This is my entry for Charli Mill’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
It’s a short paragraph from my YA/paranormal book The Curse of Time Book 1 Bloodstone.
When I saw that the nature of the prompt was about fire – I thought why not… I hope Charli doesn’t mind… it just seemed to fit so well.
The fire raged, and a ring of flames circled the card, avoiding it as if it contained the deadly plague. The sand timer ran out. The fire burnt down leaving its mark on the card with black singed edges.
I felt a chill creep up my spine. When I searched Dad’s face for some clue to his strange behaviour, I reeled back, struck by the sight of a dull emptiness in his eyes. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face. I thought I spotted a weird reflection in his eyes, maybe a bug…
It’s funny how cutting this paragraph down to 99 words gives the story a totally different edge to it. It ends on quite a funny note with the ‘maybe a bug,’ ending but in reality, it is far from funny.
Just in case this little piece of writing intrigues you… and you want to find out more about the bug…
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)
For this I have imagined one of my characters, Ryder, from The Curse of Time Book 1 revealing a snippet of a story which I might use in future books.
It began with a rocking horse, a child’s toy.
Ryder discovered this antique treasure in a quirky street window, down ‘the lanes,’ in Brighton. He strolled along, with his rocking horse in hand and joined the queue for the busy student bus back to campus. A couple of ladies stared at his greediness, his decadence, taking up two empty seats on the bus. Undeterred he smirked, patting the rocking horse’s head. The ladies glared.
When he arrived back at his flat his flatmates exchanged knowing glances, cataloguing Ryder and his rocking horse in the oddity section. Only Olivia gave him the benefit of the doubt. He appreciated that and made a mental note to reward her later. A midnight kiss perhaps.
The perhaps became a definite. The midnight kiss became much more. When he left the embrace of slumbering Olivia the moon lay heavy in the sky, its orb a perfect circle of complete mysteriousness. Ryder hung out his bedroom window staring, pleading with the moon to notice him. He dangled precariously, goading the moon to come closer. The pumpkin moon glowed blood red, a bleeding heart, surrounded by an uncaring sky. The rocking horse began to move slowly absorbing the moon’s vital energy. The moon continued to bleed until it could bleed no more. Instead it became darker and darker until Ryder could see nothing but darkness.
Beyond the darkness Ryder heard the sound of an ice cream van, its tune winding its way towards him. He hung further out of his window wondering about this strange phenomenon, an ice cream van in the middle of an eclipse of the moon.
He hesitated for a moment wondering whether to chance rushing outside into the darkness to catch the van before it disappeared. In the end he only wavered for a moment, his senses overflowing with midnight promises, a feast of darkness consumed by sugary ice-cream. But, no van appeared. Instead he waited, displeased.
Again he heard the jingle of the van teasing him, laughing at his foolish, childlike desires. The music grew louder and louder, a jarring cacophony. He covered his ears about to turn away, now desperate to escape. The van came to a screeching halt just as he took his first departing step. Ryder smiled. The hatch opened, and a man peered out. He had a round face, the roundest face that Ryder had ever seen, vanilla white, pock marked, hair as black as the midnight sky. There were no signs to indicate what kind of ice cream he sold. So Ryder waited for him to speak.
“Well, I haven’t got all night, what do you want?” asked the man scowling, as his creamy white face turned a surly red.
“I’m not sure,” replied Ryder. “What ice creams do you have?”
“Ice creams? What? No ice creams here young man.”
“But you’re riding in an ice cream van, playing an ice-cream jingle.”
“That’s true, but that’s not what I do.”
“What do you do?” asked Ryder, frowning.
“Hop aboard, ride the van and you might find out,” said the man, his face returning to its original brilliant white.
Ryder hesitated. This was strange, but Ryder thrived on strange, so he agreed.
The man opened the back of the van and Ryder climbed in. Inside the van Ryder could see only darkness. Blackness drifted towards him filling his senses with a bleak sense of loss. The man handed him a tiny torch that gave off a brilliant light.
“Come,” the man said.
The van was motionless, yet Ryder could swear that he felt movement. They walked and walked further into the darkness. Suddenly they stopped. A bright light shone from the torch on to a patch of turf. How curious. The van’s opened doors revealed a vast land which stretched its tendril-like fingers, shadows extending everywhere.
Ryder recognised the land. He sighed. “Home,” he said.
“Yes,” said the man. A note of melancholy filled the air.
“Why have you brought me here?”
“It’s nearly Halloween, lad. A time to visit the place of your birth.”
Ryder heard the sound of the fairground, the laughter, candy floss and excitement, but behind it all he knew there was the ride. There was no point in pleading with the man, asking him to take him back. He had to accept his fate, whatever that might be.
“Come,” said the man.
Ryder lifted his heavy feet, a ghostly chill settling in his bones.