Flash Fiction Faction: The Loser

This week’s flash fiction faction entry, inspired by Quill Shiv’s wonderful weekly prompt (every Thursday) on her blog just over here. Do check out her entry and the others, too, listed in the comments section beneath.

Now. Made it! Last week was a bust, but this week, a story has come to me, and yet again, it’s begging to be turned into something longer. Think I’m storing these up as a sort of inner slush pile, to turn to in times of creative drought. Which leads me to the story below, totally planned, that. I hope you enjoy it, and any and all encouragement is gratefully received. A novel – or at least a collection – must emerge from 2012, but when it works (like now) this is fun all on its own!

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PROMPT: Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. –Anonymous

The sun is unforgiving at this time of year. It drains the lakes, shrinks streams and kills crops. Inevitably, one at a time, the six villages of the Saluvian Valley come to beg the three sisters who live at the end of Oak Hump trail for their assistance.

Every year, the sisters make the clouds come and ease the suffering and death in the Valley.

But there is always a price.

My name is Cody, and this time I will pay. To live with them for one year is no hardship. After that, if I still live, I can go home. I try very hard not to think how young Geda looked after she returned just last week. I try very, very hard not to think at all.

They cackle triumphantly as they take me in, and while I wait, chained, in the back of their dingy hovel, I can hear their shrieking appeals to the weather gods to release the clouds. I lose track of time, but it seems to be only a short while before the drumbeat of rain hits their tin roof, and the endless impacting noise is sending the other trapped creatures hissing and fluttering against the bars of their cages.

Finally, the hags re-enter the hut, drenched through, their bones scrape starkly through blotched, naked skin, their wiry ash coloured hair is spread thinly across bad scalps. They surround me, and poke at me with clawed fingers. I could crush any of them with the slightest effort.

But, I have more sense than that.

“He’s got more fat on him than the last one,” the eldest, Makkala, noted as she takes the skin of my waist and pinches too hard, her evil yellow eyes glittering.

“He should last a good while.” the middle sister, Sanalla of the jealous green eyes, strands of ribbons in her knotted hair, chuckles and pulls at my upper arm and chest.

The third sister, named Doma, says nothing, but her blind eyes scare me the most, giving away nothing in their blank whiteness as she tugs on my backside and offers only a hollow ‘hah!’ noise from her toothless hole of a mouth.

“Not cringin’, boy?” Makkala sneers, and I shake my head. “Oh, you’re a brave one. Been a while since we had one of those. eh, sisters?”

I clench my fist but hold steady under their touch. I must not be weak. I remember the Innkeeper’s words. Do not show your fear.

“You’ll do,” Makkala pats me too hard on the side of the head, then says. “It might not be too hard on you, boy.”

But the three of them cackle anyway, and then hobble over to the stinking cauldron for plotting, brewing and eating.

They will starve me for a while, and then…and then…

I hope I do not end up serving them as a crow.

But my earlier hopes were similarly ignored.

Flash Fiction Faction: The Loser

Flash Fiction Friday: Dark and Deep

Madison Woods provided another great writing prompt this week and I’m happy to present my latest 100 word story based on one of her photos. Details about entering Flash Fiction Friday can be found over here.

Kind of went for my very first instincts this time. It still went through quite a few drafts (hope that shows, or doesn’t…) but I’m happy with the final result. Please feel free to comment with your responses to it, I always read them and make an effort to go through and read everyone else’s by the end of each weekend.

Don’t forget to also check out Madison Wood’s entry for the prompt on her blog, right here!

Flash Fiction Friday, Sunset White Branches, Madison Woods, 100 word stories, horror stories
Sunset White Branches photo by Madison Woods

Dark and Deep

Branches raked my arms. The forest is unforgiving. Trembling in the dark, I come again upon a stone marked with ancient carving. I sink to my knees before it and pray to my god, or theirs, to release me. My shotgun long lost, the creature’s blood is still sticky and pungent on my hands and neck.  My stomach growls. I am so thirsty. Exhausted, I soon fell fast asleep beneath the stone’s deep blue shadow. Waking at the touch of a leathery paw. The moon is shrouded. Powerful reek of animal filled my nostrils. I have no breath to plead…

Earlier Flash Fiction Friday Entries:

Send in Mitsy

Cellar Wall

Bloody Jewels

Reading the Bones

Broken Mushroom

Flash Fiction Faction (Thursday challenge run by Quill Shiv) Entries

Aunt Edie’s Bunker

Clouded

Flash Fiction Friday: Dark and Deep

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 3 of 3)

New today! Final part of interview with horror author Jams Pratt. Discussing Lovecraft and horror, and the end of the world of course!

