Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 20
“Today we remember Therm O’Nuclear,” announced Captain Caulk, with tears in his mighty eyes. “Though to those present now, he was perhaps better known as Major Megaton. He will be most dearly missed.”
“Oh, sure,” muttered Tsar Kazm. “I mean, it’s not as if any of us have ever turned up after dying before. Like, that’s not a thing superheroes are known for doing or anything.”
Captain Caulk glowered at him.
Suddenly, the church doors banged open. A lone figure stood spandex-clad and silhouetted in the space between them.
It was Spiderguy.
“Sorry I’m late!” he whispered as he edged his way awkwardly down one of the pews at the back. “Kind of embarrassing: I got stuck in the bath.”
Captain Caulk cleared his throat. “As you will all probably be aware, Major Megaton’s body was sadly never found—”
“Also not a massive hint he’ll be back!” said Tsar Kazm, less quietly this time. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 18
“Foolish knight,” hissed the dragon. “Did you think this place would be unguarded? Did you think the moat its only defence? None who pass through those gates return alive, for all who do must face me.”
“Okay,” said the knight. “Why?”
“What do you mean ‘why’? Obviously I’m gonna fight anyone who comes here. Do you really think they’d leave a dragon in a tower just to welcome people in?”
The dragon made an annoyed little noise. “Only Queen Harriet the Third and the nobles of her court. Geez! You don’t see a lot of dragons guarding pubs, do you? I mean, it’s pretty much royalty or nothing, innit?”
“Because dragons guard treasure and the cash box at the Dog and Pheasant isn’t exactly going to cut it!” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 13
“Stop, good citizen!” cried the complete stranger who had just burst through the door. “Sign not that paperwork!”
“What?” yelped the landlord. “What are you doing here? Who are you anyway?”
“Why, I am Apartment Man!” proclaimed the intruder, who wore a hat on his head shaped like a house’s roof.
“And I his loyal sidekick, Rent Boy!”
“And we are here to tell you…” Apartment Man pointed dramatically at the prospective tenant, “that your security deposit should be nowhere near the value of three months’ rent. Not for an unfurnished apartment!”
“Sorry,” said the landlord. “What did you say?” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 12
Challenge #6: Write a story involving a wannabe character in which it is implied someone dies in a spectacular fashion.
It was a beautiful evening, the tranquillity of the gentle pink sunset marred only slightly by the battle raging on between every superhero in the city and the skyscraper-sized fire-breathing dinosaur that had emerged from the harbour an hour or so earlier.
“Hi, Mr. O’Nuclear,” said Tina, rather suddenly.
Mr. O’Nuclear jumped. He hadn’t realised anyone else was on the roof.
“You know you can just call me Therm, right?” he said.
“My mum says it’s rude to call grownups by their first names,” explained Tina, opening the door of the pigeon loft.
Therm considered this. “I think that’s a bit old-fashioned, but it’s good that you do what your parents tell you.”
Tina began to feed the birds.
Therm watched a cloud drift lazily across the horizon.
The dinosaur fired a ginormous laser beam from its face.
“Why are you wearing a big green onesie?” asked Tina. “And a cape?”
“Well,” Therm chuckled. “I suppose there’s no harm telling you this now. The truth is, I’ve been a superhero for about six years now. Ever since I jumped into the path of an intercontinental ballistic missile to prevent World War Three.”
“Oh, cool!” Tina walked over. “Do you have a superhero name?”
Therm swept a hand in front of him as if revealing invisible words in the air: “Major Megaton.” He paused. “I was pushing for Colonel Kiloton myself, but they didn’t want to promote me that far just for the name. Come to think of it, I reckon that’s probably why so many superheroes are ‘Captain’ something-or-other.”
“Got any superpowers?”
“Besides having a 100 kiloton warhead lodged in my ribcage, not really.”
The dinosaur in the distance demolished the headquarters of the Daily Bungle with a swipe of its tail. On the bright side, Therm considered, the thing was getting farther from the city centre.
“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” said Tina. “But there aren’t a lot of girl ones out there.”
