Orang Bunian

In Fiction on October 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm

It’s Friday, and Friday means flash fiction with the Friday Fictioneers (hosted, as always, by Madison Woods). This week’s photo prompt was taken by Raina Ng. Here’s my story for this week!

Orang Bunian

“Look!” Osman whispered. “By the window – a bunian!”

“I don’t see anything,” Malik complained.

Or did he? The light pouring through the windows seemed to falter a moment, and a shadow – hardly the shadow of a shadow – slid amongst the wide, shimmering bands. Malik gasped.

“Why is it here?” he asked, his voice tremulous. Osman grinned.

“To steal you away, I think. They always come after the youngest.”

Malik crept forward. His skin tingled and the air seemed to whisper – and then the door slowly opened to reveal the sun-soaked yard.

Suddenly, Osman’s grin was gone.

“Cool!” Malik shouted, and before his brother could stop him he was gone.


For a little background, in Malay folklore orang bunian are invisible, magical beings, sometimes called the “hidden people.” They’re generally benevolent, but sometimes strange happenings, particularly disappearances, are attributed to them.



To read more of this week’s stories, check out the links in the collection above or head over to Madison’s site. As always, comments, criticism (and recipes for good clam chowder) are welcome below!

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  1. ooh oooh ooh! What happened? Where did he go and why does M think it’s cool but Osman’s grin disappeared? So many questions, Brian but I love the tension you build in this story and the repartee between the brothers.

    • Always a balance isn’t it: too vague or good amount of intrigue? I feel like it’s especially harder to get right in these short ones. Thanks for the great comment!

  2. Hi Brian,
    Nice of you to provide some Malay folklore. My education in that area has been severely neglected. Did Malik become a Bunian himself? Very unique response to the photo. Ron

    • Thanks Ron – I’m hoping I got it right or close to right, I’m no expert myself. But that’s the question, isn’t it: what happens to Malik? Maybe the air just opened the door, or maybe he’ll disappear

  3. Honestly, the only thing I could think when I finished reading your story was “where were these things when my sisters were little?” You did a fantastic job using the prompt to create a fun story. Nicely done!

  4. Ohhhh I love this what a take on the prompt and typical brother teasing but tell me to where did he go ?. we all need more ,please don’t leave us dangling….oh wait I do that too LOL Brian this is fantastic!

  5. OH boy! I think the most unsettling word in the whole story is “Cool!”, because it’s so unexpected and unexplained – I’m left wondering what Malik thought was cool, and whether he was right or wrong. Well written!

    • I almost left it at “cool”! but then I thought that was a little too much left hanging. It may just be that Osman’s plan backfired and Malik isn’t afraid — who can say really? Thank you for reading!

  6. Very great take on the prompt

  7. shadow of a shadow. air whispered. excellent images.

  8. Thanks, Rich – I appreciate the comment and I’m glad you liked the details

  9. I thought of bunions on feet at first. Enjoyed it more once my thoughts adjusted!!

    • Haha, it’s funny you mention that because I seriously considered changing the spelling of the word for that exact reason (I could have gone phonetic and made it “Booniahns” or something)

  10. [...] was taken at a little retreat called Tiger Rock in an island called Pangkor in Malaysia. Check out Pinion Post's little snippet, it is perfect fit to the prompt and is one of my favourites this week. Although I [...]

  11. You used Malay names!! Am so proud! :) Brian this is a lovely piece, like your other pieces you have a knack for writing things in a simple yet pretty way. Tight :)

    • Thanks Raina! And I did haha, with a little research help of course. Your one of the writers whose input I specifically look forward to, so I really appreciate it (and thanks for the little shout out on your page!)

  12. Really enjoyed this, beautifully constructed. And such a realistic sibling interchange too. Nice work.

  13. A very cool story. A bit mysterious and magical, for Halloween time. And, such interesting folklore. Always love to learn about other cultures.

  14. I guess this would be every older sibling’s dream of ridding himself of his daily annoyance. Go ahead, Malik, open the door. he he. Intriguing little tale.

  15. Like Osman, we don’t know what lies outside that door other than a sun-soaked yard (which, actually, hints of a positive). Malik’s “Cool” may indicate a younger brother’s ultimate revenge. Good suspense.

  16. Great story here! I REALLY need to know what Malik thought was so cool! I wonder if I would share his opinion? :)

  17. Spooky. Thanks for the educational Mayan folklore. Nice take on the prompt.

  18. A lot was said here in very few words. I liked the explanation at the end, too.

  19. I enjoyed this. I liked the dialogue. Until I read the explanation I had no idea that a bunion was anything other than a foot problem. The conversation between the siblings moved the story along…The only line I am not sure about is “Or did he?”. A nice fun take on the prompt. Really well done.
    Tom

  20. Great story, Brian. Sort of like an old Twilight Zone episode.

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