Fire&Ice: Sol 7/19

§ Rebekah says: Welcome back! As in so many parts of the world, it’s been another fire-and-brimstone week here in the United States. Flames of all sorts rage unabated through forests and courtrooms, hospitals and hearts. This week many of us especially anguish to grasp how police, in a wild, thunderous assault, could have killed a young woman who’d been asleep in her own apartment—Breonna Taylor—yet escape even the smallest hint of responsibility for her death. In a nation whose glorious, foundational declarations were carved on the backs of the enslaved, what even does “justice” mean? What can it mean? What should it mean? It’s these and many similar questions that have driven us over the years here at Flash! Friday—that haunt and compel me personally—, and that we share for your consideration this week. Thank you for being here. 

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


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!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.


JUDGES: Today’s judges are Sinéad O’Hart and Craig Anderson. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.



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 7/19

Eternal Flame Memorial (Nizhny Novgorod). Creative Commons 4.0 photo by Andrew Shiva.

Fire & Ice Prompt

Required elements:

Fire dragon option: Include an act of justice


Ice dragon option: Include an act of mercy

Today’s word count: Between 190-199

137 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 7/19

  1. A Final Flame

    The candle burns at only one end. It’ll burn until it doesn’t. Wax drips on the bird seed, spread over the covered deck tabletop as if it were some miraculous spore seeking fertile soil.
    The tabletop is not fertile.
    The birds, however, are.
    They flourish.
    She smiles. “I almost feel it’s heat.”
    “Don’t know how you can. We’re inside, protected by tempered glass.”
    “Protected from that tiny flame?”
    “No, not the candle. The world.” I’m feeling lost. No one’s ever really protected from the world, what it throws at you.
    Like the weather.
    “Look. Storm’s coming.”
    “Will it last long?” she asks.
    I’m usually the pessimist, yet I counter with, “It might.”
    We have turned out all the lights. She prefers the dark these days. The wig has a red tint. Close to her original colour. Oddly, her face now has more vibrancy, even as her energy has flagged.
    “I hope it comes. Do you think we’ll see a show? I would love that.”
    “The weather fellow said we might.”
    “It would be wonderful. Exciting.”
    We wait, she and I, wine glasses in hand, committed to the bittersweet course, anticipating cracks of thunder, sheets of lightning.
    And the quiet.

    Ice Dragon option: An Act of Mercy
    199 words

    Liked by 16 people

    • Finally (This is the title Sol 7/19)

      The lonely man stood, gazing at the sacred flames rising up. The scents of oil and fire mixed with incense and body odors. Stood there, just long enough to reflect on the cycles and passages that had went before, and the ones to arise in the near future.

      The old man stepped away, cane for support, down and away towards the scant coffin apartment that is the final home for many of the old and forgotten. The stairs are safer, but time has made it a gamble on the elevator. This time the cables do not snap and break, plunging into screeching finality.

      Up closer to the clouds, far away from the lands he once walked, hand in hand with love, the city stretches out far away, like the endless plains of youth. The long hallway, with the windows at each end, is full of cooking smells and closed in humanity.

      His space is floor level at least. They are stacked two high, and he would have to carry a stool to enter otherwise. Crawling in, the lights come on automatically, and he lays down. Memories filling his final breaths. His spirit departs like fires into the sky.

      Ice dragon option: Include an act of mercy
      Today’s word count: 198

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Sleep Well Tonight

    A resentful winter drives those who can indoors. We discarded gather in the labyrinthine underpass, seeking respite by the communal fire. Peggy mournfully serenading us between sips.

    “Close ye eyes, give me a chance darlin …”

    Marko’s appearance in the firelight cuts across our chattering voices, reality gravitating to his agitated gaze and the pop of burning rubbish.

    “Trust one of ye fecks has tribute?”

    The monkey is heavy on Marko’s back tonight, transforming habitual resentment to Old Testament fury. We are sheep to this shepherd. Eyes downcast and wary. His bruised fists clench and unclench.

    “C’mon surely one of ye has a little taste?”

    Marko kicks dead tinnies as he stalks the fireside. Knowing that someone will pay after last night when Rabbit told him to piss off. The beating Marko meted out leaving her bathed in flashing blue.

    I snuck in to see Rabbit this morning. My angel held to earth by bleeping machines. Her whispers honey on my cheek, telling me what to do, that she believed in me.

    I hold up the needle, tainted escape glinting in the firelight.

    Marko snatches it hungrily, loping away towards his cardboard castle.

    A king for one last night.

    Ice Dragon option: An Act of Justice
    199 words

    Liked by 16 people

  3. Another dark morning. The iron kettle boils. The white steam rises.

    Like smoke. Like fire. A piercing scream.

    I don’t want to remember. Don’t want to see, again. This old house has memories that do not belong. That are not mine.

    I pour the water. Boiling hot. Watch the tea bag bob up and down. Push it down with my spoon. Down, deep under. Struggling to breathe. I gasp. As it rises. As it pops back up. The splashes scald my flesh.

    I trace the marks upon my arm. This soft skin burning. Try to forget. What I don’t know.

    I wasn’t there. Couldn’t remember. Couldn’t see.

    The noise. The noise deafens.

    The crowd cheering, the girls howling, the fire burning, the flames leaping, The crackles. The sparks. Searing. They were all just girls.

    Head pulsing. Temperature rising. I go to the fridge. Open the door. Stand too long with the light shining. The cold soothing. Stand too long with the tears rolling down.

    Sorry, I’m sorry. For what they did. For what they did to you.

    Sorry for the pain. I can’t forget.

    Can’t forgive.

    I weep each morning.

    For you.

    192 words
    Ice dragon: mercy

    Liked by 12 people

  4. Eternal Flame

    Anger. Rage. Death. Blood.


    The tiny red flame flickers. Nothing but red in the blackness. The deep, sooty blackness.


    No, not quite silence. A whisper against the windows. Under the door.

    Breath. Life.


    A whisper inside. Echoing up into the vault. Trapped.

    Secrets fly around the great stone pillars. These pillars have swallowed so many secrets. Sins of thought. Sins of word. Sins of deed.

    So many pleas. Forgive us.

    So many lies. We repent.

