Home > Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Writing > Nothing short about this story

Nothing short about this story

Being a professional writer is all about writing no matter what. You don’t skip writing because you don’t feel creative. You put your butt in the chair and write anyway. I have heard this over and over from a variety of pros.

That being said, it’s amazing the difference in writing a story you are working on and writing a story you are enjoying. When you enjoy it, the words pour out. It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad, they still come out in a rush.

I love days like that. It makes for larger word counts than what might have been intended but it isn’t important. You wrote and it felt good, that is what was important.

L. E. White

Around the fire

Drummers slapped skin to skin, pounding out a rhythm the made the sand around them shift and settle, blurring the footprints that marked their entry. They looked around, not focusing on their playing, allowing their hands to do the work without letting their brains get involved.

Sweat rolled over the backs of the shirtless, leaving trails of sparkles that reflected the light of the full moon so that they looked ethereal from behind their ranks. The same effect could be seen from the front as glasses and foreheads reflected back the light of the bonfire.

Each man poured himself into his work. They knew that the energy they offered to the group made this gathering that much more fun. They thought of themselves as the catalyst to a complex process that was more than the sum of its parts.

They were correct.

Men and woman stood around the fire in a large circle. They talked and laughed, drank and sang, enjoying the time together with their friends. They stood in small groups, sharing jokes and hugs while moving to the rhythm without thought or concern. Each spectator added to the whole without effort.

The energy of the event continued to rise.

There was a ring around the big fire, between the gathering and the flame, where people moved with frantic motion, giving up their will to the song. The dancers paid little attention to the rest, lost inside the swirling current of their fellows without a care in the world.

In the center, burned a pyre made sacred by the presence of those who believed. The flame washed the area in light and heat, sharing its life with the people while they worked to keep it alive. The pair loved each other without thought or concern, and symbiosis brought about something magical.

Something filled with untapped power.

As the groups continued, separate yet still all part of one whole, a single figure ghosted between them, unseen. He was neither tall nor short; fat nor thin. He was unremarkable in almost every way and therefore able to hide in plain sight amongst the group. Most ignored him and when he encountered one of the few who did mark him as odd, he would smile and nod, keeping his eyes down.

His eyes were remarkable, terrifying, fantastic and hideous. In his case, eyes really were the windows to his soul and if someone were to see that, his chance would end on the screams of insanity that would follow.

He had to be careful.

After walking around, the man stepped beyond the group, sitting down and watching the dancers move, enjoying the show while taking note of the people from whom he could choose. He would select the chosen from among them and then he could begin.

A tall, thin redhead spun around the track, turning tight circles and appearing to bounce along twice as fast as the others. He smiled and removed one of the markers from his pocket.

“Fire,” he whispered to himself.

He tracked her movement, noting how her hair would sometimes flare out and away as her body moved. It reminded him of a match that had just been struck. Each time it flared out, she seemed to light up like a candle in the night.

As his spirit of fire passed the tight knots of chatter, a tall man with wide shoulders caught the watchers eye. He stood with his feet wide, imposing and solid. The watcher saw a small, drunk woman back into the big man and land on her ass after she bounced off of him. The mountain turned a little and offered his hand to her, helping her up despite the incident being her fault. The woman hugged him and then scooted away without another word.


Across the fire the watchers eyes darted, landing on a frail blonde girl who moved in slow, graceful gestures that seemed to belong in the land of fairy instead of the physical world. She danced her circle, allowing the faster to pass and dodging the slow, but she never touched anyone. She  shifted and swayed at half the speed of the redhead, but in doing so, she looked not like a dancer upon the floor, but like a wave upon the sea.

The watcher nodded to himself and whispered, “Water.”

He looked around the circle a few times. After each inspection, he glanced down at the pocket watch he propped open, checking the time that remained.

He had to hurry.

“Air,” he said with a sigh of relief. “I have found the fourth.”

His eyes focused on a short, young dancer. The girl’s long, dark hair was gathered into a heavy braid that fell over her shoulder to hide one exposed breasts with the loose poof of hair at the end. When she moved, she flitted from group to group like a hummingbird choosing dinner from a flower garden. She would dart among the people, joining in a laugh or stealing a drink before darting away to the next destination on her path. The girl’s smile was so big and bright that the watcher wondered if it would reflect the fire’s light when she faced it so that her mouth would blind the eyes of whatever man looked her way.

He stood, putting his colored markers back into his pocket before heading into the group.

The watcher stopped each person and offered them water from a clean, half-filled jug. He would talk for a moment, sharing some joke to banish any discomfort with laughter before making his pitch.

“I wanted to ask if you would help me with a ritual that I am trying to perform.”

Each reaction was almost identical. They smiled and thanked him but shook their heads no. Every single one of his chosen believed that he had just asked him to have sex.

“No. No. No,” he said, holding one of the markers out and lifting the other hand, palm forward, to try and calm them. “I just want to draw a sigil on your shoulder. We won’t leave the fire and I won’t touch you again. I promise.”

