Flash Dash!

Horse racing event, Tokyo. CC2.0 photo by Tsutomu Takasu.

Horse racing event, Tokyo. CC2.0 photo by Tsutomu Takasu

Welcome to our second Flash Dash contest! The parameters are short and easy:

* One prompt [[SEE BELOW FOR PROMPT]]
* Word count: anything up to 500 words
* Time limit: 30 minutes (starting when this posts at 10 am Washington, DC time). At 10:30am THE DOOR SLAMS SHUT!
* Where/how: add your story as a comment to this post
* Judge: Moi, Rebekah Postupak
* Normal Flash! Friday guidelines regarding content apply

Today’s prizes:

* $25 cash/gift card (winner’s choice, via PayPal or Amazon) AND a brand new, color-changing Flash! Friday logo coffee mug


BEGIN your story with the following sentence:

He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.

140 thoughts on “Flash Dash!

  1. he shouldn’t have sounded the gum calm gong. he should have sounded something else because voice recognition doesn’t recognize gong unless you e9 c8 enunciate say things carefully. return writing on the phone is hard enough. backspace without having to deal with swype and voice recognition when you are writing in the middle of a traffic detail.

    it could have been something other than are gone really? then a gong. it would have been more appropriate if he had sounded his horn or just yelled really loudly because voice recognition recognizes yelled, horn, sound. gong on the other hand takes 27 tries to get bright sigh right.

    I hope he has a really nice day even with the GaN… Sigh… Gong.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 250


    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.

    When his peers laughed at him, pointed fingers and spit words behind closed hands, he should have looked away. When the teacher ignored the pandemonium, excused the lanced insults, turned a blind eye to the threats, he should have gone to someone else.

    Instead, he sounded the gong. He flung the words back that would lacerate the opposition, his newly-formed talons digging into the heels of his claws as he grasped his courage and faced them down. He watched their judgmental gazes and shuddered on the edge of bravery.

    When the first punch came, he was unprepared. It blindsided him, coming from beyond his peripheral vision, slamming into his temple. He threw his arm in a wild arc, but his knuckles only connected with cold, unforgiving air. Fingernails raked his cheek, shouts and shrieks and screams twisted his hearing, and blindly, he stumbled backward and fled, his legs a blur of motion.

    Dropping onto all fours, he picked up the speed, racing away from the judgment, hurling himself into obscurity. He didn’t stop until he collapsed, sobbing, onto his own bed. Tears traced down a cheek that was more scaly today than it was yesterday. In the mirror across the room, wafts of smoke hazed the air, curling in wistful tendrils toward the ceiling.

    The judgment of his peers rang in his armor-crusted ears. They had whispered, but he had shouted. Tomorrow, he would roast them in fire.

    He shouldn’t have sounded that gong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alarm
    278 words approx
    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. The dull whump of stick against metal reverberated up to the high ceiling and made the window frames rattle.
    ‘Reuben!’ hissed his mum. ‘Put it down, quick!’ Her voice had gone from anger to anxiety in a split section, as they heard quick official footsteps.
    Reuben shoved the stick behind a ceremonial shield and hoped for the best.
    When the museum official reached them he, too, wasn’t angry. He was waving his arms, but panic was spreading across his face.
    ‘It was here, wasn’t it? The sound came from here!’
    Reuben nodded, bright red and close to tears. He expected the full hairdryer treatment.
    ‘RUN!’ The man pulled a bright silver whistle from his pocket and an earsplitting shriek rang out. The alarm bell was almost like an echo. But the third sound was entirely unexpected.
    A trumpet.
    Not a brass instrument. The trumpet of an enraged African elephant. It was followed by the sound of breaking glass, and a roar.
    They bolted down the corridor, ran for the fire exit, and slammed it shut behind them. They could feel the impact as the elephant charged the door, but while it shook the frame, the fire door was too strong for the animal.
    The official took out a large handkerchief, of a kind rarely seen, and mopped his brow.
    ‘What was that?’ exclaimed Reuben’s mum, sliding down the wall and coming to rest on the pavement. A tourist took a picture of her.
    The official leaned down and hissed ‘You woke up Africa.’
    But there was no time for him to say more, as a spear pierced the door behind him.


  4. Katie Morford
    175 words

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.

    Judging by the piercing glares, the resonate clang was enough to throw off their chi. Whatever that was. But really, they shouldn’t put a gong in a yoga classroom if they didn’t want people ringing it. Creating the right atmosphere and setting the tone. He choked back a chuckle at his own joke.

