Bride White Dress

Flash Fiction: “Not ready…”

A new Flash Fiction challenge at Dude Write is open.

This is my submission.

As always, 500 words maximum.

This month’s prompt:

Bride

“Bride”, an image by Nicholas Hayward

She ran through the forest, ignoring the scrapes left on her exposed arms by the tree branches, the chilling air that sneaked through her thin dress and under her skin, the pain in her tired legs. She ran to get away as far as she could, to find a place to hide, to be by herself and try to make sense of it all.

How could this have happened? Was she not looking forward to this day? Was this not the most important event in her life so far?

She slowed her pace, trying to rein in the fleeting thoughts that flashed through her head. She recalled the disappointed faces of her family, the shock of her friends, the sight of him standing there without knowing how to react. She recalled the exact moment she felt nervous and weak in her knees, the moment she knew she couldn’t go through with it, the moment she simply said “I cannot do this!” and sprinted out of there without looking back.

She had failed them all. Each and every one of them had expected better of her: her mother, who went shopping with her for the dress; her friends, who prepared together with her and rehearsed this day to make sure it would be just perfect. Most importantly, she had failed him, who stood there ready to say the words, if only she could do the same. She knew this meant as much to him as it meant to her, if not more. Yes, she’d let him down the most.

She let bitter tears stream freely down her face as she sat down on the cold ground.

Maybe it wasn’t too late? Maybe she could still return? She’d tell them all it was just cold feet, that she’d had a moment of panic, that it was nothing. Surely they’d understand?

No.

She knew that the real answer was a lot simpler, yet a lot more painful to admit. In truth, she really wasn’t ready for this. She had only thought she was…

This realization somehow made her calmer, more determined. She got up and started walking further and further away from it all.

Perhaps one day, in the future, she would be ready to take the plunge. One day, she’d have the courage to follow through. One day…but not today.

Today, she would not be coming back.

Today, she would leave them all behind.

Today, her high school drama class would have to find someone else to play Juliet.

Alien in a spaceship

Flash Fiction: “Search & Retrieve”

Entry into the February flash fiction round at Dude Write.

As always, 500 words max, using the following prompt:

Face On Mars

“Face on Mars”. Source: Wikipedia

The ship came out of hyperdrive about ten million kilometres from Mars. Doozor flipped on the stasis brakes, sending Fraz flying helplessly through the main cabin – all two thousand metres of it. Fortunately, Fraz managed to stop himself successfully. Less fortunately, he did so by colliding with two separate cargo containers and finally slamming into Navigator’s Chair occupied by Doozor.

“Ouch! A little warning next time?” Fraz was rubbing his head in several places at once.

“Of course. Next time I’ll make sure to give you a…heads up!” said Doozor’s left head, the snarky one.

“Very funny, you two-headed freak!”

“Well, on Earth they say that two heads are better than one,” Doozor quipped.

“On Earth,” Fraz parried, “they make furniture and useless decorations out of their only source of oxygen, so there’s that, too.”

“Touché,” said Doozor, which was Karoonian for “shut up already, you insufferable smart-ass.”

The way from Karoon to Mars had only taken a few thousand years, yet Fraz and Doozor still managed to thoroughly get on each other’s nerves. The ship was drifting through the remaining ten million kilometres to Mars’ surface. Doozor kept reading the Solar System & Surrounds article for more interesting tit-bits to share. After a while he turned to Fraz and said:

“Ha! Apparently, the Earthlings call it ‘A Face On Mars’ – you’re practically a celebrity out there!”

Fraz let out an apathetic snort. He was feeling tired, hungry, irritable and a very specific Karoonian word for “jet-lagged after travelling over a billion light years in one go”. All he wanted was to pick up what they came for and make it back to Karoon for dinner.

After a few short minutes Doozor parallel parked the ship next to Mars, inasmuch as one could parallel park something next to a spherical object and in the absence of other parked vehicles. Fraz made his way through the cabin and out onto the planet’s surface. It felt colder than the last time they stopped by, but sometimes all it took were a few millennia for temperatures to change noticeably. Without wasting time he strode over to what was now inexplicably dubbed by Earth residents “A Face On Mars”. He picked up the coin, tucked it in his pocket and sprinted back to the ship.

“Let’s go,” he said as he settled next to Doozor.

“Yeah, you’re welcome!” Doozor said “Next time you fetch your own damn coins. That thing’s not even worth anything!”

