Fire&Ice: Sol 3/19

§ Rebekah says: And just like that, Sol 3 is upon us. ♥ This week we also bid farewell to sizzling August, which I celebrated by fleeing beach-ward for a couple nights. Stars, sea, endless rolling dunes, a small stack of thick books (finally finished the wrenchingly powerful The Warm of Other Suns this week), and an espresso kiosk less than a mile away…. Yes, of course work came along (some dragons must pay rent), but with my talons buried deep in sand and a caramel white mocha lurking nearby, that too was a pleasure. And since I couldn’t bring y’all with me, we are bringing the sand to you this week. Can’t wait to see where you’re taking us next! Welcome back.

§ Foy says: Meanwhile, on this end of the world, Summer has its teeth sunk deep, the only dunes are the laundry-kind (and they are endless), and this dragon’s book is the much slimmer (though still wrenching) Who Fears Death, so if my glimmer is a tad blinding, it’s only because I’m elated to be here with you all! May your muses be inspired! Now, if you’ll pardon me, while you’re checking out today’s challenge, I’m just going to slip into that melt pond over there.  

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.

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Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

This is a general audience contest (no minimum/maximum/mandatory Earth age to play), so please no gratuitous sex or profanity. Be sure to review the full contest rules here.

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JUDGES: Today’s judges are Mark King and Stephanie Ellis. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page. Stalk their tweets on what they’re looking for here and here.

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AND HERE IS YOUR PROMPT:

Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 3/19

fireice-morrocco-horses

Fantasia in Morocco. CC photo by Maxim Massalitin.

Fire & Ice PromptRequired elements:

Fire dragon option: love found

OR

Ice dragon option: love lost

Today’s word count: 250-260 words

343 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 3/19

  1. Beneath the Dunes

    How I ended up in Casablanca was anybody’s guess. Anybody but me, that is. I was beyond guessing. Hell, I knew why. It was the oldest story going. And no, it wasn’t that damn movie.
    Oh, maybe it was.
    Once.
    Boomer parents, eh. They loved that movie.
    And Bogie
    Bogie! Bogie! Bogie!
    That’s all I ever heard.
    He was dead ten years when I was hatched.
    Yeah, 1967. The summer of bloody love.
    And Bogie was an icon.
    Their generation had so many.
    I was raised in a commune in the Kootenays.
    A fifteen-minute hike up a goat path.
    Three minutes down flat if you didn’t mind the speed limit.
    Home schooled.
    Crushed by the simplicity.

    Took off at sixteen.
    Went to Montreal.
    I was a beautiful boy.
    Smelled of country.
    And sometimes goats.
    Survived ten years there.
    Learned what I was capable of.
    Knew I had a story or two in me.

    In ’93, I went to Paris.
    I was into Hemingway.
    Screw Bogie!
    Anyways, I met Aisha at little left bank bistro. I was scribbling away. Planning to, anyways. Sipping brandy, sketching in the shadings of my miraculous life.
    She sat down at an adjoining table.
    Almost as beautiful as me.
    I found that…intoxicating.
    Took her back to my room. We squirreled away for three days. Every inch of her skin, every crevice, every fold, we held nothing back.
    On the fourth morning, a note.
    One word.
    Casablanca.

    Was it even a real place?
    Didn’t matter.
    She’s here somewhere.
    I got nothing…but time.

    ice dragon: lost love
    255 words
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 20 people

  2. The Last Time

    The rain drums like hoofbeats as I pry the broken floorboards with my bleeding nails. Water trickles down by face, my neck, into my eyes. Like sweat stinging on a hot day. I thought about that hot day. The one where we said goodbye. For the last time.

    The rain drums and hoofbeats pound. Pounding the desert floor. Stirring up hot storms as they kick up the sand. The burning sun shimmers in the sky, a ripple on the horizon. My heart races as we struggle in the dunes. My hands around your throat, your legs dancing beneath me, our eyes locked. The drum beat louder, louder. Beating through me. Beating. Into a crescendo. Our hearts beat together as one, then one. Just one.

    The crowd cheer. The race was over.

    It was over.

    I pushed you away. Down the rolling hill, far from the crowds. From the pound of life. Life. Stopped. I looked at my hands. Grained with dirt. Grained with you. Stopped and cried.

    You lay there, under the sand for a while. Do you remember. Until the vultures soared. Until the great birds cawed. Underneath the moon. I came. The glass moon shimmers in the ocean skies. A chill. There is a chill in the air.

    The rain drums like hoofbeats. I pull the floorboards up. Take out the tattered postcard. The photos long faded. Reach for the jar.. It weighs heavy in my hands. Unscrew the lid, the rain drums like hoofbeats. My heart pounds. Heavy. Your heart. Still.

    254 words
    @bex_spence
    Ice – Lost Love

    Liked by 19 people

  3. SHOOTING FOR ORION

    The first player goes down ten seconds into the first chukkah. As his Polo pony is wrangled by the opposition, two of their members meet the same fate. This triangle of bodies remain on the field for the period’s remaining seven and a half minutes.

    Ballerina watches from behind the spectators. The unforgiving sun doesn’t penetrate her onyx eyes. Not that she needs anything remotely so fiery in order to make out the chiseled features on his face or those that best define the unmistakable pectorals which have always made her feel safe, pointing out star constellations during ungodly hours worshiped by the godless.

    They’ve met their equals, playing Polo with rifles instead of sticks.

    Nevertheless, she cannot get to him fast enough when the walls start closing in. A swirling dust storm launches, spraying the fans with its wicked grains. Ballerina leaps over their furthest reaches to her beloved, who lies drowning in the red sea multiplying beneath him.

    She offers her best smile into darkening eyes that have never looked so lively the instant before dying.

    “Ballerina…” Marco whispers. “I will wait for you on Orion…”

    *

    That night, after the bloodbath was cleared from the field, Ballerina stands silently weeping. The stars rearrange themselves as she looks down.

    “Ballerina…”

    Her eyes rip into the sky, darting as she does during performances.

    She has never before experienced such delight.

    “Now we are the same,” Marco says, and she flees to join him.

    They nestle in the nook of the moon.

    “For now,” he promises.

    257 words
    @storysmithscb
    Fire – Found Love

    Liked by 15 people

  4. Light in the Darkness

    Sleep was impossible here. Too dark, too silent. Alison was used to the incessant rumbling from the motorway, the pizzicato of the street lamp, flickering through the curtains. She’d left behind the blackout curtains when she’d closed the door on betrayal. He’d been the one who hated the light.

    Alison pulled a fleece over her pyjamas and slipped on the shiny wellingtons she’d bought for the trip. The tiny city car, which she’d bounced over the rough mountain track, the shiny wellies, her perfectly coiffed bob, none of these said country girl or coper. But the people here couldn’t see inside her heart. They couldn’t hear her soul screaming for something different.

    Autumn waited outside the door, breathing its chill around Alison’s neck, whispering of darkness. She stood a moment, adjusting to the moonlight and gazing down at the lights twinkling in the valley, hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of years away.

    He would have even hated the silver of the moonlight. The light gave him away. Alison thought back to the night he’d come in late and flicked off the bedroom light. But not before she’d seen the lipstick he hadn’t quite managed to wipe away.

    Moonlight now polished the herd in the field. Alison walked towards them; one mare with kind, yet powerful, eyes stepped out of the herd. Alison knew that these eyes would never betray her. Here was the one who would protect her. Here was the one who’d walk through fire for her.

    254 words
    Fire: Love found / Ice: Love lost
    @rjkinnarney

    Liked by 15 people

  5. The spaced-out crowd were focused on the horses waiting for their moment. The surrounding area was decorated well as were the people who were excited.  The moment the horses charged was exciting enough with bets and youngsters floating about to ‘find your seat sahib’ with outstretched hands. Their meagre earnings a fortune of wealth and quality of life.

    Sounds filled the air only increasing the enjoyment of each individual lost in their own learning. For some of the seasoned elder crowd were lost in comparisons as well as enjoyments. Each year of recreation had outdone the previous year and many changes while sticking to traditions had occurred.  Once the horses set off the only sound would be the gallop of hooves across the billowing sand as each person watched learned and recalled the magnificent splendour of colours and linear movement. This year there was no gunpowder so recreation was less dangerous.

    Sand billowed in towers against the effortless thunder of the charge and our eyes connected.  Eyes I had not seen in many years but had never forgotten.  The crowd appeared to disperse as our eyes locked and faded into the past to the last time, I had seen my dark counterpart as we edged closer to one another. The stolen moments of passion as we exchanged news in our employ. I was on no such engagement this day but the passion rose to match the days heat as we reached our hands to one another never to be parted again.

    Required elements:
    Fire.
    @Lindorfan, word count 251

    Liked by 13 people

  6. Fantasia’s End

    “Look! The camels are gay.”

    But they’re horses. The men are riding horses. Why is he calling them camels? “What camels, John?”

    “On the hill. They’re kissing.”

    So they are. Lucky camels. But why does he think they’re gay? “Maybe it’s a girl camel and a boy camel.”

    “Don’t be daft! It’s two girls. They’ve both got humps.”