    More glares.

    You owe me. Mouthing the words at his sister, who was twisting herself into a pretzel on the mat across from him, didn’t carry sufficient vehemence. He contented himself with a scathing glare.

    “Put your right ankle behind your head and your left ankle under your bum. Hands together in front of you. Now reeelaaxxx.”

    Or something like that. He copied the instructor’s contortions and grimaced. Not even homemade fried chicken was worth this torture.

    “Pie, too.” He whispered.

    His sister rolled her eyes.

    “And I get my own gong to ring at Christmas.”

    “Fine.” She stretched, huffing hair out of her face. “You big baby.”

    He smirked. “And brownies for my birthday.”


    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Third Wish
    218 words

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.

    Michael should have known something strange would happen. He hadn’t believed in magic when he began this journey, but he’d seen all manner of strange things since then. He had been assured of the existence of ghosts only three nights ago in his cabin, when things had moved of their own accord.

    Yet the gong was the one thing amongst the treasure that called to him. He had been unable to resist its summons. He had lifted the stick, and boooong. Smoke swirled about him in grey and purple and he coughed on it.

    “You have summoned the genie and I shall grant you wishes three,” the genie said.

    A genie. It was a flippin’ genie.

    “Are there any restrictions to my wishes?” Michael asked.

    “Nope. That’s just in fairy tales. I can give you whatever you want,” the genie said.

    “All right. One, I wish for great wealth, and two, I wish for true love to find me…I’m free next week.”

    “Done and done,” the genie said. “And your third wish?”

    “Honestly? I wish you’d put some pants on,” Michael said.

    Great wealth and true love were all well and good, but nothing was going to erase the genie’s strange genitalia from his mind.

    He really shouldn’t have sounded the gong.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. word count – 456

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. The desperate and not so affluent came flocking in.

    Ah how I love The Black House, fun and debauchery abound. Every Friday I come and my dastardly actions always go unheeded until I’m well gone. I have my own little nook where I secrete myself with a book until some interesting or exotic bird of the female persuasion catches my eye. I never actually read the book but I find if you frequent any bar book in hand you are left in relative peace except for a few snorts of derision now and again.

    I’m going to stock pile a few whiskies, so I can survey my prey without showing my hand too early. The bar man is used to my appearance so doesn’t flinch at my pale skin any more. He doesn’t even attempt the petty small talk just takes my money and nods. We have a little arrangement where if I see something I like I let him know and he in turn lets me know what the object of my desire’s chosen tipple is. I often wonder if he knows but he never lets on.

    If I just wanted sex it would be so much easier, as that’s what a lot of people come here for, but I have a taste for blood, pumping, flowing, blood. The exhibitionist in me needs the little scare that this may be it I just might be caught, ah the extra thrill of fellow drinkers breezing by as I indulge my taste-buds. I have been known to get too excited and have to retire to my little nook to remove skin from my fangs and replace their covering veneers. No, before you ask I am not a vampire, I paid a fortune in dentistry to get my fangs, just so. I won’t die if I don’t get my fill just fester in boredom and misery.

    Ah, now she looks interesting, nice and petite, I thought the big-boned girls would have a meatier taste at one time, but I was wrong, all that fat and extra flavours just gets in the way of that glorious blood. I tend not to waste my time so catch the bar mans eye so he’s aware of that she’s drinking. Ah how ironic it’s a Bloody Mary, love it. I gesture for him to pour me a double Bloody Mary and it’s sent over. I pop in my little pill and am ready to go. It just makes them a little drowsy, I’m not doing any harm, but they never have the will or energy after partaking to stop my suckling. They’ll explain away their cut in the morning thinking the sex got a wee bit energetic and will be too ashamed to mention to anyone a one-night stand.

    She accepts my offering with elegance and we retire to my little nook. The lump she takes out of my neck is sure to leave a scar and those fangs are real. The bar man acknowledges my terrified yelp and pops a little pill in my whisky apparently I suckled his niece on his night off. Revenge is always on the menu in The Black House.


