Tag Archive: flash fiction challenge

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.

Friday came and went, and with it, another Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time, he gave us 1,000 words and the theme of Insomnia. Apparently, he’d been having a little trouble sleeping when he came up with this week’s theme, so I can see why he choose it. For my piece this week, I’ve tied it into a tabletop game in which I am currently playing – Princess the Hopeful. I mention it a bit here, and considering that these magical girls often stay up late and give up sleep to protect the world and attempt to have a normal life, I though that this was the perfect theme to explore that a little bit. So Lucy/Aegis is my character (name changes happened), and this is a tiny extract from her life as a Princess, fighting to forces of darkness.



Lucy was still up, sitting with her back against the sofa, coursework spread out on the table in front of her. A yawn cracked her jaw open, and she rubbed her eye, but even as she indicated sleep, she had no intention of seeking her bed tonight.


A tiny, tired voice came from the doorway through to the bedroom. Lucy looked up, and a smile of warmth came across her face as she spied her sister. Putting her pen down, she easily climbed to her feet, and crossed the short distance to room.

“What’s my little princess doing awake, hey?”

“Had a bad dream,” Imogen’s face looked a little sad, as she rubbed her eyes from the light still on in the living room.

Lucy reached down, easily picking her sister up and settling her on her hip. Imogen snuggled her face into her shoulder as Lucy gave her a reassuring hug.

“Was it the same one as last time, with your teacher?”

“Different one. You were there. And the monster was there. And the monster was trying to eat me, but you wouldn’t let it, so then it ate you instead.”

Lucy closed her eyes, letting the words fade along with the stab of emotions that they had brought forward. She turned her head and kissed her sister’s head, “I promise. No monsters are going to eat you.”

“What about you?”

“No monster are going to eat me either,” she kissed her forehead again, and then walked into the dark bedroom, quietly so as not to disturbed their brother, who was sprawled out over his thin bed.

Settling Imogen back down on the bed, Lucy tucked the duvet in around her, and paused on the edge of the bed, smiling down at her sister.

“You coming to sleep soon?”

“I’ll come when I’m finished princess.”

“You’re never finished.”

Lucy smiled, “Seems that way sometimes,” she leaned forward to kiss her sister a final time, “You go back to sleep now. Have a nice dream, for me, okay?”

“Okay,” her sister was already mumbling the words, eyes closing. It was nice to see her slip back into sleep so easily, as Lucy quietly got up, and slipped back out into the living room.

Another half hour went by, pen scratching away at the coursework, until her phone vibrated on the table, and she flicked a glance at the screen. Time to go to work.

Hood pulled up, trainers on, Lucy slipped out of the front door, careful to lock it behind her, before she slipped out into the dead city, dark and creepy as midnight approached, only the occasional unbroken street lamp throwing out golden light against the black of the night.

She met up with her fellows just outside Utopia’s place. Ray was bouncing on the heels of her feet, and Flora was running up from the end of the street, ponytail bobbing wildly as she assumed she was late.

She skidded to a halt by them, doubling over, slightly out of breath, “Sorry….I’m…late.”

“It’s fine Flora, you aren’t late,” Utopia reassured her.

Lucy reached out a hand, stroking the head of the red panda that was sitting on Utopia’s shoulder. Elisa purred slightly under the touch, but then shook her head, and frowned. As if it was unbecoming for a shikigami to receive such attention.

“I think I’ve got a lead on the darkened we’re chasing. Might have a place he uses as a hide out,” Elisa said.

“Is Devlin coming with us?” Lucy looked over at Utopia, who, predictably, turned a faint pink colour at the mention of him.

“Ah, no. He’s sitting this one out.”

“Willingly, unwillingly, or did you tire him out?”


Lucy grinned at her, and then let it drop.

“Come on you two, stop teasing each other and let’s go!” Ray had already Transformed, her magic settling over her to form the familiar cloak from which she would pull the exact item that they needed at the time.

Lucy, closed her eyes, and felt the customary weight of her armour settling on her, the plates shifting as she rolled her shoulders, easy to move in, but still offering her that protection she needed, as she made the slight mental shift from Lucy to Aegis. It wasn’t a big difference, but there was something about being Transformed which leant itself to her Princess name.

“My sister had another dream tonight.”


“A monster was trying to eat her, but then I got in the way and it ate me instead.”

“Hm. Given the level of potential reality in that, I’m starting to believe that your sister might be a Beacon.”

“Certainly possible. If not now than in the future. She is only five after all.”

“True. In the meantime, we’ll work on not getting you eaten by the big bad monsters.”

Aegis smiled, “Out of all the things I think the darkspawn will do, eating me is not my biggest worry.”

The night was long, and active, as the four of them chased the darkened and his darkspawn minions through the city, herding him into an area that it was safe for them to fight him in.

