Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 3

WELCOME to you, and so long to 2013! We’re already three weeks into Flash! Friday’s Year Two, and now 2014’s showing off by starting new too. Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. What better way to end the year than with the best kind of hope! AND, while we’re at it, Happy New Year to all of you, and heartfelt wishes for a wonderfully writerly 2014. Here’s a little poem to kick it off:

May your next year burst with writing

May your Muse-breathed dreams run free

May your Fridays be exciting–

Dare to write them all with me! 

(Yes, I like my day job. Thank you for your kind suggestion I keep it.) MOVING ON. It’s a great pleasure to introduce to you the third judge on our brand new, fantastic rotating panel of judges: Erin McCabe! She’s a two-time FF winner and brings a great deal of talent to the judging table. Check out her judge page (especially if you want insight into her judging process) and give her a friendly welcome!

A reminder, Dragonlings! Don’t forget we now have a required extra challenge with the weekly prompt, called the Dragon’s Bidding. The element (inscribed in the dragon’s own bejeweled pendant) changes every week. Note that you do not need to include the exact word in your story unless instructed to do so (e.g. “include the word ‘cheimatophobia'”).  

Also remember: Results post Sunday evenings. Flash Points, a feature in which a particularly outstanding FF story is highlighted, posts on occasional Mondays. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner will post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.” This week I’m steeping this amazing green tea with sorghum and brown rice. Marvelous stuff. Drop by anytime and let me pour you a cup. 

Let’s go!

Word limit150 word story (10- word leeway) based on the photo prompt. NOTE: the prompt may be used figuratively.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name inscribed on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless that is specified):


***Today’s Prompt (may be used figuratively):

Young Star. Photo by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Young Star. Photo by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.


67 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 3

  1. There Wasn’t Much Room for Hope (149 words)

    The world slipped back into focus.

    The light slapped her, disorientating.

    Dentist-office-white and neon-blue.

    The light chased away the shadows of sleep and forced her further toward consciousness. Thin streamers rose, spreading tentacles of warmth – coffee, waiting.

    The computer banks whispered and hummed their lullabies, threatening to drag her back toward sleep.

    “Fuck this.”

    She rolled off the soft cushioned bed, instinctively checking the life-support displays of her shipmates.


    She frowned and staggered toward the coffee.

    The ship’s voice tried to get her attention, but she raised her finger, willing it to silence as she sipped.

    “Let me wake up first, you bastard.”


    She looked out the porthole, saw a galaxy blooming against the velvet blackness of space.

    Red. She realised.

    “How far out are we? How long have we been under? How long have they been dead?”

    The computer answered.

    There wasn’t much room for hope.


  2. The unspoken future
    (Charley_001) (156 words)

    As she sat out on the porch Suzi stared dreamily into her pictures.
    Every day at this hour she would fetch them out and stare wistfully, one day just one day this hour would fulfil her dream.

    The hope she’d carried was transparent for all who cared to see.

    There little Suzi knew that most saw her as a timid, immature girl who lacked intelligence. This last thought made her smile every time for she knew her mind could wipe spots of most. She just could not verbalise her words so they along with her hopes and dreams remained in her head.

    Her own pretty little head where for one hour a day she was free to travel anywhere. To plan how one day all the world would see and hear who she really was.
    “Suzi the famous astrologer!” Suzi called aloud from her porch swing and smiled… Oh how good that sounded!

  3. Star Performer
    157 words

    It blazed across the night sky.

    It shot past the goalkeeper and landed in the cow-pat, leaving a cylindrical hole as it plunged to the bottom.

    The elves played soccer at night, when humankind slept. They used a ball of light to solve the problem of darkness, and a series of elven screeches to empty their chosen field of cows, though sometimes the cows reacted badly to this, hence the cow-pat.

    They reckoned they had no hope of retrieving the ball, but Beckum was brave, and besides, it was his ball and he didn’t dare go home to his mum without it. He lowered himself into the hole, an ordeal in ordure, found the ball and kicked it powerfully upwards. The others watched it emerge, like a star through the dust of space.

    The game continued. Beckum’s team won 11-2, and Beckum, unchallenged, scored seven goals.

    There are advantages to being the Pepe Le Pew of football.

  4. Roadtrip!

    Gordon awoke with a splitting headache. He couldn’t recall drinking last night. It took him a moment to realise his headache was talking to him.
    “Greetings humanoid. I’ve been asked to make contact. We notice you’ve made rather a mess of your planet. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Fortunately my race is quite fond of carbon dioxide and intense heat, so your immeasurable tragedy is our gain.

