Fire&Ice: Sol 9/19

§ Rebekah says: What a week it’s been again! Here in the United States our upcoming elections (Nov 3) consume our airwaves, and it’s very hard to avoid being consumed ourselves. Yet somehow, despite our collective anguish, we persist mentally cramming our co-citizens into the tiny boxes of who we’ve already decided they are. Why oh why is imagining flat characters so often the default, both in writing and in life?? Chimamanda Adichie’s exhortation against clinging to a “single story” chases and confronts me on a daily basis. 

It’s for that reason, and in celebration of Fire&Ices having reached its midpoint!!, that the ice dragon and I thought we’d push the envelope a bit this sol. May it provide a fun and inspiring challenge for us all, one that defies single story-ing and the too-easy comfort of writing what we already (think we!) know. [[And if this envelope-pushing means an extra dragon or two happen to appear in this week’s stories, well, I guess that’ll be the Sol 9 challenge for our unsuspecting judges! mwahahahaha]] ♥ 

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 Mark King and Stephanie Ellis. 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 9/19

“Eternal Procession” . CC4 photo by Marc Toso, Ancient Skys Photography.  Read about Bears Ears (“Shash Jaá”)’s current political troubles here.

Fire & Ice Prompt

Required elements: JOINT CHALLENGE FOR SOL 9:

Fire & Ice dragon requirement: Write your story outside your usual genre (or in a genre that’s new to you). For example, but not limited to: fantasy, scifi, romance, mystery, western, comedy, crime, horror, or thriller (or any general audience subgenres of these examples). Be sure to identify your chosen genre.

Today’s word count: 150-160

254 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 9/19

  1. The Fly in the Re-election Ointment

    Life’s short.
    There is no hope of longevity.
    Four weeks tops.
    My grandfather lived for five.
    Good fly genes.
    There’s so little time to make your mark.
    Few flies even try.
    A buzzkill here, a buzzard there…a swat, and you’re squashed.
    Name me one famous fly.
    Can’t, can you?
    You’re not alone.
    Old Billy Blake…he tried.
    Not that the fly had a name.
    You known the poem?
    “For I dance
    And drink & sing:
    Till some blind hand
    Shall brush my wing.“
    So, with a few amusing exceptions, and I hate to even admit this, we are actually quite boring.

    I live out at Bear Ears.
    Obama made us a park.
    I admired that.
    When I heard a rumour that numbnuts and his toady were going to decertify us if they were re-elected, I knew I had to do something.
    Yup. That was me on the Veep’s head.
    Two minutes and counting.
    A world’s record.
    Guinness quality.
    Yeah, baby!

    Fire AND Ice Dragon Requirements: Political Insect Fantasy Satire
    160 words

    Liked by 15 people

  2. The Wind Chimes

    Winds whistle ancient songs they had learned before branching off. Each crawls along the floor of this particular canyon and flutters up its surrounding clay walls.

    The wind has witnessed many celebrations but lives to tell the horror stories committed against the imposing land it caresses.

    “See what got slaughtered because of a nomad’s recklessness?” it whispers.

    “Here are the rightful owners of these mountains,” it hisses.

    “I will make you sick,” it promises.

    “Don’t bother with expectations as you won’t notice until far too late,” it harmonizes.

    “I was here before land and water,” it sings.

    They come together to harmonize.

    “We will be here long after everything and everyone is gone.”

    It sweeps along the valleys and hills leading out to bodies of water. Theirs proves to be a symmetrical marriage whipping up a menu of energetic tsunamis that prove ruinous enough to turn the entire planet blue.

    153 words
    Fire dragon: horror
    Ice dragon: fantasy

    Liked by 14 people

  3. Search History

    I don’t notice. Lost in words. In numbers. In news. I’m staring at my desktop when they call my name. Quickly switch to my starry screen saver when they arrive. Close the lid as they bring drinks over. Laughing about class today.

    They are my best friends, but I’m not sure I’m ready to share this. Not yet.

    “Hey Cass, what you doing?” Jake has been my best friend since we were five. Playing in the sandpit. Comparing grazes. He was always shorter than me until this year. Now he stands tall, brown floppy hair covers his eyes.

    “Research.” I pop the computer into my bag. Knowing I found her name. A bit more digging and I’d have a town. Somewhere to start tracking, tracing. Finding out what had happened to my mum.

    My heart races. I sip my banana milkshake, it hits my brain. I have something to start from. Somewhere to go.

    A beginning, at last.

    158 words
    genre – teen fiction / mystery (YA)

    Liked by 16 people

  4. White Noise and Large Hats

    “Why did we have to come and visit these stupid cave paintings?”

    Gerald ignores her. It’s become white noise now.

    Audrey’s ridiculously large hat casts a shadow over each painting as the group stop to examine it.

    “I’ve something in my shoe.” Audrey unlaces the gladiator sandal. The tiniest piece of gravel falls to the floor; she re-ties the shoe.

    When she looks up, the rest of the party are gone, together with the guide’s lamp.

    “Gerald!” Only her own voice calls back to her.

    Audrey takes out her phone. 2%. Enough to get out of this godforsaken hole. She picks her way along the cave, her hand wiping, unthinkingly, across the ancient paintings.

    The phone dies. Nothing but darkness now. Audrey tries to remember the myth Gerald had droned at her. Something about people in the cave after dark.

