Posts Tagged With: flash fiction

Cresting the Summit

Sarah felt like the beleaguered heroine in a Greek tragedy. She muttered as she searched for toeholds, fingers digging in to grip at the soft surface of the mountain she was scaling, trying to remember who the hell it was that had to do the whole boulder bullshit. She knew it was a he, and that he had to push this big ass rock to the top of a mountain over and over again, since it rolled all the way back down every time he reached the top. Well, whatever the hell his name was, that’s who she felt like. Prometheus? No, that was the fire guy who got his guts pecked out every day. Or his eyes. Maybe some days she felt like him, too, but that’s not who she was thinking of. Trying to figure it out was a welcome distraction from overthinking her current predicament, so she didn’t mind overmuch that she hadn’t landed on the right name yet.

A rank smell assaulted her nose each time she was stupid enough to forget not to breathe through it. “Phaw!” she yelled, smacking her lips, actually tasting the stink in the back of her throat. Bits of grimy crust stuck underneath her fingernails; bits of what, she didn’t want to know. She just wanted to put her head down and concentrate on reaching the summit.

She shuddered in fear that yet again, once she reached the top of this mountain, all she would see would be another, and another, stretching towards infinity, no end in sight. Searching inside herself, she was dismayed to realize that she really didn’t know how much longer she could keep this up. There was a part of her that just wanted to snuggle into a crevice, crusty smelly bits and all, and let herself be buried alive. It was hard to keep going, hard to traverse an entire mountain range that had just sprung up over night. She would have sworn that yesterday there was only a single mountain, more of a hill, really, nothing insurmountable. Then, some time during the night, she had heard voices, a rustling born upon a rumbling, and next thing you know…

She silenced her inner wuss, drowning the voice out with more muttering. “There’s gotta be an endgame, Sarah, just shut up and get to it, just a few more feet to the top.” It was a comforting lie to tell herself, as distance appeared to be relative in this landscape and she had no idea how far away it truly was.

With dogged determination, she grabbed and slipped, lifted and dug in, until finally she could flop herself over onto a plateau with all the grace of a slug. She scrambled to her knees, exhausted but driven by the need to see. She gained her feet slowly as she realized that she had finally reached the end – down this side was gloriously flat land. Energy rebounding, she pumped her fists in the air and hooted. “I’m done!” she yelled, doing an ill-advised happy dance on unstable terrain.

Down she went, ass over tea kettle, around and around and around. “Oh, well,” she thought, “at least I’m falling in the right direction.”

She caught up against something cushioned yet firm, and lay there until her whirling thoughts and dizzy limbs calmed. She glanced to the right and found herself looking under a couch and into a pair of feline eyes, blinking mere inches from her own. She reached out, scratched under his chin.

“Come on Sisyphus. I finally finished the damn laundry. Time for the dishes.”

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Aging Ungracefully

Flames lick the ground behind her, lascivious tongues of flame laving furrows of black and red and she stumbles her way from the forest, towards the road. The heat is oppressive, a dance that’s spun out of her control; what she thought she had held firmly under her thumb is writhing its way out, a filament at a time. Each breath weighs in her lungs after it tears through her throat, like swallowing dry bricks of gun powder, particle filled combustibles that float back through her cracked lips as she wheezes out and huffs, and digs for just a few more strides.

It was a game, just a game, she thinks, desperately searching for a path through the underbrush to lead her to fresh air. Her shoulders hunch forward as branches creak and crack and crash, the groan of the trees before they lose their limbs rumbling Earth gods challenging her to outrun their burning, wayward children. She has overstayed her welcome in this land.

A flash, matte black, a split second glimpse when she dashes around a half hidden lump of a log. She changes direction mid-stride, careening with feckless abandon, high stepping across the hot ground lest she be caught up by something hidden under the ashy debris.

She bursts through the tree line, tries to whoop and ends bent double, hacking and spitting polluted breath. She decides that breathing freely is freedom bellow enough. Before she pulls herself upright, she catches a susurrus from the corner of her ear that has nothing to do with fire. She looks up.

A dusting of snow glitters across the road, frozen motes dancing upwards on a wafting breeze. Coalescing, they swirl hypnotically, snaking across the asphalt away from her. She watches, rapt, as these snow snakes meet and twirl upwards, ribboning together, a form emerging from their wintry midst.

As the trees stood as Earth gods, so she too is a goddess, a goddess of the Sky, of Snow and of Ice. Her hair is carved in glittering whorls; her smile, when it breaks across her face, is tantalizing, terrifying, in equal measure.

“You must cross the road, at some point.” Her words strike the air with the ting of falling icicles, and the girl blanches.