    The whisper shouts of death. Untimely. The roof drips with the bloody words. Drips become air. Vapour. Nothing.

    The blackness listens to every word. To pardon or to judge? The blackness breathes heavily. The whisper halts.


    No, not quite silence. A rustle of cloth. Footsteps on stone. Pattering, hesitant footsteps.

    A plea. Forgive me.

    A lie. I repent.

    The great oak door slams, trapping a thousand years of sin, of lies, of mercy.

    The pillars strain against the roof, pushing up to release their secrets.

    The lies will bring down the pillars. One day.

    But for now, they stand.

    The darkness sighs.

    The tiny red flame flickers.

    Anger. Rage. Death. Blood.


    191 words (excluding title, Eternal Flame)
    Ice Dragon (Mercy) with a hint of Fire Dragon (Justice)

    Liked by 11 people

    • I love the cyclical structure of this, and how you have created a sense of burgeoning as the building struggles to contain its knowledge. Favourite line: ‘The pillars strain against the roof, pushing up to release their secrets.’

      Liked by 3 people

    • I enjoyed the way you cyclical nature of this story. Great piece of atmospheric writing – you had me imagining an ancient church with the priests walking, condeming others. An image probably different to others, but one you carved in my head.

      Liked by 1 person


    Like white smoke, the women swayed. Almost as one.

    A few had fixed on the tied sack, its weight squatting at the bottom, as it began the first perfect circle of its diminishing pendulous circuit.

    Others stared at the ground, heat seeping through their shoes.

    Their whispered chants echoed The Master.

    ‘He is the One. He is the Love. He is the Father.’

    Shaia’s throat was clogged. She couldn’t bear to watch, and was already gagging at the thought of the stench of burning meat, the fizz and pop as the flames began to cradle the bundle in its cruel arms.

    She glanced up to see ‘First Wife’, Mina, staring at her. His shadow. His enforcer. Mina’s eyes flicked once to the right. She was a mother herself; she understood.

    Shaia slipped away, a trickle of blood meandering down her thigh, falling over her feet as she ran down the steep path of the volcano. There was her baby boy, bolstered by a rock.

    At the altar, the sack, now alive with fiery tendrils, writhed in a black cloud.

    Later, Mina would spin the story of Vulcan, his favourite dog, running away. Probably scared by what he had witnessed.

    Word count: 199
    Ice Dragon prompt: Mercy

    Liked by 13 people

  6. They came for me at dawn. It’s traditional, I guess. We’re big on tradition.

    I sat on my hand while Keith read the charges. With all the details it took over an hour: seventeen counts of dereliction of duty, one for each death; seventeen counts of cowardice, ditto; fifteen counts of murder, because Zee and Rose killed themselves; two counts of causing suicide; and one count of genocide, because we’re down to twenty-four now and we still haven’t contacted any other survivors.

    My hand’s numb. Not so numb I won’t feel the pain, but maybe numb enough that it will be steady when the time comes.

    Trial by fire. Medieval justice for our new medieval lives. Everyone knew the verdict before we began, most of all me, but still, justice must be done, and seen to be done. And heard, of course: folk are looking forward to rare entertainment. So the lucky lottery winner will hold my hand in the flame, my skin will blacken and blister, I’ll scream my guilt, and I’ll be exiled. Or if they find mercy in their hearts, executed.

    Twenty-three. And the slow death of humanity will continue.

    word count: 193
    Element: fire

    Liked by 11 people

  7. ~A Cold Heart~

    /For yours is the flame eternal
    the love that fuels my life
    but once you were a sinner
    the doer of an act so unpardonable
    that only my true forgiveness
    can let you go/

    “What’s this poem about, mother?” Bo’s sweet voice echoed in the room.

    Susan looked at her pretty daughter, fourteen years old now, her wide eyes eager to know more about her father’s poem.

    So far, she’d been telling Bo made-up stories, but maybe it was time to tell her the real one.

    “I’ll narrate to you that part of the poem that only I know” Susan began “but promise me, after you hear it, you will ask no questions”

    “Promise!” Bo said as she sat near her mother.

    /I speak of the night
    you killed an innocent
    a life yet to see true light
    ‘Bo’ we named her, our little girl
    what rage made you strangle our angel
    what madness came over you?
    it’s taken me years
    but forgive you, I do
    but as your flame leaves you
    promise me you’ll make amends
    in the afterlife/

    “I am trying my best” Susan’s voice choked as she held Bo to the warmth in her cold heart.

    199 Words (excluding title)
    An act of mercy/forgiveness

    Liked by 14 people

  8. The breath of the final dragon

    Buried unconscious, the town awaits its awakening and trial. Two hundred years and still we work on it. I’m the only one left from then and the desire is almost dead. Even in me.

    I stand in the empty memorial square, the fire from the dragon beneath burning before me. I think of those who died as my spells failed.

    My work can be done from afar, I haven’t seen the dragon since they built over it. Today, feeling wistful enough, I finally descended.

    It had been magnificent in its fearfulness when it fell. It seemed small now. Its scales had mostly fallen, its sides were swollen, red. Eyes that had blazed now glazed shut, lashes alive with parasites. Its talons were cracked, blunt or shed. And the pipe that took its breath away to burn for our sense of justice…

    I saw only pain, my anger at what it had done finally fading from my heart.

    My hand opened and I produced a long lance, pushed it deep into the creature’s chest, stopped its movement forever.

    Free myself now, I left the town to further forget what we had done. Would they even notice the flame’s death?

    198 Words
    Ice dragon option: Include an act of mercy (although justice is involved a lot, sorry)

    Liked by 11 people

  9. Winter Wheat

    His feet were bleeding, with the skin long-since eroded, and his toenails clipped into his soles like glass.

    Yegor wore grime and soot as his only warmth since the flame was pointing outward, not in, where he shivered naked under the grate.

    A year ago, he was working the winter wheat surrounded by other farmhands, but now only the skeletons of those who came before him. And Dmytro, who sat eating stale bread that had slipped from the mouths of the birds overhead. Still, he shared it with the rats, waiting for the torch to pass to him.

    Dmytro tried to offer words of encouragement when Yegor’s blistered hands seemed to be slipping, but he received a cattle prod to the neck for his useless words. The rats finished off Dmytro’s bread, not bothering to wait for him to wake up again.