Flora was frowning as she looked over the clawed wounds in Aegis’s side, her bracelets sprouting flowers as she attempted to magically heal the wound.

“That’s about as much as I can do, sorry Aegis.”

She grimaced as the wound were touched again, “S’fine. I can hide this without too much trouble. I’m just glad for once they didn’t go for you.”

Flora gave her a sympathetic smile as Aegis let her sword and shield and armour evaporate, changing back into her mortal appearance, hoody and sneakers not at all beaten up from the night’s activities.

Lucy quietly slipped back through her front door, the clock on the oven blinking that it was four in the morning at her, as she padded through into the bedroom.

Both of her siblings were still asleep, and she let out a sigh of relief as she stripped down, lying on the thing bed next to her sister’s.

Even though she had college in the morning, and even though she had been running all over the city, tiring herself out, when her head hit the pillow, her eyes remained open, looking up at the ceiling, images and memories flooding through her head.

It wasn’t uncommon for this to happen at night. The memories of failure, the worry of the women who was behind all of this, pulling the strings on her puppets. And most of the fear that something would happen to her siblings, that she wouldn’t be there, that she would fail to protect them if she was.

Lucy sighed again, turning her head to look at her sleeping sister.

As long as she lived and breathed, she wouldn’t stop fighting for them. No matter what.

So, to get back into the swing of writing, I’ve being doing some more of the flash fiction challenges. Just 1,000 or 1,500 word things. Helps get me back into the pattern of daily writing because none of my ongoing projects are speaking to me right now and I know I should be writing because I’ve been having a terrible month in that regard. To help with this I went back through the archives of one Chuck Wendig and pulled out the Friday challenges. I hadn’t been keeping up with them until this week, but they were still there and the inspiration still stands, so I’ve been doing a few of those. And I just kind of liked what I came out with today for this one, so I thought I’d post it.

New plan for the blog is a Monday/early week post about writing and a Thursday/late week post about dragons. That’s my minimum that I’m aiming for, so if I get more than that, I’ll call it a win. Look out for a dragon post tomorrow or Friday as well. But, without further rambling on by me, here’s some more flash fiction.

Must Contain a Map

                Iva finished one last symbol, and then reached out to drop her quill back into the pot of ink, she’d clean it out later. Making a ‘come’ motion with her fingers, the tiny fire sprite rolled over, settling onto the stone weight in the corner before it flared up slightly, waves of warmth spreading out over the roll of parchment, the ink drying out, a rippling effect outwards from where the sprite sat.

She sighed as she leaned back, yet another request for a map completed. Looking around the oddly shape room, there were maps, both finished and unfinished, hanging up all around, the walls only seen in a few places now that their business was booming.

The fire sprit chirped at her, and she looked back down to the map as it rolled away. Carefully, she rolled it up into a tight scroll, then rummaging around in the single drawer under the desk, finding a ribbon to tie the map up with.

A thud, a jingle, and floor gently shook underneath her. Good thing she had finished the map when she did, not least because the dragonborn was the customer who has requested this rush job.

Petting the fire sprite, she exited the room, scroll in hand, and went down to the main shop area, giving her cousin a quick head ruffle as he hid behind the doorframe, eyes huge at the massive creature that stood in the middle of the shop.

“You did say a rush job would mean three hours,” the deep, rumbling voice said.

“I did, although you did ask for a very complicated job Dagnath, I’m sure it will done soon.”

“Now, in fact,” Iva smiled as the dragonborn and her Uncle Aldrick, “The map that you requested sir, finished but a minute ago.”

Dagnath took the scroll from her used delicately used one claw to untied the ribbon, rolling out the scroll so he could examine it.

“Excellent detail, a very fine map indeed.”

Iva came him a small smile of appreciation, then moved back, letting her uncle, who looked a little relieved at her timing, take over to manage the business part of the transaction.

As she was turning to walk back to her work room, she noticed a human, male, curiously examining some of the maps that were framed on the wall, examples of what they could produce. He was wearing cloth, not quite robes, but she recognised some of the symbols and paraphernalia hanging from his belt. An arcane caster of some kind.

He twitched slightly, and then looked up, noticing her watching him. Iva ducked her head away, not wanting to be rude, and gave her cousins another head ruffle as she went back up to her room to resume work on another map.

Sunset came, throwing long shadows over her work, and Iva decided to stop, putting her pen down, before stretching her arms up to the ceiling. The tiny fire sprite, which kept her company, rolling around the desk most of the time, was given a tiny lump of coal, good to keep it occupied for the night, before she left the room.

Leaving her family to dinner, she kissed her uncle’s cheek as he wrestled with one of the twins over the ladle, and left the shop, walking into town.

