Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Blood Moon

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no written prompt.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left. 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. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday, 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.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms. Please note the rule changes for 2018.

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20 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Blood Moon”

  1. “Tha’s wha’ Abraham Duval done tol’ me a year ago,” Sophronia Beliveau asserted as she sat sipping iced tea with her best friend, Jacqueline Rivière. It was early afternoon in Palmetto. The temperature already was 100 in the kitchen of the weather-beaten shack four miles west of the old concrete bridge over the Atchafalaya River.
    “Abraham Duval? Who’s he, woman?” Jacqueline demanded, pulling her head back and staring at her companion.
    “Oh, come on, I done tol’ you ’bout him at da time. You mus’ be goin’ senile or sumpin’. He dat ole Creole who used ta cut Philomine’s grass. I tol’ you: he done seen an alligator crawl under Philomine’s house on da day before she die. You know wha’ dat mean!”
    “Now I ’member. Terrible t’ing, all right. Dat family be cursed for sure.”
    “Hush, woman . . . der’re spirits about!”
    “I’m just sayin,” whispered Jacqueline, putting down her glass, “ ’member Philomine’s son, Otis?”
    “You mean dat big clumsy man ever’body call Grand Beedé?”
    “Yeah, dat’s ’im, da one whose mouth was crooked ’cause he slept wit’ da Blood Moon shinin’ on ’is face. He was cursed, too. Look what happen ta him!”
    “I know,” replied Sophronia, shaking her head. “Dat boy was born under a bad sign. Can ya imagine what musta gone through Philomine’s head when da State Police found ’im drowned in da bayou west of Levee Road dat mornin’, ’xactly like what Madam Roselle said wud happen?”

  2. Justin and Kelly, two astronomers, had been observing deep space at the observatory for several months, when a message appeared on their computer screen:

    Î::¬¦:Í:Î::¬¦Î::[l][:] ̦¡¦[:]¦Ð̦¡¦[:]¦§¦§

    They couldn’t decipher the text but they sensed intelligent life was trying to contact them. It was coming from quadrant JBX12Z.

    Justin slowly moved the large optical telescope into position and probed the quadrant with the precision of a surgeon. “I think I’ve detected an anomaly,” he said.

    Kelly looked his way and wrote down the readings in a notebook.

    A second message appeared:

    Î::¬¦¦§Þ:Í::Í:Î::]:Î::[:]¬¦[l] [¦[][l][]

    “What does it mean?” asked Kelly.

    “Not sure,” Justin replied. The telescope whirred into position as he maintained his vigil of the quadrant. “Wait a second. Something’s happening.” He stopped the telescope and focused on a tiny spot in space – a planet. Suddenly, there was a flash, its brilliance filling the lens. Then darkness. Justin gasped.

    “What is it?”

    “A planet exploded.”

    A third message appeared:


    The two astronomers waited hours for more messages. But none came. Justin calculated the last message must have been sent just before the planet vanished.

    Kelly was silent; her eyes watered. She thought about that distant civilization. Who were they? What were they trying to tell us?

    She stepped outside onto the observatory platform and saw a blood red moon. It signified tragedy. Somewhere, hidden among all the stars that stretched out in the night sky, a distant world had died.

  3. The End of the World is Always a Surprise

    It was Friday night. The little woman wanted to go out dancing.

    “I wanna stay home,” I beseeched. “Its been a rough week.”

    “Oh, yeah. You think you’ve had a rough time of it?” she flings back at me with a practiced and fully justifiable hurl, “Who’s been called the little woman every second day?”

    Well, she had me by the short hairs there. You can’t get away from your words…unless you’re…well, you know who.

    So, I offered my piddling fallback position… “Sweetie, it’s a term of endearment.”

    To which she said, “Put on your dancing boots, Mr. Astaire.”

    Which I duly did, and we stepped outside.

    The sky was ablaze, the moon, redder than my dream Camaro.

    Taking advantage of that apocalyptic moment, I subtly suggested that, “Maybe we ought to hunker down, tonight,” to which the oppressed little woman replied, “not on your life, twinkle toes.”

    I knew I would have to dig deep. If a blood moon auguring Armageddon wasn’t reason enough for her to curtail her boogieing urges, something out of left field might be the ticket.

