My judge for this month’s Prompted Contest is practically a mermaid expert, so when we were deciding a theme for the contest, we knew exactly what to choose. As exhausted as I am, hosting the contest was so refreshing. The participants inspire me.
A big thanks to Beka Gremikova (@beka.gremikova), who helped me judge this month. She is an expert flash fiction writer–if you’re a Havok member, check out her Havok author page–and a fantastic person, and I loved having her at my side!
Not only am I announcing the winners, but I’m also sharing my own interpretations of the prompts (by popular demand)! I suppose since my amazing participants have been so diligent and creative with my 150 word limit, it’s only fair that I inflict that word count on myself.
My day was going quite nicely until the human walked in.
Male, female, it doesn’t matter––I don’t want any of them in my swamp. Though I will admit that females are rarer, so I don’t immediately growl, bare my teeth, or threaten death upon her and her children’s children.
She’s what the humans would consider beautiful, with her honey-brown skin and long, night-black hair. I don’t see how having such soft, unarmored skin is in any way appealing, but then again, I don’t understand humans, not a bit.
She kneels, her dress dragging in the muck. Most females wouldn’t go near a swamp, let alone a dragon. I’m intrigued.
“Sotirios, great one.”
Fire smolders in the back of my throat. She knows my name? I thought I’d been doing the whole hermit thing quite well. But if this human has heard of me, then I’m not doing it well enough. I need to find somewhere even more secluded than a swamp, which will prove to be difficult.
“My name is Casimira, and I desire your assistance.”
I am not sure why she wants me to know her name. I have better things to do than get caught up in the meager lifespan of a human. “I am not interested,” I say. “Now, if you please, this is my swamp, and I would prefer that you leave alive.”
Remember my desert-themed prompt contest from last October? This image was one of the prompts I used. Well, it inspired me too! So here is my interpretation of the prompt. I didn’t limit myself to 100 words, though, because I’m allowed to break my own rules. 😉
Bones clattered in Rasul’s sack with each movement his camel took. He gripped the reins more tightly, swaying with the steps of his mount. Though his keffiyeh shielded him from the sun’s rays, sweat dripped from his skin.
“Look ahead!” Baqir pointed with a sun-darkened hand. Not ten camel-lengths in front of them, the tip of a thick white bone gleamed in the harsh sunlight. The rest disappeared into the sand.
“Oh!” Almas peered around Baqir’s broad back. “A new skeleton? Where do you think it came from? Is it a mirage?”
“It seems real.” Rasul let a smile curl his lips. There would be coin in their coffers soon enough. “The wind must have stirred the dunes to reveal this one. Fate smiles upon us today.”
They were lucky that they hadn’t accidentally trod on a skeleton. That could seriously wound a camel depending on if the creature slipped or even impaled itself on the protruding bones. Fortunately, that sort of unfortunate mishap had only happened twice in Rasul’s time of gathering.
Almas bounced, and the camel shifted uneasily at its passenger’s behavior.
Baqir jerked the reins, and the camel settled down. “Watch it, boy,” the stocky man snapped.
“Sorry!” Almas stilled only momentarily before resuming his bouncing. Baqir let out a low growl.
Rasul ignored his companions and gazed at the bone. It was a good find indeed. There had been a time when this area of the desert was rife with tanim skeletons. Everywhere one looked, bones would protrude from the sand, great ribcages and powerful limbs, even thin wing-bones. It was a mass tanim grave, left over from some great battle before Rasul’s time.
But now, moons after Rasul and Baqir had started gathering the bones, the skeletons had become more and more rare. Unfortunately, the demand for bones had not lessened; in fact, it grew greater and greater as their fame grew. For who could resist talismans of luck and protection?