Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge - Dreamscape

Haley Whitehall has another flash fiction challenge up on her blog, the theme of which is dreams. This time I went quite a bit over the suggested 500 words. I'll tell you why at the end...

Thanks Haley, this was fun. Great theme!

by Pia Newman
(593 words) 

I am running, leaping, spinning through a dank and foggy forest. Snarls ride the air in front of me; my sole purpose is to reach them, eliminate them. They are chasing that which I must protect. I catch glimpses of four-legged shapes leaping through the forest. Their claws send up sparks in the soggy underbrush.
Hellhounds, a whisper of knowledge provides me with a label. I feel detached, confused. I have a purpose, but nothing else, nothing. Questions are raising their heads like a waking many-headed monster, the first of which is: What do I protect?
Me, the whisper says.
>Who are you?<
Isabelle. Please help me.
Because they want to eat me. You are the only one who can help me.
>Who am I?<
My protector.
>Yes, but who am I? What is my name? What is my history?<
Oh… I’m not sure yet.
>When will you know?<
When I see you. Hurry.  

Now I have a personal agenda behind my general purpose: Find Isabelle. Save her. Learn who I am.
I run faster, legs pumping. Dead branches slap my face and arms. I have no idea how I will fend off the hellhounds, but I know that I can.
>How do I know this?<
Because I know.
>How do you know?<
Because you are my protector.
The trees give way to a clearing, in the middle of which stands a large, craggy rock. Isabelle - I know it's her - stands on the rock in her night-gown, swinging a thick branch, beating off the hellhounds as they try to jump onto the rock with her. She sees me emerging from the trees, looks at me. She has the body of a young girl, but the face of a wise old lady.
Eden. You are Eden, she says without moving her lips.
Yes, of course. I am Eden. I'm an elf, of the Ash Tribe. Beautiful, independent and fierce, one of Pearson’s best growers and warriors. My favourite weapon is the shortsword.
I feel two of them crossing my back diagonally. I’m sure they weren’t there before but now I reach behind me and draw them. This is how I will fend off the hellhounds.
One of them suddenly sprouts wings and takes off. Isabelle watches it fly at her, the look on her face changing from panic to absolute horror.
This is a dream! The drugs aren’t helping. I'm dreaming!
The hellhounds become unfocused. They forget Isabelle and turn toward me. Their eyes burn red.
>How can you be dreaming when I am not?<
Because this is my dream and you are in it. I created you. And now I’m waking up.
Somehow, I know this is bad. 

>Will I cease to be?<
No. You will become reality.
>I prefer that idea to not existing.<
But you will be incomplete and they will hunt you. I’m sorry. The drugs were supposed to prevent this… Try to blend in. Trust no one if you want to survive.
Bright light blinks across the sky, like an eye opening to daylight.
I’m awake…
My body burns in the bright light. Sound roars in my ears, accompanied by my scream. Then focus returns to my senses. I’m still standing on the clearing, holding the shortswords, a sea of hellhounds before me, the large rock sprawling in the background. But the sky is blue, the rock is empty, and there are gigantic silver towers looming above the trees.
The dreamer has left her dreamscape, yet the dream manifests in her waking world.
I have become a dream that survives in reality…

Do you think I could have cut this down to 500 words? I didn't want to cut more or I felt like this would be purely confusing.


  1. Don't feel bad about going over the word count. It is still "flash" and you are right the extra words added clarity. I liked how your story developed. You captured the confusing dream state well. I was hooked. Have you thought of writing more?

    1. Yes. This is actually the world my current novel-in-progress is set in. This little piece of flash fiction takes place about 50 years before the bigger story. Theoretically. It doesn’t really matter, yet, but that’s what I imagine it to be if I end up playing more with Eden. I kind of have more ideas for her…

      Glad you liked it! :-)