Flash Fiction Friday: Enter the Salamander
by: Neil Sanzari
When the girl of malnourished complexion crossed paths with the ribbit in the ruins of Saint X’s Parochial Middle School, she refrained from drawing a single arrow. It was her first encounter with the dread creature. In fact, she had only heard the faintest of frightened whispers concerning its legend. But no one had ever admitted to seeing one before in the glandular flesh beneath the slimy fur of the thing. So she drank in the ribbit’s dreamy protruding eyes before deciding whether or not to dispatch this wondrous-to-behold beastie.
When the girl returned to camp hand-in-hand with the ribbit, her father flew into a rage because he had given her strict orders not to come back unless she had made a fresh kill for her family to eat.
So the father played a little trick on the girl by cooking off the ribbit without telling her. And then the father fed the specially prepared meal to the girl without making her aware of what it was in particular that she ate.
Soon afterwards, the girl of malnourished complexion began to exhibit the glandular flesh beneath the slimy fur of the thing, as if she were becoming something altogether new and different. In short, she was transforming into a much larger version of the ribbit. Yet she remained a kind of hybrid of herself and the thing at the same time. Maintaining her personality both whole and separate alongside the creature, where their aspects took turns sharing the spotlight.
This was all quite normal for the ribbit because the creature was a shapeshifter by nature. And it had absorbed more than a few souls in its day. They often interjected as a kind of peanut gallery in the background like so much white noise. Their incessant chatter caused the girl great anxiety, no matter how much the ribbit reassured her otherwise.
The peanut gallery claimed that the ribbit was the Bonnie Prince of Hares and Toads. That the creature might even be a long-lost cousin of the legendary Sovereign of Salamanders, who in turn was revered by many as the Deity of Arson.
Now the ribbit thought it best to do away with the girl’s father because the creature was not one to forgive such transgressions. This meant devouring the father whole, but the ribbit promised the girl that her father’s personality would not be incorporated into the spectrum of their shared-reality. Namely, what the ribbit condescended to as the afore-mentioned peanut gallery. The consumption of the father was only meant to be for fuel and nothing more.
Hence, the girl of the glandular flesh beneath the slimy fur of the thing observed the world and saw it all from an entirely different perspective through her fetching bulbous eyes. Taking in all the sounds with her great big ears. And that was when she heard the screams.
Her mind’s eye quickly turned inward to reveal the unmistakable countenance of her father holding court amidst the once-benign peanut gallery. Having stirred them up into a lather, a mutinous horde no less bent upon stringing her up.
Meanwhile, the ribbit had already been hoisted aloft and lit aflame as if the creature were a burning effigy of itself, save for its fruitless efforts to escape. Kicking and screaming all the way.
And so the girl began to pick off the lynch mob lickety-split with an arrow through an alderman’s eye here and another through a harlot’s heart there, with plenty more left in the quiver for that wall-to-wall turnout of lost souls closing in fast.
Neil Sanzari is an artist and writer from the New York City area, where he worked in advertising. Displaced by the events of 9/11, he now lives down at the Jersey shore with his wife, Celia. He has a novella and several short stories in the works. His preferred genres are Bizarro, New Weird, and Cyberpunk. He plans to adapt Enter the Salamander into a comic book series.
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