October!

Fall is coming! (I promise, even if it is hot and sticky right now.) With fall comes Halloween. I’m working on getting ready for October episodes and am looking for Halloween themed stories.

October suggestions

  • Ghosts falling in love
  • Werewolf puppies trick or treating
  • Secret lives of jack-o-lanterns


My piece has a werewolf, a witch, and a vampire. Not that they’d be recognizable as that compared with modern versions, but hopefully a bit of a more old-fashioned tale. But old-fashioned doesn’t mean horror!

I’m a great horror wimp, so, please, nothing that would give me nightmares. I’m still recovering from Dangerous Metal and real life. Though the nightmares of the later may last a while longer still.

The submission guidelines.

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The Perfect Mattress

A flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig. Two subgenres mashed up. Mine? Fairytale and parallel words. Sort of the princess and the pea across the worlds. Sometimes you really, really just want a good night’s rest.

I’ve been working on the studio so I did a quick round of audio for this story to test it out. (Check out the podcast for lots more audio!)

The Perfect Mattress

I woke up from another rotten night’s sleep and peeled apart the layers of reality. None of them looked all that different. They usually didn’t. The ones that changed everything slipped away from me pretty quick. I found one where it seemed like I’d gotten an extra few minutes of sleep and slipped into that reality.

I let the layers slip back into place and stretched. The mattress was fine, it was my fourth in the last year. I’d gotten really good at making sure the mattresses I selected had trial periods and good return policies.

In fact, I was pretty sure today was a day for returns. My phone reminder popped up. Sure enough. I could return this mattress today and go mattress shopping this afternoon. A new place, The King Of Mattresses had opened up, I figured I’d check it out.

One of the other versions of me might use the ability to jump to parallel worlds to win the lottery or grab power or become a celebrity. I just wanted a good night’s rest.

***

The King Of Mattresses went all out on their theme. The cement on the walk up to the door of the store was painted red and textured to look like a carpet. The pillars outside the standard strip mall were painted up to look like round towers.

Inside the store, I glanced around and peered through the options. An old man with a crown walked toward me, a girl and her mom bounced on a bed, an empty store, I picked the reality with the cute guy and a crown.

“I am the Prince of Mattresses, welcome to my castle.” He bowed in an obviously preplanned maneuver to keep the crown on his head. He winked and waved his arm around. “How can I assist you fair lady?”

“Nice speech.” I grinned. At least looking for mattresses here could be fun. “I need a mattress. One with a good return policy and a guaranteed good nights sleep.” Some places got suspicious when I said that, I was much better off just saying it up front. Good stores took it as a challenge. I hoped the prince would take it as a challenge.

“We can find you a mattress, have a guarantee and a return policy. What have you already tried?” He took and took a step toward me. He even smelled sexy. I definitely picked the right reality.

“Everything up to and including hammocks. Not good. Only room for one.”

He waved to a nearby bed. “Start here and tell me what you think.”

I flopped on the bed. It felt like I flopped onto the cement red carpet out front. “Too hard.” He offered me a hand up and I stood. He raised his eyebrows at me and then stepped away and pointed to another. I might as well have flopped through a bag of cotton candy. “No. Ugh. Way too soft.”

After eight flops I was tired. The prince had shown me the priciest model, the high-techiest model, the model absolutely everyone loved.

“I’m usually better at this. Usually, I can get it right in three tries.” He frowned and walked over to one near the back. He sat on the edge of it and I sat next to him.

“Don’t worry. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve never really gotten a good night’s rest.” I shrugged and flopped back. “This one feels like it has a boulder under it.” I shifted uncomfortably.

He seemed frustrated and got up and came over, waving me to stand. He hoisted the mattress up, clearly determined to prove I was a crazy person. I sighed. And then something golden glinted under the bed. I reached past him and grabbed it. “Not a boulder, but I doubt it belongs there.” It was an old-fashioned pocket watch.

He grabbed it from me. “Wait…please, wait here, this…” He nearly ran to the backroom, not even stopping when his crown flew off. I picked up the crown and set it on the bed next to me and flopped back down on it.

It wasn’t nearly so bad without the watch underneath it. It was actually quite nice. I glanced through my options. Most of them seemed about the same. I closed my eyes for just a moment.

