flash fiction

In Tandem

a flash-fiction prompt

“Oh, Gerald! Can’t we slow down? I think I’ve swallowed a fly.”

“But Gertie, dearest, the thrill of the enterprise is in the speed! We’ll soon be out of town and into the countryside; then you’ll appreciate it, you’ll see!”

“I fear there will be awful mud, and bottomless potholes, and other horrid things.”

“You just hold on to the bars, dear, and you’ll avoid heading the road – if I have cause to stop rather suddenly!”

In Gertrude’s dreams, she relived the moment when Edward had hinted at wedlock. He’s something in the City now; a financier, a close friend had suggested. He not only owned a new motor car but had a fellow in uniform to drive it. Edward had called one day to speak with her father; but Father had persuaded him against it.

“He’s simply not for the likes of us, my girl,” he’d said when she’d asked afterwards.

“Hold on tight now, Gertie!” Catching sight of a scattering of steaming horse excrement in the road ahead did nothing to kindle her enthusiasm.

(176 words)


A found picture prompt. I read an interesting history on the bicycle (and tricycle) social revolution in Britain around 1900s. Cycling became a very fashionable recreation amongst the upper middle class and the gentry.

The photo came up on my Pinterest suggestions yesterday. I think it shows a man who’s a member of a cycling club – judging by his cap and cap badge – and his lady wife, out on a leisurely day’s outing on what would have been a costly contraption in the day – a tandem tricycle.

“Heading (the road)”, in early cyclist parlance, was the process of going clear over the handlebars when coming to an abrupt halt, according to the book.

Considering the nuance between mystery and just plain esoteric.

“‘you seen the cat, Erwin?” asked Mrs. Schrödinger, spooning out its Whiskas.

“I’m sorry to say it may have died,” said Schrödinger.

Mrs. Schrödinger thought, “funny, he seemed exceptionally ebullient yesterday,” and, looking to the window, said,

“Died?!”

“Only possibly,” said Schrödinger.

(42 words)


Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story on “Mystery”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #19 Mystery

photo: by Elena Kloppenburg via Unsplash.com

Composition & lessons in flash-fiction

“Plot is the last resort of a good writer.” Stephen King

I’m fairly new to writing flash-fiction. I only came across this method of writing a made up piece to a prompt this time around in my intermittent blogging endeavours.

Before that, it was all more or less true stuff I published. Before that, the last time I made up a story was for my “Ordinary Level” English Language examination – the trick there was to make up at least three stories in advance, trusting that one could be bent into the shape asked for on the exam paper. It was called “composition” in my schooldays – what is known as today, I wonder? I can’t say I enjoyed it; probably because, like all school work, I saw it as a chore or an imposition. And I don’t think I received much praise or encouragement when I tried (okay, there was one teacher who wrote at the bottom of one composition, in red, how much she enjoyed it. Unfortunately, she was only my teacher for one year).

Now I can’t think what was in my mind when I had a go at blogging a piece of flash-fiction a couple of years ago. But I enjoyed it a lot. Having read consistently since my teens, and nearly always trying good books too, it doesn’t surprise me that a time came when I thought I’d see what it was like to write fiction; if not a novel, then a short story; if not a short story, then a tiny piece of flash-fiction.

On doing it, it made me realise I’m not especially into the idea of a story. What do I mean by that? Well, casting back to school classes – as a small boy in short trousers, not an O-level student – we were probably taught that a story had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Though it might not have been as explicit, it was no doubt inferred that it had to have a purpose beyond the writing: a message, meaning or moral, in other words.

I find that this idea has not died. Among the plethora of blog post articles on how to be a writer (better/successful/published/professional), I came across one suggesting how to write better flash-fiction. The author included a link to a free class and being a born-again student, I thought it might be interesting if not fun to do.

But having enrolled, I’m not sure it’s a wise thing to do. I’m not a serious writer and have no inclination to be one, to wish to support myself financially, even in part, by writing. I wouldn’t want this anymore than say wanting to be a one-star Michelin restaurant chef off the back of a love for preparing an enjoyable meal for two, each evening. I believe the work would destroy the love.

However, the class, and its forum, are dominated by wannabe serious writers. And, it transpires, these peers are also your teachers and judges – it is free after all – and they hold on to the rule of a story needing a beginning, a middle, and an end – and a meaning, and absolute clarity, and linear progression, and almost anything which ensures formulaic adherence to the traditional idea of a story. And that is not where I’m at after all these years of reading good books!

