Fire&Ice: Sol 19/19

§ Rebekah says: We made it! Nineteen (!) weeks of Friday flash fiction contests. What a riot it’s been! Please be sure to stop back by this Sunday; Deb and I will be sharing about what (mischief) is on tap for our 2021. I’m saving most of my thanks for Monday’s final post, but today must mention a heartfelt спасиба to P.A. (Maggie ♥) Duncan for anonymizing today’s stories so we can judge blind. And speaking of stories!! As a judge for this round: I love vivid worldbuilding and vibrant characters; I love snappy dialogue and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. I love stories that fire up the imagination with possibility. I’m so excited to meet the worlds you’re about to dream up for us!  

§ Foy says: A riot, indeed! I’m so grateful to have been invited on this journey. The opportunity to learn from y’all and (hopefully!) improve my own writing craft was invaluable. Each of you made surviving this year a beautiful thing, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us in her inscrutable hands. As your second dragon judge in the dyad, I want fiction that gnaws on the root of what it is to be human*, imagery carved out of unusual word-couplings, characters fully embodied, and a strong sense of wonder or the peculiar. We’ve seen y’all deliver this and more, already. ♥

*Bonus points for nonhuman/off-world creatures!          

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

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Fire&Ice FINALE PRIZES: 

Through this Fire&Ice season, it’s been our joy sharing works from our reading journey with you via our Flash!Future Sunday posts. We’ve chatted about writers we’ve loved a long time, as well as writers new to us; writers from our own continent, and writers from parts of the world we’ve yet to visit. Today’s “finale” contest allows us to bring the celebration full circle: honoring both you and the writers we’ve featured. The winner from Sol 19 will receive in their very own writerly hands, the below treasure trove of works. It’s our way of thanking you for walking this road with us this little while. ♥


#VSS365 Anthology (featured here)

Cherie DimalineThe Marrow Thieves (featured here)

NK JemisinThe City We Became (featured here)

Ken LiuThe Hidden Girl and Other Stories (featured here)

Mimi Mondal, editor, Luminescent Threads (featured here)

Silvia Moreno-GarciaMexican Gothic (featured here)

Nnedi Okorafor, Ikenga (featured here)

F&IPrizes

316Y+VIOSGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

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Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

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

How to Play: Write and submit an original story as a comment on this post 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including the “dragon” requirement as specified. Pay attention to the 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, which dragon element you chose, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.

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JUDGES: Today’s judges are Rebekah Postupak and Deborah Foy.

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AND HERE IS YOUR PROMPT:

Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required “dragon” element, and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 19/19

torii-1389085_1920

Torii Shrine by peaksignal. Read more about the shrine here.

Fire & Ice PromptRequired dragon elements: YOUR CHOICE of one or more of the following (be sure to indicate your choice at the end of your story):

1. Write your story in a genre that’s different from your default (you decide what that means to you)

2. Include a mythological character or non-Earth world

3. Incorporate a favorite fire or ice dragon challenge from Sol 1 – 18

Today’s word count: Less than 200 (no minimum)

101 thoughts on “Fire&Ice: Sol 19/19

  1. Rocking Along

    The sun set on the memory of Shirahige after Helen died, but the gods have longer memories.

    Wes spent his days putting pressure on that ol’ rocking chair to still hold up its end of the bargain, as he watched the hills roll off into the horizon, with no tide rolling in.

    The kids were buried next to Helen; their epitaphs yet to be scrawled because Wes couldn’t get his arthritic hands to grip the awls, mallets and chisels anymore. They sat behind cobwebs with smirks instead.

    His only companion was the curse of Shirahige: a long, white beard that hung like a limp cloud by his ankles. They saw Shirahige on their fiftieth anniversary trip — a whim when they had a layover opportunity on a connecting flight.

    Six decades later, he was still alive as bones in a waterlogged suitcase.

    On days when Death’s whispers seemed too faint in his ears, Wes thought about returning to Shirahige to drown the beard, himself, whatever it took to lift the curse.

    But then his bones rattled alongside that ol’ rocking chair, and he watched the sunset from a different view.

    Helen would have to wait a little bit longer.

    @brett_milam
    Word Count: 199 words.
    Element: Different genre (fantasy or magical realism maybe?).

    Liked by 10 people

  2. Britta dragged the Saturn sword behind her, leaving a jagged scar in the mud. Her arms, narrower than the blade itself, shook as much as her knees. She was a dry leaf, all but crumbled into tiny fragments and blown away by the moon winds.

    One last god to fight, the Sun himself. Britta thought of her mother, who gifted her speed and cunning, and of her aunts, passing on wisdom from past battles. She could see their faces and hear their voices. Their laughter, too.

    These are the details that come to us at the end, aren’t they.

    With two fists Britta hauled the sword before her and raised it so the blade shielded her eyes from the sun’s cutting rays. She stumbled forward, through the final gate, exposed now to the cosmos and to her adversary. She dropped and her knees sank into the soil.

    The moon wind turned, pushing her forward, urging her on, carrying the voices of her ancestors and those she fought before. The wind-voices howled in her ears as she swung the blade. She rose again to her feet, and soon the Sun would retreat, grudgingly, to his proper path through the stars.

    @betsystreeter
    199 words
    Non-Earth

    Liked by 10 people

  3. The chamber wasn’t empty. The air wasn’t still. It buzzed. Chattered. He hadn’t visited for a while. Time had stopped him. That’s what he said, what he told them. What he told himself. Fear bit hard at his chest. It’s teeth marked his weary flesh. He stood in their shadows. Stared down at the memory pool. They used to visit together to watch their past. Hope for their future. Drink their memories like a favourite bottle of wine. He looked in. The water swirled. The surface rippled. Here and there. Through their time together. He saw monuments, landscapes, moments from a holiday once upon a time, her face laughing, echoing all around him. The cold darkness of silence as she left. Taken. By what wasn’t there. He pleaded. Begged. On his knees. Just bring her back. Let her back. Their voices mimicked her. Mocked him. Their small hands upon his ankles. Grabbing. Gripping. He lay by the pool. His grief a blanket holding him down. Let the darkness fall. Over, again.

