Monday, March 26, 2012

A Picture Paints 1000 Words Blogfest - Fallen

Details, pictures and linky
Today is the day to share our short stories.  So, here we go:  Fallen


The new moon hid in the sky.  An object swallowed by the midnight ocean and diamond sparkles littered across its vast waves.  Darkness never embraced me as it had this evening.  I stared lazily from my hut’s window, nothing more than a candle lit in my room, no artificial lights outside to dull the seeing as I, too, hid from the world in this primitive paradise.

A tremor beneath my feet.  A hum in the air.

I sat straight up, looking across the horizon.  Maybe a volcano?  I saw nothing but treetops.  The nearest active one had so little left in its magma chamber, most scientists hinged on changing its status.  Its cone rose to a flat peak.  No burps or smoke of any kind.  Just a quiet mountain on a sleepy island.

Tremor and a hum, again.

Spooked birds chirped, squawked and called to each other.  Flocks ascended from the treetops, inky bands of wing spans flapping.  They knew something I didn’t.  Their instincts sent them on flight.  My heart quickened.  So did my curiosity.  I turned about, grabbed my candle and slipped into my sandals.  After tightening my sarong, I stepped out for a better view.

Another inquisitive tourist loped over to join me.

“Name’s Doyle.  And yours?”  His accent hung in the air, Scottish, strong and proud.

“I’m Riley.  Nice to meet you.”  My American accent paled compared to his.

Exchanging greetings hadn’t prompted us outside the comfort of shelter and proper mosquito nets.  A stronger roll of the ground forced my hands out to my sides, balancing myself and my candle.  Doyle gripped my waist to help.  When the tremor passed, he let go.  I hadn’t long to linger on the moment when a line of red cut through the stars above.  Bleeding clouds, billowing and fiery, broke through the line.  Our darkened world turned blinding bright in seconds as the rolling clouds mushroomed, blossoming, fanning out across the sky like a pyroclastic flow.

The ground rolled and rumbled underfoot.  I turned three hundred and sixty degrees to see the source.  The volcanoe slept soundly, ignorant some other disaster aimed to steal its thunder.

And thunder it did!

Whatever set the sky on fire moaned in agony, like metal shifting, bending, breaking.  Warm air blasted us, nearly knocking me to my feet.  Again, Doyle saved the day.

He kept one hand on my shoulder and pointed with the other as he whispered, “Sweet Mary, mother of – would you look at that?”  I followed his finger, straining against the reds and oranges erupting across the sky.  The front of something silver peeked through.  As more of the object cleared the sky-fire-flow, the sounds made sense.

A ship.

Not like the shuttles blasted from our NASA centers.  Several of those tiny things could dock on the piece breaking through.  And more followed.

I splayed my fingers across my chest, breaths coming in fits and starts.  All the work I’d done at NASA, all the times spent at observatories staring at the sky, charting the stars, chasing parsecs to discover something new, all that time netted me a pink slip, thanking me for my years of service.  Luckily, I’d wisely saved, lived the frugal lifestyle and took this chance to escape from civilization.  I ran from everything I knew, everyone I knew.  In the middle of nowhere, my dream came true.  There were others.  They’d made it here.  But now, they’d fallen.

Amid the groans and moans of metal warping and shifting, several wires snapped.  A few hung from the ship’s belly, caught in the firestorm, dangling like blazing tentacles.

Like a child, the full ship finally broke free of the atmosphere’s angry reaction to the forced entry.  But unlike that same child, the ship had nothing and no one to keep it from falling.  It was too far away to see if there were windows to view the beings within, but they worked hard against the pending doom, kicking the engines to repeated failed starts, firing thrusters with little more than puffs of smoke as a result.

It roared overhead with another failed start, front part of its massive, circular form pointed toward the ground.  A fiery trail of embers lay in its wake.  It disappeared beyond the canopy, roosting any remaining birds from their slumber.  Their calls filled the sky in a painful harmony to the dying engines.

The boom of the crash thrust the ground up and down so fast both Doyle and I lost our footing.  We landed, a tangle of khakis, sarong and puffed out candle.  Its light hadn’t been needed.  The blazing explosion of ship and earth colliding replaced the dulling fire in the sky.