***

I woke to a hand shaking my shoulder. An old man with glistening eyes. I sat up confused. Out of habit, I looked through the options of reality. In some, I was still asleep. I considered slipping into one of those. In one the prince was smugly asking me out. I decided to find out what the old man wanted.

“You found the pocket watch.” His voice was shakey. I sat up on the bed and he sat beside me. “It was my grandfather’s and I thought I’d lost it. I had lost it. It means everything to me.” He took my hands in his. I noticed the prince, hands shoved into his pockets and with a sort of sad smile on his face watching us.

“We have had so many people come through here, looking at mattresses, buying them, cleaning them. No one until you. You are truly a princess to have felt the watch, this I will never forget this moment. Anything. You can have anything, any mattress, anything. You’ve done an amazing thing today.” A couple tears fell down his face and he turned the pocket watch over and over. He finally stood and walked away, stopping to pat the younger man on the shoulder.

“My grandfather’s been looking for it since we opened. I swear I looked under every single mattress. That was really a miracle.” The young prince sat down close.

“This one. I think I take this one.” I laid back and he laid next to me. “I still get a guarantee though right?”

have a sleep on the perfect mattress
have a sleep on the perfect mattress

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An Axe

It is Friday and that means another challenge from Chuck Wendig. This time it was a knock on the door. Never one to follow directions I went for a crash into a door. An axe. A couple peregrine falcons. A bear. And a fire.

trees and cliff
Trees on a cliff in the Rockies

An Axe

The impact on the solid pine door reverberated through the house.

Faye was out of bed and running to the front door in a heartbeat. She flung open the door and stared down at her half boy, half falcon son. His wings twitched and stretched out as they tried to shift to arms.

He croaked out the worst word. “Fire.”

She shifted in a moment. She couldn’t stay. He would be ok. He had to be.

“The gulch.”

Her husband came out of the bedroom.

She dove off the edge of the porch and spread her wings. He would stay, he would raise the alarm, he would take care of Jacob.

Faye angled toward an updraft. The gulch. There were always fires in the mountains, but fire could go from small and local to drawing unwanted attention quickly.

She spotted the orange lick of flame and pulled her wings in. Faye aimed for the fire and let her instincts take over. Her speed increased.

Your Future…bumbumbum…

Over at Terribleminds Chuck Wendig issued a challenge. Write a flash fiction with words from his small child. Challenge accepted. I wrote about your future. (Or his, if his child turns out to be a super sarcastic partly alien living in a colony growing up in the J cohort. Seems unlikely, but not impossible.)

I even made a quiz. (should be at the bottom of the page too) You can find out your own future. Now excuse me while I go say some not sarcastic things to work this out of my system so I can do other writing.

Your Future

I looked around the room and peaked at tests. I looked down at my own. 500 questions. I was never going to finish. I only had my name on it.

“Please remember, this is not a test of your knowledge. There is no right or wrong answers.” I rolled my eyes at the teacher. She smiled at all six of us.

No right or wrong but it would determine the rest of our lives.

“Well some answers will be wrong.” Julie, who knew everything, mumbled just loud enough for everyone to hear. Jason chuckled. I rolled my eyes and my shoulders.

“Every job is important. Every position matters. Without each person and their specific talents the colony would not thrive as it does. Soon you will all be important, powerful members of the colony. This will help identify what your skills are.”

Someone made a sucking sound. Probably Jacob. I scoffed and sighed. At least when this was all over I’d be done with the Js and we’d all be off into the rest of the colony. It was so annoying to deal with these immature idiots all the time.

I sighed and looked down at the questions.

What is the most important thing in your life?
◦    The colony
◦    My cohort
◦    Discovering new worlds
Finishing this test. Not being annoyed by the Js to death. Being done with this damn test. Pff. I marked Discovering new worlds.

During free time you…
◦    Study the colony details, history, and optimizing my capacity for learning
◦    Spend time with friends and develop relationships
◦    Tending the animals
◦    Volunteering
They had to be kidding. Ugh. Fine.  I selected volunteering. At least my actual record would show I didn’t do that.

