Flash! Friday for Sept. 25: Winter Wheat

If you’re not familiar with what Flash! Friday is, here’s the explainer. But in short, it’s a fun weekly contest of flash fiction writers, where each week a new picture prompt, “element” prompt (based on fire and ice), and a limited word count is given, and writers have 24 hours to submit their story. By Monday, the judges pick a winner.

The Sept. 25 prompt was this picture:

Eternal Flame Memorial (Nizhny Novgorod). Creative Commons 4.0 photo by Andrew Shiva.

The additional prompt was a requirement to either include an act of justice (fire) or an act of mercy (ice). The word count was between 190 and 199 words.

You can read the full results here.

My entry had a word count of 199 words, and used the element of ice. Here is my entry:

His feet were bleeding, with the skin long-since eroded, and his toenails clipped into his soles like glass.

Yegor wore grime and soot as his only warmth since the flame was pointing outward, not in, where he shivered naked under the grate.

A year ago, he was working the winter wheat surrounded by other farmhands, but now only the skeletons of those who came before him. And Dmytro, who sat eating stale bread that had slipped from the mouths of the birds overhead. Still, he shared it with the rats, waiting for the torch to pass to him.

Dmytro tried to offer words of encouragement when Yegor’s blistered hands seemed to be slipping, but he received a cattle prod to the neck for his useless words. The rats finished off Dmytro’s bread, not bothering to wait for him to wake up again.

Yegor thought of his mother, Nadya, back home, and the farm, and the sun at his back, and the hay he rested on. The straw was scratchy on his skin, but he longed for that scratch.

The flame danced as Yegor’s arm wavered, which brought approving, “Oohhs and aahhs,” from the adoring tourists.

A prod was coming.

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