This flash fiction challenge was a type of writing prompt I’ve never attempted before. You can see the challenge post at terribleminds.com.
The challenge was 1,000 words on a random photo from Flickr’s weekly interesting photos.
The post image is the image I selected. I liked the surreal quality. And, since the challenge itself was something I have never tried before, I decided to make the story just as uncomfortable for me to write.
I’ve never written using a photo as a prompt.
I loved the surreal image – so I made tried to make the story itself as surreal as I could.
I have never written in first person present tense – so I decided to give that a shot too.
I hope you enjoy it. I know I did.
The blackness is so thick it’s hard to tell if my eyes are open.
I blink, I think, to try and help them adjust.
But there is no light.
Rough, unfamiliar clothes scratch at my skin. A joint from the bed digs into my back.
I sit on the edge trying to force the fog from my head. The darkness isn’t helping.
I rise and slowly move.
Tripping over more cots in the black.
Finally I find a wall. Rough. Cold. More groping. Then a seam. A handle.
The door opens hard. But it opens.
The light is blinding after the dark.
It takes a while for my eyes to adjust. I look back into the room. The blackness sucks up the light, there isn’t anything to be seen.
I step out onto the grass. Cold. Damp.
The air is frigid. The fog is thick. My hair matts to my face.
There are no other buildings. No signs of life. Save one.
Just in front of me, rising from the green. Stone so white it’s nearly lost to the fog.
An old man sits at its base. I call out. He doesn’t respond. I move toward him.
“Sir,” I say, “Do you know where I am?”
His crusty eyes look up. They don’t focus.
“La Paria du Ciel,” he says. Whatever that says, I don’t speak it. I tell him that. He doesn’t respond.
Across the way, at the edge of the fog, a scream.
A man’s scream.
Four men in black robes are dragging him between them. Shrouds hide their faces.
The man kicks. He fights. The guards don’t seem to notice. They glide across the grass, intent on only their destination.
I run for the group, shout for them to stop.
The group disappears into the fog before I can reach them.
The screaming fades.
I find their tracks. A wide swath of matted grass in the wet lawn. The sign of someone being dragged.
There are no footprints from his captors.
I follow the trail along the wall. There are no more signs. No more screams.
I turn back for the old man. I need answers.
I know where he is, but it’s hard to find the place. The wall is endless and always the same. The white stone disappears into the fog in each direction.
The old man is gone.
I rest against the wall. I slide down the rough stone and rest my head in my hands.
“It has to happen,” a girl says. I snap up. I hadn’t seen her, hadn’t heard her.
Maybe I fell asleep.
Maybe it was the fog. It seems to soak up all the sound in this place.
“What has to happen?” I ask.
“The guards. They have to come. They have to take us away. It has to happen,” she says.
“Why?” I ask, “Why do they have to come? Who are they? Who are you? Where are we?”
Too many questions.
Not enough answers.
“They come for us all, eventually,” she says.
Then she turns.
The guards, hoods covering their faces, are waiting for her.
One reaches out.
She smiles and takes his hand.
It has to happen.
They glide into the fog.
And I’m alone.
I fall asleep.
Deep in my sleep, in a place where there are no dreams, I hear a sharp sound.
So different than the silence of the yard.
I rise and squint at the top of the wall.
The black bird stands out in defiance of the white sky.
I climb the wall.
The stone is old. Rough. But there are no handholds. I struggle for purchase. I feel the stone grinding down my fingers.
Blood streams down the stark white wall.
But I’m gaining on the wall.
The crow caws.
The climb is difficult.
My blood making the stone slick in the mist.
Finally, I throw an arm over the top.
Then a leg.
I sit on top of the wall a moment.
The crow just stares as I scan the sides of the wall.
The fog is thick. Even the green lawn is muted at the bottom of the wall.
The crow caws and flies off into the white.
I drop to the lawn on the outside of the wall.
The fog is just as thick on this side.
The same white stone disappears into the fog in each direction.
But there, at the edge of the mist, is a dark figure slouched against the wall.
The old man.
The same old man.
I hear a scream behind me.
The same scream.
Four guards, dragging a man.
I slouch against the wall.
It has to happen.