750ish words: ‘Animal’s Theory about the guy next door’

Consistent writing does take the fear out of the process, the crippling perfectionism that can kill a first draft, let alone the minowwing idea that promises to grow into tasty words and yummy stories. So before I kill that metaphor entirely…here’s a quick story, minnow sized actually, written in 20 minutes on one of the most inspirational writing sites out there – 750words.com.  The site tracks you keeping up writing at least 750 words a day, and it’s a good way to break through any starting nerves, any hesitation can be fought through and replaced with sweetly random connections coming together. Or, you know, a rant about how mad, irrational and crappy you’re feeling at that particular moment. Lately I’ve been doing the fiction more than the internal angst, though that’s still there. Weirdly, it’s easier to fill the 750 words remit by writing a story, than by rolling around inside your brain. Most of the time, anyway.

So, below is a rough idea taken from a random verbal prompt of: Animal, Florida, Chinchilla. To the suggester, you know who you are, and thank you. It was also loosely inspired by this quote that a fantasy writing prompt tumblr account mentioned. But as it’s something of a spoiler, I’ll quote it at the very end. So, here’s the very brief reaction to the prompt:

Animal’s theory about the guy next door

Florida roiled in oily heat. Stars above shimmered in the haze. My pal, animal, fed his pet chinchilla a fat grape and cracked open his fifth beer with me and Margaret.

“Do either of you know,” he started, wiping sweat from his brow, He was so watery I was a little amazed his shoulder tattoo didn’t run. “How many of us are currently being eaten by the monsters we think are merely imaginary?”

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750ish words: ‘Animal’s Theory about the guy next door’

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