There is, in fact, a form of fiction shorter than flash: the drabble. A mere one hundred
words, not a word less, not a word more, it forces the author to distill meaning into
its most concetrated form. This week, the pitch was to create a drabble from each
of the major food groups of Speculative Fiction: Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror, and,
as a bonus, pure SpecFic itself.
Canto I: Leaving
The horses were packed, the sun was over the mountains. Geart’s destrier shuffled its hooves in the wet farmyard soil. Halen’s silver-grey hair swept around the long stems of her ears as she moved easily onto the naked back of her mare. Kru’mo’hah set his stumpy legs in the shortened stirrups of his appaloosa, and the child-bard sat nervously behind him, looking over his own shoulder at the place he was leaving behind.
“The road song then! To start on the right foot.”
“How does it go?”
“Like this: ‘The road goes ever on and on, down from the door….”
Canto II: Travel
Whoever said that getting there is half the fun obviously never ran the deeps. It’s vacant in the big space between the star clusters, empty and black. Except for us, close and comfy, nestled and padded, watched and worried over by a motherly AI.
But me, I do kind of like it. Being in transit, being in motion. Heading for an unseen place, tucked into my safety vest, daydreaming in VR, Dog curled up on the pallet beside me, my partner working away in the pod above/below/beside me, prepping things for landing, for expansion, for exploration. This passage is cleansing.
Canto III: Arrival
Tall trees with thin branches bit into a sky full of blurry stars. Russet-orange embered campfires and the shapes of strangers, half visible through the haze of dust and smoke.
“This isn’t what I thought it would be like.”
“Those people are staring at us. I don’t like it here.”
The truck lurched nauseously as it struggled over uneven rocks. He put it in park, she held herself and shivered in the unexpected cold. He went to open the door, stopped. The other campers were coming towards them now, from the forest, from down the road. Moving with slow purpose.
Canto IV: Return
The woods were burned, and they didn’t seem like home anymore. He looked at the trees, black and charcoal burned. Leafless branches like struts holding up the bright blue sky. The soil beneath his feet layered in hard baked ash, like grey kilned clay. The giant stone ridges were untouched, passive, drifting in invisible time.
But the stream was flowing bright light; finally clean. And everywhere living green ladders pushing up; stretching for the easily seen sun. It was starting to come back. His world, creation, and avatar, returning now after the great fire of her passage. Better this time.