An Early Childhood Chapter 24 Part 6


An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock surreal autobiography, narrated by a fictional Irish war hero, champion bodhran player, and television presenter. Its first chapter is here. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt), as well as time travel adventure, pop culture, and literature of various kinds.

Continued from Chapter 24 Part 5.

Original photo by Chuck Sutherland.

               The sudden gust of wind whipping my face and body startled me at first, but I recovered some composure before slamming into the cliff face on the other side, striking it with my whole ventral surface, like some kind of a nematodal flatworm. I found my grip immediately as my left foot lodged in a tiny crevice, and I began to make my way up to the top, an expression of determined concentration on my face. It took me a good five minutes before my bloody hands found their way to the cliff’s edge at the top, the edge which for the moment ensured my survival.

                “Watch out, Paddy!” Tancred screamed from the other side.

                I ignored the warning, eager to fulfil my mission, pulling myself up so that my legs dangled off the ledge, my lower abdomen on the edge. My eyes met with a pair of boots, large in size and black in colour. My eyes moved slowly upward to meet with the ancient but powerful ghoulishly pale face. I smiled, I almost laughed. Floudh Rak’s hand released the bundle of arrows and the rope they were tied to.

                “You took the lives of most of my flock, Flanagan,” he said. “Now, join them in death.”

                Floudh Rak laughed. I laughed, grabbing the bolt which had landed next to my right hand on the cliff. It seemed that everyone was happy and laughing away, until Floudh Rak drew back his foot and booted me in the face, seconds after I pulled the longbow from my shoulder. I fell back off the cliff, blood spurting from my nose as I did so. Floudh Rak disappeared from sight as I fell helplessly downwards, the cliff top growing more and more distant.

                “Nooo!!” I could hear Tancred scream as my life flashed before my eyes.

                “I’m not going to die today,” I remember saying if only to myself, as I drew back the bolt in the bow and blindly let fly, with one eye closed, aiming the multi-arrowed bolt up with the clarity and vision of a slo-mo action figurine.

                It whistled upwards, striking the one branch of the tree that hung over the cliff. It plunged into the bark, embedding itself for a quarter of a second or so before the slack diminished on the rope and I was jerked up and remained still a quarter of the way down the cliff face. I grabbed hold of a jut in the rock just as the bolt pulled itself out of the wood due to my weight and the rope fell down past me. I quickly found holds for my hands and feet before beginning my ascent back up the cliff. Blood trickled out of my nose and rolled down from my forehead, tickling my upper lip.

Continued in Chapter 24 Part 7.