Flash Fiction – Five of the clock

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

I’ve been digging through my old stuff again – and found another flash fiction piece I wrote up about a year ago.  Why it never ended up in the published list is a question best left to sages and those gurus who own time.

It IS a good piece of situational flash  –  so I’m sharing it now.  Enjoy!

 

Five O’Clock

Story Elements:  Conflict and Character

242 words

Too much alcohol.

Too little sleep.

Too much of whatever that white-ish sludge I found in the bottom of my whiskey glass was…

 

He wanted me quiescent.  Immobilized.  But conscious.  As much as I would like the reality of this room to fade away into my comfortable library, it stubbornly sticks to reality.

His boots scrape along the concrete floor, his off-key whistling echoing weirdly from the steel rafters.  Like a cobra strike, his face pops into my field of view.

“Ahhhh…” the word a long, slow exhalation, punctuated with garlic and tobacco smoke.   “No introductions necessary, I assume?”

They’re not, and he knows it.  His face and his escape have been plastered all over the news and social media since ‘The Butcher’ performed his vanishing act from his not-so-cozy cell a week ago.

Those stories amplified as he resumed his grizzly … work.

“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” he says sardonically, his face inches from my own, his breath forcing trickles of tears from my watering eyes.  “Have you ever heard the term?  It’s an excuse.  A cop out.  A clever way to say I’d rather go fill my gullet with alcohol than to do a competent job.”

A finger of ice traces it’s delicate way down my spine.

“You said that, your Honor, the day you sentenced me to life without the possibility of parole.”

He slowly draws a very shiny, very sharp knife between our faces.

“It’s time for my drink.”

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A Pair of Olympic Tales

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The book that’s currently on my Kindle is called ‘Godhunter’ by Amy Sumida.   It’s a semi-humorous, semi-romantic, semi-action indie book which I’ve been through at least half a dozen times.  The question I have to ask myself is:  ‘Why didn’t I go back and look up more books in the series???’

I counted 18 when I dropped into Amazon just now…I’ve got some catching up to do!

I especially like the heroine of the piece.  She reminds me a lot of myself (in attitude, not in body type) so she easily came alive in my head.

That’s the hallmark of a good story in my opinion.  If the characters take life of their own inside my skull – the author has done their job.

Because this book brings some of the more iconic Gods from the Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Aztec, and other assorted Pantheon’s of old, it reminded me of one of my flash fiction pieces.  I dug around and, low and behold – I HADN’T put it on the T&T.

I’m gonna remedy that right now…this originally appeared in Flash! Friday on October 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm.   I’m especially fond of the title of the piece, which got me an honorable mention with ‘the most Victorian and Overblown title of the week.’

Whereas The Olympiad from their Throne on High, do Design to Demarcate the next Branch of the Family Tree

211 words
Character: An overbearing Aunt
Setting: A Garden
Theme: Marriage

“My dear, I am SOOO glad you could drop by for a visit!”

DAMN!!! 
I knew it was a calculated risk rematerializing within the Gardens on Olympus this time of day – but when Hephaestus says he has an opening on the forge – you don’t dally! Just my luck to land at the feet of Great-Great-Great Aunt Hera.

“These Gardens look disgraceful, don’t you agree? I simply must pry Demeter away from her ‘Ban the Pomegranate’ crusade – as I simply can’t entertain in such disarray.”

Aaaaand – Auntie was on a roll!

“We simply canNOT have any sort of wedded gathering here – Coatilcue of the Aztec would God it over me forever!”

I silently twisted the Cerebus-chewed handle of my beloved whip, counting the diminishing seconds ticking away. It would be months before I could get another appointment with the Forge.

“And when are YOU going to continue the line, my dear? By your age, Zeus had dozens of children. Granted, most were with mortal women, but STILL. Demi-gods have their uses, too…”

“Aunt HERA!!!” I bellowed – the fires of the Underworld burning a path through Hera’s prized bed of ornamental orchids.

“OH!” she sputtered, raising her nose in disdain. “I didn’t recognize you, Megaera! I guess Hell hath no Fury right now…”

Email from the Apocalypse II

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UIS Mascot – Orion the Hunter

10:03pm CST. USA, Illinois, Springfield, UIS Campus, Lincoln Residence Hall, 3rd floor.

 

“Hey guys, you GOTTA see this!”

“Holy Shit!  What’s that guy on???”

“Damn, man, that’s some twisted shit right there!”

“Dude, you GOTTA share that to my page!”

