Welcome to July's blog hop! You can read my Flash Fiction below. Don't forget to scroll to the bottom for the links to more amazing authors and details on my other short stories featuring Ernie.
A Touch of Summer Fire
The fire blazed against the clear night sky, glowing golds and yellows reaching outward. Unfortunately, it would draw the eye of anyone who looked.
Of course, the fire itself wasn’t really the problem. Small, contained, and barely turning the grass brown, Gard Village - Senior Living’s garden had suffered worse during the drought season. No one would have been especially worried.
The man inside the fire was another matter.
He stood hunched, unburned, and naked under the flames that licked his skin, with his hands cupped around his crotch in an attempt at decency.
“Do you mind doing this somewhere else?” Ernie asked, scowling. After all, what was the point in wearing the form of an eighty-year-old if you couldn’t be grumpy. He even had good reason for a change. Being woken in the middle of the night by the sound of crackling fire had not been on his night-time plans.
“Are you Ernie?” The man asked, eyes a fraction too wide.
“Who’s asking?” Ernie scowled deeper. The man felt mortal. Humans were not prone to being writhed in a living flame.
The man hesitated, frowning at Ernie as if he were the odd one out. “Bob.” The lie was a little too quick. “I need your help.”
Ernie looked over his shoulder at the ugly squat building that was his home. No one had come to investigate the fire yet, a small blessing in a retirement home where more people seemed to sleep during the day than at night. He needed to sort this mess out before someone became curious. “Just put it out.”
“If it was that easy, don’t you think I would have done it?” Bob said, freeing one hand so he could shake it. One small ember lept free and set a small patch of grass on fire. “It won’t go out.”
“How do you normally put a fire out?” Ernie asked, rolling his eyes as he stamped out the baby ember. It hissed in protest but died. The summer heat had already been bad enough. Now, with the extra warmth from the flames, it was getting oppressive.
“Normally?” Bob’s voice hit a painful note. “There is nothing normal about this.”
Ernie sighed. Maybe he was asking the wrong questions. “What happened?”
“Well. You see. I didn’t really mean it.” The flames glowed hotter, as if reacting to his embarrassment. “It was a joke. Everyone likes a joke, right?”
Clearly, they didn’t, but Ernie didn’t state the obvious.
“Look, mate, please. You gotta help me. My wife will kill me if I go home like this,” Bob said, taking a small step forward. “He said you could fix it.”
“Who?” Ernie knew he probably wouldn’t like the answer. Bob’s hesitation solidified that belief.
“He was there when the guy did the thing with the fire. Stringy fellow, with a multi-headed skeleton dog.” Bob tried to sound casual, but Ernie heard the hitch in his voice. The fire crackled, like it wanted to add to the story. Ernie ignored it.
“Pierce?” Ernie asked, voice coming out in a growl. How the hell did one Draug cause so many problems? “He told you to come here?”
“Yeah, we were partying across town at a place called the Rabbit something?” Bob got a faraway look, somewhere between horror and awe. Ernie had seen the look before.
“The Rabid Rabbit?” Like there was anywhere else it could be. It was the only place in town that catered to supernaturals, away from the prying eyes of humans. Or it did most of the time. Apparently, someone had got bored.
“Yeah, that’s it,” Bob said, almost letting go of his modesty before he caught himself. “It was something else.”
Ernie stayed silent, trying to imagine how a naked man on fire made it through the city with no one noticing. “You walked all the way across town, over the bridge that spans the river, and it never occurred to you to just take a dip?”
The man stared at Ernie, mouth hanging open.
Ernie rolled his eyes, turning back to Guard Village.
“You can help me, right?” Bob sounded desperate, fear breaking through his bravado. The fire made a little high-pitched popping sound, growing hotter.
Shaking his head, Ernie turned on the tap that was connected to the sprinklers. Water sprung up in several arcs over the garden.
The man yelped as the water hit him, making the fire hiss and curse. Several pieces leaped for safety, but the water was too widespread. Slowly, the fire grew smaller, until there was nothing but the smell of wet earth.
“It was that easy?” Bob said, staring down at his wet naked body. “Just add water?”
“It’s fire. What did you think would put it out?” Ernie said, keeping clear of the spray.
Bob blushed. “Well. I should probably go now. Thank you. I think.”
“Don’t go back to the bar,” Ernie said, wincing as the man turned to show him a second moon.
The Bob made a noncommittal sound as he headed out of the garden.
Humans. Sometimes Ernie wondered how they had lasted this long. He hoped the man would wake in the morning thinking it had all been an odd dream, but really, it wasn’t up to Ernie to sort it out.
With a rising sense of suspicion, Ernie checked his phone to find a message waiting for him.
‘Sent you a present. Wish you were here, Pierce.’
Ernie rolled his eyes and kept scrolling down. There was a photo along with the message. Pierce posed beside an Ifrit, shot glasses raised, an all too familiar bar behind them. At least that explained the living flame.
Ernie sighed, glancing at the clock. It wasn’t like he was getting back to sleep now. The pair needed someone to keep an eye on them.
That was the only reason he went out. To keep them in line.
Want to read more about Ernie and Pierce? Check out FINDING DEATHS SCYTHE. It's free with my newsletter and the first released in the Ernie Smith and the Seven Sins story.
Being retired was supposed to be easy. No drama, no family, no problems. Ernie should have known better than to piss off Death.
Death's Scythe is missing, and he's refusing to collect any more ghosts until Ernie gives it back.
There's only one problem. Ernie didn't steal it.
Unfortunately, Death's Pride stops him from seeing any other answers. As the ghosts become a problem, Ernie has to choose: find the Scythe, or spend the rest of his retirement with people he couldn't stand when they'd been alive.
Also out now, THE WILD HUNT, the next installment of Ernie Smith and the Seven Deadly Sins.
When the wild hunt rides, who said it had to be on horses? Of course, horses probably wouldn't have broken down.
When a friend is denied his inheritance, Ernie has no choice but to help him regain his due. A pact has been broken, and a challenge made.
Ernie must keep everyone on the trail, but when help arrives from an unwelcome source, it's never been harder.
Old ladies are overtaking them, joggers are outmatching them, and please, no one talk about the noise.
Never underestimate the Wrath of old men who think they are always right.
Follow the blog hop to read some more amazing authors.