    The next morning, there’s one more figure fixed in paint on the wall. A figure in a ridiculously large hat.

    160 words
    Genre – Fantasy/Horror

    Liked by 17 people


    It had been quite a feat getting the piece to Jerome’s mountain lodge, but the slab of rock, so raw and mystical, and infused with time in a way that the brochure picture could never have imparted, now hung above the enormous fireplace.

    Jerome poured himself a glass of the thick red, a gratuity which had arrived with the package. It was salty… metallic… but, after the first sip, he savoured it.

    He winced as the skin burst in two places beneath his hairline and protruding ridged bulbs pushed out, curling into horns. Jerome kicked off his shoes, uncomfortably aware of the constriction, then, in a sudden urge, he galloped to the balcony and skittered up the stone wall to the roof, balancing impeccably on the edges of his hooves on the climb.

    From the top, he spied the lush grass in the valley meadow and, with a perfect vibrato bleat, leapt.

    152 words
    Genre: a toe dip into the very edge of Fantasy!

    Liked by 14 people


    Eddie gasped. Fatigued, he strolled into the light. It felt intense and hot, like a stage light. He felt doozy and opened his eyes.

    There was a steep mountain wall with animals and characters featuring a procession.

    A little boy said, “JUMP” and suddenly stood next to him. Eddie stared at the lad and sucked in his breath as he identified himself as a seven-year-old kid.

    The boy looked up and pleaded, “Please, play ERUPTION one more time?”

    “But I don’t have my guitar.”

    “You can play the air guitar.”

    Eddie grinned, moving his arms into position. When he held the invisible plectrum in his hand and touched the strings, rock music vibrated through the canyon.

    He swayed around, played and danced as if he was RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL.

    A final solo, a last chord.

    In the sky the milky way sparkled with twinkling stars.

    Life rocked, but he was ready to migrate to the other world.


    # Eddie van Halen R.I.P.
    *️⃣ Amsterdam January 26, 1955
    ✝️ Santa Monica October 6, 2020

    @esthervdheuvel1 @Hills1S
    Word Count: 158
    Fire & Ice Dragon: Fan Fiction

    Liked by 15 people

  7. No one will find my bones.

    At least, I hope not. That would confuse the heck out of archaeologists.

    I should jump in a volcano, to be certain.

    Not yet, though. But soon, definitely.

    I definitely shouldn’t mate with these… apes. No matter how lonely I am, how nearly-human they are, it would be wrong.

    But it is necessary.

    Or is it? I don’t know. Am I the end or the beginning? Or both?

    Or neither. Probably I’m just a dropped stitch in time, a loop hanging from the larger fabric, an imperceptible flaw so tiny it can’t mar the beauty of the grand design. The stars I fell from keep turning, the rocks I landed on weather and shift, and no one will ever know I was here.

    I could paint a spaceship above the prey. Maybe someone would find it, and know. It would be safe. No one would believe them, because no one will find my bones.

    Word count: 160
    Genre: sci-fi

    Liked by 14 people

  8. She knew what she needed. So when she saw Brett that night in the rodeo bar, she knew she’d found it. Six foot, tanned, astonishingly shredded. Animal. He caught her eyes and smiled an untamed smile.

    Fast forward two years.

    Brett’s out. Raincloud-coloured bruises remind her of the last time he was here.

    She stares through their fifth-floor window. Hopes she’ll see him; hopes she’ll never see him again.

    She thinks about escape. But five floors might not do it.

    Down below, people crowd into a steepled building. So… together.

    She’s out of the apartment, down the stairs, in the street, the crowd, the building. She’s handed a sheet of paper, a heavy book.

    She sits.

    She realises she’s locked the keys inside the apartment. Panics. Brett’s going to–

    Someone starts to sing.

    She looks up.

    She forgets her beast. She doesn’t need him. She’s surrounded by infinity and all the shining stars.

    153 words. Women’s / Inspirational.

    Liked by 15 people

  9. Do you remember how I loved you? Before the stars collided, we had our own galactic exploration. We gravitated towards each other like magnets riding a current. I revolved around you. Every feeling and expression would be mirrored in our faces as though we were one entity, reflecting reality back upon ourselves. If I was the sun then you were my moon.

    Now our story fades like hieroglyphs carved into the dust of a planet we used to roam. My heart weakens without your pulse. Without you, I am only a fading star burning out the last of its reserves. Together the flames of our love may be reignited – we could light up the sky like fireworks dancing through the night.

    Pull me back to you. Allow me the honour of floating adrift within the black hole of your atmosphere – after all, I am blind to anything that does not begin and end with your eyes.

    Erin Robinson @flossybunny

    Liked by 13 people

  10. And the Vultures Wept

    Beckett came to spitting the dirt hair of a corpse from his mouth.

    His dust-crusted eyes saw blood everywhere, as if the sun had turned red. He blinked again, and realized it was the red-rock landscape towering over him. Checked his holster. Empty. Checked his limbs. Working.

    The corpse, still attracting vulture attention, was Guy, a surly fellow from Ogden. Guy didn’t like Beckett on account of his Mormonism. He tried to amass a mob, as they did in the East, but the others looked at him like the saloon drunk. Nobody cared which way your wind blew out West.

    Guy and two hunting dogs tracked Beckett to bears ears, toppling his wagon. The ambush was thwarted by Balwant, a young member of the Goshutes, who didn’t know his people were warring with Beckett’s people. Stolen land and budding religions didn’t matter to Balwant. He was scouting clouds and scowling at a coward.

