Flash! Friday # 22

Flash! Friday Round 22 is now closed. Whew. That’s  quite a bit of catastrophe for a single day! What tremendous writing you all did once again. Thanks so much! In the meantime, as ever, please keep on reading & commenting. See you tomorrow!

Welcome to #FlashFridayFic Round 22, friends, family, and other edible morsels. Oh. Speaking of food–hang on a sec; I’ll be right back–

OK, I’m back! :wipes mouth: What was I saying?? OH, right! Welcome! So glad you’re here! Can.not.wait to see the stories y’all have hidden up your sleeves this week. I think know what’s happening in this pic, but you’re bound to prove me wrong, of course, in a most stylish and magnificent way. (If you need ’em, here are the guidelines).

Round 22 judgism is provided by delightful yet refusing-to-be-pigeon-holed SVW member Beth Peterson. (Be sure to check out her judge page to see what she looks for in a winning entry.)

On your marks… get set…

Word limit: 150-word story based on the photo prompt. Five words’ grace on either side, just ‘cuz I love you.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (145-155 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one.

* Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday’s on Boston time)

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday)

Prize: A harrowingly brilliant e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, a soul-stirring original winner’s page here at FF, a glorious and hilarious 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME smoke-written in the sky by the Blue Angels (at least emotionally speaking). 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/lair cleaning tips.  And now for your prompt:

Photo courtesy of Wondermar at Pixabay

Photo courtesy of Wondermar at Pixabay

 
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93 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 22

  1. Larry The Second
    155 Words

    “I don’t want toooooo!”

    “Jesus, Penny! Every freakin’ morning! Do ya have to do this every freakin’ morning? Take some responsibility, will ya?”

    George bought Penny a goldfish six years ago. It was a small gesture, but Penny was elated.

    “I’ll call him Larry!” she exclaimed.

    “We already have a cat named Larry.”

    “I don’t care! He just…looks like a Larry!”

    That same week, Penny’s mother finally died. She resolved to care for Larry 2 in such a way that he would never, ever leave her. A year later, he outgrew the fishbowl. After four years, the bathtub was full, too, and he had to move outside. Larry 2 never learned to seek food on his own. So, every morning, Penny and George go down to the lake to feed him.
    She protests on cold winter days, but Larry 2 is still the only thing that can make Penny smile.

  2. “I want to jump in the water.”

    “It’s too cold,” Alex warned her daughter.

    “I don’t like having this blood all over me.”

    “We’ll go get cleaned up soon, I just want to watch the explosion for a moment longer, make sure all of those Amazonian bitches are dead.”

    Sabrina wrinkled her nose as her gloved hand squeezed her mother’s just a little bit tighter, not sure if it was really safe yet or not.

    “You don’t think they’ll come back do you,” she looked up at the taller woman. “not after you blew up their spaceship, right?”

    “No sweetie,” Alex said kneeling down and looking into the purple eyes of her young half-breed. “They’re all dead, and I’ll never let anyone else take you away from me, never again.”

    They hugged. It was in that moment that the shockwave from the massive explosion grew closer. Death felt so warm.

  3. They brought the sandstorm with them. Sand being new to me: the seemingly brilliant colors, the dryness, the way it sifted through my fingers deceivingly innocent; so different from the snow; hot when everything should be cold. The sand crept into everything, even inside my fur lined pants and boots. It wore away at the ice and snow, killing the penguins first… then the fish, then the polar bears died of starvation.
    My father took me by the hand this morning and told me they were coming again. With more sand. The giant metal creatures in the sky. I took his warm hand, stomach aching from lack of fish. We would have to walk far, I knew. How far can we get before we will be swallowed by the sandstorm? I hope we can find somewhere with plenty of snow where the metal monsters from the sky cannot come.
    I hate the sand.

  4. Why Not Wander – 150 words

    Why do Hobbits stay in the Shire? Wandering never does them well.

    They’ve all heard the stories, but once in awhile, some young upstart has to challenge them. He goes off adventuring and returns to the Shire with the same story the others told. It had different details, of course. Sometimes, a wizard came calling. Sometimes, the upstart decided to just go off and find adventure. It involved a ring, a gangly and nearly hairless mutation of his nearest neighbor, or an insane claim that only a woman could kill a dark lord.

    The details didn’t matter much. Sure, most of them survived and ended up back in the Shire. About the time the adventure ended, the young upstart realized why he had been called. That stout body, that sturdy build, those big feet… Why would a wizard buy a packhorse if he can convince a Hobbit to come along?

  5. I had never seen the day so raw.
    ‘We need to wrap you up.’
    Layers of clothing made my sleepy body wade rather than walk.
    Dad had packed what we needed, but I was to tuck a small box into my pocket and zip it up tight.
    ‘What about, Mum?’
    ‘She’ll meet us there.’
    I must have looked confused.
    ‘She’s on her way right now,’ Dad said with a nervous smile and I felt only the echo of the pat he gave my cushioned shoulder.
    We took the car as far as possible. Fully alert, now, I climbed.
    Breathless we inhaled this fresh, sharp air like medicine.
    The flame orange sky drew us to the edge.
    ‘The box?’
    I traced its edges with my gloved hand and nodded.
    ‘You are the Best,’ he said.
    Click!
    We turned.

    ‘Come on, Celia!’ Dad said. ‘The sun waits for no woman, not even the bride!’

    152 words

  6. Burning guilt

    The heat was intense, even from the opposite side of the lake. The smell of sulphur and burnt flesh made Alex’s mind spin as she and her older brother choked on the thick cloying fumes of the conflagration. Her eyes watering, she took a breath through the sleeve of her coat.

    “Are they dead Larry?”

    Her older brother looked down on her with dull, empty eyes as the flames roared, snarled and spat from behind the veil of smoke across the water, diffusing the incandescence into a yellow glow which blended with the rising of the morning sun.

    “Yeah, they’re dead. Our parents are dead.”

    She held his gaze for a few moments, tears streaming down her cheeks, leaving lines where they washed away the soot, then turned back to the shoreline, towards the town they once lived in.

    “You shouldn’t have woken up those things Larry.”

    ***
    147 words
    @theimaginator20

  7. Escapees

    ‘Bub. We’ve gotta go.’ Seth pulled on his brother’s mittened hand. His skinny fingers poked through the thick fabric.
    ‘Just another minute? Please?’ begged Bub. Seth never could resist those big green eyes. Those eyes that had seen at once too much, and too little. He grinned down at the kid, heaving in a big sighing breath. Bub looked back at the ocean, knowing he’d won this one.
    ‘Pretty, isn’t it?’ said Seth. The sunlight trilled, like there was treasure just under the water. Seth’s little brother just stared, his face and body absorbing every atom. Clouds rolled along the horizon. Everything was golden.
    ‘I want to remember it all,’ said Bub. ‘So’s I can tell the others.’
    Seth’s breath caught. ‘What d’you mean?’
    ‘When we go back,’ he replied, looking up at Seth. ‘To the camp.’
    Seth’s gullet boiled. ‘We’re never going back there, Bub. Never.’ He swallowed, turning away. ‘C’mon, now. C’mon.’

    @SJOHart
    154 words

  8. Forever

    I can’t remember a time that I didn’t go wherever she went. My mother was beautiful and strong. She always knew what to say and she fixed anything that hurt. She was my best friend. When she didn’t work, she would play dolls with me for hours. Then, we would go out to the garden. “Come with me,” she would say. I would always follow close behind. We’d plant vegetables and sing together. “Mommy will we be together forever?” I’d ask. “Forever,” she’d say. Then, she got sick and God called her home. I followed her to the gate and she looked down at me. “You can’t follow me. You must stay.” “But I always follow you everywhere.” I pleaded. “Not this time. I’ll always love you,” she promised. Then, she disappeared. What she didn’t know is that time, she followed me-in my heart.

    (145 words)
    @cdjones86

  9. The City in the Sky:

    “Is that where father went?”
    The older boy sighed and nodded. “Yeah.”
    “Is that where mother went?”
    Again he nodded.
    The child looked up at him with bright blue eyes. “Emil, I’m scared.”
    “I am too.” He gently took her hand.
    The pair began to walk further down the path; stepping away from infinity. “Emil, why did they take Mommy and Daddy?”
    “The king thinks they did something bad.” They had been called traitors but Emil knew they weren’t. He was only thirteen. He was still playing at knight in the backyard when they had taken his lord father and lady mother.
    “Are we going to get them back?” Dani was only seven. She pretended that she was grown. That she was just another lady going off to court. It helped ease the worry that sat like stones in her stomach.
    Emil ruffled his sister’s already tangled hair. “I’m going to try.”

    (152 Words)
    @gold_and_amber

  10. The calling of a dream

    She leant over and kissed the top of their heads. They were asleep, softly snoring in unison; her beloved husband, and beautiful baby boy, not yet a year old.

    She’d had a fitful night’s sleep, and that dream…that dream kept playing over and over. She couldn’t ignore it, she had to do this.

    It was achingly cold outside. She had to reach the summit in time for sunrise, that much she knew. The rest? Well that was where the dream had stopped.

    She arrived just as the sky started to melt with the orange glow of the sun.

    Suddenly she became aware of an unannounced hand in hers, with a warmth that radiated through her, touching her soul. She looked at the young boy, so handsome, standing next to her; recognising immediately, behind those deep loving eyes, her son.

    She gasped as she was shown, in that moment, all that he was to become.

    (155 words)
    @dragonsflypoppy

  11. The Walk

    “Momma said to stay.”
    “I know Jenna, but that isn’t possible now. See the sun?”
    “Yeah, it’s beautiful. What’s that color?”
    “I think they call it fuchsia.”
    “I bet Momma likes it. Purple is her favorite color.”
    “I’m sure she does.”
    “You think she knows?”
    “Knows what?”
    “That I left the car.”
    “I couldn’t say, maybe not yet.”
    “What’ll she do? I mean, will Momma be alright?”
    “She’ll be fine. You’ll see her again soon.”
    “I didn’t know here was a beach here. Can we go?”
    “Hmm, maybe for a minute.”
    “I want to get some shells.”
    “Okay, but make it quick. We have a long way to go yet.”
    “I’m going to string them up and make a necklace for Momma.”
    “That sounds like a fine idea.”
    “I’m just worried though.”
    “What about?”
    “Well, I don’t want to lose it while I wait for Momma in Heaven.”

    (150 words plus title)

  12. The Beyond
    By Allison Garcia
    (152 words)

    The first sun stood strong in the eastern sky, but for how long? In another few hours, everything would be wiped away. It was only a matter of time. There was no escaping. It was done.

    The clouds billowed around them as the second sun set in the south. The man looked into his daughter’s eyes. Did she know? She couldn’t. He had been careful.

    He stared into the sun on the horizon. He knew it was the only way. It was all clear to him now. He knew what he needed to do.

    His heart raced. Vivid images flashed through his mind. His breath caught. If only he had come home later, this would never have happened. He clenched his jaw and shook his head. In a few moments, it would all be over.

    “Hey, honey. Let’s go to the edge. It’s a better view.” His secret would die with them.

  13. Title: Sunrise
    Author: J.M. Mendur

    The man and his son walked to the cliff’s edge and gazed across the icy valley below. A wall of fog, trapped by the mountains on the other side, obscured the peaks. Although the sky had been light for two hours, the sun finally began to rise above the mountains, bathing the land in a pale golden light. The first edge of the sun’s disk had appeared nearly half an hour ago.

    “Why does the sun take so long to rise?” the boy asked.

    The man was thinking about how fast it rose. He paused to get control of his voice before answering. “It’s because we live so far north. At the equator, sunrise would take about two minutes.”

    “Oh,” the boy said. “How much longer before it’s risen all the way?”

    “Soon,” his father whispered. “Soon now.”

    He held his son’s hand tightly as the soldiers prepared to fire.

    ~~~
    150 words, excluding title and author lines
    @JMwandering

  14. The Long Wait
    by Susan Warren Utley @SusanUtley
    (155 words)

    “Daddy,” the boy whispers, “how long ’til she gets here?”

    “It won’t be long now,” the man replies.

    “I’m hot,” the boy says as he tugs at the neckline of his jacket.

    The man kneels down and turns the boy to face him. Removing the boy’s cap reveals sunken eyes, thinning hair and skin growing paler by the day. “I know you are hot. I know we’ve been waiting a long time. Be patient for Daddy just a few minutes longer.”

    The boy fidgets and replies, “If she doesn’t come this time, we’re not coming back. Promise?”

    Choking back tears, the man nods in agreement, “Promise.”

    A promise with no time left to break, he thinks. She promised to return for them in five years. It’s been eight. Time is running out.

    As a burst of white light blinds them, the boy raises a hand. Pointing toward the horizon he whispers, “Mommy.”

  15. Together they looked at the bright surroundings, fully wrapping around them as they stood there hand in hand covered in thick layers of winter clothing– warm for the first time in months. He looked down at her and could see the light reflecting of her young face, her eyes were wide, amazed as she looked upon the scenery for the first time. He wanted to bring her here to give her a day amongst the privileged, her grip on her fathers hand tightened.

    He thought about what it would have been like if her mother was still alive. She needed the influence of a respectable woman not the failure she calls her dad. He was ready to move on, man-up, to do what needs to be done.

    ” Sit down! Your blocking the screen…”

    She looked up at him and laughed, a real reaction from a normal child. They left the movie theater…

  16. A Lake Side Science Lesson
    155 Words

    “Good old fashion evaporation” Doctor Wainswright said with a laugh.

    “That is so far from the point right now” spoke his spirited daughter, Marigold.

    “The water of the pond, in a liquid state, is being heated so quickly by the surroundings steam results. And as the steam rises, the sun’s light refracts and reflects causing wonderful colorization of the environment” he pointed to the fog bank across the way, hoping his daughter would find his words educational and entertaining.

    “Dad, seriously, we have a larger problem at hand” she said with a voice of wisdom far older than her years would suggest.

    “Let’s not forget the importance of the sun’s angle! In these winter months,” he began his lecture once more being cut off by the young lady at his side.

    “Dad the car rolled into the lake; time to focus” she said sternly.

    “Please don’t let your mom know” he said calling for help.

    @ShawnCowling

  17. The cold wind leaves a bite on your face. The summer visitors to this sleepy town have long gone to their homes. Just a small group of locals stayed during the low season.
    Orange rays of sunlight peaked above the surface of the lake.
    “I spy”
    Jeremy meets my gaze, “orange”.
    Orange or Urnge?
    “Orange” and he stamps his feet like his mom.
    We sit on the grass and count the orange jelly beans I have tucked in my pocket. Our new number is 13. He counts solidly and looks me in the eye. “Thirteen”, He greedily takes his win.
    I take several steps to the water’s edge and release Janet’s ashes into the wind. I watch jellybeans dapple the water’s surface.
    “Goodbye mom.”
    A rock hard sob chokes in my throat. My little buddy was her idea that I resisted. We stand in silence as the sun rises.
    (149 words) so much to choose from
    http://annbennett2.blogspot.com

  18. Where We’d Been.

    We’d been hoping for the aurora borealis.
    Not this.
    We’d stood there. We’d watched.
    It had drifted around us all night, but we’d encouraged each other with flasks of hot soup, biscuits and cake. I would do anything for Alice. She so loved me.
    In the darkness I took her hand and led my little girl to the cliff edge, to the point where the darkness paled. I could feel the western breeze licking my cheeks as it shoved the sea mist back where it belonged. The water was calm. From the cliff edge we could hear it sadly sighing on the rocks below. It was a long way down.
    I’d set the camera on timer.
    Three… two… one…
    Exactly as I’d promised her, the sun burst the horizon. Its flare streaked across the water and bathed us all in gold.
    … there would be a digital hole where we’d been.

