One Man’s Trash

I vented out loud as I tossed another rock. How can something be both blessing and ? “Easy,” the old man said. “It’s all about perception. Like treasure and trash.” He patted his ancient rock wall and nodded toward my rock pile to illustrate his point.

“I spent a bit of time building this wall,” he said. “But I started out like you. Cursing my treasure and throwing it aside like trash.” I looked at him, eyes wide. “You’re kidding, right? That wall must be more than a hundred years old.” He winked. “Your turn now.

“What do you mean?” I asked. Dread coiled up in my gut. “Like I said,” he answered. “It’s your turn now. I’ve a hundred years at this task. Your arrival here means the curse is broken. For me, anyway.”

“Now listen closely, before you get caught up in trying to escape. This curse has rules, as all curses do.” I stopped in my tracks. He went on. “For a #hundred years you cannot leave. On the hundredth day of the hundredth year, you can summon a replacement.”

My mind rebelled from what I was hearing. A curse of this sort in this day? Such an #alien concept. It just couldn’t be. Yet, some urgency compelled me to ask questions. Get more information. Just in case. My need to know overrode the need to run and I turned back.

“My suggestion,” the old man offered, “is to make that day count. Don’t run to town crying for help. No one listens to that. Think about it. What brought you here?” I considered that. It was the promise of a little #green. A quick job for quick cash.

Impulses ran through my mind in a ninety-to-nothing . This is absurd. Run! No. Too many questions. It’s crazy. Go! But what if he’s telling the truth? One question burned to be asked. “How on earth would I know what day is the hundredth day of the hundredth year?”

“And what if I don’t even live that long?” I asked, cutting short his answer about the time-keeping issue. The old mans eyes glimmered. “You will. For as long as this curse is active, no harm can reach you. Injuries, #poison… nothing will kill you.”

“Whoever even came up with this curse, anyway?” I asked. “And why?” With a roll of his eyes and a deep sigh, the old man replied. “It was a , if you must know.” I rolled my eyes back at him. “I don’t think you know the meaning of that word.”

“A name,” I said through clenched teeth. “Give me a name, old man.” I’d had enough of this old man’s senile ranting. “I can’t. It’s ,” he said. My fear dissipated, leaving rage, driven by irrational, insatiable curiosity.

It surprised me to feel such depth of rage. “I should go,” I said, the rest of my sentence silent. *Before I hurt you, old man.* But try as I might, I could not get my feet to move. He shook his head slowly as he watched. “Even if you them, it won’t help,” he said.

“Listen up now. It’s happening,” the old man whispered. “Keep track of time. Count today.” A passed over me. I still couldn’t move and I panicked. “Don’t worry. You will feel again. And hunger… I’m so hungry. And I you.” He faded and I cried out.

your anger with purpose. Mark your days without fail…” The cursed earth’s grip on my feet loosened as his voice dissipated. In the first hysterical moments after, I slammed the invisible boundaries of my incarceration, bloodied nose and toes for testament.

The wall suddenly made sense as the sun threw long shadows across my face. The old man’s “One man’s trash…” comment made sudden sense. How to keep track of time? Of course. The treasure. Rocks.


This has been a #twitterfiction story. Thank you for reading!

One Man’s Trash is a Twitter fiction story by @erthwitch in response to the #vss365 prompt on Twitter by @flashdogs. To find out more about what these hashtag things mean, read my post about Twitter fiction. The hashtag marks the word prompt of the day. By clicking on it, you can read all of the other stories on Twitter that used the word to create a very short story. Some of them are ongoing parts of larger stories, like mine, but some are complete within themselves as individual story tweets.


Hi! Thanks for dropping by my site. I hope you'll browse around a bit and find something you like. My genre is hard to define, but it's closest to urban fantasy. Except set in the rural world, for the most part. It's a blend of soft science fiction, fantasy, and in my current work, near-future post-collapse.

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