Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Four

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans playing our flash fiction game. Today we offer a photo prompt by Ryan Lynch, titled  “Arising.” We recommend that you click on the picture to see it in a larger format. Let your imagination fly and produce a story of 500 words or less, submitted into the reply section of this post by Saturday at 6 pm PST. Remember, all stories considered for the contest anthology will contain a supernatural or fantasy element. See complete contest rules here.

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9 thoughts on “Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Four

  1. zevonesque

    A Magical Time
    A.J. Walker

    Kevin was having a really bad day. He’d woken up late, had taken the only taxi driver that drove below the speed limit (he even stopping for red lights), then he’d got caught in the customs line behind an extended family who’d all tried to smuggle suspicious liquids onto the plane. By the time he’d passed through customs his name was being called to ‘Go directly to the gate’.

    It was inevitable, as he dashed across the airport, that somebody would come around a corner carrying a gargantuan – quickly very empty – coffee.

    Whilst taxiing an electrical fault was noted and the plane was stuck on the runway for two hours. If he’d known he would have waited and used magic to travel.

    Due to his offense, under the ‘Use of Magic Regulations, 1736 (as amended)’, Kevin had been learning the hard way – 28 days without being able to use magic had been painful. He’d had to do everything manually. He couldn’t conceive of how people could live like this. He looked again at his watch and the magic-stop ™ wrist tag, which would deactivate in a few long hours.

    He’d only had to fly in a plane once before and found it a horrible experience, being penned in with all the people – their germs and general stickiness. It amazed him how man had managed to fly using only large Meccano and a basic knowledge of some physics. He was supposed to spend some time with normal people though – he was told it would keep him grounded.

    The young wizard took a deep breath, immediately regretting it as he almost choked on hairspray from the lady in front. Next to him the young boy continued energetically fidgeting.

    “Dad, we’re flying!”

    His father patted the boys arm. “Yes, son. Excited?”

    The boy’s face looked insanely happy.

    Kevin looked out of the window, but saw only clouds.

    The boy put his hand on Kevin’s leg as he craned to see out.

    “Sorry mister,” he said taking his hand away. “Isn’t it great?

    Kevin sighed. “Yes.”

    “Danny” said Danny, putting out his hand for a handshake.

    When the stewardess came with refreshments she suggested that Kevin looked like he’d had enough coffee. Danny laughed – Kevin didn’t.

    As they began their descent Danny craned his neck to see outside, there was nothing to see but dark grey cloud. When they got below the clouds the view became nighttime dark.

    Kevin wished he could do something about the clouds for Danny. Then something magical happened, they began to part of their own accord. Sunshine burst through and lit up the tableau beneath them. Danny bounced in his seat.

    “Wow! It looks like a page from an atlas… look the town, the roads.. forests. I can see a train on the railway, dad.” he almost squealed.

    “There’s shadows from the clouds… there’s a river. Dad, this is my best day ever!”

    Smiling, Kevin looked out. It wasn’t the best day ever, but things were definitely improving.

    (500 words)
    @zevonesque
    #FlashDogs

    Reply
  2. Mark A. King

    Sentinel Satellyte

    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog

    495 Words

    Aardvark once cast spells.

    He once stalked dragons. He’d drag their still-warm skulls back to the village, where he would be welcomed, once again, as their saviour.

    Well-used daggers once hung from his belt, swinging against his roughened clothing (stolen from bodies that no longer needed the heat).

    With his muscular arms he would swipe the mighty sword, forged from the belly of the earth and the fire of dying dragon matriarchs.

    Sometimes he sold possessions to strangers in faraway lands, for provisions of dubious nutritional value, or for potions that promised wisdom, health and transfiguration.

    But this was in a previous life.

    Since becoming a hacker, Aardvark has found that reality is far more bizarre and dangerous than any puerile Role Playing game. His cloak, retired, now gathers pixel dust.