    @CliveNewnham 151 words.

  19. “You ready, son?”

    “No.”

    “Wanna know a secret? I wasn’t either, at your age.”

    The boy holds fast to his father’s hand, making no motion whatever forward.

    “Sorry, son, your mother… she just couldn’t watch you go. I’m sorry. She loves you very much.”

    The boy remains rooted to the spot by fear and by the weight of several days of provisions packed all over his body.

    “Dad?”

    “Yes, son.”

    “Why do we have to do things when we’re not ready?”

    Dad stands silent for a few moments, and then says,

    “I think it’s wisdom, son. Wisdom of people who know more than us. They know that if we wait to be ready, we will never be ready.”

    “But I will be ready, Dad! I promise, just… one more day…”

    Dad squints his eyes shut.

    “Time to go, son.”

    He gently pulls his hand from the boy’s.

    147 words
    @betsystreeter

  20. The Light (150 words)
    I reached out to pull her towards me. I looked down searching, twisting around, arms swinging wildly. Hairs rose and skin crawled as I realised she wasn’t there. I called out to her, my voice crackling under the weight of tears. I darted about frantically scanning the landscape for her form.
    I saw their silhouette on the horizon. With hands outstretched I broke into a run. They were standing on the brink looking into the light, setting off on the journey. The moisture in the air blurred their edges, causing the silhouette to waver like a hologram.
    As I got closer their shape began to disintegrate and crumble away. Puffs of dust splashed against my face. I peer through it to see vague outlines trickling and twirling and tumbling away, evaporating into ghosts.
    I grab a scattering of dust. I’m too late. He has already brought her to the light.

  21. Sunrise of a New World

    “Daddy! You’ve gotta see-”

    “Not now, Champ, the readings on this are phenomenal!” Gordon plugged his handcomp into the stationary core probe. The final stage of the terraforming process was beginning.

    “But Daddy, there’s-”

    “Just look at these numbers, Champ! At this rate, the world will be ready for colonization in under ten years! That’s a 54% increase over Gamma 2 – 268% increase over Titan!” He began entering the updated codes on the handcomp, his gloves making it tedious. “In as little as a year we won’t need thermal insulation.”

    “But Dad, I really think-”

    “Not now, Son. The amount of water vapor being poured into the atmosphere right now is astounding! I can practically see it happening!”

    “Dad! Look!” Junior grabbed his father’s face and jerked it toward the horizon, “You can! Just open your eyes!”

    Gordon held his son’s hand and watched the sunrise of a new world, tears freezing on his face.

    155 words
    @lissajean7

  22. @JonathanAYanez

    The Path – 147 words

    “One day you can return little one. One day this could all be yours again. Fate has chosen to deal you a wicked hand and it is up to you to decide how you will respond. You can flee now and try and forget what they did to you and your family. You can hide and pretend it didn’t happen. No one will know your story and your family name will fall from the history books. You will not be judged by me or anyone else.
    Or, you can remember this feeling. The feeling of injustice, abandonment and cruelty and use it during the coming years. Hold these emotions deep within your heart and I can give you the tools to take back your kingdom. It will not be easy, it will be a long and hard road but sometimes the path to redemption is the loneliest.”

  23. Fog

    “Let’s go home now, Jared.” I say in my kindest voice.
    “One more time? Please!” He pleads.

    We have been at it for so long. The distant sounds of dogs and coyotes are now replaced with the chirps of the birds. But I must not disappoint my big brother.

    “One last time. But if it doesn’t work, then we have to leave. Is that okay?”

    The foul smell of rotting fish mixed with the charred remains of the bonfire is making me sick, but I try hard not to upset Jared.

    “Goodie!” He claps his hands in glee. His eyes light up like a child’s.

    I jump and wave my wand. I just pray no one is watching me.
    Jared watches in amazement. He believes this time, the fairy godmother is going to materialize and give him the power to jump to the sun.

    I pray that the fog lifts from his mind.

    153 words
    @needanidplease

  24. “C’mon daddy. Have to go now, or we’ll miss it!.” He pulled my hand I followed, letting him lead me out of the bunker. He knew something was wrong, but thankfully he didn’t have the ability to contextualize what had happened.

    The snow had stopped overnight, and the sun was rising over the desert, its uneasy red light filtering through the clouds. “Isn’t it bewtful, daddy? I want to show it to mommy. Is she up yet?”

    “Bew-ti-ful, little guy.” I corrected him reflexively, and tried not to think about the rest of his question. “It sure is beautiful.”

    His impact on the world was limited enough that his feet barely sank into the snow, while I crunched along, pulling my boots out quickly before they had a chance to get stuck. He’d left marks like that on my heart, I knew, and someday I’d tell him mommy wasn’t getting up. Or anyone else, either.