    Yegor thought of his mother, Nadya, back home, and the farm, and the sun at his back, and the hay he rested on. The straw was scratchy on his skin, but he longed for that scratch.

    The flame danced as Yegor’s arm wavered, which brought approving, “Oohhs and aahhs,” from the adoring tourists.

    A prod was coming.

    Word count: 199 words
    Element: Ice.

    Liked by 10 people

  10. “It Ain’t Enough”

    The man without a mask bent his face towards the flame.
    “We hereby sentence you to burning lips as a reminder of those silenced by your carelessness.” The white-wigged magistrate read from a scroll clearly through her silk mask, having spent years practicing the art of articulation through fabric.
    The man without a mask allowed his arms to be seized on both sides. A black onyx surface housed the light that never goes out. It reflected up at the sinner’s of this time a church steeple, a symbol of possible salvation, and now the man’s own mouth, intact for the last time. Soon his lips would blister, char and deform. Crusted sentinels, his singing voice and sense of pride both forever charred. His mask then would become a blessing as it would shield the world from his hideousness and hide his crimes. Singing to a crowd uncovered. Now, to kiss would be to feel pain. The regret of his refrain.
    “I kiss this flame, and seal for myself the blame,” the man didn’t close his eyes as two hands gripped the back of his head and slammed him down into the flaming cocktail, knowing it just ain’t enough.

    198 Words
    Fire Dragon, An Act of Justice
    Song inspiration: “Fire” by Waxahatchee

    Liked by 11 people

  11. King Lear in the Federal Plaza

    The crowds gather in the plaza by the eternal flame.

    The whole family was arrested before daybreak, barefoot in the snow. No designer shoes now. The blonde daughter stood defiantly by her daddy. Where was the beautiful wife? Already on a plane to somewhere else.

    The old man was confused without his hair. He thought he was King Lear, exiled by ungrateful children. Who are you? he said to the blonde. I’m your daughter, Daddy. I have no children! he shouted to the wind whipping the flags in the plaza. The flame never wavered.

    Lost in his delusions, now, the mad king remembered a girl who worked in the kitchen when he was a boy. Her name was Lucy. Her skin was rich and dark like coffee. Her brown eyes were not afraid to look at him.

    You don’t have to be like your father, she said. Her hand so gentle, petting his hair.

    The next day, Lucy was fired. She dared to show him mercy. He knew there was no mercy in this world.

    The wind in the plaza grew colder. The reporters shouted questions. Do you accept the verdict? Will you appeal?

    195 words

    Liked by 16 people

  12. Inspector Counterweight And The Percussive Goblin

    Inspector Turmeric Counterweight lifted the tape. ‘What we got, Blossom?’
    Constable Pretty Blossom shifted uncomfortably, the hazmat suit chaffing places usually reserved for members of his Lodge. Two similarly clothed figures held up jars, full, it seemed of writhing flames. ‘Flambolins, sir. About twelve so far.’
    ‘Who found them?’
    Blossom pointed at a smouldering heap to his right. ‘Mrs Prism.’
    Counterweight winced. ‘What happened to her?’
    ‘No sir, that’s the perp. That’s Mrs Prism.’ Beyond the heap a small tight curled grey haired woman in her indeterminate years waited, looking pretty miffed. ‘Seems goblins were making fire sprites in the drains for some nefarious purpose and one exploded. Mrs Prism went to help only she used what she thought was water.’
    Counterweight nodded. ‘Aquaglob?’
    ‘Yes sir. Instant immolation. Seems it’s the same gang of goblins who’ve been making flame water are making these fire sprites, only to make it worse, this one had just ingested a tube of bloff.’
    ‘Fart fire? Talk about taking a risk. Serves it right, though.’
    ‘Any idea what’s their game?’
    ‘Word on the street is they’ve organised a mass g’rave for later.’
    ‘Why do they do it, sir?’
    ‘They’re elementals, my dear Blossom.’

    198 words
    Fire Dragon Option: Justice

    Liked by 9 people

  13. The city was bathed under a flawless blue sky sublimely bathing Rosie in a warmth as she made her way through the streets looking about her curiously. After walking through many streets Rosie arrived at an empty square shivering slightly. Her coat while it was normally warm enough was barely suited to the winter weather it appeared to be here. The city and the square she knew back home seemed different and Rosie wished she had had a little more time to prepare her survival kit. The middle of the square was a little different though and a sadness enveloped Rosie as she looked at what was most likely a kind of memorial and tried sending out kind thoughts to herself and the local residents.

    One thing as an unexpected traveller Rosie had forgotten to check if anyone was about her first task ought to have been appropriate dress. Tim was able to watch her and form his own opinions unheeded and Rosie was unaware until he tapped her on the shoulder and handed her a jumper and bade her follow. Rosie followed fearlessly for his seemingly honest mercy offering and she would need shelter come nightfall.

    Ice element of mercy, 197 words. @Lindorfan

    Liked by 9 people

  14. The city was on fire tonight, another eternal flame set alight by the hands of those who have learned time after time that their voice means nothing. Two angels walked through the streets and contemplated what humanity deserved.

    “I say let it all burn down. Tonight. In every city. As ye reap, so shall ye sow, and heavens above, how they have reaped.” Justice talked like that, like history was recording his words. As if humanity ever felt the words of Justice anymore.

    “Now now. They haven’t all earned such pain.” Mercy paused. “But they are in such pain. We should do something, something to ease their suffering.” Her eyes, filled with unshed tears, were bright in the firelight.

    “Burning them all would end their pain. Eventually.” Justice smiled his blood-red smile of retribution. “We haven’t done that in so long.”

    Mercy stopped and thought for an eternity. “I can’t do that, but I think we can compromise. Let’s help those who cannot help themselves.”

    And lo from the heavens came an imperceptible hissing, like air being let out of a balloon. And as the humans slowly lost oxygen, they all fell asleep. And the fires went out.

    198 words
    Justice. Or Mercy. You decide.

    Liked by 11 people

    • ‘another eternal flame set alight by the hands of those who have learned time after time that their voice means nothing’ is surely something many of us can empathise with, and with it the understanding of what would eventually lead to destruction. But what choice do you have when you aren’t listened to – a vicious cycle of destruction, best we’re put out of our misery in this gentle manner perhaps.


