Week Eight Winner: The Holy Island by Karl A. Russell

“Oh, don’t be so bloody flaccid!

David gripped the rusty railing tightly as Marsha’s voice echoed across the valley. Afraid to lift his feet from the worn stone, he shuffled after her.

“Marsha, I don’t think-”

“Of course you don’t think; You never do. Daddy says you’re brainless. Spineless too.”

Across the bridge, another tourist couple paused to watch, smiling. Marsha swore at them and they hurried away. She sighed theatrically.

“Do you have to make a holy show of yourself?”

She stomped on , silk scarves billowing in her wake, and David followed slowly, eyes fixed firmly forward, hand tight on the rail.

At the edge of the island, a cluster of sellers hawked souvenirs of the holy place. Marsha haggled loudly with a local, drawing more smiles, and David wondered if he could slip by, but she’d seen him.

“Look David! This one is trying to rip me off.”

The girl smiled sheepishly at him, holding up a handful of crude pendants, painted with the famous image of the island hanging above the sea like a teardrop. She was young and pretty, and he smiled back.

“How much?”

She held up a hand, fingers splayed.


He handed her a colourful bill and she pressed against him to hang a pendant around his neck. He almost forgot how high up they were.

Marsha squawked indignantly.

“David! That’s practically a whole pound!”

“Come on Marsh, it’s probably a week’s wages here. We can afford it.”

“Oh, it’s simple when you’re spending someone else’s money isn’t it? You’d be nothing without Daddy’s help, David. Nothing!”

She stamped away, sending up dust billows.

David’s lungs froze as the air suddenly thickened. He struggled for breath, wondering if he was about to drop dead, and if Marsha would notice before she was finished. Then he breathed freely again, and he realized from the panic around him that they had all felt it.

All except Marsha.

Stomping across the bridge, she ordered him back to the hotel, to London and divorce court. He took a step after her, hoping to calm her, but realized that the air changed exactly where the bridge met the island. Looking down, he saw cracks appearing in the stone.

Vertigo slammed him sideways and he swam towards the rail, but the metal buckled and fell, twisting on its long descent to the sea. He fell back against the island, a foot now above the crumbling bridge.

Marsha screamed, turned to him, but the stone between them disintegrated. Countless hands grabbed him, hauling him up as the island continued to rise. He felt the air thicken again as they accelerated, the Earth dropping away beneath them.

He sat there as they rose, watching Marsha become a speck far below. He waved to her, once, then the clouds obscured the distant land.

He stood carefully, the girl helping him, still clutching a handful of glowing, pulsing pendants.

He smiled at her, realized he was no longer scared of falling.

“I’m Dave.”

Karl A. Russell comes from the North West of England, where he lives with his wife and five year old daughter (his toughest critics). He’s been writing on and off for his whole life, but only started to actually finish and submit things a couple of years ago, when the spectre of turning 40 started looming in the not too distant future. He can be found most weekends posting at Flash! Friday and The Angry Hourglass.

Karl is currently working on a novel, which he might get to the end of this time, if he doesn’t waste all his spare moments on Twitter. If you want to read more of his work, his pay-what-you-want charity collection is available here.

2 thoughts on “Week Eight Winner: The Holy Island by Karl A. Russell

  1. Rasha Tayaket

    Well done. Great imagery. It really felt like it was the Holy Land itself that was rejecting Marsha. Very hate-able character in such a short story – thanks for sharing.


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