Tagged: challenge

The Dunwich Helper(s)

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 19

Challenge #9: Write a story in collaboration with at least one other author. It must feature a ragtag bunch of misfits, a humanoid abomination, as well as MacGuyvering and a character being punished for doing a good deed. Of these tropes, one must be played straight, one inverted, one subverted and one exaggerated.

This story was written in collaboration with GDeyke and Aida Reluzco.

“Hi. My name’s Steve, and I have the face of an eldritch abomination.”

A mumbled “Hi, Steve” made its way around the room in acknowledgement. Steve, indeed, had the face of an eldritch abomination. Tentacle-beard and all.

“I wasn’t always this way,” Steve explained. “I mean—obviously. Can you imagine what my mother would have said if I’d come out like this?”

The room tittered nervously.

“I’ve always had skin problems,” Steve continued, “but, like, conventional skin problems. Not go-mad-from-the-revelation skin problems. I try to stay fairly upbeat, but…” Steve trailed off dejectedly, staring into the expectant, if uncomfortable, faces before him.

“Anyway, there was a sketchy clinical trial in Fresno and here we are.” He scratched a tentacle. Continue reading

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When Grandmother Calls

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 17

Challenge #8: Write a magical realist story featuring a mentor character in which there is no direct dialogue.

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are at the door.

Metaphorically and literally.

I’m not sure which concerns me more.

At first I thought that it was stress. You worry about a thing—about next week’s work rota, about making ends meet—and you start to see it as an animal skulking about behind the railings across the road.

Then you realise that there really is an animal, and you think that it’s a fox.

Then you hear the howling, find the claw marks in the wood.

***

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are in the stairwell.

Nobody else seems to notice as they step over them or squeeze by. Perhaps they think they’re just somebody’s dogs. Perhaps it’s simply easier than acknowledging that they’re there.

While the sun’s up they just sit there, lounging on the stairs.

I don’t look at them after dark.

***

When Grandmother calls, she says that everything will turn out alright in the end. I haven’t told her that the wolves are in the flat.

They’re drinking all the milk and using all the broadband watching Breaking Bad.

But I do tell Grandmother that she was right all along.

Things are easier now the rent’s split twenty ways.

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.

Shakespeare Jumps the Shark

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 14

Challenge #7*: Write a story in which at least one character only speaks in verse, another represents the Shakespearian fool, and someone dies tragically. It must include at least 10 words created by Shakespeare and the final word count must be a multiple of 37.

“Behold, the fair Ophelia whose feet

“so nimbly guide the course of skis that fly

“not upon base snow, that blights the land

“but water, flawless, perfect in its sheen.

“Drawn by vessel motorisèd she

“like Phoebus’ car glides swift across the lake,

“though not so bright, her radiance less grand,

“her fair-faced beauty gentler on the eyes.”

“Hamlet,” said the gravedigger, “it’s cool how much you like Ophelia and all—I’ll agree it’s admirable that she was so keen to give waterskiing a try—but I’ve got a job to do here and I think we can both agree I should probably get it done sooner rather than later. This isn’t the best time to stand on the lakeshore reciting an ode to her, if you see what I mean. I’m certainly finding it unhelpful, and I’m not sure it’s the best thing you could be doing right now either.”

“Stop up thy mouth, thou idle-headed fool!

“Canst thou not see mine eyes—only for her,

“Mine ears deaf but for that sweet engine’s sound,

“That draws my love behind, approaching me—”

There was a crunch as the leaky motorboat ploughed over the enrapt Hamlet. A lone eyeball shot out from beneath with a loud squeak, plopping into the water a considerable distance from the shore.

Laertes hopped out of the boat and walked away, oblivious to the carnage.

Ophelia stepped from her skis and followed him.

“That’s what you get for standing in the slipway,” lamented the gravedigger, shaking his head. Hamlet might have been well-read, but he hadn’t had a whole lot of common sense.

But on the bright side, the gravedigger considered as he approached the bloodstained shore, the hole he’d dug so far would probably be big enough after all.

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.

Going Out With a Bang

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 12

Challenge #6: Write a story involving a wannabe character in which it is implied someone dies in a spectacular fashion.

It was a beautiful evening, the tranquillity of the gentle pink sunset marred only slightly by the battle raging on between every superhero in the city and the skyscraper-sized fire-breathing dinosaur that had emerged from the harbour an hour or so earlier.

“Hi, Mr. O’Nuclear,” said Tina, rather suddenly.

Mr. O’Nuclear jumped. He hadn’t realised anyone else was on the roof.

“You know you can just call me Therm, right?” he said.