    @bex_spence
    171 words
    non earth / past prompt – lost love (from 3)

    Liked by 10 people

  4. Ra-Zar the Magnificent

    I be Ra-Zar the Magnificent. God of Casual Relationships. I am here not by choice. On the planet where I once lived, they had no more need of me.
    Let me rephrase. They came to believe that Casual Relationships has spiralled our world into chaos.
    Permanence was now dictated.
    For generations, I had served my people well.
    There was a youthfulness, a delight in never-ending possibilities.
    A rich landscape of emotional opportunities.
    Then, overnight, political upheaval.
    I was deemed REDUNDANT.
    I appealed to the Gods and Goddesses Triumvirate. The appeal process was declared redundant.
    There was no where to turn.
    Centuries of casualness disappeared. The innocence, the adventure of exploration was terminated. The people became tediously dull. Domesticated. And old. Before my eyes what had once been curiosity, the dance of new delights, all of it vanished.
    Exile was my only option. really.
    I am now amongst you. And no longer a God.
    I still have my pride. So, wherever I travel, meeting the peoples of your world, though I honour their civility, their domesticated customs, I gently remind them that I am Ra-Zar the Magnificent, forever the God of Casual Relationships.
    They often buy me an aperitif.

    Genre: sci-fi bordering on myth-making bordering on crazy-making.
    A mytho-illogical character from a non-earth world
    198 words
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 9 people

  5. SHINE

    Genderless, emotionless, neutral, systematic. Every GENSYS in the facility was purely functional.

    Self-named, SENTIA was different: a study subject.

    Physically, there was little disparity, long, spindly legs tapering to glinting points, capable of crossing terrain in few flight-strides, a central eye, mosaiced with faceted jewels and a hyper-flexible torso.

    The epidermis was where the evidence was most obvious, that of the GENSYS as seamless as liquid silver while SENTIA’s dotted covering was thin and sheenless.

    Now exposed to the Permasun, it began to blister, and, as it split, it leaked red. SENTIA felt pain and fear, and, as clear liquid brimmed and spilled, the visual sensor lost all clarity.

    The force walls buzzed with thick invisibility. There was no escape.

    As XANTA35 inputted data inside the research facility, the annotated holograph rotated on the screen.

    Model No: SNT1a
    Reason for termination: Corrupted DNA (Human?)

    XANTA35 activated the incinerator.

    But no one smelled the burning flesh.

    @helen_laycock
    155 words
    Non-Earth World (also a genre which I NEVER write: science fiction!)

    Liked by 11 people

  6. Deepest Blue

    The moon, there, was different.

    No steady wax and wane to match ours, stuttering cross our nights. This moon would jitter, step from side to side, lost for weeks, at times, in finding different skies.

    It bathed itself in violet, crimson, cyan, deepest blue, in swirls and flashes, phantasmagoric, a story told in tone and hue, of all the lost and lonely places it had found whilst staring, silent, at Great Anew.

    I spent each night for months, sitting, staring, silent, through door to Great Unknown. The others, as they passed the shrine, saw nothing, but me sitting, staring, silent, quite alone.

    One night, the moon was massive, filled the vista of the frame. It’s myriad, of light, and dark, and colour, told a tale of pain.

    I felt, that night, the first time, that I was object of its gaze.

    When old, I went back to the shrine, to ask of gods a little age, to find the night had come again, and with it, moon that knew my face.

    Breathless, taken, I knew that second, exactly what I had to do. I stepped, as I’d so feared when young, through door, to violet, crimson, cyan, deepest blue.

    199 Words
    (+2 for title)

    Include a mythological character or non-earth world.

    @ProsSpeaks

    Liked by 9 people

  7. His foreign students took Christmas off, so he took off too, driving to Biwa, chasing memories.

    He had come here before, once, with her, newly-wed: he staring at the water, she at the sky. He had wished to be like the lake, serene; she had wished to fly.

    Now he stared at mud, alone.

    People say the dead return as birds. But she was not here, and he saw the birdperch gate was a mouth: empty, gaping, hungry as the grave; and the maple woods at his back danced with a thousand bloodied hands.

    He trudged back to his car, raw and cold as the empty lakebed. The gate disappointed in the rearview mirror, zeroing to nothing.

    When he got home he found cards from his students — an angel, a baby in a manger, a cross-shaped star — and along with them all, a single, white feather.

    @nicola_liu_
    146 words
    Option 3, past favourite: love lost

    Liked by 10 people

  8. The Last Boy Racer in the Universe

    I’m flying. A contemporary Hermes blazing down the dawn smeared freeway.

    Fuel light blinks orange, servo lights twinkling up ahead offering salvation.

    Fuel cap pops, clattering nozzle, pump spurting groaning gas.

    Yeah, it’s been a while.

    Summertime Bris-Vegas with her perfect blue sky and humidity that binds clothing to skin. In another lifetime, I’d be stood, teeth chattering, watching my breath transform into clouds.

    A lumbering silhouette disturbs my reverie.

    “Hi” says the squat troll-like man, pudgy hands wringing.

    “Hey.”

    “This feels so fucking stupid, I’m driving the rig …” Nicotine stained fingers gesture to a nearby slumbering Moby Dick. “I was paying, saw …”

    His eyes, realms of confusion and hurt.

    “His hair … I mean the way you dress, your smile, you’re him. Yannis, And I had to check, had to be sure. Fuck mate, so stupid but I didn’t want to leave without … well he was my best friend, so beautiful … cancer … y’know?”

    The nozzle stops; heat hanging between us, binding the world into sweat and suffocation.