    And once again I wonder why. Why are we even together? “All camels have humps, babe. It’s where they store—”

    “I’m not complaining! Live and let live, yeah? Love whoever you want. ‘S just strange.”

    He’s strange. And I’m with him, so I guess that makes me strange as well. Maybe that’s why: two strange people found each other, and kissed. And it was spectacular at the start. Like, really hot. Strange hot. We did things you wouldn’t tell your mother, in case she said she used to do that with your dad.

    It was great, for a while, until the weird got normal, and we cooled down, and the kisses became performance, and all we were was together.

    So now we rub along, eroding like pebbles in sand, travelling to find the heat and the strange, arguing about the sexuality of camels when we could be focusing on the spectacle. “Yeah. Strange.”

    “They’re dangerous, you know. Not because they’re gay! But they bite and spit.”

    So did we, once. “Were we dangerous?”

    “No, they’re professionals. They train for this. The guys are firing blanks, and the horses can turn on a sixpence.”

    Lucky horses.

    @marshawritesit
    word count: 253
    Element: ice

    Liked by 15 people

  7. Golden Hour

    “Steh deinen Mann. Wir werden siegen. Wir sind die Gerechten!

    “Steh deinen Mann! Wir werd-“

    We watch the Moroccan sun sink behind the mounds of sandy dunes as the final broadcast of Radio Berlin fades into a loud, crackling hiss, the increasingly desperate, commanding pleas of its host suddenly silenced.

    The Third Reich has finally fallen.

    The once indomitable force, which had vanquished its Allied enemies nigh a lustrum afore, in the end perishes at its own, vainglorious hands. Unable to control the very creatures that they themselves had unleashed upon the world, they now snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    But what time is there to savor the sweet taste of fleeting freedom, when this golden light that shines upon the newly liberated shall soon extinguish with the night and plunge the world into darkness once again?

    I understand.

    But, sweet child, had you known that he was coming, would you have held on a little longer?

    Had you known that his horse was galloping breathlessly towards us, on a path emblazoned by muzzle fire, that each measured shot aimed not for his continued existence but to add a few grains of sand to the hourglass in his bid to get to you, would have waited?

    Perhaps, had you known, you could have died in each other’s arms, together and free once again.

    You needed not to have faced Me and embraced my scythe all alone.

    You needed not to have opened the doors, as I watched helplessly, and let the creatures in.

    At least, not so soon.

    ***
    KM Zafari / @thebatinthehat
    260 words
    Ice dragon option: love lost

    Liked by 15 people

  8. Lacramae Mundi
    As the car lies abandoned, haunted hulk of remembrance, the desert sand slowly consumes as life struggles blindly on. Thrumming hooves fill my consciousness, pushing out the images clinging there to the fitful past. I cannot be drawn into nostalgia; I will not! My heart hangs on because I remember when joy was mediated by machines, not flesh and blood, nor born in salty sweat heaving flanks. My world was different; fragile as the desert sand – infinite but singular tenuous links of emotion, bridling future coercion in a mastered race. No free will, no free anything. Slime mediated antithetical to desert, loves harnessed thoughts of constant regret and remembrance. We used to have fun as empty as loves promises, clawing and scratching to win a race whose destination we all knew lay only in the sand and dust of future struggle.
    Such thoughts encompassed me – a mocking twister – howling at me – human daring to exist! Darkness is before my eyes, even though the sun screams back! I never thought I could suffer more consciously losing hope – the end of all in mindless panic, impossible as a muted scream. My life was ending and the sound of hooves filled me with a tension filled prescience of absence. Soon the silence, soon the empty wordless sobbing of indifference my existence ended; whose promise of love will finally and wordlessly fail. Nothing can support my anguish, all love too powerless before the void. I returns to me, ego crumbling in ruinous dune-like creation.

    260 Words
    Ice Dragon | Love lost
    @Skowtura_Ini

    Liked by 13 people

  9. ~Desert Queen~

    Prologue

    He sees her across the stone-cobbled street, in an old cafe where the fragrance of several past centuries still seems to waft in the air along with the hookah and the coffee.
    The orange hues of gloaming reflect in her kohl-lined eyes– eyes the color of honey, her lips full and sensuous, her luscious, wavy hair falling gently on her lissome frame. He’s mesmerized. And then, as light filters through the evening shadows, she sees him. And smiles.
    Their hearts flutter, flying away together like playful butterflies into the setting Moroccan sun.

    Chapter One

    The Saharan dunes do nothing to quell his yearning. As the Berbers of Erg Chebbi celebrate Fantasia, the drumming of tambourines accentuating the pounding of hooves and gunshots from the muskets, he wanders in agony, lost in his own fantasia, reminiscing about the past year.
    A year that was magic, spent in the arms of his Desert Queen. Since that evening in the cafe, they’d been inseparable. Wandering the souks of Marrakech, giggling like young lovers, making love in moonlit suites in eclectic kasbahs. Every day was laced in magic, until the night when as usual, he lay beside her, admiring her, and she vanished into thin air.

    Epilogue

    The old Bedouin plucks at the string of her rababa, and sings a tune that the desert winds have been singing to the dunes since a thousand years.
    A song of love, a song of agony.
    A song of yearning.
    The song of a queen who roams the desert since centuries, looking for her lost love.

    @ArvindIyer15
    Element – love lost
    260 Words

    Liked by 19 people

  10. Where does love go? I asked you once when I sat next to your smooth skin in the light of the spangled velvet blackness and a galaxy watched over us. We were awash in this new, this different, and our curious fingers touched and wondered at love and how it goes and why it goes, and there was little doubt that… it goes.

    It goes on a journey, you whispered, and the promise in your eyes was a seed I clutched to my heart and buried in my mind, fresh hope in nutrient-rich soil.

    Where does love go? you asked me once when our hearts shattered over the tiny head of our only son. He was too small and his lungs too weak. Our hearts were arid and the fire burned in your gaze until it was hot sand.

    It goes on beyond our reach, I whispered, and the promise in my voice was a brittle stalk I clung to, half buried in desert wasteland.

    Where does love go? I asked you once when I knelt next to your bed and listened to short, sharp beeps punctuating your remaining time in a deafening tempo. Your hand curved over mine in the perfect fit only a lifetime of curving could create, and you touched my cheek the way you touched my soul.

    It goes on home, you whispered, and the promise in your fingers was a ripened fruit holding its own seed. So…

    I uncurled my grasp and let it go.

    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 250
    Fire and Ice Prompt: Love Lost/Love Found

    Liked by 16 people

  11. Dragons – please delete my previous submissions; I seem to be brain-fogged today

    ——-

    The Race

    They came brandishing fire-sticks, roaring, vivacious, born on sweaty, propelling desires, eight hankering contenders:

    Jenkins had a Porsche
    Chris’s father owned the most popular coffee shop in town
    Wayne is top of his class at Uni
    Lincoln; have you seen The Incredibles? He’s that guy
    Trevvy looked like Tom Cruise
    Spacey knew everything about the stars (nothing to do with astronomy)
    Hindburg started his own online company
    Peter, almost a footballer, semi-pro

    Then there was I; the quiet, somewhat emasculated poet.

    Mine was a metaphorical horse; part unicorn; the wishful, that flew through ancient wormholes to faraway, (no) timorous, twinkling galaxies, light-years of age, hooves dipped in gold, (change that) hooves of liquid sapphire (much better) tearing through Saturn’s rings to delve (change that) to languish in her unobtainable beauty (beauty’s too obvious?) allure, allurement (yes) that sparked wars of attrition, nuclear in impact (no) nuclear impact, (too much?) avaricious scars reaching, yearning, her eyes the gates to heaven (just say gates, no heaven) her eyes the gates, mysterious heart (boring, overused) enigmatic heart that poured beauty (not beauty again) an enigmatic heart that poured silver soliloquies into a soul-less crevice (crevice?) ache? Yes, I should find a way to describe the constant ache… the torment…

    None of could fathom it. None of us could accept it. Alicia preferred Rebecca.

    We have a new goal: Mimi.
    After much discussion, we’re pretty sure that we’ve seen her with at least two guys on different occasions. The guys mounted their steeds; I picked up my pen.

    258 sweaty words
    Love lost | Ice Dragon

    Liked by 15 people

  12. Threads of Life

    Undulating, under an unforgiving sun—the dunes ripple and blister. Swollen hands gripping leather. I am leaning forward feeling the strands of hair whipping through a devouring heat, as my eyes rain a thousand brittle curses upon this dust. This land. This tomb where Malikat Aljalid lies—entwined endlessly together with the ashes of my eternal heart.

    My throat is closing. The sands are running thin and fast. Decay setting in. Festering. Yet, I must endure. Must… For her. My ice. My queen. My penitent soul.

    Alqamar has adjusted his pace as vast oceans shift beneath him. I fold into his thundering energy as my rasping prayers urge him on. Faster. Further. Closing my ears to his straining breath we are now one relentless rhythm. His blood is my blood. His fear is mine as we strain together at the threads of life, both of us conscious of the fragility of these bonds that hold us. Without thought. Without sentiment.

