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Flash 15 Friday: "The River"

Each Friday, I will blindly pick a picture card from the board game Mysterium, and set a timer for fifteen minutes. When the timer goes off, the story is done, no matter if I am done or not.

"The River"

The old man went down to the river in hopes of catching the fish today. Just like every day, the morning greeted him with an immense amount of fog. 

He gave his sleeping wife a kiss goodbye, grabbed his tackle box and pole, and went down the slippery bank toward the river.

The grass, thick with dew, caused him to momentarily lose his footing. He pitched forward and outstretched his arms as his ankle gave way and he slid down the hill toward the river with his pole and tackle box chasing after him. 

The man opened his eyes and looked around. He wasn’t sure how long he had been knocked out. The fog had lifted a little but had not completely evaporated, so only a short time must have passed. 

He sat still for a moment and tried to figure out what was broken or where he felt pain after taking his tumble. 

As he sat in the still cool and dewy grass the surprise began to wash over him. For the first time in years, he couldn’t feel any pain. His normal backache was gone, and his knees felt like they were twenty years younger. 

He smiled to himself as he thought the fall had maybe knocked everything into alignment. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. 

The man stood up, and not wanting to waste any more of his day, grabbed his baited pole and dropped it into the water.

He had only been staring into the gently lapping river when he heard a noise nearby. It sounded like some sort of vehicle, but he couldn’t hear an engine.

The man turned his head to the right and saw a horse-drawn carriage just starting to cross the bridge.

He had to blink his eyes a few times because he couldn’t believe what he saw. The only time this small Irish village saw this form of transportation was during festivals or pageants. What was it doing in the town this early in the morning?

The carriage had stopped just before it crossed the bridge. The old man couldn’t help but stare at it. It was being pulled by two of the deepest black horses he had ever seen. In the faint amount of light, he could see their coat shimmering. The driver wore a tall hat and stoically looked forward, avoiding all traces of eye contact. 

The man struggled to see who the carriage's passenger was. The thick fog was surrounding the passenger area making it impossible for him to get a better look.

Setting down his pole, the man’s curiosity got the best of him. He started to make his way back up to the slippery hillside, this time taking extra caution to make sure he didn’t repeat his earlier mistake.

When he reached the road, he was able to get a better look at the mysterious passenger. 

He was tall, with an olive complexion and wore the same style of hat as the driver. His dark grey suit was immaculately pressed without a wrinkle in sight. While it was clean and tidy, it did seem rather out of date. 

Upon hearing the old man approaching, the passenger snapped shut his pocket watch and looked over at him.

“You need to hurry up. We don’t have much time. You are expected,” said his curt voice.

The old man looked around to make sure the passenger was talking to him.

“Sir, I’m not sure you have the right person. I’m just a humble fisherman.”

“Are you Ian McConners,” he asked?

The man nodded his confused head. 

“Then your daughter Hannah is expecting you.”

Sadness washed over the old man’s face as he looked at the ground.

“Sir. You must be mistaken. I did once have a daughter Hannah, but she drowned in this river when she was five years old.”

The man, growing more impatient looked at the old man. Sympathy washed over him as his expression changed. 

He reached out his hand to the old man and said, “That is what you thought. If you come with me, I can explain everything.” 

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