Flash Fiction: Need a Hand?

This is my third piece featuring Nakul, who wields the ability to take on traits from nearby animals and use them. There is a cost though.

Photo by Rajitha Fernando on Pexels.com

This story is set in India. Below are definitions for the Hindi words you’ll find used in the story.

Mātā – mama.

Ajee! – Good gracious! Good Heavens!

Priya – Nakul’s deceased, older sister. 

Vaah! – Wow!

Are nahin – Oh no!

Ḵẖudā – diety, god, divinity

Lēnēvālā – taker 


Monsoon season dominated the countryside. A seemingly endless storm ebbed and waned, day to day, week to week and now month to month. Torrential rains submerged much of the landscape surrounding the village, its people patiently enduring this life-giving deluge.

From an outlying house, a restless boy stared out a doorway. Nakul was aching to venture outside. He was ever vigilant, scanning above for signs of any approaching respite in precipitation. The especially prolonged, heavy, soaking rain, the day began with, had miraculously ceased and a burgeoning patch of blue sky emerged high up in the sky.  

“Mātā! Mātā!”

“What is it Nakul?”

“The rain has stopped. I’m going out. I’ll stay close. I want to see how fat the stream is with rainwater.”

“Stay out of the stream, Nakul! It will be swift and the flooding disrupts the wildlife.”

“Yes, Mātā.” 

“Nakul! Your walking stick. In case of snakes. Remember, Priya. Ajee!.”

“Yes, Mātā. I remember.”

Nakul didn’t fear snakes, even the poisonous ones. He understood his mother’s dread, but he had never known his older sister. She died before he was born. 

Nakul’s favorite tree grew along the stream. He was surprised by the extent of the flooding. The familiar scene was strange and compelling. No longer along the banks, it sat within this new, swollen river.

“Vaah!” he exclaimed.

Nakul yearned to climb up and survey everything.

Reluctant to disobey his mother, the water posed a problem. He gave the situation some thought. Only a few steps would bring him to the trunk. Swishing the stick back and forth repeatedly, he probed the water. Nakul cautiously waded in. The water was just past his knees. Emboldened, he sloshed quickly to the tree and secured the stick into the submersed earth. His conscience nagged. Keen to leave the dangerous water, he blindly grabbed the lowest branch to pull himself up.

Straight away, he noted a difference. Expecting a rough, unyielding surface, his grasp instead sunk into something softer. The branch roiled. Pain lanced Nakul’s hand, jarring fingers, wrist and arm like an electrical shock. Releasing, pushing away, he stumbled backwards falling with a splash. Gaping upwards stupidly, Nakul recognized the markings of a king cobra. Dumbfounded, he peered down at two marks glistening like vibrant ruby pendants.

Finding his feet, Nakul ran. He sprinted. Adrenaline quicken his breath, his heartbeat and supercharged muscles. His frantic struggle accelerated the spread of venom throughout his body. His vision blurred and waves of dizziness disoriented him. Unbeknownst to Nakul, he was racing further away from his village. 

“Are nahin! Help! Somebody!”

Nakul struggled to breath. 

He collapsed to the damp ground in pain.

He tried to rise, but his limbs felt stiff and uncoordinated. 

“someone…help…anyone”

Nakul lay gasping, growing colder, knowing he was dying.

Moment bled slowing into moment.

He was lost and alone.

As he began to drift away from the pain, a voice shouted.

I’M COMING! DON’T GIVE UP!

Nakul searched feebly, seeing no one. But, an ember of hope flickered brighter.   

“help”

He fought to stay awake, alive.  

I’m here.

The voice sounded close.

“where?”

Here. Next to you.

Nakul turned his head to vaguely see an old, graying mongoose. Nakul understood animals didn’t speak, but he was young enough to accept this current incongruence with reality.

“A cobra bit me.”

I smell it.

“Mongoose. I’m dying.”

No. You are different. I can help. Accept my help. I am old with little time left. I will give you what I no longer need. You could demand it; take it from me, but I see you are unaware of what you are. I gift it to you. Take it.

“i …don’t know what you’re talking about…i don’t understand”

You are out of time. Let me help you.

how…how can you help

Trust me.

“ok.”

An ever so sight pain pinched Nakul. The little beast had bit his wounded hand. Now, a warm itchiness oscillated up his arm.

He felt the mongoose’s nip only added insult to injury.

Nakul wondered if the mongoose was hungry.

The thought was absurd. 

“why did you bite me?”

Giving you something only a mongoose possesses…so you may live.

Nakul felt a sweat break out. A buzzing in his ears intensified, drowning out all other sounds. He felt as if his very blood was boiling within. Somehow, he knew a battle was raging and his side was winning.

Time passed and finally all was still and silent.

The pain was gone.

“I feel better. I don’t understand?”

A mongoose is immune to snake venom. Now, you are too.

“But, how?”

