Flying Straight and True

Submitted into Contest #170 in response to: Start your story with the line “I’ve got a plan”. ... view prompt


Fantasy Friendship Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“I’ve got a plan.”

As usual, Derrick doesn’t seem to hear me. Ironic, since I’m the one without eyes or ears.

“See that rope? The one suspending that heavy-looking box in the air?” I’d point if I could, but… no hands, either. “Shoot me through it! The box will fall, and—”

Uh-oh. He’s nocking me. And he’s decidedly not aiming me at the rope.

“Shoot the rope, Derrick! The rope! It’s straight ahead! We could do a lot more damage if you just—”

He fires me.

For those few moments I’m sailing through the air, becoming one with the wind, I forget my frustration with Derrick. I forget Derrick. I forget myself. Then…


I’m lodged in some bad guy’s brain. Not for the first time, not for the last.

Could’ve been the rope. That’s what you get for being the one and only arrow of the world’s most uncreative archer.

Well, for as long as I’m trapped in the darkness of a corpse’s skull, I can’t see squat. But I can hear the dead guy’s friends reacting.

“Gods save us! It’s the One-Arrow Archer!” Real creative name for a real creative guy.

“We save ourselves around here, kid. Don’t forget why I hired you.”

“R-Right. Sorry.”

“… Looks like you already forgot.”

“No I didn’t!”

“Then why haven’t you drawn your sword? Why aren’t you looking for him?”

“I have!” SHING. “And I am!”

“Attaboy. I’ll break the arrow. You find bow boy and bring him here.”

“Y-Yes, sir!”

I faintly hear the underling trot off. Poor kid. Doesn’t know what he’s in for. Derrick may be a boring archer, but he can kill a man with his bare hands—which he should do more often because, again, he’s a boring archer.

I’m pulled out of the dead guy, slick with brain juice. It grossed me out the first couple of times, but it’s actually quite refreshing after sitting in a dry quiver.

“Weird,” the man holding me says. He twirls me between two fingers. “Made of… metal?” I couldn’t think of a more generic low-level bad guy if I had all the time in the world: bald, tattoos, muscly, wearing a shoddy tunic. Guess Derrick’s not the only uncreative person around here, though that’s hardly assuaging. “This one’s for you, Jacen,” he says to the dead guy.

Generic Low-Level Bad Guy proceeds to try and snap me in half, bending me with beefy arms. Yeesh. I’d yawn if I could.

“What the hells?”

Here comes the—yep. Now he’s trying to break me over his knee. Boy, oh boy, what an exciting and unpredictable life I lead!

“What the hells?!

I’ve tried talking guys like him down before, but they don’t listen any more than Derrick does. If only someone would appreciate my wisdom and wit for once.

Generic Low-Level Bad Guy starts whacking me against the ground. Ow. Ow. Ow.

“Hey, kid! You find him yet?”

No response. Derrick must’ve got him already. Hope it ended quickly.


“He’s not coming back,” I say, knowing I can’t be heard.

Generic Low-Level Bad Guy plants me in the dirt, which is much more condensed than a human brain. Great. Now I won’t be able to see or hear.

A muffled shout above. A thud.

Familiar fingers pull me out—Derrick. You get to know a guy’s touch when he handles you every day.

“Hey, genius,” I say. “Real smart of you not to—whoa!”

Without hesitation, Derrick stuffs me in his quiver and begins to run, jostling me inside. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Ah, well. On I fly.


“Ooh, is that a town over there?” I ask. Derrick’s drawn me for some reason. “Bet they have arrows for sale. Buy some with nice feathers! Y’know, to keep me company, since you’re so bad at it.”

Do I even need to say it? He’s ignoring me again.

“You know, Derrick, I’ve been nothing but good to you. Singlehandedly filling your quiver, bad guys’ heads, and awkward silences. You could at least afford to—”

He shoots me.

With release comes… freedom…



Not sure who’s brain this is; didn’t bother to look and didn’t happen to see. I half-listen to the screams that follow. Gets tedious after a while, y’know?

Wait… there’s something off about these screams. They aren’t adrenaline-filled battle cries. They’re sad. Pathetic, even.

