Summer of Super Short Stories Week Seven

Welcome to week seven of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Our guest judge this week is Kristen Falso-Capaldi.

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

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician, and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer/lyricist for the folk duo Kristen & J, is finishing a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which is an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her stories have received accolades in various flash fiction contests. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and cat. Follow her on twitter @kristenafc

5 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Seven

  1. Image Ronin

    The Eternals

    ‘They are quite beautiful aren’t they father? I mean … I always knew how pretty they were, but seeing them here … I …’

    Her father’s fingers closed around Amelia’s hand, his eyes brimming with pride. Stood at the crossroads of The Avenues of The Nation the ivory compositions on their ornate plinths stretched outwards: North, South, East and West. They had spent most of the morning ambling down the immaculate avenues, examining each composition, seeking respite from the sun under the dark span of ancient trees. Until they found themselves before The Trinity, commissioned to mark the end of the War of Suffering. Stephen knelt in submission, Francesca and Ann looking off towards the future. It seemed slightly unreal to see it in the flesh, an image that had been in every textbook Amelia had studied at school. A hundred years, yet their beauty, their youthfulness was untarnished by time.

    ‘Yes my darling, beautiful, ah …’ father’s fingers delved into his waistcoat pocket, retrieving his chirruping pocket watch, ‘it seems time has caught up with us, curtain calls.’

    Backstage, the pandemonium of the arena was in stark contrast to the serenity outside. Amelia pulled on the elegant ivory dress adorned with lilies, a sequined covered parasol instead of a hat. Her schoolmistress, Mrs Fotheringham, had chosen the outfit for her, as she had chosen Amelia to represent the school. Her class had accompanied her home that afternoon, the bright crimson envelope clasped tight in her hand.

    That evening, when father had returned from work she had watched the tears roll down his face as he read the letter by the waning light of the whale oil lantern. Later, when his emotions were in check, he had sat beside her bed, telling her how her mother had always dreamed of being chosen, of visiting the capital, of standing in the Arena of the Immortals.

    Yet she hadn’t been chosen, too plain they had told her, uninteresting of face and mind.

    If only she was here to see her little girl now.

    The backstage organiser ushered Amelia to the wings, in time to watch the girl before her, emeralds in her hair. The theme this year was The Sirens, another trinity composition. They had walked past the pedestal, located towards the end of the Northern Avenue. Her father had told her that he didn’t mind if she was overlooked, yet if she was chosen he would visit her every year, with a bunch of lilies. That she would know he was there, that it didn’t hurt, that she would be beautiful forever.

    The light blinded her eyes as Amelia, smiling broadly, stepping with confidence and poise, walked forward. Weeks spent pacing the scarred wood of the school hall, books stacked on head, the lick of Mrs Fotheringham’s riding crop as motivation. All that work and pain, it was worth it just for this moment.

    Amelia spun, gracefully twirling amongst the spotlights that sparkled across her glittering parasol.

    Dreaming of becoming eternal.

    @imageronin

    500 words

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  2. Voima Oy

    In the Garden of Charm and Strangeness
    @voimaoy
    500 words

    These being the continuing adventures of the strange machine and the two artists who designed it–Rae and Vasco DiLuna–and the fashion model Emi Chez who changed the setting on it, altering the value of pi and sending them into an interdimensional vortex.
    Oh, and it’s also a light fixture.

    The three friends found themselves in a strange, dark place. They were glowing like underwater creatures.

    “Where are we?” Emi said.

    Vasco looked around, bewildered.

    “We could be anywhere,” Rae said. “Depends on the quantum flux. I think.”

    “It’s all my fault,” Emi cried. “I shouldn’t have messed with the settings. Please forgive me.”

    “It’s okay, Emi,” Rae said. “We’re together, anyway. Wherever we are.”

    The two friends hugged, almost passing through each other. Emi jumped. “What’s going on here? And why are we wearing these outfits?”

    “I don’t think we’re entirely here,” Vasco said. “These outfits could be random. Or, maybe this is the native costume of this place.”

    “Native costume? What do you mean,” Emi asked, fingering the ribbons on her sleeves.

    “Maybe we’re not the only ones here. This might be its idea of camouflage.”

    They looked around for the strange machine, feeling awkward in their fancy clothes. They seemed to be in some kind of formal park or garden. There was a pathway going somewhere. There were trees that looked like trees.

    “Look mommy, fairies! ” A little boy had spotted them. Sure enough, he was wearing a similar outfit. His white curls were bouncing as he ran toward them on chubby little legs.

    “No honey. I don’t think so.” His mother was even more elegant. Her hairdo was high as whipped cream topping on a sundae.

    Emi greeted her politely. “Excuse me, please, your ladyship. We seem to be lost. Can you tell us where we are?”

    “Why, you’re here, of course. Where else would you be?”

    Rae smiled graciously. “We’d like to get home. We have to find our …conveyance. Have you seen it by any chance?”

    The lady seemed confused. “Don’t you have flying cars, like we do?”

    “It might be an unusual model.” Vasco said. “Fibonacci spirals on it? Maybe lights?”

    “I did find something on the garden path just now.” Reaching into the ample pockets of her voluminous dress, she held out what seemed to be an ordinary snail shell. It was, however, glowing slightly. “Could this be it?”

    “Why not? Thank you!” Vasco bowed deeply and kissed her hand. He gave the shell to Emi.