    Beckett kept the faith and kept moving.

    Word count: 160 words.
    Element: Western.

    Liked by 13 people

  11. ~The Initiation~

    She woke up in a stark white room with nothing but an old television set sitting eerily on a creaky old table.

    Between the black and white noise, an intermittent feed of people dressed as animals played out on the television in a loop.

    There was the man in a deer costume, sitting in a cafe. The old woman dressed as a fox, sitting on a bed, cradling the little boy in rabbit headgear. There was the lady dressed as an eagle, fighting with another writhing like a snake.

    The people in costumes spoke nothing, but the procession of images played out set to heavy metal music, with intertitles between the feeds, telling her, not subtly, that these people were to be massacred by a pride of flesh-eating lions.

    She was to be one of the lions, the final card told her, as a box with a lion costume and a plate of human flesh was slipped into the room.

    160 Words
    Surrealist Horror

    Liked by 15 people

  12. [Untitled]

    When the trailer park burned, I got out with a blanket, my cat, my bicycle, and a copy of Moby Dick. And a couple cans of baked beans. And a can opener.

    I scraped the last of the beans from the can with my finger, held it out for the cat. I stared up at the Milky Way.

    “Where are all those stars going, Missy?”

    From this patch of hard ground I can see down the valley. Back toward town. It glows orange. No sirens, nobody to warn. Everybody’s gone.

    I lay back, stones poking my shoulder blades, blanket rolled under my head. Missy bumps me with her furry grey forehead and curls up under my arm. At this angle the Milky Way feels like I could fall right into it.

    “Aren’t we all like waves in the ocean, Missy. We show up, bump around, and then back in we go.”

    Somewhere ash blankets a car’s windshield.


    160 words
    Dystopia is so not my thing, but can’t we all get with that vibe right now… 😉

    Liked by 13 people

  13. Back then I thought I could solve everything

    They say that out here are spirits from prehistoric times. There’s certainly little else. And rarely people. So when a naked body is found stretched out under their art, we start to wonder if they were involved.

    And there it was, laid out as if a sacrifice to the stars. Certainly not for the lighting rigs and teams of police carefully combing the area for clues. Anything that would back up what she could tell us herself.

    “Detective, she’s ready,” someone said.

    I approached her spirit as it floated above its former home, introduced and explained myself before asking, “Did you see who did this to you?”

    We couldn’t understand her answer. It was a language none of us understood.

    And that was when they came to reclaim her.

    Stone Age people surrounded us, approached her, picked up the body and took it away.

    We packed up and went home none the wiser. My first unexplained case.

    157 Words
    Supernatural Crime

    Liked by 11 people

  14. Lost in the Stars

    My dear Whitman–

    Are we sharing the same stars, the same moon? I wish you could be here, and I could show you the petroglyphs again. Gregory and I are making progress with the translation. Yes, we are not alone.

    All my love,


    Dear Jacob—

    I look out at the stars tonight and I wonder if you are alone. I have seen the way you look at my brother, Gregory. We are making progress with the translation. There are three warriors in the sky. How are things on the Nile? Are the calla lilies blooming in the spring rain?

    Your faithful friend,


    Dear Whitman and Jacob–

    I cannot believe your treachery.

    Jacob–How could you treat my brother this way?

    Whitman– How could you betray me? You took my heart and the notebooks. But my heart will mend. And yes, you took the wrong notebooks. It seems the stars aligned.


    156 words
    epistolary romance

    Liked by 13 people

  15. Piget

    They looked like us, my love, just like us. They told stories through pictures, then words. They wrote histories in a myriad of languages and sent them to the stars, encoded and enshrined for eternity.
    Those stories brought me here, to distant alien shores under this blanket of bright beauty.
    Away from you.
    Funny how, a million miles from here, our greatest minds decipher their tales as I stand before wall carvings that tell it all.
    You should have kissed me more before I left.
    I wish I’d stayed.
    They were just like us my love, just like us. They hunted and gathered. They farmed, they fought and formed civilisations. They must have loved, they must have hated.
    It’s all gone, you see my love, they’re gone – wiped themselves out long before we ever got their transmissions.
    This place is a mausoleum now, to the beings of a planet called ‘Earth’ and to the love I lost to find them.

    David Shakes
    160 words
    Sci-fi Romance

    Liked by 12 people

  16. Fool’s Luck

    Damn Injuns.

    Shots rained around those precious pictographs the Hopi were so proud of…but one shot was all the bastard needed.

    Some vigilante guardian, Scott guessed. His thigh spouted a fountain in the starlight.

    Gramps said pick a moonless night to hit the burial site. Get a few clay pots.Get the Kelly family revenge.

    Great-great-grandfather: scalped, ranch claim lost.
    Gramps: lost it all in the Indian casino.

    “You shot?”
    Scott squinted at the stranger who appeared beside him. Ghost? Miracle? The drawl was reassuring.

    Deft fingers tied a strip of cloth on his thigh, staunching the flow.

    “I think you saved my life,” Scott whispered.
    “Naw,” drawled the stranger. Scott saw the long dark braids swinging below the Stetson. “You’ll just take longer to die.”

