Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 12
“Everybody on the floor!” shouted the bank robber, striding to the counter. “Fill the bag! I want small bills, non-sequential!”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” came the voice from behind him.
The bank robber froze, then slowly turned, dreading what he might find. From Irony Man to the Insatiable Bulk, there were were all manner of heroes who could have turned up to stop him, and as more of a career criminal than a supervillain, he really didn’t relish the thought of tangling with any of them.
But it was no hero who he found standing in the bank foyer.
“Count…” He could hardly believe his eyes. “Count Erfitter?”
“The very same.” The dashing aristocrat smiled.
“Are you pulling a job here too?” the bank robber asked. “I thought you were all about art theft.”
“Hmm, yes.” Count Erfitter casually examined his fingernails. “You might say I have a job here, but it isn’t theft. You see, I’ve found another calling.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 11
Challenge #5: Write a story combining one literary and one musical genre. It must also feature a cataclysmic event and three survivors. Optionally, it should also include the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child.
Once upon a time there lived an emperor, and this emperor had a ring. This ring, his seers told him, held great power: with it he could shape the world to his desire, and he need not fear the monarch of any realm. However, the ring also held a great curse: if ever he were to use it, the common people of his empire would surely bring down ruin upon him.
Hearing this, the emperor immediately settled upon a plan. He issued a decree that would bestow royalty upon all his subjects, defeating with ink and vellum the foes that he could not hope to turn away with powder and steel. Thus, his safety assured, he began to wield the ring’s power.
The emperor started small. He set out busts in his own likeness not only in his palace, but all across the land. He scattered palm trees too—exotic plants that cast a pleasing shade—even in his subjects’ very homes. This drew the people’s ire, but as all knew that none of royal blood could harm him, what could they do to prevent it?
Soon the most inconvenient trees were cut down for food and firewood, and life returned almost to normal. Some even came to embrace the changes—for it was quite flattering to be thought a ruler of one’s own land—but this did not last long. The emperor reshaped the land, smoothing its hills and valleys into a flawless, level plain, and this he ruled out with lines of magenta, almost in the likeness of a chequerboard. The sky too he changed as he saw fit, dyeing it a glowing teal that was neither day nor night, and casting down the stars to make room for vast geometric shapes. The Sun he fixed upon the horizon, ever-rising and always setting. And so that his subjects could not reject their royal titles, he took away their names. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 10
This story also exists as a parser-based text adventure, playable online.
The Story is a room.
Rule for printing room description details: omit contents in listing.
The walk-in wardrobe is a closed openable container in the Story. It is fixed in place.
The cupboard is a closed openable container in the walk-in wardrobe. It is fixed in place.
The broken safe is a closed openable container in the cupboard. It is fixed in place.
The steamer trunk is a closed openable container in the broken safe.
The cardboard box is a closed openable container in the steamer trunk.
The lockbox is a locked openable container in the cardboard box. The cheap metal key unlocks the lockbox. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 9
Challenge #4: Write a story in which two characters in conflict with one another are trapped in some kind of vessel. The story must feature an event utterly outside a character’s realm of expectation.
“Hold the door!” shouted Captain Caulk as he ran for the elevator, cape fluttering dramatically behind him. “Hold the door!”
The figure inside stepped towards the control panel, and the doors, obligingly, slid open.
“Thank you, kind citizen!” said Captain Caulk, panting slightly. Not enough to suggest that he was in any way out of shape, just enough to indicate that he had been striving heroically to do something heroic.
“Don’t mention it,” said the diabolical Doctor Baby, coldly.
“Oh.” Captain Caulk regarded his nemesis as the doors closed behind him, not entirely sure whether he should stand facing them—as was universally accepted elevator etiquette—or to prepare for glorious battle.
“No, really,” said Doctor Baby, the harsh fluorescent elevator lighting glinting from his sinister science goggles. “I thought I was pressing the ‘close’ button.”
“Oh,” said Captain Caulk, again.
“Mmyes.” Doctor Baby observed his own gloved finger, still hovering just by the button. “This is proving to be awkward for all involved.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 8
“Feep feep!” blurted the Road Racer, a creature legally distinct from whatever cartoon bird you may be thinking of (but for the record, yes, it is that one).
The Dingo gave no reply.
“I said ‘Feep feep!’” repeated the Road Racer.
“I heard you the first time,” the Dingo explained. “But I’ve kind of got my own thing going on here.”
“Oh yeah?” The Road Racer took a step closer. “What is that?”
“It’s a soft shell meal deal from Outback Taco.”
“Planning to use that as bait in one of your crazy contraptions then? I’ve gotta say, it’s quite a step up from birdseed.”
“It’s not for you,” said the Dingo, through a mouthful of succulent ground beef. “Not everything is about you.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 7
Challenge #3: Write a story revolving around two very different characters working towards a common goal. The characters must be specified by a fellow participant, who will also provide a line of dialogue to be included in the story.