    In the warmth of Emi’s hand, the shell glowed brighter. It grew larger and larger before their eyes, until it was just the right size. Waving goodbye to the charming lady and her little boy, the three friends climbed inside.

    “Her hairdo made me hungry,” Rae said. “I’d like a sundae, or maybe some pie.”

    “Pie sounds good,” Emi agreed.

    Vasco was checking the settings. “In Indiana, pi is 3 or blueberry.”

    They found themselves in a clean, well-lighted place.

    “What can I get you? ” the counterman asked.

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  3. Karl A Russell

    The Choosing

    They ran through the woods, white clad ghosts flitting between the trees. Lachlan caught sight of Sheilagh and swerved to join her, hoping that she would be one of the lucky ones. He called her name, then realised too late that she was not alone. A roar of hungry triumph told him that The Beast was close by, but it was a meaningless, abstract realization. For the moment at least, all of his thoughts were of Moira.

    She wore the ceremonial robes, as they all did, an ornate headdress singling her out as the Chieftain’s daughter, but where it would look foolish on Sheilagh, a child’s drawing of a clown, Moira looked beautiful and elegant, as if she had chosen to dress that way. He slowed to a jog, his voice dying in his throat. The women turned to look at him, expectant and confused.

    “Lachlan…?”

    Sheilagh frowned, the familiar name made strange by the other woman’s voice. Lachlan looked away, trying to hide his shame even as he turned towards the woman he truly loved.

    “We need to keep moving. It’s close.”

    As if to confirm this, a cry went up from the path ahead, cut short by a feral snarl. Like sparrows, the trio turned as one and plunged into the undergrowth, running at right angles to the path, away from The Beast’s latest kill. As they ran, Sheilagh fell in on his left, Moira on his right, and without thinking, he gripped their hands and pulled them both along.

    It would be so easy, he thought, to let Sheilagh slip, to run on ahead and take another path. But what if she survived? Each year, The Beast decimated the youth of the village, but that still left strong odds in her favour. And even if she was taken, there was no guarantee that Moira would be his; They had talked in the shadows of the fire hall, but she only knew him as Sheilagh’s betrothed. Could she ever understand how he felt for her? Had she always known but chosen to ignore it? He was beneath her after all, by birth and by caste; Even if they were free to wed, would she want him?

    The thoughts tormented him, stinging him as the low branches lashed at his face, drawing blood which speckled the front of his own robes. Blood which scented the wind and drew the attention of The Beast.

    It broke through the treeline before them, rearing up on its shaggy haunches, baring it’s broken, clotted fangs and spreading it’s great sinewy arms in welcome.

    They faltered, frozen by the sight of the thing they had been raised to fear.

    It was time to decide; Push Moira forwards and hope that he could live with himself and with Sheilagh afterwards, or sacrifice Sheilagh and hope that Moira would understand and accept him.

    The Beast roared, forcing him to act.

    Closing his eyes, he raised his hands, gathered the ceremonial robes in his fists and pushed.

    500 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

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  4. David Gentner

    Ursa Major

    (499 words)

    It had been a glorious summer. One of the best the camp had ever seen. There had been rain in the weeks leading up to the children’s arrival, but not so much as to create an abundance of mud, leaving the forest lush and emerald in its underbrush. The sun was always present, raining gold upon them, as they skipped and frolicked under the canopy of the woods. Black and white striped camp uniforms flitted this way and that, the wind always offering a cool breeze when sweat threatened to streak the bone white grease paint on their cherub like features.

    Black stars and diamonds twinkled as eyelashes fluttered. Pale blue tears were held in place on chubby little cheeks. Miniature flowers and little pink hearts decorated dimples, but none were as beautiful as their matron. Her face, white as the moon, with crimson lips and her hair, black as a raven, pulled tight and carefully kept beneath her unusual bonnet. Silently she would corral her young brood with impalpable walls and ethereal ropes; lining them up and herding them to meals, games, and creative instructions.

    Those halcyon days with their invisible rope tug and kick the non-existent ball, afternoons of swimming through the air or blowing their friends over with fictitious gales, they seemed as though they could have gone on forever. These little mimes, trapped in boxes, trapped in time.

    It was tradition that on the last night of their stay they would use their newly developed skills to tell silent ghost stories around the campfire. The matron gathered her charges around the crackling embers and began toasting s’mores. Sticky little gloved hands, smeared with chocolate and marshmallow goo, formed jagged hooks hanging from rear view mirrors while faces, dusted with graham cracker crumbs, contorted in expressions of mock horror as the evening’s festivities progressed.

    Suddenly, as all were enraptured by one of the boys pantomiming the claws of some terrible beast, a rustling came from the otherwise silent landscape. Twigs snapped and bushes trembled as the hulking form of an enormous grizzly bear lumbered into the clearing. Snorting and sniffing at the air he turned to the sweetly glazed children, their eyes bulging in shock. Several of the little mimes ran off into the woods, their silent screams lost in the pitch colored night. Others stayed, frantically building a wall with imaginary bricks and mortar, between them and the great beast. However, all was lost as a second group, unaware of the wall builder’s attempts, used their powerful lungs to try and blow the grizzly away, this having the effect of blowing the wall over, leaving everyone exposed. That’s when the matron, always poised and confident, stood and grabbed one of the burning logs. Brandishing it like a torch, she threw herself between the ursine monstrosity and the two children closest to it. Then, surprising all who were present, even the bear, she parted those ruby lips and, waiving the emblazoned timber, screamed with all her might.

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