  7. He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.
    Gil wasn’t even sure whose party this was or for what occasion. His wife loved going to parties and he was often swept along in her tide.
    It had started out as a little joke. Two gin and tonics became three, and they worked their magic making him a little looser and his small-talk companions a lot more amusing.
    There were four of them standing in front of the giant gong, shimmering gold and the size of a bentley. There was a couple on one side, Airy and Ballice, or maybe Barry and Alice, that probably made more sense, and they did something dull like breed cockapoos. And then standing next to him was Serious Man. He’d covered droughts and genocide in a devastatingly long ten minutes.
    Gil had diverted their attention to the gong, wondering about it’s origins, who had gonged it before, wasn’t gong a marvelous word.
    He had picked up the lollypop of a stick from the holster on the side of the gong’s frame and wound up like he was going to bat one out of the park. Bimby and Lace Cockapoo had thought it was funny, Serious Man had not.
    But as GIl made the actual swing his depth perception was off and he made stunning contact with the center of the gong, the sound vibrating up his arms and then out through the entire house.
    Everyone halted and immediately turned to the source of the sound.
    Gill stood their open mouthed and immediately dropped the bat or whatever it was.
    They all waited. Surely, the gong must have been rung for a reason.
    Gil took the glass out of Serious Man’s hand and took a wobbly step forward, thrusting out his chest and raising the glass.
    “Thank you, everyone, for coming this evening. We are going to party like it’s 1999, especially this guy, amirite?” he said, pointing to a wizened little man with cannulas winding out of his nose and down to his oxygen tank.
    People gasped.
    Gil squinted, “Alright, maybe not that guy. But we’re going to have an awesome time!” He sang a few bars of “Fame”, living forever and such, and then he proceeded to try to moonwalk back a few feet but was once again wronged by the gong.
    The crowd murmured quietly to each other and Gil’s wife was on the other side of the room trying to melt into a set of curtains.
    There was a light tapping of a fork against glass and Serious Man silenced the room.
    “Ladies and gentleman, my apologies for the disturbance. Please do enjoy your drinks and canapes before we proceed to the silent auction to benefit Aid to Nigeria. Your dedication to the cause will save lives. Thank you.”

    466 words

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stay for Dinner

    399 words

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. The clang of thin brass seemed innocuous, but it reverberated on a level below consciousness and already Gordon knew it was a mistake. “Maybe we should just leave,” he said.
    Kendra turned to him, and shook her head. “Don’t be silly. It’s just a gong. If it scares you, stop touching things. Leave me to find what valuables there are. You do what you’re here for.”
    “Are you sure the place is empty?”
    “Yes, yes and, yes.” Kendra said.
    She turned away, sweeping her torch around the room, settled on one of the ornately carved doors, and walked towards it. Gordon followed. The door creaked when they went through it, and for a moment, Gordon thought he heard another noise, footsteps.
    He laid a hand on Kendra’s arm and they both froze. Silence.
    Kendra stared at him with raised eyebrows and Gordon shrugged apologetically. They crossed the room and stood before an ornately framed picture of a woman on a horse with some grand house in the background. It swung on hidden hinges to reveal the safe. Kendra stood aside, allowing Gordon to get close to the panel.
    “An old Hooper and Cross,” he said.
    “So?” Kendra asked.
    “Thirty minutes, no noise or mess. They’ll never know it was opened from the outside.”
    “Get to work, I’ll look for other valuables.”
    She left and Gordon took a soft leather roll from his pocket. Unrolling it he took out a stethoscope and some slender picks. Time passed unnoticed as the tumblers gradually succumbed to his deft ministrations and eventually the safe door clicked with a welcoming finality. It was unlocked.
    Kendra hadn’t returned. He went to the door and called her. His voice echoed in the empty house. There was no response. Upstairs a door banged.
    The chuckle was not Kendra’s, did not belong to anything Gordon recognised. The gong sounded, the same thin brass sound he had produced. Gordon swallowed, a thin acrid taste in his saliva.
    “Who’s there?” he called.
    “Who’s there?” came the response, in a gurgling breathy voice. “Who’s there?” it repeated.
    Gordon sprinted for the door, leaving his tools and the unopened safe behind. The gong sounded again as he ran past it, struck by an unseen hand. Turning to look, Gordon slipped and fell.
    Something picked him up and in his ear a warm wet breath said, “The gong means it’s dinner time. You must join us.”


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ancient Curse
    (462 words)

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. Papa-san warned him many moons ago that it would bring disaster on their island nation. He’d told Ting horror stories of an invading horde that nearly killed everyone before being repelled.
    Why had he accepted Linson’s dare. Little brothers were nothing but trouble. As soon as the gong sounded, its center disappeared. When the first giant, winged insect roared out, he’d grabbed his hand and raced from the temple.
    They stumbled down the hill towards the village. The swarming hoards winging over their heads. Why didn’t they attack him and Linson?
    “Papa-san!” Ting screamed on reaching their hut on the outskirts of town.
    “What have you done?” his father cried.
    He grabbed Ting and shook him.
    “I’m sorry, Papa-san. But they me and Linson go.”
    “That’s because you liberated them, just like my father did.”
    “What are they and how do we stop them?”
    “They come from another dimension. One our ancestors shouldn’t have explored back in the 21st century. Only the one who released them can send them back.”
    “What do I have to do?” Ting asked.
    “First you must go the tree that stands in the square and find a perfect blossom. Then you must squeeze the nectar from it. Take that down to the river bank and retrieve a cup of water in the golden vessel that no one is supposed to touch. Put the nectar in the water and return to the temple.”
    Sounds of desolation echoed through the village. Wails cut short, screams snuffed out.
    Papa-san grabbed Ting’s shoulders, and pushed him towards the door.“ Hurry son!”
    “What do I do when I get to the temple?”
    “Toss it into the gong.”
    Ting raced to the village square. Searching the tree he found a single flawless blossom. He headed for the river, the hum of the hoard’s wings loud in his ears.
    At the river he grabbed the gold goblet and squeezed the blossoms nectar into it.
    When he turned towards the temple, the largest of the beasts hovered over him. He dodged it’s the sharp, pointed tip aimed at him, leaped in the river and swam towards the temple.
    The creature kept pace, but didn’t come near the water.
    Ting dragged himself onto the shore and, scooping a handful of water, he ran back up the hill, careful not to spill the goblets contents.
    Whenever the creature closed in, he flung a few drops in its direction.
    Once inside the temple, he dashed the nectar water into the gongs center.
    With a shriek, the creature was sucked into it. Streams of it’s heinous followers flowed back from the village.
    When the last one disappeared, Ting put the stick he’d struck the gong with back on its hook.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. Katie jumped out of bed next to him, “What the hell was that?” she screamed, covering herself in the sheet, leaving Peter exposed on the bed.

    “What?” said Peter sitting up, smiling at his beautiful Katie. His fraternity brothers insisted she was way out of his league. But last night he and Katie consummated their affection.

    “That…gong? Did you just sound a gong so all the brothers in the house would know you had sex?” Katie asked, her voice low and steady. Uh oh, thought Peter, I probably should not have done that. Katie shook her head in disgust and picked up her clothes from the previous night off the floor and frantically clothed herself.

    “Oh come on, Katie,” said Peter, standing and finding his clothes as well. “All the guys do it; it’s just a joke, a congratulations of sorts for having a great night.” Katie did not answer or look at Peter. Peter walked over to her. “We did have a great night, didn’t we,” he said softly and Katie felt his hand on her shoulder. It was that soothing voice that had made her feel safe the night before, and now it just made her cringe. She turned to face Peter who immediately dropped his hand from her.

    Peter took a step back, not recognizing the girl in front of him. The girl he had passionately loved the night before had a sweet tender complexion and quiet demeanor. The girl in front of him now had fire in her eyes and a cold, steel hardness in her features that made Peter feel a chill in his spine.

    “A congratulations? Well, Peter, congratulations,” she sneered.

    “No it’s not like that! I really like you!” defended Peter. “It’s just a stupid house tradition.”

    “And I bet you are so sorry. And I bet you tell that to all the girls,” said Katie icily. Peter didn’t respond. She was right of course so he couldn’t deny it. Katie turned, grabbed her purse from the back of the door and opened it. “By the way,” she said turning and facing her. “Your frat brother, John, in the room next door? He had chlamydia a few weeks ago. Which probably means you do now too.” And she smiled and left, whistling on her way out of the house.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. To Witness
    155 words

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong, but the great disc of beaten copper had other plans. It needed to sound. Needed to ring. Needed to spread its message far and wide.

    Needed to release the entity painstakingly trapped within the myriad reflections chasing each other across the bell’s etched bowl.

    It had picked the slight man out of the teeming crowd of curious onlookers, each salivating at the chance to glimpse this freshly-unearthed artifact rumored to date from before the earliest of Antiquity’s greatest civilizations. Captured his will with a single flash of redirected sunshine. Drew him through the crowd like a lodestone.

    The man struck the copper disc in a flurry of speed, using his head as the mallet, and the gong sounded. Vibrations not heard since before the dawn of civilization rang out amongst the crowd, who were unfortunate enough to witness the release of the last remaining Old God.


