Flash Fiction Challenge: The Blue Sprite’s Warning

rio camuy waterfall 1999 photo prompt copyright K. S. Brooks all rights reserved
Rio Camuy Waterfall copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

George, the miller’s son, waited at the waterfall for the blue sprite to appear. He was sure she would be able to help him, or so the legends said.

As the sun finally crept behind the hill, dusk invited the first fireflies. George watched them with a sense of wonder, yet he also began to feel anxious. The fireflies danced in the air like yellow sparks, entrancing him. He did not know how much time had passed when he finally noticed one of the sparks was blue. He watched intently as the little blue light flashed and weaved about in the air.

With some trepidation, he asked in a soft and respectful tone, “Are you the blue sprite? I need your wisdom.”

A soft, feminine voice, barely audible over the sound of trickling water, answered, “I am she, but I must warn you that the help you seek is not always the help you get. Men are foolish in this way. If you ask anything of me, you must accept that what I advise will be for the best, even if it seems opposite your heart’s desire.”

George bit his lip. How could there be any help but for the money to pay the landlord?

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Tuesday night, judges will select the strongest entries, and on Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: The Blue Sprite’s Warning”

  1. ***FINALIST***

    Running calloused hands through his hair, George considered the blue sprite’s warning. Brows puckered, he considered his words carefully. “Modern diets requiring people to eat fewer carbohydrates have reduced bread sales. My family’s savings are gone and we don’t have rent money. The landlord threatened to evict us and repossess our flour mills. Please help me provide a solution.”
    The blue sprite flew through the waterfall allowing droplets of water to shimmer on her wings. Then she sweetly replied, “I’ll help you. Return home and your current woes will be over.”
    George’s sturdy legs pounded the trail has he ran toward his home. He thought happily about solving his parents’ financial problem. Upon arriving, he found his house nearly empty. His parents, brothers, sisters and their belongings were gone. However, the landlord was there.
    “Where’s my family?”
    “Evicted.”
    “But the blue sprite said she would help us.”
    “Oh, she helped. You asked for a solution. She provided a solution. You. Your family’s debt will be cleared once you marry my daughter, Bertha.”
    Then a huge homely girl waddled into the room carrying a plate of hot bread saying, “You’re right, father. This is the best bread I’ve ever eaten.” It was the last loaf George’s mother had baked in their cozy home.
    “Well, it’s yours, dear. George has agreed to marry you. He’ll bake as much bread as you want. Forever.”
    George grimaced as he knelt before Bertha taking her huge hand in his.
    One would live happily ever after.

  2. ***FINALIST***

    Legend tells of a blue sprite, hiding amongst the fireflies, granting wishes to those brave enough to ask.
    Little George Miller needed a wish fulfilled, for the rent was due, and there was no silver to pay it. He waited at the waterfall, where the fireflies came at night. As the shadows lengthened, he saw it: A tiny blue light dancing with the gold.
    “Yes?” a soft voice spoke to him.
    George cleared his throat. “I need a wish, please.”
    “Wishes are not free, you know.”
    “I’ll pay…”
    The blue light circled George, appraising him.
    “What is your wish?”
    “Grandfather needs silver to pay the rent.”
    The blue sprite glowed brightly.
    “It is done. When he checks his purse in the morning, he will find more than enough to pay the rent.”
    “Just like that?”
    “Just like that. Now, I must collect my price.”
    George gulped, then asked, “What must I pay?”
    “You will never see your grandfather again. Or rather, he will never know you.”
    George’s eyes filled with tears. “But…”
    “I am weary. So many ask so much. You will take my place.”
    Little George watched the sprite’s blue fade to gold, and he felt himself shrinking, yet growing wings.
    The now-gold sprite called as she flew away, “Remember that it’s okay to tell them ‘no.’”
    And that is how Grandfather Miller came to be followed by a weeping blue sprite, and why the fireflies light his humble home, and why his purse is never empty.

  3. ***FINALIST***

    George didn’t see how slaying a dragon would pay the rent, yet here he was trudging up a dusty mountain road wearing armor and carrying a pen. When he requested a sword the Blue Sprite just smiled and said, “Trust me, this is mightier.” Then laughed that stupid sprite laugh all magical creatures seemed to have.