“But…but…I would freeze. I have no protection.” She is not ready to be frozen in place, she does not want to be molded as this beautiful goddess is molded. Not yet.

The glacial goddess inclines her head. “This is the truth. I am implacable, yet not without mercy. You may bring a spark with you when you cross, so that you may remain fluid.”

Nervous now, the girl starts at a sting on her ankle, automatically reaching down towards the tender spot. A teardrop of flame clings to her finger, clambers into her palm with a purpose of movement and sits there, warming without harming, and glows happily.

“This will protect me?” she asks, although she already feels tenderly towards the tiny drop, and wants to protect it in turn.

“If you do not forget to nurture it.”

“Then I will cross.” She places a bare foot on the frozen road, and takes a tentative step.

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Parental Rights

This fucking skirt. I could give a shit less what I look like if I’m not comfortable, and this skirt sucks. It twists, it clings, it’s all over the damn place. Of course, I can’t stand still, so that could be a factor. My left foot bops, my right attempts to jitterbug. My shaking hand holds a cigarette that will burn down to the filter after a few cheek hollowing, lung harrowing inhalations.

I can’t decide which is worse – the grey outdoors where I’m standing, the sun on vacation, leaving us mortals clinging to its memory and feeling only half alive, or the painful harshness of the indoor fluorescents, the sadistic and efficient creators of which are on my find-out-I-have-a-terminal-illness hitlist.

No Smoking, says the door. Yeah. Fuck you.

I eye every person that passes, searching. Not you, not you, definitely not you; you do not have the answers to the questions that I am asking. I am twenty-five years old, defiantly clueless. You do not have the answers to the questions that I am asking.

Hello, I rehearse in my head. Hi. I’m your daughter.

Stranger words have never passed through my mind and I want to grab one of the grounded in well-being and ask them if they have ever had to say those particular words in that particular order. Excuse me, have you ever had the pleasure of introducing yourself to one of your parents? If so, how did that go for you?

Hi. I’m your daughter. Still strange.

I turn my head and I see her staring at me through the window. I was told she’s my grandma, but I’m not sure how to process that information. I’ve never met her, there are no over the river and through the woods cookie baking memories between us. As soon as she realizes I’m looking back at her, she looks away. Hi, I’m your granddaughter. Still strange.

My body can’t handle one more iota of nicotine, so I light another cigarette, and man, it hurts so good. There are so many butts strewn on the ground it looks like a homeless man came and made a collage. I look for pictures in them, like you do in clouds, but it’s just dirt and garbage. It’s nothing.

Hi. I’m your daughter. Still strange.

I take as deep a breath as my riddled innards will allow and pull the door open. Yes, that’s right, hush your conversations and stare. I will offer you a smile, regardless.

As the door whooshes closed behind me I am in another dimension. Though this first room is barely larger than my high school homeroom, I have never been somewhere that felt so cavernous.

I chant my mantra in time with my steps- Hi, I’m your daughter. Hello, I have never seen a single person in this room before, will you welcome me into your family with comforting arms, because this hurts me too you know, or will you all just keep looking at me like you’re more afraid of me than I am of you?

An arched doorway, into soft lighting, softer music, and the stink of flowers.

I know from television that the insides aren’t inside, the organs removed and weighed and recorded in posthumous posterity, and the mouth has been stuffed so you don’t notice the sunken cheeks. For a moment, looking at smooth eyelids, I get a mental flash of garish, cartoonish, giant black X’s stitching them shut.

I shake the image away, take a waxy hand in mine, and bore my words through the shell.

“Hello. I’m your daughter.”

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

If We’re Lucky, We Get to Say Goodbye

Fingertips scrabbled at rock on the inside of the crater. My fingernails were bloody and my toes ached, struggling to support weight on a ledge just wide enough for the balls of my feet. Putting the pain of the effort aside, I dug my fingers in, feeling new fissures open in the skin, dug my toes in, and heaved myself over the side.

I was breathing heavily, hands to the side of my head, leaving bloody streaks as if I wore a crown of thorns. The ground up here was no more forgiving than the walls had been; I could feel my ass bleeding along with the rest of me as I scooched farther from the edge. I had dropped into that void once and had no desire to plunge like a stone into its nothingness again.