    I hear her calling to me. Her song so poignant it plucks cruelly at my bones. If I falter now we shall be lost to this endless thirst. Yet, the desire to surrender is strong. How can I bear it? The yearning to throw off this burden is intoxicating. This sin that has stained my story for so long.

    Now I hear him. His voice exerting—begging me to prevail. His life is my life. My death. His death. Crouching lower, I beseech Alqumar—be the wind. He flies. Hooves barely grazing over her, who lies encapsulated for all time.

    @brittlewindowz

    [wordcount: 260] [Ice Dragon: Love Lost]

    Liked by 12 people

  13. ENJOY THE SILENCE *

    Crickets chirp outside the Bedouin tent. Twenty-four hours ago, she’d boarded the 747 to Rabat. The last flight before lockdown closed European airspace indefinitely. A backpack stuffed with clothes, toiletries and hope. Hope for a better future, away from the prison created by her surroundings. Covid had been the drop, overflowing the bucket of her sanity.

    Now she was here in the desert where she’d witnessed Fantasia. A re-enactment of the bond between horse and rider. Excited by the passion and spirituality of the show she’d walks to the stallions, resting under the palm trees, and strokes their soft cheeks.

    A man sits silently with his back against a trunk, tears well in his eyes when he looks up and says, “You’ve come.”

    “Of course, I’d never let you down.”

    “You’re here, for—for real?”

    “I’m sorry, this must be a dream. Yet, still I—.”

    He stands, takes her hand, and leads the way into the woollen shelter. Outside the Sirocco gains force and a whistling sound interrupts the serenity.

    He gestures to a bed, and she settles on the soft pillows and colourful blankets. Sitting with sagged shoulders on the edge of the bed, he sighs, “I—.”

    “Shhh. Enjoy the silence. Words can only do harm.”

    She pulls him over and takes him in her arms, placing her ear against his chest. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. The slow rhythm of his heartbeat soothes her.

    Seconds, hours, days pass.

    Afraid she opens her eyes. The alarm clock beeps. Time to rise and get ready for work.
    Fantasia, a fantasy.

    * Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
    @Hills1S @esthervdheuvel1
    Word Count: 260
    Fire Dragon: Love found

    Liked by 12 people

  14. Thunderdome

    Crowd became silent. Master of the Thunderdome tapped fingers on his leg. He glanced at spectators. Shifted his gaze to woman in the arena. That’s unexpected, he thought. The head of his champion lay at her feet.

    Crowd cheered.

    Woman in the arena looked at him. Their eyes met.

    “Why wasn’t she like this in bed?” He leaned forward.
    “I don’t know, sir.” Attendant boy said.
    “We’ll never know. Send in the riders.” Master sighed.

    Below him five horse riders entered the arena. Woman grabbed champion’s battered shield and spear. One of the riders launched forward. The force of its swing broke the shield completely.

    Crowd cheered.

    Another rider approached her. Was met with a spear in a chest.

    “Don’t they wear armor?” Master exclaimed.
    “They never had to.”
    “What!”
    “They think gods protect them.”
    “Fools. Can they kill her?”

    Attendant boy kept silent.

    Remaining riders flared their sticks. Horses neighed. Together they attacked. Woman pulled out the spear just in time to push it in the foremost horse. It collapsed scattering others.

    “Brother, what have you sent to me,” Master marveled.

    She swung the stick to keep riders at distance. It flared spooking the horses. Two riders fell on the ground. She didn’t hesitate.

    Crowd cheered.

    Master flinched at her scream as remaining rider burned her back.

    Crowd cheered.

    Woman turned to the rider screaming in his face. She avoided another flare. Tried to frighten the horse. Rider circled around. Burned her shoulder. She crashed into the horse. Pulled the rider down.

    Crowd cheered.

    @raijori
    255 words
    Ice dragon

    Liked by 11 people

  15. “I’ll show you.” She hands me a photograph, time-scarred as her hands. The picture’s black and white, but her eagerness casts it in full, glowing colour. “Here. My first love—how we met.”

    “Woah! And I thought Grandpa couldn’t ride! How is that move even possible?”

    “That’s not Grandpa,” she laughs, “look at his nose! You’ll find me in that picture, though. The photographer stood in just the right place.”

    I examine the riders, the crowd. “Where?”

    She waits.

    I look at the foreground again. “What were they firing at? I can’t see—”

    She meets my eyes.

    All this time, I’ve thought I was the only one. Thought I’d have to hide it forever.

    I can’t speak.

    “Yes. I was pushing him back onto his horse,” she whispers, smiling.

    ***

    “You ever find her again?” The coffee boy’s eyes are wide.

    The old man fiddles with his cane. Clears his throat. “No. I gave up hunting them that day.”

    “You know, you should be careful. She could have been waiting for you all this time. I’ve heard those things are patient as wolves.”

    The old man’s mouth twitches, creasing his face into a map of regret. He leaves his coffee standing half-drunk on an empty moon of table.

    ***

    Two tickets bought. One case packed. Morocco.

    Dad will kill me.

    In the back of the taxi, I check our reservation for the millionth time. My hands shake. I shouldn’t be this nervous. “Do you really think he’s still here?”

    Grandma chuckles. “Of course. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

    @nicola_liu_
    Ice dragon element (love lost)… And a hint of fire dragon (love found)
    259 words

    Liked by 14 people

  16. Unknot
    If I were forensic, tracing it back to a single moment, a broken heart beat. I remember seeing the curl of distaste at the corner of your mouth. Saw the spite in the line of your spine. I don’t blame you.
    I think you knew it had happened before I did. Was it how I smoothed my skirt and words? How I kissed his breath while you held your tongue? Held it until venom began to leak from it in the months that raged past.

    You and I had loved, but not well. It was a thin, meagre type of togetherness. Racing through passing time counted in paper, cotton, bronze.

    We should never have been ‘we’. We should have untied the knot.
    Screamed I don’t: galloped backwards up the aisle. Flung horseshoes like confetti at the the guests whose cold shoulders would’ve whipped round to see the bride and groom flee the scene of the crime. Charlie Chaplin bridesmaids, groom and bride swallowed up fast into separate limousines that screech into separate. Lives. Beds. Hearts. No eternal rings of circular arguments. No change of names.

    Then you would not be here now, fulfilling your contractual agreement, the boring better man who got it worse. There is a moment where I see you forget yourself. And maybe him too. Your cold arms warmed by a hot screaming bundle of this fresh, flesh branch of me that is not you. But then you squeeze a little too tight, too hard. And we both know, we’ve reached the finish line.
    258
    @elaine173marie
    Falling in and out of love.

    Liked by 15 people

  17. The Smile

    Firesticks, wild horses, rivers of cool wine, and plenty of testosterone, oh what could go wrong mused the Sultan of Rahiymar. It would be a lovely day, perhaps a few dead, mainly horses and spectators, and a lost limb or two, primarily riders, but what fun would be had by all!

    The Princess Aadina, seated uncomfortably next to her father was less sanguine, “This is stupid Father.”

    Sultan Mehmed leaned into his only daughter’s right ear, “This is tradition young lady, the people expect it and you will enjoy it.”

    “Look if I want a man, I’ll hit Tinder,” Aadina said swiping through her cell phone screens.

    The whistle sounded followed by the starting gong and the line of riders were off, the angry horses immediately started spitting and as the expectorate blew backward into the rider’s intense faces they were soon covered in equine revenge.

    The Fat Sand Rats immediately knew their world was about to be turned upside down, crumbling tunnels, massive monsters clamoring above, and huge explosions that decimated their ranks in grizzly fashion. They did what they always did, run!

    Enraged horses collided as jockeys aimed their sticks and triggered the shotgun shells. Rat fur was flying everywhere.

    The noise made even Aaida look up. She spied one jockey, somewhat behind the line as he pointed his stick toward a particularly fat rat wobbling frantically away. As the line passed and in spectacular fashion he slid down his mount and scooped the terrified rodent into his lap and then pocket.

    Aadina smiled.

    Evan Montegarde
    Fire dragon: love found
    257 words

    Liked by 10 people

  18. The Lost Princess

    Why are they firing into the ground, Dad?

    It’s an old tradition from when our country was invaded.

    The King was scared that soldiers were going to steal his beautiful daughter, so he built her an underground house. It was huge, like a mansion with bedrooms and bathrooms and a tunnel from the princess’s house to the King’s palace.

    Was she safe?

    She was. But when the soldiers came, they searched for the daughter. They’d heard how beautiful she was. People told stories about how her beauty would make men faint and women stop and stare.

    But she got lonely. She thought that it must be safe to go up now, so she found the secret passage and lit a torch. But the palace had been destroyed by the soldiers looking for her, and the tunnel had caved in.

    What did she do, Dad?

    She made a torch so long that it would reach through the earth, hoping that someone would see it. She held that torch for thirty days and thirty nights until it finally went out. But no one came.

    The next springtime, eight soldiers were out riding and they saw the unlit torch.

    They knew that it must be from the Princess, so they rode in a line, shooting fireworks into the ground for her to hopefully see. Each of them hung from their horse to see if they could hear the Princess shouting for them.

    Now, every spring, they ride and fire, still waiting for her love to bloom from the ground.

