Flash: Small Wings

Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash (Cropped and Color Adjusted by Erin Penn)

Someone wanted him here. The geocache might as well have made for him, taking him from one end of the city to the other on his skateboard for the last four hours. A couple of clues…. well, he had fallen for it.

Raff looked around the empty parking garage, his stomach saying it wasn’t empty. He learned to trust his gut a long time ago. The sibilant hiss of pipes in the ceiling and tires echoing from the streets above seemed too loud. Spreading his legs to drop his center of gravity, he called his true self to the surface, giving his eyes the ability to see elsewhere. As soon as his wings appeared, black snakes rose out of the shadows and raced at him, sliding back and forth on the cement.

His Cupid bow released three arrows before they had closed half the distance, and he hoped for some gender differences between the snakes, or at least a beneficial, to him, sexual orientation, so the lust would distract them. No effect. Snapping down his skateboard where it leaned against his leg, he jumped on it, using his right foot to push it hard, and he beat his tiny wings for what little help they could give to move faster.

The ramps all led up. The final stage of the geocache was in the bottom of the old Sears catalog building, three floors below ground. One of the periodic bumps lifted the board off the ground enough he turned it on edge to use a column to bank, aiming up a ramp. Two lights behind him snapped off; no sparks or flares, just dark. Spinning on the board to look behind, he saw the snakes enter one end of the deep shadows and exit the other end the next instant.


Well, two can play at that game. Rounding another column, he reached out and crushed a chunk out. Twisting the board around, he took aim and threw the mass of concrete at one.

It sailed through the insubstantial creature.

The way the snakes were acting, they weren’t going to be insubstantial when they closed.

His arrows had hit them.

He likely could hit them too, thanks to his frisky pop’s sperm donation to his mom. Eros, like every Greek god in existence, couldn’t keep it under the toga, and Mom was never what you would call discerning in her choice of male companionship. But Eros was no Zeus, and Raff was no Hercules. Snakes would win if he wrestled. Coils trump arrows.

Making for a bank of bright lights, hoping to slow them down, Raff switched his push leg. Did Psyche send the snakes after him in revenge for Cupid’s wandering ways, like Hera did on Hercules? She hadn’t seemed upset, just tired, when Eros brought him by at age thirteen to get his bow. The one and only time he met his dad.

Maybe one of the other living mortal Cupids were ticked off at the new guy. But he wasn’t the new guy anymore, Shewon over in Tibet had that dubious honor, hitting thirteen last week. At nineteen, Raff was now one of the old guys and no longer the most powerful Cupid and well glad to be rid of it. Were any of the other twelve pissed off at him and had been waiting for his powers to drop?

The lights slowed them down. Though a few of florescent winked out so shadows became available for the snakes to slither through, the deep dark allowing the teleportation they had used before did not result. Raff had vaguely missed that aspect of being the head Cupid once he had his life back; having a life way outweighed the benefits of the extra magic, even if that life mostly focused on earning his GED after six year helping strangers hook up. Now he really wanted to blink up to the afternoon sunlight to keep his life, sad though it was, intact.

The ramp between level B and A was completely in the dark. He jumped off the board, flipped it into his hands and ran up the pavement.

The fastest snake exited the dark at the same time he did, snapping at his feet with its triangular head. Triangle means poison, right? Missing out on all of high school killed everything science. Popping around the world let him see its wonders, but he didn’t understand any of it. Fortunately his high ankle sneakers kept the fangs from breaking skin. Calling his bow back to his hands, he dropped his board, swung the bow to crack the creature on its jaw, then ran once he was free to jump on the board and start moving again. The first shadow snake’s brethren joined it after it reoriented on him.

Too close. He wasn’t going to make it.

(words 807; first published 8/26/2018)