fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: A Test

This week’s Friday Flash involves dolphins and elementals. It’s actually an idea I’ve been playing with and wanted to see how it works out in shorter fiction. It’s 312 words.

Vari dove into the water. His undine swam beside him, blue hair streaming, like a beauty out of legend.

This was a test, he knew. She sped ahead of him. He strained and couldn’t catch up, but didn’t fall behind either.

A forest of giant kelp appeared before him, waving gently in the water. She looked at him over her shoulder, winked and disappeared inside.

Oh, no. Instead of following, he kicked to the surface and gasped in air. His boat was a small brown speck, bobbing in the water.  The sun felt good on his wet, bare shoulders.

Following the undine into the kelp forest would be the height of stupidity. Who knew what in there? Even with his magic, he couldn’t prepare for threats he knew nothing about.

A sleek gray bowfish breached the water nearby, water blowing from its spout. Maybe the same one who was riding the bow of his ship yesterday. Watching it, Vari got an idea.

Ducking his head under the water, he studied the bowfish. Maybe twenty, a small family, all bunched together. The larger pod had to be around here somewhere. Not that it mattered so much.

Quickly, quietly, he spelled a shield over himself. Here, with the energy of the whole ocean to draw on, it was easy.

Carefully, quietly, he sent thick threads of magic in a half-circle around the bowfish, open only towards the kelp forest. The first wave of sound startled them. He could see it in their quick, darting movements. The second wave of sound moved them a few body-lengths. He snapped magic a third time, louder, and the bowfish panicked.

They swept through the forest like hurricane through wood, sweeping debris before them, sending lesser creatures scurrying for safety.

His undine whipped clear of the kelp forest, eyes furious, voice high with rage.  “That’s not fair!”

Vari grinned at her.

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47 thoughts on “Friday Flash: A Test

  1. Lots of water nymph action there, I had to look up what an undine was, learn something new everyday. Interesting stuff, a playful snippet of a bigger mythology.

    1. Thanks Adam! Yeah they are usually water nymphs, though in this story (and this series of stories, if I write more) I like to think of them as elemental.

  2. Short and sweet. I thought this one was a lot of fun. 🙂

    Funny. I was just pondering a watery sort of story too. I think mine is going to be a bit longer format than flash though, we’ll see.

  3. Is this for the Clarity of Night contest about elementals? If not, you ought to drop it off over there anyway.

    Only part I stumbled on was the beginning of the third sentence. “A forest giant kelp” reads like its is missing a word, or carrying an accidental extra.

  4. Hi there Sonia –

    I really liked this. Very evocative, lightly handled, lovely detail, very compact creation of a world. I could’ve hung out in that warm sea all day.

    A tiny thing, this looks to be missing a ‘that’: ‘Not it mattered so much.’

    Not that it mattered at all… 🙂 If there’s a contest. Put it in.

    St.

  5. Good one! A little forethought skins the undine where rushing in blind could have fatal consequences. I don’t think she had much reason to complain, he passed the test after all!

  6. There are some lovely images in this, and a really nice playful side to it. It really hints at there being more to this – like what other magic can he use?

  7. That’s why I don’t swim in open water! LOL It definitely felt like there is more to this story. There’s a lot to explore with this world.

  8. Sonia… It’s waaaaaay harder to write with brevity and be effective than it is to just ramble on. You done this well and, in my opinion, shorter piece like this deliver more of a punch. Well done indeed…

  9. 🙂 So, did he pass his test? Certainly he provoked his undine. That might not have been the wisest thing he could do.

    An interesting world you’re fashioning here. I’d be happy to read more.

    Nice work.

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