Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 8
It was a slow afternoon at the Hawk and Pigeon. Maybe it was because it was 3pm on a Tuesday. Maybe it was because Hammers for Orphans was encouraging people to raise money by giving up alcohol for “Ju-dry.” Or maybe—just maybe, Jules considered—it was because his establishment was suspended five hundred feet in the air by a hot air balloon. The bar’s current clientele was comprised of two harpies, a gryphon, and a kangaroo with a jetpack. And then, as always, there was Philip the Fly.
“Another one of these, please,” Philip slurred.
“Another whole pitcher of margarita?” Jules raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Alright, just a pint of Ruddles Best, then.”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“What?” Philip regarded Jules with his huge compound eyes. “I’m just nicely buzzed!”
“Badum-tsh,” said the gryphon, not looking up from her all-day breakfast. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 21
Challenge #10*: David Bowie Day. Write a story that begins as hard fantasy and ends as space opera. It must include five different images taken from Bowie’s song lyrics and the names of two bands in which he appeared. At least one of the characters must be iconic and the word count must correspond to the length of a track from the album Blackstar.
“Ew,” said Girth Loinhammer, putting down his stein. “That is…”
“Yeah,” agreed Sekhmet, hurriedly rubbing at her tongue. “It’s…it’s got an aftertaste.”
“I don’t understand the hype. It’s big and it’s bland.”
“Yo, bartender!” Sekhmet snapped her fingers. “What sort of mead is this?”
“That, my good…” the bartender seemed a little thrown off by the fact that Sekhmet had the head of a lioness “…lady?”
“Was it the miniskirt that gave it away?”
“Yes, well. That is the finest mead that Urmaland has seen since the winter of 409, when levies imposed by the neighbouring Fiefdom of Kirik disrupted trade agreements that had facilitated the import of the king bees necessary to—” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 7
Challenge #4*: Write story that opens with the final sentence of a story written by another author this month, and that features a character undergoing a change as part of the plot. It must also include the names of ten or more cocktails and two things that do not ordinarily go together. The total word count must be exactly 377, 610 or 987.
“Let’s find another place to sit.” The two barbarians stared with surprise at the heaving cocktail lounge of The Walk-in Wardrobe. It was incredibly busy, and it wasn’t even happy hour. Standing room only. There were some little shelf type things where you could rest your drink, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
“If you’d care to book a seat at the bar, I can get you one in two weeks,” said Alsan, expertly pouring grenadine over a spoon to form a perfectly layered tequila sunrise. Despite not having any thumbs, he was really quite dextrous, and despite being a gigantic lion he was really quite charming. He slid the drink smoothly across the bar to the orc who’d ordered it.
The orc took a sip. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “By the three fingers of Crognar the Clumsy, that was worth the wait!”
Alsan gave a little bow, sweeping up a cocktail shaker from beneath the bar in the same motion. He scooped up some ice, sloshed in the appropriate measures of pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum, and began to shake it in spectacular fashion. He shook it high and low, and behind his back, and threw in several flips just to round out the performance. When you ran a bar near a competing establishment, it took a certain amount of flair to keep drawing in customers. When you ran a bar in a wardrobe inside that competing establishment’s cloakroom, that amount was absolutely shit-tons. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 31
Challenge #14: Write a story with a word count divisible by 31, featuring a multi-headed entity. It must include all 31 one-word prompts from this year’s event: Celery, Moon, Forgiveness, Excelsior!, Judgment, Dauntless, Terminus, Amorphous, Barbarian, Flabbergasted, Pulchritudinous, Twinkle, Ennui, Anagnorisis, Ethanol, Skank, Defenestrate, Moist, Summoned, Chiaroscuro, Legend, Elemental, Eldritch, Unfurling, Ending, Cicatrize, Catalyst, Codpiece, Facetious, Carrot, Google.
Girth Loinhammer was not a fan of this new-fangled internet thing. Everywhere he looked, people were gawping at tablets and squinting at phones. Very slyly, he leaned over to check what the barfly next to his left was looking at. “Super Cute Duckling Thinks Carrot is Best Friend,” read the massive headline on the tiny screen. Girth peered over the shoulder of the drunk to his right. It was a YouTube video about cats with boobs.
Girth settled back into his seat at the bar, adjusting the spiked leather straps of his torturer’s uniform. He’d sure like to find out where the internet lived and give it a piece of his mind, whip, and poker. Then again, knowing the internet, it would probably enjoy it. Just like all the other perverts he’d encountered during his not particularly long or distinguished career. There was no place for non-kinky torturers anymore.
He propped his elbows on the bar and lowered his head into his hands. “Another mead, barkeep.”
“The answer to your problems isn’t at the bottom of a mead horn,” said the barbarian barfly to his left.
“Of course not.” Girth angled the vessel over the faceplate of his helmet and tried to tip the drink through into his mouth. A lot of it missed and splashed onto his codpiece, making it look as though he’d wet himself. “The answer’s in all the lovely ethanol floating about in the middle.”
“Cats with boobs!” shouted the drunk, pointing at something just outside Girth’s field of vision. “Cats with boobs!”
