Every year, Rosalie Valentine hosts a Flash Fiction Dash, which is a couple of weeks in which authors across the blogosphere (and beyond) write flash fiction based on a prompt assigned by Rosalie, post them on their blogs if they have them, and then Rosalie gathers them all into one glorious wrap-up post at the end. I saw it last year, but thought I couldn’t write anything that short, but this year I decided it would be a good way to get back into short stories in a more gradual and fun way… and I was basically right. The only problem is… with any new short story comes new characters that I have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO WITH beyond the story, so now these characters are rattling around in my brain.
But enough of my yakking. Here’s the prompt I started with:
Now let’s get into the story.
Run, you clever boy, and remember.
Fire lances through my legs. Trees rush by in a blur. I remember.
We’re standing on the outskirts, waiting for the transfer. Her eyes are silver in the moonlight. I try to focus on the street, but I keep coming back to her.
A summer breeze brushes over us and rustles her red hair. Crickets chirp beneath the trees behind us. She stands so straight, like a soldier. She’s not a soldier, and only ladies and spies stand with so much poise.
A shadow approaches from the street, dark cloak blending with the night. He stops three feet away.
Run, regretful man. You couldn’t save her.
“You have him?” she asks.
The shadow beckons and another steps into the moonlight, the young prince limp in his arms.
“You have the payment?” the shadow replies.
“The prince first,” I say. I take the risk.
The shadow snaps to me.
“Look out!” I feel someone approach from behind just as her cloak sweeps the back of my ankles.
Run, you tired hero, don’t forget her sacrifice…
I don’t forget. I can never forget.
I spin around as she crumples to the ground, her silver eyes on mine. Crimson rivers fill the space between the cobblestones.
“The boy…” Her last words. Her last breath.
…But always keep in mind it wasn’t you who took her life.
Fury floods my veins, and with it, fire. The night is set alight, and the silence is pierced by the shadows’ screams. The prince never wakes to see the ashes. My blackened hands. I cradle him in my arms, measuring his steady breath, praying I don’t leave stains on his snow-white blanket.
I turn to her. Vacant silver eyes fade to blue. Another will take her place.
The prince is safe. The mission complete.
I turn to take the prince back home. She died to protect him. So will I.
I snap from my vision and realize I’m running, running, running. I pull to a stop and the youth behind me takes my arm.
“You ran again.”
As if I don’t know. As if I can scour the images from my mind.
I look into the face of the prince, and in the moonlight his eyes are silver. I stare.
“What?” He’s confused. Concerned.
He’s too young to know. Too young to understand. I never told him of the Moonwalkers. Never told him of her. He cannot be the one…
My voice is breathless. “Run.”