Category Archives: Flash Fiction

 Light and Magic – Mid-week Flash Challenge

Rowena gazed from one bottle to the other with an amused expression.

“Where did you get them?” she asked.

Alex grinned. “That would ruin the magic,” she told her.

Rowena picked up the closest bottle. The thick glass, worn and cloudy with age, held tiny golden grains that shone though the smudgy glass. She ran her finger across the label. “Sun dust,” she read and smirked.

“Don’t judge,” said Alex.

“I’m not judging–,”

“Yes, you are!”

“Sun dust?” Rowena raised an eyebrow at Alex as she picked up the second bottle. “And moonbeams? Really?”

“Read the rest,” prompted Alex.

Dutifully, Rowena held both bottles. “‘Sun dust, sprinkle anytime to add a little light to your life’, and ‘Moonbeams, scatter when needed to bring magic to your life’. Are you saying I need light and magic?”

“Don’t we all?” said Alex.

Rowena inspected the bottles again, tipping the sun grains so they sparkled in the evening sunshine radiating in through the bedroom window. Then she smiled and held the moonbeams, gently shaking the bottle so the tiny crystals shimmered. “It’s just sand and salt – rock crystal – or something like that.”

“You have no imagination, nothing!” Alex sighed.

“And you’re just an old romantic!”

“You wouldn’t have me any other way, Ro!”

Rowena grinned and placed the bottles back on the window sill then she gazed at Alex and sank down beside her on the bed. “I wouldn’t.” Her hand laced with Alex’s and she leaned in to kiss her gently on the cheek. “I wouldn’t change anything about you,” she said as she lost herself in Alex’s eager response.

An hour or two later Rowena woke, her hair mussed up and her mind fuzzy with romance. She glanced beside her but the bed was empty. Just a quickly scribbled note lay on the pillow and Rowena snatched it up. “‘Sprinkle and scatter… just do it’,” she read. She laughed and sat up, noticing that Alex had taken her coat and keys. Alex had a night shift at the veterinary practice. Rowena yawned and smoothed her hair.

The bottles still sat on the window sill. The sun had lowered in the sky and the day’s light was almost gone. The sun dust still glistened in the orange sunset, and the moonbeams turned silver as the sun faded and the moon rose. Rowena smiled as she removed the stopper from the first bottle and tipped a little sunlight into her hand. She giggled and threw it up into the air. She felt a little foolish as she caught her reflection in the mirror and sand landed in her hair, but she put the stopper back in the bottle and picked up the moonbeams. She spilled the glitter into her palm and again threw it up letting it settle in her locks.

“Light and Magic, I welcome you!” she chanted, then shook her head and watched the shimmering grains float about her.

She went to bed in the sheer romance of the moment, looking forward to Alex’s arrival home.

Rowena opened her eyes to a steaming mug of morning coffee and a kiss on her forehead. Nothing could possibly be more perfect. She reached out, but Alex stepped back with a grin on her face. “I see you invited, or invoked, light and magic then!” She chuckled as she brushed sand and glitter from Rowena’s pillow.

“I did, for all the good it’ll do me!” She reached out, picking up her coffee. “I wish I didn’t have to sleep alone so often though.”

Alex shrugged. “It’s part of the job, I’m afraid. Leave your coffee for a moment…”

Rowena put her mug down hopeful that Alex was about to join her in bed, but Alex picked up the mug and moved it out of her reach. Instead she moved to the bedroom door and pushed it wide open. In a single bound a large ball of fur launched across the floor and up onto the bed engulfing Rowena in a sloppy, furry kiss. A wet pink tongue licked Rowena and then fell back to sit on the bed panting, with a wide Golden Retriever smile across its face. Rowena squealed in delight as the ball of sunshine kissed her again. Rowena laughed and grinned at Alex then she crossed her hands across her heart as Alex lead a nervous, silver-haired German Shepherd into the room.

She sprang out of bed, followed by the excited Retriever, and knelt gently in front of the anxious dog, offering her hand to the timid creature. The Shepherd glanced at the Retriever and when the golden dog licked Rowena again, the pale Shepherd gently sniffed the outstretched hand and let Rowena softly stroke her head.