A pulchritudinous woman with the head of a lioness marched swiftly over to the bar and roundhouse kicked the drunk in the face, managing to defenestrate him in the process. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 26
Challenge #11: Write a story based on the work of David Bowie, featuring a cross-dressing, transgender or androgynous character. The story must begin with a hook and end with a twist.
The barmaid slid the mug across the bar, watching in fascination as the leather-clad patron tipped his head back, angled the drink over the slotted faceplate of his helmet, and poured. It wasn’t exactly neat, but the chugging noises suggested that it was at least effective, and that was something.
“Hey, honey,” said the regular with the ample bosom and prominent Adam’s apple. “That’s quite a talent you’ve got there. And I like your style. Want to make me scream like a baby?”
“No.” He set the mug down and sighed.
There was a pause. The barmaid dunked a dirty glass into a bucket of water.
“This is really going to bother me if I don’t ask…are you a man or a woman?”
“Honey,” said the regular, “I can be whatever you want me to be.”
“Hmm…” another pause. “Still no.”
“Humph,” said the regular, storming away with a flourish of his or her bipperty-bopperty hat.
The guy with the helmet stared into his empty mug for a moment. “I could do with another.”
The barmaid poured it out.
“You don’t have to take that personal,” she explained as she slid the mug over. “I’m not entirely okay with it going on in here myself, but it’s just business.”
Another sigh. The mug of mead vanished through the faceplate just like the three before it, and the drinker rested his head on the edge of the bar. He looked unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed.
“So…” the barmaid tried to spark up a conversation in some way that wasn’t painfully awkward. It didn’t work. “You seem pretty down. Want to talk about it?”
“No.” His voice was muffled by the wooden countertop.
“Want to talk about something else then?”
“No.” He rolled his head over to one side, so he didn’t just have his face pressed against the wood. The barmaid supposed it was the next best thing to actually sitting up. “I want another mead.”
“Don’t you think you should pace yourself a bit?”
“I’m not drunk.”
“You’ve had four already!”
“Most of it just soaks into my collar.”
The barmaid set down the glass she’d been wiping. “People who aren’t drunk tend to take their helmets off in order to consume more alcohol.”
“You know how when some people are reckless teenagers, they get bad tattoos and then just have to deal with it for the rest of their lives?”
“When I was a reckless teenager, I got a helmet. Now I just have to deal with it.”
“It’s permanent, yeah.”
“Ah.” She poured another mug of mead and carried it over. He sat up to take it. “My name’s Eleanor, by the way.”
He tipped half the drink through his faceplate. “I’m the Dungeon Lord.”
“Aaaaaaah.” Eleanor winked. “I get you. And that does explain the outfit…”
The Dungeon Lord groaned, slumping forward once more.
“That. Everything. I had an actual dungeon, but everyone ended up mistaking it for something…kinky. In the end I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
“Oh.” Eleanor thought for a bit. “Well ‘Dungeon Lord’ is bound to give the wrong idea. Why didn’t you just use your real name?”
“My real name is Girth Loinhammer.”
A barbarian at the other end of the bar burst out laughing.
“Okay,” said Eleanor. “I’ll admit you’ve definitely been dealt some low cards.”
The Dungeon Lord took an angry gulp of mead. “All I wanted was to get unlimited power and money by hurting people. But it always ends up turning into some weird sex thing. I’ve tried everything! I set up one of those snake cults, I bought my own island, I became a general in the legions of Shagamemnon…”
“Yeah. That was a particularly bad one. After that I went for a whole different genre altogether and took up a job as a starman. Figured I’d join a spaceship crew, then just spend all my time waiting in the sky, beating up anyone else who landed on my asteroid and maybe looking for satellites to hold for ransom.”
“Well what went wrong there?”
The Dungeon Lord took a deep breath. “Green, three-boobed alien women wanting to be taught the Earth-concept of love.”
“I see.” Eleanor rinsed and dried another mug. The Dungeon Lord drained his. “Do you not think your real problem might be that you’re determined to use violence to solve everything? Maybe you’d have better luck if you tried to take up a different lifestyle altogether. If nothing else, you’d be less likely to bump into the unsavoury characters you’ve been meeting so far.”
The Dungeon Lord thought about this. He shook his head. “Violence and torture are what I do. It just bothers me that I can’t do what I do without the situation becoming really, really uncomfortable. For me.” It seemed important to clarify that.
“That’s just it!” Eleanor ploughed her fingers through her hair. “I’m not saying that you should race out and do anything you’re uncomfortable with, but it’s worrying that you seem to be more troubled by the prospect of romance than violence. Maybe if you were just a little nicer to other people, you’d stop ending up in that kind of situation and perhaps find a relationship you actually…”
“You know what?” The Dungeon Lord stood. “I came here to forget my problems. I shouldn’t have to listen to a lecture from you. And I shouldn’t have to change who I am just to avoid everything suddenly heading towards sex. And I…don’t…seem to have any money to pay you for the drinks. I’m very sorry. Dungeoning was my only source of income and that ticket to Space really ate into my finances.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” said Eleanor. “I’m sure we can…come to some other arrangement.”
The Dungeon Lord stared at her, eyes welling with tears. Then he ran out of the tavern, blubbering.
“Wait!” shouted Eleanor, after him. “I only meant you could wash some of these mugs!”