  15. Pingback: #FireIceFlash, week 7 – Project Gemini

  16. Keeper of the Flame


    I’ve been in this line for hours. I wore my Flame t-shirt. It says, “The merciful and just are not burned.”

    Another yelp, another person hastily exits through the side door.

    This is taking forever. But I’m getting close.

    Will I be the first ever to be found merciful and just? Besides of course that one fellow long ago, in the stories.

    Some folks just can’t stick their hand in the flame at all. Pain is too scary. They leave humiliated, guided out by the helpers.

    Almost my turn!

    One guy really goes for it. Singes the hell out of his hand. I’m at the front, now. I touch the velvet rope. Is this really happening?

    I approach. The Flame, centered in the granite platform, looks smaller than in the pictures.

    “Psst, Harriet! It’s me!”

    I look around. “What?”

    “Down here!”

    I peer into the hole. There’s a face, beneath the flame. “Sonny?”

    “Yeah! Hey, don’t burn yourself. It really hurts.”

    I’m so confused. “You mean, it’s just…?”

    “Fire, Harriet. It’s fire. It burns. Everybody. That’s how fire works.”

    I stare. Sonny’s eyes twinkle.

    “Just go, Harriet. Go be just and merciful anyway.”

    I smile. Sonny does, too.


    198 (whew!) words
    Used both elements, because, I love them both.

    Liked by 12 people

  17. Where her soul goes to walk after the final flame has flickered

    Lailah will be born into the arms of a mum who doesn’t want her. Her neighbourhood stacks the odds from the start.
    Her fire will start with the smallest of sparks.
    She will not know what race is, but she will know soon enough. Children are not born with intolerance and hatred—they learn it.
    She will be burnt by words and actions she doesn’t understand.
    She will feel the weight of the generations before her, working twice as hard for half the pay. Every entrance to a building brings looks. Every walk in the park suspicion. Every police uniform a breath… h-e-l-d.
    She will find love. She will laugh. She will give more to the world than it deserves from her.
    Her burns will heal, and she will hide the scars.
    She will age and give thanks every moment she is alive. Her grey hairs and criss-cross wrinkles a sign or survival—many won’t make it that far.
    The fire will fade.
    Her light will die, and her final words preach love, forgiveness and mercy.
    In her final dreams she walks with those that have gone before her. And their fire is an eternal and guiding light.


    198 words
    For my grandmother, Ellie
    Ice dragon

    Liked by 16 people

  18. Price Paid


    “Give me another.”

    “Joe, I don’t know that many people who belong in hell.”

    “Sure you do. Besides, it’s just a painting.”

    It’s a hell of a painting, Joe’s diptych—Heaven to the left, himself and Shelley seated at a feast of overdone steak and breakfast food and a tower of macaroons, their Mastiff Bo at their feet. Hell is a fiery Rube Goldberg torture machine, and Joe’s consigned four times as many people to its eternal flame as Shelley—all of his former bosses, old coworkers, the sixth grade teacher who’d held him back a year, his father. Shelley’s reserved the honor only for those who truly deserve it—her ex’s skin is melting off in oils, but Layla said she hadn’t known Mick was engaged when the affair started, even if they’re still together.

    “What if they see it?”

    “What if they do? It’s like an anti-wedding—we should have the same number of guests.”

    Shelley cocks her head, and digs deep. Thinks of all the people she’s forgiven, and rescinds her grace.

    At a Korean barbecue across town, Layla and Mick’s server refills the gas cartridge on their grill and accidentally sets them both on fire.


    199 words
    Fire element: Justice

    Liked by 14 people

  19. “What You Deserve”

    Stare into the flames, child. Let them absorb you. Let them teach you to forget.
    Perch on the boundary between warmth and blaze, between comfort and torture.
    Plead for absolution.
    Beg for understanding.
    Offer your soul, child, for there is no mercy in fire and it shall surely consume you.

    Stare into yourself, child. Feel its release. Let it teach you to remember.
    A reflection of the truth sits beneath, masked by the sky, by the clouds.
    Take your time, for it will not wait.
    With hands across its face, it pretends not to see.
    But never turn your back, for it shall surely steal your shadow.

    Seek refuge in the church. Feel it twist onto its steeple. Let it teach you to forgive.
    Weakness is the absence of an end.
    Weakness feeds on repetition.
    Open your hands. Spread your fingers, spread your arms.
    Release the grip around your throat.

    Stare down into his eyes. Let him teach you who are. Let him rest upon your spirit.
    Strength is breaking the design.
    Strength is fuelled by acceptance.
    Take hold of the flame. Let it sear away the hate.
    Mercy comes in many forms. And you deserve some from yourself.

    Word Count: 199
    Ice Prompt: Mercy

    Liked by 11 people

    • Starting with “There is no mercy in fire” and ending with “Mercy comes in many forms. And you deserve some from yourself,” this was such a fiery journey of words. There’s much we don’t know about the “child” or the terrible events that brought them to this place, but the progression of the speaker’s warnings was so tender and gentle. I especially appreciated the tensions between staring into the flame v taking hold of the flame, weakness v strength, staring into self v staring into the flames, and the apparent great power of the flames themselves. Great read.


  20. The Devil’s Kitchen

    The fire glowed invitingly. The beacon promised warmth, a respite from the biting cold.

    “Someone camping,” said Kay. “Let’s join them.”

    Aaron peered around. “I don’t see anyone.”

    Kay shrugged. “They’ll be around somewhere. Come on.”

    Aaron followed, annoyed. The Devil’s Kitchen had lived up to its name, boiling by day, freezing by night. Kay had said the trek would be a breeze. A walk in the park. She’d been wrong. They were lost, cold and hungry. At least they’d buried her husband where no one would find him.

    As they neared, they saw the fire blazed at the entrance to a cave. Fire and shelter. The answer to their prayers. A small mercy in the darkness.

    Aaron moved past her, felt the heat from the fire. He could see little inside the cave, only the shadows of the flames dancing on the wall. He stepped inside and Kay followed. Bones lay scattered across the floor of the cavern, skulls grinned down from ledges.

