Flash Fiction: Once There Were Dragons

On Friday everything changed. Today the dragon guardians would leave for the islands with those dragons who had survived the wars. No longer would this be the City of Dragons it once was. Dragons trailed our ships as we started towards our new home. It seemed that both our races had suffered hurts we could not recover from. Hurts we could now only hope to run from.

As I looked back at the fading shore, I wondered if, on some Friday far into the future, they would still remember that there were once dragons here. And that they were magnificent.

Flash Fiction: Photographs and Immortality

Last week was the final Flash!Friday competition. *weeps* For my two stories I decided to expand on some of the other worlds I’ve created in my stories written for Flash! Friday.

The first story, “Immortālis” takes place in the same world as, “Momento Mori” (which is why I chose this specific title). Here’s “Immortālis” and, below it, “Momento Mori”.

Immortālis

On Friday everything changed. On Christmas Eve I had a breakthrough after months of trial and error. For the first time I captured the human soul in a photograph. The parents carried the photo of their son home to keep with them forever. Death had lost its sting.

In the bedroom my wife was almost ready to take her last breath. I waited by her side through the night until it was time to take the photograph. As I hung the moving photo on the wall on Christmas morning, I smiled for the first time in months. So did she.

Memento Mori

 The monk-like caretaker of the captured souls met Gerhardt at the door.

“The procedure worked. We got to her deathbed just in time,” he grinned.

Gerhardt didn’t dare look at the photos they passed in the corridors. Whispers cluttered the air.

“She’s not in pain?”

“Not at all. Souls are extremely resilient,” the monk said. The whispers became louder until individual voices could be heard. “They wake up when people walk past. It takes a while for the eyes to adjust, you might say. Your… doctor gave you only a few months?”

Gerhardt felt a ghost walk over his grave as dozens of eyes turned to watch him. “Indeed. And then I will no longer require your services.”

“Here we go.”

Gerhardt stared at the photo of his wife. Her face moved slightly. “Gerhardt?” she whispered.

“When you die, we destroy the photo and the soul is freed immediately.”

Gerhardt smiled. “And then we will go to heaven together.”

 

Flash Fiction Double Feature – Dragons!

For last week’s Flash! Friday, you had to include a dragon, and I ended up doing a part 2 of another flash piece I’d written for Flash! Friday a few months ago, titled “After the Sea Monsters”. It’s technically set in the same world as my NaNoWriMo work for this year, though quite a few years before the action of that story takes place.

After the Sea Monsters

White sand littered with the night’s detritus of shells and seaweed was crushed by the captain’s wooden leg as he walked. Anchored within sight was Drakeklou; the last ship that he would be the captain of. Beside him his elderly dragon hobbled over the sand and smelled the air, her warm breath a swirling mist. She, too, yearned for open air, endless waters, and the thrill of fighting the sea monsters that would otherwise drag the tall ships to the crushing depths.

“One last trip, hey old girl,” he said softly, leaning against her to rest his injured leg. “One last adventure before all three of us retire.”

She lowered her head, her imagination letting her soar over the waters just like every other morning.

Arad’s Dragon

Arad was five when he was rescued from a sinking ship by the dragon, Draka, who accompanied the tall ships to keep them safe from sea monsters. Draka took him back to the port city and watched as a family adopted the orphan boy.

Draka watched as Arad grew into a young man who sailed out to the islands and kept him safe from the sea monsters on every journey.

Draka watched as Arad married and had children of his own.

Draka watched as Arad grew old and sailed his ship, Drakeklou, for the last time.

Draka watched as Arad died in his home behind a locked door.

Draka watched as Arad’s body was taken to the stone tomb and felt the pain of death.

Draka sat beside the tomb until she, too, turned to stone.

Draka watched over the tomb even after her scales were weathered away, their names were forgotten, and only stories of their friendship remained.

 

(As an aside, the ship’s name, “Drakeklou” actually means “Dragon’s Claw” in Afrikaans. But, hey, it looks exotic in this context…)

Flash Fiction: Heart

The hunter clutched the gory package to his chest as he entered the room. Here, in the bad part of town, you could find every type of brigand at the stained tables. The clientele barely glanced up as he made his way to a table in the corner where an old wizard sat nursing whatever rotgut the barman was selling.