“It’s my grandma’s. It’s got sentimental value and all that.” Fraz was flipping the coin and catching it repeatedly, completely oblivious to the fact that it was this sort of carelessness that made him lose it in the first place.

“Yeah well, ‘sentimental value’ doesn’t pay for my fuel, does it?” Doozor pressed on.

Their bickering continued as the ship took off, did a quick loop around The Sun and started its journey back to Karoon.

They wouldn’t be visiting the Solar System again anytime soon.

Green Traffic Light

Flash Fiction: “A free man”

This is another entry for the flash fiction challenge at Dude Write.

The rules are, as always:

1. I have to use the given prompt

2. The piece has to be under 500 words.

This month’s prompt:

Yorkshire

Jack looked at his watch. Seconds were slowly creeping towards seven in the morning.

The money train would pass by the station at exactly 7:13. Just like it did every morning, week after week. Jack knew. He’d been watching. Calculating. Plotting.

Dry autumn leaves crumbled under his feet, as Jack paced impatiently along the tracks, trying to find the perfect spot for his ambush.

Today he was going to buy his freedom.

Jack lived in poverty for as long as he could remember. He’d stolen his first wallet at the age of 10. His steady descent from pickpocketing to bank robberies had only been punctuated by periods of incarceration. Today would change it all. No more living in and out of prison. No more money troubles.

After today he’d be a free man.

The money train didn’t have a scheduled stop at this station, but Jack would bring it to a halt. His plan was foolproof. He wouldn’t fail.

The location was perfect too. No residential buildings nearby. No witnesses. There’d be no people at the station at this hour. Passenger trains didn’t start running until well after 8 o’clock. The train tracks curved sharply away from the platform, so the train driver would have no chance of seeing Jack until too late. He’d have no time to sound the alarm.

7:08. The sun was crawling up through the cloudless sky. Jack stared into its weak September rays and smiled. This was surely a sign. Everything would go according to plan.

Jack recalled her last venomous words, thrown at him from behind a slammed door. “You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a coward!” she yelled. A coward! Ha! Let’s see what she’d have to say about him after today. Jack had been doing her bidding for far too long. He’d stolen anything she ever asked for. He’d threatened people’s lives, just so she could wear another pretty trinket. Because of her he’d served two years in prison. When he returned she slammed a door in his face and called him a coward.

Well, today wasn’t about her anymore. No, now he’d only be taking care of himself. Jack smiled again. He already felt free.

At 7:12 the railway signal turned green and Jack heard the faint whistle of the approaching money train. He walked calmly to his chosen spot on the tracks and lay down on his back. The train’s whistle grew louder as it sped towards the platform.

Jack glanced up at the sun once more and offered it his last smile.

The smile of a man truly free.

Specials Blackboard

I’m special

Hey, remember Dude Write? That was a trick question – of course you remember Dude Write. I write about them every other post. In fact, I mention Dude Write so often in my posts that I’m probably stealing Google search rankings from them. Take that, suckers!

What you may also remember is that they’ve been running a flash fiction contest on a monthly basis. This motivated me to write lots of flash fiction stories. OK, by “lots” I mean “exactly four”, but there’s really no need to be an ass about it!

What you probably don’t remember is that, due to relatively low turnout, DudeWrite’s flash fiction contest was “on hold” during November. In fact, it was on the verge of being cancelled altogether. I cried. I pleaded with Dude Write to not let it die. I cried some more, because I’m emotionally unstable and have poor impulse control.

Whatever, at least I’m man enough to admit it!

Then, last week, something wonderful happened. We had our first snow of the winter in Denmark! Snow is great – you can build snowmen, go skiing, have snowball fi…wait a second, this isn’t what I was going to write about. What I was going to say is that last week I was contacted by Scott Jung from Dude Write with a very special offer…an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse.

To make a long story short – you are now looking at Dude Write’s new “Special Editor for Flash Fiction”. That is, if you’re looking at that A4 picture of me you have by your computer screen (yeah…I know!). Otherwise you’re just reading about Dude Write’s new special editor.

The guys were even nice enough to officially introduce me today. So thanks guys, and…aaaahm…I’m sorry about that whole “Take that, suckers!” thing – it was totally taken out of context.

Looking forward to joining the existing dynamic trio of Dude Write editors and having lots of upscale rave parties, caviar fights and limo drag racing. That’s what being an editor means, right? Please tell me that’s what it means!

Radar Sweep

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.

Yellow Sunflower

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.

Tongue

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?!”