Author Topic: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1900+ words)  (Read 11200 times)

Offline Clarius

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A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1900+ words)
« on: August 27, 2014, 08:56:57 PM »
With my current WIP dead in the water I turned to that old staple of free-writing to loosen up the creative muscles. The result of two hours scribbling were these five short pieces. I can see one of them making it into a future project, a couple of others making it as scenes.

Doors

“And God said let there be light,” said Bob. He flicked a switch, and the generator roared.

“What’d you say?” I shouted over the din.

“And there was light,” he mouthed.

Out in the mall a sound; flood waters crashing down a parched levy.

“Shit,” said Bob.

I couldn’t see anything. “What’s up?”

“Doors.”

Doors? Oh yeah: automatic doors.

The first of the horde ;) were upon us before I had time to check whether the safety was off or on.

It was on.

Go figure.

85 words


Dead Man’s Shift

“Well, Joe,” I said, taking off my coat. Oh… what time!

Joe looked at me. “You’re dead.”

You’re dead when he gets you. I hung the coat on the stand. Who? “Excuse me?” The undertaker.

“You,” said Joe. “You’re dead. They buried you last Tuesday.”

I decided to play along, for now. “Yeah,” I said, sitting down, “but then they raised the pension age, so here I am for another five years.”

“Seriously,” said Joe. “I was right there. Slater gave the eulogy.”

I snorted. “That fat prick,” I switched on my work-station, “never had a good word for nobody.” Now, what my bloody username again? “What’d he say?”

Joe laughed. “You should know, you were there.”

Beginning to wear a little thin. “Must have been sleeping then, those little pillows are comfy.”

“Board’s hard on your back though.”

I thought for a minute. “Joe?”

“Yeah?”

“Didn’t we bury you two years ago?”

“Welcome to the dead man’s shift, buddy.”

160 words


Last Word

“Heads,” said Taylor.

I tossed again.

“Tails.”

No way. Ten for ten. “How the hell do you – “

“He’s going to drop that.”

Vaughan stumbled over his own feet, and let go of Taylor’s supper tray. “Bollocks. Sorry.” He scrambled around, cleaning it up.

“Man, I wish I could take you to Vegas,” I said.

Taylor smiled. “Next life.”

Vaughan brought Taylor a fresh supper on another tray, and, after he was done, we each drew cards for the other to guess at. Taylor won every time.

“How the fuck do you do that,” I asked.

He thought for a minute. “It’s like… when you’re on a train and the track bends, and you can see a little ahead of yourself.”

“Like that?” I said.

He nodded.

We played poker till the chaplain came, and, after we’d taken him down and strapped him in, I asked him.

“I’ll try.”

Vaughan dropped the blindfold over Taylor’s head, and we took positions either side of the chair. The warden checked his watch, and nodded to the switch man.

“Well,” I asked, out of the corner of my mouth.

He sighed. “Nothin’.”

They threw the switch.

Cons. Can’t believe a word they say.

200 words


Live Wire

“So I’m givin’ her one over the desk, and she’s like oh… my… God… you’re - “

I nodded at the box. “You’re sure you don’t want me to check?”

“Naw,” he replied. “Day shift says they took care of it. So anyways I’m givin’ her one -”

“I’m going to check it,” I said, making toward the box.

Stu’s bump cap struck me on the back of the head. “Jesus, it’s like working with your mother.” He turned back to the job.

“Look, regulations clearly state –,” I began.

“It’s off,” he said, grabbing the wire.

It was on.

100 words


Lucky Strike

 “Nobody?” said Williams.

“Not with sense,” I replied. “On the first strike the sniper knows you’re there, on the second he draws down on your position, and on the third he gets his man bang to rights.”

“So, what if there’s three of us standing round and each of us wants a light for our Lucky?”

“Then someone either fucks off someplace else, or he waits for the next round.”

He thought about it and then grinned. “Stripy paint.”

“Huh?”

“Stripy paint,” he said, “a long stand.” He laughed. “You must think I’m green.”

“Captain,” I said, and, with rifle shouldered, went back on the wall.

Williams finished his brew, tucked his swagger under his arm, and drew a deep breath. “Metcalfe, Peterson,” he bellowed down the line.

The subalterns came running; wading through the heavy mud, arms held out wide. “Sir?” they chorused; coming to attention, their salutes crisp.

Williams took his cigarette case out. “Going to put an end to this superstitious nonsense once and for all, eh, lads.” He took one for himself, and offered them around. “Anybody got a light?”

Petersen produced his, struck it and held it out. Williams lent in, lit his up and looked to Peterson. The subaltern lit his. Both looked to Metcalfe.