“Well…a lot of superheroes start out as soldiers, or scientists, or billionaire CEOs, and since women are still under-represented in those fields there’s kind of a knock-on…” Therm realised this probably wasn’t a helpful way to address the issue. “But I mean, that’s all the more reason for you to do it!”
“Do you really think I could!?”
“Yeah! You can do anything you put your mind to!”
“Can I help out with the dinosaur, then? That would be so cool!”
“Ooh. That’s… Look, that dinosaur’s a biggie. Literally. I mean, you don’t want to tackle something like that on your first try. They wouldn’t even have called me if it wasn’t really, really serious.”
“Oh.” Tina looked at her shoes. “Okay.”
Therm watched the last little snippet of the sun vanish below the horizon.
The dinosaur swatted at a biplane peppering it with machine-gun fire.
Therm wondered when the historical aviation society had gotten involved.
“So…why aren’t you there now?” Tina asked.
“I need to let the other heroes draw the creature a few miles from the city before I can…you know…do my thing,” explained Therm.
“So it doesn’t fall on anyone when you defeat it?”
“Umm…” Therm gave a nervous smile. “Something like that.”
“Superheroes spend more time waiting around than I thought.”
“Oh, it’s not like that! I mean, sure, it is for me. And anybody who relies on one of those big searchlight symbols pointed at a cloud. And then there’s stakeouts…” Again, Therm felt as though he wasn’t exactly doing his bit to encourage the next generation of superheroes. “But there’s much more to being a hero than just waiting for a bank heist to foil. For a supervillain to punch. For a fire-breathing dinosaur to blast to smithereens. The most important things are the small things. Speaking up when someone does something bad. Recognising when they do something good. Being there for your friends. Making new friends! It sounds goofy, but those are the things that are really important.”
The sun, at last, dipped below the horizon. The dinosaur was well out into the suburbs by now. Therm figured that if he had anything else to say, now was the time to say it.
At last it came to him: “The big stuff…” he began. “The big stuff will turn out okay as long as there’s at least one person there to do it. But the small stuff, that’s up to everyone.”
The dinosaur was moving at quite a pace—whoever was in that biplane really seemed to have riled it up—and if Therm was honest with himself he knew he’d already put off leaving longer than he had to.
“Why do you want to be a superhero, Tina?”
“I want to punch bad guys and shoot monsters with eye-beams and use a grappling hook to climb a building!”
Therm nodded. “Those are all really good reasons. But you have to remember that as much of a difference as those things make, what really matters is that people know you’re looking out for them. Because then they’ll look out for each other too.”
“Okay,” said Tina. “But I still think shooting eye-beams at monsters is important too.”
“It is,” conceded Therm, “but that’s not something I can help you with.”
He took an item from his utility belt.
“Maybe this’ll do instead.”
“No way!” Tina took the grappling pistol. “Can I have this? Really?” Then she thought for a bit. “Don’t you need it?”
“Naah. I’m sure you’ll get more use out of it than me.”
Therm dropped off the edge of the building and landed in a dramatic pose before sprinting off towards the dinosaur in the distance.
Tina watched him until he vanished between the buildings.
“Still feeding the pigeons?” asked her mother, stepping out of the stairwell. “Come on. It’s time you went to bed.”
“Can I heat up the hot chocolate with my eye-beams?” asked Tina, excitedly.
“Only if you’re very, very careful,” said her mother. “I’m not replacing the fridge again.”
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 9
In brighter times, the Ebon Tower had been a beacon of hope and justice, its garrisons watching over the Merchants’ Way from Grimble’s Vale in the East to Far Baragar in the West. But since the demon Kharael had come to claim it, that tower was a blight upon the land. Travellers would cling to the shadows of the Northern Peaks simply to avoid its gaze, though those roads teemed with wolves and bandits, and many lost their way.
Few could stand against a demon, but the Arch-mage Tharandel was one of those few, and so he felt it his duty to make the attempt. He pushed open the doors of the great hall at the tower’s tallest height, and what he saw there was nothing short of madness.
The demon Kharael had rearranged the very matter of the room. Screaming faces writhed across the walls, their words transmuted into silent flame. The pillars rising seemed to twist and bend, tormented serpents racked by pain that could afflict even stone. And in the centre of it all sat Kharael himself, upon a throne of skulls. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 8
“Welcome…” announced that Attenborough guy. Not David Attenborough. The other one. “…to Jurassic Pork!”
