A sampling of my flash fiction.
For Fear of Little Men
They made him tiny to creep into houses unseen, a lilliputian assassin with a poison-tipped sword. His makers called him a micro-robot: a nanocomputer for a brain, a miniscule battery to power his limbs. But he felt a closer affinity to clockwork. Tick. Tick. Tick. He counted the seconds his victims still had to live.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Until his own time ran out and somebody swatted him like a fly.
Their chosen priestess, she lived barefoot and innocent atop the mountain, solitary, performing the rites. When the dragon came, the men — disinclined for battle —
brought her down to the valley, a virgin sacrifice.
But the dragon …
was innocent too, had never tasted human flesh. Pure-hearted and fearless, she mounted, and with two mighty wing beats he sprang high, into the sunlight.
When the plague came there was no one to intercede with the gods.
A bauble made of glass contains
A perfect, tiny, unhatched world complete
With miniature tides, and infant mountains,
A shining dust-mote for the moon.
Exquisite as a jewel this world
If no one breaks the glass …
The moon is a crystal fruit
Plucked from a world-spanning tree
By the hand of a giant
Who found the taste too bitter.
All through that night we had searched for the missing child. Now the slippery trail along the shore led us in the direction I feared the most: the Plouton Sands.
Long a place of evil name, no one dared set foot there since the wreck of the Ceres, when crew and passengers were sucked below, along with masts, sails, cargo, and livestock. Only the weathered bones of the ship remained.
I peered ahead through the stinging rain. Something moved across the sands, something resembling a woman, drenched and windblown — in its arms the missing child.
Lucy sobbed and would have run ahead; I caught her by the arm and pulled her back. “Wait and see what happens.”
“That Thing means to drown or suffocate my Effie!”
“But see how she struggles against the wind and surf? Perhaps she remembers trying to carry some child of her own to safety after the wreck. She may not know she is dead or that the child’s not hers. We mustn’t let her know until we have little Effie safe.”
The wait was painful, interminable. The dead mother fought against the pull of the tide. Sometimes the tide was too strong and she would fall back several steps. Dawn threatened. With the first ray of light, she would return to her grave beneath the sands, taking the child with her.
Lucy twisted in my grasp, but the eerie figure had almost reached the trail. Only a little further–
The rim of the sun crept above the horizon, but the child was already in Lucy’s arms. The ghost dissolved … became sand … and vanished on the wind.
Then the sea swept in and carried the broken hull of the Ceres away, so that nothing of the wreck remained.
S A C R I F I C E
War had hammered the land, flattened the grain, watered the fields with blood. Sorrow was their harvest.
He heard the children weeping, starving in their millions. Only love could save them. Striding from mountaintop to mountaintop, he wondered: had he enough?
He wrote the word in mighty letters across the sky, and his great heart stopped beating.
But the grass grew long, corn ripened, pumpkins appeared on the vine–
And the hills shouted for joy.
I used to be afraid of the dark. Then one day I sat down and wrote a threatening letter. Now the dark is afraid of me.