“That’s an order, Metcalfe,” said Williams.

The subaltern lent in, cigarette trembling between his lips, and drew a rapid series of short pulls. When he’d done he stepped back, and threw his, unsmoked, into the mud.

The shot took Williams in the back, spinning him around, down onto the duckboards.

Later, after they’d taken him away, the men gathered in pairs, lit up their fags and smoked to his memory.

I looked at Peterson over his Ronson. “I never said it was the third man that got it off the sniper, just the sniper getting one off the third light.”

“Still, noblesse oblige, old man” he said, “got to hand it to Jerry, bloody good shot, what?”

I picked Williams’ case out of the mud, shook out one for myself, and offered them around to the others. “Lucky Strike?”

350 words

Downstream

   “Upstream,” said Roberts, gesturing with his left hand, “is raw material, and downstream,” gesturing now with his right, “is the finished product, and – “

   Someone – Davies? - raised his hand. “Sir.”

   “Yes?”

   “Don’t it depend on what side you’re standing on.”

   God give me… “Side of what, Davies?”

   “Side of the river, Sir,” Davies replied. “’cause if you’re standing on the other side then right is upstream and left is – “

   Roberts sighed. “It’s a metaphor, Davies.” He looked round the class. “Can anyone tell Davies what a metaphor is?” Oh blessed silence, and sideways glances. He could almost see the tumbleweeds blowing among them. “ Anyone?”

   “Sir?” Fat girl? Big tits? Nope. “What if you’re like… ambi…thingy.”

   You could hear the cogs turning. “Ambidextrous?”

   She brightened. “Yeah, that’s it. Ambi… wot’s it.”

   Calm blue waters. “It’s not germane. Now, can we – “

   “Is it the Rhine, Sir.”

   Coloured kid on a basketball scholarship. Dealers and athletes every one: why can’t they be doctors and lawyers and such… Willie Nelson? Lord help me. I’m a redneck. “Germane, Jackson.” Michael’s brother? “Not pertaining to the matter in hand.”

   “Yeah, but,” Mullen again, “ain’t it hands we’re talking about, Sir?”

   “Steel production, Mullen, is what we’re talking about.”

   Jackson now. “Ain’t it wrong to steal, Sir?”

   Roberts picked up the board ruler. “S…  T… E… E… L...” Each letter punctuated by banging the ruler down on the desk top. “It’s a metallic alloy. Any more,” - stupid - ”questions?” Silence. “No? Good.”

   He turned back to the blackboard again, thought about the handgun in his drawer.

   One day.

   One day soon.

270 words.

Johns

   Heads up, thought Aston, as he watched the John approach. Here’s a likely looking sort.

   It wasn’t the most romantic of venues: a Victorian pissoir on the edge of the park: marble sinks, tiled walls, and dark corners; which drains stank of damp soil and stale piss.

   They did that thing; their little mating ritual: one standing aside to let the other in, the other pretending to yield, then both of them going for it together.

   It’s all in the glances, the subtle exchange of smiles. If they’re both up for it the incoming will go into a cubicle, throwing a little come-hither back over his shoulder. The outgoing, lurking in the doorway on some pretext or other, seeing this will check all’s clear and go back inside.

   Inside, in the cubicle, behind locked doors, there’ll be whispers, and touching, and kissing, and… but never names: they don’t, their kind.

   Ashton came out of hiding, went over to the cubicle, and knocked on the door. “Police. Out. Now.”

   Behind the door frantic sounds of whispering, scrambling; of clothes being adjusted, and of options being discussed. It reminded him of the sounds the strays made when they ran them to ground.

   The door opened and they came out; shame faced, anxious and tearful. He held his warrant card up for them to see, so they knew they weren’t going to get turned over.

   He looked from one sorry specimen to the other and then, his mind made up, grabbed the ugliest one by the collar and shoved him toward the exit. “Fuck off now, there’s a good lad.” He stroked the pretty one’s face. “Right, my lad, back inside we go.”

275 words

Joy Ride

   “Serial killer,” said Hughes.

   Brooks sighed. “Vehicular manslaughter,” and wrote it in the log. “Don’t kid yourself, sonny. Totalling a family of four in a car crash does not qualify you to be the next Hannibal The Cannibal.”

   “It’s what’s on your jacket that determines how hard your time is,” Hughes replied. “A man needs respect on the landing: without respect you’re as good as dead.”

   “Speaking of respect - strip.”

   “Eh?”

