Summer of Super Short Stories Week One

Welcome to Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest!

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 applicable. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. LCP is on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Photo courtesy of Emily June Street

Photo courtesy of Emily June Street

4 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week One

  1. Karl A Russell

    The Enchantment

    With a snarl of dismay, Elizabeth hurled another peach against the wall of the barn, to explode in a shower of sweet flesh and brilliant blue sparks.

    Why hadn’t it worked?

    The Faer Folk were masters of the Romantic Arts, or so it was said, and she had spent a whole month’s allowance on the seed and a further three months on the tending of it, till the tree bore a whole bushel of the enchanted fruit and she gave the first and the finest to the stable lad. She had not given James a clue as to why she had chosen him for this favour, nor any inkling that the peach was more or less than any other, so why was he not here now, in her arms?

    It was wrong. She knew it was, both in thought and deed, but she could not stop. She was the daughter of the lord, and he was but a serf to do her bidding, but that just made it all the worse, knowing what her bidding would be… She thought of his bawdy laugh, so loud and free, his bond with his fellows and the kinship they shared; It was everything she missed, up there in the manor house, everything she would wish to be, if she had but half of his courage and carelessness, but she did not.

    Most of all, to be true, she thought of his warm brown skin, the twinkle in his sweet blue eyes and the way he smiled when she caught him looking her way at morning prayers…

    Oh, James…

    Just the thought of him brought her to a shuddering standstill, one more peach in hand, bound for oblivion against the bare boards. Instead she sank her teeth into it, angrily, imagining that it was his sun-browned shoulder, that the peach fuzz against her palm was the downy skin of his arms, that the sweetness coursing through her was his own. The juice ran over her lips, across her chin, fingers trailing it down her throat, to the soft valley beyond. Enraptured, she lay back against the warm straw, the half eaten fruit rolling from her hand. Lost in thoughts of him, she let go of all that she was and should be, gave in to her feelings and her form, and spent a timeless instant whispering his name in ever faster breaths.

    Then she sat up suddenly, aware of eyes upon her.

    “Miss Elizabeth…?”

    “James?”

    He reached out a strong, rough hand to help her up, thinking that she had fallen, but as their fingers met, a spark like life itself flew between them, and he fell forward, joining her in the hay.

    Gazing into his eyes, she knew that the enchantment had worked, and she surrendered herself to its spell.

    Realizing that his mistress felt for him as much as he felt for her, James pressed his lips to hers, gathered her up in his arms, the untouched peach crushed in his pocket.

    500 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

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  2. C Connolly

    The Descent

    The ruby red, rounded shape was there waiting first thing in the morning; strategically set on top of the sheets, when she woke. Truthfully speaking, she has been expecting it for days, having dreamt of the grove of trees from which the junction of the rivers stems and the thick roots topped by the white funnel shaped blooms amidst the swarms of squeaking shadows.

    It is his way of playing, though as far as she is concerned, things are properly played out by this point in time. She needs no outsized reminder of his enforced obligations. “Hellfire!” she says, before the corners of her mouth twitch slightly at the words. “And damnation indeed,” she adds, to an empty room. She splits the fruit in a swift downward motion, causing a dribble of juice to stain the covers. The seeds are packed in tightly amidst the flesh, so she has to dig a little with her nails to pull them out, right from the centre. She counts a sparse translucent six; no more, no less. “Figures,” she says, toying with a pip between her fingers, before raising it aloft and swallowing it down. She shudders as she does so, frowning slightly. “Pigging pomegranates! Still sour, then.” She pushes one after another after another passed her lips in quick succession, once she has stilled herself from swallowing the first. Red stains her fingers, which she licks clean, wiping the sticky residue against her dark dress, irrespective of whether it shows or not against the dark fabric. Their bitterness leaves its aftertaste on her lips, as the seeds churn in her stomach, refusing to settle fully. She knows of old when and where the sensation will cease.

    Sephy sits, waiting for her escort into darkness; possibly Darkness himself, though she is most used to the company of obol-eyed Charon on her lengthy descents. Easier to send someone who can’t answer back to challenge, query or quandary, she suspects. She has never been trusted to walk the sections of the realm alone on entry, though left to her own devices on leaving. “Take me to my husband,” she mutters beneath her breath, rolling her eyes. He tends to keep her waiting, despite the early fruity wake up call.

    She feels them already – the simple skeletons, the frozen, the eternally blood-spattered alike. Soon she will – must- pass amongst them again. It is small consolation that she must serve only three months. They do not – cannot – care, though for a time they are her people, without being capable of answering as such.

    The door in front of Sephy opens and her eyes acknowledge the figure crossing the threshold. She crosses to him, holding out her hand to take his. They clasp palms and the bony fingers close firmly around her own. Sephy nods. “Ready,” she says. “Again.” The journey into the heart of Hades is long, capable of seeming to encompass one’s lifetime, though Sephy knows the truth. She will endure this cycle forever on repeat.

