The Fumble [Short Story]

Right now, our common purpose was waiting for the world to end.

The three of us sat around the table in silence. A flame overhead flickered. It seemed like an eternity even though we probably didn’t have too long. It had been a while since anyone had spoken, and our eyes were focused on the object lying in the centre of the table. Well, that’s a lie. The object used to be whole but now lay in many smaller objects.

The First of us, an older wizard with an aptitude for deeper thought finally broke the silence. “I,” he paused, “I’m not sure what to say.”


He continued on, “Well I guess that’s it. We’ve come all of this way and… well… hmm.”

Our gazes turned away from him and to the pink object; its several pieces sparkling in the dimness of the overhead flame.

“So,” I began, “what happens from here?” I wasn’t sure what else to ask. I’m not sure that any of us were.

We sat for a little while longer.

The First wizard coughed and then answered, “Well I’m not quite sure how to answer that. None of us has ever failed a prophecy. None of us has ever caused a world to end.”

I had to agree with him there. As far as I knew neither of the men around me had previously caused a world to end. I was certain I hadn’t.

The Second of us, looking as nervous as ever, piped up, “But we did the best we could. I mean we could look at the glass as half full, right?” He looked at each of us in turn for approval.

“After today there won’t be any glasses left. Half-full or empty,” the First replied.

“I thought you didn’t know how long this was going to take?” I asked irritably. If you haven’t figured it out already I am the Third wizard not that my introduction really matters now.

The First thought about this, coughed again, and responded, “I still don’t, but I can at least make some sort of educated guess. According to the prophecy, it should take around a day, no?”

At that, we all sat in silence.

Annoyance really started to settle in now. “Well, why don’t we ask Mr. Butterfingers here?” I shot a stern look at the Second.

He played with his hands nervously. Sweat dripped from his forehead. He jumped up from his seat as he began to explain himself. “Anyone could have lost it in that cavern while running away from a four-headed herald of the Apocalypse. And besides, why do I get the blame? What about the two of you?”

The First continued to stare at the glittering pile, not breaking his gaze. “You said you could handle things. You said we could trust you with the scroll in your satchel. But you threw the – and might I add quite exquisite – satchel at the dragon, shouting, ‘I appease you oh great God of the Netherworld. Do what you will with the others, but spare me.’ I believe those were your words, were they not?”

“Yes!” The second shouted. “Both of you were there. You ran as well!”

I reached for a piece of the broken crystal. The Second relit the overhead flame as soon as it went out. He was good for that, and the light invigorated the room. The crystal shone a rainbow of colours in the new light.

I felt the need to correct my second associate. “The dragon in question was the size of a dog. We hadn’t even reached the entrance of the actual cave yet. And after you threw away the scroll it attracted more than we’d bargained for. We ran after you, not with you.”

The Second sat back down and continued to play with his hands. Earlier he’d suggested we use a glue spell on the crystal, but had fumbled it and it seemed his hands were beginning to stick together.

“Well, I didn’t shatter the Crystal of Uzugel.” He mumbled loud enough for us to hear.

“No, no you didn’t,” the First replied. “But,” he continued, “that does fall on all of us. None of us proved strong enough for that trial.”

I guess it was my turn to answer, “I didn’t know it was that fragile,” I replied. “I mean I may have dropped it, but that’s not really my fault now is it?”

The First stood up and walked across the room to stare out of the window. “I too would have dropped it if the Banshee of Trignor Rock had flashed me. Lovely breasts.”

He stroked his long grey and white beard. “It’s starting.”

“They really were supple,” the Second said as we joined him at the window.

We all smiled and nodded our heads in agreement.

And the world ended.