Tag Archives: Spec Fic

And in the darkness bind them

Rick turned east to avoid the Jocks.

This last week had been a small slice of hell. Osterman and his Varsity buddies were all football players, and of course they’re all massive and bulked up. Steroids, Rick thought, I bet they have the tiny winkies to match their tiny brains.

Best avoided. Meeting the Frankenstein Brigade again would only lead to more bruises and pain. So Rick peddled his bike around the strip-mall and toward the corn fields today, instead of his regular route.

Thinking dark thoughts and plotting impotent vengeance schemes Rick knew would never happen. Not in the surrealist world at Beacon High. He pedaled along in silence, thinking about the math homework and what Mom might be making for dinner.

Suddenly he heard the eardrum-piercing low-flying military jet sound, almost directly overhead. Looking up, his eyes just registered the impression of a fireball, roaring past and into the cornfields. Just a blink, and it was already gone.

Then the boom, and an explosion of dirt and plants and flaming corn cobs. Expanding into the sky, and falling back just as quickly. What the hell was that?

Dumping his bike at the side of the road, Rick pushed his way through the rows of corn plants. Came from over here, he thought, just as his foot bumped against a sizable and charred clod of dirt.

Rick started moving more cautiously as he passed through the corn plants. Some still smoking, but too green to really burn. Not any real danger of a cornfield fire. He could see a clearing in the plants just ahead, and he pushed aside the last corn still standing around the–crater?

A hole in the dirt, twenty or thirty feet wide. Must’ve been a small meteor. The field was pushed up around it, forming walls of earth. In the cavity inside, Rick could feel heat, and saw a small, glowing rock about the size of a fist.

The glow was diminishing quickly as the rock cooled. Rick approached, carefully testing the earth with the toe of his tennis shoe. Reaching down, feeling residual warmth of the earth around the rock. Carefully, he tapped the rock with one finger—hot, but not enough to burn.

This is awesome, Rick thought. How many guys get to find meteors?

He scooped up and examined the rock, tossing it from hand to hand as it cooled down. It looked vaguely volcanic, like something that had been melted and burned. In science class Mr. Scott said these things were supersonic, how fast is enough friction to melt rock?

As he turned the stone over, Rick noticed that bits and pieces of it were flaking away. Sandstone or sedimentary? Organic? It flaked and broke off like charcoal or graphite, my meteor is crumbling!

Just the tiniest pressure of his hands and the rock broke cleanly into several pieces. Among them lay a shiny, colorful ring.

First Draft, obviously, and more yet to come. Just concerned I may have to leave this story alone until after work. What’s the story behind the mysterious ring? What happens next?

Continued tomorrow.

Inspired by this Picture It & Write photo:

Resin stacking rings by daimblond

 

You make bath time lots of fun

You never stopped to think about it, did you?

Just a toy for your child, a plaything. Cheap, plastic, made overseas. Your toy shop carries many similar toys, sold in bargain bins by the hundreds, all of their myriad varieties. You can even impulse-buy one on your way out of the store. Suitable for the smallest youngsters; too large to be swallowed or a choking hazard, soft enough to offer no threat of injury. Rubber Duckies are a bath-time staple, have been for many decades.

But you never stopped to consider if “waterproof” means we can’t be drowned.

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Inspired by this photo plus my sick mind. And Ernie, o’course.

The Ocean

I have a nice ocean view, looking out from my cliff-top dwelling. It used to run in the neighborhood of a mill and a half, back when money still mattered. The real estate agent even told me that a minor celebrity from the 40s owned it once.

I’ve got that marvelous storage space, enough food to last me several years.

The ocean of zombies roaming around down on the beach can’t get up to me. Not after I cut the only access, the suspension bridge, from this end.

But I am running terribly short on shells for the sniper rifle.

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Micro Attraction

In the furthest corner of the abandoned theme park, there is a tiny building. Its boards are weathered, paint flaking away. Around it lies a vast, flat, empty expanse of blacktop stretching away in all directions.

The wall of this tiny building contains a window. It is barred, like a prison cell, and inside is nothing but blackness which no light penetrates. To the right of this window hangs a poster, in lurid circus colors:

“See the Borneo Vampire Boy, accused in the deaths of 25 innocents!”

Over the barred window hangs a simple sign:

“All Night Parking, 10 cents.”

