Flash Fiction Friday: Strange and Stranger

Editor's Note:  Over at InD'Tale Publishing, they're having a little flash fiction competition using the picture below as inspiration.  The rules restrict it to 100 words.  Here's my entry:

Katie's Lamb

Three days in the desert, scorched by the blistering sun, resulted in nothing but heartbreak. I paused before the stone wall that encircled the great house, Whistle Rock proper, a lush and rare oasis sheltered between two buttes amongst the otherwise arid and barren world of sand and stone. I stalled before the adobe hacienda as I mustered the courage to take my bad news into the house. Thinking better of it, I set the sun-bleached skull and coiled, rusted barbed wire on the fence post, then stepped through the gate to tell Katie her precious pet would never return.

Xchyler Publishing Challenge

Over at Xchyler, the most interesting challenge attracted two entries and included the following words:  chimera, transmogrified, abrupt, and foible.

The Lab by Penny Freeman

Call it a foible. Call it a fault. However you wish to classify it, I found it a debilitating failing. I could never accustom myself to the abrupt changes the “exposure” made in me; an unrelenting cycle of metamorphosis: first from one mythical beast, then another and then another still. I don’t know what to call myself. The white coats call me a chimera. I suppose that’s as good a name as any other for someone like me. When the wind rose, when that deafening high-pitched screech filled my ears and the pain of it brought me to my knees, when a myriad of fluorescent colors swirled me up into a vortex of brilliant white light—whatever happened to me, I lost my humanity.

To what was I exposed? The white coats search night and day for an answer to that question. They poke and prodded and attached me to their machines. And still, they knew as little as I did. I only knew that ever since I awoke on that isolated dirt road deep in a coastal forest, hundreds of miles from my home, when I sneezed I became something—else. I have transmogrified into a panoply of mythical creatures: a selkie, a centaur, a satyr, a unicorn, a faun, a dragon. I was even a sphinx once. I drove the white coats mad when, for once, I withstood it all—their badgering and electric probes and sleep deprivation—and answered no questions. Not an one. They forced me to live in that sterile white room full of nothing but stainless steel and ceramic tile, but they could not force me to speak.

That was then. I don’t know what they were thinking when they crammed my bulky mass into a wheelchair and hauled me out into the sunshine, the cool breeze, and the air fecund with advancing spring. Perhaps they hoped to “nice” me into talking. They certainly never thought beasts such as I suffered from hay fever. I don’t know why not. I have always been allergic to freshly mown grass.

Photo by Shawn Lee, use authorized at Wikimedia Commons
Their mistake cost them dearly: I sneezed my way to freedom. My new friends who join me to dance beneath the shining moon and glittering stars have explained it all to me. Finding my true form cured me of the Searching, as they call it—and my allergies, truth to tell. I hope that’s true. I believe it may be, as ever since my escape, I only change when I wish, from a wood nymph to the ancient oak tree encircled by the veranda. When the white coats sit beneath me lunching on stale sandwiches or soggy ramen, or polluting the air with their filthy burning sticks, when they complain about the loss or attempt to sort out my escape, I laugh. Silly humans, so learned and wise. So educated. They never open their eyes and truly see.

The Blade by Eric White

Jerrid Dreamwylde passed the ivory knife handle back and forth, studying it. Silver fey lettering etched each side. "Imagine" on one, "Believe" on the other. He closed his fingers around it and shut his eyes. Then he tossed it back to the young fey who had brought it to him.

"It's a chimera blade. I never thought I'd see one. Hold on to it, tree danser."

"What's that?" Tyk marveled, tousling the unkempt mop of silver-flecked white hair on his head. It was the hair of the wise and aged crowning the epitome of youth. Tyk leaped onto the oak table behind him and squatted low, still transfixed on the knife handle.

"It's a magic blade that exists only to one who has enough imagination and belief. It's not an invisible blade. It simply doesn't exist for the dense and doubtful," Jerrid answered and smiled. "There are many fools who could never wield such a weapon."

Tyk did a somersault off the table, walked on his hands up to Jerrid, and then balanced on one hand while swirling the knife handle with the other. He looked at Jerrid from his upside down position and grinned.

"How do you know?" he asked.

"Because I am an orenomancer," Jerrid replied, stepping towards him.

"An o-ren-o-what?" Tyk asked, now hopping on one hand and giggling.

"Orenomancer. Dream Mage. I deal with the unseen and illusionary." Jerrid answered. To prove this point, Jerrid mumbled a spell into his hand. He transmogrified into a hideous beast before Tyk's wide eyes.

The six-armed minotaur that stood in Jerrid's place grabbed a huge sword from the wall and charged at Tyk, bellowing and blowing snot past the gold ring in its nose. Tyk was caught off guard, and flung across the room into a pile of various weaponry that came down off the wall with him. Before he could regain his feet, the minotaur stood above him, swinging its sword down for a final blow.

An instant before the blade would have sliced him into, Tyk rolled to his side and then sprung into the air, swinging his knife handle around. The minotaur's blade snapped off at the foible with an abrupt clang, struck by the chimera blade in Tyk's hands.

Jerrid spoke again, and returned to his right form. He dropped his sword and held out his hand to the bewildered young fey before him.

"I knew you had what it takes to wield it," he said and smiled.

Tyk hesitated, and then took the peace offering. He grinned from ear to ear, his eyes lit up with wonder at the new magic he had found.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Well done. Very imaginative.