Friday flash: Pull the Sword

Pull the Sword

The country without a king lost battle after battle. Whether the winter or the invaders took a heavier toll, none could say. Villagers huddled together, staring at the Winter Sword buried to its hilt in the market square. If only . . . but none could pull it, even the old king’s half-brother’s cousin’s bastard.

Then, one day, the hilt dripped.

Spring came, and there was no longer a sword to claim. The country pledged to its new queen, and life went on. Still, for generations after, ice flowers grew in the market square, and villagers waited for their king to return.

— The End —

100 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: Foxglove


Lavender foxglove with deep violet throats grew along the walkway to the witch’s house. Abby considered picking a few, just to see what the witch would do, but decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Bad enough that she had to come here to beg for medicine for her mother; she didn’t want to anger the witch and owe more than she already would.

The wooden door, battered and scarred from previous visitors’ pounding, opened noiselessly as Abby approached. No one was in sight.

Her neck prickled, and Abby hung back, calling inside, “Hello? Mother Monkshood?”

“Ain’t home. Ha’n’t been for couple o’ week.”

Abby whirled around at the voice, surprised to see Dante the Hermit out of his hut. His hound, a mottled topaz-and-brown hunting breed, sat beside him, panting.

“What do you mean? I have to see her.” The witch was always home.

Doubt crossed his face and a touch of — sadness? “Ain’t there. Won’t be, no more. Tree fell on her. Witch be gone.”

Gone? Dead? A hollow spot opened up inside of Abby. If the witch wasn’t here, Abby’s mother would die. No, this wouldn’t do. She would not be left an orphan.

“Fine. I know where she kept the medicines. I’ll see whether there is enough for my mother.”

The hermit grunted in what might have been amusement or disbelief. “It ain’t like that. You take from her, even with her dead, you owe her. You go in, you’re gonna be the next witch.”

She hesitated. Was he telling the truth?

Abby looked at the door. It had opened for her, welcoming her. Before, she’d thought it unnerving. Now, it was downright frightening — an invitation from the house itself to make herself at home.

Was her mother worth the price?

She didn’t even have to think to know the answer to that. “Very well. Take the medicine to my mother for me and tell her what happened. Then you can go back to your hut.”

“You’re a little young to call ‘Mother,’ but that be the witchy title.”

“That will wait a few years, while I learn the craft, I think. For now, I will be Sister Foxglove.”

— The End —

357 words

The inspiration for today’s flash came from Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge, Five Random Words. The words I chose from his list were foxglove, orphan, hermit, hound, and topaz.

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: Gruel


Martha stirred the thin gruel that simmered on top of the camp stove, wishing that Jack had brought the groceries so it would be a heartier meal. Some of the gruel had, improbably, stuck to the bottom, and she scraped at the pan to loosen it. The stove wasn’t really against the rules, but only because the landlord hadn’t thought about it. Who would be crazy enough to cook with open flame in a bamboo home with no ventilation?

Pretty much anyone who was forced to live in these apartments, partitioned on the inside of an old warehouse, that’s who. Martha wasn’t the only one cooking right now, and the mix of cabbage and chicken and beets and onions and four-day-old fish, plus a few things that smelled like they’d already turned, would have turned her stomach in better times. Now, she did her best to ignore it. Her neighbors, like her, just wanted to survive, and if they were all eating, she wouldn’t have any more visitors dropping in to ask her yet again how she was doing. Sirena hadn’t even knocked!

Outside, traffic rumbled in the heat of the day, and Martha wondered whether today would be the day they cleared the bridge. No one had expected one of the alien ships to go down in the Carquinez Strait, not with so much empty space in the Bay. Jack’s bad luck to be out there, stuck in his truck when he wanted to be up in the skies, shooting at the bugs before they shot at him.

Her bad luck, too, with no money for food on hand, the power out, and no way to get news except listening to gossip.

She stirred the gruel again. No point in waiting any longer. It was cooked; she might as well eat, keep up her strength for when Jack did make it home. She spooned it into a bowl and sat cross-legged on the floor, listening to snippets of conversations from her neighbors, the Garcias’ baby wailing again, the reassuring flow of engines in the street that said the world was getting back to normal, at least for now.

Martha sighed and closed her eyes. There was always hope.

The bamboo shook as a neighbor slammed a door downstairs. She opened her eyes and picked up her spoon. The gruel in the bowl sloshed back and forth, shaken by footsteps elsewhere. She took a bite and grimaced at the scorched undertone. Still, it was what she had. She took another bite.

