Category Archives: Story

2017 A.D.

James Hendricks was faced with a quandary. His son JJ had found a photograph. 

“What is this image, Dad?”

James tried to explain, to the very best of his ability. ” It’s a image of a tree being killed son..”

“What is a tree, Dad?”

And therein was the puzzle James Hendricks was faced with. How to explain this to a boy, whose generation had never known about what had happened on the surface? 

” They were another life form that had populated the surface of this planet, son”

“What happened..?” the boy asked, a little scared now, for the fate of a organism he had never seen.

” Our ancestors decided that they were more beneficial to us fallen and broken rather than alive. They didn’t have voices, so they didn’t protest.  The consequences were more..severe  than our ancestors thought. We were forced to retreat underground.

“When did this happen, Father?” JJ asked.

“A long time ago son, we used to call it 2017 A.D.”

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge entry. Many thanks to Priceless Joy.

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Shivangi Singh. Thank you Shivangi for the photo prompt!


The Snow Maiden

It was the boy’s birthday. He was now, a teenager. He now had responsibilities and duties. In reality though, the boy had been shouldering adult responsibilities for a long time. He just hadn’t realized it yet.

“I’m leaving Mom”, he said. His Mom didn’t reply. She seldom talked since the boy’s father had left. His father had been an artist, a snow carver once. His creations caught the fancy of the entire town. And then his father left. Abandoning a 7-year-old son and wife, and heading off to pursue God-knows-what. But all that didn’t matter because it was the boy’s birthday today.

So he left, hoping to be pleasantly surprised, by his friends. His friends were important to him. Especially the girl. She studied with him at school. Her seat was diagonally in front of him. All the time the children paid attention to the teachers rambling, he looked at her. At the back of her head, rather. When she was asked the question by the teacher the boy would almost certainly miss the answer. Her nectar sweet voice filled him with joy. And when her answer was right as it invariably was she smiled ever so radiantly setting off butterflies in the boy’s stomach.

He finally reached his school crossing the large playground he never played in. He was never athletically inclined. He placed his palm upon the cold marble tiles, which lined the walls of his school. He loved how cool they felt against his hand. He walked towards classroom sliding his palm along the wall. He heard a familiar voice in his classroom. It was her, he thought! Just listening to the sound of her voice, was such a joy to him. He felt like standing there for a while just listening to her. “…So it’s that guys birthday today?” she said. “Is she talking about me”, the boy thought? The butterflies that had nested in his stomach the day he had seen her, started doing somersaults.  His palm, a little numb from touching the marble lining the walls of his school, inexplicably began sweating.

The boy hid further behind and waited, eavesdropping on them. “Yeah, do you know him?” Sean, a boy from his class said. “Not really, he’s like a retard or something right?” the girl said.

“Yeah that’s what Jim told me, he went retard once his Dad left”

“Whoa! That’s crazy, sure explains why he acts like such a nut though” the girl responded.

“Yeah, there was this time, we had to write an essay about our family or something, and the guy like, burst into tears, in front of the entire class, like a little kid” Shaun said.

“Such a wimp!” the girl said.

The boy didn’t listen anymore. He ran home, his brain a swirling mess of rage and disappointment. Somewhere along the way home, it began to snow. The boy didn’t notice, he was sobbing too hard.

The boy went snow sculpting that day. He used to come here with his father, when he was still around.  They used to sculpt life-size figurines in the snow. Emperors, Queens, Dragons and Knaves all came to life when his father was snow sculpting. The boy sat there and involuntarily began to sculpt, just the way his father had taught him to. He froze and etched and shaped till he created a girl entirely out of snow. She looked alive. And to the boy she probably was alive. The boy adorned her with a headdress made out of lilies, woven together using leaves and twigs.

That night the boy dreamed of the snow maiden. She came alive in his dream. They sat near the lake at the edge of the town, talking for what seemed like hours. What the boy didn’t realize was that, dreams have power.

The next day he visited the snow maiden again. She looked even more beautiful today. As he approached the snow maiden he began to hear someone humming, the boy half-remembered the tune from his childhood. He looked around but couldn’t see anyone. Must be his imagination, he thought. He neared the snow maiden, and saw to his absolute bewilderment, that she was the one humming the tune. She was alive.