The email, Titled:  Greetings from the Apocalypse (wish you weren’t here), hit an approximate 4.6 billion email inboxes pretty much simultaneously.   Within seconds, it had been opened, read, discussed, and become the latest trend on Facebook.

Gene’s shout to his roommates, and the subsequent micro-conversation above, pretty much summed up how the email was received around the globe.

Gene shared the post, offering his own two cents in the field Facebook offered for the pithy responses its usership lived for:

“LOL, guys!  This guy seriously trippin bawls.  He seein things inna sky!  share, man, FUCKIN share!”

Gene turned up his stereo.  His bedroom walls started to vibrate.

Beez in the trap, beez, beez in the trap…

The single window in Gene’s room shook – the loose storm window rattling against the more solidly-affixed piece of glass.

“Clunk, clunk, clunk…”

“Damn wind…” Gene growled, popping the top of his third beer of the evening. “Cheap-ass dorm rooms.  Mother-fuckers don’t never fix nuttin!”   He turned up the stereo even more to compensate for the banging.

Beez in the trap…Beez, beez in the trap…

“LOL, man!” came the first response on Facebook.

Followed closely by ‘GTFO!’

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Quickly Gene posted one of his favorite memes.

 

As the ‘likes’ piled up around his post, the first crack appeared in Gene’s wall, creeping along the drywall in time with the now violently-banging storm window.

“Shits legit.” The Dragon posted in his thread.

Gene scowled at his computer screen.  “Yer not one of my friends, shithead,” he mumbled, moving the mouse toward the delete button.

He never reached it.

Gene’s entire room lurched to the north.  His school textbooks scattered across the floor.   His “prized collectible” glass pipe (a genuine replica of the pipe Gandalf was smoking in The Lord of the Rings, only 1000 ever produced!) flew from its genuine black ash display base on his desk, rocketing into his beverage.

The can tipped, spilling a near-full beer all over Gene’s Razer DeathStalker Ultimate! keyboard, inundating Gene’s lap with a mixture of soaked keyboard, cold MGD and glass slivers.

His wireless mouse flew in the opposite direction, leaving a fair-sized dent in the drywall and plastic pieces of the housing to bounce around Gene’s desk.

“Mother-fucker!”

do-you-believe-in-climate-change

As final words go…these are mediocre at best…

The outer wall, Gene’s rattling bedroom window, and the Orion the Hunter poster valiantly holding on by a single strip of yellowed tape, dissolved in a shower of glass shards, twisted metal, shredded drywall, and powdered brick as the maelstrom touched the dorm building, eagerly consuming masonry, carpeting, wooden support beams, furniture, and residents.

**Screaming**

**silence**

At 10:13pm, CST, the campus of University of Illinois, Springfield, was completely destroyed by a strange and unnatural storm of intense electrical and turbulent wind energy.  Experts are calling it the ‘worst tornado disaster of all time in the midwest region,’ and are urging residents to stay off the streets and indoors for their own safety.  Stay tuned to WKRX Channel 9 as we stay on top of the latest developments of this bizarre storm.

10 minutes – Precisely.

 

 

 

 

Email from the Apocalypse (wish I weren’t here)

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Welcome to the Birth of the End-of-All-Dreams.  I shall be your tour guide.

Your story teller.

Your lesson planner and teacher.

I am pleased to announce the new life which has just been thrust upon you- the journey in which you will, quite outside your own free will, be embarking in mere moments.

You still have free will, I assure you … but your options have narrowed to two selections:  survive, or die.

It’s time to choose one of these options.  I suggest you choose wisely.

 

If you are reading this than you, like the majority of your population, live more or less comfortably – within your safely enclosed bubble within your enormous apartment building,  windows firmly shuttered and doors securely locked against untoward (and potentially unsettling) outside influences.  You venture outside this little bubble two or three times a day for work and food, head hung low and back hunched slightly to avoid those before-mentioned outside influences.  The rest of your life is trusted to your electronic gizmos to artificially attach you to the rest of the world.  At this point, I’m willing to bet you’ve completely forgotten what the sky is supposed to look like.

So you’ve undoubtedly not noticed the unusual weather patterns going on right outside your walls.

Put down your phone, and open those curtains now.

16195713738_5be17f622eTrust me.  I don’t care that your weather app says its a beautiful day, that your news app is reporting all is serene, your social apps are showing you the latest one-line diversion or amusing argument, or that your job app says your 12 o’clock deadline is 15 minutes away.

 

Your life deadline is due in 10.  Go look out your window.