    155 words
    @drmagoo

  25. Salvation

    Fear ignited every nerve in their strained bodies as they waited. Defensive clothing wouldn’t offer a jot of protection once the firestorm invaded their sector.
    “We’re not going to make it…” Aaron’s father’s voice cracked through the muffled layers. “Not this time…we’re not gonna make it, son.”
    Aaron squeezed his dad’s hand, and despite their huge, padded gloves, tears spilled behind the older man’s visor.
    Ahead, the billowing, angry gasses stretched for hundreds of kilometres, destroying everything in its path.
    Aaron shifted his weight, hopping from one nervous foot to the other, watching the sulphurous clouds dance in violent malevolence on the horizon. He glanced up at his dad’s resigned, slouched shoulders and pulled himself up straight. “Don’t lose hope, he’ll be here.”
    A voluminous pillar of cloud whirled up before them and his father groaned, but Aaron grinned as vast wings swept up from beneath the cliff, and salvation rose in glorious dragon form.

    (155 Words)
    @LastKrystallos

  26. The Damascus Road

    Two things everyone should see before they die—the ocean and the sun rising over it. Well, I suppose that’s really one thing, but whichever way you count, it’s worth it.

    I’d seen both ocean and sunrise many times and, without knowing what was to come, took them all for granted. I knew my kid might only get to see them once, and if she did, it was something she would remember for all the days of her life below ground.

    We put on all the protective gear, making sure no spot of flesh was exposed and that our respirators worked. Usually she fussed about having to take my hand, but for this she didn’t argue one bit.

    In the glow of the morning sun even the chemical fog seemed beautiful. I looked through my kid’s faceplate, saw the dull, cloudy orbs that passed for her eyes, and my words became her sight.

    154 words (sans title)
    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)

  27. “Is she out there?” Selkie asked, her voice hushed in the morning fog.

    Havgaard looked out over the eastern sea. Somewhere, out there, was his wife. He scanned the sky, thinking she would come in above the clouds. Her best trick was attacking her enemies from above, diving out of the sun.

    “There!” Selkie shouted, pointing not above, but below the mists. Sure enough, there was a shape out on the water, moving slowly towards them. “Daddy…?”

    Havgaard’s gut clenched, but he found comforting words for his daughter. “It’s all right. You can’t drown a dragon. Even wounded, they’re full of hot air.”

    He couldn’t see how his wife and her dragon were moving…it looked like her mount was merely floating on the waves.

    A burst of light and steam gushed from beneath the dragon’s tail, and they surged forward through the water. Fortunately, breathing wasn’t the only way dragons made fire.

    152 words @USNessie

  28. “Dad, this is so boring. I’m soooo bored. Can we go out and play tag?”

    “Ryan, we can’t,” Dale said. “Your mother hasn’t found us yet so we need to keep playing. We’re winning.”

    A single tear rolled down Ryan’s cheek. “I hate hide and seek and…I miss her. Can we give up?”

    Dale wiped the tear from his son’s cheek. “Maybe we can go outside. Let’s look. Stay behind me.”

    Dale pulled a lever and harsh, white light filled the concrete hallway. At the top of the stairs, he turned the wheel to unlock hatch and pushed it open. The air stung his eyes and the rotten smell almost made him gag.

    “Can we go out, dad?” his son asked from the bottom of the stairs.

    The smoke and ash had darkened the skies and the city was still shrouded in a dense white gas.

    “Let’s keep playing, son.”

    150 words – @hlpauff

  29. Sisters
    147 words
    @BaseballMama621

    “I don’t know why we’re out here at the crack of dawn.”
    “We need to get a good spot on the hill.”
    “So you said.” Charlotte gave her sister a smile before shaking her head.
    “You’re laughing at me.”
    “I’m not laughing. I’m smiling.”
    Emma tried shaking her head to disagree but she was wearing too many layers and carrying a sled on her back. “You’re laughing the way you laughed yesterday when I stood outside.”
    Charlotte let out a sigh. “I forgot you don’t remember snow.”
    “I was two when we moved to the sun.”
    “It isn’t the sun, Em. It’s Florida and once we get away from the Keys there is always a chance for snow.”
    Ignoring her sister, Emma began walking faster. “Look, Charlotte, the hill!”
    “I’m coming.” Charlotte is giddy and excited as the sisters rush to claim their spot on the hill.

  30. “So that’s the Ground?” I ask Mother, clutching her as I gaze down. The thick clouds cleared up near the shore, allowing us to see the Ground and it’s gritty, white appearance; ‘sandy’, Mother called it. This clearance happened very rarely.
    “Yes,” Mother says, “the humans lived there.”
    “But what happened to them?”
    “Humans became lost. You see, humans weren’t like us. We all live here and rely on each other, but humans didn’t. They developed barriers before themselves, thinking they explained the world. Philosophy, religion, ethics, politics, the names varied. They were blinded by these barriers, and hurt themselves in confusion. They didn’t truly understand anything.”
    “The humans destroyed themselves?” I ask.
    “They fought each other, devastating themselves and their world. Eventually their world became this wasteland below.”
    “We won’t do that fighting stuff, right?” I ask Mother.
    “Of course not dear,” Mother says, smiling gently, “don’t be silly.”

