Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 27
Challenge #12*: David Bowie Day. Write a story worth at least 100 Bowie Points based on the following scoring system: 1 point for each non-consecutive letter Z, 5 points for each string of song lyrics, 20 points for meeting a specific word count (69, 270, 369, 599, 700), and 10 points for each reference to Bowie’s movies or personas (a labyrinth, goblins, stolen babies, bogs of stench, a magic dance, moving the stars, childhood obsessions, memory loss, one or more men that fall to earth, aliens in disguise, best intentions, unforeseen complications, dying planets, a character with heterochromia, a character that is an avid painter or art collector, glass spiders, lots of drugs, saying goodbye, dramatic departures, black stars, swansong, an alien god with a guitar, five years, a character that is bisexual or LGBTQ, a character that is struggling with mental illness, dead roses, lightning bolts, panic in Detroit). Optionally, the story must also include a character with a distaste for music.
This story is worth 1258 Bowie Points altogether.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” yelled the wizard, as he crashed through the ceiling of Girth Loinhammer’s subterranean labyrinth.
“Hi Grandalf,” said Girth.
“Hi.” Grandalf the Gay stood up and brushed the dust from his robes.
“Tough day?” asked Sekhmet, once she’d finished her mouthful of black pudding bagel.
He squinted up through the hole he’d just made. “I think the eagles are getting tired of me using them like Uber.”
“Maybe you should…not do that?”
“I try not to take advantage, but I’m old, my knees ache, and I can hitch a ride with an eagle without having to climb downstairs.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 9
Challenge #4: Write a story featuring at least one petty deity, but no well known ones. It must include at least one of the following elements: spectacular shoes, a coin flip, moving vehicles, a rite of passage, coconuts. Also, at least one of these: no shoes allowed, strange definitions of justice, revolving doors, something forgotten, fables.
She appeared suddenly, without fanfare, standing barefoot between the lanes of speeding traffic. Cars honked angrily, vans swerved, yet they seemed not to concern her even as her robe whipped in their wake.
“You have forgotten your gods,” she announced, quite calmly. “You have consigned them to oblivion: only I remain. Tell me then, what is my name?”
The people on the street waved and yelled. A construction worker in a hi-vis vest looked left and right, preparing to rush out and lead her to the pavement, but suddenly there were no or in the road. There was no at all.
“You have forgotten your gods,” she said again. “I am all that’s left. Tell me then, what is my name?”
In a nearby greengrocers’ shop, the green plastic tray between the mangoes and the coconuts suddenly stood empty. The grocer stared at it. That tray had held , surely? The sign read: “ ’ – 4 for £1.”
“Are you Athena?” asked the grocer, his voice trembling. Two more stood empty: the and the were now gone too.
“No,” replied the goddess. “I am not Athena: those who are not paid tribute are forever lost.”
Gradually, it on those gathered that there were neither on the trees nor in the sky. No blew through the streets, and the was silent. Continue reading
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 2015, Day 31
Challenge #14: Write a story with a word count divisible by 31, featuring a multi-headed entity. It must include all 31 one-word prompts from this year’s event: Celery, Moon, Forgiveness, Excelsior!, Judgment, Dauntless, Terminus, Amorphous, Barbarian, Flabbergasted, Pulchritudinous, Twinkle, Ennui, Anagnorisis, Ethanol, Skank, Defenestrate, Moist, Summoned, Chiaroscuro, Legend, Elemental, Eldritch, Unfurling, Ending, Cicatrize, Catalyst, Codpiece, Facetious, Carrot, Google.
Girth Loinhammer was not a fan of this new-fangled internet thing. Everywhere he looked, people were gawping at tablets and squinting at phones. Very slyly, he leaned over to check what the barfly next to his left was looking at. “Super Cute Duckling Thinks Carrot is Best Friend,” read the massive headline on the tiny screen. Girth peered over the shoulder of the drunk to his right. It was a YouTube video about cats with boobs.
Girth settled back into his seat at the bar, adjusting the spiked leather straps of his torturer’s uniform. He’d sure like to find out where the internet lived and give it a piece of his mind, whip, and poker. Then again, knowing the internet, it would probably enjoy it. Just like all the other perverts he’d encountered during his not particularly long or distinguished career. There was no place for non-kinky torturers anymore.
He propped his elbows on the bar and lowered his head into his hands. “Another mead, barkeep.”
“The answer to your problems isn’t at the bottom of a mead horn,” said the barbarian barfly to his left.
“Of course not.” Girth angled the vessel over the faceplate of his helmet and tried to tip the drink through into his mouth. A lot of it missed and splashed onto his codpiece, making it look as though he’d wet himself. “The answer’s in all the lovely ethanol floating about in the middle.”
