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

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Flash Fiction Friday: Dark and Deep

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?

***

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

Flash Fiction Friday: Cellar Wall

Cellar Wall (from Madison Woods)

Cellar Wall

They’re coming for me.  Tripping over a calico tom, I fell hard down the stairs. Luckily the cellar door swung shut. Now I cannot move, or cry out; can’t do anything except watch dirt fall away from stone. I hear their paws scrabble eagerly at loosening soil, and a steady purring. The soft sound of cats. I didn’t know about Ulthar’s rule when I moved here, and didn’t mean to kill that kitten under my heel as it demanded milk. Now I see a whisker. An ear. Bared teeth. The Ulthar cats are through the wall, and they are hungry.

***

Another one for H P Lovecraft fans. Check out the story that inspired it here. Maybe one week my 100 words will be less gruesome, but not this time! I feel that there’s a bit more dread this time round. However, it’s ultimately hard to feel much sympathy for a kitten killer, even if it was ‘by accident’.

Original photo prompt is here on Madison Wood’s site.

Here’s Madison’s own entry for this week – Cellar Walls.

My other 100 word stories for this challenge:

Bloody Jewels

Reading the Bones

Broken Mushroom

And a new challenge, the lengthier ‘Flash Fiction Faction’ run every Thursday by Quill Shiv. Story ‘Clouded‘.

Flash Fiction Friday: Cellar Wall

Flash Fiction Faction – new Thursday writing challenge

Quill Shiv,

Clouded

Five minutes on this baking hot alien world, and I was already jumpy. “Look out!” I yelled at the site worker as the huge burbling cloud launched itself from the lake.

“It’s nothing”, Sophia said. “It happens all the time here.” She had the soothing tone of someone explaining fire to a scared child.

I was not reassured. The growling lump of dirt from the depths of the river had surged up in the merest of minutes.  Its inner form crackled with barely contained energies while one of the site workers, a girl named Tali, wandered carelessly beneath its too-heavy to float form.

I physically stopped myself from yelling at her again, and said shakily. “What is it, then?”

Sophia was already walking away from the scene and I hurried to catch up with her as she spoke softly, “We think it’s leftover energy from the crashed spaceships. The Garrisons left a few broken AI’s wandering around and we think there’s one close by. It hasn’t done any damage with those balls of ash, though. Just roves them around for a while until it dissipates. It’s ruined some of the villager’s washing but that’s about it. We think it likes bright colours.”

“Oh.” I didn’t feel greatly reassured, “Aren’t you going to clear out the river bed?”

“The System’s Government has better things to spend money on. So tell me, Dr Brainyard, when are you going to track down this life source we’ve been warned about?”

“I…” I glanced over my shoulder. The revolving lump of ash was moving away from us, towards huts and the brightly coloured clothes that the villagers had set out to dry. I faced forward again, tripping slightly on a rock as I fell into step beside Sophia.

As she’d predicted, the cloud exploded over the bright colours, drenching them in ash. I felt bad for the villagers, no more than stick figures at this distance, coughing and spluttering in the dirt. Whatever that AI was up to, it had a petty nature. I knew how the villagers felt. One minute you’re perfectly happy that you’ve made great plans for the future and feel sure that everything is clean and someone comes and craps all over it.

Hence this mission and being stuck here on this planet while my little SNAFU at home gets straightened out. I’ve been sent out of sight, out of mind, to the ass-end of nowhere. Apparently I’m here to investigate the signs of life brought out by the recently crashed alien ship. I say sign because there’s definitely something living under this planet. Something big. But no one has the skills or technology here to do anything about it.

I walk along the stony path beside Sophia, and instead of wondering what I’ll find, I’m thinking what it would take to get her to share my tent.

As we approach the tunnel site, another great ball of ash hauls itself out of the water and wobbles in mid-air across to another cluster of huts and bright robes. If I were the villagers, I’d just give up. But humans aren’t usually that smart. Optimism is our race’s biggest flaw.

Well, that and curiosity. Sophia stops some metres from the edge of the tunnel, but I walk right up to it and take a great deep inhale. Interesting.

“What do you make of it?” She calls.

