I don’t think I’ve ever published this flash fiction writing prompt, that Ino and I did a while back.
There were children having a picnic in the cave when the fugitive crawled inside. It was a dull day, so they must have thought it more exciting to have a picnic inside the cave than on the beach at the foot of the cliffs.
He would have preferred not to speak to anyone, but at this stage of his escape he was feeling faint with hunger, so he stood up and waved his arms to get their attention.
“Please,” he said, “could you give me a little of your food?”
The children stopped chattering and froze for a moment, and then one little girl pushed over three chicken sandwiches from a piled-up plate. One of the boys looked at him suspiciously and asked, “what are you doing here, mister?”
How must he look to them, in his torn clothes? He picked up the sandwiches and began to explain before eating them.
“Thank you. I’m escaping from somewhere.”
“Where? Is it prison?” the boy persisted.
“Not exactly prison. A house of rough justice.”
The children frowned, not understanding him.
“I don’t want to say any more- I have to go. Thanks again for the sandwiches.” He hurried away, eating as he went.
The next cave was empty, so he went right to the back and wormed his way into a tunnel which the cave led into, and then he fled along the tunnel.
I always used to sleep in a cave hewn out of the cliffs when I came to the seaside town. No hotels for me- I live on the road, on the street in fact, and I’ve been called a beggar. But I don’t beg; I take temporary jobs in the places where I happen to be. If you ask for one of the jobs that no-one else wants, you can always find employment. Then if you sleep in the open air, or on rainy days inside a cave, you don’t waste money paying for a bed for the night.
Being a footloose rover has its advantages. Any trouble and you need never go back to the place. There was trouble one time under the cliffs, when I found a horde of gold bullion stashed at the back of a smuggler’s cave. The smuggler wasn’t convinced that I would keep quiet, so I tricked him into looking the other way and taking his eye off his gun, and then I ran into the sea and swam beneath the surface until I was far enough away.
He was right, I didn’t keep quiet, but nothing could be found later, when searching with a band of heavily armed volunteers. So I’m still on the road, but I don’t really regret it.
There was a red stripy bear in the cave as well, which I didn’t point out to the smuggler. I bet you don’t believe me about that- you think it’s a tall tale. But the human bones in the cave probably belonged to the smuggler. I wasn’t counting those when I said that nothing could be found.