Quest for the Sword of Justice

Quest for the Sword of Justice

First things first, it seems worth mentioning that although I haven’t posted here in months, I am very much still actively working on things. The reason for the relative silence is that the things I am working on are big things. Secret things. Things that I hope to reveal in due course with an appropriate amount of maniacal laughter.

What I have for you right now is Quest for the Sword of Justice, a particularly unusual interactive fiction piece in a format I hope to return to for future projects.

This is my entry for IFComp 2020, and as such it’s actually been available since the start of October. Voting remains open until November 29th and you only have to rate a minimum of 5 entries to be a judge!

I’m afraid I didn’t manage to announce this as widely as I would have liked because I had to pack up and move into a new place at very short notice just before the submission deadline. I’ve taken on a truly gargantuan amount of work (which was the reason for the move) and while there’s still some time available to make things, there isn’t a whole lot to promote them. Still, things are good right now and (again) there’s some exciting stuff in the works. So do keep an eye out for that, and if you fancy rating some IFComp entries I (and everybody else involved in the event) would really appreciate it. There have been a record number of games submitted this time around!

Two New Games: Llamageddon and The Ten Million Invocations of Esnesnon

Having just finished writing a story a day for the whole month of July, it would be reasonable to expect I wouldn’t have any new stuff to share for a while. Reasonable, but wrong. Here’s two new games for you!

One is Llamageddon, written for inkJam 2020. It’s my first time writing anything with Ink, so I can’t promise it’ll be as polished as anything I’ve made with Twine, but the whole process seemed to go surprisingly smoothly.

The theme for the jam was “In case of trouble” and sees you take on the role of the President of Space, calling in Agent Andes – one badass llama – to stop a deadly asteroid crashing into Earth. I don’t want to toot my own horn too hard, but I think it’s pretty dope.

The other forms my entry for IntroComp 2020, which was alluded to in Time for Toast. This one is called The Ten Million Invocations of Esnesnon, and does pretty much what it says on the tin: it consists of exactly ten million unique invocations to a fictional god.

The invocations will be recited automatically at a rate of one every 15 seconds, so you quite literally don’t have to do anything to see them all. However, it does take approximately 4.75 years to run through the full ten million, so don’t feel obliged to sit through the whole lot in one go. It will save your progress if you decide to take a break.

You can rate both of these for their respective events, so if that’s something that interests you then please do go ahead. However, if you do, I’d appreciate it if you could also rate at least a couple of other entries: I assume I’ve got more of an audience than some of the other participants and wouldn’t like to simply funnel people towards my own work (although I also assume I don’t really have the clout for it to make a significant difference). You can find inkJam entries in need of some love through this link, and the full selection of IntroComp games through this one.

Also do let me know if you run into any bugs with Llamageddon. I’ve tried my best to make sure everything works, but that’s always tough when you’re using an unfamiliar tool and 72-hour time limits aren’t conducive to it either.

Time for Toast

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 31

Challenge #13: Produce a work of magical realism incorporating an event from the past three days of your own personal life. The story must also include three callbacks to previous stories written this month, and optionally have a word count of exactly 333.

2am. Time for toast.

“It’s me,” says the small purple goblin who lives in my toaster, “the small purple goblin who lives in your toaster.”

“Oh dear,” say I. “Not this again.”

“Yes, this again. It’s the final day of Flash Fiction Month 2020—or rather, it’s two hours after that—and you haven’t yet written a story.”

“I’m doing it literally right now!” I protest.

“Yeah, but there’s a challenge and you haven’t tackled that.”

“Well, I’m talking to a toaster goblin,” I point out. “If that isn’t magical realism, I don’t know what is.”

“Okay, you get that one.”

“And you turned up in a previous story, so that counts as a callback.”

“That was last year! You’ve got to pick something from this time around, like a cannibal cafe, or a cartoon coyote addicted to crystal meth, or a bomb disposal expert who can communicate only through the medium of swearing.”

“I know. I just needed you to list three things.”

“That’s sneaky,” says the purple toaster goblin. “You’re sneaky.”

“Also it was cocaine, not crystal meth.”

There is a brief pause while I think about my life.

“Now all I need is a real-world event from the past three days of my personal life that I can incorporate into this.”

“That’s a tough one,” observes the goblin.

“Yeah.”

“I mean, you’ve done absolutely nothing noteworthy in the past three days. Possibly even longer!”

There is another, longer pause while I once again think about my life.

“Why not stick with the whole ‘forgetting to do stuff’ theme?” suggests the goblin. “You could mention that you also forgot today was the deadline for entries to IntroComp, so all you managed to submit was a procedurally generated selection of exactly ten million invocations to a fictional god.”

“Great!” I say. “Now if only there were some way to bulk this story up to exactly 333 words.”

The goblin and I turn to stare pointedly at the fruit bowl just beside us.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

Forwards Forever

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 30

“Four more minutes.”

“Are you sure?”

“On the first run? Hardly. But we’ve got a ten-year window to land this thing. Provided it performs within five percent of expected parameters, Lab 7 will be ready at the point we re-enter Earth’s frame of reference.”

“And if it isn’t?”

Professor Dodgson chuckled. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve kept the place clear all along, just in case we show up early. They’ll definitely have it cordoned off if it turns out that we’re late.”

Professor Hammond was quiet.

