Flash! Friday # 17

This contest is now closed to entries–but is always open to comments/feedback.  Go nuts encouraging each other! Thanks to everyone for coming out to play on this Good Friday. The decision by judge Maggie Duncan will be posted tomorrow (Saturday).

Welcome to Flash! Friday (#FlashFridayFic) Round 17, oh wondrous dragonlings! (Crave contest rules?) Our photo is inspired by today’s celebration of Good Friday, as Christians all over the world mark the sacrifice of the ultimate Innocent. Round 17’s judgeworkery is provided by our exceedingly excellent SVW member Maggie Duncan, who has looked previous Flash! Friday contests in the eye yet lived to see another day.

And now it’s time for today’s contest.

Word limit: 200-word story (10 words’ grace) based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (190- 210 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one.

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday)

Prize: An proudly dragonish e-trophy badge, your own super duper winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME SHOUTED FROM THE ROOFTOPS OF THE WORLD (or at least as many as we can manage, metaphorically*). NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for Monday’s Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/dragon birthday gift suggestions.  And now for your prompt:

Photo courtesy of Maciej Lewandowski

Photo courtesy of Maciej Lewandowski

And now: WRITE, oh clever ones, WRITE!

* Though I might actually do this, myself, just because I love you.

110 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 17

    by Fraser McFraze (200 words)

    “Kay, walls first, then the stick out things, then OOH wait I want a tower.”

    “You’ve not got anyfing in the windows.”

    “Shuttup I will.”

    “You’re stewpid.”

    “No, YOU’RE stewpid, and I’m…making a town.”

    “You’re not, either.”

    “I am. Look, I’ve got walls and stick out things and most of a tower already.”

    “Now what? Eh? You know we’re going soon.”

    “I’m…I’m prolly gonna make a roof.”

    “Build a town, will yer? You can’t even manage a whole building, and your tower’s already breaking. You’re a baby and stewpid.”

    “I’m not a baby! MUM! He’s bovvering me! I’m making a town an’ he’s making me stop an’ I made all the walls an’ a stick out thing but he says my tower’s no good.”

    “Ooh it’s just lovely darlings. It’s a lovely little town, isn’t it? You’ve made a good start on the walls, and you’ve made some nice buttresses just like your father. And what kind of tower is that, dear?”

    “…neo-goffic, mum.”

    “Oh I can just tell, dear. It’s so lovely. Well done! Come along now boys, your father’s leaving. Fingers inside, everyone!”

    (“you’ve done nuffing at all, it’s just a mess”)
    (“shuttup, mum likes it. that was a nice planet”)
    (“it’s stewpid”)
    (“you are”)

  2. @StephenWilds
    Grave Consequences – 210 words

    The storm above raged on, matching the fierceness of Marcus’ blows to the old man.

    “You don’t get it,” the mad doctor yelled over the destructive weather. “I’ve won, Sara’s soul is mine now! She does what I want.”

    “You’re mad, doctor, you’re a damned fool.” Pain struck Marcus’ face as he held the bloodied collar of Dr. Stevenson up over Sara’s grave. He knew this villain was right, that there was nothing he could do.

    Thunder snapped and lightning lit up the sky behind the old tower in the ruins of the graveyard. A cold chill came through, with wind that cut through the multiple layers of clothing, a haunting sensation of pain to come, followed by the ghostly howl of a warning. Lightning struck the gravestone next to Marcus, sending sparks flying off.

    “You see,” Stevenson cackled as his white hair blew in the wind. “I want you dead, and Sara knows that this must happen, that she’ll make it happen, no matter what she wants.” He spat blood onto the stone as Marcus dropped him on the cold wet ground.

    In the sky, her image appeared, sickly grey with sad and deadly eyes. Marcus had no choice at that moment but to run.

    “That’s right, run! Run!”

  3. To the death

    Swords clashed in concert with the thunder as it echoed around the decaying tower, sparks exploded from the blades as lightning lit up the narrow, crumbling staircase. Again and again the blows rained down – wild arc, block, thrust, parry, riposte – ground ceded regained with each lunge or redoublement.

    The svelte hooded figure with the bow slung over its back, beating away the attacks of its adversary, turned and ran up the stairs to the top of the tower, the chill wind whipping its rain soaked robes about its body but revealing only part of its grimacing countenance. Looking about itself quickly it saw that the narrow windows offered no escape, and so it turned to face the door, centred its stance and prepared for the final engagement.