Most men don’t have the speech and the ability to assume power from us. To us you are Ḵẖudā. Your kind calls you Lēnēvālā.

Nakul sat up. Observing his hand, the wound appeared now only as a bite from something non-poisonous like the checkered keelback snake. Gazing up, he startled seeing the mongoose lying prone with labored breathing.

“What’s wrong!?”

I too… change. You have given… in return… a part of yourself.

Nakul sat by the mongoose gently stroking its fur, watching in disbelief as glossy, dark brown hair replaced its grey, grizzled appearance. Suddenly, the mongoose was up. It stretched and bounced around. 

This is a tremendous boon! Youth returns! You have given me some of your natural longevity.

Nakul pondered this. He knew mongoose typically lived a fraction of the time a person might. 

“Am I going to die now?”

Hmm, I need a good look at you.

The mongoose jumped around Nakul sniffing. Satisfied with his inspection, he peered up at in Nakul.

You smell the same to me. Humans live forever to a creature such as me.

But, something else felt different to Nakul. Watching the mongoose catch and tear apart a large beetle with sharp canines, he realized what was different. Feeling inside his mouth, he confirmed it was full of sharp, pointy, jagged, canine teeth.

“Look you gave me your teeth too!”


Word Count: 1000.

Courtesy of Prompt Titled: Need a Hand?

By THESOLITARYWORDSMITH at PROMPTUARIUM.

Great sources for writing prompts! Please go visit and subscribe to their website!

Flash Fiction: Caged

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

(Still have the characters, Indali and Nakul rattling around in my head. Here’s a longer piece revealing more of their story.)


Nakul dawdled about Indali’s isolated jungle dwelling. He lackadaisically played at keeping a guava from a small, wiry, animal. 

“I’m bored. Can we go explore?”

Indali understood “we” meant only the boy and the mongoose.

“Please.” 

Nakul’s voice cracked. He had seen about twelve rainy seasons Indali guessed. How long before he chose to leave? She promised to protect him, but he was discontent hiding from others. 

“Finish gathering the firewood first.” 

Nakul perked up.  

“Can we go into the cave today? It’s been ages since I’ve asked.”

Indali marveled he still asked instead of simply doing what he wanted. 

“No. I told you when I see better command of your senses.”

“I am in control. I hear and only listen. I can quiet the urge.”

“Yes… you’re improving.”

“Why don’t you trust me, Indali?”

“I do, Nakul. But, inhospitable terrain increases the likelihood of unwittingly losing yourself within your animal connection. You must continually remind yourself you are human.”

“Remembering is easier living amongst people; not trapped here.” he groused. 

Indali stiffened.

“Try. You’ll be dead or imprisoned.”

Nakul realized he had pushed Indali too far. He gently held her hand. The python slithered closer sensing the woman’s distress. 

“What happened Indali? Tell me. Help me understand the danger.”

“There are things worse than death, Nakul. They caged me, presented me to the world as an oddity. ‘Only a rupee to view the crushing strength of the python girl!’ I try to forget.”

Nakul squeezed her hand reassuringly. He waited for her to tell him more. 

“When the Raja took notice… I became… the royal torturer and executioner.”

Indali looked down at the snake.

“It’s one thing to kill to eat; it being your nature to do so. It’s another to needlessly… squeeze the life out of a person… just to satisfy the whims of corrupt men.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It was time you knew.” 

“Indali, it wasn’t your fault. They would have killed you.”

“I was afraid to die, so I murdered.”

“I see good in you, Indali.”

Indali smiled wanly at her ward. She hugged Nakul. 

“I understand now this is stifling for you.” gesturing to the surrounding jungle. “Where you struggle to remember you are human.”

“It’s not that bad. I like listening to the animals. I just listen like you told me. I only talk to the mongoose. I promise.”

“I believe you.”

Indali straightened, breathed deeply, and looked around as if searching.

“I’ll collect the remaining wood for today’s fire. There’s another task you can do.”

“What is it?” 

“Bees have taken up new residence just up the river. If you listen carefully and… say a few coaxing words you should return with some honey.”

“You mean I can speak to them?”

“Gently, no demanding. Only ask. Bees tend to be generous when approached humbly. Flattery helps.”

“But…” 

“No danger asking when you acknowledge it is something only the bee should do. We’ve talked about this.”

“Yes. I understand.”

“It’s an exercise in the art of control. I see now you are ready to try more.”

Nakul’s face beamed. He danced about excitedly. 

“Thank you, Indali!”

“No, thank you, Nakul. I hadn’t realized in attempting to stay safe, I fashioned a cage for myself and you.”


Initially, got close to 1000 words. Enjoyed whittling this down to 544 words. Clearing away what’s unnecessary is often a struggle.

Courtesy of Prompt: Reminded Her.

By THESOLITARYWORDSMITH at PROMPTUARIUM.

Great sources for writing prompts! Please go visit and subscribe to their website!