Delving back into the backlog of Flash Fiction Challenges that monsieur Chuck Wendig set to try and encourage myself to write again. I’ve been doing a lot of re-reading lately, and also trying to come up with some notes for my NaNoWriMo novel this year. No, I haven’t suddenly become a planner, but I do want to come up with a list of supernatural creatures and what they might do because there is going to be a lot of different supernatural in this novel and I need lots of ideas to pull on as I write. So that’ll be fun to put together.

This challenge was to find a photo and then use that photo as inspiration for a short story. I found this striking black and white photo of a bridge which I used as my starting point.


Bridge of Cala

The surface of the water ripples in the wind, shadows flickering across the top of it again. Casey’s feet were cold, which was good considering the rest of them was sweltering hot. It was always hot in the city, even when it rained.

Leaning back, they looked up at the massive bridge that was causing the shadows to play across the water. Concrete and steel, spanning off into the distance, fading away out of sight. Crossing the vast ocean between the city and the rest of the continent. Given how imposing it was up close, Casey always found it incredible to see from up high in the city, looking down, as if it was a single narrow thread, the only link to the world outside.

Casey shook their head, then stood up, grabbing the collar of their scruffy coat and the strap of their camera as they did so, and turning to walk away, wet footprints left behind against the hot concrete.

Screens from oversized TV hung on the outside of building screamed as they walked passed, the usual news from all over the city. Politicians making lies, celebrities caught in scandals, someone was dead, and now for the weather – high chance of strong winds and rain later, don’t get caught outside tonight!

Just the same old, same old.

Winding though the skyscrapers and ever growing buildings, Casey trod a familiar path, avoiding the cleaning robots that swept around the pavement, getting underfoot even as they did their only job of keeping the city tidy.

The noise of the TVs faded away as Casey walked away from the mainstream areas of the city. The slums certainly weren’t the cesspit they had been mere decades ago, thanks to the automation and rebuilding of the city, but they were less well trodden, less cared about than other parts.

A messenger robot hummed across overhead as Casey knocked four times on a door, which slid open to allow them entrance into the packed room.

It was fairly noisy in here, as robots and gadgets whirred and beeped. The guard dog came up and gave Casey a friendly sniff, before rolling over onto its back and letting out a metallic ‘woof’. Not its fault the poor thing wasn’t programmed with a guard instinct.

“Casey, pictures!”

Unslinging the strap from their shoulder, Casey threw the camera over to the slightly chubby owner of the flat. They let out a small shriek and only just caught the camera with the tips of their fingers, stumbling slightly as they overbalanced.

“Dammit Casey!”

Casey shrugged, and then went back to stroking the dog. They remembered stroking a real dog once, at least they thought it was a memory, might be a dream. They usually was a dog in their dreams.

Thornton carefully open up the back of the camera, took out the chip, and plugged the memory ship into the computer. Reaching up, they flicked the lights, and the entire room was bathed in a red light. Opening up the back, they extracted a roll of film, some sort of really old tech apparently.

It was some time spent faffing around, printing picture, washing them in special chemicals. Thornton tried continuously to explain it to Casey, but they never listened. It was just old tech, why anyone would bother with it all was beyond them.

“Ah ha! See! If you compare this picture of the bridge with the digital equivalent, you can clearly see the effect of the nanotreens-“

Casey was already lost, but the picture was quite a good one. Doing these odd errands, which often involve taking picture of parts of the city, had given them a lot of practice, and privately, they thought it was quite a good photo. The bridge was in monochrome, a sort of halo effect around part of it where the light had been shining, path reflected in the metal of the construction.

If they’d had any idea how it would make them money, they’d take up art as a professional. Another pipe dream.

It took him a while longer to be satisfied with the pictures, and then he rummaged around in a drawer, pulling out a credit chip, and threw it to Casey, who unlike him, easily caught it.

“Come back tomorrow, I’ll need more help with this.”

Casey nodded, but then quickly left the flat, their stomach long since given up on growling at them with hunger, but waking up with anticipation.

A carton of food, cheap, but filling, purchased from a corner vendor dangled from their hand as they traced another familiar path through the city, climbing higher and higher, crossing small bridges and pathways, climbing terraces, until they reached one of the highest points in this part of the city, and settled down under a veranda that had been set up on this terrace, strung up between two walls. Perfectly safe to watch the storm fall over the city.

They didn’t have to wait long either, the clouds already racing across the sky, dark ones rolling in, the leading edge of rain clearly visible as the air turned from clear to misty with the heaviness of it all.

Sucking up the noodles, Casey leaned again the wall, enjoying the sight of the city being drenched, a tiny thrill at hearing the first crack of thunder roll out. It might not cool the city down much, but the storms were some of the best weather they got.

The bridge stretched out to the great beyond, swaying, slightly at first, then more, until it was practically vibrating as the wind and rain lashed at it.

A lightning fork crashed down, striking the top of the bridge, the metal glowing briefly before being instantly cooled by the rain.

Then another, and another.

Casey frowned, that was a lot of lightning, even for a big storm.

And then there was one more, even bigger than before, reaching down passed the top curved of the bridge, and striking at the footpath.

The entire bridge lit up, glowing gold, like a pathway to heaven.

Then the first support snapped.

A chain reaction, down the entire length, one after the other, the support snapped, a gaping arch opening up between bridge and footpath.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the archway started to tilt, pushed by the wind, until gravity took over, and the whole structure started to fall.

Casey didn’t realise that they had stood up, cartoon of food falling to the floor, forgotten and the tearing of metal and concrete screeched throughout the air, even over the storm, and the bridge ripped itself to piece under its own weight, urged on by the storm. Huge waves swamped the edge of the city as pieces of the bridges fell into the ocean, sinking out of sight.

The bridge of Cala was quickly disappearing out of sight, a single chain, pulling itself into oblivion, and the only link the city had to outside world along with it.