General Flash Fiction posted April 29, 2021


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The Light

by AJ McCall

I double-checked my bags to make sure I had everything I needed: 

Food (enough for a night).

Drinking water. 

An extra change of clothes. 

Blanket.

Flashlight. 

First Aid kit. 

Life jacket…Was I missing something?

Oh! Rocks! I had to bring some rocks. 

I searched the sand near me. Pebbles and various sized shells lined the shore winking up at me under the full moon; a shimmering face of white gold against the midnight blue of the sky. Its reflection rippled on the surface of the water, the waves gently lapping in a steady beat against the front-end of my boat. 

I grabbed a handful of stones and tossed them inside the boat. 

There. 

For a moment I just stood there, scrunching sand between my toes, staring lovingly at my boat--my little boat. 

Pa and I had built it during the past summers -blood, sweat, and tears had gone into it, and of course any scrap metal and planks of wood we could find. I let my fingers graze the flaked paint and crudely engraved words in the hull:
B-A-B-Y -G-I-R-L. 

I smiled. Pa had called me that...well, forever. Even when I had turned twelve and told him I was too big to be called that, he still said I was his Baby girl. 

I glanced over my shoulder, eyes searching the dark two-story house. Maybe I should’ve left a note, maybe this was too abrupt. I started to walk back up the path, but I stopped. 

No. I had to do this. I needed to. I had to know what happened to Pa. 

I spun on my heels, ignoring the thoughts telling me to go back. I reached down again, this time to gather the rope and anchor when a beam of dazzling white light --the same one I had seen for weeks, the same one that had drawn me out here-- cut across from the middle of the water toward me.

At first, I thought it was a lighthouse but it couldn’t be. 

I put up a hand to shield my face as the light passed over me. It was only for a second but I felt... warm…warm...like the strength of strong arms encircling you tightly or a blanket covering you at night.  I had to know where that light was coming from. 

I threw the rope and anchor in the boat and started to push it when my ears pricked up at the steady chttt, chttt of an engine. 

I could make out a fisherman’s boat on the water. A dark figure of a man stood on the bow of the vessel. I watched, as a feeling of amazement came over me. The light abruptly stopped mid-spin and beamed down on the boat, centering on the man. I thought I saw his body stiffen. 

“Hey! Don’t look!!!” I started to yell. “Don’t look at the…” 

He wouldn’t hear me, I realized. Not from here.

I stepped behind the boat and shoved both hands against the boat’s rear, trying to push it. But it wouldn’t budge. I glanced up to see the fisherman inching toward the edge of his boat now, as if in a trance. 

C’mon!--I grunted through gritted teeth, driving my hip upwards as I pushed again. 

With a strained moan, the boat edged slowly into the water. I gave it one more push before clambering inside, sending the stones clattering against the boards. 

I sat at the stern next to the motor and gave its dangling string a good yank. Baby Girl’s engine roared to life. It had been so long... 

The boat lurched forward. It broke through the dark waves, steadily bobbing, my body see-sawing as water crested the bow of the boat. I kept a firm grip on the lever of the motor, pulling it straight whenever it started to drift left or right.

The closer I got to the fisherman’s boat, the more I could smell brine and fish guts, the more my heart beat faster because...
I didn’t see the fisherman anymore. 

His vessel bobbed weightlessly when I finally pulled up next to it. I noticed the white flaking words on the side: Old Mag. My eyes widened. This was Monty’s boat. Monty, the fisherman from the seafood market I always see on the weekends. 

But what had he been doing out this late? Where had he gone? I stood and peeked over; all I could see were bundles of tattered nets and grimy rope, not including the dark, wet footprints that crossed over each other. 

Maybe he’d fallen overboard. I hoped he had because there was no other way he could’ve gone. I searched for any sign that he may have, but he’d vanished. Just like the light. 

I slumped back down, fighting the burning feeling behind my eyelids. This was my chance, my only one to find out where the light went, where Pa went. 

Of course, everyone said he’d drowned and was probably floating out to sea which was why we never recovered his body. But he was the best swimmer I knew, he couldn’t have just drowned. 

I held back a sob, grabbed a stone from the bottom of the boat, and chucked it. 

“Ugh!”

Clang! 

I watched it plop into the water. But my thoughts were colliding with each other like raging tides. It hadn’t hit my boat or Monty’s. And there was nothing in front of me.

I picked up another stone, this time with trembling hands, and hurled it. The rock boinked off the invisible object again. What was it? I tilted my head slightly…

My breath hitched as I saw the towering object made from dozens of steel panels that reflected the blue of the sky. It stretched way into the sky. Then… it moved. 

I let out a scream as waves as big as a tsunami’s crashed into me. Coldwater pricked my skin like tiny needles; I could barely feel my legs and arms.  

Then, a beam of brilliant white light shone down through the water. My whole body went completely stiff. I couldn’t move. 

I couldn’t tear my gaze from the light. I could feel myself being drawn to the light, like fireflies to a lantern.  Is this what happened to Monty and Pa? Was I going to meet the same fate?

A blur suddenly sped past me, spiraling up out of the water and battering the metal giant. I could hear metal groan painfully as the giant toppled backward, causing more waves. Its light flickered and then dimmed. 

Move! I commanded myself. Suddenly my legs worked again and kicked behind me as my arms sliced forward, cutting through the water. But my lungs were burning and my vision was starting to blur. C’mon!-

I saw the blur again and felt as something strong and warm wrapped around me. In seconds, I broke the surface, gasping and coughing for air, as I clung to my rescuer’s massive shape. 

After a moment, I looked up, my eyes widening. I heard the man inhale sharply. 

“Baby girl?”





This is an entry for an off-site contest. The word limit for the contest is 1500 and this post is 1431. It will be judged based on Voice/Style/Use of Language, Conventions (grammar, spelling, etc.) Development of character/setting/mood etc. Structure/Organization. I entered this contest before (I lost) the story they chose was very unfair considering how many typos it had and how confusing the story was. But hopefully, you enjoy it!

(This is the second version. I decided I wanted it to end differently and ended up with this.)


Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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