“Once we confirm the magnitude of time dilation the chamber can achieve, we’ll be able to navigate with absolute precision. The return journey will be trivial.”

Still Hammond said nothing.

Dodgson put a hand on his shoulder. “We have—quite literally—all the time in the world.”

The remainder of the four minutes passed in silence. Continue reading

Specialist Language

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 29

It was a bomb. A large bomb. The kind of bomb with several sticks of dynamite taped together, a bunch of wires sticking out, and for some reason a nice obvious LED display to give a clear indication of exactly how much time was left until the whole thing went boom.

The LED display read “2:27,” though it had been quite a bit higher to begin with.

“We have a specialist here to offer guidance,” announced Commissioner Hindsight, from a great distance, through a very large megaphone. “I realise we probably should have called her in sooner, but better late than never, right?”

Colonel Megaton took another glance at the display: “2:16.”

“There’s a limit to how long that’s gonna stay true!” he shouted back.

“I’m passing you over now,” said the Commissioner. “Professor Fanity, if you would?” He handed over the megaphone.

“Right!” said the professor. “The first thing you wanna do is ********** the ****ing blue wire!” Continue reading

Crossing the Line

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 28

Challenge #12: Write a story including a bargain, a liminal space, a sacrifice, or a stranger. It cannot include the following verbs: believed, imagined, knew, loved, hated, noticed, realised, remembered, seemed, thought, understood, wanted, or wondered.

The trespasser topples a cart as he runs, scattering dust and packing material across the floor. She vaults the cart, lands on a sheet of styrofoam, skids into a steel shelving unit. Her right leg buckles. She tries to stand. A jet of hydraulic fluid arcs into the air.

I halt beside her. “Assist?”

“Pursue.”

I run. The trespasser is at a distance of thirty metres. Twenty. Ten. His breath is ragged. The crowbar he carries makes his gait unbalanced.

He reaches the door, swings it closed, jams the crowbar between door and ground. He does not look back.

I give a gentle push. I must not damage the glass.

She runs for the next exit over, right leg dragging. He is nearing exhaustion, his footfalls erratic. She is adapting, her movements becoming more efficient. Continue reading

Well Disguised

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 27

Banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana bandana.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 26

Once upon a time a little child lost in the Highlands stumbled upon a horse grazing by a loch.

“What is wrong?” asked the horse, seeing the tears upon his face.

“I have wandered away from home,” said the small boy, “and I know not where I am.”

“Then climb upon my back,” said the horse, “and I shall take you to a nearby town. I cannot say whether that is where your home is, but somebody there must surely be able to help.”

But no sooner had the child climbed upon the horse’s back, his whole appearance changed. His chin grew long, his skin grew grey, and he grew long tufts of russet hair from his kneecaps.

Compelled by some hideous force, the horse began to walk towards the loch.

“Aha!” cried the goblin—for in truth this was not a child at all. “I am the legendary Gluebottom Greg! Whatever beast I ride upon shall be compelled to drive itself into whatever standing water may lie nearby, there to drown! Entire fields have I emptied of livestock in this way, and entire fields more shall yet be emptied! No force can move me, to tongue persuade me, your doom is assured!”

“I’m a kelpie,” said the horse. Continue reading

The Burning of Cob Weaver

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 25

Challenge #11: Write a story in collaboration with another participant, in accordance with challenges picked by each of you from a list of poisons.

This was a collaboration with GDeyke. The poisons we chose were sarcophagus juice, a clear sippy-cup stuffed with daisy chains and kerosene, and something dark and viscous, contained in a carved bone flask, which resulted in the following challenge elements:

  • Your story must feature a disapproving nun.
  • One of your characters is recovering from something traumatic.
  • At some point your story should feature open flames – anything from a lit match, to a forest fire.
  • Your story must include ANY TWO (2) of the following things: knights in shining armour, the dogs of war, a terrible injustice, a righteous execution, a strange light on the horizon, a dark forest, a witch hunt, a great battle, an uncomfortable feast.

In the dark wood behind the abbey William Bodger had cut into his hand with an axe, and Cob Weaver had done all he could to staunch the bleeding.

“It’ll heal,” he said.

“How long?”

The vision had hold of Cob’s tongue before he could stop it. “Before it heals you’ll cast this town into flames.”

A dark look passed over William’s face. Cob desperately hoped that the woodsman would ignore it, would pass it off as some ill-thought-out joke, but it was not William that he had to concern himself with.

Witch!” shouted Sister Prudence. “Witch!”

“‘Tis but a herbal poultice,” said William, standing. “Nothing out of sorts!”

But Sister Prudence would not be persuaded. “I heard the curse that he brought down upon us!” Continue reading

Neon Genesis Existentialism

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 24

“Do you ever feel like you’re in a cheap Japanese cartoon?”

“No.”

Junpei turned to stare into the sunset…which, now that he considered it, would be a great way of avoiding all the faff of lip-syncing his speech. “Maybe it’s just impostor syndrome. Maybe it’s everything that’s happened lately. I just… I don’t know. I just feel like the moment I get through one challenge, there’s another one right around the corner, and it’s even bigger than the last.

Sakura shrugged. “Well that’s life, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but—”

“Look. Are you going to have a personal crisis, or are you going to help me win this transforming monster arena battle and become the greatest Kaijugan collector of all time?”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.