Flash Fiction: Spring

Hi Everyone,

I know I’ve been AWOL for a week and a half. I’m sorry I was lazy and didn’t even give notice. Uni got intense (again) so I needed to re-prioritise and get some stuff done. Stuff has now been successfully done, and I’ve still got more stuff to do, but I’m tentatively going to start posting again. I think I can keep it up now. Maybe I can even re-engage in the blogging community and start talking to people again. That would be so nice 🙂

In response to Charli’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Spring Eternal

The low sun transformed the trees into long black shadows cutting across the orange-stained landscape. If she squinted, she could make out the pale apple blossoms threatening to loose themselves in the breeze, though the fragrance was too subtle for her nose to single out. Standing there with her camera around her neck, she took a moment to soak up the beauty of the late spring. Sometimes, the drive to capture the moment caused her to miss the experience altogether, but she promised herself that wouldn’t happen this season. She closed her eyes and breathed the softly warming air…

May 6

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Schoolies

In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Vice

They expected it to be exciting since it was so forbidden. To be fair, the drinking was fun, but only to a point. Dehydration was a bitch, which made you her bitch.

Cigarette smells lingered in their clothes and in their hair. It smelt nice at first, but the novelty quickly lost its lustre. Ash was ash, and vomit was vomit: the facts could not be sugar coated.

Halfway through, one washed their clothes as the other booked a room and their train tickets. Trading one coast for another, they left schoolies behind to go swimming and bushwalking instead.

April 22

For those who don’t know what schoolies is.

Flash Fiction: Drop the lemons and run

In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

I had a plan. It was a plan that I kept to, even when it was messing me up.

The plan was failing. I was failing.

It took a lot to admit I couldn’t handle it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I did something brave or unique. I, essentially, gave up.

Giving up can be good.

I’m not exactly proud of it, but I don’t regret the decision; I have nothing to regret. I’m relieved, and I’m hopeful for the future. Giving up was the best thing I ever did.

I am excited about life again.

MdD

And that is the honest truth, right there. Thank you Charli, for reminding me that we can make lemonade from lemons, and sometimes dropping the lemons and bolting is a better course to take.

April 8

#FlashFiction Challenge from @Charli_Mills

In response to the Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Symptoms

Symptom: change in voice. Diagnosis: pharyngeal cancer.

He knew it.

The crossing turned green and pain jolted up as he stepped forwards.

Symptom: jarring pain from little toe. Diagnosis: broken toe.

Staring at the answers from dr.net, he gave little notice to the standstill traffic picking up around him. What about that strange itchy bump?

Symptom: lump under left buttock. Diagnosis: fungal infection.

That couldn’t be right.

Head bowed to his phone, he heard the crossing signal and stepped out onto the road. Nothing more could be said about him now, except…

Symptom: Self-absorbed in minor ailments. Diagnosis: Hypochondriac.

MdD

I decided to go back and use some of Charli’s old prompts. Since I haven’t done this prompt before, I figured there was no harm 😉

March 18

To see other entries of this challenge click here.

 

 

Flash Fiction: Toffee Day

I used the Day 2 prompt from http://flashfiction365.tumblr.com/prompts to inspire this story. The main character is strongly influenced by the guy from The Rosie Project

Her bright orange lips clashed against the red toffee apple she was biting into, and I couldn’t help but stare: she was a kaleidoscope of clashing colours. Navy-blue tattoos ran around her neck and under the collar of her pale green cardigan, which did little to hide the black tank top underneath. Her skirt was also green, but the opposite shade, and her leggings matched her lipstick.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Her harsh words surprised me. I didn’t mean to irritate her, but trying to explain that just angered her further.

“It’s not polite to stare,” she said as if she were talking to a little boy.

“There’s just so much to look at-”

She swung the toffee apple like a mace, so surprisingly violent that there was no time for the thought “I should duck now” to enter my head. Thankfully, she didn’t hit my cheek hard enough to break anything, but it was enough for the fruit to stick and hang off my burgeoning beard.

She walked off.

I wanted to know where I went wrong, but the toffee dragging on my facial hair was nonsensically painful. I had to walk around, holding the toffee apple up to my face, until I found a bathroom. The mirror and water allowed me to get to work, and using a little soap helped, but I would need hot water to get the rest of the toffee off my face.

Well, that was my day done. At least I’d helped out at the toffee apple stall before I was hit in the face with one. I’d done my bit, and now I could go home and… re-analyse how I should interact with people.

Flash Fiction: Shadow Man

I woke immobilised, the weight of sleep still pressing upon my limbs even though my eyes were wide open. I could see him there, crouched, leaning against the wall with his head bowed towards me. I had to scream. I had to move!

I shut my eyes in an effort to redistribute my panic, but when I opened them again he was gone – replaced with a box, my backpack, and an old shirt. I blinked and for a split second the image blurred back towards him, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He was never here.

I relaxed and took stock of myself. The adrenaline overdose ebbed away, leaving me feeling strangely energised when I had just been paralysed. What a terrifying event. Was I so paranoid that the fear had frozen me? I curled my hand into a fist, just to reassure myself I could move my limbs again.

