The Missing Servant (flash fiction)

"The Missing Servant" (flash fiction by Brenna Pierson)
“I know one of you knows where he is!” he raged. His face started to turn red. The familiar gritting and shaking teeth stared to show themselves. He raised his whip and snapped it onto the stone floor.

The group of servants trembled and huddle together in their stone shack, gazing at each other in fear—though it was hard to tell if they trembled and huddled in fear or from the piercing cold. And it was colder yet with “The Master” in their midst.

“We swear we don’t know,” said one brave servant. His thinning gray hair and toothless mouth reflected years of enslavement, of being treated like a rotting piece of flesh from the time he was born. Yet he was the bravest, perhaps because he has such little life left at that point.

“You’ll never pull one over on me!” yelled The Master. He stopped and took one look around at the group of servants, some of whom started backing away. Meanwhile, The Master started grumbling, “My dogs are smarter than you. Dogs know how to obey.”

The Master kept roving his gaze through the small crowd, probably eyeing each servant three times over. “You!” he suddenly said, thrusting an evil finger at a young female servant. “On the floor!” she could not have been older than a teenager.

“No!” she an older woman standing nearby, who looked a reflection of the teen dressed in rags.

The Master was unrelenting. “On the floor! Now!”

Hunching over, then painstakingly crouching onto the ground, the girl stooped onto all fours. The other servants backed away against the stone wall, some closing their eyes and hiding their faces, others looking on stoically, for even the youngest ones had witnessed these scenes too many times to count.

Still, The Master raised his whip and started his flogging. The whip ripped through the girl’s dress the instant it hit her. It tore through her flesh time and time again after that. He raised the whip and cracked it on her flesh. He raised the whip and cracked it on her flesh and tissue. He raised the whip and split the tissue apart.

The mother ran forward, and The Master cracked the whip against her face. She had a face no more.

***

The next evening, The Master, dressed in the grandest of his furred robes, strode atop his horse in the bitter cold. He sat straight, peering around at the forest. A thick snow piled up on the trees, and he looked round at the snowy landscape. Not a single snow creature stirred; the only company he kept was that of his dogs, a fine pack of three hounds poised for their upcoming hunt.

“We shall find him,” The Master said, lowly, to the dogs. “We shall find he who dares disobey his master, and you shall tear him limb from limb. He shall be an example…this missing servant.”

Suddenly, the sound steps on snow brushed lightly into his ear. He looked around the trees and the snow, the trees and more snow, and yet saw nothing.

The dogs began to move around. The Master put his hand in the “halt” signal. The dogs immediately obeyed and sat.

“Is that you, wretched servant?” The Master yelled. “Show yourself now, and perhaps your master will show some mercy!”

In a second, snarls filled the air. A blur of tan fur and teeth mixed with dog-like snouts was all The Master could see. He screamed and yelled in agony. His robed body fell and teeth ripped his robes off. They ripped his skin off. They ripped his flesh off. They split the flesh from the bone and devoured it.

The Master’s blood soaked all over the white ground as the pack of wolves enjoyed their warm meal in the snow. Meanwhile, The Master’s dogs remained motionless, only their eyes moving as the scene unfolded. The Master was being devoured, but they had been taught to obey the command of “halt.” It was a command they were to never break.

They knew how to obey.

A casual onlooker might also believe that they knew how to smile, as well.

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