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For this Flush the Fiction, I attempted to hit 100 words exactly (as tallied by Scrivener). Much more limiting than I imagined. Hat’s off to Adam Ickes, his Tiny Tales are even more impressive to me now.

This piece was inspired by a piece of Deviantart, this one by ValaVala, that I stumbled on while browsing.

Secret Weapon

Nobody was really sure how Bobby could do the things he did.

Mr. Drucker swore that Bobby’s ray gun was just a cheap toy; colorful plastic, a battery and a little light, Made in Japan. Anyone could buy one for just a couple of bucks.

But when Bobby pointed his ray gun at the playground swing set and said “Zap!”, the swing set vanished. Just gone, like it was never there.

Any time Bobby zapped something with his plastic ray gun, it disappeared. The grade school. Police cars, ambulance, a fire truck. All just gone.

The governor sent in the National Guard. Tanks, jeeps and rifles. Bobby was “an unprecedented danger and an unpredictable threat,” the Governor said. The soldiers marched into town, parked their tanks all around the town square and surrounded Bobby, rifles pointed. The news cameras caught all of the action as it unfolded, live to the entire nation.

And the National Guard marched out again wearing nothing but their skivvies.

Do you remember that day when the alien warships landed at the edge of town, and those tripod robot things were heat-beaming everything in sight?

Nobody was really sure how Bobby could do the things he did. But we were sure glad that he could do them.

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Tim, just stop smoking

Timmy was a young red dragon, one of a clutch of a dozen siblings born of the same batch of eggs. Timmy was the smallest and meekest, the runt of the litter.

As his siblings grew in confidence and power, they learned to fly and to flame, ravage and destroy. But Timmy could not breathe flame, only smoke. His brothers and sisters teased him about this quite a lot.

“You will never amount to anything,” they would say, “for what kind of use is a dragon without fire?”

One day, Timmy began to grow furious from the teasing, and so he huffed and he puffed, and he filled the land with gray. Everywhere his smoke touched, all of the color was leeched away, forever. No color in the trees, or in the sky. No color in the grass, or the waves. No color in his brothers or his sisters, and one by one they each faded away.

Realizing the he was the only color left in the whole wide world, Timmy began to feel quite sad. For now—even though there was no one to tease or make fun of him, there was also no one to love or care for him.

And so with a deep sigh, Timmy began to breathe smoke harder than ever before. He huffed and puffed and smoked and fumed, and the gray smoke swirled around and around him.

Like a white cow giving milk in a snowstorm, Timmy disappeared.

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Inspired by this photo

The Tiniest Troll

The tiniest troll lived under a tiny bridge that crossed over the tiny stream in a tiny town. His simple life suited him very nicely and he was content.

One day, he heard the clop clop of shoes upon his tiny bridge, and he curiously peeked out from beneath. He spied the youngest Princess, whose name was Gretchen. She was playing with her favorite golden ring, and spinning it around the end of a stick as she crossed the tiny bridge.

Suddenly, the bright golden ring slipped off the stick and landed in the tiny stream with a quiet “plop”, and quickly sank out of view.

Princess Gretchen was distraught over the loss of her favorite golden ring and sat down on the bridge to cry.

“What shall I do? I shan’t ever see my pretty ring ever again,” she wailed.

The tiniest troll slipped quietly under the water beneath his tiny bridge, and holding his breath he swam and he swam and he swam, feeling along the plants and small rocks on the bottom of his tiny stream. He searched high and low, until his hand closed upon the golden ring.

And now the tiniest troll did something very brave indeed. For as you well know, trolls are relatives of the faeries, and they cannot abide the light of the sun. Which is why trolls always live under bridges, and swim under the water. Of course.

But the tiniest troll’s heart was stirred by the mournful cries of Princess Gretchen. And so he gathered his bravery, closed his eyes tight. And stepped out onto his tiny bridge, holding the ring out in his hand.

Princess Gretchen cried out with joy, spying her pretty ring held aloft in the palm of this ugly little creature. And she gathered the tiniest troll in her arms with great joy.

Only to discover that in her arms was a statue. For as you well know, trolls struck by sunlight are transformed instantly to stone.

Realizing the noble sacrifice that the tiny troll had made to return her ring, Gretchen’s heart swelled with gratitude and her eyes filled with tears.

Luckily, one of her tears fell upon the tip of the tiniest troll’s nose. Lucky because the tears of a princess are the only thing that can break the enchantment when a troll is turned to stone!