“You got it?”

“I did.” The hunter put the package on the table. Blood had soaked through the cloth wrapping.

The wizard opened it and grinned.

“Nothing like a princess’ heart to cure the ills of the world.” He handed the man a small packet filled with some kind of powder.

The hunter took it, thanked him, and strode home without looking back. He prayed that this would work. The heart of one girl with snow white skin, coal black hair and red lips for the life of his own dying daughter with her pale skin and even paler lips.

 

Flash Fiction: Dream Catcher

The almost-forgotten shadow-soul stalks the city’s streets at night. It moves between the flickering yellow lights lit in the streets to keep it away. It lingers in the dark tendrils of midnight, in the creak of floorboards and roofs cooling after a day under a burning sun. It whispers in the scratch of a branch against a window, in the sudden silence after a scream rips through the night.

It hunts and haunts the dreams of the city dwellers. It craves not their ambition, nor their wealth. It craves the simple dreams of the city-trapped for open fields, mountains, and clean air. It hunts and catches dreams of this place as it was before the buildings and the industry came. It hunts for its own memories and past hidden beneath layers of paving, brick, and snippets of fading greenery. It searches only for itself, hunts only for itself, feeds only itself, remembers only itself, and weeps only for itself.

Flash Fiction: Homecoming & Echoes of Life

Homecoming

I came back from the sea when the moon was full. The houses were so close to the beach that the sand and broken shells were trampled into the narrow streets. Over the whole place hung the smell of home. The smell of cooking and spices drifted on the salt air, ruffling my hair and welcoming me home. In the other small, whitewashed houses family were sitting down to eat, pray, or read from the Bible. Mine, I knew, were still sitting by the window watching. Waiting for me to return to the place I had called home before the sea’s siren call had lured me away. Since then I have seen the world six times over.

My home still bore the scars of the fire that had swept through the town before the first time I’d left. On the windowsill stood one flickering candle. In the faint light I saw their ghost faces crowded by the window. Ghostly voices greeted me.

By morning there will again be only a cinder and they will be gone, but tonight, with the full moon, we would all be together like before, telling stories of our travels in this world and the next.

From the Archive: Worldbuilding Dragon Tears

Image by: The Graphics Fairy

Echoes of Life

The ghostly images of tourists haunted the arena. They walked around, pointing, talking, laughing. Some fought mock fights while others looked on.

On the other side the gladiator stood among his fellow fighters. All had fought here, all had died here. The sounds of the fighting still reverberated through the arena at night and sometimes they themselves were startled by the intensity of the echoes of their deeds.

Another piece of the arena crumbled to dust. No more tourists came. Some archaeologists rummaged in the ground for clues to the past. Still the lives of the lost warriors echoed on.

Flash Fiction: The Last Relic

“The pilgrim’s road is ten thousand steps,” the priest had said and asked for volunteers. One stepped from the crowd.
“I shall take the relic,” he said. And all knew that he was lost to them. Some sobbed openly.

The Pilgrim stumbled along and reached the last hill. With him pilgrims from other towns and cities walked, all seeking salvation for their people.
When he placed the last piece of the relic on the altar, lightning struck and thunder shouted from the sky. The pilgrims smiled even as their life force was drained and they turned to stone.

Rain had come.

Flash Fiction: The Nightmare

Glass tubes filled with green fluid wound their way over the workbench like branches of ivy. Here and there beakers stood above blue flames, their contents boiling.

At another table the creator stood crouched above his humanoid creation with a wooden face carved in the likeness of a child. Metal and brass gears glinted in the gaslight as he worked within the chest cavity. He poured some of the boiling liquid into the glass heart before placing it reverentially into its wooden casing.

All that remained was the memories he had been able to salvage. These had been distilled from the green fluid and he slowly poured it into the network of glass tubes that formed the creature’s brain before turning the switch that turned the machine on.

The creator stood back and watched it come alive. Gears turned, clicked, spun, and the creature opened its eyes and turned its head towards the creator.

It opened its wooden mouth and spoke. “Father? I had an awful nightmare. I dreamt I died.”

“It was just a dream, son,” the creator said. “Just a nightmare.”

