Flash Fiction: And the Shadows Danced

The fire dancers were preparing for the midsummer feast on the beach. Most were, by now, stripped to their waists in the gathering twilight. Shallow fire pits dug into the fine white sand adorned the beach beyond the reach of the waves. They were arranged in gleaming bands radiating from the centre platform where the dancers were going to dance. If the stars were to look down they would see a second sun burning upon the earth itself, drowning out the fickle light of the ever waxing and waning moon. As the sun set and its fires died upon the waves, the drummers started to beat out a rhythm for the dancers.

Magicians of great power, the dancers were a chosen few who could control the elements. With the control of fire you could lay your enemies waste, but you could also make the heavens cry for the beauty of the fire dance. The five dancers gathered in the centre of the platform started moving to the beat. On the wooden platform they added to the music of the drums. Their feet stamped faster and faster to the beat of the midsummer dance and then, when the music reached its crescendo, the fire joined them in the dance. Flames sprouted from the pits, some high, some low, some burning red, others nearly blue. All in a pattern that mimicked the movements of the fire dancers.

The people standing on the surrounding dunes cheered. Some shuffled their feet, clapping their hands to the tune of the drums, kicking up fine sand to catch the glimmer of the firelight. From where they stood they could only see part of the pattern, but the rain dancers would be able to see the whole sun medallion from the high cliff where they stood ready to call forth the clouds for the midsummer rain.

Inanna stood between the cliff and the dunes. Wind whipped at her hair and when she closed her eyes she imagined that she could feel each strand moving in its own little dance. The light grey smoke of the fires curled high into the sky as the fires burned hotter and faster with each passing minute of the dance. Inanna stretched out her arms. This was her moment to show off her own talent.

She screwed up her eyes and concentrated on the smoke. Gathering it. Twisting it until it was like clay in her hands. The dance stopped, as did the drums. Only now people looked up into the sky. She pulled sparks from the fires and sent them swirling into the smoke, creating the shadowed outline of men and horses. Galloping between them, and then downwards to the platform so that the dancers scattered, came the legendary hero Milkilu on his horse. Slowly the rest faded until only his shadow figure remained. The people were stricken dumb in awe and wonder. The figure of Milkilu threw his arms in the air and a banner unfurled from the spear he was holding. Inanna dragged sparks onto the banner to form a miniature of the sun medallion still burning on the beach.

People gasped with delight and some cheered, looking around to see who it was that was doing the conjuring. But Inanna dispersed the smoke, letting it drift up into the night sky and the accumulating rain clouds. One by one the drums started to beat again; this time sending a signal to the rain dancers to start their dance, calling all the clouds closer. And it started to rain.

 

But the next year the rain did not come. Neither did it come the year thereafter and the people started to question the magicians’ powers. Too soon the magicians themselves started to doubt. The midsummer and midwinter dances stopped. Soon all the dances stopped. And yet the sun kept on rising and the stars kept shining. And the fickle moon kept on waxing and waning.

Their enemies, on hearing that the magicians no longer held any power and how almost all had been run from the lands, came to take the fertile tracts of land and the great stone cities for themselves. And the people cursed the magicians who had failed them and who had left them when they most needed them as the cities were burnt and laid waste. Inanna went into hiding.

It was five long years before adequate rain started to fall once more. Though some of the elderly who had survived the severe drought remembered the magicians and wished that they would return, most had set all such thoughts behind them through the long years of suffering.

With renewed fervour the people fought their enemies, slowly regained their cities and started to rebuild from the ashes. A kind of normalcy returned to the land. Yet the fairy tales of fire dancers and magicians slowly died out with the elderly and the magicians who, in their new identities as simple citizens, slowly passed on to the next life.

 

Inanna sat by the fire in the common room. Around her most were drunk, but a few still had their wits about them enough to call for a story from the old woman. She listened to them talking about the great battles and the great victories she remembered quite differently. She listened to the forgotten sorrow replaced with faded memories. And she conjured from the sparks the sun medallion she had seen so many years ago.

“It was midsummer,” she said, moving her hands and the smoke obeyed her, casting shadows and filling all with wonder. “And all the fire dancers were ready to dance just as the sun died upon the waves of the ocean.” From the sparks she conjured the dancers, swirling and stamping their feet, jumping into the sky against a background of smoke rippling like water. “It was the happiest night of my life,” she whispered. Her hands moved slower and the conjuring unravelled as fatigue overtook her. Slowly she fell asleep to the voices of those few elderly patrons who remembered the old festival, the drums, the dancers, and those tiny honey-scented sweetmeats they all use to have as children. Even now she could smell and taste them. Even now the beat of the drums reached her feet and heart. In her dreams the shadows came alive and danced.

 

Writing Update – Pre Camp NaNoWriMo

It feels as if I wrote the Camp NaNoWriMo Prep only yesterday and here we are only days away from April!

