Number seven in the series of Flash Fiction challenges.
G is for Grindylow
This week we’re stretching the definition of ‘British’ in our Myths and Legends series. Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon saga, which technically predates most of the modern geographical divisions we might recognise today. And it’s set entirely in Scandinavia.
But it’s written in Old English, and it’s where we meet the very first of the dragons in the mythology of the British Isles. There is another connection, too.
You might know the name from the Harry Potter series, but they’ve a long history in Britain before that. They’re nasty, lake-dwelling denizens that snatch people (particularly children) from the shallows and drag them to their deaths in the deep. Grendel’s mother in the Beowulf saga is arguably the progenitor of the entire mythical species, as she shares a lot of characteristics with them.
Grindylows are just one of a number of boogeymen used to scare children and adolescents into avoiding dangerous locations, a task that fell to terrifying public information films in the 1970s.
So I’ve chosen Grindylows, and tried to hear the voice of Donald Pleasance in my head as I wrote…
G Is for Grindylow
The claws sliced into his calf muscle, digging deep into his young flesh to tighten their grip. The inexorable, irresistible force pulled him deeper, the icy water not soothing the burning in his lungs. He forced his eyes open, fought the stinging to glimpse a dark green scaly hand wrapped around his leg. A long, wiry arm led back into the gloom, and he just made out two vast pale eyes, full of hatred above a slice of a mouth, full of fangs.
His vision faded; was it the depth, the murky water, or was he dying? Someone had once told him drowning was painless, like falling asleep, but how could they know? He would have to correct them, describe the agony and terror if he ever got the chance. He would certainly listen when someone told him not to stray too close to the water. If he got out of this, he would warn everyone. Please, he thought. Please let me tell them.
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