   “Remove your clothes; all your clothes. Remove any personal effects from the pockets and put them in here,” said Brooks, handing Hughes a plastic  tray. “Fold the clothes neatly and,” indicating a cardboard box, “place them neatly in here; shoes on the bottom, the clothes on top.”

   Hughes stripped to his underwear. Brooks looked at him over his half-moons, and indicated the court escorts standing slightly behind and to either side. “If you’re struggling with the definition of all your clothes sonny I’m sure these two gentlemen would be only too willing to explain it to you.”

   Hughes stripped off his boxers, and tossed them onto the pile. A trustee, standing behind Brooks, looked down at Hughes, moued and gave him a wink. Hughes showed him his middle finger; the gesture earning him a prod from an escort’s baton.

   They let Hughes stand naked in the middle of the room while Brooks lingered over writing up the inventory. He held an item up for the other officers to see. “One condom, brand name Durex, and, apparently, ribbed for her pleasure.” He tut-tutted over the very notion. “Unused! Expires?” He squinted at the label. “Maybe I should let you hold onto that, eh, lads.” Muted laughter from the other’s present. “You’ll not see any action outside these walls before that fella’s ready for binning,” and tossed the condom in with Hughes’ other effects.

   “So, now,” said Brooks, setting his paperwork aside. “You’ve had your day in court.”

   “And?” said Hughes, brow furrowed.

   “Aye, well now son,” said Brookes. “I hope you enjoyed you wee outing ‘cause from now to,” and consulting Hughes’ papers, “then is a long time; nothing to lighten your load ‘cept a wee trip to the infirmary every now and then.”

   Hughes scoffed. “Don’t worry about me, Sir. I can entertain myself.”

   “Oh, you’ll not be short of entertainment, son.” Brooks handed Hughes’ personals to the trustee standing behind him, making sure the man got a good look at Hughes’ court papers. “There’s no shortage of fella’s in here who’d be only too happy to teach you a whole new meaning of the term joy riding.” He smirked as Hughes blanched. “Maybe I should’ve let you keep that condom, eh?”

   And, somewhere in the depths, a door, solid and final as a judge’s gavel, banged shut.

460 words

« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 04:30:39 AM by Clarius »
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

Offline Mrs N

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 04:31:56 PM »
This is a bit like judging a competition!! ;D

Doors: starts with a groan from me. Boring beginning.

Dead Man's Shift: This has a 'this has been done many times' feel to it. I even wrote a poem on the same subject, and if I've done that, believe me it's been done to death!! (Excuse the pun. ;D)

Last Word: I sort of like this, but the ending escaped me. Probably having a blonde moment. What did Vaughan ask?

Live wire: Liked this, good Heath and Safety message. ;D ;D

Lucky Strike: Again, only okay, but if the characters were drawn more, could be a good read.

Clarius, you write wonderful stuff. I love your character's. This exercise may have given your writing muscles a jolt, but there was no 'pull the reader in' energy that is usually in your writing.

Which one do you think has possibilities for your future project? I'd be interested to know. Hope I haven't dashed water on it!!! :-\


Offline bri h

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 05:01:45 PM »
Well you pulled me in, Clar. Now I wanna know which one you think has 'got the legs'. Bri.
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Clarius

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 05:31:53 PM »
Bri - Lucky Strike might make a longer piece.

Mrs H - Taylor sighed. "Nothin'" See the difference a word makes. Taylor can see a couple of minutes into the future, and since he's about to be executed the protagonist wants to know if he can see an afterlife. He can't. Can he?
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

Offline bri h

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 05:39:49 PM »
I liked the one of the Execution. It could be a bit like The Ghost in the Machine'. Don't you think? But instead of the (killer) being in the pc, he could haunt the feller. Yeah? No? ha ha
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Mrs N

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2014, 05:42:20 PM »
Bri - Lucky Strike might make a longer piece.

Mrs H - Taylor sighed. "Nothin'" See the difference a word makes. Taylor can see a couple of minutes into the future, and since he's about to be executed the protagonist wants to know if he can see an afterlife. He can't. Can he?

Yaay, I'd have picked Lucky Strike. It had the most potential.

Hmm, I didn't associate the answer 'nothing' with the question. Too subtle for me. ::)

Offline Rho

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2014, 06:07:05 PM »
Hi

Love your dialogue. Two stuck out for me.

“And God said let there be light,” said Bob. He flicked a switch, and the generator roared.

“And God said let there be light,” said Bob, as he flicked a switch and the generator roared.

“Stripy paint,” he said, “a long stand.” He laughed. “You must think I’m green.”


