Flash fiction: Songs of Beuren


They were docile and doe-eyed. They gathered silently in herds under the street lamps at night. No one knew where they’d come from but we all agreed they were beautiful. We named them Beuren and didn’t wonder what they wanted.
They were easy to catch and to pen.
As we slaughtered the first, some of the others made a low musical sound. More joined in, their voices coming together, urgent and louder. Words, I thought, Latin even. Some of the skinners dropped their knives, ran away, but me with blood on my hands, cried, ‘What Have I Done?’


Songs of Beuren is the English translation of Carmina Burana. If you don’t know the
O Fortuna section of this piece of music you might like to listen here.


I can’t believe Rochelle has been hosting Friday Fictioneers for four years today. Happy anniversary, Rochelle! This is a 100-word Friday Fictioneers flash fiction piece inspired by the photograph (this week from Madison Woods). Click here to read others and join in.


This spring Our Endless Numbered Days was picked as a Richard & Judy book club book, along with seven others. For those in the USA this is the closest we in the UK come to Opra’s book club. Now that the season is over readers can vote for their favourite, and of course it would be lovely if you would like to vote for me. Click here.

58 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Songs of Beuren

  1. Wow…interesting. You’ve really challenged me with this piece after a few weeks away from FF. I don’t know the subject matter and I’m not a fan of googling to get a story. However, I enjoyed reading the words and the foreboding sense of malevolence it generated in me.


    • We’ve missed you! I don’t like googling for a story either and there shouldn’t be any need to with this one. It’s all made up; isn’t inspired by anything, except the piece of music. (But no requirement to listen to that either!)


  2. I found that quite heart-breaking Claire; and an interesting example of the reverse side of the horror coin. I’ve always thought that the horror is best left under-stated – the mind can create a much more powerful image than mere words. Now I see it from the other end of the spectrum – without knowing what they were, and what they looked like, they seemed the most endearing and magical of creatures. So very well done.


  3. Beautifully written, tragic tale, Clare. Lovely description of the Beuren at the start – a tale that has an eternal quality to it, history repeating over and over. Great stuff. This week’s prompt surely did make us all turn to the dark side 🙂


  4. Dear Claire,

    Beautifully written and haunting, both your words and the music. Your piece put me in mind of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Well done.

    Actually April marks my first joining Friday Fictioneers. Madison didn’t turn it over to me until October when she went on to other pursuits. I can’t believe it’s been four years either. My husband agrees that joining and subsequently taking it on as facilitator have been some of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 😀




  5. Lovely writing and powerful music, Claire. It brings to mind how people slaughter animals without understanding them and without a good reason. The indigenous peoples always asked for forgiveness when they killed for food to survive. They respected the animals as part of life on earth. Well written as always. —- Suzanne


  6. This was a terrific story!!! So unique, so YOU. Awesome.

    You know, as a music major and with my mom having been a music teacher, it’s funny that I never knew the piece Carmina Burana until many years later, but I DID know of Carl Orff. Orff was a pioneer in teaching children music by putting instruments in their hands at an early age and showing them the fundamentals through exercises of rhythm and patterns. The Orff Method. Really cool.


  7. What are the poor people from Kaufbeuren doing there, singing and letting themselves be slaughtered? 😉 No, seriously, a very haunting piece, full with meaning and double meaning. I’m always amazed as to how much depth you pack into your sentences. I love how you tie it to O Fortuna. Carmina Burana is among my favourite music, and I listen to it often when writing.


  8. God, I love your imagination, Claire. They were beautiful…. so of course, let’s kill them and skin them!
    We humans (I am assuming) are horrid.


  9. Haunting….what have we done, indeed. Having lived about 20 years ago in Iowa…..and 16 years before that on 15 acres of land in Iowa’s country side — we would pack up and leave for the opening weekend of pheasant season. Could not stand the sounds of rifle shots in the air — not a gentle sound at all. And we would take our dogs with us — large mutts, part German Shepherd. We would return, always to learn of someone’s dog or, amazingly so, calf, killed by a hunter who’d been out to the opening morning’s “breakfast” complete with booze. Your piece reflects the ease at which the human race hunts, pens and carves beautiful animals. And, ps: I am not a vegetarian.


  10. This is so chilling, Claire. It was disturbing and then I listened to the music, and my skin went cold all over. The death of the Beuren is how I feel about the killing of all things—you have captured the horror I often feel. Stunning words. Thank you, I think?


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