Derrick pulls me out, whips me around, and shoots me again. Not enough time to see who I land in next. He normally only uses me once and does the rest hand-to-hand. But I guess if there’s a whole town of baddies…

Out again. Nocked again. Shot again.

What’s going on today? I—




Finally, it stops. I hear Derrick sigh, but he doesn’t pull me out. “Goodbye, old friend,” he says. “You served the gods well. I will miss you.”

Old friend? Who…?


Before I can respond—whether he’d hear me or not—Derrick takes off. His retreating footsteps are the last I hear of him.

Not long after, lighter footsteps approach.


That voice… so small.

“Mommy! Wake up!”

The person stumbles as they pull me free. A little girl.

She drops me, screaming. And all around…

People. Dead people who don’t look like Generic Low-Level Bad Guy.

Judging by the hammer, that man might’ve been a blacksmith. There’s a hole in his head.

That woman over there is slumped across a rug merchant’s stall near another woman—presumably the rug merchant. There are holes in their heads, too.

There are holes in everyone’s heads.

No! Arrows are only supposed to see straight ahead, not… not all around like this…

The little girl is still begging her mother to come back. The rest of the town is silent.

“Derrick!” I yell. “Don’t you walk away from me after—after this! This isn’t what I was meant for! Derrick! Derrick!!

Even if he could hear me, he’s gone now.

All gone.


The little girl hasn’t moved. She ran her voice ragged, and since then… silence and stillness. Nocked forevermore.

Wish I could say something to console her—something she could hear. Might as well say it anyway so I can at least know I tried.

“The man who helped me kill your mother is named Derrick Farthington. He’s known as the One-Arrow Archer—though I guess since I’m here and he’s elsewhere, he’s now the Arrowless Archer. Anyway, I’m… really sorry. I’d kill Derrick if I could move on my own. But I can’t, and even if I could, I have no idea where he could’ve gone. I’m sorry, little girl. Truly, I am.”

More silence. More stillness.

Then: “You killed my mommy?”

What?! She… she heard me? She understands?

For a moment, I don’t know how to react; no one’s ever heard me before. But I can’t miss this chance.

“I—yes. Derrick shot me, and I landed in your mother’s brain. We killed her together.”

The little girl sniffles. “I hate you.”

What to even say to that?

“I hate you,” she repeats, picking me up and wringing me in her tiny hands. “And I hate Derrick.”

Say… that gives me an idea. “Want to help me kill him?”

The little girl retreats into silence and stillness for a time, but not in the same way. She’s staring at me like a flame arrow headed my way. Hate those things.

Then, she smiles in a way I can only imagine little girls aren’t supposed to smile. “Yes.”


“Derrick Farthington?” The traveling merchant scratches his short beard, thoughtful. “You mean the ol’ One-Arrow Archer? Oh, I haven’t heard that name in a long while.”

“But you know him?” Faye asks. “Do you know where he is?”

“Ooh, ooh!” I say. “Ask him if he agrees that Derrick is an uncreative bore.”

“Well,” the traveling merchant says, holding tightly to the reins of the two horses attached to his cart. Can’t blame him. Not every day a lone woman shoots your cart to get your attention and starts interrogating you. Or, at this point, maybe it is. This is the fifth person we’ve asked today alone—except this one might actually go somewhere. Call it an arrow’s intuition. “I didn’t know him know him, see, but we crossed paths now and again. Bought supplies off me a time or two.”

Wonder why I don’t remember this guy, then. Never did have a good memory, I guess; arrows sail forward, not backward. I’ll never forget Derrick, though, and I’ll never forget the day he and I killed Faye’s mother.

Neither will she.

“Do you know where he is?” she repeats.

“N-No, miss, can’t say I do. Far as I know, no one’s heard a peep out of him since he destroyed that town some, oh, I don’t know, twenty years back? You would’ve been a wee lass.”

Faye sighs, slipping me back into the empty quiver. She tried putting other arrows in a while ago, but they kept popping out, even after being strapped in. Not me, though. I only pop out of bad guy’s bows when they try to shoot me back at Faye.

“Yes, I suppose I would’ve been,” she says. “Thank you for your time.” She turns to leave.