The door opened behind her, and she whirled, ready to yell at Sirena again, but it wasn’t Sirena. Jack held the door open, swaying unsteadily, covered with dirt and grease.

“I hope you made enough to share,” he said. “I had to leave the groceries in the truck when I climbed out.”

Her first smile in days touched her face, warming her. She held out the bowl. “You can have it. We’ll worry about the groceries later.”

Jack was home.

— The End —

501 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Spring comes

Inside the tower, Drake huddled near the coal fire, curled to conserve its warmth. Goose call and robin song had been on the wind for the past week, but it was still too chilly for him. His wings would crack if he attempted to fly. He might make his way up to the roof to sun himself later, after the bricks had had a chance to warm, but for now, he would remain here.

Closing his eyes to slits, he hummed the fire-song his mother had taught him, crooning to the coals to stoke their flames, feel their twisting and turning light, immerse himself in their heat. Orange and red, banked for continuity, filling him.

“That’s not a wind-song, is it?”

Drat the girl! Angelica had no business here; she knew from years past that he would emerge when he was ready. He opened one eye an inch, letting the flame glint off it to spark at her, but he did not stop humming.

She ignored his truculence and sat down with her back against one of his talons. “I think Father has made a match for Verena. She’s as twittery as the birds right now, and no one in the castle has any time for me. Even my tutor has vanished!”

Drake chuckled, interrupting his song. The coals would continue to burn. “And did he vanish before or after Verena began to act so?”

Angelica snorted, a most unladylike sound that could have come from her mist cat. “What does that matter to anything?”

He didn’t answer, instead asking, “Has your father said anything about a match?”

“No, but then, he wouldn’t. I’m too young to worry about.” She shifted to look at him. “As I’m just in the way, I thought maybe you could teach me the next bit of wind-song? Whatever comes after focus?”

“Let me hear that you’ve been practicing first.” He knew she had; he could hear her every time she faltered on a note.

She sighed, but began to sing, softly at first, her voice gaining strength with each note, until they swirled through the inside of the tower, a tonal staircase of magic and sound. His voice joined hers, humming again the basic fire-song, adding warmth to the air, blending it to a place of joy. After a few minutes, they let their voices fade.

“Very good.”

She flushed at the praise.

“Now listen carefully. This next is the song that must be sung at the turn of the seasons, summoning the good to come. You don’t have much time to master it, so you will have to practice it — not just daily, but several times daily.” That should keep her from fretting about what was going on with Verena, and she would have the time to do so if her tutor really wasn’t here to give her other assignments.

He sang it through five times before she attempted to copy it. Then they spent an hour more working on her tones, her splits, and her note carries until he was satisfied that she understood the basics of what she had to do. “Come back in three days to show me.”

She left, and he watched her go, a warm glow in his throat that had nothing to do with the coals. She would make a good singer in time. He closed his eyes and listened to the soft echoes of her song, captured in the tower by repetition. Beyond, he heard again the birdcalls that presaged spring. It was enough.

588 words

I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I’ve done my Friday flash, let alone a Smoke and Drake tale. Like Drake, my brain shuts down in winter.

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: Autumn leaves

Autumn Leaves

Leaves crunched underfoot as Angelica slipped under the trees. Father didn’t like her passing beyond the grass, but it wasn’t as if she’d gone out of sight — she could still see the castle quite clearly. And even if Father and his archers couldn’t see her, Drake could from the top of his tower, as could Smoke, who slunk along the shadows, quiet even among the deepest leaves.

And how else was she going to test out what Philomena had told her? A charm to tell what the coming year would bring — who could resist?

Still, it was kind of creepy here with the oak branches reaching up against the sky like so many dead things, blackberry bushes grabbing at her skirt and the bag over her shoulder, and bird calls that vanished mid-note. There was a smell in the air she didn’t recognize, either, layered beneath the moldering leaves. It reminded her of the kitchen and the middens and the straw where Father’s hounds slept, but it wasn’t like any of them precisely. Nervously, she began to whistle the minor wind-song Drake had taught her. He had said it was good for focus, implying she needed that, and she should practice it whenever she felt uneasy or confused. This qualified, although she wouldn’t tell him that.

