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The line moves in spasms, little fits of stopping and starting. All around: coughing, grumbling, the whining and crying of children, the barks of irritated adults. He is adrift in a river of misery, drawn slowly on towards the little booths with their tired attendants and thumping stamps.

He clutches his passport, making sure he has it close. He won’t need it for another ten minutes – perhaps twenty – but he wants to be ready. Announcements echo: last calls for flights to cities he has never heard of, messages to people he does not know. He tugs his suitcase closer, trying to make space for the couple behind, shoving forward like all this is for them and everyone else is an inconvenience.

A traveller and her family are pulled aside. He’s not sure if they’re being giving a pass to the front or an interrogation, but she follows the attendant with dignity, even with two children tugging at her legs.

He tries not to pay attention to security guards with their guns in their holsters and their stern faces as the crowd surges again. An anxious voice tells him something’s gone wrong.

He checks his watch. It’s only been three minutes.


Word Count: 200

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge!

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The river woman feels the weight of the bridges upon her back. Her waters lash the spans of wood and iron, rushing between pillars as trains rush overhead.

She does not mind the trains at first. They are a pleasant distraction, a new thing after centuries of ducks and fish and leaves. But they keep coming, trundling over the bridge, groaning steel and belching smoke.

She asks her mother what to do, but mother laughs her slow laugh. The trains will go, mother says. The people will go.

People are no more than biting gnats. Oceans are forever.


Word Count: 98

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Dawn M. Miller for providing the photo prompt!

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They laughed at the boy who would not shoot at birds, who would not even hold the gun in his hand. They laughed as the birds came crashing down, one, two, three, squawking bloody messes of broken bones and crumpled feathers.

It’s weakness, the instructor said, hand like concrete on the boy’s shoulder, squeezing bones brittle as the broken birds. Weakness to be afraid of the gun. Of the noise. Pick up the gun and fire. Kill something.

But he wouldn’t.

They laughed at the man who did not believe in war, at the boy who would not fight. Traitor, they jeered. Coward.

When the men came with riot shields and rifles and torches, they were cheering or they were silent.

And the boy who would not shoot at birds stood in their path.

You want them, he said, you go through me.


Word Count: 143

For FFfAW. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Yinglan for providing the prompt photo!

Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice discuss The Witchfinders!

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Once the mariner was bound in chains – of duty, of expectation, of law, of iron – but she cast them aside, seizing her ship and making for the open seas. Above the crash of the surf, skimming through white spray and deep blue waves, the mariner pressed on.

She heard the cries of the gulls, free upon the wind, and laughed, sailing on into the unknown, towards the rising sun.


This is for ThreeLineTales. Thanks to Sonya for running the challenge and Lalo for providing the prompt photo!

Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice discuss Kerblam! and rumours about the future of Doctor Who.

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Saera heard the rush of the waterfall before she saw it, bursting from the thick of the woods and onto the steep riverbank. Behind her came shouts and the metallic jingling of swords and mail. They were coming for her, to slay her as they slew her mother and sisters.

But this was the wild. She held power here.

Saera knelt, touched the cold waters,  and whispered in the language of rivers.

The waters divided before her. Saera darted across as the soldiers came from the trees. They raced after her, through the river, but the waters closed upon them.


Word Count: 100

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for running the challenge and Dale Rogerson for providing the prompt photo!