    Liked by 1 person

      • It was a hell of an evolution in 30 minutes. I knew from the start that this one would take on a gong’s-eye view, but I wasn’t really sure where it was going from there. Once I started running the logic-strings: he shouldn’t have struck it…why did he? Compelled? By the gong? Something trapped IN the gong?

        Once I got to ‘trapped,’ it was an easy jump into ancient, powerful beings.


  12. He Shouldn’t Have Sounded the Gong
    Justen’s parents were going to kill him. As it was, ever since he’d dropped out of school, it was like nothing he ever did was good enough for them. He did his chores. He practiced his skills. He’d even gotten a job, which was freaking hard enough to do in this poverty-ridden city. It wasn’t that he didn’t value education; his reading habits should have told them that. He was just sick and tired of having the emperor’s b.s. propaganda shoved down his throat.
    Of course, the job he’d picked might have had something to do with their attitudes. It was probably one of the lowest jobs out there. They called him a sanitation engineer. A what? Yeah, he was basically the cleaning lady for the capital building. He went through the lush offices, picking up people’s crap and eavesdropping on the government gossip. He had some great stories to tell his friends.
    It was a paycheck, but he was bored out of his mind. Last on his list every day was cleaning the city alarm gong. He’d been doing it for months. Polishing and polishing. It was beautiful, deadly and alluring.
    Then, came the dare. Chanse, one of the gang, was the son of the state’s newspaper mogul. He had more money than he knew what to do with, so when they got talking about cleaning the gong, Chanse dared him to sound the gong and offered a ridiculous sum of money to do so. Enough money to get him out of this god-forsaken place and to freedom. So, Justen jumped on it.
    The problem was, Justen didn’t think about the repercussions. He’d blocked all the video footage surrounding the gong… and was now safely away, looking over the damage he’d caused. There was chaos everywhere. People racing around, scrambling to collect their belongings and get out of the streets before the Pulza came through. The gong reverberated through the streets as a deadly reminder of those who would defy the emperor. People were going to die for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 275
    Bang a Gong (Get It On)

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong.
    Which is why he did it. He liked the way it reverberated up his arms…
    Through his shoulder bones…
    Out his ears…
    But he loved the way it drove everyone twitching mad. And they couldn’t say a thing about it other than, “Would his majesty like a scone?”
    “The weather is lovely, do you fancy a stroll?”
    “I heard the southern kingdoms are revolting, shall we go investigate?”
    “Does his majesties arm hurt? Maybe he’d like to rest it?”
    His arm did hurt a great deal, he already knew the southern kingdoms were revolting (all the kingdoms disgusted him, in fact), he never fancied a stroll, and yes, of course he wanted a scone since they mentioned it.
    He loved banging the gong best when it made the least sense. His mother would say, “Really, darling, do you have to at the dinner table?”
    His father was even more direct, “If you sound it during the peace negotiations, the southern kingdoms will surely see it as a declaration of war.”
    But he didn’t care a fig for all their complaints. They’d let the princess practice her violin uninhibited for years and all she ever did was marry the eastern kingdom’s prince and unite the four realms. He, on the other hand, had great aspirations. One day he’d be in a band. Thomas the Rex he’d call it (since by then his majesty majesty would be dead and Thomas would inherted the kingdoms). T. Rex for short. Just thinking about it made him want to get it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. The sound echoed off of the huts in the small village and reached the beasts that slumbered deep in the black waters. The beasts did not hear the gong calling them so much as they felt the vibrations shake the sediment off their scales. The beast lifted themselves out of the deep. With every wingbeat the sky boomed and water rushed down like rainstorms.

    The man saw them from afar. He saw them circle the village a few times and then land. The earth shook as their powerful legs touched ground. The people ran into their homes, hoping the straw of their huts would protect them. The beast taught jaw scales rippled as they dislocated their jaws, preparing to devour the small village. One by one they swallowed each hut until there was nothing left of the small town. The man smiled.

    He struck the ancient gong again and it shook violently. The beast felt this and disappeared into the black waters. Just as the last beast green scales disappeared, a flash of light flashed in the horizon and a mushroom cloud bloomed in the blue sky.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Secret Weapon
    words 202

    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. But how could he have known? None of us knew.

