Number ten in the series of Flash Fiction challenges.

J is for Jack

There’s a strong tradition in fairy tales of calling the male protagonist ‘Jack’. Jack be nimble, Jack Frost, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack Sprat, he shows up everywhere. So that set me thinking… is he the same person? And yes, the Simpsons used this idea as a throwaway gag when Homer’s a kid pestering his father with questions, but I came to like the idea of Jack being this put-upon hero called in to defeat the latest existential peril threatening his town.


J is for Jack

The hammering at the door echoed in Jack’s bones. He leaned over in his chair, peered through the half-glazed door into the outer office, and winced at the pain in his head. Jill’s vinegar poultice wasn’t helping at all.

Another barrage at the front door. Where was Jill?

Jack retrieved the flask from his desk drawer, gulped down a burning mouthful, and then tucked it into his jacket pocket. With a groan and crackling knees he made it to his feet, steadied himself against the desk while the nausea passed, and tramped into the reception area.

More thumping. The frosted glass of the door rattled in the frame. Jack took a deep breath, flung the door open wide and allowed himself a small internal smile at the way all three men jumped backwards in unison.

The largest of the three regained his composure first. “Jack?” he enquired. “Of Jack & Jill’s Investigations?”

Jack peered pointedly at the gold lettering adorning the glazed half of the door.

“Right, yes,” said the largest man.

“We have a problem,”said the smallest man.

“A big one,” said the middle-sized man.

Jack walked back inside, moved behind his desk and flopped into the chair, which protested with a rusty squeak. The men hesitated a moment, before following him and occupying the stiff upright chairs facing the desk.

“Giants cost extra,” Jack said.

“Of course,” said the largest man, dabbing himself with a yellowed handkerchief.

“Five hundred a day, plus expenses.”

“Right,” said the smallest man.

“Expenses include, but are not limited to, one: wear and tear on magical items; two: travel, lodgings, food and drink; three…”

“We agree,” said the middle-sized man. He produced a drawstring bag from his coat, and placed it heavily on the desk. It clanked.

“No cash discount,” Jack added.

All three men nodded.

Should have asked for eight hundred, Jack thought. What he said, with a sigh, was: “Who and where?”

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This project is inspired by the ’Alphabet Superset’ challenge by Struthless . The Music is ‘Alice in Dark Wonderland’ by Aleksey Chistilin , licensed via Pixabay .

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again soon.