In the morning you notice your________first when you look in the mirror.
◦    My eyes
◦    My smile
◦    My fangs
◦    My aural stalks
Come on. Were they all going to be like this? Nothing even about what I was actually good at. I skimmed through the test looking for anything even the slightest bit relevant.

Which trait is the most important?
◦    Compassion
◦    Honesty
◦    Diligence
◦    Determination
Diligence would be something like janitorial duty. Compassion would make me deal with the dumbest of the colony, oh wait. I looked around the room…I already did that. I marked Determination. I was determined to be done with this test.

What is your favorite animal?
◦    Worms
◦    Goats
◦    Hawks
◦    Spiders
Oh, I really didn’t want to end up in the barns. I wrinkled my nose. Hawks, I guess. I looked around. Jill was reading each question carefully and stopped to actually ponder the answers. They’d just shove us into whatever jobs they had open. It wasn’t like they’d let the medic job sit empty because no one was naturally inclined to do it. Why were they making us waste hours on this damn test?

Under pressure you are:
◦    Nervous
◦    A natural leader
◦    A follower
◦    At my best
Oh good. We aren’t biasing our answers at all here. Nooope. Not even a little. Where’s the question about preparing these exams?

When evaluating others it is important to be:
◦    Consistent
◦    Pragmatic
◦    Direct
◦    Supportive
All over the place, random, obtuse, and dismissive wasn’t listed. Which of course just meant that I was absolutely right about shoving us into whatever job they needed filled.

B. I was going to go with B for everything. Nah. Every fifth answer I’d switch it up a little. I started checking boxes. B, B, B, B, A – oh fun!

Jacob was just drawing boobs on his. Maybe they’d make him the medic.

All my questions were answered. Well none of my questions were answered, but that wasn’t going to change any time soon. I filed up to the front and passed the test over to the teacher. I was the third person done. Jacob of course had been first. Boobs were apparently the way to finish fast. I snickered to myself.

Jill had finished before me too. I couldn’t quite figure it out. She was smart, sure. But she’d been thinking about the answers. Maybe I dozed off and took a nap and didn’t notice.

The teacher took the sealed print out from the machine and handed it to me. Putting her fingers to her lips and baring her fangs at me, she pointed out the door.

I headed out. My last day of class.

Jacob was slumped on the floor in the hall. “I’m a janitor. A goddamn janitor.”

“Hey now, you will be the second in charge. You jumped right to the front of the line. And all jobs are very important. And you’ll get to go outside the habitat. You like getting out of here right.” Jill was crouched in front of him with her hand on his knee.

“What’d you get?” Jill sat down next to Jacob and I came over to sit next to her.

I ripped open my envelope and held my breath. “I am queen of the goats.” Lead Goatherd

There was silence for a long moment and then both Jill and Jacob burst into laughter.

Goat - your future - good for you!
A goat – from Armin Kübelbeck @ Wikipedia

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The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

Chuck Wendig had a challenge and while his challenge wasn’t, stop editing and write something new, mine was. The challenge was pick from a list of titles (The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis) and then go forth and write 1,000 words.

I’ve been editing and working on writing related stuff so much I haven’t done anything just straight up out of whole cloth lately. So I took this challenge with gusto!

I’m posting here before I get all out of gusto and start feeling crummy about my work. Listen to the audio. (And for more audio tune into the podcast!)

Wave painting
Waves

The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

I don’t remember when I started, mom said I always loved to go out when we were absolutely not supposed to be outside. I’d sneak past everyone and head down to the water.

My older sisters were supposed to watch me and they’d get in trouble because I’d still sneak out. I didn’t care. I still don’t. I want to be in the water. I know when the water is angry, I can feel it coming.

I never get hurt, and I bring home cool stuff I find in the water. Once, I found a really shiny ring, it was hanging from a tree branch. Mom and dad sold it, they don’t complain about me going out anymore.

The best thing I found, was a surfboard. I didn’t take that home. Mom and dad would sell it. I’d seen people surfing, but they always got out of the water when it was getting angry. They were scared.

I wasn’t scared.

The surfboard was twice as tall as me and it was hard to get it out my hiding spot.

I giggled as I walked down toward the shore with the surfboard on my head, it was too big to carry under my arms. Mom said I shouldn’t laugh when the water got angry. But it was funny just like when grandfather got mad and his face got puffy and red.

I knew the water was bad for some people and for the fields. But mom got to be mad, and dad, and even my brothers and sisters could be angry sometimes. Because I was the littlest everyone just laughed when I got mad.

Most of the people were gone by the time I got all the way to the water. I tried to remember what I’d seen people do on the surfing movies. I laid down on the board in the water and slapped at the water. My arms barely stretched across the board and I couldn’t get them to go very well.

So I got off and pushed it in front of me and swam out as far as I could, kicking my legs behind me.

When I was out far enough that I couldn’t see my house up the hill anymore I pulled myself onto the board. I tried to stand up and fell. I had to try four more times before I managed to stand up and stay up. I looked around. There was no one else on the water. There was no one I could see on the shore.

The water was very angry. I giggled.

I wasn’t sure how to get further out into the water without laying down again, I managed to stand on the middle of the surfboard and kick one foot in the water but I didn’t go anywhere. I decided I’d just stand and wait for the big wave to come to me.

It would be here soon. I did a tiny little shuffle on the board and fell in again. By the time I managed to climb back up on the board and turned to face out, I could see the wave coming toward me.

I could hear the water, it was screaming mad. I screamed with it. It was good to scream sometimes when you were mad. Mom said I had to behave and be a good little girl, but it felt so good to scream. And no one was here to yell at me. I knew the water wouldn’t mind. So I screamed with the water.

It was so much louder than I was, I couldn’t even hear myself. The water under me started to bob up and down.

My feet slipped again and I dropped to my knees. The water was much higher. I thought it would be better maybe to lay down on the board. I slipped as the water moved faster around me and knocked my chin on the board, but I managed to wrap my hands around the sides and my toes hooked under the end just as the first wave pushed me way up into the air.

I screamed and squealed. I felt like the wave was as tall as my house.

The wave kept going but I stayed where I was, I couldn’t see my house or the shore at all. Then another bigger wave lifted me up. I squealed with excitement, I was definitely as tall as my house now.

I stayed on top of this wave. I held onto the board but pushed myself up a little bit more so I was kneeling on top of the giant wave. Shore was racing toward us. The water felt so angry I screamed for it.

The wave got smaller, maybe the water was angry that it got so tiny when it was on land.

I watched the wave eat some of the trees and the little hut that sold candy for kids and drinks for grown ups along the shore. I wondered how far it would climb. I looked behind me and there were no bigger waves.

The water wasn’t so angry any more. It was almost all screamed out. I was too. I wasn’t sure how to get off the wave. I tried to think about the surfing movies.

The water smashed me into a tree. And then it went away. I clung to the top of the tree, and tried to hold onto my board. I had to let the board fall, the water took it away.

I watched the next waves come in, less and less water, less and less angry. All yelled out. Then the water started to leave, go back home.

I climbed down the tree and looked around for the surfboard before everyone else came back out of their houses. It was gone. But I did find a new pair of shoes and a surfboard that was barely taller than me.

Entirely off topic

Searching for a picture to go with this that would be usable with the right license I managed to come up with lots of dudes surfing (even though I specifically searched for girl) and strangest of all…a how to avoid teen pregnancy ad. Not even like water, surfing, or anything related. Just some dude standing there with how to avoid teen pregnancy.

Um. Ok.

Soup

Another Friday, another challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. Last week people posted the first sentence for something, only the first sentence. He got over 500 comments, eep!, and selected 10. I picked one of those and this is my take on that sentence.

Soup

“Of all the things I expected to find in my tomato soup, this wasn’t one of them.” (Stella Wood)

I grinned and slurped down the chunk of real, fresh tomato. I pushed my spoon through the soup and saw a sliver of green, I dug hungrily for it. Inhaling deeply I could almost smell the real black dirt that must have been used to grow the basil.

The shredded cheese on the top was standard for the cans of soup everyone used, but the rest, was magic. I wasn’t even sure what else was in it but I knew I wanted more. I ate the rest of it with abandon, slurping, licking the bowl clean.

The waitress finally came back over to my table as I leaned back and tore the bread. I hadn’t even dunked it in the soup. It was great too, but great bread was easy to find. Actual tomato chunks? Not so easy.

“That was amazing, how do you even get fresh tomatoes?” I stared up at her in awe.

“We grow them in the hot house. We’ve got lots of herbs and in the fall, fresh squash.” Her warm smile sharpened and she shifted uncomfortably. “It’s perfectly legal and most of our customers like it, you don’t have to eat here. Some people just prefer the whole thing.”

I waved my hand to stop her. “I think it is delicious.” She was worried I was going to lecture her. “The last time I had a real tomato, it was a caprese salad at a very fancy place. They advertised as shipping in all their produce whole grown. It wasn’t anything like this. The waitstaff lectured us about how they did only the bare minimum to enhance the flavor.” She snorted.

“No, you have to salt the tomatoes or they just taste like tangy water.” I laughed and she glanced around the empty cafe. She pulled up the seat across from me. “We use the prettiest ones in the BLTs. You should try one, they are my favorite this time of year. The lettuce is still crisp and the first tomatoes are ripening. They explode with flavor.”

“How can you do it? I know people can grow stuff for themselves, but…” I trailed off not quite sure. Was I asking too much? Prying? Exposing something illegal? I knew the really high end places had to have lots of certifications and the food would be flown in from specialized growers. I couldn’t imagine this tiny little alley way cafe could do that and serve three dollar soup.

“If you don’t buy the vegetables you are ok. We have a garden upstairs in our sun plot. There is always a chance, I suppose, that someone is going to push back against that. Although people who think that spending the time and energy on a potential crop failure should be banned aren’t the kinds of people who usually come in here anyway. They prefer to know exactly what they are going to get every time.” I felt my face turning red as she spoke.

I was one of those people. I went to the same places for all my meals, they were always the same, it was always good. I fumbled for something to say but she reached out and put her hand on my arm.

“We know all of the benefits of that. We understand, there is nothing wrong with it.” She smiled and patted my arm. “We just can’t afford those things. And I personally like making the soups.”

I frowned. “How can you spend all that energy on something that might fail?” I carefully guarded my energy, usually. Today had ended up being a disaster and I had to find new work, I didn’t really have the energy to be here spending time and thought on soup.

“I love it. Sure some days are failures, but those days end. I go to bed and get back up and try again the next day.” She leaned back in her chair and looked at me. “Not everyone thinks a bad day is the end of the world. Not every job fires someone for one bad day.”

I tore another chunk of bread and chewed it, giving myself time to think. Maybe you could be a waitress and have a bad day, though the places I frequented had an immaculate service standard, they wouldn’t sit down with a customer. They wouldn’t have a slow afternoon. I didn’t understand how this place hadn’t gone out of business. “Do your parents own this place?” If they were a wealthy family, maybe that would explain it. Children of owners were the only people who failed with impunity.

“No.” She grinned. The door chimed and someone came in. She raised a hand and waved. “Go ahead and sit anywhere, I’ll be right with you.” She gave me a sad sigh. “They say we are a creative world, but they punish actual creativity. I’ll bet you were released from your current contract today. If you need something we are looking for someone to wait tables in the morning.” She scribbled a number on the paper and walked over to greet the other patron.

I wanted to complain that I was better than that. I was an artist. I was part of the creative class. I was in charge of my own career, I could leave any job when I wanted, find something better.

I looked down at the soup bowl again. I paid the tab and left a good tip. I thought about the soup, the moment when that chunk of real tomato surprised me, discovering the basil. I always heard that art involved discovery. I wanted that feeling again. That rush of something new and unexpected.

I shoved the slip of paper in my pocket.

False Gods

False Gods is my answer to a new challenge from the terrible minds of Chuck Wendig. The challenge was roll a random number generator and get two sub genres and mash them up into something shiny and new.

I got technothriller and mythology. I’m not entirely sure I hit either of those genres exactly…But hopefully it’s still enjoyable.

False Gods

We will remove all false gods from the world.
One by one.

I surveyed the murder scene. The woman was in her late fifties, an antique aegis and what I had to assume were owl feathers covered her body.

Someone shoved the latest manifesto into my hands, I couldn’t even get a polite thanks out. I had read the previous five over and over. I skimmed the first few lines, I’d already read them thanks to the killer’s twitter feed.

She was supposed to be Athena. She had been in the army, risen through the ranks, gone into diplomacy. She was brilliant. She was a warrior. She was this serial killer’s sixth victim.

I flipped through the hundreds of pages of supposed evidence. The digital team would be downloading it and adding it to their database now. We were working under the premise that the killer was running some kind of software to determine his next victim. He tweeted as if he were many but our profile came down to one man, working by himself, with the help of some very sophisticated software.

I stopped at the two-thirds point and started skimming. This would be where he would outline the evils and where we had caught glimpses, too late, into who the next victim would be.

The same bullshit talk about how all the creatures of mythology walked among us, and they all needed to be killed. I shuddered and closed the manifesto. It would go in my stack of reading.

***

Jennifer and Nasim sat across from me with serious looks. Nasim turned his laptop around to face me slowly.

“Just, tell me what it is, while you are wasting time, he is out there getting ready to murder someone else.” I shouted at them.

We all flinched when our phones chimed at the same time. It wasn’t him. Someone sighed with relief.

“Right now, the data we’ve gathered, it seems to show that there is a possibility…” Nasim was shifting his screen as he talked.

“It’s going to be a cop.” Jennifer jumped in before I could tell them to get to the point.

“Or a sky marshall, or a judge…it might not be a cop.” Nasim hedged again.

“I think it is going to be you.” Jennifer looked me in the eyes.

I sucked in a deep breath. “Which god is he targeting?”

“Kratos.” Nasim said confidently. I ran through the gods I knew of, I’d spent the last months researching mythology. I had never heard of Kratos. “He’s the son of Pallas and Styx and is authority. He is the state enforcer. But they all have wings so it might be a sky marshall.”

“It’s not a sky marshall.” Jennifer grabbed the laptop and scrolled through, highlighting the text. I didn’t see it.

I wasn’t a god, but I was the target of a serial killer.

***

I put my head in my hands and bumped the stack of books at my elbow. My phone went off. I grabbed for it.

A tweet to the department, he had a new account. He was on the move. Each time he created a new account. We would get it shut down within minutes. In those minutes he would send out a storm of information, manifestos, and photographs.

I skimmed through the messages. It was a review of the previous murder. It had been three months between the first two murders, then a month to the third, the fourth was three weeks later, the fifth was another three weeks, the sixth was another three weeks. We hoped that was how long his manifesto took to complete. Each one was nearly 500,000 words of accusations and demands.

I should still have two weeks. I rested my head again. I just needed a short break.

***

A sharp noise woke me. I knocked over a pile of books and turned around in the chair. My phone. I grabbed it. A message from Nasim. “We have timeline concerns. You should come down to the station.”

If Nasim was worried things had to be bad. I touched each of the manifestos and case files. Looking at each of the victims, wondering – for just a moment – if I’d be the next stack of paper.

I’d just take a quick shower and head in. I responded to Nasim and stood, restacking the books next to me.

“Oh just turn around already!”

I spun toward the unknown, cheerful voice. My gun. It was on the desk behind me.

The murder stood in front of me. Dressed in an absurd Loki costume. My mind raced.

“You can’t be Loki. You murdered him. His name was Jackson.” The murder’s face kept the disgusting grin as I talked. My gun was on top of Jackson’s file behind me. “Jackson was a homeless man, he had two brothers, he had schizophrenia, he made sure all the stray dogs were fed before he was. Did you know one of his brothers calls me every day to see if he can help? Let me show you a photo.”

I turned and grabbed the gun and the papers and hid the gun under the thousands of sheets of paper.

“You have found me out! I am not Loki. But you are Kratos. And you are a false god. You will be dispatched with the rest of them. I wasn’t sure if you were truly Kratos. Now I know.”

I edged a step closer to him. “Look at this photo.” The photo showed three teenage boys, cleaned up in suits, with giant grins.

The murderer raised up what I had thought was a staff, it was a sword. He was laughing. I heard sirens outside.

“Drop the sword.” I dropped the paper and gripped my gun. I shouted the command again.

He shrieked with laughter and raised the sword up. I fired and he fell. I stood over him with the gun pointed at him until reinforcements arrived.

