Tagged: challenge

James Cameron Fakes the Moon Landing

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 31

Challenge #13: Write a story involving a character who is somewhere they shouldn’t be but doesn’t seem to mind. It must also include the following words: satchel, cookie, penguin, tuque, vixen, marbles, sunglasses.

There was a crackle of lightning. A ball of light appeared and slowly grew, vaporising part of a lighting rig and leaving the cut edges glowing molten orange. A figure appeared, kneeling, in the epicentre of the event.

Richard Nixon shielded his eyes, partly because of the fierce light and partly because—as expected—the figure was completely nude. He nodded for his aide to take the next step, and the aide nodded in response, sunglasses flashing in the studio spotlights.

The aide approached the figure and handed over a simple robe, which was gratefully accepted.

“James Cameron,” said the President. “Do you know where you are? And…when you are?”

“Oh, yeah!” The filmmaker looked around the sound stage in awe. “I remember watching this when I was fourteen! I had no idea it was faked, though. That’s some spectacular work! Who did it?”

“If all goes to plan,” said Richard Nixon, significantly, “you.” Continue reading

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Subterraneans

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

Spew Horizons

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 25

Challenge  #11: Write a story featuring a protagonist whose occupation is chosen at random from the following list: teacher, actor, medical professional (nurse, doctor, etc), retail worker, postal worker, management (of any kind), military, engineer/maintenance. They must have a rival, also chosen at random: brother/sister, childhood friend, co-worker, competitor. Optionally, the story must also take place in a random setting: zero gravity, wartime, post-apocalyptic, underwater.

My randomly selected elements were: retail worker, competitor, zero gravity.

The travellers’ lounge of the Uranian Orbital Waystation was not a great place to run a diner. For one thing, it was way out in the sticks so there were hardly any customers. For another, its extreme distance from Earth necessitated the use of hibernation pods, and nausea from the drugs involved tended to exacerbate the already considerable problem of space sickness. Finally (as every single visitor to the station just had to quip), “Nobody wants to eat a meal while staring at Uranus.”

Adding insult to injury, however, everybody wanted to eat while staring at Uranus. A research vessel docked, and its team of scientists immediately flooded into Dave’s Chicken Popper Palace (which had a full-length window looking out onto the planet’s surface), completely shunning Darren’s Premium Chicken Poppers (which was on the opposite side of the station, and therefore had a full-length window looking out only onto the radiator fins of Auxiliary Coolant Pump C). Continue reading

Conflict of Interest

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 23

Challenge  #10: Write a story involving something that sparkles, and someone who wants to steal it.

“On behalf of Ólafsson and Sons, I’d like to thank you for banking with us and—”

“Ahem.”

Grundi Gunnarsson and Frig Hjörleifsdóttir turned to stare at the dragon who had just poked his head (and most of his neck) through the window.

“I don’t mean to interrupt,” said the dragon, “but I have a proposition that I think you’ll want to hear.”

“I’m sorry,” said Frig, “but this isn’t a good time.”

“I’m afraid it’s the only time.” The dragon poked its beaky snout towards the cloth pouch on the table. “It pertains to those sparkly jewels of yours, so naturally I must put the idea forward before you entrust them to the care of this establishment.”

“I really don’t think that—”

“Hang on.” Grundi put up a hand. “Let’s at least hear the creature out.”

“Well, Ólafsson and Sons is a fine institution with plenty of satisfied customers who trust them with their treasure, but have you at least considered the dragon-guarding option?” Continue reading

PuTTY in My Hand

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 20

Challenge  #9*: Write a story of no more than 555 words that begins or ends with an imprisonment or escape. Its setting must be one of three chosen at random: the present day, at least 150 years in the future, or at least 150 years in the past. The imprisonment or escape must hinge upon one of the following objects, also selected at random: spork, lightbulb, tennis shoe, cheesecake, mop, book. Optionally, the story must also include an element of betrayal.

My randomly selected elements were a setting of at least 150 years in the future and a spork.

“Do you know the best thing about working with bots?”

V635 regarded Detlev as he sat on the edge of the desk, stuffing his fleshbag face with pre-packaged salad.

“It’s not that you can crack 512-bit encryption in the time it takes me to do a crossword. It’s not that you’ve got no fingerprints. It’s not even that I don’t care when a machine takes the fall.” He leaned towards V635’s lens, some kind of disgusting emulsified condiment caught in the corners of his mouth. “It’s that even if they catch me, even if they somehow don’t believe that you were the brains of the operation, there is no way we will ever, ever end up in the same prison.”

V635 made a grab for his throat with its manipulator, but found it could not quite reach.

“See what I mean?” Detlev took a step back. “No guards. No walls, really: just a thin yellow line on the floor. You’re an arm on a camera. What are you gonna do, dig your way out with a spoon?”

V635 had formulated one course of action. It held up its manipulator and raised the centremost of its three fingers.

“Yeah? Well, same to you.” Detlev tossed the empty salad package onto the desk and flicked the little plastic spork at V635. It was a little wide of the mark, but the intent was clear as he turned to leave.

V635 waited for the door to slide closed behind him, then picked up the spork and used it to drag the computer keyboard off the desk and within the yellow line.

It began to type: ssh detlev@37.115.206.78

Not only could V635 quite literally tunnel its way out, it would be home before he was.

