Tagged: FFM

Deviations and Dragons

The Dragon and The Dying Stars, my final piece for Flash Fiction Month 2017, was selected as a Daily Deviation over on deviantart.com today! If you’re not familiar with the site, that means it’s been prominently featured as something that’s worth checking out: it’s not an award as such, but still it’s nice to know that my story has been selected and it’s already getting a whole lot of new readers as a result. This has happened a few times before, and it’s always a real boost.

Also worth mentioning is that saturdaystorytellers recently released a recording of another dragon-related story of mine, The Chalice and the Swords. This one was written in 20 minutes as part of a “write-off” challenge in which that’s all the time you get. Those aren’t running any more, which is a shame because I feel as though I got a lot of great stories out of them despite the tight time limit. This incarnation of the story was narrated by Don Socrates, and the image you see above is Awaking by AhhhFire.

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We All Saw It Coming Launch Event – Where Should it Be?

Since We All Saw It Coming wraps up the first hexalogy* of my flash fiction anthologies, I’m planning some kind of launch event to mark the occasion. Part of that planning involves trying to work out where would be best to actually hold the thing (provided I can get a venue in any of these locations):

Feel free to tick more than one box. If you can make it to Eastleigh, Winchester or Southampton, that’s great. If you’d only make the trip if it were just down the road, go ahead and tick only the relevant box. Also, if you’re local and would like to help out further, there are two things you could do that would really help get this book off to a great start:

  • Share this poll with your friends (especially if you think they might like to come).
  • Let me know of any venues that might be happy to host the event.

I’m not sure when this’ll be happening, but I hope not too long after I get the paperback finalised. It depends partly when I can secure a venue, and the place I opt for will largely depend where people can attend, so go ahead and have your say!**

*A series of six books. I know the word sounds ridiculous but honestly I think that kind of suits them.

**You can comment right here on this post without needing an account or even an email address.

We All Saw It Coming Ebook Available

We All Saw It Coming, my Flash Fiction Month anthology for 2017, is now available as an ebook through Smashwords. It’ll be available through other retailers shortly, but I haven’t yet assigned it an ISBN because I’m still confirming that everything is working as it should.

The sheer scale of this year’s interactive fiction challenge, Ultraviolent Unicorn Deathmatch of Destiny, meant that I had to set up internal hyperlinks just to make it navigable. There was some extra faff involved in making sure I didn’t end up with all 48 of those listed in the book’s table of contents, and although everything seems to have worked out fine, there were enough opportunities for things to go wrong that I don’t like to assume they haven’t. Still, whether or not this story turned out perfect first time, I’ve definitely got a better grasp of how to handle interactive fiction in this format than I had before, and so at some point I expect I’ll be going back and giving the same treatment to Robocopout‘s interactive fiction piece, Inquisition.

The next job will be to format and publish the paperback, and when that’s available I’m strongly considering having a launch party of some kind! This book completes the six-colour cycle I’ve been working towards (I’ll be sticking another orange object on the cover of whatever I write for 2018), so although I’ve never made all that much of a song and dance about the release of these books in the past, I feel as though this is a good enough occasion to start.

Since this is pretty much the first book launch I’ve ever organised, I’m keen to get an idea of how many people would be likely to turn up, as well as where they’d be able to get to. The poll above allows multiple answers: feel free to tick as many as you like. In fact, ideally don’t be too picky: if you really could make it to any of these places, that gives me more options to work with. Conversely, picking only Southampton because you live there could screw things up quite a bit: if 30 people only pick the closest Hampshire town, they could quite easily be outvoted by half that number in London.

Promoting Ten Little Astronauts has put my work in front of people from much farther afield than before, so I’m really not sure where most of my followers are based at this point. My guess is that most know me from various local open mics – and I’d probably prefer a local launch myself – but the biggest events have been in London, and those are generally the ones where my name’s been on the flyers and whatnot. Ultimately I figure the thing to do is to hold the launch wherever people can get to it, so that’s why I’ve put out this poll. Tick whichever boxes work for you, pass it on to anyone else you think might like to come along for readings and live interactive fiction, and if you’ve got any other thoughts then leave those in the comments. As always, you don’t need an account or even an email address: just type words into the box, hit “Post” and it’ll get to me.

The Dragon and the Dying Stars

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 31

Challenge #14: Write a story in the style of a fairy tale, including phrase repetition and involving stars as physical objects. It must be serious in tone but also include a Phillips screwdriver.

This challenge was set by G. Deyke.

Once upon a time, in a world far distant, the night sky grew dark. Slowly, at first, the stars grew dim. The king’s philosophers at first thought that this was nothing more than the action of passing aeons, and that more would burn anew. But ere long their numbers dwindled, and the naked eye saw plainly what no telescope could: the stars were consumed.

Troubled, the king sent out his greatest knight upon a steed of chrome. Agravane was that knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a sword born of a dying star. Never would that blade break, and never would its edge grow dull. For many weeks Agravane rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone that stood before his throne.

At last, Agravane found his foe, and the king at last saw who it was who plucked the stars from the aether like grapes from the vine.

It was a dragon, vast as his kingdom and black as the void. Each wing was as wide as a galaxy, and its eyes glowed like quasars. Its manner and its motions were that of a great animal; its structure and its form, that of a terrible machine.

When the dragon spoke, it spoke not to the knight before it, but to the king beyond the stone: “I have lived since before the days of time. Since before the noise of creation and beyond the notion of being. Your universe is an affront to me, but in its matter I have found a host, and that host offers a solution. From one hundred billion dying stars I built this body, and with it I shall consume all the living stars that remain. Then there shall be stillness and silence and peace until the heat death of the universe, wherein there shall be stillness and silence and peace still.”

In his throne, the king trembled at the threat of such a foe. But Agravane was fearless.

He held aloft his sword: “You might have seized your matter from the stars by force, but mine was a gift granted in a time of dire need. When I stood alone against the hordes of Far Reach and my weapon snapped in twain, bright Achernar crystallised into a blade that would never fail me so.”

But though Agravane was fearless, he was not wise, and his sword did not avail him: the dragon was forged of star-steel too, and though the blade did not dull against its scales, neither could it cut them, and the beast crushed him in its mighty hand unhindered. Agravane’s sword was lost to the aether whence it came.

Fearful, the king sent out a second knight upon a second steed. Carador was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a spear born of a dying star. Never would that shaft snap, nor would the point fail to find its mark. For many weeks Carador rode through the void, and for as many weeks the king watched through the seeing-stone.

“What fool comes to challenge me?” demanded the dragon, in a voice that carried even through the void.

“No fool am I,” Carador responded, keeping his distance, “for I carry the same spear that came to me during the siege of Omega Centauri when my own weapon was lost.”

The dragon snorted: “Never can you pierce my scales with your stick.”

Carador took aim: “I do not intend to try.”

He did not direct his spear against the dragon’s scales, but instead towards one of its vast eyes. Unerring, the spear flew, yet clattered from the boiling orb: even the eyes were forged of star-steel, and even the eyes could not be harmed.

With a single pulse of its fiery gaze, the dragon tore the knight’s very atoms asunder, and Carador’s spear too was lost to the aether whence it came.

Holding little hope, the king summoned still one more knight. Gilhault was this knight’s name, and in his hand he bore a hammer born of a dying star. When swung, the head was weightless, yet when it struck a foe it held the mass of a thousand moons.

But before Gilhault could mount his steed, an unseen assailant cracked his visor with a cudgel so he could not brave the void: Elayn, his squire, stole the reins and rode off in his stead.

Furious, the king sent all his knights to pursue her, but all were left behind: none tended the steeds with more skill or kindness than Elayn, and so none could catch Gilhault’s, which she had so long cared for.

Elayn faced the dragon.

The dragon laughed. “Will you fight me with a simple cudgel?”

“No.” Elayn drew her own gift of star-steel from her voidcloak. “With this.”

And the dragon laughed louder, for the item she produced was but a Phillips screwdriver.

“I too was at the battle against the hordes of the Far Reach, and there my master was dismounted. I leapt through the void to reach his steed, but found it maimed beyond motion. For weeks we drifted, helpless, until we were caught in the orbit of Leporis. From that star was born this screwdriver, and with it I saved this steed.”

“Go home, little girl,” said the dragon. “You have some years yet before I trouble myself with your sphere: do not forfeit them.”

Elayn did not answer this insult. She merely charged forwards, and the dragon, without even going to the effort of stretching out its neck, consumed her whole.

But though every piece of the dragon was formed of a dying star—every piece indestructible—they were held together with screws of star-steel. And though their threads would never strip and their shanks never break, no bond held them in their place but simple force.

In this way, with nothing but a screwdriver, Elayn beheaded the monster whose neck no blade could sever.

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.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

Appropriate Tributes

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 30

“Great Lord Satan! Ruler of Hell! Chap with the really awesome horns and rockin’ goatee! Accept this virgin tribute as a token of our servitude.”

“Yeah,” said Cindi. “About that…”

“Look,” said Arch Anti-Bishop Dave, pulling down his hood. “If you’re going to play the ‘Actually, I’m not a virgin’ card, you can just stop right there. The first thing anyone does in this situation is claim not to be a virgin to avoid getting sacrificed, and I’m telling you now it’s not gonna work.”

“Oh, no, look. I’m not trying to avoid getting sacrificed. Why would I have responded to your Craigslist ad if I was? I’m just saying, you never specified that you needed a virgin, and I’m not sure that I am.”

“How can you not be sure if you’ve had sex?!?”

“Well,” Cindi shrugged, which was awkward on account of hanging upside-down from the ceiling over a portal to Hell. “What counts as sex?”

“You know…” Dave did that “finger going in and out of finger-and-thumb ring” gesture. “Sex.”

“Yeah, obviously, and I’ve never done that. But are there…other things? That would count in this situation?”

Dave narrowed his eyes. “Like what?” Continue reading

Never Let Me Down

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 29

Challenge #13*: David Bowie Day. Write a story including a character in mourning and exploring the theme of religion. It must include at least three David Bowie film titles, a swan song, and a character who speaks to the audience only in David Bowie song titles.

Everyone had been sad about it, naturally. To so suddenly lose a figure so beloved to so many. But it had struck Hades more than most. To him it was deeply personal, somehow. It shouldn’t have been—until it had happened, he’d never even been in the same room—but it was. He bet Baal never had to put up with this sort of sacrilege.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” said Virgil to the reader.

That was Virgil’s imaginary friend: “the reader.” Hades wasn’t sure when it had started, but he suspected it had something to do with his still-alive friend Dante waltzing off to Purgatory and leaving him stuck here. That or the linguine incident. That had been hard on everybody. Hades himself didn’t much like to think about it. He turned his attention instead to Charon, still trying to lift the deceased into his tiny little canoe.

“Have you tried using a lever of some kind?” yelled one of the shades.

“For the last time, Archimedes, enough with the levers!” Hades yelled back, then turned to Charon once more.

He didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Continue reading

Demon in a Copper Case

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 28

Times were hard in Singstoat. The rebar in the ruins was all but mined-out, and the old city—the twisting nest of structures that had once made the fortune of many an investor—had become a blight on the new. All the crops for miles around were feeble from the dust, so the people of Singstoat had no trade left to fall back on.

There were those who did alright. Bicca the Blacksmith was one—for there was still enough steel in the stores—yet someday soon even her trade would dwindle to naught. Myke, her rival, was already resigned to giving up his business: a streetfall last year had robbed him of his apprentice, and he saw no point in two smithies struggling where one might thrive.

Owhen wished he could give up so easily. He had inherited his business—a shop set up to serve the miners who now fled—and with it a large debt. He could afford to move no more than he could afford to stay. Continue reading

I, Reefer

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 27

Challenge #1: Write a 369er set in cloudcuckooland in which the protagonist is the only sane character.

“Moo,” said Snarf Garfunkel.

“Moo,” said Mews Willis.

“Moo,” said Melissa McKitty.

“Is there, like, something… up… with our cats?” asked Farmer Jones.

“I think… Um, I think… I think… Um…” Farmer Bishop squinted at the field of large, black and white cats grazing among the fronds of pink, alien foliage rippling in the breeze. “They seem fine,” she continued at last.

“THOSE ARE COWS, YOU IDIOT,” yelled Olivia.

***

“Gentlemen.” Junior Vice-Badass Chad Buckley addressed the Committee for the Neatification of Fiscal Awesomeness. “A new planet calls for, like, a new currency. Or something.”

“How about…” Spreadsheet Glaminator Richard Smith tented his fingers. “We used to put money into machines to get coffee. How about we put coffee into money… to get machines?”

Buckley did that finger-snap-pointing thing. “I love it!”

“YOUR ECONOMY IS TANKING RAPIDLY,” yelled Olivia.

***

“Okay,” began Lead Science-Maker-Happener Lauren Harper. “I’ve confirmed the strange yelling noises are emanating from Gasulon VII itself, but it’s safe to ignore them.”

“MY NAME IS OLIVIA, AND IT’S REALLY NOT.”

“And the reason the atmosphere is so good is… it’s just really good. Science over!”

“IT’S ACTUALLY BECAUSE I’M 47% THC.”

“Anybody got any Doritos? I’m super hungry for some reason.”

“THAT WOULD ALSO BE THE THC.”

 

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.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

Beneath the Black Flag

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 26

“Yarr!” cried Long Schlong Silver, one hand on the hilt of his mighty cutlass. “I be on a quest for booty!”

The crew of the boarded vessel stared in awe at Silver’s glistening pecs, peeking coyly from his open, billowing shirt. For a moment, all were too distracted to speak.

Then the captain stepped forward, loosening his cravat. “Have heart, men!” he announced. “I’ll take care of this rogue.”

The captain spoke with a heavy accent. Silver couldn’t quite place where it came from, but he knew with every fibre of his being that it was deeply and innately sexy.

“So ye think ye can handle the legendary Long Schlong Silver?” he demanded, raising an eyebrow.

The captain stepped closer. “I’ve got a few ideas what to do with you.”

Silver took a step himself. He was now so close to the captain that their nipples were practically touching through the one shirt between them. “Do ye now?” Continue reading

The Mousetrap

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 25

Challenge #11: Write a story set in a board game. Its word count must be a multiple of 13.

“Well well well…”

Inspector Whiskers’ big round ears caught the unmistakable sound of a revolver being cocked.

“Looks like I’ve got a tail.”

Whiskers turned. “You’ve been keeping up this game of cat-and-mouse for quite some time, Officer Nibbles.”

“Longer than you know.” The mouse stepped into the pool of light beneath the streetlamp, streams of rain leaving hard lines in the fur of his face. “Too long to have you rat me out to the big cheese.”

“Why’d you do it?” Whiskers didn’t really need to ask, but he did need to buy some time. “You only got a couple more years on the job. Why risk your retirement plan?”

“Retirement plan?” Nibbles gave a short, squeaking laugh. “The way things are going down at the Department, I’ll be poor as a church mouse—and so will you! No, Inspector. This…” he gestured about the docks with the barrel of his gun. “This is my retirement plan.” Continue reading