June Flash Challenge: The Stories

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Which tale did you prefer?

Poll ended at July 01, 2019, 06:42:10 PM

Heartbeat in the Dark
The Modern Dragon
A Dragon’s Plea
The Dragon and the Well
Total votes : 8
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Post June 17, 2019, 06:42:10 PM

June Flash Challenge: The Stories

Tell us which you liked...
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Post June 17, 2019, 06:42:53 PM

Heartbeat in the Dark

Heartbeat in the Dark

By Jontrue

The rhythmic hiss of Dr. Debrah J. Phillips’ suit consumed her. The ammonia levels in the surrounding atmosphere would prove deadly in seconds without protection. She and her team had prepared for this journey for months, and yet, somehow, the experience was still overwhelming, like an astronaut anxiously exploring a strange, new planet never seen by human eyes.

Last January, a heartbeat had been detected by Mobile/Exon as they scoured the ground using their seismic spectrographs to find precious oil. At first, they mistook it for a machine loudly pounding away deep in the Earth’s crust. It was Dr. Phillips that recognized the familiar pattern...thah-thump thah-thump. She was the lead biologist, required by law to be employed by the massive cooperation when talking about new drill sites. Her job was to ensure minimal damage to surrounding ecosystems and no damage to endangered species. Never did she imagine they would find something of this magnitude. By her estimates, from the speed, volume, and estimated distance, whatever it was had a heart the size of a Voltswagon Beetle.

“Boss, we’re closing in on the source,” Rodriguez called out over the intercom. All five of their suits could talk to each other over the radio, but Rodriguez still insisted on speaking loudly as if he were trying to yell through the suit to the people around him.

They had lost contact with the surface over an hour ago, as expected. The distance and amount of rock between them and the surface was too great for any signal to find its way through.

“Keep an eye out, we have no idea what we’re dealing with here. Remember, whatever we find our first priority is to —” she was cut off abruptly by Jamison, her pertinacious intern.

“Do no harm. Rule number one of biological studies and medicine alike.” Patricia Jamison, Patty to her friends, said like she was expecting extra credit for the quick response.

“Right, do no harm. The last thing we want is to be blamed for the extinction of yet another species.” Radly, the balding corporate representative corrected himself, “The alleged extinction...”

A litany of light beams cut through the utter darkness like razor blades looking for any sign of the source. Each suit had a light for the built-in camera on the left shoulder, and one mounted to the right sleeve.

“Oh my god, I can’t get over how beautiful it is down here. Untouched by human hands,” Patty said excitedly.

“Okay, let’s keep the chit-chat to a minimum, Patty, grab a soil sample. I don’t recognize this mineral we’re walking on. The patterns look like some kind of cooled and cracked lava flow. It wouldn’t be surprising considering how far down we are.” Dr. Phillips had a concerned sound in her voice, a quaver that did not go unnoticed. The blood was rushing to her ears in apprehensive fear.

Patty opened the metal suitcase that she had been carrying for just this occasion. It was more difficult with the suit on, but she managed to assemble the drill and the diamond corer that would allow the drill to cut through anything.

The radios picked up a faint screech from the mechanical whirring of the drill. White-hot sparks flew from the end of the drill. “I’m not getting very far here boss; looks like I’m barely scratching it.”

The spotlights that scoured the cavern were suddenly all on Patty lighting her suit up bright as day. She was kneeling on the black surface: one hand on the ground for support and the other wrapped around the drill putting all of her weight into collecting the sample. Mist swirled around, mimicking and retreating from her movements. The outside of her visor was collecting droplets of water and she hastily wiped them away with her sleeve.

“Whatever this is, it’s tearing the bit up,” Patty said waving the drill in the air to show proof of her claim.

Dr. Phillips crouched down to get a better look when the world started to shake underneath them. A sound too low for human ears reverberated in their chest like standing in front of a thousand-watt amp and cranking it to eleven. Some of the smaller stalactites fell from the ceiling, crashing to the ground and crumbling on impact.

A gust of foul breath, hot against their suits in a flurry of wind and booming sound demanded, “What treachery is this? That the pale, weak humans have brought their rotting stench down to my secret caves of eternal slumber.”

The group looked at each other in disbelief and rising terror. Radly turned to run the opposite direction, bounding faster than the flabby paper-pusher had moved in decades only to be crushed by a massive clawed hand that came crashing out of the wall.

“Answer me, weaklings! Ten thousand years ago your people made a pledge to never bother me again. This time I will have no mercy, this time I will burn your leaders, and you will kneel before me,” the creature roared nearly bursting their eardrums even through the suits.

Dr. Philips, barely able to stand from the fear shone a light in the direction of the voice. Deep in the cave, she saw a gaping snout with teeth the size of lampposts and a tongue the size of a bus. “For — Forgive us, we meant no harm, we just heard your heartbeat under the earth and came to discover what could be living down here.”