“Stripy paint, a long stand,” he said, and laughed. “You must think I’m green.”

But those are just my preferences.
It's a strange magic

Offline Mrs N

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 02:57:11 AM »

Mrs H - Taylor sighed. "Nothin'" See the difference a word makes. Taylor can see a couple of minutes into the future, and since he's about to be executed the protagonist wants to know if he can see an afterlife. He can't. Can he?


Shame he didn't see the light at the end of a tunnel...

Jo Bannister

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 04:33:04 AM »
Oh yes, you're pretty good at this.  Dialogue good, and well tied together.  Characters defined in just a few words.  I might have liked a little more detail in a couple of places, but I absolutely accept that the purpose of a short story is to move forward.

I liked "Dead Man's Shift".  OK, the concept isn't new, but what is?  Every edifice we raise is founded on the ashes of earlier constructs.  Hence the mantra "Show and Tel".  (Sorry - archaeologist's joke.)  I liked "Live Wire".  And I liked "Lucky Strike", though I felt it would benefit from tightening up a bit.  (Tighten up flash fiction?  What, till you can print it on the back of a postage stamp?  But that's how it struck me.)

If this is what you do when you're not writing, perhaps you should not write more!

Offline Dawn

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2014, 06:51:05 AM »
Yep, liked this, Clarius. I preferred Dead Man's Shift and with work would be good as a short story.
Time to take it serious and get the job done

Offline Clarius

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (900 words)
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2014, 04:35:19 PM »
Live Wire is actually a fairly common experience for people in the trade. I was told it by one who lived, and by one who buried one who didn't. I've added two short pieces that slipped the first posting. I like the comments posted here. They're all about little differences a word here or there can make. I'm told that Claire Keegan can produce a fresh draft that differs by only a single word.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 04:44:23 PM by Clarius »
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

Offline bri h

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1400+ words)
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2014, 05:09:21 AM »
Ok. Stop it now, Clar. I'm on 'story-overload'. Last two are brilliant. I did get a feeling of 'racist-sexist-homo-ist' overtones while reading both stories. But these vanished on further reading. Well done mate. I'myournummeronefan to quote a SK line.  ;D

B
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Clarius

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1400+ words)
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2014, 05:29:47 AM »
There's been a couple of comments on the site about the content of some of my writing. I worry that I'm not managing to separate the author's voice from that of the character(s).
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 05:20:46 AM by Clarius »
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

hillwalker3000

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1400+ words)
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2014, 01:44:22 PM »
Quote
There's been a couple of comments on the site about the content of some of my writing. I worry that I'm not managing to separate the author's voice from that of the character(s).

Hi Clarius,

Indeed, there's a certain stylistic pattern in your writing, or maybe in the voice you adopt. These pieces come across as observations recorded by the same bystander or reporter, and the dialogue is rarely distinctive enough to differentiate individual speakers or to stand out from the narrative. I'd put that down to you taking charge of telling every story (and maybe putting your own personal opinions or foibles into their heads) instead of allowing the characters an opportunity to exist in isolation.

You don't have to resort to 1st person narrative, but if readers begin to see you in everything you write it's time to look at putting yourself inside the head of someone completely different to yourself and try to write their story. One simple way would be to change gender for an hour or two (no need to change your clothing btw).  ;D

H3K

Offline MiggsEye

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Re: A smorgasbord of flash fictions (1400+ words)
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2014, 10:36:03 AM »
OK. This is my first post and my first critique on this site. So here goes. (Sorry if formatting is a bust. If it is think "better luck next time", because apparently newbies can't edit their posts.)

With my current WIP dead in the water I turned to that old staple of free-writing to loosen up the creative muscles. The result of two hours scribbling were these five short pieces. I can see one of them making it into a future project, a couple of others making it as scenes.

Doors

“And God said let there be light,” said Bob. He flicked a switch, and the generator roared. Great first line. I like it as two sentences, rather than as one with the "as", as someone else noted

“What’d you say?” I shouted over the din.

“And there was light,” he mouthed. Great variation. I'm with ya.

Out in the mall a sound; flood waters crashing down a parched levy.I thought New Orleans here for some reason

“Shit,” said Bob.

I couldn’t see anything. “What’s up?”

“Doors.”

Doors? Oh yeah: automatic doors.

The first of the horde ;) were upon us before I had time to check whether the safety was off or on. OK. I'm lost, but intrigued. I want to know what the hordes have to do with the doors and the flood and the power being out

It was on.

Go figure.

I like your general sense of storytelling and dialogue. You have me intrigued. I want to know more.

85 words

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” — Dr. Seuss