    “Can’t believe what I’m seeing,” I said, rather mysteriously.

    “Okay, I’ll bite, what so you see, Fred?”

    “Look at the moon. There’s a face there, right?”

    Her beautiful cut-a-rug-bound visage glanced up to try and see what I thought I was seeing.

    “It’s Vlad,” I said.


    “No. Lenin”

    “Moron,” she said. “Get in the car.”

    And off we drove.

  4. Werewolves howling through the night as the Blood Moon is arising. Locking them outdoors we keep them away from devouring our loved one’s souls. “Clem! You all got them boards nailed across that door real good? Take my knife as I pull on them, I don’t want no werewolves invading my home under the Blood Moon.”

    Wiley yanked good and hard on the boards and all boards held firm. “Good job Clem! Them werewolves ain’t going to get in here tonight. Now if we can only hold out till dawn we’ll be able to get outta here alive.”

    Wiley turned around only to see his brother crouching in the corner. “Clem answer me! Why you acting so weird tonight? Why you hiding in that corner? Come on boy it’s me! Help me get this last board up, the moon is almost full. Come on Clem can’t you understand me? I need your help. I can’t hold this board up and nail it too. We gotta keep them werewolves out.”

    Clem sprang at Wiley but fell short. Taken by surprise Wiley still fought back like a mad man fighting off Clem’s slashing attacks. The growling, snapping, biting was almost too much to take; Clem kept slashing at Wiley’s heart and throat.

    As the first rays of dawn lit up the room, Wiley exhausted ripped off the last of the boards before changing back into human form, and collapsing on top of Clem’s ripped off arm which still held the knife.

  5. Cruising
    Jimmying through Helisphere with my old man Jake fixing
    salad, “You wash greens the way I wash my lingerie.”
    “I’ll remember that, maybe I ought to wash your lingerie, too.”

    We’re headed back to Bangkok from Dayton on our weekly
    log run. “Don’t you think you might confuse the tasks?
    I don’t want to face a bowl full of stockings at mealtime”

    ‘you’ll get a real good scrub after our meal
    and after we’ve reset course for Bangkok”
    I love bunking with Jake, and sailing free
    out in the Helisphere, days away from the nearest port.

    Thermonuclear chain reaction it’s believed
    fragmented planet Earth, bubbling its atmosphere
    into vacant space, expanding habitable space
    proportionally dimension wise to galaxy size
    dotted by an archipelago of ten thousand mini planets,
    the remains of Planet Earth,
    we call Helisphere.

    Millennia have passed and no one is quite sure what transpired.
    Me and my old man, Jake, are logisticians, and cruise
    is core of sustainable trade. Two can live comfortably.

    What was life like before Breakup?
    A Dayton curio shopkeeper found this small memory device I’m holding
    in an odd lot of merchandise and discovered, lo and behold,
    the thing still worked after being dormant for millennia. He called it an Apple.
    I’ve read a few entries, and I’m excited. Thankfully, the authors took
    exceptionally good care of this thing. On initial perusal, I detect two distinct styles, and tons of anecdotal treasures mixing antient quirks with sentient observations.

    “Come, Coco, salad fresh.”

  6. “But I don’t wanna go to the kennel,” whined Jeffie.

    “It’s a blood moon, my darling,” I said, crouching down to ruffle his fluffy blond hair. Eight years old, and already willing to challenge his Alpha momma! “Remember what happened last time, when you didn’t?”

    “I ate Mrs Crosby’s Siamese cat,” he muttered. “And Mr Peterson’s Shih Tzu.”


    “And I chased the Booker twins, and almost bit them.” His eyes, already wolfish, flashed green at me. “They were mean to me at school. They deserved it.”

    “I’m sure they did, but what does a leader do?” I asked, taking his hand. I opened the heavy oak door to the concrete-floored basement, inhaling the rich musky scent of the other cubs, already settled into their iron-barred crates, savagely attacking their chew toys and bully sticks.

    Jeffie sighed. “A leader leads, with mercy and justice. They don’t administer capri – capricious punishment.”

    He shifted effortlessly into a rangy, cream colored wolf cub, all gangly limbs and the tiniest bit of an underbite. He rolled his green eyes at me then trotted into his crate.

