Summer of Super Short Stories Week Six

Welcome to week six of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Our guest judge this week is Rebecca J. Allred of The Angry Hourglass.

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 Beth Deitchman

Photo courtesy of Beth Deitchman

5 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Six

  1. carlos

    Carlos Orozco
    @goldzco21

    Golden Afternoon
    (499 words)

    “Let’s go into the chapel. Please Adam. I’m tired of looking at nothing.”

    Adam didn’t say anything but rested on the long grass. He let the sunlight pass through his closed eyelids and fill his empty mind with gold. It was a peaceful afternoon on the hill, and the wind rolled over the meadow.

    “Adam, let’s go—please.”

    “Eva, will you stop? Can’t you wait a couple minutes?”

    “I’ve been waiting. I want to go inside. I want to see it.”

    Adam looked at the chapel. He hadn’t known it existed when he purchased the land full of hills and valleys. From the outside, the building looked similar to when he first saw it; only the front door and the windows were different. He completely revamped and reinforced the inside though; that’s where all the money was spent.

    “Eva, can you wait just a while more. We’ll be inside soon enough, and then you’ll wish you were out here again.”

    She let out a grunt and placed her hands on her hips. “Fine!”

    Adam sat up and took in the grassy meadow. Who knew if this would be here when they stepped out again? Could the memory of this even survive the long hiatus indoors? He had collected several pictures of gorgeous landscapes, but nothing could compare to this. He stared at the golden afternoon sun bathing everything in a dreamlike, hazy tint. “I could stay here forever,” he thought.

    A siren moaned through the valley below. It echoed off the land and shattered the moment.

    “See, I told you. We should be inside already,” Eva said, beginning to ascend the hill.

    “Keep calm. We have plenty of time still,” Adam replied, but she was already halfway up the path. He jogged after her. “Eva, wait.”

    “I’ve waited long enough. You can come with me or stay out here. I don’t care.”

    He knew she meant it. There wasn’t anything resembling care in her voice now, just panic and urgency mixed with the sirens’ cries. He heard their far off wails rising and falling, signaling the war’s climax. The resolution was on its way.

    She reached the door, and Adam was still some strides away. “I’m here Eva, I’m here.”

    “Hurry Adam, I’m afraid.” She gazed at him through the doorway, her face filled with angst.

    “Wait, I forgot something.” He wandered off the path and started plucking blades of grass. He would need a reminder when he was inside, underground.

    “I’ll wait inside,” Eva said, vanishing into the chapel. Adam reached the door and turned to look at meadow one last time. In the distance, he could see an artificial wind rushing through the valley. Time was up. He tried the doorknob, but its range of motion was constrained. Eva had activated the security locks. Adam slumped with his back against the door and put a blade of grass between his lips. He chewed it in the golden afternoon, until the wind consumed him and the small chapel.

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  2. Voima Oy

    Country Air
    @voimaoy
    497 words

    My Dear Charlotte–

    Didn’t I promise you a letter? This old-fashioned form seems to fit the mood of this place. Besides, there is no internet access, here! I am writing you in the library, on an enormous table, surrounded by bookshelves, white curtains billowing in the breeze.

    How can I describe this strange house under a vast and milky sky, amid a sea of green hills? There are no shadows, here. We are in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest town.

    As you know, Eric and I were invited here by his old college friend, Howard. We hadn’t heard from Howard for years, and I was surprised he would be writing now. But, he was so insistent we come for a visit. And you know how we wanted to get away from it all. The country air would do us good.

    Little did we know who we would be sharing this place with! In addition to Howard, there is Howard’s Uncle Cyrus, and his daughter (Howard’s cousin) Lucy. Then there are the Watsons–Mary and Will, who take care of the house and grounds.

    What a cast of characters!

    Uncle Cyrus is a true eccentric. He fancies himself an inventor. He is also an avid amateur astronomer. By day, he works on secret projects in the basement. At night, he studies the moon and the constellations.

    Lucy is another story. She is a real romantic heroine, fond of long walks on the hills in the moonlight. She has the look for it, wispy dresses and long dark hair blown back in the wind. She has the most beautiful eyes, large and dark and haunted.

