Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Gone with the Wind in the Willows (1995)

I have always enjoyed 'flash fiction', those ultra brief tales that used to be called short-shorts. The most famous exponent of the form was Fredric Brown. although later I discovered Daniil Kharms, who to my mind was even better at it. Notoriously tricky, this type of fiction seems a perfect fit for the extremely busy and rapid modern world. The following is one of my fairly early attempts. Most of my flash fiction has subsequently been collected in the book FLASH IN THE PANTHEON.

The Confederate Army was shelling Toad Hall. Down in the bunker, Toad and Ratty were cowering under a table, drinking bourbon. Plaster fell from the ceiling and filled the room with fine dust. “Where the hell is General Badger?” Toad wailed.
Just at that moment, Mole erupted from the floor, a message clamped between his jaws. Toad snatched the communiqué and devoured the spidery words with his rheumy eyes. “Badger's forces have been eliminated on the outskirts of Atlanta.”
“Oh my, we're doomed!” avowed Ratty.
Toad drained his glass of bourbon and puffed on a cigar. “Time for the cyanide and petrol, boys.”
Screams of terror reached them from outside. It seemed the entire Confederate Army was on the run. The door to the bunker flew open and a svelte figure stood framed by licking flames.
“I came as quickly as I could,” it said.
“Who the hell are you?” Toad cried.
“Bambi,” it replied. It trotted into the room. “I know I'm not in your story, but I couldn't sit and watch you be annihilated. I've brought the Hollywood Infantry with me.”
“Well I'll be darned, a goddamn postmodernist.”
“Not quite. What's that you're drinking? Bourbon? May I have some? I've got a tankard with me. Will you fill it up?”
“You are joking. This is vintage stuff.”
“I'll settle for just a wine glass of the liquor in that case.”
“No way. This is expensive 108 proof Wild Turkey Rare Breed with a kick like an electrocuted whore.”
“Well how about filling a whisky glass? I only want a taste.”
Toad climbed from under the table and sneered. “Frankly, my deer, I don't give a dram.”

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