She pushed between two more brambles that caught at her clothes, exclaiming as a thorn scraped her right arm, and found a pond in front of her, quiet but not stagnant, tiny ripples here and there where a leaf had just fallen to join the others scattered across its surface. A fallen oak stretched along the near bank, white mushrooms stair-stepping up its sides. The trees didn’t block the sky here, letting shafts of sunlight slide through the blaze of leaves and into the green-brown water, hinting at boulders and snagged trees below. Perfect!

Smoke chuffed, the first sound the mist cat had made since they left the castle, then leapt to a branch that stretched out over the water in a patch of sun. Such a cat!

Now what had Philomena said? Yes, the apple first — peel it, eat it, throw away the core, then drop the peel into the middle of the pond.

Seemed silly, and Verena would probably laugh at her for even listening to Philomena. Angelica flushed. Verena was always a proper lady, and Angelica didn’t want her scorn. On the other hand, to do something Verena hadn’t . . .

She sat on the fallen tree, swinging her legs up to cross them under her skirts. Next, Angelica pulled the bag from her shoulder and took out the apple and the knife she’d borrowed from the kitchen — well wrapped in a towel so she wouldn’t cut herself, of course. The towel went across her lap to catch the peel.

The off smell intensified, and Angelica thought she heard Smoke growl — as if the cat would do that! A branch crashed nearby, and she jerked, startled. Sharp pain in her hand made her flinch, and she looked down and realized she’d cut herself when she jumped.

Ow, ow, ow! She shook her hand, and drops of blood hit apple, dress, and tree. No — Mother would notice blood for certain. She blotted the blood with the towel, then wrapped the towel around her hand, leaving her fingers as free as she could. Her skirt would have to do to catch the peel.

If this didn’t work, Philomena was going to hear about it, for certain.

The apple mostly fit into her hand, even with the wrapping, and she began slowly peeling the fruit, stopping as necessary to turn it in her hand. Philomena hadn’t said the peel had to be a single cutting, but it only made sense, right? If she had to drop it in the pond? Without thinking too much about it, she started whistling again, letting her movements fall into the rhythm of the music, feeling the breeze playing with her hair, just being in the moment.

The end of the peel dropped into her lap. She broke off her song. Some blood had seeped through the towel, and there were blotches on the fruit. She grimaced, but took a bite. A little metallic, but the crisp tartness of the apple was stronger, and she quickly ate it. Now came the true test.

She set the knife on the tree trunk, scooped up the peel, and stood. The middle of the pond looked too far to throw the peel, but the tree went out partway. Carefully, she clambered to stand on top of it. Biting her lip, she walked toward the pond.

This time, there was no mistaking Smoke’s growl for anything else — part mrowl of a housecat, part snap of a wolf, it was clearly the sound of an unhappy animal.

Angelica paused and looked around. Everything looked as it had. She tilted her head to look at the mist cat, only to see Smoke staring back at her, the tip of the cat’s tail lashing the branch she lay on.

“Don’t you dare pounce on me,” Angelica scolded the cat. She returned her attention to the tree in front of her. Yes, she could get close enough, she was certain of it.

Five more steps. Bunch the peel into a ball and heave.

The water shimmered blue just before the peel struck, the clearest magic Angelina had ever seen, light lancing upward, clearing the water, striking her in the eyes. Startled, she lost her balance and toppled backward. As she fell, she thought she saw something the same mottled green-brown as the pond, part insect, part shaggy pelted beast, run along the tree trunk where she had just been.

She hit the water, and her eyes snapped shut in reflex. She opened them almost immediately to see Smoke sitting on the tree trunk as if guarding her. Angelica spit out brackish water and dragged herself upright. Using the trunk to steady herself, she waded back to the bank.

“That could have gone better.” She pushed her hair back and wiped her face. The cut hand was bad enough, but to return to the castle looking like this? She would probably be locked in her room with nothing to do but write essays for her tutor. For a week!

Sighing, she picked up the knife. She could at least return it to the kitchen. “Come on. I’m going to go back to the grass, lie in the sun, and hope it dries my dress.”

And do her best not to wonder what that thing was she had seen — or why Smoke had acted as if she saw it, too. No, much better to think the blood on the apple had messed up the charm, or Philomena had been wrong all along.

Certainly, Angelica wasn’t going to tell the other girl about this attempt, nor anyone else. No future here to be seen at the turning of the year. Far better to think about more concrete things.

She unwrapped the towel to look at her hand once more and almost dropped towel and knife both in surprise. Only a faint line showed where she had cut herself — and if the line shimmered with a faint blue hue, that was just the shadows of the forest. No magic here at all.

