Back in full swing this week, this flash fiction prompt has got my juices flowing again. After spending most of the last couple of months editing my latest novel, The Ghost of Mackey House, I'm getting back into original writing. I'm in a quandary, though. I have several story ideas bouncing around in my head, but most are long-ish, novella or bigger, and I'd rather not bite off another six to nine month project at this point. So, shorter is better. The prompt below has given me a great idea for something different--a portal fantasy. Maybe even middle-grade or YA. I've never done one of those, so I might have a go at it.
Anyway, here's the picture that prompted my story, "Window Visions." It's a stunning image created by Caralyn Young, one of the admins of the Fiction Writers Group.
In the beginning, he thought the images the window showed him were fanciful stories. Instead, though, it was a portal spanning the infinitely branching timelines of the universe, showing, not what will be, but what may be. But that understanding only came much later.
Trekking deep into the forest, what he thought was a trick of the full moon’s light, instead took on a physical reality. When he approached, the checkboard floor of the ancient ruin was revealed and seemed to shimmer and jump as he turned his head. Finding the ruined great hall in the middle of the wood was so surprising that he did not notice how the moonlight fell unevenly across the black and grey paving stones, nor how they were swept clear of detritus.
Silence fell as he stepped onto the array and his eye was drawn down its length to the far end, where a window hung unsupported at eye level. Leaded crystalline panes cast a dazzling prismatic glow onto the stones at his feet. Peering through, he saw wonders beyond his wildest imaginings. Metal conveyances, some speeding along perfectly smooth roads, others hauling massive loads along steel rails, or even flying higher than the highest mountain.
He stood still throughout the night, as the portal showed him horrors to balance out the wonders. Images of wars, plagues, and all manner of death and destruction left him shaken but unable to look away. As the moon set, he blinked, and it was all gone. He stood in an empty clearing, the sounds of the forest all around him, loam beneath his feet.
On each full moon, he stood alone before the window, as none but he could see it. And he asked, Is it a vision if only I see it, or simply a hallucination?