Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 27
Challenge #12*: David Bowie Day. Write a story worth at least 100 Bowie Points based on the following scoring system: 1 point for each non-consecutive letter Z, 5 points for each string of song lyrics, 20 points for meeting a specific word count (69, 270, 369, 599, 700), and 10 points for each reference to Bowie’s movies or personas (a labyrinth, goblins, stolen babies, bogs of stench, a magic dance, moving the stars, childhood obsessions, memory loss, one or more men that fall to earth, aliens in disguise, best intentions, unforeseen complications, dying planets, a character with heterochromia, a character that is an avid painter or art collector, glass spiders, lots of drugs, saying goodbye, dramatic departures, black stars, swansong, an alien god with a guitar, five years, a character that is bisexual or LGBTQ, a character that is struggling with mental illness, dead roses, lightning bolts, panic in Detroit). Optionally, the story must also include a character with a distaste for music.
This story is worth 1258 Bowie Points altogether.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” yelled the wizard, as he crashed through the ceiling of Girth Loinhammer’s subterranean labyrinth.
“Hi Grandalf,” said Girth.
“Hi.” Grandalf the Gay stood up and brushed the dust from his robes.
“Tough day?” asked Sekhmet, once she’d finished her mouthful of black pudding bagel.
He squinted up through the hole he’d just made. “I think the eagles are getting tired of me using them like Uber.”
“Maybe you should…not do that?”
“I try not to take advantage, but I’m old, my knees ache, and I can hitch a ride with an eagle without having to climb downstairs.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 13
Challenge #6*: Write a story involving time travel at least two hundred years into the past, featuring something that was previously dead. The story must also include two well defined choices, only one of which may be answered verbally. Optionally, the ending must reveal whether or not the travellers return to their original time.
“My word, Binklestock—we’ve done it! Two-hundred and seventy years to the second.”
“Super,” said Professor Binklestock, without even a hint of enthusiasm. Nobody was ever quite the same after reanimation, but the university was getting short of staff and this was the simplest solution. “Now what? Where do we even begin?”
“We begin with what we know: the first wave landed in this place at this time.”
“I’m dead tired.”
Professor Wurthord squinted at her. She’d never used to crack jokes, and he wasn’t sure she’d started. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 6
Challenge #3*: Write a story involving a cryptid with a fairly common vocation, ideally paid in cryptocurrency. The story must also include romance, and optionally may take place in a world where humans are considered cryptids.
Xuurbla packed her thoomgraver back in its case, making sure to snap the klaafkap back in place over the delicate phneel. She would finalise the gravings on her own time. It had been an easy session—a half-phase’s work for a full-phase’s cryptoquota—and, more than that, one last chance to spend the cycle with Zenbor. The thoomgravings of him would be a significant boost to the channel’s appeal-metrics, and it wasn’t hard to see why: he had the biggest, blankest eyes and largest cranium of anyone she had ever met. Yet he wasn’t self-absorbed, like so many of the other brand-amplifiers she had worked with in the past. He took a genuine interest in her work, but didn’t make demands. She wondered if he would stay in touch. She hoped he would.
The dim-phase was violent with anisotropic pressure that cycle, and the buurtflam stalks swayed in its influence as Xuurbla piloted her vediflorp down the long agricultural transit-route that connected her family enclosure to the central economic activity zone. One patch of buurtflam in particular veritably thrashed about due to the atmospheric disturbance. Except…
Xuurbla stopped the vediflorp, retrieved her thoomgraver from the dorsal carrier and took it from the case. Parting the stalks with stubby, metal-capped fingers, a most peculiar figure stepped forth from the buurtflam. It had two arms and walked on two legs like a person, but the entire surface of its face was taken up by one giant, golden eye. Its skin, ridged and puffy, was a hideous bleach-white. All in all it had the look of something that had crawled forth from the pitch-black deep, or else descended from the pitch-black hollow far above. Slowly, careful to make no sudden movements, Xuurbla raised her thoomgraver and advanced a fresh allotment of phneel. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 5
Challenge #3: Write story including a conveniently interrupted document and an anti-villain. One of these tropes must be lampshaded.
“Mr. President!” Special Planetary UFO Defence agent Brock Stone burst through the doors, waving a slightly singed journal. “Hold the nuclear strike! We’ve recovered Professor Nerdlinger’s research notes on the anti-alien ray!”
“Oh, thank God.” The President took the journal and began to read:
I’ve done it! At long last I’ve done it! In all my years studying the approaching alien fleet, I never imagined that such a force, such a terrible foe, could have such an enormous weakness. And such an obvious weakness! I simply can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. I have run the numbers over and over in my head, and I am convinced the the machine I have devised will cause the aliens’ brains to explode instantly. It promises to be as simple as it is effective. All that remains is to outline the means of constructing this wonderous device, which I shall do post haste within the pages of this very— Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 20
“Sir, about the alien invasion.”
