Nothing to see, nothing to touch, nothing to hear.
He guessed at a direction, and swam.
When he came to, he was underwater. He couldn't tell which way was up. Either everything was dark or the explosion had messed up his eyesight, and there was nothing to touch when he thrashed, and he gave up on not panicking within a second because he needed to breathe now.
Nothing to see, nothing to touch, nothing to hear.
He guessed at a direction, and swam.
"How about tomorrow, by those little islands?" suggested the Sea.
"No can do," said the Sky, "I already agreed to give the people there some sun."
"Fine, fine, suppose we say further south, to the coast?"
"Sure, I'll meet you there."
It was a glorious waterspout.
When she was little, she called herself an expert bugologist. She was part hunter and part trainer, tracking earwigs and directing ants with lines of honey. She missed her bugs when she visited the ocean for the first time.
But then night came. And she wondered who had taught fireflies to swim.
One, two, three, four, five sentences for Five Sentence Fiction.
It took her an hour to lure the demon into the circle she had drawn. It had lived in its current host long enough to turn its skin rough and reptilian, and when it hissed at her it showed fang. She looked it straight in its full-black eyes as she started the incantation.
She had underestimated it.
The earth lurched, then she was on her back on the shuddering ground. It stilled even as she scrambled up. The demon must have had an earthquake spell already stored, otherwise it could never have reached outside the circle--
The circle, which was now broken in several places, useless. But there was the demon, motionless inside it. She crept closer. Surely its own spell hadn't killed it. Had it left its host? Where could it have gone...?
Hello, said a voice in her head. She tried to scream, but couldn't make a sound.
Another VisDare prompt!
The rain had finally paused, and there were children making mud angels in the field. They stood up caked in muck, varying degrees of careful not to smudge the outlines of their creations, and ran giggling to the hose to spray each other off. Then the rain unpaused and drove them to the shelter at the edge of the field.
One noticed first and poked another, and soon they were all staring. They watched wide-eyed as their mud angels rose from the ground, dripping, and swam through the raindrops into the sky.
And thiiiiiis one was prompted by Five Sentence Fiction.
Winged people hadn't been seen in our city for years, but now there were more of them every day. They mostly flew in from the east, over the forest, and they spread everywhere. They hid in corners and walked the streets, and the ghosts said they had seen them gathering on rooftops at night; but if you tried to talk to one, they'd slip inside a glamour and disappear.
People were curious, some, but only idly. The winged people were so unobtrusive you hardly noticed them if you weren't trying. It was just puzzling.
Besides, before anyone got around to doing anything about it, the trees of the forest started uprooting themselves and crawling toward the city. Fast.
And soon we found out what the winged ones were fleeing from.
Yay more flash fiction. This one was prompted by VisDare.
Samira, it turned out, was very interested in the owl that had attacked Tag. “You're sure it was the exact spot?” she asked. Tag was sure. “But it didn't stay more than a few seconds?” It hadn't. “And you're not hurt?” She wasn't. “But it did see you?”
“Yes, it did, why...”
“What kind of owl was it?”
“Um, the gray kind. Not the kind with the sticking-up ears. It had big yellow eyes. Bigger than my head, but not a lot. The owl, not the eyes.”
“I don't recognize it,” Samira muttered, and started to pace.
Tag ventured, “Why...?”
“Wells don't bring animals to them like that. The well magic needs other magic to pull on. The owl is a familiar, but not of anyone I know.”
“An unfamiliar familiar, then?”
Samira gave a snort of a laugh. “Yes, I suppose so. All right. Wait a moment.” She stepped around the shelves to a clear section, where she set her hands on the wall and leaned her forehead against it.
The wall glowed where she touched it, and Tag peered closer. Samira hadn't said the glow spell out loud, or any spell at all, and anyway Tag could feel when the glow spell was cast now and this wasn't it...
Samira straightened and the glow blinked out. “The owl must have been taking magic if it wasn't losing it. We're going to start hurrying.” She scooped together the half-prepared Keepers and herbs. “There will be time to sort the magic out later, after we've emptied the well. Bring Kirchai, will you?”
Tag crouched by the skunk's sleeping nook and gathered him into her arms. He snuffled a little but didn't wake. “It's not really bad. Even if the owl takes some magic, there's a lot. We don't need every little drop. You're not even doing that much with it.”
