Flash Fiction Friday #8 - August 21, 2009

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oilsdragon

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Aug 20, 2009, 10:21:48 PM8/20/09
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Post away, folks! You all know the drill by now :)

~Victoria

Sayer

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Aug 21, 2009, 1:45:15 AM8/21/09
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Here's yet another installment. My apologies to anyone who wants to
flog me with a herring.


Outside.

There wasn’t really anything else I could do. I couldn’t really stand
here forever staring at the rubble and wreckage, and I needed to know.

Alison was right. We had to go. We had to find out why all of this had
happened. I wiped my tears away with my forearm. We had to follow the
Jumpjets. It really was our only option.

I’d taken off my skates, so that it’d be easier to walk through the
underbrush. Branches and grass didn’t really make a very good surface
to navigate on wheels, but that had raised another problem. Now I was
barefoot. When I had donned the skates in the initial confusion, I had
simply tossed my shoes aside and I certainly wouldn’t be able to
retrieve them from the rubble of the complex now. I would have to be
very careful where I stepped.

The roar of the Jumpjets had long since subsided, and that lone bird
seemed to be singing with renewed vigour.

I was a bit embarrassed by my tears. After all, she hadn’t broken
down, and this place had been as much her world as it had been mine.
My stomach was still in knots but she didn’t seem to be shaken at all.
She’d always been the more levelheaded one. Perhaps that’s why we got
along so well.

Once, another child, a Kinetic, had taken exception to our friendship
in the yard, screaming obscenities and disparaging our cross-caste
friendship as unnatural. He had then shoved Alison, hoping to make the
altercation physical. Though I’d already balled my hands into fists
and was in the process of deciding where to hit him first, she’d
simply cocked her head to the side and calmly suggested that he’d be
better served to “notify an elder” rather than “annoy us” He’d been
confused by that, and for a moment looked as though he was going to
press his point anyway, but she held his gaze and he thought better of
it, choosing instead to walk away with his compatriots in tow.

I could no longer hear the bird. It had been around two hours since
we’d walked away from the clearing and our razed home.

I’d been spending a lot of time watching my feet, but thankfully the
forest floor consisted mostly of fallen leaves and compacted dirt,
nothing to cause me injury. She’d said nothing about my earlier tears
and though I was still somewhat unnerved, my eyes were no longer wet.
I did a quick calculation in my head. We’d been walking for two hours,
based on what I’d been taught was average walking speed, that would
put us around six miles away from the wreckage, well, perhaps less
since we’d rested a few times and I’d been walking carefully.
Nevertheless, I was glad I’d been paying attention during the survival
classes.

Alison was leading the way. We’d headed in the direction of the
Jumpjets, but once we’d been walking for a while the trees had become
indistinguishable. It made sense that she’d lead given her tendency to
always make the right choices. She’d be much less likely to get lost
in this maze of trees.

We weren’t going to need food or water until at least tomorrow, but we
were probably going to need to spend the night out here. I couldn’t
see any signs of civilization, or even an end to the trees for that
matter. Why had the complex been so far from everything else? I’d
always known the broadcasts were from “outside” but I’d never given
any thought to just how far outside. How far were we from everyone
else? How far were we from the world we’d been trained to protect?

A bird burst suddenly out of a bush to our left flapping loudly and
startling us both. Being “outside” was very different from our lives
in the complex. We’d been taught about indigenous animals and plants
in our survival classes, but experiencing it all in person was very
much different. Sterile pictures of birds sitting regally on carefully
drawn twigs, wasn’t really preparation for explosions of feathers and
claws suddenly hurtling towards your head. I took a moment to recover
from my surprise, and then something felt…”off”. There was something
metal ahead of us through the trees.

My heart was pounding in my ears. Maybe it was a Jumpjet? Maybe we’d
found the Coalition? I didn’t really believe it would be this easy,
but I gripped the axe tightly. Alison inched forward slowly, gingerly
pushing branches aside. I braced myself for what we might find.

It was a fence.