“Cats with boobs!” shouted the drunk, pointing at something just outside Girth’s field of vision. “Cats with boobs!”
A pulchritudinous woman with the head of a lioness marched swiftly over to the bar and roundhouse kicked the drunk in the face, managing to defenestrate him in the process. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2014, Day 27
Professor Hattersley took his place at the podium, ignoring the less than kind murmurs that spread through the audience as he crossed the stage. Talk didn’t bother him. For one thing, he was used to it. For another, after this conference the talk would be different. He set the shoebox-sized casket of gold and lapis lazuli before him.
“Esteemed colleagues,” he began. “I am aware that my research has drawn a certain amount of scorn in the past, and I appreciate that a degree of scepticism is only healthy.” The murmurs showed no sign of abating. If there was one good thing about being an academic pariah, it was that it did wonders for one’s public speaking skills. He spoke louder. “The idea that the deities of ancient Egypt were not merely the invention of a primitive society, but powerful visitors from another dimension, will no doubt have a dramatic effect on Egyptology, and indeed the study of all ancient civilizations.”
“This is just conjecture!” shouted a no-nonsense delegate at the back of the room. “You’ve never provided so much as a shred of evidence for the ideas presented in any of your books.”
A hearty chorus of “hear hear” went around the auditorium.
“I have provided enough evidence,” retorted Hattersley, “for anyone who is prepared to accept it. And I will provide much more. Behold!” He held the box aloft.
“That could have come from any New Age hippy woo shop.” One of the speakers sitting in the front row flapped a hand dismissively.
“As a matter of fact, it did.” Professor Hattersley tapped the lid of the box. “But though this item may be made of plastic, its design is based on a ruined original believed to have been associated with King Scorpion, and that design is what matters. That, and the summoning incantations I discovered on my most recent expedition. These have, of course, already been performed.” He smiled, waving a hand over the box.
“I’m sorry,” a reporter at the side of the room spoke up. Until now she had been looking pretty bored. “Do you mean to say that inside that box…there is a god?”
“That is exactly what I am saying.” Hattersley grinned. “But the sacred charms I recovered do not merely summon this god—they will allow me to command it.” Without a word more, he whipped the lid from the box.
Suddenly, there was a blinding light that obscured the entire stage. When it faded, there stood before the podium one of the strange, animal-headed figures every member of the audience was so familiar with. Its head was that of a lioness, and it regarded the mass of observers with a cold, distant gaze.
“Oh my goodness…” one delegate whispered to another, “I think that’s Sekhmet!”
“I don’t think so,” replied the other. “Sekhmet was the focus of my thesis—she’s usually pictured robed in red. More likely this is…”
“SEE ME!” boomed the goddess on the stage. “I AM TEFNUT—GODDESS OF MOISTURE!”
“Prove it!” shouted the delegate at the back.
The goddess opened her mouth and produced a hissing chant, like ten thousand leaves swaying in unison. Suddenly, the room was quite humid.
“Amazing!” the delegate at the back had to concede. “Tell me…can you do more than this?”
“NO,” replied Tefnut. “IF I DID MORE THAN THIS, THE ROOM WOULD NOT BE MOIST. IT WOULD BE WET. IF YOU WANT THE ROOM TO BECOME WET, YOU SHOULD SUMMON ANUKET—GODDESS OF THE NILE—OR IT MIGHT BE EASIER TO JUST SPRAY IT WITH A HOSE.”
“Wait…” Professor Hattersley peered from behind the podium, where he’d been hiding. “Do you mean to say I’ve spent my entire career searching for you…and you’re basically just a supernatural humidifier? You can’t do anything else at all?”
“THERE IS ONE OTHER THING I CAN DO.”
“Go on then.”
Tefnut stared blankly at him.
“I command you,” shouted Hattersley, “show me!”
Tefnut stepped down from the stage and approached the speaker in the front row, who began to panic. “SCRIBE,” she said, “YOUR LIPS ARE DRY.” So she stretched out a hand and pointed to his lips, and they were dry no longer.
“Thank you!” stammered the speaker. “I left my chapstick on the plane and I’ve been without it for days…thank you so much!”
Professor Hattersley slapped a palm to his forehead. “Is that really all you can do?”
“THERE IS YET ONE MORE THING,” said Tefnut.
“Yes?” Hattersley tapped his foot.
“IF ANYBODY HAS A DISAPPOINTING TURKEY SANDWICH, I CAN…”
“That’s it.” Professor Hattersley pulled the microphone from his lapel and threw it to the ground. “I quit.”