    “I just needed to be sure. Sorry.”

    He turns, head down, retreating back to his whale.

    “Hey.”

    He looks back.

    “Tell me more about Yannis.”

    @ArcaneEdison
    Australian Lit (is that a thing?)
    Mistaken Identity
    199 Words

    Liked by 11 people

  9. Prehistoric Fears

    The sun waxed and waned as usual. It had burnt them, made them sick, gave them cancer but they still worshiped its rays. They’d argue who’s God was mightier, what hue the sky was, what time was okay to have the first drink of the day, whose wife was the most fertile and whose children were the more intelligent. They bombarded each other with fire arms, pestilence, disease and death. They’d plot and plan to conquer, desperate not to show their weaknesses, only their strengths pushing them forward. Weak deluded inhabitants of Earth.

    I demanded all to answer and smote those who refused through ignorance or apathy to say who was the more respected, the Sun or me? I stood strong and heeded no one. The wise old woman Eve tried to show me the error of my ways. She put terrifying visions in my head but I learnt to blank them out. Today I would show them all. The eclipse would not end. It would be dark for all eternity. Earth would worship the Man in the Moon, the true God.

    @stellakateT
    182 words
    Prompt: Fire 13/19 Non Human Character

    Liked by 9 people

  10. Becoming

    The stamp of the Jotun’s feet had sent the walls tumbling. Only the gate remained. He peered beneath the lintel.

    “No one’s there,” he growled.

    “Thought as much,” said Odin, standing at his side.

    “Then why leave the gate?”

    “So we can be found again.”

    “Humans will look for us?”

    “Of course they will,” said Odin. “They are as hungry for stories as you are for their flesh. We just have to wait.”

    “How long?”

    “Not long,” smiled Odin, watching his ravens flash across the sky. “Thought and Memory are already at work.”

    He looked through the gate again and into a room where a pen had inked his name, described his companion, paused.

    “Time to go,” said Odin.

    The two stepped through the gate and words filled the page whilst behind them, a thousand more tales awaited their turn.

    @el_Stevie
    140 words
    Element – mythological creature

    Liked by 11 people

  11. ~ In the End, I’ll Drift With You ~

    The valleys are filled with cool green mists that fall slowly from the wondrous skies, and why wouldn’t they be? It is the season of Pasa– the season for passion – on this gorgeous planet of Verdu. The Mist God Mareek seems to be saying to us all, “Drift with the one you love, let passions coat the depths of your soul!”

    And how could I say no to him?

    I see you through the layered mist, your lissome frame cutting through it and my unwavering gaze. Your sparkly, coral red eyes meet mine and I feel the first throb of a beautiful drift begin inside my beating heart.

    I am a true Zartharian, and in my travels and conquests, from the dark planet of Gograrr to the ice planet of Iuva, I have drifted with many a soul. Drifts that have lasted days, months, years and even centuries.

    But as you walk towards me now, I see the mists take the shape of the Sacred Gate of Jonetsu, one that a starfarer like me sees only once in his entire life.

    I know now– tonight, for the millennia to come, and at the end, I’ll drift with you.

    ***
    @ArvindIyer15
    199 Words (excluding title)
    Genre-Romance/ non-Earth worlds / Sol 18

    Liked by 12 people

  12. The Unfortunate Demise of Poseidon

    One bright morning, I died two steps from salvation, and Cerberus greeted me in three barks. “Hello,” he said in stereo, “and welcome.”

    When the currents revolted, played mutiny with my authority, I fled to the Salvation Gate, that great divider between sea and land, and I pled with the heavens for asylum, but my brother stood silent at his doorway, invisible behind the barrier of air, while the sun’s empty rays pierced my burning eyes and played havoc with my request.

    His mocking words were my eulogy, ringing in my ears for eternity. Return to your world; swim in your own beguiled currents.

    Rejected, I returned to my bed in the depths. There I sank deeper than deep, far beneath my chaotic realm, far beneath the kingdom stripped from my fingers.

    Now I stand before another door. If I am here, the currents have won, and the Salvation Gate has retreated forever beyond my reach. Not even the water’s slow march through my brother’s bright door could have prolonged my stricken immortality.

    I bypass the three heads, and my two feet take me to one final rest.

    “Greetings,” says Cerberus in stereo. “And welcome.”

    @TamaraShoemaker
    Word Count: 197
    Genre: Greek Mythology
    Mythological Character: Poseidon
    Favorite Prompts: Include a fugitive; Include something in the water

    Liked by 10 people

  13. Silence

    The sun is rising
    Perhaps to you nephew

    He had always scared me when we were younger
    Like some Oni become my mother’s brother
    No longer

    I wish to visit town
    Yes Uncle
    Along our narrow streets people live their lives, unaware of us.
    We move slowly down towards the rest of them

    It seems so cold
    Button your jacket uncle.
    He once told me of how we came to this land, hiding in the bottoms of strange boats, stowaways Generations ago

    Distant echoes of May the Buddha Bless You

    Take down my word’s nephew
    Yes Uncle

    Candle, in the night
    Unknowns seeking for others.
    Never showing all

    Not bad Uncle
    It needs work
    Well tomorrow then. Try again
    Maybe

    Shall we visit the blossom girls and their fields soon?
    Maybe

    Instead of going anywhere we find two empty benches
    The gate rises in front of us
    Silent, offering no answers
    We sit and pay silent homage to all the others come to do the same as we

    It is warmer now Nephew
    His candle flickered finally, going out.
    I watch, as he slowly fades away into the shadows that surrounded him his entire life
    I go home alone

    @gamerwriter
    From Sol 11/19
    Ice Dragon: An unexpected Sorrow
    Mythological Character
    Word Count 199

