EMBERS

Specks of dancing light floated through the dark sky, borne from the dying fire.

There was no more firewood in the barren mountain landscape. It would not take long for the cold to achieve its conquest.

Phillips had no choice but to move, to stay in the same place was to die.

How much more of this could they take? They were no longer young, yet they were playing a young man’s game. He belonged behind a desk back home with nights spent in a comfortable bed.

Somewhere out there, a half-day ahead of him, his quarry lurked. The landscape was different to Berlin or Moscow, where their paths had crossed before, but the objective was still the same: kill or be killed. They were old enough to know that what happened between them changed nothing in the world, but they played anyway.

He stamped on the remaining embers until the fire was extinguished. Once more unto the breach, dear friend, once more.

This time only one of them would return home.


photo-20180312154628322
Copyright Enisa

Written as part of Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story or poem in around 150 – 175 words, based on the weekly photo prompt. Thanks as always to the challenge host Priceless Joy. For more information visit HERE.

To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.

Previous short stories featuring the British spy Phillips can be found here: THE PHILLIPS SPY STORIES.

44 responses to “EMBERS”

      1. You welcome. I really enjoy your stories.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. If his opponent is as poor a woodsman as he, then maybe no one goes home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are both city dwellers out of their natural element, so always a possibility, although I never said he was a poor woodsman.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your story seemed to imply both of them were experts in urban settings and that currently both were out of their element. If he can’t find enough wood to burn for a fire at night, he could freeze depending on how low the temps got, and no amount of moving would save him.

        This might be a story worth expanding to explore how they both got into this situation and what they had to do to survive (assuming both did).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks James, getting round to writing a ‘full-length’ story for Phillips is definitely on the to-do list at some point.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed this story. I too would love to know the back story as to why older men find themselves out in the cold (although that is where spies usually are) in a rural setting instead of a city one. Which one will survive? I wonder…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your interest Irene.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Now i am waiting to know their backstories. Wonderfully written. Kelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story! There’s this brilliant sense of history and finality – it feels like an excerpt from a bigger story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, the concluding chapter to a long running rivalry for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, the old spy versus spy encounter. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A classic setup indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great story telling. This is such an open prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is indeed, there should be a wide variety of stories this week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Equations change out in the wild… but what a game to play!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does sound like an adventure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This reads like a teaser for a bigger story! I want more…!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Keith, I’ll let you know when I’ve thought of the rest!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It is no fun these days being a spy. I think the lack of heat is the least of their troubles. Especially if the Beast from the East turns up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not the job it used to be. Thanks Michael.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great job getting across the desperation, and also the sad futility of the quest.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh dear! A game of kill or be killed! Doesn’t sound like this is going to end very well. Great story, Iain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks PJ, no it’s going to end badly for at least one of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You are so talented. I enjoyed the suspense and mystery, left me wanting more! =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very kind! Thank you Brenda

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oooh, on lines of Jason Bourne vs The Jackal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, love the Bourne films and The Day of the Jackal is a fabulous book, so I like this comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha, I was actually referring to the original Robert Ludlum books featuring Jason Bourne. His arch-enemy/ bete noire in that trilogy was Carlos the Jackal 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve only seen the films, the books have passed me by somehow, maybe I should go back to them.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. They’re nowhere like the films. Only the basic premise is the same, everything else was changed in the movies, and that too only in the first one. The second and third movies were just named after the books, but had ZERO similarity to their source.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Is that going to be the survival of the fittest or just a matter of mind strength? Oh this could well turn into a sequel and I would love to know the prequel as well…
    Great story Ian!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anagha 🙂

      Like

  15. So good. I hope Phillips makes it to his desk job. Great sense of age catching up and the tug of war between equally matched adversaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah Ann.

      Like

  16. Very compelling Iain! The ultimate “game”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ! These days old spies aren’t having a happy ending…well done.
    I’m chuckling over here cuz I’m just realizing it’s a photo of a camp fire!
    Ellespeth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it was a bit of an obscure photo 🙂

      Like

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