“Are you the one who made me?” she asked.

“Wh-Wh-What are you?” the boy said.

“You had a dream right? Dreams have power, they sometimes give life, sometimes they take it, Dreams can give you purpose, and they can also take away your life’s purpose. Ironically the Dreamer has seldom any control over all this.”

The boy wasn’t really listening, faced with something his mind couldn’t reconcile with reality he was left with a single option. To reject reality as he saw it and run away.

He spent the entire night debating with himself. He really wanted to talk to her again, but he was scared. In the end he decided to approach her once more.

“Who are you?” he asked her.

“The Snow Maiden…, isn’t that what you called me?” she said.

“I did, but h-how do you know that”?

“You made me, as a result we are connected, when you poured all that emotion into making me, you opened up your mind to me”

“So can you read my mind then?” the boy said, a little scared now.

“No, more like, I can only really talk to you, and no one else.”

It was this statement that did it. He completely trusted her now. They kept talking. The boy kept visiting her for a few days past that, or was it weeks, the boy wasn’t really sure. Time seemed to flow differently around the Snow Maiden. The boy poured out his entire life’s story, omitting no detail. And she listened to it all. The snow maiden, after all was a great listener.

“I still cannot believe you are real” the boy said.

“That’s understandable. People often have difficulty in reconciling with the unknown. As there is Anubis who judges the dead, there is Yama who comes to collect your soul. As there are several religions around the world so there are, myths that encompass them. I am one but of the myths. I have life, because you need me. Your emotions fuel me. As long as you want me around I’ll stay right here…”

The snow maiden seemed to know the answer to all of the boy’s questions. He made it his ritual to visit her regularly. The boy soon told her of what had transpired on his birthday. How the girl he liked at school had really hurt him. It was here that things started changing.

“That girl, who is she to treat you that way? I am amazed by you constantly. Everyone around you mistreats you. They abuse you, emotionally. Yet you let them do it.”

“I’m just used to it, I guess” the boy said.

“And I wonder my dear, is that a good thing?” she said.

What transpired within the next week, has since become town legend. Everybody noticed a drastic change in the boy. He started getting into fights. When a boy made a wisecrack about his father, the boy kicked him in the face. He was sent home from school that day, with a letter explaining to his mother that this kind of behaviour wouldn’t be excused again.

The boy threw the letter into the dustbin outside his class, on his way home.

“So, you seem happier now-a-days” the Snow Maiden remarked one day.

“I am, in a sense.” the boy remarked. “Ever since I met you ive come to realise how worthless the people around me are, now that I treat them accordingly, I feel, urm, liberated?”

“And-?”

“And yet something seems missing” the boy said.

“It’s her. The girl from your class. The one you liked. She is the culprit here. Don’t you see, she was once everything to you, and yet she took that away from you. As long as she is still around you’ll will feel hollow, no matter how much I try to fix you, you’ll still be broken” the Snow Maiden said. At a later point in his life the boy would remark that the Snow Maiden’s voice was filled with vehemence when she said that.

“So what should I do?” the boy asked.

“Balance, my dear, balance. She took everything from you, it’ll only be appropriate if you took everything from her, yes?”

They had a camping trip the next day. The boy went. The girl, she was there. This part of his life is a bit hazy in the boy’s memory. All he remembers is that the girl, she fell down a small cliff. She was rushed to the hospital. No one knew how it had happened.

One thing everyone knew, the girl was the most surefooted of them all. If she had fallen, it was because someone or something had made her to.

The boy rushed to the Maiden as soon as he could. His mind, a swirling mess. He was shaking with rage.

“Y-You did this!” he accused.

“The fall? No my dear that was all you.” The Snow Maiden replied.

“What do you mean?!” he asked.

“Did you forget? I can only talk to you, influence you. I cannot control your actions. You know that, nor can I miraculously cause things to happen” the Snow Maiden replied.

The boy looked bewildered by now. “Don’t you remember dear? You pushed her. You did so because you wanted to, I merely helped you get there, but this is all you. And now, it’s just the two of us. That skank will probably die anytime now.” the Snow Maiden said.