Stopping by her usual bar, she picked up a bottle of sweet wine, and exited out into the cooling air, walking along her familiar path to the outskirts of town, and up the hill, to the forest of the natural landscape around the town.

Here she could drink her wine in peace, and she could look over one side to see the town sprawled out beneath her, and on the other, the tamed expanses of nature, growing darker as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.

“Mind if I join you?”

Iva looked up, blinking as she recognised the arcanist from the shop, earlier in the day, “Uh. No. Not really.”

He flopped down on the grassy hill, sprawling out as he relaxed, “Nice confluence up here.”


“Confluence. Place where magical rivers join up with each other? No?” he frowned, “Sorry, thought you were a caster, you’ve got a pact after all.”

Iva looked down at the back of her hand, where an invisible symbol was etched onto the back of her hand, “Oh, no. That got done for me by a sorcerer in town. And it’s just to the smallest fire sprite you could ever meet. Kept happy with firewood, otherwise I’d never maintain it. I’m not a mage at all, or anything else really. Just a commoner.”

“A commoner who makes exceptionally good maps.”

She shrugged, “Have to earn money somehow.”

He smiled, “Quinn, by the way.”


“So what brings you up here Iva?”

“The view. And it’s quiet. Well, normally. Ah, sorry, that probably came out wrong.”

Quinn smiled, “No offense taken. Adventurers, by our very nature, tend to intrude on things.”

“You’re with the dragonborn, Dagnath?”

“Aye, I’m with him. And a few others as well, of course.”

“Going up to the Phirith region, yes?”

“Well you did draw us the map.”

Iva gave a small smile, “The city up there is meant to be spectacular, surrounded by water on three sides, they’ve never had a drought, the architecture is astounding, I’ve seen pictures,” she paused for a second, “I’d love to visit someday,” she said quietly, internally anticipating the next question.

“Tied down with the family?” Quinn looked over at her sympathy on his face.

Iva blinked, and looked over at him, startled by the lack of the typical response, “Not tied down per se. Well, yes. But I love them, it’s no burden to stay here.”

“Your uncle runs the shop, but you make the maps? I guess even if you wanted to take a holiday that would mean less, even no money being earned.”

“There’s a small backlog of standard maps, but mostly the custom work and the rush jobs bring in the most money. And everywhere I’d want to visit is pretty far away,” she studied him a little closer, “You know, this isn’t how this conversation with adventurers usually goes.”

“Oh, I can imagine. ‘Well why don’t you? Just up and leave, it’s easy.’ That sort of thing?”

Iva nodded.

Quinn smiled, and shook his head, “Adventurers are funny people. And I know the irony of saying that as one myself. We don’t really have the ties that normal people have, family, jobs, friends. Well, okay, that last one is a bit of an overstatement. I have lots of friends. But, getting up and walking out the door into the wide world? Yeah, not as easy as people think.”

“Not everyone wants to either. I mean, I’d love to visit places, but, I love my family, and I like my work, I do. That, and going around, killing monsters, camping out, actual down to earth adventuring? Yeah, doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.”

“It is really exciting. About twenty percent of the time. Seventy percent is travelling and camping and moving, and the other ten percent is trying to find money to buy all the things we need to keep living and adventuring. Honestly, I have no idea why I still do it.”

Iva looked back over him, and there was a smirk on his face as he talked, looking up at the stars.


Quinn grinned at her in response. Then shifted forward, and drew a symbol in front of him, “Name a place.”


“A place you want to visit. Name one.”

Iva blinked, “Uh, Oresmitt.”

“Haven’t been there, pick again.”

“Brulon then.”

There was another symbol, and a shimmering surface expanded over the grass in front of them, resolving itself into an image of a city.

Iva felt her mouth fall open slightly, leaning forward on her knees as she examined the city from, well, it would be the point of view of Quinn’s memories she suspected. She could see the stout building’s that were typical of dwarven architecture, a pub on every street, sometimes two, and lots of the smaller sized humanoids bustling about, flowing around the viewpoint as it moved around the city.

“Might be second hand visiting, but I think it still counts right?” Quinn still had the grin on his face as Iva looked up at him.

“Yeah, it can count.”

Quinn hadn’t been to everywhere in the world, mostly the northern and north-eastern parts, but that was still a view that she’d never had the chance to have before, and she was ecstatic as he showed her his memories of the various places he’d visited.

Midnight had drawn near, and the bottle of wine had been drunk, as they walked back down the hill to the town again.

“Thank you. Really, that was…so nice of you.”

“Nice?” Quinn laughed, “I’ll take nice.”

Iva ducked her head and blushed, then looked over to him again, “I know you said you’re going tomorrow, but, if you ever do come back this way, look me up again. I don’t suppose I’ll have gone anywhere. And, well, I’d love to see your memories of Phirith.”