    150 words
    Trying Western

    Liked by 8 people

  17. White House Flat

    It struck the White House before anyone could utter those iconic words ‘Houston, we have a problem.’
    Bear’s live feed erupted—half eaten pretzel sliding—bulging eyes unable to comprehend the scene playing out on social media.

    9.25AM hairpiece u seeing this?
    9.26AM lifeonadollarbill this is unreal!!!!
    9.27AM bleachleach what? A mountain!?!?!

    Bear covered his ears as a ‘brain-bleeding’ screech emitted from every device in the bunker. TV screens wearing blank looks ceased transmitting on-the-scene footage—adding their voices to the unearthly choir.

    It stopped.

    Deathly silence hung like widow’s weeds.

    Then. The voice.

    ‘Hello. Is anybody in there?’

    Bear barely breathing.

    The voice. Louder.

    ‘Is there anybody home?’

    Bewildered. Bear rebooted his mobile.
    The voice. Wheedling.

    ‘I can ease your pain.
    Can you show me where it hurts?’

    The ceiling creaked ominously. Glass splintered.

    ‘Just a little pinprick.’

    Bears world exploded.

    He emerged miraculously ‘comfortably numb’ from the wreckage—deadly attractive—spitting apocalyptic meteorite chips.

    Wordcount: 160
    Psychedelic Pop/Sci-Fi/Political Fantasy

    Liked by 10 people

  18. “We’ll meet by the big rock”
    “By the famous pictures.”
    “Under a starry procession”
    “Yes indeed … what?”
    “You know the the bear procession”
    “Ok. We’ll meet the sheriff to be”
    “This dusty town will be cared for again”
    “Freedom to run and ride”
    “Freedom to drink where we like!”
    “Freedom to dance where we like!”
    “You’re always on about that! Never happen”
    “Watch me!”
    “Come now we’re open to ideas here in eternity-ville”
    “The bullocks will roam free too!”
    “When the sheriff to be is here” 
    “What if they won’t do what we need?”
    “We’ll have another meet”
    “We can meet until it happens”
    “No shots fired and all smiles”

    “We’ll meet by the big rock” 
    “By the famous pictures”
    “Under the starry procession”
    “The bear procession”
    “To wait on the next new sheriff to be!”
    “To repeat anon”
    “Freedom granted freedom will be granted.”
    “Freedom and care.”

    (150 words, western play (attempt) @lindorfan )

    Liked by 9 people

  19. Mr Dandy And The Milkshake

    Millie waited for her father at the back of the class.
    ‘That’s all. 500 words by Tuesday, okay?’
    Millie wondered why they all groaned. Were they hungry like her?
    As the class filed out, she eased forward to her father’s desk. He looked up. ‘Hi, kiddo. I just need my bag. You okay to do a drawing?’
    Millie nodded. This was the best bit. Her stomach rumbled.
    ‘Hungry? Won’t be long. Here,’ he pressed a stick of chalk in her hand as he hurried out.
    She’d done this before, drawn pictures on his special wall. Last time it was Mr Dandy, the stick man. He was nice. She scratched him and his hat and then a cow and a glass. Finally she drew the door and waited.
    When her father reappeared, he smiled. That man again. Distracted, he wondered why she only drew him on this blackboard, and didn’t see Millie as she wiped away the little milk moustache.

    159 words
    Genre: children/fantasy

    Liked by 14 people


    Act 1 Scene 1

    Tara. A field beside the hill.

    Enter KING MACDARA [he draws upon the hill-face]. Enter BETH.

    BETH: Father, what art thou at?

    MACDARA: Art.

    BETH: What art thine art?

    MACDARA: Behold the fiery trail above.
    This evening while I watched the sky
    Between the stars a reindeer passed,
    With snout of flame, that lit the way
    For fellow deer behind his hind.
    They pulled a sleigh of childhood gifts
    Like dolls, and books, and shiny pence
    And sweets the shape of walking-sticks.
    The reindeer reins were reigned by one
    With cloak of red and beard of snow –

    BETH: Father, I fear that madness –

    MACDARA: Now, dear, one does not interrupt the soliloquy.

    BETH: Of course not. Forgive me.

    MACDARA: – who waved and thrice did utter “ho”. [Dies].

    BETH (alarumed): Dies? What do you mean, dies?

    GHOST of MACDARA: Well, it’s not one of his comedies.

    152 words
    Shakespearean drama

    Liked by 14 people

  21. Out here, it felt like the world had an end. If I wandered away in the dark, I could disappear. It was warm enough that I didn’t need a campfire, so the only light was the Milky Way, slowly vanishing behind the edge of the world. Behind me I could hear the herd rustling – they never completely shut down, even in the dead of night – but I wasn’t worried about them wandering away. There was water here, and as much green stuff as you’d find anywhere in the desert.

    I missed when Molly would ride with me. Sometimes we’d talk. Sometimes we’d make love, our rough hands communicating our desire in the dark. But mostly she’d keep me from wondering what it would be like to wander off the edge of the world. There wasn’t much point to what I was doing, no stockyards left who wanted my herd.

    I wanted so badly for the world to have an end.

    160 words

    Liked by 11 people

  22. Pingback: #FireIceFlash, week 9 – Project Gemini

  23. H1V3M1ND3D

    “Investors. DreamTime will deliver immersive reality for a world tormented by climate change, automation and resource unrest.”

    “DreamTime will provide billions of potential subscribers an escape to a life of meaning, nature and connection. In ten seconds we activate the algorithm, raise your glasses …. Ten …”


    Tau, wrists bound by Arrez-Tape, watched from the Boundary Road kerb as the copper activated the J-Cube. A moment later and a bearded man popped into existence.

    “Yes? Quickly!”

    “Theft y’honour, local juve, third strike.”


    The copper held up Tau’s backpack, the cube emitting light, scanning the contents.

    “Vegemite? Typical, fine, Tau of the Turrbal people I sentence you to uploading.”


    In the squad car, stomach rolling. Pass the watch-house to a nondescript warehouse. Inside white coats scanned Tau, prodded, tested, noted in silence. Head shaved, cables connected to temple.

    Ushered into a room of pods, Tau recognised others floating within.

    Guided inside one, warm liquid enveloping, lid closing.




    159 Words
    Genre: Sci-Fi

    Liked by 8 people

    • Wow. The amount of world building you’ve packed into this is incredible. And the concept of a VR criminal justice system and all the ways it could–and would–go wrong (I mean we see it here already, an arrest over vegemite), is just chilling. Nicely done!


  24. Natoc pulled the stone back from the rock face and examined his work, lit by the stars overhead. “There. The smaller deer is you.”
    “You should have made us birds.” Bala leaned closer to look.
    “I could have made you a bison.”
    She smacked his arm. “Gods above help you if you think I want to be remembered as a fat Bison.”
    He tossed the stone away and looked up to the sky. They were so small beneath the innumerable stars. “I will remember you, whatever happens tomorrow.”
    Her hand found its way into his. “It will be good. And it will ensure a future for us and our children.”
    “Children?” He raised an eyebrow. “If we’re going to have children we best get to work.”
    She laughed as he chased her down the hill.
    The carvings of two deer watched them from the rocks, still as they would stay for millennia.

    152 words

    Liked by 10 people

  25. Etchings in Hope

    Her eyes are a mirror to the stars. Her gaze, it holds me captive. She smiles, perfect lips spread across caramel skin.
    But not for me.
    For him.
    By firelight, I carve our story into the rock and pray one day my dreams become memories.
    Without love, this world is a desolate one.
    ‘What’s this?’ asks Ahote. ‘Tell me it’s not you and Citlali. She is a higher being.’
    ‘Of course not,’ I tell him. ‘It is our parents. Look at mother’s hair, how it swirls with the breeze.’
    ‘I believe you.’ Ahote laughs.
    As he walks away, I rub my finger across Citlali’s form and whisper, ‘it will always be you.’
    Morning spreads its arms wide, lifting the sun into the sky.
    I rub my bleary eyes with aching hands and sigh as the haze settles.
    Citlali rubs a finger across the carving of my form.
    She turns. She smiles.
    But not for him.
    For me.

    Word Count: 158
    Genre: Romance… Or something of the like.

    Liked by 11 people

  26. Misinterpretation

    “What’s that one, a horse?”
    “Didn’t have horses back then. Buffalo, maybe.”
    [Here, my child, the beast of emotion runs amok when loosed by the ignorant.]

    “This one looks like a guy holding a severed head.”
    “The head’s smiling?”
    [The trickery of desire, see? It masquarades itself as free-will.]

    “Dude! What are you doing?”
    “Just adding a little something to the scribbles.”
    “Yeah, ‘little’ is right—self portrait?”
    [Here shows the chaos created when fools take freedom to mean they can do as they wish.]

    “Shit, someone’s coming!”
    “There’s a cave over here!”
    [Life’s goal is to steer the vessel of self by the light of soul—and not be tossed by the tides of hope and the winds of fear.]

    “But it’s not stable.”
    “Just get in!”
    [When you recognize your will is no different than that of the stones and the stars, my child, you are free of the ego’s crushing version of self.]

    “Somebody! Help us!”

    160 words
    New genre: Cheeky Philosophical Fiction

    Liked by 10 people

  27. Title: Duty Calls

    I didn’t ask for the mission, but I was the last one left to update the history, to show the future how we got here.

    There would be no future, but there was duty.

    I finished painting as an alarm in my suit indicated a dangerously high temperature. I looked up at the swath of stars. Maybe on one of them was a future and what I’d done wasn’t futile.

    The alarms shrieked, but I had already started seizing.
    * * *
    Wielding my brush deftly, I removed eons of dust from the rock. The pictographs told the history of a race of people, obviously intelligent, and across time and light-years, I felt an odd kinship with the long-extinct painter.

    I looked up, found my home star, smiled, and returned to my work.

    I brushed and saw…

    The atmosphere read breathable for my species, and I’d removed my helmet.

    The final pictograph explained everything.

    An airborne virus.

    An alarm in my suit…

    Element: science fiction (instead of historical espionage fiction)
    WC: 158 (exactly 79 in each scene :D)

    Liked by 7 people

  28. For as long as he could remember, he’d been content to bask in her magnificent glow.

    Theirs was a professional relationship, and they worked together beautifully. She was the star, not him, and he was okay with that. He filled in for her when she had other engagements, though even he recognized the inadequacy of his imitation.

    For millennia, he’d watched the men come and go. In the early days, they didn’t understand her, even worshipped her from their caves. More recently, they spent lifetimes trying to figure out how they could reach her and what made her tick.

    He was her only constant.

    Did she know he loved her? He doubted it. He’d never had the chance to say so.