EXT. LEAKY BOTTOMS BOAT RENTAL – EVENING
ARNOLD THE SENTIENT PIÑA COLADA sits at the front desk of his beachside establishment, LEAKY BOTTOMS BOAT RENTAL. Row upon row of kayaks and catamarans lie untouched upon the sand. It is late in the day. It is evident from the neatness of the ranks of boats that there have been no customers. JOLENE, a perfectly ordinary jellyfish, drifts about in a shallow rock pool nearby. ARNOLD and JOLENE listen to upbeat reggae music emanating from a cheap, wind-up RADIO that also rests upon the front desk.
Nice weather. Mild.
JOLENE propels herself into the side of the rock pool, pauses, then reverses direction.
You said it. Surprised we haven’t seen more business today, really. I wonder if it’s because…
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 6
“Fee fi fo fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he live or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!”
“I’m Cornish,” Jack shouted.
“I’m Cornish,” Jack repeated. “If you want to get technical.”
“Oh.” The giant stopped, the brace of dead cows dangling from his belt swaying comically. “Still, pretty close, though.”
“Yeah, but like… Nobody’s asking you to guess people’s heritage based on scent. It’s not as if I’ve popped up here and said ‘Have a sniff and see if you can work out where I’m from!’ That’s literally the first non-nonsense thing you said to me, and it’s wrong.”
“I feel like you’re getting really hung up over this.”
“I’m just saying, you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 5
“It didn’t have to end this way,” said Big Harry, pacing the floor of the abandoned ice factory. “I hope you realise that.”
“Aww, come on, boss!” Frank struggled to keep Big Harry in view, but dangling from an industrial crane he only had so much control over what direction he was facing. “It was one time! One time in twenty years! If I’d won that bet, you’d have your money and my debts would have been wiped clean. I thought it was a sure thing! Are you really going to throw away twenty years over one bad day at the track?”
Big Harry said nothing. It was highly uncharacteristic, and pants-dampeningly scary.
“Look,” Frank continued. “I’ve got a problem: I’m willing to admit that now. I swear I’ll get you your money back. I just… I didn’t know what else to do at the time.”
Big Harry remained unsettlingly out of sight, and eerily silent.
“Come on, boss! I needed cash fast—I was in deep!”
“Not as deep as you’re gonna be.”
Big Harry emerged from the shadows, dragging beside him an empty oil drum. He set it directly beneath Frank.
“What, uh…” Frank didn’t think it was possible, but he was suddenly getting even more nervous. “What are you going to do with that?” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 4
Challenge #2: Write a story that revolves around an ancient artefact and takes place over the course of a weekend. It must also include a hymn and a character with delusions of grandeur.
For three days California James had trekked through the unforgiving jungle. He had faced snakes. He had faced scorpions. Also when he had initially got off the plane on Friday, he had stopped into a pub outside the airport and been horrified to discover that the mens’ room there had one of those guys who extorts money out of you in exchange for using the sink. It was hardly the deadliest encounter of his long and varied career as an archaeologist, but it was up there with the most annoying. The main thing to take away from all of this would be that even before he clambered to the top of the ziggurat and approached its vast wooden doors, it had been one hell of a weekend.
He set his hands against the planks. They yielded inwards only ever so slightly, clanking as though bolted from the other side. They definitely wouldn’t open, anyhow.
A small panel slid open and a pair of wrinkled eyes peered out.
“Those who seek the grail’s power,” announced the guardian of the temple, “must recite a hymn to enter.”
“Ah.” Despite having an extremely religious Scottish dad who sounded suspiciously like James Bond, California James wasn’t sure he knew any hymns off the top of his head. “Does that ‘penitent man may pass’ thing count as a hymn?”
“I don’t even know what that is.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 3
The minotaur roared menacingly, the noise resounding from the labyrinth walls. It shifted its weight from foot to foot, a seasoned fighter nimble despite great size. It hefted its axe in great clawed hands.
It roared again. It also bobbed about on the spot some more. It looked pleadingly at the knight in front of it, stuffing his face with bread.
“Come on, mate,” said the mage. “We haven’t got all day.”
“I’m sorry!” snapped the knight, through a mouthful of crumbs. “I’m down to forty-seven health points, okay? If I don’t finish this, that monster’s going to kill me on the next hit.”
“I’m not saying don’t eat it! I’m just saying, maybe chew at a less leisurely pace.”
“It’s a whole loaf of bread! And it’s crusty! And in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve just been gored by a minotaur! It doesn’t exactly put you in the mood for a hearty snack.”
“My action bar’s filled back up,” announced the bard.
“All our action bars have filled back up!” The mage put his face in his hands. “We’ve been standing here watching Sir Buttface hork down bread for at least a full two minutes.”
“Hey!” The knight sprayed a bunch of bread fragments right onto the mage’s robes. “There’s no need for name-calling!”
“That is literally your name, though,” the bard pointed out.
“Is it?” Continue reading