Standing on tip toes to reach, she kissed him on the cheek, and then turned away to walk back to the shop.

“Count on it!”

Iva smiled to herself, without turning back as Quinn called out after her. If he really did come back, then she was looking forward to more second hand visiting.


I said that I was going to try and do writing posts during the first half of the week, so let’s get going with this! I’ve been hitting a tiny bit of a writing slump this month, so it’s nice to try and get back into the groove of it, and Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge is usually good for giving a bit of a jolt and doing something completely unrelated to any of my stories. Writing a short flash fiction is often very good for just getting over that hurdle, writing something, and then getting back to the big projects.

This week, he gave us five story seeds, pick on, write 1,500 words on it, any genre. Nice and open. I went with story seed #3.

old book on white background

A mysterious journal is found

Coming out of the front door was like coming out of jail for the first time in years, the sunlight was blinding compared to the dark of the house, sounds of nature and man in the air, rather than the heavy silence through the thick walls, and Emily finally felt like she could breathe again.

Of course, she was still struggling with the weight of a heavy cardboard box full of crap, which made her stagger out onto the overgrown front lawn, before she dropped it at the edge of the growing pile.

“Emily! Careful with that!” her mother’s voice rang out through the open windows of the living room.

She rolled her eyes, back turned so that she was at least out of the view of her mother, muttering to herself, “Why bother? It’s a bunch of crap anyway.”

“Language Emily.”

Emily rolled her eyes again, huffing at a stray piece of hair that had fallen out of her bandana. Sunlight was streaming around her as she stretched out, a glorious summer day that normally would have had her round her friends place, eating ice lollies, splashing out in a pool, any number of those fun summer activities.

But no, instead, she had to help her mum clear out her Aunt’s old, disorganised, jammed-packed house. The dungarees that were normally reserved for painting were covered in dust, thick clouds of it coming up frequently as they worked to empty the house.

“Come on Emily, back to work.”

She huffed, walking up to the large windows of the living room, eyeing up the dark inside, thrown into relief by the light coming in now that her mother had finally opened up the curtains. They probably hadn’t been opened in years, considering how hard it had been to even get them to move along their rails.

“Why do I have to work? Dax isn’t,” towards the back of the room she could spot her brother, just visible between towering stack of old magazines and books.

“He’s four Emily, he’s doing what he can.”

Emily watched as her brother disappeared, caused a cloud of dust to manifest, then reappeared, waving around the dusting rag that he had found, face and front now covered in pale grey.

“It’s not like I’m getting anything out of this anyway. Great Aunt Maggs left everything to you.”

“Us. She left everything to us. She liked you kids as well you know.”

Privately she was suspicious of that, probably one of those things that parents say to try and make you feel better. Emily only vaguely remembered her Great Aunt, only ever meeting her a couple of times, and that had been years and years ago. And she didn’t think her brother had ever been in the same room as the old women.

“That’s not what the will said.”

“Well, if you find anything you want, ask me and maybe you can keep it. It’s all getting sold or going to charity anyway.”

“Why couldn’t you get the charity people to come and clean out the house then?”

“Emily, please! Just go and get another box.”

“Fine! Fine, I’m going, I’m going,” Emily peeled away from the window and went back to the front door.

“Slave labour,” she whispered to herself, looking into the dark interior of the house.

With one last regretful look out to the summer behind her, she stepped back into the gloomy house, silence of the thick walls pressing in on her as she ran back up the stairs, going up to the room she had picked to clear out.

It had probably been a study, but given that every room was much the same – stuffed full of anything and everything that would fit in there – it was hard to tell exactly what function it had originally been used for. Turns out, her Great Aunt was a hoarder. At least, that was the word that dad kept using. He was out in the garden, preferring to tackle the task of getting the overgrown greenery under some control rather than battling the dust. Emily didn’t blame him, she’d rather be outside as well, but mother was being dictatorial about this whole thing.

At least it was away from her mother.

She snagged an empty box from the pile on the landing, and took it back into the room. So far she’d managed to unearth most of a desk, and a safe path from door to desk. She flipped the empty box onto the desk, and started to go through more of the crap crammed around the desk.

Books, magazines, dried leaves that crumbled apart in her hands, more than one spider, disturbed by the movement. There was something big, heavy, and metal underneath a small pile of books.

Steadying her hands either side of it she lifted with her knees, wobbling at the weight as she lifted it out of the rubbish and onto the desk, letting it fall with a thump onto the surface.

There was a clicking noise, and suddenly there was a thump, pain blossoming in her hip as she jumped backwards, caught her foot on something, and pin wheeled to avoid falling over.