A sign attached to the towering chain linked construction warned of
high voltage electrification. Evidently that no longer an issue since
we’d both have known well before reading the sign. Was this fence to
keep us in, or to keep something out?

None of that was as important as what I could see beyond the fence.

Beyond the barrier, the ground sloped away gently. It was still wildly
overgrown, but there were no trees, and in the distance I could make
out buildings. They were quite small and seemed to be arranged
randomly around a central clearing. None of them were as large as our
complex had been and I couldn’t see any Jumpjets. We hadn’t found the
Coalition yet, but we were headed in the right direction.

We exchanged glances. The fence would be easy enough to climb. The
chain link construction made for natural hand and footholds. Alison
climbed over first, and once she was on the other side, I threw over
the skates. The axe on the other hand would have been unwise to throw,
especially given the height of the fence. I undid the strip of tunic I
had used to fasten my makeshift ponytail and tied one end to my ankle
and the other around the head of the axe. Now I’d be able to climb the
fence and take the axe with me.

Before, when we’d left the clearing surrounding our sundered home and
ventured into the forest, we’d thought we were “outside”. We were
wrong. Here, on the other side of this fence, we were now truly
“outside”.




hilarious

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Aug 21, 2009, 11:03:41 AM8/21/09
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“I am longing to fly”, he thought to himself. “I don’t want to sit
this one out. When will my wings be ready to lift me over the lake
and
fly to the places the others are able to go?”
He stood there, his knobbly knees sinking deep into the guano and
calcium deposits of the lake. He pondered a while longer, and then
dipped his beak down into the murky lake water and nibbled on the
treats just below the surface.
He lifted his head to swallow the tidbits, then flapped his wings
irritably.
“What use are these wings if I can’t fly, Mama?”
“All in good time, my dear. Eat your greens, and keep exercising and
one day, not too long to wait now, you’ll be able to fly just like
the
others. Look how your feathers are already showing their adult pink
colour. You’re a teenager already, and the next thing is flight! I
promise you, it won’t be long.”
She looked at her son, lovingly. How she would miss him once he
mastered flying. He would be up in the air more than on the ground,
and she’d be finished with raising him. She felt her nurturing spirit
grow restless inside her. She was almost ready to begin again. The
spring season wasn’t far off, and then she’d start again, breeding,
laying eggs, sitting, hatching, nurturing, and then they would leave
to start lives of their own. She had done this so many times she
couldn’t count. This was her life. She nuzzled her mate for comfort.
She looked out across the large expanse of pink lake to all the other
little families of birds, their feet in the water, their heads
looking
around for food. The thin air and steep mountains behind them made it
easy for her to see the groups of her offspring, most of them having
offspring of their own now.
“Mom, I want to go over and see my brothers. Can I? Please?”
“Oh, alright, but be cautious. There are dangers, even here on our
lake. Keep away from those humans and their vehicles!”
“Sure sure, Mom, don’t worry. I’m a big bird!”
And he was. She watched him wade across the lake, flapping his wings
to speed his journey. He tried to run, but the calcium deposits were
gluey and wet. His feet were stuck in the thick white mud.
His frustration grew, and he ran faster and faster, trying to lift
himself off the ground. As she watched, she saw his leaps extend
longer and longer, and suddenly, a light gust of breeze picked him up
and he flew. He was unsteady, and a little shaky, but he managed to
stay afloat. Her heart flew with him. He was airborne. She could feel
his joy in her own feathers. This was the moment every parent bird
longed for, the first flight, the success and freedom! But it was
also
the moment every mother bird dreaded, since it meant the end of
parenting, and the return to an empty nest, to begin again to love
anew.
She searched out her mate and they nuzzled in the reeds.

Laur

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Aug 21, 2009, 11:35:43 AM8/21/09
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Hi All,

First time here so forgive me if this is the wrong place... A friend
introduced me to this concept and having fallen out of practice for
fiction writing I thought I'd give it a try and start up again :)

Let me know your thoughts!

Cheers,

Lauren

----------

A Normal Life

She was asleep when she first met him -- or at least that's what she
would tell her psychiatrist years later.