Alex spoke quietly, “They come together, the sun and the moon. Their owner died recently, with no family, and we won’t separate them. They’re like you and me, day and night. They belong with us now.”

Rowena nodded as she gazed at the two dogs, one as bright and as happy as the sunshine that streamed through the window, and the other as soft, mysterious, and gentle as night’s moonbeams, and her eyes filled with tears. “You’ve truly brought me both light and magic.”

I haven’t written or blogged for a while, but the Sun Dust photo Miranda, at Finding Clarity, chose for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge this week caught me. I love some light and magic…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph. I overstepped the rules this week, though, ending up with 874 words, but hey, it’s a cute short story and I loved writing it!

Hades Oven – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Dead End by Svetlana Sewell

It was as black as velvet, thick with stifling heat, and she shuddered at the echoing drips in the narrow corridor. The breath she pulled deep into her lungs threatened to suffocate her in the clammy air. She shook her head, trying to rid her skin of the constant illusion of crawling ants, and tightened the frayed tourniquet tied about her left bicep. Yesterday’s wound was depleting more energy than she’d expected.

Today’s cuts and bruises were more superficial, and she took a swig of murky water from her canteen before stuffing it back into her damp rucksack. She was sweating more than she was drinking.

There was only one way into this broiling labyrinth of brick, and no other way out, and the men still waiting for her and the gem at the entrance knew it. She sighed and leaned against the wall, her head torch wobbling as she slapped the wall in frustration beside her. Her eyes stung as tears blurred her vision and defeat gurgled in her throat. The huge garnet jewel stowed in her canvas backpack, still grey with mud and dried moss, and heavy within its matrix rock, weighed on her shoulders and in her mind.

The gem, bundled inside her jacket, carried value she didn’t want to give up, but trapped inside the tunnels the stories she’d heard as a child were slowly resurfacing as desperation grew. Was the legend worth the aggravation? Could the myths carry truth? And, within the miles of hallway could she find the gem’s fabled haven?

There was always another way out, no one would ever build a labyrinth without an escape route; it was unheard of. And it was – except within the oppressive dungeons of Hades Oven.

She moved on, her fingers trailing over the ruby moss swathed brickwork. Never ending walls stretched through the obscurity, until she turned a corner and a silver doorway greeted her. The door stood ominously open, streaked with broken and decayed latticework shining in her torch light.

She tried to see beyond the darkness, but the rays bounced off the walls, artificial light glinting like a dead end. Fatigue pounded and her sweat turned cold. This was it, the end of the eternal hallway. There was nowhere else to go, nowhere else but back.

The noise of her own blood pumping through her veins thundered through her head as she gazed at the mottled silver smeared across the walls like fog, like ice. A wry smile flickered across her face. Her final moments of torture, as she baked beneath the earth, would be the imagery of ice, of mist, and of cool water running down the bricks. An illusion in her rattled and ragged dried out mind.

Then she moved across the threshold into the tiny room, and pulled the door closed, its hinges creaking tired and worn, until it clicked shut. She slipped her backpack off her shoulders and smiled at the weightlessness she felt as she slipped to the floor, the bag landing with a thud beside her. She took a last look at the small room, the beam of her torch flashing over the silvered bricks, and she switched off her light. Darkness enveloped the room and she sank into the corner to await her end in death’s antechamber.

It wasn’t completely dark. A burgundy glow emanated from her bag. Even through the thick canvas and dirty jacket the garnet smouldered. Trembling fingers tugged open the bag and turned it upside down. Dust billowed and the gem bounced on the concrete, and in the red light a tiny switch shone. She grabbed it and as the lever came away in her hand, bricks crumbled. Light, as white as heaven, flooded the tiny space, blinding her. Then the dust settled and running water crashed past the opening. Still squinting, she pushed out and gulped in cool fresh air. Without another thought she stuffed the gem back into her bag, and stepped out beneath the torrents of waterfall. A valley stood before her, miles away from the labyrinth’s entrance, and offering freedom. She’d found the haven and Hades would have to wait.

