FlashFeeD 1.23

Wow – you did me proud last week.

I thought the prompt was fairly different and challenging, but you surfed your way to glory. Well done. Top work all round.

As always, write a story within the character limit, based on the prompt, below.

No special instructions this week as I suspect you’ll find the prompt challenging enough.

Where are they going? What are they walking/running away from, or to? What’s beneath the sand? Is this even as it seems?

Full rules here:

Stories will be limited to 2000 characters* (about 300 words), including the title.

*(The field itself will allow for 2050 characters, but this extra 50 characters is only to be used as contingency and it won't be increased).

Use the comment field to post stories, include your story title. Use the reply button on a particular story to provide positive feedback. Press the ‘like’ icon if you like a story.



8 Replies to “FlashFeeD 1.23”

  1. Emptiness Is The Place I’m In

    We were three at the start. Me, John, Gary. A smart woman once told me there’s fifty litres of water in a body. So I buried salvation with my brothers. I wouldn’t have known how to turn them into water anyway and she couldn’t tell me: she wasn’t with us. I told you she was smart.
    Rub’ al Khali. A quarter of a million square miles of sand. Average rainfall: about an inch. For a whole year. I’ve seen none of it.
    We were always going to walk across. We’d done the South Pole; the Pan-American highway; Australia, coast to coast. That last one gave us a taste for desert treks.
    So we planned, we purchased and we prayed; two out of three worked. Maybe we picked the wrong god? But seriously: walking seven hundred miles through bugger all, from Qatar to Yemen, with a civil war waiting at the end? What god was going to give us the time of day? They’re omnipotent but you have to get on their good side: you’ve got to help yourself.
    A Korean guy already did it, so we knew it was possible. He used a shorter route but the technique was the same: tracked, hand-pulled carts with food and water for fifty days, tents, medical supplies, GPS; everything we needed. Except luck.
    We got less than forty miles before we ran into bedouin smugglers. I don’t know what threat they imagined we’d be, but they just opened up on us as we crested a dune.
    I hit the ground, crawled under my cart and burrowed into the sand. It’s a good bullet stopper, is sand. That’s why soldiers fill bags with it. It’s tough to breathe in though. I dug deep, tried to make an air pocket and prayed to all the gods.
    When I had to, when it was breathe clean air or die, I crawled out. The bedouin were gone, along with the supplies. My brothers were still there. I buried them: shallow graves, scraped out with my bare hands. I don’t know why. The wind will expose them by nightfall.
    Now I’m walking back, with nothing but heat and loneliness.
    I think I’ll make it if the sun doesn’t shine any more.


  2. Tarrak-B was dead.

    Unlike its lush sister planet, Tarrak-A, it was a dry, dusty, sandpit. No vegetation. No flies, beetles, lizards, or mosquitos. There was never any rain, just endless days of throbbing heat from three merciless suns. Which meant, of course, there were no oases, streams, rivers, or seas. As I said, Tarrak-B was dead.

    Which made the flashing light on my life-signs indicator all the more fascinating.

    I was in the area doing my job, surveying planetary systems for the Galactic Almanac, so it wasn’t out of my way to see what kind of life was on that dead planet. Either Tarrak-B will need to be re-classified, and the life form catalogued, or the life form won’t be alive much longer.

    I left the ship decked out in heat-resistant clothes, sand boots, and a full water bottle. An hour later, I was sweating, my bottle was half empty, and my portable life-finder was as still as the air. If I didn’t find something soon, I’d have to turn back.

    I’d almost reached that turn-back point when a feeble light pulsed on my life-finder. I turned the direction where the light pulsed strongest, and walked quickly. The sand ahead was smooth, devoid of any indication someone had walked there recently. I hoped this wasn’t some anomalous insect, though in this environment, such a find might still be worthwhile.

    Suddenly, the light turned solid. I stopped. No matter which way I turned, the light didn’t waver.

    Then I felt a cool wave. Like a windless breeze passing over me. Despite the sweat and the dry atmosphere, a chill rippled down my spine.


    The chill returned. Only this time, it was focused on my hand, like something gripping my wrist. I nearly dropped the life-finder.

    As a scientist, it feels strange to say this, but I felt a presence. Like there was someone standing beside me. But the place was desolate.

    I made my way back to the ship quickly, my heart racing from what just happened.

    The designation of Tarrak-B as a “dead planet” was, it seems, unnervingly accurate.


  3. J, M and J

    It’s early, it’s probably 30-35C? The guide said it’s around 50C at midday and my watch says it’s 9:30am – if my eyes aren’t playing tricks. He also said no one would be out in that. That they’d be by the pool, or in the hotel bar chugging back on iced tea and orange juice, or watching films in a freezing air-conditioned room. No; no one in this forsaken place goes out when the suns out – or at night come to think of it when the scorpions abound. I have long been at a loss as to why anyone comes on holiday to this desert, where it’s never safe to go out of an air-conditioned cocoon.

    Then there’s me. Walking along this barchan which looks exactly like the last one I walked across, and pretty similar to the next one. Each step I seem to be falling back almost as far as I go forward. The sand just falls away from me. Sand keeps splashing onto my feet through the top of my shoes. If it feels like boiling water now what is it going to feel like when these dunes get properly hot? It bears no thinking about – which is handy as my brain seems to be shutting down. This heat is bad enough but there are two things that are currently striking me that are making me prefer not to think. Firstly it’s that the view in front and behind looks pretty much the same; this dune after dune after dune thing with not a building or road in sight and the only sound being the wind and my own periodic whimpering.

    The second thing is I have no idea how the hell I got here or why I’m on my own. The last thing I think I can recall is drinking some lurid green concoctions in a bar somewhere to celebrate Paddy’s Day. And then… nothing until I came around walking on these damn dunes.

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph somebody save me!


  4. The scorching sun pounds relentlessly on me. if I were organic, I don’t know if I’d be able to survive here.

    A desert world. Or at least, this stretch of world is desertic. It’s funny how people think that worlds have to be all desert, or jungle, or ice, or mountain, or water. Worlds are usually varied. At least those that sustain life, that is.

    It matters little. As soon as I crossed the gate, the desert greeted me. Some of my older iterations would have been heavily hampered, even endangered, by the heat and the sand. Not this one.

    Still, I feel annoyed. I ran out of probes long time ago, so I’m crossing the gates blind. This prey is taking such a long time that I wonder, not for the first time, if it’s worth the effort.

    But I know the answer, don’t I?

    So I endure, and I persevere. I walk on. There are no footprints, such is the wind in the dunes and the headstart my prey has. But my objective is ahead. I know it. I feel it.

    My left foot sinks in the sand, then the right one. I’d curse if I liked wasting time. I need to finish this job here, on this world, before I have to leap again. I draw the line here.

    She’s not escaping again.


    1. That grabbed me at the second line, made me read on to find some answers and then left me stranded, alone, surrounded by barren questions, the few footprints your story left showing me where I’d been but with no idea what was waiting in the desert. The whole shape of the story was an interpretation of the image. Excellent!


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