“I cannot hear you through your clothing. Tell me who is your most powerful leader so I might crush them and make the world tremble.” A second gargantuan clawed hand burst forth from the wall grabbing Deborah ripping off her helmet like a candy wrapper.

Her eyes bled and her throat closed tight from the ammonia in the air. As she died she croaked out a single weak word, “TRUMP!” a smile ran across her corroding face as the light faded from her eyes.
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Post June 17, 2019, 06:43:35 PM

The Modern Dragon

The Modern Dragon

By Megawatts

In the beautiful highlands near the Taishan Mountain located north of Tai’an City, a group of friends from the University of Pittsburgh on vacation in China with their Chinese friends from the same fraternity, ponder about dragons that are supposed to live in the mountains of China.

“Don’t go up there. Don’t mess with the dragon. The dragon doesn’t want anybody on the mountain, and it now has young dragons it’s taking care of,” Chan-Lee said.

“I don’t believe in dragons---- that’s all a fairytale,” Eric said.

“You Americans do not honor your parents and ancestors! How foolish you are. They will guide you though life if you only listen to them with you heart. You do not hear them when they speak nor obey them when they tell you things,” Chong-Tai said.

“The only thing my grandfather ever says is to go to college, graduate and marry a nice rich girl, “Mark said. “He looked over at Kayla then said. “Well, I guess that leaves you out!”

Some laughter bubbled up over that one. Kayla didn’t respond for she viewed Eric, Mark and John her classmates and after three years as adopted brothers. They now relied on one another when one needed help.

A light breeze played with Kayla’s hair as she thought about what her Chinese friends said. Finally she uttered, “We had better listen to them.”

“Oh, come on Kayla— not you too!” Mark said.

“Dragons are very smart. They are capable of talking you know,” Chan-Lee said.

“I guess they’re on Facebook and have Wi Fi service up there!” Eric said.

Again laughter sounded, but their Chinese friends didn’t laugh. Kayla didn’t laugh. She looked up at the mountain in a pensive mood as the laughter passed her by and disappeared into the valley. Finally she said, “It’s not funny.”

“Look, we’re going up there to get some good pictures from a high point. Weather condition are right and with the clouds hovering low, I just might get an award winning shot. Look how the sun hits these parts.

“Why do you think all our farmers are protecting their live stock now? The dragon kills them for its young. This is a very dangerous time to be near the dragon,” Chong-Tai said. “Remember what I tell you . . . the dragon is very smart and will trap you----that has been told to me by my grandfather’s father.”

“There are no dragons. No yeti and no dragons,” Eric said.

“I have tried to warn you but you will not listen . . . please don’t go up there,” Chong-Tai said.

“We’ll be back tomorrow,” Eric said.

A well-worn path accented up the mountain pass. The path ran though a temple of some kind, old and un-used for years by the weeds and trees growing through it. Eric stopped and took a series of pictures with Mark and John posing for reference in the temple’s size and dimensions. An old stature of a dragon kept watch near the old entrance but Mark noticed that the eyes of the dragon sparkled in the sunlight.

“Some type of gemstone must be used for the dragon’s eyes. Don’t touch it. Remember if anybody steals anything here in China or vandalizes anything you could end up in jail for years! You can take all the pictures you want but no “touchie” anything!”

“You got that right,” John said.

“Let’s take a peek inside. Looks interesting,” Eric said. “Might get some good shots of old artifacts.”

Although the temple was old and from the appearance hadn’t be used in years, the entrance gave an inviting look with no weeds, broken stone or branches resting across the cut stone path leading into it. This section of the temple looked cared for.

“They worship their ancestors so much I bet they sometimes come up here and clean the place. Who else would it be?” Eric said.

“I— don’t think we should go in there,” Mark said.

“Oh come on—get with it! What do you think----- some dragon lives in it!” Eric said.

“Okay, but I don’t like it,” Mark said.

The three entered and a large room with no roof appeared after a few feet in through a very short hallway. They stopped before entering the room, and just looked around.

“Look at the gemstone on the wall over there-----Wow, it must be worth a fortune,” Eric said.

The three stepped into the room one after another. When the last one entered, they heard a loud thud that came from the entrance. They looked back and an iron gate had slid down and closed off any escape for the three.

“I told you we shouldn’t have entered!” Mark said.

“There’s other ways out, I’m sure. We could even climb out . . . ,” Eric started to say. However they became speechless as their eyes looked up and saw something that, well, was impossible.

A large dragon and three little ones perched on top were staring down into the room that held the three, and the little ones were licking their lips and savoring the mood. They looked up at their mother and said out loud and in good English, “Can we eat them now!”

