Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A to Z: V - Vellum & Village

My A to Z Challenge: Flash fiction written using two words and a photo for inspiration. How did I chose the words? First I brought up a noun list for each letter, then averted my eyes, scrolled the mouse down, stopped and double-clicked. That was the word! The second word was chosen the same way but from a dictionary list of words.
NOTE: Photos are from free to use photo sites such as and No attribution necessary.

"Hey Geoff, come look at this!" Clive sat on his haunches, waiting for his partner to come over and check out his discovery. They had spent three weeks excavating one small section of the ancient ch√Ęteau in a remote village without finding much of interest. Until now...

"What is it?" Geoff touched the artifact carefully.

"I think it's a vessel for storing old documents."

"Is there anything in it?" Geoff held the item up to the sun, trying to see inside.

"Careful! I'm not sure. We need to open it in a cleaner environment that out here."

Geoff nodded as Clive wrapped the relic and stored it in his knapsack.

Three hours later, they had found four more and stored them, too. 

Excited by the find, they made their way back to their accommodations where the wizened old woman in the reception area greeted them. Her voice cracked as she asked, "Didja have a gud day, gents?"

Not wanting to say too much, Clive shrugged and Geoff affected the local dialect when he replied, "Eh, 'bout the same as the afore."

She smiled, her broken and yellowed teeth glinting in the receding sunlight. "Ah, gud enuff then. Off wit' ya then." Her cackle followed them down the hallway and they hastened their stride.  They closed the door to their room, taking the extra precaution to lock it.

"Didn't she seem unusually interested in whether we found anything?" Geoff asked as Clive took the relics out and laid them on the bed.

"Maybe so, don't know what difference it makes though." He held one vessel up to the overhead light, turning it from side to side. "I still think there is something inside."

"Don't drop it!"

Clive frowned. "As if!"

"I mean it. The container is probably more valuable than anything inside it."

"I guess." He held a second one up to the light. "But aren't you just a little bit curious?"


"C'mon, let's open one of them."

"I don't know..."

"Just one. What can it hurt?" Clive started tugging on the lid before he could object. Geoff reached for the artifact but Clive fell backward, the lid in one hand and an odd vapor rising out of the container.

Sitting upright, Clive stuck his fingers inside and pulled something out. Now Geoff was intrigued. "What is it?"

"Some kind of parchment paper with some symbols on it."

"Let me see." Geoff took the paper and sat on the floor beside his friend. "This isn't any old parchment, this is real vellum."

Clive scrunched his nose, not liking the odor the vapor at sent into the room. "How can you tell? I didn't know there was any difference."

Not one to pass up a chance to show off his knowledge, Geoff explained how vellum was made from calf skin and thus a higher quality paper than regular parchment paper, made from other skins.

"Oh." Clive wasn't particularly impressed. "What do you think those symbols mean? Some kind of language maybe?" He ran his fingers over the text. "Ouch!"


"It got hot! You try."

Geoff followed suit and ran his fingers over the symbols with the same result. "What the--- How is that happening?"

"I don't know but look around us. Whatever it was that came out like steam is filling the room!"

They tried to get up off the floor but found their muscles were as weak as a wilted flower forcing them flat on the floor.

"I- I - can't move." Clive willed his arms and legs to obey his brain but nothing happened.

"Me- can't- not-" Geoff could say no more.

While they couldn't move or talk, they were conscious enough to hear the locks on their door snap open. They turned their eyes towards the door, opened just a crack. The steam or gas or whatever it was, seeped out. The door opened wide and the old woman from the front walked in, cackling her  villainous laugh.

"I see ya' did fin' sumthin' out there. I'll juss takes it for ya'." She picked up the paper and read aloud three times. "Dolor sequi, sequeris desperatio, odium consumet."

"Wha- what- what is she saying?" Geoff asked Clive.

"I think she said 'Anguish follow you, Despair follow you, May hatred consume you,' but I'm not positive. My Latin is pretty rusty."

As she swept out of the room, surprisingly spry for someone as old as she appeared to be, their strength returned and they sat up and looked around.

"Why'd you knock me on the floor, you idiot?" Geoff slugged Clive on the shoulder.

He punched him back, hitting him in the stomach. "Shut up, you moron. You started it."

The two continued fighting on the floor for hours till all that was left was blood and goo.

Later in the day, the old woman brought the janitor to the room. "Clean up the mess, Norman. We need to get ready for our new guests."

Stay Calm and Read Flash Fiction!



  1. That's a nasty old lady indeed. The moment the word cackle came, I knew those two were in big trouble. Did she hide those vellum documents there for them to find it or did she lose it long back?

    V is for the Video

  2. What fun!! You should continue this story!!

    1. LOL! I'd have to figure out what her end game is then...

  3. Oh dear, that didn't end well did it?! I'm vowing to be a whole lot more prudent opening any buried vessels jars I find, and most definitely be on the lookout for cackling women.

    1. You gave me a good laugh...thanks for stopping by!!

  4. Wow, I expected some kind of curse but not that they'd beat themselves to death! Nice one.

  5. Wow! Got what they deserved maybe? That's harsh, but I for one appreciate old velum artifacts & wouldn't dream of taking one. I thought about Velum for V to educate folks on what it is...well done! I think the old woman is very old, but still young for whatever creature she happens to be, who assumes the outside shell she wants. Great how the story drove you not theother way around.
    Pulp Paper & Pigment-My Fiber Art Blog

    1. I like your interpretation of "the outside shell". ;) Thanks!

  6. If I ever check into a hotel with a cackling lady, I will not open any old artifacts! Actually, I think I'd just leave and try to find a different hotel. Nice, Donna!


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