that the chunks of metal are not to blame for his parents death but the engineer or someone else who failed along the way. OK so he is off his tree and talks to the voices in his head. So do I, but accidents are somebodies fault or an act of nature. As a boy I loved engines too but never blamed them when I got sooty or covered in steam! A gripping and intriguing read as usual.

March 3, 2011 at 1:01 AM
Jae Rose said...

Beautiful story - I never thought I could appreciate a train..but all those fascinating cogs and whirs like the cogs and whirs in Coyote's mind really took me to the side of that track..something beautiful..something dangerous..and what a wonderful name for a boy surviving alone in the world...Jae

March 3, 2011 at 9:05 AM
Alice Audrey said...

Is this a hero of a villain? He reminds me a little of Boe Folley from a book I wrote. Ok, so they are radically different in most ways, there's still some of the same thinking involved.

March 4, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Alice: Coyote is neither. He's the crazy, unpredictable one. The fact that he hears voices is both a problem and an asset, since the voices are unpredictable and sometimes cryptic. Sometimes they give him advance warning about danger and other times they tell him too late for him to do anything about it. Sometimes he doesn't understand their message at all until events have unfolded.

Like the coyote in Native American lore, Coyote is a trickster. This is one of my favorite stories about him: Ghost Story.

March 4, 2011 at 11:17 AM
ameliacambiasamcspeak said...

Sheilagh Lee said: I love the feel to this story of native folklore.interesting and intruiging as Coyote grapples with his thoughts

March 4, 2011 at 7:37 PM
Thom Gabrukiewicz said...

Very engrossing read. I like that I don't really like Coyote, but I don't hate him, either.

March 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM
Dee Martin said...

You are barking up my alley - love coyote stories. Have you read Charles De Lint? Mixtures of American Indian lore and Celtic mythology. Loved this - want more :)

March 7, 2011 at 9:19 PM
Khaalidah said...

Hey Ann
I really like this story.

Coyote really is a deeply interesting character. He seems like someone who is easy to hate and love.
So sad about his parents. And even sadder about his sabotaging the train...all the innocent lives.
The thing about Coyote that I idenify with is that he seems, at least here, to be equal parts sanity and insanity. He is an honest duality.

March 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM
Alice Audrey said...

I remember that one. I see why it's a fave.

March 18, 2011 at 6:36 PM
Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, Ann. I love this one. But... I've got a soft spot for Coyote. You know that.

March 20, 2011 at 4:56 PM

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