So far, everyone has been liking my “Crush” flash piece. I’ll probably send it out this weekend with a few minor tweaks. Exciting!

Exercise: Start your piece with this sentence: The moment the black cat stepped in front of me, I knew…

Might this be the start of a new story about a certain Mystic Extraordinaire? Just over 500 words.


The moment the black cat stepped in front of me, I knew the world was in for some bad luck. The cat stared at me with huge, bright green eyes. As usual, only I saw the feline. Everyone else on the sidewalk ignored it. Sometimes I wondered if the black cats that warned me of impending doom existed at all.

“Fuck off,” I muttered. A few passersby cast me offended looks. The cat rolled over on the sidewalk and started licking itself.

The rumble started from miles away. I felt the vibration through the ground, and reflexively raised my hands. Small glowing sigils glowed at each fingertip. The shockwave reached the city in less than a minute, a solid wall of shimmering red energy stretching up to the sky. It demolished everything it its path. Whole skyscrapers shattered, the skeletal remnants blackening and vaporizing even as the next building over was stripped and destroyed. The streets became a raging inferno as cars exploded, the larger vehicles surviving just long enough to get thrown a block or more. Human beings simply vanished in the onslaught.

I lifted myself ten feet above the sidewalk as the scene around me turned to bedlam and the shockwave approached. Pedestrians screamed and ran, shoving each other out of the way in desperation. Drivers abandoned vehicles and sprinted across the tops of cars. Glass and bits of brick and mortar bounced off my mystical shields. I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated. I had no way of knowing if my magic would withstand this assault. The world went opaque seconds before the impact.

The shield kept me suspended and still, and blocked most of the noise. I heard the destruction faintly crescendo for a second, then everything went silent. I opened my eyes. The shield, sensing the danger pass, had gone transparent again. Nothing was left. Nothing. As far as I could see, the world was a wasteland of blasted, blackened earth. Patches of dirt glowed red, still hot from fires that no longer had fuel.

I gently lowered myself and let the shield fade. Bile rose in my throat, but I fought it back. I let the tears flow as I sank my hands into a fine layer of ash coating the dead soil. All my power, and I’d been caught completely off guard. Maybe, even with just a few minutes time, I could have saved someone, could have even stopped the attack.

Then I realized my shoes weren’t on ground, but on pavement. I spun, lifting my hands, defensive sigils springing back into place. Just behind me, the city stood as it always had. Dozens of people crouched, arms thrown up over their heads. Dozens of others still fled. Standing on the sidewalk just a few feet away, a man in a hockey jersey leaned heavily on a hockey stick. His face glistened with sweat, his shoulders sagged. A cluster of civilians huddled and whimpered behind him.

“This,” he said, shaking his head. “This will take some effort to clean up.”