“Mud” – a short story

My story “Mud,” which earned a kind honorable mention from Sørina Higgins as she announced the Week 1 winners of Mythguard Institute’s “Almost an Inkling” flash fiction contest. The prompt was to write a story about portals to another world in a maximum of 333 words. It is posted here for your enjoyment.


“They call you Mud?”


The tiny blue king frowned at the pajamaed boy whose reclining body covered the dry hill. “Who does?”

“People at school.” He shrugged, giant shoulders sending loose dirt and curls of dust down the hillside.

The wind zipped by in a peevish way, annoyed that the ground was still barren. The king ignored this. “Friend,” he said, firmly, reassuring. The boy rolled over, looked at him sadly. “I too am tired of my world.”

Mud was confused. He saw only new wonders: rolling plains leading to a purple sea, flocks of four and six-winged birds singing above white sands, and a city of painted mollusk shells full of tiny blue people. “Why? It looks so much nicer than mine.”

The king waved his scepter over parched hills and plains. “Drought. I miss the soughing of scarletgrass in the westward wind. The bubbling fountains. Sweet lemonade. My city will soon die without fresh water. If we could only fill our reservoir….well, we could make it, then.”

“Wait!” Mud’s excited cry echoed over the plains; the king covered his ears.

Then it happened, in reverse of the way it had happened a few hours earlier. Mud motioned like he was throwing something from off his head….and vanished.


            Back in his bed, Mud threw off the blanket and ran to the kitchen. Soon he sat in his bed again with a large glass of water between his knees, several more within reach. The blanket went up over his head….


            The reservoir gurgled and overflowed, filling aqueducts and pipes leading to the city. Water from other glasses wetted the plains and hills.

“Smell that sweetness, O our hero-friend?” laughed the king.

“What is it?”

“Petrichor. New water on thirsty ground. And your new name here, to be followed by many glorious titles.”

Petrichor smiled. In the painted mollusk-shell city the tiny blue people cheered his new name, and all about him were new shoots of scarletgrass, a-whispering in the wind.




  1. jubilare says:

    I love this so muchly yes. It gives me chills, which is one of my favorite sensations when reading a story. It means there are undercurrents and magic in the words. And the very idea of Petrichor being a name, and a heroic one, at that, makes me squee. I think you were the first one I ever heard that word from, and it’s become one of my favorites ever since. I’m a bit jealous for not thinking of it as a name before you did.

    1. David says:

      Aww, thanks. I’ve had the idea of someone named Mud earning a new name of Petrichor for some time, but hadn’t found a use for it until now. I do like the story, and am rather proud of how much the story conveys in such a small space. Just a small glimpse of things God is teaching me. +) And knowing that it gives you chills is a tremendous encouragement!

  2. Krysta says:

    This is a truly lovely story, and you managed to convey an entire arc in the short space allotted, which is quite difficult–I am impressed! (I’m afraid I’m always a bit annoyed by flash fiction that just ends because of the word limit.) Thank you for sharing!

    1. jubilare says:

      I agree, that is a problem with flash-fiction from a storytelling standpoint. Though I will say that, as an exercise at least (and sometimes as an art form, as with sonnets… though I am rubbish at writing sonnets) arbitrary constraints can be great tools. There is something about having having a framework to push against that can spark creativity. I think it forces us to think outside the box (or at least outside our comfort zones). And word-count constraints are great for teaching someone how to edit. ^_^

    2. David says:

      You’re welcome, and thank you for the kind comment. It’s a fun challenge, because only certain types of stories are really suited to flash fiction. Most of my early attempts at short stories were really just vignettes taken from a larger imagined story, and they didn’t work on their own that well. But “Mud” would probably not have been written if I didn’t have to think within the 333 word limitation.

      1. Krysta says:

        I haven’t written much flash fiction, but the idea of structure appeals to me, as does the short format (since I’ve always worried I wouldn’t be able to sustain a really long piece). I do think that having such strict guidelines forces creativity, in a way, as you have to think of novel ways to convey information within the space–I’m thinking it’s particularly difficult to create mood and get that sort of lyrical beauty into a piece of flash fiction, since there isn’t as much room to add in all those lovely adjectives, scenery descriptions, etc. But you manage to convey such a vivid world and have that lyrical quality (it’s such an overused phrase, I know, and I’m sorry) despite the word limit–and still have a full arc. I’m just going to sit here in amazement and admire it a bit more.

        1. David says:

          You’re very kind to say so, and I’m so glad my story provided some joy and beauty for you.

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