100 word song: “The Showdown”

With this piece I’m participating in a collaborative initiative between Dude Write and 100 Word Song

Fictional piece of exactly 100 words.

Inspired by “Strength” by The Alarm. 

For visual and auditory reference, here:

This is it: the ultimate test that separates the strong from the weak. I’ve lasted for more than thirty minutes, but I know it’s far from over. I need strength to make it through.

As I pace back and forth in the corner I stare into the cold, cold soul of my nemesis. It’s just the two of us now, there’s nobody here to help me fight back.

I need strength to fight back…

I give up. I’m just not strong enough.

I rip the lid off the tub of ice cream, grab a table spoon, and dig right in.

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Flash Fiction: “They are here!”

Here comes another flash fiction piece for DudeWrite’s “Flash Mob” monthly challenge.

Yet again, we have to write a maximum of 500 words. This month’s prompt is “When I saw it, I nearly cried…”

Let’s go:

When I saw it, I nearly cried. Until today I could scarcely believe they existed, but now…now we finally had undeniable proof.

The screen flickered and the picture became clearer.

The scanner was picking up multiple life forms. I could make out at least two, but I expected to know the exact count soon.

My heart was racing as I tried to wrap my head around the ramifications of this new reality. I had so many questions. Would they be friendly? How would they react when they finally got here? How would we communicate?

Unfortunately, the scanner could presently do little more than simply confirm their presence. Human technology wasn’t nearly advanced enough to identify much else. Most of my questions would have no answers for the time being. All that remained was to await their arrival and hope that, with time, their true nature would be revealed.

One thing, however, was certain: our lives as we knew them were over. We could no longer pretend we were alone. From now on every action, every step we made would have to be carefully considered, lest we upset the new arrivals. We’d have to strike a fine balance between teaching them our way of life and learning all that we could from them.

I glanced at the screen once more to make sure there was no mistake. There wasn’t. The screen showed the same, almost indistinguishable shapes. Each passing day they’d be getting closer and closer, larger and larger. I suddenly realised that I was almost imperceptibly trembling. No wonder!

Naturally, I was also scared. We’d never faced anything like this before. There was always a risk that they’d proceed to turn us into mindless slaves, catering to their every expectation. Who knew what weapons they had at their disposal that could bend us to their will? Telepathy? Psychological warfare? Sonic attacks? All of these were certainly possible!

I looked over at Alex’s face and saw a mask of trepidation and excitement. It was obvious I wasn’t the only one with these thoughts and concerns.

Were we truly prepared to face them? All of them?! I guess it didn’t matter at this point. We’d have to be.

My train of thought was interrupted by a cheerful female voice.

“Well,  looks like you’re having triplets! Congratulations!” the nurse was still holding the transducer in her hand and pressing it against Alex’s belly. She pointed excitedly at the screen.

As she continued chirping about the upcoming months and the necessary procedures I stole another look at my wife. Alex no longer had any trace of worry on her face. She looked happy. At peace. She looked beautiful. Alex reached out, placed her hand over mine and smiled.

At that moment I knew that no matter what the future brought, we were going to be just fine.

Fictive Fiction

Do you know why I started blogging? Oh, you don’t? And you call yourself a fan?! Oh, you don’t? You’re tired of passive-aggressive rhetorical questions?! OK fine.

Before starting the blog, I’ve taken a couple of “creative writing” and “fiction writing” courses, because I want to create…fiction…through writing.

I’ve always looked at the blog as a way to get my words out into the web-o-sphere and get a steady following. Once I had people hooked I’d eventually unleash my horrible novel / collection of short stories / unicorn colouring book onto them. They’d have to be polite and buy it. Then they would read it, smile, back away slowly and block me from their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

But the last laugh would be on me, because in the process I’d have sold upwards of, like, twenty books and gotten around 100 dollars from the deal. Then I’d buy two bottles of fancy liquor and get wasted alone in my underground lair. Note to self: need to rent an underground lair.