    If we were jerks we’d take your planet by force, but we’ve noticed you’re rather tenacious little creatures and we don’t have time to fumigate. Instead we’ve made you a new planet, complete with that disgusting mix of oxygen and plants you like. We’ll take you there if you promise to behave.”

    Gordon didn’t have to decide, there was nothing left for them here. He concentrated, “We accept! When will you be here?”
    “Oh we are just down the road, we’ll be there in a hundred years or so. See you soon!”

    160 words

  5. Rehab

    (157 words)

    My twenty year old bones have washed up here again. Third time lucky, fingers crossed. This morning, like every morning for the past six years, I’ve woken up tired. Tired just like my sunken eyed, pampered peers who along with me form a half-hearted semicircle, in this luxury ward. Our skeletal forms rattle as we shake in our baggy, size zero designer togs. None of us feels like talking. Withdrawal.

    I guess I realised some light had gone out when, at fourteen, I didn’t get out of bed on Christmas Day, and, at sixteen, my front yard was a cliche of Porsches I couldn’t drive. I am not looking for sympathy. I’m told all the time that people would love to have my problems.

    But I do have one question. Was it really me they were looking out for when even my fame became famous? So many people watching… you’d think a kid would be safe.

  6. *** Flash! Friday judge’s entry, for your reading pleasure ***

    Threading the Dragon’s Eye
    157 words

    The crew of the Angelica-B gathered in the observation room to watch the telemetry coming from their ship’s exploration pod. They had been on their way to the Merkat system to search for habitable planets when they’d been rerouted here: to the still forming Dreago system.

    Captain Manchester had order the ship to remain a respectful distance as they launched the pod to analyze the protoplanetary disk that surrounded the new star.

    Hopefully, if the nebula that had given birth to the star continued to cool and coalesce as expected, they would have the planets they sought at half the distance.

    The star itself gleamed white hot, illuminating the nebula that surrounded it. If he had been a poet, Manchester would have likened it to a giant eye in space, but he was a trained scientist and such flights of fantasy were a waste of time. Maybe that was why he missed it when the eye blinked.

  7. Patricia
    by A J Walker (160 words)

    Stephen smiled with content as he sat beneath the cloudless sky above his valley. In the dark of remoteness he felt its pulse of life.

    He sensed he was coming out of his body – like a film zooming out whilst he shrank to a vanishing point beneath the emptiness flecked with dots of bright matter. Stars and galaxies in a speckled dance of life and death played out above him on a enveloping black sheet.

    He reached out and touched Patricia, his old trusty telescope; an ornament now, he hadn’t used it for years, as his eyes then body failed him.

    The myriad images he’d seen through Patricia splashed through his mind like a slideshow; the rings of Saturn, Jupiter and its moons, Luna itself, countless galaxies and nebulae. He’d spent months scanning nebulae, hoping to see the birth of a star – never succeeding, always expectant.

    That night at his peaceful passing somewhere a star was born in glorious fury.


  8. Research log, Genesis trials, day 365,242,199,074,074.

    This is Doctor Balzar Gratham. The experiment has failed again. They died today, this time by their own hands. I do not know if we will be funded to try again. Between meteor strikes, environmental evolution, free will, and a million other unforeseen developments, the universe is proving too volatile an environment in which to raise a new species. Once it seemed so fertile, so filled with possibility. Now there is only disappointment.

    How could they destroy themselves?

    “Doctor Gratham?”

    Weary of failure, I divert my attention from recording my thoughts. My chief assistant waits just outside the melding pod. Entering would initiate merged consciousness, altering the emotional and mental state of my journal.

    “What is it?”

    “We are receiving signs of life from Earth, sir.”

    At her command, voices fill the pod with song.

    “Impossible.” Yet something precious sparks within my core. They have survived.

    “We both know nothing is truly impossible, sir.”

  9. A Star is Born
    “Birth is a messy process, there is blood, sweat, and tears involved. Mine was no different save for one fact, the Universe was my mother. Gravity caused clouds of dust and gas to collapse. They coalesced, spiraling ever tighter. Temperature and pressure increased. Crushed and condensed they ignited. A chain reaction occured. Fusion was initiated. A star was born. I shine brightly in the vast darkness. I am so alone! My siblings are nere distant points of light, many of them are nearing the end of their lives. I am in my youth. I am childless as of yet, though the potential for offspring exists. I long for attention. I am overjoyed when I attract your attention. Study me to your hearts content!”
    The star flashed brightly through NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope at the astronomers, abeacon of hope for a brilliant future.
    149 words @EmilyKarn1

  10. Laurie frowned, looking down at Creation. She’d remembered to add the sodium without making the oceans explode this time, but life didn’t arise on any of the planets she’d made.


