Duel at Orholt

waiting

© Sue Vincent

There was the clatter of two pieces of wood rapidly striking each other, occasionally punctuated by a boy’s voice crying, “Ow!”

It was after another day of hiking, another day in the wilderness, climbing steadily up from the seashore into low hills, heading back toward the Dark Hills which were in fact mountains.

It was after another meal cooked by campfire, and young bellies now accustomed to wild game were satisfied (except for little Zooey who insisted on only fruits and vegetables similar to what a mouse or rabbit might consume). A nearby stream provided fresh water to slake thirst and for much needed, if chilly, bathing.

By the light of the fire and the stars, the Davidson children sat watching the two combatants earnestly plying their trade, or trying anyway.

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Behind the Eternity Door

collage

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

There was only one way for Adriene McKnight to follow Douglas Adams’s advice and that was to step out of the timestream. She’d never done it completely, of course, because then she’d lose all recognizable references and never get back, but she could exit the local stream far enough to let her see several others connected to her own.

Opa’s study. He had everything packed up to leave for England. It’s 1934 and the Nazis have made Hamburg an administrative Gau. He wasn’t her Opa then, only a young physician of 23, unmarried, and unwilling to become a pawn of the fascists.

The bust of Oma. She was so beautiful. Opa commissioned it as a wedding gift, only one of twelve female busts made by the famous Erik Van Aar. The sculptor died a year later making the bust worth a fortune. Opa wouldn’t sell it, even when he needed money to go to America in 1940.

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Sojourn in Direhaven

entrance

© Sue Vincent

Shay, the spectacular golden dragon, alighted in a wooded valley an hour after dawn. The dragonrider Dani along with the five Davidson children, were clinging to her back still shivering from their hasty flight in the frigid heights above the clouds. After their escape from the Hall of the Mountain Kings, pursued by the deadly spectres of the past, the dragon arrived just in time as the Great Gray God, mortal foe of the Kings, attacked. Vast destructive forces both of nature and magic were released and as the High Citadel crumbled into tons of rubble at the God’s feet, Shay soared far above the carnage in a desperate effort to save her children.

At last they were on the ground again at the promised place of safety, but where were they?

“I know this is difficult my children, but you can rest soon. Dani, help them onto the ground.”

The teenage girl slipped off the dragon’s neck with practiced ease, ignoring the chill in her bones and her profound fatigue, and reached up for Zooey. The kindergartner slid into the older girl’s arms and let herself be lowered to the ground. Mandy, the oldest of the Davidson’s, managed to get down on her own and Zooey ran over and clutched onto one of her legs, resting her head on her side.

Nine-year-old Taylor was next and while Dani was helping his twin sister Paris down, the boy grabbed his seven-year-old brother Jake and helped him off of the dragon.

“Where are we, Shay?” The Davidsons clustered around Dani.

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The God of the Dark Hills

dark hills

© Sue Vincent

It had taken five days for teenage Dani to guide the five children across the frozen tundra to near the base of the Dark Hills. They had all grown up in a city and were used to soft beds, a heated home in the winter, regular meals of plentiful food, and all the comforts and pleasures modern technology afforded such children.

Dad and Mom took them camping in the mountains every summer, but they drove to the State Park in Mom’s van, built a campfire near wooden picnic tables and there were public showers and bathrooms just a few yards away. They brought their food in plastic shopping bags and a big cooler and it was like barbecuing in their backyard.

Even in the winter going snow skiing was fun, but when they were through and everyone needed to get warm, they’d go into the ski lodge and order lunch or dinner in the restaurant.

This journey was nothing like that. Nearing the end of their fifth day in this icy wilderness, the Davidson children were dirty, tired, cold and miserable. Their sense of fright had been numbed so now all they felt was the relentlessness of walking one step at a time for minutes and hours, hoping their guide who was only a little older than Mandy knew how to find food, shelter, and safety before they all died.

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The Momentary Sojourner

wilderness path

© Mike Vore

The long neglected boards of the path moaned like a ghost in torment under his boots. This was no longer the real world or at least the one he lived in. Ahead, perched on a rock outcropping was the owl, but not quite an owl.

“Who? Who? Who are you?” Its cry was only slightly human.

“You called me? You said I could see them.”

The old man got closer to the rocks and his host.

“Here, here.”

He climbed up next to the eldritch creature and looked beyond into the pool. It was water and then it wasn’t.

“My grandchildren?”

Noah Davidson couldn’t rescue his grandchildren, but he was allowed to briefly watch them crossing the frozen tundra in the company of a guide not much older than his granddaughter Mandy.

“When will they return home?”

The owl shook its head in a very human manner.

Noah looked back into the vision. “Your Mom and Dad are waiting for you. Come back soon.”

Last night, Noah’s son and daughter-in-law were in a car accident and both were badly hurt. The children were in the car with them but when first responders arrived, all five of the kids had vanished.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of February 25th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’m actually trying to write a novel involving the adventures of the Davidson children, first with Gerliliam and then with Shay and Dani. I’ve posted bits as pieces of it, including “after tales” on this blog.

In today’s tale, I’ve created a situation where the five Davidson children’s Grandpa has made some sort of “deal” to be able to see, but not communicate with the kids. I’ve also hinted at part of what happened to them that resulted in their being whisked to a strange and mythical land and what they have to return to after their long adventures end.