“If I may,” the merchant says. “What’s a young lady like yourself doing alone out in the middle of nowhere? Oh, I know it’s none of my business, and it does seem like you can watch your backside well enough, but—”

“Like you said, it’s none of your business.”

I hear the merchant clear his throat. “Indeed. Well, unless you’re looking to browse my wares…”

“No, thank you.”

“Right. Gods bless you, then.”

Reins snap, horses clop, and we’re alone again.

“Think he was lying?” I ask.

“No.” Faye begins walking. She’s slow. Tired.

“You should rest, Faye. I could do this all day, but I don’t need to eat and sleep.”

“Shut up.”

“Don’t say I didn’t try.”

She keeps walking. I can’t tell where, being in the quiver and all. Eventually, though, she stops, unloads me, and sets me down by a tree.

“So,” I say. “How are you going to try to kill me today?”

Faye doesn’t respond. She’s gathering dry branches from the tree.

“Hey, you’re making camp! You are going to rest! See? I—”

“Shut up.”

This is where I’d clear my throat if I had one. “I want to remind you, as always, that if you kill me before we kill Derrick, you won’t have anything to kill him with.”

She’s silent for a while as she piles the wood and sets stones around it.

“I don’t need a full arrow to kill someone.” She strikes her flint and steel. The sparks frighten me. “I’ll gladly stab him a broken shaft.”

“Ah, but that won’t be nearly as satisfying. You’re a good archer, Faye—good as he was, if not better. More creative, too, which I appreciate even though you don’t use my suggestions.”

Once she has the fire going, she walks back over to me. “Remember that man we killed yesterday? The one with Knight’s Bane?”

“Night’s who?”

“Well, I kept the sword,” she says, pulling it out of its sheath. Guess she took it while I was still lodged in the original owner’s head. “It’s said to crumple armor like paper.”

“Looks like a giant’s cleaver. How come we never fight any giants? It’d be a nice change of pace.”

Faye heaves it overhead in both hands.

“… Will it kill me?”

She slams it down on me, screaming like she did on the day Derrick and I killed her mother.

“Wow! That tickles.”

She strikes me again.

“It’s not wor—”




Finally, she stops. Sweating, she limply drops the sword, curls up beneath her lean-to, and cries. I haven’t been good at consoling her since the beginning, so I don’t try anymore.

Wish she’d put out the fire with those tears. I don’t like the distant voices I hear in the flames.


“Derrick Farthington? Retired, hard-looking man?” I don’t know who’s talking. Faye rarely takes me out of the quiver anymore. She even stopped trying to kill me. “Lives on the edge of town, past the stable. He—”

Faye runs. The jostling doesn’t bother me anymore. I have no idea how long it’s been since the day Derrick and I killed her mother, but Faye isn’t as quick on her feet these days.

… Still going. How far is—

Derrick Farthington!” Faye shouts as she skids to a stop, voice much deeper than that of the little girl I once knew. “Show yourself!”

I can hear him. I can hear him. The lack of hesitation in his footsteps. His steady breathing. His… cracking joints? I don’t remember that, but my memory has always been a fickle thing. Feel like I’ve probably had that same thought a million times.

“Who’s there?” His voice! I want to say I hate it, but it’s so… exhausted. More than Faye’s.

“Years ago, you destroyed my town.”

“Ah, you’re one of them.” Derrick sighs. “I was told to leave some survivors, though I still can’t fathom why. Either way, I’m going to tell you what I told the rest: I don’t regret what I did because I had a very good reason to do it, but I am sorry. How’s that for you?”


“Killed your loved ones? Yeah. I know. Like I said: don’t regret it, had my reason for it, sorry for it. If that’s all, then—”


He pauses. He… he heard me!

“Derrick! Faye and I are going to kill you! But before we do, I want to know… were you always able to hear me?”

Faye nocks, aims, and fires with lightning speed I didn’t know she was still capable of.

Derrick catches me. “Yes.”

He throws me down, then charges at Faye.


Faye swings her bow at him.

“Derrick, please!”

He dodges.

“Don’t do this! Faye and I are supposed to kill you, not the other way around!”

Slips behind her.


Puts her in a chokehold.

“This isn’t the way it’s supposed to go…”


Faye’s face starts changing color. She’s clawing at Derrick with ragged nails. Elbowing him.

