Flash Fiction Contest Winner #33 – “Cloud Breakers”

Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.

“Cloud Breakers”

In a desolate desert plain stretched to every corner of the world, without water and abandoned by Gods and magic, two boys wandered deep beneath the earth in search of hope.
     Kalan ran his palm against the wall. The rough stone under his fingertips was nothing like the bricks from his home. The paintings splattered over the walls were endless, decorating each side for miles.
     “Maybe we should turn back,” Berro’s voice echoed down the cavern, as if trickster spirits mocked him.
     “We can’t.” Kalan moved his torch away from the wall. “They saw us go in, they’re probably waiting outside. We try to sneak out, they catch us, and there goes another way in blocked.”
     “But we’ll be alive.”
     They had journeyed for days within the Neptune caverns, sleeping wherever flat ground welcomed them and refilling their canteens with drops of water from the ceiling. For decades, these caverns, man-made by ancestors forgotten in all but legends, were forbidden. Inside abandoned temples to the Gods carved into the ores of precious metals remained.
     It was said that the deeper you journeyed, the closer you were to the Gods.
     “Alive for what? Do you know mom made up a game for Nila? The more ribs she can see, the more she eats.”
     Berro frowned. “I’m sorry about your sister, but we have to be realistic. The water in here is not as plentiful as my grandfather said it once was. These caverns, they make you go mad. You thirst for the water like a sickness and when your torch fades, so does the light inside of you.”
     “We’ve plenty of torches?”
     “And not enough food or water.” Berro sighed, “Kalan… It’s been days. Maybe the Cloud Breakers aren’t real.”
     They had to be. Cloud Breakers who flew across the Heavens and snapped their wings until bountiful rain showered the land. He faced the darkness down the steps.      Like a pit, an endless abyss within tunnels that had taken more souls than any enemy their village had faced.
     Kalan yelled and threw his torch down the steps. It bounced against stone until the light vanished with a hushed gasp.
     With his head sunk low he muttered. “The crops… we’re going to die, Berro.”
     “You don’t know that. Rain has to come back. Maybe it already has.” He smiled without any mirth. “We’re here wasting our soles while they-”
     A gust of wind extinguished his torch. No one dared to speak. Water dripped in the dark. A heavy groan echoed near them.
     “Berro?” Kalan gulped.
     A stench of moldy herbs came from down below. When Berro’s torch lit, the light revealed a giant eye staring at them. The iris shaped straight, like a blade. The beast’s maw moved towards the light. Scales of intricate design like chainmail of gems, and nostrils larger than his head.
     “No, it will not.” The dragon’s voice shook the stone under their feet. “For I call the rain.”