    She was my daughter, my only child. When she disappeared 3 years ago we had an inkling she was taken by the Gorians. They took many prisoners of war. No one ever survived their concentration camps. We presumed her dead. After a year of searching we had finally given up hope. My precious baby girl, barely 14, was gone. Taken by savages. Dreams of the horrors she might have endured before she met her end kept me up at night. Dark tales were told of a man they called the Steel Dragon, trained from birth underground be an evil man of torture. My heart was broken, shattered like a mirror, the shards pressing into my very soul.

    Then a year ago our prayers were answered. In a cave just outside our camp, a hunting party found her and two other lost children, barely alive. Our hope for the future saved.

    As I lay on the ground looking up at her now eyes cold, vacant, I see now what she had been. When the war gong sounded all here children changed. WE weren’t expecting weapons within our own camp. IT happened so fast. Nothing but smoke and dead bodies. I plead with my only, beautiful child. But she was Gone. As was my reason for living.


  16. He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. He knew I wasn’t ready for this. But time was no one’s friend today. My father was dying, my brother already gone. In days, or maybe less, my country—already reeling from the loss of the heir—would be without a king. Countries tore themselves to pieces over less.

    My place in the line of succession had to be formalized.

    The brassy metal shivered, its call echoing through the reception chamber. The hundreds gathered settled in hushed anticipation. Heads turned my way, eyes searching for me in the shadows.

    “My lords and ladies,” the seneschal began. “The heir apparent, Her Royal Highness, Jocelyn Montgrave.”

    Feigning confidence was a skill instilled in me from my youngest days in the eyes of the court. I held my head high and walked the iris-blue carpet lining the way to the throne, a seat I’d never desired. Never thought to one day occupy.
    I don’t belong here.

    The seneschal offered his hand as I reached the steps to the throne.

    “Well done, Highness,” he whispered.

    “I don’t want this.”

    “I know.” He offered a sad smile. “But destiny has other plans.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. (Submission via email due to technical challenges)


    He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. But he minus well since he was about to ring it anyways. Well, if he didn’t now, he would of sounded it in the next hundred years. “People! It is TIME! Let us go now while we can!” he said. He and his people flew down from above. As they looked below, thirstily, the gong fell from its pole. “CATASTROPHE! DISASTER! It has damaged our controls! We are going to crash in space! We have not completed our mission and we will die.” He said. “Captain! Look at that strange thing in our way!” someone said. He observed the peculiar object with its flat panels. The humans inside the ‘particular object’ saw them. “Captain! Use the translator!” another said. So he did. It read, “WEEE NEEEEEEED COOOOOFFFFEEEEEEE”.

    -Crystal Alden, age 10

    Liked by 1 person

  18. He shouldn’t have sounded the gong. No-one had given the signal; there had been no smoke tower on the horizon, no scent of burning cedar in the air. Everyone was unprepared, frozen to the spot by the brass shimmer of sound that shot through and through the village, skimming the edges of their teeth and rasping their eardrums.

    I watched him, staring down at the village with the gong-beater in his hand, a sepia silhouette rising from the watchtower. I did not need to see his face to know that his eye was twitching with impatience and his lips were pressed together with hope. Screams began to rise like steam from the village as the gong’s meaning slowly sank down through minds, and into hearts. He was watching the ant-like scurry of the older women; the blur of young daughters being pulled inside houses.

    I did not move.

    Once the streets were empty, I watched him still. Even from my hiding place I knew that he was disappointed; crying, even. He knew that he had failed. If his daughter would not run to him for protection from the Others, then she would not run back to him at all. He knew that she had meant it, when she told him so.

    And indeed, I had meant it, when I told him so.

    I began to make my way back across the valley, ready to relay all that I had seen to my new family. Joshua’s kin had welcomed me with open arms; they did not refuse me for being Other, as my father had done to Joshua.

    If I had ever been unsure, then what I just seen confirmed it. They were where I belonged now.

    “I believe you would have the advantage if you were to attack now,” I said, as I entered the village that was now home. “Their warning signals will be paid little heed in the light of a false alarm.”

    Nobody was really Other, I thought, as I fell into Joshua’s arms. But if nobody really believed that, did it matter which side was eliminated?

    The village men head out, confident in their advantage.

    From across the valley, I hear the hollow brass cry of the gong.

    358 words

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘And indeed, I had meant it, when I told him so.’ I liked that sudden realisation of who was telling the story. I like how what should be a humanitarian point of view – no Other- is perhaps a brutal disinterest. It’s a pity you missed deadline, but it’s a great story.


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