Sunday Photo Fiction – The Flaming Ball

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We stare intently at the flaming orange ball, through squinted, watery eyes. ’10 seconds to launch Sir,’ Jim informs me.
I turn to my second in command. ‘What do you think our chances are?’
‘Good,’ he lies. He is sweating as much as the rest of us.

With an almighty roar the ball catapults into space. There is a whooshing in my ears reminiscent of the time Dad taught me to swim. No matter how many times I slipped under the grabbing waves he never let me go. I managed a few strokes with tired arms and emerged triumphant from the ocean, running to our picnic spot to be encircled by a dry towel and my mother’s pride.

We silently watch the ball’s progress on the monitors. The control room feels suffocating, too full of silent prayers and regret. I remove my tie and try to loosen my top button with shaking fingers.

The ball approaches the target but instead of colliding they miss each other by millimetres. Our one chance to detonate the alien craft vanishes into deep space along with our hope. We take a second to slump before the crew rush to the evacuation pods where spouses and children are already waiting.

‘Sir?’ Jim shouts as I stand transfixed by old memories. There is no one waiting for me in the pod. My parents are 60 miles away. I remember the feel of my father’s hands supporting me in the water. Never letting me go no matter how roughly the waves tried to snatch me away. I grab my car keys and run toward the door.

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story inspired by a photo prompt.

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25 thoughts on “Sunday Photo Fiction – The Flaming Ball

  1. I agree with the other two. Especially the suspense in the control room, and the dejected feeling that all is now lost. His memories make for a very believable character,.

  2. Excellent story! As others have mentioned there was great suspense in the control room, and I loved the protagonist’s memories – I assume he’s off to be with his parents in this frightening time, to look after them just as they looked after him?

  3. Fantabulous suspense/scifi response to the prompt. I hope the family reunion happened in time! Would be interesting to learn the fates of those who left, and those who were (forced) to remain.
    Great stuff!

  4. Loved this story! Your included just enough information for the reader to know what was going on. And the man’s memories…enough there also to bring us close to him. He did what I would have done–except I would hurry off to be with my son and his family. πŸ™‚

  5. Great story, nice one. I think for short numbers like 10 you would write it, like, ten. Not very good at explanations but that’s what I was told once! A while ago some guy on my blog also told me to watch for ‘ly’ adverbs and I found it pretty helpful, like i understood afterwards that it was better to describe what is going on that to say explicitly, so like ‘intently’ at the start is doing the work for the reader instead of describing, using imagery and letting them use their imagination, likewise ‘roughly’ for the waves at the end. like, ‘we screwed up our brows and stared at the flaming orange ball’, ‘our retinas burned with focus as we stared-‘ they’re rubbish but you get the idea. I’m not great at explaining but it just occurred to me when i read the start, it was a writing tip I found really helpful! great piece thought, great imagination. πŸ™‚

Constructive criticism appreciated

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