When she was young, it was cute. "Oh look," people cooed
patronizingly, "she has an imaginary friend". But she had never been
particularly creative; certainly not creative enough to invent a
person. By the time she began school she had learned not to speak of
the voice she heard regularly. The voice not in her head, but which
only she could hear. "People don't like what they don't understand"
her perfectly normal cousin had told her once. This was a lesson she
would learn well.

He was a comforting presence to help her through childhood battles. He
taught her how to avoid bullies, cheered her growth and successes and
comforted her when she cried. He taught her to keep her secret from
people who didn't understand.

In her teen years he lectured and mentored and was always there to
listen in a time when parents are enemies and friends are as changing
as the Canadian weather.

In her early twenties she heard his voice over the din of the party,
clear and commanding -- but when she looked around it was obvious that
once again none of the others had heard. She was slightly past the
happy phase of intoxication, and annoyed with him for interrupting her
plans. She was about to ignore him and get in the car anyways when he
repeated his message -- but this time there was something in his voice
she had never heard before, something which scared her into obeying.
Fear. She pulled her current bff Karen out of the car w/ her and both
girls returned to the party. The boys drove off while she listed to
Karen complaining about being left behind. Karen wasn't complaining a
week later as they attended the funeral. "If we had been in that
car . . ." Karen kept repeating. She never told Karen why she'd been
pulled out of the car. A casual party friend whose life was saved by a
man whose existence she'd never know about, could never understand.

A few years later she had one course left to graduate, one course she
was in serious danger of failing. Was it cheating to record the answer
he gave her on the final exam; the answer she would never comprehend,
much less come up w/ on her own? Having been told so often it was "all
her imagination" she deemed it acceptable to use her answer, even
though in her heart she knew it wasn't.

Heading through life, she never felt the need to find herself, but she
did spend several years trying to find him. She flirted with religion
-- was this God she heard? But no, surely God didn't have his redneck
sense of humour? Or speak w/ an Aussi accent? On the other hand, if
she could pick any accent, that might be the one she'd choose too! Of
all the religions she studied though, there was none that could
account for the man whose voice only she could hear.

She visited doctors and psychiatrists and none could reveal a medical
reason for her "condition" as they referred to him. He just laughed
and feigned insult at the thought any could diagnose him. She stopped
visiting doctors when one became too interested and insisted she check
in for observation. She was not about to give up her freedom for a
doctor who didn't like what he didn't understand.

She was in her forties when she married. None of her previous
relationships had been strong enough to survive him; meeting her
parents was nothing compared to learning of a voice who would tell her
truths they'd rather remain unrevealed. "People don't like what they
don't understand," her perfectly normal cousin had told her once. And
so she learned to keep her secret until she was sure. And even then
she often discovered she was wrong, but eventually after many painful
disappointments, she met and married the one who could not only accept
the man in her head, but welcomed him as he did her.

She last heard the voice on the day of her marriage. It wished her
well and reminded her he'd always be there, and then there was
silence. Through the birth of her children and the death of her
parents he remained silent. Through the laughter and the tears of a
full and well lived life, he remained silent.

And yet, while she sometimes acknowledged that she hadn't heard from
him in a while, she didn't miss him; she was too busy living, too
happy w/ the man she'd finally met. One everybody could see, who made
her happier than she'd ever thought possible. There were fights of
course, and days she wished he'd return to help her deal w/ her
husband or children, but for the most part, life was good and she was
happy. There was nothing in her life that others couldn't understand.
She even started to consider herself normal. A word she'd first
thought would never apply to her, and later thought could never be
applied to anyone. And still he remained silent.

He was silent the day her husband of thirty years died. He was silent
through the viewing and the funeral, where her oldest son held her
hand, and her daughter worried because she couldn't cry. He was silent
when they gave her some privacy at the grave site after the burial. He
was silent until that first tear fell, and then she heard that lilting
voice from a lifetime ago. "Ah Love, you know I'd never leave you. I
waited forty years for you to find me, and I'll keep you company till
you find me again."

Had the two important men in her life really been one and the same? Or
was her brain combining them in a frantic effort to survive a life w/
neither? She contemplated for a moment and decided normal was highly
overrated and the rest was only details.

Natalia

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Aug 21, 2009, 12:07:34 PM8/21/09
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The Great Puzzle

I poured another glass of my favourite merlot and picked up the
postcard again. It wasn’t really anything special; just a few seagulls
flying across a mostly blue sky overtop sparkling blue water. Tampa,
Florida scrawled across the top left corner.

Of course, I knew who it was from before I even turned it over. Wanda.
The woman for whom my father had abandoned my mother and me almost 15
years ago. Wanda, the woman who’d made more of an effort over the
years to reconnect the two of us than he’d ever made in his entire
life. Wanda, the woman whose very name made my skin crawl.

I’d received dozens of such postcards over the years. They always
seemed to have some kind of animal on them. Dolphins. Whales.
Alligators. Puppies. Sickening really.

So when I picked up this one, I expected the typical message on the
back: Hi Sweetest Girl! Your Dad and I are having such a fantabulous
time here. You should come and visit! He misses you soooooo much!!! We
know you’re busy, but please try to write us back sometime! Bundles of
love with bows on top, Wanda and Dad.

Something along those lines.

I never thought I’d wish for another postcard like that. And, well, I
guess I still wouldn’t. I just wasn’t expecting this. I suppose no one
ever really does.

With another sip of wine, I turned the card over and re-read the
message.

“Dearest Sammie, I’m sorry to have to tell you this...but your father
no longer flies high in the sky of life with us. He passed peacefully
on Aug 7th, with me and your step-brother at his side. I’m sure he
would have wanted you to be there...there just wasn’t any time. He
loved you sooooo much!!!! Please write back, come visit, the funeral
is Monday. Bundles of love as always, Wanda."

Who tells someone their father’s dead on a bloody postcard? And who
makes a stupid pun on said postcard? Seriously.

I drained the last of the wine in one giant swallow. Wishing the
bottle wasn't already empty, I pushed the glass out of the way.

The Great Puzzle. Dad's little pet term for life. And, of course, he
was obsessed with actual puzzles. It was the unrequested unwanted gift
he'd always give me, year after year, without fail. Come to think of
it, he and Wanda really did deserve each other.

The funny thing is I couldn't not complete the puzzles he gave me. I
don't know why. Like I was compelled to do it by some higher, father-
loving-despite-everything power. Until this year. The FLDE Powers That
Be had finally given up too and so this year's puzzle was still
carelessly wrapped in silver paper, unevenly folded, with tape peeling
off.

I'd told myself I'd open it if--and only if--he ever convinced me that
there was more to him, and to us, than this pointless gift. Enough's
enough, you know? But I guess that’s one day that’ll never see light.
And maybe this last puzzle could my good-bye to what was and what
could never be.

I tore it open, and tossed the wrapping to the side. The puzzle was a
shot of earth as seen from space and had a thousand pieces. Literally.
I sat there for three and a half hours putting it together. I'm really
good at puzzles. Lots of practice, I suppose.

The phone rang a few times, like an alarm clock valiantly trying to
wake me from this strange dream. I ignored it.

I fingered the last puzzle piece. It was mostly white, with some red,
and it fit exactly no where. Certainly not in the empty spot somewhere
in Australia.

"Damn him," I muttered, "That's just like him, give me a puzzle that
can't be solved. Way to give me closure, Dad. Very freaking
thoughtful."

I tried to force it in anyway, even though it couldn't possibly fit.
In frustration, I flung the piece onto the table. It bounced once and
landed face down. That's when I saw it, printed in ridiculously tiny
letters. I had to get out a magnifying glass just to read it. I have
no clue how he managed to write so bloody small.

"I'm sorry I never quite fit in your life. I have the puzzle for this
piece, and you have the piece to my puzzle. Try again? Love, Dad."

Tears flooded my vision as I dialled a number I had memorized long ago
but never called. It rang only once. I wasn't ready. But I guess you
never really can be.

"Hello, Wanda?" I said, "It's Sammie."

oilsdragon

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Aug 21, 2009, 12:36:23 PM8/21/09
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Even the Angels

Sometimes, I look at his old photograph and wonder what could have
been. Mostly I'm glad I got away when I did, but still the regrets
linger. It's a weakness of human nature, wanting to know all the
possible stories after the decisions have already been made; and I'm
no less human, for all my strength.

He was a brilliant star, and we all loved him. After he fell, we hated
him in equal proportion. Love and hated seemed to coexist, like two
sides of a fine-honed blade, and it's hard for me to escape the love
even though I know it isn't what I want to feel. Or do I? It is so
tempting to love you still.

You betrayed everything we were, everything we stood for, and I still
don't know why. I think that's what makes it impossible to leave it
all in the past. I still want to know why – why did you leave me? –
and I'll never know unless I break faith with all that I cherish and
leave my place to join you once again.

I suppose I could melt down the blade and try to make something new. I
wonder if the fire hot enough exists, this side of hell. I can't say
that I really care.

Riann

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Aug 21, 2009, 1:04:54 PM8/21/09
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A piece that we probably all have a verion of from when we were angsty
teenagers. Sometimes it's fun to revsit that preriod, especially on a
lovely sunny day. Have a happy FFF!

Riann

Mondays were by far the worst. I hated the charade of pretending
that I’d had a busy weekend full of plans. I’d walk back and forth to
the coffee maker in the office two or three times in the morning and
stretch and yawn. It wasn’t that anybody really asked what I’d done
over the weekend; I just wanted them to believe that I had the same
busy schedule that they all seemed to have. In the lunchroom, I’d hear
the girls discussing dates and shopping trips, girls’ nights out that
got wild and always seemed to devolve into girl on girl kissing. These
were straight girls, mind you. I’d hear the guys discussing football
games watched, golf games played and nights at those same bars
watching girls from other offices attempt to titillate them with
“Saturday night lesbian” antics.
I was rarely asked about my weekend. More rarely asked to join my
office mates after work for a drink. I fully believed that most of
these invitations stemmed not from a desire to spend time getting to
know the quiet guy, but from my own ill-timed entrance into a room
when plans were being made. On the occasions that I’d gone, I’d found
it hard to make small talk. It was a skill that I lacked and I’d often
wondered if that alone was why I never really made fast friends or
received the same smiles and courtesies that I saw extended to the
people I spent time with.
If it had just been the office I might have thought that maybe I
worked with a bunch of jerks, but it seemed everywhere I went I was
ignored or treated like a second-class citizen. My lunchtime trip to
the bank and grocery store cemented that. One of my weekly tasks was
to restock the office petty cash fund. The silver box on my desk was
supposed to contain $300 each Monday. I played a game of trying to
have it as closed to that by Friday as I could. I’d over heard the
others that I worked with calling me cheap, but really I was trying to
help the company. There was no need to run out and grab a box of
donuts to congratulate every big sale or flowers every time someone’s
birthday rolled around.
I’d stood in line at the bank for a full twenty minutes. I liked
wasting time there rather than the lunchroom, but since the bank was a
ten-minute walk each way, I’d have only a few minutes to eat my
sandwich when I returned. I could see the two tellers chatting with
each other and an elderly lady at the front who seemed to be showing
them a large photo album of pictures. Perhaps if any other three had
seen any sense of urgency I might have been served and on my way.
Instead, I stood there as if invisible as my lunch hour ticked by.
Returning to the office that afternoon, I began not for the first
time to wonder, what it was about my presence in this world that was
so foreign and why it was that I had never seemed to fit in. I wanted
more than anything to be a person with friends, someone people wanted
to be nice to, but as I grew older it seemed evident that that was not
going to happen. I was fully replaceable at the office, my job could
be done by any drone who could issue office supplies and ensure that
everyone else was using their time effectively. Being the manager was
really less glorified than the worst sales guy. I never made the
company money, save for that petty cash that I didn’t dole out. I
figured one day sooner or later my leaving the office -the world
really- was inevitable. It was an odd feeling to know that you would
die at your own hand. The question was simply when.
Tonight seemed as good a time as any. It’s not like my calendar
had any pressing engagements that I couldn’t afford to miss. I had
stockpiled the pills for so long now that I barley remembered
beginning. It was easy to convince doctors that you had difficulty
sleeping. They always seemed so rushed, and hurried to get me out of
there. Come to think of it, I hope the pills hadn’t expired. Would
that speed things up or slow them down? I’d know soon enough I
supposed.
The fact that it was raining as I left the office cemented it. It
was the perfect day. Everyone would already be in a bad mood due to
frizzy hair and wet jeans, and I wouldn’t ruin the good mood of the
person who found me. I was very conscientious that way. I felt a
certain sense of relief as I waked out the door. I wouldn’t be back
here tomorrow; none of the pettiness of people or cash mattered. I’d
forgotten my umbrella, but I supposed that hardly mattered.
“Excuse me sir?!?” her voice from behind me startled me. I
couldn’t recall the last time anyone had addressed me who hadn’t
needed to. She had on shiny rubber boots and the first genuine smile
I’d seen in weeks.
“I have another umbrella in my purse, would you like it? You’ll
catch your death out here with the wind and all.”
I wondered often what became of her. I imagined that she was a nurse
saving the lives of the down trodden, or a teacher who shaped the
minds of tomorrow. I suppose none of who she was outside of that
moment matters, because with that single act of kindness she had saved
a life.



tama...@gmail.com

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Aug 21, 2009, 2:59:14 PM8/21/09
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A Race Against Time

“Out of my way!” I scream. “I’m in a race against time!”

My mad dash towards the door ends abruptly when my feet touch the
threshold. I consult my watch. No good. This is no good at all.

I look back down the long hallway that stretches to the far side of
the house. My housemate stares at me and blinks.

“Are...you...okay?” she asks.

“No, I am not okay!” I snap back. “I am trying to race against
time.”

A puzzled expression crosses her face.

“What do you mean?” She asks me. “Do you need any help?”

Ugh! Stupid! She doesn’t get it. Can’t she understand that I am in
a race here? A race...against time itself.

All day, I have been racing against time, but time has always won. Or
tied, rather. This is my ninety seventh tie in a row, and all I want
to do is beat the clock. Once, just once, I want to win the race
against time.

I ready myself. Check my watch once more. And then I’m off, tearing
down the hallway. I’m slowed up slightly as I have to push my
housemate aside, but somehow that hardly affects the outcome. My goal
this time around was to run 30 seconds as fast as I can, racing
alongside time, but when my watch hit the 30 second mark, we stopped
at exactly the same place.

It’s not fair. I trained for this. I do real running, while time
just marches on. I’ve been patient, waiting ages for this
opportunity, while time waits for no one. Time...you’ll be the death
of me.

_ga...@yahoo.com

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Aug 21, 2009, 11:53:16 PM8/21/09
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Hi, Lauren! This is my first post as well, just squeaking in under the
wire. I'm wonderer on the NaNo boards. Victoria invited me weeks ago
and I just haven't got my act together until now...

-----

DaShaun woke to blackness. In a moment he figured out why. There was
no light from the place across the alley, where they were always up
all night. The streetlight at the end of the alley seemed to be out
too. The moon lit up his room just enough for him to see Jamal's
blankets thrown back, the bed empty.

"Please tell me you just went to pee," DaShaun whispered. Even as he
said it, he heard a scraping noise from outside the window. It was
open, of course.

He groaned and scrambled out of bed. At the window he saw that there
wasn't much moon, after all. But there was enough for him to lean out
and see his little brother climbing the fire escape to the roof.
Again.

At least it wasn't cold out this time. He went back to get his shoes,
then picked up Jamal's and tied the laces together. They went around
his neck. He pulled up the blankets on both beds in case Mom peeked
in. Then he climbed out the window.

They were four floors up. That still made him nervous, but he'd
learned to deal with it. He couldn't get Jamal down if he was too
scared to move. It was different without any lights at all, though. He
wished he had Mom's lighter. The fire escape felt rougher under his
hands in the dark, or maybe it was because he was clutching it harder
as he climbed.

The whole alley was black. So was what he could see of the street.
Power must be out. He remembered that happening before, but not since
Jamal had started wandering.

He stepped blindly onto the next stair, and his foot slipped and he
almost fell, except his hand was stuck to the railing. It wouldn't let
go until his heart slowed down again. Stupid power outage, stupid
little brother. Would be Jamal's fault if he fell off and died and
there was nobody to take the cigarettes out of Mom's hands when she
fell asleep on the sofa or steal her booze money so he and Jamal could
have cereal in the mornings.

His head came over the edge of the roof. He couldn't see Jamal. Maybe
this time the kid had fallen off. He ran up the last few steps,
stomach clenching. No, there he was, lying down in his pale blue
pyjamas. As DaShaun stepped onto the roof and strode forward, he saw
the whites of Jamal's eyes. Staring up at the sky.

He knelt down beside his little brother. "Come on, squirt." No
response. He shook the kid's shoulder.

Jamal blinked and focused on him.

"What you doing up here? Counting stars again?" That's what the kid
always claimed.

Jamal grinned, teeth flashing. "No."

"What then? Come on, we gotta get you down." DaShaun tried to lift
him, but the kid was heavier than he looked, and DaShaun was still
scrawny in the shoulders. If Jamal didn't want to be lifted, he wasn't
going anywhere.

"Not counting. Just looking."

DaShaun blinked. "But you count everything." Cars, cigarettes, gum
stains on the sidewalk, colours of graffiti on the wall, bullet
casings on the street. He'd heard Jamal's teacher tell Mom something
was wrong with him, but he hadn't really understood what it was, and
he didn't think Mom had either. All he knew was the kid didn't talk
much, except about what he was counting.

Jamal tugged at his hand. "Look."

The kid was pointing straight up. DaShaun sighed and tipped his head
back.

There were so many stars he was surprised it was still dark. No wonder
Jamal wasn't counting. On most days you could count them all in five
minutes. Tonight he could barely see where one star ended and the next
one began. And there was a splash of white across the sky behind the
stars, like when Jamal had dropped the milk and they'd had to eat
their cereal dry for a week. He tried to find the bright one that
always came out first in the evening, but he couldn't see that either.
It was beautiful and endless, like...like nothing he'd ever seen. He
was on a roof in the middle of the night, and he was tired from
waiting up for Mom to come home, and maybe next week someone else he
knew would get shot. But right now none of that mattered, because the
sky was his.

He lay down beside Jamal with the kid's hand in his, and they watched
the stars together.

hilary slater lamont

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Aug 22, 2009, 12:24:24 AM8/22/09
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i love it Garak!! :D
--
H i l a r y   S l a t e r
Sustainable Landscapes


hilary slater lamont

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Aug 22, 2009, 12:38:38 AM8/22/09
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interesting ending!! Good character development too !:D
hil

hilary slater lamont

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Aug 22, 2009, 12:44:01 AM8/22/09
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I love this story!! I've been thinking it over all evening after reading it!! :D
THANKS
hil

hilary slater lamont

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Aug 22, 2009, 12:44:46 AM8/22/09
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great story! Love the ending Natalia!

Christine Love

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Aug 22, 2009, 3:09:51 AM8/22/09
to Flash Fiction Fridays
I figure if I can't think of something good, then I should at least do
something gloriously bad.

---

Tyr's Last Stand

Tyr might have been named after the mighty Norse god, and he might
have been as brave as any of the warriors of legend, but at heart he
was a mortal, and he knew one simple fact: he would not survive
today's battle.

The battlefield loomed ahead of him. He'd gotten split up from his
allies, and he could hear the sounds of clashing steel from the nearby
forest; but he could see a unit ahead of him, and he knew that he
didn't have time to find anyone else. Not too far behind him stood an
outpost tower on a hill, a critical tactical position in this land,
left in his guard. Letting it fall to the enemy would be disastrous.
Seeing the soldiers in the distance in front of him, he knew that he'd
have to fight them; he'd have to stop them from reaching his town. It
was his duty. He readied his sword hand as he marched towards them.

Deep in his heart, Tyr knew that he was a little scared. He was the
perpetual underdog of his company, he'd been seriously injured twice
over the course of the war; only blind luck had even gotten him this
far. His confidence was restored a little when he saw the uniforms of
the soldiers approaching him; they were but militia, peons. If nothing
else, he was a far fiercer warrior than they, he could stave them off;
it was only the officers he knew fear of, men who were just as strong
as his own comrades, and more experienced than he was.

The unit closed in on him. Soon they were but a hundred metres away.

Then fifty.

Then ten.

Tyr drew his sword, charging forward. The militia men were slow in
responding, too slow. He cut their leader asunder with one slash, then
crossed swords with another. They started to circle him, but while one
tried to flank him, Tyr quickly turned about, cleaving his head off
with a bloody swing of the sword. The remaining three seemed hesitant.
It was as Tyr swung his blade at the next man standing, as steel
clashed upon steel, that he saw the bright colours of an officer
appearing out of the forest nearby. It wasn't just any, either. Tyr
recognized him instantly: he had a huge scar on his face, and he knew
that this was the legendary giant, the fiercest enemy that his people
had ever fought.

And at that moment he knew that he was doomed.

He had no hope against him. He called out for help, hoping that one of
his allies would hear; but he knew that it would be too late to save
him. He knocked back one of the militia, and moved away, taking the
chance to turn his head back towards the hill. In the distance, he
could see a rider rushing to him, a minute away from the tower. It was
too far, he knew, if Tyr turned now, the tower would fall.

He lunged at the militia man, killing him, then turned to stare at the
giant approaching him. He knew what he must do: he must stand his
ground. He had no hope against his enemy, none at all, but he realized
in the inner reaches of his heart that his duty was to stand up
against him and go down fighting. Courage had gotten him this far, but
now it would bury him. He would die, he knew, but he could stall him.
It was his duty to make a stand here, to fight and die against this
mighty warrior, so that he might buy some time for his allies. The
militia backed away as Tyr's enemy, the officer, ran in.

Tyr raised his sword, marking a line in the dirt. He was ready, ready
to die valiantly, for a good and worthy cause, to protect his
brothers. The giant swung his sword mightily at him, and Tyr's guard
wavered, knocked off balance. This was it, he thought, as he swung his
sword futily back-- the giant just laughed at him. Tyr tried one more
attack, knowing that he had no chance of even harming his enemy; the
giant grabbed him by the throat, then disembolewed him with a single
thrust of his blade. Tyr collapsed to the ground, his guts bleeding
out all over the dirt as he died. He only hoped that his death would
mean something, that he had bought enough time for the rider.

He tried to keep his eyes up, but his vision was a blur as in front of
the tower, the rider crossed blades with the giant. Soon the giant had
been forced to flee, and the rider approached him. Soon he was
standing nearby, and Tyr was struggling to keep his eyes open as he
stared up as his victorious comrade, a man so great he had managed to
survive against the mighty giant.

The rider got off his horse as Tyr laid dying, and just shook his head
sadly, a look of pity in his eyes as he watched him. Tyr winced,
staring back at his noble brother in arms. A second later, but after
what felt like minutes to the mortally wounded warrior, the rider
began to speak in eulogy for him.
"lol, noob, lern2play" he said, shaking his head in disappointment.
"gtfo ur draging us down."

Tyr heard his words echoing through his head as he breathed his final
breath, and waited for the afterlife to call him.

hilary slater lamont

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Aug 22, 2009, 9:25:41 AM8/22/09
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bad..funny but bad!, christine :D
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