The boy ran, once more afraid of the Maiden, as he should have been. He camped outside the hospital, only going home a few days later when he heard that the girl was quite okay now and would be discharged soon. He went home thereafter, stunned by the events that had unfolded during the past few weeks. He sat there thinking what to do. It was only a few days later he found a answer to that, it was then he decided to visit the Snow Maiden just once more.

“You’re back, I knew you’d be back. Did you finally realise that I did what I did for your-for our benefit?” she said.

“No, and I didn’t. I merely realised that you were wrong” the boy said.

“Where was I wrong, pray tell.” The Snow Maiden asked.

“When you said that, a Dreamer seldom has control over where his dreams take him. That’s wrong. The dreamer has a choice, he can choose, to wake up.”

With this sentence the boy left the Snow Maiden, ignoring her wild screams. Had he turned behind, he would have seen that the Snow, had finally begun to melt.

Far away, in a place where the sun never shines and the Snow reigns supreme. A Father lies in desperation. He had abandoned his family when the boy was but a kid, around seven the father thinks but he doesn’t really remember. He abandoned them because he made a sculpture, out of snow. And all he can think of now is “Why isn’t the Snow Maiden coming alive?”

But wait the tale isn’t over, aren’t you wondering who I am? Who is telling you this? Why the boy has no name and neither does the girl? I lost the ability to utter their names when the boy rejected me. I am not dead yet. I am let’s just say, waiting. Waiting for it to snow again and for another boy to make a Snow Maiden again.

Emigration to Antarctica

My first time writing for Friday’s Music Prompt. It is hosted by Mindlovemisery’s menagerie.
Today’s prompt is Float On- Modest Mouse.
My submission is a short story, enjoy.!!

Some days of life are such that you know, they are going to be a drag. You know kind of the one today. You have to wake up, at 8:00 to get to work on time. You don’t. By the time you reach work, you are already half dead from the exhaustion that is, public transportation. You see your boss, and he is livid, obviously.
      
After half an hour of showing you who is the boss, he assigns you overtime for today and storms off, you are in no position to refuse.
” Performance  Evaluation ” next week. You see the large pile of files on your desk as the deadline starts looming over your head. Like the silent blade of death, pushing yourself to work, right now, takes away another piece of your very soul. You contemplate emigrating to Antarctica.

Lunch usually provides a sliver of relaxation, in a day that otherwise feels like a colonoscopy,
or so you think. The sandwiches that your wife made for you, seem to have miraculously disappeared from your bag. So you skip lunch.  Rest of the day goes in relative ease, your  PC crashes, you have forgotten to save the data, someone accidentally spills coffee on your table, nothing too crazy. Antarctica, I’m coming.

At 7:00 you realize that you are going to miss your daughter’s drama competition. Oh, the one she has been excited about for months. It is quite hard to convince a four year old, but you manage. Staying back while your only child, steps on the stage for the first time is the hardest thing you’ve done. You hope she realizes that all this, is to secure her future. You watch as all your colleagues leave, one by one. Antarctica…

You finish the work at the exact moment where any more, would have killed you. You make the train back home and doze off. You finally reach home, ready to face a onslaught of questions from your daughter. Instead when you walk in she is smiling, her face makes everything else fade out. She runs to you shouting, ” We won, we won.” That feeling, it fills you with joy and washes off all your exhaustion. You could climb the Everest right now.

Antarctica, you’ll just have to wait, not today. Today I’ll float on, okay.

The Chase

She was sure that she was being followed. The guy had followed her, all the way from the shop, it was making her frantic with fear. All she could hear was her own heart, pounding in sheer fright. Her brain had shut off, she was practically racing now, he was far off but he was still chasing. All she wanted now, was to reach home safely.

She eventually reached near her house. That’s when she finally calmed enough to understand the words of the man following her,

” Madam, your shoe, it slipped off, a couple of blocks back”
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Each week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple hosts Friday Fictioneers where we’re challenged to write a piece of flash fiction in 100 words, more or less, based on the picture above.

This week’s photo is from http://ceayr.com

 

Different

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is hosted by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt is provided by, Sonya, from the blog, Only 100 Words.

“It’s a pain to be different”, Victor said.

” Being different is a part of one’s life, it is what sets you apart “, came the reply.

Victor reverted, saying “I never asked for an unnaturally high IQ, it just makes me stand out, and not in a good way.”

