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Flash Fiction: ‘Mmm…thought so.’

16 Jul

“Is he here? Is he seeing all of this?” Andre asks, referring to Voi’s clairvoyant handler as he knowingly runs a hand past her stockings, 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, flipping a clip undone with his thumb. 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…

Voi gasps, then breathes.  The wind starts to die down some, and so does her laughter.  She begins humming.

“You’ve been a naughty girl, Voi…” Andre carefully takes the contraband drug from her fingertips now and stares at it.  “Where did you manage to get this from anyway?”

Voi pulls her head upright, peering at him with dark eyes. They no longer seem unfocused.  Instead, she says 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.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0fw2O8ZuCHgFt6CVvDZZds

Just There

4 Nov

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,
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.

~

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

28 Oct

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

21 Oct

“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.

Ehem.

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?”

Nada.

“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.

“Cecilia?”

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:

“Caaaaaaarlos!”

~

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

Two Doors

14 Oct

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.

~

Seduction

7 Oct

Don’t worry, this is rated PG.  I’m not that kind of writer, heh.

It’s #FlashFriday again, and the #FridayFictioneers are writing and sharing their 100-word stories over at Madison Woods’ blog.  Check out some of their stories or even share one of your own!

Mine is–big surprise–100 words exactly, again.  It was a tough one and I still feel like I couldn’t find the right words to explain things the way I wanted to, but it is what it is.  Here’s the inspiration image Madison shared for this week:

I’ve noticed I take a fairly straightforward approach to interpreting these images setting-wise, only I like to infuse some sort of fantasy element.  Just seems to be my pattern, I guess.

~

Seduction

Madeline burst through the woods, sobbing and stumbling as she whirled to see whether he’d followed.  In the silence of dawn, the hairs on her neck prickled at the sound of another’s respiration.

She looked over her shoulder.

In the silhouette of the valley, before the awakening sun, awaited tendrils of mist which advanced and receded like breath.  It whispered of mended hearts and unbroken promises, seductive to forlorn ears.

“Madeline!” his desperate voice called from the trees—desperate because she knew he loved another.  His words rang hollow.

Lost, she turned to the mist and stepped into its embrace.

~

Pelecanus Colossus

30 Sep

It’s #FlashFriday again, and the #FridayFictioneers are writing stories in 100 words or less!  You, too, can participate or even check out some of the other participants’ stories at Madison Woods’ blog, if you’d like.

Okay, so here is Madison’s inspiration photo for this week, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be used:

And here is my story!  (100 words, again.)

~

Pelecanus Colossus

Lois paused along the riverbed, noticing a group of ducks wading in the shallow water.  Feathers dotted the path before her, though further ahead the pebbles were blanketed with them.  Hundreds maybe.

“That…can’t be good.”

A broad shadow then swept over the area.  Ducks scattered into the air as a colossal pelican swooped down, scooping up a mouthful of the slowest.

He settled onto the pebbles, ingesting his meal whole before eyeing Lois.

She swore it was grinning.

“Nice birdie…”

It gave a harrowing, hair-ripping shriek.

Lois’ eyes bulged.  “That is not natural.”

When it darted towards her, she ran.

~

The Tree of Duality

23 Sep

From now on, the participants in Madison Woods’ 100-word story challenge are officially known as the #FridayFictioneers! *echo echo echo*  Thanks to Susie Lindau.  Cool, huh? 😀

I’m not gonna lie: this week’s challenge was especially hard for me.  I had to rewrite this many, many times to make it work–but doggonit, it was going to work!

100 words exactly.  Always cutting it close for me.

Usually I like to focus on setting the mood and all that jazz, though this time I just wanted to make the idea behind it work for 100 words because it felt more like a 200-300 word story.  There really wasn’t much room for atmosphere.

So here was the inspiration image Madison posted for this week:

Participants don’t have to use this image necessarily, but it can help to provide some inspiration.  (I try to stick to writing something related to her images ’cause I’m too lazy to look for my own, haha.)

Ehem.

Without further ado, here is my 100-word story.

~

The Tree of Duality

Lois glared up at the sprawling tree, the only one for over a hundred miles.  When touched, its glistening leaves turned a deathly brown.

This was the one.

She only needed a few verdant leaves to sell for their healing powers.  Instant wealth.

Having no relevant tools in her backpack, Lois took this off and swung it by the straps back and forth, counting, “One, two…three.”

The flying backpack struck gold, sending leaves fluttering towards her.  Lois caught one though frowned when it disintegrated, as did the others midair.

She smiled grimly, shouldering her backpack.  Sometimes she just left empty-handed.

~

Heart of Rosalina

16 Sep

It’s #FlashFriday over at Madison’s blog again, and the challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less.  Anyone can join! 😀  (If you do give it a go and have a story you’d like to share today, then just post a link over at her blog here so other folks can read it, too.  You can share here as well, if you’d like.)

This week mine came to exactly 100 words again, according to Word.  (It likes to count hyphenated words as one.  Otherwise, I guess it’s 103. :/)  It kind of reminds me of “The Road” in some ways, but oh well.  The colors in Madison’s inspiration photo sparked the idea for the story.  Take a look:

I really wanted to go into more detail with this one!  I kind of had a Lara Croft-type scenario in mind, hehe.  (I currently have a slideshow of some of the concept art from the video games as a wallpaper on my laptop, believe it or not.  I love video game art–so imaginative!)

Sometimes I feel different sources of inspiration call for different characters to filter things through, so today you will meet a new protagonist.  I seem to like using Kitty for more whimsical, lighthearted stories and someone different for the more foreboding ones.  (Hmm, maybe Lois could have been the protagonist in “The Road”…)

Anyway, here’s the story.

~

Heart of Rosalina

Lois squeezed through a narrow stone passageway, entering a large chamber illuminated by a soft, rosy light.  A small object floated in the center, throwing off wispy yellow-white sparks.  The light gradated from pink to a violet which tinged the chamber walls.

“The Heart of Rosalina,” Lois whispered to herself, reverently reaching for the source and finding a cool, faceted stone.  It immediately absorbed the light in the room, leaving but a faint glow.

The chamber began to quake.

Lois turned and held the crystal out before her, revealing a half-closed passageway.

“Dammit.”

Of course, these places were always booby-trapped.

~

The Sneezing Tangle

9 Sep

It’s Flash Friday again over at Madison Woods‘ blog!  Do you think you can write a story in 100 words or less? o.O

This week mine is shorter, fortunately, at 100 words.  Here’s the inspiration image Madison shared this time:

Our inspiration image this week, thanks to Madison!

Perhaps some of you may be glad to know that Kitty is back for another adventure!  This week’s image just so happened to feel more like a Kitty opportunity, I think.

Okay, well, here goes nothing…

~

The Sneezing Tangle

Avoiding the river by scaling the cliffside, Kitty frowned when something dripped onto her shoulder.

Warily, she looked up.

A tangle of dense tree branches, writhing and weaving to and fro, awaited her overhead.  “Achoo!  Achoo!” they wailed.  Through their center was a distant view of perfectly clear blue sky.

Her only way out of this mess.

Kitty climbed, swatting off cheeky slithering vines and occasionally slipping on icky, slimy…moss?

“Ew…”

Alas, the sky opened wide and Kitty pulled herself aloft.  Triumphant, she gave a hoot and danced.

Unfortunately, she also slipped.

Whoops!

She fell and fell…and splashed.

Big splash.

~