“Maybe not.” Samira led the way out of the tree. “But magic is powerful. You like to follow animals, Tag?”
“Yes. And watch them.” More than almost anything else, except learning magic.
“If you see the owl again, don't follow it. Its witch might be a perfectly charming person who wants to clear away dangerous loose magic and whose familiar is a little cranky. Or they might be dangerous themselves, they might be someone who wants to use magic in such a way that it would make me... annoyed... with them. If you see the owl again, come straight to me and tell me about it.”
Tag wasn't sure if she was more alarmed at the idea of an unknown dangerous witch, or Samira becoming annoyed. She swallowed. “All right.”
“Good. What we're going to do now is drain the well as fast as possible. Before, I was taking time to prepare individual Keepers so the magic would be in usable chunks that I could carry around and that would last for years. But we can do that later. For now, most of the magic goes in the tree.”
“In the tree.” Her eyes grew wide. “You mean it's like one big Keeper?”
“I've used enough magic in it, over time, that it's close enough.”
“You're going to live in a magic tree.”
“I already live in a magic tree,” said the witch with amusement. “It's bringing the magic there that will be challenging. It needs to travel in a Keeper, and the most efficient Keepers to use are me and Kirch.”
“I guess you can carry more at one time than a rock can.”
“That, and we're already prepared as Keepers, but most of all, it's easier to move magic in and out of living things than it is dead stone. You saw that it hardly took any time to empty my current store, or most of it, before we left.”
“So that's what that was.”
“Yes. It won't be that easy every time; we'll get worn out and have to slow down. But it's still better than stones.”
Tag glanced at Kirchai, who was starting to stir in her arms, and back at Samira. “Could... could I be a Keeper, then? It doesn't sound hard.”
Samira walked in silence for a moment. “Maybe,” she said at last. “It's more than simply being a living thing. Kirchai and I are used to it, we have channels inside us that we've trained the magic to flow through, in a manner of speaking. It's hard to keep hold of the magic when you haven't shaped those channels yet, and this isn't the best time to experiment. But later, I can show you how to practice. Maybe even with the well magic.”
More waiting. Tag sighed. “All right.”
At the well, she set Kirchai down with a huff of relief and looked around. Nothing seemed changed from when she'd left.
“No owls in sight,” said Samira.
“Good.” Tag was out of pebbles to throw. She found a stick and pulled it from the bushes, just in case.
“Most likely,” said Samira, and started drawing magic from the well.
To be continued...
The trail led me, last of all, to an old wrecked ship on a rocky beach. The previous note had directed me to the bow, which I was fairly sure meant the front. The figurehead was a quaint carving of a crowned dolphin that might have been laughing before its face was half worn away. The last note was jammed in the curl of its tail.
It was short. I've said everything I needed to say. Remember me. And good luck.
I dropped the slip of paper onto the rocks. In a few hours, when the tide rose, it would wash over the words and carry them out to sea.
The Trifecta prompt was the word "quaint". And I stuck to 110 words for an extra challenge. Stories this tiny are funny--some of them turn out to be just the beginnings of a story. This one didn't.
The first time I saw the edge of the world, my eyes grew big. “That's where I can go to learn storms?”
Dad sighed. “If you take more care than your mom did,” he said. “Just... don't fall.”
This week's Trifextra was not only limited in words, but they all had to be one syllable each. Fun. I don't know what happened to these people, or what's going to happen, but I bet you storms will be learned.
“Gahh!” Lily stormed out of her room, batting at the air. “Jay, I'm sick of your creepy bat things flying around the house!”
“Nah, it's okay,” Jay said, grinning. “This little guy isn't a bat, he's a miniature pterosaur.”
“Bat, dinosaur, whatever. It was in my room. Mom would get you a puppy or something if you asked, you don't have to keep summoning these... things.”
Jay whistled sharply. Within seconds the flock had mobbed him. “Happy?”
“No.” Lily stomped out.
Jay shook his head. “A puppy.” Actually... boring by itself, sure, but if he gave it horns, maybe a forked tongue...
He opened his spellbook and started practicing.
Prompted yet again by the really fun Trifecta, with the word to use being "whatever", which, y'know, obviously leads to this story, what else?
I'm Sky. This site is where I put various bits of fiction that enter my head.