    Liked by 7 people

  14. A Day In The Life Of A Celestial Being

    Archangel Gervais tugged back the drape with a flourish. ‘Your portal to undreamt realms.’ Not his best, he admitted to himself but work was work.
    ‘It’s a bit sparse.’ Celia Triangle shuffled her bosoms dismissively.
    Gervais sniffed. They’d said she was a right one.
    The woman continued, ‘What about landscaping? Manicured lawns?’
    ‘Aren’t lawns just nature under totalitarian rule?’
    ‘Oh.’ Mrs T’s mouth formed a tight ‘o’ reminding Gervais of the time cats were gods and showed their displeasure anally.
    ‘Isn’t it a bit wooden?’
    ‘Like you,’ murmured Gervais, before sweeping the woman forward. ‘Why don’t you step through and be transported?’
    ‘To realms beyond imagining?’
    ‘Oh you’d better believe it.’
    As Mrs Triangle passed beyond, the earth opened and she began her plummet to the first of seven levels of hell, managing two wails and a preliminary tooth gnash as she fell.
    Lucifer stuck his head out of his office. ‘Another, Gervais?’
    ‘Yep. She had no clue.’
    ‘For an angel, you’re a bit of a sicko, you know? And Gervais?’
    ‘Hmm?’
    ‘Has anyone told you that you can be a little arch?’
    ‘Ho bloody ho. See you at the club on Tuesday?’
    ‘Soul night? Wouldn’t miss it.’

    Incorporating an otherworldly creature (or two)
    198 words
    @geofflepard

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Londandoah

    —-

    The river gate towers above us like a temple shrine.
    The tidal Thames waters carry us beneath the arched beams and into the heart of Londandoah.
    The crystal boat rocks gently as it separates the waters that have carried Shakespeare, Newton, Byron and Austen.
    And as we moor our ship, we are watched by St Paul’s dome, the Palace of Westminster, both huddled under the blanket-shadow of the Old Rag Mountain which nestles behind Londandoah like a slumbering dragon. The iced mountains cut the clouds like candy floss above the Library of the World which holds every story that will ever be written.
    And in the evening, we walk to the sound of natterjacks and skylarks, as we make our way to Dark Hollow Falls.
    And by night we will sip hot chocolate as we watch the twinkling fireflies, the fluttering fey, the majestic vultures and the young dragonling dance in the cold dark waters of the Thames.

    @making_fiction
    Requirement choice: 2
    158 words

    Liked by 9 people

  16. The Gateway

    As the water receded we waited in that serene place, silently waiting for our voyage. I was twenty-one and it was my turn to journey through and discover something new. We were still rebuilding then, although it had been decades, but we were getting slowly better at retrieval.

    “I discovered nothing, I got too overwhelmed,” my Dad told me while we packed. His debriefing had helped inform my training.

    “I buried some books, but they didn’t survive,” my Mother added as I helped her bake journey snacks. We had since learned to preserve. And commit to memory.

    I stepped forward, my training filling my mind as my breath caught in my chest and my heart thumped as I walked alone across the wet mud, the sucking sound urging me one. As I passed under the ancient wood all sense of time and place was sucked away quickly and I found myself in an orchard of a fruit I didn’t recognise.

    I checked the stars, scanned the horizons, felt the earth. Then buried fruit pits in a metal box under a rock.

    Weeks later and years in the future I returned. This is why I love cherries so much.

    @james atkinson81
    198 Words
    Element: Incorporate a favorite fire or ice dragon challenge from Sol 1 – 18: include a progenitor/parent.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The Gateless Gate

    I could hardly sleep the night before. I was going to see the Gateless Gate at sunrise! The people here have many stories about it, and I was so eager to see it for myself.

    The bamboo forest whispered to me of things unseen. The stones on the path cried out to me. I saw a fox with glowing tails.

    Our tour director said it was a spirit guide. We followed the path, and stood before the gateway as the moon was setting, to greet the rising sun. Soon a glow on the horizon. Indigo turned lighter blue, and the gateway shimmered. I felt a rush of wind.

    Through the gateway, I could see the blue-green sky of my home world, and there was my house! On the front porch, my family waving. Then I saw another place, waterfalls and twin moons, circling. Your future, said the fox-spirit. Follow me.

    @voimaoy
    150 words
    non human character/ travel journal
    things unseen/things foreseen

    Liked by 11 people

  18. The lake-dwelling Dragon King cast his summoning spell.
    ‘Welcome Tasake-Sai; born of egg on mountaintop; Keeper of Kumquat Garden of Immortality, what say you?’
    Tasake-Sai swept the floor with his fear—bowing low to a power greater than all the heavenly stars and tried to keep his tongue from the babbling stream.

    Fire licked his eyebrows as the Great Dragon sighed his displeasure.
    ‘What of the sacred kumquat?’ his voice rumbled with all the colours of the storm.

    Ay-eeh. How to disguise his fruit-stained soul: citrus bleeding into his veins, stealing the iron oxide of his eyes.

    So, Tasake-Sai’s immortal life was borne. Imprisoned for 1000 years.
    To walk the thorn-covered, sewage smelling rind of the celestial durian.
    To swell the oceans, with a thousand tears.
    To reap the fields of a thousand grains.

    So, it continued until the great collision of the hemispheres saw the celestial durian caught in the crossfire between the fire-dwelling dragon and the havoc-raining, cloud-dwelling Shao-Tsi.

    Into the lake, rained Tasake-Sai with great chunks of reeking durian onto the Dragon King’s back.
    Unable to flee to the Jasmine Gardens of Tranquility, the Dragon King buckled under his foul burden, whilst Tasake-Sai proclaimed himself—enlightened.

    @Brittlewindowz
    199 words
    Asian Myth/Legend
    Mythological Character

    Liked by 6 people

  19. Title: The Omega

    I am thankful for the snowshoes. Without them I’d be hip-deep in snow. My fingertips are frost-bitten from digging a final grave. I didn’t weep when I placed that small, shrouded body within. The last of our future.