No, you’re not going mad.  The sky has never been that exact shade of muddy-reddish-orange-black before, has never held that sparkling particulate matter before, and has never rolled toward the city in that solid a mass before.

And you’ve always been able to see through the atmosphere before, to view as much of the horizon as your surroundings would allow.

Scared yet?  You should be.

That solid/moving particulate mass is going to eat your apartment.  It’s going to eat your building.  It’s going to eat the neighboring buildings, too.  In fact, that mass is going to eat everything Mankind has constructed as a means to separate itself from the rest of the natural world.  Any individual caught in this feeding frenzy will be…

Well, let’s just say Humanity has the numbers to spare…

The choice is yours, now.  Abandon your constructs, or become a corpse.

Choose wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction – Not all Reapers are Grim

Rose lineup Flash Fiction

This is a Flash Fiction post I created waaaaay back in July for Flash! Friday.  In the spirit of cleaning up my drafts folder – and actually putting content on the T&T (instead of amusing myself at night by twisting wire into pendants…) I’m posting some of this old stuff.

The book FF suggested for this week of flash was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

 

Not all Reapers are Grim
Elements: Character & Conflict (man v man)
with just a hint of Theme…
102 words

 

Snatches of sing-songy intoxication wiggled their way around the filthy towels valiantly clinging to the charred beams masquerading as walls.

“Food for all!”

“Comfort and Fun!”

“Dreams come true!”

The man in the bright-purple great-coat wandered the alley – an ocean of deserted street-urchins caught in the wake of his swell as he sang us songs of dreams.

Willingly we followed him into the dark building – visions of meat and heat and candy and comfort dancing in our heads.

Only to find combat, blood and death, all broadcast LIVE to the well-paying audience.

 

He planted our dreams.  Harvested our nightmares.

Flash Fiction – Old Mack Donald

Rose lineup Flash FictionI got a shock when the winners of the latest Flash! Friday contest were posted…I got a double-mention!

Not only did my story of the week make 2nd runner up (Which is the highest I’ve been in the ranks!) but the judges also went through some of their older judging weeks, and picked out stories that, for one reason or another – continued to stick in their minds.

So I’m all excited and bouncy and stuff 🙂  I’ll be damned – I CAN write!

The weekly contest was a tough one – we had to incorporate a farmer as our main character, and the photo to tie in was three men in bakers whites looking intently into a long window.  I fought over this one – cussed and swore at it – no matter how I tried to tie the farmer in with a baker, the story wanted to veer wildly off-course.  At the zero hour, I finally threw up my hands and said – ‘Ya know…I’m just gonna do the damn song…”

And then, that magical line appeared – the last line in the story.  There it was – beginning line, and end line.  The story almost filled itself in.

You Know You’re Singing this Song…
197 words

Old Mack Donald – he had a farm. He’d inherited it from his father, who had it from his – and so on and so forth back to the first Donald to set foot in the country. The chains of tradition had bound Mack to the land for longer than he’d drawn breath.

“The Donald Men always tilled the soil,” he’d say with his soft drawl to anyone listening. “And we always tended to the beasties. I didn’t know no different.”

But Mack was old – and Mack was tired. And, above all, Mack was sick of life surrounded by the cacophony of brays, snorts, peeps, moos and oinks from the assembled livestock. At any time, day or night, there were animals sounding off. Sometimes they were panicked over an errant shadow. Sometimes, especially in the spring, they were busy finding a mate to continue the cycle of life for the farm.

And sometimes, Mack swore – they made noises simply to piss him off.

So Mack sold the farm to a huge conglomerate, and slipped into clean, crisp baker’s whites. His bread is the best in 5 counties.

Old Mack Donald sold his farm – to knead a bit of dough…

And our esteemed judges had this to say:

TS – I don’t know if I remember the passage of even one week in the last seven years of being a mom where this song wasn’t stuck in my head at least once. So… thanks. For that. 😉 Ee-I-ee-I-Oh, I did enjoy the fun feel of this piece. I may or may not have laughed out loud over the “cacophony of brays, snorts, peeps, moos and oinks.”

And I love how Mack takes his final revenge on the animals that have drowned him in never ending brain vibrating irritation: he becomes a chef, and I bet (even though the story doesn’t say), that one or two of those animals might have found their way onto a plate. –Apologies to any vegetarians. 😉 Nicely done. Now I’m going to go drown out “Old MacDonald” with something infinitely more enjoyable, like “The Wheels on the Bus.”

