Here’s a piece of dark fantasy flash fiction about a town dealing with an unknown and terrible force. It’s about 525 words and has a 2 minute reading time. Let me know what you think!
The hanged man started to speak.
Hadn’t his neck been broken? Hadn’t the people of Kilead been through enough after this man – or creature – had terrorized them?
“You thought you could kill me,” the hanged man said. “But you know not who you’re dealing with.”
He unfurled a switchblade from his pocket and cut the rope, landing on both feet like a demon-cat. His long, graying hair swayed in the night breeze. Clouds developed in the black sky, covering the cruel stars.
“You thought you were done with me. You’re mistaken.”
The hanged man was sentenced to death for a good reason. He’d raped and pillaged the town; he was a serial killer. It took ten men to restrain him when they cornered him one night in the tavern; his strength was prodigious.
“Get him! Someone! Shoot him!”
The executioners tried but failed. The hanged man twisted their arms, breaking them, and they crumpled to the ground. The people in the crowd, with their pitchforks and flames, no longer seemed blood-thirsty.
Now, they seemed terribly afraid.
They looked closely at the hanged man – what was he? A demon? A beast spawned from hell? His eyes turned a fiery red, his veins became visibly black. The hanged man straightened his broken neck, the bones crackling.
“You will be spared,” he said. “For now. I move through the earth, from town to town, bringing death and misery. Your town has seen enough. I’ve had my fill.
“But I will not leave you unscathed.”
His ugly face twisted into a grin. A child cried in the crowd, and one could hear the young mother consoling her, lying to her that the unspeakable evil before them would not harm her. All lies.
“From henceforth, Kilead is cursed. A doorway has been opened, and it’ll bring plague and famine, drought and disease, monsters and hellfire.
“The only way to satiate the god of below is sacrifice, the blood of innocents. You have a new god now, and you must worship him.
“I am your god.”
The crowd gasped; a woman fainted in the front row. The clouds covered the night sky, and black rain fell. The authorities of the town watched helplessly. They knew, deep in their hearts, that a new, terrible era had begun.
The hanged man walked slowly through the crowd. They made way for him, watching him walk the main street into the forest. The black rain became a downpour, and the people stood there soaked and dumbfounded.
The people of Kilead once feared the Christian God but now feared something else, a more terrible force. They sacrificed their young at the altar in the center of town according to new precepts, and they prayed the name of the new dark god, nervously, fearing he would return if they didn’t obey.
Some brave men tried to escape, venturing into the mountains with their families and hoping for a better life. But no one could escape. The hanged man would appear during their treks and eat them alive.
No one could escape the hanged man – the new god of Kilead.
Author’s Note: I was inspired to write this based on a dark fantasy prompt I saw on this site. The prompt was, simply, “Suddenly, the hanged man starts to speak …” I’ve also been reading C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, a 1956 novel that’s a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, so it got my fantasy-writing mind in overdrive, I guess.