    In geostationary orbit, the satellyte skims the faintest traces of atmosphere. Faint tendrils of ozone surround it while it fights a continual war of alien pressures, space debris and hungry energy demands. It inhabits a world that would kill Aardvark more surely than fire, sword or disease. But it holds power – not the virtual power of games born of decimal, binary, code and language compilers – no, the power is tangible and it’s all around him.

    From suburbia terra firma, he once cursed skies full of clouds. Forget the smudged-pastel impressionist sunsets – for clouds bring blindness to satellytes. Their eyes forever cast downward, they only see a milky cataract haze – they cannot appreciate the glow, the glitter, the colours of majesty. But Aardvark no longer curses these moments, because through adversity comes learning. Sightless, he guides the satellyte so it can listen to a thousand conversations. He can map the route of any individual through their wi-fi pings or telephony triangulation. He knows their shopping habits.

    The tiny spec in space has god-like powers.

    He listens to Mrs Green, she misses her children, who she drove away. Yet she repeats the same mistakes when they pick up the courage to visit her. He laughs as she moans and bitches to her neighbours on the phone.

    He reads the SMS, DMs and IMs of Indigo_FoxyGirl95 and Mr_dream_maker_1. They dream of futures like characters from a rom-com. They flirt and want to meet soon. These are futures they can’t have. Aardvark knows them as Colin and Roger.

    He traces the location of Chris. He watches the familiar patterns. Chris tells his wife he goes to the gym, but his gym membership has never been used. He is working out in other ways.

    In this world of ultimate power, Aardvark is the predator; he is the master of all he surveys. He’s supreme stalker of the firmament and the dots on the ground are his unsuspecting prey.

    He is invincible. But for one. Satellytes cannot harm her. She will not respect his pizza-box carpet in exchange for his technical wizardry or his malevolent control over the local town.

    For when mum comes marching in, Aardvark hides.

    Reply
  3. Catherine Connolly

    @FallIntoFiction #FlashDog

    (500 words)

    So, Starting With The ‘Plane Fall…

    Today’s Crazy

    So, today started with random before descending into total crazy pants, quite frankly. We’re talking really bizarre. All over the news everywhere and no surprise at that. Tons of bizarre theories already making their way ‘round the internet and trending amongst the Twitter crowd.
    Started out with the ‘plane fall. Yes, you read that right. ‘Plane fall, not rainfall. Cue weird weather alerts, as we’re warned to steer clear of flying debris and stay off the streets. Couple of the guys braved it from down the road to watch the updates over a couple of beers. Shoot the…well, you get the picture, right? Strange stuff – especially when they started talking about the fallen parts in the aftermath, once the investigations started up. Cleanly sheared off; razor sharp edges. No clue how that kind of thing happens mid-air and so on. Lots of debate about toads! Might be the right time to come up with an apocalypse plan, I guess!! Possibly off the back of a little less booze though. Later. Tomorrow might bring more news of the real variety, I guess. Will have to see.

    Missing, Update

    Appears the folks from the ‘planes are missing too. I mean, no bodies, no nothing. Plus the rest of the aircraft generally. A wing here and a nose there. No more, no less. No separate shards. No other debris. Disappeared into thin air, it seems. I mean, they can’t have, really but no-one’s got any kind of clue, as things stand. Can’t even blame the Bermuda triangle where we are! Plus – suggestion is, it’s happening everywhere. Newscasters are going mad over it. Conspiracy theorists more so. Nutters coming out of the woodwork everywhere. End is nigh and all that. Told you it was time to put a plan into place!! Seriously though – someone must be having a laugh, surely? Has to be this year’s crop circles story, right?

    No Joke

    Not a joke, apparently. At least, not a friggin’ funny one. Seriously. Dead straight. No time now for more. Hooked to what’s being said. Stay safe, folks. If you can. Take care. ‘Til then.