Cursing some words that her mother would not approve of, she steadied herself, one hand pressing into the damaged part of her hip, as she looked back over to the desk, trying to work out what had happened.

Protruding from the desk was a thin slate, which must be what had hit her. Emily narrowed her eyes at it as she took a step forward, looking at it. No, that was a drawer, a concealed drawer in the desk. Well at least that was kind of clever.

Didn’t seem to be much in there, just another old book. She reached in a hand, and drew it out. It was a bit thicker than it first appeared, and didn’t seem to have that smell that most of the other old books in this place had.

She ran a hand round the inside of the drawer, but there was nothing else in there. She gently pushed on the end of the drawer, it was stiff, but it did slide back into the desk, clicking back into its locked position.

Emily turned her attention to the book, flipping it over, letters engraved on the back cover catching her attention – M.L.S.

She knew her aunt was called Maggs, well, Margaret, but hadn’t her surname been something beginning with S? Singer or something like that?

She undid the strap that held it closed, and opened it up onto the first page. The handwriting was tiny, spindly, at first she didn’t think it was English, it was so hard to read. But after a couple of pages, she realised it was readable, although she struggled to work out most of the words.

There were however, lots of diagrams, labelled in that same hand, but much easier to look at than the writing. They looked like, just random objects, much like the odd crap which could be found all over the house.

What really caught her attention were the symbols. Occasionally half a page or more would be devoted to long stings, and it seem right to read them top to bottom rather than left to right, even though Emily had no idea why that felt right to do. They just, looked like they should be.

She flicked through a few more pages, until she saw what look like a large box, engravings drawn all over the little diagram. Her eyes flicked up, down, and then flicked up again, as she looked at the large metal cube she’d lifted onto the desk.

On the side here, was something that looked a lot like this engraving on that side. And here, the same symbol. She had the box on its side.

Huffing a bit due to the weight, she turned the box over, putting it on the side that lined up with the diagram, the book lying open on the table as she made the adjustments and then compared the two. That was it, now they matched each other.


Emily started at the voice, looking up sharply at her mother’s face as she leaned around the door.


Her mother blinked. Maybe she’d snapped a bit hard, a momentary guilty flash ran through Emily.

“Lunchtime. Your father’s made some burgers.”

Emily swallowed, forcing herself to not look down, “Sure. Be down in a second.”

Her mother blinked at her again, then nodded and stepped away. Emily listened as the footsteps rapidly faded out of hearing.

Looking down at the journal and the cube, she shut it, and wrapped the cord back around it. Opening up the pocket on the front of her dungarees, she slipped it in there before doing the button back up.

If she could find more things that were drawn in the journal, then maybe there were a few things she’d like to keep from the house. Just for curiosities sake.

This week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig is an unusual one. Write a story. Five sentences. No more than 100 words. Which is going to be an interesting challenge, telling a whole story complete with beginning middle and end in five sentences. I do love the challenge of short fiction, and whilst I struggle with things like “a story in four words” I do love having 100 words to try and get something across in.


It had to be done.

magic-book-burning-247She reached into her pocket, and drew out the box of matches, sulphur striking the air with a hiss. A small flick, and the match landed on the pages of the open book, flames licking up and over the paper, the ink, the unnatural prison.

Her feet turned and ran, keeping ahead as the fire spread, consuming rows upon rows, shelves upon shelves of books and artefacts, the trappings of the humans peeling away to reveal what lay inside.

Magic would be free again.

As I said previously, this is probably going to become more of a regular thing, as short fiction is something that I want to practice (I got some really helpful feedback on last week’s piece) and Chuck often sets slightly more unusual challenges. This week he went onto a website and generated 10 book titles, thus our challenge is to pick one and write 2,000 words on it. Long one this week! The title I choose is:

The Crow of Nine-World

He preened a couple of feathers with his beak, as he waited for the people to comes over the crest of the hill. Whilst waiting here in the sun wasn’t particularly unpleasant, they were taking far longer than they should have done to walk a simple mile.

It was the strains of an argument that reached his ears that warned him of what had been delaying the pair, and indeed, as they came into view, the older gentleman in robes whacked the young lad he was travelling with around the back of the head, “You’ll do it when I tell you to do it, because I tell you to do it.”

Malkencia thought that this was not an entirely inappropriate way to treat a chosen one as sometimes they really did deserve a slap or two, although quite a lot of the terran species would have disagreed with him.

The boy was looking surly, and kicking his feet as they walked along the path. It was always the farm boys, really, why choose someone who was young, and had no experience, when there were far more suitable candidate for this sort of thing out there? Not that it was his job to choose them, no, that was fate. His job was now.

