More specifically, a live reading of Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure will be taking place as part of the brand new EGX Rezzed Fringe Theatre. For anybody unfamiliar with the story, it’s a massively interactive fantasy parody that plays out sort of like a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, but typically involves much, much more booze. I’ll read a chunk out loud (probably with funny voices – it gets hard to tell who’s who otherwise), announce the options available to the audience, and then whichever one gets the loudest cheer decides how the story will continue.
This is essentially what I’ve been doing at open mics for the past couple of years, but instead of taking place in a dingy pub somewhere, it’ll be at London’s largest games event.
If you’d like to come and get involved, Exponential Adventure will be running Thursday 4th of April at 2pm, and go on for about 45 minutes. This should allow time for at least three readings, but could stretch to as many as four or five depending on how things go on the day. We’ll be on the ground floor of the Tobacco Dock, which is probably the second most dungeon-y venue I’ve ever had for this.
Tickets are very reasonably priced for an event of this size. If you’re already near London, twenty quid gets you in all day Thursday which will let you see my show and still have a go at plenty of games. If you’re coming from farther afield, a Super Pass for the full three days is just £44.
Also, not to pile on the pressure or anything, but if nobody turns up then I will literally be standing on stage doing nothing because interactive fiction does not work without an audience. So please do share this around!
Back in May I set up Codename Caerus: a game project bringing a team of people together to make something better than any of us could have produced individually. That something is still in the works – it’ll take more than a couple of months to see it through to the end – but we’ve made great progress and Codename Caerus now has a title: Wolf at the Door.
Our efforts so far have been focused on getting a demo prepared for submission to AdventureX. At this stage, it’s not in good enough shape to share – this one’s just to demonstrate that we have the bare bones of a working game – but it can be played start to finish and most of the gameplay that’ll appear in the finished version is already present in some form or another. In some ways it’s already more ambitious than what I first planned, as we’ve got in-game sound: something I wasn’t even sure was possible to do in Twine back when I organised this! Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 31
Challenge #14: Write a story that includes a criminal character and is not set on dry land. It may be a 369er, an epistolary narrative, or a work of interactive fiction.
You are Wishes O’Houlihan, top agent of the International Leprechaun Police. Riding atop your mighty steed – a unicorn with a chainsaw for a horn – you are unstoppable.
Your mission is to take down Captain Blokebeard, the most notorious pirate of the North Specific.
Parachute in! 2
Speedboat chase! 3
Launch yourself from a cannon! 4 Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 29
EXT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR EXCEPTIONALLY BIG-EYED ORPHANS – MORNING
We see the sun rising over St. Swithun’s Home for Exceptionally Big-eyed Orphans, which is prominently signposted. Birds are singing. Peaceful flute music – you know the music I mean – plays.
Record scratch. The music stops.
INT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR ETC. KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS
MRS. WITHERSPOON continues screaming, hands clasped to her face. She screams for some time, eyes wide with horror. Finally, we see what she was screaming about. There is a plate on the kitchen table covered with the smeared remains of a cake. Icing is splattered liberally all around.
MRS. WITHERSPOON: Who can possibly deduce who ate the orphans’ precious cake?
Tyres screech outside.
Brutal guitar solo plays.
TITLE CARD: “SATAN AND HIS ROBOT BUDDY PAUL” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 27
“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!”
“Not by the hair on your chinny-chin-chin!”
“Guys, seriously, could we not do this right now? The delivery guy called while I was in the bath and when I ran out to try and catch him the door swung shut behind me. I’m wearing nothing but a towel and it’s not even a particularly big towel. Could you please just let me in off the street? It’s freezing out here.”
The pigs conferred with one another.
“That sounds like a lie,” said the first little pig.
“People do tend to throw in a lot of extra details when they lie,” offered the second.
“How do we know you’re not going to eat us?” asked the third.
There was a sigh from the other side of the door. “Look, your house is made of straw. If I wanted to eat you, I could knock it down just by breathing on it. But obviously that wouldn’t help me get out of the cold now, would it?”
“I dunno…” said the first pig.
“Come on, guys! What reason could I possibly have for asking you to let me in if I could just smash right through the wall like the Kool-Aid man?”
“Yeah?” said the second pig. “Well what reason could you have for coming to our house out of all the houses on Lollipop Lane? We’re not exactly on good terms, you know.”
“You think this is the first place I’ve tried? Humptey Dumptey was cracking up, the old woman who lives in the shoe just ogled my butt the whole time, and Wee Willie Winkie wouldn’t stop making dick jokes. Happy now?”
“Yeah, fair enough,” said third little pig, “come on in.” And he unlocked the door.
“Hang on,” said the first pig. “Does the wolf even wear clothes?”
“Actually, now that you mention it…”
“Oh, shit. It’s Dracula.”
“Haha!” shouted Dracula as he bounded inside. “Who’s the sucker now?”
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.
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 22
In days before the dawn of time, two gods struggled for control over all that was. One was named Order, who strove above all for stillness and perfection. The other was named Chaos, who strove above all for motion and change. When Order set the spheres upon their paths, Chaos sent out comets to knock them astray. When Order called land out from the water, Chaos tore it asunder. These gods fought ceaselessly, yet they had formed from the void as twins and each was as strong as the other.
“This battle is futile,” said Order one day, after countless aeons of struggle. “We must settle our differences by some other means.”
“For once we are in agreement,” Chaos conceded. “But what do you propose?”
Ten millennia passed while Order considered its challenge.
“We should each of us set a great work upon the mortal plane. To these works shall our fates be bound. Whichever lasts the longest, its maker, victor, sole survivor, will have won dominion over all the world.” 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 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.
“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
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 18
“Foolish knight,” hissed the dragon. “Did you think this place would be unguarded? Did you think the moat its only defence? None who pass through those gates return alive, for all who do must face me.”
“Okay,” said the knight. “Why?”
“What do you mean ‘why’? Obviously I’m gonna fight anyone who comes here. Do you really think they’d leave a dragon in a tower just to welcome people in?”
The dragon made an annoyed little noise. “Only Queen Harriet the Third and the nobles of her court. Geez! You don’t see a lot of dragons guarding pubs, do you? I mean, it’s pretty much royalty or nothing, innit?”
“Because dragons guard treasure and the cash box at the Dog and Pheasant isn’t exactly going to cut it!” Continue reading
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.