    Gone, Graces

    So, it’s gone, mainly. Swallowed up whole, god knows how. Towns; cities. Overnight. Literally. Mostly, we missed it. Weren’t exactly looking for it, were we? London Eye; Big Ben. York Minster. Three Graces – Liver Birds flown free. News feeds keep updating with more “disappearances”. Couple of interviews from people on the move at the time. One woman saying buildings literally “blinked out” around her. Seemed sober enough. Straight faced commentary from the crew with her. Established. Legit rep. No major mickey taking going on over it online. Way the world’s shrinking around us, guess everyone’s starting to see it differently, you know? Those who are left. Couple of media sources down already, at the last count.

    So Long..

    Not sure how long’s left. May mean this is the last update from me. Wanted to send something out, just in case. If so, I am

    Reply
  4. milambc

    The Break (500 words)
    @brett_milam

    Lines of coke, syringes of heroin, bottles of Oxycontin, Gavin had tried them all, but nothing compared to the break. When the break happened, it was like his mind was airlifted into another dimension where colors were unimaginably bright and they had a physical property to them.

    It was as if the sky had violently torn apart and from this chasm manifest a shower of light that transported Gavin to that other dimension. Worldly things and concerns drifted away like sawdust off of a well-chiseled hunk of wood.

    Even so, the second before the break, he still got swelling around his pelvis and feverish droplets of sweat underneath the curvature in his back. It fucking hurt, all the same.

    The other night, he’d woken from an uneventful dream. Dreaming had turned mundane once you went through the break.

    Almost immediately, he craved the break.

    Gavin pulled the sleeve back on his black turtleneck — he’d become prone to wearing them after his ex, now dead from a methamphetamine overdose, said they looked “snug” on him — to expose his forearm.

    Then he directed his pointer finger with the kind of blood-rushing, centralized power feel you get from a boner toward his forearm, hovering a centimeter from the delicate flesh. With a simple tap and eyes closed, he snapped the radius bone clean in two.

    The bone broke through the skin and a torrent of blood gushed out. By then, his mind was gone. It was zip-lining through the cosmos, hopscotching around the stars and the asteroid belt. It was like the tail-end of his mind had a rocket attached with enough jet fuel to encircle the Milky Way.

    A few minutes later, he returned to the confines of his limiting cranium, his arm lifeless at his side, blood no longer spilling out, but pooling near the foot of the bed, and he could see in the mirror across the room, which displayed his ashen face.

    Another tap of the pointer finger to the snapped radius and it was healed instantly. The blood was gone, returned back to its normal functioning beneath the surface of the skin.

    Somewhere in the copious opium binges, Gavin had developed this, whatever you call this. Even in his high state, magic didn’t seem the right word. Magic was beautiful, illuminating; this, this was something else.

    Often times, Gavin thought maybe he was on a cold slab somewhere waiting to be disposed of by the county, having already overdosed and all of this was some post-death hallucination, lasting residual effects of all his drug abuse.

    When he’d first discovered it, he started small, literally, with the stapes bone in the ear. It was like his first marijuana bong hit. Pleasant, but weak. Before long, as he was a fast learner, he’d snapped both femur bones.

    But it was no longer enough. This, whatever this was, satisfied him no longer. So, he soon tapped his finger to his landlord’s frontal bone.

    Gavin had found his new rush.

    Reply
  5. David Borrowdale

    @MicroBookends

    498 words

    Patchwork

    Grandma died today. The last of my grandparents. I feel old as well as sad.

    “It was her time”, my husband said. She was ninety one years old so I suppose he’s right.

    Mummy called a couple of hours ago.

    “She’s gone,” she said matter-of-factly. Of course I knew who she was, and I knew where she had gone. I hung up the phone without replying. I went into the attic where I’ve kept some of Grandma’s belongings since she went into the home. I dug around amongst the junk and pulled up the quilt. It transported me back to Grandma’s house.

    ***

    I only ever slept at Grandma’s when it was mummy’s supper club, or daddy had a work function. It was always a little strange. I loved Grandma but she never really knew how to entertain me when I was young. The bedtime routine, however, she had down to a T: a hot drink, a cursory brush of the teeth, then into my pyjamas pre-warmed on the radiator.

