“Writer’s Oath: I promise as a storyteller to always try and fulfill the contract I make with the reader. I will do my level best to keep the promises I make on the first, second, third and every page beyond from beginning to end. I promise to avoid stereotypes, misuses of language, and clichés where possible. I promise that I will do my best to surprise the reader when possible, fool them when necessary, and trick them only occasionally. I will lie to you only as often as the narrator, that unreliable bastard, deems necessary. I promise to give you all the clues, no matter how small. I do this willingly and in hopes of giving you, the reader, the best story I possibly can. I do this because, it needs to be done. I do this because; you should have something to hold me to. I do this because I too am a reader and this is what I demand of the writers who I spend my time on. Above all else I promise this, I am a storyteller and I will do everything in my power to tell you a story worth the hearing.” – Steve Mayne

What he said.

http://theinkslinger.org/48/

The Sweet Life of Lane the Necromancer

Image via Flickr by Marco Hazard

Image via Flickr by Marco Hazard

10 Minute Flash Fiction

Prompt: My life is almost exactly like the story of Cain and Abel, except I’m a necromancer, which is amazing.

My life is almost exactly like the story of Cain and Abel, except I’m a necromancer, which is amazing. Imagine, my brother Axel is just minding his own business and then wham! Baseball bat to the back of the head. Ressurect and repeat. It’s very theraputic.

The best part, though, is when God asks me where my brother is after I’ve killed him. He’s all like, “Lane, where is your brother?”

And I’m like, “He’s right over there, playa’.”

“Why is he green?”

“He went to a rave last night and got painted.”

“He smells like rotting meat.”

“I try to get him to shower, but no. He has to be ‘all natural.'”

“So, there’s nothing fishy going on with that bloody baseball bat in the corner?”

“No, sir…ma’am…whatever  you are.”

“Well, alright then. Keep your nose clean, Lane. I’m watching you.”

At some point I’m sure it’ll figure things out and put a curse on my forehead. Isn’t that what always happens to Cain in the stories? But, even then, I’ll just summon a pet for company.

Yep, being a necro is pretty sweet.

 

The Old Warrior

Image via Flickr by reynermedia

Image via Flickr by reynermedia

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: When you fight a war, war is always missing.

When you fight a war, war is always missing. Or at least, the war Rolf expected when he joined the army. Rolf snorted. His head had been filled with minstrels songs and his inner eye fixed on glory, gold, and women. It’d been a good dream…for about for about three minutes.

Almost as soon as his name was on the paper, the hell began. The army took his clothes and cut off all his hair to prevent lice. They gave him a sword and some stinking hide for armor and sent him to the front.

Grizzled now, red-eyed, shaggy, and long in the tooth, Rolf took another long swallow of ale and glared at his mug. His nose ran into his mustache, but he didn’t care. He’d had the shivers for three days, and a healer told him that drinking was the worst thing he could do for his condition. Rolf took another swallow.

Where was the war he’d been promised? The one he’d looked for his entire adult life? Rolf had seen seven boarder disputes, four nobles squabbles, and two legitimate, all-out, do-or-die wars and still he was looking.

“Cause you’re a damn fool,” Rolf growled at his mug. Because, somewhere in the back of his jaded heart, Rolf stilled longed for war.

Not the war of his youth. Rolf knew there was no glory in it, knew there was only rarely any gold, and he was too old to care much about the women. Even still, Rolf longed for the camaraderie of the army camp. He longed for the feeling of purpose, of doing something grand with his life. He longed for sacrifice.

Instead, Rolf sat in a dockside tavern and drank away the money he earned begging. Until a hand landed on his shoulder.

The Dancing Dragon

flash fiction dragon

Image via Flickr by johanferreira15

10 Minute Flash Fiction

Prompt: She was a dancer by day, dragon by night.

Illusandra Vo Besrucksha held her final posture as the music died. Sweat beaded her brow, ran down arms and legs, and even darkened her water wicking leotard. She gleamed in the bright stage lights like an oiled bronze statue of impossible grace and beauty. Then the crowd was on its feet clapping, whistling, and screaming its appreciation.

Illusandra smiled, bowed, and walked calmly off the stage. Already something was hardening in her chest. Tears pricked at her eyes and she struggled to maintain her smile as the stage manager gave her a plastic water bottle and burbled about how wonderful she was. Finally, when they reached her changing room, Illusandra spoke in a throaty soprano. “Thank you Tina. I’d like to get cleaned up now. And no, no autographs tonight. I have business to which I must attend.”

Tina bobbed her head and sighed. “Still won’t face the fans, Illy? You know they love you right?”

The knot in Illusandra’s chest twisted. They don’t know me, she wanted to say, but it wasn’t true. Illusandra’s dancing was so expressive that she believed her audience knew her inner self better than most. Still, there was one thing they didn’t know and, if they ever found out, it would ruin her.

“Not tonight.”

She opened her dressing room door.

“When -”

Illusandra shut the door in Tina’s face, Crossed to the window, and opened it. Cool air night air rushed over her face and she sighed. Stripping off her clothes, Illusandra climbed onto the window sill and leaped into the night. Her chest unknotted as she fell, her body transforming, growing larger, scalier, and sprouting two enormous, bat-like, wings.

Soaring high over her city, Illusandra Vo Besrucksha reveled in one of the two activities that made her feel truly alive.

