#SwiftFicFriday, #SwiftFicFriday - Responses, Musings

#SwiftFicFriday W142 – Vote!

Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!

Autumn Falls

“It may be the last of them,” someone up ahead says…
“Did you hear that?” I ask Sloan, who is just ahead of me on the trail.
“Huh…you said what?”
“Sloan…not me…that geezer up ahead…something about IT being the last of them.”
Sloan pulls up and turns to face me. “What geezer? And who’s listening to people in the woods? We’re here to get away from all that…all that buzz.”
Yeah, I think. Escaping the buzz. That is the reason we here on the Salal Trail, taking in this quite late autumnal season, urban fugitives from the concrete swelter, seeking a smidgen of increasingly rare fresh country air.
It might even rain. Half the world is flooding and here we are, seeking a few damp clouds.
“Sure,” I agree with him. “It’s just, in the city I always listen…voices here and there, out on the street. Don’t you? Especially after being locked up, the Covid isolation…I like to hear the voices of others.”
I can see that Sloan is a tad concerned about my ramblings. I toss him a smile and say, “I’m rambling…I do that.”
He nods. “You surely do. Still worried about whatever will be the last of them? ”
I am still worried but what’s the point of mentioning it. Sloan is a live-for-the-moment kind of guy. A nothing-we-can-do-about-whatever-it-is fellow. The earth may be drowning and drying up at the same time, but he will go about his life making the best of it while idiots like me will worry away and feel guilty about not knowing what to do. Except donate money to groups protesting the inevitable.
“Nah,” I lie. “Look at this beauty. Golden red leaves, an autumn like we haven’t ever seen before.”
“That’s the spirit. Now let’s get a move on.”

300 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)

Fumiko’s head was full of calculations. She had been working on the same set of problems all year and could clearly see and manipulate each equation in her mind. She was close. She knew it. But none of the manipulations produced the outcomes she needed.

Her foot slipped out in front of her, plummeting her suddenly back into reality!

“Mom! You have to pay more attention,” Fuyuka scolded her mother.

The ingenious aristocrat blinked. Fumiko’s eldest daughter supported her left arm, and it seemed Fumiko had caught the damp wood railing with her right hand. Her son and her youngest child looked back up the stairs at their mother and sister.

“I’m sorry,” Fumiko smiled an apology. “I’m alright now.”

Fuyuka sighed and released her mother’s arm. Fumiko filled her lungs with the rich, earthy autumn air. The dark trees and fiery foliage were gorgeous this time of year. And the wooden stairs connecting the sections of the mountain trail were wet and slicked with fallen leaves.

“You were thinking about airships,” Little Haru accused.

“That’s right,” Fumiko confirmed before turning to her daughter. “Thank you; for catching me.”

Fuyuka nodded coldly. The poor girl was at that awkward age where adulthood was in sight but couldn’t come quickly enough. Fumiko wished she understood her daughter’s thoughts as all three of her children understood hers. Unfortunately, Fuyuka had always been a mysterious child.

“Any breakthroughs?” Akio asked as his mother and sister caught up to him and Haru.

Fumiko shook her head sadly. Airships were gradually getting faster, stronger, and larger. A fair amount of that, thanks to Fumiko. But the industry redefining breakthrough still eluded her.

Fuyuka’s voice was already muffled by resurgent calculations as she informed her siblings they should eat their picnic at the next overlook.

299 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)

The pathway wound to the left. There was an end to it, she knew, but she also feared what she wouldn’t find. There was an inevitability in cases like this. There were too many who’d disappeared in this forest, never to be seen again.

They’d hunted this whole area thoroughly for clues at first. There’d been signs of a struggle further along this trail but nothing conclusive. They’d repeated their searches using dogs, finding insufficient material evidence.

It’s time to give it up now, her colleagues had said. Harden your heart: look forward to the future. But they were speaking from the security of their own unaffected lives and knew nothing of the depth of her trauma. Closure was another thing they spoke about, albeit only occasionally. Closure was a matter for her and for her alone, although there were specialists they could recommend.

But specialists could do nothing for her. No amount of therapy or handholding would clear her mind. It’d been wrong for her to establish a connection, but what was done was done. It would be impossible to break it now, even if she’d wanted to.

And so, she was here again, living through Maria’s last moments. The track she’d have taken, following her steps through the mud. The fear and the indecision she’d have felt, not knowing the reason for her to be called here. The man with a blue woollen hat who’d been seen approaching the clearing.

Was he the one? Why had no one else mentioned him? Who was he and why had he come here if not to meet up with Maria?

A blackbird startled her, scolding her from his perch within the notch between two branches. She looked up, ashamed, ready to apologise.

And saw the hat. Woollen, damp, but pale blue.

300 words by Mark A Morris

Dreams of Autumn

She always thinks of autumn as she climbs into her sleep pod at the start of each artificial night. She imagines the autumnal walks from the old times. Nature’s colours burning against the oncoming coldness. Oranges, reds and yellows fight off the blues and white of winter. The crunch of the leafs so different to the hiss of the shut ‘in case of emergency’ pod doors. Yet the seasons feel the wrong way round. The flames should come in the phoenix season of spring. When the world renews. The fading greens are ideal for colouring the path into the darkness.
All she has are memories. Searches bring up the autumns of now, dull and sick, not the bright and beautiful of her youth. If she can find a new planet that can match the beauty in her mind, then humanity will truly be saved.

144 words by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)

Lots of people like fall, and for lots of reasons. The summer heat fades, cool breezes show up, the leaves on trees turn all kinds of colors, and the holiday season is coming.

For me, fall is aptly named. It’s when I fall off the psychological cliff. Like some cartoon character that runs so fast off the edge of that cliff he doesn’t even know the ground is gone, and forward moment carries him along for a while. Until he realizes the ground has gone away, and holds up that little sign that says, “Oops…” as gravity finally catches up with him, and returns him to the ground that’s somewhere under the clouds, down there.

I’ve lived through that fall enough times that I recognize when the ground goes away. One night, when I’m still on solid ground, I go to bed. The next morning when I wake, the ground is gone, and I know when my momentum runs out, I will fall.

Like the leaves on the trees change from green to yellow, brown, pink, red, gold, and all the shades between. When they change colors, they will fall off the tree. The wind may catch them for a time, and blow them along. But they always end up on the ground.

I know how they feel.

When that fall comes for me, I know all I can do is wait, like the trees, for spring, when the leaves come back, and the ground rises once again, and lifts me up with it.

254 words by Silenced. (@mysoulstears)


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