    Grandma’s spare room was musty and cold, but she always put a hot water bottle between the crisp, chilly sheets. The bed was topped with the most wonderful patchwork quilt. At the bottom, where my little toes scrunched up avoiding the chill of the room, was every shade of green and brown you could image, like Kansas at harvest time. In the middle, where my tummy lay, sated with warm milk, was pristine blue, interrupted with a patch of white here and there. And right at the top, tucked under my chin, was a stripe of orange and gold, as sunny as the brightest sunrise. Grandma always kissed me on the forehead when it was time to sleep. “Goodnight my little sunbeam,” she would say.

    After she crept downstairs to watch her programs, I would turn on the lamp and look down at the quilt. I would imagine I was God looking down on the world from my bed in Heaven. Eventually, after directing the people, and putting the world to rights, I would fall asleep.

    I always had the most vivid dreams at Grandma’s. I remember one time I was looking down on the ground from above, hovering just above the surface. I was getting lower and lower until I awoke with a sheen of sweat on my brow. My unease was soon forgotten when I smelled frying bacon and heard the sound of spitting eggs.

    When I went downstairs, Grandma was watching the television, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief.

    “What’s wrong Grandma,” I asked.

    “Nothing for you to worry about dear. It just seems like every time you stay here there’s a tragedy. An aeroplane this time. All souls taken.”

    ***

    I remember my strange, sweet Grandma as I breathe through the still musty quilt. It really is a work of art. The colours are as vivid as I remember. My daughter will love it. But perhaps I’ll wash it before I put it on her bed.

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  6. Karl A Russell

    Night Flight

    They refuelled in darkness, took on provisions and a fresh crew, then turned the jet back towards the runway.

    In his cabin, Koeppler gripped the armrests tightly, eyes closed, sending his mind out to all who would hear him.

    Let this go well. Let this be another safe lift off.

    The jet bumped along and he muttered a curse, something powerful and foul in a language now forgotten by most of the world. Then they were safely in the air again and Koeppler felt the pull of gravity reduce infinitesimally. He smelled burning fuel and he allowed himself a thin smile; so much effort for such a small thing. In time, he would be free to fly by himself once more.

    He opened his eyes and looked at the man tied to the chair across the aisle.

    “You like to fly, Johan? I do. I used to take great pleasure in flying across the valley of your village, scaring the milk maids and the feeble old men. It made them taste so much sweeter.”

    Johan glared at him with his one good eye, the other fixed permanently on some unknown point in space and time.

    “We will destroy you, Strigoi.”

    Koeppler snarled.

    “You use the words of your grandpappa well, little shepherd boy, but can you use his tools?”

    “Well enough.”

    Koeppler shrugged, rose from his seat and let his robes fall. His skin was alabaster white and puckered with scars and burns like the surface of the moon. He produced a long, silver spike and began to trace the point across his pale flesh. It reddened and seared at the touch.

    “I think not. I have met far better hunters, as you see, and yet I still live. Grandpappa would be disappointed, had I not taken his head the night I took your eye.”

    Johan smiled.

    “And yet I still live…”

    Koeppler was on him instantly, crossing the aisle so quickly that perhaps only Johan’s dead eye could have seen it. He bent over the man, the spike pressed into the razor-burned flesh of his neck.

    “And for what? To hide with the food? To be captured and beaten? To die? You disappoint me as much as your grandpappa. Go now; tell him you are sorry.”

    The spike slid in cleanly and Koeppler fell upon the wound, quivering as he drank from the twitching, screaming man.

    He was the hunter.

    He was the darkness.

    He-

    He was burning.

    He dropped the stake, flew to the cockpit door and tore it from the frame.

    Both pilots lay dead, the pale kiss of strychnine upon their lips. The controls were locked. Johan had been no more than a distraction, but he had played it to perfection.

    Skin blackening in the dawn light, Koeppler howled. It echoed through the plane, shook the girls from their drugged slumbers in the food hold and cracked the cockpit window, but it was not enough.

    Nothing was.

