Summer of Super Short Stories Week Eight

Welcome to week eight of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Our guest judge this week is reader and coder extraordinaire Dave Peticolas.

You have until 6 pm (PST) on Saturday to submit a 500-word story based on the prompt picture below. Post your story in the comments section; include your name, a title, the word count (not including title), and your Twitter handle if you’ve got one. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. We’re on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Photo courtesy of Dave Peticolas

Photo courtesy of Dave Peticolas

5 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Eight

  1. Karl A Russell

    The Holy Island

    “Oh, don’t be so bloody flaccid!

    David gripped the rusty railing tightly as Marsha’s voice echoed across the valley. Afraid to lift his feet from the worn stone, he shuffled after her.

    “Marsha, I don’t think-”

    “Of course you don’t think; You never do. Daddy says you’re brainless. Spineless too.”

    Across the bridge, another tourist couple paused to watch, smiling. Marsha swore at them and they hurried away. She sighed theatrically.

    “Do you have to make a holy show of yourself?”

    She stomped on , silk scarves billowing in her wake, and David followed slowly, eyes fixed firmly forward, hand tight on the rail.

    At the edge of the island, a cluster of sellers hawked souvenirs of the holy place. Marsha haggled loudly with a local, drawing more smiles, and David wondered if he could slip by, but she’d seen him.

    “Look David! This one is trying to rip me off.”

    The girl smiled sheepishly at him, holding up a handful of crude pendants, painted with the famous image of the island hanging above the sea like a teardrop. She was young and pretty, and he smiled back.

    “How much?”

    She held up a hand, fingers splayed.

    “Five?”

    He handed her a colourful bill and she pressed against him to hang a pendant around his neck. He almost forgot how high up they were.

    Marsha squawked indignantly.

    “David! That’s practically a whole pound!”

    “Come on Marsh, it’s probably a week’s wages here. We can afford it.”

    “Oh, it’s simple when you’re spending someone else’s money isn’t it? You’d be nothing without Daddy’s help, David. Nothing!”

    She stamped away, sending up dust billows.

    David’s lungs froze as the air suddenly thickened. He struggled for breath, wondering if he was about to drop dead, and if Marsha would notice before she was finished. Then he breathed freely again, and he realized from the panic around him that they had all felt it.

    All except Marsha.

    Stomping across the bridge, she ordered him back to the hotel, to London and divorce court. He took a step after her, hoping to calm her, but realized that the air changed exactly where the bridge met the island. Looking down, he saw cracks appearing in the stone.

    Vertigo slammed him sideways and he swam towards the rail, but the metal buckled and fell, twisting on its long descent to the sea. He fell back against the island, a foot now above the crumbling bridge.

    Marsha screamed, turned to him, but the stone between them disintegrated. Countless hands grabbed him, hauling him up as the island continued to rise. He felt the air thicken again as they accelerated, the Earth dropping away beneath them.

    He sat there as they rose, watching Marsha become a speck far below. He waved to her, once, then the clouds obscured the distant land.

    He stood carefully, the girl helping him, still clutching a handful of glowing, pulsing pendants.

    He smiled at her, realized he was no longer scared of falling.

    “I’m Dave.”

    500 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

    Reply
  2. Voima Oy

    Here be Dragons
    @voimaoy
    500 words

    “Here be Dragons!” the tourist brochures said, and every year visitors would come to the island to marvel at the giant causeway and the houses on the cliffs.

    The adventurous would climb the rocks and explore the caves overlooking the sea. The fact that there were no dragons except for the marine iguanas lounging in the sun was not important. The iguanas were dragons enough.

    Yes, there were stories of enormous skeletons washing up on the beach. Big as whales, with wings. That was when hurricanes ravaged the island on a regular basis, and people were always finding things after the storms. Once, a wooden mermaid. Once, a battered chest with jewels and coins with strange faces. The town was rebuilt with the treasure.

    But no one had ever found any dragons, even though it was said they lived in the volcano, breathing fire and spitting up rocks every once in awhile. When the smoke cleared, the fields were covered with drops of glass and a fresh layer of black ash, which was good for growing things.

    The glass droplets were sold in the market as “Dragon’s Tears” a potent love charm, and a cure for aging.

    It was true the inhabitants lived a very long time. The men were handsome. The women were beautiful. And so it was for generations. The years went by uneventfully. The dragons were forgotten.

    Until one morning, the volcano grew restless. Dark clouds gathered, and winds and rain lashed the island, sending waves as high as the causeway. The people prayed for the dragons to save them, as they had many years before.

    After the water receded, someone found a skeleton on the beach. Big as an airplane it was, or a giant whale with wings.

    Everyone hurried down to get a look at it. Fishermen, housemaids and merchants walked around the enormous thing, the ribs arching above them like a cathedral. Children climbed over the thigh bones, pretending to be knights on horses.

    Then scientists came to study the creature, debating the nature of the wings. Were they leathery, like a bat, or had there been feathers like a bird? Was it a dragon? No one would say for certain, but it didn’t really matter. People called it a dragon, anyway.

    No question the dragon saved the town and the island from being forgotten. Soon an airstrip was built to accommodate the crowds of tourists, the scientists and film crews.