— The End —

1,222 words — not exactly flash length, I know!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about Smoke or Drake. I hope you enjoy this little dip back into their world. Yes, clearly, there’s a lot more story here to come. Note that I did add a “Smoke and Drake” tag (you can find it at the bottom of this post) so you can find all the linked stories more readily.

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: The Orichalcum Bride

The Orichalcum Bride

Elpis tossed the scroll upon the floor next to her brother Theron. “A treaty? A marriage to Kallistrate, daughter of our enemy?”

“Her dowry is the last orichalcum mine of Atlantis. Do you know what we can do with that wealth?”

“What difference does it make what her dowry is? You are married already, and our brother is dead.”

“So you marry her. It’s not like she’s expecting romance.”

She looked down at him, but he had gone back to studying his maps, content to have disposed of the matter. Her lips pinched together, but she said nothing. He would find, too late, that if she took Kallistrate as a bride, Elpis would have the power that went with that orichalcum.


The wedding cortege arrived, as gaudy a display as any their city-state could produce, banners flaring and trumpets blaring, courtiers in costume, profusions of petals for the princess to place her feet upon. The bride herself rode at the end of the procession, face hidden within a helmet, her armor traced with the prized metal that only she controlled.

Elpis felt a flame within her. All this would be hers. Her brother saw only the riches. Kallistrate’s home saw only the prospect of peace.

Only Elpis saw both — peace with her in control of both city-states, and the riches to bring that about. It helped that Kallistrate seemed comely, but it was not necessary. Elpis stepped forward to meet her bride.


Theron had been right about one thing. Kallistrate didn’t expect romance, and when Elpis retired with her to their bedchamber, Kallistrate strode away to stare out an archway at the hills beyond.

Elpis stood behind her, not touching. “It is not exile. You can return.” Would return, in fact, with Elpis at her side, bringing peace at last. And then? But one home at a time. “You are not lost.”

“No, never lost.”

Was that regret?

Before Elpis could ask, Kallistrate turned, and the makhaira in her hand left no questions. She held the blade even with Elpis’s belly. “Are you with me or against me?”

“This . . . was not how I imagined this going.”

“I’m certain it was not. My army enters at dawn. Will you surrender so there can be peace, or am I to be a widow?”

If Elpis had not expected this, Theron would be even more surprised. And now she would not have to be the one to banish him.

She bowed halfway in submission. “I surrender, my wife.” Righting herself, she asked, “Is the orichalcum mine not real, then?”

Teeth flashed in Kallistrate’s face. “It’s real. It just happens to be underneath your palace — which is now mine.”

— The End —

444 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

The inspiration for this week’s flash came from Chuck Wendig’s Roll for Your Title blog post.

Friday Flash: Abseiling the Great Light Wall

Abseiling the Great Light Wall

Impartiality of sections of this article is under dispute. Please see the talk page for details.

The Great Light Wall is the largest artifact in the solar system, but most people don’t think about why it was created any more, except on XLZ Memorial Day (observed either July 19 or the third Monday of July, varying by country). A transparent Dyson sphere, several miles thick, built outside Mercury’s orbit, the Wall has one purpose: keep the growing solar flares contained. It won’t contain the energy of a nova, but it’s not meant to.


In the 24th century, the Eurasian Space Agency and the Indo-Pakistani Agency for Space Exploration joined forces in an effort to move humans beyond the bounds of our solar system. These dreams came to an abrupt halt when XLZ-348, an experimental spaceship that was supposed to “fold space,” thus allowing faster-than-light travel, folded itself into the sun along with an unknown amount of degenerate matter. The resultant plasma jet blew past Venus. Eyewitnesses on Earth described it as a highway of fire across the sky (1). Subsequent flares were not as large, but dangerous levels of radiation accompanied each new burst. (Work on folding space was discontinued, over the vociferous objections of Steve Lee, one of the engineering consultants for the XLZ-348. Rumors have surfaced in the past few years of a shipyard on Triton, far from UN oversight, but these rumors have not been confirmed.)

Observations of the flares confirmed that the degenerate matter had carried enough heat to trigger helium flashes in intermediate zones of the sun. Astrophysicists disagree upon whether the sun has actually begun its red dwarf evolution but agree that it has become inimical to life (2).

