Saturday, April 1, 2017

Year 2, Week 33

Welcome back to another round of Cracked Flash Fiction!

Judge this week: Ronel

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Midnight tonight, PDT.

Results announced: Next 
Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories: they're for inspiration (and amusement).)

Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings.


  1. Angelique Pacheco
    Word count: 294

    Kevorkian’s Dragons

    “Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. You can’t believe how just one year ago, it had been exciting to see the first ever satellite-controlled dragon walking the streets of New York. People flocked to the city that never sleeps, to get a glimpse of one cleaning the streets or being crane lifts in the building trade. It was a functional novelty and people were convinced that the world was a prettier place with these mythical metal creatures. There were even plans to build a whole fleet of other types of creatures. When a meteor hit the satellite, Jacob was unconcerned, thinking the dragons would still be able to be controlled remotely. But when the meteor hit, it launched the dragons’ ability to function on their own. They stopped working and created their own kind of army. They destroyed one city before moving on to the next. They had only one function now. Kill all human beings.”

    Jacob or “Jack” as he was known by many, smiled as he put down his pen. The room was bright as the snow reflected on the window pane of his home in Michigan. He laughed as he reread his paragraph. This would almost certainly never be a best seller, he mused. He had tried his hand at various other crafts, such as painting and composing. He was also an avid jazz musician. But a fiction writer, he was not. He was tired of writing books on physician-assisted suicides and articles for pathology journals. He ripped the page out of the typewriter and crumpled it into a ball as he threw it into the fire. A thin spiral of smoke puffed out from the page of dragons that had emerged from Jack’s mind.

  2. The Solution
    300 words

    Dragons stalked the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. Gulligan sighed. Rush hour. A dragon who had the bad sense to scuttle in front of Gulligan found himself violently kicked. The iridescent creature rolled end over end and hit the curb, sending up a cloud. Brittle things, Gulligan thought, for all their noise and pollution. Pieces of silvery scales lay like dust, drawing the trajectory of Gulligan's kick.

    Gulligan mumbled an apology and kept walking. The three-inch pest began to swear in its own language. Gulligan understood, but pretended not to. From behind he could hear metal scraping against the charred asphalt and knew the dragon was coming after him. Gulligan stopped short. Sure enough, he felt the sting of warmth and impact as the dragon rammed into his calf. The smell of his own seared flesh was immediate, but Galligan did not flinch. Again the dragon came at his feet. This time, Gulligan lifted his leg at the last moment, sending the animal reeling.

    Each sized up the other.

    "Your kind never watch where you're going," the dragon said in the common tongue.

    Gulligan snorted. "You landed right in front of my foot."

    "You shouldn't even be on the street. The streets are ours." The dragon pruned its ruffled scales, pulling out the chipped ones. New ones would grow back. Old ones littered the ground. The lightest metal flakes began to quiver. The dragon narrowed its eyes and backed away. He wondered that the boy hadn't cried when he burned him. Realization began to dawn.

    Too late. The dragon recognized the hum of electricity, saw the boy's eyes vacate the avatar. Dead eyes were the last thing he saw. He and countless others were crushed to the Bombshell Boy Electromagnet, society's solution to the dragon problem.

  3. Sian Brighal
    299 words

    In the Flesh

    Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. Most cheer, waving their banners, yelling out the names of their heroes, the beasts that battle for their entertainment. Some scowl, having lost money on the annual bouts between the leviathans of bronze, silver, copper and brass: the mythical made manifest, breathing fire to melt their foes into precious pools to be gathered up with due reverence at the end.

    A few simply watched, studying the newly forged and beaten panels, wondering if any of them were still unique…how much of each other resided in each one? For metal had memory…and with each smelting in the arena and reforging at the smith, the dragons’ flesh healed as one: bits of victor and vanquished, old and new, battle-hungry and battle-weary alike. On the outside, the dragons looked no different, recast in the same long adored image, but their bodies must almost be as one by now.

    And their souls?