I’m still planning on editing my NaNoWriMo novel The Charms of Life and Death for my Camp NaNoWriMo project, but will also be working on some shorter works here and there.

Jozi Flash Anthology

Just a reminder that the (free) Jozi Flash anthology is now available! To download your copy, click on any of the links below.
Jozi Flash – PDF
Jozi Flash – EPUB
Jozi Flash – MOBI

I’m a Goodreads Author!

Now that Jozi Flash is available, I also have my very own Goodreads author page! So, if you’re on Goodreads and would like to see my future work (and in the meantime see what reading I get up to), you can follow me on Goodreads over here.

Other Writing News

I will be posting some more flash fiction on the blog this week and these will also be available to read on Wattpad from the end of next week as Reaper Songs.

You can also read some of my other fiction on my Wattpad page.

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Flash Fiction: Invisible/Unseen

Invisible/Unseen is a collection of three of my flash fiction stories and is available on Wattpad to read for free. Here’s a taste of the stories – just click on the title to be taken to the Wattpad page.

The Midnight Walk

Those of us who are safe this month are almost asleep when the spectres steal out of automatic gates and into the streets during the witching hours. They walk the streets every month at the same time when few are awake and even fewer dare to venture out into the night’s dangerous streets. They walk with bags slung over shoulders or weighing down arms. Some trudge along with a baby bundled on their back.

From where I lie I can hear a family pass by in the street. Their footsteps are sluggish, the children’s voices low whispers. The father drags a wheeled rubbish bin filled with possessions behind him. The plastic wheels clatter of the uneven tar and dogs start to bark. Faces like mine appear at dark windows to watch them pass. The adults walk head down, staring at the worn tar beneath their feet. Staring at the faded white letters painted at the corner of every street they pass. Letters telling them to do the one thing they can’t. Stop. Stop. Stop. Still they stagger on.

I’ll Be Stardust

“I think I should quite like being stardust,” I say when the camera man points the giant lens at me. It’s obviously not what the film crew wanted to hear, but it was all I could think of saying. There was no use in being angry or having my last words be curses at people I don’t know. They, after all, were also standing at the edge of their graves. Around us the city was lit brighter than any night before. You could hardly see the black sky. Even the full moon seemed faded.

All Things Unseen

It all started the day I realised I was turning invisible. It was a few weeks after I had lost my words. I didn’t realise it was happening for weeks, months. Perhaps it had started years ago and I was simply to caught up in life to realise what was really happening. Perhaps I wanted to be blind. When I did notice it, I saw that it was the skin that went first. Pale didn’t become paler as much as it became transparent. Veins that were nearly invisible once were revealed to me until I thought I could see the blood move within them. I seemed to fade faster once I knew it was happening. But there seemed to be no way of stopping it. After all; I didn’t even know what had started it. Not really.

To read the complete Invisible/Unseen, click here.

The Invis Cov

Jozi Flash Anthology Now Available!

The Jozi Flash flash fiction anthology is now available to read – and it’s free!

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The anthology consists of 29 stories by the following writers:

  • Candice Maree Burger
  • Carin Marais
  • Nthato Morakabi
  • Sharon Parkinsonjozi-flash-cover-2
  • Nicolette Stephens

The stories are all under 500 words long and were inspired by a number of prompts. The length makes it perfect reading during your tea break or commute. Head over to the Chasing Dreams Publishing Facebook page for interviews with each of the contributing authors.

You can download your free copy of the Jozi Flash Anthology by clicking on one of the links below.

Jozi Flash PDF

Jozi Flash EPUB

Jozi Flash MOBI

 

Publication Alert: Jozi Flash Anthology

I am glad to announce that a publication date for the Jozi Flash anthology has been set – you will be able to read it from 20 March!

The anthology contains flash fiction stories written by various Johannesburg writers (including me and the very talented Nthato Morakabi). The Jozi Flash anthology will be available to read for free!

You can head over to Chasing Dreams Publishing’s Facebook page to find out more about them and read the writer interviews that are being published every day this week. I’ll also share the link to the anthology on the blog as soon as it is available.

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Jozi Flash Blurb

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There are no zombie-dalek-rainbow-unicorns in this anthology. Not for lack of trying – they just wouldn’t play nicely with the other characters.
Instead you’ll find a genie with a unique wish, a border post between worlds, a light romance, an alien recorder and a very special chair, amongst others.

This is what you get when you challenge five talented South African writers with a series of prompts and strict word limits: Jozi Flash – an anthology of 29 bite-sized stories with a huge amount of heart.
As unique as the narrators, these tales range from the macabre to heart warming in fewer words than it took to write this blurb.
The zombie-dalek-rainbow-unicorns ate the rest.

