The Fall of the Saints

photo prompt

© A Mixed Bag

The Milan Cathedral, a once majestic landmark, was in ruins. He never thought to visit this ancient structure, anathema to his own nature, an artifact to a once vast empire. He looked up at the Saint and the Priest. The Priest was struggling to keep the Saint integrated, but his powers were weakening, his prayers growing more faint each second. He was the last Priest. The revolution had effectively crushed their dominance. She was the last Saint, and the reluctant Magician’s target. He had no wish to harm her, but their hold on the world must be completely broken.

He began his magical rite to the horror of the Priest. An unexpected look of serenity appeared on the Saint’s visage. She knew her time was done.

The spell completed, the Priest collapsed, exhausted, and the Saint vanished from her holy vestibule in the cathedral. With her passing, so did the age of religion pass. It had taken Prospero long centuries to accomplish his task, but he had finally restored the age of mysticism across the world. Now his daughter Miranda would be free of Sainthood and return to rule as the Duchess of Milan.

This tale was written in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 19th 2017 challenge hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a short piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at 194, and I confess, it was only around 140 words in its first draft. I was delighted to discover I had more “room” to add details to my mythic story.

The minute I saw the photo prompt, something reminded me of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. I’ve never seen it performed or read it, but there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which began with the character Data (played by Brent Spiner) performing in the play on the holodeck as the character Prospero. Data, being a very literal person, had trouble understanding the character and Shakespeare’s symbolism. Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), explained it this way:

“Well, Data, Shakespeare was witnessing the end of the Renaissance and the birth of the modern era, and Prospero finds himself in a world where his powers are no longer needed. So, we see him here about to perform one final creative act before giving up his art forever.”

I thought it would be interesting to reverse things, and have the modern era and the church attempting to perform its one last creative act in the face of Prospero, who was determined to end its reign. In the play, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, and in addition to being a magician, Prospero is the Duke of Milan. In the play, he was attempting to restore his daughter to her rightful place. In my story, he succeeds.

To read more stories inspired by this prompt, to go InLinkz.com.

The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

Is That You Talking?

urns

© Dawn M. Miller

I bought the one that said “Corona Extra” on it because it looked cool. Now that I’ve got the place to myself, I decided I wanted to be able to make a small fire on the back patio for those cold evenings when I needed to be comforted.

“Ouch! That’s hot!”

It’s the first time I try lighting a fire in the urn.

“What did you say to me?”

“I said the fire’s hot.”

“But that’s what you’re for, to burn a fire in. Look, it’s a cool evening and I’d rather enjoy a warm fire while sitting on the patio.”

“Too bad”. The thing actually closes its mouth and smothers the flames. I toy with the idea of calling over my next door neighbor to witness this strangeness but decide against it.

“Oh don’t be surprised I can talk. You’re so lonely, you’ll believe anything can keep you company.”

“You mean…?”

“Call your son and his wife. I’ll bet they’ll be glad to bring the grandkids over.”

“But I thought…”

“Just because you’re divorced, doesn’t mean your kids don’t love you anymore. Go on. Make the call.”

I pick up my cell and the urn goes silent forever.

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – March 5th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 200 words based on the photo prompt above. My story is 199 words.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Rediscovering Serenity

koi pond

© Sora Sagano, Nemichi-Jinja, Seki, Japan

It had been years subjectively since Tamara had been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, years since she’d let herself relax and stare at the serene Koi pond. For the last ten years, she struggled, on the run, hiding from Slaver Gangs, scrounging for food, making alliances, and often being betrayed.

Then she found the bunker. She’d traveled further into the Forbidden Zone than she ever had before, further than anyone dared. The disaster that caused civilization’s collapse started here. She found a breach in the bunker that led to the Temporal Accelerator. The power source still worked. Tamara had been a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore Labs before the collapse. She figured out how to opeate the controls.

She went back before the collapse, back to a more peaceful time in her life, a time when her Mom and Dad used to take her here, to this pond, to the Zen Garden. She used the time machine to send her on a one-way trip to the past. Tears streamed down her face as she watched her parents holding her hands. She was only five years old. “I miss you both so much.”

I wrote this small piece of flash fiction in response to the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #05 challenge. The photo prompt is at the top of this page.

Stories can’t be more than 200 words and mine comes in at 197.

To read other stories based on this prompt, visit InLinkz.com.