Flash Fiction: The Circle Treatment

Aside

Confession: I have no idea how to write short fiction. I’m not one of those folks who have been writing maniacally since grade school. I only got serious about writing in my later years, and the form I focused on was novels. It would seem as though writing something shorter would be easier. But it scares the heck out of me. I’m used to taking my time to get to the point. Well, here goes nothing.

The book I am reading is CINDER, by Marissa Meyer. The first sentence from chapter one:

The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.

The first real image to come up is this, a painting by MC Escher called Circle Limit III

Image

Okay *deep breath* here goes.

The Director of Human Affairs has us all stand in a circle each day at precisely three pm in the so-called afternoon. Not that anyone really can tell one hour from another on this ship.

He insists that this routine is the best way for all of us to heal. That punishment is a waste of human resources and there are too little of us aboard this vessel to spare. His assistant trains her camera on us, recording the moment for the live broadcast feed. I keep my eyes squeezed closed until I will be forced to look at him.

I haven’t admitted my real fear yet. Standing here, looking into his eyes, I wonder what he sees when he stares back. My dead body? Or does he wish he did.

I’d been found barely alive in one of the storerooms deep in the ship’s bowels.

This is his punishment, like all other shipboard perpetrators; to face their victims daily. There’s no better way to deal with crimes aboard a long term mission like ours as we catapult through space.  Such is the ship’s philosophy.

But I see no remorse in those eyes. I see only hunger.

I open my eyes slowly and his red-rimmed ones meet mine. I’m supposed to believe the sorrow, the regret I see there is for me. But I know it’s really the shame he has to face as the entire ship watches this spectacle, judging him .

There are others in the circle. There are even other circles. There are cheating husbands facing their wives and lovers, child abusers, thieves facing shop owners, bullies facing victims—the entire pageant of life encapsulated in a vessel bound for parts unknown.

But I don’t care. All I see are the eyes that laughed as I screamed. So, back to my fears. I know he’s going to do it again.

This farce won’t stop him.

The thing I fear most is myself
Because I’m the one who is going to have to stop him.

I Before E Except After- Well- Everyone Else

Flash Fiction Challenge- though it’s not more of a drive-by write than flash fiction as I’m in the middle of sprinting to my Oct. 1st deadline for His Hometown Girl. Anyway, here’s my attempt to write something in under fifteen minutes (that’s literally all the time I can give 🙂

The book I’m reading: The White Princess by Philappa Gregory
The first sentence (from chapter one, not the prologue) :
I wish I could stop dreaming.
Google image of the last noun in that sentence:
A black and white graphic of a block letter, capital I

 I’ve had enough of being a pronoun. It sounds like I’m something special but I’m not. And the other nouns know it. They don’t even talk to me. They huddle in the corner of the sentence and share their fancy, important meanings, puffed up with importance. They act like the stars of every book they appear in and me, tireless, hardworking me, gets no credit. I’m just the noun authors turn to when narrating. Nothing  specific, evocative, or transcendent. Sheesh. I might be a pro, but who remembers ‘I’… accept me?

I’ve written to that Webster guy. The one who wrote the book about words by simply listing them and their definitions. Sure. That was tough. Oh. And this is rich. Do you want to know what my definition is? Here goes:

noun, often capitalized often attributive \ˈī\

: the ninth letter of the English alphabet

: the number one in Roman numerals

Of course I had to look up ‘attributive’ because after that lackluster definition, I figured it’d be something good. Eeeeeh. Negatory. All it meant was that I joined things. What’s so ‘pro’ about that? And I’m the ninth letter in the English alphabet. Whoop-dee-do. Couldn’t I have had a cool position like ten? Or an even number? It figures I’d be odd. But at least I’m (trumpet sound) numero uno in a DEAD LANGUAGE.  Yeah. That’s right. I’m so pro that only ancient people know about me. Oh- and the kids who still outline their essays- back in 1985. *sigh.

