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Fantasy Fiction

By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire. Eurus’s breath had blown my orange hair curling into the sky like tongues of hot flame and setting the trees swaying.

“It’ll be fine,” Tye lies into my ear. “They haven’t been seen in months, we can go outside.” 

I brush him off.

Lies, they were all lies. Outside wasn’t safe.  

He’s telling lies I wanted to hear, but they’re lies nonetheless. I can feel it. The trees are ablaze with red-decked flames, embers shooting off and swirling, purple and orange and yellow and bright into the dusk-painted horizon. There’s no one hurt, there’s no one maimed. That era is over, but I’m not convinced. We stroll down the path, dirt beneath our feet, and I poke at the leaves with my toes. They twist around to look at me, glaring accusingly for disturbing them. My foot collides with their fragile bodies in reply, and they crumble away from this world with a crunch.

I start walking without malicious intent towards the leaves at my feet after that. Taking life didn’t sit well with my stomach, even if it was only alive in my head.

Each scattering of a leaf, each breath of wind, each word Tye lies to me, it makes me feel at ease. Noise. Yes, noise was good.

I handed Tye my scarf mutely, tying my heavy jacket around my waist. I stop, and Tye stops too. I face the wind and laugh despite my fears. No, in the face of them.  

Good things. The wind and the cold and the noise. They were all good things.

I continue walking, and Tye offers my scarf back to me. I shake my head, and he nods, folding it loosely around his neck. Tye may lie and tell me everything is fine, but he understands me. We understand each other.

He takes my hand and I squeeze it as if to shatter the bones in his fingers. We walk, and Tye talks to me. He tells me of his adventures outside, adventures in the leaves, adventures without people hurt, and without people maimed. 

“It’s beautiful outside, Auburn,” he smiles. “Without the-” 

I shake my head, eyes a silent plea.

“Without them in the area, crops have started up again.” Tye continues. He doesn’t judge. He understands me. “I went over to the Johnson’s house last week. Their son finally moved out to his own camp. His parents are worried sick for him, being out all alone like he is.” Tye tilts his head before continuing. “But if there’s anyone who can stand up to the--uh, those things--it’d be him. Most resourceful boy I’ve ever met, and one has to be resourceful in this day and age.”

I nod. His voice is soft and hoarse, like he isn’t used to speaking, but it's a good thing nonetheless. It eases my nerves.

“Just a little further until we can head back,” Tye tells me.

I want to glare at him, but I couldn’t make my eyes complete the motion. He was right, it’s perfectly safe. There’s noise all around us and the cold is intense. 

They are gone and I am safe. I want to believe it so, so much.  

Night begins its descent upon us and I tug at Tye’s sleeve. He halts his storytelling and pokes his head out of his scarf like a turtle emerging from its shell.  

“What is it?” Tye asks patiently. I point at the sky timidly.

“Oh, yeah, we can hurry up,” he offers. “Still don’t like the dark?”

I nod once, but it carries no less certainty than a spoken affirmation.  

We walk briskly from there, on the brink of a jog. I’m growing tired of the cold, so I gently slide my scarf off Tye’s neck. He looks over at me but continues talking.

“...And that man turned out to be the former president! He had no clue how to handle himself in an actual battle with those things!”  

I give him one of my rare smiles. He smiles back. Then we lapse into terrible, frightening silence. I hate the silence. It always reminds me of the storm that once followed it. 

I shake my head vigorously to stop my head from clouding with memories. Focus on the here, I remind myself. Focus on the now. Focus on all the good things.  

Tye’s hand in mine. The scattering leaves. The cold, howling wind. The new sounds, like the crickets chirping and the bird cries. The dim, fading light of the sun.  

All the good things.

But it’s still too much to bear. I turn to Tye and sign, make it stop.  

“What? Make what stop, Auburn?” Then he understands. “You want the silence to stop, don’t you?”

I grip his hand tighter in confirmation. He shrugs and begins to sing a quiet, minor-keyed song from the Era of Ash.


We will still survive,

the way the wind carries on,

when it howls its loneliness,

calls for dusk over dawn.


The light at the end of this

Is in a tunnel miles long.

We may never see it, 

but gather close and whisper this song.