“My mum says it’s rude to call grownups by their first names,” explained Tina, opening the door of the pigeon loft.

Therm considered this. “I think that’s a bit old-fashioned, but it’s good that you do what your parents tell you.”

Tina began to feed the birds.

Therm watched a cloud drift lazily across the horizon.

The dinosaur fired a ginormous laser beam from its face.

“Why are you wearing a big green onesie?” asked Tina. “And a cape?”

“Well,” Therm chuckled. “I suppose there’s no harm telling you this now. The truth is, I’ve been a superhero for about six years now. Ever since I jumped into the path of an intercontinental ballistic missile to prevent World War Three.”

“Oh, cool!” Tina walked over. “Do you have a superhero name?”

Therm swept a hand in front of him as if revealing invisible words in the air: “Major Megaton.” He paused. “I was pushing for Colonel Kiloton myself, but they didn’t want to promote me that far just for the name. Come to think of it, I reckon that’s probably why so many superheroes are ‘Captain’ something-or-other.”

“Got any superpowers?”

“Besides having a 100 kiloton warhead lodged in my ribcage, not really.”

“Oh.”

The dinosaur in the distance demolished the headquarters of the Daily Bungle with a swipe of its tail. On the bright side, Therm considered, the thing was getting farther from the city centre.

“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” said Tina. “But there aren’t a lot of girl ones out there.”

“Well…a lot of superheroes start out as soldiers, or scientists, or billionaire CEOs, and since women are still under-represented in those fields there’s kind of a knock-on…” Therm realised this probably wasn’t a helpful way to address the issue. “But I mean, that’s all the more reason for you to do it!”

“Do you really think I could!?”

“Yeah! You can do anything you put your mind to!”

“Can I help out with the dinosaur, then? That would be so cool!”

“Ooh. That’s… Look, that dinosaur’s a biggie. Literally. I mean, you don’t want to tackle something like that on your first try. They wouldn’t even have called me if it wasn’t really, really serious.”

“Oh.” Tina looked at her shoes. “Okay.”

Therm watched the last little snippet of the sun vanish below the horizon.

The dinosaur swatted at a biplane peppering it with machine-gun fire.

Therm wondered when the historical aviation society had gotten involved.

“So…why aren’t you there now?” Tina asked.

“I need to let the other heroes draw the creature a few miles from the city before I can…you know…do my thing,” explained Therm.

“So it doesn’t fall on anyone when you defeat it?”

“Umm…” Therm gave a nervous smile. “Something like that.”

“Superheroes spend more time waiting around than I thought.”

“Oh, it’s not like that! I mean, sure, it is for me. And anybody who relies on one of those big searchlight symbols pointed at a cloud. And then there’s stakeouts…” Again, Therm felt as though he wasn’t exactly doing his bit to encourage the next generation of superheroes. “But there’s much more to being a hero than just waiting for a bank heist to foil. For a supervillain to punch. For a fire-breathing dinosaur to blast to smithereens. The most important things are the small things. Speaking up when someone does something bad. Recognising when they do something good. Being there for your friends. Making new friends! It sounds goofy, but those are the things that are really important.”

The sun, at last, dipped below the horizon. The dinosaur was well out into the suburbs by now. Therm figured that if he had anything else to say, now was the time to say it.

At last it came to him: “The big stuff…” he began. “The big stuff will turn out okay as long as there’s at least one person there to do it. But the small stuff, that’s up to everyone.”

The dinosaur was moving at quite a pace—whoever was in that biplane really seemed to have riled it up—and if Therm was honest with himself he knew he’d already put off leaving longer than he had to.

“Why do you want to be a superhero, Tina?”

“I want to punch bad guys and shoot monsters with eye-beams and use a grappling hook to climb a building!”

Therm nodded. “Those are all really good reasons. But you have to remember that as much of a difference as those things make, what really matters is that people know you’re looking out for them. Because then they’ll look out for each other too.”

“Okay,” said Tina. “But I still think shooting eye-beams at monsters is important too.”

“It is,” conceded Therm, “but that’s not something I can help you with.”

He took an item from his utility belt.

“Maybe this’ll do instead.”

“No way!” Tina took the grappling pistol. “Can I have this? Really?” Then she thought for a bit. “Don’t you need it?”

“Naah. I’m sure you’ll get more use out of it than me.”

Therm dropped off the edge of the building and landed in a dramatic pose before sprinting off towards the dinosaur in the distance.

Tina watched him until he vanished between the buildings.

“Still feeding the pigeons?” asked her mother, stepping out of the stairwell. “Come on. It’s time you went to bed.”

“Can I heat up the hot chocolate with my eye-beams?” asked Tina, excitedly.

“Only if you’re very, very careful,” said her mother. “I’m not replacing the fridge again.”

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.

Puss in Boots in Boots

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 10

Challenge #5: Write a story set in a mall including a fairy tale character and an element of anthropomorphism.

“Does this sun cream protect against UVA and UVB?” asked Rumplestiltskin.

“Dunno,” said the cat sitting at the counter, without looking up.

“Well what about this one?” He picked up a different bottle—far too small to be good value for money—from the little impulse-buy shelf dividing the queue from the rest of the shop.

“Dunno,” said the cat, again. He licked one of his tiny cat thumbs and used it to turn the page of his magazine.

“Is there anything you do know?” Rumplestiltskin snapped.

The cat, at last, looked up. “I know I wouldn’t wear that shirt with those shorts,” he said.

Rumplestiltskin tutted and huffed. “This is the worst customer service I’ve ever had!” he proclaimed. “Do you know who I am?”

“Don’t know…” said the cat, absent-mindedly turning another page, “don’t care.”

“Well, you should care!” Rumplestiltskin waggled a tiny finger over the counter. “There are plenty of other shops around here. I could easily take my business elsewhere!”

“Not my problem.”

The cat hopped down from the cashier’s chair, boots clacking against the linoleum. He tucked the magazine back into the rack by the door.

“I was just putting my feet up,” he explained as he left. “I don’t work here.”

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 Lion, The Mix and the Wardrobe

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.

The opening sentence of this story is the final sentence of G. Deyke‘s What Remains After Burning.

“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

This Would Have Worked Better Yesterday

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

Are You There Dracula? It’s Me, Van Helsing

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 3

Challenge #2: Write story including a scene in which a reconciliation occurs. It must also mention a year in which a historical peace treaty was signed and feature an unreliable narrator.

Abraham Van Helsing moved silently through the crypt, the stench of death all around him. The sanctuary of his nemesis lay ahead, illuminated by the yellow glow of the electric lantern affixed to the breast of his coat. Van Helsing carried a mallet of oak in his right hand and a stake of ash in his left, one held ready to strike the other. The coffin before him loomed closer, closer, as he prepared to tear open its lid and smite his foe.

With the point of his stake, he levered up the wood in one smooth motion and prepared to strike.

Yet the coffin was empty.

With unnatural speed, a shadow darted across the hall, yet protected by providence Van Helsing had the presence of mind to hold up his stake and mallet as a makeshift cross, and the creature halted its advance. Yet it was not yet defeated.

“Ah! Ah! Ah!” laughed Count Dracula. “Your feeble wood means nothing to me, for…” Continue reading

The Beggar’s Sovereign

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 1

Challenge #1: Write an adventure story using a character, setting and MacGuffin suggested by three different fellow participants. The character must be an autobiographical description of the person who suggested it.

Character: An engineer who prefers to solve problems with a hammer – but in down time enjoys drawing and singing folk songs. Enjoys outdoor pursuits as long as any trip culminates in a visit to a good old fashioned pub with a hearty meal and a tankard of cider. (squanpie)

Setting: The fully furnished and richly decorated throne room of a long-abandoned castle. Why it was never cleared out or looted is uncertain, only that everything remains, dusty and mildewed and occasionally a little moth-nibbled but otherwise untouched. (Oreramar)

MacGuffin: An enchanted coin that can be spent to bribe anyone to do anything. (distortified)

The sight was a wonder. Though the castle itself stood crumbling and forlorn – a bleak ruin atop the only high ground on the Fell Tor Mires – this one room was immaculately preserved. Where other chambers had been cleared of valuables and others fallen in all together, this room – the throne room – held every trinket and tapestry it might have done when it was constructed. Indeed, thought Lara Jones as she gazed about the straining tables and crowded shelves, it had probably gained quite a few new treasures since then.

With a sudden mechanical rattle, the door swung shut.

Lara would have turned to look at it, but her attention was instead drawn to the figure who had pulled the lever. The figure on the throne.

“You seek the Beggar’s Sovereign, I take it?” His accent was unfamiliar: nowhere in the world had she heard a voice quite the same.

“Yes,” she answered plainly. “It belongs in a museum.” Continue reading

Flash Fiction Day 2018

Stories written for Flash Fiction Day 2018: I’ll be updating this post throughout the day if you want to keep up. If you’d like to get involved with this event yourself, you can sign up here! As long as it’s still June 16th in your time zone, it’s not too late!


23:59

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“Hey, isn’t it Flash Fiction Day today?”

“OH SHI-

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