Short Story: A Slippery Challenge

The challenge was to stack three sticks of butter on top of each other. A simple exercise that no one would have trouble achieving.

Yeah right. The goal might be simple, but the conditions were anything but.

First, the table was on a platform floating on a churning wave pool.

Next, as part of the challenge, spectators were armed with truckloads of water balloons to pelt the participants with.

And worst of all, the hot weather made the butter soft and slippery. Some fell apart in their hands, others slid off the table into the water, making the challenge impossible to complete.

But for the rare winners, a large stack of cash waited for them on the stage.

In the waiting area, a young girl warmed up. Her family had bills to pay. She wasn’t going to let that prize money slip through her fingers so easily.

~End~

Genre: general

Short Story: In The Water

Her hair waved around her as she floated in the water. She watched the dark tendrils, letting them distract her so she could last just a little longer without fresh air.

Someone said something above the water. Water garbled the words out of recognition but she still recognised the voice that said them. She should go up, but she still had some air in her.

She looked at her brother, who looked back. He pointed up to the surface, then showed three fingers. She nodded.

Three. Two. One.

They surfaced at the same time and gulped their first breath in awhile. Beside the pool, their father set a tray of food on the table. The savoury smell cut through the chlorine and made her mouth water.

Her brother dove like an eel into the water. She chose to keep her nose above the water and doggy paddled her way towards the delightful smell.

They could continue their competition after they fuelled up.

~End~

Genre: slice of life

Short Story: Boys on the Bridge

Genre: slice of life

“Chicken!” the other boys jeered from the bridge.

Water crushed him from all sides, tossing him roughly like a rag doll.

The flashback kept him rooted on the river bank, fingers clasped tightly around the scar on his arm.

“It’s not safe. Get back here,” he said to the other boys.

“Chicken! Chicken!” the boys taunted as they jumped up and down on the bridge. The bridge creaked and bounced beneath their feet.

One moment, they were on solid wood, the next, they were free falling through the air into the freezing water.

“Stop it.”

A crack shot through the air.

Jeers turned into screams as the bridge collapsed and the boys dropped into the swollen river. The rapid current dragged them down the river.

He gripped the limp body so tightly he couldn’t feel his fingers, but he couldn’t hold on and swim at the same time.

“I’ll get help,” he yelled.

Without wasting another moment, he ran back to the adults. He couldn’t stop the other boys from playing on the bridge, but he could do this. And maybe this time, he wouldn’t lose another friend.

~End~

Short Story: Down the Fjord

Genre: fantasy

 

“A fjord is like a river, but deeper. Much deeper. Rivers only go as deep as a few hundred metres, but fjords can go deeper than a thousand metres…” the tour guide said at the front of the ferry.

He leaned over to whisper in his sister’s ear. “Any response?”

She shook her head and parted her hand to reveal her still-dull pendant. She clasped her fingers together again to hide the pendant from view.

“Do you think Mum’s too deep for the pendant to sense?” she whispered.

His lips pressed together in a thin line. With effort, he relaxed it into a faint smile he hoped looked assuring.

“No. Our pendants are a matching pair. If mine can bring us all the way here halfway across the world, then yours can pinpoint exactly where Mum is, even a thousand metres deep.”

The words came out more confident than he felt, but it gave his sister the reassurance she was looking for. His sister turned her attention back to her pendant, and he turned his to keeping his anxiety in check.

His sister gasped. He pressed in.

“She’s here,” she whispered, parting her hands just enough to reveal the glowing pendant.

“Let’s go,” he said.

They slipped out of sight. With a whispered word, they shifted to a form more suited for deep water exploration and followed the light of the pendant down the fjord.

~End~

Short Story: The Tribe Within The Mountain

Genre: fantasy

 

On the mountain in between the roots of two giant trees, sat a pool. By day it shone under the sun, by night it glittered under the stars.

The pool fed streams that flowed into the mountain, down the man-made tunnels of the tribe that dwelled within the mountain. Even in the darkness, the streams glowed, bringing light deep into the mountain.

Throughout the mountain, the tribe settled along the streams. They lived by its light and survived through its water. For many, the stream was the only light they knew, and that was enough.

But not her.

The elders talked about an endless chamber with no walls, of a great light that shone from the ceiling called sun and a glittering river that flowed on the ceiling instead of the ground.

She lived deep in the mountain, far from the surface. To travel all the way to the top would take her days, maybe longer. So she prepared, as much as she could, and when there was nothing else she could prepare, she walked upstream.

To travel was rare, so her unfamiliar face drew attention wherever she went.

“Where are you from?”

“Where are you going?”

In exchange for her story, they offered her food and shelter. For her, who didn’t know how long her journey would take, the offers were a great boon. She shared her story, and in the process learnt theirs.

As she traveled further upstream, she sent news back downstream of how she was, the people she had met, and the things she had learnt.

What should have taken days stretched into months, but finally, she reached the top of the mountain, and she saw with her own eyes the largest chamber she had ever seen. No walls, no ceilings, just endless space as far as the eye could see.

She drank her fill of the vast landscape, committing every sight to memory. This place, which had no end, was where she wanted to be.

She would return to her home chamber, but only to bid her farewells before returning to the surface.

And if anyone wanted to join her, well, the more the merrier.

~End~