He spread his wings and cawed, the unusual deep tones echoing round the side of the hill. The two people stopped suddenly, attention drawn to the mystic bird. The older man waved the boy forward, and after a grumble, a small scuffle, and another swot to the head he stepped forward and the two of them bowed to Malkencia, “Oh mysterious and magical creature of fate, please, grant us your wisdom and guidance on this, the most important of quests that has ever been set upon.”

A little over the top, but then again, these things usually were. He kept his wings spread, and his eyes glowed with an amethyst glow, “The suns move towards the zenith, and time marches onwards. By the time the stars are in alignment, the chosen one must be ready and present to face his destiny, for in the light of Zethrustra, the world may be saved, or dammed,” he puffed out his breast even further, and the purple glow grew overwhelmingly, until the two questers had to look away. By the time they could look back, it would appear that he had vanished.

Of course, in reality, he was just a fast, and fairly quiet flier, and could watch the pair of them form up on high, coasting on a thermal. They really did need to stop arguing so much, and start walking if they wanted to make it to the ruins on time. Although, he’d seen this happen before, and as of yet, no one had ever been late, fast was pretty good at arranging things like that. Usually they would get there in the nick of time, that was generally how it worked.

Satisfied that his little intervention had started to produce the desired effect, Malkencia beat his wings, taking the thermals higher and higher, until the ground before was nothing more than a child’s play map. His eyes could see what others could not, and he swept along the edge of this realm, gently lifting himself through and slipping out into the Aether. Space warped around him, and no longer was he flying just above Dehover, but far above it, the bubble that denoted the edge of the realm blurring into the Aether. He could see the other realms, some far below, some above, touching against each other in places. Every time the cycle repeated the realms shifted slightly, so the scape that he saw today, was not the one that he had first laid eyes upon, all those forgotten millennia ago.

Nestled in a small corner above the highest realm was a roiling storm, or that was what it appeared to be. Melkencia beat his wings, thoughts more than physical movement, powering his flight as he swerved around Janorion. Nice realm, he hoped that it would survive this cycle, they had gotten quite civilised and educated this time round, and he enjoyed visiting with the mages down there. But not today.

His eyes pierced through the eddies and swirls of the storm, guiding him on a path through to the airy towers that floating on the topic of magic undefined. His claws clacked against the railing of a balcony on one of the high towers.

“Afternoon Malk, I’ve been watching you lately. You’ve been a busy bird.”

“You know what point in the cycle it is,” he checked some of his feathers, smoothing them down after his time in the raw Aether, “If I don’t keep things moving then who knows what those mortals down there will get up to.”

The women flicked a finger over her table, pictures upon pictures, of people, singular or grouped, sun or snow, fighting or sleeping sprawled out, overlapping as the realms did, all nine of them, “Quite a lot, from what I’ve seen. But, mostly in the direction that they should be heading. Especially with your interventions. What have you got this time round?”

“Five chosen ones, two bearers, one Messiah, and unusually one chooser themselves.”

“Interesting. Is the Messiah light or dark?”

Malkencia shrugged a wing, “Hard to tell, and not just because light and dark are fairly defunct terms when you get up this high. I honestly think they could go either way.”

“And the chooser?”

“Apparently decided that they couldn’t find anyone that they deemed suitable enough for the task, so decided to take it up themselves. Given that they are an oracle of note in the world, and have quite a bit of experience themselves, I would say it’s not a bad choice.”

“Is it allowed?”

“It counts as a choice.”

“Interesting,” Erryn flicked a hand over the table, changing the focus of some of the pictures, “I’d love to meet her.”

Malkencia gave her a steely look with his glassy eyes, “No.”

“But why ever not?”

“You know damn well why Erryn. You choose to take yourself out of the realms and what comes with them in exchange for this, you can’t go wandering back in whenever you choose to.”

“I’m rather sure I can.”

“Shouldn’t, then, if you want to be pedantic. Fate might let you get away with it at other times, but if you go down there now, you will be noticed, and it will not be impressed.”


“You have more agency and freedom than anyone else that was born of a realm, it’s not a large price to pay.”

Erryn sighed, “I suppose. But sometimes it just seems so much more exciting down there,” she waved a hand, playing around with the scrying windows, the sizes changing, the pictures flicking around in between each other.

He turned on his feet so that he wouldn’t have to look directly at the table, “Is this hindsight coming back to bite you in the ass?”

“Oh, this is nothing new, I just despise being told what to do.”

“Take it as friendly advice then. I think you’d rather be alive than not.”

“True,” She looked over at him, flicking her silver hair back over her shoulder, “Are you not interested in seeing what your little groups are up to?”

“That thing gives me a headache.”

“You can see in the past, present and future, but looking at my scrying window gives you a headache?”

“It the picture in picture thing, makes my eyes hurt.”

Erryn flicked a hand at the map and the pictures split out into nine separate viewing windows, “Happy now?”