Early sketch of lair. Suggestions for improvements welcome.

Then I started the blog and something happened: I realised I enjoyed blogging in its own right. It’s a bit surreal to think that some words I jot down can be read by a bunch of people all around the world just seconds after I click the “Publish” button. Sure, sometimes they’re forced to read juvenile humour and a collection of carefully arranged swear words, but what the fuck, shit, right?! Hearing that I’ve managed to make someone laugh is extremely rewarding. I really get a minor sense of achievement if I can remotely put a smile on someone’s face. The drawback, of course, was that I got so carried away with the humorous lists and funny observations that I never got around to doing much fiction.

Then I found out about DudeWrite‘s Flash Fiction contests and something happened: I remembered that wanting to write fiction is how I got into this blogathon business in the first place. Since then I’ve submitted flash fiction pieces to every DudeWrite’s monthly challenge. There were three in total. I’m both happy and humbled that each of my pieces managed to bring home a prize so far.

My first piece “Pulling The Plug” shared the victory by popular vote with a great piece by a  fellow blogger Chiz Chat – “The Bunker” – in the first DudeWrite Flash Mob for July 2012. August Flash Mob also had three external judges independently picking their favourite pieces. Two of them have picked “Pulling The Plug” and had some really encouraging things to say about it.

The second piece “High Stakes” won the popular vote in DudeWrite Flash Mob for August 2012. During the same flash mob the DudeWrite editorial team picked a winner of their own – a humorous story by the Chubby Chatterbox called “Stupid Men and the Sea“.

Finally, just today I found out that my third piece – “Code Wet” – is the winner of popular vote for September’s Flash Mob challenge.

I always try to keep an element of humour in my fiction piece in order to stick to the blog’s main theme. These regular contests at DudeWrite really give me a solid reason to practice fiction writing. I have every intention of submitting at least one fiction piece every month to these Flash Mob’s for as long as DudeWrite holds them. I guess what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is – thank you DudeWrite for reminding me about my original priorities! I’m planning to start weaving more fiction pieces into my future blog posts and I hope that you’ll stick around for that transition.

Don’t worry, though, I won’t leave you without funny commentary on human stupidity and mockery of insane people. I have too much fun doing that.

How about you? Why do you blog? Is it practice? Fun? Do you have a political agenda? Are you a member of an ominous yet extremely ineffective secret organization that wants to take over the world through writing?

Sunny Flowers and I

This post serves three purposes.

One: to let you all know how awesome I am.

Two: to give a proper thanks to those bloggers who awarded me.

Three: to let you all know how awesome I am, in case you missed it the first time.

For a while now I’ve been meaning to thank two fellow bloggers for passing on awards to me. And now I am finally doing it! See how that works?

  • Scott Jung, co-founder and editor at DudeWrite passed on a very manly “Sunshine Blogger Award” to me. This is not to be confused with the “Sunshine Award” I got earlier. Tsk, pay attention! Anyways, thank you Scott! For the award and for the excellent DudeWrite project that brings all the male dudely guys together every week to exchange war stories.
  • Guilie Castillo-Oriard, the woman behind the “Quiet Laughter” blog and an active fiction writer, bestowed another flowery award on me – “Kreativ Blogger Award“. What? That doesn’t sound too flowery? Ah, but have you looked at the badge?

Now you have!

Thanks Guilie for this nice addition to my ever-expanding botanical garden of awards. I’m always happy to receive these, regardless of their level of floweriness!

The two awards have now been proudly added to my Awards page. Yes, I have an “awards” page, because vanity is the shortcut to awesomeness, as someone once said (me, right now, for example). Thanks to the DudeWrite project (see above…no, a bit higher…yup, there!) I’ve also been expanding this award list with new Man Cards to balance out the countless flowers. I’m happy to have received a bunch of those over the last few months. DudeWrite helped me realise that I can do more than just make fun of stupid things. Sometimes I can even do fiction and other word combinations!

