Masdok the Madman in his Fever (Miles Allinson)

Verity La Flash Fiction

The ground has become sludgy where the river overflowed in March. In gumboots, carrying his wooden hunting rifle, he goes into the forest, with the mud sucking at his feet, to hunt the small birds he eats for dinner. His rifle is made of old oak and was carved by his father. It was Masdok’s tenth birthday present, but it shoots only in his mind. How then does he come back, whistling, with a string of upended birds, swinging at his side? Masdok the madman in his fever, sings to them with his sweet childlike voice, and brings them down around his boots, where, mistaking him for St Francis, they allow themselves to be slaughtered one by one.