Moving along the path of November comes Writer In Motion, one of the best ways to see how a first draft is made into a piece of flash fiction. Draft 0 is due this week (1,000 words or less), and that means no editing! Yeah, that’s going to be hard since I usually write and edit (abet slightly) along the way [for example, that was originally going to be “very very slightly” but halfway through writing that I realised I didn’t want the double “very”s and so I changed it].
The prompt is the picture below, and to be honest, I’m not getting any fun little writer thoughts about this one. It’s a great picture, but for some reason it’s not hitting me with a million ideas at once. However! I’m a firm believer in that inspiration doesn’t need to happen for a writer to write – while the first prompt picture was in my genre (it was an abandoned vessel that gave off wonderful vibes of post-apocalypse, and which has inspired me to write a mystery series!)
I need to think a little more about what elements I have with this one. I have what looks like a drop into nothingness, a red flare lit (normally used for getting attention in an emergency), and a woman gracefully holding onto a pole while she lifts up the flare. I don’t normally write contemporary, so I’ll probably stay away from that, but I do like the idea of the flare being used in an emergency. The broken, rusted metal pole makes it a little harder for me to figure out what genre I’d like to place this in. Fantasy does have metal, but it’s normally not like this, and the same with Sci-Fi. I’m also not getting a horror vibe either, since she seems to be relaxed and in control of what she wants to be doing. Hmm… this is harder than I thought. I do have a web serial planned around a rescue group, but it’s steeped in magic and fantasy, so this is almost the complete opposite.
The past week had been clouded, which meant that now was going to be her only chance to send out a signal flare. She climbed to the top of the limestone castle, and arching her feet up lit the flare and smiled at the smell of gunpowder.
“Wind, take this and send it to the four corners. Let the sky taste it, let the sea kiss it, and most importantly, let that self-centered googy two-shoes find out about this. He has control of the weather, he should
(and HARD NO – not liking where this is going even though I enjoy superheroes) – restart!
Standing on the edge of the known world took the breath out of her lips. Below here were the towns and cities she’d escaped from, fughting to free herself from the ruins of the present and the ghosts of the past.
“We were supposed to come up here together,” she admitted to the clouds. They hung low overhead, eager to hear from one of the little humans that had survived. “Bring a couple of camping tents, tell ghost stories, maybe even have some marshmallows burning in the campfire. But now…?” She sighed. “It’s only a dream.”
A nightmare, if she was being honest with herself. One country in power having a temper tantrum, and releasing some nano-virus designed to infect and cause a debilitating illness; another country answering that with their own genetically modified virus that targeted people over the age of eighteen. One wished to invade a country with no bloodshed, another wanted to plunge their enemy into chaos. Both had worked well. Too well.
In the water, in the air, in the very earth that they used to grow crops – both of the mutations had made contact and decided that they were going to be fast friends. It gained a killer instinct, singling out older people and shutting their bodies down through something as harmless as sleep.
The flare was set, and she waved it, letting it be seen as she hung onto the pole with one hand. It had seemed frightening at first, but now it was little more than an item designed to hold her. She wasn’t afraid of falling anymore. There were other things, other people to be afraid of.
The wild children that burned books to stay warm. The haggered remains of the elderly that shot or poisoned everyone younger than them in case the virus was hiding in their bodies. Every once in a while there was someone her age, someone who understood what was supposed to happen and that had never come. That family she was promised, the house, the job, the wine, the food, the everything laid before her had gone up in a puff of smoke, a mirage that even now whispered to her at night.
Red light burned and the smell of gunpowder almost made her sneeze. Almost. That was key. She’d almost not made it up here at all, had almost been one of the many lying on the side of the road with no one to bury them.
“Please.” Her voice went unheard up to the sky. “I just want a companion. Someone to be with me.”
She yawned. Stretched out over the open gap of the world’s mouth.
Finally, the flare burnt out. She dropped it and it disappeared, either never to be seen again or to be that “what the fuck hit me, where did that come from?!” story of someone else. Schrodinger’s flare.
In one smooth motion she swung herself from one element to the other; air to earth. Beneath her bare feet she felt the arrhythmic beat of life.
“Do I wait here for someone to find me?” she asked a tree. “Or should I be on my way, at least for a little while longer?”
The juniper nodded, and its yellow eyes blinked.
“Merow,” it said, a small tortoiseshell cat jumping out of the mid-branches. It wrapped itself around her feet, hitting her with its tiny head.
“You’re my friend then? I didn’t think that would actually work.” An old “spell” from when she and her friends at high school had played being witches. Come, send me someone, send me a messenger.
“I don’t have much food,” she cautioned it, picking up the cat and holding it… a quick peek. Holding her close. The two of them made their way to the small cabin she’d found hiking up here. “Maybe there’s something in here that you’ll be able to eat.”
She opened the door, shut it, locked it behind her. Made sure all the windows were covered. For the cat, she put out a small tin of tuna. For herself, she laid out on the bed, surpressing another yawn.
“I didn’t want to be alone,” she said, enjoying how cool and clean and luxurious the sheets felt against her scratched and dry skin. The cat ignored the food and jumped up, creating a small circle on her chest. This time the yawn was bigger, louder, and longer. The cat batted her teeth with a paw and she giggled.
“Thank you. I opened the window. You’ll have to move the curtain.” She pointed at the one opening she’d left the cat, and then she was sleeping, tumbling from one world to the next.