Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 9
In brighter times, the Ebon Tower had been a beacon of hope and justice, its garrisons watching over the Merchants’ Way from Grimble’s Vale in the East to Far Baragar in the West. But since the demon Kharael had come to claim it, that tower was a blight upon the land. Travellers would cling to the shadows of the Northern Peaks simply to avoid its gaze, though those roads teemed with wolves and bandits, and many lost their way.
Few could stand against a demon, but the Arch-mage Tharandel was one of those few, and so he felt it his duty to make the attempt. He pushed open the doors of the great hall at the tower’s tallest height, and what he saw there was nothing short of madness.
The demon Kharael had rearranged the very matter of the room. Screaming faces writhed across the walls, their words transmuted into silent flame. The pillars rising seemed to twist and bend, tormented serpents racked by pain that could afflict even stone. And in the centre of it all sat Kharael himself, upon a throne of skulls. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 4
Challenge #2: Write a story in 300 words or fewer that involves a little-known historical figure and begins in media res.
“Alright, Zhang Xun!” Linghu Chao stamped with his right foot, inadvertently splattering his left with battlefield muck. “It’s been a …fun…four months, but this really has to stop! You’ve got no food, no arrows, and no lumber. My army outnumbers yours twenty to one. Why don’t you come out here and we can talk about this?”
“Why don’t you come in here and we can talk about it?” jeered Zhang Xun, from the top of the ramparts.
Linghu Chao spluttered momentarily. “Do you remember that time a couple of months ago when I sent in, like, six of my best guys to do just that?”
“And you were all like: ‘Oh! I’m convinced! These six guys have put together a really coherent and well reasoned argument! I’ll surrender now! Okay!’”
“And then you beheaded those six guys?”
Linghu Chao spluttered again. “It’s…you see… You’re really screwing me over here, man!”
The soldiers of the Yan Dynasty were looking less and less loyal after four months of Zhang Xun’s nonsense. This particular diplomatic exchange was not helping matters.
“Surrender now, or we’ll just bust right in there! Our fortifications are looking great, but your fortress might just fall down on its own!”
“Okay,” called Zhang Xun. “How about you back off, say, thirty miles so all my guys can retreat.”
“What?” blurted Linghu Chao. “I’m not about to go thirty…” there were mutinous groans from the troops. “Alright, fine!”
Linghu Chao and 40,000 very tired Yan soldiers began to make their way back the way they’d come four months ago.
“They’re not retreating,” said Linghu Chao’s advisor as they crested the first hill. “In fact…” he squinted through his telescope. “Yeah. They’re stealing our tents.”
Linghu Chao put his head in his hands. “I don’t even care anymore.”
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
If you’ve been following for a while, you may have already seen my first and second articles on the Early Access version of Epistory, an open-world typing game by Fishing Cactus. Well, now that the game is out, and now that my computer is capable of reliably recording gameplay, I thought I’d try a video review.
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.”