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From Out The Flames ...

by BryanW 

Posted: 17 February 2017
Word Count: 800
Summary: For Bazz's Elemental Challenge 631

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Something was happening. Raising his head above the long grass and bushes, Prom sniffed the air. His lips curled back into a snarl and his eyes narrowed. There, growing out of the place of the trees, grey snakes of smoke and flickering tongues of flame were rising into the blue sky.

Then his feet felt the vibrations. Crouching, he placed both hands onto the dry earth and slowly bowed his head so his ear touched the ground. Danger was coming. He looked up and saw the dust, a swelling cloud, behind the herd that was running in panic from the place of the trees. Hand tightening around his spear he started to run away as the herd ran.

Then something strange. He slowed. Stopped. Raised one hand to his mouth and held it there some moments. Then he turned, leaned forward and started to run back towards the herd. Towards the smoke.

On his right the herd hurtled past him, oblivious of his presence, the creatures’ eyes white and wild, nostrils foaming with fear of the living flames and the heat. Yet Prom ran on. He could make out individual trees now and saw flames jump, monkey-like from tree bough to tree bough and fire spinning like water-spouts and sparks cascading upwards mixing with the smoke and away to his right - moving fast away in the strong angry wind that lived and blew from beyond the coast. Above the sound of his own running breath, he could hear the voices of the fire, its loud roar, like rolling thunder with the whooshing, rushing, breathing beneath like the river rapids in spring-time and, even louder, the startling cracking of great trunks and boughs as they exploded. His mouth opened and he gasped in awe and excitement. 

Now he ran to where the fire had already eaten, were trees had become blackened stumps and the ground black too, but pulsing and flapping as gusts of wind lifted the charcoal showing bright flashes of yellow and sparks flying out. On all fours now, he crawled as close as he dared to the edge of what had been the forest. He snorted to try to clear his nose of the acrid stench. His grimace showed blackened teeth, with many missing - for he was 30 years old and his fruitless diet meant his teeth had long ago broken on the thick hide and old-kill meat that he used to eat, so now he was left sucking like a baby at the bones that his tribe would leave for him and the other old ones.  

Another smell. Prom’s mouth spurted saliva. An animal - a wildebeest, caught in a bush perhaps, not able to escape the inferno. But the smell! He pressed his hand onto the burnt hide. Still hot. But the skin burst and there was the meat. He pulled some away and pressed it into his mouth. It was soft and easy.  A gust of wind blew across the blackened ground and beneath its lifted surface the glow became a sudden flame. Prom jumped up, alarmed. Would the fire creature jump at him? But the flame subsided, lacking food, and a few sparks flew aimlessly by. Another gust. Another flame alive. And sparks. Those sparks … Prom thought …. just like when he was fashioning his spear tips. 


Prom placed dry leaves around his special grey stone. He scraped his spear tip against it. Sparks flew out. He rubbed it back and forth aiming the sparks downward. After a while, a thin line of smoke wobbled up. A gust of wind and at the base of the line a sharp, bright glow. So it was the wind that birthed it! Prom blew. A tiny flame flickered. He blew again. 


The children were running, shrieking and happy, around the cave mouth. The fire burnt warmly and others of the tribe brought wood to keep it alive. Each bowed to Prom and placed their bundles near him. For he was now the keeper of the fire. And they brought meat to burn on the heated stones so Prom would eat. And when he finished he would allow others to eat. 

The next evening rain came. The fire hissed and bubbled and was extinguished. 


So the following day, early, in the quiet time, Prom went about relighting the fire - closer to the cave mouth this time so that the rain, if it came, could not take its life. But two of Prom’s sons, already awake, watched their father’s actions.

Now, armed with knowledge of fire, the brothers went their separate ways and made their own tribes and the knowledge of the power of fire was then taken to all corners and soon learnt by all peoples of the earth. 


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Comments by other Members

Desormais at 16:33 on 17 February 2017  Report this post
Such a wealth of descriptive prose here - I lingered, savouring the imagery.  Was it Prom who'd started the fire, whilst fashioning his spear?  I wasn't sure where Raam came into it - am I missing something here?.   An inspired response to the prompt, charting, in graphic fashion not only a giant step in the development of mankind, but also a giant culinary step.  I enjoyed this, well done.

BryanW at 16:37 on 17 February 2017  Report this post
Woops - thanks for spotting - I changed the name from Raam to Prom (Prometheus - get it?) but must have left  blooming Raam in there and not noticed. If it's OK with you, Sandra, I'll edit it out 'cos it will only cause confusiion. 

Desormais at 16:47 on 17 February 2017  Report this post
No probs.  I do that a lot.  :(

Bazz at 15:59 on 18 February 2017  Report this post
Great story, Bryan. An epic, almost biblical account of the elements, how they're first put together, recognised, manipulated, culminating in the knowledge of fire extending into the tribes of the world. Great imagery, I really like how grounded Prom is, the details about his place in his tribe, how it evolves, how he reacts to the first smell, then taste of cooked meat...  Vivid and well captured, great response to the prompt :)

Cliff Hanger at 16:06 on 18 February 2017  Report this post
Great piece of believable world building, Bryan.

Beguiling and beautifully written.


BryanW at 18:22 on 18 February 2017  Report this post
Thank you all.

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