Flash! Friday # 33

SATURDAY UPDATE: Unavoidable events mean results this round will not be posted until Sunday. Apologies, and many thanks for your patience.

CLOSED!!! but don’t cry–so many wondrous stories to read & chat about! Results will post Saturday afternoon ET. Thanks for coming out. See you next week!

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost, 1920

Don’t let the introductory poem throw you off: today’s challenge isn’t about the end of the world (unless you want it to be, of course!), but rather about the tension of opposites. Fire and ice are both beautiful, destructive, and at opposite ends of the thermometer. And ohhhh, the gorgeousness of literary enemies across the centuries: Poseidon and Odysseus. Capulets and Montagues. Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. Jean Valjean and Javert. The three little pigs and the Big, Bad Wolf….. OK, OK, I’ll stop there.

In today’s photo we have a marvelous juxtaposition of apparent opposites in two chambers of a Scottish cavern. And ohhh, am I giddy with anticipation for you to tell me why these chambers are the way they are and/or what happens in them.

(As ever, here are the contest guidelines.).

This week’s contest is judged by SVW member with his own special oppositions, Anthony Marchese. (Be sure to check out his judge page to find out what he looks for in a winning entry. Short version: he loves relatable characters and interesting worlds.)

And now for a little Grendel for your Beowulf:

Word limit: 200-word story (zero leeway this week) based on the photo prompt.

* How: Post your story here in the comments. Include your word count (200 words exactly, 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 very divisive Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post tomorrow (Saturday)

Prize: A defiantly oppositional e-trophy e-dragon e-badge, a personalized nemesis page here at FF, a highly antagonistic 60-second interview feature next Wednesday, and YOUR NAME batted angrily back and forth for at least two Acts. NOTE: Winning and non-winning stories alike remain eligible for selection for the occasional Monday Flash Points. 

* Follow @FlashFridayFic on Twitter for up-to-date news/announcements/tips on how to avoid getting into an argument with a dragon (PS. There’s no getting OUT of one, once you start).  And now for your prompt:

Smoo Cave, Durness (Highland, Scotland). Photo taken by Florian Fuchs, WikiCommons.

Smoo Cave, Durness (Highland, Scotland). Photo taken by Florian Fuchs, WikiCommons.

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144 thoughts on “Flash! Friday # 33

  1. @StephenWilds

    “Nature’s Uninvited Guest” – 200 words

    “Lar-…,” The audio feed from the radio crackled and screeched, echoing into the caves.

    Her hand moved up quickly, muting the volume and cursing under her breath. This wasn’t going as she had hoped. She used to be good at this whole stealth and sneaking around bit.

    The humidity of the cave was causing her to sweat. The handle of her chrome-plated Desert Eagle was slipping from her fingertips, even with the black climbing gloves on. She slid the weapon back into its holster and looked out over the ledge at the breathtaking sight.

    It was too often that she didn’t stop and enjoy the scenery, all of the beautiful undiscovered places she had been, too focused on treasure and those trying to kill her to really enjoy it, a shame really. No time to ponder though, work to be done. Adjusted the shades resting in her dark hair, she had slid her form over the edge, dangling long legs in khaki shorts over cautiously before dropping down.

    Her hand was already reaching for the pistol again as she landed, but not fast enough. The man in the shadows already had his aimed.

    “Glad you could join us, Ms. Croft.”

  2. “How to Survive an Argument With a Dragon” by Dr. Mike Reddy FRSA (@DoctorMikeReddy) [200 words]

    “Tis a simple matter, mortal.” the Dragon sighed. “Pick wisely. The wrong choice means certain death…” The ‘th’ in death was (dramatically?) extended like a snake’s hiss.

    Having never seen a real dragon before, this particular mortal examined the wizened face, wondering whether snakes had a common ancestor. From her experience with fossils it seemed unlikely to be dinosaurs.

    “And you will not harm me before I’ve made a choice?”

    The Dragon nodded. “I wouldst not kill thee afore a choice is made, Mortal.”

    “I have a name. Mona Fury.” the mortal cried. Both names recycled from relatives, which annoyed her intensely. Not that this would matter if she didn’t solve the Dragon’s riddle.

    “Thou hast two ways ahead to escape the cave. One of fire, one of ice.” the Dragon gestured to each with her free claw. The other, cold and clammy – not snakes then – gripped the caver expertly.

    “Put me down then.” Mona said calmly. The Dragon lowered and unfurled its claw.

    “I choose… not to choose. I’ll make my own way out.”

    “Very clever, Human.” the Dragon conceded. Triumphantly, Mona bent to pick up her caving gear.

    “Of course, that WAS still a ‘choice’ though, wasn’t it…”

  3. The Creature in the Cave

    Torvald struggled for breath in the spray-heavy air. His thin bootsoles gripped the rocks as he climbed down to the shadowed pool, one slow, careful foot over another. The waterfall’s rushing roar made his head spin.