    The road dead ended at the edge of a precipice over looking a gorge. Hundreds of feet below was a river which cut through the center of the steep canyon walls. Feeling he had been thoroughly played by the Blue Sprite, George removed the heavy armor and turned back in defeat. After he shed the last piece of armor he heard the sound of thousands of tiny wings behind him. Turning around he saw a wall of fireflies coming straight at him, biting him repeatedly and leaving him only direction to go. George turned in place, ran to the edge of the cliff, and plunged toward the waters below.

    With a jolt, George’s eyes flew open as his head dipped close to his desk. Looking down at the page he saw the words he wrote before he had drifted off in a day dream. “The brave knight drew his sword and faced the evil Blue Sprite.” George heard giggles from the other students sitting near him and he just hoped that Ms. Firefly had not caught him dozing off in her class yet again.

  4. The MIller’s Son’s Tale

    George watched the blue light rejoin the fireflies. The flashes of light merged into a glowing cloud and faded into the night as he considered the blue sprite’s counsel. Chewing his ragged lip, he wondered if he could trust the tiny fairy.

    He and his father had always been alone, his mother but a wisp from his earliest memories. Village gossip was she died at his father’s hand when he was yet a babe. Some blamed jealous rage, others, the revelation of his sister’s shameful state. Whatever the case, at twelve he had neither mother nor sister to guide him. And he had failed; salvation wouldn’t come at the hands of the blue sprite. She refused his boon and warned him not to seek his father, already surely well into his cups this night.

    Shuffling reluctant feet across the dirt floor, George tied his belongings into a makeshift sack, snatched what food he could and set out along the north road as the sprite bade him. The dark forest pressed in, heavy as his doubts. As dawn approached, he heard footsteps from behind and he was soon overtaken by Oswald and his retinue, finally setting out for Canterbury.

    “Well met, young George!” Oswald called, his voice rough with road dust. George stared up nervously. The reeve never addressed him in the village.

    “We feared you had tipped up your toes in the fire with your bastard father,” Oswald continued. “Glad to see you hale and hearty. Come, join our adventure!”

  5. Taking a deep breath, George spilled his story. His mother was ill and his father had gone to cut wood in the forest days ago and had not returned. George’s smaller brothers and sisters were hungry; they all were. And the landlord was demanding the rent in full, leaving them nothing for food. They needed money.

    “Please,” he finished, “my family is suffering so. Can you help me to get some money? I promise I will pay it back. I’ll work extra hard at the mill. I’ll do anything, but I’m afraid if I can’t buy some food soon, my mother and my baby sister will get worse… maybe even die.” He stopped, choking on tears. Wiping his eyes, he tried to think of anything else to say to convince the sprite, but nothing came. “Please,” he finished lamely.

    The tiny blue light winked. The sprite floated before him, making slow, lazy circles in the air. He was just about to plead again when the light started to blink more quickly, faster and faster, spinning crazily in the air. The light began to grow, expanding outward as it brightened. Alarmed, George stepped back.

    With a tiny poof, the light disappeared. In its place, a black leather bag sat on the ground. Cautiously, George approached the bag. He touched the clasp, turned it, and the bag popped open.

    Inside was a mask … and a gun.

    “The bank in town,” the sprite’s soft voice said. “They close at five. You’ve got ten minutes.”

  6. A cool breeze washed over George, bathing him in evening mist. His thoughts sparked fear, like the encroaching fog rolling in from the Devonshire coast.

    “Blue Sprite?”

    She descended from her perch above the tumbling stream. “We live in different worlds. Mine is the twitter of faerie folk, the hum of the meandering stream. Yours is the world of grinding machines, of men with their eyes on greed. I witness a disparate world, but I strive to help those I can. Please, tell me your wishes.”

    George stumbled at her words. Men. Greed. Money. Wasn’t that what he needed?

    “Mistress Sprite,” he said, “my family is poor. My father, weak. He cannot work the grinding wheels. My sons are too young, and I am only one man. Please, I ask for money to pay our landlord.”