 

I don’t Facebook-my characters do: Facebook Invasion

Over at Terrible Minds Chuck Wendig threw down a confusing but interesting flash fiction challenge.

Tell a story using a social media platform (FB/Twitter/etc). Yeah, ok Chuck, I’ll grant you, it’s hard to explain! Basically an epistolary using your social media of choice. An interesting challenge. Not one I’m sure I’ll be quick to repeat, but difficult things are good challenges. Though I do love reading messages and tweets from superheroes, I’m not sure that is the kind of writer I am. I am not nearly cool enough for that.

I opted for Facebook, despite my lack of booking of face.

There is no audio with this because I don’t even know how I’d do that. There is however for your viewing pleasure, screen caps of this Facebook Invasion.

Facebook Invasion

I’m not entirely sure the best way to make this accessible in case you want it in a not screen cap format. But I’ve created a PDF of the script for Facebook Invasion. (If this doesn’t work for you please let me know!)

Stay tuned, later this week I’ll be updating you on where I’m at with the upcoming podcast, options for participating, and other cool things. I hope.

The number one thing I’ve learned from this flash fiction piece is I cannot spell “invasion” I keep typing “invation”.

Alone – Again

A couple of updates and then onto another flash fiction piece (or jump ahead for Alone – Again).

Update: Publishing

Thieves has been updated and remastered and is out now on Amazon for $.99. It will also, hopefully, be out soon on Audible as an audiobook. (Check back for updates on that.) I will also have another audiobook (I’m reading someone else’s book) coming out soon on Audible. I’ll announce that when everything is finalized and it is available.

Update: Podcasting

I will be kicking off my own podcast in March. It will be a primarily flash fiction podcast. So episodes will be normally 10 minutes or less of audio fiction. I may also create opportunities to feature flash fiction from other authors, so please get in touch with me if you are interested.

Update: Dead stuff…wait…

I think I found – yet another!- dead podcast, but it had a flash fiction challenge I decided to take on anyway, despite being…months late. Whoops.

Episode 6 – Keeping it Real – Writing in the moment

Alone – Again

Alone – Again audio

The glass shatters on the closing door. I kick the couch and growl at the pain.
“Alone.” I huff and storm across the apartment. The apartment was designed for two, now it would be just me, alone. “Again.”

I brush my hands across my face, red and hot with anger. I growl at the empty space. I snarl at the hole left behind. I won’t get irrational and overly emotional. I’m perfectly rational about this.

She’s the one who is being irrational. I have been nothing but rational, reasonable, and kind.

I grab the plates off the table and toss them into the kitchen recycler. I flick the switch and it starts separating things. The recycler will pull the organic detritus from the strong, sturdy, remoldable plastic.

I storm over to shelves and throw them open. I snap at her clothes “I was great, she said. I was everything she wanted. She loved me.” I grab an armful of her clothes and throw them into the laundry chute. “LIES!” The chute flashes Recycle or Clean. I smack Recycle.

I stop in the middle of the living room and look around for evidence of her. A painting she made. Worthless. Her absurdly, expensive collection of old fashioned silverware. Sell it. She said she never wanted to see me again, so she wouldn’t.

I unclench my jaw and massage my neck. “I don’t deserve this. I deserve someone who cares about me.”

I sink into the chair and lean back into the computer. I look through my files, cleaning her out of them.

I’m going to make her go away. I open my editor and start pulling out memories. I start with the oldest ones, the best ones. I have a note in my editor to never start with the newest memories. I don’t know why it is there, but I trust me. I feel my anger, my frustration rise as the memories slip away. Until, I sweep the last of them out and my body relaxes.

I look at my system, my brain editor is open, I frown for a moment. I must have been stressed out about something but that’s gone now. I think maybe I’ll turn in early tonight. I hear a chime from the door.

A beautiful blonde in an incredibly sexy red dress shoves past me. Her face is smeared with makeup and tears. She grabs down a painting I don’t remember buying, and weird collection of shadowboxes with something shiny inside. I watch her with confusion.

“You already deleted me didn’t you?” She wipes at the makeup, smearing it more. “You’re never going to be happy if you don’t start learning and stop deleting. But it doesn’t matter. You’re going to delete this right now aren’t you?” She snorts and leaves.

