Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week Eight

It is our final week of the Summer of Super Short Stories 2! As we turn towards fall and the light wanes, our prompts become a little darker, too. Our final week brings us full circle to LCP’s fantasy roots with prompts to inspire magic. Week eight judge Beth Deitchman, co-founder of LCP, has a taste for subtlety and panache. To learn more about Beth and her preferences, click here.

Next Tuesday, in addition to the weekly winners, we will also announce the two winners of the contest’s ultimate prizes for most wins and most stories submitted.

Below you will find a photo prompt and a line prompt. Use the picture to inspire you. The line prompt must be included somewhere in your story of 350 words or less. You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it. There are no content restrictions.

Submit your story or stories (up to two) in the reply section to this post no later than Saturday at 6pm PST. Please include word count and Twitter handle/email/other identifiers at the beginning of the story. Winners will be announced next Tuesday. Please see our Contest Rules for more information.


 And here are your prompts!

Use this six-word phrase in any part of your story:

“do not speak of our magic”

the night

Image credit: The Night by Andrés Nieto Porras Flickr CC 2.0 
Image has not been altered from its original form.

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week Eight

  1. Pingback: Summer of Super Short Stories Week Eight | emily june street

  2. Holly Geely

    Tourist
    @hollygeely
    289 words

    I was a tourist that summer. I went everywhere and tried everything. I gained weight from the rich food, and lost weight in the deserts. I paid my way with my inheritance and spent a large portion of it on frivolity.

    The couple between the standing stones made me go home.

    I sat with them afterwards, sipping tea at a restaurant. Neither of them had any shame. I tried to ask them why they’d been “doing the deed” at Stonehenge, but they shushed me.

    “Do not speak of our magic,” the woman said.

    They had decided they were druids and they were performing a sacred ritual. I don’t deny the existence of modern druids, but I doubted this couple’s motivation. They were there to get nasty in a public place; the ultimate thrill.

    They were tourists, too. I didn’t ask what they were running away from. I recognized the forced “carefree” attitude and vacant smiles. They were looking for something they’d never find.

    I paid for their breakfast, bought myself a plane ticket, and went home.

    My brother still blames me for the accident, but my sister visits sometimes. I keep a picture of my parents on my night stand. I say good morning and good night every day. If they had lived, would they be proud?

    I’ll deal with reality until I can’t take it anymore. When that day comes, I’ll use the rest of the money and run away for good. I might take my sister with me, if she wants; I’d even take my brother, if he’d only talk to me.

    My bus is late again; I’m sick of public transit. There’s no alternative.

    I don’t drive anymore, Mom and Dad. Not since I killed you.

    Reply
  3. stephellis2013

    Trial

    346 words

    @el_Stevie

    The skald had paused in his kenning, frozen by his Lord’s displeased eye. He briefly thought of the cross that hung around his neck in place of the hammer, but this was well-hidden; it couldn’t be that.

    “You do not speak of our magic,” growled Jarl Ragnvald. “You make no mention of the Gods that rose with us, fought with us. They too must be honoured … or do you no longer believe in them?”

    The hall had grown quiet, the warriors watching carefully. The bard shifted uneasily. He had recounted every battle, every foe forced to his knees, nothing had been missed out.

    “Perhaps you need to reacquaint yourself with our Gods,” said Ragnvald. And he suddenly rose to his feet. “Come.”

    The poet followed Ragnvald out into the gathering night. Storm clouds glowered overhead and he felt the first rain drops fall on his face as he scrabbled after the Jarl.

    The stones loomed over him. He had seen them from a distance but never crossed their perimeter. For him it was now a mere pagan relic. He stepped between the stones and was immediately grabbed by rough hands.

    “Tonight,” said Ragnvald. “You are going to hear a poem more beautiful than any words. Tonight you are going to hear the song of our Gods.”

    Ragnvald shackled the poet to a stone altar, forced his gaze to the heavens.

    “Thor is coming,” whispered the Jarl in his ear. “Can you hear his thunder? You think I have not heard of your conversion? Your worship of the crucified man? And still you sit at my hearth and expect my gold?”

    The poet quailed beneath the man’s stare, a look that became demonic beneath the lightning’s blaze.

    “But I am not a heartless man,” continued Ragnvald. “I will allow your own God to claim you, if he so chooses.”

    The poet felt steel slice through his skin, burning his flesh with its tongue.

    “And I will let you into a secret. I promised the Gods a sacrifice if I was victorious. And you are it.”

    Reply
    1. stephellis2013

      Oops. Typo, second ‘shackled’ in the line ‘Ragnvald shackled the poet …’ should not be there. Is it possible to delete this?

      Reply
  4. Pratibha

    The Dark Magic

    I do not speak of the magic that night.

    The best time to visit Stonehenge is the solstice sunrise and sunset, the tour guide had told us, and you liked to follow the tour-guide instructions verbatim. You never had the curiosity or the sense of adventure. Living the life by some arbitrary rules suited you. It kept your average middle-class mind balanced. All you cared about crossing out one more landmark from your list of “sights to see.”

    I am so pleased I convinced you to come with me that night. The clouds had stowed the moon away for the night, but the rebel rays peeked out once in a while. Their peekaboo game delighted you to no end. One minute the monument lit up the gaps between the stones, your silhouette going in and out of view of the camera’s eye. You deeply cared for the photos; your social media is littered with your visage in front of monuments, shrines, and landscapes. You demanded just the perfect shot. I was more than happy to oblige you that night.

    I had never travelled as much as in my twenty-five years on this earth as I did with you in the whole last year. Yet, somehow the time-span felt the same to my hyperactive mind. Travelling and sightseeing were passive activities; I missed the wild ocean waves of the Pacific that I rode like a whale. My spirit dancing with nature’s altering moods! That was freedom. I longed for it.
    But, this was now, and I was being dragged all over the world with you. I wasn’t sure how long I could go on like that. But then maybe Poseidon himself intervened that night by sending in his cohort Moon that night. You beamed in the transient moonlight. When the clouds covered the night sky again, there was a faint shriek. No one ever saw you again.

    I guess the Stonehenge Legend of the Stone Gallows that your tour-guide told you must be true. Yes, I am sticking with that. I never speak of my dark magic that night.

    @needanidplease
    348 words

    Reply
  5. A V Laidlaw

    @AvLaidlaw
    350 Words

    The Passing Seasons

    I am not an old man. Yet, as I walk across the twilit plains towards the standing stones, age settles on me, stooping my back and labouring my breath. I lean on my staff and my son puts his soft hand over my fingers. Finn is young enough to still run for his mother when he hears a thunderstorm, but he tramps on beside me although he staggers, one foot falling in front of the other with a puff of dust. I want to carry him. He will not let me. It seems wrong for such a young child to look so solemn, his gaze steadfast on the circle of stones before us.

    Some say the stones were built by the Dawn People to measure the passing seasons, while others claim the stones existed long before the world and the Gods. All I know is that they are the home of the Fates and my last hope.

    The three sisters walk their path around the stones, faces cowled, hand covered by robes, footsteps tracing spiral destinies on the black grass. “The boy is dying,” they say.

    “I’ve sacrificed to the Gods and searched every book.”

    “Your Gods and magic cannot save him.”

    “Will you help?”

    “We only walk.”

    The anger freezes inside me. I grip my staff until my knuckles are bloodless. From the meagre life of the plains, the dry grass and the bare trees crippled by the wind, I draw anima through the staff. Lightning spits through the twilight and throws itself against the stones. The earth trembles. I draw on my own spirit until I cannot hold any longer. The staff drops to the ground.

    The stones remain unblemished and as smooth as the first day they were cleaved from the earth. The sisters continue to walk, their whispers echoing off the stone. They do not speak of our magic, our vitality and ability to shape the world to our will. They speak of something older, the timeless laws that even Gods must obey.

    Finn puts his arms around my waist and rests his head against me.

    Reply
  6. voimaoy

    Rain Dance of the Isenji
    @voimaoy
    322 words

    My Aunt Vera can seed the clouds, divert storms, distract tornadoes. Not all the females in our family have this gift, but we are all sensitive to changes in the air. My mother said she could feel a storm coming in her bones, a drop in barometric pressure preceded by a headache. But she could not make it rain the way my Aunt Vera can. It is a talent, true.

    The Isenji welcomed us to their world. It was years since they had seen any rain, and the crops and children were dying. “We need your magic,” the elders said.

    “Do not speak of our magic,” my aunt said. “But I can make it rain, if you will let me. The girl is my assistant. She will help me.”

    They thought we were gods because we had come from the stones. My aunt did not tell them we were travelers from the stars. I had made a mistake and we had ended up here. Next time, I promised to be more careful with the coordinates. “It will be all right,” my aunt said, in our language. ” We can do a good deed and make new friends. Now, watch and learn.”

    She spoke to the Isenji in their language–“We must have music and dancing, and the clouds will come, to see what we are doing. They will cry for our beauty. We will dance in the rain.”

    The people gathered around the stones. They beat the drums like thunder. High notes of flutes flew up like birds and summoned the passing clouds.

    The dancing grew more intense and the clouds grew darker above the stones. The air was heavy with the sound of thunder and the smell of rain. The Isenji women swirled around us, their braids waving.

    The rain began to fall. A doorway opened in the clouds. My aunt and I waved goodbye to the people. Lightning flashed, and we stepped through.

    Reply
  7. Sonya

    Weather Magic

    Ali decides it’s ready for Gwen to see. He’s waiting for the right kind of sky – thunderclouds in the distance, the promise of lightning with a hint of ozone.

    If he’d mastered weather, he’d only need to inject some heat into this damp August. Since he didn’t, he has to settle for a cloudy evening.

    When Gwen sees the circle, her face darkens.