Before her eyes, the tiniest troll statue cracked, and flakes of stone fell away. Beneath was new pink skin, and hair of blonde. Instead of a tiny troll statue, in its place now stood a tiny, real human boy.

The King was told the tale of the tiniest troll and the golden ring. And he marveled at the miracle of Gretchen and the transformation to a real boy that took place. And before the day was out, he honored the young boy’s loyalty and sacrifice by making him a Prince. In good time, Princess Gretchen and Prince Gerald were wed.

And so they lived happily ever after.

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Inspired by this tiny bridge photo. Thanks guys!

Payday

Henry swiped the floor polishing unit from left to right as he moved slowly down the shopping aisle. Not that this floor needed any more polishing, it was already spotless and pristine, as it had been for as long as Henry could remember. 40 years since he arrived here with the shuttle, but the place really hadn’t changed at all.

He blinked twice quickly, and the retinal display showed 7:53 PM. Not quitting time yet; it wouldn’t do to be spotted wool-gathering before time to clock out, and they were always watching.

With a click, the store P.A. switched on. “Attention: Henry T. Couper. Report to the management office immediately.”

Uh oh, this can’t be good, Henry thought to himself as he stowed the floor polisher in its designated recharge station.

The management office was clear across the store and upstairs. Henry arrived several minutes later.

Inside the office was a single terminal, whose display read “Log In please” in large letters. Henry nervously placed his thumbprint within the indicated circle, and the terminal screen sank out of sight.

“Henry T. Couper, identity confirmed. SoullessMart employment ID number 93-3348-29915. Maintenance, third class,” the AI stated, in that acoustically disturbing voice-from-all-directions that all AIs used. “Do you know why you have been summoned, Henry T.Couper?”

Henry felt panic growing inside him. He honestly had no idea, since he hadn’t spoken with a member of Management in…well, decades.

“Is it about my locker?” he asked, somewhat hopefully.

“No. I am designation HR399501. Henry, do you know how SoullessMart came to be such a vast and powerful company?”

Bet this was in that handbook I didn’t read, Henry thought.

“Uhm..no?” he ventured nervously.

HR399501 continued without hesitation. “Over 600 years ago, SoullessMart’s last living CEO established an algorithm to guide the company after his passing. This algorithm, known colloquially as ‘Max’ was designed to maximize corporate share value and dividends by directly manipulating several key variables. It has been doing so for more than 500 years now.”

“Those variables can be roughly described with the following goals: maximize margin, maximize volume while minimizing inventory cost, and minimize payroll costs.” The AI continued. “By 300 years ago, SoullessMart had firmly established vendor pricing, thus maximizing our margins throughout the Earth-Moon system. Any vendor wishing to move their products through our distribution sells the product to us at the prices we dictate. SoullessMart is in complete control of our prices and margins.”

“By 100 years ago, we had achieved the second maxima. The last of our competitors went out of business, and we essentially controlled the entire consumer market, 100 percent share. Maximum volume. At the same time, trans-mat teleportation product delivery systems allowed us to reach the ultimate minima of zero inventory cost. Our products are trans-matted from the producers directly to us, and from us directly to the consumer. Inventory is zero, and so our inventory cost is zero.”

“Our corporate earnings last year were the highest ever. Our company equals the gross domestic product of the entire planet Earth. Our dividends have never been greater. But there is still one goal to be met. You, Mr. Couper.”

Henry had honestly not been paying much attention, but he blinked back into focus at the sound of his name.

“M…Me?” Henry fidgeted. Was it growing warmer in here?

“As you know, for the last 40 years or so, SoullessMart has been staffed and operated exclusively by AI and robots. With the single exception of yourself, Henry.”

Not knowing what to say, Henry just waited.

“I’m afraid that Max finally got around to searching out records of you working here. Max has one remaining goal, to minimize payroll costs—thus achieving the final, absolute maximum possible dividend value for SoullessMart. You are the sole remaining sentient collecting a paycheck from SoullessMart. As long as you work for us, our payroll costs are non-zero.”

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go, Henry T. Couper. Please exit by the door behind you.”

Silence descended.

Shaking his head, Henry knew it would make no difference, if he objected or not. They were always watching, the AIs.

Henry turned and opened the door, and decompression blew him out of the airlock and into raw, open void. Henry had completely forgotten; the last remaining SoullessMart physical store location was in stationary Earth orbit.

His corpse did make a pretty re-entry firework.

