Flash Fiction

I don’t share my writing very often. I should probably start doing that, if I want to become a professional writer. So here’s a start.

Every other month, a friend of mine on IG hosts a flash fiction contest. It’s a week-long, themed contest with three chances to write stories of 200 words or less. August’s theme was fire.

Since the theme fit so perfectly, I decided to use the contest as a way of brainstorming for my next project. (My current project, Daughter of Sorcery, is out with alpha readers, so I needed something to work on while I wait for feedback.)

Last year for NaNo I wrote the first 50k words of a dark fantasy dystopian thing that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for a couple years. Then I took a break from it, partially to return to my work on DoS, and partially because I realized I needed to do some more brainstorming before I could figure out where the story was going. If all goes to plan, I should be returning to this story in November.

Thus, brainstorming through flash fiction! The following three pieces take place in the same world with the same three characters. They’re not in chronological order, but they are in the order I wrote them. And here are the three prompts:

Prompt 1: Wherever there’s smoke, she’s sure to follow.

Wherever there’s smoke, she’s sure to follow. But today the smoke billows into the sky from multiple directions. Hopeless indecision clouds her eyes.

“We knew it would come to this,” I say quietly, laying a gentle hand on her arm.

She jerks away. “No. We can save them.”

“How?” Last month it was Belmona, Chelm, and Consord. And last week we fought fires in both Fedder and Durrelva. But the smoke on the horizon today says the enemy’s reach has grown. We can’t be everywhere at once.

“We’ll split up.” She speaks with conviction, but won’t meet my eyes.

I cross my arms. “There are still too many fires.”

She swallows and turns to gaze at the sky, where hangs the evidence of utter destruction.

I wait. I know she’s reliving the past. Hearing her parents’ screams and feeling the flames burn across her skin with fiery vengeance. Only she can decide if she’s ready for the next step.

“You’re right,” she whispers. “We can’t keep chasing the smoke.” She turns back to me, fear in her eyes but determination in her stance. “I’ll face him.”

Him. The enemy. The fire-starter. Her brother.

I smile fiercely. “We’ll face him together.”

Prompt 2: You want me to stand back, do nothing, just watch the world burn?

As I stand on the cliff overlooking the burning city, my stomach clenches. This feels wrong.

Cole joins me, placing an easy hand on my shoulder. He smiles at the blaze before us and heaves a satisfied sigh. “One more city cleansed.”

I stiffen. “One more city destroyed.”

He groans and pulls back. “This again?”

“People died,” I insist, turning to face him. “There must be another way.”

“There isn’t,” he snaps. His eyes grow cold and distant, so unlike the brother I knew growing up. “Those people chose to stay. We warned them the fires would come.”

“The fires WE set.”

He ignores me. “You know large cities attract shadowbeasts at an alarming rate. Even one could slaughter thousands.” His voice softens. “Think of how many people we’re saving from that awful fate.”

I’ve heard these words a hundred times. Kill ten to save a thousand? Killing one is too many. “So you want me to stand back, do nothing, just watch the world burn?”

Cole rolls his eyes. “You’re so dramatic, Thea. It’s just a few cities.”

“Aye,” I whisper, my eyes drawn back to the deadly flames. “I bet they said the same when they burned ours.”

Prompt 3: A match struck, burning away secrets hidden by the dark.

We fight through the night like crazed animals, but our foe is too strong. The shadowbeast picks us off one by one. Friends I have fought with, laughed with, cried with — disappear with screams of agony suddenly cut off. Sounds that will haunt my nightmares forever, should I somehow survive this night. My only consolation is that the darkness hides the depth of our failure.

Then she is among us. A goddess, light streaming from her golden eyes and form. For the first time, the shadowbeast’s roar holds a note of fear. She drives it from us, her sword swinging in a molten blur.

I sink to the ground, gasping for breath and thanking heaven for the reprieve, as light battles dark on our behalf.

The beast is defeated, its shadow quenched. Then she returns to us, her radiant glow like that of a match struck, burning away secrets hidden by the dark. In her light, our failure is clear — our blood, our dead, our broken bodies.

She kneels beside me, deep sadness in her ancient eyes. The same sadness echoes in my soul.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m sorry I was too late.”

For only I am left alive.

If you want to participate in future contests or read the other entries, check out Cassandra’s IG page.

And if you want to read more of my writing, keep an eye out for next week’s blog, where I’ll be sharing the first chapter of Daughter of Sorcery!

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