Really wanted to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. Something suffocating about this image, by Svetlana Sewell, that needed a story.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Monster Mash 2018 – Spellbound

She’d been an easy baby, sleeping through the night since birth, and an even easier child, generous, benevolent, sweet – even. But the teens! The Teens. She kicked, bit, fought, and battled her way through and there was no way I could just stand on the side-lines.

I sometimes got those looks parents despair of. The side-eyes, the wry smiles, frowns of judgment that sort of thing, but none of that bothered me. I’d had those all my life. And my teens hadn’t been a walk in the park either.

They hadn’t liked the nails in my ears, yep, I do mean nails, real ones, curved into a loop, or my Docs, or the leather. But I did and that’s what mattered.

I was a bit of a conundrum.

Ravel’s Bolero echoed through my headphones, and its crescendo would catch me closing my eyes to conduct an invisible orchestra as I sunk into oblivion of ecstasy. I helped old ladies and walked the neighbour’s dog, and no one in the suburbs knew quite how to take me.

I fell for the boy next door and giggled in his arms as he snapped a selfie and promptly uploaded it. The comments, none of them hidden, crushed me; and the photo – proof that I’d briefly been his – left me glaringly vulnerable despite my studs and tattoos. I fell and he was never going to catch me.

It was anger and retribution that issued forth my vengeance. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, but if you mix anger and humiliation, and candles and chalk shapes, and incantations you summon up something, or someone, quite explosive.

I don’t think I actually meant it either, invoking blood and guts and gore wasn’t really my thing. The flames of hell enveloped him and that photo of us became the least of his concerns. There were more photos, but they were of incineration and loss. His house had a wiring fault, but there might have been more to it.

I, however, gave and lost myself within the strong demonic arms I’d conjured of fire and hell and passion…

Then one day with eyes tightly closed whilst adrift with Jupiter resounding inside my head, my hands holding earphones tight, I collided.

They welcomed me into the hereafter with open arms – dying amid the swelling bars of Holst was an honourable way to go – and it was only there that my condition became apparent.

You thought there were no babies in heaven? Wrong – where else would the idea of cherubs come from?

Like I said, she’d been an easy baby, a cute toddler, and an adorable child. But when her downy white juvenile feathers dropped, no one had been prepared for what sprouted in their place. At first the little nubs, barely visible on her forehead, looked endearing – and maybe they’d hold her crooked halo a little more securely.

Her wings though, gave it away; black as the night and as dark as her soul. No feathers but sleek leather like a dragon or a bat. Puberty can be a tough time for angels.

spellbound - monster mash 2018

© Lisa Shambrook and Bekah Shambrook

Spellbound is a Halloween tale written for Laura, Cara, and Ruth‘s Monster Mash 2018. Check out the other dark stories in the links on GetWordy‘s blog. You won’t be sorry, spooked, but not sorry!

monster-mash-2018

Inside Looking Out… – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Luis Serrano Mid-week Flash Challenge - Inside looking out

Photo: Luis Serrano

The moth bumbles and fidgets, dusty wings flapping, growing in earnest panic, but the electric bulb remains lost to it behind the window pane. Light floods the room, seeping through glass, throwing shapes and shadows out onto the lawn, but the moth is incapable of seeing the freedom within its darkness. It only sees light, shining like a beacon, magnetised like love, and it lurches and pitches at the glass tossing its tiny body at the one source of everything it wants.

Soon, exhausted, it will stop, simply cling to the window and gaze. It has no choice. Until the light goes out the moth is committed, imprisoned on the wrong side of a cell. All the world exists open and free, but until the light is vanquished the moth is bound.

How sad to be trapped within desire for one true thing.

Light is not always the answer.

Sometimes darkness and adventure, failure, excitement, desire, and longing live in the shadows. What does a moth know if it spends its entire life staring at a flame behind glass? Sometimes you need to get burned.

I’m in that room. Light blinds me. I am saturated, full up to the brim and ready to escape to the shadows. The moth believes the light will answer everything, but I need the gloom of the penumbra to ponder and hide.