    His hand was steady on his blade.

    Then, the demonic glow of the Creature in the Cave, far below, made his memory explode, unbidden. He remembered the tiny, agonising pinpricks piercing the flesh of his precious Hilde, each of them bursting forth with that same cursed light. Her soul burning from within. Her blood boiling in her veins…

    He closed his mind, heartsick. His grip tightened on his knife.

    The Creature had passed over their rooftops like midnight lightning, claiming one soul here, one there. In time, revenge had been spoken of, and none had stood against him when he’d volunteered.

    Torvald reached the pool. Its frigid bite stole his breath, but the golden light drew him on. Silently, he crept toward the cave mouth, his fear between his teeth. He swallowed it down.

    Finally, Torvald gazed upon the Creature. It turned to face him, and smiled. Torvald’s blood was alight before he could think, and his scream went unheard.

    He dropped his knife.

    DRAGON’S NOTE–This tale is now 200 words. –VANISHES IN A POOF OF MAGIC–

  4. @NadaNightStar
    200 words

    In Too Deep

    Maya panted as she rested her back against the rocky mountainside. As she stood there, a calming silence wafted through followed by a cold breeze.

    Then she heard it.

    ‘Water!’

    Her heart almost stopped. She stood there, savouring the sound of the water flowing – no falling.

    And yet, there was some other sound; she closed her eyes, strained her ears, but still couldn’t make it out.

    Maya realised standing outside was pointless; so with careful steps she edged forward. Not far off she found the mountain’s mouth; the cave.

    It was cooler inside – yet there was that hot feel coming from somewhere, like an oven and a freezer being opened at the same time.

    Her skin tingled with excitement, but her brain reminded her of what happened to people who got too excited and hasty.

    She sighed.

    A quick drink of water soothed her aching muscles. Then she began exploring, moving slowly, trying not to make a sound. The waterfall barely covered the sound of her heartbeats.

    She had that strange feeling of being watched.

    A deep breath. One can only hope for the best.

    With eyes closed, she slowly turned.

    She opened them to stare at red-and-orange flaming eyes.

  5. As the rescue party made their way through the Dreamland Underworld, Lisa pulled Tip aside.
    “I would like to suggest to you, Spud Boy, that you imagine yourself wearing a shirt,” she said. “Your little cyborg girlfriend is so entranced with your physique that she nearly fell into a crevasse. I’m quite certain that the Father would be extremely unhappy if his sister were to become a ghost because you refused to cover yourself appropriately.”
    “Well, I wasn’t exactly thinking about being half-undressed, was I?” Tip retorted. “Bleedin’ hot in here it is! I was only thinking about me comfort, not about putting on a show for you lot.”
    “You think it’s hot?” Lisa asked. “I’m freezing! Oh, this is strange and probably not good. You’re a ghost. You shouldn’t be bothered by temperature extremes. I’m a cloned mutant whatever the hell I am. I’m actually quite tolerant of temperature extremes in either direction, but the perceived chill of this cavern is getting to me.”
    “Come over here,” Star Light said. “Look! We’re in the Cavern of Fire and Ice. It lies directly beneath the Center of Time in the Jungle of Kled. My friends, we have reached our destination!”

    No Twitter. I guess one of these days we ought to make one of those things. I posted this here on the Undead in the Netherworld team blog. The author showing is one of our reporter characters, Ivanna B. Ilona.

    • Fantasy/Sci-Fi.. It’s interesting. I applaud you for coming up with all those names so quickly (we only have one day for the challenge).
      And I love the idea of “Dreamland Underworld” *thumbs up*

  6. The Day The World Stopped.

    Erin McCabe (Scotland)

    200 words.

    The first temperature drop around September although drastic was greeted with the optimistic label of freak weather occurrence; an early winter wonderland to be enjoyed by rosy-cheeked children pulling sledges, families constructing lop sided carrot-nosed snowmen and couples skating on sharp, cut glass rivers. As the weeks progressed and temperatures continued to fall; it became clear to all that something was horribly wrong. The situation quickly evolved from worrying to desperate; roads were no longer traversable; slickly coated in black ice, rivers froze, water pipes solidified, infrastructure systems failed and city buildings slowly hardened into tall spires of jagged ice, cloaked in a blanket of empty white sky.
    The Northern and Southern Polar caps were rapidly expanding, engulfing hundreds of miles of land each day; trapping inhabitants in transparent display cases of shining ice. Within two months the glittering layers had become impenetrably thick drifts; peaks of frozen snow which continually grew, mercilessly devouring the landscape; until it seemed there was nothing. Only a few thousand people remained, starving within underground caves, huddled together around fires which failed to thaw their unfamiliar surroundings, their hope that soon the heat would return and the water would once again begin to flow.

