Last year I entered NYCMidnight’s Flash Fiction Contest. This was my first entry. The requirements for genre, setting, and featured object were Fantasy, A Bakery, and A Toy Dinosaur. I have revised it a little, mostly to add clarifying details which I couldn’t under the 1,000 word restriction in the original version. I could definitely see doing more with this in the future. Enjoy!
A giant mechanical turtle marches toward the sea, leaving tracks across the dunes.
Inside the oversized head of the turtle, a small girl called Limli scoops a shovelful of magic into the boiler. She drops the shovel and wipes her brow. ‘Almost empty,’ she yells.
A boy, older and taller, stands in front of the wide front window, working levers and concentrating on the view outside. ‘Just a little bit further to Jipsy,’ he says.
Though the window, the left front leg of the turtle rises into the air. The whole vehicle shifts forward, then the leg falls like a mallet.
‘What if we don’t make it?’ Limli asks. She wears goggles on her forehead, her hair in pigtails. Her boots, shirt, and overalls are all a size too big.
‘We’ll make it,’ the boy answers. He wears an apron over his clothes and a pilot’s cap on his head.
‘Ander,’ she says, then waits until the boy turns and faces her. ‘What if we don’t make it?’
Ander stares at her for a moment, then nods. ‘I’ve seen it.’
‘You had a vision?’
‘Why didn’t you tell me? What did you see?’
‘You know I don’t like to talk about it. Just trust me.’
‘Okay. Okay.’ She puts her finger to her lips. ‘Did you see—’
Ander pulls back on one lever, then pushes another. ‘Look, we’re at the ocean.’
Limli runs to the window. ‘Wow,’ she whispers. Outside, a sandy hill drops away, then levels out to meet rippling green water.
‘Just a little further, Sis.’
Limli turns and stares at a little red toy on the windowsill. A watersaurus, sitting in a small bowl. The head of the watersaurus points forward, its fins looking strong and elegant, its body ending in a long flowy tail.
Just a little longer, Everen, Limli thinks. We’ll find you.
As the turtle starts down the sandy hill, the world tilts forward.
Limli grabs onto a railing.
The turtle collapses, careens down the dune, then skids to a stop at the ocean’s edge.
Ander works the controls. Their turtle heaves up onto its legs once more, then plunges onward.
Waves break against the hull.
‘If mom and dad could see us now,’ Ander says.
‘Momma said she wanted to take me to see the ocean,’ Limli says.
The water swells up around the cockpit. A school of purple fish dart past.
The boiler moans. The right leg hesitates mid-step.
‘More magic!’ Ander yells.
‘I know! I know!’ Limli rushes to the barrel, scrapes the shovel around the bottom, and pours the little pile of silver pink dust into the fire. She picks up the barrel and tips it forward onto the boiler’s mouth, tapping the sides, slapping the bottom, then banging the barrel against the boiler.
‘That’s everything!’ she cries.
Ander turns a crank, then pulls a cord. A rumble vibrates through the entire vessel, then a loud whir.
They are off, plunging into the depths of the wild ocean.
‘It works! It works! The propeller still works,’ Limli screams.
‘Hopefully it works just long enough—’
Bang. Pop. The engine sputters.
‘Uh oh,’ Limli says.
Ander says nothing.
Their turtle is a monstrous plummeting rock now. No motor for the legs or the propeller. Only a rudder to guide the direction of their fall.
Limli points to the watersaurus. ‘Look!’
The toy is now facing to the right.
‘We must be close,’ Ander says. He pulls hard on the steering wheel, holds it as they slowly turn.
When the toy finally points ahead, brother and sister each gasp.
Through the window they see a bubble the size of a city. Inside are towers, buildings, bridges, glowing lanterns, and docks stretching out to greet them.
‘Jipsy!’ Ander and Limli cry together.
‘Can we make it?’ Limli asks. ‘We made it in your vision, right?’
‘We made it this far,’ Ander says.
‘This far! What? You said we made it!’
‘What do we have that’s magic?’
‘Nothing,’ Limli says. Her eyes grow big. She turns to the watersaurus.
‘The toy,’ Ander says.
‘We need it to find Everen.’
‘He’s here. He has to be.’
‘What if he’s not?’
Limli looks out the window, then at the toy, then at Ander. ‘He’s going to hate us.’
‘Only if we live.’
She grabs the red toy out of its dish and sprints to the boiler. Sorry Everen. She breaks the head off the watersaurus, throws it into the tiny pink flames.
A pink explosion shakes the boiler. The propeller whirs, the turtle charges ahead.
Ander works the controls in a frenzy.
The city of Jipsy is growing in the window.
‘We need to slow down,’ Limli yells.
‘I know! I know! Cut the boiler!’
She nods, spins the crank to close the vent.
The turtle leaves the deep ocean, passes slowly through the protective bubble around the city, glides into open air, and crashes onto a dock.
‘Did we make it?’ Limli asks.
‘I think we did,’ Ander says, more than a little amazed at the idea. ‘Let’s go before he disappears again.’
Outside, no one has come to arrest them. They make their way into the city.
‘Look!’ Limli says, pointing to a sign signaling The Jipsy Terrarium. ‘Animals.’
‘Right,’ says Ander.
Their brother Everen is inside looking at jackapods.
‘You found me,’ he yells when he sees them.
After a round of hugs, Ander says, ‘Please never do that again.’
‘I know, I know,’ Everen says. ‘I can’t help it. Sometimes it just happens.’ The little boy’s nose twitches and sniffles. ‘I’m hungry. Also, I think I might be allergic to one of these animals.’
‘Everennnnnnnnn,’ Limli says.
‘I—’ Everen begins, then sniffs. ‘I—’ He sniffs again. ‘I can’t— ’ Ahhhhh-chooooooo!
Everen sneezes so hard his chin bounces off his chest and he disappears in an orange wisp of smoke.
‘Uh oh,’ Limli says.
Ander sighs. ‘I see glimpses of the future. You make things with magic. Our brother is blessed with uncontrollable teleporting.’
‘Back to the bakery?’
‘Yeah, but we need a new finder. We’ll have to use the rest of the watersaurus for fuel.’
‘I don’t think that’ll be a problem. He said he was hungry.’
‘Right. Grandma’s. Let’s go.’