Wednesday 11 October 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 308

This week's picture prompt was created by Polish artist: Zdzislaw Beksinski. Unfortunately he was murdered during a robbery at his flat in 2005. (though he would be 94 if he was still alive). He has a lot of interesting art. 

This week's is short and dystopian. 

The General Guidelines can be found here.

How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

painting looking across the top of a landscape of flat-topped stone pinnacles, each with a fire burning in the middle of it. There are large gaps between each pinnacle, which are very high up. The air looks smoggy and dark with a green-brown filter. Art by Beksinski

Pinnacle of Life

This is what it had come to; the only way to communicate. I shivered in the cold night air. Despite the fire in front of me, I was too high up to feel its warmth, but this was my life now. This was how information was sent from place to place, and without me up here on the top of this pinnacle, there would be a break in the chain.

I’m not sure which I hated more, the climb up or the climb down. Either way it took far too long and I was so terrified I would lose my grip and then my life, just like Tomo did.

He’d been on the pinnacle to my left, and was clearly tired after the nightshift. Just four steps down and he’d slipped, fallen a few rungs, and then caught one. But I couldn’t work out whether he’d broken his arm during the short fall, or just couldn’t catch a proper grip on the rung, sometimes the cold weather up here covered them in frost. Either way he’d eventually given up and let go.

I’d called encouragement, but I’d been powerless to do anything else. And I’d cried off and on through the rest of my shift. I’d never climbed down as carefully as I had that morning. It had shaken me up badly.

But they said our work was vital work, despite the risks. We kept the world running. Smoke and fire signals were my life. I wasn’t trained to do anything else.

Everyone was shunted into specific professions to help humanity now. There were no choices anymore. I’d read the history and what had got us here, how people had been able to do whatever they wanted, with all this magical technology, but never actually realised it. And it had resulted in this; the wasteland we now lived in.

One thing being up here was good for, was reading – interspersed between my five minute fire check. I read about those days and daydreamed about what it must have been like to have things like trees and grass and animals. Where there had been vistas and not just rock and desert, and where there were all kinds of food. I couldn’t imagine what it must have tasted like; food was functional now, just the basics we needed to survive.

Oh for a time machine to go back to it, and be a part of it, and not stuck up here on the roof of the world, watching fires burn. But then I was lucky. I didn’t have to scavenge on the ground. I got to see the sky; I had my own vista, even if it was a deadly one.


  1. The beasts had taken the land. We who survived only did so because we were able to climb the the First Ones stones. Tall waterless stone columns where our ancestors had hidden from invaders in the first days.
    Holy places that only the priests and foolish children ever visited.
    We knew by the stories that they were refuge, safe from outsiders, safe from the beasts.
    What we didn't know was our ancestors carried food and drink.

  2. Awesome story Miranda, very dystopian! My offering is on the lovecraftian edge this week. a href="">Then There Were two

    1. The edge of something a lot bigger. So much story packed into it. Great stuff.

      Here's a clickable link for readers: Then There Were Two

  3. I don't even want to know where this story came from. The game show from hell.

    The Game Show From Hell

    1. Love this, great concept. I wonder what he would feel at day 23?