    She was never going to graduate, and she couldn’t bear the thought of being held back in Divinity School.

    Across the classroom, her neighbor Melissa wasn’t having any of these problems. Laurie could see tiny spacecraft travelling through her interstellar medium already, even before the teacher’s demonstration Creation. It wasn’t fair. Melissa was prettier, taller, and Laurie just knew that Thomas was going to ask her to the dance next month.

    Shaking her head, Laurie disposed of her Creation and began assembling the ingredients to try again. Maybe a touch more carbon this time. A flushing sound to her left interrupted her thoughts, and she saw that Thomas was in the same predicament she was. He smiled shyly at her, mouthing “help me!”

    Maybe there was hope after all.

    160 words

  11. The Christmas House
    (160 words)

    The home was perfect enough to be in a holiday snow globe, although Daguerro (formerly John) found it in warm, wet March surrounded by puddles not snow. Normal rains had washed the neighborhood clean and left whatever fleshless bones looking perfect too.

    The front door was decorated with holly. He shattered its side window and, reaching through, unlocked its bolt. Inside, rooms with wreathes and garland greeted him.

    Within days a dozen people were bunched and huddling around candlelight in the Christmas house. They foraged and worked and at nights talked of their old lives and the meanings of life and death, and wondered if the ghosts of those who’d tried fleeing the chemical storm would ever return. Outside, Ursa Major could be seen rising while The Hunter retired.

    They soon felt as much a family as possible, smiling kids and all. But one mosquito-heavy night when an electric lamp suddenly lit and Daguerro said, “We should go,” everyone agreed.

  12. Talks

    You’re the one who told me to create, right?
    Then why are you yelling at me for no reason?
    What’s that? I blew up the ecosystem and now there’s only one big ball left?
    Yeah, so?
    I’ll make a new Earth there, a different one. Maybe even better.
    Unacceptable? Hah. You’re one to talk since you messed up the original Earth and left the people without any hope.
    Oh, oh… Now you deny it you wily fool. That’s why they stopped believing in you. That’s why I have to build a new one.
    You want to make one, again? Sure, I guess. There’s always room for aliens, right?
    Mine’ll be the aliens? Fine. They’ll be better anyway. Without a poop hole and defects, they’ll be the perfect creatures.
    Ah… Can’t wait till mine conquer the world and yours will sulk without a reason.

    149 w.

  13. New Beginnings
    By Dan Radmacher @radmacher
    160 words

    The star was practically brand new. It shone with ferocity and vigor. Dust, gas and other debris that hadn’t quite been pulled into the star when it first formed spun around it.

    Soon, gravity form that material into planets. Some would be gas giants. Others would be rocks baking near the star. Others would form so far out that the stars heat wouldn’t reach them at all, and its gravity would barely contain them in a wide orbit.

    One, maybe two, of the planets would form in the sweet spot. They’d receive just the right amount of the warmth and energy from the star. Maybe some of the gasses left over from the star’s formation would combine to provide water and an atmosphere that could sustain life.

    That life would change and grow and, perhaps, achieve intelligence.

    But that was a long way off. There was still reason for hope that this solar system might stave off such an infection.

  14. Light
    By: Allison K. Garcia
    160 words

    Luciano came into my world like a bright shining star. An aura of golden sapphire surrounded him, reflecting his brilliance and blinding me with his clever words and Italian charm.

    I met him at a party. Women constantly fawned over him but he only had his eye on me. Why he chose me over all the other girls, I couldn’t understand then. I believed it to be pure luck, the right dress perhaps.

    There was no way for me to realize his true nature, the blackness that lay within.

    He picked me because I was weak, lesser than him. I know that now. He chose me to upset the balance, so he could always have the upper hand.

    He is the sun to my planet. I am pulled to and from him at his will. Without him, I cannot exist. My only hope is for his darkness to implode into a black hole. Only then I will be free.

  15. Incandescent

    She was dying.

    She knew she was dying, and yet…

    David shook his head, watching as Sarah skipped down the steps into the garden.

    “Isn’t it wonderful?” Her voice sounded breathy.

    He swallowed, grief welling up as he forced a smile. “Wonderful.”

