Flash fiction and floating voters

Flash Fiction Curtis Bausse

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I’ve been working hard on Perfume Island, so I wasn’t expecting to post very often, but I did think once a week, doing Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray. But I think he must be busy as he hasn’t provided any prompts of late, so while I hope he’ll return before too long, here I am being unfaithful by switching to Ad Hoc, an initiative run by the Bath Flash Fiction Project. I came across it thanks to the excellent Damyanti Biswas, whose story, Picasso Dreams, was commended in the inaugural edition of the Bath Flash Fiction Competition (her interview about it is here). While Matt takes a song title as a prompt, here it’s a single word, which has to appear in a story of 150 words or less. Not all submissions are accepted, but if it is, it appears on the site anonymously and readers can vote on the one they like best. The winner gets a free entry into the next stage, the competition proper. Last week’s prompt was ‘float’, so my take on that is up there now. I won’t spoil the anonymity by posting it here now, but it’s a great way of encouraging flash fiction, so don’t hesitate to go along and vote.  There are 87 entries this week, so I don’t suppose many people plough through them all, studiously taking notes before choosing a favourite – a rigorous procedure, it ain’t. But if you read a few and vote for one that you like, maybe I’ll get a few votes coming my way 🙂 Not to worry if you can’t – I’ll post the story here in any case. Not next week, though – off for a fortnight travelling.

 

Flash Fiction: Young and Beautiful

‘Not both. You know that. Only Class 1 can do both.’

‘And we’re Class 2.’ Jason spat the words as if they tasted vile. ‘After all our devotion to -‘

‘We should consider ourselves lucky.’ Cindy settled a stern gaze upon him. ‘Class 3 don’t -‘

‘I suppose so.’ He put his arms around her. ‘Decision time, then.’

Cindy twisted away, speaking to the window. ‘I already have. The request has been sent.’

‘What? Without consulting me? Cindy, you know I wanted…’ Jason stood, mouth open, struggling to come to terms with the person she’d chosen to be. Young and beautiful forever. And childless.


In response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, where the prompt this week was the song Young and Beautiful by Lana del Rey.

 

The five moments of morning

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Wow! I like that! Why don’t I…?

Yes! That’s what I’ll do – write a story that dazzles and glows with an understanding of the heart-breaking beauty of life. Right! To work…

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A bit more awake now…

 

Morning coffee - inspiration!

Muse? Are you in there?

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From the deep obscurity of my mind – an idea!

This is it! The vision! Thank you, Muse! A couple of hours from now, I’ll have a story that sparkles, uplifts, inspires like the golden glow of dawn. Here we go!

Um… Uh… Arrgh! No, no! Concentrate, brain! More coffee, quick!

Two hours later…

Mangrove

Hmm… Not quite what I had in mind. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow…


 

There’s a monthly photo challenge over at A ‘Lil Hoohah – you take five photos on a given theme and link back to the blog. This month’s theme is Morning.

Daddy Plump

I don’t like Mr. Wheeler. I can see what he’s thinking and it scares me. I don’t like this job either. ‘Are you sure it’s legal?’ I asked.

‘It’s only water, love.’ He grabbed the syringe. ‘Look.’

I don’t like him saying ‘love’ and staring at my boobs. Not that there’s anything there.

‘Wouldn’t be able to sell ’em if they looked like you. Too skinny, love.’

He waved the syringe at me. I folded my arms and backed away.

He plunged the syringe into the chicken and watched it swell. His eyes gleamed. ‘There. Nice and plump now, love.’


This is in response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray prompt, the song Skinny Love. The technique of enhancing or ‘plumping’ chickens by injecting salty water into them before packing is widespread. I don’t know if they do that at Père Dodu, but I liked the name, Daddy Plump, as a title. What I can say is that Père Dodu’s Crousti Nuggets contain 42% chicken. Hmm… I wonder what the rest is.

Come on! England!

Henry was too quick. Always in a rush. See the world, why not? But we saw nothing. A blur. I sneezed and missed Luxembourg, ha, ha. But then, he always was. Forty years of marriage, no time to myself, no room. Till now, that is. A space of my own – well, almost. Not as comfy as that suite in… Bruges, was it? Somewhere pretty, anyway. Henry on the balcony, beaming. ‘Oh, do cheer up, Rosemary, come on! England next!’ Did he have time to understand my reply? Probably not. Too quick, wasn’t I? ‘Not England, Henry. The sidewalk.’ Ha, ha.

In response to thebookblogger2014’s Flash Fiction Foray, with the prompt, Come on, England, by the Barmy Army in celebration of England winning the ashes (Late again – sorry, Matt!)