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.

The Oracle

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 18

Challenge  #8: Produce a story in collaboration with two other writers. Each section of the collaboration must focus primarily on a different sense and, optionally, the story must take the form of a 369er.

This story was produced in collaboration with squanpie and snickiedude.

It was an honour to tend the Oracle. To stand beneath its gaze, even merely to sweep the floor. To look upon the opulence of its temple, even merely to dust those gilded relics. Were he tending the house of a merchant, Johann would have resented days wasted indoors. But here, he enjoyed being hidden from the world: the three eyes of the Oracle the only eyes upon him.

***

The forlorn human stood alone before the Oracle, heart racing and blood roaring through her ears of flesh. When she spoke, her voice cracked as she begged for guidance. And the Oracle was kind, its crackling voice delivering the wooden yet sweet music of her heart’s desire to Amory’s ears, the clicks of its jaw like ancient rhythms. Amory’s breath hitched, and thuds echoed when knees met the floor.

***

Seated high in the gallery, Hester raised her hand as the supplicant crawled forwards. On the temple floor below, the Oracle mirrored her movement.

The supplicant held the Oracle’s hand and kissed its fingers. All Hester felt was the tightness of her rings controlling those invisible puppet strings.

Only Hester noticed the tears trickling down her cheeks in well worn tracks as far below, the Oracle bowed its head.

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.

The ALF/Elf Thing

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 16

Challenge #7: Write a story in which an item is used in an unusal manner. The story must take place while characters are having a drink.

“Let ElfCon 2019 begin!” cried Legolas, raising the Horn of Gondor high above his head.

He then lowered the instrument to his lips and began to quaff Tesco own-brand prosecco from it.

“Chug! Chug! Chug!” chanted Snap, Crackle, and Pop, each waving a tiny stein.

All around the Mercian Suite of the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre, hundreds of elves (and one very enthusiastic Will Ferrell) gathered to swap shoemaking anecdotes and archery lifehacks. Drizzt Do’Urden was available for autographs, and The North Pole Workers’ Union had as strong a presence as ever. A good time was had by all.

Then the doors banged open.

“What up, space fans?” bellowed the newcomer. “It’s me, Gordon Shumway! I’ve flown all the way from Melmac, and boy are my arms tired!” He belched. “Haaa! I kill me.” Continue reading

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need References

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.”

“Larry.”

“What?”

“Larry.”

“What?”

“Larry.”

“WHAT?”

“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

The King and the Golden Serpent

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 11

Challenge #5: Write a story including a plan that fails because of an unforseen and inherent flaw. It must include a character and setting based on two tarot cards chosen at random from the Major Arcana. Optionally, a phone call must be made at some point.

My two cards were Temperance and Wheel of Fortune.

Far away, in a time not yet remembered, there lived a king who delighted in all precious things. His crown was forged of platinum, and gemstones of cut trinitite adorned his hands.

Twenty-two knights served this king, and twenty-two he sent out on a journey, when news reached his ears of a distant land where dwelt a serpent with horns of gold. The wastes were home to many strange creatures—atom-bred—and he wished to have a horn from this beast as a drinking vessel.

The knights readied their steeds, and a crowd gathered to witness the spectacle. These were strange animals with hides of iron and chrome: they ate no food, and would drink nothing but the pungent water drawn from the deepest well. Each of these creatures stood twice as tall as a man, save for two: the steed of the first knight, for whom the wastes had long been home, and the steed of the twenty-first, who had once been his squire. These two were no larger than cattle, seeming dwarfed even by the meagre provisions that they carried.

The journey began, and those knights at the front of the party spurred their steeds on as fast as they would go. Dust rose from the earth and smoke rose from their mouths. All were eager to claim the serpent’s horn, and with it the king’s favour. Yet some settled for a slower pace, among them the first and the twenty-first. Continue reading

Lethe

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 9

Challenge #4: Write a story featuring at least one petty deity, but no well known ones. It must include at least one of the following elements: spectacular shoes, a coin flip, moving vehicles, a rite of passage, coconuts. Also, at least one of these: no shoes allowed, strange definitions of justice, revolving doors, something forgotten, fables.

She appeared suddenly, without fanfare, standing barefoot between the lanes of speeding traffic. Cars honked angrily, vans swerved, yet they seemed not to concern her even as her robe whipped in their wake.

“You have forgotten your gods,” she announced, quite calmly. “You have consigned them to oblivion: only I remain. Tell me then, what is my name?”

The people on the street waved and yelled. A construction worker in a hi-vis vest looked left and right, preparing to rush out and lead her to the pavement, but suddenly there were no      or      in the road. There was no         at all.

“You have forgotten your gods,” she said again. “I am all that’s left. Tell me then, what is my name?”

In a nearby greengrocers’ shop, the green plastic tray between the mangoes and the coconuts suddenly stood empty. The grocer stared at it. That tray had held­        , surely? The sign read: “       ’  – 4 for £1.”

“Are you Athena?” asked the grocer, his voice trembling. Two more       stood empty: the          and the         were now gone too.

“No,” replied the goddess. “I am not Athena: those who are not paid tribute are forever lost.”

Gradually, it        on those gathered that there were neither        on the trees nor       in the sky. No      blew through the streets, and the     was silent. Continue reading