Today’s prompt comes straight from the ever wonderful Tale Foundry. Since this piece was originally written for a writing group, I shall also make a shameless plug for Tale Foundry as a whole because I absolutely adore the entire community and wish to share it with as many people as possible. That being said, please visit https://thetalefoundry.com/ to read all the fabulous flash fiction available there that mine simply cannot compare to. The bar is high.
This prompt was slightly different than most of the ones you’ll find here for the simple fact that there was a word limit. And let me tell you, word limits are hard.
Prompt: The Bestiary
Word limit: 350 max.
“Excuse me,” Runa said, her tone slightly irritated. She had coughed politely several times and cleared her throat once or twice in an attempt to draw the attention of the clerk behind the counter. His eyes flicked to her before going back to his phone screen.
“The Plum books are two shelves down. The newest King books aren’t coming for another week,” he said without looking at her.
“Actually, I’m looking for your rare book section. Is it possible you could direct –”
“Yeah. Down the stairs. Go left at the bottom.” He waved a hand in the general direction of the stairs.
Runa clenched a fist by her side, but managed a sunny “Thank you,” before searching for the stairs.
It took some time, but she found the worn spine, right where Old Alwin said it should be. Runa slid it from the shelf and opened it slowly, heart pounding as the book’s binding creaked in protest. Some of the pages were missing their numbers; the corners of the stiff papers broken off here and there. She counted where she had to until she reached page 29, where Old Alwin had told her to look.
There it was. Somehow the illustrator had managed to capture the live coals the creature had for eyes. Her skin tingled as her fight or flight response recognized the lupine form which had been sitting in her yard, staring at her bedroom window. Runa’s fingers brushed the page as she read the words around the picture.
She checked the front and back cover for a written price but found none. A quick search of the shelves revealed no posted signs of a pricing system. Tucking the thick book under her arm, she bounded up the stairs before she changed her mind.
“How much?” she asked, setting the book on the counter.
“Agiluf’s Compendium of Werefolk,” the clerk read aloud. For the first time, he met her eyes. “I wouldn’t waste my money, if I were you. He got some of the important bits wrong.”