As you know, I’m notoriously bad at finding a huge number of bloggers to pass these awards to, which would be required if I were to follow the award rules to the letter (the letter is “J”, if you were wondering). Instead, I hereby want to pass on the flowery love to the whole DudeWrite crew. I know it’s a lazy and cheap way out, but at least it’s two things at once!

Seriously, if you just follow the link to DudeWrite and look at any starting line up, I guarantee you’ll find at least one new awesome dude blogger to follow. He may even follow you back, at which point I’d strongly suggest getting a restraining order!

Finally, I’ll be bending another award rule, as I tend to. Because I’m a rebel without a cause. I live on the edge. I don’t play by the rule book. I make my own rules. I. Am. The Dark Knight. I get carried away sometimes too.

Both awards require me to answer 10 questions/provide 10 random facts about myself. If my math is correct that’s at least 17 things to share, but no more than 73.

What I’ll do instead is make you a promise. I will do my best to honestly answer any question left in the comments. There’s one rule – only one question per person! And no, you can’t take inspiration from me and bend this rule. Because…that’s rule number two.

Flash Fiction: “Code Wet”

Yet another entry into DudeWrite’s Flash Mob competition.

As always, the story must be under 500 words. This time we got to pick one of three pictures as our story prompt. A picture paints a thousand words, so we really only needed half a picture to begin with, but ah well.

Here we go:

Mr. Matsumoto was clearly in trouble. The conference was going on its third hour without him having said a word. At first we took  his silence for a clever ploy to build tension and make his statement, when finally spoken, all the more powerful.

Then we began to wonder whether Nori Matsumoto was simply showing due respect to the other industry leaders. Being the last to speak could give him a certain moral edge, having displayed a degree of patience beyond that of mere mortals.

However, once the heads of other conglomerates began their second round of speeches, it became apparent that something was very wrong.

“What if he’s fallen asleep?”, Kenji was clutching a clipboard tightly to his chest and rocking nervously from side to side. His face was dotted with tiny spots of perspiration.

“I don’t think so,” said Shiro. “My guess is that Mr. Matsumoto has simply forgotten our terms. His memory isn’t quite what it used to be…”

That would indeed explain everything. If Nori Matsumoto had forgotten his statement he couldn’t simply excuse himself and leave the room to consult with his staff. Doing so would mean immediately losing face. After that his words would carry no weight.

“We have to do something!” Kenji’s panicked shriek made me cringe.

“What are you going to do, Kenji?! Walk over there and start whispering reminders into his ear?! In front of everyone?! What will the rest of the people say when they see Mr. Matsumoto listening to whispers from his subordinates?!”

Shiro had a point. We couldn’t just start talking to Mr. Matsumoto in the middle of the conference. Buuuuut…

“Say, Shiro, isn’t our new strategy to aggressively increase liquidity over the next few months?” I asked, an idea forming in my head.

“Yes, but as I said, we can’t just tell…where are you going? Moro! You can’t just…”

Shiro’s words faded behind me as I made my way to the conference floor. I strolled over to Mr. Matsumoto and, with barely a hesitation, leaned over to give his cheek a prolonged, slobbering lick. Nori Matsumoto flinched instinctively and turned to face me with an expression of utter disbelief. After having locked eyes with me, a sudden realisation came over Mr. Matsumoto’s face. Slowly, I gave him a meaningful nod and walked back to our staff offices.

* * *

After the conference Nori Matsumoto returned to our little group. He was still wiping his cheek with a handkerchief when he spotted me. He walked over and shook my hand, adding the following:

“You did well, Moro! Certainly a, hmmm, creative solution. But…you do know that I also can read, don’t you?!”

Flash Fiction: “Pulling the plug”

Alright all of you goths, emo kids and retired rappers. Today, in addition to grossly misjudging the demographic and social status of my core audience, I’ll be doing something a little different. Wait, come back, it’s nothing like that!