The United Nations’ Space Oversight Agency gathered scientists from around the world. In less time than anyone familiar with bureaucracy expected, a plan was put forward for a protective sphere around the sun using data gathered from the 2018 Solar Probe Plus, as well as subsequent missions, including the Taitale Project of the 22nd century. The job was opened to bids. (3)

HySphere won the contract for the construction (3) but quickly ran into cost overruns. Initial estimates were based on robot workers, but frequent breakdowns required personnel to be on site. Carbon-carbon shielding and lead lining of quarters increased costs significantly. Unable to attract new financial backing — and well aware of the danger to Earth if the sphere was not completed — HySphere turned to tourism. With the safeguards for the crew already in place, extra space on vessels bound for the Wall was easy to arrange: for a few million dollars, you too could brag you’d been close enough to the sun to see sparks. Repeat passengers were harder to come by, at least until Hyram Freeson realized that the Wall was of necessity three-dimensional.

HySphere extruded the sphere surface to create canyons, following patterns already laid down during construction.

“Display your rock-climbing skill in the most dangerous place known to man” read the first ads. When his wife pointed out to him how sexist this was, Hyram changed the wording to “Bold men and women, come climb in the light of the sun!” (citation needed) The wealthy flocked to the still-in-progress sphere, eager to be among the first to visit the ultimate in man-made entertainment, a labyrinth of walls kilometers deep and so extensive climbers never had to see another person. Communities built up, with spas, permanent base camps, and refuges at strategic locations. Freeson had his funding, and Earth still had a chance of survival.

In the following decade, the United Nations sued HySphere for the return of money paid under the original contract, accusing the company of using UN money to kickstart its own fortunes. (4) The World Court ruled against the United Nations, saying that HySphere had built the protection sphere as agreed upon, and the contract did not forbid using the sphere for personal gain. Hyram Freeson’s elation was short lived, however, as the World Court also held that the sphere, having been paid for by the people of the Earth, was equally open to all. (4) Every government, business conglomerate, or individual with access to space set out to put their own mark on the sphere, or as the media had begun calling it, the Great Light Wall.


Today, dozens of companies thrive on the tourism business at the Wall, and prices have come down into the reach of the average family, thanks in part to package deals created by Disneyland Sol. (Call 1-800-555-DISN from anywhere in the world to book your vacation.) However, even with the expansion of offerings, the most popular reason to visit the Wall is the climbing, and the most popular company is HySphere. Around the world, people say, “Next year, let’s go abseiling the Great Light Wall.”

See also

Dyson spheres
HySphere Inc.
Mountain climbing
Space exploration
United Nations v. HySphere Inc.

References and footnotes

(1) ^ The Times, London; July 19, 2673
(2) ^ J. Adams, Quachri, T., Williams S. “Solar evolution and external events: A review of the literature.” Astronomy and Astrophysics 7150 (3): 684-795.
(3) ^ UNSOA 2673-99E
(4) ^ United Nations v. HySphere Inc.

External links

Disneyland Sol
Eurasian Space Agency
HySphere Inc.
Indo-Pakistani Agency for Space Exploration
United Nations’ Space Oversight Agency

— The End —

890 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: Chains of Memory

Chains of Memory

Alina sipped her cinnamon latte and looked around the coffee shop. A young man had just entered through the open door. A few thin chains trailed from him, ghostly silvered colors of a light life. The pair he passed were something else — the woman, bent double with her dowager’s hump, chained with heavy iron to the man across the table, more links being tossed at him as she spoke rapidly, while his own chains were frayed construction paper, barely holding on to him. As Alina watched, another of his links broke and faded to nothingness.

Heartbreaking, but these were not the people she had been called here to help.

“Frankie in?” Thin Chains asked the barista, a young man with heavy and light chains intertwined, some caught on his piercings, others as ghostly as Thin Chains’.

“Hey, Frankie!”

A young woman stepped out from the kitchen area in the back, her chains so heavy Alina was surprised others couldn’t see them. Ship links, motorcycle cables, rusted iron, dog leashes — Frankie carried a lot with her.

This was why Alina was here.

She didn’t look to see the sights and sounds beyond the chains, simply stood and moved to the condiment bar, where she fussed with the cinnamon and cocoa shakers. It gave her something obvious to do while she sang the chains. Her notes were soft, indistinguishable from someone humming along with the background soundtrack, but they reached out and rippled across the chains, testing the links, weakening the weights, resonating along the lengths.

“I heard about last night. You okay?” Thin Chains’ gentle voice was tossed out as another light strand, gold wheat, but it hit Frankie a length of welded machine chain.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Her voice was stiff.