  31. Birthright

    It isn’t every old day you step off the edge of the world, into the abyss. And it isn’t everywhere.

    This is the place where legends are born—so they say.

    There’s a problem. As you look down the miles of sheer rock face that meets azure blue—which surely feels like cement, should you make it that far with your heart intact—you can’t see her tiny forest island for the clouds. They never lift. It’s all on faith.

    Faith that another legend was born, that the legend is meant to be yours, and that the legend believes what you believe.

    Out of the mist she will rise; her leather wings, blue as the sea. Precisely when you jump, she will be there to catch you and the brother your parents groomed for a lifetime; for two lifetimes. Boys they died for. Boys the dragon will die for.

    Or not.
    (153)

  32. Winter’s Refuge

    Shadowed figures plodded toward her, silhouetted against the setting sun. They blended together into one undefined mass, then separated into two distinct lumps – one half the size of the other – and congealed again, morphing with each movement.

    Lacey let her book drift to her lap as she watched the slow progression through the steam around her cottage. The kitchen timer sounded, calling her away from the mesmerizing sight so that dinner wouldn’t burn.

    A steady crunching accompanied the sounds of lasagna being pulled out of the oven and set on the counter. They were getting closer. Lacey left the oven open so its heat flooded the small kitchen and adjacent living room.

    The crunching grew louder then suddenly stopped. Lacey’s head swiveled to watch the front door open, revealing two looming lumps. She dropped the oven mitts.

    The smaller shape barreled toward her, shedding white powder all over the wooden floor.

    “Mommy!”

    (153 words; @AriaGlazki)

  33. The End
    150 words
    @GwenStephens922

    Far below the rugged bluff, an icy, gray sea churns, its frothy whitecaps thunderous, crashing.
    An angry sea. Daring us. Taunting. Waiting.
    The wind stabs at my cheeks, a thousand tiny daggers. I fill my lungs with briny air, taste its biting flavor.
    Dad’s eyes are soft, yet weary. They narrow in the breaking dawn. “We’ve come to the end, my son.”
    The end of the fight?
    Behind us, the mob approaches. A bitter chorus of voices, slowly rising above the roaring surf. Impassioned. Violent, like the sea.
    But there is nowhere left to run.
    I look down at my boots, once a smooth, chocolaty brown, now frayed and exhausted. Just as we are.
    Dad’s hand closes around mine, a whisper of a smile forming on his lips. I understand what we must do.
    We bow our heads to the depths below, step to the rocky edge.

    And we jump.

  34. The Snow Wife

    Above the clouds, above the tree-line we hunted.
    Just a man and his son, tracking the footprints of a lost mother in the snow.
    Pumori, Ama Dablan, Cho Oyu,
    Chomolungma.
    We searched the giants. She wasn’t there.
    Once, there had been a fall.
    Once there had been shelter, a cave of ice.
    One night spent with a woman, a demon,
    trying to keep warm in all that whitened cold.

    One year later, I climbed again.
    Reached the summit, descended again into the white, into the blind
    desire of a satisfied dream.
    Awoke, in a tent this time,
    to find a child by my side,
    a human infant with frost-white hair and eyes of ice.
    My child.
    The union of a peak-bagging mountaineer
    and the lost mother of the snows.
    One slow heartbeat and those glacial eyes,
    one small cold hand in mine,
    nothing left of mother but spindrift in the snow.

    (154 words)

  35. Hope

    They couldn’t believe they found it, water. They had walked east based on nothing but rumors, rumors that there might be fresh water left somewhere in this rocky, desolate wasteland. Now after walking all night, the sun rose as if for the first time, shimmering over the liquid gold stretched out endlessly before them. They knew the journey had been worth it. The risk had paid off. The hard times were far from over, but now, at least there was hope.

    “Will we ever see her again?” Michael asked looking up at his father.

    “We’ll alway see her, in our hearts. We’ll look for her wherever we go, but she’ll be with us everywhere we are.”

    The child’s hand gripped his tighter.

    “We’d better go son. Maybe there are others here that can help us start again.”

    “Do you really think so?”

    “We can hope.”

  36. We had made it. I wasn’t sure where, or what it meant that we’d made it. But my dad said we’d made it, and I believed him.

    It wasn’t cold now, so I let my thick mittens drape around my neck. Dad took off one of his gloves so he could hold my hand – skin on skin. We didn’t touch like this very often, so I paid attention.

    “Would you look at that?” he breathed, looking out over the water. His breath was misty in the air. Not as misty as the fog that was rolling in over the sea. The water looked like it might be ice, it was so still. The mist made me wonder how warm it was. Could we drink it?

    We had walked all night to watch the sun rise in this spot, sliding up out of the sea, burning off the clouds. It looked like hope.

  37. Astarogian Suns

    I rely on the few spare minutes my operating system has allowed me before shutting down forever; more human, less machine, as the world my kind built witnesses its collision. One after another the suns in our solar system explode; all-consuming, the heat wave approaches. It strokes faces that never felt the warmth, only now melt in the blistering heat. But our death is silent. Calculated. Programmed.