    She’s got her eyes on Eric, that’s plain. I saw her sideways glances when she thought no one was looking. How she comes up with excuses to get him alone. Yet, he doesn’t put up much resistance.

    And Howard? He is so tortured by this summer triangle. He lies on the sofa in the library, moaning while I stroke his brow. But it’s not my comfort he wants, even as he kisses my fingers.

    It has been feverish in this house where no one sleeps. Doors opening and closing. Did I mention the muffled cries, the barking and howling? There is a change in the hills at night. Even the air is different. You wouldn’t believe it in the light of day.

    The only ones who seem immune are the Watsons. Will says I should leave before it’s too late. Mary has suggested some herbal remedies, chamomile tea and wolfsbane and valerian, but this doesn’t help my insomnia.

    Each night, the howling grows louder as the moon grows full. I don’t know how much longer I can bear it.

    Oh, Charlotte, you really must come and join us here! Even now, I can see them out there romping on the hill, Uncle Cyrus and Howard and Eric and Lucy, rolling in the grass like animals.

    Your ever faithful and loving friend,
    Rachel

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  3. Jacki Donnellan

    After
    @Donnellanjacki
    499 words

    “Cheer up,” he said, “it might never happen!”

    I forced a smile. I could almost really believe him, given where we were. The silent, emerald landscape around us was a complete contrast to the frantic, screaming carnage that we’d left behind just a few hours ago. I could even hear birdsong.

    “Come on,” Jasper said. “We just need to get up there, and get inside, and then I promise you we’ll be safe. Let’s go.”

    I hesitated slightly. Then I took his outstretched hand, and we began to climb the hill.

    Jasper held my hand tight, letting go occasionally to adjust the hastily grabbed provisions that were strapped over his shoulder. “Nearly there,” he kept repeating, quietly. The blood on the front of his shirt was drying out and beginning to cake. Not his blood, though, probably his mother’s: he’d clung on to her until the last possible minute.

    We walked on in silence.

    “I just don’t understand how…” Jasper suddenly began, and I turned to face him, wondering what he would say; what words he would actually use to convert what had happened today into language. But he said nothing more. I was left just gazing at him as he trudged with his head down beside me, my eyes travelling round the loops and dips of his auburn curls; the peppering of freckles across his nose.

    “Look!” he said. He drew a long, shaky breath and then his face set into a reassuring grin. “We’re here!”

    The strap over his shoulder suddenly snapped. Jasper’s pans and tins began rolling down the hill, and he began rushing after them with just a hint of panic in his gait.

    I stood and looked at the hollow building that Jasper had led us to. “A deserted shell of house,” Jasper had explained, “right in the middle of nowhere. If we can just make it up there without them seeing us…”

    Inside the house, through the glassless window, a movement caught my eye.

    I looked over at Jasper. He’d seen nothing; all his attention was now fixed on re-tethering his pans. I edged toward the house a little, peering intently through the gaping window. And then, very clearly, I saw him. He was looking right at me. I could see the loops and dips of his auburn curls; even make out the peppering of freckles across his nose.

    He lifted one hand, and pressed one finger to his lips.

    I nodded.

    Jasper stood up briskly beside me, pulling his re-strung pans back onto his shoulder. I found myself grinning at his pathetic trust. Trust in a remote shack. In a few old pans.

    In me.

    “Right!” he said, his face brightening when he noticed my smile. “Come on, then, sis!” He laid a gentle hand on my arm, and gestured toward the house. “After you.”

    “After me,” I said, my grin broadening. “Yes. Your turn now.”

    Jasper began to look confused. By the time I pushed open the door, I was laughing.

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  4. Karl A Russell

    Innocence

    He deserved it, he was certain, even if he no longer knew exactly why; He’d seen so many dead children in the last year that he couldn’t remember which one he was responsible for.

    But they left him no doubt, when they came each morning, that this was punishment. He understood that from the first, when he saw the golden haired girl smiling up at him from the tracks. It wasn’t just that the others on the platform looked through her, or that her small body had been torn apart by the express train which had been her unwitting murder weapon; It was simply that in her eyes he found a depthless innocence which brought him to his knees and made him weep for what was lost.