    Ice dragon – Love lost
    259 words
    @rab8241

    Liked by 14 people

  19. Title: The Memory of Fire

    Ice was rare in the desert. Some mornings I rose to a skim of frost on the oasis, but dawn eradicated that. I wanted ice. I needed to wrap my heart in it so I could do what I needed to do.

    We had started with fire. Lust and desire burned quick and consuming when our eyes met, even at the barest touch. Fire flared higher during cool nights among the palms. We were everything to each other. I had desire for no other and never would.

    But the fire burned down to embers. The embers glowed hot for a time before becoming dead ash. Fire flared elsewhere. With another. I had only ice, ice that built, layer upon layer until a glacier lay inside me, thick, hard, cold.

    Yet, my heart betrayed me with continual fire, whenever I saw the only one I was meant to love. I could still see the flame there but banked in my presence.

    I need ice. My glacier won’t cover my heart without it, and as long as the heart-fire remains, I will not be able to act. I. Need. Ice.

    At last, I held fire in my hands. Was there enough ice in me to use it?

    I need not have worried. Ice enclosed my heart and pushed down into my fingers. The fire in my hands exploded.

    It was only fitting. Fire to quell fire. Ice to harden my fiery heart.

    Fire at last extinguished, conquered by ice, gone.

    Except the memory of us, the memory of fire.

    @unspywriter
    Word Count: 257
    Element: Ice dragon (I swear; read the story, and you’ll agree.)

    Liked by 8 people

    • It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it, how cold deserts can be! I love this story of contrasts, and the recognition that (at least in my reading of it LOL) even after finding the strength and resolve to go on after a loss, the memory will always remain. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, though? So much to think about here.

      Like

  20. [Not much time this Friday, so here’s an extended version of my entry to Microcosms round 101]

    As The Tyne Goes By…

    Rex Barr, manager of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne franchise of a men’s clothing chain, sat at the bar of Casablanca, the dive next to his store, mumbling into his pint.
    Of all the Jean Joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into–”
    “Mine
    ‘s a ‘arf o’ shandy, please, pet, Thanks for askin’,” said Louise, the resident piano player, walking up to him. “ I wish ye’d stop bangin’ on aboot that woman. What was ‘er name again?’
    “Isla… Isla van Utha.”
    “She sounds a reet dipso. Ye’re betta off withoot ‘er, pet.”
    “Maybe… but I still miss her.”
    “Don’t think much o’ the bar snacks in ‘ere. What’s that in the bowl? Porridge?”
    Houmous. Remember? This place is trying to go upmarket.”
    Pfft! Not exactly a World Heritage site, is it?”
    Aren’t you working tonight?”
    “Nah, Jack’s got a gig here tonight.”
    “Your Dad?! Didn’t he die last year?”
    “Yeah, but we’ll always have Pa… risen from the grave, he is. Stinkin’ the place oot with his zombie pals in their tribute band, The Grateful Undead. ‘Ere, where’s that canny Maths student who works weekends for yez? Got ‘is nose in a book again?”
    “Yeah. He’s looking at Euclid.
    “Ah divn’t knaa what that is!”
    “Me neither,” chuckled Rex, before his face crumpled, and he began to weep.
    “Aw! Divn’t cry, pet. Ye can allus taak to me. Ah’m a good listener, like.”
    “Can I come back to yours, Louise? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
    “Thought ye’d nivver ask. Drink up, pet. Ye’ve pulled!”

    @GeoffHolme #vss365 #flashdogs
    Fire dragon option: love found
    260 words

    Liked by 10 people

    • I looked up ‘Isla van Utha’ thinking there must be some literature nod or play on words and found this: ‘isla van utah’ – I’m presuming my browser is predictive spelling which led to:

      ‘Utahraptor is a dromaeosaurid from the Barremian stage of the Cretaceous. It has been confirmed that the Utahraptor will receive an accurate feathered variation in game.’

      It’s been one of those weird days… I’m pretty certain your reference/name has nothing to do with it, but felt like sharing it anyway for the laffs. Enjoyed the story very much, Geoff. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks for the thumbs up, Avalina.
        The name was meant to be another ‘laff’, but if you have to explain…
        Ingrid Bergman’s character in ‘Casablanca is named Ilsa. Isla is an anagram but also a name ( as in the UK TV presenter of long ago, Isla St Clair) pronounced ‘eye-la’. So ‘Isla van Utha’ is an excruciating pun on the phrase ‘I’ll have another (drink)’ – hence Louise’s response.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Alanna died while I caressed her face, going to that place from which none ever returned. I wasn’t going to let that stop me, though.

    But if I was going to take on the mortal veil, I was going to need something suitably ostentatious to say. Through her funeral, through the public mourning period, through my return to what others saw as a functional life, I pondered my words. I had to choose them wisely, or I’d get laughed at. Or worse, ignored.

    “Though the hordes of Hell and the angels of Heaven stand between us now, you will be at my side again. This I promise.”

    Hey, maybe it’s not poetry, but when I spoke them aloud, the cold winter’s day turned hot and a voice like a furnace echoed over her graveyard. “You think you’re in pain now? Dare me and find out what true agony is like.”

    Okay, so Alanna was in Hell. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised. Her dark side was one of the things I most loved about her.

    How did one take on the King of Hell, though? This was going to take some research. And I knew I could believe everything I read on the internet.

    First, I found that he would ignore anyone who wasn’t a ruler of their own realm. Second, he really did have hordes who would protect him. I only had one realm available to me, so I guess that becoming Queen of Earth was the first step.

    I suppose I’m going to need an army.

    258 words
    @drmag00
    Love Lost (but for how long?)

    Liked by 8 people

  22. Dragons, this the final submission as it’s missing a crucial ‘us’ – people have already voted on the previous submission but can you send this amended one to the judges? It’s been a mind boggling day on so many fronts:

    ——-

    The Race

    They came brandishing fire-sticks, roaring, vivacious, born on sweaty, propelling desires, eight hankering contenders:

    Jenkins had a Porsche
    Chris’s father owned the most popular coffee shop in town
    Wayne was top of his class at Uni
    Lincoln; have you seen The Incredibles? He’s that guy
    Trevvy looked like Tom Cruise
    Spacey knew everything about the stars (nothing to do with astronomy)
    Hindburg started his own online company
    Peter, almost a footballer, semi-pro

    Then there was I; the quiet, somewhat emasculated poet.

    Mine was a metaphorical horse; part unicorn; the wishful, that flew through ancient wormholes to faraway, (no) timorous, twinkling galaxies, light-years of age, hooves dipped in gold, (change that) hooves of liquid sapphire (much better) tearing through Saturn’s rings to delve (change that) to languish in her unobtainable beauty (beauty’s too obvious?) allure, allurement (yes) that sparked wars of attrition, nuclear in impact (no) nuclear impact, (too much?) avaricious scars reaching, yearning, her eyes the gates to heaven (just say gates, no heaven) her eyes the gates, mysterious heart (boring, overused) enigmatic heart that poured beauty (not beauty again) an enigmatic heart that poured silver soliloquies into a soul-less crevice (crevice?) ache? Yes, I should find a way to describe the constant ache… the torment…

    None of us could fathom it. None of us could accept it. Alicia preferred Rebecca.

    We have a new goal: Mimi.
    After much discussion, we’re pretty sure that we’ve seen her with at least two guys on different occasions. The guys mounted their steeds; I picked up my pen.

    258 sweaty words
    Love lost | Ice Dragon

    Liked by 6 people

    • I shall comment on this one since it is the FINAL FINAL ONE, not to be confused with the mere FINAL ONE earlier. This was AWESOME, so funny, so clever, the stream-of-consciousness galloping alongside the drafts and revisions—so very meta, and a very fun read.

      Like

  23. Aksil counted back from sixty, as was his custom. It helped him calm down. Would this year be any different?

    He looked around. The camp had more than 80 jaimas, the tents Saharian nomads used. Now most of them were empty. The clock was ticking.

    The tburida was coming.

    Aksil had enjoyed this year’s Moussem: the spiced food, the conversation with friends he hadn’t seen in months, the music and the dance. Business had been made, camels and horses had changed owners. He had entertained foreigners, explaining Imazighen customs to them, smiling inwardly at their discomfort in their Western clothes, inadequate for the desert.

    And yet.

    Aksil sighed and patted Algol. The horse was even more anxious than he was.

    The tburida was almost here.

    Aksil occupied his leading place in the line. He checked his ancient muskeet once again. He asked his companions silently. They nodded. Muskeets were two-handed weapons: no-one used their reins.

    Aksil gave the signal. As one, the eight horses jumped forward. He heard a muffled cheer from the stands. About 200 meters later, they all discharged their muskeets. The zaghareet rose in the air, chilling the blood in his veins as the cry of his people always did.

    At the end of the field they were greeted by family and friends.

    “Aksil!” his father said. “What a performance! I’m proud of you!”

    Aksil stared at his father, the leader of his tribe. It was never your pride that which I wanted, father, he thought.

    But as always, he said nothing.

    @VicenteLRuiz
    255 words
    Option: Ice, love lost. Sort of, again. 😉

    Liked by 10 people

    • oh how wrenchingly your story answers the opening question. Would this year be any different? His father’s love, his own silence. Such vivid world building thrown in stark contrast to the emptiness between father and son. Beautiful and sad.