    Lightening lit up the chamber as its adversary entered, holding his sword by his side, a grim smile upon his face as the light glinted off his armour. The two figures circled each other, swords held in front of them, searching for any sign of weakness. Thrust, parry, riposte, coulé…jugular cut, blood gushed onto the stone floor; the hooded one fell…

    “Dammit! Again? Ok, my turn.”

    The cup was shaken; the dice rolled and skittered across the board.

    205 words

  4. Charcoal

    ‘Oh, for God’s sake,’ you snapped, turning your heel on a loose stone. ‘How long is this going to take?’

    ‘Please, Glen,’ I said. ‘We’ve only just got here.’ I heaved my backpack onto my knee, fishing out my sketchpad and charcoal. ‘I told you I wanted to take some rubbings today.’

    ‘What the hell’s so interesting about old gravestones, anyway?’ You nudged a tuft of grass with one expensively booted toe, scouring the place for somewhere to escape to. ‘What a dump. There isn’t even a coffee shop here. Can you believe it?’ You heaved a heavy, muttering sigh.

    I opened my eyes wide. The magnificent ruins of the abbey towered above us, gothic windows like held breaths, full of expectation. Shadow-cowled cloaks swished as they passed just out of eyeshot. I half-expected a dragon to sweep out of the swirling clouds to perch on the remains of the spire, its claws longer than my whole body. I saw it turn its baleful yellow eyes towards us, the boiling starting in its gullet. You didn’t notice. You were looking for the gift shop.

    I stood aside as it took aim. I let its flame consume you, boots and all.

    200 words

  5. There had been 3 more entire floors of exquisite stone work once, built by the finest craftsmen in all of the isles. Now the great hall was reduced to a courtyard filled with memorials to the fallen and all that remained of the upper floors was a fractured spire. Jaryth was at the top now, scanning the horizon and skies for signs of another attack. There had been none in a generation but if the pattern of 200 years held, it would soon be time for the current generation of holders of the land to face the scourge.

    Cr’Zartch yawned as he coasted along the air currents, surveying his holdings. He should have napped longer but that flock of seagulls kept waking him….well, until he ate them anyway. His smile disappeared as he caught sight of a flicker of heat within the ruins where the previous infestation had been. “More of them?” He growled in frustration as he banked sharply towards the ruins and prepared for a low pass. “Just how much fire does one have to breathe to git rid of those blasted humans? I swear, if only sheep bred as fast I should never go hungry again.”

  6. Jessamine watched atop her ebony steed as her soldiers cut down every man protecting King Edwin’s castle. She smiled menacingly and almost laughed with derision at the looks of horror upon their faces. The women and children had been told to flee, but when they came back…..oh, what a massacre to behold.
    “My lady…”
    Jessamine frowned and looked upon the source of the voice which had disturbed a most pleasant thought.
    It was Nimian. He bowed in respect and continued to speak.
    “The king has barricaded himself in the safety of the castle walls. Do you want us to lure him out?”
    “No…” Jessamine knew exactly what she wanted to do. “Leave him to me.”
    “As you wish.” Nimian bowed once more and walked away.
    Jessamine dismounted and strode proudly between the fighting. The sound of men’s screams was music to her very ears.
    Reaching the main door of the castle, Jessamine’s eyes sparkled with anticipation as she opened it. The coward would die tonight. He who had banished her people would know how it felt to suffer at another’s hand. He would witness the feeling of having someone else decide your fate.
    And maybe, Jessamine would give him the sweet relief of death.
    ……or not.

    207 words @bookwormattack

    Felt especially evil with this one.

  7. Karma
    (210 words)

    For years, the hatred Charlotte felt toward her ex-husband would not dissipate. Raw, soul-crushing, heart-rending pain threatened her sanity. Years of therapy and shelves of self-help books did not heal the jagged wounds of his betrayal nor dull the memory of his sending her to jail for a crime she didn’t commit.

    Now, stumbling around the debtors prison cemetery, icy raindrops splattering her face like hot grease, she was desperate to right a karmic wrong. Her eyes darted over barely-decipherable names and dates that were hastily etched onto cheap stones centuries ago. There. Arthur Scott, b.1689, d.1731.

    Charlotte knelt beside the gravestone, barely breathing, opening her heart, channeling the man she was then and the friend she had betrayed. With frozen fingers, Charlotte began slowly untying the intricate knots of the rope and murmured the mantra her spiritual adviser had taught her. With each knot, she spoke:

    “Arthur, it’s me, Charles.”

    “This inexhaustible power struggle between us must end.”

    “ The hatred and revenge and destruction of each other, life after life after life, must end.”

    “Because of me, you died here.”

    “Here it began and here it must end.”

    With the final knot undone, she felt the connection sever. And the skies let loose her baptismal font.



