Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 22
Challenge #10*: Write an interactive story with at least two good endings and two bad endings. It must feature a conflict between Man and Society, and must also involve a choice that hinges on equipping the right item.
In the arena, two majestic alabaster unicorns duel to the death. Their tungsten chainsaw horns ring out against one another like a swarm of killer bees in a blender.
Place bet: 3
Leave: 4 Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 4
Challenge #2: Write a four-part story featuring four different settings. Each part must have an identical word count and the settings must correspond to the four classical elements.
Once upon an ancient time, a terrible giant rose from the land. A remnant of a savage age, the giant had no taste for peace: his only joys were destruction and strife. Stone was his skin and stone was his heart, so neither arrow nor entreaty could end his assault upon the good people who lived in those parts. But still they had one hope:
“Cornwall John, Cornwall John!” the people cried. “Save us from the terrible giant who tears up crops with his stone hands and treads upon our livestock with his stone feet.”
So Cornwall John strode out upon the plain to face this dire foe.
Now, Cornwall John was big as a house, but the stone giant was big as a castle, and it laughed to hear his challenge.
“Go on then,” the giant said, leaning down and pointing to its chin. “I am generous. I shall let you throw the first punch, since any punch of mine is sure to be the last.”
Then Cornwall John drew back his fist, and with a single strike cast the great stone giant into the sea, where he sank and drowned. For you see, not only was Cornwall John as big as a house, but his fists were made of brick! This, in the end, was the giant’s undoing. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 1
Challenge #1: Write a story of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds including elements of black comedy and a “Screw destiny!” moment.
On any other day, the harbour would have seemed bustling with life. In truth, however, the streets were empty, and the bloated hands that manned the vessels at the dock were anything but alive. Shrouded in a cloud of inky vapour, Baal-Sogoth rose from the depths, strode through the surf and began to climb the granite spire that looked out across the shore. The Lord of the Abyss had, as prophecy foretold, come to claim dominion over the people of the earth and sand. In days to come, he would have his drowned servants carry the hills to fill the depths, making all the world even so that no land broke the surface of the sea, and no waves marred its perfect face.
In days to come, Baal-Sogoth would look upon the Earth and see a glassy, fish-like eye no different to his own.
In days to come, the Earth would look back with its new dead life, and see his eye in turn. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 30
The corpse of the dragon lay steaming upon the floor, the marks of its wrath seared permanently into the cavern walls. Yet the heroes stood victorious. Leaving the dragon to stink and smoulder, they ventured deeper into its lair, appraising the stock of treasure the winged terror had amassed across the ages.
“This will ease the suffering of our land…” observed Khemaghan the Keen, lifting a gem-studded chalice, worth several fortunes on its own.
“…but it will not repair the devastation that the beast has wrought.” Quilbar the Quick was troubled by the same thought.
“We beat it,” said Skondar the Strong, speaking firmly as ever. “We won. It’s over.”
But from the bones of the dragon, there sprang forth a new threat. For in its hoard—beyond the reach of mortal man for years known only to the gods—there stood a copper lamp upon a bare pedestal. In every other room, gold and jewels had lain strewn across the floor, a careless bed for the vile serpent.
In this room, the floor was bare. A perfect, solid circle of clear stone marked a perimeter about the pedestal, as though gold and silver feared to draw too close to the base metal that stood atop it.
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 15
Challenge #7*: Write a story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting. It must include both situational irony and a tone shift, but these things must be kept separate. It must also include fifteen colours that are also things, and elements from at least four different mythologies, only two of which may be well known.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, lavender—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, mint—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, nutmeg—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, orange—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
It took fifteen seconds for Gilgamesh to descend into the underworld. Thirty seconds to wrap the paquet congo—ebony, ochre, periwinkle—in the hopes that it would bring the loa to his aid. It will take him fifteen seconds to draw his sword, but his sword is missing.
Corn-teeth Hal and Big Myrtle stared at the gaping hollow in the ground, a low beacon of black in the ashen, Fimbulvetr snow. There had been surface structures here at one point, but their walls had been reduced to knee-high shin-stubbers by whatever had formed the crater that the pair had just spent the morning traversing. Only the entryway remained intact.
Hal spotted something emblazoned on the concrete, and used his glove to scrape away the snow: Medusa’s Gaze Tactical Facility. It was not written in paint. It was written in the ivory of paint long gone, the rest of the wall seared to a charcoal hue.
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 3
The cruelty of the sphinx was the cruelty of a thousand ages. The cruelty of wind and sand. The cruelty of stone. She remembered the mighty river that had cut her from the gorge. She remembered the sweeping grit and pebbles that had shaped her face. And she resented the pitiful trickle of dust-robed pilgrims who had come to replace it, treading its long-dry course.
“What,” hissed the sphinx, “goes upon four feet in the morning, upon two feet in the afternoon, and upon three feet in the evening?”
The man visibly quaked as he answered. “It is…man,” he said. “Man crawls on all fours as an infant, stands upon two feet when grown, and uses a stick also in old age.”