      Like

  24. Bold as a Lion

    Five hours climbing the dunes, still, I remain determined that this sand will not be my tomb. I hold my breath as the kissing camels come into view, flanked by red flags, fluttering faster than my heartbeats. Months of letters, crippled by heat, our secret words traveling miles. The waiting finally over. One more steep climb and I would again see the face of my love.
    Each step adds more echos. He promised to wear blue. The man that shared with me a secret dream of leaving Morocco; a country that cannot bear to hear a woman speak her mind.
    I reach the peaks in time for the crowd to roar.
    “Amine!” I shout, waving my hands, but I am small, an ant at this distance. His insignificant significant other, and I can only watch as his torch ignites and he heads straight towards his enemies, a brave cerulean caftan draped around him.
    I hold my breath, remembering the last time we had been face-to-face. His shape in my family’s riad, his greatest assets several bags of rice and a grin.
    My father’s words, “It is simply not enough.” And the moan of the door as it shut out the only light that had ever been there.
    “Just one fight and we can be free.” He convinced me after several months of drought and distance. Now, he charges the Barbary lions, his horse faltering, his steed rising up, dumping Amine onto burning sand. His final cry, “Hamza!” as the pride tear apart my heart.

    K.Hartless
    254 words
    Option: Ice Dragon–Love Lost

    Liked by 10 people

  25. Ride Again

    It’s never the horse that wins—it’s the rider, but not the rider you think. Her name was Pasha, once. Her steed was born the same night as her, during a time of famine and drought. She named him Tev, after the wind. They grew up small, sustained by not quite enough, suited to each other, fast.

    Now, she is something else, a spirit whose substance is the memory of past rides. She can only find Tev in certain circumstances, at a certain intersection of horse and man and speed—when she picks the winner, she and Tev can ride again.

    She and Tev used to ride until they were lost, for the sheer pleasure of speed, the meter of hoofbeats on the ground, the sick thrum of the beating sun, heartbeat at her throat. No matter who raced them, they always won. She even beat grown men, warriors from other villages.

    She finds her pair, a high-withered Berber and a jockey only as tall as its flank. Settles into the saddle with him and feels Tev under her again. She always picks right. They’ll win this time too. Her destination is never a place, but a speed, fast enough to outrun time, fast enough to fly.

    Her village made her their messenger, so she was first to hear of the horde. Fast as they ran, they couldn’t outrun war. Tev died at a gallop, caught by an arrow, and Pasha under the tumble of his body, together.

    The signal gun cracks, and they’re off.

    255 words
    Fire Dragon option: Love Found
    @ipsaherself

    Liked by 11 people

  26. Riven

    The clatter of hooves become the rhythm of prayer:
    Make me the first, please get me there.
    Dusty lunged, smoky-eyed- his breathless orison:
    My God I beseech, grant me this prize.

    Eight were always chosen – the number of inner strength, of single-mindedness. Their capes denoted their grief – a wife, a son, a brother.

    Front and centre, he rode for his wife.
    Front and centre, to reclaim her life.

    The Magavan seer had the power to resurrect -the prize only offered once a cycle, here at the great race, the Alsibaq Aleazim.

    Let nobody pass me, this must be done.
    Let nobody pass me – make me the one.

    One by one, each rider falls – by the hand of another or from their own exhaustion. The crowd who follow on horseback whoop and cheer with elation.

    I’ll see you, my love, in flesh not in dreams.
    I’ll see you, my love, I am winning it seems.

    Eight become three, the number of optimism, of manifesting. Their hopes give them strength and a fire in their hearts. His burns brightest.

    Give me the strength, so I may win.
    Give me the strength, I cannot give in.

    He knocks the third and second riders to the dirt, his stick aflame with his hearts desire. Now, she will be brought back. Now, they will be reunited.

    He does not have all of her, to raise from the dead:
    In a cloth held before him, he cradles her head.
    Although she’s not whole, the price must be given:
    Her soundless lips move – the undead, still riven.

    260 words
    Ice Dragon – Love Lost
    David Shakes
    @TheShakes72

    Liked by 14 people

  27. Pingback: #FireIceFlash, week 3 – Project Gemini

  28. New Kids On The Block

    Being eternal, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thought they would last forever.

    And being eternal, they will, but it will be a pale shadow of their former existence, hidden away in those darkest corners of nightmare, where nightmares themselves go to hide.

    In a world of Fortnite, donuts and Final Destination movies the Four no longer scrape the blackboard of the soul of humanity. Like Seventies disco they find themselves forgotten and unmissed. They are the hula-hoops of the heavens, the CDs of the celestials, the Space Invaders of space.

    They are toast. Without avo.

    Becoming nobody happens very quickly. The Four rode out this morning, as always, but found themselves strangely listless. When they first heard the rumbling they thought it was their own hoof beats, echoing back from the Kissing Camels Motel on the hillside behind them, but the sound grew, as did their sense of dread. They sped up, fuelled as always by fear, but now the fear was theirs. They heard the hooves gain, they huddled together as they rode. Suddenly four riders galloped past, contemptuously brushing them aside with bolts of fire. They tried to fight back, but Conquest could summon only a brief flame, like a burping firework, while Death managed just a sepulchral sneeze of dust.

    They were passed, and passé.

    They pulled their horses to a halt and gloomily stared at the disappearing rumps of their usurpers. Humankind then swept past, ignoring them, slavishly chasing newer first-world scourges.

    The new Horsemen are Golf, Hummus, Nipple-piercing and Twitter.

    256 words
    Love (sort of) lost

    Liked by 11 people

  29. Sand

    In an alternate history of our world, the Crusades never ended. The Spanish Inquisition is still going on. Can you imagine an endless war, fighting over rocks and sand?

    This is the story of a nomad girl, a daughter of the desert and the stars. How she came to the city by the sea. She was part of a caravan of traders and musicians. She worked for a woman who trained horses and spotted cats. Which way to the Bazaar, she said. The clouds rode like waves on a blue sea of sky.

    She met a boy at the Bazaar. He was a farm boy from the south of France. His horse was a farm horse. A year before, they were plowing black earth. smells of green grass and lavender. How the ground thundered beneath their feet there! Here, nothing was solid, everything shimmered in the heat–the sand, the smells, the colors!

    The girl shimmered, her dark eyes rimmed black against the sun. She wore Indigo and saffron veils billowing in the breeze.

    They spoke in a language of eyes. Blue eyes and brown, they could not look away. And for a moment, they understood what it was to be young in an old world. Nothing was certain. These stories had been told before.

    The night was cool and the stars were clear. She pointed to the crescent moon rising. She thought of holding on to sand. He thought of the moon over Provence, lavender fields, the sound of a stream in spring.

    @voimaoy
    254 words
    Love lost

    Liked by 15 people

  30. Eventually Eventual

    “We can’t keep doing this.”

    The burr from the fireplace is accompanied by crackling, embers lit. Strains of Stokowski play. In memoriam. Lily’s eyes burn.

    Her splayed fingers freeze, sand cast, suspended mid-air, before one hand grasps the dull, ash-infused silica to her chest, the other fist at her eye. A bitter smile wrinkles Lily’s mouth as she swipes. She lets the granules loose again, seconds sectioned now, ground meticulously outside of minutes, days, arms outspread, the hourglass broken, neglected, in the corner. Then she turns to the thin flame-framed face, its familiar glint.

    “I want..”

    “We don’t always get what we want.” His heat is gentle. She edges closer.

    “Boo.”

    “Boo hoo,” he crackles. “Play me another. Just because I’m part of you and you stick on our supposed song doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you what you want to hear.”

    Lily’s mouth quirks. “You never did.” Still, she glimpses his edges more clearly. Memorised planes. Her head shifts. “No.”

    “We had our time.”

    The woman frowns. “Time’s passing quicker.”

    “More time requires more effort. More balance; equivalent. And you’ve stolen enough time from yourself.” Cinders fly from the below the apotropaic markings. “It’s been magic. But it’s eating you up. How’s your heart holding out?”

    Lily shrugs. “I’ll survive. And everything’s dust, eventually.” Her eyebrow raises.

    “Live. Love. Life, love. Everything’s eventual.” He paused. “Eventually.”

    Lily reaches both hands into the hearth, grasping the warm, charred organ, beat steady still beneath her sooty fingertips. Closing her hands around it, she raises it towards her chest, readying herself.

    @FallIntoFiction

    260 words
    Love lost (and rekindled)

    Liked by 10 people

  31. Around and Around

    Molly felt like the mangled box of cigarettes in his jean pocket. She wasn’t going anywhere, not yet, and he knew that.

    Snuggled next to the box of cigarettes was her babysitter money; his ticket to “this time,” a reality where Dante or Dice were lottery tickets with hooves. A stack of Ramen noodles in the corner next to a shaggy motel Bible stood as the monument to “next time.”

    She didn’t bother opening up a package for Morgan — he was sleeping, oblivious to the usual pleas and promises. He also had no money to give.

    Mom left before Molly’s teen years, like a smoker taking up vaping, she’d kicked an old habit for a new model. That left Molly to hold up the baggage, a stalwart sentinel during the rage storms and the empty bathtub sobs.