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Ask not for whom the croc ticks

With a bow and a flourish, I invited Hook to pick up his sword again. He leapt to it instantly, of course, but he was never my match with sword.

Hook ventured all-or-nothing thrusts, but I turned each aside with ease again and again. He sought to close and catch me with that wicked iron hook, but I ducked beneath.

He executed a stop-thrust and jumped back, panting heavily, waving his cutlass before my eyes. He held the wicked hook pointed at my chest, but paused for just a moment, using it to gesture in my direction.

“Pan, who and what art thou?”, he gasped.

I ventured some nonsense, because (of course) I knew not in the least.

“I’m youth, I’m joy,” I shouted in triumph. “A baby bird that has broken out of the egg.”

His eyes widened, for a brief moment.

Then with a sharp report, the small single-shot pistol concealed in the ornate hook burned a line of fire into my chest. As I collapsed onto the deck, James Hook leaned over and sank the tip of his cutlass deep into my belly.

“I am age, and I’m treachery,” he said quietly, and the lights faded for the very last time.

RecDave Seal

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

Yep, I watched a live Peter Pan broadcast earlier this evening. The connection to the prompt was an obvious one.

Apologies to the JM Barrie estate, I had to lift Pan’s “I am youth” line nearly verbatim. It is rather iconic. But then again, I also killed off his lead and wrecked his entire happy ending…a much larger offense, surely.

Swamp Boogie

“Look, you really don’t need to go along,” Sandy said, as she peered into the darkness of the swamp just in front of them.

“Yes ma’am, I do.” Corporal Sikes gripped his assault rifle nervously, eyes darting back and forth in the gloom.

“I assure you, Corporal, that I’m an experienced traveler in the swamplands. I grew up on the bayou in Louisiana, for heaven’s sakes.”

“Yes’m.”

“Look, whatever this–thing we’re looking for is, it’s got to be miles away by now. You saw how fast it was moving, right?”

Corporal Sikes checked his magazine, again. “Yep. I sure did.”

Sandy’s eyes rolled up to the heavens, and she shifted her pack to the other shoulder. “So just why do you believe an escort is required here, Corporal?”

“Well ma’am,” he said, never taking his eyes from the trees. “Do you like horror films?”

She blinked at him. “Horror films?”

“I’ve seen thousands and thousands of horror movies, miss. I love them and I’ve seen all kinds, from zombie flicks to alien abductions to demon summoning bloodbaths to crazy inbred machete hacker hicks.”

“What’s your point, Corporal?”

“There are places to avoid, and things you just don’t do,” said the Corporal. “At the top of that list are “Creepy Southern Backwood Swamps After Dark”. If you go alone into the woods you can kiss your ass goodbye.”

“That’s Hollywood! You know that’s fiction, right?”

“Well, sure. I also know that you don’t leave ladies unescorted–not in the town where I grew up, and certainly not alone in a swamp after dark. Guys just don’t do that.”

“Your sense of chivalry died out about a century ago, Corporal. I’ll make much better time alone, I can assure you.” She plucked his out-of-place flak vest and pointed at his heavy combat boots. “Particularly when you’re dressed like that.”

“Yes’m.” Sikes shifted his weight and looked stubborn.

Any further objections she may have had we interrupted by a booming, deep-throated wail. Something unnatural–a much larger animal than was normally ever found in this swamp. Almost a lion’s roar in volume, but higher and oddly syncopated. CHaaRAP-ACK-AP-ACHchchch.

Sandy’s wide eyes locked on Sikes’. She was far more pale than just moments before.

“I—believe I would appreciate your company after all, Corporal Sikes,” she faltered.

Sikes hefted his assault rifle and switched off the safety with an audible *click*.

“Yes ma’am.”

RecDave Seal

This particular piece was inspired by the Jun 24 Writing 101 prompt:

What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

No, my fear isn’t swamps. My fear is (currently) scenes with a lot of dialog.

Corporal Sikes isn’t too different from me (I use a lot of ‘ma’ams’ too, with strangers, because I was a Kid From The South). Maybe not quite that many, but it’s still a  first-reaction.

But Sandy’s a little much more stilted and formal, at least initially. I’d need a longer piece to emphasize that more. She’s just getting all set to turn concescending-professor on his ass–until The Creature bellows out of the swamp…

This post should be back-dated to June (like the rest of the Writing 101 prompts are), but I got tired of maintaining that.