Streaky sky

Fine streaks foretell fine hunting, grandmother says. Beasts, men, berries, it’s all hunting to her. Dark streaks, dark times, with little to eat. Light streaks for feasting. She nods confidently, sitting in the sunlight, stitching.

My father laughs at her. Somewhere, there are fires burning. That’s what stains the sky.

 

I’m missing a bit of flash fiction, so I’ve started this. Way into the 52 prompts, but there you go. 

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Freedom – Friday Fictioneers

The riots have got worse over the last few years. Like caged animals, we are angry, and we lash out. This was the worst of all, with the biggest crackdown, but it won’t be the last. Not now. Not now we’ve seen.

We’ve been caged all right – by the metal shell of this place, but also by fear – fear of the radioactive desert they tell us is out there.

We’ve seen it now, though. Through the shattered panels – a world of tangled green. And we have smelt the forest.

Photo by J Hardy Carroll. Prompt by Friday Fictioneers. 100 words or less – story by me.

The Quest

The Quest? That’s the stupid game my stupid brother plays. And half the boys in the school. And quite a few girls, too. My brother’s been playing it for a couple of years now. I know ALL about it – he never shuts up about it, that’s how I know about it.

He’s a Mage. An apprentice Mage. Everyone’s an apprentice. You do this test at the start and it puts you in a group. Like the Sorting Hat. Mage, Warrior, Trickster, Minstrel, Merchant.

There have been SO many fights at school about it. Like, last week two Warriors got into a fight over some gold, and then a Trickster came in and stole it while they were fighting, and so they both beat him up instead.

It’s not real gold. It’s all AR – augmented reality. You follow trails, solve clues, have magical encounters, collect gold to bribe goblins and trinkets to charm elves. Like, we’ll be on our way to the shops and he’s suddenly “Wait, wait, I have to collect that gold!”

Mental.

I don’t know ANYBODY who’s completed it, but they say if you do, you go through The Portal and get some kind of mystical powers.

Double Mental.

My stupid brother talks about it ALL the time. Mum was tearing her hair out, he wasn’t doing any schoolwork, not a tap. He got straight As in the end of term exams though, so what can she say? He reckons it’s because he’s a Mage. As if.

It’s all got serious now, though. He went off yesterday, with a bunch of mates. They formed a Questing Company, apparently. One of each – Mage, Minstrel, all that. The final quest, he said, to find a dragon, and then they get to go through The Portal.

Stupid.

And they haven’t come back. Mum’s beside herself. The police are out there looking for them.

I’ve got a plan, though. I’ve signed up for The Quest. See – I’m a Warrior. Cool, huh? Warrior Maiden plaits and everything. What do you reckon? See, I’ going to follow this stupid Quest until I find my stupid brother.

This is for Mindlovemiserymenageries prompt The Quest. 

Tall story for Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie

My grandfather had a pig that grew so big we couldn’t keep it, but had to set it loose, to forage for itself. Disaster! It gobbled a field of turnips in one night, an acre of corn in one afternoon. Soon it was pushing down whole trees for food, knocking down barns to get at the grain inside. There was nothing for it – the pig had to go.

The bacon from that pig gave the whole town breakfast for a month, and the skin? How do you think we put a roof on that fine town hall?

#writephoto The enchanted castle – for Thursday photo prompt.

waiting“It’s a fairytale castle!” Miss Priscilla said, clapping her hands, as they pulled up outside Mandeville Castle. Her father laughed, and patted her cheek. Her mother said nothing. Prue, sitting up by the coachman, sighed inwardly. Miss Priscilla was 15, for goodness’ sake.

After that it was castles this and princesses that, and with nobody else to entertain her Miss Priscilla assumed that Prue would always be available to make “Just a few tiny fairy cakes for a royal tea party”, or to “just stitch some more lace onto this dress, and then it will be the perfect ball gown”.

Mrs Bennison looked up from her novel from time to time, and said “I’m sure Prudence has enough to do, Prissy. Prudence, do tell her if you’re too busy”.

And Prue nodded and bobbed, but kept quiet. She rather thought that it would not be a good idea to say “no” to Miss Priscilla. Not if she wanted to keep her job. Mrs Bennison would smile vaguely and go back to her novel until it was time to ring for tea.