    “Good puppy!” I said. I tossed in a special treat, a whole rabbit purchased from the neighbor two doors down. They bred the rabbits for food. It was convenient.

    “If they’re still mean next month,” I whispered, shutting and locking the crate door, “I’ll let you bite them as hard as you want.”

    No one said the alpha mom couldn’t be a vindictive bitch.

  7. “By the light of a blood-red moon,” Robert said. “That’s when the werewolves come out. Or so they say.”

    “That’s silly,” Donneta looked up from her laptop. “Remember, we are not here to adopt their beliefs, only to record them.”

    They sat on the front porch of their cabin deep in the forest, studying the blood red moon. It seemed so unnatural, so unreal. No wonder these primitive people believed the fantastic stories of werewolves and witches that it inspired.

    “Hear that howling? Wolves, howling at the moon.”

    “Or werewolves,” Robert teased.

    Even in the dim light Donneta could see that Robert was getting careless about his grooming. His nails were way too long, almost like claws. He needed to shave. And the sleeves of his shirt… worn out at the cuffs. The frayed cloth looked fuzzy, almost like fur.

    The howling seemed to be getting closer. Robert tipped his head back and answered with a big howl of his own. Donneta laughed.

    “Donneta, I could just eat you up!” Robert said. “But I won’t. Instead I’ll take a walk. Don’t wait up for me.” He blew Donneta a kiss, leaped off the porch, and disappeared into the brush.

    “Be careful,” Donneta called, still laughing at Robert’s realistic howl.

    The next morning Donetta found Robert clean-shaven, with trim nails and a different shirt, whistling as he entered a wealth of newly acquired werewolf lore on his laptop.

  8. The newspaper ad, obviously created by some slick professional, seemed straightforward; the possibility for excitement, even personal gain. Something out of the ordinary, something better than the grinding monotony of watching people’s financials go up and down and now, in today’s markets, sideways.

    “To those who are strong and adventurous, who live life to the fullest, join us for the Ritual of the Blood Moon. This is an ancient Incan celebration combined with an American tradition, the treasure hunt. Located in the rugged Sierra Madre, the site will be revealed to you upon registration. Dates: October 13-15. Registration fee: $250. All meals and drinks included. It was written across a photo of the blood moon.

    “Look, Wyman,” Beeman Hardcastle pleaded with fellow financial analyst Wyman Fuller over a two martini lunch, “come with me. Two fifty is not a big deal for a weekend.”
    “Are you nuts? It’s another friggin’ come-on for some casino. They’re depending on you to lose your ass.” Fuller shook his head. “In a word, nooooo! I’m smarter than that.”
    Disgusted, Hardcastle downed his martini. Shrugging, he replied: “Whatever!”

    On his desk Monday, October 16th, Wyman Fuller found a bank draft from the Sierra Madre Casino had been deposited to the account of one Beeman Hardcastle for two million dollars. Accompanied later by a text to Mr. Fuller from Mr. Hardcastle.

    “You were right, bro. It was another friggin’ come-on
    for a casino. Don’t you just love it when you’re right?
    See ya!”

  9. Althea had a Doctorate in Astrophysics and a tenured position.

    Thanksgiving with her parents included friction with her father. A retired professor of Genetics, he was always protective and directive of her career and relationship choices. He did not like Sid.

    “Sid is nice but lacks ambition, a dropout. Be prepared to be his sole support,” was Dad’s advice on the subject.

    Sid picked her up Friday morning. He had promised her a ride into the high Sierra to camp by the lake and enjoy the eclipse. The ride helped Althea unwind from the tension that had always attended her visits home.

    She knew he was about to propose. His choice of venue, she thought was something of a bridge for their two worlds. They set up camp in the late afternoon in the glow of a roaring fire. With chairs side by side and a blanket over both, they shared a bottle of blended Napa red.

    The moon rose in the east and began to glow the deep red of dried blood in the sun’s fading rays moving ever so directly behind the earth’s shadow.

    Sid proposed rather matter-of-factly as he handed her a small box and asked her to spend the rest of her life with him. He then stretched back and enjoyed the view without listening for her response and asked,

    “Althea, do you think China has the same moon as we do?”
    Only then did the depth of her father’s concern become clear.