My excitement of first contact dwindled with a pained realization.  Their unfortunate fall from the sky dropped them on land.  People were sure to be dead.  We humans aren’t the most forgiving.  But maybe, just maybe if one of the beings survived…

Doyle rushed back to his hut, a manic shine in his eyes.  No goodbye.  Moments later his Jeep skittered away, headlights bouncing in the direction of the crash.  Racing to the scene entered my mind, forced out by the memory of a pink slip, a reminder it was no longer my job, joy or problem.

I picked up my candle, re-entered my hut.  Lit and set back in its place, the candle’s flame shimmied with the wind as I pulled out my journal.  On the first page, I placed the date.  A tear splashed on my hand as I wrote:

Some peers may not have been kind.  Some downright ugly.  Demeaned my work and doubted the one truth I held dear:  We are not alone.  Their words turned into my frustration when my fifteen years of service warranted a two-week notice at best.  But here, on this sleepy island, I’ve been vindicated.  They are the fallen, crashing into our world.  But they have come, proving, once and for all, that we are NOT alone.


*** added note, I'll reveal the source picture tomorrow so please do come back :-)***

69 comments:

  1. cool! I liked it and I think I know which pic you chose. Nicely done :)

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    1. Thanks. Hmmm...I hope you can tell. Of course, you'll see it tomorrow and smile knowing you were right :-)

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  2. Great images! Now I want to know what happens next, LOL.

    Your last line is stunning, btw.

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    1. Thanks, Huntress. Wow. Um, I'm not sure what happens next lol!!!

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  3. I definitely want to know what happens next. Nice!

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    1. Thanks, Misty. I don't think my brain went beyond ending with the journal entry. :-)

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  4. I agree with Huntress and Misty, you could turn this into a great sci fi story of all that comes next.

    Your descriptions were beautiful. My only thought was it took a long time for the ship to crash. It felt like it had to push it's way through some kind of barrier. Which actually could be cool--if there were some kind of shielding around the earth to keep large objects from crashing down. :)

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    1. Thanks, Charity. You know, I hadn't thought of that. That could be cool if there was some sort of atmospheric block in place that the Fallen broke through.

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  5. WOW. Powerful ending. I would so totally read more to see what they learn about that ship crashing. I love the description of the whole event! Are you thinking of turning this into a longer story?

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    1. Thanks, Julie. Honestly, I hadn't considered what to do with this story. I haven't really done a hard sci-fi novel before. Could be cool, and this short story could be just the jump off point I need.

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  6. It's a nice story, though I note that you've done the same thing as me and forgotten to post which picture you're basing it on. I think I can probably guess though.

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    1. I thought about putting the picture today. Then I decided not to lol!!! Guess I'm trying to be dramatic with my reveal tomorrow :-) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  7. Very cool!!! I'm a sucker for a man with an accent :)

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    1. Oh Angela, so am I. So of course I had to include a fella with a strong one. lol!!

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  8. That was brilliant, Angela. And I'm not surprised. Well, yes, I am, because you're writing is fantastic, but I've come to expect that of you. I love it when it's easy to get into the character. Chemistry? You have it nailed! :)

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    1. David, you always make me blush :-)

      Thank you so much. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it. Now I'm going back to grinning ridiculously from your compliment. lol!!!

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    1. LOL!! I think I'll have to look into expanding this story :-)

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  10. That gave me chills, loved it! I felt like I was there. Wonderful descriptions!

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    1. Thank you, Heather. So glad you enjoyed the read.

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  11. Angela, ...I love your writing. It's so smooooth. :)

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    1. Thanks, Linda. This was kind of fun to work on. Glad Unicorn Bell did this blogfest.

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  12. Loved this! Great descriptions! Smooth pacing, and yes, leaves us all wanting more!

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    1. Thank you, Alicia. I may have to look at doing much more with this for seriously-real.

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  13. "A tremor beneath my feet. A hum in the air." I loved this line, and how it upped the tension almost immediately. The ending has left me gasping for more!

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    1. Thanks, Ellie. This blogfest has been a treat.

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  14. I wanted to know what happened next too. Great job, Angela!

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    1. Cool, Shelley. Hmmm...this short story may have to see more life :-)

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  15. Awesome, absolutely awesome, Angela. I realized I was holding my breath while reading this!

