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Flash Fiction Contest Winner


“Untitled” – Shawn Hambright

By all accounts, the elephant is alive somehow, and still on fire. Some posit that the creature is possessed by those killed in a slave rebellion in the nineteenth century. Others see biblical connotations in that the mayhem has continued for seven days. No one has put forth the idea that Grip is destroying our town simply because he wants to.

“Cover the circus,” my editor told me, whatever that meant. Guy spits fire. Wild animals subjugated for entertainment. An inordinate amount of clowns exit a tiny car. Patrons take blurry pictures on their phones. Good copy. The elephant, Grip, stands triumphantly on its hind legs, in the process knocking over a fire-spitter. Fifteen dead. Twelve thousand pound elephant on the loose. Great copy.

Police and Animal Control are flummoxed. There’s a curfew, but you can still see townspeople, even survivors of the disaster, hiding in windows and doorways, keeping their phones and cameras charged and ready should the ghastly behemoth make another appearance, another attack. Maybe Grip wasn’t panicking, maybe he saw his way out and took it.

My deadline approaches. This building is burning. I hear the crackling flame, I smell the smoke, and I type. I type in the same place I have for years, as I have for years: lashing out at the whole world from a tiny, insignificant corner of it. Wishing it were everything, everyone else destroyed, reduced to hot cinders, then ash, then dust, then nothing.

Instead of only me.

Shawn Hambright

Shawn is a video editor and producer who has called Richmond home since 2005. He is a co-founder of Double Take, a Richmond-based production company. Shawn performs improv comedy at the Coalition Theater, where he also produces videos, and directed 2017’s Halloween sketch show, “Scream Dream”. It’s a great honor for him to be included in Poe‘s birthday celebration.

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