    This is the year the Builders of the universe complete their purpose.

    Despite the temperature, he shivers beside me.

    40 years have passed since he came here.

    He takes my hand in his, seeking comfort; the human that fell through time and lived the rest of his days amongst us. A white haired frail figure weeping silently for the world he came to love. His home.

    I give him this final scenery to carry in eternity; the light, beautiful and golden shining above the vanishing megalopolis.

    153 words; @Raptamei

  38. ~Beyond~
    @_SummerRoss
    155 words

    The village lay just beyond the mist and water. He stood beside me, Jerad, my stoic guardian. If I left, there would be no going back. My heart protested to a thunderous beat in my chest.
    I should have wanted to stay with my people, but I could no longer follow a king set on deforming our kind. I realize, now, King Ward only wanted the best for all of us. As much as I longed to accept his side, I just couldn’t. I may want to fit into the human world, but not by pretending to be something I’m not. No one would cut away my wings.
    With my fairy parts tucked safely under Jerad’s coat, I looked over my shoulder expecting to see my clan. No one came to say goodbye. I reached up, slipping my hand into his and turned to the setting sun. I could make a new life, as myself.

  39. The Offering
    @thedharmadiva
    154 words

    They rose before dawn. She got angry if they were late. They gathered what few flowers had managed to poke through the still-cold ground. Nuts and fresh tears wrapped in leaves constituted the rest of their offering. It was all they had and they hoped it would be enough. Fingers of hot orangeflowed down the mountain towards them.

    They chose to meet her at the sea, in the hopes she would be calmer, cooler. Kaimi, the elder, knew it was a gamble. Pele hated the ocean. But every once in a long while,she would tumble down the mountain and kiss the sea. He met her there, watching her embrace with the cold December water.

    “Goddess Pele,” he said, “We’ve brought you an offering. Please pass by our homes.”

    The fog rolled back. “That is not enough,” she bellowed.

    Kaimi knew this would be her answer. And he pushed his true offering, the girl, over.

  40. ~Goodbye~
    @todayschapter
    155 words

    I see him silhouetted against golden sunlight. It’s our favourite place, the lake we caught our first fish together. I walk towards him quietly, I don’t want to scare him. As I get closer I whisper, “Tommy.”
    His mouth falls open, “Dad? Mum said you had gone away.”
    He races towards me but I stop him. I hold back the tears, “I’m sorry, I can’t stay.”
    “Why?”
    “It’s hard to explain.”
    His eyes narrow, “Mum said you were in heaven?”
    I was. I wish he could understand, but my time here is brief. There are no visits from heaven, only a chance to linger on your way through. The price to pay for saying goodbye is eternal damnation. It’s a price I paid willingly. I look him in the eye and know my time is nearly up, “Be good, and tell your Mum I love her.”
    Then he is gone, and there is only fire.

  41. November 1

    “Mommy? How much farther?”

    “Don’t know, baby.”

    “I’m tired.”

    “I know.”

    “These jingles are bothering me.”

    “We’ll cut them off.”

    “When?”

    “Soon.”

    “Mommy?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Thank you.”

    “For what?”

    “Making me wear my hat and coat.”

    “It was colder out than you’d thought, wasn’t it?”

    “Uh huh.”

    “It must be hard to pull your coat around that big collar.”

    “Yeah.”

    “We’ll fix it.”

    “Mommy?”

    “Yes?”

    “Why can’t we go back?”

    “You know why.”

    “I didn’t get to take my candy.”

    “I know.”

    “Is there candy where we’re going?”

    “Of course.”

    “All my favorites?”

    “More than you’ve ever seen.”

    “Mommy?”

    “What?”

    “I love you.”

    “You too.”

    “What happened to your costume?”

    “I changed. It got messy.”

    “From blood?”

    “Yep.”

    “Mommy? There’s blood on me too.”

    “Pull your coat closer and you won’t see it.”

    “But why?

    “Because.”

    “I don’t want to.”

    “Baby, please.”

    “No, I want it gone. I hate it! I hate you!

    … Mommy?”

    154 words
    @josettekeelor

  42. @HannahStreett1
    Eyes – 155 Words

    “What do you see?”

    I pouted, squinting toward the warmth. “Papa!”

    “Come on, Lizzy,” he whispered, the bristly fuzz on his chin scratching my ear. When he breathed out, cold air tickled me, and I giggled. But then Papa folded his huge hand around mine, and the wind rushed between us. He wanted my answer.

    I squeezed my eyes shut so I looked like I was concentrating. “The sun’s in front,” I announced, but he sighed an adult’s low, unsatisfied sigh. That was easy.

    Frustrated, I stomped my foot and breathed deep through my nose. “There’s snow,” I grumbled, “but not over my boots. Salty air means the ocean, right?”

    Papa tugged me against his puffy winter coat. “That’s my girl,” he murmured in his soft, rough voice that says he’s proud. “See, you don’t need your eyes to understand important things.”

    I don’t know how smiles sound, but I think it’s something like that.

  43. “A Stroll to the Edge of the World”

    “I hate this, dad”

    I sighed, and reached out my hand. “I know, better than having your eyes closed right?”

    He shrugged, and took my hand,“I guess.”