“Oink,” said the park’s only exhibit, contentedly.
“What makes this Jurassic, exactly?” asked Sam Neill.
“Didn’t you hear?” asked…I think it’s Rupert? Rupert Attenborough. “This pig—this specific pig lounging in its own filth right in front of you right now—has been back in time. To the Jurassic period.”
“Does…does it do anything?”
“It’ll absolutely hoover up apples!” Rupert threw one to the pig, who did indeed snaffle it with great enjoyment. There was much crunching, and a great deal of piggy grunting. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 6
“I ride my Death Lorry through the Plains of Ruin!” bellows Baron Hugendong to a scorched, indifferent sky. “I keep battle in my headlights! I leave carnage in my tracks! I am the harbinger of destruction! I am the terror of the wastes!”
“Well, that’s great,” yells Miffed Mel, pulling up alongside him, “but it’s not very green, is it?”
“What?” bellows Baron Hugendong.
“I’m just saying that—” Mel swerves to avoid a spiky pit trap that’s just opened up in the middle of the highway. “Could you pull over for a second? This is super dangerous and also it’s kind of a pain having to shout over your crazy two-engine warmachine.”
“You get used to it, but I take your point!” Baron Hugendong stops his vehicle.
Miffed Mel pulls up next to him. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 5
Challenge #3: Write story including a conveniently interrupted document and an anti-villain. One of these tropes must be lampshaded.
“Mr. President!” Special Planetary UFO Defence agent Brock Stone burst through the doors, waving a slightly singed journal. “Hold the nuclear strike! We’ve recovered Professor Nerdlinger’s research notes on the anti-alien ray!”
“Oh, thank God.” The President took the journal and began to read:
I’ve done it! At long last I’ve done it! In all my years studying the approaching alien fleet, I never imagined that such a force, such a terrible foe, could have such an enormous weakness. And such an obvious weakness! I simply can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. I have run the numbers over and over in my head, and I am convinced the the machine I have devised will cause the aliens’ brains to explode instantly. It promises to be as simple as it is effective. All that remains is to outline the means of constructing this wonderous device, which I shall do post haste within the pages of this very— Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 4
“Haven’t we already done time travel before?” asked Captain Redundancy, inquisitively.
“Only once,” answered Tautology Boy. “Three years go, in 2015.”
“Good, good.” Captain Redundancy nodded. “Nice and redundant. So what year is it now?”
“67,000,000 BC,” said Private Paradox, swinging his machete through the thick Cretaceous foliage. “We appear to have…what’s the word?”
“Overshot?” suggested Tautology Boy. “Jumped? Skipped? Missed?” The vengeful masked avenger’s sidekick was rather good with synonyms.
“Overshot?” suggested Captain Redundancy himself, since it seemed the most likely option.
“No,” said Private Paradox. “What I was going to say was ‘…deliberately travelled millions of years into the past because my promise of a redundant expedition through time was in fact a ruse devised to ensure you would furnish me with the enriched phlebotinum necessary to make this journey through time and step on a butterfly.’” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 3
Challenge #2: Write story including a scene in which a reconciliation occurs. It must also mention a year in which a historical peace treaty was signed and feature an unreliable narrator.
Abraham Van Helsing moved silently through the crypt, the stench of death all around him. The sanctuary of his nemesis lay ahead, illuminated by the yellow glow of the electric lantern affixed to the breast of his coat. Van Helsing carried a mallet of oak in his right hand and a stake of ash in his left, one held ready to strike the other. The coffin before him loomed closer, closer, as he prepared to tear open its lid and smite his foe.
With the point of his stake, he levered up the wood in one smooth motion and prepared to strike.
Yet the coffin was empty.
With unnatural speed, a shadow darted across the hall, yet protected by providence Van Helsing had the presence of mind to hold up his stake and mallet as a makeshift cross, and the creature halted its advance. Yet it was not yet defeated.
“Ah! Ah! Ah!” laughed Count Dracula. “Your feeble wood means nothing to me, for…” Continue reading