  7. Hot and Cold
    By Allison K. Garcia
    (200 words)

    “Listen, Brad, I’m not saying I want to break up with you. I’m telling you how I feel.” Nora sighed and rubbed her temple. A migraine was brewing.

    Brad’s brow furrowed. “So, we’re not breaking up?”

    “If things don’t change, we might. I mean, I don’t get you, Brad. One second you’re all lovey dovey to me and then the next it’s like you can’t even stand to be around me.” Tears welled up but she pushed them back. “Sometimes I just want a hug.”

    He wrapped his warm arms around her shoulders.

    She huffed and pushed him away. “Gees, not right now, Brad. We’re trying to have a conversation. Don’t you ever listen?”

    Stepping back, his jaw tightened. “I did listen. You said you wanted a hug.”

    “No, I said sometimes. I don’t understand what your problem is. One moment you’re on fire, then the next you’re icy cold.” Her eyes formed two slits. “It’s happening right now. You’re all icy again. Like that Scottish cave we learned about in class.”

    He shrugged. “I’m sure it formed that way in order to survive in its environment.” He flinched as her hand caught him in the face. “My point exactly.”

  8. The boat rocked gently as he rowed, his whole body straining with the effort of pulling the oars. The gentle splash as they hit the water, the bubbling gurgle as he pulled, and the hiss as he lifted them echoed on the rocks around him.

    It was so tedious, so frustrating, rowing in this tiny, cramped cave.

    He hated it. Hated rowing in here. Hated the unevenness that the curves of the cavern caused, hated the way his breath lingered in, around, his mouth, hated the way his oars clacked against the lumpy rock of the wall, hated the darkness that slowly became a caliginous and overwhelming thing.

    Yet he continued.

    A deep rumble slowly registered. Slow, low, steady.

    This was a sound he liked. It meant that he was almost to the end of his journey.

    The sound grew, until it was an all-consuming roar.

    It was only now that he allowed himself to turn around.

    And he smiled.

    This was why he came; the frozen, icy falls, straight from the mountains, side by side with the spouts of magma rising from deep in the earth.

    He sat back and watched as heaven and hell met and did battle.

    —-

    200 words exactly. 🙂

  9. Home Coming

    He slid between shadows until he reached the foothills of the Mountains of Smoke. Normally, Aey would have spent an evening in a local hostelry, playing a hand of cards, and he’d always pick up at least one or two silvers from players who thought he was just a stupid boy.

    Not now. Aey had to make the climb. He needed to locate the fissure before nightfall. You didn’t steal a jeweled sword from Lord Turloch and wait to see how he reacted.

    Scrambling beside the rushing stream, Aey wanted to take a sip from its cold waters. He knew better. After one taste he’d forget where he was and likely tumble to his death. The stream was treacherous, but it pointed the way. The ground was deceptively smooth, and Aey slipped more than once, tearing open his knees and palms.

    Then he saw the tiny opening. He caught hold of it and pushed himself through, shivering as the freezing water splashed over him.

    He saw the fires lighting the Great Stairs in the cave across the water below.

    A gold dragon waited.

    Aey leaned against the wall. “Brother,” he said.

    The dragon bowed. “Welcome home, Aey.”

    (197 words)

  10. A Dragon in The Dust
    by James Mender

    “The wyrm lay on a rock shelf, just behind the falls. It wasn’t colorful – green or red or gold – just a mottled gray and brown, predator’s camouflage. You could see it only when it moved. No wings. No magic. Just a megafauna lizard-snake-thing, capable of swallowing a horse whole. Occasionally, it poked its head out from behind the falls and looked around with the cold eyes of a viper.

    “A clan of Iron Age people were in the cave, a huge fire lit as their protection against it.

    “After a long drumming ritual, mingled with a few shrieks, they shoved out a sacrificial victim. It was an old woman. Her legs had been broken, probably during the ritual.

    “The wyrm descended from its perch, quickly killed the woman, then began to swallow her, like a snake with a mouse.

    “That’s when the warriors from the cave attacked. They killed it while it was incapacitated, trying to swallow its meal.

    “Now, I don’t know if that’s the origin of the tale about sacrificing a virgin to catch a dragon but .…”

    “Bullshit!” she laughed. “I call bullshit!”

    Smiling, I produced the dragon’s claw. “When do you want to go?”