Memories zipped through my brain like darting minnows of shiny destruction. Headlights flashing; hydroplaning across a wet road; over-correcting the steering wheel; Nick screaming as the car flips; Nick scarily silent as the car cuts a swathe of destruction through trees, plunging off the freeway, spinning in circles on it’s roof. Me, oddly silent, as we teeter to a stop nose first in a shallow creek bed. The odd silence continuing, even after I shake off enough of the daze to call Nick’s name, or try to. Turning my head, terrifyingly slow, towards the back of the car…

My head snapped up so quickly that it felt like a giant rubber band being twanged. “No! No, you motherfuckers!” I didn’t know where I was, why or how I was, I didn’t know what in the hell was going on, but I knew that Nick wasn’t here, couldn’t be here. I had seen his staring eyes, and the strange cant of his little head, flopping from his neck.

I cried then, big fat tears that burned like sulfur. Nicky was gone and I was here, bloody and broken, on the ground. I felt detached, had no burning desire for answers. I sat, and bled, and cried. So disconnected I heard nothing, had no warning, before a skeletal hand descended to my shoulder. Not skeletal as a descriptor, skinny and crone-like, but skeletal as in fleshless distal phalanges curled into my collarbone.

With a sense of deja vu, I turned my head slowly and looked behind me, up and up, tracking from pelvic bone to spine to skull. A distant part of my brain whispered, with an almost religious hush, ‘My god, it’s beautiful.’

It was beautiful; in my disassociated state, I could appreciate the whorls of color that decorated its leg bones, the flowers painted on its ribs, the jewel like studs that surrounded empty eye sockets. No fear as it released me, hand clacking as it made a universal gesture for ‘follow me’. It cupped my elbow and helped me up, slid down my arm until our fingers linked, pulled me forward.

As I picked out footing on the uneven ground, trying to keep pace with the long strides of my guide, lightness imbued its steps and it skipped towards our mysterious destination. I ran to keep up, clinging to its arm now, steps turning into a dance that spun us towards the incongruous sound of music which reached out and swirled around my mind, so that I was almost laughing as we turned a corner that I had not seen until we were upon it.

In a clearing that opened to a cavernous ceiling, sunlight streamed down upon the altar that sat in the middle of a group of giggling children good-naturedly shoving each other as they grabbed for the most outrageously decorated coffins and skulls from the piles that littered stone shelves.

‘Mom!’ A brown headed bullet launched itself from the candy fray and tore towards me across grass so green it was almost iridescent. Nick hit my middle with a force that squeezed an ‘oof’ out of me, and wrapped his arms around my waist. He grinned up at me, eyes dancing, and tightened his grip til I had to protest. ‘Wait, you’re not dead, I saw you! I was leaving, but you were there still, you were crying, you were alive, I saw you!’

He started to pull away, to scrutinize me from a distance, but I grabbed onto him and pulled him back to me. ‘No, Nicky, no, I’m not dead.’ I stroked his fine hair off his forehead. ‘We’re just being given a chance to say good-bye.’

****

I remember being a kid, maybe 10, and reading Stephen King’s ‘Pet Semetary’. I thought then that one of the things that I would have to learn to do to be a great writer (at that age, King was the pinnacle of authors to me) would be learning to delve into the things that are the most painful, and not be afraid to compromise my own emotions to get to the truth and honesty of the matter. In this case, to imagine the death of a child, especially when you have your own, seemed like one of the hardest things you’d ever try to write. This is proving very true for me, as I almost feel like I’m jinxing myself, which fits in with the superstitious but still somehow Dia de los Muertos. I’ve always been kind of fascinated with this particular celebration, as evidenced by the necklace I just happen to be wearing right now…

Bull dog

This was written for the 4th prompt from Grammar Ghoul Press: we were given a word prompt, void, and a really cool short film as our visual/media prompt. Click the adorable little badge at the top of this post to visit their site, read some truly fantastic writing, join in, vote, what have you. Go here to watch the award winning short film by Whoo Kazoo, Dia de los Muertos – it’s really an awesome little piece of work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCQnUuq-TEE#action=share

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

The Taciturn Beachcomber

“Why’d you freak out in the first place?” he asked.

“I looked down, saw the sand between my toes.”

“What?”

“The sand, grains of sand. They used to be one thing, got eroded into another; they wore away all their useless bits. I was full of useless bits, like a cross patch kid with no signature on the ass.”

“Ah…a cross patch kid?”

“What my daughter called Cabbage Patch kids when they started causing stampedes. My wife climbed a stack of shelves like a monkey to get a red-haired girl with pigtails, to match our Emma.”

“So you knew you were lost because you stepped in sand and lacked a Xavier Robert’s tattoo on your butt cheek?”

“Yup.”

“Not the typical start to an existential crisis, you must admit.”

“Nope.”

“So how did you finally rid yourself of your useless bits?”

“Didn’t.”

“Wait, what?”

“Figured out there are no useless bits.”

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Council

When the renegades caved, sent the transmission requesting aid, the Council seemed receptive in an immediate reply beaming erratically through the broken bricks of the building where they holed up.