And all I can do is lie here in the dirt and watch.

Faye… slows down.

There’s nothing I can do.

Her eyes start rolling back in her head.

There’s nothing I—

Derrick lets her go.

What? My memory may be foggy, but that isn’t like him. If he wants to kill you, then he will.

Faye crumples to the ground, sputtering and coughing and drawing big breaths. “Why?” she says weakly, spitting.

Derrick steps around her. “So you know how easily I can kill you. So you don’t come back.”

“Derrick!” I scream. “You’re supposed to die!

He kneels down, looking at me… fondly? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile before. Faye either, now that I think about it. “And do you really want to kill me, old friend?”


“Why’s that?”

“Because… because we killed all those people! Faye and I were going to kill you, and then she was going to find a way to kill me! She’s tried lots of times, but…”

Derrick chuckles. “It always was funny watching people try to snap you in half like you were just some common arrow.”

“I… want to die.” The words just come out, but I mean them. “I never realized it all the times Faye tried killing me, but I want to die, Derrick.”

“Well, you are unbreakable in all ways but one.” He stands, looking at Faye. “Why don’t we destroy the arrow together? I thought I’d fulfilled all my tasks in this world, but perhaps this is my true part in the gods’ plan.”

“… Hate you,” Faye whimpers.

“I know you do.” Derrick goes over to help her up, and… she lets him. “Come. Let’s finish this.”


“It was that simple all along?” Faye asks, incredulous. “That can’t be right.”

“It is,” Derrick says. He laid me out on a table after helping Faye inside his sparse little hut. “No one ever thinks of it, though, because the arrow isn’t made of wood.”

“What is it made of?”

“That, I cannot say. The gods bestowed it upon me and assigned me tasks, telling me nothing more than they needed to.”

“What did they tell you?” I ask. “Not to listen to me?”

“Yes, actually,” Derrick says matter-of-factly. “That’s the real reason I never spoke with you.”

“It… was that simple all along?” I ask, using Faye’s words.

Derrick nods. “They didn’t tell me why, but I heard every word you said, and had to do anything but what you said. I’m actually quite the creative archer.”

“Then why are you speaking with me now?”

“Because I want you to know you didn’t kill any of those people. That was my doing, and mine alone. All the same, you were never a tool. You were a friend.”

“I… don’t understand.”

“You will.” He and Faye share a look. “Shall we?”

She nods. “For my mother.”

“And after? Will you try to kill me again?”

Faye shakes her head. “I will always hate you… but the arrow still needs to go. That will bring its own closure.”

I forgo final words in the presence of the only people ever able to hear me, choosing instead to relish the familiar grooves of their fingers one last time.

Together, Derrick and Faye toss me into the fire.

For once, my flight doesn’t end with a SHUCK. It ends with… understanding. Something beyond what Derrick spoke of. Something similar to how I felt the day I met Faye.

A change in direction.

The gods whisper to me from within the crackle of the flames, their voices unknowable yet intimately familiar. “Find peace in rest.”

Ah… so warm…

November 01, 2022 21:24

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Graham Kinross
13:03 Nov 12, 2022

Secret Life of Arrow or Arrow Story ended with the bit from Toy Story where it looks like the studio had the balls to kill off the cast and have them recycled. Maybe the arrow can be reforged into a knife? Sequel potential.


Benny Regalbuto
14:03 Nov 14, 2022

Oh, interesting comparison! Didn't think of that. I almost never do sequels to my short stories, but it's an interesting idea.


Graham Kinross
21:15 Nov 14, 2022

If these blades could talk? I write too many sequels.


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J.M. De Jong
06:59 Nov 04, 2022

Amazingly creative! I love that the pov was of the arrow!! Very well done :) The story kept my thoughts captive the entire time. There's so much more about the story that I want to know though... Like, what reasons did Derrick have for slaughtering most of the village? And why did he abrubtly abandon the arrow and his life right after?? And what did the arrow understand when they tossed it into the fire?


Benny Regalbuto
14:40 Nov 04, 2022

So glad you enjoyed it. As for your questions... there may be answers, or there may not be. I like to think there are, but like the arrow, we have to find or come to understand them ourselves :)


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