The Peas are offering up some unique (and overdue!) flash fiction. We're literally rolling the dice this week to find inspiration for our stories. M gave her lucky plot dice a shake and this is a picture of what we were given:
|Flash Fiction Inspiration|
Each Pea was responsible for interrupting the images as she saw fit. Yeah, this is going to be interesting...
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
Ohon’s ethereal powder drifted to the Sleeper’s head and disappeared. The Sleeper smiled.
Jealousy spiked in Ozon’s heart. “There’s no justice in this world.”
“Come now, brother,” his twin chided as he recorded the reaction in the Book of Dreams. “You mustn’t say such things.”
“It’s true.” Ozon pulled open his own black leather pouch and dipped his fingers into the inky darkness within.
“Are you still questioning our assignments?”
Ozon smeared a bit of oily residue on the female Sleeper’s forehead. She flinched at his touch. “Always.”
Ohon shook his head as he handed Ozon’s the Book. “You don’t give yourself enough credit, brother. You see our gifts as a burden. They aren’t.”
“No, they’re a curse.” Ozon tucked the Book inside his robes.
The twins sauntered from the bedroom, gliding silently down the hallway. “We’re Sandmen, brother. We reveal all that is locked away and hidden. None have power to rival ours.”
“And yet we’re incapable of acting alone.”
Ohon laughed. “Are you tired of me?”
Ozon remained silent.
“There are reasons why Sandmen are paired. If one of us had command of both Desire and Fear...” Ohon shuddered. “No, it’s best to keep the powers separate.”
“Of course you’d say that, brother. You only deal with pleasantries. I’m the monstrous shadow, the one they label Nightmare.”
Ohon sighed and paused, forcing Ozon to wait. “If one Sandman had the ability to grant both, Sleepers would fall to him like sheep before the butcher. It would be the end of all Sandmen.”
“Not the end. A restoration.”
“Are suggesting we return to an autonomous state? Have you forgotten the horrors of the Rift?”
Ohon chuckled and brushed past Ozon. “Glad to see you’re finally developing a sense of humor.”
Anger swelled as Ozon slammed his twin against the wall. Before Ohon could cried out, he smeared a handful of Fear along Ohon’s forehead.
Convulsions wracked the Sandman’s body. Soundless screamed contoured his face.
Ozon ripped away his brother’s pouch. The weight of Desire thrilled him. The warmth of the dust within warmed the leather and his cold skin.
As Ohon crumpled to the floor, Ozon smiled for the first time in his existence. “Sweet dreams, brother.”
(Weighing in at 423 words, J goes over word count for the first time!)
No one ever tells you to watch out for your shadow.
Why should they? It's your constant companion. Trustworthy. Reliable. There with you through everything, even when you can't see it. So what happens when it peels itself from the ground, grows claws and horns, and starts hissing its fork-tongued whispers in your ear?
No one ever tells you to watch out for your shadow because no one has ever had one possessed. Until now.
My name is Finnigan Swiftfoot, and I have a demon tethered to my skin.
In fact, it's sitting beside me right now, watching me write this to you in a letter I will never send.
Having a demon shadow is not painful. Not physically, anyway. I suppose you could call me lucky. After all, my shadow is the one possessed. I'm just fine... Aside from the way it follows me around, lurking, stalking, murmuring a list of all my fears over and over so I'll never forget them.
It's a real joy, my shadow.
I've tried to force it away. I've planted myself directly in the sun, where only happiness could possibly survive -- where darkness withers under my feet -- and allowed myself to believe this is all some dream. But time, like the sun across the sky, passes. And soon my shadow drags itself up and faces me, and the truth is painfully clear. I will never be free of it. Not until I find the key to unlocking the shackles that bind us.
I can look down even now and see the keyhole tattoo on my wrist where the shackles appeared, only that first few days after it happened. Sometimes I can forget. Even when it sits beside me, staring at me, muttering. I can forget.
But not at night. When I sleep, my shadow cloaks itself in darkness, slithers into my bed, and worms its way into my dreams. My nightmares.
I haven't slept well in months.
I look out the window of my sixteenth train car since I reached this side of the world. The sheep grazing in the passing fields entice me. I almost want to count them. I wonder if it would help to keep the demon at bay. Maybe an hour of untainted sleep...
I look beside me. My shadow is curled on the red upholstery of the bench seat, darkening it to the shade of blood. Its eyes never leave me.
So loyal, my shadow.
I finger the edges of the ancient book in my lap, wishing I could read the language. I'm pretty sure it contains the answer I'm looking for. If not, I've got no other options but to flay myself alive, and even that's not a guarantee.
"What did I do to deserve you?" I ask. The scales of paranormal justice have so clearly been tipped in my favor...
My shadow flashes me a razor-sharp grin. "I'll never tell," it answers in a sing-song voice that has yet to stop being creepy, even after all this time.
"Super helpful answer. Thanks," I say, turning back to the fields flashing by the window.
(At 520 words, A is unsurprisingly over the limit)
Donavon Dinkle stuck the worthless finance book in his back pocket and stared at the scrawny mud caked sheep.
He hadn’t slept for days worrying over the question posed in the letter.
Would you rather pay me the six thousand pounds or forfeit the property?
“Neither.” He heaved the pitiful animal onto the scale. Not quite six stones. “The price of the meat on your bones ain’t worth the effort.”
The sheep baaed then blinked dully at him.
“How am I to get this demon off my back,” he said, dragging the animal off the scale. He sighed, looked down at the sheep, and patted its head. “I have to get the money somehow. They’ll take the farm.”
The sheep lifted its chin to him as if to say, It’ll be all right, Mr. D.
He tossed the worthless ledger onto the scale and walked out of the barn as the creature trailed behind him.
The farm was rundown and hadn’t turned a profit in some time. But he couldn’t bear to part with it. It’d been in the family for ages. Losing it would be the end of his world.
A low whistle sounded from above. The sheep startled and skittered off with a bleet. He scanned the sky and saw a dark moving object growing larger. Taking a few steps backward, he stumbled and watched as the object streaked toward the earth. It crashed into his barn with a boom.
“Bloody hell!” he said, picking himself out of the mud.
He carefully approached the smoking rubble pile in front of him and climbed over the barn’s shattered walls to get a closer look.
Settled in the splintered crater of wood laid the mangled remains of one of those keyhole satellites he'd read about in the paper. It bore an American flag.
Donavon turned and found the sheep looking rather pleased with itself and standing not but a stone’s throw away.
He smiled and said to the animal, “I reckon those Yanks’ll be wanting to keep this quiet.”
The sheep bleeted happily then scampered out to the field just as a caravan of unmarked vehicles raced along the road toward the farm.
(Words totaling in at 363. M scores pea points with the lowest word count for this round.)
Thanks for reading. Next up, the missing Hunger Games edits, a recap of my YA Day, and who knows what for next week. You'll just have to wait and see.