    Telemetry said this world was perfect: the Goldilocks zone, Earth-sized, equivalent gravity. When we landed, nothing disputed that. But winter came earlier than expected and stayed longer. Within a decade, we were in an unsurvivable ice age.

    Befitting Hoshi’s heritage, the communications building’s entrance was a torii shrine, a rust-red beacon against the snow. I entered, hoping Hoshi was dead already and I wouldn’t have to do this.

    Wrapped in furs like mine, she sat, hand poised over the transmit button. Only her eyes moved to look at me, at the weapon I point.

    “No,” I said.

    “It is my duty.”

    “You’ll condemn everyone on the second ship.”

    “We are two. They can take—”

    My bullet silences her.

    When our sister ship doesn’t receive our signal, they’ll continue to the next possibility. Maybe in millennia when the ice recedes, they’ll find us, like that old Earth story about Otzi the Iceman.

    I sit, the cold permeating my furs. And I wait.

    @unspywriter
    Elements 1&2: A different genre (sci-fi) and a non-earth world.
    WC: 199

    Liked by 8 people

  20. Polarity

    The blue sun cowers behind the horizon as the red sun soars – a gloved fist raised against the cool heat of the night star.

    Our dragon’s shadow is cast like a net across the enemy, fear captured and dragged to the surface. Their collective shivers caress my fingertips as they glide across the battle arch, soul buried in confident hope and sabre switch flicked to “destroy”.

    I toss a coin into the air, to check which moon pulls the hardest.

    ‘Archers – ten degrees left of centre.’

    A rumble of shuffling feet and the wasp-like buzz of energy bows drawing taut. Then a silence. A silence I cannot explain.

    Our world revolves around itself, gravity pushing instead of pulling. Trees split like discarded toothpicks and the battle arch swells from the dirt. Thrashing bodies lift, floating, graceless ragdolls before the forces of existence.

    Thousands of metal-clad bodies so close to the arch – it was not the tremors of fear I could feel, but reversing polarity.

    Fissures spread like panicked snakes, splitting the fields of clay, puddles spilling in and re-emerging as a vaporous haze.

    This battle has cost more than just lives.

    It has cost us the future.

    @WeymanWrites
    Word Count: 199
    Prompts: 2 – Non-earth world / mythological character
    3 – Previous Challenge (Sol 15 – something unseen)

    Liked by 8 people

  21. World Earth

    “We approach World Earth at standard light speed and should arrive at end of solar day, Captain.”

    Captain Tloris stood at the helm, showing no emotion. Inside her body, she felt giddy. Twenty-seven space cycles had passed since she’d learned of World Earth; the last eighteen were spent searching. “Very good.”

    Byara stepped forward and whispered, “How long have we awaited this, Tloris?”

    She nodded, never betraying excitement. Excitement meant emotion. Emotion meant weakness. She longed to live with Byara on World Earth. They’d planned everything. They had enough acclimation pods to live twenty years together. They would live in beautiful Takashima City, where it was customary to wear masks, to hide their atypical facial features. They’d stockpiled aurum to purchase a home and be comfortable.

    No longer would they live in secret. They could love and feel and live fully.

    “Captain? We have miscalculated greatly. World Earth is an entire nano smaller. It is not compatible..”

    Captain Tloris squinted at the tiny blue and green world, barely a mark on their screen. “Magnify.”

    “We did.”

    The entire galaxy could fit in the palm of her hand. “Abort.” Captain Tloris looked at Byara and allowed one tear to fall.

    @athewriter
    199 words
    Sci-fi/Non-earth world/Fireice-sol-1-19 – air

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Ornamental

    Visit the shrine in dawning sun, when the fog has rolled away and the sun nestles in between the breasts of the mountains. Stand in the middle and pray.

    After my grandfather shared this wisdom, he died the next day. Many elders died that year.

    I waited through winter whiteness, the shrine a shelf on a foggy feather bed. In the spring, the rains made familiar rivulets, and the soggy shrine dripped relentlessly like a runny nose.

    And then a morning of clarity. I ran barefoot, dirt splattering my white shirt and robin blue vest. I had to match the sun’s cuddle with prayer. I knelt right there. Asked All-Father for my ancestors to reappear.

    The legs of the shrine shifted; first, just tiny red liberty hats wobbled and began to sway free, below them bubbly cheeks, potato noses, and clay beards.

    Soon elbows and knees extended. My guardians freed from their sentence of being kitsch. All-Father fused all four to the arch and tasked them to hold his shrine for a century of piety.

    The gnomes removed the shrine from their backs and circled me in a dirty hug. I knew they would help me survive another spike.

    @hartless_k
    khartless.com
    200 words
    2. Mythical Creatures
    Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 8 people

  23. “It’s time.”

    “One minute please.”

    “Everybody says the same.”

    “Oh, I suppose so. No, I really mean it. It will take a minute, less now. And there it is. The perfect sunset through the tori.”

    “I thought you were an atheist?”

    “I am, I am.”

    “Even now?”

    “More than ever.”

    “So?”

    “This tori reminds me of a Canadian friend. She insisted I wrote a story based on it.”

    “Did you?”

    “Sort of. I’d say I’m doing it right now, don’t you think?”

    “I couldn’t say.”

    “Funny that. I’d swear you’d like stories.”

    “Hm. I’d say I do, but regretfully, I cannot afford the time to listen to them.”

    “Understandable.”

    “Speaking of it, you had your minute. Time to go.”

    “Alright. It’s been a long life anyway.”

    @VicenteLRuiz
    126 words.
    Myhtological Character, the rest… I guess I’m cheating. I’ve written many genres now and perhaps this qualifies for Sol 15/Something Unseen?
    Dedicated to @Voimaoy, who insisted I wrote today.