  10. The blood moon was out and my thirst beyond control. Weekenders looking to party passed by me on the sidewalk.

    The thirst had reached its peak when she turned the corner. Pale, beautiful, with long red hair, bright red lips, and eyes like emeralds. I had to have her.

    I made my move. Bumping into her I knocked her to the ground.

    Apologizing most humbly I helped her up while offering to buy her a drink. She declined at first but my powers of persuasion changed her mind.

    While walking I became so charmed by her warm personality, cute little giggle, and sweet voice that I began to have serious doubts – but the thirst was too great.

    I led her toward a dark alley. She had trepidations at first but I convinced her it was safe. By the time she discovered it was a dead end, it was too late. I let the thirst take hold.

    My fangs protruded, my nails grew long and sharp, and I my eyes turned blood red.

    I was ready to feast . . . it was then I noticed something strange . . . she was not afraid. She looked at me and merely smirked.

    I asked what was so amusing?

    She simply said it was so nice not having to spend all night searching for dinner.

    It was then she changed before my very eyes into a ferocious beast beyond description!

    I would’ve screamed . . . if I had the chance.


    Tommy Fredericks, a teenager, went sneaking out into the night under a blood moon, with his new high-powered camera and its powerful telephoto lens.

    “I’m going to get the best photos in town,” he thought, heading up into the mountains, where there would be no artificial lighting.

    But instead, what he found on the road was a man pushing a girl into a car. She was crying and screaming, “Let go of me, Sidney!”

    “Not a chance, Julie, my lucky charm!” snarled the psycho kidnapper, “Not on the perfect night! Even the moon is dark!”

    Tommy got as close as he dared, aimed the camera straight in their direction, and shot several photos, illuminated by the flash. Bam! Bam! Bam!

    Julie took the opportunity and made a run for it. Sidney caught a glimpse of Tommy, and realized he was just a kid. “You’ll both be sorry!” hollered Sidney.

    Tommy was already dialing 911. He knew the terrain and used the darkness to his advantage, hiding in the bushes and tripping Sidney as he ran.

    Then Tommy took off in the other direction, where he knew Julie was running. When the police arrived, they virtually blinded Sidney with their lights, and nearly ran him over. Sidney was wanted in connection with a number of unsolved murders, and so it was his last blood moon as a free man. And Tommy took pictures of the blood moon anyway, but it was his other photos that became famous.

  12. They found her in the garbage, behind the diner hidden beneath the broken bottles and black trash bags. Her screams had mixed well with the neighboring bumps and grinds of the disco music hall and the smell of decomp quickly combined with the trash odors of the fast food restaurant.

    Nobody noticed that she did not come back to finish her shift after taking out the garbage in the back, they were much too busy. They didn’t notice her take a stand for her fellow waitress when her boyfriend began roughing up her friend. It didn’t matter that she had called him a coward to his face in front of his pals and made him leave the premises.

    She wasn’t anybody of note to the outside world. Just a plain woman, no frills but no one will forget when she became a hero. She stood tall even though she stood alone while she worked her job and went to night school for her degree.

    It was her children who stood inside the circle of red police lights, their faces awash with worry after reporting her missing. If only they knew her final message and her legacy to her grieving offspring was one of love and hope. Shivering, afraid in the darkness her children sent a prayer to their angel as they huddled under the blood moon.

  13. The red orb whispered, its words distant, indistinct. He strained to hear it, sensing its message might be the line dividing life and death.

    The sun had vanished in the west, leaving a deep blue that faded to black in the east. There, the full moon rose eclipsed, in totality, glowing orange-red, bathed in the light of all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth. And as it rose, it whispered.

    “I can’t hear you.” He faced it, hand cupped to ear, alone on the darkening mountainside.

    It crept above the treetops, murmuring.

    He could hear it now, just barely, and he answered its query. “Yes. She’s dead.”

    Another murmur.

    “I got scared. I ran. That’s all. I just got scared and ran.”

    The moon scolded him. It had other ideas.

    “No! I found her like that! Anyway, it was an accident!”

    A drop of blood fell from its limb and splashed on the ground.

