At UC Riverside, there are two different science fiction reading groups for graduate students, one out of the English department which is more theory-based, and one out of the Creative Writing department which is more craft-based. I attended the latter one, and we had a writing prompt last month: a flash fic, 500 words, on the keyword "dinosaurs."
Because of a variety of reasons I didn't get around to writing my dinosaur flash fic until the meeting itself, and while everyone talked around me, I quickly typed up some 483 words. I had the idea for the first part most of the month, but didn't know how the rest of it would pan out. But I knew I wanted to think through evolution, and generational change.
Here it is!
The First Generation
Waking up with fuzz and warmth on the underside of her wings. Singing. Everyone turned their heads quizzically. “What is that sound?” her mother clicked. “Why are you making it?
She didn’t know. She whirred her head helplessly.
When she flew, she felt the winds against the fuzz under her wings, and it tickled.
Later, when the males danced and thrilled for mates, she would get glances askance and only one would dance for her. He would come back again and again, year after year.
She never had many eggs. She didn’t mind, but everyone else was convinced that none of her children would make it past their first season.
They all did.
The Second Generation.
She was born in a mess of wet colors, her mother clicking in concern over her. Her eyes were the same as everybody else’s, and she squinted at them, because the sun was in her eyes.
Her father hopped closer to the nest to inspect her. “She has your colors! Even more.”
She would only understand what this meant later in life when the mating dances happened around her and her siblings would avoid her because they didn’t want to be seen as carrying, or propagating a disease. Their clutches of eggs were bigger than their mother’s.
The Third Generation.
There were more of them each season. They had more colors each season too, it seemed, but not really if anybody stopped to count. The originals didn’t mind; the colourful ones added something to the dance everytime. Their thrills joined the clicks. They were exotic to the eye.
She was the least colourful of her clutch and she was thus both not pretty enough for the originals who chased the warm ones, but not original enough for the traditionalists.
She watched as her sisters were chased away, attacked for their streaks, killed for their songs. She forced herself to click, and she preened her colours away. She would do the same for all her children, rendering them bald for their protection.
The Fourth Generation
Her home was in bloom. She couldn’t help but sing with the flowers, and she danced among the vines. When she stretched her feathers to their greatest radius, the wind gently blew through them and all was well with the world.
Her whole tribe was now singing, too. They chattered about the fruits, the bees, the taste of the wind.
“Something’s wrong,” a distant cousin near her said. “Something in the air.”
Everyone agreed and suddenly there were a thousand conversations about what they had noticed—the taste of the morning mist, the sound of the rain, the colour of the sky.
The originals were visible in the distance, the mountaintop their domain. She wanted to sigh, mourn for the home she never had, and was about to pitch a song about it, when the world suddenly was on fire.