So I press my nose to the window backlit by light, my sweaty palms flat against the glass, condensation dripping like tears. Fingertips curl and claw as panic rises up into my throat and the bright light burns like fire on my spine. The moth continues to flutter and tap against the pane, its desperation and craving matching mine.

The light behind me is clicked off and my eyes take a moment to adjust. Black obscurity, behind the glass, opens up as my sight adapts and the moth takes off into the dusk. How I wish, trapped behind the glass, prisoner of light, I could switch places with the little winged creature and explore my dark places, the twilight world, and flit between realms and spheres – utterly free…

0000. Divider

I’m melancholy right now and very introspective, so Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and photo from Luis Serrano, hit home.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Punch Line – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

I was sure I was on the streets of The Capitol and Peacekeepers trolled me as the plaza swayed and shifted. I kept expecting Katniss to lunge forward and demand I run, run for my life! But her long plait never whipped over my head, and I remained prostrate and confused.

As the clock tower pitched violently to the right I fought the urge to puke. Spikes shot through my head and Leonardo DiCaprio stumbled into view. He dropped to my side shaking my shoulder. “Where’s your totem?” he asked. I mumbled, but couldn’t even recognise my own voice. “You’re not Katniss…” I slurred.

His slap stung bringing me round for a moment. “What the…” I began.

“Where’s your totem? Where is it?” he insisted, his eyes, round and big, burning into my skull.

“I don’t have one!” I yelled, my voice screeching like train brakes. I grabbed my head screwing my eyes shut.

When I opened them again he was gone but the buildings still ducked and dodged and reeled. This time Katniss did speak. She leaned across and kissed my forehead. I smiled then retched as my belly plunged like it would on the first drop of a rollercoaster. This was a bad trip. This was a nightmare.

I reached for her hand but mine waved limply in the air before me. Poison raced through my veins, and the blue blood vessels in my forearm wriggled. Bulging worms threading up my arm threatened to explode and I puked. It didn’t make me feel any better.

Noises of disgust emanated about me and I tried to see through blurry eyes. I tried to apologise, but the words refused to form. Instead a steady stream of vomit landed in the lap beside me and despite my inebriated state shame burned.

Within moments Katniss was gone. She’d left me for Peeta or for Gale, which, I had no idea, but I’d blown any chance I had. Tears stung like the slap Leonardo had delivered. The sun shone through the grey sky as steel-blue clouds roiled and churned. The light stung my eyes and made the Italian landscape bow and twist. I tried to wipe the tears, but someone had hold of my hand. They had a tight grip, a strong wrist, and for a moment I wondered if I’d been strapped to a bed like James Bond. That was it! I’d been kidnapped, drugged, and left to rot in Italy while they escaped in my DBS V12. I knew enough to know that. I had that car imprinted on my brain.

My wrists tensed, I’d break these bonds if it killed me… I writhed and squirmed and fought to escape. Desperation threw my mind into fresh chaos and I swung my legs off the table. Yes, I was on a table, a flat, uncomfortable table. I tried to slip off and land on my feet, but hands, many hands grabbed at me and restrained me, placing me back up on the slab. Slab! Maybe I was dead. I felt dead.

My eyes flew open, blinded by the bright sun, which was preferable to having my fears validated and seeing Emilia Fox staring down at me. Fearing death, I quietened. My head still swam and my belly still churned and to avoid further restraint, which was painful – my wrists hurt, I relaxed into my delusion.

My brain fogged as the sun grew brighter and the sky coiled about me in shades of green and grey.

When I finally woke, my eyelids were still sluggish and my eyes worked hard to focus, I noted my surroundings quickly as clarity unveiled itself. The shame of the night before enveloped me far more, as the green curtains of a Casualty bay remained, mostly shuttered, about me as I reclined on a bed covered by a scratchy blanket. My arm was restrained by tube in the back of my hand as a drip rehydrated and flushed out my system.

Katniss re-entered the room, her long plait hitched up in a twist and she checked my vitals on the clipboard at the bottom of the bed. Her blue plastic apron creased and puckered as she smiled at me. “We almost lost you last night,” her voice was soft and I knew I’d been forgiven for the vomit, but I’d have to work hard to absolve myself from the nightmare. Resolution sparked. I’d never drink such a strange concoction again.

