For those that are interested in such things - I realised after writing my 3 word week story that I'd exceeded the word count. So here's the edited version.
It was never supposed to be this way. Malcolm looked over the landscape and smiled wryly as he heard an echo of his Grandmother. ‘I can remember when this was all fields,’ she had said and railed against the flow of new homes and shops encroaching on her world; a tide of development that inexorably stole the land around her. He held power in the City then, and was part of the force that helped to erode her territory. He called it progress; she called it unnatural disaster.
His talent for profit helped him gather a substantial harvest from that aspirational lifestyle crop of buildings. Malcolm was an automatic leader. Like a weathervane he swayed in the winds of financial change, sensitive to each swing of fortune, and pointing the way for others to share his unerring aim. That innate sense also drove him to get out, just before the storms broke, and uproot himself in search of a dream. Unlike his colleagues, who were destined to fall as the surge of poverty swept through the stock markets, Malcolm did not amass money for its own sake.
As soon as he had could afford to, he planted his hopes in a new life on a small island off the North West of Scotland, which he worked as a croft, and led a simple, hard but happy life. For years it sustained him: sea all around, calls of wild birds, changing seasons and the immeasurable pleasure of self-sufficiency, satisfied his body and his soul.
In the very early dawn he sat on the island’s western cliffs and surveyed his territory. ‘I can remember when all this wasn’t fields,’ he thought to himself, and wondered how he let his idyll change beyond recognition. Word had somehow spread about the former tycoon who found nirvana through a rejection of materialism, and they had begun to arrive. At first it was only a couple who asked to be allowed to eke out a place using his example. They were poor, they said, and could not buy their own land, but they would happily share whatever they raised. He agreed, as long as they cultivated the opposite coast. But the next time he visited the other shore the two had become six and, soon after, they were twelve, then twenty, and before he could stop it they were a village; a settlement of followers wanting to live ‘The Malcolm Way’.
He tried to be a fair leader; co-opted to the position without election or opposition. He did his best to set an example and let them lead their own lives, as long as they left him in peace. But it was impossible. Within a year his existence was beleaguered by a host who saw him as their demagogue and clamoured for his guidance. Now he knew it could not continue. He must winnow the crowd before he was overcome: sort out those worth keeping and discard the rest.
Malcolm did not relish severing the links, but he made his way down to the sea with a determination he had not felt since his first visitors arrived. He knew exactly what he wanted to keep, and so he walked to where his small rowing boat was moored. Inside were a bag of clothes, fishing gear, his toolbox, enough tinned and dried food to support what could be collected from the ocean, and the remains of his original fortune. ‘The rest is chaff,’ he said, as he settled into the boat and began to row.