    No metal beast had souls! Such talk was seditious…or pandering to the pious who thought gambling a sin and would use any argument to bring down the Dragon Arena. But…a few of the old artisans remembered stories of the beasts’ first forging, when they were weapons and rose from ruined cities to rain down vengeance and hate upon foes: when claws were sharper and buffed skin was anointed with blood. And they whisper the rumour that human souls had put their undying spark into tightly wound heart mechanisms to give the metal monsters ‘life’ and understanding enough to be commanded.

    So a few watched the dragons stalk past with a mix of pity and dread of war machines used as toys and what amalgam of hate and anger fleshed out the madness of a thousand souls existing as one.

  4. Motion Capture

    Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. The technician watches as the children dart from pillar to statue crouching low to keep out of sight. Their warm, pastel colored clothing makes them easy to spot to his human eyes, but the dragons can’t see the robin’s egg blue or the pale yellow of their jumpers.

    Peter’s voice sounds near hysterical as he shouts at his sister, “What just happened, Penny? Where are we?”

    Penny makes frantic hand gestures indicating that Peter must be quiet. She scoots around the statue beside her. It’s a tight fit, but she manages to squeeze all the way into the niche behind the statue. She indicates that Peter should do the same.

    There they sit, for hours, it seems, waiting for the dragons to clank back into their tunnel.

    Peter even drifts off to sleep, but he’s startled awake by Penny’s hand clamping over his mouth.

    She whispers, “They’ve gone. Come on.”

    Peter scrapes the toe of his left shoe as he scrambles to get up.

    “Shhh!” hisses Penny, and she points at a shadowed doorway across the courtyard.

    Peter’s furrowed brow tells her what he’s thinking, “you want to do what?”

    Penny nods and darts across the courtyard.

    Peter hesitates, but eventually, with a deep breath, he charges into the open--eyes locked on his sister. He hears metal clank somewhere in the tunnel as Penny pulls him into the dark archway and slams the door behind them.

    Bright lights come on, and a disembodied voice says, “Thanks. That’s it for today. See you next week.”

    The actors bow to each other and stroll out. Their neoprene shoes scuff across the floor of the motion capture studio.

  5. 300 dragone days

    The Day We Finally Woke Up and Found That We Were Going to Hell in Handbaskets Mostly Made by Alien Dragons

    “Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings.” Daria is flapping her gums again. I’m probably the only vendor listening.

    I offer what is supposed to be a calming retort.

    “I know. Tell me something I don’t know.”

    I am ill-served by my tart tongue. My soothing words fall flat.

    “Well,” she continues, “their clanging wings are far too noisy. And what’s with all the smoking, Walter? The City banned smoking in public twenty years ago. Real citizens like us can’t even light up electronic cigarettes, for Pete’s sake. It’s all for the greater good, right. The bloody environment? Why are the authorities not cracking down?”

    Her agitation is escalating, anaemic skin turning fire-pit red, voice crackling with restless ruckus.

    Do I need to remind her that when we accepted the influx of refugee Sardonic Drone Dragons a decade ago, we agreed to go the extra fiery mile to absorb them into our great melting pot, to do whatever we could to accept their large, peculiar, occasionally dangerous ways?

    Few of us thought the experiment had been much of a success.

    Still, the Dragons made an effort.

    Some tried their hand at politics. One had actually been elected dogcatcher.

    Many, however, found urban life restricting and had repaired to rural communes to build their new lives unfettered by we wee mortals.

    Unexpectedly, some took up weaving, initially building large wattle and daub structures to house their colossally galumphing bodies and later, to the groans of our Westridge Weavers Guild, creating an abundance of beautiful baskets.

    This was at the heart of Daria’s despair.

    Our baskets were sold principally at the Westridge Farmers Market.

    The Sardonic Drone Dragons have flooded our market with their mass-produced albeit higher quality wares.

    “Time to take up pottery, Daria,” I consoled.

    218 words

    Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings.

    I stand a safe distance away. Far away; in a cradle held up by a crane normally used for Dinner in the Sky. On another time, an adventurous spirit would have been seen bungee jumping there. That time is gone.

    The dragons are on the attack, albeit not randomly; one needs to pay attention to see this.

    Initially, the street party-goers were oblivious to the dragons’ presence. The loud electronic dance music drowned the sound of the clattering wings. The smoke prompted them to start running. The merriment turned into chaos and stampede.

    I am a witness.

    In the midst of the commotion, I watch one dragon focuses on one pile of bodies pushing and squirming near the DJ’s corner. It found its target.

    I turn my back on the street scene below me. I don't need to see more. It’s enough for me. He tried to kill me on our skydiving escapade. I sent my mechanical dragons to kill him. We're even.

    Nothing will take away the pain caused by his betrayal. My artificial intelligence can create and control killer robots and my bionic body may be unbreakable but I remain with a broken heart.

    He should have at least known what I’m capable of.

    1. Nice! I love the "I am a witness" line. Chilling.

    2. Hi Theresa,
      I'm not sure if I'm commenting in the right place here but I hope so. Thank you so much. I didn't realize you commented here. I don't think my gmail gave me notification. This has been fun. Hopefully, I have my creative juices running this coming Saturday. :)

  7. Sam Lauren
    Word Count: 300

    Patient Fruition

    "Dragons stalk the streets," Daniel told me, "Puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. We need you to come back."

    I scowled. “What do you expect me to do?”

    They exiled me from a whole megaannum, banished me to a humble shack in the middle of the caveman days. Here, they said, I could do no harm.

    Daniel took my hands in his: the only human contact I'd had for three years.

    “I know you meant to help those people. You're brilliant, Maggie… the Counsel couldn't see it.”

    To them I was just another geneticist gone rogue. They weren't interested in giving chances. Regulation over progress.

    “They've given me permission to restore your citizenship,” Daniel said. “You can solve this crisis. I know you want to.”

    I'd been waiting for this. “What’s the problem? Describe their behaviour.”

    “They knock down buildings, crush cars. They don't outright kill anyone… but there’s been casualties of their destruction. It's like they're searching for something.”

    “That's very strange.”

    I agreed to go. I followed him into the same machine that dragged me to this century, felt time pulse over us.

    The doors opened on a world I hadn't quite forgotten. Smoke darkened the city sky. Sparse flames gave it a copper glow that flickered as skyscrapers collapsed into kindling. The iconic Capitol Tower was strewn across the block. It was different from what I remembered.

    It was exactly how I'd dreamt.

    The dragons, twelve, stood taller than their ruins. They sniffed the air. They stretched their metallic spines and wagged their tails through steel columns. Their scales, seamless skin, shimmered like gems under water. They combed the streets like a pack of hybrid bloodhounds.

    “You’re an expert on biotechnology like this,” Daniel whispered. “What do you think they're looking for?”

    I smiled. “Me.”

  8. Theresa J. Barker
    290 words
    In the Land of the Imagined Kingdom


    Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings.

    Dragons are not the only beasts God forgot to make, Emily thinks. There are the Phoenix and the Unicorn. But they all live in her imagination, just as they did in Mrs. Hedron's poetry class in 9th grade, where she first wrote about them.

    But today Emily sees them, cars and SUVs prowling the side streets and arterials of her hometown, a suburb of Houston. Humble, Texas. Flying along I-69 toward Humble and the George Bush airport. Poisoning the air with invisible vapors and watching everyone with their every-seeing headlights eyes.

    Emily used to take medication. Then she did not see the dragons, or the Phoenix or the Unicorn, either. Yet she still knew that the Phoenix was disguised as the tall glassy structure of Williams Tower, and that the Unicorn lived in the Buffalo Bayou. When she was on her meds she did not seem them any more. She had missed them.

    Now, triumphantly, she recognizes the dragons stalking the Will Clayton Parkway, the Old Humble Road, making stops at Home Depot and the mall. She looks forward to seeing the Phoenix rise over downtown and the Unicorn cavorting along the bayou.

    Just now, though, she is hungry. Very hungry. She wants to go to the Good Eats café next to I-69, off John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Emily doesn't drive . . . for obvious reasons. Her last car, a VW Golf, turned into a small dinosaur, a compsognathus, when she was on her way to the Kroger's for groceries, and she had to leave it in the parking lot of a convenience store.

    Perhaps she'll call an Über. It may turn out to be a microraptor.