    The 8.15 had pulled in then, wiping her from view, but her presence lingered, and he had remained long after rush hour was over, affirming his sanity to the staff over and again, but unable to rise from his penitent position until her shade was gone.

    They had appeared constantly after that; Children who had died in fear and pain, both near and far, at the hands of strangers and loved ones.

    He could no longer work, lost his family and his friends as he retreated to the relative safety of his home. But even there he was not free from their attention; While they allowed him a scant few hours for sleep, they were there as soon as he opened his eyes again.

    More and more, children of all nations and creeds, shaming him with their shattered innocence. He broke his iphone and yanked the wires from the TV, but even without direct knowledge of the horrors in the world, he was still haunted by the victims.

    Haunted. That was the word for it. These were ghosts, both his and the world’s, and they would never let him rest. So instead, he ran, until finally he came here, to the rough stone building at the farthest edge of the land, where he had once brought a family for a holiday supposedly free of cares and concerns. He did not know what had happened here, how many times it had happened, but he knew now how it had ended.

    He stood on the soft green earth, staring out to the grey sea far below, fingers clasped around those of his latest tormentor, a familiar seeming boy with almond eyes and soft lips that reminded him of a girl he’d once loved.

    A half remembered nursery rhyme on his lips, the boy trailing behind him, he took a step towards the edge.

    And another.

    And then he was gone, where he would no longer be haunted by the innocence he had stolen.

    But as he slipped beneath the waves, he felt the boy’s fingernails dig deeply into his flesh, then his teeth, and as the darkness closed in around him, he had barely a moment left to wonder, what remains, when innocence is gone?

    500 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

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  5. David Gentner

    Of Earth and Stone

    (497 Words)

    Those who lived in the quiet hamlet had long forgotten the original purpose of the colossal gray stones standing in the neighboring pasture. No trees grew near them; no moss or lichen gathered upon their smooth surfaces. But the air was always fresh, and the lush green of the hilltop always appeared dappled with sunlight, even on the most overcast of days. It had become a place of celebration: a place where they could rejoice in their blessings, mourn their losses, or where one could simply lie, alone, and feel complete.

    The Vernal festival had concluded and crops were being sewn in the freshly tilled soil when the missionary returned. He had been there before, always claiming their ways evil and idolatrous. He spoke of sin and salvation, promising everlasting life in exchange for obedience. But to the villagers, it was nothing more than the buzzing of cicadas. The simple folk saw no reason to change when they were already so content. This time, however, he did not come alone. This time, he brought strange men with horse drawn carts loaded high with metal tools and instruments that glistened in the sun. Windows were shuttered and doors barred, in hopes that these men were simply passing through, but the villagers were disappointed to see the tents assembled on the outskirts of town.

    The following days brought frigid rain and tenacious winds, and as thunder mingled with the din of the men beginning their work, the air grew rank with the fumes of the blacksmith’s forge. Not long after, one bewildering night, many of the locals were woken by great rumblings in the earth. Mothers consoled their weeping children as fathers went to investigate the source of the disturbance. As a group, they approached the clearing where the stones stood. An enormous pyre had been built, illuminate the area. Hideous shadows flickered and danced on the cracked and crumbled remains of the sarsen. Men had climbed atop them and were reducing them to rubble with hammers and picks, their sweat shimmering in the fire’s light.

    Gradually the stones were fragmented into smaller bricks, and construction of a diminutive structure began. The missionary was overjoyed, yet his men grew uneasy. Stories circulated of curious grinding, scraping noises late at night. Large piles of unused bricks were found piled high where the stones had once stood, and many of the workers left after one of them became hysterical, claiming he had woken, choking, his mouth filled with the dust created by the boulders’ destruction.

    Despite the many setbacks, the structure was completed in time for the Autumnal festival, and the villagers gathered in the clearing to celebrate their harvest, meager though it was. In place of their familiar stone circle stood a cold, dark chapel. And, as the missionary stood in the archway, arms outstretched to welcome them, the building shivered once, as if it were chilled, and the keystone slid out of the arch and crushed his fragile skull.

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