    “What is this place?” asked Kay, backing away.

    Aaron felt the temperature rise. He spun round to see a curtain of flame blocking the entrance.

    “My slow cooker,” said a voice.

    195 words
    fire element: justice

    Liked by 14 people

  21. Hyding

    The flames flicker weakly, now and again peering through the depths of your hazel eyes. Frigid conversations and icy glares have not completely snuffed it. I’ve held my hand open, palm-up, for years, but not once have you shattered your restraint.

    Reading you has morphed into an art, and I’ve become Rembrandt. I study your placid expression with the ardent gaze of a spurned lover. Your smiles are stone; not a curving crease nor a softening seam reflect your thoughts. You hide the enduring fire that made me adore you; you veil it behind a mirror, so that when I look at you, all I see…

    Is me.

    Your surface is smooth; you shut me out like plated mail. I cannot crack your shell, no matter what stones I throw your way…

    Except in the predawn hours when you are vulnerable and your eyes are sleep-hazed, and you don’t grip your weapons quite so tightly.

    Then the flashes flare through your half-closed lids, and I recognize the familiar siren call stretching across the years. I grip my pillow tightly. The dichotomy cannot be maintained; fire and water cannot co-exist.

    It will be a mercy to smother the past.

    Word Count: 198
    Ice-Dragon Prompt

    Liked by 12 people

  22. LEAVE A LIGHT ON is not a Bangles fan site.

    The company has provided memorials since time immemorial, all the while hiding a huge secret, like the ingredient in a granny’s sauce.

    There is no such thing as an eternal flame.

    If there was then dragons would not sleep. Or produce more dragons, indeed, since being inflamed with passion is not as much fun as it sounds.

    So beneath each memorial a small team, in both meanings of that phrase, is endlessly stoking the fire.

    If you watch one long enough you may get to see the shift change, where the night crew back out of the narrow tunnel and their day colleagues crawl in. If they get the timing wrong the flame goes out briefly, like a sneezing firework.

    Olympic Games are more difficult, as the staff have to go in and out of the column beneath the cauldron. The shift change here takes place when no-one is watching, usually during the fencing.

    So the company is a charade, but so what. It is where governments shop when pretending to honour the dead of wars that those same governments got them into.

    Seems fair, really.

    193 words
    Fire dragon prompt

    Liked by 9 people


    What happened for our fire to die down? You and me were friends and lovers. Mates drifting through life with its treasures and difficulties.
    How did I end up feeling like a robot?
    Is it me? Is it you? I don’t know. Does it matter? What is it all worth, this life we are living?
    Life is precious, it needs to be celebrated.
    We get up in the morning, go to work, eat, watch tv, read a book and go to bed. Day in, day out, we follow the same pattern. We chat about the weather, the news, the pandemic, but not of our feelings, wishes and desires. Where is the fire? Where is the passion?
    It’s gone, dissipated, never to come back.
    Breaking up, it hurts. You are my friend but not my lover anymore. I cannot give what you deserve. We will go our separate ways. I want to go and you need to let me loose. Let me live my own life. I need to find back my happiness. I know it will hurt both of us, but we can’t go on like this. Living on autopilot for the sake of it.
    Goodbye, my friend.

    Word Count: 198
    Ice Dragon: Act of mercy

    Liked by 10 people

  24. Series Of Fortunate Events

    Sometimes, a bijou event ruminates into an eternally flaming world of imagination…
    An occurrence as elementary as being bitten by your pet bird, instead of jolting you into reality, propels you to fantasy…
    Now that I’ve been bitten and have parakeet bacterium running into my bloodstream, I’m host to something so potent, that in days I will have an incursion of blue feathers all over.

    My limbs turn into black striped wings. Now I am a humanoid; a scary but resplendent avian.
    Above being volitant, I am volitional. I can only envisage the possibilities…
    Besides leaving my ten-year-old into a frenzy of giggles at my imagination, the child in me lingers at this conception longingly.
    Ah! The what ifs… the endless ones… like mirages of our verve.
    Soaring through the sky, I am this huge bird, unrecompensed, a feeling unparalleled to any simulacrum.
    Looking on this world through this tiny, spirited eye, I perceive an infinite circle of circumstances, some concoct and some concord, affecting other infinite circles of circumstances of everyone around them. Creating innumerable histrionics of pain and pleasure.

    For once I am disenthralled.

    It’s good to be Quixotic. I love this kooky kid in me.

    198 words excluding the tittle
    Ice Dragon: Mercy

    Liked by 9 people

  25. Ezekiel eyeballed the great timepiece in the sky for the b’zillionth time that day.
    ‘Where the hell is Famine?’ he complained.
    ‘Give it a rest will you!’ Zechariah snapped back—thinly veiled contempt shining like a Belisha beacon. ‘She’ll be here.’
    ‘I’m just saying those eternal fires won’t burn for ever.’
    ‘Give me strength!’ Zechariah muttered.
    He’s got a point.’ boomed an unholy voice.
    ‘Please do elaborate,’ winced Zechariah caustically, hopping out of the way of Death’s steed. ‘Vicious beast!’
    ‘Well… I’m meant to come in last—thus signalling the end of all time! Of pestilence! Hunger…’
    Death was warming up to his favourite subject—the apocalypse—before being rudely interrupted.
    ‘What he said,’ smirked Ezekiel—giving Death a tentative pat on his bony shoulder.

    They all looked up as sonic boom split the heavens.

    ‘Here she comes!’ Zechariah sighed admiringly, as Famine, glorious hair blazing—black horse thundering—hooves flashing dangerously—galloped across the skies.
    ‘She’ll never stop at that speed!’ Ezekiel cried excitedly.
    ‘Show boater!’ Death spat enviously.
    ‘She’s thrown something!’ They all roared—transfixed.

    Famine gave a satisfied smile as the ‘Scales of Justice’ delivered her own particular brand of punishment—keeping those eternal fires burning.

    Wordcount: 199
    Fire Dragon: Justice

    Liked by 11 people

  26. The Flame comforts.
    Be it hearth, stove, or naked campfire, the flame cradles humanity in its embrace. Freely it gives heat to soothe us from the cold reality of the world. Freely it offers light to chase away the shadows of that cold reality, and freely, it cleanses objects of organisms that could do us harm.

