Summer of Super Short Stories Week Two

Welcome to week two of 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

10 thoughts on “Summer of Super Short Stories Week Two

  1. C Connolly

    Appearances and Disappearances

    They are there one day, where once was just gravel and dirt, reaching skyward, thick and tall. Before nightfall they are the talk of the town. You go to see them, of course, amongst the curious in the crowds, to press a finger to the cold stone and wonder at the meaning of the symbols inscribed upon them. They are far up on each of them, too high to touch, surface too smooth to climb. You screw your eyes up against the light, hand above an eye, to try to see them clearly. An alien? A sea horse, perhaps? They blur as the sand shifts in the breeze, clouding your vision momentarily. You hear someone say they see a winged dragon and smile briefly. Perhaps you are this year’s community in joke – the season’s take on the crop circle – captured on camera for posterity. You scan the mobile phones and cameras cautiously. They are pointed, one and all, front and centre, at the standing stones.

    You circle the two pillars, walk between them, take a snap or two to tweet before abandoning the site to dusk and dirt, as numbers dwindle. You think you will return for a closer look some time, presupposing they are still there in the morning.

    By nightfall next day they have multiplied magically, three freestanding, where once were two, fresh symbol imprinted into the tip, up on high. You struggle to see amongst additional sightseers, the sea of shufflers grumbling forwards, as they submit to queueing to take their turn. The stones stand regimented, ruler straight in line. Impossible to see how deeply they reach down, though you scrabble at the base of one amongst the grains. They bury themselves under your nails. You frown at the kick back, as you feel – or think you feel – a short, sharp shock to your fingertips where they touch the granite. You pull them back, raising them to your lips to cool the smart. There is heat where you suck them, though you see no red, raised marks or burn. You tell yourself it is your imagination which has been sparked by the mystery of the standing stones and what they may represent. You tell yourself aloud, then repeat it.

    Three are five at dead of night when you approach again, alone, as others sleep. You nod, once twice, to each of them in turn, smile slightly as you take in the now familiar symbols and those new to you, completing the quintet. You inhale as you walk between the pillars, breathe out onto each in turn, inscribed images fully illuminated in your eyes now you see. You know where they will take you, with them, on their journey and where it ends. That those who travel to see the standing stones tomorrow will see merely gravel and dirt, where once were pillars and a girl. You wonder how long it will be before they realise their silent stone visitors have taken a willing souvenir with them.

    (500 words)

    @FallIntoFiction

    Reply
  2. D. B. Gentner

    Time Immemorial

    The monolithic obsidian pillars jutted out of the earth and stretched towards the heavens like the claws of a long forgotten titan. They had stood since time immemorial and the meaning of the strange carvings they bore had been lost aeons before. An impossibly tall man strode through the sand surrounding them. His black robes, tattered and frayed at the edges, wrapped themselves around his spindly frame as the wind howled. What could be seen of his flesh was darker than the void from which he had crawled and his eyes glittered with the light of forgotten stars. These pillars were the last remnants of his once mighty empire, though they had not always been.

    Millennia before, when the continents were one, and this black figure, in the form of a monstrous leathery bat, soared high above, these pillars crowned the tops of great mountains. There, Yig, the father of serpents, spent his days winding and twisting his great length around them creating his children. While, deep below the still cooling crust of the planet, Tsathoggua, the Sleeper of N’kai, dug his toad like burrows ever deeper in search of their base. But the never ending obsidian went on far below and he grew slothful in the planet’s heat, and slumbered among their cool subterranean foundations.

    As time passed the planet began to stretch and break. The great mountains were swallowed by oceans and the pillars were lost to the surface world, becoming the substructures of the sunken city of R’lyeh, where the writhing tentacles of Cthulhu plagued the minds of men. The dark watcher continued to wait and busied himself by taking the forms of men, becoming their Pharaohs and rulers, their visions and profits. Ever meddling in their world, for he knew it was through the ignorant deeds of these small willed creatures his time would come.

    His hoards became countless and as the earth continued to shrug and shift, raising R’lyeh and its lost horrors, he became the Crawling Chaos. A great slathering tongue mounted atop three great hooved legs. His hunger knew no bounds and his will was all. Armies of dog faced ghouls, faceless nightgaunts, and other unfathomably nightmarish creatures swarmed the planet. He crushed and obliterated mankind, defenseless against these otherworldly villains. And as his terrestrial targets decreased his ravenous hunger grew. Razing R’lyeh and laying waste to the Great Old Ones and their hidden races, soon there were no others left and so he turned his malign gaze upon his own, leaving the planet barren and desolate. And so, as his towering form lumbered across the planet’s surface, the remaining Outer Gods, Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth among them, grew to fear his limitless power and fled, leaving him abandoned and alone.

    The earth continued to heave and sigh. The stars shifted and aligned, and as Nyarlathotep walked among the pillars, their symbols began to glow and cry out their secret names. Otherworldy gates wrenched open between them and his waiting was at an end.

    (500 words)

    Reply
  3. emilyemily

    (Not submitted for contest consideration, just for fun)

    Water

    We walked the valley for days before the horizon ever changed. Then we saw the vague shape of new mountains in the distance, so far off they might have been a mirage cast by the sun.

    “Do you see those other things?” Mirea pointed, squinting. The wind picked up the sand and drove the grains against us mercilessly. An eastern wind that worsened in the afternoon, it ripped our skin and tore our clothes, persistent as a predator.

    I coughed as I shielded my sunburnt face and peered at the horizon. Five regular cylinders rose well before the mountains—they looked like old grain silos or some kind of pre-plague art. Who would have bothered to put up art in the middle of the drylands, even then?

    “Do you think—” Mirea ran forward, kicking up more white dust in her wake.

    I coughed again. It had been her idea to walk east to escape the cold shadow of the larger mountain range behind us. But she looked bad, her pale hair dreadlocked in tangles, her white tee shirt torn and greyed from dust. You wouldn’t know she had once had fair skin—the burn and the dust covered everything.

    We might have escaped the second phase of the plague—the mountains behind us offered a bulwark against that disease—but what would we find in front of us? Our present condition offered little hope. We’d been waterless now for thirty-two hours—I kept track even if Mirea did not. I was so sunburnt I could almost feel cancerous lesions multiplying by the minute. An ocean of white salt deposits stretched around us. My vision had started to blur.

    “Do you think they might be part of the Black Rock community?” Mirea finally finished her thought.

    “Black Rock has to be much farther north.” The corner of my lips had a crack in them that made speaking painful.

    “If we hurry we’ll reach them by nightfall.” Mirea raced ahead, light of foot as always. I groaned and tried to galvanize. At least the sun was dropping down behind the western range now—though the desert’s cold nights distressed me just as much as its hot days. Dawn and dusk offered the only comfortable hours.

    My feet pounded the white salt sand in Mirea’s footsteps. Breathe, Jace. Three footfalls for every inhalation, five for every exhalation.

    Despite my efforts, Mirea pulled ahead. She’d always been the tougher sister. She reached the cylinders first. They were far taller than I had imagined, rising more than two stories. She scrambled up the ladder on the nearest one and paused, wavering in the wind like a tattered flag.

    “Oh my god! Jace! Jacey!” she screamed.

    “What?” I forced myself to sprint despite my throbbing head and my cramping calves.

    “Water!” she shrieked, delirious with excitement. “They’re full of water!”

    (475 words)

    Reply
  4. Voima Oy

    The Singing Stones

    @voimaoy

    275 words

    Sometimes I dream of home, the lovely yellow-green light of our days. I remember the ancient moss temples, the gardens of singing stones.

    Even in the cities, there are other gardens here. There are many standing stones. The people live inside them, coming and going all day and night. These stones are cold comfort. They do not sing for me.

    The stones of home are smooth, and warm, like touching another’s hand. Inside the stones, there are the voices. They sing about all sorts of things.

    Now, in my dreams, I can almost touch them, hear the voices calling me home.

    The stones sang about a doorway, opening. Five stones to form the space folds, like an origami trick. There was space, and stars inside.

    Why was I the only one who could hear that song, why did I listen, why did I go? Now I know it was only our grandmothers singing to each other. They were singing of places they had been, things they had seen. Songs of years ago.

    To go is why we’re here, they said. And so I went, alone.

    Now, I am here, in this strange place, amid these people. I search among the stones. There is a place the people speak of and I must go to it, someday. The stones there are older, though. They have another name. They speak a different language, but I am learning. There are languages, and libraries. There is time.

    Sometimes, I dream of Stonehenge. I will stand among the stones. I will be there when the stars are right, and walk through the doorway, opening. What stories, what stories I will sing!

    Reply
  5. Karl A Russell

    A Life’s Work

    It was the June of 2014. Travis Hunton was 84 years old, and he was done.

    It had taken him thirty seven years, but he was finished at long last, and from the pink dust of what had once been the east field, five perfect columns rose to the sky.

    The Pillars of Heaven.

    Thirty seven years…

    Thirty seven years of planning and cutting and welding and hammering, smoothing seams and disguising imperfections, raising the sections into place and pinning them there while he checked that the symbols lined up correctly.

    Thirty seven years of questions and jokes from the steadily dwindling pool of friends and neighbours, who dropped out or drifted away or just up and died.

    Thirty seven years of toil, loneliness and hardship, until finally, when the fifth pillar was complete, he sat back on the porch with a beer and the memory of his wife as his only company.

    “Well Vera, it’s done. Gots to say it, I never thought I’d see the day…”

    His hand shook as he raised the beer bottle to his parched lips, and he lowered it again, untouched, as he began to sob.

    “But I told you I’d see it through. I told you I’d raise ’em. And I did.”

    He stood, leaning heavily on his cane, waving at the furthest pillar with his bottle.

    “But that’s it now. No more Vera. I’s done.”

    He shuffled slowly down the steps, taking care not to get tangled in the dog’s tail-chasing, and never mind that the first pillar had been barely begun when the last of the dogs died. He managed another sip from his beer, then dropped it to the dirt, where it spilled into the thirsty dust.

    Making his way past the pillars, he saluted the symbols and named them each in turn, using the secret words known only to him now, words long since forgotten by Vera, wherever she may be. At the furthest one he paused, resting his dry palm against the warm metal, feeling the heat radiating from within, stolen from the sun. It almost thrummed with life, and it made him sad to feel it so.

    He turned away, laid his back against the pillar, fancying that he heard Vera telling him not to muss his shirt on the dirty thing, then slid slowly down to sit in the dust.

    The sun was setting behind him, casting the questing shadows of the pillars out across the east field and the scrubland beyond, like the hand of God Almighty closing over His world.

    Travis laughed at that, a short, bitter bark of pain and disgust.

    Then he pressed the button mounted in the base of the final pillar, and thirty seven years’ worth of buried dynamite blossomed into angry red life, flash drying his tears and removing his thoughts and fears once and for all. He wasn’t sorry to see them go.

    He had toppled The Pillars of Heaven, and that was enough for one life.

    499 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

    Reply
  6. C Connolly

    Emily – thanks for adding these links here. I had been wondering about the source for the prompt picture and symbols! Nice to have some information to provide the answers.

    Reply

Leave a Reply