    “It was her fault!” He dropped to his knees, sobbing. “She had it coming. You can’t blame this on me!”

    But the blood moon did, dripping on forest, on mountains, on the man himself.

    His fingers clawed at the ground. Among the scattered grasses, they blundered into the cold knife lying where minutes before they had dropped it. He picked it up.

    It was soaked in blood. The moon’s blood, surely. Not hers.

    “This isn’t my fault!” He jabbed at his blood red nemesis. “It’s yours!”

    So was what he did next.

  14. “What a night,” she moaned reaching for the flask of wine. May I pour another for you, too?”

    He stood and stretched. The sheet undulated around his muscular body. “Not right now. Let’s get on with it.”

    They sank into plush pillows surrounding the table and poked through transparent images of their last soiree displayed before them. She picked up one, turning it towards him. They shook their heads with delight. He pointed to another. She blushed.

    As fading stars twinkled goodbye, rising Sun began highlighting the white columns surrounding the temple.

    “By Jupiter,” he roared snapping his fingers, sending booms of thunder bouncing through the heavens. “Look what that wench has done,”and pointed to the name painted on his thigh.

    “How sweet,” she murmured. “And, look! Here’s your name calligraphed in red wine on my ankle. It’s positively darling.”

    “I’ll cover the moon in red with her blood,” he threatened.

    “No, precious. She’s just trying to keep us together knowing how vengefully jealous I am of your cavorting all over Mount Olympus with your willing nymphs.” Rubbing her name from his body, she silently thanked Athena for her artful efforts

    He caressed her leg, then licked his name from her enticing ankle.

    “You’re right.” He thumped his chest. “Me, Zeus, King of the Gods, and you, Hera, my devoted wife, Goddess of Marriage and Birth, will never part. We’ll reward Athena for her thoughtfulness with a sumptuous feast atop the Mount.”

    They kissed and melted into each other’s arms..

  15. Everyone in the compound, except Shawna, feared Grandpa’s temper. He called her “Little One” even though she was almost 14. If she questioned him, he wouldn’t thunder at her.

    So when Grandpa started preaching about the blood moon and the coming end times, Shawna confronted him.

    “The blood moon is just an eclipse,” she said.

    “It can still signify apocalypse,” he answered. “You must have faith.”

    Shawna did not believe there would be end times. On the appointed evening, she felt too excited to eat dinner. She slipped outside to watch the sky.

    As the eclipse began, she noticed a dark figure circling the courtyard and pouring something around the huts. Soon she realized the figure was just Grandpa. She started to call out to him when he flipped a match into the liquid. Within seconds, every building was ablaze.

    “The end times have come!” he shouted.

    She ran toward him. “Grandpa, no!” she screamed.

    “They’re already gone,” he said. “They drank the heavenly elixir at dinner tonight. Why didn’t you?”

    “I missed dinner,” she replied.

    “Well,” said Grandpa, “join us now.” He held a cup toward her. When she didn’t take it, he lifted it to his own lips and drank deeply.

    Shawna turned in a slow circle, watching the fires consume her family and friends. Suddenly, she realized Grandpa was right after all. This would end everything for her. She started to reach for the poison cup. Then instead, she raised her fist toward the bloody moon.

  16. Fears of the Moon

    (For editors choice only)

    “I’m not going to school today,” Johnny,twelve announced.

    “Why, what’s wrong?” Jackie, his mother asked, as she served pancakes.

    He sniffed a tear,”… because of the Blood Moon. I want to be with you, on my last day on Earth.”

    “Eww…gross…blood,” said his brother, Bobby eight.

    “What?” his mother asked, “Where did you hear that?”

    ” The news,” Johnny said.

    “…and the Science Channel,”
    Carolyn, ten, chimed in, “…definitely the end of the world.”

    Katie, six started crying.

    Bobby,said, “I want my Donuts then…”

    “The world is not coming to an end!” Jackie said exasperated.

    Their father Ed, walked in the room, “What is this about?”

    “The news, and the Blood Moon…”

    “Great science…” Ed said, but his wife shook her head at him,
    ” Um…I’m sure school will be covering this today, and I’ll talk to the principal…” his wife nodded.

    He should have stopped there. But then, he said, “You have nothing to fear, but fear itself… Who said that…?” he asked his wife,the history buff.

