Flash fiction: As The World Turns

I was in my socks at home in Derby, staring at the globe. I’d had enough of everything. I was going to leave the civil service and travel round the world. I took my dad’s old dart set, three arrows in a frayed plastic packet. One of them was bald metal, and another had only two of its three feathers left.

Source: those good folks who provide free images at Pixabay.com https://pixabay.com/en/globe-east-middle-middle-east-1029209/

Source: those good folks who provide free images at Pixabay.com https://pixabay.com/en/globe-east-middle-middle-east-1029209/

At the other side of the room stood my old globe, a relic from a jumble sale at school, so old that the USSR still lolled across the Northern hemisphere.

Gently, I pressed my finger against the surface and span it. Not clockwise. That would have been unnatural. I set it moving anticlockwise, exactly as the world turns.

I felt scared then, as if a cold puddle lay in the pit of my stomach. Wherever the dart landed I would go: Saudi Arabia, Paraguay, Chad or Burkino Faso. Where the dart strikes, there go I.

My fingers felt greasy as I rubbed the point of the dart. I was four short paces away. Closing one eye, I aimed and shot. The arrow, missing a feather, described a flaccid path into the carpet where it stuck, quivering in the centre of a cigarette burn.

Yet still the world turned. I slipped the final dart out of the plastic pocket. The plastic was scarred as if the dog had been chewing it. The globe gradually slowed. The time was now. With a bend of my elbow, I jabbed the dart forward.

This time, it hit. It twanged like a rubber band stretched over a shoebox. It trembled like my fingertips as I went to see where it had landed. The globe had stopped. The dart faced away from me, unseen.

One step, Two steps. I turned my eyes as I rotated the earth towards me. My heart felt tight in my chest as I looked for the spot where the final dart stood.

It was in Derby.

14 responses to “Flash fiction: As The World Turns

  1. What a nightmarish story, to be and end up staying in Derby! I think I’d rather take my chances in Paraguay, although I have always wanted to go on a football tour of the world. A bit to the right with the dart and you could have ended up in Mansfield though so there are positives.

    • They are! Africa and Australia are way too small, so it would much harder to hit those with a dart. Actually, it would be pretty hard to hit them anyway if you were aiming from above!

  2. If the purpose of throwing the dart was to get a good pie, then certainly you wouldn’t go wrong staying in Derby! (although some would argue Chesterfield have the better pies).

    Your tale certainly struck home…my entire family ended up in Derby after the failure of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 and stayed there happily making lace until the early 19th century. Leaving Derby was a disasterous decision which led to the closure of the mill and poverty.

    • Cursed lace-making rebels! Or were they on the other side?
      My ancestors were slum landlords in nearby Nottingham I believe, and they also faced some terrible disaster at some point …

  3. Rebels certainly! I did enjoy your short tale because I can picture a dimly lit bedsit with worn patterned carpet and scant, meagre possessions. The author perhaps peaking out through the condensation on the window whilst listening to Don Mclean? I think you should do a prequel or follow up that reveals the author a bit more. Hope the planning for the June festivities is going well.

    • I have never been to Derby, I swear! Nor have I ever worked for the civil service. At least, not knowingly…
      Everything’s on course for June, admiral! We’re looking forward to seeing you all.
      A lowly midshipman.

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