I chose the flame image from last week as my prompt for a 20 minute sprint. This is what I came up with in that time. I’ve gone back and edited for typos and grammar, but otherwise this is pretty raw. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
I pressed my back against the bulkhead, trying to stay as small as I possibly could. I’d lost sight of my father and brother while we were running and now I was alone in some tiny corridor off the engine room.
The attack had come out of nowhere. When I’d been forced to flee the fires on the bridge we hadn’t even identified what kind of ship it was. I’d never seen anything like it, but I’d only had my pilot’s license for a year and had only been allowed in deep space for the past six months.
The ship was eerily quiet now that I’d been separated from the rest of the crew. Space was a silent place when there weren’t people in it.
That silence was the only reason I could hear the soft whooshing noises. There was a rhythm to them, a soft and steady beat. The sound was still only barely a whisper when I saw the first one.
The whoosh was the sound its wings made on a down stroke.
I was frozen in my corner, tucked against the bulkhead, partway behind a cabinet, as I stared at the beautiful creatures.
Their feathers were varying shades of orange, yellow, and white, with the occasional flash of red or blue. They were half the size of the average human with short powerful legs and slim arms that were held against their chests as their impressive wings beat to keep them aloft as they moved.
I was surprised to see on hovering near the console on the other side of the cabinet where I was hiding.
That’s when I saw the two sharp talons on the end of each foot. They were just dark shapes against the shifting plumage.
When the alien used its talons to tap out something on the console I could smell burning plastic.
It shifted position and gave a shrill cry, and the flames on the console winked out of existence as the bird-line alien grew brighter.
It wasn’t plumage.
The alien was on fire.
I was struck by the resemblance to phoenixes of ancient terran myth as it dawned on me what I was seeing. This alien was a real live fire-bird. It explained why the ship had been on fire. We’d taken no damage except for one blown airlock, but that seemed to be connected to the aliens’ ship, so we were safe at least until they left.
Two more of the fire-bird aliens joined the one at the console. They must have been talking, with all the noise they were making. Some of it sounded a little like birds I’d seen on vids, but some of it sounded more like hissing reptiles, or the popping and crackling of a wood fire.
I pressed further into the corner, barely breathing, as I waited to see what they would do.
Would they kill me when they found me? Could they even tell I was there? I was having trouble seeing anything that seemed like eyes, so maybe they were blind. But surely they’d have some other way of sensing their world.
All three of them turned together, completely blocking the little corridor as they advanced toward my corner.
The one in front was making noise as they came around the cupboard and looked down at me.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” I begged, praying that they had some understanding of other languages, or at least could pick up on the desperation in my voice.
The one in front reached out with its talons.
I shrank back, trying to press myself into the wall to avoid the searing heat that came off the alien.
“Please,” I begged, crying now.
The alien made some weird chirping noise, its talons right in front of my face.
All I could see was the dark shape of the two claws and the glowing orange and yellow flames around them. My tears dried before they could even fall.
I closed my eyes and put my hands up to protect my face.
The talons wrapped around my wrist and…