    “Franklin D. Roosevelt, and before him, Sir Francis Bacon.”

    ” I like bacon…” Bobby said.

    “What does that mean?” Johnny asked.

    ” People act goofy when they are afraid,” Carolyn said.

    “I have a meeting, this afternoon,” Jackie interjected.

    “Okay, I’ll pick you guys up, and we’ll go for blood orange snowballs!” Ed said.

    “Yay!” all four kids yelled.

    “What’s blood orange?” little Katie asked.

    ” When you mix orange and cherry together,” said Carolyn.

    ” Yeah, everybody knows that,” Bobby said.

  17. Blood Moon

    When my mother had a major problem, she would have a dream where my dad came to her in the dream. They would discuss the ways to solve the problem. When she awoke she knew what she would do. She shared such dreams with me on three different occasions. Usually they involved my brother in his early teen years because she felt overwhelmed at times raising a boy. I know, because she mentioned it to me several times. She talked about how he was a happy, cheerful, talkative little boy until our dad died. Then he did not talk for over a year. He and I played together. I was a chatterbox, and he became a good listener. He never lacked for friends because of that trait of quietness.

    My mother had very little of my dad’s poetry left. She told me the Christmas before he died they read aloud each other’s love letters that they exchanged in getting to know one another and then watched the flames in the fireplace claim each letter from the eyes of anyone else. Though she missed reading his words later, she always remembered the intimacy of that one special evening.

    He died on a Saturday in May leaving her a widow at 41.

  18. The neon Psychic sign in my family’s window renders my dark skin, green.
    Below it a candle melts, coaxing sweat out of my dehydrated body. Humid stickiness pools like sap in my pores. I look sickly.

    My vanity rests as my reflection blends with canned island imagery. Gilligan’s best intentions currently playing out beneath his bucket hat on the 4.7 inch screen in my hand.

    Today there’s a blood moon. And the uncertain darkness brings those seeking answers about their fates, every hour, in addition to our regulars.

    “I need caffeine before the eclipse and other Sarah arrive,” my mom shouts out intentionally.

    She’s already halfway down our too-familiar city block. The detached sole of her house shoe flapping on the downbeat of each shuffle; a tone-deaf orchestra squeaking and scratching into eventual silence.

    I use a soupspoon to inhale sugar cereal in the few minutes I’m alone. Anxious as Gilligan finally sabotages the SS Minnow’s rescue, I guffaw multicolored flecks onto the candle. The injured flame projects desperation onto every surface. The fight for oxygen proving extinguishing as The Skipper bellows, “Gilligan!”

    Outside – the moon, earth, and sun cartwheel into unison. I hear my mom’s house shoe symphony crescendo grow unpleasantly against the concrete. The bell atop the glass door’s frame teeters awake, letting air enter the shop.

    And as the light temporarily leaves the earth, the flame dances anew atop the wax. Flickering somewhat more cautiously than before, its glow illuminates under the red façade of night.


    Tabitha coughed to clear the smoke in her lungs, though she’d given up cigarettes three years ago and hadn’t had picked up another vice in its stead. She wished she had now. Nate rushed out of the house with a duffle bag over his shoulder and his computer hard drive tucked under his arm.

    “Did you find Vixen?” she asked. A yowl emitted from the canvas duffle and its sides bulged in response.

    “Yeah, I—” Nate doubled over coughing and lifted his arm to cover his mouth and nose, revealing long, bloody streaks on his forearm. “I was able to some cash and the cat, but we need to leave now if we want to make it to the highway. Hopefully, they haven’t blocked off the pass yet.”

    The smoke was getting thicker now, and the horizon glowed orange over the mountain ridges. Tabitha wanted to pretend the flicker of light to the west was morning approaching, but dawn was more than six hours away and it was coming from the wrong direction.

    Tabitha took the duffle from Nate and patted the side absently as Vixen cried her displeasure. “I know, baby. Me too,” she murmured, looking back at their home one last time.

    They loaded what few belongings they managed to scavenge into the truck, strapped themselves in, and drove away from the approaching false-dawn. Even the moon overhead was surreal; violent red, swollen and angry as it reflected the fires that blazed down below.

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