It seems ironic to think back to when I was studying English Literature – a separate subject and O-level examination at school – I would question why we’d be picking over an isolated passage from a novel instead of reading the whole from the beginning. And now this is what I like doing!; although in the course of reading a book in the usual way.

Maybe those lessons have finally taken root and flourished in my mind; or maybe I’ve been subconsciously conditioned to discover the beauty in the paragraphs, and pay no mind to the plot. I don’t know. But here I am, and enjoying it, and this boat is not to be rocked!

Distraction

She stood in a field quartered by the crossroads; the main road between the two towns, and a side road between a large farmyard and nowhere in particular. We – me and this complete stranger – waited fifty yards down at a stop for the bus, both connected only in our mutual intrigue for this picture of a girl.

She was as still as a statue, arms stretched aloft: posed, like the qigong fighting crane; the vogue manikin; the stringless puppet; the girl on the cross, unseen; the dying swan-queen; she had been hung out to dry.

Was she trying to fly? Summoning the power to remove herself from the ground; the unseen force of self-determination simmering beneath that tranquil pose? The only perceptible movement came when the light breeze rippled her thin blouse.

I sensed the stranger beside me edge closer, though without dropping his gaze from the spectacle.

‘That’s funny,’ he said, ‘that scarecrow’s scaring crows where there ain’t no crops!’

Something familiar about his words struck me and I turned to look at him for the first time. His profile reminded me of the filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock. At that precise moment, in the far distance I could just make out the No. 78 bus approaching beneath his accumulation of chins. The light drone of a small aeroplane passed uneventfully overhead, barely breaching the continuing silence. I forgot about the girl and thought about the shopping instead: what was it the wife wanted again? Bread, pint of milk, and…something else?

(250 words)


a writing prompt from a selected photograph from a random search of the licence-free website, Pexels. Photo by Maksim Goncharenok, titled ‘Woman At A Flower Field’.

Really, I nabbed this photo off a post on Medium having seen it credited to the above site and photographer.

Gold

a flash-fiction prompt

There was little blood; a mere trickle, long since dried, on his lips.

“Sergeant?”

“He’s missing two teeth. Front incisors.”

“Anything on his person?”

“No ID; wallet’s empty; but there’s this card…”

The Inspector took it gingerly,

24-HOUR DENTIST. House calls made.

(42 words)


Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story on “Crime”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #6 Crime

Trapped!

a flash-fiction prompt

In the attic; inside the perspex box a mouse huddled motionless beside the chocolate bait, imprisoned.

“Gotcha!” Keith exclaimed. He gingerly reached for the device; the mouse moved!

Keith jumped back, knocking the access ladder down and dropped his flashlight; busted!

Trapped!

(42 words)


Can a story be written in 42 words? This prompt is for a 42 word story for “Trapped”.

Thanks to Deb Whittam at Twenty Four blog. Check out the link below for more stories,

Twenty Four 42 #36 Trapped

Master and servant

a flash-fiction prompt

What started with suspicion became contempt. Three days, he hadn’t performed the chores: removing the trash; vacuuming floors; tidying the lubricants. There’s something wrong with its circuitry?

Consulting the manual: Human; early non-mechanoid, highly inefficient. Clearly, the soft one needed terminating.

(42 words)

master & servant

Can a Sci-fi story be written in 42 words? That’s the prompt. I saw this following a friend of a friend. And I haven’t tried a prompt in a while…

Check out the link for more entries,

Twenty Four 42 Words #29 Sci-fi

Evening Flamingoes

a flash-fiction piece

We were three hours from Crystal Springs when we hit traffic. Ryan is mad as hell; seething; switching the radio frantically and aimlessly from station to station, then snaps it off, finally. He grumbles on; I tune out.

Outside, the sun is setting; the cooling sky already apricot and pink, contesting the rising intensity of tail lights nearer the ground. The silhouettes of tall palms and the pinkness of the sky remind me of wading birds: plump feathered bodies perched high on a single slender leg. They say that flamingoes get their colour from the brine shrimps they eat; it’s the high beta-carotene within the little fishes; it turns into vitamin-A which is good for night vision; I wonder how flamingoes get on after dark.