By the end of the third day, Mr Bennison was referring to Princess Priscilla, and Miss Priscilla herself had explored half the castle, worn all three of her party dresses, and eaten enough cake to satisfy a whole tenement of children. That was when she discovered the library. There was a charming little step ladder on wheels that Prue could push around, and then hold steady while Miss Priscilla clambered up and pulled out dusty book after dusty book. Most of them were dull – hardly any even had illustrations. It was nearly teatime when she reached for the thick black-bound book on the seventh shelf up, and pulled it towards her. Prue heard the gasp.

“Prue, Prue, look at this! It’s a book of magic spells. Look!”

And she jumped down the last couple of rungs, and showed Prue her find.

After tea, Miss Priscilla went back to the library, and stayed there until dinner time. At bedtime she chattered happily to Prue, who was brushing her hair and folding her clothes, and not really paying much attention, until:

“So that’s my plan, Prudie, dearest. I’ll be the princess, and you can be the wicked fairy. I’ve written the spell out for you, so you can mix it up properly. “Sweetest singer”, it’s called – isn’t that charming? Tomorrow afternoon, about 2 o’clock, you can come and find me in the highest tower, and you can cast your spell on me!”

Prue sighed as she read the spell. It was all stuff she could find in the kitchen, she reckoned, though her reading wasn’t the best. There were a couple of words she was guessing at, but there! It was only a game, after all.

She sighed again, at the foot of the winding staircase up to the highest tower. It would have to be the highest tower for Miss Priscilla, but she hadn’t been on her feet all day, and Prue had already had words from Cook about doing what she should be doing, not making messes for Miss Priscilla. Still, the clock was striking two, and she set off, clambering up the stairs with a tray bearing one brown glazed jug full of magic potion, one glass of fresh lemondae, an empty sherry glass, and a plate of fairy cakes with pink icing.

Miss Priscilla was so excited to see her, and delighted with the magic potion.

“It smells perfectly horrid!” she exclaimed. “We’ll drink it first, and then we can have the cakes to take the taste away!”

“Oh, no, Miss, I couldn’t”

“Of course you could,” she urged. “Just think, you could become a famous opera singer! How wonderful would that be?”

And so, giggling, they shared the sherry glass between them.

When Mrs Bennison rang the bell for tea at 4 o’clock, nobody appeared. When she rang again, and then again, Cook presented herself, complaining that “that Prudence” was off playing games, and leaving all her work behind her. It wasn’t Cook’s place to serve tea. She was not happy at all. Miss Priscilla didn’t appear at the tea table, either, but Mrs Mandeville vaguely supposed she must be busy somewhere. It was Mr Bennison who became alarmed when Miss Priscilla wasn’t at dinner, and it was Mr Bennison who roused the household to search for her, and for Prudence, who also seemed to have disappeared – as Cook kept complaining.

It was James, the second footman, who climbed the highest tower, but there was nobody there. The girls had obviously been there, he reckoned, judging by the broken glass on the floor, and the tray of cakes and lemonade on the little round table by the window. He was a kind hearted lad, and he carefully opened the window and let out the two greenfinches he found pecking at the fairy cakes, and then went down the long spiral staircase to join the search of the cellars.

 

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

#writephoto Gold – for Sue Vincent

The kids were squabbling over something – some filter Jess was using – and Sukey could feel her blood pressure rising. Literally feel it, as if her blood was going to explode out through her skin, coating the inside of the car with sticky red gunk. She resisted the urge to scream at them to shut up – it would only lead to endless “He did”, “She did” whingeing. She took a deep breath and tried to lower her shoulders.

That was when it came – the great flash of light, just over the brow of the hill. Sukey instinctively braked, but kept her hands tight on the wheel. For a moment or two she was dazzled, couldn’t see anything. The car fell silent instantly, both kids stunned. Joe spoke first.

“What was that, mum? Was it a bomb?”

Sukey shook her head. She had no idea.

They reached the brow of the hill and Sukey stopped the car keeping the engine running. The three of them stared out over the valley before them and the thing that now lay at the heart of it.

It was massive. A vast silvery dome, covered in flickering lights, smoke or steam gently rising round it. The trees surrounding it were scorched and flattened.

Jess broke the silence, this time.

“Wow. What is that? Let me out, mum, I need to get that on Snapchat”.