100 Themes 021 - Vacation

I... don't deal well with enforced relaxation. In fact, I hate it. That's why my writing output goes down when the holidays are on. As a teacher, it's hard to get around the Summer holidays. How Erik feels in this is pretty much spot-on.

Erik von Nesslinger was a character created for a forum RPG a while ago. I recently toyed with resurrecting him but, thinking about it, he's freaking whack; I mean, he's Sean Connery in my head, with a sniping crossbow; what fun is that? The physics of that alone is impossible, the idea that you could have a crossbow that was accurate over a long enough distance to make sniping possible. Unless someone wishes to correct me, Erik will never see the light of day (and now I feel like a kidnapper with a hostage).


Erik stretched, yawning, and turned over. It seemed like years had passed since coming here, but it had only been four days. The quartet of marks scraped into the wall seemed to mock him.

The house on the seafront was in the shadow of a cliff, sharing two of its walls with a deep cleft worn over time. The sea crashed noisily onto the sand at least half a mile away and seagulls soared above him, lazily flapping their wings. He yawned again, and sat up.

The hammock wasn’t particularly comfortable, he thought, so why did he keep lying in it? More for want of something to do, rather than in any real hope, he wandered over to the letterbox and opened the little metal door. With a sigh, he peered inside.

There was a letter.

He drew it out between finger and thumb and stared at it. A little thrill of excitement ran through him. Neat black handwriting flowed smoothly over the heavy ivory paper of the envelope: Mr Erik von Nesshlinger, and then his address.

Erik tapped the envelope against his other hand as he walked slowly back to the uncomfortable hammock. The letter could be anything. Any number of things. It could be a job, gods be praised if it was. This enforced vacation was driving him insane.

He cast an eye wistfully over Cold Fire, his crossbow. It lay in the corner, propped up, a thin layer of dust coating it. A mission. Something to do. He could get up from his hammock, stop drinking as soon as midday has passed, start wearing shoes again and go back to his exercise regime. He opened the envelope, but paused before pulling the letter out, savouring the moment.

The paper was heavy, folded into three, and it rasped as he opened it up. He took in the seal at the top, some sort of company mark; the opening lines caught his eye, and he held his breath, hoping.

‘Dear Mr von Nesslinger, CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to be entered into a prize draw for-‘

Rage stabbed through him suddenly, but then the haze settled again, the fug that kept him from focusing. He contemplated screwing the letter up, but instead just opened his fingers, letting it drift to the ground.

The sea continued to roar in the background as a slight wind set the hammock swinging again.