Friday Fiction – Ozymandian Defences







In recent weeks, when I’ve written to FF prompts, I’ve tried to steer away from illustration in favour of inspiration. This week’s story is a bit of both. There is a literal element to it, but that’s not actually where the story came from. It started with a line from John Donne (via Bon Jovi, which I’m not ashamed to say is where I first heard it!) and a bit of philosophising on our species’ behaviour and then cycled back around to the picture mostly by accident. What a strange beast the brain is.

Thanks to Marie Gail for the picture, and to Rochelle for her ongoing leadership of our little archipelago.


Ozymandian Defences

“Boss calls ‘em Ozymandian,” Rufus directed his apprentice to the remains of a solitary tower.

“What’s that mean?” said the boy, “Hermit?”

Rufus kicked a stone block so his foot would hurt more than his head. He hated when the kid used brain even more than when the boss did.

“’Parrently they had this saying: no man is an island, entire unto hisself,” he said, quoting her and hoping the boy wouldn’t ask any more, “But then when The Wash came, everyone took off on they own.”

“Maybe an island’s easier to defend.”

“Jus’ get on wi’t job,” Rufus snapped.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

48 responses to “Friday Fiction – Ozymandian Defences

  1. micklively

    I look on your works and I don’t despair. 😉

  2. gahlearner

    Poor Rufus, that must have hurt. Great dialogue and an interesting story. I like your explanations how you tackle the prompts every week.

    • Cheers, gah. I think poor Rufus is a little out of his league philosophically. Mind you, I suspect I would be too, trying to understand the logic of humanity.

  3. Gosh that’s different! Great read.
    Rosey Pinkerton

  4. Love the stone-kicking as self-medication!
    I wonder how the boy arrived at ‘hermit’. Was that logical?
    A female boss? The world has gone topsy-turvy!

    • It’s a crazy world after the apocalypse!
      And I’m not sure, the boy’s logic is – how come an apparently social people would have isolated towers? The boss has taken this further – what value survival if one is alone? Rufus doesn’t have the brains to understand either!

  5. Pretty fantastic dialog, with just enough hints at a larger story creeping in the background.

  6. I don’t think I entirely know what’s happening here, but I like the voice you’ve given it. Are they destroying the tower?

  7. Oh I like Poor Rufus.. The kicking of the stone made me smile.

  8. Sometimes it’s hard to follow the mind of a child, especially one that uses his brain. Interesting take on the prompt.

  9. Ah . . . Donne and Shelley collaborating here with you today. Fantastic gathering of the poetic minds, Jen.

    All my best,

    • Tragically, it took me a second to realise you weren’t talking about some other Fictioneers there, mg. I think I need more sleep! Thank you the compliment though I suspect we’re in slightly different leagues 😉

  10. From Shelley to Ruffus – one apocalypse to another! I loved the name Ruffus ! 🙂

  11. It’s difficult to show the difference between brain and brawns but you nailed it with the spellings, great stuff.

  12. Can I play Rufus in the film version? If so, do you mind if I wear steel-toed boots?

  13. Ozymandian? Another concept we should do our best to explain to the kids (after the implied apocalypse) is “Pyrrhic”.

    • Absolutely. Better still, do you think there’s any prospect of explaining ‘pyrrhic’ to the powers that be *before* they bring about the apocalypse, Dave?

  14. Great piece Jennifer. My interest is piqued. I want to know what the job is!

  15. I like the creativity in your dialogue! It fits perfectly with the photo!

  16. Your title and preamble took me back in time to the poem which my Dad used to often recite to us. “Nothing beside remains: round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Your story’s dialogue ran alongside my visions beautifully although my heart did go out to Rufus.

    • It’s been one of my favourite poems since I learned it at school, Irene – such a valuable message and one that seemed to fit my image of what Rufus and his apprentice were witnessing of the world we know. My heart goes out to him too, so thank you for saying so.

  17. The Wash — I’m hoping that has more to do with jeans than the end of the world. I’m guessing not and it looks like learning is the worse for the Wash too.

    • One of my many problems for post-apoc fiction, Perry, is I can never find a word for survivors to use to describe the apocalypse that I like. Think ‘Wash’ like ‘Cleanse’, though, and you might not be far off what I was imagining.

  18. Dear Jen,

    An island is easier to defend. That line and sentiment jumped out at me. A different take on the prompt and very well done. You’re one of the reasons I keep this up every week.



    • You are very kind to say so, Rochelle. I read most of the stories a few weeks ago and it was lovely to see some fantastic new writers, but also a LOT of work. You do it every week – incredible.

  19. I love the interaction and easy dialog. An island is easier to defend, indeed.

  20. Great story – this week’s prompt does seem to be inspiring the post-apocalyptic ones! I love the characterisation and dialogue. 🙂

  21. Hmm, sadly a bit over AnElephant’s big head.
    But beautifully written, as always.

  22. Great characters, and an entertaining way to ponder some pretty big concepts. Loved it.

  23. i guess when push comes to shove, everybody’s on his own.

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