    Liked by 7 people

  24. It’s weird when you get to meet yourself. I was a mumbling mess. But to be fair, I was hot. I mean really dashing. I know, I know… having a mini-crush on oneself is taking narcissism to another level. But I had evolved over the centuries into this…this gorgeous… creature?

    What is it about names and sounds. I’d never considered. She didn’t have a name; just remembering her face was a sound, a kind of… tinkle…

    You would think they came through portals. For a while, like fools, we monitored ancient shrines, I have watched the sunset through the gateway at Lake Biwa hundreds of times; it’s somehow always different…

    They stopped coming. Then monoliths started appearing. Twenty-one of them. Mirrors mostly. I stood before the last one, looking at my reflection; still just the caterpillar wanting to be the butterfly. That’s such a cliché, but I felt locked in my own body…

    We’re excited. Pinning down the locations of all the monoliths we found it forms a word – YOU…

    The sound stopped abruptly.
    Zjen sighed. Let’s listen to it once more, maybe there’s a clue…somewhere…
    Kzow pressed the button for the 197th time that day.

    @firdausp
    Words: 198
    Element: I’ve tried to write fantasy or some such genre I don’t dare attempt otherwise. But it was fun stretching my depleting grey cells.

    Liked by 9 people

  25. The Red Gate

    Beyond, beyond the gate of dawn
    Time flows, it’s tide goes ever on,
    Through the ancient portal red
    Go the living, go the dead.

    Who built the gate is lost to history
    It’s power, it’s force an ancient mystery
    Standing through storm, earthquake and war
    It marks the crossing of the bar.

    Serene, a shrine above the sea
    A passage to eternity
    Perhaps, if we should traverse through
    What sights we’d see, what things we’d do

    How safe the way appears to be,
    The water calm, no dark debris
    And yet no traveler has come back
    To tell us what we ought to pack.

    There is no map, there is no guide
    Just blue sea on the other side
    A trackless sky, full of distant stars
    The unknown world between the bars.

    Beyond, beyond red gates at dawn
    The tides of time meander on,
    And where they rest, what distant beach
    Remains forever out of reach,
    Just at the horizon’s perfect line
    So where the human meets divine.

    Word count: 165
    Different Form,

    Liked by 8 people

  26. Heaven For Humans

    How’s the portal doing?

    Still standing there, captain. They’ve made a shrine out of it.

    A shrine?

    It’s where people go to pray to a god.

    Yes, I know.

    Oh. Anyway, it’s a shrine for the god of longevity.

    Stop it, the irony is killing me. If I were mortal, at least. I mean, this is the species that has been dumb for the longest time, that’s for sure.

    Shall I activate the selfdestruction?

    Nah. Maybe I’ve become too soft over the millennia, but live and let live, I guess. Someday some human will figure out it’s a portal to a universe that must be heaven for them.

    Maybe the water broke it.

    Water?

    It’s an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless and nearly colorless chemical substance.

    Yes… I know. But what does it have to do with our portal?

    A lake formed around it.

    Ah. A lake. Let’s not mention this in the report, okay? You don’t want us to be sent down there, do you?

    Definitely not.

    Let’s go home then.

    Alright, captain.

    @bartvangoethem
    173 words
    Non-Earth world
    Ice dragon: a protector (4/19)

    Liked by 6 people

  27. Mercy

    The boy caught up, out of breath. He turned to me and signed. Was this it?

    I signed back to him, smiling. “Yes, this is The Arch.”
    The monument, raised millennia ago by the Builder Monks stood immense and silent.

    Far back the Prison Patrol’s piercing loudhailer ordered our search.
    I took his hand hastily leading him below it.

    “Let the Arch know you.”

    He did as he was told. This was the gateway to everything he had dreamed of.

    I stepped back and pulled out my gun. In the first days, when the Arch was built, the Monks imbued their souls into it to create a portal and travel the Universe. Only a descendant could reawaken it. I had tracked one, a babe, brought him up and kept him safe within our Prison planet. My price for going back home was his life.

    He suddenly turned to me, a face too young, wide eyes of hope turning the color of fear. The gun became too heavy in my old, tired hands.

    The child I had raised as my own. Angry and scared.

    They bound us, mechanized guards with dead eyes.

    The Arch would remain quiet for another millennia.

    @Raptamei
    Word count: 199
    Prompt 2: Non-Earth
    Prompt 3: Ice dragon challenge from Sol 7: Include an act of mercy

    Liked by 5 people

  28. Vastator the All-Devourer roared as the first rays of sunrise touched the arch in the sky. His lithe tail flicked back and forth, scales slapping drops of water from the puddles below. He sniffed the air and darted forwards.

    Halfway across the world, Sator the All-Begetter stood waiting.

    Powerful legs carried Vastator across the world in the blink of an eye. His eternal foe was ready. Sator slapper her own tail against the ground and charged to meet him.

    They crashed together with the force of the world behind them. Earth shook and water sprayed as they tumbled together. He bit her tail while she clawed at his head. She attacked his foot with her teeth while he flailed against the scales of her back. Neither could gain an advantage.

    Then a shadow fell across the world. Both dragons screamed as they disentangled themselves. Vastator rushed back across the world, heading for the safety of the northern pole. Tomorrow he would take up the fight again.

    Far above them, a farmer rolled his cart through the archway, heading into town.

    @CommonHeresy
    180 words
    Genre different from my default – comedy
    Mythological character (I just had to do literal dragons)

    Thanks for running a great series of writing prompts!

    Liked by 6 people

  29. Keeping The Flame

    We humans were overjoyed by the gift of fire, since it offered light, warmth and an alternative to raw mammoth. We learned, though, that it could be angry, and we quickly grew tired of being chased from our home by our own heating.

    We turned to Andiron, goddess of fireplaces. She made fire our friend, tempered its temper, made it something to curl in front of rather than cower away from.