I don’t want to go pro anymore. I want to be a real noun with meat on me like ‘camaraderie’, ‘demagogue’ ‘reverence’ ‘exasperation’ and ‘adulation’- big words, important words, words people don’t skip when getting to the juicy parts.  I might as well be invisible. Maybe that’s why they capitalize me. I won’t fade into the page that way, though I might disappear before your eyes.

Oh bugger … I MISSED MY DAY …

AND it’s a flash fiction challenge.

HELP ME! HELP ME!

My excuse is lame. I JUST finished a massive revise and my brain is now in a puddle on the office floor. That said, I’m no different from the others  because everybody in this group is busy and ACTUALLY DOING their job.

So … my “flash fiction” is actually a bit of a cheat. It’s a poetry modeling after William Carlos Williams THIS IS JUST TO SAY

plums

This Is Just To Say   by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

AND MINE:

This is just to say

I have missed
posting
my flash fiction
example

and which
the group
was probably
expecting me to do

Forgive me
the days flew by
words ran out
and so did my time.

Till Death Do Us Part

Flash Fiction Challenge!

The book I’m reading:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The first sentence (from chapter one, not the prologue):
It was freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrived.
Google image of the last noun in that sentence:
Zombie still shot from The Walking Dead (TV show)

Three down. I didn’t know how many more would follow. But my arm ached from the jerk of the shotgun, and my nose burned from the smell of blood.

I backed into the ramshackle of a house I used to call my home, searching for a sign that James was still alive somewhere. Wiping my brow, I spun to face the chaos before me. The silhouettes of upturned furniture came into focus, and on a shuddered breath, I darted forward.

I should have known the answering machine wouldn’t be on. Ever since the dead began rising and taking over, those of us who’d survived were left with no electricity, no phones, and no clue of what to do. I’d been away when the virus struck. Away from home. Away from James. I couldn’t get a hold of him for the few hours my cell phone lasted. And now I had no idea if he was alive … or taken down by one of those creatures.

A shadow moved in the hall, making my breath hitch and my grasp on the gun tighten. The figure moved toward me with an awkward gait. I held the shotgun up, swallowing hard as I prepared myself to shoot. And then his face came into view.

Oh God no!

With the way his flesh was falling away from his face, the way his eyes glazed over, I wouldn’t have thought I would recognize him. But I did. James. He was one of them.

He stopped. His eyes trained on the gun before they slipped up to meet mine. I knew he wasn’t the James I knew anymore, but for a single moment those eyes spoke to me. They cried out, “You said you’d love me no matter what.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks as my eyes answered back, “I do. That’s why I have to do this.”

My lids squeezed shut as I pulled the trigger.

Information Please

Image

Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons, (c) pjern (The Indianapolis Public Library atrium)

I enter the building and nearly wilt in relief. It must be nearly a 100 degrees outside. At least it’s cool in here. I soak in the blessedly cool AC as I get my bearings and approach the front desk.

It’s pretty much every big-city library.  This one’s clean and modern, but otherwise it’s all just stacks of books and scattered tables with people reading.

The Information desk is well-marked with a large metallic sign that scrolls around the ceiling above it and says: I N F O R M A T I O N all around it. The lady at the desk is turned away, facing her computer.

“Excuse me?” I ask. Really, I just need one thing: answers — in a book maybe. Surely they can help me here. I feel like I’m going crazy.

She spins to face me, a pretty woman with a blond side braid and a smile of greeting. “May I help you?”

“Listen, weird things have been happen–”

She flickers out of view,. Time stutters, skipping forward a sec, then back. She’s there again still smiling, her eyebrows lifted in a pleasant expression. I glance around and it’s the same thing, a faint little flicker of time. Is anyone really here?

It’s happening again. I’m not sure what’s real any more.

There’s nothing wrong with my eyes. I’ve always had perfect vision. And there’s nothing wrong with my mind. There can’t be.

I swallow my feelings of unease and ask, “I need a book.”