MK – I saw this and smiled. A few times recently I have tried to incorporate songs as a theme of my stories and really enjoyed how they made the reader respond. The writer has picked a song here that was always going to spin around in our heads all day. It’s totally on-theme, and the writer has crafted something that is memorable, humorous, yet also deals with the progression of character. I’m not sure what the bakeries in Virginia do differently than the bakeries in England, but I’m scared that my fellow judge thinks it’ll involve the use of animals on plates. 🙂 Remind me not to eat bread at Tamara’s if I ever find myself in that part of the world 😉

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The story that stuck in the judges heads was one I created in December – and showed up on the T&T shortly after I’d posted it.  It was sooooo new a posting to me, I hadn’t gotten the ‘Flash Fiction’ banner done yet (although I was close – I was using the origami flower lineup…)

They called it the ‘Jailbird Santa as Best Character’ and this is how they introduced all the special mentions on their final, tear-inspiring duty as judges:

Alas, our time has drawn to a close, and as we’ve looked back over our time as judges for Flash! Friday, we’ve been amazed all over again by the magnitude of talent that has been displayed on this page over and over again. You’ve written your hearts for us, and we’ve so enjoyed the experience of delving into each story and reveling in every world that unfolded before our awed gazes. Truly, we are sad to end our time here, but a hearty thanks to each one of you for making it all so worth it. Thanks to our Dragon mother, who unselfishly gives of her time to make this board what it is, and I (Tamara) thank you, Mark, for being the best possible judging partner a person could ever ask for.

Over our time, each week we were up to judge, we wished we could choose more winners than we were allowed. So on our last time, we went back and picked out three from various weeks – the “Unsung Story Awards.” These, for one reason or another, didn’t make the final list the week they were entered, but they stuck in our heads, and we hoped to give them a little recognition this time.

And now, before I use up too many more tissues, one last time, here are our results.

Guys – you will be missed as judges, but I’ll still look for your stories each and every week!

Calling All Cars!
157 words

“Calling all cars! Calling all cars!”

Every year, we get the call. Every year, we respond. Every year, our department fails to close this decades-old case.

“Person of interest male, white, late 70’s, portly. Full facial hair, white. Last seen wearing bright red suit and hat with white fringe, black belt, black knee-boots.”

My hands curl around the steering wheel, mentally preparing for the yearly bloodbath.

“Suspect get-away vehicle tiny sleigh pulled by 8 animals of reindeer origin. No plates evident.”

My partner and I lock eyes, knowing…HATING…what’s coming.

“Ocular trauma to multiple victims. Eyes replaced with charcoal briquettes.”

I yank a cigarette from the pack on the dash. “Shoulda been nice…” I whisper, even as my partner mutters “Here comes the weird part…”

“Suspect 3.75 inches tall. Last known locations… ”

A string of addresses follow, blanketing the car in a wall of sound.

“Public Enemy number one…” I growl, flipping on the siren.

Dragon Memoirs – A Rather Curious Bug

Every once in a while – a strong character emerges from my little bits of flash fiction, and decides to stick around after the story is written.  They generally add to the chorus of little voices in my head.  Every once in a great while, they meet in the landscape of my dreaming mind, and cause all sorts of trouble.

The Dragon has been around since this winter – nattering in my ear and occasionally breathing new tales of his ancient race to my concious mind.  Dutifully, I jot these leavenings down.

A bit a go, he met up with Bug – another very strong character who emerged from the rough streets, and has been enjoying herself intently in the darker corners of my mind.  As you can see – they have now had the opportunity to meet.  What trouble will they get into next?

 

Dragon Memoirs – A Rather Curious Bug

210 words

 

Book 1 alternate

My daily sojourn – to connect with the essence of the world and keep apprised of the human collective – was met today with a rather remarkable occurrence. I had the opportunity to cross paths with a rather curious bug.

A slight, soft, little half-grown human with abilities decades beyond her physical years caught my inner eye.  She blends into her environment as easily as I do, manufacturing personae at will to appear helpless and weak – tactics successfully employed to extract enough wealth from the comfortable to survive.

It wasn’t this pitiable personae which stirred my inner sight, though.  Rather, it was the warp she had stitched into place around her.

Imagine my surprise – here before me stands a human child who, with no formal training or even a clear understanding of the energies surrounding all life, masterfully weaves the Earth’s Song to do her bidding.

A human child – weaving the magics of the Dragons.

I was so stunned by the feel of magics not my own, I almost missed the gun she withdrew from her clothing.

She sleeps now, and will continue to do so, until certain questions are answered.

Why was this child – this Master of the Street known only as Bug, turned into a weapon and aimed at me?