    Placing warm hands against his face she kissed his forehead, a searing brand as the fever raged within her. “Oh, don’t be like that. Everything’s going to be fine.”

    “How can you say that?” He covered her hands with his, ignoring the heat.

    Her skin, pale, nearly translucent, glowed with an inner light; her eyes blazed with secrets and possibilities. “Hope springs eternal,” she teased as she moved away from him to the center of the garden.

    Hand outreached, he remained in place, a tear falling as Sarah stretched out her arms and exploded in a ball of fire and light. “Goodbye, Sarah.”

    A brush of warm air caressed his cheek as the phoenix winged away.

  16. 159 words

    No Hope

    Jed swallowed the rum and grimaced at the burn. When it faded, he smiled wryly. The condemned man’s last drink, how kind. Maybe it was to stiffen his sinews, imbue him with pointless hope for survival or perhaps just dull the pain.

    White, the sneering First Officer of the prison ship Intrepid, plucked the glass from Jed’s hands. “Hope you savoured it, it’s the last you’ll ever taste.”

    It was too much effort to reply, so Jed turned away and stared out of the tiny porthole. His fate winked at him, searingly bright and disgustingly pretty. Newborn stars were reserved for the most heinous of criminals. It was less a Viking funeral and more being burned at the stake. Jed didn’t bother with self pity, he deserved this end. Millions were dead because of him. It was right he died in agony.

    “Come on,” White said, quietly now, “it’s time.”

    Jed nodded, his face grim. Hope? Who needed it?

  17. Wouldn’t it be nice
    @dieterrogiers – 141 words

    The needle finds the right groove immediately as the LP produces a sprightly Beach Boys track. The song isn’t enough to erase the images of fiery cities and mushroom clouds from Neil’s mind, but momentarily it eases the pain.

    He especially loves the nostalgia the spinning disk evokes, a throwback to an era of unbridled hope for a candy floss future. A future he still believes in though his fellow refugees only seem to hear a creaky recording of naive teenagers.

    Yet Neil is adamant that humanity – the handful of it that still remains – can start over. That they’ll find a habitable world in the vast emptiness of space. That out there, somewhere, is another spinning disk, not made of vinyl but of stardust.

    And at its centre, not a silver peg but a glowing yellow sun to revitalize them all.

  18. Twinkle, twinkle
    Fernando Aires
    160 words

    I was 12 when I first heard someone calling me a “young star”. Can’t say I understood what that actually meant, but at that time I didn’t understand most of the things people said ever since someone called me a “music prodigy”.

    A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma, with several bodies revolving around. All those bodies receive warmth from it, as far as they don’t get too close to the star. A body close enough to a star get burned. And it goes until the star dies.

    Today, 15 years later, a week after my father died, to which funeral I didn’t attend because I passed out after another concert night with brandy and cocaine, years since I last talked to my mother, I finally got why people called me a “star”. And I lost all my hope of being close to anyone once again.

    So I held the gun. Today is the day that I die.

  19. We Will Light The Heavens
    160 words

    Within every particle of dust that drifts through space there is potential…potential and a destiny to be something more.

    In the beginning they were nothing.

    They bore no name and their essence was scattered. There was no sense of self or of hope. There was nothing but the darkness that pressed in on them from all sides until they heard the song.

    It echoed from the abyss and they followed it into the vast chasms, unafraid because the melody told of bravery and light.

    There, they found her.

    She was nothing but a glimmer of light and heat sequestered in a body of dust. Her voice almost smothered by the debris but her song rang out across the space like a bell and they answered her call.

    They came, slowly at first but still they came, for she was their heart and one day they would light the skies.

    Alone they were nothing but soon they would be a star.

  20. In Silence I Wait

    He’d been asleep a long time. A long, long time. He knew it, felt it in his bones. Muscles once strong and powerful were withered and weak, teeth sharp enough to rend flesh were blunt and cracked with age. He stretched out one hind leg, slow, experimental. The hideous crackling of ligaments and cartilage echoed around the cave, disturbing silence saturated with prehistoric dust.

    He knew his eyes would be two bright balls of yellow light in the blackness, seeking out crevices and banishing shadows. He’d often thought the eyes of his kind were similar to the flickering lights he’d seen in the inky ancient sky.

    Gathering his legs beneath him, he stood. He quivered, wavered, shook and trembled, but he did not fall.

    Fresh air greeted his questing nose. Hope erupted in his chest at the thought of warm meat and cool water. Would he find it?

    Wherever he was, he would once again be king of the dinosaurs.