    But he hoped that someday, when she inevitably burned out, she’d pass by his rocky surface closely enough that he, the man in the moon, could steal a kiss from his beautiful sunshine before the world went dark.

    Word count: 159
    Genres: romance, sci-fi

    Liked by 12 people

  29. The Black Swan Paintings

    It had taken them all day to get from the base camp, finally Carmen was sure they’d reached where she’d got to during the geological survey.

    ‘This is where I saw something – up there.’ Carmen said. She pointed up a scree slope.

    Dicks craned his neck as best he could within his helmeted suit. ‘I can’t see anything.’

    ‘Of course not. We call this night, Dicks. It was daylight when I was here.’

    Dicks shook his head. ‘Sorry, of course. Come on, let’s get on.’

    It took them ninety minutes to get up the slope – Dicks felt like they’d followed a pathway, which was insane on the barren planet. He was sure it must have been an accident of geomorphology.

    Before he crested the slope Carmen gave a high pitch screech. ‘Shit, Shit. Oh my fucking god. Dicks, get up here.’

    The greatest discovery of all time: paintings of men hunting bison, oryx and deer. Ancient beyond antiquity: On Mars.


    WC: 160
    Genre: SF

    Liked by 11 people

  30. The Discovery

    Alice lead me deep into the caves, and despite the heat and discomfort, I followed gladly. I longed to see the paintings she had found, but in truth, these stolen moments together were already treasure enough.

    “The way narrows here. Our skirts will be too cumbersome, Dinah.”

    With this, Alice began to undress. I turned away, but she asked me to take her torch and help her to see, then did the same for me as I shed my own garments. I felt a tremor as I undressed beneath her watchful eye; perhaps a subterranean earthquake; perhaps simply my own quickening pulse.

    We moved on through tighter passages, crawling the final yards before the space opened out to a great cavern, the walls daubed with every manner of beast and bird.

    “Look Dinah! Could you imagine anything more wonderful?”

    I stepped nearer, wiped her soot-smudged cheek.


    And then we kissed, the torchlight striking stars in our wide open eyes.


    160 words

    The first LGBTQ paleontologist romance I’ve ever written…

    Liked by 14 people

  31. Forgotten (Sol 9/19 Title)

    He had it all, the trophy wife, two perfect children: boy and girl. There was the six-figure job, cars, and a huge McMansion down in the ‘burbs. The grind paid for the lifestyle and the friends that came over for the parties and slowly drifted away, like his hair and the love and finally all of what he was.

    Once the only light in his parent’s life, interested in cave men and sabertoothed tigers, never the dinosaur. Toddling around the house, getting into the trash, finding things that Mom and Dad had lost with ease. Once in school he dove into reading and art, finding comfort in ink and paint. There were just enough sports to pay for the nice college and the degree setting him up for a lifetime of success, on paper.

    “Any idea who he is?”
    Nurse shakes her head, “Cops found him unconscious on the street.”
    Sudden alarms, yelling, rushing about, shots of electricity.
    Flatline Noise

    Genre is Realistic Nihilism (Contemporary Literature)
    Word Count is 160

    Liked by 12 people

  32. Home on the Range

    The dancing firelight on the cavern walls always accompanied the ghost stories where leaping caricatures waltzed to the tales of the macabre. Twisted figures of grizzled and bloodied countenance rose to life each time a wandering cowpoke rested within the cavern for a night’s shelter.

    And none of the tumbling tumbleweeds nor the deer and the antelope could put the ghosts to rest.

    The cowpoke cleared his dusty throat and gathered his words. He began in a rusty whisper. “When the night split in two and the cattle ran to the left, and the stars fled to the right…”

    His audience listened intently. They leaned in and whispered back, the ghosts did. They told him how it really was, and they whispered and whispered until morning came.

    After sunrise, a jackrabbit hopped by and examined the cold ashes of the fire, but finding nothing of interest, he traveled on. The empty cave waited in silence for its next victim.

    Word Count: 159
    Genre: Erm… western/mystery? What’s the genre that contains ghosts? 😉

    Liked by 12 people

  33. You’re Not Nineteen Forever.

    Who dictates a timeline for grief?
    It was longer than she expected, but less than his family demanded.
    Ten years of disapproval and gaslighting leave a mark.
    By the time his drinking had sped round one too many corners, she was dumbfounded that it still hurt.
    Maybe if they’d been older, she would have reflected more and realised what a cosmic exit strategy she’d been gifted. Nineteen is early to start moulding yourself to someone’s ideal, but miraculously, a shot at re-invention had presented itself as the tow truck removed the mangled, metal metaphor of their life together. A car crash in every sense.
    The prehistoric markings were just another port of call on her meandering world tour of self- discovery.
    The tour guide lightly touched her shoulder to guide her back to the bus.
    An involuntary, ingrained, negative reaction gave way to tenderness as she looked at his kind eyes and vulnerable smile.
    She felt nineteen again.

    158 words

    Liked by 10 people

    • You manage to give us so. much. backstory in just these two lines: “Who dictates a timeline for grief? It was longer than she expected, but less than his family demanded.” I hope she finds love this time ❤


  34. Lone Rider
    The stars shined bright as I walked the range. The memory of what brought me here shined even brighter, if that was possible.

    Cattle thieves broke into my barn. I’m not a farmer so it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but they saw… me.

