‘Car keys?’ he asked the woman sprawled on the ground, arm fishing around down the drain.

‘House keys.’ She looked up, squinting at the silhouette of the man. He was dressed in red and orange checks.

‘Perhaps I can help?’

She pulled herself up. ‘Feel free.’

Instead of getting down to look in the drain, the man took out a flute, and began playing a jaunty ditty.

The woman heard faint squeaking. A wave of scurrying approached. A wave of brown and black fur swept out of the drain. A sea of rats.

The tone from the flautist changed. The rats stopped, turned and disappeared down the drain. Left behind on the road was a selection of keys, rings, mobile phones, money and one bloodied knife.

Her red ‘I ‘heart’ Paris’ key ring stood out. She picked up her keys. ‘Thank you.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘I should give you something,’ she dug out her wallet and handed him a ten euro note.

‘How refreshing,’ the piper smiled. ‘Do you have any children?’

‘Two,’ she answered, unsure of the question.

‘Tonight, keep them locked securely in their room.’ He doffed his cap and skipped away playing another tune on his flute.

Copyright A Mixed Bag

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Al Forbes. For more details visit HERE.

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

35 responses to “AFTER HAMELIN”

  1. Well that’s not ominous at all!

    After the last line though, I was so tempted to say, “What a nice guy.” But I can’t quite figure out if that statement is true.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good one Iain. You sent me in the wrong direction (on purpose I expect), making me think the woman would become a victim herself, then surprised me with the bad guy doing a good thing before presumably doing a very bad thing later on. It was a good ride on an emotional rollercoaster.
    This reminded me of the rash of urban myths that sprang up a while ago, on the lines of someone picks up and returns a stranger’s wallet and the stranger advises him to stay away from a particular place that evening. The place is subsequently bombed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I wasn’t particularly trying to hide anything or have a big reveal of the character, although from reading some of the other comments, perhaps the Pied Piper isn’t as well known a story or character these days.


  3. The old pied piper tale always had an ominous note to it, and this one follows that vein. At the end I’m still wondering, “was the tenner insulting to him, or a pleasure and thus deserving of the warning?” If I were her I think I’d take the children completely out of town! A really imaginative story, Iain. I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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