Flash Fiction: ‘Mmm…thought so.’

“Is he here? Is he seeing all of this?” Andre asks, referring to Voi’s clairvoyant handler as he knowingly runs a hand up her nylon-sheathed thigh, pausing on the garter straps.

She murmurs incoherent noises into his ear, struggling to make sense of words. Chamber music echoes off the walls—waltzes or trots or tangos. She forgets which.

“Mmm…thought so,” Andre says anyway. He stares into Voi’s unfocused eyes, undoing the garter clasps between his thumb and forefinger. Her pupils enlarge suddenly just as a gale bursts through the window.

Andre curses, flinching away.

Obliviously drinking in the fumes of ambrosia with another drag on her cigarette, Voi soon tosses her head back with a manic laugh as she allows herself to slip further from reality, no longer resisting Andre’s attempts to “parley.” All the while, the crowd continues dancing under the spell of the domesticated ball downstairs…

Just then, Voi gasps then exhales.  The wind begins to die down, as does her laughter.  Instead, she starts to hum to a familiar tune from the ball, gently swaying her head from side to side.

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Voi…” Andre carefully takes the contraband drug from her fingertips to examine it.  “Wherever did you manage to get this from?”

Voi pulls her head upright, peering at him with dark eyes. They no longer seem unfocused.  She says to him in a low voice, “Is that really what you came here for, Andre?”

Sometimes, I come across art or music that gives me a very specific idea for a scene in a new novel or, perhaps, one I’m already working on. This painting, “Night Geometry” by Jack Vettriano, is one such piece of art. Actually, a lot of Vettriano’s work has been inspiring scenes for my fantasy series over the past few years. It’s sultry and moody and full of tension, sometimes with noir-ish undertones, and that appeals to me. (Not your typical fantasy stuff, eh?)

Anyway, I had this particular scene in mind for a story that I won’t get to for another three novels from now—The Elementalist: Grand Masquerade, in fact—but hey, gotta catch that inspiration when it strikes, right? Also, my series has been in third-person limited, past tense so far, and sometimes it’s subjective because the narrator will add a bit of whimsical dramatic irony here or there, so I don’t know why I’ve changed forms here in this snippet.  Not even sure what perspective this is in or if it’s consistent! Kinda feels omniscient, in a way—which would be fun to play around with later, given that Voi is apparently playing with drugs at this point in the series…

I guess that’s what happens when you try and wing things.

In other news, I’m about 70% done with my edits on Book I. Kind of a nice feeling, considering. 🙂 Planning on being done by the end of August, at the latest. If I keep making steady progress, I should be able to hit that goal.

Would be nice!

…And here’s a little (not-so) random music to go along with the snippet, just because.



Just There

It’s #FlashFriday again, and the #FridayFictioneers are writing and sharing their 100-word(+/-) stories over at Madison Woods’ blog.  You can check out some of their stories and even share one of your own, if you’re interested.

Here’s the inspiration image Madison shared this week:

My story came to 100 words again.  I based it on an actual experience but changed the setting from Tempe, Arizona during the summer to some place where it snows.  Also, yesterday I was reading a post by writer Stephen A. Watkins where he talks about “Writing Poetry as Prose“, and I liked the idea of using line breaks to capture bits of meaning.  I don’t consider myself a poet and am not really trying to write poetry so much as playing with line breaks for effect.

Anyway, I wrote this story two ways: one with extra line breaks and another closer to how I’d normally write.  Feel free to tell me what you think of both. 🙂


Just There

I watched students
Scuttle off to class
Down the snowy path,
Beneath frosted trees.
No one saw me;
Everyone was in a hurry.

But not him.

He was unique.
Riding the wind, not indifferent to it.
Not bitter because of it,
Not wishing to escape it.
Just there,

He glided over the salted path,
Hands in his pockets.
Swaying left, swaying right.

He noticed me.

Numbed by Winter’s breath,
I stared.
He slowed, got off his board.
Said hello.

I forgot to reply.
Forgot I existed.

He shrugged then rolled away.

I remembered how to speak!
Too late.


Okay, now without all the extra spacing…


I watched students scuttle off to class down the snowy path, beneath frosted trees.  No one saw me; everyone was in a hurry.

But not him.

He was unique.  Riding the wind, not indifferent to it.  Not bitter because of it, not wishing to escape it.  Just there, being.

He glided over the salted path, hands in his pockets.  Swaying left, swaying right.

