When Ben Challis was nine years old, he watched a scout scoop a ten-ounce harbour crab from the marsh with his hand. Frightened he’d get pinched, the scout not only scooped the crab out of the water, but in the same continuing movement, catapulted it with as much strength as he could muster, several metres into the air.
The crab followed a flight path that took it all the way from its life-long home in a creek on the marsh edge, through a short sweep of thin blue sky, to its final destination and its sudden violent death on the impacted mud of the quayside car park.
The incident left Ben horrified; filled him with pity and fear and disgust. The murder was shocking and inescapable—it was completely unpoetic and unjust.
Shortly afterwards, Ben’s crabbing days came to an end. He grew up and he grew old. But throughout that time, he never forgot the crab. He tolerated it at the bottom, in the darkest grooves of his mind. And he always refused to think about it when, on occasion, it came to the top.
Then, after an interval of many years (which seemed to Ben to have been no time at all) he woke up one morning and was terrified to see the hand of the scout. It approached him from his blind side and slipped beneath his bed, then it waited to launch him skyward, on a one-way journey from home.
has been interested in flash fiction ever since 2016 when he received Flash Fiction Forward (ed. James Thomas and Robert Shapard) as a surprise gift. He read the first page and was hooked and he has been ever since. His work has been published by Every Day Fiction and Flash Frontier, as well as some other excellent lit-zines, and can also be found in two books published by Ad Hoc Fiction. He works as an editor and lives with his wife and two children in Devon, England.