    And the plane flew on into the sun.

    500 words
    @Karl_A_Russell
    #FlashDog

    Reply
  7. voimaoy

    Fantastic Island
    @voimaoy
    498 words

    Maury and Gloria had never gone to Paris, or Rome. They had been happy together, where they were. Now, Maury was gone. Gloria was left in a black dress, holding white lilies and a box.

    They had talked about taking a trip to Fantastic Island, to explore the painted caves and see the dragons. It would be a second honeymoon of sorts, although they didn’t go on a first one. Gloria thought about it, how she only needed one ticket, now.

    So she was on the flight to Fantastic Island, the plane crowded with tourists and couples on a holiday. She looked out the window as the land fell away and there was only the vista of clouds and sea. It felt so strange to be up in the air. As the island came into view, she could see the volcano in the distance, and the shapes of dragons in the smoke.

    “Welcome to Fantastic Island,” the stewardess said as they disembarked. “May you find magic and memories. Enjoy your stay.”

    Her room at the hotel had a lovely view overlooking the beach. Gloria studied the itinerary. Tomorrow, a tour of the caves. She had dinner with a couple in the tour group that she had met on the plane, the Johnsons, Charles and Louise. They were from Minnesota.

    That night, she dreamed of the dragons flying over the beach, wings brushing the mist of the waves.

    The tour of the caves was one of the most popular attractions of Fantastic Island, and Gloria couldn’t help thinking how Maury would have enjoyed it more than she did. The stairway cut into the rocks was treacherous and slippery. She hung on to the handrail as the waves crashed against the rocks. Louise screamed like a teenager as Charles steadied her from behind.

    The paintings themselves were impressive, even in the dim light of the vast cavern that was the only one currently open for view. Gloria marveled at the marine animals, the volcano, and the whales with wings. There were postcards at the gift shop, and she bought some as souvenirs.

    “Better than anything I could take,” Charles laughed.

    “Look at this one, ” Louise said. It was a picture of a dragon in flight. “I’m getting this one for you,” she said to Gloria.

    That night, Gloria dreamed of the caves, bodies pressing together. Unable to sleep, she looked out at the beach in the moonlight. She decided to go for a walk.

    The beach was empty, silent except for the sound of the waves. Gloria could see the volcano glowing. The full moon was shining overhead, silvering the sea. There was a shape like a hill in the distance, and she decided to see what it was. A dragon was resting on the beach, wings folded, looking out to sea.

    The dragon spoke inside her head. Her name was Ming. Her grandmother was from China. It’s almost dawn, Ming said. Would you like to share the sunrise with me?

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  8. longlivethemartyr

    FLIGHT 909

    @allie_lahn

    498 words.

    The morning flight to Miami is all hungover bridesmaids and businessmen in wrinkled suits. The vibe gets frisky after take-off, which is too bad, since who is this, coming to sit next to Dave? The most elderly man on the plane. Dave watches as he pops open the overhead compartment, stashing a bejewelled tree branch, which is presumably a cane.

    The old man’s beard reminds Dave of his mother’s decades-old oven mitt. Dressed in a crushed velvet robe, his blue eyes twinkle behind honest-to-god spectacles. Dave is staring unknowingly at the man’s gut, when his eyes lock onto a gold pocket watch- its chain swinging like a pendulum over the seat.

    Waves of nausea slap the walls inside Dave’s stomach. He looks out the window. The sky is still so dark. A low rumble in the plane’s belly; seatbelt lights switch to ON. The plane launches smoothly, rising in the stratosphere like a ghost ship sinking for miles under black water. The stars look wet. Dave suspects his fear of flying has encouraged a morbid personality.

    They have been in the air for some time when the beard finally speaks.
    “Dave,” it says, surprising Dave, who has been twisting his pretzel wrapper in and out of knots.
    “I am the resident wizard of Flight 909. I must introduce myself using my Holocene name, Chronus. Your species is unable to comprehend my current name, which is-”
    A shrieking sound explodes into the cabin like a vicious stream of bats; their flapping dissolves in an instant and Dave’s eyes grow wide. He senses a pattern developing, in a distant land, of time switching back and forth along the arm of a giant metronome.