Terry and Julie

I couldn’t not do this one: Matt’s prompt for this weeks Flash Fiction Foray is one of my all time favourites, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks.

Three days after the letter arrived, her body was found at Beachy Head. On the paper tucked into her sleeve, the words, smudged by tears or rain, were barely legible. … died of his wounds last Friday … loves you … will always strive to be with you. And that is indeed what happened. Two lives lost; two souls join, repetitively, in  grieving recognition of a battle won. If you close your eyes, you can feel it, barely a puff of air, threading a ghostly path between the bustle of commuters: Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night.

Gazette n° 4

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Today being the first Tuesday of the month, the fourth and final issue of the Gazette goes out, with just one story in it, The Sally Effect, which at 13,500 words, is almost a novella. It’s science fiction (or close to it), not a genre I’ve written in before, but I was interested in exploring the idea of alternate realities, or possible worlds, and this is the result. Many thanks to my subscribers – you have enabled me to revise and extend ideas or half-finished stories and get them into presentable form. Whether the Gazette will one day make a return remains to be seen, but it’s been a great opportunity for me, and hopefully enjoyable for you. Anyone else interested in getting this or other issues, click on the subscribe link on the right. Happy reading!

Feeling good

swing

Terence looked at the girl. She was pretty, in a strange sort of way, her hair untidy across her face, but looking as if it couldn’t have been any different. Nothing could have been different. The swing was still now, an emptiness in the sunlight. Far off, the murmur of voices. Eventually, time would resume, but for now, the whole world was still, the girl’s prettiness just right. He ought to move but he felt drowsy. He ought to move her. Slide her gently into the soft canal. He lay down beside her. Breathing her hair. Feeling good.


This is in response to Matt’s Flash Fiction Foray, which I finally get round to doing again. The prompt was the song, Feeling Good. The story turned out creepier than what I’ve done up to now (though One Green Botttle‘s creepy too, come to think of it.) The photo was taken along the canal from Ely to Cambridge. When I wondered what picture might accompany the post, this one came to mind as just right, so I tweaked the story to include the swing and the sunlight. Thanks to Matt for hosting this event.

Rattlesnake Blues

This is in response to thebookblogger2014’s Flash Fiction Foray, the prompt being the title of Lionel Richie’s song, Hello. I’ve managed to get behind again, as this was in fact last week’s prompt, but Matt, who hosts it, is very understanding…

The Party

“Wow, she’s beautiful!”

“Incredible!”

Forty minutes and five shandies later, they had the pick-up line. “Is it witty enough?” worried Lee.

“How do you snog?”

“What? That’s not witty, it’s gross.”

“No, how do you? I’ve never done it.”

“God knows.” Lee sighed. “Here, toss.”

“Heads.” Andy breathed deeply, adjusted his jacket, smoothed his hair. “Right.” He walked over. I stepped on a rattlesnake yesterday. Could he really say that? Really?

He smiled, heart pounding. “Hello.”

The girl arched an eyebrow. “You know what? Piss off.”

“Here’s a tip,” Andy said, getting back. “Never try the rattlesnake line, OK?”

The Answer

The road across the moor was spectacular, but not one where you’d want to break down or have a puncture. Something about the wildness of it, the brackish water of the marsh on either side, and the trees shrouded in mist. Nice to admire from the warm interior of the car, and Colin was glad that his Volvo, though getting on, could be relied upon to see him safely across.

“Looking for an answer, they say.” The landlord’s words came back to him. The tale of the missing travellers – amusing enough in the bar of the Brigands Inn where he’d slept, not very well, the night before. Out here, the story felt different.

“Answer to what?” Colin asked.

The landlord scraped the froth from the top of his pint. “It was a long time ago. Seventeen something.” He raised his glass. “To your good health, Sir.”

Colin switched on the radio. Any Questions. “Does the panel think that it’s time for Queen Elizabeth to abdicate?” He smiled. Ah, the comforting questions of the present! And of course, everyone had an answer.

In the distance, by the side of the road, was a car. As he drew closer, he saw the bonnet was open. He slowed. A man stepped out onto the road, waving him down. Colin turned the radio down. “Having trouble?”

“Something electrical.” The man came closer. “Any chance of a lift to the nearest garage?”

“Haven’t you phoned?”

“Out of battery. Typical.” He was young, well dressed, with a northern accent, Lancashire perhaps, he’d learned to keep in check.

“Hop in.” Solidarity. Must be a salesman too. “Not the best of places to break down. Lucky I came along.”

“Very lucky.” The man turned slowly towards Colin. “I’m sure you can tell me the answer.”


A little story in response to Izzy’s May I: The Write post about open endings. Sometimes it really helps to know the answer.