I think for a second. Best not to alarm them all just yet. Not yet. I reply, “Get some men to barricade this. We’re going to keep this under wraps.”

“OK.”

She runs off to the village before I respond. When she’s gone I hunker down onto my belly and sniff the air coming out of the tunnel. It’s a special kind of smell. One I’ve come across before.

Last time I sniffed something like this, everyone else died.

*****

This is my entry in another flash fiction prompt challenge. I enjoy these as warmups for the brain, they provide a safe place to practice in. Who knows, there may even be a book or two lurking in these rapidly typed, quite carefully proofread words. Or, I’ll let your own imaginations work out what happens next. This time the prompt is from Quill Shiv’s wordpress site.

Quill Shiv’s entry is here

Just to clarify, the terms and conditions, and the original link to the prompt, are all below:

http://quillshiv.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/342012-flash-fiction-faction-prompt/

  • The flash fiction prompts will go live each Sunday.
  • They will be due each week on Thursday, beginning March 8, 2012.
  • The prompts will vary week to week. Some will be photos, others a word, a phrase, a sentence (that you may incorporate or draw inspiration from,) a scenario, etc. We will shake it up!
  • The pieces should fit within the definition of Flash Fiction: between 101 words and 1000. 1000 words is the UPPER limit. You do not at all have to strive for this limit.
  • I will post my Flash Fiction piece under the heading Flash Fiction Faction.
  • Leave a comment and link to your Flash piece in the comments section of my piece, not the prompt (though I will transfer as many of the erroneously posted ones as I catch.)
  • Please, everyone, do your best to read and comment on everyone’s work. Leave your link wherever you go.
  • Tweet! #FlashFictionFaction and others. Promote your work. You worked hard to create these pieces, they deserve to be read.
  • And have a great time creating in whatever genre you choose.
Flash Fiction Faction – new Thursday writing challenge

What I want to do is…

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake…” – Francis Bacon

Just felt like adding a little reminder to myself – to me it means I must continue writing like mad. Now that I have hit my weekend deadlines and survived the sweeping black moods of Monday, I feel like I’m already chugging too fast towards the weekend. It’s only Tuesday. For now!

Work and work and play and work. Ascending mere survival seems impossible.

Also, it was quite a cute quote, considering it’s by the creator of this magnificent nightmare (and so many others, love this artist):

Francis Bacon Meat post war artists pope chair
Francis Bacon Meat
What I want to do is…

Flash Fiction Friday: Bloody Jewels

It’s that time again. I don’t know if almost three weeks almost in a row counts as a habit, but it can’t hurt. I think this is going pretty well. I was overwhelmed by the positive responses to ‘Reading the Bones’ last week, I had an unprecedented number of hits which I’m very pleased by.

So first, thank you Madison Woods!

Secondly, make sure you check out her story for this week, and all the others if you can (there will probably be lots!).

Thirdly, this time I will make sure I respond more thoroughly to everyone and check out all the others. I’m really excited to see how these Flash Fiction Fridays are catching on! Everyone who responds with feedback, or a like, or who even reads the thing, thank you!

My response this Friday has gone a bit Tales from the Crypt with a dash of…well, that would be spoiling it. See what you think. Also, the comments button is tucked away at the top of the post. I really must get this site rebooted. Still, early days.

I hope you enjoy the story!

Bloody Jewels

Jewels, Madison Woods, Flash Fiction Friday, Photo Prompt, 100 Word Stories, Tales From the Crypt, Horror Stories, short horror, jewel thieves
'Jewels' by Madison Woods
“Where are the real jewels, lady?” the thief snarled.

“You shot my husband,” she said, the carpet beneath the corpse turning ruby red.

“Tell me where they are!” He pressed the gun barrel hard against her forehead. Her emerald eyes blazed up at him.

“All right,” she said coldly, “Herbert, tell him where they are.”

“Under…the…fireplace…” A voice rattled.

The thief jerked round and something touched his foot. The hungry corpse immediately gnawed through his knee. The thief screamed and Mrs West kicked him backwards. She smiled. It was a long time since Herbert had enjoyed a good feed.

Flash Fiction Friday: Bloody Jewels