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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.

~

Betrayal

2 Sep

So this week over at Madison Woods‘ blog there was no inspiration image to write a flash story from.

My first thought was, “Aaaaaah!” ’cause I happen to be a very visual person and get a lot of inspiration that way.  But then I’m like, I can just find my own image, right?

Nah.

Instead, I thought maybe I’d write a piece inspired by…well, the world I’m already writing in.  Bits and images of locations and things I didn’t get to include in my WIP but perhaps would like to write about in the future.  Flashbacks and futures and histories and whatnot.

Longer than 100 words, since I think it’ll take more words to capture what I’m going for.  It came to 876.

Not the word length the challenge demands, obviously, more on the longer side of “flash”, heh, but whatevs; it’s what I felt like doing today.

*     *     *

Okay, so here it is–raw and unfiltered by cycles of perfectionism and/or research.  So don’t laugh.

Constructive critiques are welcome, though. 🙂  (The title gives the ending away–or does it?–but that’s okay ’cause I was more going for mood anyway.)

Oh yeah, and I totally have the perfect song for this:

~

Betrayal

They waited in the heat of the desert, listening to the angry howl of a sudden gale as grains of sand pelted against their faces.  The camels grew anxious, whining and starting at some unforeseen threat.

Ronny tightened his beast’s reins in one hand then pulled his scarf over his face with the other, turning away from the headwind.

“They should have been here by now,” he said, squinting to gauge the sun’s position overhead.  Fiery oranges and fuchsias streaked across the sky.

Kyra, unusually quiet of late, said nothing at first.   Then calmly: “Patience, they will come.”  Her vowels carried on like the horizon, her “L”s rolling as effortlessly as the surrounding dunes.  Such was her Borellian accent.

Ronny glanced at her, noting also the finality in her tone and how she did not meet his gaze.

The distant nuzz of camels carried over the shifting sands, exciting their animals.  Three riders appeared on a hill opposite of the setting sun, pausing to look down at them.

Kyra’s eyes smiled triumphantly up at Ronny now, her writhing red curls ignited by the sunset.  “See?  I told you they would come.”

Ronny looked uphill.  He didn’t like the aura he was receiving from those riders.  What was worse was how obscured Kyra’s felt–conflicting sentiments cancelling each other out so as to transmit no clear message at all.  It used to be he could always read her, though not today, it seemed.

The brown-skinned riders—two lighter Kesh, a darker Maelt—rode their camels to the pair’s position, scimitars kept at their sides.  They then dismounted, bidding their animals to kneel and rest.

Their leader, a scarfed Kesh, approached Ronny and said in Keshema, “You have information.”

Ronny nodded, his eyes scanning each of the men, as the ambience of the group felt cloudy.  At least one of them was trying to conceal his aetheric signature.

“Well?”

Ronny locked eyes with the leader, remembering himself at last.  “Right, the maps.”  He went to reach for his satchel and…

Something swung at his temple and he flew towards the ground, sand filling his mouth.  For a moment he stared blankly then blinked, dazed.  Pain belatedly settled in.

The metallic slice of unsheathed swords rang through the air.

Ronny groped for his holstered pistol, though when he had it a boot kicked this out of his hand.  Frowning, he turned his head, his gaze following a leathered calf up to slender thighs.  Kyra stared down at him, breathless and wild-eyed.

His astonishment kept him from reacting immediately.  “What the hell is going—”

The sand suddenly shifted beneath him, forming into slithering probes which encircled his body.  As the Maelt rider lifted a hand, a grainy arm also rose from the ground then plunged itself into Ronny’s mouth, smaller tendrils reaching into his nostrils.  He thrashed himself about violently, trying to shake off the elemental attack, though the sand won out, pouring in through his facial orifices.

“Wait!”

Kyra’s command caused the phenomenon to cease, and the sand begrudgingly retreated.

Ronny rolled over onto his side, heaving sand out of his lungs.  A brusque hand grasped at his hair from the scalp, wrenching his head back as he still labored for air.

The Haran riders surrounded him, scimitars held ready.

The leader looked to Kyra.  “He must be dealt with.”

She turned to Ronny, considering him with a swallow.  “Let me do it.”

Ronny was too exhausted to put up a fight.  Instead, he wheezed her name, urging her to reconsider.  At this his captor jerked his head painfully, and he fell mum.

Kyra knelt carefully before him, ungloving a fair hand.  Narrowly she observed his rising and falling chest while he awaited an uncertain fate.  She reached for one of her boots and procured a dagger, though he didn’t flinch.

She wouldn’t do it; they’d been working together against Haran elementalists for over five years.

He kept telling himself this, even as she grasped his shirt and sliced it open with the dagger.  Afterwards she slid the weapon back into her boot sheath.  Her bare palm approached his chest.

Ronny held his breath, unsure of her intent.

The warmth of her palm over his heart was calming at first, as he’d grown fond of her touch, though it soon grew hotter with a spike, only to cool off again.

She cursed.

“What is it?” the Haran leader demanded.

“Nothing,” she said.  “A false start.”

Ronny exhaled then took in fresh air as she made a second attempt.

A shock went through him and he gasped.  His heart responded with a skip, followed by a tingling draining sensation–energy flowing to her, from him.

His body’s systems slowed against his will.  He whispered her name repeatedly until he was too tired to speak any more.  When his captor released his limp frame, his head fell sideways onto the sand.

Her lips drew close to his ear, her bittersweet Borellian song cutting through the whistling wind; they were the last words that registered as his consciousness waned: “Forgive me.”

Ronny closed his eyes as a dark place called to him and eventually gave in to silence, not knowing why she’d betrayed him—or what those last words truly meant.

~