We will still survive,

the way the wind carries on,

when it howls its loneliness,

calls for dusk over dawn.


We’ve not seen anyone in years,

We hold on tight to each other,

But those things are always outside,

And humanity and beast cannot exist together.


The silence they bring is absolute,

Even the wounded don’t cry,

Even fires rage mutely,

Beware the Ashwyndes...


Tye realizes his mistake right away.

“Auburn, I’m sorry.”

But I’m calm. I focus on the here. I focus on the now. I remember only the good things. None of the battles. None of the silence. None of the fire. None of the terror, none of the death.

None of the bad things.

The winding trail we walk on is almost at its end, but we’re just in time. The last glimpses of red sunlight finally surrender. The night is upon us. 

I grip Tye’s hand tighter, and he begins to talk again. I don’t listen, but he doesn’t expect me to. It’s just words to fill that awful silence.  

I feel a pleasant calm settle over me, and I glance at the treed park.

Leaves, I sign, and pull Tye over to the grass adorned with them. I pull my scarf tighter and tuck my red hair behind my ear.  

I drop to my knees in the dew speckled grass, my leggings getting damp. I scoop swathes of the leaves into my arms, making piles under the moonlight. The leaves were all the wrong colors: orange, yellow, purple, red, and gold. But I didn’t care. I had Tye by my side, grinning broadly and watching me out of the corner of my eye.

A blush tints my freckled cheeks. Finally, we finish the pile, a rectangular affair surrounded by a leaf-free circle of grass.

I look over at Tye. We both know the best part is now. I lock my fingers into his and we back away from the pile, smiling at each other.

We run, our footsteps barely audible. We crash into the pile, sending leaves flurrying into the air. We lie there, the cold damp seeping into our clothes. I look over at Tye and he looks over at me. Then he laughs.

A chill runs down my spine. Tye senses it too. But neither of us acknowledge it, not wanting to ruin the moment. To hold onto that calm, peaceful moment full of love and comfort, where our entire vision was only each other. Our entire worlds were only each other.

But we couldn’t deny it.

Tye’s laugh was silent, and so was the world.


October 17, 2020 02:24

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10 comments

Malz Castell
04:12 Nov 19, 2020

Wow, this was great. I love your writing style. And great interpretation of the prompt. I'd really like to more so I hope you consider writing a prequel. :) Great work. Thanks for asking me to read this. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.

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Cal Carson
04:47 Nov 19, 2020

Thanks, that's an interesting idea! I might if I have enough time. (Maybe once November is over, lol.)

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Malz Castell
16:17 Nov 20, 2020

I'd love to read it. :)

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Lani Lane
14:46 Oct 20, 2020

What the heck, you pulled that awesome poem from out of nowhere!! This was a great take on the prompt, and I loved that it read a bit like poetry. :) One suggestion (and I'm taking this from On Writing by Stephen King): perhaps watch the adverbs. For example: He takes my hand and I squeeze it fiercely, as if to shatter the bones in his fingers. The "shatter the bones in his fingers" describes "fiercely," so you can just take that out: He takes my hand and I squeeze it as if to shatter the bones in his fingers. Same with: We walk br...

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Cal Carson
16:40 Oct 20, 2020

Oh, thanks! I'd had the stanza about the wind in my head for a long time and I finally found a way to incorporate it into one of my projects, I'm glad it worked for you. I'll definitely go and fix up those redundant adverbs, too, thanks for the feedback.

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Lani Lane
16:43 Oct 20, 2020

Of course! Glad I could help! :)

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Lee Doe
01:28 Oct 22, 2020

Hi! I’m here from the critique circle... I love this story, I’m a sucker for repetition and hearing it (even if it was just with words like silence and nonetheless) made the story that much better! I was also going to do this prompt but I couldn’t think of something to go along with it, but you did! There were many ways you could have taken this prompt, literal or figuratively, and you did something very different and amazing. The way you kept it kind of secretive was very cool.

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Cal Carson
14:13 Oct 22, 2020

Thanks!

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Sophie Aay
18:14 Oct 17, 2020

Love this! I wanted to write on this prompt but couldn't think of a real good idea. You pulled it off! Great work.

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Cal Carson
19:44 Oct 17, 2020

Thank you!

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