  8. Career Setbacks

    Scourge sat in the confined safety of his command vehicle as his troops deployed. Though active sensors indicated no threats of any kind, he had begun to distrust such. How could these damnable resistance fighters continue to inflict such telling losses on the Confederation? He knew he must nullify their threat or lose not only his position but his life.

    Intelligence gleaned from tortured rebels indicated some significance to these crumbling ruins. Scourge surmised a weapons cache or something similar concealed in the long-abandoned graveyard. Whatever was here, denying the resistance possession of it was tantamount.

    At length, his sub-commander reported the area secured and, only then, did Scourge dismount. He grew apprehensive as his soldiers swarmed over the ruins, failing to find anything of note. Two hours and seventeen minutes into the operation, that changed.

    With no forewarning of any kind, the grave marker in the center of the yard flashed with an eerie eldritch light before beams lashed out in all directions. He watched in stunned disbelief as an entire battalion of troops were transformed into smoldering husks.

    Briefly, Scourge contemplated whether his best chance of survival lay in reporting the incident or in defecting to the opposition.

    200 words, @klingorengi

  9. Whispering Wind
    200 words
    Twitter: @KaySully7

    The wind whistled through the empty windows, ruffling Val’s hair as she walked towards the grave of her father. Although she was alone, she sensed the dead peaked at her from the shadow of a gravestone or through abandoned doorways waiting for her to join them. Val lay the flowers she had plucked from the hillsides on her way to this abandoned place at the foot of her father’s grave. Pain racked her body as she knelt and pulled aside the binding plants and moss so that she could read the words written on the stone. She lifted a hand and brushed her fingers across the carved etchings of her father’s name, leaving red across the gray stone.

    “Father,” she whispered, her voice lost to the moaning of the wind, “It took me a while, but I’ve finally gotten our revenge.” She coughed, tasting metal in her mouth. She lay down in the soft grass, her head wreathed by the flowers she had offered. The wind wrapped her up in its cold and its voice that began to sound like words. Val closed her eyes and listened.

    “Welcome, Valerie.”

    “We’ve been waiting.”

    “That’s my girl. It’s time to come home.”

  10. The floodlights we’d set up to illuminate the castle’s ruins were scattered everywhere. I guided the robot to the center of the ruins, where the others turned on the time machine. The robot faded away.

    Legends said the castle fell before fire breathing dragons and hordes of orcs and goblins. We were sending the robot back in time to learn if there was any truth in the legends. The good thing about sending a robot back in time was you didn’t have to bring it back. Time would do that for you.

    When the castle fell, our robot dug a trench and buried itself at a specific Latitude and Longitude. We went to that specific point and dug it up, recovering the recorded information.

    When we analyzed the data, we were stunned. The castle had been besieged by a Chinese army. The dragons were flame throwers. A combustible gas was forced through a pipe under pressure, exiting the pipe over a flame, erupting into a sheet of fire twenty or more feet long. The flame throwers were decorated as Chinese Dragons.

    We also learned there were a lot of mistakes in our recreation of our history. Dragons. Who would have thought of that?

    203 Words

  11. My first try:

    200 words
    Twitter: dan_billings

    When the tour bus stopped in front of the remains of the church, everyone got out but Meghan. Though it was cloudy with only the flickering of flash bulbs lighting up the sky, she felt joy. She could see her fellow tourists fluttering around and standing in front of several gravestones. A few of the smaller children were running back and forth, rubbing their hands on the stone walls of the fallen church. With each step down to the ground, her excitement grew until the soil of Ireland pushed back on her feet. The butterflies began to flutter in her belly, but each stride seemed to take a few years off her life.

    Several of her compatriots knew her reasons for being at this cemetery and none had run over to show her the site she wanted to see. Each stone without the name felt shackled to her ankle. But as she reached the end of the path, a cracked stone said “Megh” and “ner” with the center crumbled away. She grasped her camera with wrinkled hands, focused on the middle, and clicked. One photograph was enough. She returned to the bus and looked at what was a bell tower.

  12. First time posting here, so… hi, all! *waves* Anyways…

    Words: 207

    He held the picture up, examining it against the broken-down structure that it was today. Yes, it was the same. The red stone tower was a little more run-down now, and there were a few more flowers on the ground, but it was the same. How strange it looked, here, in person, in color!

    He had been staring at this black-and-white picture for the past three years. It had come in the mail, all the way from England. His great-aunt had died, and had left him with half of her possessions. He didn’t understand. He had barely known the old woman, after all, but…

    He didn’t say no to the stuff. How could he? It was his mother’s aunt, the only one still alive on that side of the family.