    500 words

    @FallIntoFiction

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  3. David Gentner

    The Bargain

    As she lay in the alleyway of the crowded bazaar, limp from the venom’s paralysis, the citrus tumbled from her arms and rolled into view.

    “What a funny thing” she thought, “that something so small should tip the scales of fate, despite all my efforts to keep my husband alive. And now we shall both perish.” She had been in such a hurry to purchase the fruit for her ailing husband that she had not noticed the viper coiled under the carpet vender’s stall. Its bite, so quick and painless, was hardly noticed.

    The air was heavy with incense and her breath, short and quick, fought to keep her lucid through the slow burning effect of the serpent’s kiss. It was more than she could bear and her vision blurred as her eyelids grew heavy, fluttering as they closed. Her thoughts transported her across the din of the bazaar, beyond the winding, labyrinthine streets of the city, down to the shore where the salt sea air blew clean and fresh. There on the outskirts of the city, near the creaking docks and rhythmic ebbing of waves, stood the tan clay lodging where her mariner husband lay.

    Hours earlier, her stipend nearly spent, she had used the last of her dirham to bring a half blind doctor to these weathered rooms, hoping he might examine her husband. The gnarled old man had taken her coins, scratched at the short white stubble on his chin and, with minimal attention to her husband, declared, in his thick native accent, that her husband was dying and unlikely to live more than a fortnight.

    “But, sir, I have given all that we have. Is there nothing to be done?” Her voice cracked and she buried her face in her hands as she began to weep. Tears streaked her cheeks leaving trails in the dust left there by the desert winds.

    The doctor placed his tarbouche on his head, scratched his whiskers again, and looked at her; head tilted as if he were inspecting an item in a shop window. Finally, he took her hand and led her to a small warped bench just outside the entrance to her flat and gestured for her to sit. The doctor sat beside her and offered her his handkerchief. It smelled of tobacco, of coffee, and of the arid desert.

    “Darling girl, hush.” the doctor whispered. “I see you in trouble, and I help. We help each other. Yes?” He smiled and in the morning sun she looked at him and truly saw him for the first time. His skin, so much darker than hers, was dry and cracked and his teeth were stained yellow by decades of tobacco use. One eye appeared to be missing, while the other was clouded with cataract. He placed his hand upon her knee and slowly began to raise the hem of her skirt. But no good came of dwelling on these memories, nor was there time, as she drew her last breath.

    500 words

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  4. Russell Magellan

    Fruit of a Fallen Hesperide
    By Russell Magellan

    Atalanta counted the fruit, as close to the border of ripeness as the day it was thrown at her feet. Each still bore the tiniest bruise, the reminder of weight as it fell and as it was carried. She knew the numbers varied when the singers told the tale of her race. Just last night there had been only three. And they had been apples.

    Marriage had never been the goal. That was the whole point. She was raised by bears, a better hunter than any man by far, and had the cold tutoring of Artemis herself to remain frigid and controlled. Pity Aphrodite got in the way. Atalanta’s wrestling and running days had been over at the drop of a fruit.

    One day curiosity had overtaken her. She had eaten the fruit. Immediately her feet felt heavy, there was less spring to her step. The muscles of her thighs and hips stiffened, and she felt age. That was the protection Artemis had been able to give in the moment of the race. Youth. And the fruit of Aphrodite gave Atalanta the first realization of age when it invaded her.

    Atalanta had stopped running, locked the fruit away, and chose not to think of it. She had had a son. She had outlived him and his father and her descendants. She now wondered if the fruit could solve her problem. She herself was not tired of life, far from it. Almost a simple matter, really. Her dog was sick. She turned the fruit over in her fingers, feeling the softness of the bruise in each one. That imperfection in the divine and marker of age and weight. It was time.

    “I will wait,” she thought, and rolled the fruit again.

    The fruit had taken so much. Atalanta stood up.

    “Aphrodite, you bitch, I want you to come down here this instant! And I don’t want to talk to your kid son, as beautiful as he is. I want to talk to you!”

    The fruit left her hand and stopped three feet away, turning the purple color seen in the last rays of sunset before blackness toppled all hues. It hovered, trembled, blew up, and from the pit grew the goddess. Atalanta was not happy, now being covered in fruit chunks.

    “Someone’s testy,” came a voice the likes of velvet down one’s spine.

    “Darn right I am. I have one question for you. And I don’t want to hear your story again. You’ve told it. I’ve heard it. I dealt with everything that happened because of it.”

    Aphrodite paused. “I’m in a hurry. There is a princess to seduce.”

    Atalanta flinched as she caught the edge of Aphrodite’s thoughts. “Where is the fruit from. Tell me.”

    “Do you really want to know?”

    “Yes.”

    “You planted a seed as a girl, when you lived with the bears. All of it, all, is your own.” And Aphrodite was gone.

    Atalanta grabbed a suitcase. Damn it if she wasn’t going to find that tree.

    (500 words)

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