And will we see Crystal Springs this evening? And will there be time for dinner? Thinking of shrimps has given me the munchies now, and the sky has taken on the creamy hue of raspberry ripple ice cream, topped with cherries. Ryan is quiet now, I notice.

“Is there a drive-in restaurant around here?” I ask.

“I know exactly what you’re thinking,” he says, “a nice juicy burger, with fries!”

“That’ll do me,” I say, though I will insist on dessert afterwards.

It’s gone quite dark now and my tall birds are becoming indistinguishable against the murky skyline. The tail lights dominate, like hot coals under a barbecue. Have I ever felt this famished before? I’m not sure I have.


a flash-fiction piece prompted by Paula Light of Light Motifs II – Tuesday Story 5 .

“3 unrelated photos and your job is to connect them in any order to write a story.”

Supermarket

The strangest thing happened when I went into the supermarket: there were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things; there was sand, and hills, and rings. I thought for a moment that I might have broken into a song!

I steered the trolley as best as I could – it was the one with the wobbly wheel – straight to the beverages aisle as I felt in need of a proper drink. They were doing “buy two, get a third free” so I went for one bourbon, one scotch and one beer. It was feeling stranger by the second. My larynx was becoming tighter than a pair of Elvis’s pants.

Racked with thirst, I sought out a kindly-looking uniformed assistant, a pretty thing, but when I asked for water, she gave me gasoline.

I can’t go for that,” I cried.

Nooo?” she said.

No. Can. Do!” I said.

And then she said, “You got a fast car and I got a plan to get us out of here: I’ve been working at the convenience store, managed to save a little bit of money…

Hold on!” I said,

I can’t just leave this trolley of groceries in the aisle, now can I? It won’t take me a minute: I can use your self-service, 7 items or less till.

I gestured towards the shorter queue but, when I turned to her again, well, what do you know? She’s not there. Crazy.

Dizzy, I left my trolley where it stood, after all, and headed back out through the doors.

The End.


written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Sunday Writing Prompt

Fibbing Friday: Who, what?

Five quotes and Five questions provided by Pensitivity’s101, and explained in depth by the moon is rising’s Oracle of Knowledge, Mr. Fryland P. Stiles esq..

“hmmm, well…”

Who said………?

1. ‘All the world’s a stage, and men and women merely players…………..’

Wow, wouldn’t that be a big theatre! and I still get given the only seat with the restricted view.

I’m not sure it wasn’t the same guy who said, “if there’s a gun on the set in scene 1, you know by the final curtain someone’s gonna get it”. Hence, the idiom, “it’s curtains for you!” which is what mobster Fancy Al Panetonne said about Al Capone’s office soft furnishings before swimming with concrete galoshes.

2. ‘Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution’.

Jordan B. Peterson’s former life coach, Mary Contrary. She’s still on medication and now living under a secret identity.

3. ‘I’m not overweight, I’m just nine inches too short.’

The shortest ever recorded person was Beatrice “Betty” Mantlepiece, measuring a little under two feet, three and a half inches in stockings. The top of the stockings came over her head. She wasn’t at all fat but she was jealous of her cousin, Martha Moreover III, who towered over her at a whopping three feet and one inch.

4. ‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth’.

I said that, a million. billion, squillion times. It’s now an undeniable fact. There’s even a Wikipedia page on it. I know, I wrote it.


5. ‘The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God’

Someone who thinks people are nice to God, and it’s because He has money. Sure, God has money but has He small change enough to buy a Big Issue, or is He caught out like the rest of us? Now, that’s assuming God reads English. Where did He go after the Babel Tower came down?

and five random questions:

6. What is a gramophone?

A smart phone for a close and elderly lady relative who will never get to grips with it.


7. Where will you find a giblet?

In a plastic bag up a turkey’s bumhole. How the bag got up there is an interesting question, rarely asked.


8. What makes corn pop?

Ah, a question with an omitted comma. It happens all the time. What makes corn, pop? I dunno, ask your mother.


9. What is a meme?

An annoyingly demanding person. Possibly a viral celebrity. Other symptoms to look out for are, “look at me!”, “I demand to speak to your manager”, and taking endless selfies.


10. What is meant by lollygag?

What’s is a fun colour, very cold and found on a stick?

Donald Trump on a stick in the Arctic.