Amy’s boot stood on a solid crust of snow for a breath before breaking through to softer coldness beneath. Erin glared back at her. Must you sound like a buffalo?

Amy returned the exasperated stare. We can’t all be ninjas.

Erin scampered up the nearest tree, more silent than the snow-muffled wind. Tightening the cinch on her quiver, Amy prayed, Let my last four arrows be enough to bring this child home.

Erin’s breath on Amy’s neck should have sent her jumping, but they’d been paired for too many years. “Cut that out woman. I can’t concentrate.”

“As I intended.” The scout had mischief in her voice. “But round the river’s bend. Qiqirn. Six.”

“Excellent. I’m bored.”

“They stand guard.”

“Who uses qiqirn for guards?”


Amy ducked into the leafless brush just past the river’s curve. Two rat-faced qiqirn stood just a few feet away.

“Mine,” the short one said, grabbing a flask from the other.

“No. Mine.” The tall one yanked it back.

“No, mine!”

Good God. She felt breath on her neck again and turned to bounce off the plump belly of a third qiqirn. Amy yelped and stumbled backward out of the brush.

The stupid creature jumped and screeched back at a wincing pitch. Throwing its hands in the air, it spun in a circle and hopelessly tangled itself in the dead brush. Its wide eyes pleaded and it whined at her. “Help?”


Something sharp poked into her upper back, and another pricked just above her arse. Well hell. I just became more interesting than that flask.

With a deep breath, Amy jumped round to face them. “Boo!”

The two fanged creatures turned toward each other, took off at full speed, and smacked so hard they both fell back unconscious.

“Idiots.” Erin repeated, dropping from above.

“This is just pathetic,” Amy said. “Where are the other three?”

Erin gestured to an opening of broken and cracked branches. A mess of qiqirn tracks disappeared into it. “Even you can track them.”

Amy tilted her head. “Trap.”

“Agreed. Barbegazi are too smart for qiqirn guards.”

In the distance, a child cried. “We’ll go anyway.”


Submitted for Flashy Frenzy Round 47 at Angry Hourglass
58 Words
Photo Prompt:


“It’s burning!” Sasha’s hood fell as she ran to me, revealing clean skin.

“I see that.”

“What shall we do, Mother?”


“They’ll die!”

“That’s the point.”

“But… what… I don’t…”

Idiot. She’d lit the overfilled sconces herself. Enforcing blind obedience had resulted in a dirth of critical thinking.

I watched the flames lick their way up the towers.

“We could have saved them.” Her eyes watered. “Brought them back.”

I slapped her, and she stumbled. “Don’t be daft. You cannot save what has already died once.”

Sasha held her cheek and sniveled. “But Father Henry said –”

I slapped her again. Harder. She yelped, dropping to her knees. “That’s why he’s burning in there, you child.”

“But the baby –”

“Bit him. He should have listened and thrown it in the hearthfire at the start.”

Sasha glared at me, spitting words through her tears. “You are brutal.”

“And alive.”

Flashversary Entry
Word Count Challenge: Exactly 150
Photo Prompt:

Red Sunset. CC2.0 photo by Petteri Sulonen.

Red Sunset. CC2.0 photo by Petteri Sulonen.

The Morning After

Sacred silence sits heavy in the hangar, broken only by the pat of my sneakers. I flip all the right switches, and the lights buzz on. I squint at the brightness and wish I’d stopped to buy that coffee after all. Ouch.

I carry a standing ladder to the plane and flinch when it screeches open against the floor. I sift through my tools, inconsistently successful at preventing the clanks that rattle my brain.

The pills aren’t working. My head pounds. Idiot.

“Just a few drinks,” she’d said, giving her hair that little toss. “How does that sound?”

Entry for Micro Bookends 1.09
Placed: Honorable Mention

Challenge: 90-1220 words, starting with SACRED, ending with SOUND, inspired by this picture

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via CC.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via CC.

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