He noticed me.

Numbed by Winter’s breath, I stared.  Still.  He slowed, got off his board.  Said hello.

I forgot to reply.  Forgot I existed.

He shrugged then rolled away.

I remembered how to speak!

Too late.

The Encounter

It’s #FlashFriday again, and the #FridayFictioneers are writing and sharing their 100-word(+/-) stories over at Madison Woods’ blog.  You can check out some of their stories and even share one of your own, if you’re interested.

So far I’ve typically used Madison’s inspiration images as a prompt, but yesterday I came across a soundtrack that I really liked and wanted to write a scene based off that.  Here’s a YouTube video of the piece that inspired this 100-word short for this week, from the Tomb Raider: Underworld soundtrack by Colin O’Malley, supervised by Troels Brun Folmann:

I found an inspiration image, as well:

I don’t know if that particular jellyfish is stingless (relevant later), but I thought it was pretty. 🙂 Anyway, it was just for inspiration.

Oh yeah–and Lois is back! 😀


The Encounter

Lois plunged through an underwater tunnel to escape the imploded ruins above.  She burped out bubbles, anxious to resurface.

A blue glow beckoned from a leftward passage and she surged towards it.  Rough stone abruptly fell into a formless void, leaving her floating.  Overhead, a great mass of delicate translucent creatures pulsed with light, gorging and relapsing to propel themselves gracefully through the water.

The transfixing beauty involuntarily tranquilized Lois, subduing her need for air.  She watched, unhurried, as a jellyfish drifted by; its tentacles brushed her face.  Invigorated, she shoved water behind her, breaching through the creatures without fear.


Juego con los Muertos

“As you know, Bob…”

…recently on Fridays I’ve been participating in Madison Woods’ 100-word story challenge along with the #FridayFictioneers.  Normally I try to stick with the 100 words, but this week I had a story idea that just didn’t want to squeeze into those confines.

Trust me, I tried.

My story this week came to 200 words.  Bah!  Double whammy.

So here’s the inspiration image Madison shared for this week, which has a pretty cool story behind it on her website:

I like the idea that this marble came from someone who’s no longer around, so I played a bit with that.  I guess my story celebrates certain upcoming festivities a little early, but oh well.  It’s still in the spirit of the holidays. 🙂

Haha, spirit…no pun intended.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy!


Juego con los Muertos*

Coming home from work, Ana paused on the terracotta pathway to observe a trail of dirt leading to the front door.

It was open.

When she went inside her eldest child, Carlos, shot up from the kitchen table, clutching some recently-snuffed candles and a large old book.  His eyes were wide, face unnaturally pale.

“What were you doing?”


“Where’s your sister?”

He shrugged then scurried away.

Ana frowned.

The trail led upstairs towards conversing voices.  She found a battered stone marble—somehow familiar to her—before her daughter’s door and picked it up.  Turning it over, she called out cautiously, “Cecilia…who’s with you?”

The girl giggled.


Ana opened the door, surprised to find a dusty skeleton adorned in a dress and pearls.  It sat at a chalk circle that had been drawn onto the floor, playing a game with her daughter.  It reached a creaky limb out to Ana and said sadly, “Mi hija.”**

“Mommy, Mommy!” Cecilia cried.  “I’m teaching Grandma how to play with her marbles!”

Ana thought she’d about lost hers.

Suddenly gathering her wits, the candles, book and pale face began to add up.  Ana dropped her purse and binders, her voice escalating uneasily:



* Juego con los Muertos translates as “Game with the Dead” in Spanish.
** Mi hija means “my daughter.”

Two Doors

It’s #FlashFriday again, and the #FridayFictioneers are writing and sharing their 100-word stories over at Madison Woods’ blog.  You can check out some of their stories and even share one of your own, if you’re interested.

Mine came to 100 words again this week.  Here’s the inspiration image Madison shared with us:

And now for my story!


Two Doors

Two doors.  I couldn’t choose.

I stood before a weathered structure beneath a gabled roof, the howls of wild predators escalating from behind.  The doors were identical–battered and wooden, likely holding the same destiny–yet somehow I sensed my choice would matter.

Suddenly, the thresholds burst aglow with otherworldly lighting—the left an eerie purple, the right a radiant pink.  The wolves’ cries silenced in exchange for cornering growls.

Frantic, I forced the right door open, shutting it just as quickly.  When the blinding light subsided I found myself lost in howling woods again.

This time I’d choose purple.