    The adventurous side, his father had always joked. Adventurous idiots, who all got themselves killed.

    His mother had just shook her head and laughed.

    But perhaps it was true. Perhaps he had inherited that wild, adventuresome spirit. Because he was here, wasn’t he? He had followed an old, black-and-white photograph he found tucked into an old Bible halfway around the world, just because. Just because he could, because, well, why not?

    He did, after all, love adventure.

  13. That smell! Worse than dragon farts and wet dog. The earth around the gravestones turned dark grey, melting into black. I glared at the tombstones as if they were Toren, King of the Fae. He just had to keep the candle that would have helped me travel safely back and forth to Tearden, his kingdom. Not that I really wanted to go there, but I had a bone to pick with the sprite that pixed my hair. I woke with it changing colors every three seconds. I couldn’t have that in the human realm. Not unless I wanted strung up as a druxy, while I definitely looked good on the outside, I wasn’t rotten in the middle. Not yet anyway.

    I scanned the decrepit tower and headstones. I was alone. I closed my eyes. It only took one word. “Imago.”

    My stomach lurched. The magic pulled me into Teardon. “Sylph!” I hollered for the sprite. “Fix this mess or I’ll tear your wings off!” I wanted out of Teardon before Toren even noticed I’d been here.

    A giggle erupted, magic washed over me and Toren appeared. Craptastic!

    “Ogami,” The word flew from my mouth. He advanced. I dropped in the graveyard, puking my guts out, but escaped the Fae King.

  14. ~~ Casualties of War ~~

    They crowd around us, come to witness the showdown.

    “Hello, love.” His lips twitch into the smirk I once found irresistibly attractive.

    I nod. “Sir.”

    “What? No smile for your old sergeant?” He leans against the archway and folds his arms. If I didn’t know him better I’d suspect his nonchalance was feigned. A murmur skitters through our observers. They’re waiting for the gamecocks to be unleashed. Clenching my teeth, I straighten my shoulders. I promised myself I would not be goaded.

    I force my gaze to wander over the crumbling stone carcass that surrounds us. “They say this cathedral was the most beautiful of its time … but the war put an end to that.”

    With a shrug, he steps toward me. “The war put an end to a lot of things.” When I don’t respond, he smirks again, spreading his arms wide. “Come on, love. I’ve said I’m sorry. What do I have to do to earn your forgiveness?”

    “It’s not my forgiveness you need.”

    He frowns. He still thinks this is about us.

    “It wasn’t just me you left behind.” I nod at the crowd, knowing even if he looked for them, he wouldn’t be able to see them. “I was just the only one who survived.”

    Word Count: 210 (according to NeoOffice)


    Thud… thud… SMASH!

    Stella pushes upward with her shoulders. Damn this slab is heavy. Finally she gets free, hauls herself up onto the grass.


    No answer.

    “C’mon, Bert, you’ve gotta see this…”

    The soil bubbles, a seam opens and a hand pierces the grass. Dirt flies as Bertrand emerges. The nearest headstone topples over. Whump.

    “They didn’t put a slab on top of you?”

    “Guess not. Just mud.” Bertrand picks some grass from his teeth.

    They stand. “What is this, the church? Nothing left. What a crime.”

    “Did they bury you with it?” says Bertrand.

    “With what?” says Stella.

    “Your crown.”

    “Oh! No, no, it’s not in there.”

    “Damn them,” says Bertrand.

    “Know what we need? We need Scrimshaw,” says Stella. “He’ll know what to do.”

    “Scrimshaw! You old fool! Get out here!” shouts Bertrand.

    Scrimshaw, bells jingling on his hat, pries his skinny body from the soggy ground.

    “Milady! Migentleman!” shouts Scrimshaw. He always shouts. Part of the act.

    “Scrimshaw, our queen here was buried without her crown. Thusly, the spell remains in force. We know what that means.”

    “We surely do!” Scrimshaw dances a jig. “Time to wreak some old-timey havoc.”

    “Indeed,” says Stella. “Let us begin.”

    200 words

  16. Remains of a life I once knew now huddle here. Moss clings to the walls and carpets the path I often walked and frequented weekly. Betwixt the grave markers, alyssum dots the ground wildly with no intent of bringing joy. Ah but it does, to me. I remember well the sweet scent, the prolific white blooms bring.

    Remains of persons now encroach my once cherished cathedral. Are their spots deserved amongst the ranks? Did they pray here also? Such an odd thing we do. Build things, acquire things, conquer things, and then … destroy them, leaving only remnants behind.