    The blue sprite’s eyes flashed fury. “No,” she said. ” I understand your fears, but I cannot abide your wishes. Money handed down teaches nothing but greed. I will send you a girl. Strong, determined. A trustworthy ogre.”

    George’s head snapped back. “Ogre?”

    “She will help you grind your wheat. She will help you turn sweat into coins, for that, my boy, is the only way to succeed.”

    George choked back disappointment and shook the tiny sprite’s hand.

    The next morning, Mathilda the Ogre knocked on his door. She wore a lunch bag and a smile. “Come, gentle George; the mill awaits.”

  7. ***FINALIST***

    “Those are the terms?” George said. His voice broke a little as he fought to keep the trepidation out of his words.

    The blue sprite hovered inches from George’s face, a flicker of blue light without physical form. “Since the start of time.”

    George spit in his hand and extended it. “I accept.”

    Nothing touched him but a flash extended from his open hand and washed through the rest of his body. In the blink of an eye, George had been engulfed in a deep blue light. In that small span of time the world around him had faded away and when it came back the world he saw had changed. The colors of the world around him reflected through a blue filter. This blue tinged everything, even his body, standing in front of him.

    Words came from him as if through water. He could understand what was said but it echoed and distorted, almost stretched like each word came over a great distance. “As a blue sprite, the troubles you knew as human are no more.”

    “What the @#$#,” George the sprite screamed but the words he knew he said were different than he intended.

    “Did I forget to mention that you can’t say certain words? This isn’t much, but you will fill my spot with the other sprites for the next hundred years, that’s the bargain.”

    Sprite the George disappeared down the trail as George the sprite raged and glowed with the other sprites.

  8. ***FINALIST***

    George whispered, “My family has 20 shillings, but we need 20 more. We only have a short time to pay it.”

    “Find the 20 that you have. Go to the ole tavern. Let it all go and thus, you will gain.”

    “I need to acquire money, not give it ….”

    The blue sprite disappeared.

    George stood at the waterfall for an hour. After vacillating between belief and disbelief, he went home. He stared at the drawer that contained the family’s last bit of money. He gathered it and went to the tavern.

    With great apprehension, he bought a lovely woman a meal. His hand shook as he offered extra coins to the server. He purchased fancy clothing from a merchant. Word spread. Others approached him. He gave them coins. What was he doing? The advice did not seem to be working, but it felt good and he knew that one of these people would come back to help him.

    Then, a disheveled old man entered the tavern, begging. George looked at his last few coins, shrugged, and gave it to the man.

    George eventually returned home. Looking at an empty drawer, his parents asked him what happened.

    “I gave it all away.”

    “Fool! We worked and were able to earn the other twenty!” The patriarch yelled. “What gave you such an idea?”

    George stared over his parent’s shoulders in search of flying insects, winced, and said, “A blue sprite.”

    “I told you he was foolish.”

  9. “I hear your thoughts.” The sprite alighted on his shoulder. “You will receive my help when you give away a treasure.” In a twinkle and blink she disappeared.

    George slumped. Well, so much for that legend. He turned away.

    His barefoot came down hard on a sharp stone buried in the moss. George bent to remove it. His fingers touched a foreign object partially embedded in the sole of his foot. He lifted it close to his face. Dazzling moonlight bounced from it. George stared, bewitched by an enormous diamond ring.

    His thoughts whirled. This will not only pay the rent it will buy the Mill and all the surrounding land. We are rich.

    “Excuse me.” A beautiful lady stood before him. “I have lost something precious. I grieve and search day and night to find it.”

    Uh oh! I knew it was too good to be true. “Here m’lady.” George handed her the ring. “I believe this is yours.”

    “A miracle. It’s found.”

    In a flicker and spark the lady became the blue sprite, the ring became a sharp stone.

    “At last I have found an honest man who puts the needs of others before his own. This is a treasure more precious than any jewel.” She giggled and frolicked around his head.

    “But it doesn’t pay the rent.” George sighed.

    “Ah, for that we need a sharp stone and a little magic. Come on. It’s time you had some fun.”

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