I’ve been pretty heavily focused on getting Ten Little Astronauts ready for publication recently, which might be why I never noticed that two of my interactive fiction games were on the People’s Choice shortlist for Wonderbox’s Opening Up Digital Fiction Competition.
You can play either one by clicking its icon above.
I sent in a whole bunch of games back when the competition was open for submissions, but wasn’t particularly confident in any of them making the cut. To see two in there is a real surprise, especially since these two in particular are very different in tone.
Because I discovered this pretty late on, not only has voting now closed but the winners have already been announced! Sadly neither of my games are amongst them, but there was some pretty serious competition: the winners look absolutely top notch, and I encourage you to check them out.
This is hardly the first time something I’ve worked on has been up for a prize, but it is the first time it’s happened specifically for an interactive piece that wasn’t a team project. It just goes to show that it’s usually worth taking a chance on these things even if you’re not sure what will come of it. Also, do keep an eye on Wonderbox specifically: the competition is annual so if you’d like to take a shot at it yourself then you’ll have a chance next year!
If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you might have already had a chance to read The Garden of Eleven, the flash fiction piece I submitted to the final Hampshire Writers’ Society competition of their 2017-2018 season. That piece went on to take first place, and it’s now going on to be broadcast on Hospital Radio Basingstoke: one of the top five hospital radio stations in the UK.
If you’d like to have a listen online, it’ll be on sometime between 15:00 and 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 22nd of August 2018 (ie. coming up soon!). But time zones are difficult, so if you don’t know when that is for you, keep an eye on my Twitter feed: I’ll try and squawk about it an hour or so in advance.
I think this is the first time something of mine has gone out as audio like this, but we’re hoping it could become a regular thing for HWS – with the winning competition entry being broadcast every month.
Behold! Damon L. Wakes’ Beer-on-the-Wall Simulator: a complete Twine game created using only one passage! Indulge your eyeballs with this beast of a flowchart:
Yeah. You can probably guess where this is going. Enjoy!
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 30
“Come on, Squat Runt!”
“Can we rethink my nickname, Doctor James? I feel as though it crosses the line from affectionately disparaging to actually hurtful.”
“There’s no time! We have to reach the Sistine Chapel before that albino monk gets—”
A hooded figure stepped out from the doorframe. “My ears are burning,” said the monk.
“Well, I’m not surprised,” said California James. “It is an exceptionally sunny day.” 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 28
Challenge #13*: Write a story that involves an original fictional religion, a moral quandary, a language the protagonist can’t understand and a crisis of faith. The story must be either 555, 666, or 777 words in length.
“Thank you for coming, Father 73.”
The priest gave a dismissive wave of his nylon-gloved manipulator. “What sort of example would I set if I didn’t? ‘Render help to thy neighbour, except where such help would violate the first or second of my commandments.’ But also, I am curious to see what you have found.”
Surveyor 6359 lifted the tarpaulin from the object in the trench. Until it was understood and documented, the excavation could not continue and no more magtrack could be laid.
“A precursor relic,” she explained. “I think a container of some sort. We thought it best to send for someone to decipher the ancient script upon its surface before any attempt to move it.”
“This is wise.” Father 73 nodded. “The precursors set forth many trials and tests of faith: some of their devices will detonate rather than yield up their mysteries.” 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 26
Challenge #12: Write a story that includes a powerful janitor, incompetent guards, and a substance with miraculous properties. One of these elements must be inverted.
“Intruder is in air vents. Please advise.”
“Do not deviate from patrol route. I repeat: do not deviate from patrol route.”
“But he’s banging around in there and it’s super obvious and the boss is just down the hall.”
“Look. Which of these sounds better? ‘Gee, the Pandora Virus is missing! The guy who took it must have been a total ghost because literally nobody noticed him,’ or ‘Hey, about that dude who got all the way into the bioweapons lab before anyone raised the alarm. He must have been super quiet right up until he started trying to cram his entire body through a flimsy metal duct.’ Because—”
“Oh God,” the guard whispered into his collar mic. “He’s stopped. I think he knows I can hear him!”
“Okay,” said Tim. “Stay calm and repeat after me: ‘Man, I can’t believe that creaky old vent’s acting up again.’”
“Man. I can’t believe that creaky old vent is acting up again.”
From the safety of the broom closet, Tim heard the unmistakable sound of knees mangling sheet metal start up once more. It really was loud: like RoboCop trying to hump a wobble board. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 25
“The name’sh Bont. George Bont.”
“George Bont the international super-spy?”
“Uhh…no. I’m a different George Bont.”
Le Chauffeur whipped out his phone. “Are you sure? Because you look just like this George Bont on Facebook: employed at MI6.”
“That can’t be me. I’m an economisht.”
“Really? Explain quantitative easing to me.”
There were skeptical looks from the various scarred and eyepatched people around the Blackjack table.
“Oh, darn,” said George Bont. “I’m really not very good at thish.”