The flames of summer are hopefully almost gone. But since it’s been so darn hot lately, I decided that the August Prompted Contest would be fire-themed.
My co-judge and prompt creator, Lydia Jane, and I were amazed at the ingenuity of the participants as they created flaming-hot flash fiction stories based on our three prompts. If you want to see all the entries, check out the Instagram posts.
Now onto the winners!
Prompt: Wherever there’s smoke, she’s sure to follow.
The moon creatures creep forward. Silver forms waver in the firelight, daring me to extinguish the flames. Smoke-hungry mouths open, fangs glinting.
I grip my sword. Time to fight again. For her.
My heart shivers. I search for the source of the voice that once spoke my name with love. Each night, the sight of her–skin nearly translucent, pupils black with corruption, hair ashen with death–turns my stomach.
“Jade. Come home.” I hold out my trembling hand. Hissing moon creatures hover near, devouring smoke from my fire, feeding on the vapor that makes them stronger. I swallow. I’m only helping them to help her.
The shake of her head is subtle, but it guts me. “I won’t.”
The newly-strengthened creatures attack.
My blade flies. Fangs crack. Jade inhales, soaking up strength as smoke drifts toward her.
I’m losing ground. Tonight isn’t my victory. With a kick at the dirt, I smother the fire, and the hungry moon creatures flee.
Another failed attempt to rescue my wife from the demons who claimed her. But tomorrow night, I’ll light another fire, once again beckon the monsters, and wait for Jade.
Wherever there’s smoke, she’s sure to follow.~ Emily Grant
Emily Grant (@emilygrantauthor) wowed us with her world–moon creatures that feed on smoke!–and Aiden’s fight to save his wife. Intense, emotional, and action-filled, Emily used the prompt in such an interesting way that we had to choose her entry.
Before you read the winning story, I wanted to give you a trigger warning because this story deals with miscarriage and self-harm. It’s a beautiful, redemptive tale, but if those are triggers for you, perhaps skip this story. ❤
Prompt: You want me to stand back, do nothing, just watch the world burn?
Repeat: TRIGGER WARNING (self-harm)
Three weeks of hollowing cheeks and sagging shoulders, silent tears and phantom cries.
A nine-month journey cut short–all too short.
_She’s been gone too long._
Kyler fiddles with his wedding band, his eyes having found the bathroom door minutes ago.
All too long.
A rap of knuckles, and he presses his temple to the wood. “Pipa?”
A moment of quiet. “I’m fine.”
The crack in her voice says otherwise.
“Can I come in?”
No answer. Silence hopeful of his leaving.
The door cracks open, and he sees the red first. Sees the red and is kneeled before his wife in an instant, gently lifting the razor from her fingers.
“I’m fine,” she rasps, hands shaking as she wraps her arms in their white towels.
His eyes find hers, gentle and tender. There is a battle against fire that he wants to fight at her side.
“Please…” she begs, tears river loud.
A stained hand cups her cheek. “You want me to stand back, do nothing–just watch my world burn?”
That’s what she is. His world. Child or no, _cuts_ or no–
“I love you.”~ Kaylee Clay
Kaylee Clay (@starboundwriter) wrote a vivid, haunting story full of real pain and heartbreak. I’ve never experienced a miscarriage, but I know so many women have. I also haven’t personally struggled with self-harm, but I know so many people do. Kaylee dealt with both these topics in an honest, empathetic way that really portrayed the beauty of love as Kyler sought to help with wife with her battles. ❤
Prompt: A match struck, burning away secrets hidden by the dark.
Lylla had never been afraid of the dark, per se. She could understand the fear in an abstract, intellectual sense, but she had never felt the shiver of it down her spine, the twisting crawl of centipedes along her ribs.
Maybe it was the gentle hum of the lights running the length of Lylla’s arms, the reassurance that the dark could never swallow her entirely, but the darkness had never been other than a friend to her.
Her sister was different. Sleeping with the lights on since she was four; when the electricity conservation measures went into effect, their mother had to spend half her paycheck on candles to keep her youngest daughter sane.
The two sisters had never been close, but in the dark, Lylla ended up being her sister’s nightlight for a week or two until Mom got paid.
There was something about those nights. The sisters sat close, Lylla’s light illuminating just their faces. They held each other’s hands and braided each other’s hair, whispering confessions they wouldn’t dare share in the light, until they heard the sound of their mother’s footsteps coming in to say goodnight; a match striking, burning away secrets hidden by the dark.~ SJ Blasko
SJ Blasko (@thesongsofsparrow) wrote three amazing cyborg stories for this contest, but we could only choose one. Lydia and I loved the idea of Lylla being a nightlight for her little sister, so we had to go with this one! Also, I love Lylla’s logical way of thinking and the use of the prompt in this story. Amazing job, SJ!
My last Prompted contest of the year will be in October, so you can spend time with your family and friends during the holiday months. Next year, I’ll be making some changes to the frequency of my contests, which will be announced at the end of the year. Don’t worry; there will still be contests! I’m just adjusting based on my schedule and mental health.
I’ll see you in October!