0000. Divider

This picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Piroshki-Photography totally intrigued me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Monday Mixer – Stars of Change

12. Monday Mixer - Stars of Change

© Lisa Shambrook

I’d hardly noticed my nose crinkle, but the strange essence swirling about me suddenly made my insides revolt as I landed face down in the leaf litter. My stomach turned and my throat released a splash of bright bile. I rolled onto my back and stared at the roof of the cave through the miasma of cold fog.

I blinked and tried to sit but my body refused to cooperate. I moved stiffly and brought my hands to my face. One hand clutched a stone, a rock, and I prised my fingers from it, wiping my mouth with the back of my sleeve as I gazed at the stone. It was just a dull, rough pebble, but from the fracture in its surface leaked light, sparkling, fluid, effervescent light. I cracked it against the frozen ground and gasped as the geode fell open between my fingers.

Crystal stars shone, stippling light through the mist that still veiled the cave. I shivered in excitement. Memories began flooding back into my head. The search through the cave for a fabled rock, disappointment, and fear, as I’d struggled through the fog to escape, and now wonder at the sparkling gems.

In one taciturn moment, I knew it all…

I knew the words, the prophecy, the promise, and my fingers gently stroked the crystals. They were soft, malleable, and my heart caught inside my throat as I altered its molecular structure. I now had what I needed, the power to, literally, change the world.

0. Monday MixerMonday Mixer is back at The Latinum Vault, and is a week-long challenge for those of more committed to time constraints! Write 250 words, no more, no less, and include at least one of each of the chosen nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you can choose from nine and if you choose to, use all nine prompt words! So, here’s mine, including five of the nine words (highlighted in my text). Stars of Change, see, I told you I’d be writing of stars this year!

 

Dragons, Stars, and Works in Progress

Look at the stars look how they shine for you and everything you do…
this is my stargazing year.

Dragons, Stars, and Works in Progress - The Last Krystallos

This post is perhaps more for me than anyone else, but it means I have something in writing which makes a difference.

Goals that are not written down are just wishes – Fitzhugh Dodson - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

My plans for this year encompass change and small steps, but steps that will take me to the stars – to reach them and write about them.

I have a few secret projects involving art and writing and marketing, and the continuation of The Seren Stone Chronicles. So, to fit my mental health I’m taking small steps, one thing at a time.

small steps - dragons, stars, wip - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

A Symphony of Dragons is doing very well – if you’ve read it I could do with more reviewsreviews help us reach much larger audiences – and my marketing is concentrating on this beautiful book of short stories, though my marketing will expand again later in the year.

A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I completed The Seren Stone, and it’s almost at its beta reading stage. I have a couple of changes to add, then it’ll go out to my readers, before arriving back and going through more changes (see, I said this is a year of change!). While The Seren Stone is out in the hands of its betas I’ll be working on paintings and hopefully have some news for you in the Spring.

I can’t wait to begin working on the first draft of the second book in the series. It’s all mapped out and ready to go, and as the daffodils and tulips bloom so will the book. The third book of the trilogy will hopefully get its first draft late in the year, and once I am sure all three work together then plans to get The Seren Stone out there will move forward. I’m planning on releasing it Spring 2019, with its sequels in 2020 and 2021.

I also plan to write more flash fiction, writing exercises that promote inspiration, skill, and fun. My life feels very tight and restricted right now, so, letting loose with my words will be cathartic.

Look at the stars look how they shine for you and everything you do – Coldplay – The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Life hasn’t been easy and though I’m currently off medication because the side effects were so severe, my anxiety and panic attacks are still spiking. I’m trying to work through this year by removing the main triggers for anxiety, anything to stop the urge to run, and counter the waves of panic that build within my chest. Part of that is learning to put myself first for a change. That may mean I’m negligent in other areas, but sometimes you need to go right back to the basics and learning to accept yourself is part of that.

I’m planning to fly with my dragons this year and reach the stars.