Holly, or Holy as they called her in grinning whispers, claimed that the Council was displaying the Divine Grace of Forgiveness, both for the renegades insubordination in refusing to leave the planet in the first place, and for their appropriation of the technology that was left behind.

When tentacles began slithering from the opening hatches of the so-called relief ships hovering over their hideout, she was the first to run.

* * *

So this guy Chris over at Chris White Writes ( http://chriswhitewrites.com/2014/03/28/scifriday-2/ ) started a really cool game called SciFriday – he posts a sweet picture and you write ~100 word sci fi tale and link it up. It seemed like too much fun not to play…

* UPDATE: I just realized that I forgot the picture DERP *

*UPDATE 2: I also forgot to mention that I first found his blog from a series of Monsters A-Z stories that he wrote about lesser known legendary and mythological monsters that were really great.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

The Next

Trifecta

As the quill drips its ink
upon a new page,
an ending is beginning.

Authors pack up their wares,
Close up shop,
and find another fireside for yarn spinning.

Their words cannot quit.

****

A 33 word free write for Trifecta this week. I am incredibly grateful for all of the writers whose work I have come to read and follow and love through Trifecta.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

Cleansing Fire

Midnight hair and lantern jaw, gentle in speech if not appearance, he spread his hands wide and, reaching them towards the bonfire, spoke an unbinding spell.

'What once was ours
Is now yours, and mine.
I release you from your vows.'

Tendrils crept out from the ring of stones, smoke snakes curling through the grass to encircle her ankles. She made a little moue of distaste and visibly stopped herself from stepping back and shaking them off. Interrupting the ritual now would nullify everything they'd already done.

He was sad, though not heart-broken. This was his fault; he had mistaken rigidity for strength. While strength was malleable and capable of spontaneity, rigidity snapped like a thawing icicle at the slightest provocation.

Better to start his search from scratch than to cross the finish line with the wrong partner. Through the clarity of retrospect, the obvious conclusion surfaced: things don't always turn out as planned.

***

I've wanted to try the Speakeasy for a while now, having read about it on Suzanne's blog http://lucidedit.wordpress.com/ and because I really love the name Speakeasy and its connotations. So, here's my first attempt, and now I'm going to go read the other link-ups for inspiration to get better because so far the writing I've seen here is way above par.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 27 Comments

Atmosphere

Storch-Badge-Master

I had just come to expect that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

The day was overcast, but more gilded than washed out, a huge cloud cover with a visible ending that allowed a tiny yellow yoke drop of the sun to peek out from underneath it. That there is enough heat and solar flair in such a small sliver of sun, the size of the bottom of a child’s version of a cartoon boat, makes the fundamental into the fantastic.

There was static in the air, a tingly dance that sent my arm hairs to attention and made the back of my neck itch like the phantom of a former love was breathing heavily beside my ear. I turned the radio up and tried to funnel the energy into my lungs instead of my fingers because they were shaking as I tried to hit my cigarette and it was weird to watch and I worried I would shake out of my skin. I sang along to every damn song that played, I belted and bellowed and wiggled my ass against the seat, musically inclined primal scream therapy. It helped a little bit, except that it made my vocal volume control knobs a little wonky for the rest of the morning and I had to watch or I’d holler instead of talk and bark in lieu of laughter.

I found myself in a Wonderland of humanity as I walked through the garishly lit aisles of the supreme superstore, harsh fluorescent lighting that usually makes everyone seem like a sallow-skin covered rattly skeleton jerking along on broken strings, somehow illuminated them instead. From the inside out burst this shocking white glare that should’ve had me covering my eyes and ducking from the mushroom cloud, but instead I was basking in the brilliance and smiling into strangers faces.

The mundane had transformed into the miraculous, enlivened enlightened invigorated and energized. Follicles became individuals and the individuals a whole.

***

This is my free flow re-entry into the Master Class prompt. I was reading a favorite passage in On the Road and figured I would pull an amateurish Kerouac- write till I had to think about it, then I, this, was done. So it’s done 🙂

Hop over and join the Master Class, and/or go read the other entries linked up. It’s quality writing by quality people, and it’s always interesting. This week’s challenge was to use the line chosen by last week’s winner as the first line of your story.
http://www.frommywriteside.wordpress.com

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Shutterbug

The tunnel swoops in and scoops me up

As my model stands blinking at the echo of my last words,

‘Run into the light now!’

I look down at my body from above;

That wasn’t what I meant.

******

For this week’s challenge, we were to write 33 words as a prelude to these 5 – ‘That wasn’t what I meant.’

Trifecta

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments