Decline and Fall

I scuttle out of the waves like a hermit crab seeking a fresh shell. The tide is rising, and I loathe what’s coming.

The internet is proving to be one massive ocean of teeming ignorance, its hungry waves eroding whatever sense and restraint my country ever had. The world laughs at our politics, a cheap circus sideshow. Powered by the lowest forms of human life, the social media Lie Engine has replaced journalism with empty spectacle and dangerous nonsense.

The middle class ebbs away in the final days of the Suburban White Fantasy Empire That Never Was. “You got what you was supposed to get, bluesman! Ain’t nothing ever as good as we want it to be!”

Would anyone like to share some bread and circuses?

RecDave Seal

126 words, inspired by this week’s FFfAW prompt:

Herd Instincts

“Lulu, you’ve abandoned your guard post again.”

“I’m sorry, Nganga Abada. I just had to get away from the herd for a while.”

“Why, child? The herd needs you, it needs all of us.”

“I just feel trapped in this clumsy body. I’ve been keeping a secret from everyone, Nganga, my whole life. All I’ve ever wanted to do is dance. Can you imagine anything more alien for a rhino? I’m so ashamed.”

“Very well, stand still until I call.”

The massive old cow backed up and charged, muttering mystic words. With a thud, she buried her horn in Lulu’s armor just behind the shoulder.

Abada pulled with her horn, ripping away massive pieces of the younger cow’s armored hide. The pile of discarded plates grew throughout the morning, until nothing but leathery grey armor remained in a heap.

“Your disloyalty was the chink in your armor, Lulu. Therefore, I’ve banished you to a smaller and more agile form. Come forth.”

A brownish oxpecker bird hopped out of the armor pile and flapped its wings experimentally.

“In this form you still serve. Now, resume your guard duties from my back. I have an itch. Peck out the bugs, if you would.

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201 words, for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Too Heavy for Milan

“That enormous bloated hippo has been gobbling the pancakes again. Look at those thunder thighs.”

“She looked better in Milan,” Mr. Binky agreed.

The live video feed covered the closing catwalk march of this year’s Lingerie & Nightwear Trade Fair from Dortmunde. The last walk of the show went to Celeste, as usual. She was the highest paid model on the circuit and the holder of the most prestigious catalogs with six covers this year.

“We’ve got to get her back in shape for Paris. It’s only four weeks, Binky.”

“Sew her mouth closed until then, perhaps.”

“We need to do something. She’s going to eat us right out of the spotlight if we don’t stop her.”

Backstage, handlers moved in like practiced and ordered machinery, peeling the hair sprayed bustiers and panties from the models and issuing warm bathrobe replacements. Celeste walked directly to her personal dressing room, ignoring the prattling chaos.

Celeste spoke as she stepped inside, “Mission ‘Catwalk’ completed.”

“Not quite,” Anna Marie pounced. “We need to have a talk, Celeste. About your overeating, you’re putting on far too much weight.”

“This unit does not eat.”

“Shut up,” Anna Marie screamed. “Tell her, Mr. Binky.”

“The stuffed toy does not speak. The stuffed toy has never spoken,” Celeste replied.

Anna Marie Brownlee raised her large-caliber automatic pistol and aimed it directly at Celeste’s forehead.

“Look to your left,” Celeste responded.

To Anna’s left was a full-length mirror. Reflected in it were two dazzling and nearly identical supermodels. The model with disheveled hair was holding a handgun and a plushie unicorn.

“This android unit functions only as your security double in public exposure situations. This unit is incapable of putting on weight.”

Mr. Binky whinnied. “That bitch is cray cray,” and the gun went off.

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296 words, for ZeroFlash (February)

Black and Poisonous

Wicked people never have time for writing. There are so many worlds and characters waiting to be born, but through lack of motivation or lack of inspiration, they wither and die unborn in pools of dark despair. The writer feels it too, the black and poisonous knowledge that he should be producing something, anything, instead of watching television or web surfing.

The habits we should be building, write something every single day, don’t sit and wait for motivation. Grab a club and go drag your story home.

The seeping poison is can’t or won’t. Too tired, too uninspired, I’ll write it later, I’ll write it tomorrow. I hate deadlines, just give me a week and I can crank out something. I don’t like giving away my opening hook, that first sentence is important. What a silly idea, I’ll wait for a better one. I’ve written something just like this before.

Worse yet are the stories bravely begun and then abandoned. What’s next? This is stalling out. Oh, this is terrible. I just need a character. What’s the plot, where is this going?

I ran into an entire website of demotivation, once upon a time. M.F.A.’s and poets; my work was never, ever good enough. Look at all of those grammar and punctuation errors, oh my. Your metaphors are not strong enough, your similes don’t sing. Why do the same people win this competition every week? Your let the judges enter your own competition? Something smells fishy.

Now they want to sell me a membership. Purely for my benefit, of course, there are several levels of helpful advice. I see the direct correlation to the most frequent winners. This “competition” is, blatantly, For Sale.

I went searching for less mercenary setups. There are sites with rotating judges, there are sites dominated by a single clannish writing group, there are “Everyone’s a Winner” sites, too.

Competition does help me improve, even on the sites where it doesn’t feel entirely honest. Those clannish writing groups tend to vote for each other, for instance. Comments from more “social” writing sites help me improve, too, particularly from writers whose work I respect.

I keep a working list of fiction/writing sites that I like for various reasons. I don’t always visit all of them each week. I don’t always contribute stories, nor do I write every day (as I should). Sometimes, the toxic inspiration despair or simple exhaustion after a full time job still wins.

Sometimes, wicked television and evil internet still defeat your white knight, and often without a struggle.

But the sites that Did Things Right keep disappearing, and I feel guilty for that; like one more story might have saved them.

RecDave Seal

For Alissa Leonard and Finish That Thought. I’ll miss you both.

PETApocalypse

We thought the weaponized ground predators were bad. The arms race began with remote-controlled great cats (probably the most obvious choice), the enhanced lions and upgraded carbon fiber Jaguars. As the war dragged on and neural interface technologies became cheaper and more capable, other species came into play; the hyenas and wild dogs, the wolves and bears. The bears were awesome engines of destruction—do you remember that wartime video of the grizzly with four cougars on its back, brushing them off against trees and crushing them one at a time?

The real trouble didn’t start until the war ended and the corporate sector gained control of the technology for the consumer market. Consumers began controlling and piloting nightmares with their phone aps.

First were the reptiles, the consumer enthusiast clubs in Florida staging the crocodile cage matches. It took only months until the venomous snakes appeared on the scene and the first messy divorces terminated with messy murders.

The larger ground predators were nearly all extinct by the time the remote-controlled android drones began to appear. Seagulls were wired with cameras and capable of delivering munitions. High post defensive sentry drones and road rage effectively ended traffic almost overnight.

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200 words for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Scarlet Teacup

The fossil somehow managed to dodder his way into a booth. Margot’s approach confirmed her suspicion that the fetid stench arose from the cheek-sucking old invalid.

“What can I get you, hon?”

“Tea.” His palsied hands trembled as he placed a large copper coin on the table. “Please.”

“Buddy, do you need a doctor?”

He met her gaze directly for the first time. “I am furious, not ill. I would have you pilloried for such scandalous attire, exposing so much…” He indicated her skirted server uniform with a gesture, “Limb.”

“Just what century do you think this is, Bub?”

He paled. “That might be the fundamental question, I fear.”

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110 words, for this week’s Microcosms (Judge/Truch Stop/Sci-Fi).

No Fury

They say Widow Walker stormed down to drag her husband back from the riverboat dock where the gambling and carousing went on every Friday night. She pushed grown dockhands clear off the pier into the river, the silly ones that tried to stop her, the Pinkertons and roustabouts. Then she stared down the bullyboys guarding the entrance to the Golden Nugget riverboat, and them hardened hombres backed down whining like whipped dogs. The real trouble started when Widow Walker found her husband drinking with a different painted floozy on each knee. That’s the night Haunted Pier burned to the waterline.

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Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT © Erin Leary

Live

Abomination is now live on Amazon. That’s about half the job (the easiest half). I need to get things going on Lulu (generally painless) and Smashwords (often a pain).

And then sit back and collect the piles cash!

Or not. Usually not.

RecDave Seal

Publication pending on Lulu, Kobo, Smashwords (and all of the sub-distributors they cover).

Ugh

This is the part I don’t like much. The Abomination is together, I’ve got my proof copy, reviewing it for bad typography and unlinked links and such.

It’s the next part that suxors, dealing with the Amazons and the Smashwords of the world.

Gets a little smoother each time I do it, at least. It’s still the most un-fun part of the entire operation.

First World Problems. Wah, wah.

RecDave Seal