    I can’t let these primitives suspect anything. I have to keep my cover. So I jumped on my horse and took off after them.

    They must have been scared, not hiding their tracks at all. This isn’t good. They can’t tell anyone, so I urged my horse faster.

    Miscalculation. Damned horse dropped dead two days into my chase. But I kept on.

    I met them just outside of the next town. Iron cleared leather. Shots rang out and three of them dropped. Two more to go. I’ll be done soon. I spun to take my next shot and…

    Sparks shot out everywhere. The rustlers ran. No one would believe them anyway.

    156 Words

    Liked by 8 people

    • “I’m not a farmer so it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but they saw… me” this line is so compelling. I really want to know what would drive the narrator to give chase days and days and end it all in a desperate slaughter just to stay incognito…


  35. If These Rocks Would Talk

    The coroner’s van rolled away. Chief called it an easy case, but my witnesses were uncooperative.

    “Your people never listen,” said one crimson petroglyph.

    “Sir.” I puffed the cigarette, wishing Digsby would hurry with my coffee. “A murder was committed here.”

    An antelope shook its ocher head. “Many murders were committed here.”

    “I’m interested in just the one.”

    Digsby returned with a mug. Black, no sugar. “We can obtain a court order,” he said. “Compel you to talk–”

    “Or what?” a stick spearman demanded. “You’ll carve your Presidents into us?”

    I held Digsby back; he was a hothead, and might say something I’d regret.

    “All I can promise,” I said, “is that if you’ll talk, I’ll listen.”

    A line of warriors, outlined in reds and yellows, agreed.

    So I sat on the cold desert, scribbling notes by moonlight, as the procession of timeless figures gathered to tell the saga of the greatest crime they had ever known.

    157 words
    genre: crime magical realism

    Liked by 12 people

  36. *Countdown*

    At the base of the mountain the Diné called Yatso, and the invaders called Whitecap, the gunslingers face off. This isn’t Ahiga’s game, but he’s learned to play all the same. Now, they play for the mountain.
    The invaders are incomprehensible. They lock themselves in large coffins all their lives and small ones in death, forever separated from the land they don’t understand but want enough to kill for.
    Ahiga is 12 and his father tells him and his brother the story of Nayenezgani the monster slayer while they’re hunting. Yatso isn’t a mountain, it’s the body of a monster their ancestor slew. His father has stolen a pistol and teaches his son to use it.
    Nayenezgani can see so far he sometimes sees the future. As Yatso falls, he sees what his body will become, can see two men with weapons he has never seen and doesn’t understand. He sees who draws first.

    Fire AND Ice Dragon Requirements: Time Travel Western
    158 words if you count the numbers; 154 words otherwise

    Liked by 10 people

  37. ~Time

    Got a light?
    The restaurant’s balcony was dimly lit. The voice sounded a little…strange or familiar; I just couldn’t put a finger to it. I pushed away from the railing and turned around to see a young girl fumbling with a pack of cigarettes.
    Bad date huh?
    She shrugged taking the lighter I offered. The flame illuminated her face for a moment and I froze. The eyes, that nose, that scar on her forehead. My hand involuntarily rose to an exact but faded one on mine.
    I have the same lighter at home, she said handing it back to me.
    It belonged to my father, we said at the same time.
    I’d heard of doppelgängers, but this? I stepped back pressing against the railing. Then I felt it give way.

    Gabe you messed up…again.
    You let time fold, we had to do damage control.
    See this wrinkle?
    It’s just a procession…
    Eternal procession.
    Eternity Gabe, eternity!

    Words: 160 / fantasy

    Liked by 11 people

  38. I laid
    on my back and prayed
    to Callisto above:
    “Please, dear goddess. Please help requite my love.
    I have spent my life pursuing her grace,
    worshipping from afar, never witnessing her face.
    I wish no more than to savor her skin.
    Pay no heed to those calling it sin.”
    Fingers crossed, did she see my lie?
    The goddess, crossed, her icy reply:
    “It is not love of which you wax poetic.
    No! You are a liar! Pathetic.
    Were your goal to feed your family,
    I might find a dram of sympathy.
    But you hunt only for the thrill,
    bloodlust satisfied by the kill.”
    I felt the need
    to answer her charge of basic greed.
    “No!” I protested, “my intentions are sincere.
    I want no more than the chance to be near.”
    Her smile dripped of irony.
    “Very well. You shall have your destiny.”
    And thus my pursuit of the elusive gazelle, alone
    captured for eternity, forever etched in stone.

    Genre: Paranormal fantasy, in verse

    Liked by 7 people

  39. Ruins

    Tragic accident. These young hikers think they’re invincible. Sad.

    That’s the thing, I’m not sure it was an accident.

    Sure it was. Happens every year, as soon as it gets warm, the trail is swarmed with careless tourists.

    I’ve interviewed her family, and that doesn’t sound like her.

    What doesn’t sound like her?

    Careless. And she wasn’t just a tourist. She’s been researching the area for months. Her mom says she had an appointment to meet Jonathan Nez.


    Seriously? You don’t know the president of the Navajo Nation?

    Why should I?

    Because we’re in Utah, maybe?

    Well, whoever he is, this young lady lost her footing and fell. It’s a shame but not a crime. Case closed.

    Wait, look over here.


    Look at this space, in the rocks before the dropoff. And the marks in the trail. Shouldn’t there be footprints up to the edge? But there aren’t distinct prints. More like a streak. Like she was dragged.

