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“The Patient Orb” – FWG Flash Fiction for 4/20/2024

Idyllic, isn’t it? Maybe not so much.

The prompt is:

The Patient Orb

The glowing orb rose slowly from the dark pond. It left no sign of its passage, not a ripple on the still water, nor a breeze to ruffle the leaves overhanging the bank. The only sign of its presence was the orange glow it radiated into the surrounding forest.

“What is it?” Leo whispered to his older brother.

Sam, the ever-cautious one, cupped a hand to Leo’s ear. “No one knows, but it comes out every full moon.”

The brothers watched from their hiding place as the orb, hovering ten feet above the water, slowly rotated. The light it emitted contracted from a wide, uniform glow into a spotlight that probed the trees and undergrowth.

Forewarned, Sam had the boys hiding behind a fallen tree trunk. He pushed Leo’s head down just before the orb’s beam swept across their spot.

“Now, watch this,” Sam whispered.

As the spotlight completed its circuit, its source slid across the surface of the orb until it was pointed straight up. When perfectly vertical, the beam contracted to the width of downspout, then a pencil, then a needle. As it did, the color ratcheted up through green, blue, and violet before disappearing altogether. Where the beam disappeared, a sizzling line of plasma cut through the air. After a moment, the orb returned to its soft glow, leaving the scent of ozone.

“What happens next?” the ever-impatient Leo whispered.

Sam shook his head. “Nothing. In a few minutes it’ll sink back—”

The crack of exploding air interrupted Sam as the return signal the orb had been waiting for was received. Fed by the energy being beamed to it, the orb’s glow became a white-hot radiance that set the forest, and the world, ablaze.

“Finally!” was the last word the boys ever heard.

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