    At the time the starting bells were jump-starting dad’s dopamine, Molly locked the door behind her and went over to the pool or what had become a leafy graveyard. She touched the necklace he gave her years ago, back when the rush he got was from seeing them, and not a glowing TV screen with false hope.

    With one small tug, the clasp broke from its clutches around her neck. She let the necklace drop with a muffled splash into the leafy graveyard, disappearing under the grime.

    When he came back, drunk on the dark cloud and singed by riding the lightning, with a new scar to match the old ones, it would be her that would have to say, “Next time.”

    @brett_milam
    Word Count: 260 words.
    Element: Ice.

    Liked by 9 people

  32. THE CHALLENGE OF THE BURNING WASTE
    260 words
    Lost love
    Brian S Creek

    NOW
    The sun beats down on me and my horse as I wait with the other men from my clan. My stomach turns. I could be sick any moment.

    THEN
    He laid beside me, his head rested on my chest. His finger trailed a relaxing pattern on my stomach.
    “Don’t do it,” he muttered.

    NOW
    Behind me, members of the Clan cheer their potential heroes. Banners fly in the desert wind. I see my mother a way back in the crowd. She waves before crossing herself with the three points of the Old Gods.

    THEN
    “What do you mean, don’t do it?” I reply. “If I make it across the Burning Waste-”
    “No one makes it across alive,” he shouted. “Not ever.”

    NOW
    The clan leader steps up, holding out the starting bar. When it hits the sand at his feet, we rush the Burning Waste. Reach the other side and the rewards will be-

    THEN
    -enough to bring our clan into the Commonwealth.” I said. “What choice do I have?”
    He sat up. “Fuck the Commonwealth. Choose me!”
    “I want both.”

    NOW
    The Commonwealth Leaders look on as their annual challenge gets underway. They exude wealth. It is a glimpse of what I can bring my clan.

    THEN
    He turned back before he left, tears in his eyes. “I won’t be there tomorrow?”

    NOW
    The clan leader drops the bar. It hits the sand. I dig my heels into the side of my horse and we’re off.
    I’ll be the first to make it. And I’ll win him back.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Like Foy says, the structure is so impactful here, driving the tension forward even as the race itself looms closer. You’ve drawn a wonderful parallel between the race to win rights for the Clan, and the protagonist’s determination to win at love as well. Though you don’t tell us, I’m convinced that they will succeed. 😀

      Like

  33. The Beast

    Pounding hooves thudded against the arid earth that led to the dune – the winged desert beast’s lair. With sweaty dirt caking their nostrils, Alex urged Chevy forward. Adrenaline pumped through their veins as they charged at a breakneck pace. Smoke and dust hung in the air. It was clear that other competitors had already reached their maximum speed and had ignited their flames – each calling the beast forth to choose them.

    The image of the beast possessed Alex’s mind.

    Four long legs. A long neck. Some legends spoke of one hump. Others spoke of two. They all spoke of wings and fiery breath.

    The competition was life or death. Be the fastest and present your flame or be incinerated by the beast. Every decade, the competition was held to appease the beast. This was Alex’s year. Chevy was fast. Faster than anyone else, and, with Alex riding, no one could beat them. The two of them had been together for as long as Alex could remember. Chevy was older than any other four-legged competitor, but Alex had kept that close to the vest.

    Chevy and Alex surged ahead. Alex struggled to tell if they were in the lead or his senses were fading away in a fit of intense concentration. Feeling the impacts of every hoof, Alex held his staff to the side, waiting for the moment to come. As the staff ignited, almost of its own accord, Chevy stumbled.

    Looking around, Alex saw Chevy – dead. The competitors – ablaze. The beast looking down from above – intrigued.

    @UntanglingWords
    Word Count: 259
    Ice Element

    Liked by 9 people

    • Oooo I LOVE a powerful mythical beast! What a great setup you have here, and despite the awful loss of his horse and the brutal loss of the other competitors, I’m hoping this means maybe Alex has won…?

      Like

  34. And Then There Were None

    ‘Three, two, one…’ Millie mouthed the countdown to her colleague, Peter. On cue the lights rose and the manufactured and manicured applause rippled around the audience. Eight candidates, all male, all white and with faces primped and plasticised to deny their real ages walked to their allotted lecterns. Their smiles spoke to expensive orthodenistry and their confident gaits and nearly-but-not-quite humble waves revealed an unexpected yet beguiling synchronicity.
    The anchor, Maurice, let his mouth settle into the insta-influencer’s half-pout and began to intone the names of each candidate.
    ‘Tossers.’ Peter hissed.
    Millie silenced him with a swift glare. ‘Listen, you might learn something.’
    ‘Right.’
    Each candidate had five minutes to explain their platform, were they to become president, and Maurice reminded them he’d not let them overrun.
    Peter sniffed. ‘Good luck with that, Mo.’
    Millie quieted him again.
    Eventually candidate number eight had the floor. ‘As a nation we have fallen out of love with our government and that must change. I promise to improve the quality of our leaders and their discourse at a stroke.’
    Peter’s frustrations bubbled over. ‘How?’ he called out.
    While Millie shushed him, the candidate bent forward. In one swift movement, he eased up his right trouser leg, extracted a small snub-nosed gun and put a bullet into the forehead of the other candidates before doing the same with his own.
    Panic and mayhem ensued as the gun spouted fire and finality. Peter sighed. ‘Shame. I’d have voted for him, but none of them know when to stop.’

    259 words
    @geofflepard
    Ice: lost love

    Liked by 9 people

  35. A Mouse in the Sand

    Her roommate glanced at her watch when the door opened.

    “That was a short date.”

    Cassie dropped her purse and threw herself face down on the sofa. “Don’t ask.”

    “Well, now I have to.” Jo set the book she’d been reading aside. Turning sideways in her chair, she draped both legs over a tufted arm, clasped her hands in her lap and waited.

    With a groan, Cassie rolled to her back and stared up at the ceiling. “We went to a movie.”

    “That part I know.”

    “Well . . . I guess I was so excited when he called that I didn’t really hear what he said.”

    “And?”

    “He mentioned that artsy-fartsy theatre near the university and something about a documentary about Fantasia in Morocco.”

    “Okay?”

    Cassie sighed and covered her eyes with a forearm. “I thought he meant the Disney movie.”

    Jo pressed her lips together but even muffled, the sound of laughter was unmistakable.

    “Shut up.”

    Out of respect for their long friendship, Jo tried. “Surely once the movie started, it was obvious that it wasn’t a cartoon.”

    Energy exploded as Cassie sat up. “It was a documentary!” she cried. “You know, there was sand. And horses. And the men were all wearing white. And I just expected one of them to suddenly decide he wanted to be an illustrator and then the whole story would change and . . .” She dropped her head into her hands. “Oh, God. Silas is never going to talk to me again.”

    Jo struggled to keep a straight face. “Maybe you could offer to mop his kitchen.”

    @UK_MJ
    260 words
    Fire Dragon: Love Lost

    Liked by 11 people

  36. The Magic of the Dunes

    We live.
    We survive.
    And sometimes thrive…
    Under relentless light and cloudless sky.
    These are the first words a baby Bedouin learns, even before the more traditional ‘Mama’ or ‘Papa’ learned by the rest of the world. This is the reality of life wandering endlessly within the shifting sands.
    Survival is often as good as it gets, with the occasional bright flash blinking like a beacon in the hazy air; the reflected arrow of light bouncing from metal ornamentation. Meeting another tribe is always a celebration of life within our sandbox.
    This was an auspicious occasion – four tribes were drawn by the unknown to the same patch of windswept hardtack. Tents were raised against the harsh light, fires were lit to prepare the communal feast, and the young warriors from all the tribes were comparing their horsemanship skills.
    I had never seen such a seething mass of humanity assembled in a single place before.
    She flowed like honey within this crush of Bedouin, her sinuous movement packed with all the grace of the sidewinder hunting the dunes. The light caught, and retreated from, the brass discs swinging from her shawl. She appeared to only be absorbing the energy in the crowd – carefree and as wild as the desert itself. The crowd blurred before her perfection.
    Her eyes caught mine.
    Held.
    For eternity.
    My heart swelled – and those eyes crinkled in a wicked smile.
    Then she was gone – vanished into a puff of dust.
    I was the reason our tribe was drawn here. I gave my heart to a djinn.

    Fire Dragon Option – Found love (with a hint of ice)
    259 words
    @p_stueber

    Liked by 8 people

  37. Afterwards.

    “Now your Grandma, she’d really take a punch. I’d sock her on the jaw and she’d always come up smiling, ready to kick my ass.”

    Bill took a long pull at his beer, leant against the porch rail, his eyes wet.

    “Lord, I loved that woman…”

    Jodie rose from the swingseat, laid a hand on the old man’s shoulder, tried not to notice how thin it felt beneath his ill-fitting funeral jacket.

    “I know gramps. She loved you too. But she wouldn’t want you upsetting yourself.”

    Bill shrugged her off.

    “The heck you say? She’da loved this! Stupid old fart getting teary like some heartbroke teenager? She’d laugh her ass off, she could see it!”

