The Bridge – a short flash story

Photo by Jacob Colvin on Pexels.com

These stories are rough drafts for a story a day in May

The bridge was known as Snake Bridge. It was long, winding as if slithering in motion from one East to West of the Great Land. It bridged the nothingness between the one. Made of glass and wind chimes, it howled like an angry beast in the wind. Most rarely crossed the path, for worst was the toll. A tooth, finger or worse.

The middle of the Snake bridge was as cold like frost, slippery as an oil slick and covered in wet fog and mist. Then there was the stench. The stench of rotting bodies, those who failed to pay the second toll. After losing a tooth or finger, the mid toll was a secret. Not many lived to tell what it was, and those who did gave various tales, yet Savell, a poor Eastian decided it was time for him to cross.

Savell, a young Eastian of eighteen summers decided he was tired of living in angry poverty in his village. His mother tried to stop him in his ambitions. She’d lost all her family to the nothingness of Snake bridge. Yet, Savell with the arrogance of youth told his mother, what was a tooth worth, or a finger when they were starving. His teeth were already loose from hunger.

He wanted to see the world, and at the very least, he’ll be one less mouth to feed.

One night he’d stowed away until reached the East end of Snake bridge.

It was crowded and took him four days to reach the tollgate.

‘Tooth or finger?’ asked a disinterested voice. ‘That is the toll.’

The young Eastian was curious and asked why.

‘Because that’s the way it is,’ said the voice getting agitated. ‘Pay off, or sling our hook. I ain’t got time for this. Asking questions is time wasting.’

Eastian opened a bag and unwrapped some leaves and pulled out a finger, not human, but a finger none the less. ‘This is the tooth of a wild boar.’

The voice sighed. ‘You think you are clever, but then again nowt in the rules that say it has to be your finger.’

A slot opened and the voice told Savell to push it in.

The gate opened and he was allowed on the bridge.

It was a horrific journey to the middle. Savell, thinking his mother was right. Poverty was much better than this. People screaming, jumping over the bridge into the nothingness, going crazy.

Two days later he reached the midpoint and next tollgate. This time a strange feline creature stared at him. Not quite cat, not quite dog, not quite anything. ‘So you are the clever one. The one with boar’s tooth. Well, you are at the midpoint. You have one wish to come true. This is your way.’

Suddenly he was hit by a vision. The first a pot of gold, the second glided sword, the third his mother looking pitiful at a loaf of bread.

The gold would make him rich, and he could go back and not need to cross the bridge. Swords were always handy. But his family starved and that bread would be a great luxury for the night.

The stench of the bodies rose and his retched. The howls pierced his ears. Thoughts of greed and poverty invaded his mind. Tormented him.

Savell screamed. ‘Stop! Stop! Please, stop.’

Now he saw the truth. He knew the truth. He was never going to make it across. Nobody ever made it across. ‘Give my mother the bread.’

If that was to be his last wish, it was that his family have bread.

The feline creature crackled. ‘I’d have taken the gold but bread it is.’

The mid toll gate opened, the noise stopped, the strench disappeared and Savell’s thoughts cleared.

‘You have one more toll to pay,’ warned the feline. ‘The Westians hate Eastian so may even demand your life. Perhaps you’ll make it across.’

The end

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