It’s Fridaaaaay, and we’ve got some fun short fiction for you to read! Three Fiction Fountain authors took this prompt for some interesting spins…
Remember, the team had a single image and a specific phrase they had to work in to their story, based on the blog post here.
By Torn MacAlester
This morning on the Night Watch Live AM, we are speaking with Nick in Montana, who’s been living inside of the blast zone of Yellowstone since the explosion last year. Nick, we have a caller on line two, are you ready for questions from the audience?
“Go ahead Sam,” I said, pouring myself another cup of coffee. “I’m ready.”
I’ve got Cooter from Texas on the line. Cooter, you’re live with Sam Dean on Night Watch AM and Nick from Montana.
“Hey yeah Nick, this is Cooter. Ya doin’ all right?”
“I can’t complain Cooter, what is your question?”
“I heard that there was a UFO near the park just before it blew. Did you see anything?”
I cleared my throat, “There had been a lot of sightings around the park region over the years. Personally – have never seen anything.”
“They were preparing for the volcano–”
– it looks like we lost Cooter, we’ll see if we can get him back while we take this commercial break.
I set the phone to speaker and moved over to the fireplace. Finding the hollow-sounding stone, I worked it out of the wall. My hand fished around until finding my keys.
Back to the air with Nick. What is the situation up there?
“The ground is still burning in places here. I think it’s the roots of the trees. The ash from the explosion and the subsequent fires makes it look like winter here all the time. Yesterday we had a beautiful sunshine. It almost looked like a great day to go skiing, but it’s ash – not snow.
“Yes, thanks. Sam, I’ve been up here for many years. I’m not going to abandon my home.”
But, Nick. The government scientists have repeatedly said that anyone within three hundred miles of the park needs to leave. It is not safe.
“Sam, it’s always been dangerous in this country. People often forget that wolves were reintroduced years ago. Besides, I need to fix my truck before I can leave. I can’t easily walk out on foot.”
Nick, I’ve been wondering. You claim to be the closest to the eruption who survived. Where exactly are you?
“To give you an idea, there is a stretch of road between West Yellowstone and Big Sky Montana. There’s a ski resort up there. I am about thirty miles north and west of that resort. I’ve got everything I need though. I have a place to stay that has an enclosed porch. I use it to keep the dust out of the house. I’ve had good luck.”
I understand that is the most important. I’ve heard claims that that dust is slowly hurting everyone.
“It’s killing everyone Sam. You breath this stuff in, it combines with the moisture in your lungs and it forms concrete. We’re all slowly suffocating as our lungs fill up with cement.”
I’ve heard a Brazilian medicine that can treat it.
“It’s too late for me,” I said. “I’ve been feeling my breathing becoming harder and harder.”
You can likely be treated.
“Sam,” I said, pulling on my coat. “I’m heading out to the nearest post office, it’s going to take me most of today to make that drive. I’ll be sending you a key. A friend of mine will be asking for it from you someday. You’ll know who it is.”
I am surprised, Nick. What is all this about?
“You will understand when you get it.”
by Yvonne DeBandi
“I’m freezing, and my head hurts. How long will it take?” asked Arny as he shifted the firewood in his hands and rubbed his forehead.
“They should be here soon. Not that far of a hike,” said Skeeter.
“I bet they didn’t believe you. Did you hear them in the background when you made the announcement?”
“Yeah, well they should know better,” sniffed Skeeter. This time-capsule scavenger-hunt is probably more important to me than any of them. I wouldn’t joke about it.”
“You mean cause your great grandpa started it?”
“Yeah, just think,” said Skeeter, “decades ago he stood right here and decided to leave a treasure box in that stone.”
“I wonder what it is?” said Arny.
“No idea. So far everything has been interesting but worthless. Way up here, though? Could be something special. My mom said he had some prize baseball cards they never did find. I bet they are in one of these stashes.”
“Why’d he do it? I mean, what could have triggered the idea to hide stuff all over town?”
“I don’t know. Boredom?” shrugged Skeeter, “Whatever the reason, sure has been fun. Kept us hopping all over the county limits for two years now. And look out there. It’s amazing. Probably never would have taken this hike without him leading the way.”
“Me either,” said Arny turning to face him, his arms full of wood. “I think we have enough. Not complaining, but I’m still freezing and my head still hurts. Fire time.”
“Woah! That is quite a lump. Here, let me do that. Sit over there while I get it burning.”
“Put some snow on it,” suggested Skeeter. “That might help the swelling.”
“You gonna tell ‘em?” he asked, following Skeeter’s suggestion.
“It really is too good a story not to, one for the club legend books. Why, you want me to keep it on the downlow?”
Arny shrugged. “Just didn’t want my first score to be by accident.”
“Oh, come now, Arny! Haven’t I taught you anything? There are no accidents. This score was meant to be yours. Who else could trip over his own feet and hit his head against the one hollow-sounding stone in the wall?”
“I guess it is pretty epic,” chuckled Arny.
“It is! But how about we leave out the part where I thought that sound came from your head.”
Blizzard on Beta 12
by Cera Daniels (Dani)
A little thing fell. Half a snowflake, no more. In a silent, motionless world, it was movement itself, a dance from the heavens. All took notice of its path. All saw as the snowflake tumbled, with all the delicacy of a flower petal shaken loose by a cruel child. Its new home was barren, frozen dirt, the same substance that covered the entire planet. Except this patch of dirt was a doorstep. All coveted the new, little thing. One, then two, and finally a third being shoved out of the burrow. They brushed black dust from their hair, their skin, their clothes, and as they hovered in a half-circle around it, they blinked at the tiny crystalline jewel that lay at the entrance to their home.
“Saw first,” Awa said, starting forward with a gleam of excitement in their eyes.
“No!” Daw shoved them to one side. “No step! No smash!”
“No push!” Three of Awa’s arms connected with Daw’s body, aggravated slaps in quick succession.
Bwa ducked under four pairs of green, flailing arms. With a whisper, Bwa hunkered down over the gem, and caged its resting place with two of their hands. “Shiny-mine…”
Even as the grunting of their companions continued, Bwa’s hands dipped into the powder of the ground. They scooped up the black dust until their hands were filled, the white gem nestled on top. Awa and Daw paid no notice at all as the gem disappeared from sight into their shared burrow.
With a free hand, Bwa tapped on a hollow-sounding stone in the wall. It swung open to reveal a handle, and twisting the handle then allowed the wall to swing open. Carefully, so carefully, Bwa set the pile onto a pedestal in the room where other precious things were kept. Cold, black rocks, silver shards, auburn crystals of mysterious metals, strange green seeds. The snowflake was a treasure, the only one of its kind.
Outside, the terraforming machine continued its work, the fire firing up the atmosphere enough that more water collected, more crystals formed. In time, the snow that fell would heat to water, melt, create rivers, oceans, lush grass. That was the theory anyway. In time, the troublesome bugs would get worked out of the software.
“More shiny.” Awa said, reaching upward as the gems slowly fell toward them.
“More shiny,” Bwa agreed.
That’s it for today’s fiction! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and a very happy Valentine’s Day 🙂