Fiction Fragment Friday

Usually I can tell you what inspired a story. It is usually an image, dream, or a phrase that pops into my mind. This time though I sat down to write and just thought to myself that I didn’t want to write in first person perspective. I wanted an epic starting line, but the more I tried to craft it the more a simple normal sentence came out. That is when I decided to start the story with something mundane and juxtapose it with something out of the ordinary.

While trying to come up with names I ended up picking the name of the town from an online D&D campaign I ran. This ended up shaping the town and a few characters. It certainly shaped my thoughts on the town I was writing about.

                It was a day that started like any other in the quiet country town of Hillsdale.  Farmers were up with the sunrise tending to their animals and eagerly awaiting the upcoming corn harvest.  A sole ship could be seen approaching the rarely used port in anticipation of being loaded with food shipments to the north.  More than a dozen fishing boats were already out to sea, each hoping to claim the momentary prestige granted by the largest catch of the day.  Nothing was out of the ordinary at all aside from the fact that the town hall was missing.

                Dozens of townsfolk lined the rim of the large hole where the town hall used to reside.  The edges of the hole were smooth and curved downward for thirty feet.  “It looks like something just scooped it right out of the ground with a giant spoon,” marveled Hazel the town baker.  Many of her neighbors agreed while others complained that everything always had to be kitchen related with her.  This led to additional mumblings with no one else offering a better comparison.

                “Where do you suppose Mayor Dale is?” asked bureaucrat Henderson.  As everyone well knew he hadn’t spared a moment to worry about the fate of the mayor.  He had long coveted the mayor’s title and looked for every opportunity to undermine him while positioning himself as the obvious successor.  While there were others who wished to see the mayor fail, Henderson had yet to succeed in winning a single supporter for him taking the position.  Simple obstacles like reality had never gotten in the way of his ambitions before and he certainly wouldn’t let them start now. 

                “Has anyone gone down to the bottom of the hole yet?  “Someone should probably do that,” suggested Herbert the haberdasher.   What he really meant though was someone other than himself.  Herbert was a well-known coward, but never let it be said that he wasn’t wearing a spectacular hat while expressing his cowardice.  On this morning it was a large brimmed black hat with a single feather sticking out of a red ribbon on the right side.  As was common his head was darting around trying to make sure that he knew where everyone was and what they were doing.  This was how he spotted Jeremiah, a local town boy of eleven.  “You there boy take a look at the bottom of this hole and see if there are any clues.”

                Jeremiah had been looking for any opportunity he could claim was permission since he first saw the hole.  “Yes sir,” he said far more politely than any of the gathered crowd had ever heard him be.  He knew that more responsible adults would soon step in to stop him, so he rushed over the rim and slid down into the hole.  The angle was steep at first, but years of riding a stollen shield down a rocky hill outside of town had prepared him for this moment.  With agility the older townsfolk were jealous of he remained upright until the ground leveled and even then he barely stumbled.

                The boy walked the remaining ten feet to the center of the hole.  There he found a handwritten note.  He looked up at the faces staring down at him expectantly.  Jeremiah assumed that they wanted to know what the note said.  He was just as curious because he had never learned to read.  Admitting to not knowing something Jeremiah as a strong independent boy would never do.  Instead, he yelled back up to the rim of the hole.  “If y’all wanna know what it says you best get a rope and help me out of here.”  He had debated trying to run up the sides, but there were too many people watching to see if he wasn’t successful.  There was no way he would embarrass himself like that.       

                A handful of folks ran off and after ten minutes Grezelda the Blacksmith returned with a long coil of rope.  She tied one end of the rope to the saddle on her horse and tossed the rest into the hole.  “Hold on tight boy,” she yelled down before mounting her steed.  Jeremiah tried to stay on his feet as the horse dragged him up the side, but the speed caught him off guard landing face first in the dirt.  A testament to his stubborn nature, his fingers did not leave the rope until he was out of the hole. 

                Jeremiah lay on the ground trying to catch his breath.  His body hurt in ways he didn’t know it could at his age.  This was an excuse he realized to not read the note without giving away that he couldn’t read.  Seeing a way to save face he played up his gasps and pain from being pulled by a horse.  He slowly reached into his pocket and pulled out the now crumbled note.  Holding it out he didn’t care who took it as long as they could read it before he slipped away. 

                The smug look on Henderson’s face was unmistakable as he held the letter high above his face.  “Listen up everyone,” he yelled.  He already had the town’s attention, but wanted to make it last as long as he could.  Part of him wondered if he should lie about the contents of the note, but without a way to destroy the original handy after reading he decided it was too big of a risk.  Looking down at the note he began to read it aloud.  “Come see the historic Hillsdale Town Hall at the brand-new Unity Frontier Museum.”  He read the note again to himself silently two more times trying to find any mistake in his reading.  There were no mistakes.

                “Someone from the capital stole our town hall?” asked Hazel the Baker.  “Can they do that?”

                “They’re the capital.  They can do whatever they want,” answered Grezelda bitterly.  Everyone knew her feelings about the capital.  She had come to the frontier to get away from what she referred to as that cesspool of stuck-up vipers.  “So did they take Mayor Dale with them?”

                “Did who take me with them?”  The town turned to see the mayor approaching with his hair still dripping wet from the bath house.  “Hey where’s my office?”  With the mystery solved and the mayor found the townsfolk wandered back to their daily tasks.  Now that the excitement was over the rest of the day continued just like any other day.