Take a flying leap

Day 7: Jump
No Novel November 2019

Photograph of sunset at a rock canyon with a pine tree forest - The Knob by jonathanjessup via Deviant Art

No. Oh, nonono.

He skitters to a stop just before plummeting into a chasm hidden by dense pines. Rocks and leaves leap down the side and into oblivion. He listens for them to hit bottom, but all he hears is the baying of hounds closing the distance.

His eyes trace the ragged edge of the landscape for a crossing. There’s none—but in a stroke of good luck, he realizes he’s standing at the narrowest point of the gorge.

A sharp howl pierces the moonless night. His rubbery legs jolt into motion, churning backwards toward the forest. His brain screams at him to stop, to find another way, but lacking a better suggestion, it’s overruled by adrenaline.

He crouches next to a dead birch for the second it takes to fill his lungs with what might very well be his last breath. Then he bunches up and heaves forward.

The frozen ground hits back as he pounds across it full tilt.

Fifty feet.

Forty.

He drops his eyes to a point on the near horizon like an anchor and secures his will there.

Twenty feet.

Ten.

He waits to jump until his toes dip over the rim. Then he launches through the air with the grace of a cannonball: smooth and heavy, soaring and weightless. The icy wind slaps the breath out of him, but he doesn’t care. He’s almost there. He’s going to make it.

That’s when the teeth close on his ankle.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

One last thing

Day 6: Address
No Novel November 2019

Painting of a low-rise apartment building complex - Israeli Apartment House by saltytowel on DeviantArt

Cora leaves the black suit at home and covers her shock of red hair with a stocking cap despite the summer heat. Although no one would likely recognize her after what’s happened during her time away, she’s not taking any chances. The last thing she wants is for some former “friend” to shanghai her down memory lane as she wraps up this final piece of unfinished business.

This used to be their apartment. She feels a twinge of heartsickness looking at it, sweet nostalgia for another life in which she thought she had everything she wanted. But it’s easily silenced. That’s exactly what she came here to do, after all.

She closes her eyes, draws a lung-bursting breath, and lets it out one molecule at a time.

I forgive you, Jeremy. For not understanding. For being weak when I needed you to be strong. For running away without leaving. I release you to yourself and take back what’s mine.

The air is fresher somehow in the next breath. Lighter, freer.

She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a handful of gravel that she hucks at the bottom right window. The familiar face that appears there drops instantly from anger into gobsmacked disbelief. His eyes widen, his jaw drops.

Cora grins and waves.

Then there’s a crack of blue lightning so bright he falls away from the window. When he scrambles back through the curtains, she’s gone.

He wonders if she was ever there at all.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Flight & Fixation

Day 3: Window
No Novel November 2019

Black and white photo of a car driving on an empty highway at night under a sky full of stars - Night drive by theedgeofme via deviantart

FLIGHT

The scenery rolls by at a steady clip. During the day, I prop my feet on the dash, letting them bake under the windshield’s magnified sunlight. At night, I tuck them under me in the seat to keep warm. All the while staring out into the desert.

Cacti, mesas, windmills, and piñon pines dot the landscape and leave faint trails as we speed past. Glowing eyes peer from the blue-black night, pretending to be stars dipped too low in the sky.

Nothing unusual.

I don’t know where we’re going, and I’ve forgotten where we’ve been. There’s only the drive, the open window, and the pursuing bright shadow flitting behind each mile marker we pass.


Macro close up of a blue eye - Eye 7 by cantthinkof_aname via DeviantArt

FIXATION

His eyes draw me in, the depth of their blueness unrivaled by Caribbean seas, their golden flecks worthy of Midas’ jealousy. These eyes that have caressed the curves of countless women and now rest only on me. I get lost here, soaking in his unbroken gaze, reveling in being the sole focus of his attentions.

They say the eyes are the windows of the soul.

Too bad these eyes aren’t attached to one anymore.

These stories are part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Day 2: Hidden
No Novel November 2019

A dark forest with a bright light at the center leading out - first light by sprocket2cog via deviant art

He emerges from the jungle overlooking a sudden valley and frowns. This isn’t what he wanted to see after three weeks of hacking through vines, subsisting on MREs and a LifeStraw.

The valley below is empty. Lush, green, vibrant with life—but empty.

It takes him an hour to skitter to the bottom where he sits on a boulder to soak in unoccluded sunlight. He’s so tired of being wet. He’s decided to move to Arizona when this is over. Which is going to be sooner than expected, given the utter lack of an ancient temple of chaos where there should be one.

After a few minutes, he sighs and glares at the valley. Might as well look around. Even if the expedition is a bust, he’s still a scientist, dammit.

He starts at the edge of the clearing and works in tightening circles, examining stones and plants. None of it is interesting, but he keeps going, mind wandering. What will he tell the department? The investors? His wife?

He falls down hard halfway to the center.

Rubbing his head, he looks around frantically, but there’s nothing. He can clearly see the rise of the jungle in front of him.

He can also see his own shadow looming over him, cast against a wall that isn’t there.

“What the—“

Before he can finish the sentence, his shadow’s black hands shoot out, clutch his shoulders, and yank him through the invisible wall.

And the valley is empty once again.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

The Dragonslayer

Day 1: Permission
No Novel November 2019

I knelt before the throne with a thousand eyes heavy on my back. The point of a sword touched my shoulders once, twice, then I rose on shaking legs to meet the gaze of the king.

“As the lone Knight of the Flame, you have received this kingdom’s highest honor and also its most dreaded task. Your path leads down a perilous road to a destination from which none have returned. May you be victorious against the dread serpent. Your kingdom is depending on you. I am depending on you. Congratulations, and farewell.”

The king extended his bejeweled hand. I took it with as much strength as I dared given his advanced age, kissed the signet, and forced determination onto my face. Beneath the crown, the king’s expression was veiled, not with the formality of office but with odd tenderness. Pity, perhaps?

Before I could wonder further, he released my grip with pressing fingers. The tilt of his head warned me not to question the tiny parchment he’d left in my palm. Mind and heart racing, I tucked it into my gauntlet as I retreated from the hall.

It wasn’t until evening, loosening my armor beside the campfire after a hard day’s ride, that I remembered the note. It fluttered from my glove, tossed by the wind almost into the flames. I snatched it back, myself burning with curiosity.

I read it once, twice, then sank on shaking legs to weep.

“Dearest Daughter,
You have permission to fail.
Love, Dad.”

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.