Photo credit: me, Joy Pixley
Achael wondered why so many fishing boats filled the bay this early. Then they landed, and transformed. Hordes of Beqalas crept out, muffling their weapons.
Achael glanced at the bell tower. Why no alarm? His eyes darted, seeking any adult to fix this. He found none. Something was worse than wrong. Screwing up his courage, Achael sprinted across the empty plaza to the tower.
From nowhere, a Beqala grabbed him, murmuring in his snarling language. Then words Achael understood: “Slow down, old man.”
Achael struggled free, wrenching open the tower door and yanking the bolt shut behind him. Up those endless wooden stairs, he saw nobody, heard nothing.
Sitting up, Achael’s head ached. He had to reach the top. But why? Oh yes, the Beqalas. His knees resisting, he climbed, creaking and panting with every step. His wrinkled hand on the rail caught his eye. Old. When had that happened?
Oh, no. His grandmother had lost her memory, wandered off, helpless. How long had he been like this? How many times had he relived this childhood event?
He cried, remembering when he could race up all those stairs. So clear, like it was yesterday.
A thud high above, and the tower top went snow-white. Fingers of ice crackled down the walls, reaching toward him.
Achael struggled with the bolt. The ice snaked closer. Finally, the door lurched free, spilling him outside as the tower was enveloped.
The cacophony of battle deafened him. Beqalas, attacking. Today.
His mind reeled, righted itself.
He had to warn his parents. Darting over obstacles he dared not identify, Achael ran, as fast as his young legs could go.
Word count: 275. This was inspired by this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, but as the word limit for that is 175 maximum, I’m not even sure if I should count it. Maybe Priceless Joy will give me a pass on meeting the word count limit because it is my photo featured this week? The story started out as 394, so I did somehow cut an awful lot out of it.
Anyway, click here to see the other stories written for this photo prompt, and hopefully they all followed the rules!
If anyone’s interested, the photo above was taken from inside the Torro Apponale in Riva del Garda, Italy, which looks like this from the outside. Can you imagine running all the way up those stairs?
Photo credit: Joy Pixley