    An internationally famous architect was commissioned to design a building for the dragon. Measurements were taken. Crews of movers and curators carried the bones one at a time,
    up the beach through the winding streets of the town, across the causeway to the special museum.

    Now, every year, people come to marvel at the dragons. Can you see them hovering over
    the volcano, diving off the cliffs, flying under the causeway? Look! That shadow on the sunlit street. Feel the rush of air? They are everywhere. Even the clouds are full of dragons.

    Reply
  3. Mark A. King

    “The Viaduct”
    @Making_Fiction
    500 words

    The viaduct terrified me.

    Sure, the hostile natives scared me too. Their potbelly bodies, their raggedy clothes and their strange beliefs were uncouth, but they could not touch us outside their boundaries. Even in their lands, their primitive weapons were no match for our superior technology and intellect. My hands never rested far from my pistol.

    The creature sloshed around in the gargantuan carriage. We could feel it, we could hear it; even above the rumbling vibrations and industrial harmonics of our transport. The steam engine was brutish, slow but incredibly powerful, its plumes of exhaust puffed into the night sky and flowed around the carriage like cascading surf on this moonlit night.

    I felt something else too. My skin felt itchy and my head pressured. I had all the decorum and poise of a drunken child on ether.

    It was caught from the great dark seas. The native folk worship it as their god. We had been stalking it for decades; the great academics of our homeland believed it could help us solve unfathomable questions. They would cut it open and study it, they said, but first they must get it over the viaduct and through the hostile city. If nothing else, we could use it as a hostage.

    I had heard the tales…it is a demon from hell itself. Others talk of a whale older than time…a living rock with poisonous spines…of a thousand jelly-fish that act as a single mind, of a…It might be none of these things; it might be all of these things. I saw it, but I saw nothing.

    As the train lumbered towards the viaduct, I witnessed the drop. Beneath the elegant arches, there was nothing but the long decent into the deep serpentine river, which looked as dark, empty and cold as death itself. We were at the mercy of providence.

    We could see across the viaduct and into the citadel. The colourful gas-lamps spilled into the mists like fabric dye in water, they almost looked beautiful and inviting, but then I smelt the foreboding and narrow ammonia-soaked streets. I knew that beyond the arterial roads and rails lay the pistons and pumps that provided the power to the great moving statues in the city square: the living monuments to the seagod. The seagod we carried.

    The train rocked. Then it stopped on the viaduct, above the river. The creature opened the carriage like it was nothing more than paper. I could not see much; tendrils, shadows, pulsing shapes, lights and colours. It dropped into the water.

    I remember feeling with great clarity that it wanted to be caught. It wanted to come home. It had drawn us to it, so we could bring it here as supreme protector for our enemy. Our technology is insignificant. We are the primitive ones.

    It saved me as the messenger. It told me do not go back to the city. Do not go back to the viaduct. War would come and we would be obliterated.

    Reply
  4. David Gentner

    Forgotten

    (497 Words)

    The bridge was the oldest structure in town. Its wheat colored supports had stretched up from the bottom of the two hundred meter drop for centuries and its fame had carried the town into the modern age as it had carried its many inhabitants from one side of the fissure to the other.

    As with any antiquity of such repute, stories were attached to the structure as time wore on. Tales of the architect’s daughter, rumored to have been sealed in, making the bridge her tomb; or of the many deaths related to its construction. It had held its position during civil war; and countless had plummeted to their demise, lost in misery. Many claimed it was haunted or cursed, hearing lamentable groans as high winds blew far beneath. But time has a way of softening the details of such stories, as rain and wind can soften the bonds between brick and mortar.

    Much of the original brickwork had been plastered over attempting to refortify crumbling supports. And as the village prepared to celebrate its tercentennial, a vote was made to have much of the landmark’s original beauty restored. The project would breathe new life into the aged town as tourists would gather on the edges of the canyon, watching anxiously while the restoration crew dangled precariously from their ropes.

    Early one morning, a team of renovators set out to clear a section of stucco over the main arch. Hammers and chisels echoed in the cavern as they broke the centuries down into swirling clouds of dust. By late afternoon their labor had cleared much of the ancient clay from the surface exposing what appeared to be the entrance to a hidden room. The bridge whispered forgotten secrets as stale air wafted out from the now exposed maw. The town’s planning commission was called in to review ancient plans and blueprints, but no record of the vault could be found. Whispers of the architect’s daughter resurfaced and old women from the town began to rock and mutter words of benediction while lamps and torches were mounted on the bridge. An excavation was to happen that evening. The renovation could not be delayed.

    The sun burned low in the West as a single man gently repelled down to the opening. Brushing century old cobwebs from his path he entered the room and detached himself from the line. His footsteps crunched on the layers of detritus as he gradually approached a pile of rags in the corner of the cell. He knelt over the pile realizing it was once a young girls dress now decayed tattered. He went back to entrance to tell his comrades what he had found but as he opened his mouth he felt a sudden push from behind. His screams echoed on the walls of the cavern. Onlookers screamed and search lights flashed over the surface of the cavern floor. No one noticed the small leathery hand as it reached out for the dangling rope.

    Reply
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