A better place

Strange image calls for strange story. This is D. Wallace Peach’s February speculative fiction prompt.

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How long she had stood in the falling cold, the baby couldn’t say, but her back wore a white blanket now, and her toes were covered in it. It was longer again before she realised she didn’t feel cold anymore, that her thoughts were unfreezing and she could remember. There had been so much sorrow, crying and death. Tears filled the baby’s eyes, but the image of the woman with fiery hair smiled at her, and the tears dried.

She remembered the fiery woman who had swept down from the hill where all the others were lying dead or dying, and how the woman screamed in anger and threw bolts of flame from her hands until the sadness became a forest of flames. The flames swirled and twisted and carried the baby in strong fiery arms and left her in this strange, quiet place where cold white fell from the sky.

She shook her head and found that her forehead was butted up against a tree, and in the tree was a tiny human house and on the roof of the tiny house was a family of mice, white as the falling cold. She pushed. The house lurched, and from inside came the shrill miniscule shrieks of humans. She pushed again and the tree cracked. The mice twittered and leapt to the ground. Instead of running away they watched, intrigued. The baby’s unfrozen thoughts grew clear as spring water, and suddenly she knew. The mouse family knew too. The fiery woman smiled inside the baby’s head from within the flames of her hair and the baby smiled back.

The baby nudged a third time and the tree trunk broke. The tiny house slipped and fell to the ground, splitting open like a coconut. The tiny people rushed out then back, in and out, in and out of the wreckage unable to resign themselves to leaving behind this or that piece of useless junk. Then one pointed. Their movements froze just for a second, before they screamed in unison and ran. The baby stretched out her trunk and trumpeted a baby war cry. The mice squeaked, the baby stomped on the matchwood human house, and the cold stopped falling. The fiery woman spoke inside the baby’s head.

No more. Never again.

No more, agreed the mice.

Never again, agreed the baby, and started off into the great forest where the white cold had never fallen, to look for others like herself.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

98 thoughts on “A better place”

    1. I’m glad you like it. It’s funny but I dodn’t mean it as an allegory. It’s spec fic so for me, it’s really possible. Surely there’s a world where baby elephants can live in peace?

  1. That really is a bizarre image – and yet you wove a story that makes it seem perfectly reasonable within that world. Makes me wish that in our real world, the elephants had a supernatural woman with fire bolt powers to protect them against poachers. Maybe a whole army of them.

      1. Maybe, this could be an explaination. 😉 I remembered the creation of “our” Germany Pope, the hype and the bought football challenge. After this some of our citizens lost teir brain.

      2. In my opinion, the whole thing of this German megalomania comes from German history in the Middle Ages. There only were the Catholic Church and the nobility. Those still think they are special.
        What had they been annoyed by when William II was deported to Belgium after the First World War. They wanted to get him back via Hitler. Not forget, the German Wehrmacht was led by officers from aristocratic circles.

      3. It started before WWI though. How many times had they tramped through northern France in the nineteenth century? The Prussian officer elite maybe that elevated the army to almost religious status? You’re right, it goes back a long way, Teutons, the Holy Roman Empire etc. But the Germans seem to have clung onto all that clap trap while the rest of us have grown out of it.

      4. Sure, but not if your blood has remained pure for centuries. Of course due to incest, with the known consequences. These consequences suggest that such thinking is the most possible result. Lol

  2. You handle action and setting so masterfully! A somber tale – both powerful and intriguing. The rage of the woman was justified, when we humans loose our footing on this planet, how many of our fellow beasts of burden will mourn us?

    1. It’s a subject that I feel very deeply about. We have trashed this planet, and there has been no excuse. We’ve known for decades what we were doing and we have all been guilty of acquiescing. Nothing will mourn our passing, if there is anything left to care one way or the other.

      1. We do only have but one planet, so far only in writing can we explore others. This worry has influenced my writing many times, and I fear it will continue as humanity ignores it.

    1. Thank you! I’m wondering about this allegory. There really is a place where baby elephants are safe from poachers, and where we are so tiny and insignificant we can’t even harm white mice 🙂

      1. Oh really? I thought of this as an allegory for people with money and no experience – the baby elephant – accidentally tearing through the house of the poor mice. In the end, they make up and agree to live harmoniously, which is what we should ideally strive to do. Perhaps I am crazy, though, haha!

      2. It’s true, you could read it like that, and I’m flattered that you thought it was so deep 🙂 I just thought it was odd that it would be read as an allegory when the prompt is spec fic and rather assumed it would be taken at face value, like magic and time machines 🙂 I’m obviously far more literal minded than everyone else!

      1. It’s so sad. They only care about their own power. Humanity and environmental issues don’t get them to powerful positions! Al Gore didn’t get anywhere with his global warming agenda!

      2. I have a horrible (cynical) impression that politicians just spout what will get them votes ie what their electorate wants to hear. The problem comes back to us, the voters who don’t want to know about issues that might mean cutting back on the things we like to do.

      3. I know exactly how it goes. One person started being a school board member in our district, went on to run for city counsel, assembly, congressperson. Every time she runs for a higher position, she had her husband to take over her position. When her husband stopped at one position, she secures a “friend” to take over her husband’s position. She only does certain things to please certain groups’ interests to secure her votes. I worked with a private person who heads up a group. He negotiated with her to trade favorites!!! Nothing about the good of the nation or the world. She is still the congressperson. I stopped going to her rallies.

      4. Yes, that is a terrible truth. Only people who are completely thick-skinned with a tremendous ego want to get involved at all. The people who want to change society can’t face the hypocrisy of politics.

      5. It’s so true. My husband ran for city council when we first got married and he was new in our city. They just wanted to beat him down. Of course the incumbent won. He didn’t win but his idea for the city development was implemented eventually by some new members when the old guard retired. My husband didn’t even want me to go to the city council meetings because he didn’t want me to hear all the garbage.

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