Posts Tagged ‘sunday photo fiction’

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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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There is a power in trees deeper than that of kings, a power in the gnarled and reaching branches, in the winding of ancient roots. The elders said that there were trees yet living that had known the world before the coming of their people, with axe and fire and nations gleaming in their minds.

They whispered these things still to Aeslinn as she walked between the standing stones, thick with moss, towards the two twisting thrones. In her white dress and crown of woven flowers, she looked like a dove surrounded by vultures: the elders in their drab robes of office, their faces dour.

Tonight was her coronation, held by torchlight in the moonless dark of the woods. The faithful were gathered, masked in shadows, paying homage to their new queen, committing treason against the other. To even be here was a death sentence, unforgivable treachery.

Aeslinn didn’t worry.

When the kingdom fell and all the fortresses of stone fell to ruin, the forest would be waiting. Crooked roots would burst through straight roads; boughs heavy with leaves would make canopies for windswept throne rooms.

Their kingdom was for a moment. Hers was forever.


Word Count: 195

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Fandango for providing the prompt photo!

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There are no maps of the City with no name. It is announced on no roadsigns, mentioned on no surveys. But it’s there, if you search for it, if you wander the strange and wandering paths and backroads of the untamed world, if you are prepared to find it.

The City is a mess of staircases and narrow streets. Buildings slim as buses press close together, towering into the sky. They lean a little in the wind, stone and wood groaning, floorboards shaking.

In the Underneath, below the bridges, the underdwellers gather, selling their wares: books from secret libraries written in inhuman tongues, potions to bring love or death or both at once, memories to make you weep and laugh.

To the north lies the base of the white mountain, a crag of ice and bitter stone. To the east, the flat of the unbroken desert. To the west, the grey-green sea and the lands of the unconquered sun. To the south, the jungles where still the predators of old roam, terrible kings of the long-past world.

This is the City of dreaming, of wanderers and wonderers, each morning different and yet always the same.


Word Count: 195

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and John Brand for providing the prompt photo!

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Past the village fence and down the winding forest path sat the witch’s crooked house. The villagers came to her with their ailments, their wants, their petty vengeances, asking for cures, for spells, for curses.

She gave cures without conditions or promises, spells only after long consideration, and curses never at all.

Once, the villagers came only in the dead of night, but now she found them knocking on her door in daylit hours, pleasant and open with her as they were with the butcher.

“Your house is rather spartan,” a woman remarked whilst the witch made her a salve. “I thought a witch’s house would be all cluttered, like in the tales.”

The witch had nothing but a handful of ingredients, a set of clothes, and a rolled-up blanket. She knew better than to burden herself. Keep things light; own no more than you can carry; that was the old way.

They said times were different, safer. The king himself kept magicians in his court.

But the witch remembered the roaring crowd and the smoke of burning torches. She knew how fast things could change.

She had seen too many storms to trust a sunlit morning.


Word Count: 197

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

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The army of the Pretender encircled the high rock of the castle, armed with bullets and steel and Parliament. They would win. There was no question of that.

The commander of the castle walked its wall, speaking words of encouragement to his men, offering easy smiles in the face of difficult defeat. He looked upon stones as old as the land and prayed in the church of his kings.

His kings, not theirs. His king was king here still, even if England and half of Scotland had spurned him. He would bend no knee to the continental interlopers, to invaders invited by treasonous plotters.

Here, in this castle, the Kings of Scotland had reigned. Here Queen Mary bore King James, first king to rule all Great Britain: united by peace and not by war. Here they had kept crown and jewels safe from the Roundheads.

And now that royal line was cast aside for the Pretender. All that history abandoned.

In the early morning air, he heard the call of the bagpipes, echoing across crag and castle and he smiled.

No matter what false king sat on the throne, the stones of Edinburgh would only know one.


Word Count: 197

For Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and C.E. Ayr for providing the prompt photo!

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Three days and three nights the Lawgiver’s men chased Verity across the Dying Land, their horses kicking up storms in the dust.

They dressed in black from hat to boots. Their eyes were dark, shallow sockets. They did not pursue by sight. Sight could not be trusted. They followed the scent Verity left in the aether, the footsteps she left on the skin of the world-beneath.

They never hungered. They never tired. And they always got their man.

Verity wasn’t a man and had no intention of letting anyone get her.

The Lawgiver’s men tore into the valley: five riders on five horses. Their revolvers gleamed in their gloved hands.

Verity was waiting.

Orange curls danced around her freckled brown face. Each hand held a pistol engraved with the name she’d taken, the name of truth. She felt the desert through the holes in her old boots.

She smiled and the riders stopped.

“You are outnumbered,” said one.

“Yes,” she replied.

“You are outgunned.”

“Yes.”

“Why do you smile?”

“Because,” she said, “I know something you don’t.”

She vanished, stepping from world to world like a skipping stone, and all that was left behind her was swirling dust.


Word Count: 198

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Joy Pixley for providing the photo prompt!

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When first they made her, from straw and string and wood, she was just a scarecrow. The children drew her face and laughed at the paint on their fingers. They dressed her in cast-offs from the bins and set her over fields and flowers, that she might keep watch for the cawing crows.

She didn’t work. Crows came and stole away the seeds. Mother cursed and father kicked at the dirt.

But the youngest made instead the first sacrifice: he put his scarf about her neck. When the crows came next, they saw her and fled.

So the family laid their clothes upon her, begging her protection for the crops. And protect them she did.

Year passed after year and the harvest was bountiful. The farm yielded the finest crops and, as they owed it all to her, they lay a tenth portion down at her feet.

The other farms saw them prospering and they too brought sacrifices: frayed cloaks, scrap-cloth, fresh straw. She saw them and was pleased.

Harvest passed after harvest and ritual outlived reason. Years hence, they still laid sacrifices at her shrine.

They called her scarecrow no more. She was the Mother of Flowers.


Word Count: 198

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction. Thanks to Susan for running the challenge and Anurag Bakhshi for providing the prompt photo!