Flash Fiction Friday: Shattered Irons Part 2

Last time on Shattered Irons, Foren, rider of the horsebat Alfons and one of the world’s most accomplished nappers, awoke to the trouser-changing sound of his entire world turning upside-down, rending into pieces, and floating away on the wind.

His duty, limited as it was, was to watch over one of the four massive chains that tethered the floating mountain Atumar to the ground. Not that he minds; it’s a good place for a nap. Unfortunately, that nap was cut short when the ancient chain broke and the mountain began to drift…

Shattered Irons: Part 2

Foren wanted to run, to shut his eyes, to put that image out of his mind and go back to the world of five minutes before, when he rested comfortably on the sweet-smelling grass and tussled with Alfons. But, as his corner of the mountain climbed higher and the distant peak took on a decidedly eastward tilt, he only managed a single thought that was not laden with all manner of expletives.

My mother is going to kill me.

It was a silly, almost absurd consideration among the greater implications of the broken chain, but the numbing grip of shock held tight around his mind and had yet to let go. He just stood, mouth agape, staring up at the ever-tilting mountain Atumar.

He had to tell someone. Send a message. Find help. Fix the chain. Something.

A pathetic chitter and nudging at his back broke the cycle of futile thought and brought him back to some semblance of sense, though he doubted it would do much good. He looked back at Alfons, who lay low against the grass behind him, squeaking and shuffling his folded wings. The horsebat whined and fluttered his wings, and Foren scratched behind an ear to calm him.

“It’s not your fault, Alfons. You didn’t do this,” he soothed.

But the question remained: why did this happen now? The mountain had been tethered since long before people had settled the valley, and none of the chains had ever shown any signs of weakening.

He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the intense glare of the sun, now clearly visible around the tilted peak, and peered at the length of chain hanging from the edge of the mountain. From such a great distance, Foren could make out few details, but he guessed that the break had been at least a hundred and thirty feet off the ground. Assuming someone had done damage to the chain, there was no way up other than astride a horsebat.

None of the Juvesper he knew had reason to release the mountain, at least as far as he was aware. And none of the Walkers, those without horsebats, could reach so great a height. That is, not unless they had discovered some alternate means of flight that they had thus far kept to themselves.

Too many questions. Foren’s head spun, and none of the possibilities looked at all pleasant. With a heavy sigh, he mounted the saddle affixed to Alfons’s back and took up the reins. “Well, I’d say just about everyone within a hundred miles knows that something happened. We’d better get back before someone sends for us.”

Alfons whined again, but he obeyed easily enough, leaping into the air and streaking toward the distant village at the barest squeeze of Foren’s thighs. Even at such a distance, Foren could already see the tiny black dots the made up the horsebat cloud swarming as the Juvesper Assembly took to the sky.

Every one of which seemed to be headed in his direction.

And thus we conclude part 2 of Shattered Irons. Check back next week for part 3. Me, I’m as interested as anyone in finding out what happens. I’m not much of a pantser when it comes to writing, and the randomization of the story dice really shakes things up.

So, what did you think of part 2? Do you like where the story is headed, and do you have any ideas of where it may go? Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this story tidbit, please Like and Share on your social media of choice, and be sure to come back next time for Flash Fiction Friday: Shattered Irons Part 3.

Flash Fiction Fridays Shattered Irons Part 1

Flash Fiction Friday: Shattered Irons Part 1

Writing flash fiction is a great way to keep the creativity muscles sharp and avoid boredom by bouncing around between words and characters like a Tigger with a pen after eating a bowl of sugar, but the constant shifting from one world or character to the next has the unfortunate side effect of never letting you spend enough time in a single world to really explore it or its characters. It has been a lot of fun these past N^something weeks writing about different themes and situations, but this Tigger is tired of bouncing and has decided to try something new.

What if I continued writing flash fiction, but instead of changing the world, characters, and everything else each week, I remain in a single world and tell a continuing story about a consistent group of characters? I’ve never written a serial before, so it could be a lot of fun.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Shattered Irons: Part 1

The great floating mountain peak above cast its shadow down across the valley below as the sun disappeared behind it. Foren stretched out on his back in the soft grass, inhaling deeply of its sweet scent as he pillowed his hands behind his head. Somewhere above him, a muted chittering sound told him that Alfons had woken up. He yawned and closed his eyes, fully intending to let the slow, rhythmic creaking of the massive chain tethering the airborne mountain lull him to sleep.

He smiled as a gust of wind and heavy thump signaled Alfons’s return to the ground. Beggar’d be looking to get fed, but there were naps to get on and Foren was never one to pass up an excuse for a snooze, however brief, and noonshade seemed as good a time as any.

But then, nobody ever mistook horsebats for patient creatures. Unlike their miniscule bat cousins, horsebats adored people and were raised alongside their riders as mount, pet, and best friend all rolled into one. Before Foren even managed to skirt the edge of unconsciousness, Alfons had crawled over top of him, chittering and whuffling at his jacket in search of his aftershade treat.

Foren feigned sleep and pretended to ignore the beast, but the dam holding back his laughter cracked, crumbled, and finally broke by the time Alfons nudged his face with his nose, chittering with utmost insistency and puffing insect-smelling breath all over him. With a grin, he opened his eyes and scratched behind Alfons’s ears, eliciting a contented whine before the horsebat learned too far into the touch and flopped to the ground beside him in a tangle of wings and fur.

Still chuckling, Foren rolled over and scratched up and down his friend’s hairy, exposed belly. “Let’s see how you like it, huh? Not so nice being pinned down with an ugly face staring down at you, is it?”

For his part, Alfons wriggled and chittered in joy. Foren knew all the best spots to scratch after having been together for the better part of twenty years, when both of them were little more than babies. After several minutes of wrestling and scratching, he pulled back, breathless with laughter as he reached into an inner jacket pocket. “I know what you want. How do a few sugared crickets sound?”

At the merest mention of the treat, Alfons flipped back onto his belly and scampered up to his friend. His mouth still moved as if it was chittering, but in his excitement, the sound had risen higher than Foren could hear. He crouched low, ready to pounce as Foren withdrew the first treat, then sprang upward as it was tossed high in the air.

The force of the wind generated by the beating of Alfons’s wings pushed Foren onto his back, but he did not miss the view of Alfons snatching the cricket out of the air and greedily downing it without ever changing course. One after another, he tossed crickets in random directions into the air, and each one was gobbled down by Alfons without either cricket or horsebat touching the ground.

Once the sixth and final cricket was consumed, Foren relaxed, fully intending to return to his noonshade nap as Alfons wheeled and dove and frolicked in the air above. After a few moments of watching the play, when the first fuzziness of sleep began to creep over his mind, an urgent cry from above roused him to full consciousness.

High above, Alfons was circling a spot on the chain and crying out to alert him to the danger. Foren’s heart sank when he saw what had upset the horsebat.

The side of one of the chain’s links had broken, and that link was being slowly pulled apart by the force of the mountain above. Interminable minutes passed before it finally snapped, leaving him helpless as the mountain began drifting skyward, trailing the upper part of the chain as the lower part thundered to the ground in front of him.

So, what did you think? How do you feel about exploring this new (as yet unnamed) world with me? I have no idea of where the story is headed, but that’s the fun. We’ll travel together and see just what kind of trouble this pair can get into. Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to share with friends, family, your grandma, your grandma’s dog (or cat; we don’t judge here), and anyone else you think might enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!