Each one considered the request, a smile playing across their mouths as the decision was made. The group atmosphere and family attitude towards the people of the festival made it easy to get help for anything magical or mundane. Everyone was happy to help.

Each time, the watcher shook his head as he walked away, marveling at the lack of caution.

With four ruins drawn on four shoulders he slipped away. The watcher moved to the darkness and made his way to the forest surrounding the group. He stumbled and bumbled through the brush. The noise of the drums hid his crashing course until he reached the large stone he had used to mark his place. At this, he moved to a large tree and leaned against it.

A smile played across his lips as he watched his four corners move. Each one moved at their own pace and in their own way, yet the watcher knew they would be in position soon.

The big man was the first to stop. He stepped up to a pair of attractive woman, laying his hands on each as he encouraged them to continue kissing. His hands moved up and down their backs while he stood in the north.

The tiny dark haired girl spun and stumbled into the arms of a young man who looked like a puppy had just crawled out from under the Christmas tree into his lap. The girl laughed and put her hands on his shoulders as she straightened up, standing close to him in the west.

The drummers changed their rhythm, and the blonde girl stopped moving. She tilted her head up, spread her arms wide and turned in slow circles, her pirouette anchored in the east.

As the watcher expected, fire was the last to take her place. She twisted her body, bending her knees until she touched the ground before jumping out of the dancing line. A man beside her offered her a drink and she tipped her head back with the bottle lifted to her lips. She took a long pull, refreshing herself before handing it back. She panted, and ran her hands over her skirt before stepping to the south, out of the way of a stumbling drunk.

The watcher raised his arms and began to chant.

He was too far away from the fire to be heard. His words floated up to the moon and each of his chosen looked up as if they had heard their name spoken. He watched as they stiffened, bodies going rigid, eyes widening in terror.

The fire lowered, the light receded and the drums began to taper off. As the watcher rocked back and forth on his heels, he saw the crowd begin looking left and right; the herd sensing the panic around them without knowing why.

A smile graced his face as the watcher lifted his eyes to the moon and focused on vibrating the name he called. Each time he spoke, the temperature around him seemed to drop. His volume rose, his face contorting into a snarl as he felt his guts shake and twist in response to the power he employed.

The watcher closed his eyes, repeating the name for a second time. When he looked back to the fire, the color of the flames had changed and the light held no warmth. The pile shifted. Logs and coals moved wider as the gate began to form.

He looked again at his chosen and knew the rite was almost complete. Each of them were standing on tip toe, backs arched as the pain of tearing the way open rolled over them in waves like a storm over the forest. Their mouths were open in silent screams and he snarled his own lip up in response.

The watcher closed his eyes and opened his mouth to repeat the evocation. He arched his own back and began to vibrate the word, feeling the leaves of the trees brush against him as it shifted.

A branch slapped him in the face with enough force to steal his concentration. The half vibrated name hung in the air for a moment, the fire did not crackle and the wind died among the trees before the power of his spell shattered.

The watcher grabbed his temples, pulling his hair into two great handfuls as the energy he had been using to pry apart reality rushed back at him. He opened his mouth to scream, intending to renew his control by repeating the name, but another tree limb struck him in the mouth, bark and leaves muffling him as the light of the fire flared back up.

The tree creaked and popped as branches bent, attacking the watcher, battering him until he fell to his knees and covered his head with his hands.

The tree stopped moving, but he did not move. He sat curled on the ground until a small crack to his left told him that someone was there.

“Hello,” a gnarled old voice said.

The watcher lifted his eyes and his mouth fell open. A mouse sat on top of the stone he had used to mark his place, putting it a good foot higher than his place huddled on the ground.

“You have failed.”

“What?” The watcher wet his lips and blinked a few times, struggling to make sense of what he saw.

“You failed and because of that you will be punished.”

Eyes widened as the words sunk in. Sounds began to come from all around him and the watcher rose to his feet.

The small leaves and plants shifted as an army of bugs and mice circled around him. They did not speak or make another click or squeak. The only sound was the rustle of his clothes as the watched snapped from side to side, looking for an escape.

A wood roach landed on his shoulder. In panic, he slapped it, squishing it and leaving a smear on his shirt. He felt something land on top of his head and shoved both hands into his hair, bending at the waist and trying to flick away whatever it was that had landed on him.

When the watcher looked at the fire again, he saw that everyone was moving. He heard the drums pick back up and saw his elemental markers move.

He had failed.

He looked back down in time to see a wave of insects and rodents wash around his feet before swarming up his pants. The watchers last scream ended in a choking gurgle as a large spider crawled over his nose and into his mouth.


Categories: Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Writing
  1. June 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Well, that was longer than flash fiction…but worth the read!

    • June 23, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      Yeah, it was a bit longer, but this one just poured out on the page like syrup on pancakes. I couldn’t stop.

      I am really glad to hear that you liked it.

      Time to write this weeks story. 🙂

  1. June 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

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