The Haunted Eyeball

Welcome to the final part of the Haunted Eyeball’s interview with horror author James Pratt. Today we discuss Inspiration & Publicity.

Part 1: Writing Process

Part 2: Inspiration and Publicity

Part 3: Lovecraft and Horror! – TODAY

James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn’t already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the distant past, others in the far future, and still others somewhere between eight minutes ago and twelve minutes from now. Whether sci-fi, adventure, or straight-out horror, the running theme…

View original post 1,031 more words

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 3 of 3)

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 2 of 3)

The Haunted Eyeball

Welcome to the second part of the Haunted Eyeball’s interview with horror author James Pratt. Today we discuss Inspiration & Publicity.

Part 1: Writing Process

Part 2: Inspiration and Publicity

Part 3: Lovecraft and Horror! 

James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn’t already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the distant past, others in the far future, and still others somewhere between eight minutes ago and twelve minutes from now. Whether sci-fi, adventure, or straight-out horror, the running theme is that…

View original post 795 more words

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 2 of 3)

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 1 of 3)

The Haunted Eyeball

Today I am very excited to introduce another horror author who’s agreed to be interviewed here on my Haunted Eyeball.  James Pratt writes horror fiction and his work gives an interesting and skewed view on familiar genre conventions. He also has a knack for bringing an otherworldly twist to some treasured childhood memories.

Part 1: Writing Process

Part 2: Inspiration 

Part 3: Lovecraft and horror! 

James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn’t already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the…

View original post 1,007 more words

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 1 of 3)

Flash Fiction Friday: Send in Mitsy

I think Flash Fiction Friday is here to stay, I love it too much to miss one. Thank you Madison Woods! Had a busy day today but I’ve carved out the 100 words and I look forward to exploring everyone else’s writing over the weekend. The links to all of these can be found, under Madison’s entry for this week. Always worth checking out.

Thank you to all the lovely commentators on my entry for last week. Hopefully I got to all of your entries, too.

This week’s dog centric prompt (aww, check out Bobbie) set off a chain reaction of stories in my head. Several painkillers and many pages of illegible scribbling later, it seems that there’s no end of symbolism, meaning and narrative that dogs inspire into potential stories. Which is awesome. I think I could start a small collection of 100 word stories just on dogs. Really ended up having a lot to choose from.

But, the 100 word challenge restrictions as always are useful in whittling it all down to one story, and to its best moment. Hopefully, there’s a good result from all that just below:

Madison Wood's Flash Fiction Prompt - Bobbie - March 16 2012
Bobbie-Sue by Madison Woods

Send in Mitsy

The polished midnight gates of Hades are impossibly high and elegant. The three-headed beast snarling in front of them looks tiny. He isn’t. We barely come up to Cerberus’s panting chest as three drooling mouths snarl at us. Body parts gristle in his jaws.

I nod. “Send in Mitsy.”

Mitsy’s fluffy orange paws, each the size of a VW Beetle, pad silently across the cavern. Cerberus gives a confused whine.

Mitsy opens her four mouths and gives a big, interested “Mraaaowp”.

Then we let her loose.

It’s not really fair on Cerberus. But how else can I get Veronica back?

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My other entries are listed below:

Cellar Wall

Bloody Jewels

Broken Mushroom

Reading the Bones

Also don’t forget to check out Quill Shiv’s fab new challenge, whose prompts vary from music, images and single words, over on her blog. Catch my two entries for that here (Clouded) and here (Aunt Edie’s bunker).

Flash Fiction Friday: Send in Mitsy

Flash Fiction Faction: Aunt Edie’s Bunker

OK,  was not feeling it this Thursday. Didn’t really get around to listening to the prompt  on Quill Shiv’s blog, properly, which was silly of me, although I managed to listen to most of it. Thursday comes round quickly. Lesson learned. But another potential story is forming below.

