Chuck Wendig is in Phoenix, Arizona, so he’s given us a phoenix theme as our challenge this week.  I’ve rebelled slightly by doing only 500 words.  It’s a refreshing change.

Happy birthday to my Fred and George today, Princelings Day.  They are phoenixes themselves, in a way, although pedants would point out there can only be one phoenix.

Another Place

I’d been here before. Whether it was before, or after, or whether either term had any meaning I could not tell.

Where was ‘here’? I knew this place. I always felt I should explore, although it gave no hint that exploration would prove fruitful.

My keen eyesight perceived only edges of clouds, forming a three-dimensional image of cloud upon cloud. Subtle shadows displayed depth. When I tried to focus on any space between edges it shifted and morphed into something else, escaping my eye.

I blinked and let other senses relax me. I was safe, for now. Golden glow mixed with rose and orange flickers and seeped through the amorphous grey-white mass. Orange at the far end, golden at the other, although the concept of the far end of an amorphous mass is illogical. Yet it was there.

I don’t go there. I never need to. I know that without question. Others may go, especially those who mean me harm, but not I.

Visions of futures past swept through my mind’s eye.

The purple-robed man with the cackling laugh and the stylish curls tight to his head, playing the lute while he set fire to his city.

The grey-robed man with the long beard, clapping his hands as I swept through the room to collect him, and removing him from danger.

The beautiful garden I guarded for a cycle before the young people came and took charge of it.

The cold white witch deterred from fighting the young prince by my flame-strewn appearance.

The country I guarded with the four gods until the people were ready to rise up and defend themselves.

The city that put me on its highest building, saying it could never fall while I was there.

I could not tell whether these were experiences of the past or yet to come. There was no time in this place, no weight, no heat or cold, no air movement, no sensation.

Why was I here?

It was time, that was all I knew. Time to be here, while others moved from one ultimate realm to the other, or waited in the other place until they had redeemed themselves. Legends had those three places, not this one. This was in between, but not of the other place. Another place entirely.

I was alone. Why was I always alone, never finding companionship of one such as myself? Why did I inhabit this other space, isolated from the mortals I lived among for five hundred years at a time? Why could I watch their lives, their loves, their offspring, yet never find true love for myself?

I wept.

My tears dissolved the clouds and I fell through a dark empty space. I stretched my wings experimentally and found they could lever air. I stooped in glorious flight, then soared, finding blue sky and white clouds, real clouds with depth and texture and form.

I laughed and called out my name.

And rose from the ashes in a new place to start some new legend.

(c) J M Pett 2014


Friday Flash Fiction – Another Place
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