    The Flame watches.
    It sees all. It watches everything, from the smallest act of contrition to the grossest explosion of violence – thus cataloging the soul of humanity. Impartial and unmovable, the flame has no interest in the crying babe on the street, or the well-fed gentlemen who mock her. It simply watches the interplay, sometimes intently, and sometimes not, preferring to dance with an errant wisp of wind come to play.

    The Flame judges.
    An ermine collar, a fat cigar. The flame a-tango with the breeze. Ignition, conflagration.
    The flame, playful and contrite a second ago, is now hungry. Hungry for justice. Hungry for damnation. Hungry for wool and fine leather and for the flesh and fat that lie beneath. The man whimpers once and collapses. The flame dances through his silvery hair.

    The flame always watches. Act accordingly.

    197 words
    Fire dragon option

    Liked by 8 people

    • Flames “Hungry for justice.” It strikes me how your flame is similar to our collective cultural soul, at times comforting, many other times judging, and occasionally even hungry for justice.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Untitled.

    A halcyon haze;

    Calm moments. Hours? Days?

    Far into the wilderness of human vibration, in a box of metal and stone and wood that once lived and plastic that never will, a separate world revolves, a revolution made of isolation, a counter to the common culture made through disregard.

    /What do you see, when you look to the flame, sweet?

    A long draw, white noise tinted with a crackle;


    \Same as every other fire. Burning.



    /You want to know what I see?



    /I see where we could be, if we found our way from here. Fine blue sky, buildings of fancy in emerald and ivory stark against the great azure. A different world. Just waiting for us to jump in the blaze.



    \If only, I had your eyes.



    \You can go, you know? I’d sooner see you leap than stuck in this cage with me.



    /No, sweetness. The place I see? It’s made of us.




    /I’m staying here, in the smoke. With you.




    \I love you.

    Cut to black.

    With a little bit of light.

    196 words
    Ice Dragon (include an act of mercy)

    Liked by 6 people

    • Really love how you’ve created this feeling of respiration with structure, and the contrasts in this line, especially: “wood that once lived and plastic that never will”!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Legend Renewed

    The legend was older than memory, fixed as fact when the most ancient grandmother was but a babe. The details varied with each storyteller but the outline remained the same: Forest. Monster. Lost children. A hero fighting out of the shadows with the last stolen child in his arms. The flaming sword planted at the edge of the forest as a reminder, to the monster and to the town.

    Every family told stories of a great-grandfather who had taken his turn guarding the flame and heard the monster in the dark. When technology created fire that didn’t need to be fed or watched, every family attended the ceremony that replaced a pillar of burning wood with a small iron grate in a polished marble square. If there was fear in the town that night (Would it be enough?), it was gone in the sunlight when every child woke safe in their beds.

    Until the storm. Until technology failed them. Until the small fire sputtered to its death and in the darkness, a monster roared and the cries of grieving parents shattered the morning.

    And another hero put a light to a fallen branch, and ran into the forest.

    198 words
    Fire Dragon: Include an act of justice

    Liked by 8 people

  29. A Last One For The Road

    Vodka can do bad things to you. Like turn you into a retard.

    One evening Michail and I staggered out of our favourite bar. It was on a week night and those are always the worst. Usually, there’s no particular reason for it. Maybe we’re just bored with life. We drink because we can.

    Michail and I decided to take a shortcut home, or at least that’s what we thought. In our drunken haze we ended up passing by the obelisk of Minin and Pozharsky.

    “I really need to pee,” Michail blurted out suddenly.

    We looked around for a good peeing spot, but we could barely see out of our eyes. Then something caught our attention: the Eternal Flame memorial for our World War II victims. We turned our heads towards each other in slow motion.

    “Oh no, you won’t,” I mumbled.

    “Oh yes, I will” Michail mumbled back.

    He positioned himself perpendicular to the fire, aimed, swaying from left to right, and let go. The alcohol in his urine turned Michail into a human torch before he realised what was happening. I’ve never drunk a sip of anything since.

    190 words
    Fire dragon: act of justice

    Liked by 9 people

  30. Night Walks

    I’ve always taken night walks around London. You see a different side to the city, especially in the early morning. Cleaners inhabit the office blocks instead of businessmen. Night buses take the last of yesterday’s partiers home. I’m looking for the forgotten.
    Tonight it is in a darken doorway. Orange reveals the edges of a weathered face. The flame is held to a grate, rubbish catches adding red and yellow. I sit from afar, counting. At ten I sit down next to the human figure. “Hello.”
    A grunted reply. About what I usual get.
    He pockets it without comment. I don’t smoke either. He shivers into a ball before his arms unfurl his palms to the fire. Warmed, he rubs them on his ribs. It’ll make no difference.
    I take off my winter coat and hold it out. “Take it.”
    He hesitates.
    “Take it, your cold and I have another at home.” A lie he’ll never know about. The hesitation doesn’t change. I drop the coat and walk off. I need to get to work. At Portcullis House, I shower and change into a fresh suit, the new housing bill already in my red box.

    Ice Dragon option: An Act of Mercy
    Word Count = 169

    Liked by 9 people

  31. He Burns

    Yellow tongues, scarlet tongues, licking night. Torch kissing chilled October air. Trees whisper a litany in the wind, and she waits.

    Ash to ash, but flesh to dust costs the soul. No bones to cherish, no grave where withering lilies fester. A bright memory—perhaps her final conflagration of grief. No last stiff final embrace. She hopes for more.

    She lights the pyre. She prays, fingers trembling over kindling.

    How fast he burns!

    Her heartbeat falters. Anticipation. Dread. Will he be found wanting?

    He smells like holy incense, and his grey smoke flings images over the hillside, scenes of warriors grappling.

    His body hisses, venomous. The sound bites her heart. Sparks glisten in her hair, but she lingers close. Even as the blaze subsided to embers, she never dims.

    An arm reaches from the ashes, whole fleshed.
    A body follows, sooty, but entire. Her Phoenix rises.
    His beautiful face. He smiles.
    “My love”
    “I had to try.”
    “Now vengeance!The Gods found me blameless! I’ll raise an army!”
    “No,” she whispers. “Now life. We leave this kingdom forever. A new life will be your revenge.”

