Flash Fiction 超短編小説

A couple of super-short stories from translator Richard Medhurst.

Mother of Commerce
By Akutagwa Ryunosuke

In 1638, shogunate forces attacked and captured Hara Castle in southwestern Japan, suppressing a major Christian rebellion.

In Hara Castle at Amakusa. Flames licking skyward. Arrows and bullets flying past each other. Corpses of men and women lying in piles. Among all this a wounded old man. Gazing up at an image of Santa Maria set on the stone wall, he sings a resounding “Aleluia”.
Abruptly, another bullet is fired.
He collapses backwards and shows no sign of rising. The Holy Mother, in a white gown, regards him silently from upon the stone wall. Solemnly, calmly.
The Holy Mother dressed in white? No, I know it. That is not the Blessed Virgin. It is plainly just a woman. A common European woman who loves a single rose. Look. There is even this foreign script written in gold underneath the woman. “Wilhelm Tobacco Company, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.”

~~~

Pocket Watch
by Yumeno Kyūsaku

The pocket watch fell down the back of the cupboard and began ticking away by itself.
A rat found it and sneered, “You idiot! Why keep moving when nobody can see you?”
“It’s because I keep moving when nobody sees me that I’m useful any time somebody does look,” the pocket watch answered. “Thieves only work when nobody’s looking, but the ones who only work when somebody’s watching them are thieves too.”
The rat slipped silently away in shame.

~~~

‘Mother of Commerce’ Original www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000879/files/3813_27308.html

‘Pocket Watch’ original http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000096/files/46823_27680.html