    Remains of a flag, signifying allegiance, perched with pride atop the tower has vanished and no longer flies. I hear the faint toll of the bell now, too, though I know it no longer peals; it’s imagined.




    Remains of another day escape my ability to embrace them as the clouds roll in and with them bring the promise of a storm. An apt storm. A vast and terrible storm, I suppose, but the remains will weather the storm as effortlessly as I now navigate the veil of existence.

    A whisper, a thought, a ghost myself now—all that remains.

    200 words

  17. Title: One More Night
    Author: J.M. Mendur

    The dark clouds began rolling in. Brother John hastened his steps as much as an eighty-year-old monk could. He visited each of the thirty-six gravestones in the ancient cemetery. The rain began to fall as he finished number thirty-six and moved to the place with no gravestone at all.

    “Heavenly Lord,” he repeated for the thirty-seventh time, ignoring the rain. “Protect the final tower of your house and keep the evil of this world bound for one more night. Amen.”

    The Archbishop was waiting for him when he turned. “You have been forbidden that heretical prayer, Brother John.”

    “Yes, Your Excellency,” Brother John said. “but I must say it, to protect the world.”

    The Archbishop frowned at the contrariness of the old monk. “It is time you retired. You will come with me, tonight. Tomorrow, a young monk will be appointed to take your place as caretaker.”

    “Yes, Your Excellency. I will teach him the prayer.”

    “You will not,” the Archbishop said. “In fact, I think a penance is in order, Brother John. Silence, for one year.”

    Brother John bowed his head in acquiescence, silently begging God’s forgiveness.

    Beneath thirty-six gravestones and the place with no gravestone, as the lightning and thunder crashed, they waited for one more night.

    209 words

  18. The Last Guardian

    The last Guardian looked to the indigo sky that was darkening by the second, smothering the stars that once brightly studded the sky.
    It was time.
    He knelt, resting a withered hand on the crumbling, moss covered tombstone and began to mutter incoherently as wisps of spirit floated up towards the tower.
    A sharp crack echoed throughout the ruin as a bright light beamed through the windows of the tower, shining down on the Guardian and the tombstones of his predecessors. Slowly, he rose knowing the pure light would attract those who had waited as long as he had for this moment, but with darkness guiding them.
    Shadows advanced across the land and the Guardian stood firm, hand raised, his fingers splayed. Blue sparks flew from his finger tips, finding their mark but there were too many and his powers were weakened.
    “Old man, your time here is over. A new order has begun.” The Guardian laughed at Cain as the light in the tower ceased.
    A low rumbling vibrated through the ruin. Fire burst through the tower walls as the Guardian’s job was done; the dragon was born, surrounded by his predecessor’s spirit as Cain receded in fear and defeat.

    201 (excluding title)

  19. The Cloud emerged at night. The nearest town, a quaint village of only a couple hundred, was the first to encounter it. The Cloud dissolved anything in its path: metal, stone, flesh. It was destructive, but not thorough. Few died from the initial contact with it. Most died hours afterward, from their injuries.

    By morning, every form of media was on the story. Experts reassured the public that it would dissipate by dawn. Then, reports came in that the next closest village was under siege by the same phenomenon. Reports increased exponentially. Devastated villages were set upon repeatedly. Those who survived, temporarily, tried to give the dead hasty burials. Before long, the only survivors were those who kept moving.

    Once it gained a foothold in a new city the Cloud expanded outward, so eventually even the nomadic refugees were cornered. Within weeks, the Cloud was devouring the last few human beings on the planet.

    The last man alive was pinned against a rock outcrop clutching his daughter with nowhere left to flee when he heard a soft but pained voice ask “Why?”, with the simplicity and sincerity of a child.

    He looked down to the child he was holding. Her first word?
    “Why?” The genocidal cloud asked him again.


  20. “Hey, Rapunzel, throw down your hair!”
    “Piss off, Gary! Why’d you bring me here? It’s muddy and freezin’.”
    “No, it’s poetic and romantic. A fairy tale setting,” he said wafting his hand around.
    “For what?” I said jerking at his sleeve bringing his hand to his side.
    “Whatever you desire, My Princess.” He brings out a bottle of cheap sparkling wine from the carrier bag.
    “No what?”
    “No. We are not having sex here, Gary.”
    “Who mentioned sex? A glass of bubbly in a unique setting. That’s all.”
    “You sound like a brochure now.”
    “Why so cynical? I come to rescue you from the mundane.”
    There goes that hand again.
    “You’re wafting again, Gary. I don’t like the wafting.”
    “God,there’s no pleasing you. I thought you’d appreciate the Gothic setting. You said you wanted me to use more imagination.”
    “You’re unbelievable. Imagination! Could you have found a bigger phallic symbol. I’m not a bloody teenager. Where next? A bus shelter? Your old room at your mum’s? I meant conversation, Gary. Intellectual stimulation. Now, I am taking myself to the car and I’m going to rescue us both from this bloody cold.”