    He felt in his pocket, pulled out his pouch and papers and held them out to Jodie.

    “Here. Even if she’s watching, she can’t do diddly, so you go on roll your gramps a smoke. Fix one for yourself while you’re at it – yeah, I know ’bout that. Can’t say as I’m too happy, but better you don’t try to hide it.”

    While Jodie busied herself with the tobacco, he drank some and sighed.

    “We never had no secrets. First time I saw her, wrangling horses for De Mille on one’a his histories, I told her i was scared of them. Never told no-one before. Stuntman who’s fraida’ horses? They’da laughed me outta town. But she never did. Just said she’d teach me not to be scared.”

    Jodie passed him a smoke, helped get it lit when his hand shook.

    “And she always did.”

    @Karl_A_Russell
    260 words
    I’m going to say love found.

    Liked by 11 people

  38. Thundering hooves, glossy sheen of hot sweat, taut muscles, flared nostrils, wild eyes suffused with the ecstasy of performance.

    Charge!

    For honour!

    For victory!

    For…

    Emotion, motion, ride, hide, a finger curls around a trigger.

    Flat crack of the fusillade – – – – – a glazed heart made of clay.

    Clouds burn like screaming candy floss, an angel, wings ablaze

    ~SMACK~

    Pulped!

    Then gulped by giggling hyenas.

    Requiescat in paribus.

    Memory is a cruel demon to the lovelorn – happy smiles
    d
    r
    i
    p
    with
    fresh
    blood
    – et tu, Amor?

    Dust billows across the plain, restless jinn shriek, unleashing a storm of phantasmal black dogs with fanged tongues, a thirst to be slaked with wet flesh.

    The Ancient Ones were slain and eaten by voracious mortals eager for kleos. The Soul Crusher saw the demise of greatness and refused to accept such an ignominious fate.

    While others were blinded by Love’s lotus beauty, the holy warriors perceived the ultimate tyrant’s true face – a hellish maw crunching and gulping sacrifices – flies fed on the sticky gore left in her wake. Silted skeletons grin from within their tomb dunes; they fought Love and she massacred them all, it was a noble death.

    Love hid in the hearts of her enemies, forever cursing them with a bittersweet madness then she transformed.

    One horse will never falter, it will endure the fall of empires and the folly of mortals, galloping over lands and across oceans, it will glitter in the night sky, an eternal fantasia.

    @Giacomin_Mark13
    256 words
    Fire Dragon: Love found

    Liked by 8 people

    • Ohhhhhh the twists and turns you’ve wrought here! Love the beautiful frame of the horse, and the classical allusions, the hints of bloody betrayal and an eternal rest that… isn’t. Screaming candy floss crashing against burning angels followed by demons of memory–such striking and antagonistic images, above all, the monstrous, devouring Love. And doesn’t “the fall of empires and the folly of mortals” just about sum us all up!

      Liked by 1 person

  39. A Flash and the Smell of Cordite

    Sand swirled around in fine tornados alive with a mind of their own. In the distance I could hear the waves breaking at low tide and the moonlight lit up a little of the breakers. I felt alone; though enjoying nature.

    The light show and music began. Cheers flowed through the crowds in a Mexican swave. It felt electric from the reaction; though fireworks have never been my thing.

    I became transported like never before and it took me while to realise why. It was the cordite; the sand in the air and the cordite from the fireworks: I was in Morocco again. My fuck! I’d forgotten about it. Not sure whether I’d done it on purpose. But if anyone had asked me last week if I’d been to Africa I’d have said no. The mind is a mystery.

    I’d forgotten about Sara. The love of my life. For fuck’s sake. How has my mind destroyed my memory of her? But this sand, the cordite: it’s like I’m back in Morocco, sat with her drinking some Cool and watching the jaw dropping show. I was holding her hand. The horsemen advanced toward us; rifles aimed at the ground. They fired as a group as they charged and we were both overwhelmed by the showmanship, gobsmacked that the horses didn’t react to the explosions by their ears. We were a hundred metres away yet we recoiled: and could smell the bitter cordite.

    Sara died days later in a car accident, which destroyed me. I forgot her until now: these damnable fireworks.

    ____
    WC:260
    @zevonesque
    Fire: Love lost

    Liked by 10 people

  40. Title: Current Reflections on Entropy

    Hand, cooler, fainter than before, limper grasp.

    Come on dad, are you watching the show or not?
    Sure sorry, just thinking.
    Fine, whatever

    Those changes made yet and you need to call this customer back also. Fine, will get it done when I am done with these updates.

    Pain in my chest, like spear points or blades being shoved in I imagine. Been on and off now for years. Will it ever go away?

    Wow your hands are like little fingersicles hun. Here let me hold them while dinner is cooking up for us.
    Anything you want to do? Blank stare. OK then. Let’s take a walk anyways, tears flowing.

    Sitting in the bathroom just crying this time. All that I seem to be able to do is cry when I am alone, gotta straighten the shoulders around anyone else. Just have to do it for everyone else.

    Can’t see, like sunlight glare off of sand with pounding as of hooves in my whole frame. Inarticulate noises just swelling up from inside. Stifle it down, keep it inside, wait till all alone to allow a crack.

    Always made room for you, inside me. Smaller and smaller until there was nearly, only you. just a silhouette. All that was left of me, just a cutout.

    Fingertips, sensations, evaporating away.

    Always was my hand held out, reaching, trying. Like a maze some said, getting lost. More like drifting away it seems to me.
    Just craved acceptance, the unspoken love language.

    Your fingertips have evaporated away.

    —————–
    WC 253
    @gamerwriter
    Ice: Love Lost

    Liked by 12 people

  41. ~ Dunes

    You have abandonment issues. (No) Then stop thinking of the shoe you left behind because you lost its partner. [The shoe can’t feel. (Yeah)] It’s probably filled with sand and lying on its side like a sad person as the camera zooms out. Please, no sad music…
    That freaking blister stings. [Another reason to cry. (I don’t need a reason)] As if…
    Cold wet towel around your shoulders (uncomfortable realisation) You just marred your favourite spot with a goodbye. [It was a cold one. (Had to be done) Then let it go.] The shower did nothing for your puffy eyes. Get that lash enhancer. Maybe…
    Keep to your wardrobe. You don’t need reminders. As if…
    My kids are annoying. (All kids are annoying) Shouldn’t have yelled at them for feeding each other sandwiches. But what’s so funny about stuffing sand into each other’s mouths. (Two daughters might have been easier) That was mean…
    Alone. Is. A. Good. Place. Those drapes are sad looking…
    Darn, this pencil is too light for the sketch you need to do. [Before the sun goes down. (Before this day goes down) before…] How does one sketch emptiness? (You could just poke the pencil through, rip the page) Art therapy my foot. Just sleep…
    This too shall pass. Yes mommy…
    Why is it sheep not sheeps, so silly. Jump into the pen one by one. (Goodness it’s stuffy) They should be in a meadow. Cartoon sheep are better. You don’t feel sorry for them. New Zealand has more sheep than humans. Weird. (Really) As if…

    @firdausp
    Words:259, Love lost

    Liked by 11 people

  42. Last Lover’s Light

    “The man who takes a wife has lost his life. The man who takes a horse has won it back.”

    So say the Maerik elders of Valdemarr III. Yet no Maerik horseman depends on his horse so much as a Spacer depends on his ship, and mine lay scattered across this snowy planetscape.

    Uncaring stars twinkle above. My stomach rumbles. If I had a horse, I’d eat it.

    Instead I strain against the girder pinning me down. Pain rockets up my leg: I see stars of a different sort, then pass out.

    “The universe can make a sun, but only man can make a gun.”

    Grandfather’s words startle me awake. How long was I out? Hoarfrost covers me and my wrecked environs.

    Errois IX is as far as can be from Valdemarr’s desert sands. Could the Maerik wisdom mean anything on this hopeless world? Man is a toolmaker, but I had no laser cutter. Nothing to make even a simple lever to free myself.

    I recite the Spacer’s Creed to calm myself. Rest, I tell myself. Conserve energy.

    “Sand may blow a thousand miles, yet remains sand.”

    Low oxygen alarm, but the cold no longer burns.

    Galaxyrise. A hundred billion suns shine a path from the horizon to the heavens.
    Vision fades. There is only darkness and light, and me.

    Soon only darkness and light.

    A sense of peace, of completeness, comes to me like a night wind.

    My last thought is Grandfather, and how he would greet grandmother after a long journey.

    “Hello again, my love.”

    257 words
    @pmcolt
    love found

    Liked by 11 people

    • Excellent! You consistently make SF tales immediate, holding a mirror to humanity. Here, I love how you entwine the human and the alien, pivoting around the central quote: no matter what planet you shipwreck the human on, the story is still a human.
      On that theme, it’s brilliant how the elders’s words give way to the echo of the grandfather’s words, and how Grandfather’s favorite maxims give way to a personal expression of affection (and a reversal of the first line, denigrating wives and slyly incorporating the prompt).
      And through it all, you weave what it means to be human–what is a human being, the tool-maker, without the tools? Implied is that humans are explorers, survivors, and the end reveals that what makes us human is our ability to form relationships with the others of our kind.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love how deeply intimate this feels. I’m not reading this. I am *in* the Spacer’s suit, cold and low and drifting. Phenomenal.