    160 words
    @jujitsuelf (but the idea behind this came from my mother so it’s a joint effort! She’s the one who looked at the picture and said ‘That’s a dinosaur’s eye, not a star’.)

  21. Regeneration
    159 words

    There was only one thing left to do. Ironically, the Elders swore it would never come to this. Mutually Assured Destruction would encourage rational minds to settle future disputes peacefully, but as Arwana looked out across the vast debris field it was clear how wrong they’d been.

    For centuries their teachings kept a tenuous lid on long-held prejudices, but as generations passed, and the words of the Elders faded from memory, old hatreds returned. With each escalation the majority believed this would be the time logic trumped emotion. Each time they were wrong.

    And then it was too late.

    The battle was predictably short. From her post far above the planet, Arwana was spared, but that left her with this solemn duty.

    Once started, the final safe-guard of the Elders was like a biological do-over. Arwana offered a small prayer finishing with, “… of all these, hope.”

    As the Regeneration Button glowed pale blue, she stabbed it with her finger.

  22. Contrast – 159 words
    My big sister made her way down the stairs with a zombie’s gait – and matching hairstyle.
    “Another vision, Melissa?”
    “They’re called Prophet’s Nightmares, Victor,” she said, teetering with each step, “and yes, I had one.”
    These Prophet’s Nightmares are “like visions, but wrapped in nightmarish imagery”. She says it’s no big deal, but this gift of hers came with brutal narcolepsy. Mom paid me to be her 24 hour assistant as soon as I graduated from high school.
    “I think you were in this one,” Melissa said, “and it scares me.”
    “As what?” I asked, unsure if I should’ve asked.
    “You were a bright star that always stayed behind me,” she said. “That’s why I’m worried.”
    “Stars usually mean hope,” I said, bringing her tea.
    “The brightest stars are usually dead, and we’re just noticing it,” she said with tears starting to run. “That’s why…”
    I hugged her tightly. “Don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not that bright.”

  23. A Glimmer Of Hope
    158 words

    The land was desolate, barren of any form of life except for a few shacks that littered the dusty plain.

    It hadn’t always been like this.

    Once this place had been a great city, it had once had a name….New something or another but now even that was lost because of a single mistake.

    You see, mankind had always looked up at the night skies and wondered. Curiosity was the driving force behind the expeditions into space and that same curiosity was what drew the crew of the USS Avalon to the birth of the star.

    God alone knows what they thought when instead of the heart of a star what they found was a single pod floating through the darkness.

    They say that the Captain was the one who opened it and found the child.

    She claimed that his presence was a symbol of hope, a sign that we could find allies out there.

    She was wrong.

  24. Philosophical Thinking
    160 Words

    Doctor Greenwald lectured his philosophy class with bitter angst.

    “You must ask the questions behind the questions. While astronomy discovered the big bang, you should ask who lit the fuse. When physicists find energy can be converted to matter, you should question its morality.”

    He hesitated for a moment to stare at the students. They were all hopeless, he thought. Ferreting out the mysteries of life, existence, purpose and beauty required imagination.

    “Let’s try an exercise in creativity. Here is a picture. I will not tell you what it is, can you imagine what it might be?”

    He expected no one would raise their hand. No one did. But a girl spoke without obeying the convention of raising her hand.

    “That is a fire gland, found in the nostrils of dragons. When excited it spews a highly flammable substance. The spot in the middle is the igniter.”

    Some students laughed; others gasped. Doctor Greenwald’s eyes lit up with new hope.

  25. Flash

    I woke up to sounds of breathing. Slow. Calm. Squinting I made out shapes of visitors wearing masks. A familiar face leaned into my clouded vision. Eyes encased with darken circles lit up when I gave her a grin. Oh how I love that smile, inherited from her mother of course. Her lips parted, yet the words were lost in the space between us; like muffled voices in freshly fallen snow.
    Father had built snowmen with me.
    That last night we had together my toes were tiny icicles. Father had snuck me out of bed to go stomping through the midnight snowfall. The set up telescope had revealed the most marvelous sights. Oh how I had hoped we could have had more father son moments like that night.
    A hand squeezed my fingers. When a beeping noise broke through to my ears, the touch was lost.
    Perhaps today we’ll finally have another Father and son moment.

    159 words

  26. Miss Zodiac
    (154 words)


    Love you hoped was true may turn sour in the month of June or July or September. But, there is a positive to be found as this new year seems filled with financial opportunity. You must; however, be respectful of the numbers 5,9 and 47 or you may find yourself in hot water.