” Sometimes you need to come to terms with what the gifts that nature has bestowed upon you before you understand their value, let’s go to the new zoo, Victor, it’ll help you forget all this. ”

At the zoo Victor saw a stunning peacock, which wasn’t exactly normal, either.

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” Victor, do you know what is wrong with that peacock? “Victor’s eidetic memory kicked in and he said, ” Yes, it is a partial loss of multiple pigments , called leucism, commonly mistaken as albinism, which is just the loss of melanin. ”

Even as Victor said that he realized, that the peacock’s disorder was also the source of its unnatural beauty.

” I don’t think it’s such a pain, to be different.”

It turns out that white peacock’s are extremely rare in nature, and occur largely due to selective breeding. Which is why I had to make up a zoo in the story, whereas under normal circumstances I am quite against animal captivity.

The condition called leucism is real and is the reason why we have white tigers.(one of the most majestic animals in my opinion)You can read about leucism here.

The inspiration for Victor’s eidetic memory and exteme intellect is based upon a condition called savantism. According to Wikipedia,

“Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person with a mental disability, such as an autism spectrum disorder, demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far, in excess of what would be considered normal.”

Which is the basis my premise that he would be having a lot of difficulty fitting in.

Let me know what you think. 🙂

Death of a Soldier

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Photo prompt © J Hardy Carroll

My first time, writing for Friday Fictioneers. I wanted to do a dark, look at the death of a loved one, but all my recent stories have been too dark. So I’ve tried something different.

As I recover from the initial shock, I wonder whether he remembered us in his last moments. His life did revolve around his family. With a sad and weary heart, I read the letter that broke my world down, once more. I start wondering how am I going to tell this to our daughter. As I do this, the doorbell rings.

“I’m home, dear. Is she still sleeping?”
Apparently there was a case of mistaken identity. Another man with a similar name was the unfortunate deceased.

He takes us to a nice dinner, to unwind after the strange events of today. While returning, I see a graveyard with two lone figures, and I wonder what would I have done if I was there for his funeral. That fear is forever a part of me now.

Each week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple hosts Friday Fictioneers where we’re challenged to write a piece of flash fiction in 100 words, more or less, based on the picture above.

The Circle of Life

The circle of life is strange indeed. For the longest time my dream was to own a car. Sadly my financial situation was dire. I got one eventually, and boy did it stand out. Everything about it was special to me. It’s weird paintjob, the strange noises it made at times, everything. For a long time it was my most important possession. Sadly, it’s in the nature of dreams that they change and grow. I had to sell my prized possession to pay off a loan, a loan that gave birth to another dream. The dream grew and washed away my poverty. It inducted me into the societal elite.
I am a old man now, can’t really see much. My son has forced me to come to step out, he says he has a surprise for me. As we drive towards our old home, I see it, it is as if my vision has returned just enough to see it once more. As I sit once more in the front seat of the car, which was one of the first dreams I saw, the first of many, I know, that the circle of life is a strange thing indeed

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers is hosted by Priceless Joy. Image via pixabay.com

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Four Thieves on Camels

As morning breaks all I see is sand in every direction, my final destination is not nearly visible to me. Neither is a source of food, water or any form of sustenance. What is in sight is my impending doom, when every step you take forebodes your death, life becomes a burden and the will to live forsakes you, people generally pray for help at this point. But I don’t pray for help, what I pray for, with what might be my dying breath, is the total annihilation of the scum who left me here to die. They even took my share of the loot, which we were to split 5 ways, the scoundrels.
It was a bad idea from the start, I knew this in my mind. Cutthroats and thugs are seldom good company, but senseless greed blinded me. When they offered to arrange our gateway across the desert, I should have realized that they were planning to betray me from the start. The gateway was supposed to be on camelback but there were only 4 camels, none for me. It is only now that I realize that the nearest town is still leagues away. I summon the very last of my strength. I half expect the reaper to show up, but now I can hear the distant sound of a town bell going off, finally some hope! Invigorated by a slimmer of hope I go on, scorpions sting my legs and the sun seeps my vitality. But finally I reach the town and I collapse at its doors.
I wake up some time later, nursed to health by the good townsfolk. But now I notice something, the town is all bustling, apparently 4 thieves on camels were accosted by the guards  last night, they are scheduled to be flogged publicly in a few hours.