    ~ ~ ~
    Author’s Note: 200 words, @JamesMender

  11. SYMBIOSIS
    by J. Whitworth Hazzard

    The cave floods from time to time.
    I used to worry that it would wash the bodies downstream, through some hidden exit squirreled away beneath the water and rock. That was before I discovered the cave’s secret.
    Would you like to know?
    I know you would. You’ll find out soon enough anyway. Crying won’t help.
    You see, this isn’t a cave at all. It’s one of the ancients; a remnant of the old natural order.
    Sure it’s made of rock and it’s quite beautiful, but it took a predator—like me—to recognize a fellow predator. It moves a little slower and kills less often. That was… until I found it.
    Now I feed it.
    We have an understanding, this ancient one and I. I bring food and it digests the evidence; wipes clean my sins against the natural order. Preying on your own kind is a sin, don’t you see? But I can’t help myself. I really can’t. This thing has no other kind, so I must feed it. We work together to restore the balance.
    Go on, touch the glow. Don’t worry about your ropes, the ancient can absorb those too.
    Hush. It will all be over soon.

    ***
    200 words
    @zombiemechanics

  12. The Devil and Donald MacKay

    The elders put me in the cowhide boat before the entrance to the smjugg. The choice, they told me, only I could make. What choice, I wanted to know. You will see, they said and pushed the boat.

    I used the pole to keep moving forward, deeper into the smjugg. I had expected a dark place, but the sun streamed in through holes in the cave roof. I could look up and see the blue sky, and I wasn’t afraid, even as I floated further and further along the underground waterway.

    At first the sound was faint, a low thrum, which became a roar as I moved on. And the light changed, too. From sunlight to the orange glow of fire. For a moment I forgot to steer with the pole, transfixed as I was by the waterfall and the fire. The boat caromed off one wall of the cave, and I turned to see what I’d struck.

    Faces looked back. Not faces. Skulls. Wide, gaping eyes staring, warning me, telling me to turn around.

    Only I could make the choice, the elders had said. Were these the skulls of those who’d made the right choice—or the wrong?

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

    • I’d like to think my ancestor made the right choice; but alas, going from the legend, he was a bit of a villain! I like your interpretation and have a good feeling about this Donald.

  13. ESCAPING THE HEAT OF THE SUN
    by A J Walker

    It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but entering the sea cave in an inflatable dinghy was not the act of genius. The cool wind which had greeted the two young adventurers – Daniel and Stephen – when they first entered seemed like a glorious blessing after the steaming midday sun. But that was quickly forgotten.

    The noisy hissing from the expiring dinghy petered out, which was nice only in that each second of its sussing seemed to accuse and evidence their folly.

    Now sat stranded on the same razor teeth rocks that had left them in this predicament the two lads gazed at the beauty of their trap. A collapsing torrent of water was pounding into the pool creating a hypnotic cacophony and splashes of rainbows.

    Then a deep resonating boom throbbed through the caves and the waterfall’s spell broke.

    ‘What the hell is that?!’ Daniel exclaimed, pointing at an eerie shadow moving across the wall. Stephen looked and his expression of puzzlement quickly turned to terror.

    The shadow was being cast from a sudden pulsating light coming from an off-shoot to the cavern, each burning pulse spread waves of heat over them.

    Then the drumming started.

    (200 words)
    @zevonesque

  14. Expedition

    Lucifer followed his raven.

    Beneath the hulk of his scales, deep beyond the crackle of his fiery heart, Lucifer allowed himself a flutter of excitement. It twitched there, like a dying bat, but it was enough to make him grin.

    The raven had seemed excited too; scraping itself through the tiniest cracks and squalking the way like a frantic parrot. Lucifer was convinced; it had found the way out.

    Ahead of him, the avaricious flayed themselves under the command of Azazello’s lash and built a raft from their skin. Lucifer stepped aboard, sailed the brimstone lake while his entourage of sinners swam it, wailing.

    At the shore, the raven pointed a wing. Ahead; a silver shaft of God’s Light pouring in from some high hole in the ceiling of Hell. He unfurled his wings, the grin widened.

    The lustful lifted him from the craft and carried him forth. He glanced at Azazello. The demon looked worried. And then he heard it. And smelled it. Falling liquid.

    Water.

    He scrambled to his feet, but too late; the sinners were already chest deep and dropping him. He met the stuff with a snap and it swept into him, hissing out the smoulders.

    200 words / @DHartleyWriter

  15. It’s a Trap!
    (Must think of this title in the style of Sheldon Cooper.)

    Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald, sisters of the Verauc clan, sat in a circle on the damp cave floor. A small fire took precedence in the middle of their circle…warming them.
    Ruby, the youngest of the three, shivered slightly. Not so much from cold, but from a voracious hunger.
    “It’s been a month, and nothing…no one has fallen for your little trap.” She looked upon Emerald, the leader of the group.
    “You must be patient, dear sister…” Emerald stoked the fire, disturbing the ashes and causing the flames to rise higher.
    “Patience?!” Sapphire, this time. She turned upon Emerald, viciously. “Patience has gotten us nowhere! Here we sit, when we could be out there…” She indicated the lands above their underground home. “HUNTING for what we want!”
    Emerald gave no acknowledgement to her sister’s outburst. “You know what happened last time…we must be discreet…The humans must believe we are completely gone if we are to exact our revenge…”
    “Discreet?!”
    A sudden splash interrupted Sapphire’s next bout of arguing. The sisters placed themselves in the doorway facing the next room.
    A young man was fighting the water around him, gasping for breath, looking for a way out.
    Emerald smiled. “Dinner is served.”

    200 words @bookwormattack

  16. Final Rendezvous

    She scrubs like a surgeon then heads out to the front of the cottage. Equipment and wetsuit already loaded up. Looking along the quiet lane, she’s satisfied.
    She drags the grey bundle along the track with relative ease for a small form. Her limbs taut and efficient allow her to lift and place the heavy side of the bundle into the boot of the car before she swings the rest around pummelling it until it fits.

    -He had been flash: one liners straight from the book of one liners. Salesmen were always the worst : a girl in every transport cafe. He thought he was dealing with a simple country lass. She was expert at naivety.-

    Inside the car, she takes the police badge she has wiped down and places it back in the glove compartment. She really had toyed with him. She smiles, but she has to dispose of the body before the tourists’ swarm.

    She kills the engine.
    Wetsuit on.
    She’s at the top of the cave.

    She’ll meet with him again at the bottom.

    With one final jerk, she pushes the body down the hole before calling,
    ‘Tell me, Angel, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?’
    200 words

  17. Anna stood, poised, ready to knock, hand in mid-air. Yet something held her back. She was unsure if this unassuming brown door to Room 669 was really the gateway to somewhere else entirely; the gates to heavenly abandon, or the entrance to a hellish act.

    Her head was saying one thing, and her heart quite the opposite. But since when did the two pick the same side?

    She took a deep breath and looked down the corridor; it was either her escape route, or the pathway back to her safe, mundane existence. Why couldn’t she tell which it was?

    Turning back to the brown door, she closed her eyes. No more limbo. She had to decide.

    She knocked.

    The brown door opened; there he stood.

    “I didn’t think you would come,” he smiled, eyes narrowing slightly.

    “Neither did I,” Anna muttered, already cross with herself for what she was about to do.

    He hooked his finger into the belt loop of her jeans, pulling her to him, melting her icy anger into a fiery passion.

    As he slammed the brown door shut behind them, the number 9’s top screw finally worked loose, leaving it hanging on its tail.

    200 words @Dragonsflypoppy

  18. Meteorite
    ***
    Dingle and Mortimer stood in one of the chambers in Smoo cave, Scotland, examining a meteorite they’d found while looking for research material for their PhD’s.

    “It’s not your standard meteorite” said Dingle, turning the football sized lump of rock over in his hands “too light, and porous.”

    “I’ve seen meteorites that look porous; there’re different kinds” Mortimer replied.

    “No, this one doesn’t just look porous, it is porous” he brought the rock close to his nose, sniffed at it “smells funny too, like, I don’t know. Here, you smell it” as he stood up and held it out to his colleague.

    Mortimer took the rock and had a sniff. “Yeah, smells like burnt copper or something…you think this one’s a pallasite?”

    “Pallasite? You ever held one of those? They’re as heavy as fuck; no, this one’s different somehow.”

    “Well, crack it open and let’s see what’s inside.”

    “I don’t know…maybe we’d better just take it back to the lab…”

    “Oh go on, just bust it open and let’s get a proper look at it.”

    “Yeah alright, probably won’t do any harm…”

    Dingle smashed the rock; a flash of light lit up the cave.

    They didn’t have time to scream.
    ***
    @theimaginator
    200 words

  19. CHOOSE.

    The voice echoed throughout the room, waking me up and causing the first pangs of what promised to be a truly epic hangover to begin squeezing my eyeballs.

    CHOOSE…THE END.

    Unbidden, my mind added background music. “This is the end. My only friend, the end.”
    The world exploded. Half was on fire, and half locked into immobility.

    CHOOSE…HOW YOU WILL DIE.

    More lyrics. “…but I don’t even want to die just yet…” I punctuated these with half of a pretty bitchin’ air drumming solo. My flaming arm would have looked awesome on stage.

    CHOOSE. EVEN NOW, YOUR REMAINING BREATHS DWINDLE.

    “Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.”

    IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO DECIDE, YOU STILL HAVE MADE A CHOICE. WE CAN BANDY LYRICS BACK AND FORTH ALL DAY, BUT CHOOSE YOU MUST. WOW, DO I HATE HUMANS.

    “I think I know enough of hate.”

    FROST WAS A HACK. CHOOSE.

    “Fine. I choose…Fice!”