    Both dragons?
    Word count: 189?

    Liked by 10 people

  32. Enflamed

    The fire is out, but I skulk within the sanctum. What is a flamekeeper when there is no longer a flame?

    A pariah.

    Outside, the city smolders. Black smoke curdles the air. Ash dusts the snow. In the streets, scathed by indignant riots, a man lingers. The fire in his gaze holds no warmth. Like the firepower he slings across his back in angry iron.

    “See?” My shields ripple his snarl. He gestures to the rubble. “See what you made us do?”

    I retreat in silence.

    Stasis is not peace. The powerful bulwark themselves behind status quo. Those struggling to feed their children have little opportunity to strive for justice. Instead, they’re given tokens of hope, like the Flame of Peace.

    Since I was chosen, I’d been siphoning off sacred fuel, smuggling it to families who needed heat more than hope during the long winter. The symbol sputtered out, and the keepers of status quo exploded into fury.

    When I emerge again, rain is falling. The smoke has lifted. A boy taps on the shield. I recognize him. He’d taken some oil back to his family. He doesn’t have infernoes in his eyes. His gaze is warm with hope.

    199 words
    Ice Element—mercy (justice too)

    Liked by 15 people

    • “I skulk”
      “The powerful bulwark themselves”
      “shields ripple his snarl”

      The heavy lifting your verbs do here, in imagery, in world building, in voice, just absolutely stunning. And then the concept of a flamekeeper siphoning her own token flame. And then this line–“Stasis is not peace”–I think I’ll carry with me. Stasis. Is not. Peace. And then…and then…and then…I could keep and thening but I’ll leave it at this: I hope you let this world burst free of our measly 199 word-cage.

      Liked by 5 people

    • So good. The infernos in his eyes line, and “Since I was chosen, I’d been siphoning off sacred fuel, smuggling it to families who needed heat more than hope during the long winter,” really hit. Well-done!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Guidance

    I died so many wars ago that the slaughters that soak into the Earth’s soil have stopped amazing me as they once had. They are inevitable. Men fall and die. People like to believe that it was only recently that women fought too, but they forget all the women who tumbled down when the fights came to their doorsteps and into their homes.

    I spend my time drifting from memorial to memorial, from cemetery to cemetery. I visit those who died in battle. I even visit those who died fighting their own dragons – real or imaginary. It’s a type of peace I can bring to them. Sometimes I think that I had died before my soul drifted out of my bruised flesh and that must be why I drift and visit rather than wait for another forgotten memory to find me.

    When the living come to visit the dead, I do my best to bring them comfort. If at all possible, I lead them to the unlabeled headstone that marks the one they seek. They’d never know it, but they’re never alone in their visits. It’s a small gift, but that is what forgotten memories are for.

    Word Count: 197
    Element: Ice

    Liked by 8 people

    • Those first two lines, wow. It feels like we’re already so numb to violence and we can’t even claim to be immortal souls wandering from bloodshed to bloodshed. And I love the tenderness of your ending.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Eternal fire reminds me of hell
    Images of mouths wide open in agony
    Air filled with ear deafening screams
    Smell of burning flesh polluting the air
    Satan engulfed in cruel mirth
    As he watches with glee
    The intense pain the writhing bodies are in
    Murderers and Rapists get their just dessert
    In the everlasting inferno
    Childhood nights filled with such terrifying images
    The consequences of my fire and brimstone pastor parents
    I lived a life devoid of excesses
    Colourless with very little excitement
    Ever careful not to end up in hades
    Like my Uncle Harvey had
    According to my unbending parents
    Braced up to ask them how they knew where Uncle was
    Earned me a vicious slap from my mother
    That night as I knelt to pray
    Innocent and weary me
    Asked God to take my parents to hell
    For a never ending visit to Uncle Harvey
    Who was at least warm to me despite being a rogue
    God didn’t answer that prayer
    Mother woke me up in the early morns
    For the usual rigorous prayer sessions
    Hell might be a better place to be
    If my parents weren’t going to be there.

    Word count 158
    Element Fire

    Liked by 8 people

    • Your contrast between “writhing bodies” and “unbending parents” is striking! As is the image of a child, “innocent and weary”, praying out of desperation for a justice so terrifying. And then the logical-to-the-child-mind conclusion. Nicely done.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. “Afire”

    The men with the guns and the iron chains came and raped my village. My wife, my children, me. They threw us on filthy ships and stole us to America, then tore all I had left away from me. In the still of night, amidst the others’ sobs, I would light a fire to honor their memory, and pray that some day there would be justice in the world.

    The Nazis came and dragged us from our beds. In the camps, we spent four years starving, suffering, dying. My mother, my father, my sister didn’t make it out. I did. And every year, on the anniversary, I lit a fire to honor their memory, and prayed that some day there would be justice in the world.

    One sunny afternoon, I stood, helpless, as the police officer pressed his knee into the back of a man’s neck, and held it there until he died. The opportunists hijacked our righteous anger to burn and plunder. In the privacy of my home, I lit a fire to honor his memory, and prayed that some day there would be justice in the world.

    There is no justice yet.

    Just a world ablaze.

    Liked by 10 people

  36. Astraea

    The war began (as such wars do) with men who neglected the lessons of history. I was an innocent boy with romantic notions of alien planets, great battles, and mighty heroes.

    The war ended (as such wars do) in tears, and firing squads, and a vow never to forget. Never forget. My memories fueled my nightmares for a century. Even after I escaped the jail, fled the planet, buried my past deeper than my victims. At night I saw those purple eyes of a girl from Astraea — eyes that watched her family and her future die in a blast of searing plasma.

    One day I saw those eyes again, in daylight. They held me entranced as she approached. We stood at the memorial: rippling waters and roaring flame.

    “I could turn you in,” she said without preamble. “I should. Though a lifetime ago, justice knows no age.” Her face was pale as mine had been that day. “But the flame falters. Life, I see, has wearied us both. Mercy. Or justice.”

    “So which will it be?” I asked. “The water? Or the fire?”

    I never saw the pistol — only the glint in her eyes.

    “The earth.”