Where had it come from? I had gone so long without an incident, and while this one hadn’t led me to lashing out the fear was familiar. The trigger was more than the shadows under the dim light of dawn. It was the dream.

“It was a dream,” I said aloud, trying to seal my fears away with the words. I could tell the difference now, between a dream and a visit. This last one had been cobbled together – memories skewed with fears. It hadn’t been real.

Not like when I was younger…

Here under the covers, I felt safe enough to think about it. The man of shadows, who came to pull me apart and stitch me back together, so what I loved was what I hated and what I hated was what I loved. I didn’t know if he was a real demon or just something out of the darkness in my own mind, but once I grew up the visits stopped. I had not.

The visits messed me up, but I was almost free. I wouldn’t tell my therapist about this dream, not now, not when I was about to be released…

The day was bright and sunny, a clear sky with a light tinge of blue. It was glorious, as if it were created just for me, so I could fully appreciate my freedom. I was settled. I was at peace. I was deemed safe.

But the tendrils of darkness still crawled at the corners of my mind, and I wondered…

What if he was real?

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Flash Fiction: Second Time’s the Charm

In response to Susan Lattwein’s Flash Fiction Prompt

No matter how much I kicked, no matter how much I screamed, no noise was loud enough to attract any attention. He must have parked in the middle of nowhere, or else the enclosed boot of the car was muffling everything I did. No one was coming for me.

The minutes ticked by, my ears settling to catch even the faintest noises, but there was nothing to hear. The inside of the boot stank like old meat. I wondered if I should try kicking again, maybe trying to focus my attack on the lock? I rolled over and tried to finger my bound hands across the lid, trying to locate something I could target. The crunch of footsteps on loose gravel froze me. I managed to take a deep shuddering breath before the boot popped open and harsh yellow light blinded me from above.

I snapped my eyes shut as he grabbed my elbow and wrenched me out of the car. Somehow, I managed to stay on my feet as I was half-dragged away from the solitary light. The fresh air brought the smell of salt and humus. I opened my eyes.

A road overgrown with weeds led to a little pier jutting out over the mud bank. It reminded me of the boardwalks I used to take when I was a kid, looking for guppies, frogs, and toadfish. This was a proper lake though, not just a little billabong. The water had to be deep.

There was no doubt in my mind why I was here. My whole life had been innocent, inconsequential. I’d made sure to anger nobody, learning from mistakes long past. The man didn’t speak, but I knew what he wanted.

“You want revenge.”

He took no notice of me, his gait unchanging. My shoes hit the wood and he pushed me in front of him, holding me at arm’s length.

“Look, you’re either just a psycho-killer, or you remember as much as I do. Which is it?”

Ever forwards, unrelenting.

“Okay, let’s say you do remember. That was the past – I can’t do anything about it now!”

We got to the end of the pier. I turned to him and opened my mouth to speak, but he just dived in, dragging me along with him.

Salty water rushed into my mouth, eyes, and ears. My hands still tied behind me, I was helpless to fight against him. This was exactly how it had gone. He was weaker than me back then, our roles reversed, and I had held him under until he stopped moving. It hadn’t even been anything personal – he was an old man who was taking too long to die, and he was making the country sick because of it. Everyone had turned a blind eye.

Before I lost consciousness, I wondered vaguely if he’d kill the others too, for what we did in our past lives.

 

Flash Fiction Response: From the Heart

This is in response to Susan’s LOVE GONE WRONG flash fiction prompt, and it is bang-on 500 words! “From the Heart” is a steampunk romance for your enjoyment:

I stared at the present my love had given me. I always knew he was unique but this…

“You do not like it?”

I did my best not to cringe – I had forgotten he could now read my thoughts. When I created the formula, I thought it a romantic idea for a St Valentine’s Day present. Now it was now simply an invasion of privacy.

“It is a symbolic gesture,” I gave my answer politically. “And I do appreciate the symbolism. However, the reality is… a little unpalatable.”

He smiled and closed the box. “Then you do not need to open it again. You now know the depths of my commit to our love.”

“Very deep indeed, if you had to break open your ribcage.” I eyed his chest carefully, looking for scars, but his unnatural healing ability must have already knitted over the wound.

He laughed, actually laughed at me. “I did not need to break any ribs. The way to a man’s heart is up and under his ribcage.”

My fingers reached out and instinctively traced his stomach, before trailing up to where his heart should be beating.

“How are you still alive?”

“That is a very good question, my dear apprentice.” He took my hand in his and brought it to his lips.

“I am serious.”

“Then you should propose a hypothesis.”

My brows furrowed as I sorted the facts from the bias. “Well, since you performed the surgery without my knowledge I expect you operated on yourself – you would not trust anyone else with such a task. The obvious conclusion to draw is that you rigged yourself to a machine that could pump blood consistently while you removed the heart. Something that harnesses perpetual motion, or clockwork? Obviously you are not connected to this machine now, so I expect you have since replaced your heart with some smaller device that could maintain the flow of blood without the act of pumping, which is why I felt no heartbeat.”

He raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. “Well done.”

“I trust you had the foresight to fashion this new invention out of rubber?”

“Some of it had to be, but it is most copper. It could not possibly work otherwise.” He smiled until he caught my expression.

“With all that metal in your chest, what will happen the next time you are caught out in a thunderstorm? You will not only burn your feet and your hands, but your lungs too.”

My love considered this briefly. “You are right. Burned internal tissue is particularly difficult to treat, and for a vital organ such as the lungs it would be… hmm… I will have to find a way to replace my lungs with rubber balloons. Oh, it will be tricky though, yes, to ensure the oxygen gets to the blood. How shall we go about this new project?”

“Just put your heart back in your body please. And next year? Flowers or perfume, darling. No more nonsense with hearts.”

Author’s note: I first read the phrase “The way to a man’th heart ith up and under hith ribcage” in a Terry Pratchett book (spoken by Igor, I remember that).  I have since seen the phrase elsewhere in various forms on the internet. It is not an original phrase by me, and I expect Terry Pratchett was the first person to popularise it, if not the the first person to think of it. So credit where credit’s due.

Mini Story: Don’t Take Anything Lying Down

The air-conditioning was too cold, and I was still sweating. My knees couldn’t be still; if it wasn’t the left then it was the right, bouncing up and down to the point where the person next to me shifted away out of fear of being hit. I forced my eyes onto the cover letter I held in my hand, reviewing and revising and committing it all to memory. I was as prepared as I could be. Now it just needed to be over.

“Thomas Lane.”

The bloke next to me rose and I was the only person left in the waiting room. Even the receptionist had gone home. Why was this taking so long? My interview was for four-thirty, and it was a quarter past five.

Again, I bowed my head and read over my letter, my recommendations, and my resume. The printed sheets were just words now, no longer making any sense to me. I was too wound-up. I’d been so sure these words were the best they could be, and now I wasn’t sure of anything.

Finally, Thomas Lane walked out of the interview room, ignored me, and pressed the button for the lift. I waited. The lift came and carried Thomas Lane away. I waited some more. When a man in a suit walked out I raised my head expectantly, but he gave a start when he saw me.

“Oh shit, we’ve got another one!” He waved his hand over his mouth as if he hadn’t meant to speak so loudly, or perhaps at all. He suddenly turned tail and reclosed the interview room door behind him. I waited.

After another minute, he re-entered the waiting room and gave an apologetic grimace.

“Look, I’m sorry about this but it seems we’ve run well over time and, well, I think we’ve already made our decision.”

Who decided that this insecure person should be conducting the interviews? I’d caught the informal ‘look’ the hesitant ‘well’ and the jarring ‘I think we’ve’.

“Excuse me,” I said clearly. “How can you think you’ve made a decision? You’ve either made it or you haven’t. If you are hesitant about it, then you have not made a decision.”

He blinked, but quickly recovered. I wondered if the insecurity was an act. “No, we have made a decision. Thank you for coming in.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.” I walked up to him, shaking with rage, and he thankfully backed away into the interview room, where another person was placing files in their bag.

“I came here on time for an interview. I deserve a fair go.”

I handed him and the remaindering person copies of my documents, and sat down at the small conference table.

He sighed as he flicked through my resume. “Alright, let’s make this quick.”

I smiled. “You won’t be disappointed.”

Flash Fiction: Striving to Relax

Relax. Empty your mind…

What’s an empty mind meant to look like? The darkness of space, or a blinding white light?

Breathe deep. Concentrate on your breathing…

But breathing is the most natural thing you can’t concentrate on it thinking about it doesn’t help it just… crap! I forgot how to breathe! I can’t breathe!

Okay, don’t concentrate on your breathing. Ignore your breathing.

Relaxing is painful!

Alright, imagine a peaceful place… a deep blue lake-

Am I in the lake?

You’re not in the lake – you’re imagining the lake.

So… I’m on the bank of the lake? Is it muddy or sandy? Are my feet meant to be in the water?

You’re further up the bank on a grassy slope, watching the sunlight twinkle across the surface of the water.

Twinkle? Stars twinkle. Sunlight reflects much stronger than that. I wouldn’t be looking at it, it’d burn my eyes.

Forget the lake. Lie back in the grass and look up at the clear blue sky. No, you’re not looking into the sun!

I hate lying on the grass. There’s always prickles or ants.

There are no prickles or ants.

That’s unrealistic. I can’t believe that.

You scrutinised the place you are sitting before you sat down – there are no prickles or ants!

But ants can move…

.

I give up and open my eyes, before turning the ‘soothing sounds’ music off and uncrossing my legs. Wincing a little, I stretch out one leg, sigh with disappointment, and rest my cheek on my other knee. Finally, I rise up and open the door.

“How did the meditation go?”

“Not well. But on the plus side, I was able to brainstorm for a new flash fiction.”

My new adult urban fantasy is currently free when you download it from Smashwords!