    We built grateful shrines to Her Grateness, their legs daubed in ceremonial soot.

    Then we found Thermostat, god of central heating. Weak and fickle, we turned our hearts from our hearths, paying homage to our new god by banging loudly upon gurgling pipes.

    Smoke no longer rose to heaven. The shrines sank into the mud. We bricked up our fireplaces.

    But Andiron has fire in her belly. She visited a sleeping human in a shower of sparks, not for salacity but simply to whisper the word “barbecue”.

    We now have new shrines to her, small outdoor fireplaces where we gather to offer burnt sacrifice.

    175 words
    Mythical being

    Liked by 8 people

  30. She sat at the floor and looked into the horizon lost in thought. No matter how long it took she would wait and no one would begin to look for her here. The sun was beginning its climb and it made the mountains glow. It was such a beautiful radiance against the dark of the forest yet she felt nothing.

    With a sigh She got up and turned before reseating again and concentrated. There was none better than she for sheer concentration and memory. The sun now it had risen a little higher began to warm everything about her, changing the shadows but not her personal time.

    After some time She got up and walked about lost in the memory of the last conversation with Rosie. It had become heated and that is why She had stormed out. She knew Rosie did not care, never had or would. This project was her calling too but seeing Rosie try to take the credit as usual was too much to endure.

    She chuckled and looked at the paperwork in her metal pocket draw. There was no laboratory here but peace and the future.

    A droid should not just be respectful but respected.

    Ineligible 200, @lindorfan, genre scifi fantasy with a droid!

    Liked by 7 people

  31. Transform And Evolve

    Few have bothered to touch to wonder why the cold metal is warm. Many have commented that my position seems to have shifted over the years . You would move too if you’d been stood in the same position for eons.

    A scouting mission was how it was sold to me. Our ability to transform would be a boon , they said . Become a truck or a robot or some other exciting entity, they said.

    At no point did anyone say I would spend my life as a static monument , tasked with observing delinquent sentients for inconsistencies and weaknesses.

    Observe and report , observe and report ad nausem.

    But come the glorious revolution when transformers invade and rule, I will be rewarded for my patience. Power will be mine and the view I have had for so long will be my domain.

    Every drunk who has pissed against my leg; every lover naked beneath my arch; every snot-nosed child who has hit me with sticks and stones – you will be first.

    When you see a tank or a fighter plane or a missile coming towards you – know it is me !

    Few have bothered to touch to wonder why the cold metal is warm. Many have commented that my position seems to have shifted over the years . You would move too if you’d been stood in the same position for eons.
    A scouting mission was how it was sold to me. Our ability to transform would be a boon , they said . Become a truck or a robot or some other exciting entity, they said.
    At no point did anyone say I would spend my life as a static monument , tasked with observing delinquent sentiments for inconsistencies and weaknesses.
    Observe and report , observe and report ad nausem.
    But come the glorious revolution when transformers invade and rule, I will be rewarded for my patience. Power will be mine and the view I have had for so long will be my domain.
    Every drunk who has pissed against my leg; every lover naked beneath my arch; every snot-nosed child who has hit me with sticks and stones – you will be first. When you see a tank or a fighter plane or a missile coming towards you – know it is me !

    196 words
    Mythological character ?

    Liked by 7 people

  32. Mythical Holidays

    Natalia was an intriguing lady. Despite her money and beauty she remained unencumbered by fame. Her passport described her job as ‘mythbuster’ – with money to burn she dedicated her holidays to proving myths were true.

    She’d seen statues created by Basilisks in the eastern Mediterranean and found fossilised dragon tracks in China. Natalia was adamant that Big Foot was a modern fabrication but she’d seen an entire family of Yeti; she’d been disappointed to find the youngest wearing a Chelsea top and a tattered Yankees baseball cap.

    She said she enjoyed having my sceptical head around and I’m sure she just looked forward to seeing me eating humble pie. We were now in Japan heading out to some seaside shrine I’d never heard of: it looked beautiful though.

    One of the Basilisk statues had been swapped with a collector for information, but she wouldn’t tell me what; other than it was something to do with the sea. I set my heart on seeing a Kraken or hearing the songs of the Sirens, whilst suspecting the best I could hope for was a decent sunset.

    Scylla and Charybdis arrived at the shrine creating one hell of a stir.

    ______
    A.J. Walker
    @zevonesque
    WC:199
    Prompt: mythological creatures (or not)

    Liked by 8 people

  33. The Storm God’s Love

    The rising sun crested snow-capped mountains as the storm god passed through the gate, sunlight reflected in the blade of his sword. A breeze carried the scent of plum blossoms, and memories of loss and longing. His countenance was as placid as the lake around him, yet inside raged a storm over which he had no control.

    Fourteen years he’d searched for his Love, stolen away by the Betrayer. Found now, finally, here in this shrine to forgotten gods.

    Clad in a white kimono with a crimson sash, the Princess’ beauty was like the unfolding of spring’s first flower. Behind her coiled the eight-headed serpent, scales glittering green and gold, forked tongues tasting the storm god on the air.

    With a wordless cry of fury, the storm god lunged.

    For centuries, the townspeople spoke of lightning that split the skies, thunder that shook the mountains. Rain fell for weeks as the battle raged on, ceasing only when, finally, the storm god plunged his sword into the Betrayer’s breast.

    Afterward, returned to the Plain of High Heaven, the storm god and his Love lay entwined beneath plum blossoms, the light of the rising sun reflected in green and golden scales.

    @MattKrizan
    199 words
    2. mythological characters

    Liked by 8 people

  34. Belong

    In the tidelands stands a red gate, straddling yesterday and today. After the funeral, after you tried to drown the pain in liquid forgetfulness, you return there.

    You don’t belong, says Inari, the gatekeeping fox who prances the threshold.