    FICE IT IS…OH, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. VERY FUNNY.

    “The chicks dig it.”

    NO THEY DON’T. ESPECIALLY SARAH. SHE FAKED…

    “Don’t even go there!”

    FINE. YOU WILL DIE IN FICE.

    The headlines the next day read “Area man dies in flood of tepid water.”

    200 words
    @drmagoo

  20. Bargain (200 words)
    “What would you offer me?” Theron asked.

    “A new world.” Narsulus said in a rich voice.

    Theron narrowed his eyes at the man in black robes then turned away to the fire.

    “What sort of world?” He asked.

    “One where we shall be the masters, not mortals. So is the will of my God, Balisai.” The Lord said, approaching Theron.

    “What makes you think I would accept?”

    “You hide in a cave, cast out by mortals. An elementalist of such power reduced to nothing but a worm. But serve me, and all the power, my power, will be yours.”

    Theron gazed into the flames. His power was greater than his brother’s, and father’s, yet he allowed mortals to cast him into exile, by his family, who were nothing but mortals except for his deceased mother.

    His shadow began to grow, climbing up the cave walls and extinguishing the flames. The cold embraced him as did the darkness, like a sudden winter overtaking autumn.

    Yes, that was what he would do, Theron thought. But not in winter, no not ice, nor fire.
    It would be in shadow.

    “Do you accept?” Narsulus reached out his hand.
    “I do.” And Theron took it.

  21. Revisiting

    “Oh Kenny, this is magnificent!” Julie exclaimed in the dark cavern. Her voice echoed but was soon muffled by the cascading waterfall brilliantly illuminated by sunlight peeking through the rocks.

    “Thought you’d like it.” Her new husband grinned, and Julie almost forgot the beauty surrounding them. She leaned in for a kiss, but light flared across the water. They twisted in time to see a smaller cavern lit by an orange glow.

    “What is that?!”

    Kenny wrapped his arm around her. “Look, see that bridge and the little ledge?”

    “Yeah..?”

    “Up for a picnic?” His eyes scanned down her body. This place was so beautiful, he might get something special for dessert…

    “Kenny, how can you be sure we’d get up there? The water could be really deep! And where is that glow coming from??”

    “I used to come here all the time.” He slid into the water, lifting his pack in one hand, and held out his other. “And it’s a surprise.”

    She followed him through the warm pool. Kenny hoisted his pack onto the protrusion, pushing it away from the edge. He pulled her in close but didn’t move to climb up.

    Glowing eyes appeared. “Julie, meet Nessie.”

    (200 words; @AriaGlazki)

  22. The Dragon

    Science! No magic, no fire breathing dragons! Aiden said excitedly.

    I can assure you that dragons do exist. Dr. Leonard Smith said calmly, with a glint of smile in his clear blue eyes.

    That quiet smile always riled Aiden. What an arrogant know-it-all! Damn his research! Aiden’s resentment was mounting by each new argument with Dr. Smith. The fact that no other colleagues shared his resentment further incensed him. The cool, calm, collected demeanor of Dr. Smith was making a stroppy fool out of him. Fire and Ice!

    This trip with Dr. Smith was a mistake. But they were here on a university grant and Aiden had a stake in the paper. He had to refute Leo’s assertions. Scientifically!

    Looking at the breathtaking waterfall and listening to the soothing sound of falling water humbled him. The nature at its best encroached by manmade cave light infuriated him. Oh, the arrogance of human kind. Leo, Dr. Smith, was silently taking all this in. His mind was probably noting down the evidence of dragons. Aiden smirked.

    He felt a cold barrel on his back. Just before Dr. Leonard Smith pulled the trigger, he said with that cool smile, “the fire breathing dragon!”

    @needanidplease (200 words)

  23. Getting her away from the mansion was easy. There were no guards. It was an island, no guards were needed. She’d just gone for a walk. Everyone knew she’d be back. There was no way off the island.

    No one knew I lived in the caves on the island’s north side. The only way into the caves was through an underwater opening. I’d found the caves years ago, when I escaped the world.

    Until the day they brought my daughter to it.

    We met on the rocks by the edge of the trees. I handed her a shirt, and pants. “You’ll need these.”

    I led her to the cliff on the southwest side of the island. “Follow me.” We dove into the ocean, and I led her through the underwater entrance. The inside was a cavern, with a small cave along the north wall, and a waterfall along the west wall. I led her to the small cave. My home.

    “You’ll be safe here. In a few days, they’ll stop looking. Then it’s two days to the nearest island.”

    That’s when she saw the picture of her, as a child, sitting in her father’s lap. She looked at me. “Daddy?”