  21. He.

    He walked, for the first time in many years, he walked. It was spring, the weather was shifting globally, everywhere in seasonal transition. He walked among the trees, the fields, the cities and the suburbs. And no where could he find any sign of life. He had been walking for 3 days already. Trying to find anyone anywhere to meet him. There was a breeze, but no birds on wing. The air was cool and soft. The earth was green and lush.

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this. There should have been someone. Anyone to meet him. There was supposed to be triumph, revelations, and a deep and abiding joy. And there was nothing. He looked to the heavens hoping for something, what exactly he had no clue.

    He walked alone on the planet he was supposed to bring peace and everlasting joy to. He came across a ruined building, sat and said out loud to no one: “this is my house, which I gave to all the world. In ruins, the world returns it.”

    And he wept. He stopped, scooped up a handful of dirt, and contemplated doing it all over again.

    193 words.

    “Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….”
    ― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

  22. Driven off the beach by the cold January wind, Simon and Emily moved inland, hoping to find some shelter from the icy spray. As they rounded the northeast corner of what had once been St. Andrews, Scotland, they came upon the ruins of the cathedral. It had fallen long before the rest of humanity, but some of the walls still stood stoutly enough to provide respite from the storm. The gravestones in the cemetery were worn smooth by the wind, except for the odd name here or date there.

    Emily wrapped her arms around Simon, feeling his warmth radiating even through his overcoat. They were lost in time, one day witnesses to the end of humanity, the next surrounded by more faces than they could count, thousands and millions and billions of people unaware of how short a time they’d be around to worry about whatever it was that was consuming them that day. But standing here with the man she loved, in what was left of a building that had been painstakingly built, stone by stone, so long before she was born that it was hard to fathom, she felt a sense of peace which had been eluding her since they first saw the monsters. She felt home.

    209 words

  23. St. Joseph’s

    He set himself to burying every part of St. Joseph’s beneath its floor within the caverns of the catacombs. He removed the decor first, the candelebra, the carpets, the statuettes of the saints, and gave them a simple wooden headstone carved from the benches.

    He followed this with the seating and the vestments and the objects of mass, along with his own sceptre and mitre and all the bibles. With the room clear, he took down the windows; carefully aimed stones bringing out each stained fragment like a fall of winter petals.

    An earthquake – a retaliation perhaps – brought down much of the east wall which he set to burying straight away. Not long after the beams and struts of the roof failed it and the elements poured in. There was just enough room below to fit the roof rubble in, but he set some by to serve for further headstones.

    Finally, he dug graves for the congregation, who had lain patient for his project, and gave them their rest.

    Only the north and east walls remained, and the tower of course, where he lived. So he shut himself in there, watching the sky, and, with silence and grace, awaited the response. It came soon after.

    (Words: 205)


    The air was good. Horera sniffed and thought so. It was a little cold, but the grass grew green and soft and running on it and climbing the rocks would be easy to get warm. The soil was good and healthy, and the clouds were bringing new rain really soon. Horera could smell it.
    Horera’s human Daddy was kneeling by one of the rocks. He had his hat off, even though he always wore it everywhere else. Sometimes Horera missed her birth parents, but her Daddy took really good care of her so she was okay. Only now Daddy seemed sad.

    The dogling girl crawled over and rubbed her head on her Daddy’s sleeve.

    “What this place?”

    Horera’s warm brown eyes found the cold blue ones of the man next to her. He ruffled her fur with a half smile.

    “It’s a graveyard now… But it used to be a church.”

    “What church?”

    “It’s where people come together to believe in something.”

    “What graveyard?”

    “It’s where the people we’ve lost are laid to rest.”

    The clouds thundered.

    “Why change?”

    “Because I wasn’t here to stop it.”

    Horera’s Daddy hugged her tight, and she hugged him right back.

    “It okay, Daddy.”

    200 words

  25. Resting Place

    Eleanor lay on the hard-packed earth, and stared at the ruined tower. She folded her hands at her chest, as if the grave she commandeered was her own.

    It might have been, if one believed in reincarnation. Eleanor believed in everything. She thought it preferable than to believe in nothing. The headstone read: Herein lies Eleanor Shipstead, wyfe of Thomas, mother of Aaron. Born 1652 Buried 1675.