This defeat stung the sphinx, but her stone face would never show it. “You may pass,” she breathed, her voice hard as ever.
Many years passed, and the sphinx’s hunger for torment grew ever greater. The winds changed. The sands changed. But minds of stone will never change. Continue reading
It’s that time of year once again! Every single day this month, I will be writing and posting a brand new story between 55 and 1,000 words in length. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know the drill: this is now the fifth year in a row I’ll be participating.
Last year I was lucky enough to win one of the weekly challenge prizes, and I got this lovely mug, designed by Neurotype. I’m drinking coffee out of it as I write this! If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll also know that “Size isn’t everything” paired a Lovecraftian flasher is about my level of humour.
The mug design for 2016 (this one by Joe Wright) looks super cool as well, though.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re already set up to get notifications whenever I post a new story: I’ll be sharing them on this very blog, on deviantART (home of Flash Fiction Month), on Wattpad, and I’ll be linking to those various places through Facebook and Twitter. I’ll also be sending out weekly digests to anyone subscribed to my newsletter and notifications; people who are just subscribed to the newsletter will get a list of the complete 31 stories once the month is over.
If you somehow manage to miss all those opportunities to catch the stories as they’re released, I’ll be collecting them together into an anthology, as I have done every year since I first took on this challenge in 2012. If you want to catch up on my work from previous years, the first three ebooks are permanently free to download:
The fourth ebook usually costs a token amount, as will number five when it’s available, but as Flash Fiction Month 2016 coincides with a site-wide sale at Smashwords, you can now get it free with promo code SFREE. As an added bonus, my prehistoric fantasy novel, Face of Glass, is also currently 50% off with code SSW50.
Clicking the cover of any one of those books will take you to its page over on Smashwords. The books are DRM free, and come in a variety of formats, so you should have no trouble copying them to any number of devices you might want to read on. You’re also welcome to pass them on to friends and family. On the flipside, if you have got your book for free (either from a friend or through this promotion), please consider helping me out by leaving a review (on Smashwords or anywhere else) and maybe buying a copy of something down the line. Alternatively, send a copy to someone else. That’s good too.
If you’ve been following for a while, you may have already seen my first and second articles on the Early Access version of Epistory, an open-world typing game by Fishing Cactus. Well, now that the game is out, and now that my computer is capable of reliably recording gameplay, I thought I’d try a video review.
Chapter One: The Watchtower
It was a marvel to see the White Queen paint. Marcia watched as the brush drifted across the surface of the paper, leaving no mark: its bristles held only water.
There was a knock at the door.
Marcia looked to the queen, and was answered by an almost imperceptible nod. Stepping neatly over to the door, she opened it.
“Your Majesty,” said the general, bowing deeply as he stepped inside. “We have repelled an attack at Hobnail Pass, but the lines will not hold.”
The White Queen traced the brush across the paper with extreme care. Marcia closed the door, then once again took up her place by the queen’s side, examining the paper with silent interest. There was no hint of her mistress’ work but a faint glistening of water in the light.
The general took no more notice of the queen than she did of him. Marcia observed him in one of the queen’s three grand mirrors as he strode over to a map laid out on a nearby table, cluttered with painted wooden models representing various companies and legions. The general scowled, removing a few dusty pieces and rearranging several more.
The queen dipped her brush in the little cup of water and dragged it back and forth quickly across the top of the paper, catching the little beads of liquid as they formed. She stared out of the window at the garden below, comparing this scene to the one she had formed. With a quick flick of the brush, she made an adjustment.
“It is my opinion that we must give up Wieseberg.” The general proceeded to shove a line of figures into place with a straight edge, then formed them into a swooping curve with a pudgy hand. “The city is of little strategic value, but eliminating this salient would shorten our lines considerably. The surplus troops here could be…”
“Give up the pass,” said the queen, dabbing carelessly at the paper.
“Give up the pass.” The White Queen folded her hands on her lap and turned to the general. “Our foe is determined to have that ground no matter what the cost. We will not be so foolish.” Continue reading
There are a whole lot of book giveaways running as part of the event, and though all the paperback ones seem to be US-only, I’ve taken the opportunity to make the Face of Glass ebook available as a free download worldwide. Since Face of Glass was until recently the only book I actually charged for, this isn’t something I’m likely to repeat any time soon. Grab your copy now, and pass the message on to any friends who might be interested, because when the fair ends on March 4th, I’ll be shutting that link down.
Incidentally, you might like to download all the different formats while you’ve got the chance: this is always an option if you buy from Smashwords, but if you only download one during the giveaway and change e-readers later on, you might regret not getting hold of the version it takes.
As it’s the first day of the book fair, it’s hard to say how this will all play out, but I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting things from some interesting authors. M.R. Graham‘s The Medium is also among those books featured today, and having seen the blurbs for some of the things coming up later in the fortnight, I know for sure that I’ll be keeping an eye on the event.