Thursday, March 25, 2021

Lunar Orb

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Flash fiction lightning streak image

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge (Week 192). Miranda posts an image as an inspirational prompt for writing a story. This is from Miranda's post:
This week's picture prompt was taken by Ralf Eisenreich, a German photographer. He calls this 'Little Green World'. He has some interesting pictures across a variety of subjects. 

Here's a link to the prompt image. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine used all 750 words for those who are counting. Not quite horror this time, but more a bit of fantasy.

Lunar Orb

K. R. Smith

They said the old woman was a witch. Guarded whispers implied she knew magic and had knowledge of worlds beyond what others see. Zoe wasn't so sure. 

 Still, it was her only hope. Zoe wanted to know about her mother, whom she barely remembered. Raised by distant relatives, who spoke little of her parents, she felt as if parts of her own life were missing. If this woman truly had the power of second sight, perhaps she could learn more. With that in mind, she knocked timidly upon the weathered door to her house. After knocking a second time, the door slowly opened.

 "I see you're finally here," the old woman said.

 "I've come to ask—"

 "I know why you are here," the woman interrupted.

 "Because you can see things?"

 "Hardly. You've asked everyone else in town about your parents. I assumed it was my turn."

 "Can you tell me about them? Especially about my mother."

 "Only a little. I never knew your father. I only met your mother once, briefly."

 "She died when I was very young. I was hoping you could help."

 "Is that what they told you?" The old woman laughed quietly. "Your mother took it upon herself to meddle in affairs that did not concern her. So, yes, she is gone from this world."

 "Can't you tell me more?"

 "Do you know the circle of stones in the forest beyond the river? The one in the Glade of Sorrows?"

 The name sent a chill down Zoe's spine. "I've heard of it."

 "It is there you'll find your answers." The woman took a box from a shelf and opened it revealing a crystalline orb. "Take this. There is a rotting stump in the middle of the circle. On the night of Ostara, place the orb there and look down into the moonlight."

 "What? I don't understand!"

 "You will. That is all I can tell you."

 "How can I look down into the moonlight?"

 "You have taken up enough of my time. You must go now."

 There was little doubt the old woman's patience was short. She opened the door, even giving Zoe a brusque shove from behind. Zoe was still confused about what was to be done. She was certain, however, she would find her way to the circle on the first day of spring.

 After a few times exploring the area, Zoe found the ancient circle. And on the day of the equinox, she kneeled within the stones and placed the orb in a crook atop the decaying stump. She wrapped herself in a cloak and waited for the moon to rise. As darkness fell, Zoe listened to the eerie noises from within the woods, willing herself to stay despite her fears. Eventually, the moon rose in the east, climbing slowly through the night sky.

 The instructions, however, made no sense. How could one look down into the moonlight? Zoe stood back from the circle as the moon rose. When it was nearly at its highest point, she understood. The orb focused a spot of light on the ground, illuminating a flat stone. She brushed away leaves and moss and could see faint writing around its edge in an unfamiliar language. Zoe recoiled as the light danced on the stone's surface. A mist surrounded her. The light, refracting among the rock's crystals, formed an image she knew only as a fading memory: the face of her mother. It was a sad face. A voice seemed to emanate from the stone itself, begging her to leave.

 "Mother!" Zoe cried. "Where are you?"

 "Leave this place," was the reply. "I was greedy. I wanted power, more than life itself, and now I am a prisoner of my own making. Leave before you are a prisoner, too."

 "I can't!" Zoe screamed. "How can I free you?"

 Her mother shook her head. "It is too late for me. Leave quickly! It is too late."

 The words faded into the darkness as the spot of light moved away from the stone. The moon continued through its heavenly arc unaware of the drama below.

 Zoe sat and cried. It wasn't until she noticed strange figures on the other side of the circle that she stopped. She grabbed the sphere and ran. Zoe understood little more than when she started, but she did know she would never return the orb. It was the only link to her family. And even if she could do nothing else, there would always be another Ostara

© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved