Killing the Hydra: A ‘Flashes from the Garden’ Blog Post

Every week, I’ll post a little bit of creative fiction that hasn’t been published elsewhere. This might be a vignette, a poem, or sometimes an entire story. Hope you enjoy reading and feel free to post a comment below.

“Do you have the courage,” the man asks, “to unveil the treasures within you and lay them bare for everyone to see?”

He looks at me from behind a vase of petunias and dalias. Around this the table is laid with an ornate Chinese ceramic tea-set. Behind the man, hydra whips its three heads in fury. Fortunately, the beast is shackled at the back of the room, far away from us.

“The courage?” I ask. “You want me to fight that thing?”

“Why not? You’ve slain dragons and the end of the world and even gods in your fiction? What’s a three-headed hydra to you?”

The hydra lashes out one of its heads towards us and tears at its shackles, which diminish its impetus to charge. I take a sip of my oolong tea and then look back at the Chinese man and his Fu-Manchu. He’s sitting on a bamboo mat with his legs crossed.

“It’s my characters that slay such beasts,” I point out. “Not I. I know these characters are meant to be extensions of me and all that. But I don’t just go up to hydras and lop off their heads. For one, there’s the ethics of it. That hydra could be the only one left in the world, for all I know. And two, there’s no swords or other weapons around and I don’t know of any Greek hero who killed a hydra with a vase of flowers or a teapot…”

The Chinese man laughs. “You can use the boiling water,” he says.

“It’s a bloody hydra! You don’t kill off hydras with water. That’s just not done.”

I take a sip of my tea. How much do I miss those small cups and light flavours from when I used to live in China. The man smiles and he pours me another cup.

“So,” he says. “Have you decided? Will you kill it?”

“Haven’t I been through this already,” I say. “I don’t have the weapons I need.”

“Oh, but you do,” the man replies. “It’s in the ink of your pen. You want a sword, write one into this story. Or, if you want to be a little more sci-fi, a little more future tech then create a laser. Perhaps you want a damsel to win after the act, then she’s yours. Carrying a chalice of gold and studded with diamonds, perhaps. You can sell that at the local market and earn your fortune.”

I shake my head. “And I’ll kill off the last hydra alive.” It just doesn’t feel right. So, I create a UN Animal Rights Investigator to oversee the situation. His clothing is rather indistinct right now.

“Oh for goodness sake,” the Chinese man says, because it would have been a little out of place to have him refer to God. “You can create another hydra to replace it. Just kill the damn thing.”

I look back at him once more, at how animated he seems. I don’t know why this is so important to him. “Do it yourself,” I say. “If you have the courage.”

I dream up a samurai suit to cloth him in and I make him Japanese. I also give the animal rights investigator a UN peacekeeper costume and a machine gun.

Then, I wait to watch how this one pans out.

Cover image credit: Gustave Moreau from Wikimedia Commons

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

Recent Posts