“Yes?” The general turned to the implausibly photogenic scientist. Without some kind of technological breakthrough, there was no way the military would be able to repel the alien fleet.
“I’m afraid our extensive research has proven fruitless.” The scientist began to count on his fingers: “We’ve proven conclusively that the aliens are not especially susceptible to the common cold or other Earth diseases. They are not allergic to water. Country music does not make their heads explode.” He shrugged. “That’s pretty much all we had.”
“I see.” The general clasped his hands behind his back and stared at the big neon map of the world on the wall. “Is there no way we can hold them back?”
“Well…” the scientist flipped through the sheets of paper on his clipboard. “We did initially manage to slow their advance by scattering LEGO bricks on key bridges and junctions, but then they put shoes on. There was some talk of trying the same thing with marbles, and…” he scanned the remaining sheets. “No, we haven’t yet managed to replicate that early success.”
“So what you’re saying is that the alien invasion force could burst through those doors at any moment?”
The general pointed to the doors of the War Room, which burst open at that very moment. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 8
“A heated rock in every home!”
The crowd gave a few uncertain claps.
“Free locusts for every school!”
Confused muttering. An aide took this opportunity to step up and whisper something in the Prime Minister’s ear.
The Prime Minister gave a quick nod in response. “Something something hardworking families!”
Doug squinted at the TV. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something odd about this guy…”
“Seriously?” Eugene put down his copy of UFO Afficionado. “You’ve only just noticed? He’s a reptilian alien in a latex human suit. Everyone knows that.”
“Well,” Eugene shrugged. “Everyone on the internet. The sheeple on the street wouldn’t know a Neptunian impostorbot if it was living in their spare room.”
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed Ian. “What an elegantly constructed hypothetical humour scenario! I will be sure to relate that one to my many biological relatives who definitely exist.”
On screen, the Prime Minister passed his tongue over his eyebrow in preparation for a photo.
“Huh.” Doug squinted some more. “You know, you might be right.”
“Of course I’m right! I’ve been right all along!”
“Hang on…” it was hard to read the Prime Minister’s name on Eugene’s tiny CRT TV, but Doug thought he recognised it. “Isn’t this the guy you said would never get voted in?”
“Okay, yeah. But I’ve still been right most of the way along!”
Nobody said anything for a while. The only sound was a faint mechanical rumble from Eugene’s housemate, Ian.
“Sorry,” said Ian. “I must have eaten a bad food.”
“You know what?” Eugene stood up. “That speech is going on just down the road. I think it’s time people knew the truth.”
“Oh, no.” Doug turned to him. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to march right over there and pull off that alien’s latex human mask right in front of everybody. Then they’ll have to believe me!”
“I don’t think he’s going to just let you do that.”
“He won’t know until it’s too late.” Eugene ran into the bathroom. Doug could hear water running. “The reptilians’ vision is heat-based. You’ve seen Predator, right?” Eugene stepped out of the bathroom. He had wrapped himself head to toe in wet towels. “I’ve got it all thought out.”
“Look out!” shouted the bodyguard. “That crazy towel guy is going for the Prime Minister!”
“Aw, nuts,” said Eugene, as three police officers with Tasers piled towards him. “I didn’t think this through.”
“Yay!” said Ian. “Free electricity!”
Things were going much as Doug had expected they would, which was why he’d specifically kept his distance from Ian and Eugene as they made their way towards the stage. However, with literally all the security staff trying to overcome Ian’s baffling resistance to being tased, he couldn’t help but notice that there was nothing stopping him from peeling the Prime Minister’s mask off himself.
With a battle cry of “I’m gonna be on TV, yo!” Doug jumped up on stage.
“Wait,” said the Prime Minister. “Stop. I’ll let you be Secretary for the Ants and Humidities if you don’t do what you’re thinking about doing.”
But Doug did it anyway. “Look!” he shouted to the crowd below. “This guy is a lizard or something!”
“I told you!” yelled Eugene, on the floor. “I told all of you.”
“Yes!” shouted Ian, still standing. “Let us all look at that thing that was pretending to be human but is really not! It is surely the only thing to have attempted that in this general area and we should not bother investigating further!”
There was a surprising lack of reaction from the crowd.
“We already knew that!” yelled an old woman from the front row.
“Wait.” Eugene got up. “Really?”
“Yeah,” called someone else. “It’s really obvious.”
“He can lick his own eyebrows,” added a third person. “That was kind of a clue.”
“Also the fact that he represents the Lizard Party.”
“Come to think of it,” the old woman spoke up again, “I’m not actually sure it was ever a secret.”
Eugene stared about in disbelief. “Then why on Earth did you vote for him?”
