ZeroFlash—”There Would be Warmth”

Zeroflash, a flash fiction magazine that features many, many great interviews with writers and publishers alike, has a monthly competition series. The winner receives an original illustration of their winning entry, ten pounds, an interview with Uprising Review, etc., etc.

I submitted a story to the February competition (judged by Alex L. Williams) and lost. My story didn’t even make it to second or third. It wasn’t featured on the list of honorees.

S’all good, though. I did better than my wife. She submitted a piece which was so bad that it never materialized among the February entries. (Just kidding, it was probably buried in the slush.)

Again, it’s all good. Rejection is a step toward success. Sometimes rejection’s a success all by its lonesome. And if that’s even remotely true, I’ve made it.

The February prompt was this draconic kaleidoscope with granite blues and pinks and a hidden zero. And it was the caption: “I’m asking for the trippiest, freakiest, most surreal piece of prose you can concoct. Let your mind roam and your words dance.” 300 words minimum.

by Jon Stubbington (2018)

So here’s my loser’s piece. I went for Paracelsus meets the goblins in Twilight Eyes meets skin made out of asbestos. You be the judge if it works or not.

There Would be Warmth

by Desmond White

Now the mediæval men knew a thing about doomsday. They scribbled its steps in codices long-brown, although none of them were excited about cityside basilisks and resurrected gods, content with pulling gold from menstrual blood. Not me. All my years I burned to clear the crust of life from this planet. (Humans, dogs, the yellow cities, trees, all that color.) So I studied the works recounting the Vulcani, those lizards that grow in fire like fishes in water, what some call salamanders. If you grow them big enough they’ll survive outside their element—bigger and they’ll turn the elements into char.

I get a fire going until the flicker-roots are blue and the smoke thick enough to climb, then I step between logs glimmering like sticks in a stomach. The lizards see me and run and die in the cold, so maybe, I think, I must accustom the new hatches to my scent. The eggs are easy. I find a clump of black logs glowing with a thousand eyes and there I find them, small, angry. I raise one to see if the fetus is kicking in the ash, but I take the egg too close to the air element, or maybe wind blows out of jealousy, and the egg turns to coal in my boiled fingers. The fire is kind enough to lift my tears. The next egg I push down my throat, placing it by the heat of my liver, wrapped motherly in blood-web, and now I’m running out the tipi, running for the lake to wash the blackened scale of my skin, to feel the living stone inside my belly, to finish what the mystics never started.