The ‘Clouded’ entry from last week is available here.

Below is the youtube clip of Elgar music we used. I definitely visualised some of the images below right away, when I heard it:

Aunt Edie’s Bunker

We were having tea when the bombs started dropping. My Earl Grey rippled like the Atlantic on a wet Wednesday, and Aunt Edie said, “Off to the Bunker, Charles.” I picked up my book and my blanket, and she ushered me into the back garden. Rushed as we were, I caught a glimpse of long streams of smoke falling from the sky in the distance, and the fog had turned a deep, flickering orange above the surrounding low hedges.

The siren still hadn’t howled a warning, and there were bright lights on display in the houses nearby as I followed Auntie E into the back garden. She unhooked the lock and hatch of our shelter while I watched the family who lived beside Edie struggle into their own shelter. I forget their names. Their three children were shivering, big eyed, in loose white nightclothes. Their mum, only wearing underwear and thin wool robe, tightly clutched her crying baby against her breasts. Their dad, a big man in a thick jumper and undershorts, put down a big bag that rattled and tinged musically as he set it on the wet grass. He struggled with their bunker’s lock, I could hear muffled curses and the mother scolding him in a low voice.

The ground vibrated beneath my slippered feet . Edi got the hatch open just as I heard a shrill whistling noise, loud enough to be coming from inside my head, closing in from above. Without warning she shoved me forwards into the dark below. I fell badly, sliced my left leg on sharp edges of stairs, and lay at the bottom, winded and hurt.  The hatch banged shut above me and the darkness filled with pounding thunder. The bombs were landing. I clung to my knees and lay like that in the dark on a rough concrete floor, the earth above me roaring and thundering.

For a while I heard only the awful insect drone of planes. I was freezing when I finally realised the bombardment had passed. My skin was numb all over. It was still pitch black. I crawled up onto sore knees, cried out as my foot’s nerves screeched in agony. Leaning on my good leg, I felt around in the confined space for the matches I knew were stored down there. I found the staircase first and I climbed it painfully, my entire left side stiff and bruised from my landing. I pushed against the hatch, but it was securely locked, or maybe weighed down. It felt strange under my numb fingers. Warm. I pulled my hands away and scrambled downward again, and tried to decide what to do. After catching my breath, I located the matches and lit a candle.

The bunker was little improved now that I could see in there. It was so nasty that I think Edie always lived in denial of the situation. She had installed very few home comforts here, barring the old kettle from a dead relative that she’d put here ‘for being ugly’, and a little packet of her Earl Grey, of course, which she kept for ‘waiting it out’ down here. I started boiling it simply to warm up. I sniffled once I had more tea inside me, thawing out my mind and body. I wondered miserably how to escape from this cramped hole in the ground.

Part of me still believed that Edie was up there waiting. Then I remembered the whistling noise. I’d heard it before, but never so close. I sniffled some more, and after I’d finished the tea, I clambered back up the stairs to the hatch and pushed at it again. It was still warm. I couldn’t get it to shift, anyway. I stayed up there for several hours, occasionally pushing and hitting the door to my prison. It was too heavy, too securely fastened. I think I cried a lot, and shouted a lot. I nodded off again while I waited, and when I woke I groaned in pain.

There was water here, at least, and therefore I had nothing to do but make tea and feel sorry for myself. I sat on the little bed in the waning light and wondered what I should do next. I missed my book. It had bee a good one, about pirates and boats and hidden treasure, and I had dropped it when Edie had given me the shove. I kicked at the breezeblock wall for a bit with my good leg, becoming more bored than worried, listening to my own depressing thoughts and dozing off, dreaming of pirates. When I woke again I’d stiffened up so much  could barely move. I hopped up and leaned on a set of dark smudged bricks behind the candle. The heat scorched my arm. I jerked back and landed on the pile of unloved blankets. They were ‘ugly’ as well.

Once I’d recovered, I realised I’d shifted the blankets and to expose a heavy looking, gnarled old book with a broken spine. It contributed greatly to the general musty smell of the room, and when I picked it up it truly reeked of age. Its pages cracked as I opened it. I lifted its weight and dragged it over to the pool of candle light. Pulling one of the ugly blankets around my shoulders, I began to read.

Flash Fiction Faction: Aunt Edie’s Bunker