“Right this way,” she says, and I follow her into the stacks. She seems to know without asking what I’m looking and despite the little time-flicker-thingy, I’m relieved. Finally, someone’s going to help me.

* * *

Update:

The book I’ve been reading is WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. Good stuff! 🙂

The first line of the first page is:

“In the second it takes you to read this sentence, your senses are showering you with over 11,000,000 pieces of information.”

–Lisa Cron, WIRED FOR STORY

The Flash Fiction Challenge

The challenge: Flash Fiction (oy vey)

The Book: Night Train to Lisbon By Pascal Mercier

The word: Bundesstraße

The image: Image

And now, my embarrassing attempt at flash fiction (done with poor internet connection and a numb mouth from getting a bunch of fillings at the dentist this morning):

 

I hate rain. At least, I hate the rain right now. It’s one of those days where everything is going wrong. I woke up late, even though my alarm was howling for at least forty-five minutes before I paid attention. I’m still trying to catch up with the hours I’ve missed. I feel like I am on a reality tv show with start I had to my day.  I leaped out of bed, stubbed my toe, cussed my brains out, but kept going for the bathroom. The hotel room was completely trashed from the night before. I can’t even remember what happened last night. Who was that pathetic fool that took over my body? I was so nervous, and the thought of being I’m late for the meeting that could make or break my entire future doesn’t help. I am driving as fast as possible considering that we were in bumper to bumper traffic. The Bundesstraße, known to the locals as ‘The B’ is crammed with cars. It would probably be faster to get out of the car and walk to my destination. The meeting of a life time. February in Germany. What the hell was I thinking? This was a terrible idea. I should have sent Maggie instead. It’s too cold for me to think straight. I hate cold. I hate the rain, I hate cold, and I hate myself for jumping at the opportunity to make a fool of myself. I wanted so badly to prove to my boss that I can be better. So, I volunteered to fly half way across the world to sell a product who name I don’t even know how to pronounce. I guess it’s too late now. I’m in Germany, I’m late, and it’s cold. I might as well take it in while I have the chance. Come Monday, I’ll be without a job, without a family, without a life. Once they discover what I have done, there will be no way to turn back. 

Message Received

Our challenge this month is to use the last noun from the first sentence of the book we’re currently reading, and write about the first image that appears in a search engine. In my case, the book is Blender for Dummies. (Don’t laugh. It’s for a 3D computer animation software, not a kitchen appliance. :-)) The last noun in the first sentence (I skipped a bunch of pages to get to the introduction) is GRAPHICS. (Whew! Could’ve been worse!) The first image to pop up in google is:

scene13fanfic image

Message Received

The wreckage of our entire civilization drifted in shards through space, just outside our escape pod. I put my hand against the shielding barrier and watched in bitter silence, shoulder to shoulder with my sisters, determined to spot something recognizable in the debris.

“Maybe it was an accident,” Allenah said quietly.

“This was no accident.” I held back my anger. “There was a message embedded in the disc. Chandok was trying to break the encryptions.”

“A simple message would not have done this.”

“The message was not so simple, and he had it narrowed down to one solar system.”

“Still—”

I pulled my blade and pinned Allenah against the barrier before she could say another word. “Whose side are you on?”

“Yours, of course. But Earth? They aren’t capable of this.”

“You saw the contraption they sent, with that cursed golden disc. They destroyed everything—our men, our children, our future. Our entire race will cease to exist when we are gone.”

“Masa. Not now,” said Grogenas, our oldest sister.

I released Allenah and stood with my back against the wall, wondering who was with me, and who was against. “Would you have us wait until we are too old to fight back? Would you stay here, drifting aimlessly among the dead, and not seek any retribution at all?”

Grogenas fixed her gaze on the ruins beyond the barrier. Once again, we fell into a mournful silence. Until a child’s toy came into view.

“We will gather support from allies and build our army, with or without council authorization,” Grogenas announced. “When all is ready, I know of a ship that can have us on Earth within the beat of a human heart.”