Winter Woollies – Feeling Cosy

When Winter arrives and Jack Frost’s delicate graffiti embellishes our mornings,
and we begin to breathe dragon smoke as we leave the house –
it’s time to wrap up warm and dig out our woolly hats, scarves, and gloves!
I love Winter’s chill…

Winter Woollies - Feeling Cosy - The Last Krystallos

I’m not a Summer Babe, I’m an Autumn/Winter Squirrel…I prefer hunting out my warm, cosy woollies to wandering around in next-to-nothing in the heat of summer! When I get too hot I get irritable and depressed, there’s nothing more to take off, and I hide from the sun, but in the winter I blossom. And the best thing is when it gets too cold I can layer up, curl up beneath a duvet or soft fleece, and venture out wrapped up warm in a hat, gloves, and scarf.

I need a separate closet for winter sweaters and jumpers! My go-to mild winter hat has pussy-cat ears and I love it. Then, when it’s colder, I move to my brown hat with a fluffy bobble – I stole this hat from Bekah *gazes innocently* I steal lots from Bekah…

Woollies - Cat Hat - Furry - Squirrel Hot Choc

© Lisa Shambrook

My leather jacket, Joe Browns, is a must, my trademark look, and for years I adorned it with a green scarf, and the cutest black leather gloves. My gloves are now a good age and sadly wearing out, but I love the little Victorian style buttons, I need to search TKMaxx again!

Mirror Selfie - Hat Scarf - Pine - Leather Button Gloves

© Lisa Shambrook

When the colours I wore switched up, I searched for a red scarf to match my green one, and ebay came up with the goods. The furry hood hat came from River Island some years ago and was a birthday gift. I love the tassels so much.

Reindeer - Leather - Furry Hood - Red Scarf

© Lisa Shambrook

Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. Even at home I’d rather cosy up beneath a soft fleece, and wear fingerless gloves to type, than turn the heating on for one! I adore the pair I bought up in the Scottish Highlands at the Balnakeil Craft Village in Durness.

Natural Gloves - Frost - Furry Top - Gloves Woollies

© Lisa Shambrook

What are your favourite pieces for staying warm as Winter’s chill gets nippy?
Your favourite hat or scarf, or do you love your gloves?

Jack Frost - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos.jpg

© Lisa Shambrook

Stepping softly, he shivered as he wandered the urban streets,
his dancing fingers furtively composing a silent masterpiece.
He performed his second trick of the night and vanished with the first rays of day,
exposing his intricate works of art.
All the glass of the town lay beneath a delicate lattice,
a coating of glorious filigree workmanship…
all signed, sealed, and delivered by Jack Frost himself.

(Lisa Shambrook – Clandestine – Five Sentence Fiction – January 2012)

Alone – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Purple tinged the sky where the setting sun met twilight above a swathe of burnished gold. Sarah rubbed her thumb over her loose ring and smiled. The large amethyst set amid its gold band twinkled, as the last of the day’s rays glanced across its surface. Sarah sighed. The Milky Way already arced across the night, stars more infinite than the seconds in her life. It was perfect. It couldn’t be more perfect.

She gently slid down the tree’s rough trunk landing in soft hay, and drew a deep breath into her rattling lungs. Crisp oxygen, clean and cold, rushed up her nose and down her throat. The breeze gently wafted the nearby lavender crop. She closed her eyes and let the scent intoxicate her. She smiled again. She couldn’t have planned it better.

Sarah was tired; the walk had taken all day. She was alone, frail, and exhausted, but happy.

Her gnarled knuckles shook as she clasped the metal bottle in the rucksack that had dropped from her shoulders. She opened her eyes to do what she needed to do, and gently pulled the plastic tubes from her nose. The bottle and its tubes slipped away into the grass, and Sarah let them go. The bottle was almost empty anyway; it would never have seen her home.

The night air that now moved about her was softer, lighter, and dipped in lavender, and as it infused her body she let the fragrance calm her thumping heart. Sarah brought her hands together and gently rubbed the amethyst. The ring rotated easily, the band too large for her thin finger, but the soft touch of quartz comforted her and she relaxed.

The final glimmers of the sun faded beneath the horizon, and the full blanket of purple and indigo night slipped across the field. Only the stars still glittered as lavender wafted and Sarah allowed her curtain to fall.