    Eleanor was not a Shipstead, nor a mother, but she was 23 years old. She imagined this other Eleanor. Perhaps she had died in childbirth. Or perhaps her husband had been a violent man.

    Eleanor is wearing her mother’s low-heeled, sensible shoes. They are slightly too big, and she has added an extra pair of socks to accommodate the difference. She had teased her mother over her pragmatic choice of footwear, but felt now that she would never take them off. A month before their long-planned adventure, Eleanor’s mother fell dead at her desk. Her boss had stepped out of his office surprised to find her asleep. Only she wasn’t asleep.

    As she rose Eleanor had the distinct impression, and believed it to be true, that soft fingers brushed a strand of hair from her forehead, and tucked it behind her ear.

    209 words

  26. They said they’d be here in about an hour to pick us up. An hour is a damn long time to keep him still. If he managed to run all the way to these ruins, I won’t be enough to stop him running again. He’s not stable right now, but it’s not exactly his fault. I won’t say it was mine… but he might.
    I walked up to him as quiet as I could, but he was so focused on holding the tombstone in front of him. It was the tallest and the most weathered grave marker there; the words were worn away, and the smooth stone was jagged as thorns. His palms bled as he held it tightly. Maybe he was still crying like he was when he left; the sky would start doing the same either way. I brought an umbrella large enough for both of us – hopeful thinking I suppose.
    “Why’d you come, Sara?” He was clearly done crying.
    “That’s a dumb question.”
    “Then give me a dumb answer.”
    “Please come home, Quincy. It’s not safe here.”
    “I’m safer with the spirits than I am with him.”
    “Quincy, please…”
    He released the tombstone, but he refused to face me. The graying grass near him was painted red.
    210 words – @JSHyena

  27. Delia ran across the high grass, panting as she tripped over the stones of the ruined Cathedral. She didn’t know how she got from a dank place to there but she didn’t want to think about it. She would be sick. Especially if she was around that demon and he decided he wanted to have ‘fun’.

    She almost was sick over the grave marker that was stills standing with what little was left in her stomach. Delia slid her fingers underneath that solid collar that encircled her neck. No matter how many times she necked, she couldn’t figure out how to get it off.

    “Aww, pet. Don’t be like that. It’s only so that I know where you are.”

    Delia suddenly wanted to be sick again. Her stomach wouldn’t stop churning. She glanced up at Irocsytle as he swung one leg back and forth as he stared up at what remained of the tower. She didn’t know what to think of his mood until he broke into a grin and jumped down. He landed with cat-like agility on the ground before sauntering over to her, that wicked tail swinging back and forth.

    “This place will be perfect.”

    197 words

  28. Lady in the Tower
    Wind whistled through the open windows of the tower as the lone occupant huddled on the floor. The harder the wind blew, the closer she curled into herself, until she was almost a tiny ball on the floor.

    By the time the wind died down, she was shivering and almost in tears from fighting against the terror of being buffered from the cold and the fright. Her clothes had already been in tatters before the wind and now they hung about her thin frame.

    As she stumbled to her feet, the tower shuddered beneath her. She gasped, rushing to the window, and peering out. There was nothing below her except the shattered stones of the graveyard. Nothing that could have caused the tower to sway under her feet, but it continued to move as she grabbed at the edge of the window.

    She rode out the undulations for a few minutes, finally breathing a sigh of relief when it stopped. She couldn’t see from her vantage point what had caused it, but it was clearly something underneath the tower. She hoped that whatever had caused it wouldn’t creep up on her when she tried to sleep that night. She had enough nightmares without something attacking her in her sleep.

    209 words
    213 with title

  29. A Great Discovery

    Jesse walked away from the crowd. Slowly, the tour guide’s babbling, the group’s chatter, and that one mom’s pleading with her child to behave fell to a dull murmur, one Jesse could more readily ignore.

    Honestly, who brings a 6 year old on a tour of ruined castles?

    The castles were interesting, though one wouldn’t know it by listening to that amazingly boring tour guide drone on about dates and the names of the lords and ladies of the castles. But it wasn’t the castles that brought Jesse here, it was something more personal.

    It had taken hours and hours of research to find the right place. Jesse had scoured the internet, ransacked archives, and bothered clerks to no end. But it had all paid off in the end. Or it would, if Jesse could find it.

    Jesse wandered through gravestones, moving slowly, looking carefully at each one. The words on most were indecipherable from weather, but Jesse read the ones that time hadn’t touched as much. In a far corner of the ancient cemetery, Jesse stopped in front of a gravestone, and knelt before it.
    This was it. The one Jesse had been looking for. This was where Jesse’s great great great great great great great grandmother was buried.

