A fantasy writing prompt.

This short story started life as fantasy writing prompt on the ill fated Googleplus. The prompt was a picture which I sadly didn’t save and the subsequent story needed to be under 500 words.

At this time I didn’t really take part in short story competitions, or paid much attention to writing prompts being more concerned with trying to edit my first ever Nanowrimo story. This time was different and as I looked at the picture I had an image of a man trying to keep the Portal or gateway open. That man was John Staffhand and this is the short story I wrote afterwards.

John Staffhand

In the past he would have jumped to safety with the rest. But not now.  Not anymore. He was the GateKeeper. Charged with holding up the staff and keeping the gateway open. He was John Staffhand the last of his line. He stood firm.
His hand ached. John nearly shifted his feet to ease his discomfort. But keeping the Staff upright was the only thing that mattered.  Without it the gateway would close and they would all die.


Rocks were being drawn into the Gateway now. The power of the vortex growing stronger the longer it was open.  Scouring sand lashed at his back, finding his skin through the layers of clothing. Supporting the Staff and staying upright was becoming difficult.  He would stand firm he was a Staffhand.
“Strange family” the people would say, “heard one of they say that bit of old wood can open a gateway between worlds”.  Then the creatures had come through with their teeth of death destroying lives. Then is Grandmother had opened the first Gateway and the mocking stopped.   


Her hair whipping wildly round her face, into her eyes, his Grandmother had held firm for three long hours during the first journey. She stood holding the unwavering Staff, while soldiers buckled and wept from the wind.  An entire country passed through that first gateway. The last soldiers had been blown through but the old woman stood firm.


Protecting his eyes from the stinging sand, John looked back. Soldiers being chased by death were near .  
“We’re the last Gatekeeper,” shouted the soldiers as they ran past.
It was time to jump.
John rammed the Staff into the hole he had created earlier. Slowly releasing his grip John kept his hand in place.  Ready to catch the Staff before it fell closing the gate and condemning John to the death that he could see bearing down on him.  


The staff held firm.
Carefully he began to pay out the line coiled around his belt, ensuring no tangles that would prematurely pull the staff free from it mooring and trap him.
“No snares now boy” his grandmother always said.


Looking back in farewell John could see the teeth of death staring back. Had he left it too late? Time to run.  
Legs pumping. Heart pounding. Lungs bursting. Praying the Staff would hold just that little bit longer.
John leapt into blackness.

Short Story Writing

I hope you enjoyed the story, its short and sweet but I’m still rather proud of it. I’m hoping to write more short stories in the future. However, I do have a bit of a problem as when I try to write a short story as they tend to evolve and grow into a fully fledged world I want to write a novel in.

While writing this story I was attempting to edit and fix my very first nanowrimo novel, however while writing this short story I realised that my short story and the nanowrimo story were in fact part of the same story. The Tration Empire, over arching theme of my fantasy books was born.

This is exactly how Shifter Unknown started, and you can read more about that in this post.

Please let me know what you think about this story and if you’d like to learn more about John Staffhand and the wo