“Pulpit duty Sam!” called Major Jack Larson. It was August 1915.
Shit! I lowered Ransome’s biography of Oscar Wilde.
Nicotine-stained fingers tossed me a small envelope containing white powder.
With cocaine surging through my brain, our BE9 experimental biplane roared upwards, leaving Farnborough far below. Before long, the English Channel sparkled, silver and luminescent beneath us.
Hitting the French coast we turned northwards, soon spotting our target, the ominous cigar-shape of a London-bound Zeppelin.
My body vibrated with the thunderous noise of the engine directly behind me, and, mounted in the wooden pulpit before me, lay our powerful Lewis gun, the magazine loaded with incendiary rounds, ready to ignite the airship – and its occupants.
Suddenly, hearing a high-pitched whine, I looked upwards, shielding my eyes against the sun. Something silver flashed and for the first, and only, time in my life I saw the glint of a Fokker Eindekker. I felt my guts emptying.
Then came the wasp-like buzzing of bullets and we were spiralling down towards the sparkling waves. Jack was gone and I cursed the BE9’s designers, knowing that in one minute the RAF-1a engine would impact my spine.
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories
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6 thoughts on “A Design for Death”
Sometimes the strictest restrictions spark the most creative pieces. ^_^
Well written piece!
Thanks Ida, that’s an interesting idea. I think a couple of my 100 worders are quite good in that respect, Dream of a Stone Horse and Speechless. I certainly like some kind of prompt to base a story around, rather than just being completely open-ended. Probably why I quite enjoy working to a word limit too!
I wonder what the inspiration was for this. I had never heard of the BE9 (though I like to think I’m fairly well versed in WWI aircraft).
Cocaine? Really? Never heard of the use of that either.
Hello Bill, the story had to start with the word Pulpit. I think I googled it and found out about the BE9. Everything in the story was carefully researched, mainly on Wikipedia – and I learnt a lot! In fact that story had the most research of the whole blog as far as I recall! Hope you enjoyed it anyway!
I wasn’t questioning the research (I had to look some things up after I read it, but before I commented). Certainly an unexpected direction with the “Pulpit” prompt. Was there a word limit too? Where did you get the prompt and limit?
Hi Bill, yes ‘pulpit’ wasn’t the easiest word to start with but I managed two with that prompt in the end. The other one was Mysterious Ways (you can find it via the index if you’re interested). I ran a 200 word fortnightly story group for a year, that’s where all the stories in that category came from (I wrote one a week myself). The first word and another in the body of the story were randomly selected.
In fact it just finished two days ago and I’m starting a 300 word group from the 16th October. If you’d like to contribute or just read the story collections drop me a line via the contact page.