    “Look out the window,” the old man says, and Dave obeys, feeling his will come up against something.
    “There- the break in the clouds!” The old man points to a golden spray of pure sunlight, burning through a ceiling of grey cloud. It is the most miraculous sight Dave has ever seen; indeed, he thinks it is proof of heaven.
    “I’ve been trapped in this epoch for ages,” the stranger continues, “riding in your planes and on the backs of large birds. Hoping to come across this very ‘window’- this golden passage through time- one bright morning and find my way back to the world I left long ago.”
    “What world?” Dave asks in a voice that seems not to belong to him anymore.
    “A crueler world than this,” the old man replies coldly, and a hushed silence falls over the plane.

    As if cued, the plane veers sharply, charting a new course in the direction of the heavenly light. The pilot comes on over the intercom: It’s going to be a beautiful, sunny day in Miami, folks, and thanks for flying with us. Dave considers his fear of flying, which has all but disappeared.

    In the seat next to him, an old man fiddles with a gold pocket watch, closes his eyes.

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  9. necwrites

    This seems to be a pattern with me this week. I realize it’s late, but I still had 50 words to cut at 6pm. And I wasn’t about to stop there. So, just for fun, here it is.

    Sky Manta
    by Nancy Chenier
    500 words
    @rowdy_phantom

    Mel stumbled outside in her pajamas. Frost needled into her bare feet as she squinted up at altostratus shot through with solar radiance. It would have been gorgeous had it not been midnight.

    “Too bright for an aurora,” Jackson noted from the next yard, hugging his kids Ani and Dorian to him.

    “It’s a manta,” Ani declared.

    Her elder brother snorted. “They can’t get this close.”

    Bile burned up Mel’s throat. It was the right color for a sky manta, but Dorian was right: mantas flew well clear of earth’s atmosphere.

    “What do you think, Mel?”

    Mel frowned. With Dad no longer around, Mel became the default expert. “They usually beach themselves on the moon,” she mused. How many nights had Dad stayed up tracking the slips of light in the tidal forces between the moon and earth? She’d be just as glad if every last manta flit off to Saturn.

    The light shifted again, the flap of a “wing” stirred the cloud cover. It was a manta all right.

    As a remnant of her father’s manta legacy, Mel was chosen to coax the manta back into space. Plus, she had the pilot’s license.

    Light beamed from rills patterning its dermal surface. Mel touched down on its dorsal plane as gently as she could. The chill of the stratosphere bit through the flight suit the moment she emerged from the cockpit. The surface of the manta was spongy, squishing under her steps.

    “Should have toughed it out, Dad,” she muttered.

    The sponge folded around her boot, sending her sprawling. The surface conformed itself to her limbs like a water mattress.

    Great, she thought, death by sky manta. Anger and panic twitched through her chest as the beast held her body inert against itself. This should’ve been Dad’s way out, not hers.

    Her heartbeat slowed as if the manta were anesthetizing her. She kept straining despite the peace sinking into her bones. No way was she just going to let death take her—not the way Dad did.

    Death is private. It has nothing to do with you. The manta’s words massaged their way into her brain.

    “You can’t die here,” she snapped. It was like trying to push words through tar. “It will be… messy.” Mel had found Dad’s body. Nothing is strictly private.

    Acceptance shivered through the manta.

    “So, you’re going back to space?” Mel whispered.

    Impossible. It had no strength left. The weight of its death was as certain as gravity.

    “I know a place,” she said, startled by her own acquiescence. A place she had visited as a child with her father. They could watch the mantas away from light pollution.

    The manta labored through a turn, scattering the clouds. Once on course, Mel climbed into her plane and let the manta meet its end, privately.

    Some nights after her mail runs, Mel would turn her plane over the mountains and catch a glimpse of glitter across the isolated lake. It reminded her of her dad.

    Reply

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