I’m starting something I kind of love…a Flash Fiction group. This is for Authors to play around with their craft and readers and fans to read the words they devise. The first Flash Fiction Friday is March 3rd! Authors, if you’re interested please join my Flash Fiction Friday group on Facebook. Readers, join the group and see what we come up with!
Flash fiction prompts will challenge you to create short and gripping narratives under 1000 words. Prompts will be given out in the middle of the month, and the Flash Fiction stories (less than 1000 words) will be posted to the pertinent comment thread on the First Friday of the month.
All writing remains the intellectual property of the contributing author and should not be shared outside this group without permission
I’m posting mine early as a tease to get you to join, join, join!
While painting a sensual portrait of a fictional subject, the image comes to life.
Speck on Canvas
by Ellie Masters
Peering at the landscape crafted by his hand, Peter squinted at the speck of black marring the perfect sky. Had he inadvertently splattered a dot of paint? Should he try to cover it up?
He’d destroy what had to be the most amazing sunset ever created by human hands.
There was no doubt this was a masterpiece in the making. Commissioned by Rayleigh the Righteous, everything about this scene had to be perfect. Peter poured his soul into the work. No surprise, considering his life was on the line. He only hoped that imperfection remained unnoticed.
Blood, sweat, and tears formed the holy trinity of creation if one believed the old ways. Peter wasn’t a believer in archaic religions, even if the old blood flowed in his veins. He hadn’t yet bled on the canvas, but his sweat and tears mixed heavily with the paint.
His broad brushstrokes and finely crafted detail created a mystical realm. The clouds glowed with pink and yellow luminescence, kissed by the setting sun. Below them, dark and mysterious mountains framed a verdant valley floor. Snaking through the valley, a river fell upon the rocks and whirled through tumbling rapids. A virgin forest sheltered in the shadow of the craggy peaks, and a stag munched on the grass in the foreground.
The painting was meant to glorify the king, but with each stroke of his brush, more of Peter’s soul flowed into the canvas.
That smudge seemed bigger now. He peered close, his nose practically pressing against the canvas. His breath spilled upon the glowing clouds and his eyes blurred, making it seem as if the clouds shifted.
Righteous King Rayleigh might be the ruler of the seven lands, but that didn’t make him righteous or fit to rule. Peter spit on the ground. The lands would be better without a king.
He’d dragged Peter from his home, and placed Peter’s family in the servants’ quarters. They lived in relative luxury compared to the thatched shack of home, but Peter wasn’t fooled. If Rayleigh the Righteous wasn’t pleased with Peter’s work, his head would be added to a rotting pile of skulls. The pile of flesh and bone at the base of King’s Mount had grown over the years.
What did it matter? Live or die, he would never paint canvas such as this one. He closed his eyes and imagined birds calling out to one another in song. He could almost feel the wind brushing against his arms. He wiped his brow, and turned back to the canvas.
Outside the window, as the day’s light faded and ushered in the night, the colors on the canvas reacted. The pinks deepened, turning dark and ominous. The yellows faded. The sky darkened. In the low light, it seemed as if that speck grew too.
He stretched, tired from the long day. Only fine details remained. The painting had to be finished by morning. If not, his head would join the pile at the base of King’s Mount. And so he went in search of light, and returned to work through the night.
By morning, the painting pronounced itself done. Peter warily put his brush down. He’d done all he could. Now, his fate rested in the hands of his king, and the fickleness of his sovereign’s mind.
In wrapping the canvas, he pricked his finger on a splinter of the frame. A tiny bead of blood welled at the tip, and the smallest dot seeped onto the corner of the canvas. He didn’t even try to fix it. The wood of the frame would cover the tiny speck of blood.
A loud rapping on his door announced the coming of the guard. It was time. His life measured in days no more. Hours stood between him and his maker, because no matter how divine, the wretchedness of his King’s soul would only see fault.
Anger bubbled to the surface. The painting was pristine. His artistry was beyond compare. As he folded the red velvet over the painting, he whispered a wish. “Protect my family.” He begged nothing for himself, only that they would be set free.
The guards marched him down twisted hallways. Weighing but a few pounds, the painting’s weight grew with each ponderous step. But they finally arrived in the King’s Quarters. Peter struggled the last few feet, straining to lift his masterpiece onto the easel.
Rayleigh the Righteous waved him away. Moving his ponderous bulk, the King approached. “This is it then?”
Peter bowed before him. “Yes, your Majesty.”
“And what is its name?”
He hadn’t thought to name it, thinking the king would provide his own. Vengeance. The word came unbidden to his mind, spoken by something powerful. Something close. But he couldn’t speak that word to the king.
“Majesty,” Peter said.
Rayleigh the Righteous puffed out his chest and waddled close to the painting. “A fitting name.” The man preened.
Peter wished for nothing other than to be rid of him.
With a grandiose flick of the velvet, King Rayleigh unveiled the painting. A collective gasp sounded from those few in attendance, but no one said a word, waiting on the one person who would determine Peter’s fate.
The king glanced at the painting. He leaned forward, his eyes focused on the sky, on that speck of black, which raced forward.
Peter blinked at the parting of the clouds. At the swirling eddies beneath the dragon’s wings. The stag leaped into the forest as the dragon approached. How beautiful! Magnificent in flight!
The king stumbled backward, a shriek spilling from his lips. The dragon reached out of the canvas, and with one powerful snap of its jaws, silenced the king’s cries. It turned its head, and the golden orb of its eye winked at Peter. Then the majestic dragon turned and flapped back down the valley, disappearing into a tiny speck of black.
If you liked what you read, come join the Flash Fiction Fridays Group