I almost didn’t participate in Flash! Friday last week as I spent the morning brainstorming, ended up with pages of notes and nothing that could possibly be distilled into 200 words. I got a bit of friendly goading from fellow (and incredibly talented) flasher, Michael Seese. So I slashed and hacked and fiddled and finally finagled something that might end up the seed of a longer piece.
Our prompt included the element, conflict: man v nature, and a photo of the United Malika beached in Mauritania, but taken from an angle that it seems to be in the middle of the desert (by jbdodane):
A wanderer rarely finds welcome with the insular derrick-dwellings that punctuate the waste with desperate exclamation points. But a frigate story can.
A thousand tales cluster around the rusted frigate, tying meaning to the way the sky shivers over it by day and iridescence skulks about its hull by night.
None of them end well.
My voice rises above the flapping sails and growling pumps, and I tell them that love dropped the frigate in our desert.
Frowns. That doesn’t match the trope. Most tales involve power-hungry Sky Cleavers.
They say if a newborn’s first smile comes during a sirocco, he’s a Sky-Cleaver. Such newborns are sand-smothered before their powers can ravage the world. Again.
I tell them of a woman and her son, their Pre-Cataclysm wars passage on a fishing vessel. One night, a simoom of water blasted the two off the stern. The indigo maw swallowed the woman. Flailing in fear, the first Sky Cleaver tore apart the seas.
Afterwards, the Matron invites me to stay, most of them do. But I can’t bear to witness the struggles of a people whose every waking moment is spent at the mill wheels.
All I have is the one tale—one I don’t dare tell in first person.