Short Shorts

There was a song some time back extolling the virtues of short shorts. These aren’t that kind of shorts. These are stories, most of them under a thousand words. I have a rather extreme number of them. So I decided I would post one of them occasionally.

This is from way back and was one of the first winning entries on the now defunct Worth1000.com


“I’m the King of the Castle, you’re the dirty rascal!”

The ancient challenge rang out across the schoolyard. The hill was the result of last week’s snowfall, gathered and piled at the edge of the parking lot. The crier of the challenge was, as always, Michael, named appropriately after the archangel of war.

With a howl the challengers scrambled up the hill only to be tumbled again to the bottom. One would think that twenty challengers would easily topple the King from his Castle, but Michael was impossibly agile, and massively built. No one could move him. I dodged feet and hands and bodies as I scrambled to the top, only to be caught by an avalanche of childhood and dragged again to the ground. All through recess the battle raged.

Recess was all but over and even Michael’s immense strength was fading. The only thing that kept him on that hill was that we were fading faster. From twenty we were down to ten, then five, then it was just Michael and me, just like every battle this week. I wasn’t strong, or quick, or smart, but I was stubborn. Michael grinned at me, sure in his victory. He was, like Achilles, invincible.

Invincible except for his heel. It was my last wild charge to the top. Gasping painfully, I slipped. Instead of landing a clean shove to my chest Michael missed completely. Of course, he recovered instantly and jumped back, but his left foot landed on my hand. I pulled at my hand and overbalanced the hero just enough to send him tumbling down the hill. I had won. Climbing to the top I screamed my victory song.

“I’m the King of the Castle, you’re the dirty rascal.”

I had done the impossible. I had tumbled the hero King. I, Felix Abercrombie, was the King of the Castle. I was…..flying. Michael had hit me with everything he had left. The bell rang as I sailed through the air. I saw Michael’s face at first delighted, then terrified. I landed in the drifted snow accompanied by awful silence. Then the screams of my classmates brought the teachers. Covered in blood and snow I smiled and the world went dark. It would be spring before I returned to class.

We never again played King of the Castle. But Michael and I, we were legends.