In response to @Charli_Mills Flash Fiction Prompt: Man, it’s a hot one

July 1

In response to Charli’s Flash Fiction Prompt: “Man, it’s a hot one.”

Getting the shakes already, and it was only eleven. Stupid, stupid to do this walk on so little breakfast. She slicked back her sweated-soaked fringe and muttered, “Man, it’s a hot one.”

Forests should feel cool, and if this was cool it must’ve been blistering down the coast. She spied a red post, her brain sluggishly switched gears…

“Halfway…”

A new sound caught her ears.

“The stream!”

Giving in, she dropped her backpack, stripped off her shoes and socks, and jumped feet-first into the water. The rest of the track could wait… she’d just float here for a bit…

This is it! My official come back from hiatus! Now it’s the holidays… I’ve caught a cold 😦 but it’ll be nice to have another week and a bit off until I go to another school camp. Then back to prac.

Prac teaching was fun. I’m very sure this is what I want to do, I just wish I had more free time while doing it! I need to work out what I want to do for my blog if I’m going to be a teacher. I can’t keep doing four posts a week, and I definitely can’t read a book every week! I’m thinking of keeping with Flash Fictions and Poetry, because they’re fun and I find them not too time-consuming. Of course, whenever I’m on holiday I can catch up on reading, but otherwise, I’ll be fairly limited. It’ll be touch and go.

I’ll have to nosy around everyone’s blogs to see what you’ve all gotten up to this past month! I hope to find you all well.

From Marigold

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

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.

#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.

 

 

Quote

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: Delusional Dialogue

“It’s like my skin is covered in little ants.”

“That’s prickly heat. You haven’t drunk enough water and now you’re overheating.”

“What? I’m not a computer.”

“Go have a shower, drink half a litre of water and then eat some sugar. If you haven’t developed a migraine after that, you’re good.”

“How can you live like this? You don’t even have air conditioning!”

“This isn’t that hot. The fact that you’ve managed to experience heat stress is more to do with you than the heat.”

“This isn’t that hot? I’m sweating in places I didn’t know I could sweat! It’s like every part of my body is an armpit.”

“So go have that shower.”

“Ugh. I think there’s a bug running behind my knees but it turns out its sweat tricking down! How can the backs of knees sweat?”

“Naturally.”

“I’m a ham, baking in my own glaze.”

“Are you just going to complain or are you going to do something about it?”

“Actually, I think the heat is making me more creative.”

“That’s not creativity – that’s delusion. Seriously, you need to cool yourself down or else you’re gonna suffer some brain damage.”

“Heat can do that?”

“Heat, and me. Go have freaking shower already.”

Flash Fiction: Dinner Dialogue

“If I can make it, I’m not going to order it.”

“That’s ridiculous. Can’t you just enjoy eating out?”

“If I order Spaghetti Bolognese and I know I can do better, I can’t enjoy it.”

“We are in a five star restaurant! This is absolutely no judgement on your cooking but I think their spag bol will be better.”

“But what if it isn’t? Then it’s just overpriced disappointment.”

They’ve used five different mushrooms and it’s topped with shaved truffle!

“That won’t make it good though; just expensive.”

“Look, I understand where you are coming from, but the whole point of this menu is ‘gormet-izing’ regular food. Just order what you want.”

“Right, and I want the calamari.”

“You hate squid!”

“But if this is meant to be the best of the best, then the meal should make me like squid.”

“You’re setting yourself up for failure.”

“Excuse me mademoiselles, have you perused the menu?”

“Yes, I’ll have the calamari and chips.”

“And I’ve got to order the spag bol so my friend has something to eat.”

“…Excuse me?”

“Oh, the Spaghetti Bolognese.”

“You spent the past five minutes arguing against me when you’re just going to order for me anyway?!… oh, that was quick.”

“How’s the squid?”

“…Okay, I guess.”

“I knew it.”

“Hey! That’s my dinner!”

“No, the spaghetti is. You’re lucky I don’t like it.”

“…Thanks.”

“You’re bloody welcome.”

Mini Story: The Hidden House

Not a single soul in the whole neighbourhood knew who owned the house behind the walls, nor if anyone lived there. It was easily the biggest block on the highest point of the hill, so the land alone would be valuable whether or not the house was. That was the thing – the walls surrounding the property were so high that only a hint of a red roof could be seen, and that was when I was standing on my own roof! I couldn’t tell if the house was brick or wood or wide or long, only that the tallest point of the roof was red.

“If you’re so keen to find out…” Denny grinned, looking up at me through his sunglasses. “I dare you to climb the wall.”

I returned the grin. Denny knew I would never do anything about my curiosity unless I was challenged. Carefully, I slid back down the roof to the ladder and asked Denny to hold it again.

“What do I get?” I asked when I could face him again.

“Nothing.” His grin grew wider. “You’ll never get over that wall. There’s no purchase – you’d need a ladder three times the length of this one.”

