Flash fiction: Destroying Angels



Awe-struck and trembling, we lined up in front of the Reverend’s beautiful wives and opened our mouths obediently for a quarter of holy mushroom.

“There is only one rule,” the Reverend said, tears of joy in his eyes. “Don’t leave the compound.”

What would you do with your last half a day? There weren’t any surprises: a few couples went to the woods; some prayed, most read from The Book. None of us anticipated the sweats, and the pain and the crying.

And me, what did I do with my final six hours? I wrote it all down, so that you can read it now.


This is a Friday Fictioneers 100-word (or so) story inspired by the picture supplied by the lovely Erin Leary. Friday Fictioneers is organised and run by the wonderful Rochelle. Click here to join in, and here to read other pieces. I’d love to know what you think of mine – please leave a comment!


Hurray! After nineteen months of waiting, my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days has been published in the UK (Fig Tree / Penguin) and Canada (House of Anansi). It will be published in the USA on 17th March by Tin House. Click on the Amazon links on the right to read the first chapter.

73 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Destroying Angels

  1. My grandparents loved foraging for mushrooms, and I loved eating them. One of them made the mistake of telling me about Destroying Angels, though. After that, I wasn’t all that keen on mushrooms anymore. I suppose that’s why your story gave me the creeps. Such an awful way to die… Good story, though!


  2. Claire,
    I don’t know what I would do with the last six hours, especially ones filled with pain, but writing it all down is probably the best idea. Great story. Congratulations again on the novel. 🙂


    • Destroying angels is the name of the deadly mushroom, amanita virosa, but it’s such a beautiful two-word phrase that it popped into my head when I saw your inspirational picture. So thank you!


  3. No Kool-Aid to be had, I take it. What a perversion of religion this sort of thing is! But on the jolly side–congratulations on the publication dates (St. Patrick’s Day in the US.) That means the library might be getting their copy/copies soon. Hurrah!



  4. This brings up many questions. What would I do with my last six hours? Would I fall into such a trap? Who DOES fall into a trap like this, being easily swayed? Thanks for making me think.


  5. Dear Claire,

    Everything else aside (which is easier said than done, because the entire tale was stellar), your last line gave me chills. In one sentence, the ne plus ultra of flash fiction, you encapsulated what we do and why we do it. And you do it so well.




  6. Dear Claire,

    For a moment my heart stopped and I’m still gasping for breath. I stand in awe of this story and your writing. I’d love to hate you, but I can’t, I love your writing too much.




  7. Chilling and it has happened too!
    I have just devoured Our Endless Numbered Days! A triumph of believable story and really delicious writing. Darker, perhaps, that I would normally choose, but I could not put it down. I will get to reviews, but it may take a while as there is rather a lot going on here.


  8. Hi Clair,

    A very clever piece indeed, especially to twist it back at the end like that. “Tears of joy” I feel is very interesting. On the surface, you paint a picture of poor deluded people . Without those words, the story takes on a sinister edge. Twist those words even deeper and the Reverend becomes truly Evil. So many angles!!!


  9. Gripping. You’ve shown the gullibility of cult members so well in the start of your story, and then the ending raises questions about whether this member had some doubts. Well told. Congratulations on your book.


  10. Wonderful twist, Claire! I was pulled right into the diabolical story line (these mass religiously motivated suicides always fascinate me), and relieved that the narrator didn’t drink the Kool-aid, nor eat the mushroom!

    Can’t wait for your book! I have it on my calendar. But, how did Alicia get it before March 17th?


  11. Lovely layering. In your last line you nailed the motivation behind creative endeavour while telling a tale of, well, ‘the final solution’ of a religious community? As ever, you leave the door open to interpretation. Still reading your book. 🙂


  12. Nice story Claire, its a shame you won’t be around to write any more fiction! 🙂 Huge congratulations on your incredible achievement of getting published, Is it available on kindle?


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