    "Our darkened world turned blinding bright in seconds as the rolling clouds mushroomed, blossoming, fanning out across the sky like a pyroclastic flow" - I love the visuals here. You transported me with no effort right to your scene. I felt the tremors under my feet and saw the colors in the sky...

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    1. For some reason, I was totally feeling the whole volcanic vibe with this. But instead of the earth pulsing and bursting free, the crashing ship fit perfectly, especially having to break through the atmosphere so violently and unexpectedly.

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  16. Ooo, I wonder what the aliens were up to in the first place and what they'll be like after such a landing.
    Nice one. ^_^

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    1. Hmmm...I think I'll have to explore this and find out what they're like. Though I'm guessing after a rough landing, they could be a might cranky :-)

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  17. Oh my goodness, what beautiful imagery! I think you worked every sense into that. And it was compelling too! Well done! :)

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    1. Thank you, Jenn. I wish I could say it was done easily. But that would be false...so false :-)

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  18. Beautiful imagery and that journal entry says so much. :)

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    1. Thank you, Lydia. Oddly, I was thinking of ending this some other way...but after changing it to the journal entry, I can't remember what it was.

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  19. Angela, I like your writing style. You paint some vivid pictures and I felt Riley's sense of vindication. Good work.

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  20. Thanks so much, J.L. It was a pleasure to participate and write up this short story.

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    1. Thank you, LadyJai. I think I may have to see if more can come of this story.

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  22. why you make us wait! love your story!

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    1. LOL! Oh, Tara. You slay me. Thanks for checking out my story.

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  23. This is great. You did a fantastic job creating a well-developed story in 1000 words. I, too, really enjoyed the last line. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Thank you so much, Justin. Very glad you enjoyed it.

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  24. Wonderful world building! I felt right there with your characters. Very enjoyable to read. :)

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  25. Wow! You did an awesome job description, and world building. Your character is compelling and I loved her background and how it intertwined with the events of the story!

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned the intertwining of the character's background with the events. The title of the story, Fallen, is meant to work dualistically in that sense.

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  26. Doyle's my favourite. Good work I felt so sorry for her losing her job but happy about her redemption.

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    1. I'm such a sucker for accents so I really wanted a way to work one in somehow. Doyle worked well for this.

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  27. Excellent prose. Nice job with the story.

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  28. Interesting story, I enjoyed it, but I found it difficult to connect (emotionally) with the main character. I think 'cause there was a lot of description at the beginning which felt passive/dream-like. Then, 'cause I was in that mind-set, I didn't really connect/feel the tension when the story started ramping up.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this. If I decide to make something more of this, I would want to keep your point in mind as a way to improve upon reader experience on a wider scale.

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  29. A fantastic piece and I would have guessed the photo prompt if I had come by earlier. Wonderful, gripping writing. I can't find anything wrong with it. It's difficult to contact with a character in flash fiction...it takes quite a bit more for that. look forward to see more of your work.

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  30. Thank you, Rek. It isn't often I get to put writing on display. I'm learning a lot from these flash fiction and short story pieces.

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  31. Love the story and the pic...I cheated. : ) I waited until today. Great job!

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    1. I'll forgive the cheat :-) Glad you got to check it out.

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  32. Loved this, Angela. Liked the sky-fire-flow. The ending was very unexpected, but makes sense for the character. Great writing!

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    1. Thank you much, M Pax. It was nice to end it where it started, with Riley.

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  33. Oh awesome. I'm so late I saw the picture before scrolling down, but the sense of place and the crashing space ship made whatever picture you picked fly out of my mind as I read. I kept seeing the dormant volcano in the back drop, the skies heating and the rift that the ship made.

    Riveting, Angela. I enjoyed reading this.

    ......dhole

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    1. Thank you, Donna. Everyone has been helpful and encouraging with their comments and suggestions and feedback.

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  34. Already been said buuuut i) I LOVED the descriptions, especially the Bleeding clouds for some reason andddd ii) AHHHHH WHICH PICTURE? ... Wait wait wait. Aha! I can go find out! PHEW. *RUNS*

    <3

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    1. I know. I was such a silly head doing my reveal the day after posting my post. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

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  35. Awesome story! I loved your descriptions of the sky on fire and bleeding clouds. Very good.

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    1. Thank you, Tracey Jo. Glad you enjoyed the read.

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