I realised he was right. “How about I do one better?” I asked. “I’ll walk through the front gate.”

Denny shook his head. “You can try. No one gets in.”

Even the gate was as high as the wall, though I could see a person-sized door which must have been openable. The wooden palings were so close together that I couldn’t even spy anything through the cracks.

I knocked. Several times. Then I shouted.

Denny, leaning on the wall next to me, shook his head. “You’re not getting in.”

I sighed and rested my head on the wooden gate, trying again to see something, anything. Between the pale white wood, I thought I could see a blur of red. Red bricks? I stared and tried to angle myself to get the best perspective. It didn’t help. I was about to pull away when there was a blur of movement, and the colour changed to the deepest brown. It was so sudden I flinched backwards and lost my place. I tried in vain to find it again, but my accidental peephole was gone.

“What is it?”

“I thought… I thought I saw I saw someone.”

Denny snickered. “Well, if someone was there, they don’t want you in, do they?”

My hands had been resting against the gate. Reluctantly, I pulled away.

“I told ya you’d never get in.”

I didn’t say it, but he was wrong. I just had to build a bigger ladder.

Flash Fiction: Instincts

“Trust your instincts,” he’d told me. “It’s the most powerful thing in your arsenal.”

I had, and now I was standing on a rooftop, pointing a gun at my crazy informant who wanted to jump. My instincts could go blow themselves.

My instincts said he wouldn’t run. Then my instincts told me he’d go down the stairs, not up. If I hadn’t paused to listen to his echoing footsteps, I wouldn’t have changed direction. I’d only just made it up to the roof when I caught him nearing the edge and shouted ‘Freeze!’.

But he hadn’t jumped yet.

“Just calm down, aight? Let’s talk about this-”

No!  I’m done hearing you talk! Now you listen!” He stepped backwards, heels now against the ledge. “I can’t…” He gasped, trying to control his wavering voice. “I can’t do this anymore…”

“Look, mate, that’s fine. Everyone’s gotta know when to quit. We’ll get you to a safehouse-”

“They’ll find me. They will! They…” One foot went up on the ledge, then another.

“You don’t want to die, mate. I know you don’t.”

“’S’better… better doin’ it this way.” He started to turn towards the drop, and that’s when I shot him in the leg.

The bullet ripped through his calf. He screamed, buckled, swayed…

And fell back onto the rooftop.

I tucked my gun away as I called for an ambulance. He was still awake as I took my jacket off and pressed it against his wound.

“Arrgh!” He screamed again. “You shot me!”

“You fell back on the rooftop.”

“W-what?”

“You know the one instinct everyone trusts? Self-preservation. It didn’t matter you were trying to jump off a building – your instincts kicked in, and you fell back to the safe side of the edge.” I grinned at him. “Trust your instincts.”

Book Review Requests

Since I’ve self-published my first book I’ve been running around like a madwoman (in cyberspace, of course, so it’s not like I’ve gotten out of breath) requesting reviews of as many readers as possible. Here’s what I’ve learned.

First of all, friends are invaluable, for moral support, encouragement, and a sympathetic ear. There are many people I’ve met through this blogging game, writers and readers, poets and philosophers. No, I’m not taking the piss (ockerism, see ‘joking’). Blogging is probably once of the best tools for reflection on the world and the self, as it’s both a way to record important events and thoughts (like a diary) and a forum for discussion of such topics with a variety of people, many of whom have strong curiosity and are open-minded.

Secondly, people want to read, but there are a LOT of books out there. I’m taking the same attitude to this as I took to when I was out of work: apply, apply, apply. If I approach a few bloggers a day or even every week, I’m going to consider that progress. Bethany Hatheway, a fellow indie author whose book I reviewed here, gave me invaluable advice that I should expect about a 5% response rate. It was sobering but I naively hold onto the belief that this advice has prepared me for eventual success.

I have signed up for The Indie View and within a three days I’ve received six requests from people to review their books. I am not a fast reader – I manage about one book a week when I’m working, maybe two when I’m not (although holiday season means lots of family to visit, so I’m not spending as much time reading as I hoped). So now I’ve had some experience with what I’ve always known – it’s impossible for reviewers to read every book that they’re asked. And then, not every reviewer is interested in reading every book. It’s honestly been a better database for authors to approach me rather than the other way around – I haven’t had any luck with using it to gain responses about my work.

However, it was only through authors approaching me to read their books that I found out about Reader’s Favourite (the link takes you to a review of the book I was asked to review), a website that utilises the huge number of readers out there to review everyone’s books. I highly recommend checking them out. I have found similar websites since but they all seem to ask for exhobertant fees in exchange for a review. Reader’s Favourite is, by contrast, free. I haven’t heard back from them since my initial application yesterday, but they seem genuine, and I highly recommend checking them out.

Untitled

So that’s it for now! I shall update as I discover more…