He ruffled his feathers as he cast one beady eye back down over it, “Better.”

She made a noise, and then leaned over the table, playing around with one window that drew her attention, “Where are you bound next, sprouting more of your ‘wisdom’. I mean really, some of the things you come out with.”

“I’ve always found that the less sense you make, the more seriously people take you. People are idiots like that.”

“I will not disagree with that. So, where to next for you?”

“For now? Nowhere. Everything is in motion, I shouldn’t need to go back down into a realm unless someone starts screwing up.”

“Is that likely?”

“Always possible.”

“So are you going to be staying around here then?”

“Might as well. Your table may give me a headache, but it’s easier than my methods.”

Erryn held out her arm, and he stepped onto her wrist, claws gently grasping the flesh, but not breaking it, “It’ll be my pleasure to entertain you for a while. I think I have some bird seed somewhere.”

“Erryn,” his voice was low with disapproval.

She laughed, and carefully carried him out of the tower.

Diving out of the Aether always felt like he was doing somersaults, even though it was supposed to be a gentle descent. The air was hot and dry as he came out into the crossways. The bridges over to the other realms shimmered, slight variations in colours and textures through each road, and he could see most of the groups making the transition over to this in between space. Right on time then.

Five chosen ones, some alone, some with groups, two bearers, he could see the spear and the bow this time around, the Messiah seemed to have a lot of people behind them, but as they came through to this realm, they all faded away, and the chooser was by herself. It was certainly a little bit of an interesting collection this cycle.

The stone gates into the partially ruined arena rumbled open as the light of the nine suns bathed the arena, causing Malkencia’s black feathers to heat up almost instantly. As the people, all kinds of races from all of the realms, edged in, some cautiously, others striding in with confidence. Or arrogance, it was hard to tell sometimes.

He spread his wings, and the arena was bathed in his amethyst light, “The light of Zethrustra comes! Champions of the realms, your time is now. Come, your realms fate is in your hands!”

“What is the meaning of this daemon?” One of them called out to him, “What is this talk of realms?”

“The tenth sun Zethrustra is rising, and in it’s heat come death and destruction. Each of the nine realms possesses part of the power to halt it’s light, and that power manifests in you, the champion of the realm,” He flapped his wings, and a layer of reality peeled away from the crossways, illuminating gem-like objects, embedded in each of the people, or objects, that were gathered in front of him, “To save the realms, all nine are needed. The power is in your hands, champions,” He folded his wings back, and the amethyst light died from the arena, instead replaced with a burning bright light, all nine suns from the realms visible in the sky.

His beady eyes watched all of them, and for a split second, there was a profound silence. A shout, anger, and then three people keeled over, feathered shafts penetrating their chests, as a full scale melee broke out.

Malkencia watched the entire proceeding without stirring a feather. One of these cycles they might actually realise that cooperation between all nine of them was a valid method, and that no death was needed. That would be a novelty, and secretly, deep down in his breast, he looked forward to the day that might happen.

However, that was not this cycle, as the bearer of the bow shot one last arrow, and the spell aimed at him fizzled out of control, exploding against a wall, harmless to him. The man, tall and slender, with the pointed ears typical of his realm, looked up at him.

“Take up the power Saelethil, and save your realm.”

He gathered up all eight of the other gems, blood drops splattering on the ground, and as the tenth sun rose over the horizon, burning white, and held them up.

From up on high in the Aether, Malkencia watched, as eight of the realms were washed away, the light of Zethrustra burning all that it touched, apart from Ivmar, which shimmered with a light of it own, tiny sparks flying of as the two titan forces meet, and the realm was spared.

It would take a while for the new realms to form out of the ash and dust from these remains. And it would be even longer before he was required to give out the guidance of fate again. For now, he was looking forward to a nice, long period of quiet. Maybe he could even have a nap.

Flash Fiction Challenge

I should do more of these, because most of them are quite cool. Once again, Chuck Wendig has posted up a Friday Flash Fiction Challenge, and wants us to write 1,000 words. Today, we are to go over to Flickr, and it will randomly generate us 9 images from an “interestingness” algorithm. We pick one, and write on that theme.

Slightly odd, but hey, unusual writing prompts are fun.

So, over I go, look at my selection. And I quite like the look of this one, Forgotten Flame. (All rights and stuff belong to photographer, link to photo here)

Forgotten Flame

Roselaine drew her cloak around her, the early morning air chill against her skin. The woods were already alive with the sounds of the early birds, tweeting to each other, their mates, already building nests for the coming spring. It wasn’t light yet, but between the moon and the lightening sky, there was enough light for her to navigate by.

