He hadn’t seen the old man since …

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

Day three of this week’s challenge. The story starts here.
He hadn’t seen the old man since …

‘You don’t remember what they’re like.’ The girl gave a rueful smile. ‘All riddles and cleverness. I was in luck this time, though. It must have been the urgency, knowing how desperately we needed to find you, that gave me a straight answer.’

He ignored the urgency bit, which churned the foreboding still sitting heavily in his gut. ‘Which was?’

‘Your name and the year.’

‘My name?’

‘Yes. The one you use here, in this time.’ She looked into his eyes, grinned. ‘Robert James Flack. Later, after a lot of record digging, I found you were supposedly born in 1988 in the city not 10 miles from here.’

He humphed. ‘Nothing supposedly about it.’ He refused to ask about the urgency. Something else niggled at him. ‘What do you mean, in this time?’

‘Best if I show you.’ She jumped up from the settee, grabbed her coat. ‘If we leave straightaway, we’ll be home in less than twelve hours. Once we find the old man.’

As she said it, he had the strangest vision. His grandfather. He hadn’t seen the old man since his tenth birthday – a weird day, as he remembered it now. But she couldn’t mean that old man.

‘Yes, that old man,’ she said, apparently reading his mind. ‘Any idea where he might be?’

‘In his coffin, resting peacefully.’ He snorted. ‘That’s where I left him, anyway.’


Rather than shocked by this news, which he had assumed would thwart her plans of going ‘home’, her face lit up.  

‘Is the graveyard far?’

He clenched and unclenched his fists. This was more and more surreal. He stood up, the protesting cat jumping to the floor to stalk away with tail high.

‘I think you should leave.’ He pointed to the hall.

She was unfazed. ‘They said you’d be difficult, that I might need a sign, proof.’ She blew out a breath, pressed her lips together, and looked at the cat sulking on an empty chair. ‘Hey puss,’ she whispered, ‘want to tell me where your food is kept, so I can pack some to take along?’

The cat blinked, jumped from the chair and strolled towards the hall.

He watched it go, the girl following. The cat wasn’t … ? No, of course not …

The next instalment is here

Follow the daily writing prompt on Facebook or Instagram.

Find Cheryl’s flash fiction and short stories here!