      Like

  43. Simoon
    255 words

    Rust spreads into the hammered-steel sky. The ruddy dust tastes of blood.

    “The Mighty Ones ride hard tonight,” the caravan leader warns. Tents stud the narrow wrinkle of the oasis. The merchants offer me a meal in exchange for a tale.

    I speak of the Gods of Wind and Fire, bringers of the simoon.

    (Not of the zealous youth, his bright gaze on the story master.)

    Of their thunderous steeds drumming up the sands.

    (Not of how the master took him in, guided him on how to best enwrap the truths in lies. How together they wove sand and starlight into story.)

    I speak of the nimble lad that stole elixir from the Palace of the Desert’s Heart and hid it deep beneath the dunes.

    (Not of how the youth had all along concealed her sex and sullied the words of the Fathers. After the festival, she revealed the deception. For her immodesty, the master sliced out her tongue. She fled into the dessert, her lies dripping red into her footprints.)

    Of how, to this day, Divine wrath scours the land in search of the stolen treasure.

    (Not of the desert fury that scattered our pavilions, that dragged skin from bones like a rider torn from his horse. Or how I am cursed to survive and recount the tale—but I refuse to speak it.)

    My eyes catch the rapture of a young listener. I wonder what truth he clothes in lies. Whatever it is, the simoon will tear it out of him before morning.

    By Nancy Chenier
    @ncscrawls
    Ice–love lost

    Liked by 8 people

  44. One Day

    They said it couldn’t be done, that we had to wait for them to come to us. We proved them wrong. Why wait for the zombies to come out at night? We knew where they were. Underground, hiding in tunnels. They hid from the sun for a reason. They hated the heat. The only warmth they sought was fresh blood, but why give them the chance? We built flamethrowers on poles, so we could flush out their burrows. We attacked while they were dormant, just as they did to us.

    Some lessons we learned the hard way. If they felt movement above they would attack, bursting out like a trapdoor spider. One bite was enough, even on an ankle. So we adapted. No-one remembers who first suggested horses. Their hooves protected them, and us, trampling anything stupid enough to erupt from the dirt. We were cowboys, herding the undead away from our fair city. We rode in a line, pushing them back, watching the mounds retreat as they scurried away. We did the same thing, night after night, like the push and pull of the tide. Just like the ocean, they were endless, relentless, unforgiving.

    It wasn’t perfect. Sometimes one slipped through. If they were buried deeper, or dodged the flames, then we missed them. We couldn’t be everywhere. It was a fact of life. We all accepted that. We just prayed it wasn’t our house they found.

    Then one day, it was.

    I’ll never forget the screams.

    @todayschapter
    250 words
    Ice element (love lost)

    Liked by 9 people

  45. Fire Under the Mountain

    Bone and muscle and sinew, these are the building blocks, the frame that holds the box within your movement. They are everything— and nothing for it is the spirit that truly moves the body. Hooves and fire and thunder announce the coming dawn, but they are but the outward show of what is within.

    Horse and rider, dream and dreamer, lover, and beloved the moments change places from one second to the next until the lines are blurred and nothing else exists. This is the world of dream, this is the realm of hope – where horse and rider become one.

    In my mind, you are one – power and restraint, fire and thunder- opposing forces twisting in a dance as old as time. We dance for joy, we dance for healing, we dance for what is lost and can never be found, filling the emptiness with the beat of hooves, the beat of our heart, the beat of the world, for one without the other nothing stands and it all turns to bitter ash and sand.

    Words that cannot be spoken, hearts that cannot be broken if they are never heard does it matter? We hold onto a crystalline thread that leads us from the past to the future— but all that is real is the hear and the now, where bone and muscle and sinew hold the beating of our hearts and we dance among the flames of our desire for the want of that which we will never have.

    You cannot love another until you lose yourself.

    258 Words – not including title
    Element – Fire – Love Found
    @mishmhem

    Liked by 10 people

  46. Walk

    Iko burrows his sit bones into the dune.

    Below is a crank circus, BFGs and mod ponies firing.

    His tongue tastes like copper, and his spine feels like a wire, split guts-wide an’ live, for all the energy pinging down his legs.

    East and West, the largest wards, face off for first drink: Cog Queen vs. the Butcher, winner takes the river. Either way, misfit wards will get mud.

    Iko smells Triple G before he sees him. His neck tightens, contracts.

    “Present there, little brother, and Butcher’s boys’ll carve uninvited into your face.”

    Iko traps his breath inside his body, compresses the energy of it until he can push it out his nostrils, quietly. Triple G woke up sour; this isn’t the time.

    Besides, he knows better than to present unprotected. But Li-Lu?

    “And,”–Triple G kicks a boot-blade of sand at Iko’s thigh–”say you get away spitting, I’ll cut your teeth out an’ feed ‘em to your throat.”

    “What if she’s here?”

    The dune sucks at his brother’s still feet, pulling him down to Iko’s level. That’s Li-Lu’s power.

    “She didn’t have to walk.”

    No. She didn’t. But there’s no thrive in Triple G’s ranks. Only outwit, outdistance, outlast. He turns and tosses a last order, “We stay for the scraps. Then ghost.”

    Iko’s toes ungrip.

    Fierce Li-Lu. Mod pony racing is her future art, and if she’s anywhere near the Convergence, she’ll wriggle to the heart of this mania before the first blade can sniff she’s a misfit. That’s Iko’s deadline.

    He can walk, too.

    258 don’t count anyway words!
    Ice & (hopefully) Fire
    @deborah_the_foy

    Liked by 10 people

  47. “Your garden is stupid,” said Giant.

    I looked up, shading my eyes from the sun. “Yes?”

    “Your plants don’t even have beans.”

    Five beans.

    “That’s because they’re not plants yet,” I said. “See? These are still seeds. Tomato, actually.”

    “That’s dumb,” said Giant. “On my table I have heaps of beans.”

    “I’m glad.”

    “And tomatoes. Beans AND tomatoes.”

    The stalk curled high, its top plunging into stormclouds.

    “It sounds wonderful.”

    “It IS wonderful,” Giant said. “Only I said so first.”

    I didn’t answer, just kept making the tiny holes and gently adding seeds. Somewhere a bird was singing. A thrush? I could almost make out the words. Something about the breeze, probably; thrushes love singing about breezes.

    “Small.”

    Giant’s voice startled me out of my thoughts. “Pardon?”

    “Your garden is too small.”

    “Is it?” I looked around. Raised beds for tomatoes, peas, and peppers; the daisies and peonies along the fence were already in full bloom.

    “Nobody can find it,” said Giant.

    Don’t climb.

    “Well, that’s all right,” I said comfortably. Two rows of tomatoes to go. “Folks who want to, can.”

    “NOBODY CAN FIND IT.”

    “You did.”

    “That was before I knew how small it was,” said Giant.

    Please don’t climb.

    “Oh?” Done. I stood, stretched.

    My garden’s a whole cloud kingdom.” His voice thundered like smoke-wreathed fire horses.

    “Supper’s bastilla,” I said. “Will you stay?”

    Please.

    “I hate bastilla.”

    I nodded, turned toward the house. “See you tomorrow,–Jack,” I said, but the creature who used to be my son was crying and didn’t answer.

    257 words
    @postupak
    ice: love lost

    Liked by 13 people

  48. Wonderland

    I feel the vibrations of their beating hoofs, dust rising, impatient. They wait with anticipation and as I look left to right I see in their bulging black eyes something unrecognizable to me.

    An urge to simply win.

    I do not know that sensation any longer, it does not reach over me like a veil and block the sun, the heat, the voices, the cheers, the cries. The pain. The pumping blood heart with its rhythm out of sync, the rawness so severe I shudder from even gentler touches. The tremble of the limbs in the aftermath, in the dark with the distant crowds incoherently echoing throughout the night as I am lulled to a dreamless sleep.

    It was not always so. Many years ago I had dreams. In them I roamed as another, unbroken and unbent through valleys rich and green, filled with song and dance, across cold streams cutting through colossal mountain ranges encompassing a world so vast and bright and beautiful, long before man was here. It was a wonderland.

    But now as the fire from my master’s hands suddenly erupts and I am shrouded in a cosmic explosion of colors, swirling Nebula of dust particles and sweat from my breast, I put on a mask of strength and pride and I run, fast and far so I cannot remember the dreams in which I was free and I was dominant, in which I was the personification of long forgotten deities, in which I was worshiped and I was happy.

    Love lost, I run to simply forget.

    @Raptamei
    260 words
    Ice dragon option: love lost

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh my goodness…that last paragraph…striking, poignant. And this line–“In them I roamed as another, unbroken and unbent”– I adore, especially.

      Even past close, I’m so glad you posted!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I feel that right in my horse-loving heart. I love the idea of ancestral memory–it works wonderfully here.
      (One of my early entries back in the day came in at 11:30pm my time over here on the left coast–I feel that too.)

      Liked by 1 person

  49. Pingback: One Day | Today's Chapter

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