    ‘Recite rule number one,’ her voice rumbles.

    ‘Do not speak of our magic.’

    She points at Ali’s miniature Stonehenge.

    ‘Actions, Alistair, speak louder than words.’

    It seems Ali has found a way to summon a thunder storm.

    @_supersonya
    100 words

    Reply
  8. Pattyann McCarthy

    @PattyannMc
    Wc: 350

    Dare Ye Stonehenge

    Even the birds flocked in the sky dare not soar above Stonehenge . . .

    Yet, I stand close by; its magical emissions draw me, defenseless to fight against its call. I feel its magnetisms, and I’m drawn to a power greater than myself. Imagine me, not able to fight against a huddle of stones, giants though they are, cast in the middle of a Plain. I, leader of my tribe of nomads wandering the land, fighting for my people’s survival, cannot fight this enamor. I’ve slain true giants, yet I cannot stand against these mammoth stones, and I’ve no understanding.

    The sky is gloomy and gray, as if a great storm is brewing above me. Dark clouds swirl overhead and thunder rumbles from inside the ring. It seems appropriate, as I sense a storm brewing inside my own chest as I gaze, alone, so close to these monstrosities. My tribe behind at our camp, not wanting to tempt fate, but I dare Stonehenge.

    Humming emits from the bluestones in the center of the ring as I’m drawn forward, my boar-covered feet following a lei line I cannot see, but feel. Its pull is colossal; fear prickles my nape. Gooseflesh pimples my arms and legs as I warily follow the stones’ calling. What is it about this place that sings to me? Why am I afraid?

    Passing through the first ring of giants that stand guard, the stones remind me of mystical lords guarding their inner circle. I imagine they hold arms at the ready to fight against any intruder; I cringe at their immenseness, though I continue moving towards the bluestones.

    I hear voices calling me from great distances over screaming winds racing across the Plains, whistling through the giants. The voices are hollow, incorporeal, coming from the inner circle. I feel I know these voices beckoning me. They chant, “Do not speak of our magic.” Fear dries my tongue, widens my eyes; I unwillingly reach a palm and place it upon a stone. A snapping jolt flashes through me. My head swims, body reels, and lightness consumes my being. I’m vanishing. . .

    Reply
  9. feclark

    OUTLIER

    “Oh. Gawd. I’m soaked.” Kara wriggles in her skinny jeans. “Can you even see the path?”

    “Yes, just a bit further.” Jan plods on, up ahead.

    “Maybe it’s hidden for a reason.”

    Light sparkles through the rain drenched trees; Silver Birch, Beech and the occasional raddled looking Scots Pine.

    “Outlier, outlier, outlier …” It has become a mantra for Jan.

    “Jan, we don’t even know if there IS an outlier. That bloke from the pub looked like a real wind-up merchant.”

    Exhausting the tourist infested sacred-sites they had sought other places. Ordinance Survey Maps, books and locals, all held plenty of clues for those who looked.

    Finding the main circle easily enough, they had gone looking for the outlier stone.

    “Out-lier, out-lier, out-lier.

    Jan stops suddenly, Kara barges into her back. Then she sees it. The stone is set right in the middle of the path.

    “Oh my gawd, it’s like a giant cock!”

    Silence. Cold drops of rain sprinkle down on the girls.

    “OUT LIAR!! OUT, LIAR….” Jan rounds on Kara, “LIAR!”

    “Jan. What do you mean?” a shiver shakes Kara.

    “You KNOW what I mean. How COULD you?”

    Kara focuses on the outlier stone. It rears at an angle up into the trees, double the height of a tall man. She shakes her head.

    “You LIAR.” Jan walks away, circling the stone. It is covered with moss and lichen. She cannot bring herself to touch it.

    “We didn’t mean to.”

    “Liars.” Jan whispers seeming to sink in on herself.

    “It’s over.”

    Jan’s not listening, she stumbles past Kara, back along the path.

    Kara stands. Stunned, looking at the stone. Afraid to follow.

    After a long while the cold hits her. She walks round the stone, notices writing near the base, looks closer. ‘We do not speak of our magic’

    Realising she has no-one to tell about her discovery she begins to sob.

    The car is gone when she reaches the trail-head. It is a long walk to the village.

    When finally, she pushes into the bright pub, a voice cackles, “Found the truth stone did ye lass?”

    349 words
    @feclarkart

    Reply
  10. mtdecker

    In the Ocean of your mind
    @mishmhem
    86 words
    (still looking for the music)
    #FlashDog

    Do not waste yourself
    Wishing for what cannot be
    Rejoice in that which is
    And that which your hands have wrought
    Do not lament your woes
    Or seek out the woes of others
    We were not put here to mourn
    But rather to create
    Do not speak of our magic
    For there is no magic here
    That your imagination cannot rule
    Give not into despair
    But drink deep
    Of the oceans of your mind
    For there is magic plain enough
    In the wisdom that we seek.

    Reply

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