 

Dubai desert, Tim de Groot, Dusty Sky

Flash Fiction: The Guardian of Ages

There’s an old man who carries the storms in an old bag. With his shoulders bowed beneath the weight of the rain, hail, and snow, he walks with lightning clutched in his dark hand as a walking stick. Lightning has carved deep patterns into his flesh during the ages he has walked the earth, the feather-like patterns following the rivers of blood that pump through veins, arteries, and capillaries.
There’s an old man with an old bag wearing old boots and even older clothes. He walks the lands, resting at the top of hills and skirting rivers and streams. And the weather follows him; his whistle the light breeze on a summer’s day, his song the winds that call the clouds behind him. In his dreams he sails the vast waters of his world and the fog of his dreams spread across the water and storms churn the dark waves so that the people on the shore pray for the safety of their loved-ones on the ocean or hide in the shelter of their homes listening to the wordless song and wail of the winds and waves as they lash the coast.
There’s an old man who carries the weather in his old bag and searches the world for someone else like him. With shoulders bowed beneath the weight of the clouds, he walks over the earth whistling and singing until he reaches the great desert.
There’s an old man who walks the ocean of sand and brings with him the first rain in an age. He throws his walking stick into the air, sending blinding flashes all around him as he searches for the house built of mud brick where he was born an age before.
Yellow, orange and purple flowers deck the ground overnight as he walks to the old house. Rivers run over the land, following in his footsteps until he reaches the plain where ancient trees – guardians through the ages – stand black and barren around a small mud house.
There’s an old man who knocks on the wooden door of the house and leaves his bag and walking stick by the front door for the new child to find.
There’s an old man who goes to stand with the other guardians around the house, his skin taking on the wrinkled appearance of bark.
There’s an old man who reaches his hands towards the clouds and spreads his fingers and catches the last of the rain with joy and contentment etched on his face.

There’s a young boy who leaves his house the day after the rains when the flowers cover the ground where he is to walk to find his way out of the sea of sand. There is a young boy who stops at the new, yet gnarled, tree that stands as a sentinel and guardian next to the house.
There is a young man who carries the storms in an old bag.

Camp NaNoWriMo Prep

If you’re taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo for the first time this April, you may wonder what you can do to prepare for the month of writing or preparing for NaNoWriMo in November. I would say that it’s a good idea to prepare for the Camp in much the same way as you would for November.

Even if you are a pantser (making the story up as you go along instead of planning it out beforehand), knowing what you want to achieve during April is very important to keep you on track whether you’re planning on writing 10 000 words or 50 000 words. In the light of this, I have previously written a number of posts that can help you prepare and keep on track.

Camp NaNoWriMo Prep Resources

  • Scrivener – the best writing software I have come across and worth every cent. You also get a 30-day free trial and as it is one of the sponsors of Camp NaNoWriMo, you get a discount on the software after April. Trust me, this writing software is worth every cent over and over (and over).
  • Pinterest – Whether it’s getting inspiration for characters, looking for more writing tips, or just keeping an idea board for your story, Pinterest is a great platform to not only keep track for yourself, but also show the world just how awesome the story you’re busy with is.
  • Wikipedia Book Creator – Wikipedia’s Book Creator is a very handy way to get all your preliminary research into a handy PDF file.
  • Pantsing and Planning – How are you going to go about finishing your project? Pantsing, planning, or a bit of both?

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It’s Almost Time for Camp NaNoWriMo

It’s difficult to believe that we’re already on the countdown to Camp NaNoWriMo – I still feel as if it should be January! Although I think that my studies can be blamed for time feeling a bit more wibbly-wobbly to me…

For this Camp I didn’t create a new project as my project for the month, but decided to continue editing my NaNoWriMo novel of last year for the Camp NaNoWriMo project. I put the word count at 20 000 words, which means 667 words per day – although I do have a week off during the month during which I can do more work if I fall behind.

Here’s a quick summary of the novel I’m busy with.

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And in other news…

I am still busy working on a few other projects, though they are going slower than I thought because I am spending much more time editing the NaNo novel at the moment. So I am still working on Dim Mirrors and the Afrikaans stories, but the anthology will not be ready this month after all. Unless time goes wibbly-wobbly again and I suddenly have more time to work in than I had bargained on!

In the meantime, you can read some of my new fiction over here on Wattpad.

I’m on Wattpad!

I’m thrilled to say that some of my flash fiction is now available to read on Wattpad (for free).

Thus far there is one standalone story (Taken By the Wind) and two anthologies (Yesterday’s Colours and Other Stories and Invisible/Unseen). While you may recognise some of the stories in Yesterday’s Colours, the three included in Invisible/Unseen haven’t been published before.

To read my stories on Wattpad, click on the titles below.

The Invis Cov

Invisible/Unseen

Yesterday Colours Cover - Wattpad

Yesterday’s Colours and Other Stories

Taken by the Wind Cover

Taken By the Wind