Flash FictionFlash fiction, delivered on time this week.

The prompt is from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘army’, ‘break’ and ‘blue’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

I enjoyed writing this, though I struggled with it a bit. Not the overall scene. I knew what I wanted as soon as I saw the prompt. Ironing it out was tough. It’s the economy of words. It’s really hard to make 100 words pop, and even harder to bring an entire scene to life. In my mind, there was even more going on in this little vingette, and I had to whittle it down considerably.

But, that’s writing. It’s as much about what you don’t include as what you do include.

I hope you enjoy it.

an understanding

It army crawls toward her, grunting.

She can feel the break in the bone, the skin swollen and blue. She’s pinned down, but it doesn’t matter. She wouldn’t be able to run anyway, and it’s coming.

Its guts hang out the bottom of its shredded torso like party streamers soaked in red Kool-Aid. She wonders what it will feel like to be eaten. Not good, she thinks, but then she has an idea.

She twists, craning her neck and pointing at the flesh.

“Bite here,” she says.

It groans and reaches for her.

“Good,” she whispers. “We have an understanding.”

Flash FictionTwo things about this short piece of fiction.

One: It’s late. The latest I think I’ve ever been with my weekly fiction post. I apologize. Friday was chaotic, followed by a packed weekend. That’s not an excuse, though. Writers are writers because we make the time to write. We make it a priority. I allowed it to get pushed to the side, and that’s my fault.

I’m not beating myself up over it, but I do acknowledge that I screwed up. Sorry about that.

Two: This story is homage, both to Stephen King and to the brave men and women who overcome their personal demons. King has written as least two stories I know of that deal with addiction (“Quitters, Inc.” and Misery)–probably more. It’s something he’s dealt with personally. I’ve seen the effects of addiction first hand, and it’s ugly. Not the addicts. The addicts are people who’ve made mistakes. They are not ugly, but the beast of addiction is.

Ugly and insistent and unrelenting. Oh, and sly.

This story doesn’t explore the issue with the same depth King’s work has, and I hesitate to tread further–not just because the word-count limit for this flash fiction piece was 100 words. I’ve seen addiction, but I haven’t been addicted. I think it would be hard, maybe even disrespectful, to try to encapsulate the totality of its allure without first-person experience. I doubt I could pull it off. However, the story below is a little of how I think addiction, itself, ‘speaks’ to its victims.

Not DSM-5 stuff. Just my ramblings based on what I’ve seen. And, as a personal note, if any of my readers happen to have first-hand experience with addiction, may you find peace and may you overcome.

The prompt for this story was published on The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘chime’, ‘jug’ and ‘poison’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

mine

He picks lint from his slacks before explaining.

“You’ll hear a chime,” he says. “When you do, you’ll drink.” He motions toward the ceramic jug labeled ‘POISON’.

“What is it?” she asks.

“You’re favorite,” he says, uncorking the bottle. She catches the scent.

“No,” she says. “I can’t. Four years.”

“An ounce and a half for each chime.”

She reels. “I can’t.”

“You will. Did you really think you could outpace me in a dozen steps?” He smirks and a chime sounds. It’s light and melodic, like a song bird. He pours the first glass.

“Drink,” he says. “You’re mine.”

Flash FictionI had intended to keep plugging away at The Dark Calling this week. The story is almost done, and I’m anxious to see it through. However, I wasn’t feeling it today, so I’ve opted for unrelated flash fiction.

The story below started with a he, not a she, but I didn’t like the way it flowed. The unnamed character was menacing, but entirely forgettable and unnecessarily cruel. So I changed him. First it was just the gender pronouns, and then more. Brutal violence became magic. Blood-lust became revenge. I began to like the cadence of it.

It’s fine for a fictional killer to have little-to-no discernible motive. That can actually be quite scary. In this case, however, I like the idea that there’s a reason. I don’t know if it’s justified–if the revenge she seeks is warranted. I don’t know what wrong she feels she endured or how disproportionate her vengeance may have been. I only know she feels good about it, and that’s both intriguing and unsettling.

The prompt comes to us courtesy of The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘aroma’, ‘ice’ and ‘ragged’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

Enjoy.

killer

Ice drops into the tumbler with satisfying clinks, but she’s too tired to care. Ragged, she can barely stand long enough to pour the liquid. It’s her favorite, reserved only for special occasions. And though she’s exhausted, tonight is special.

Her first time.

She sits and sips, ignoring the mess on her fingertips. Crimson smudges on the glass. She closes her eyes and remembers. The way the words flowed. The electric power of the incantation. The look on his face when he realized.

The aroma of his fear.

She smiles.

There won’t be a next time. Not for him.

Flash FictionIt’s weird. I have no real experience with drugs, but once in a blue moon they make their way into my stories. I’m not sure why. Well, in this case I know why. ‘Drug’ was one of the prompt words. But the second flash fiction story I wrote almost 5 years ago featured a cocaine theme. I have no explanation for that.

Except this. I’ve mentioned before that I agree with Stephen King: “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” Mystical baddies may or may not be real. (I have my own personal theory on that. You’ll hear plenty about it soon enough.) But whether you believe in zombies, vampires and werewolves or not, there are most certainly monsters in the world. All too often, addiction makes a mess of people’s lives. I’ve seen it first-hand. Perhaps that’s what I’m dealing with in stories like this one.

Every story is a glimpse of the author’s soul–assuming he/she has one. (Tacky, but true.) A pivotal turning point for me as a writer came when I decided to allow my personal views, even my personal pain, to impact my fiction. It’s probably a little deep for an intro to a 100-word story, but I encourage you to do the same. Whatever the genre, it’ll make your stories better.