The people in the crowd exchanged glances.
“Well, he’s different. You’ve got to admit that. All the other politicians are like clones of one another.”
Eugene was flabbergasted. “He was grown in a vat!”
“Yeah, but the others don’t even seem like they’re from this planet.”
“The vat was in the Draco constellation!”
“Yeah, yeah. What I mean is that he’s generally in touch with reality.”
The Prime Minister opened his mouth. “I know all and see all!” he hissed.
“Yeah!” agreed someone nearby. “He knows how much a pint of milk costs.”
“And he’s been outside Westminster. You’ve got to admit that.”
“Plus, he’s promised a referendum on Europe and Europa. So that’s something.”
“Is your only objection that he’s a lizard? Because if so that’s kind of racist.”
The crowd stared at Eugene.
“Alright,” he said, “fine. I’ll let you guys get on with it.”
Doug and Ian followed Eugene back to the house. Nobody said anything for a while.
It was Doug who broke the silence. “I’m sure there are other conspiracies you can expose.”
“No,” said Ian, quickly. “I’m sure there aren’t.”
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
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Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 14
“Take that, vile space thing!” shouted Captain Starjet, punching the alien with his bionic fist.
“Sorry,” said the alien as it staggered back, “but do you really have to call me ‘vile space thing?’ I don’t find it all that offensive personally, but it makes it pretty obvious that humanity is the brutish invader in this intergalactic war. Nobody’s supposed to work that out until it’s revealed that my people are actually kind and gentle outside of battle, and that the motivations behind this conflict are largely economic, rather than ideological.”
“Are not!” snorted Captain Starjet. “You’re just a gross tentacle monster that has to be vanquished in spectacular fashion. Frankly, I don’t care what you do outside of battle as long as you look suitably menacing while I pummel you.”
“See!” cried the alien, jabbing a tentacle in the air for emphasis. “That’s exactly why you’re the bad guy. Only that’s going to be a pretty rubbish twist if you give it away so soon.”
“Guys, guys!” called the director, making a time-out “T” with his hands. “Listen, you know I’m happy for you to ad-lib a bit, but this is just stupid. I actually can’t believe I’m having to explain this to you: you can’t openly discuss the plot on camera. If you absolutely must address these issues, you have got to do so with believable dialogue. Joe, maybe hint at a rich, wise culture outside the swarm-like battle-horde, but don’t just come right out and declare yourself the good guy. And Brian, the audience may be there to see Starjet punch some aliens, but that can’t be his only motivation for punching aliens. I mean, it’s not like he just gets up in the morning, flies into space and starts beating people up. He’s a reliable member of the Earth Defence Force fighting for—he thinks—a noble cau…”
“Allan?” Doctor Ling snapped her fingers in front of the patient’s face. “Allan, can you hear me?”
“Huh?” Allan looked around. “What?”
“You were having another flashback. This one sounded quite intense.” Doctor Ling put on her caring voice and leaned back, notepad ready. “Would you like to talk about it?”
Allan paused, still not quite sure that this room was real. “It…it was that film again: Splurg-puncher VI. It meant so much to me at the time, but whenever I think about it now…it was terrible. It was just an awful, awful movie. It wasn’t even tongue-in-cheek. Half the actors realised how much it sucked and just resigned themselves to it, the other half totally overcompensated. And…I can’t even blame them. It was such an awful movie. I can’t for the life of me work out how we reached film number six—not least because there weren’t even any others before it. I think I was going for a Star Wars thing or something…I don’t know.”
“You’ve mentioned Star Wars before, Allan.” Doctor Ling adjusted her glasses. “It keeps coming back: the character of Darth Vader in particular. Do you think this could really be about…your father?”
“I…” Allan looked around the room again. This was a sanctuary. In this room, he had already made so much progress. But there was still so far to go. “I don’t want to go back there,” he said, bluntly.
Doctor Ling placed a hand on his arm. “It’s okay, Allan. You don’t have to. You don’t have to because…” she stood, striking a theatrical pose as the walls spun outwards. “You’re on hit gameshow I Shrink You’re Right!”
The studio lights went up, revealing a cheering audience.
“Allan, get ready to spin the disk of disorders and pick…your…prize!”
Allan watched as the garishly coloured prop was wheeled towards him, lights gleaming as it span.
“Xzargthrax?” Skishzxabb held a small torch in one dainty tentacle, checking each of his comrade’s pupils in turn. “Xzargthrax, can you hear me?”
“Blehburble…” mumbled Xzargthrax. “Wonna…beach holiday anna…VCR.”
“Nurse?” Skishzxabb stood. “Bring a stretcher, and sixty blurgles of Phlarlzamine: this one’s having recursive hallucinations.” He shook his heads at the senseless violence. “Looks like Captain Starjet punched him good.”