“In a moment my young ones. I see your English lessons are paying off. Yes, with all the foolish Americans coming over as tourists or in work study programs it is getting much easier for me to find a good meal for you. And when they go missing the American government announces that the Chinese government has arrested them as spies. That happens every five years when I have my young,” the mother dragon said.

Mark looked down and said, “We should have listened to Kayla.”
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Post June 17, 2019, 06:44:04 PM

A Dragon’s Plea

A Dragon’s Plea

By Michelle "Bottondweller" Dutcher

The two young, Norse heroes peaked out quietly from their hiding places in the cave. They had been waiting for half-a-day to be certain the dragon was fast asleep, sitting in the dim light behind some boulders.

Asta motioned to her husband Halvard who immediately picked up the vines they had brought with them. Together they began to wrap the sleeping giant’s arms and legs with the vines, pulling them tightly. Then they bound its jaws shut, and when they were certain the knots were secure, Asta pulled her knife from her sheath.
“I shall now send thee to hell!” she screamed, plunging the blade deep into the monster’s chest.

Of course the dragon awoke up in pain, finding that the more he tried to break the vines, the more the force was absorbed and distributed to all the vines, making it impossible for the creature to free its hands and feet. Eventually, however, due to the sharpness of its claws, it was able to cut the vines on its mouth. The two humans began to run but quickly stumbled against the dragon’s tail because of the dim light, falling to the ground. So the three souls laid there in the cave together, silently, until the dragon began to speak.

“I am called Gulla, if I remember correctly. Since you have mortally wounded me, at least you could be polite enough to keep me company until I die.” Asta and Halvard held their breaths, trying to hide, afraid the beast would burn them alive. “I can hear your heartbeats. Please. Don’t leave me here to die alone.”

A small, frightened voice crept out of the heroine, “We are afraid you will use your fire to kill us.”

“Between the vines sapping my strength and the blade you stuck in my chest, I am too weak to breathe fire. Sit with me for a while, I beg you.”

Asta and her husband had never talked with a dragon before, so they cautiously approached the beast, getting up from the muddy floor. As they stood up, they grabbed a torch they had brought with them, lighting it so they could clearly see the creature - because they had never seen a dying dragon before.

“Thank you for staying,” said the dragon, obviously relieved, as the husband and wife sat down. “I have not always been a dragon, you know. There was a time when I was a regal moose and was part of a herd. I have missed talking with others.”

The humans were now close enough to see the dragon’s massive chest rising and falling as it struggled to breathe.

“If you weren’t always a dragon, how did you become one?” asked Halvard, leaning forward a little to hear the creature’s raspy answer.

“I wanted to fly. I watched the birds flying from mountain to mountain over the tundra and I wanted to be one of them as they soared overhead. Odin heard the prayers in my heart and transformed me into the massive creature you see before you. People named me Gulla – a god – and brought me all the gold you will find further back in the cave, out of reverence for my magical form. I was their protector…but that was long ago before humans abandoned our kind.”

“I understand,” said the woman. “But why are you not dead – if my aim was true and my knife struck your heart. How are you still alive?”

“Because dragons are more difficult to kill than most humans know. You have mortally wounded me, but for me to die, you must stab me again. In fact, you must stab me to death in my true form. If you don’t do this, it will take weeks for me to slowly bleed to death. This is why I begged you to stay with me, so you could complete the job you started. I have long outlived my family; it is time for me to go and be with them in the stars.”

Suddenly the dragon transformed into a stunning moose, smaller than a dragon of course but still beautiful with its thick black fur and multi-pointed antlers. Its legs were still bound-up by the vines, and it was too weak to escape, although it thrashed around some, its fur matted with blood. “You must kill me now, slicing my throat open until my life-blood runs out onto the floor of the cave until I am dead. It will be easier for you to kill me now.”

But as Asta came forward to pull the knife from the chest of the beautiful beast and use it to slice open its neck, standing over the beast, Gulla raised his head and looked at the heroine, eye to eye. Asta began to cry as she held the weapon over its body, repenting that she had ever awakened him to begin with. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. She had thought killing the dragon would bring her glory but now this magical creature’s voice had broken her heart.

“Do it, finish this,” whispered the enormous animal still watching her, pleading for death.

And without looking, her eyes closed, Asta brought the knife down across the creature’s throat, causing its huge head to fall onto the ground, its last breath gushing out through the hideous tear in its neck.

The heroes sat on the cave’s floor holding each other until the light of the torch began to grow dim, when they knew they had to go, the whole time honoring the gentle creature who had dared to dream of flying.
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Post June 17, 2019, 06:46:08 PM

The Dragon and the Well

The Dragon and the Well

By Sergio- "ente per ente" Palumbo

Life had never been easy in the village of Hl-le-bn.