These woods felt strange, almost unnatural to her. Not, welcome, but as if she was an unexpected guest. She had never felt trees respond to her like this, Dryads were always welcome in woods and forests. It made her too nervous to even try and commune with the trees, so she drew her leaf cloak even further around herself and carried on walking, hoping that she could find another wood further east.

The tinkling sound of water reached her ears, and she stopped, feet slightly burying themselves in the loam. It was fairly nearby, her throat tickling ever so slightly with anticipation as she navigated by the sounds and came out into stream. The water was slowly slipping past her, but the sound she had been following came from further up, a small waterfall that scattered water over layers of rock she saw as she glanced.

Kneeling down, she used her hand to scoop up a few handfuls of water, the ends of her green hair trailing in the water as she leaned over. Her eyes flicked back up to the waterfall, and double took as she saw a flicker of light from the middle of the waterfall.

Roselaine took another mouthful of water, eyes watching the waterfall, as the light played and danced again, just briefly.

Wiping her hand on her dress, she got up, on silent feet, and padded up the stream bank, until she came to the rock, and the water splashed over her feet and sprayed up her legs, leaning up to have a look. The light flickered right in front of her, and with a start she pushed back, feet slipping on the rock. Her backside hit the rock, and she rolled backwards down the last few chunks of rock, mind filled with the single, panicked thought ‘Fire!’.

The tiny flame elemental that was almost hidden behind rock and water flickered back and forth between two spaces, watching her panicked retreat.

Why so scared?

Roselaine’s eyes were wide, chest heaving as she gathered loam and dirt in her hands, grabbing onto what was solid and firm.

It’s been so long since I saw anyone. Stay.

She shook her head, Fire consumes.

The flame elemental billowed out, almost like it was shrugging, no, sighing, You must be a young one. Dryad, yes?

Roselaine didn’t move, still gripping onto the earth. The flame elemental twirled, and then erupted out from behind the water curtain, blue and red sparks fizzling off from its little body. She started back, pushing away, but the sparks died out before they hit the floor, tiny flecks of ash settling on the loam. And nothing caught fire.

Flame may consume, but nature will always grow back. Better and stronger than before. Like the phoenix, good things arise from ash. But I do not burn. Not today. Stay awhile, it’s been a long time since I saw anyone.

Roselaine watched in astonishment as the fire elemental twirled through the air, eventually coming to rest on a low hanging branch nearby, and the branch didn’t burn. Not even a black mark where it was sitting. A few silent moments stretched out between them.

You have a name?

She blinked a few times, Roselaine.

Like the pretty smelling flower? That’s nice. I’m Phyre.


Phyre. P-H-Y-R-E. Sounds the same, but my spelling is much better. Phyre billowed out again, like it was sighing, Forgotten spelling. Forgotten Phyre.

How can anyone forget you? I thought, well, aren’t elemental meant to go back to their home plane?

This home. My rock. My water. My home. It waved a tendril of flame in the direction of where she had first seen the flickering light.

But, where’s the fire?


She looked down at the earth that she was grabbing, Below, you mean, from the centre of the earth?

The form of the little fire elemental waved from side to side, More or less.

Then why are you up here?

Lonely down there. No one else, just Phyre. All alone. Forgotten. Thought surface would have more people, but no one come past. Not in seasons and seasons and seasons. Lonely little Phyre, all forgotten.

Roselaine looked around at the forest, she’s been walking through it for some time now, There should be other elemental’s here, this forest is huge.

No one but me. And now you! Phyre twisted the flame that was acting as it’s head around. Why you come to the forest?

I was…my sisters… there were humans, and our forest was attacked.

A streak of flame, and the elemental was by her side, bathing her hand. She flinched away, withdrawing her hand, except, it didn’t burn. Cautiously she reached her hand back out, just near enough to the flickering elemental. It was warm, not matter how close she got, it was just warm. Slowly, very slowly, she reached out, and touched the tip of its head.

It, Phyre, almost seemed to purr as she did so, a slow, slightly crackling sound, that reminded her of the cats and wild rodents that had been in the last forest.

Your tree, is it gone?

A tear slipped out from her eye, and dripped onto Phyre’s head, Yes.

You stay here. I like you, you make good company.

But, the trees. They’re, I don’t know how to describe it.

They just lonely. You come, bring sisters. Then they not be forgotten. And I not be forgotten either.

Roselaine looked around. The forest did seem a little different. Maybe, a little warmer than it had been before.

Not many of my sisters like fire.

They’ll like me, and I’ll make fire work for us. Little fires, not big ones. And no stinking humans.

A tiny giggle slipped out of her lips, before she bit it back. She took another look around the forest, as the flames of Phyre just licked around her fingers. Maybe, it could work. She wasn’t entirely sure, but any forest without humans, that was a forest that she wanted to be in.

C'est La Vee

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