Turtles Without a Goal

So I had such a good time with Chuck Wendig’s random title flash fiction challenge last week I thought I’d do my own.

I have no idea what generator he used but the one I found produces the most glorious rubbish imaginable. Ladyloves with Red Hair, Human of Destruction, Ladies and Lions, Pigs and Pigs, Body with Wings, these are the titles in the private library of a deranged serial killer.

I’m going to embrace the awfulness and throw 1000(ish) words at the most ridiculous title I can find from the adventure category on fantasynamegenerators.com.

Turtles Without a Goal

Adrienne knew what was in the envelope lying in front of the door. She sighed and stepped over it, putting it off while she started the coffee pot. She got the old computer warming up too and shuffled some of the week’s paper work around. Finally she poured coffee in to the chipped, old mug from her alma mata, grabbed the envelope and headed back out the door to sit on the steps of her pre-fab office facing the beach. She looked across the white gold sand to the sea, so much closer than it had been when she’d first arrived here.

Simon had included an apology note along with the returned cheque, which was nice of him. She loved writing those cheques. There was something so tangible about the official department of conservation logo and her signature. It made her feel like she was a respected official doing an important job in a proper office, not an underfunded dogsbody in a portacabin on a beach no one cared about. She wanted to crumple the note, the cheque and the envelope, maybe tear them to shreds or fling them dramatically in to the sea. She filed them instead.

***

Sam looked up when she heard the gate in front of the bar. Come the tourist season it would be open all the time, but in the off season it creaked, giving her notice every time a local stopped by. The window only gave her a glimpse of the path to the front door but she caught a white shirt and dark hair and knew it was Adrienne. By the time her friend had climbed onto a stool at the empty bar she had a beer ready for each of them.

Adrienne accepted the bottle with a tired smile, Sam clinked them together and sat.

“It’s official, they sent the money back.”

Sam winced in sympathy and took a drink.

“So what happens now?”

Adrienne shook her head.

“Nothing. By the time they’ve finished with the resorts the turtles will have been and gone and we won’t be able to touch the beach. By the time the hatch has finished they’ve all closed up shop for the winter and then the storms will hit and the damage is done. Short of me going out there with a spade and shifting tonnes of sand myself there’s nothing we can do.”

“How bad will it be? The beach will still be there?”

“Next year? Maybe. There’s no way of knowing how much damage the winter will do. And if I can’t get the funds to tempt someone away to protect a threatened beach there’s no way I’ll be able to raise enough money for a damaged one. Eventually the sand will be gone.”

“I can’t imagine that. How can the beach disappear from the beach?”

Adrienne shrugged and took a long drink.

“What will you do?”

“When I’m a marine conservation officer based on a beach that doesn’t exist anymore?”

“Yes.”

“I have no idea. I guess the department will move me, or get rid of me.”

“What will the turtles do?”

“Come back to a missing beach, after that no one really knows. Maybe they’ll find somewhere else. Maye they’ll just keep pointlessly coming back here. I don’t know.”

Sam watched her friend roll the bottle between her palms. After months of ranting and late nights defeat almost looked relaxing. She headed back behind the bar for a larger bottle and two glasses. She took Adrienne’s beer, passed her the tequila, took her hand and led her out to the beach.

***

Adrienne had been horrified to discover when arrived at the beach that she could have quite happily stayed there for the rest of her life. Throughout university, volunteering and internships she’d planned it all out. This was supposed to be her first job on the way up a long ladder. It was only when she’d got here that she realised she’d be happy enough never climbing another rung. She’d been counting on being driven and ambitious, the whole plan sort of fell apart without that.

Sam’s flat above her bar was cool and breezy this early in the morning and this early in the year. Adrienne sat up gingerly, waited to see how bad the hangover was going to be. When it seemed safe she went to the loo and then stood awkwardly at the foot of the bed trying to decide what to do. Sam was sprawled on her front with the sheet pushed down to her waist. She looked solid and warm and relaxed, the opposite of Adrienne who felt like she could wash away at any minute.

The sun was well up, she should really head to the office soon.

She thought about the turtles who would be starting to feel the pull of this place. Soon the last generation was going to be born here. After that, suddenly they would have nowhere to go.

She slipped back in to bed and pressed herself against Sam’s back. She pulled the sheets up over the both of them and curled in as close as she could.

 

Author’s note:

Well that didn’t go how I expected! Beach erosion is a real and increasingly troubling thing by the way, even though this was un-researched nonsense.