“But Janey said–”

“If you care what Janey says so much, go talk to her.” This time, it was her voice that whipped like a loose chain. It struck home, and stuck to Thin Chains, the most solid of his links.

Alina’s fingers fiddled with a coffee stirrer. So much to be done! But Frankie resisted the blandishments of the music as much as Thin Chains’ sympathy. The links did not break; the chains did not fall.

“You know it’s you for me, Frankie, not Janey. You chased her off. You chased your brother off. You even chased off Dewey, who’s dense as a brick post. But you can’t chase me off.” The links between them shone, silver moonlight glistening off a chain that softened, lengthened, thinned into a bond.

“Maybe not, but if you want me, you take me, past and all. Even if I don’t want to talk about it.”

She would hold onto her chains, would she? Still, Alina was called to help. Rust and tarnish fell away, weights lightened, darkness faded to let the good shine through. Chains did not have to be prisons.


Alina placed a plastic cap onto her cup and turned to go. Her work here was done.

— The End —

500 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: It’s all in your perspective

It’s All in Your Perspective

She wouldn’t look down. Iris told herself that it was just like getting a new pair of glasses, that feeling of discontinuity, not being sure where her foot was going to come down, the stumble-trip of curbs and sidewalks. It didn’t matter that she’d worn contacts for decades, that she in fact had no glasses on at the moment. She had a point of reference, something to keep her mind calm.

Others had told her about the colors, the swirling, the vertigo. Mrs. O’Donnell, from two houses down, had been insistent about it at the last Neighborhood Watch meeting — as if they could do anything about it! And Mr. Jameson, with his aluminum-foil lined baseball cap, had yelled down the street that the aliens were going to get everyone, and they had to band together for safety. Like everyone else, Iris went about her normal life, ignoring the warnings. Who could take them seriously?

No one.

Which was why she didn’t bother asking for help now. No one would take her any more seriously than she’d taken her neighbors.

She lurched another step down the block, closing her eyes briefly and hoping the nausea would pass. The blurring wasn’t confined to her peripheral vision, or to just when she looked down. It had crept toward the very center of her field of view, and while she knew that meant it was getting worse, she found that the expansion made the change easier to accept.

Iris knocked on Mrs. O’Donnell’s door. After a moment, the door opened and Mrs. O’Donnell looked out, her eyebrows raised. Iris stared at her — how had she never noticed the rainbows in her neighbor’s pupils? Or the halo of light that surrounded her white hair?

Mrs. O’Donnell stepped aside. “You’d best come in.”

Iris followed her in. “Is it contagious? What is it?”

“Just a new way of looking at things. Think of it as an evolution. Soon you’ll know who’s affected and who isn’t — and who works for the other side.”

“Other side?”

“Not everyone wants humans to improve.” She nodded at the window, and Iris glanced out to see Mr. Jameson mowing his lawn across the street, his outline wavering like ripples of steam. “We’ll prevail in the end.”

Perhaps Mrs. O’Donnell was right. As Iris attempted another step, she still wasn’t sure that was a good thing.

— The End —

388 words

Yes, clearly, there will be more.

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Friday flash: Seeking Blue

Seeking Blue

The chess set had been put away, and Verena had gone off to her afternoon pursuits of embroidery and painting, in true ladylike fashion. Angelica wouldn’t be along until shortly before dinner; she never saw the obvious, thus making her studies take longer than they should.

Drake stretched, fanning his wings to catch more sunlight, then lay upon the roof, wings splayed as if he were an indolent cat rather than a master of the elements. Three were his to call upon: the air he rode, the earth he sheltered in, and the fire he breathed. Only one remained, and this his mind sought out as his eyes drifted closed.

Deep beneath the castle, within the hill, a pool of purest water murmured to him, calling in a song he did not yet know. Earth-song had cradled his egg, hardening his scales and toughening his bones. Later, fire-song crackled from his mother, heat and light dawning to wisdom. Last, wind-song bore up his wings, giving him the world. He didn’t know what gift the water bore, only that he must seek it.

Air shifted, and tremors carried through the stones of the castle — footsteps. Angelica was early today. Time, then, for her lesson, whisper of a gentle breeze. It would take years for her to learn all the songs, but she was young. She had time.

As did he. Time to hear the water, to make it part of himself, to be more than any dragon before him. He would need it for what was to come.

Now, he raised his voice in song.

— The End —

267 words

Yes, clearly, there will be more.

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.