***

For more flash fiction, visit my fiction blog, Hersenskim Fiction

Flash Fiction: A Rabbit, Sea Monsters, and Christmas

Last week was a good writing week all around. My preparation for NaNoWriMo is coming along nicely and I managed to write for Flash! Friday’s Warmup Wednesday (100 words) and the Friday competition (max 125 words), for Three Line Thursday (max 30 words), and for Cracked Flash Fiction (max 300 words).

Here’s the stories of the week – just enough to read in a tea break!

The White Rabbit

The white rabbit had slipped from the house again. This time it was at the bottom of the garden, staring at the trees beyond the river and twitching its fabric ears. Today the shallow water flowed slowly while willows still wept on the banks, trailing their brown fingers in the water. I stood beside the abandoned toy rabbit and looked down at it. Of course it would not look up at me now. Would not speak in that silent voice that used to whisper in my ear in the days before she walked into the woods and did not return.

Entry for Three Line Thursday

Iridescent nimbus

Eternity’s god gazing

Darkness dying                 gloaming             eternal Light

After the Sea Monsters

White sand littered with the night’s detritus of shells and seaweed was crushed by the captain’s wooden leg as he walked. Anchored within sight was Drakeklou; the last ship that he would be the captain of. Beside him his elderly dragon hobbled over the sand and smelled the air, her warm breath a swirling mist. She, too, yearned for open air, endless waters, and the thrill of fighting the sea monsters that would otherwise drag the tall ships to the crushing depths.

“One last trip, hey old girl,” he said softly, leaning against her to rest his injured leg. “One last adventure before all three of us retire.”

She lowered her head, her imagination letting her soar over the waters just like every other morning.

Western Cape Garden Route 2012

Just Another Christmas

“I can do it, but I’ll need a jackhammer and all the peppermint you got,” he giggled.

“Don’t be an ass. Mint sauce goes with lamb, anyway.” Maria poked the half frozen turkey again. The clock in the hall struck twelve just to rub it in that the turkey would not be ready on time. She threw caution to the wind. “It’s your mother’s recipe, after all. I said let’s do a braai, the southern hemisphere’s no place for the whole traditional turkey spread. But nooooo, we had to do your mother’s recipe.”

“And how’s the food coming along?”

“The turkey’s still half frozen, mom.”

Maria felt like she could shove him into the oven. But it was a day of peace, after all. Her mother in-law poked at the bird.

“I don’t know why we all didn’t just have a nice braai,” the mom said. “You know women these days aren’t really taught the ins and outs of housekeeping, son.”

Maria stared at the turkey and took a deep breath. If she had heat vision the turkey would have been done in seconds. She opened the oven and shoved the couple kilograms of meat back inside as tears burned the backs of her eyes. Then she grinned.

“Won’t you put on the kettle for us, honey,” she asked before poking her head around the corner into the living room.

“Grandma, why don’t you tell us a story and I’ll make us some nice tea?” she asked her husband’s grandmother.

“Oooh, I’ll tell you about that one time when my daughter over there had just gotten married and decided that she would cook us all Christmas lunch! What a disaster that was, let me tell you!”

Maria’s smile was innocence itself when she caught her husband’s eye.

photo-1432821596592-e2c18b78144fcropped 2

Mourning Clothes

“You have five minutes.”
The young woman picked her way down the dank steps to the cell. There a man not older than twenty sat with his head in his hands. Chains linked his hands and feet. His smile was uncertain when he noticed her and stood up. She was dressed in the dark mourning clothes of a widow.
“I have to pretend I care,” she said softly, motioning to the clothes. “Now suddenly everyone acts as if he was a good man.”
“And they think the worst of me.”
She said nothing, but stared at his hands on the bars.
“I regret nothing, you know,” he said
“I wanted to tell them that I pulled the trigger,” she sobbed softly. “But the children -”
“I wish I had pulled the trigger. I was a coward, nothing more.”
“I have doomed you as well. They won’t even bury you in the cemetery.”
He shrugged and the chains rattled.
“I should have -”
“I forgive you,” he said and took her hand in his. “I’ve always loved you, you know.”
“I know.” She started crying. “I’m wearing these for you.”
“Time for the hanging,” the guard called out gleefully from above.