Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 226 - The Darkening

Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. She posts an image as an inspirational prompt for writing a story. This is from Miranda's post:
This week's picture prompt is from Italian photographer Sergio Pessolano. This is a salt flat in Bolivia - Salar de Uyuni. Sergio calls this 'Just Salt'. He also suggests that the viewer scroll up and down fast. You should see light/shadow changing, depending on the gamma value of your monitor. 

Here's a link to the prompt image. Sometimes the story makes more sense if you see the prompt image. Or it might not make any sense whether you see it or not. I'll leave that to you. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Another short one this week. Mine has 356 words for those who are counting.

The Darkening

Marnik lived on the salt flats. He wandered across them, leading his tribe from oasis to oasis, hunting the lizards and small animals that could make a home there, too. They would dig them from their burrows under the salt, drying their flesh beneath the sun. It was a simple life, and the days seldom varied from one to the next.

He had seen the change in the sky a few sun-cycles ago. He didn't understand the meaning at first. He had heard the stories, of course, but had not been alive during the time of the last darkening. When more than a wisp of a cloud hovered in the air, he should have realized what was coming. But the omen was dismissed. Some thought the darkening was nothing more than an old tale told at evening camp to pass the time. Marnik didn't want to believe it, either. 

Now, the clouds were thickening. If the legend was true, water would soon fall from the sky. It was said to happen with every generation, but no one in the tribe remembered it. Perhaps something had changed. It didn't matter now. If the sky-water came before they could reach the great hill, the flats would be covered in brine. It might only be ankle deep, but it would soften, then dissolve, their sandals. The skin on their feet would be next. There would be no place to lay a mat to sleep, no way to dig for food. The water in the oases would go bad.

They marched as fast as they could, guessing the direction as they went. The stars that once guided them had faded. As the morning haze subsided, there was a cheer when the great hill was spotted in the distance. Marnik's people were confused when he did not cheer, too.

Marnik had spent his life guiding the tribe and knew how to judge the deceptive distances through the dancing heat. He understood how long it would take for his tribe to reach the great hill. And the drop of water he felt on his face told him they were already too late.

© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Don't Tell Me What To Do

Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

But you can give me a hint.

The word "Vote" on a white background. Photo by Cyrus Crossan on Unsplash.
Photo by Cyrus Crossan on Unsplash

I've posted a Twitter poll asking what people would like me to write. At the moment the choices are quite broad: 
  • Poetry/Haiku
  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction
  • Just please stop
If I get enough responses, I'll put out a new poll to ask about genre or format, depending on what folks are interested in. I'm doing this because I'm not sure what sort of writing people might like to see from me and, of what I've done, what do they like.

It doesn’t mean I’ll write exactly what the poll respondents want. If it’s fiction or poetry, I still have to have the idea appear in my brain. And if it’s non-fiction, it has to be something I find interesting. I don’t do political stuff. If that’s what you want, you can find plenty of that on the internet without me adding my two cents. Perhaps folks might prefer I hang up my typewriter altogether! It’s a valid opinion.

So, if you're interested, here's a link to the poll: My Twitter Poll

And if you don't do Twitter, you can  always leave a comment here!

© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 224

Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

Flash fiction lightning streak image

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. She posts an image as an inspirational prompt for writing a story. This is from Miranda's post: This week's photo prompt was taken by Jonathan Steele, an American photographer. He calls it Winter Train. He says: Essex Steam Train passing through Deep River Ct during a snowstorm. (that's Essex in Connecticut in the US).

Here's a link to the prompt image. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 351 words for those who are counting, a bit on the short side.

Great Expectations

K. R. Smith

When the nights are cold and the wind is still, sound can travel a long way. You can hear a branch crack under the weight of the ice a mile away. Or the cry of a fox. The whistle of a train on the other side of the valley can sound like it's right next to you. And you heard it again tonight.

You'd expected to, though, hadn't you? But you're never sure quite when. You down a glass of whisky and think, maybe not this time. And just as you start to drift off, it comes, piercing your mind with its shrill blast. So, you put on your coat and boots and walk into a frigid winter's evening.

Remember the time you decided to play it smart, to outwit them all? On that special day, one week before Christmas, you packed a little food in a sack and went down to the station and waited. It's busy, as people are traveling for the holiday. Shivering and shuddering in the snow, feet half frozen, the time dragged on until it was dark. And when you thought you'd finally broken the cycle and decided to head home? That damned whistle blew again.

Still, it's worth it all to see her, even if it's only for a moment. At least you try to convince yourself so.  Sweet and young, beautiful and smiling, she's waiting at the station. You smile back and start to run towards her. Her arms are outstretched, reaching for you as the train arrives, but you can't run fast enough, can you? There's ice and snow on the platform. No matter how many times you try, you're always just a second too late.

She screams as she slips beneath the wheels, then it's all over. In an instant, she's gone. It's all gone. There's no train, no Emily, no crowd waiting to board. It's back to the rusty tracks of a rotting station closed almost twenty years ago.

And what remains is cold silence—except for the crack of a branch or the cry of a fox—until next year.

© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved