A few months ago I posted one of my flash fiction stories for the Korea writing group.
We still meet and we still write but the rules have changed. Now we write at the meeting, by picking two words at random. We get 20 minutes and then put pencils down. In such a short time, you have to just start writing and hope it ties together. It’s good practice for sure.
This last’s week challenge was quite fun: the prompt words are as you see in the title. My personal challenge was to write something less silly than usual. It is tempting for me now to revise and add things but instead I’ll type it up just as I wrote it.
Dark, swimmingly dark. Shadows of deep black rose and hung heavily in the sky. There was no respite. There was no break in the bleak darkness. There was nothing at all.
Marcus can’t sleep. He’s always been like this. It explains it but it doesn’t excuse it. He needs to be awake tomorrow, alert. He needs to be free from the groggy ravages that pilfer his mind.
He stares at the LED on the tent ceiling. Now almost 3 am. And he hasn’t heard a sound from it, if this is even its region. Marcus sighs and unzips the sleeping bag, unzips the tent, crawls out, unzips his fly, urinates for a long time. The dark forest surrounds him, ungrudging and uncaring. The moon overhead haunts him.
Back in the tent, he is more awake than ever. A supernatural state of awareness that mere dreams cannot challenge. The Sandman himself quails against this redoubtable bastion of nonsleep. His face and hands ache from exposure. Even that much moonlight has burned him fiercely.
It grows colder and he burrows deeper into the bag. At last the sun rises, the moon sets, and Marcus is free. Free to walk under the open skies again. He walks away, leaving his tent and his bag and everything inside it. If all goes well, he’ll never need to use it again. And it doesn’t….well, he won’t need it either. He fervently hopes he guessed right. He thought so, but hadn’t heard anything from it last night. And that was strange.
Marcus hikes out to the port, his long strides carrying them there only a few hours after sunrise. Bezel is there. Her wings beat as she waits in the sky for him.
“Morning,” Marcus says to her.
“Grokk take your morning,” Bezel says. “Do you have it or not?”
“I know where one lives,” he says. “Not far from here.”
She stares at him, eyes glassy with disdain. “I have not come from xbrxxis to hear stories. I hate flying! I can never get comfortable on a spaceship.”
“The last one died,” Marcus admits. “I wasn’t too rough but they are fragile creatures. It cursed me in its death and I am now a daywalker But I slept next to one last night I can take you there. It’s not far.”
He speaks slowly and precisely. Bezel is not evil, nor particularly malicious for her kind, but she would kill him with little provocation. Most aliens were like this, deadly but not mean-hearted. It was one of the things they shared with humanity.
“I can’t capture it by myself,” he reminds her. “Not at night, not now.”
She flies higher which he thinks means she is angry or dismissive or threatening or possibly all three at once.
“Tell me the cords. If I can find it you earn your reward. You can come off-planet with us. Otherwise,” she stops, her voice cold. “Death is too good for you. We’ll take you to the void instead.”
He gave her the information and sat down to wait.