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Laughing Lights

This is my entry for last week’s flash fiction challenge over at Terrible Minds, 1000 words based on a randomly selected title.

I’m 8 words over and extremely rusty but here we go!

………………………………

The moonlight was just strong enough to stop her from running straight in to a tree as she pelted through the forest.

She knew it was too late, everything had been too late. She’d set off too late, taken the forest road too late in the day, realised too late that she’d stopped following the path and started following the lights. She would be missed far too late. Still she ran.

She couldn’t hear the laughing any more, first her breathing had drowned it out and now that was lost under the panting, animalistic noises she was making. It felt like she was fighting her lungs for air, fighting her legs for movement, fighting the whole damn forest for freedom.

The moonlight came at her suddenly from the forest floor and she jumped with burning legs to avoid the pool of water. Her leg buckled as she landed on the other side and her hands pushed deep in to the soft ground as she shoved herself back to her feet. She was heading towards the marsh then, nowhere near the path. It didn’t matter anymore. There was only one direction that mattered, away from the lights. Dammit, she’d thought she was safe here.

She stumbled trying to jump over the next pool and sloshed through the one after that and by the time she got to the other side she wasn’t running any more, not really. It felt like the marshy land was pulling her feet back as hard as she pushed it away.

Another pool of water appeared and she stumbled to a halt in front of it and doubled over. On solid ground she might have outrun her pursuer but in the marsh this race was over. As her breathing started to quiet she heard the laughter behind her. High pitched, soulless and getting closer.

Meredith pulled herself upright. She stopped herself from checking her pockets, she knew there was nothing in them. She scanned the ground around her and saw grass, mud and water. Nothing her hands could properly grasp, let alone wield. Even if she wanted to try and take the noble way out the only thing available was the pools and she wouldn’t drown in time.

Fuck.

Her failure seemed to pull her down like the mud under her feet. Everything she’d run from, everything she’d kept hidden away would go to the lights now. All of her stupid power and potential. No one would manipulate her for it now, no one would try to use it for good or bad and she’d never work out how to thwart them. She’d just be another light where there should be darkness, another lost laugh on the wind. Her ancestors had battled dragons, led armies, ridden storms to their deaths. Her only rebellion had been wanting to die in her bed aged 90 and instead she’d taken the scenic route to the pub through a wood, stepped off the path and she was going to be killed in a fucking bog by a fucking Will ‘O the Wisp aged 30. Her useless power would sustain it for centuries.

Well, at least she could deny it some.

As the laughter began to surround her she closed her eyes. There would be lights everywhere now. Instead she focused deep inside herself to the place she never went, the place she’d fled along with her home. The power sprang up instantly, warm and forgiving in her mind.

Wind began to buffet her body, distracting her. She fell to her knees rather than focus on keeping her footing and sent her mind back inwards.

She was worse than a novice really but there was one spell she remembered, the one that everyone learned, practicing in solemn rows with their candles. She found the form of it in her mind and pushed.

She opened her eyes to a pillar of flame.

Beneath her knees the ground became solid and then cracked as the heat drove the water from the bog. She felt a joyous surge of power. If the lights were still there they couldn’t compete with this. Then the wind slammed in to her with renewed force and the laughter drowned out the roar of the flames.

She felt the teeth of the wind began to bite. She looked down to see the blood flowing down her arms. So that was how they killed you then. No one had ever really known. She poured everything she had in to the inferno around her.

She’d spent her whole life holding back for fear of what she could do and now she was going to die giving her all without making the slightest bit of difference.

There was a sudden impact to her side which sent her sprawling across the baked ground. The flame cut out abruptly. Meredith looked down and even though she’d been ready to die a moment ago felt her first real surge of fear. Wrapping around her arms and waist were the knotted cords weighted with rune stones of a binding. The laughter was still loud in her ears and the wind stung where it buffeted her skin. She arched her head back, exposing her throat, hoping the Wisp would take her in time. Instead there was a shout, a word of power she didn’t know and the laughter stopped instantly.

With the wind gone the only sound was her panting breath as she struggled against the binding. Then she heard footsteps on the newly dried ground.

The footsteps stopped behind her and a male voice spoke another word she didn’t recognise. Magic washed over her and she felt the bleeding cuts that covered her heal.

The man walked around her head and crouched down in front of her face.

From what she could see in the moonlight he was around her age, tall and broad and looming. She couldn’t read his expression as he stared at her.

“I’m going to take you home now Princess.”

Meredith closed her eyes and wished she’d run towards the lights.