Isle of the Dead: Microfiction

arnold_bo%cc%88cklin_-_die_toteninsel_iii_alte_nationalgalerie_berlin

Arnold Böcklin, Isle of the Dead (III), [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common

Iona sailed her ship across the sun-dappled sea to save her beloved from the underworld. Iona had to rescue him tonight, for Halloween was the one night when humans could travel there. She traveled for hours, and as twilight descended, the Isle of the Dead appeared in front of her, shrouded in mist. Within that shroud she saw spectral figures, the stuff of nightmares, with misshapen bodies and eager, bloody mouths.

Iona ignored them and sailed into the cove. As she stepped upon the shore, a dragon appeared. Fire and smoke burst out, as it opened its massive jaws to roar.

With trembling legs, Iona approached the beast and sang in a voice that faltered at first, but then rang out, loud and pure:

Beast, stand down

Beast, do my bidding

Beast, reveal now

what is hidden

As she finished her song, the air shimmered. The dragon became a dog, red as flames. It licked her hand, and followed at her heels, as they walked to the cave—its opening now revealed.

They walked down steep stairs carved into stone, farther and farther under the earth. Iona carried an oak wand given to her by a Wise Woman. It glowed and lighted her way. She looked neither left nor right at the spirits around her, but traveled down, down, down. As she reached the bottom, she saw Dermid. He stood rooted, with no expression on his face.

She remembered the Wise Woman’s words, “Your courage and determination will get you to the Isle, but only true love and faith will save Dermid.”

She clasped her arms around his waist and held tightly as he turned into a huge snake, but she held on, and he turned into a lion, but still she held him, and finally he turned back into a man. Her man. With tears streamed from her eyes, she helped him journey up the stairs.

They climbed up and up for hours, it seemed, racing to get back to the surface before dawn. They reached the surface just before the sun, and as they climbed into Iona’s boat, they saw it rise pink and orange above the sea. The Isle disappeared.

Dermid said to her, “Thank you for saving me.”

Iona replied with a smile, “I thought our baby should have a father.” Then looked down, “and a dog.”

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge.  The prompt was the painting above.

I’ve stolen, quite shamelessly, from many myths and tales, and once again gone over the word count.

 

 

 

Far Away: Microfiction

 

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Far,_far_away_Soria_Moria_Palace_shimmered_like_Gold_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Theodor Kittelsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

“Run!” his father shouted, and the boy ran. His small body dodged soldiers and bullets, and he ran. Leaving his father and the occupied city, he ran till he reached the tunnel, crawled through it and ran again. He didn’t know where he was running to, only what he was running from. And so he ran, traveling farther than it seemed possible for a boy of his size to do, until he could run no longer.

Now stopped, panting, he stood on a grassy hillside, and gazed in wonder at the glowing, golden mountains in the distance. They seemed to pulsate with radiance. He had never seen such a sight, and overcome with exhaustion and emotion, he fell to the ground. His eyes closed. He felt the flutter of wings. There was a faint scent of caramel in the air, and he heard a voice of unearthly beauty. It sang like a cello and whispered, “Don’t worry. You’re safe here.”

His eyes opened. He was in a bed. A woman bent over him. “You’re safe now,” she said. She held a bowl of soup for him. A cake with caramel icing sat on a table nearby. He sat up and ate.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge.

The prompt was the painting above, an illustration by Theodor Kittelsen, for a fairy tale with the caption, “Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like gold.”

 

Once Upon a Time: The Rider

 

 

Riddaren_rider_by_John_Bauer_1914

Once upon a time, there was a prince riding in the moonlight

He rode under a cobalt sky

with soaring stars and watchful moon.

He wandered over mountains high

seeking the princess and her tune.

 

Lance at hand to slay a dragon,

his shield and bridle from a king,

and for the thirst, wine and flagon,

to shatter war’s curse, she must sing.

 

Strapped to his back, he bore the gift

to ease the conflict in their land,

tirra lirra, go fast and swift,

his horse galloped across the sand.

 

The journey seemed to last a year,

the urn of peace, well-locked, kept dry

till he came to her castle, here,

riding his steed ‘neath cobalt sky.

 

The princess sang and shattered urn,

the prince journeyed on, far and wide.

And so war died, did not return,

Now peace is here, and will abide.

 

Here is another peace poem. This one in response to Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge. The prompt was the painting above by John Bauer, which carries the caption, “Once upon a time there was a prince riding in the moonlight” that I used for my opening.

The prompt words are: Star, gift, wander, soaring, cobalt.

 

 

Microfiction Challenge: The Gate

Henri_DUHEM_-_La_porte_HST

Henri Duhem, La Porte, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

The boy was silent, mute. He had not spoken a word since the day the world had turned dark and grey. Now he was alone, except for his dog, a large, mixed-breed with a coat of many colors. The dog needed no spoken words to know he was loved. The boy had sometimes gone hungry to make sure his companion had enough to eat. They wandered during the day; at night they slept cuddled together.

One day the boy and the dog discovered a gate. Although it seemed to be in the middle of a field, they could not see anything beyond it. The dog nudged the boy and whimpered for him to open the gate. The boy did so, leaving it open as they walked through– into a sunny meadow filled with brightly-colored wildflowers of red, blue, and yellow. From them came a melody in flute-like tones. The boy had never heard the song before, but he knew it. It was the song of peace and love. He opened his mouth and sang the words in a loud, clear, treble voice. The voice of an angel. The sound drifted through the gate, and the world awakened again.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge using the painting above as a prompt. The word limit is somewhere around 200 words. Mine is 198 words.