This week’s photo writing prompt courtesy of Sue Vincent’s great #writephoto challenge is entitled “shimmer”. The goal – to write a story based on the lovely photo below. I did write this purely as a drama, but I rebelled at the last and was compelled to put a sci-fi twist on it (460 words). Be sure to check out the other great takes by clicking on the link above and if you haven’t already, why not have a go yourself.
“Hurry, it’s nearly time,” she said dragging him relentlessly through the darkness.
He stumbled. Brambles tore at his bare legs, but he wasn’t going to let go. “Slow down!”
She pushed on, ignoring his pleas. “Come on. We’ll miss it.”
“Miss what?” he panted.
“You’ll see,” she said.
It had been the same lie for half a mile now and he still couldn’t see a thing in the ink-black gloom. With a crunch, the thick undergrowth gave way to pebbles. Close by he could hear the gently lapping water of the lake. They were panting hard when she stopped abruptly. He felt her hand slip from his.
“Strip!” she commanded.
“What? I can’t see-”
“Quick!” she demanded.
He had no intention of stripping until he heard her boots fall onto the skittering pebbles and the frantic rustling of clothing. Eagerly, he undressed. A moment later, naked, he shivered in the chill night air. “Wh what now?”
“Wait for wh-?”
“Shhh,” she hissed. “Listen!”
He stared into the dark and listened. He saw it first, a glimmer of light that silhouetted the distant hills. A second later a deep resonating bass rumbled through the valley. Her hand found his, their fingers interlocked. He looked across, her body was hidden in darkness all except for her eyes, they reflected the distant growing spark.
“Here we go,” she said.
He could hear the bass increasing, feel it in his chest. The light shimmered and with a deafening crackle, it was as if dawn had come early. The monstrous fiery rocket climbed into the night sky, slowly at first, bathing the entire valley in its flickering light. He could see the island now and around it the lake was afire. In that perfect moment, he saw her standing there, a golden goddess smiling back at him.
“Now do you see?” she screamed over the din.
It took less than a minute for the rocket to become another star in the night. Plunging them back into darkness. Her hand slipped from his. He turned, tried to pull her near, but she was gone. He heard a splash of water and whoops of excitement. “The next one’s mine. I can’t wait.”
He’d often look back on that night. That was the night he knew he’d have to let her go. He’d seen the fire in her eyes, seen then that her destiny lay in the stars, not here. She’d go places, places he could not hope to follow. He’d wonder if she ever thought of him and that amazing night all those years ago.
A billion miles from earth, deep in cryogenic sleep, she stood on an eternal pebble beach, his hand in hers throughout the long dark night.
9th December 2019 at 9:13 am
I like this. You build up the tension well and those last lines are lovely.
9th December 2019 at 2:05 pm
I agree with Jane. A perfect story were it not for the spiders! (you can’t see them you say?)
9th December 2019 at 2:36 pm
Oh they’re there, they’re always there. It’s only in the frosty mornings you can see their frozen cobweb empire.
11th December 2019 at 8:43 am
Fabulous story, Chris.