    Be aware this new year of the numbers 6,10 and 48. These numbers could bring financial gain. It is possible that love may take a bumpy course around the summer months or perhaps early September, when someone you love is set to betray you. Doubtless, however, your positive attitude will provide you with a contingency plan.

    You are torn between two lovers this new year. You must decide on your path soon or you may find that you lose out completely. The numbers 5,6,9,10,47 and 48 could bring about your financial downfall. Keep PINs and passwords safe.

  27. Attempt #408?

    The Magician sighed wearily. Attempt #407 was another failure. Clearing the smoke, he wondered if it was even worth trying again. Looking at the scorched walls (#106), shattered windows (#329) and splintered roofbeams (#360, #387), he decided that it was pointless. He’d changed the variables, given them art and language to awaken something pure, but they had turned them to science, leapt from the flask and fought till their blood stained his wooden workbench (#402).
    No more; New year, new project.
    He extinguished the smelter, folded the mirrors and wound up the tubing, till all that remained was a flask of tiny, swirling stars. He was blowing them out when he heard a startled cry from the doorway.
    “No Pappa!”
    “Hope? You should be in bed!”
    She toddled past him and flung her arms around the flask, weeping.
    “No hurt the little people!”
    Kneeling beside her, the Magician took her small hand, smiling.
    “Alright Hope. For you, one last try.”

    160 words

  28. Taken

    Lila looked out of the viewing window at the receding galaxy, which confirmed again how small and insignificant they really were. She wondered why they had bothered taking any of them, and tried to ignore the fear that thought sparked.

    She looked round at the others in the cabin, all of them looking as stunned as she felt. She smiled at the idea that their species thought that they’d have a chance against another from outer space; the takeover had been swift and complete in less than five hours.

    She considered herself one of the lucky ones when they had taken her up to one of their ships and secured her into a pod, and still remained hopeful about the outcome, until a swishing sound indicated their presence and their words reached her ears.

    “Our destination is in sight. Please join the other species ready for final inspection and entrance into the Exhibition of Extinct Species.”

    156 Words

  29. The Black Hole

    I am a void, a deep dark void watching over the beginning, the end, and the beginning and end until all I can do is despair.

    I see a new light in the distance, and I inevitably begin to pull towards it. My fingers ache a cold, violent death ready to snuff out every flame until all that is left is me.

    I am able to see the light in its entirety as I grow closer. I have taken much from the cosmos during my travels, but I quickly realize why this light is so familiar. As I peer into its core, I see myself; I see a reflection that I had long forgotten in the darkness.

    And I can only cry because here is a brother I never knew I had, so young and so alive.

    “We all die, Brother,” I tell him. “But you have time.”

    Live well.

    150 words

  30. Stella Means Star

    No one would believe her. Holding the tripod of her telescope with her trembling left hand, Stella fumbled in her jeans pocket for her iphone and quickly got a blurry, dark shot of the gleaming missile in the sky heading towards places unknown. Ha! Fresh from her release from Parkridge Valley Psychiatric Hospital, Stella knew she wouldn’t be considered a reliable witness. Sure, she did see John Lennon’s ghost on December 8th, the anniversary of his death, and huge spiders on the walls, but this new anti-psychotic drugs seemed to be doing the trick in keeping her firmly grounded in reality. This reality? Meh, thought Stella, as her mind drifted to the dream she had since she was a child. A community in space. Stella was, she supposed, a little obsessed with martians. When she got back home, and turned on the television, there was her sky missile. It was true! Her hope was still alive.

    156 words

  31. “Try it again,” Emperor Nylok said, staring at the bright object on the viewing screen.

    There was silence in the room until Admiral Jelmon, in a weak voice, said, “We’ve tried every frequency. There’s no indication that anyone or anything is – “


    “Your excellence, we – “

    “Again! Dammit, do it again and again and again and again until it says something, does anything,” the Emperor said.

    Days, weeks, months, years passed and the signals from the comm ships went unanswered and the prayers of the religious aboard the fleet went unheard. The bright object continued to shine at them amidst a sea of total darkness.

    “We’ve come all this way,” Nylok screamed at the screen. “Billions of us running toward your light, chased away by your collapsing creation. Help us, damn you! This can’t be everything. This can’t be it! What is your plan for us?”

    The light rippled and a dark spot widened. An opening.

    157 words

  32. “Uniyabon” (A Zento Tale)
    157 words

    Zento jerked the control sticks of his company’s newest galactic-sloop. “Eternal fires of Goran 1,” he muttered. This was not the time for dying, especially not because he forgot to calibrate his instruments again. If his father hadn’t left him such an immense fortune, buying his company this new sloop would’ve been murder on his paycheck.

    He bent over his wrist-recorder. “Note to self: calibrate instruments before every take off, not just on days ending in ‘y’.”

    The sloop’s hull shuttered, emitting a bold grinding tone. Then it returned to its usual dull whirring. Zento had forgotten about the abducted Kerreni translator beside him until he started crying out prayers to his three-headed god. Or was it four? Zento settled for a sigh of relief.

    The translator, his hands shaking, shoved his light-reducing telescopic tool against his eyes. He peered at the very surface of the galaxy’s latest star.

    “The name?” asked Zento.

    “Uniyabon, Kerreni for ‘hope’.”

  33. In the Beginning

    “Simulations indicate all essential elements and forces are in an ideal configuration for planetary formation.”

    “You say that every time we do this.”

    “This is serious work.”

    “Oh, I’m perfectly serious. It’s just that, how many millions of times have we done this, and it’s always the same—the same elements, the same proto-stellar mass.”

    “We have specifications.”

    “But why not shift an element? Why not a red giant or a white dwarf? Why does every proto-stellar mass have to end up being a mainline star with a habitable zone exactly 0.725 to three astronomical units away from it?”

    “As I said, we have specifications.”

    “What? Would the universe end if we tweak a specification?”

    “What would be the point?”

    “Something new and different, something the specifications have never considered, something unexpected. Something to look forward to.”

    “Like what?”

    “Something miraculous.”

    “You are still being obtuse about the point of such experimentation.”

    “For diversity of life.”

    “Oh, well then.”

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    159 words

  34. Thinking Out of the Box (A Carolyn Adventure)
    @SVBookman (158 Words)

    Leaving the snowman behind her, Carolyn headed toward the closest house she could see. It was across a snowy field with bits of cornstalks sticking up in long rows.

    “Harvesting must’ve been done early here,” she thought while the loud crunching of her shoes left a clear trail in the, otherwise, clean inch or two of the new-fallen precipitation.

    Her mind, for some reason, kept going back to her high school days in Science class. She remembered watching the movies and digital programs on the stellar bodies. One in particular, was a huge cloudy mass with a star at the center. She could not remember the name, but the idea of there being all that and more out there always filled her with hope, especially now.

    She reached the house and crept toward the door. A snapping twig brought her around, knife in hand. The little boy looked at her with wide eyes.

    “Y-You lost, Lady?” he stammered.

  35. In the Palm of Her Hand

    Penelope sighed, closing her eyes in a desperate attempt for inspiration. Discarded globs glinted dully around her. She’d have to remember to recycle the material, but for now, she had bigger problems.

    There were only a few hours left before the deadline and absolutely nothing original or even remotely interesting had come from her brain, her hands, or any other part of her. Everyone already saw her as a joke. She couldn’t fail again.

    She puffed her breath out, reopening her eyes. Wisps of gold danced among her fingertips as she molded a delicate, spherical cage that spiraled out in waves, which darkened with her plummeting mood. Maybe she just wasn’t cut out for this.

    She spun the trinket in her hand. It fell to the translucent surface before her with a clink. On a whim, she ignited a spark in its center, brows drawing together at the wash of light. Perhaps this one could become a star after all.

    (160 words, @AriaGlazki)

  36. Rebirth

    The planet had been almost entirely vacated. Only those too poor, too ill, or too crazy to leave remained. Christa supposed she fell into the last category. She wasn’t like the cultists who’d elected to stay because they thought God had returned; Christa stayed because she was curious. She stayed so she could see the heart of a black hole.

    Christa slept during the day, wandering deserted streets at night and taking inventory of the stars. Fewer and fewer burned through the black veil each night, devoured by an even deeper, more permanent blackness.

    It happened during one of her midnight walks. Christa cartwheeled into the sky, consumed by a blackness so cold and complete it was like being unborn. She collapsed, falling inward and inward and inward, until she was one with the heart and there was nowhere left to fall but out.

    Christa exploded through the darkness.

    She became the light.

    A new heart for a new world.

    160 words

  37. Reverently he watched the silent symphony. There was no way of knowing if their peril had been imminent. It would not have been the first time that the Overmind had been moved to prevarication, but the ends always justified the deceit.

    One truth was, however, beyond contestation: when needs are dire, whether perceived or actual, heroes arise.

    “Is that them?” Matria inquired, her graceful finger indicating a small black pock on the golden cloud accreting about Neo Sol’s birth throes.

    “There is no way of knowing for sure, sensors are useless with such massive relativistic fluctuations, but it’s a fair bet,” he replied.

    There was little flotsam near that glowing disk where only shielded matter survived, and only their ship had it; those few who defied Institution to break our longstanding knowledge barrier and now drifted to their doom. We’d opened a crack in reality to birth this second sun, and the righteous paid the price for our obstinance.

  38. With tremendous care, the great woman chose a marble from the onyx bowl in front of her. “Many people will tell you many things about beings a good leader. But what you need to understand about being a ruler is that no matter what…your people must always have hope.”

    The young child, only half-listening to the great woman, peered over the endless table. It looked like a table of black glass, or water. The crone rolled the marble; it unfolded into a universe that dwindled to a reflection of their nation–landforms and clouds floated, hovering just over the inky depths.

    “I would think over everything people would need…food, water, shelter.” The girl poked a cloud and rain began to tumble down a mountainside, before them and thousands of miles away.

    The old crone blew across the board, dispersing the rain and whims of a child. “Feed the body and starve the soul, the man will still go hungry.”

    160 w/o title

  39. Letters from Arcadia

    ***For your entertainment only: judge’s entry***

    The obsession began when I saw New Hope: I was five. Daily I would wait for someone to tell me I was destined for greatness: I knew I would make it here someday.

    When the Centurium took off, Earth passed in flashes. City lights became stars, stars became planets.

    The initial path planned was smooth, passed our galaxy and into Arcadia: what we did not expect was the worm hole.

    It came into view quickly, like the meteors we had watched in innocence in our youth. The crew had little time to react, and the portal’s force swallowed us in a downward spiral, quickly consuming the craft.

    By the time this is read the team will more than likely be dead, likely discovered by a civilization light years in the future.

    Unless, of course, what we set out to prove is true: that another humanoid life, with equal intelligence, exists.

    150 words

  40. “When all else fails”
    [141 words]
    by Dr. Mike Reddy

    “But why, Creator? Why stir the Ether so, to bring such a troubled existence to the Universe?”

    “When he will advance so far, and so fast, but burn out so mightily? Sacrificed to send a mere signal?” The creator finished the unuttered conclusion to the question. “I’m taking the long view… he will be a beacon of Hope in his exhausted destruction. But the timing needs careful construction now. Leave me.”

    The herald withdrew. In the meantime the Creator swirled and coalesced primordial gases in careful measures to achieve the right mix. Finally, happy, she was done.

    The young star’s life lay before her omniscience. He would explode one day, and his light would guide three travellers to their destination in a vain attempt to sort another creator’s blunders. Hope was the only thing she could think of right now.

  41. ‘So we’re on target for an early Dawning?’

    Lazarre stared out into the void. ‘So it seems. The remnants are on-board?’

    ‘Aye, my lord. All that the remains of our broken empire.’ Lazarre felt the mesh of his lieutenant’s gloved hand settle heavily on his shoulder as he stepped up beside him. The being’s onyx eyes were cold, bellying the emotion in its words.

    ‘Is it finally time, Jarl? The years have been…so long.’

    ‘It’s time.’ Jarl’s hands flicked over the console before him. ‘The void has been seeded. The energy from the dying star clusters nearby will cascade and combine, sending enough radiation forth to bring on our Dawning. ‘ His hand hovered over a flashing red button. ‘Sir, it’s time to bring our people home.’

    Lazarre nodded.

    Fingers caressed the console. A single white beam shot out from the starcruiser’s flank, striking into the heart of darkness.

    There was a bright light; a new star was born.

  42. Hope for the Future
    141 words
    Lightning leaked from the corners of Ksamem’s blue maw. She clenched Zodron’s fiery tail in her mouth. Heat from his breath seared her tail.

    Their joined flight forced the fire and lightning between them creating a circular smoky nest for their egg.

    Ksamem had left Ionus two centuries ago in search of a mate. The first time see saw Zordon, he tossed a wriggling man encased in metal at her. They played catch with the screaming form before simultaneously electrocuting and burning the man.

    If things had been different, she wouldn’t have chosen a red. How the puny life forms eradicated her glorious race mystified her.

    The egg’s shaking brought her mind back to the present. Cracks appeared up and down the shell. The hook of a blue nose pressed through the shell. Ksamem smiled and thought, this one is mine.

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