The tiny town where the young boy named Kly-bn lived was comprised of 30 huts and was surrounded by an arid landscape where it only rained 5 or 6 days a year. Deserts like this one were reputed to be merciless places, but this was where the population of Hl-le-bn had always been, so they had actually gotten used to the terrible conditions.

As if things weren’t bad enough already, life had become much worse recently. The only well that was nearby - about two days’ travel by walking – happened to be a cursed site, as a fearsome Sand Dragon had decided to take control of it!

Two villagers set out to get some water but they never came back. Eventually Kly-bn’s thirst became too great and the dark-haired boy, who lived alone, knew he had to try to get water.

The path he followed was difficult and the sweltering climate almost made him turn back twice. But he made it there thanks to his youth, and was shocked when he saw the legendary beige serpent-like creature towering over the stones around the well.

Instead of Kly-bn being killed on sight, however, the monster began to talk to him.

“I have seized this lonely well for myself, to quench my thirst, because we live in such a blistering desert,” the dragon said. “As a powerful creature I can live without eating for months or even years if I must… But I like the taste of meat from time to time. So I am willing to make a deal with you: bring me the corpse of one of your villagers so that I can feed on it and you can take all the water you need. Of course, every single time you need more water, you’ll need to bring me another human corpse to be eaten.”

Must I kill people to get water to survive?” Kly-bn wondered. “How could anyone do such a thing?

“It could be an old person or an adult one, that’s up to you, not someone as small as you. But the corpse must be a recently deceased,” the creature instructed. “The other villagers will need to do the same thing, whenever they want some water.”

“But we are a small village, we can’t kill all our people to get water!”

“How you get the corpses is up to you,” sneered the dragon.

So Kly-bn went back to his village thirstier and more tired than ever. When he reported what the Sand Dragon had demanded, the people grumbled, some cursed the creature, but no one was ready to face the monster. So the villagers began to eye each other, wondering which ones might be the weakest.

When things seemed most desperate, a tall stranger came into their village. He was muscular and strong and about 60-years-old. The large sword he carried on his back indicated he was, or at least had been, a warrior.

His name was Tl-en-ln and he told them he was a mercenary, ready to be hired for the right amount of money, if needed.

So, the villagers put their growing disagreements aside and asked the man to free them from the Sand Dragon that held their water captive.

“I will do this if you give me copper 50 coins as a reward,” Tl-en-ln replied. His words were like music to the ears of the locals, though many of them doubted that a single man could defeat such a powerful creature.

Kly-bn decided to lead the warrior to the well himself, as the boy was very curious and wanted to witness the fierce battle.

Actually, the battle was short, though unbelievably, and Tl-en-ln was able to kill the dragon almost as soon as it crawled out of the well, spiraling its long shape 16-feet above the warrior. The man took a blowgun out of his haversack, then aimed it at the monster and fired.

The creature didn’t try to escape, as it believed that its massive skin would protect its body against any attack. But it was wrong! As soon as the dart touched it, its skin color changed, turning from beige to gray, and then the dragon became a line of dark ash on the warm sand.

“You see, boy,” said Tl-en-ln, “I’m not very good at fighting, although I do have a lot of experience at it. I happened to have with me the only substance that is deadly to such creatures. The dart I fired was made of White Scourer Fish which is poisonous to a Sand Dragon. I found that potion years ago while searching for treasures in ruins…”

“Thank you for helping us! You defeated the Sand Dragon!” he shouted in an uncontrollable surprise.

“Now I need to determine the price for allowing the villagers to drink the water from this well,” Tl-en-ln told him in a scary tone while sitting on the stones nearby. “Perhaps the right price might be 5 copper coins for every full vase. Yes, I think the villagers can afford that.”

“But we can’t pay that much! We are a very poor village!”

“Mine the win, mine the gain. Wasn’t I the one who freed you from that Sand Dragon? You paid me, I did it. Now it’s time for my subsequent reward...consider it a donation towards my retirement,” the warrior laughed at him.

“What if we decide to fight you instead?”

“Really? Do you know of anybody in your village that would fight me? Your village couldn’t even come together and attack the Sand Dragon by themselves.”

It looks like things have gone from bad to worse, the boy considered with a very dejected look. At first they had been faced with a powerful Sand Dragon, and now they had to deal with a powerful mercenary, a man who now ruled over that well while demanding money they didn’t have.

The curse of that desert area really seemed to be unending…
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Post June 18, 2019, 08:13:10 AM

Re: June Flash Challenge: The Stories

My vote is in...eh,eh :D

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Post June 18, 2019, 10:13:30 PM

Re: June Flash Challenge: The Stories

My vote is in. It's been awhile since I entered.
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Post June 19, 2019, 10:05:06 AM

Re: June Flash Challenge: The Stories

My vote is in.
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.

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