A Story by Brandon R. Chinn

A flash fiction piece that's part of a collection I call 'The Tear at the Edge of the Sky.' This one is about a group of travelers ruminating over the odd loss of a city, not far away.



“You can feed a creature of that sort a good length of iron, won’t make a lick of difference.”

These are the brand of conversation one overhears every night of the week, drinking at the Cumbersome Inn. That’s not the real name of the place, mind you. But it’s only proper to embellish on a story, if a little bit.

“Good iron. That’s the trouble with these tales,” said Thomas. “Any one man that can afford this ‘good iron’ has no business being out in fields and farms as is.”

I hear the muddled grunts of agreement flare around me. Tiny little fires pulled out the mouths of men too afraid to be the first to speak. Together, though, they’re an army of pathetic favor, of age-old wisdom against the grotesque, whipped into frenzy.

“I had a weapon like that once. Must’ve been ten years past,” said Raymond. “Gifted from my father, I was.”

“Probably sold it for coin to spend on some dockside w***e,” a voice, or a dozen, said.

“I heard that!” Raymond roared. “No. Weren’t ever that simple. The blade was stolen from me, not five miles from here.”

“There’s nothing five miles from here,” I said, speaking up for the first time.

The Cumbersome quieted. “What’s your name, boy?”

I gave it.

“I’ll tell you this. There was a place five miles from here. Though it ain’t there no more. The name Malmegoth mean much to you?”

I shook my head. The Inn exploded in language once more, in that strange way of everyone�"and no one�"speaking all at once.

“Well, it’s gone now,” said Thomas. “Good iron be damned. The best steel in the world wouldn’t have saved that town. Now it’s just a�"”

“Black space,” I said. “Black as ink. Black as coal dust. Black as night. Black as black can or could ever be.”

Grunts of agreement. “That’s about right. You look into that place, into what used to be that place, just off the wood over yonder…it’s like looking into the sky on a clear summer night, only lacking all of God’s stars. Might as well look inward and fear your own soul.”

I’ve known places like that. Many, and worse than any settlement just outside of a wayside inn. The Cumbersome and all its drunken patrons be damned. They know nothing of the darkness at the edges of the hearts of terrible men. Or what that sort of black can summon.

“We were speaking of creatures,” said the crowd. “We were speaking of good iron.”

“The world is surely lacking in good iron now. For all the weapons we have, that sort of thing…it’s enough to fill you with dread. Might as well lose my kin all over again�"wife, and daughter too. Rather bleed that hurt and let the earth drink its fill of me then watch that terrible black consume the eyes of the living.”

They would tell these sorts of tales long, that’s what I knew. Over and over again until the truth was squeezed out of every inch of story like juice and pulp from a fresh blood orange. That’s the way these inns worked�"you wring the fear out of the hearts of men. That way they can go on living in this world and not think of those voids in reason, those empty pits in the places that should not be.

“You staying here long, stranger?” asked one of the men.

I shook my head, no. Curiosities be damned, I’d look into the black myself.

© 2015 Brandon R. Chinn

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Added on July 23, 2015
Last Updated on July 23, 2015
Tags: horror, weird, fiction, prose, dark, short, flash fiction, weird fiction


Brandon R. Chinn
Brandon R. Chinn

Tacoma, WA

My name is Brandon Chinn. I am a novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. I love all kinds of fiction, but I mostly write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. You can check out my novel series, The .. more..