    200 words (per Writebox)
    @LurchMunster

  24. ‘Homecoming’ 200 words by @ByWordAndStitch

    ‘They lives thare.’
    The irritable, and unwilling, guide gestured towards the cave mouth.
    ‘Thanks.’ Rob hitched the pack up on his back and moved towards the cave entrance, stopping to look round as the guide chuckled harshly before retracing his steps.
    What an odd man he thought bemusedly before shaking his head and turning back to the cave. Why would his grand-da choose to live in a cave? Mam was right. This side of the family was odd.

    He got to the cave and realised that it was awash. On one side there was a warm glow and on the other, water thundered down to join the lake. Lost in the shadows, there was a path leading to the glow. Following it past the roar of the waterfall he heard an echo in the cavern. Was it a concertina? He kept moving and was soon at the doorway. The music stopped.
    ‘So. Your Da said you’d be coming. Your bed’s through there.’ The old man pointed to the back of the cave. Rob blinked and went to his room, putting his bag down as the music restarted again. They were odd, yes. But not unwelcoming. This felt like home already.

  25. “Don’t piss off the Host” @kmc_roa
    (200, revised down from 345 – anyone wants the full text, let me know)

    And on the 7th day, He rested. Watched a little tv.

    The doorbell rang. It was the Seraphim, a little Earth-warming party. They had pizza and green Atlantean wine, guaranteeing another day of rest.

    Oh how they coo’d and crowed!. But something was being lost on the Heavenly Host.

    This was his place, his “man cave.” Complete with cold running water, and a brimstone steam room, this was his. Not a place for them to drop in as they saw fit. Just outside the walls of the cave, his greatest experiment. They knew something was going on there, something new. Dangerous.

    He had to say something.

    “Hosts of the Seraphim, thank you. I heartily accept these gifts you bring. But I am going to have to ask you all to not come back here, except by invitation. You see, I am working on a project. I shall call it Man, and I give it what you do not have. Free will. Just to, you know…. see what would happen.”

    He turned, and the Serafim left, amidst a few curious grumbles. He took out his simple box, and went for a walk in the garden. All was right with the world.

  26. Seeking
    @KaySully7
    200 words

    “Do you want to see a place you won’t believe?” I looked up from my newspaper, glancing up at the young man who’d guided me so faithfully on my expedition. His excited face earned my acquiescence.

    Roger had been shipwrecked here years before, the only man to live here for any amount of time. That was until the Royal Society sent me to investigate it after hearing his tale upon rescue and return to England. I came seeking the wonders I’d only read about in books.

    “Don’t worry, at the end of this passage there is light again.”

    I heard the roaring water first, before light suddenly burst into my eyes showing me the powerful waterfall. The cavern was exquisite, a geological wonder. My eyes swept the scene, resting on a bright spot. “What is that there?” I asked.

    “My home.” he replied. I turned to look at him and gasped. Standing next to me was a graceful wyvern whose eyes shone the same color as the man I’d come to know. He tilted his head towards the cavern. “I know what you’ve been seeking in the dusty tomes of libraries. You’ve found me.”

    I’d finally found a dragon lair.

  27. Title: The Cave
    Word Count: 200 words
    Twitter: @NadaNightStar

    The air was stuffy and dusty. Sherry’s head, and whole body as she came to realise, hurt like hell. ‘Did a herd of elephants stampede over me or what?’

    There was a dim light coming from a distance and there were rocks everywhere. It took her many long minutes to be able to slip out from underneath the rubble, pain shooting in every part of her body with any minimal amount of movement. But she struggled on.

    She finally managed to break free and stand up, though not as straight as she would have liked.

    Looking around, she realised she was in a cave. Her memory began to fall back into her head.

    ‘Ah yes. The calling; that dream I’ve been having for weeks.’

    She breathed in the stuffy air and smelt water! Then she heard it; a waterfall. It gave her strength and filled her heart with longing and power.

    Soon after, her skin tingled with warmth.

    ‘Fire,’ she thought and her mouth involuntarily smiled.

    She looked around again, but couldn’t see either. Then, she noticed the rocks and remembered: ‘earth’.

    As she stood there, shadows moved and three silhouettes appeared.

    She gasped as three other Sherrys approached her.

  28. OF TWO MINDS

    Divorced from reality…spontaneous delusions. That’s what the school counselor called it. Tavie hoped her sanity would hold on long enough for her to reach Smoo Cave, the place Gran said she’d find the answers.

    She trekked past the entrance until she reached the edge of the path and gazed over the railing. Side by side, like her two competing minds, the waterfall on the left appeared cool and clear. The inner cave opposite glowed like lava. She felt her control slipping and became the other, the one who was lost.

    The voice in her ear urged, “Go into the golden light. It will take you to your true home and family…to fairyland. You are half fae, youngling.”