    210 words, without title

  30. The ground shook and shuddered, making me fall to my knees. I scraped my hands on one of the old gravestones, drawing blood .

    I hissed with discomfort and surprise. The moment was dizzying; the sky seemed to change colour and mood, from bright to overcast in the blink of an eye.

    I shivered, drawing my sweater closer around me. My ears rang even though I hadn’t noticed earlier and all I’d done was down some pints at the pub the night before. I loosened my hair from my ponytail and ran my fingers through the tangled unruliness, shaking my golden brown locks in the wind.

    Then I moved to the next gravestone and was amazed at its condition, completely legible, no moss or lichen obscuring the information like the other ones I had photographed. I pulled out my Blackberry to take a GPS-enabled photo and noticed that there was no satellite functionality.

    I scanned the skyline and noticed an immediate difference compared to moments before. No planes. No telephone lines.

    “Oh hell no!”

    I ran towards the road where I had parked my rental.

    No car. No road.


    And some man riding on a horse towards me.

    “Bloody buggery Hell. What am I going to do?”

    210 words

  31. The Last Ruin

    “Can this pleeeeeease be the last one today?”

    Simon cringed at the whine. ‘What do I see in her?’ He turned around and his eyes rested on her sweater. ‘I am so weak.’

    “Sure. Though I thought you wanted to learn some British history.” He attempted a smile.

    “I thought you meant a pub crawl. This is boring. And cold.”

    ‘Americans.’ He shook his head.

    Simon registered that everyone except a groundskeeper had left. It was cold.

    “How can you want to spend your life in places like this?”

    He heard his mother’s voice, her judgment. Without thinking, he grabbed his pistol and fired. Stacey fell limp over a gravestone. Simon panicked. He had only gotten the gun after she said they made her hot.

    He saw an open grave nearby. He flipped her body over the stone and rolled it towards the hole. Stacey kept veering off track. Before Simon realized it, the groundskeeper joined him and they dropped Stacey’s body into the open grave. They shoveled dirt in silence. After they finished, the groundskeeper held out his hand and said, “Alec.”

    “Should we really know each other’s names? Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t?”

    “Sure. If we weren’t ever going to see each other again.”

    208 words

  32. Touch to Life
    210 word count
    @A Mused Marionette Linda Anderson

    “You’ve got a knack for climbing out of canvases and leaving your mark behind.”

    “What’s that suppose to mean?” Danielle twisted so slightly that only her eyes regarded me in that ‘seriously?’ attitude although her voice sounded far from it.

    I held up my hands in surrender, not wanting this to be another argument. I watched her return to the strokes on the canvas, the way she splayed paint across canvas, it was as if she carried on effortlessly. It was a gift that she could create something from words turning it into works of art. I often wondered if she was my opposite entirely and for which my attraction came for Danielle.

    “Tanner, snap out of it. I’m ready.” She laid her hand on my arm, I had tuned out and lost track of time watching the canvas transform, “It’s your turn.” I watched her pause and then a smile touch those beautiful tinted lips.

    “What?” I whispered, tranced by her mood switch.

    “Just thinking about what you said. I wanna climb into this one.” Her smile widened, she knew I couldn’t resist no matter how dangerous.”

    She had the artistic, I had the magic. I touched the canvas and grabbed her hand pulling us into her illustrated mind….

  33. Pilgrimage

    This is it…

    Their mecca, their hub, their heart. Only left—debris.

    The spires that once rose meant to represent their chance at independence. The clerestories, their flight to heaven. The buttresses, their wings.

    And now, as I kneel on the moss above the bones of my ancestors, I wonder: was it worth it?
    Was it worth the struggle, the gore, the lives, the cut-throat politics and deeds? What my predecessors thought was an innocent crusade became their elimination.

    And as I think these things—I wonder—can any crusade be clean?

    They were fighting for their homes, their freedom, their families, their life, blood, and breath.

    Their creed.

    Bodies piled up in crowds—most are buried on the other side of the now-closed archway in secluded mass grave. Fighting was what they thought was right. Perhaps they knew more than I know today. Perhaps I should learn from them. Perhaps I already have.

    …Because when I ask myself again, “Was it worth it?”, I see the phantoms of my forefathers load, aim, and fire. Eyes ready: proud.

    They knew that reward can come from rebellion.

    And I say to myself: “My mecca, my hub, my heart: my home.”

    Words: 199
    Tweet me @nXgWVteacher

    • I thought this was really well-written (and I loved your use of the word clerestories – you don’t see that word much any more!). It’s atmospheric and stirring.

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