She’d said her goodbyes, letters were signed and sealed on her mantelpiece, and she was ready to go.

The frozen, star-filled, lavender dusk claimed more than just the day that night, but Sarah would walk free from mortal constraints into a brand new dawn.

0000. Divider

Beautiful picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Javier de la Torre. Gorgeous colours…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Nightlings – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The battle was not yet won and nor would it be without help.

The opposing army stood silent but for a drum beating in time with Nomin’s heart. Sweat and fear from his warriors and their horses reeked and the taste of blood set his teeth on edge.

Numbers did not favour him, and the exhaustion evident in the hoarse breaths behind him made him wonder how much longer he could stall the inevitable.

Though they were almost a mile apart, separated by a stretch of verdant mossy green and a crystal clear stream, he knew the Captain’s eyes were trained upon him, and he squirmed with discomfort. Within moments the virid velvet carpet would become mire and the stream would run with ruby swirls.

Nomin straightened his back and relaxed his shoulders heavy beneath his leather armour, and stared back. The drumbeat, echoing across the glen, quickened and Nomin’s heart matched it. His breathing rose and fell with the strain of courage building and determination gilding his lungs. It was now or never, and time was not on their side.

Nomin closed his eyes, and uttered her name beneath his breath, a single syllable, yet everything, “Bren…” Her name fluttered away on the breeze, but he hoped she’d heard it. Their lives depended on it.

The horses shuffled, nerves tingling beneath their hide and anticipation flooding their veins. The drumming stopped and a shimmering wave glinted on the far side of the valley as shields rose, and in the sudden hush Nomin raised his arm. He could not retract his response and commitment was sealed in his shaking hand.

Tension increased as armoured gloves clenched reins and boots gripped flanks. The battle roar opposite had the desired effect, and Nomin swallowed hard then dropped his hand. Heels kicked and horses sprang and Nomin urged his steed forward.

Thunder flooded the glen, and lightning flashes of swords and shields glittered beneath the gloomy sky, and they raced towards death and glory.

Nomin closed his eyes as his breath tore through his throat and his knuckles grazed against his horse’s armour. How long had they before the clash, before the clang of steel took the lives of those around him, how long before death graced the green, green grass?

A new sound echoed, wailing and tearing through his brain and his eyes flew open. He almost dropped his reins as he pulled up his mount and watched his army divide and veer. “Bren!” his voice cracked with effort and passion.

Bren sat astride a steed of the night, clothed in witchery and ebony. She howled like a wolf, and from the forests came a host of Nightlings, baying like demons and screaming with banshee calls. Black, and white, and grey chargers, midnight’s ghosts, streamed from the trees with wild manes and tails, and the magic of the night.

Nomin watched with wonder sparkling in his tired eyes and love pumping through his veins. He screamed and roared encouragement, and he and his army watched as Bren stormed the soldiers that would have annihilated his. Tears welled and merged with the sweat on his grimy face.

Nightlings, the myths of the night, stampeded across the glen without leaving a hoof print or a trampled piece of grass, and barrelled into the army with a force they would never survive. Screams of men mingled with the rage of the revenant, and death did indeed come to the glen that afternoon.

When it ended, Nomin galloped forward, searching the Nightlings for their queen. The ghosts departed and finally Nomin gazed into the dark eyes of his love. Bren smiled with eyes that could not weep, and blue lips that matched the pale skin that barely covered her hollow face. Wild black hair, whipped in strands as the wind kissed her in a way that Nomin now – never could.

Their steeds stood side by side, ghost by flesh, and Nomin tore off his glove and reached to cup Bren’s face in his warm, calloused hand. Bren’s frozen fingers closed around Nomin’s in a clasp that would have to last for all his time he had left. She backed slowly away, until he nodded and whispered in a breath that only she could hear, “Til then…” and Bren’s mount was gone, and she with it.

Death and the Nightlings came and the battle was won.

6c195d394e709b0cfd47dce8416778fd_christian-page-divider-clip-christmas-underline-clipart_560-420

Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge is back again after a summer break and this photo truly inspired me, and I listened to Audiomachine as I wrote…epic battle music!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.