    She gasped. When did she jump into the water and swim to the right-side cavern? She pulled her soaked body up onto the narrow ledge and hugged her knees, afraid. It must be the stress of Uni, a breakdown. Even the cave was an illusion, devoid of fire. The walls were flowstone, mostly orange Aragonite, lit by a spotlight to make it more dramatic for the tourists. She pressed her hand against the stone to prove its solidity, but her hand went through.
    200 words

  29. Engineering Dream
    Word count: 200
    Twitter: mishmhem

    Alex waited anxiously as the engineering review board studied his request to preserve a derelict spaceship. The fact that the craft was still functional after a century and a half indicated that studying it could give them a better understanding of how to improve their own craft, which rarely lasted thirty years with constant maintenance.

    “This is the reactor core and cooling system,” he said, as the images appeared on the overhead display.

    Instead of the customary cooling rods and tanks one would expect, the reactor was made up of a series of caverns. Waterfalls of coolant cascaded down the one wall into a flowing pool that surged past the glowing chamber of the reactor itself only to be filtered through the rocks and recirculated in a perpetual, sustained cycle.

    “The design of the HTBD drive is amazingly efficient and self-contained,” Alex assured them.

    The board nodded appreciating both the beauty of the design as well as its functionality.

    “I see why you want to study this,” the chairman agreed. “But this note is rather confusing…”

    ‘Not really,” Alex said. “It’s why we call it the HTBD Drive.”

    “Here, there be dragons?”

    Alex smiled, this was where things got interesting.

  30. Flameo and Dewy-wet – 200 words
    @todayschapter

    Gather round children and let me tell you the story of how we came to be. Many years ago, there was a cave where both water nymphs and fire fairies lived. This was a dark time, a time of conflict, a never ending battle for supremacy between these two warring factions. The fighting continued for many years, long after anyone could remember how it had started.

    In an attempt to end the bloodshed the ruling families from both sides agreed to meet. Whilst their negotiations proved unsuccessful, it did create the fateful encounter. The dashing Flameo glanced across the room and instantly fell in love with the daughter of his sworn enemy, the fair maiden Dewy-wet. She caught him staring and was drawn to the way his embers danced in the wind. Their’s was a forbidden love, a secret neither could divulge, until finally they found a way to be together again. So deep was their love, so passionate was their embrace that he did not notice he was being expunged, and she did not care she was boiling away, until eventually nothing remained of them but steam. And that dear children is how the first Wisp was born…

  31. Marilee dove off the rock she had been sunning on and slipped soundlessly into the water. She was going to find the perfect, untouched cave. She was tired of the crowded grottos sculpted by Merindii artisans, she wanted something natural and peaceful.

    She made sure to stay low, fingertips brushing the sandy bottom, humans were known to come to these cliffs.

    She found a small hole and scratched her scales squeezing through. She passed through to the surface cavern and froze. It was everything she’d been looking for, except…

    An orange light flickered in one of the hollows.

    Fire.

    She should go.

    One little peek shouldn’t hurt.

    She approached slowly, remaining in the shadows. The fire went out.

    This wasn’t safe.

    She felt the water displacement moments before a huge claw wrapped around her waist and pulled her up.

    The dragon was apologetic, “I’m sorry, really, but the Creator said you wouldn’t listen any other way.”

    “I don’t know that I’ll listen now, and I’ll thank you to put me down.” Merilee became bossy when terrified. She couldn’t help it, which terrified her even more. “Now!”

    “You must take a message to Empress Leilanii.”

    “You must have the wrong mermaid.”

    200 words
    @lissajean7

  32. Fire Sign
    By Adrienne M. Byers
    @amyshel7
    196 words (exclusive of title)

    Radiant Sagittarius, her hooves still aflame, rested beneath the full moon, enjoying the scent of jasmine floating throughout the cave. She laughed long and hearty, a deep throaty reverberation which sent boulders plummeting into Scorpio’s flowing adjacent lair.

    “How’d ya like that, Water Sign?” She teased. “Today, my guy trumped yours. No more missile testing. Or else.”

    Scorpio frowned, brooding. He raised a tempest against the granite wall separating them in dark anger, blotting for a moment the glow of her fire.

    “You got me. OK, your president is a Leo. He rules the Free World. So?”

    Scorpio licked his claws, sharpening their teeth with his razored tongue. “You think that’s all we got?”

    Sagittarius examined her manicured fingers, and wiped the moisture from her furred back. “No, Scorpio. You’ve always got just one more poisoned play up your tail.”

    Scorpio sighed, “I’ve got a Water-posse waiting for your guy in the next primary. We’ll see.”

    Sagittarius examined the green-sparkle polish adorning her nails. “I know it will be a toss-up. You got the Senate, but I will keep the House.”

    Scorpio smiled. He loved it when Saj gave away her game.

    “You think?” he said.

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