    Genre: crime
    160 words

    Liked by 9 people

    • I love the back-and-forth and change in character voices (so clearly two different people–hard to pull off with only dialogue to go off of), and your title makes this all the more chilling!

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Oceti Sakowin Camp
    Cannon Ball, ND
    Nov 15, 2016

    You sounded pissed tonight.

    —Full stop: you have every right to be!—

    This was not how I planned to spend your birthday, kiddo, trust me. I thought we’d have won by now—been home!—I was gonna take you to Golden Lotus, get you a bowl of Pho the size of your face…

    It was gonna be lit.

    I guess. I guess I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.
    Or at least…

    Come to understand me.

    That one.

    What’s it Alice Walker says? We’re all put here for more, to be more than your mom or your sister or your grandmother or your [insert soul-crushing cultural label], if you could just understand that I exist outside of us, outside of our relationship, then you could…

    see me.

    All of this would click.

    And, yeah, maybe you’d forgive me.

    I love you, kiddo.

    P.S. your constellation is bright tonight. ❤

    157 ineligible words
    Contemporary Fiction (fought F/SF so hard on this y'all…)

    Liked by 10 people

  41. Fire & Ice Sol 9 is now CLOSED. Which means please keep posting your stories as you wish, in any genre you wish, but our judges will most unfortunately be deprived of stories posted from this point. Thank you for writing!

    Liked by 3 people

  42. But late than never!

    Metal hooves dug into the cliffside, carefully navigating their way up the almost vertical slope and relying on instincts that were programmed into the synthetic muscle. Their metal joints were less flexible than the fleshy ones they were designed from, which made the climb more difficult. Despite the difference of time, any misstep would be just as fatal.

    It was ironic to be man-made but outlive man. At least the original version of man. Even those who had been made in man’s image were long gone – victims of their own violence. The men that had chosen to fuse themselves with creatures of metal bones were the only ones that survived. Instincts ruled actions, but their thoughts still ran strong.

    When the night sky glowed and heralded the arrival of visitors, thoughts rose up in shock that other forms of life existed, but instincts led everyone to flee. Watching and waiting by ancestral paintings, no one knew what would come next.

    Word Count: 160

    Liked by 4 people

    • There is so, so much to love about this piece, the depth of world–we see whole generations along with their history pass in these words: “It was ironic to be man-made but outlive man. At least the original version of man. Even those who had been made in man’s image were long gone – victims of their own violence”–and the imagery–“metal joints were less flexible than the fleshy ones”, all topped off with a first contact story, I really enjoyed this, Liane.


  43. Rocks caked in rust watch
    Young lovers embrace
    While pinwheel stars dance

    Her innocence, lost
    A kiss, a whispered wish, sleep
    takes them in its hold

    His love, unspoken
    In their breathless sleeping hold
    future dreams, waken

    Their dreams drawn in shapes
    of moments that may never be
    On icy cave walls

    She has to go home
    to a cold, cruel, loveless place
    away from his hold

    Antelope rainbows
    fill the cliffs in lines of light
    The night, a dark shawl

    He watches her go
    Their dream drawings suspended
    for another day

    And he will see her
    she is a desert flower
    in his emptiness

    They will look and smile
    a sacred moment in time
    Precious love, divine

    One day, they will kiss
    Wrapped beneath the blanket stars
    as their children sleep

    Their rock painting dreams
    made real in their flesh and bones
    In tiny footsteps

    They grow old and grey
    but their memories remain
    of that sacred night


    159 words
    Genre: Haiku fiction (it took a while)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gorgeous, Mark. I especially love this verse:

      “Their rock painting dreams
      made real in their flesh and bones
      In tiny footsteps”

      And not only have you pulled off an incredibly challenging format, there’s a story nestled in its branches. But I’ve come to expect no less from you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  44. Tonight under the star-blanket, she dreams of dragons. Foolish; dragons are forbidden. (Imaginary?) Anyway, one can’t write their dream-stories. So the giant beasts insinuate themselves into her mind while she sleeps, eyes glinting gold, maws binding breath-chains of foul black smoke round her exhausted body.

    Tossing and turning, she imagines the distant whistle-screams signal the dragons’ inevitable triumph. Dream-deep, hands itching, she can almost feel their iron-edged claws rending the earth, the sky.

    Dragons—-no, not dragons, those are imaginary (forbidden??)-—wait for her waking, too. Eyes closed, she senses them lurking; their rage flame-curls at the fringes, consuming everything she owns, everyone she loves.

    But dragons-—the two-legged kind even now attacking her farm, her family—-cannot be defeated while sleeping; her story wills to be written in wide-awake stone.


    She wakes.


    She rises.


    She’s ready. She stands at the window, high-noon rifles in hand. The dragons aren’t coming.


    They’re already here.


    159 belated, awkward, muse-mute, challenge-cheating words imagining the dreams of a Wild West firebrand.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my goodness….I love the richness of every word, every phrase, but especially “insinuate themselves into her mind” and “wide-awake stone”. Her immutable urge to rise and fight gives CHILLS.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well worth waiting for. Some phrases are like beautiful paintings in the mind. “maws binding breath-chains of foul black smoke round her exhausted body”, “their iron-edged claws rending the earth, the sky.” And… that ending, sooo good!

      Liked by 1 person

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