I go back to the computer to pull up whatever I’d just deleted. I look at the editor and instead delete my recent memory with a swipe.

Ring of Bullets

Another flash fiction challenge from someone else’s title thanks to Chuck Wendig. I selected Ring of Bullets and I went weirdly literal? I feel like there are a lot of places to go weirdly literal with Ring of Bullets. Last time I selected a title no one else had picked and then as the stories started to filter in it was one of the more popular ones. So I’m just going with the one that grabbed me when I read through the list.

I’m still working toward the short and flash fiction podcast. I will be likely opening it up to doing reading of other author’s work occasionally so if you are interested please let me know.

Ring of Bullets

Ring of Bullets – Audio version

It has been 16 years. 16 years of peace, prosperity, life saving breakthroughs, empathy, and all the good things humanity ever strove toward. The first few years no one believed it, no one knew this would be real, no one thought it would last.

A few people today, still say it won’t stick. They stand on the street corners, yelling and shouting, while people walk past in a blissful haze. I sometimes stop and watch. Every couple hours a Representative comes out and brings them water, or a snack, and offers them help. I’ve never seen someone take the help.

Well, not in the last ten years. At the start, of course, everyone was getting help. Everyone was helping. Then people got used to it. The world is perfect, but it isn’t special anymore. Just another perfect Tuesday.

I remember what it used to be. It really is better now. I remember the ache of hunger, the deep despair of loss, the dull emptiness of disasters—the worse feeling when it was people who made the disaster.

The last few years have been the strangest. I feel like I don’t belong in this world anymore. It is still perfect. It is still amazing. Every single day.

I was excited 16 years ago. I was thrilled to finally be able to follow my passion of making art. I had help setting up a jewelry studio. I started to find my niche when people brought me old things. They wanted them turned into bracelets, necklaces, shimmering reminders of the past. Of how far we’ve come.

This job was bullets. An old man—he would have been an old man when the peace began—came in with a handful of bullets. He wanted something that he could give his great-granddaughter on her wedding day.

The bullets were lighter than I expected. He’d taken them apart before he brought them to me. He wasn’t sure what he wanted exactly. He said I was the artist, I should use them to make art. I’d smiled at him.

I would make him something that honored what it had taken to get here. The sacrifices had been great.

I ran the bullets through my scanner and my cleaner. They were, just as he’d said, safe, already taken apart.

I sat at my bench and pulled out a paper sketch pad. I had a computer I could sketch on too, of course, I used it for people who wanted something specific. I could render it in minutes while they watched. When I had time, I preferred the paper, the sound of the scratch of the pencil.

I sketched a dozen designs and threw them out. Nothing was working right. I decided just to work with the metals. I dumped the bullets out onto the table, dozens of them.

I picked up one with the outer part peeling off. I was able to peel away the copper easily with my fingers. At some point the lights in my workshop came on automatically. I had tiny cuts on my fingers and a pile of separated metals.

I scooped up the heavy discs, dotted with my blood and dropped them into my bin to recycle. I knew that I would make a bracelet, a thin, delicate, copper bracelet. It would gleam and shine with potential.

Working the bracelet took a few days, but every time I passed the recycle bin I ached just a bit at the dull, flat discs.

I ran my fingers through them, the discards of the past and finally dug them all out. I separated them and pulled out the lead and tin, heated and waiting for me.

I carved a ring, smooth with only a single ridge running through the middle. I poured dozens of mixtures into the mold. One came out, a dull tin alloy mix. It felt like it might have been a year old or a thousand.

He came in and I showed him the bracelet. He was delighted and was sure it would be perfect for a wedding gift.

I placed the bracelet in a box and hesitated for a moment before taking out the ring. If I was the artist and I was creating art, this was the art I had created. I unfolded the cloth around the ring.

He stared at it for a long time in silence. “You know sometimes I think I don’t belong in this world anymore. The world is beautiful, sparkling, gleaming.” The ring didn’t sparkle or gleam, I did think it was still beautiful.

He hesitated before finally reached out and picking it up. “This reminds me of…” He stopped and slid it on his finger. “Of a time long since passed.”