The prompt for this story is from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘drug’, ‘figure’ and ‘beast’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

And yes, I admit this story isn’t horror, strictly speaking. But then again, it is.

fresh out

Freddie smiled wide, blackened teeth framed by chapped lips. His bug eyes fell to her chest.

“I never said the ‘d’ word,” she said.

“You sexy beast.” He licked his lips. “I figured you to have drugs.”

“Get the fuck out.”

“You turnin’ away a customer?”

She ushered him to the door. “I’m turning away a problem. Out.”

Freddie lost it. He needed what she had. He turned, a knife in his fist. That’s when he saw the gun.

“Out,” she repeated. “One way or the other.”

“Aw, baby. Give Freddie some love.”

She pulled the trigger.

“Sorry. Fresh out.”

Flash FictionWhile I would have loved to continue with The Dark Calling this week, I simply had too much to do today. I refuse to rush those pieces, so I’m opting for a quick flash fiction story, instead.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s something wonderful about flash fiction. In some ways, the shorter it is, the more challenging it is to write. The story below has a 100 word limit. Painting a meaningful scene in 100 words is tough. There’s no space for long exposition, no allowance for verbose dialogue, and no room for a winding build up of suspense. These kinds of stories are flashes in the pan.

Of course, a bright enough flash can leave you dazed, half blind with your ears ringing.

I suppose that’s what I like about flash fiction in general. The limitations push me as a writer, forcing me to be conservative with my words while still trying to take you, the reader, on a journey. This one is nothing more than a brief scene. It’s a tease, really. That’s all it can be. But I like it, still. The implications are eerie, and that tends to be my favorite kind of horror.

The prompt comes to us courtesy of The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘loom’, ‘dish’ and ‘tale’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

waiting

She was at the loom. Her hands rested in her lap.

On the adjacent table was a book: Ulrich Wenzel Peglow’s Tales of the Queer and Mystical. It was open to the account of Fräulein Giesel. She’d read the story at least 30 times–the weaver woman who could spin fire and wind and ice.

It was said she’d turned, but to what? How? What darkness had she woven and by what magick?

A dish slid off the table of its own accord. She didn’t move. She could sense the specter there with her.

“Hello, Giesel,” she said. “I’ve been waiting.”

Flash FictionI realize that it’s actually 2015, but this feels like the last fiction post of 2014 to me. Calendars be damned, I always think of the first Monday of a new year as the true start. Fresh week, fresh year. Until then, it’s 2014 in my head.

I’m closing out 2014 with a short fiction post, in part because I’m still on holiday break, myself, and in part because it sounded like fun. Once again, I’m rolling with a prompt from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘mound’, ‘powder’ and ‘cider’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

This story plays on an old concept. Like leprechauns, some alchemists simply shouldn’t be trusted. If one doesn’t specify the desired outcome with painful accuracy, the end result could easily satisfy the request while simultaneously leaving the recipient surprised and disappointed. Or, said another way, be careful what you wish for.

Happy new year.

stone cold

“Apple cider vinegar?” she asked.

He nodded.

“And that?” She pointed to a small mound of powder. He added two pinches and tentatively sniffed the concoction.

“You don’t want to know.”

“This will work, though? You’re not bullshitting me?”

He smiled. “This potion will fulfill your requirements. Drink it, and you will age no more.”

Her eyes got big. She snatched the cup and gulped, only stopping when she started to choke.

“After all,” he said as she clawed at her neck, the skin turning blue. “When was the last time you went to a birthday party for a corpse?”

Flash FictionYesterday was busy for me. I’ve not missed a weekly fiction post in years, though I have missed the occasional Friday. This week I’m late, and that’s only half the bad news. The second half is that this is not an episode of The Dark Calling.

But, to make it up to you, something brief and grim from a while back. A side story. A snapshot.

This is also ‘proper flash fiction’. Though late, I used this week’s prompt from The Prediction:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘colony’, ‘pastry’ and ‘increments’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

Enjoy.

pretty, pretty

He works in increments, like he had with the ant colony. No swift kicks. He went insect by insect, savoring each.

The cat mews.

His fingers reach for his face. It did scratch him. He feels the ridge of the wound, puckered flesh crusting at the edges like a pastry made of skin.

But this isn’t justice. This isn’t payback. This isn’t revenge.

This is a young man on a journey. This is a monster finding himself. This is fun, pure and simple.

He clips off the tail. Jessica watches.

James, only 11, grins. “Pretty, huh?”

“So pretty,” she says.

Flash FictionMy apologies. I’m running short on time this week and, even though I promised fewer hiatuses from The Dark Calling, I’m taking another this week. We’re nearing the end of that tale, and each section takes more time to write. I’ll be back with more of it next week, Vye willing.

This week, I’m reverting back to my structured flash fiction ways, with a post from The Prediction:

100 words maximum (excluding title) of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words below in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction or noir:

Observer
Elegant
Decay

Here we go.

elegant decay

Patrick is a patient observer. He rarely touches the corpse.

“Lovely, isn’t it?” he asks his guest. “Such an elegant decay.”

At 16 days in, the bloating is past. The smell, however, is still quite pungent. Flies cluster on his open eyes.

“You’re lucky,” he says, “sharing in these intimate moments.”

His guest mumbles inarticulately. It’s difficult to speak through a gag.

“Till death, they say. For you, a bit beyond.”

He chortles at the crude joke.

Her eyes swell with tears as Patrick pulls one of her husband’s teeth loose. Soon, she will lie there.

But not soon enough.