    196 words
    An act of justice. (Or mercy. Pick your poison.)

    Liked by 12 people

    • I love how the ending *seems* to give away Astraea’s choice in her final words but the speaker’s verb tense makes me think he must have lived. And now I want to know by what divine or human intervention. Phenomenal world building as always!


  37. The world curls around the flame like a tear in the making.

    Outside, squatters, tents. Inside, a hearth built with oyster shells.

    “I can smell the sea,” says Chani. My sister still washes her face every day to ease her memory.

    “A lie.” I stare into the fire. “The seas vanished long ago.”

    “Not so.” She smiles wistfully. “Beyond the land of the pale faces, there is still water. You will see.”

    “See what?” I gnaw on a hibiscus root. “I am sick of seeing always what you tell me to see.”

    “It is no lie.” She hauls a sheet of Tyvek around herself and huddles her hands into the flame. “Out there is an entire ocean. You can sail across it for leagues and leagues with no end. Nothing but seagulls and waves. And when you get to the other side, you will see —“

    The door hinge rattles. Chani flinches.

    “Enough!” I throw open the door. “It’s only the wind! Dust! Dry bones shivering in the swales! No seagulls, no waves! What is it you expect me to see?”

    Chani’s eyes shimmer, a pearl where a tear once was.


    Fire Dragon element: justice
    Word count: 192

    Liked by 11 people

  38. Kholodnoye Pravosudiye

    One year ago today, Gavrilla Andreevna remembered, Arkadi Denisivich was in the Gorki Sokol aircraft plant when the Germans bombed it. Two days before their wedding.

    On this winter morning, as she did the hard work clearing debris from the constant bombings, a buzzing noise drew her eyes to the sky. A JU-88 recon bomber. Gorky’s air defenses saw it, too, and Gavrilla smiled when a flaming wing broke off. The JU tumbled to earth, like a leaf in the wind.

    A parachute blossomed, and Gavrilla watched as it disappeared into a copse of trees nearby. With no hesitation, she headed there.

    Gavrilla found the man dangling from his parachute caught in a tree. When he saw her, he tried to pull his pistol but fumbled it. Gavrilla picked it from the snow and pointed it at the German.

    “Milost’!” he cried. Mercy.

    This one probably hadn’t bombed Sokol, but one dead German was as good as another.

    Yet, would someone weep for him as she had for Arkadi?

    Gavrilla lowered the gun, turned, and walked away.

    From his perch the German called, “Spaciba!”

    Gavrilla smiled again; tonight the temperature would be -12ºC, and Arkadi would have justice.

    An act of justice
    198 words
    (Note: Gorki was the name of Nizhny Novgorod until 1990, when the city reverted to its original name.)

    Liked by 8 people

    • “Yet, would someone weep for him as she had for Arkadi?” One of my favorite tropes in lit is when women protags flip the script on violence and agency. Nicely done.


  39. The hush over the room was punctuated by the occasional whimper. The mourners were not reserved, or unmoved. But they had already cried so long. Their voices had nothing left. Or so it seemed. Until a deep, other-worldly wail rose from the back of the church, and called forth all of the tears that had not yet been cried. Deeply buried sobs rose to meet their leader. No one moved. No head turned. But the silence disappeared under a chorus of pain.
    The laments continued for several minutes, until finally, the widow rose to speak. With unfathomable strength, she stood before her fellows in grief. They had been here before. They might be here again. They had no natural cause for hope. No rational reason to persevere. But they would hope. They had to hope. Their only other option was to join their beloved in the grave. A comforting prospect, honestly, but where would that leave the children? Should they not have, at least a chance, at the life we had dreamed of? Must their hope die, too? No, that would be a greater death. So we will walk with them, for them, a little bit longer. And forgive.

    Fire element: mercy
    Word count: 199

    Liked by 7 people

    • “They had no natural cause for hope. No rational reason to persevere. But they would hope.”–The depth and power in this is beautiful, devastating. And the truth in those last lines, to despair entirely, “that would be a greater death”. Thank you for sharing. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  40. ~ The wind

    Kaif brandished his sword at Jamal. Where’s your warrior, he sneered. I killed one yellow son of yours, are the others all girls too?

    Poison vines dug into Jamal’s wrists and ankles, sapping the life out of him painfully.

    She will come, he muttered.
    She? Kaif threw back his head and laughed.

    What are you wearing? Jamal had asked his seven year old daughter. She was in her brother’s oversized clothes. She’d looked down at herself. Clothes, she’d answered. She held a wooden sword in her hand. He’d smiled at her delicate stemlike wrists. He had named her Hawa after the wind. So light and beautiful.

    Hawa emerged from the trees, her hair as fiery and red as the flame of the torch she carried, eyes as determined as they were the first time she held a sword.

    Stop her! Qasim growled, I don’t fight girls.
    Jamal chuckled despite his pain. You can’t stop the wind.

    And like the wind, in one swift swish of her sword, Kaif’s head was sliced off. It bounced, rolled away, coming to rest in the undergrowth. The torso stood still for a moment then fell back into the dust.

    Justice is served father.

    Words: 199

    Liked by 10 people

  41. Law’s lesson

    This scene from undergrad always helps when I just can’t go on.

    My advisor, some other students, and I had gone to see the Doonesbury Killer’s trial. It was an open and shut case. Jury came back in no time. Guilty. Judge gave him the death penalty. He was taken away.

    We had convened out in front of the building when the advisor asked us how the sentence should be classified. Couple people immediately shouted out that it was an Act of Vengeance, killing him for his crime. The advisor shook his head. “No. The law is supposed to be dispassionate, rational.”


    Someone finally ventured “Justice” The advisor again shook his head. “Killing as punishment for killing is not justice, just more killing.”

    The advisor continued “This was an act of mercy. The killer’s time in Jail would have been brutal. It is mercy that he doesn’t have to suffer through that. The victim’s families will not have to know that this man is alive while the victim isn’t. It is mercy that they don’t have to suffer”
    Every part of the system should be merciful or it’s done wrong”

    And that is why I became a judge.

    word count 199
    element: Ice

    Liked by 10 people

  42. Pingback: Inspector Counterweight And The Percussive Goblin #flash!friday #flashfiction | TanGental

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