Friday, February 15, 2013


Before you read our next flash fiction post by Amy, we wanted to let you know that our very own Krystalyn has a great new book out there in the world called LEGASEA

and is running a giveaway. Enter and you just might win her book plus a really adorable hand crafted seal ornament and a few other surprise things!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AND now...onto the flash fiction. Here is the picture from this month and below it is Amy's story. Happy Friday people!


The picture was sun damaged--old and faded and worn along its edges. Isa found it stuck to the bottom of her bunk last winter when she'd crawled under it looking for one of her socks. She should've given it to the Keeper right away since she wasn't allowed to keep artifacts for herself, but something about the sunny yellow color of it stopped her. It had been such a cold, gray winter, especially after half of the children on the ward died from latest, nastiest flu that wouldn't respond to what little medicine the Keepers had stockpiled. The picture felt like a small piece of summer, a bit of paper hope that she could tuck into her pocket and touch whenever the days felt too hard or too long.

 A playground.

That's what  Houseman Spencer called it when she eventually summoned up the courage to show it to him. He'd studied it eagerly. He was the oldest adult on the ward, over seventy, bent and gravel voiced, but alert and full of memories about how the world was in the time before, back when every child was brought up in a home with parents and schools, not raised by Keepers until they were old enough to enlist in the war against the Travelers. It took very little prodding from her to get him to talk about it and afterwards he'd even let her keep it. Houseman Spencer wasn't much for rules or keeping the kids in the dark about what happened in the before.

"Moms used to take their kids to those playgrounds all the time. Weren't a need for barricades and safe zones. No, the world was a good place in those days." He shook his head then hocked a wad of mucus into the corner, scratched at his wiry beard and half smiled. "It's odd, but there were plenty of folks who'd a told you that the world was close to ending even then, knee deep in evil already, but looking was downright heavenly in comparison with what we got now. Shoot, I'd give the last of my teeth to have it back the way it was then." He grinned as if to prove his point and she tried not to shudder at how empty his mouth already was.

Isa listened carefully, memorizing all that he told her in his roundabout way, all the while gripping the picture as tightly as she could without crumpling its corners. What would it've been like to grow up then? Her parents wouldn't have been off fighting in the war...if they were still fighting at all. It had been a long while since she'd heard from them last. She'd spent a lot of time that night crying into her pillow and wishing for something she knew she'd never get.

Now almost an entire year later she'd memorized every line and curve of that picture. She leaned against the metal pole behind her and stared up at the plastic roof of the play structure, comparing it to the one from the photo. It was similar...if you didn't look too hard or too long at the strange, sickly gray growths that were slowly taking over the play structure, the ground, and the trees beyond it--part of the Traveler's atmosphere conversion process. Isa breathed in and then had to supress the urge to cough. So little oxygen. In another year or two the Traveler's work would be complete and she wouldn't be able to be outside without an oxygen tank and mask. She'd enlisted last month just after her sixteenth birthday just the way she was supposed to. Tonight was her first outing with the other recruits. She gripped her gun closer and peered out at the strange, yellow tinted night. The Travelers would pass by here soon if they kept to their nightly routine, herding a group of children from the very ward she'd left just a few short months ago.

Recruits were tucked into every corner of the playground, waiting just like her, most her age. She glanced at her photo one last time and tried to imagine all of them onto the playground in it, wished desperately that that kind of magic existed and that she was capable of it, but it wasn't and so they remained where they were, gripping their guns and watching the dark.

Isa leaned forward when the first twig snapped loudly, dry and brittle from years without rain. She could see movement now, the first of the Travelers and several kids walking woodenly beside it. She watched as one of the kids raised his head and looked over at the playground, his eyes wide and interested in spite of his fear. She knew what he was feeling. She'd felt it when she'd seen her picture--a sense of wonder that something had once existed in this world that was meant for pure fun and nothing else. Even if he didn't know exactly what he was looking at, he could feel this truth deep inside, just like she had even before Houseman Spencer confirmed it for her. But then the Traveler beside him pushed him forward roughly and his face fell, his eyes went blank. He looked in the opposite direction and Isa felt her insides twist.

She tucked her picture into the pocket of her jacket and rested her gun against the closest pole to steady it. She aimed it at the Traveler and waited for the squad leader to let off the first shot, signaling the start of the fight. The kids would have to duck and cover. They couldn't warn them to, they just had to hope that they would. She could see the long line of them now, all of them looking away from the playground and towards the Traveler's. She could tell that looking at the playground was too much for them, a reminder of all that was gone and might never be again.

When the first shot rang out across the playground and some of the Traveler's grabbed the children closest to them like shields, Isa tried not to let the kids terrified faces rattle her. They would save who they could. It wouldn't be all of them, though. She steadied her gun and pressed the trigger, willing the bullet to hit the Traveler she was aiming for and not the little boy in its arms. The gun slammed into her shoulder as it went off and she fell backwards into the wall. Down below it seemed like everyone was screaming, kids and Travelers alike. She didn't want to look, didn't want to see if she'd managed to shoot true. So she closed her eyes and pictured the playground in the photo, tried to imagine that all the screams were squeals of delight from kids sliding down slides or playing tag on the ground or swinging on the swings. She put a hand on her pocket and wished so hard that her head hurt. But when she opened her eyes there was only the blood and the screams and the shots. She pulled the picture from her pocket one last time. It caught on the pocket's flap and tore in two, one piece fluttering down between the platform's bars before she could catch it, landing beside one of the other recruits. Ben. He was lying on his back, his eyes fixed and staring, a wide hole carved out of his chest. While she'd been wishing for something that would never be again, he'd died trying to save what little life they'd managed to keep. That picture wasn't hope the way she'd thought. It was torment.

 She crumpled the other piece inside her fist and threw it down. Then she brought her gun up and fired.


  1. Aw, what a sad loss of innocence. Beautiful story, Amy.

  2. Really intense story and great background. Another piece I could see as a longer novel, the torment and the intrigue for wanting a better world.