Flash Fiction Story: Rhododendron by Ben Fuller

(This is a short story that I wrote for a Flash Fiction group that I participate in on Facebook. The theme was “Rhododendron”. It was posted originally on Blogmaster2000.com on 2-1-12)

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes,” Pete said as he stared back at Mike for a beat longer than was probably absolutely necessary. “Seriously.”

Mike laughed and said, “Man, that is so completely lame.”

“Really lame, “ agreed James.

“Why?” Pete asked as his dander started to build.

“Your character is a Berserker, man. Why would a Berserker name his winged, flying battle steed after a little flower? Totally out of character.”  Mike was on the point of guffawing and then switched tactics and smirked at James instead.

“Completely out of character,” agreed James.

Pete gritted his teeth and said, “First off, I don’t think it is unreasonable that a Berserker would have a poetic side at all. And secondly, he is half Berserker/half Druid! So, it makes perfect sense that he would name his flying horse after a flower.”

“Pete, if he is half druid, wouldn’t Birch or Evergreen be a better name?” James said, providing less help than usual as he tried to assert a stronger opinion into the conversation.

“Shut up, James!” Pete and Mike said in unison.

Mike took pole position and continued on, “And who has a character that is half Berserker and half Druid? That is so completely stupid. Who has a half Druid character at all? Ever?”

“Shows you how much you know,” Pete began his well rehearsed rebuttal that he had practiced endless times in the mirror at home while his parents were in bed asleep. “For your information, having my character be half berserker and half druid creates the perfect….”

“Ppppfffftttt!” Mike said in what he must have felt was an admirable economy of words. “You can’t be all lovey-dovey, nature, granola eating one moment and axe chopping Kobolds and Succubae the next without experiencing some kind of internal emotional or psychological damage. You should have to make a saving roll every time you heal someone or kill someone.”

“What!”

“Pete, your character is on the verge of a psychotic break at any given moment.”

“Psychotic break,” agreed James.

“That is ridiculous.”

Mike shook his head sadly, “I don’t think so. And as the DM, I think I have an obligation to uphold the integrity of the game here.”

“What!”

“Integrity of the game here, “ agreed James.

“Shut up James! Mike, that is completely unfair! I have been playing this character for 6 months now.”

“I don’t know what to say, Pete,” Mike tried to sound reassuring, but only barely.

“But the Druid part is almost 12th level and the Berserker just became 15th level. I would have to start all over with a brand new character,” Pete said almost quietly as he dropped his face onto his character sheets laid out in front of him on the game table.

“I’m sorry, man, but it seems the conflicting sides of his nature have weakened him over time and battles to where he isn’t thinking straight any more. That would explain why he wants to name his airborne mount after a flower.”

“Come on!” Pete slammed his sweaty open palms down on the table, making the figurines, papers and dice jump up several inches. “Not remotely fair! Just because you don’t like the name of his horse.”

“Pegasus,” said James.

“Shut up, James,” Mike and Pete said in unison.

Mike turned to Pete and pinned him with his DM face, “Roll.”

“Oh, man…”

“Sorry, it’s not me. It’s the game. You know it’s the right thing.”

Pete reached reluctantly for 3 six-sided die and held them tightly to his chest while his left hand cupped his right hand as if in prayer. He then shook the die and threw them on the table. “Wait!! What am I rolling for?”

“Oh!! That’s gotta sting. Your half-berserker/half-druid has had a momentary psychotic break and has attacked his mighty winged steed with his battle axe and decapitated it in one fell swoop.”

Pete pushed himself back from the table in resignation and frustration, and shook his head sadly. “Totally not fair.”

“I’m sorry, man, but you know it’s not me, right?” said Mike.

“Yeah, I know. It is what it is,” said Pete. “We’re cool.”

“Cool,” Mike looked relieved and then turned to James, a growing grin on his face. “Okay James, now you. You have found this baby fire dragon and it has bonded with you. What are you going to call him? And prepare to roll…”

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