Today I’m doing fiction. Flash fiction, to be precise. I’m entering a flash fiction contest on DudeWriteYou can read the details and submissions by other writers directly on DudeWrite, but here are the two main rules my fiction piece had to follow:

1) Be under 500 words

2) Begin with the following prompt: “If you’d told (me, him, her, them) two weeks ago that…”

And with that, let’s go:

“If you’d told me two weeks ago that you’d still be keeping it around today, I would have never agreed to bring it here in the first place,” Jen’s fingers rapped rapidly on the kitchen table.

She was upset. Again. With good reason, too. I had let this madness drag on for too long.

“Look, Jen, if I can just keep him here until…”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, stop calling it a ‘he’! Do you even realise how crazythatsounds?!” Jen slammed the palms of her hands against the table in tact with the last three words to make sure I knew just how crazy I sounded. I knew.

“OK, if I can just keep…it…here until next winter, then…”

“You’re notfuckingserious!” – slam, slam, SLAM! Jen had officially turned our kitchen table into an impromptu drum kit. I couldn’t suppress a smile. Jen didn’t like that. One bit. She cocked her head to the side and squinted, evaluating whether I was even worth talking to. For a few moments we just stared at each other silently, Jen clearly contemplating spousal homicide. Then something softened in her expression. She walked over to me and took my hands into hers.

“Sean. Listen. I get it. Sometimes you have a really, really hard time letting things go. I remember when you had kept that dying frog in the house for days until it finally…”

“…croaked?” I interrupted. Jen let herself smile now too.

“Yeah, until it croaked. Well, I hope you see how this is different. You’ve taken the concept of ‘holding on’ to a whole new level now. It’s time to move on. Pull the plug, Sean.”

She was right. It was time to pull the plug…

…I opened the door to the basement and slowly made my way downstairs. The freezer was humming softly by the far wall. He was inside. As I got closer my heartbeat quickened. Bum, bum-bum, bum-bum-bum, bumbumbumbumbum.

I tentatively reached for the plug, but stopped. I couldn’t. I had to see him one more time before I did it. I opened the lid and looked inside.

There he was, lying on a clear bed of ice. So peaceful. So calm. So white. This was it. In a matter of hours there’d be nothing left of him except a pool of water, a carrot and a couple of black buttons. With one decisive motion I yanked the plug out of the socket and let it fall to the floor. It’s OK. There’d be another winter. And another one. And another after that. I’d have plenty more just like him. Plenty more.

A droplet of sweat ran down my neck as I took one last look at the already melting snowman.

“Bye, Frosty” I whispered.

_______________________________________

08-08-2012: I now proudly announce that this little piece has been picked as the winner by 2 out of 3 judges and also by popular vote. Check out the results at DudeWrite.

Chairman’s Choice

Did I ever tell you about DudeWrite? Ssssshh, it was a rhetorical question – of course I did! Once and twice and thrice. Well I’m nothing if not annoyingly repetitive, so here I go again.

I’ve participated in yet another round of DudeWrite last week and two days ago the results were in. This time I didn’t make any major splash on Twitter or here on the blog and instead quietly entered my “8 Key Ingredients of any Infomercial” into the line-up. This resulted in my entry being just as quietly ignored by the world at large, or at least ignored enough that it didn’t make it to any of the three top places by votes…

…but, one man didn’t ignore me. One man cared enough to give me one of the Chairman’s Choice awards handed out this week. This man’s name is WilyGuy, although my sixth sense tells me he has an actual name too. WilyGuy is one of the founders and editors of the DudeWrite initiative and it’s him I have to thank for this:

If you want to learn more about this week’s DudeWrite line-up and read the many cool entries by male bloggers, head on over there!

….what? Stop looking at me like that! Look, I know I’ve been half-assing it a bit lately – first a filler canteen post, then a post about my blogger’s block, then a guest post, and now a “look at me, I’ve gotten a new award” post?! What exactly am I trying to pull?

OK, so I’m not perfect! I’m pretty damn close (latest poll shows I’m around 98.37% perfect), but I have my moments of imperfection. I do expect to have something decent cooked up the coming weekend, so stay tuned.