The story most related to this one is Mr. Covingham’s Secret, however you can find other “clues” to this universe in stories such as Where Did Our Home Go?, The Whisperer Expanded, and Adventure’s Bitter Memories. To find out about some of the other children mentioned in this story, read She Treats Us Like Her Children.

If you’re curious about Gerliliam, here’s a sketch I made of him some months ago.

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

Doom in the Maze of Dreams

hedge maze

Example of a hedge maze found at nerdist.com.

Landon kept walking down, down, down the endless, onyx spiral staircase when he stubbed his toe or should have. It didn’t hurt.

“Hey. Wait a minute. I know what’s going on. I’m dreaming. I’m having a lucid dream. Cool. That means I can control everything.” Great. I think I’ll fly the rest of the way to the bottom.”

Landon took a leap expecting to fly like Superman, but he only went up so far before going back down. “Hey!” He was starting to fall and got scared. What if hitting the stairs hurt this time? Then he began to slow and soon he was taking big, bouncy steps.

“At least this is faster than walking but I really wanted to fly.” Now that he realized he wasn’t going to get hurt, he stopped being scared, but it was too late.

Malevolent eyes were watching from the darkness, their owners chuckling to themselves.

“We have another one, brother.”

“Indeed sister. He has entered the first layer.”

Yes he has and he doesn’t know it. Now we will take full control of the dream.”

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Thurren’s Cairn: A Brief Love Story

the dragon and the princess

© A Mixed Bag 2011

“Now we can be together forever, Charlotte.”

“I hold you dearly in my heart, Thurren, but you are a dragon and I am a Princess. We can never be together, forever or otherwise. I will grow up and one day be Queen. You will grow large and mighty and be a prize sought after by every Knight in the realm.”

The two, secret companions since childhood, sat by Thurren’s Cairn, their favorite meeting place. The roses were in bloom and the vines crept up and around the stone pillar speaking of a love which could not be.

Charlotte we really can be together forever. Come away with me.”

“But how can I abandon my responsibilities, no matter how I may feel for you?”

“Actually Princess, but you already did, the minute we fell in love.”

Thurren’s Cairn stood near a pond. He took Charlotte’s “hands” and led her there to her reflection.

“It’s like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in reverse. Your love for me has freed you.”

Charlotte gazed at her reflection with a combination of horror and fascination. She was now a dragon. She and Thurren would have to flee quickly to escape her Knights.

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction for July 2nd 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt as the basis for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 199.

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

The Lion and the Dolphins

Bacchus

Found at Wikipedia.com

“See, I told you he’d come back to this shore, Markos. He’s obviously a wealthy young man, perhaps enjoying some solitude away from the family business.”

“True enough you were right, Tycho. Easy prey. We grab him, then his family pays whatever ransom we ask for his safe return.”

“Not that he’ll be in precisely the same condition as we found him. He is a pretty one, a very pretty one.”

Markos, Tycho, and half a dozen other pirates were watching from behind some rocks near the cove where they had landed their boat. The young noble idly wandered along the shore as if day dreaming. A dangerous pursuit in waters known to be sailed by pirates.

“Here he comes,” whispered Tycho. “Get ready to have at him.”

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Expendable

arena

Yokohama main arena courtesy of Yokohama.com

Decades of dispute between the two empires of Queen Rhoda and King Jon finally erupted into open warfare. Each ruler wanted to reign as supreme leader over the people of the Great Continent. They didn’t particularly care how they achieved their goal or how many had to suffer and die in the service of their ambition.

Each marshaled vast armies at their mutual border and targeted the other’s strongholds with weapons of mass destruction. The war, the great war of conquest would claim the lives of hundreds of millions. Both Queen Rhoda and King Jon were supremely confident in their abilities to send out their forces to battle and to win. Each were seated on their thrones in fortified bunkers awaiting the beginning of the first and last battle of the final war. After all, armies are expendable, sovereigns are not.

Rhoda grinned with evil intent imagining her troops and battalions smashing Jon’s fortifications and capturing him. She wanted the honor of slitting his throat with her own hand and then drinking his blood.

Jon had similar plans for the accursed Rhoda, though his personally violating the Virgin Queen’s body would proceed her slow torture and death.

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Redemption: A Halloween Tale

trick or treat

Image: WFMJ.com News

Brent hated Halloween. He’d hated it for the past twenty years, and he had a very good reason to. Twenty years ago tonight she had died and it was all his fault.

Twenty years ago tonight, Brent took his eight-year old daughter Evelyn out trick or treating. His wife Marie stayed home to give out candy to the children who would be visiting their house.

It happened so fast. Evelyn saw her best friend across the street and ran over to see her without looking. A teenager driving too fast in a neighborhood full of children. Brent froze at the sickening thud of her body being crushed by the impact. Mercifully, she died instantly.

Brent wasn’t the only one to blame him for little Evie’s death. His wife divorced him six-months later. Evie was their only child.

For the past twenty years, Brent lived alone. He never remarried. Who would have him anyway? Oh, he’s kept a job, had a small comfortable house to live in, he even had a few friends, but the spark of life and of living died along with his little girl.

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