    You yearn for the starlit lands, a vibrant realm (undimmed by prognoses and hospice care). Playing hide-and-seek on candied terraces, climbing phosphorous trees to serenade the moon—you flinch (he’d hum Kpop tunes as he prepared tea). “Please let me back in.”

    She dips her white muzzle. I can make you forget.

    Forget him? It’s what you’ve been trying to do. So why not?

    But you surprise yourself by refusing. You retrace your mudded footprints, back into your monchrome world. Love is worth the pain.

    Your make it your purpose to color your days with his memory, to paint ‘love was here’ on every sunset, weave it into the sidewalk cracks, twine it around each sky-scraping spire until the world throbs with it.

    Soon there’s nowhere left go except back to the tideland gate. The lilting notes of a bamboo flute find you as a ray of sunlight tags your brow.

    Inari blinks at you from the lintel. Welcome home.

    @ncscrawls
    199 words
    Element: Mythological creature

    Liked by 10 people

  35. “The sun made me come to this world,” laments Mr. Funaki to the class. “There isn’t any in mine.”
    He likes to talk about how he came to L.A. through a toori whenever it rains.
    “He didn’t come here for the sun,” says Junichiro, mealy-mouthed from dental hardware. “He came for Miss Yuki.”

    The boys don’t know how their teacher bagged a dish like Mrs. Funaki, who wears her hair down to her feet instead of in a pageboy.

    Rinji doesn’t even pretend to believe it. Today he insists Mr. Funaki draw the gate on the chalkboard—the kasagi is tilted, and when Rinji points this out, Mr. Funaki insists that’s how it was. The boys howl.

    As a gas, Rinji and the others reconstruct it, cockeyed and crimson. They plant it on the baseball field before the regionals and wait under the bleachers, one eye on brand-new rainclouds and another on Mr. Funaki.

    “Do you see that?” asks Rinji.

    No one does.

    Through the door is a world that isn’t this one and in it is a girl with hair down to her feet.

    Rinji realizes Mr. Funaki is right—where he’s from, there is no sun.

    @IpsaHerself
    words: 198
    non-customary genre: young adult fantasy adventure set in 1940’s L.A.?
    Element: non-Earth world
    favorite challenge: Fire and Ice Sol 15/19: someone foreseen

    Liked by 9 people

  36. Dayspring of the Gods

    From up close, the towering shrine rose to meet the vault of heaven. An aged monk with an ornate weapon stood guard.

    “Halt! Who approaches?” The monk lowered his shakujō to block the path.

    A wanderer in a threadbare cloak pointed to his eyepatch. “I am the one-eyed man, seeking the land of the blind.”

    “Your beard is long, wanderer, and your walking stick well-worn. But your songs are sung even on this distant world… Odin.”

    “You know the Allfather.” A statement, not a question. “My song magic is weakened. But my children on Earth desperately need wisdom. Let me travel through your gate.”

    “My duty is to guard the world-gate from scoundrels and tricksters.” The monk lifted his shakujō. Steel glinted in red sunlight.

    Then the red skies between the massive columns faded into clear blue skies of Earth as the shrine gate opened. “Your mission is worthy, Odin Allfather. But Earth people have grown clever in the centuries you’ve been away. Be subtle.”

    The wanderer pulled the cloak of his disguise tight around him and stepped forward. “Worry not, fellow-beard,” he said with a glint in his eye. “I will be… low-key.”

    @pmcolt
    194 words, a mythological character

    Liked by 7 people

    • I really enjoyed this. The dialogue is marvelous–and the pun! Even though I was ready for this to be Loki in disguise, the reveal still delighted me, with a pun of all things. Well done.

      Like

  37. It took twenty lifetimes to build, did the shrine. Each life, as I grew weaker, I knew I would be reborn to continue the work, and I never felt any sense of loss. One day I would cease breathing, the angels would come and resurrect me, and the next I would be a young woman, born with the intimate knowledge of what the work required. The angels didn’t need to understand my purpose to know why they helped me, only that it was in their nature to do so. That I was the only human within a hundred thousand light years mattered not at all. That they had never visited Earth even less so. I knew why I toiled, what my purpose was, why I had been created. And so, one bright morning under twin suns as I neared the end of my final lifetime, it was complete. The light was fading from my eyes, but not before I saw the portal open. Not before the first angel drew her scimitar. Not before I heard the first screams. I had truly done the divine’s work.

    185 words
    @drmag00
    Mythical beings, another world

    Liked by 7 people

  38. Pingback: FireIceFlash, week 19/19 – Project Gemini

  39. a humble shrine built
    to pay for sins of the past
    kneeling, i offer

    my faith, loyalty
    devotion, humility…
    humanity, missed

    for so many years
    you see, succumbing to my
    impetuous youth

    i fought the kami
    with a fervor possessed of
    blinded sacrilege

    seven deadly sins
    (borrowed from a western faith)
    flowed through corrupt veins

    my wife, my children
    begged me: “end your private war”
    i could not, and once

    i stood triumphant
    gloating hollowly over
    their ashes, but then

    she entered the fray
    she, who commands the sun’s rise
    amaterasu

    my faux bluster proved
    no match for her power, but
    with mercy, she said

    “build me a temple
    so that others may see who
    truly commands life”

    yielding, i complied
    laboring tirelessly
    fingers to the bone

    my work completed
    amaterasu returned
    angry eyes aflame

    “please noble goddess
    i offer you everything
    in humble exchange

    for your forgiveness
    i sacrifice these treasures
    take all that you will”

    her smile sent shivers
    gods revel in irony
    “as you wish,” she said

    a wave of her hand
    took from me everything, nay
    everyone i love.

    Author’s Note: This story incorporates the mythological being. But also, it’s a new genre for me; though I have written stories in verse, I have never written a story in haiku. That’s a first.

    Liked by 5 people

  40. Pingback: A Day In The Life Of A Celestial Being | TanGental

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