    “Yep.” The smell of death, like rotten potatoes.

    We started, him dragging with every step.

    “The slower you go, the longer it takes.”

    I tried to prod him along, and something screamed out inside. Could this be right, in what universe does any of this make sense?

    “Dad, I know… I know.”

    Was he trying to reassure me? I felt cold.
    “What do you know, buddy?”

    “Nothing, I guess.”

    Here, the edge of what was left of the world, I choked.

    “Yeah buddy, I know. You might not know now, but we will. Mom too.”

    We stood there.

    “One more step buddy, and I love you.”

    “Love you too, Dad.”

    I picked him up, couldn’t let him take the last step . He’s a good boy.

    (153 words, not counting title.
    Been busy at work.
    @kmc_roa)

  44. Ice Fishing in Paradise
    149 Words

    “Look, girl. I don’t know how you convinced me to come out here, but I’m just about done.”

    “Gary, for the last time, please don’t call me girl. I know you think it’s cute to call all gay men ‘girl,’ but let me assure you- its not!”

    “Ok. Whatever…Nancy.”

    “Normand.”

    “Jeez, fine. Don’t upset the little diva.”

    “Little person, Gary. The correct term is little person.”

    “When you said vacation, I thought you meant, like, sleeping in on the beach and drinking pink margaritas with little umbrellas. Not sunrise camping in the flipping tundra!”

    “It’s private here. My kids don’t even know yet that I’m…that I’m…”

    “That you’re a gay midget who likes ice fishing. It’s ok! Say it loud and live it proud, Norma!”

    Normand sighed. “I think we need to break up.”

    “Fine…bitch.”

  45. Brian stood beside his daughter Emily. She was the one thing he did right in this world. When her mother split, he was all she had left.

    A cold wind blew that made Emily zip her jacket up more.

    Brian leaned over, his green eyes looking into Emily’s brown eyes. He asked, “Well? Is it what you expected?”

    She smiled and nodded, lost for words.

    When Brian’s wife left them, he decided to pull his shit together and show Emily that life still had beautiful moments.

    A former alcoholic (that’s actually how Emily was made), he knew that his girl needed him, and he needed to show his girl that even without a mommy around, life still had moments that could take her breath away.

    Sighing, Brian watched his breath come into view and then blow away out toward the clouds.

    Emily started, “When do-”

    Brian interrupted her quietly. . . gently. . . saying, “Sssssshhhhhhh.”

    Word count: 152
    @critical_kurt

  46. The cloud of freedom
    He watched as the cloud mass approached them. The hand of the child shook.
    “Why are you scared? This is a glorious coming.”
    “It’s scary, Daddy. Can’t we just go home?”
    “We are going home, my son.”
    “No, we’re not,” the child cried and tugged on the man’s arm.
    “Child, have you not asked me before why you can never remove that suit?”
    The child looked down at the silver suit he adorned. A lock hung from his neck. The lock was covered with scratches from the numerous attempts to remove it.
    “That,” the man continued, “is where we truly belong. There is where we can truly be ourselves. We’ll be free.”
    “I’m not sure if I want to see myself,” said the child.
    The man put his arm around his son. “You do son – and you will.”
    The “cloud” approached their beings and enveloped them.
    @JSHyena – 146 words

  47. Mark Enters Paradise

    “Just us?”
    “Yes, sweetie.”
    “And Piper?”
    Barking sounded.
    “Piper!” the little girl yelled, hugging the retriever’s fur.
    “How long will we stay?”
    The man pondered the question. Six was so young to learn such absolute reality.
    “Honey…This is God’s house.”
    The man fought the urge to cry.
    “You mean…”
    “Welcome,” a voice sounded.
    “I know this place! We talked about it when Mommy died!” the little girl exclaimed.
    The man’s eyes welled: “You remember.”
    “Enter now,” the Savior said, “Two of the purest hearts ever to grace His gates.”
    “Mommy!” The girl shrieked, racing.
    “Oh, Elizabeth! Mark!” the woman cried.
    Mark embraced his wife and daughter.
    “Come,” the savior encouraged, “You’ll always be together here in my father’s house.”
    And the man and his family entered their own heaven. Piper wagged his tail, Mark kissed his wife, weeping. Elizabeth wove her fingers through the retriever’s fur.
    United at last.

    Words: 149
    @nXgWVteacher

  48. “Saying Goodbye”

    “Are you ready?”
    “I’m not sure…does it have to be now? I’m afraid…”
    Daddy looked down at me with his gentle smile, puffs of breath steaming in the cold air. I let go of Daddy’s hand and wrapped my coat around me tighter. The chill seemed to penetrate my thick coat. I grabbed his hand again.
    “You don’t have to be afraid. I’m right here with you. Mommy’s waiting for you.” At the mention of her, I looked up and saw the tears gathering in his eyes. He blinked them back when he saw that I noticed.
    “She is?” I asked uncertainly.
    Daddy smiled through his tears. “Yes, baby, she’s always been waiting. I’m going to help you – you won’t be alone, I promise.”
    I took a deep breath and closed my eyes against the weak sunlight. “Okay, Daddy, I…” The next thing I knew, I saw my Mommy. I had crossed over.

    @pearlofagirl30
    153 words

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