Diane Selby is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.)
Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Diane Selby
A raven settled on the barren gray branch of a tamarack, a solitary outpost. All senses alert.
The early morning light was blurred by a wretched billowing haze laced with scarlet streaks and orange smudges, presenting an unnatural glow.
“The castle is on fire!” frantic cries echoed.
Dedicated guards shouted orders among the chaos. “Save the Queen!”
Reaching her was impossible. Aggressive flames thrashed about wildly, the heat too intense.
For decades, the Queen’s thirst for control was unquenchable. All thorns of opposition had been promptly destroyed. Her control blossomed upon fear, weakness, and the suffering of those outside the castle walls.
The horizon was ablaze, speckled by splatters of crimson. Smoke filled the valley of the oppressed with thoughts of a revolution nipping at the napes of every neck. Freedom was a lofty dream, long buried deep. The Queen was an exquisite master at crushing stray seeds of hope, maintaining a tight reign.
Tables had finally turned. Her cruel soul was now buried among the cinders of the once stalwart fortress she’d claimed as her own. The source of the initial spark forever remained unknown.
A fresh path was unfolding; it would find a way to rise up from the papery ashes that danced delicately on the wind. Independence would rise anew, forged amid glorious times and agonizing pain. Prayers said, and tears shed.
A raven cloaked in midnight’s grace watched from atop of a tamarack tree, a solitary outpost. All senses alert.