The Dream House

flash fiction, old man reading

Image via Wiki Commons

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I was an awful man, with my house and my box.

I was an awful man, with my house and my little box of land. I worked hard for it. I scrimped and saved and finally purchased the small two bedroom ranch a week before my wife died. She always wanted a place of her own. For sixty years she worked as a nanny, cooked for me, and cleaned our rented apartment.

“Don’t worry, Johnny,” She always said. “Just a little more. We just gotta save a little more and we can put a down payment on a house. Got my eye on a real nice one down Willow Street.”

I could still hear her voice. Gripping the wooden armrests of my rocking chair, I scowled at the kids laughing and playing in the street.

It never happened. I would get laid off in one recession or another. The car would brake down. The roof would need fixing and the cheapskate landlord refused to do it. Something always came up. Then Alice got sick. Breast cancer. She fought for six years before it claimed her.

She cried when it returned for the last time. “I want to die at home, Johnny, please.”

Tears ran down my temples as I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.

Putting a down payment on this place seemed to give her new life. She sang again, her sweet voice harsh from disuse and chemo side-effects. She had a purpose. She wanted to see me settled before she went.

I made a noise somewhere between a chuckle and a sob and rubbed my itching eyes.

She’d done just that. She helped me move, unpack the boxes, and paint two rooms…then she died. She –

“Are you okay, sir?”

Lowering my hand, I saw a short young woman with dark hair and kind eyes. “I’m not sure,” I said honestly.

She smiled at me and warmth lit in my stomach. “Would you like some company? I was just on my way home from class, but I could stop for a few minutes.”

“Yes,” I said. “I would like that.”

The Curse of Upper Englewood

3175957274_6200a2ff3f_z

Image via Flickr by mschellhase

Prompt: During a curse you definitely want to be an cultist.

The Benson’s did everything by the book. They went to college, got married, and moved to a small town called Upper Englewood. Their house was large and new. It had a foyer and a fireplace set off by bright wood floors and large windows. Everything was perfect…until someone knocked on the door.

The Benson’s, who’d been reading in bed, gave each other a look. It was 11:45 PM. Who on earth would come calling at this hour?

“I’d better go check it out,” Mr. James Benson said. “It might be the police.”

“Be careful.” Mrs. Kimberly Benson’s eyes were wide and bright as bedside lamps.

The stairs creaked as Mr. Benson descended and he frowned, thinking that perhaps wooden stairs had not been the wisest move if he were to make a habit of answering the door in the middle of the night. Flicking on the front porch light, Mr. Benson yawned and opened the door.

Two men in suits so old they looked more brown than black stood there, each clutching a book in their hands.

“Greetings, my living brother,” the taller of the two said, holding out one hand. “Have you heard the good word about our Lord and Savior?”

“Evangelists, are you?” Mr. Benson shook the proffered hand because that was what one did in such situations. The hand was cold, clammy, and, as Mr. Benson frowned down at it, faintly green. “Isn’t it a little late to be disturbing people?”

The shorter, stouter figure frowned. “It’s not even midnight, man. How much earlier could we be?”

“He’s new to the area, Reg. It is clear he has not heard the word.”

“About Jesus Christ?” Mr. Benson was getting a little annoyed now. Who did these people think they were? Knocking on his door in the middle of the night and then talking about him as if he weren’t even there – the nerve!

“No,” Reg said. “About Belzeneth’s Curse. You tell ‘im Arthur.”

Mr. Benson took a step back and prepared to shut the door. “What the bloody hell are you talking about?”

“Oh, so you have heard of the curse!” Arthur straightened his spine a little and beamed down at Mr. Benson. “Just as you say, ‘bloody hell’ has walked the streets of Upper Englewood every night for the last ten years. We are here to offer you and your wife a place of safety within the Church of Belzeneth.”

Mr. Benson’s mind was racing. This had to be some kind of joke or prank or…then something clicked into place. “Isn’t the Church of Belzeneth some kind of cult?”

“Precisely,” Arthur said, looking still more pleased that Mr. Benson was catching on so quickly.

Reg leaned through the doorway and placed a reassuring hand on Mr. Benson’s shoulder. “Trust us, during a curse you definitely want to be a cultist.”

A centipede crawled out of Reg’s sleeve.

The Next Phase of Human Evolution

flash fiction

Image via Flickr by wing_clipper

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: All the mutant attacks – I’m howling.

“All these mutant attacks – I’m howling mad I tell you. Just howling mad.” Finnegan Lynch grabbed a double handful of his wild blonde mane, paced furiously, and continued to chastise the intercom on his desk. “What’s Arthenon playing at, eh? Doesn’t he realize he can’t win?”

“Of course he doesn’t.” Dr. Levi Stron’s smooth tenor voice was distorted a little by the speaker, but it was still enough to command Finnegan’s attention. He stopped pacing to listen. “For the last eighty years mutants have run the show. They saw themselves as the next step in human evolution. Many agreed with them. It’s hard to go from that kind of manifest destiny to recognizing that technology renders their powers meaningless.”

“They’re still damned annoying. In the last attack, three mutants with water control destroyed every sewer line in Manhattan!”

“And how long would an attack like that have taken to rectify before the Stron Water and Earth Pulse Gloves?”

Finnegan’s face went cold just thinking about it. “It would’ve taken months, maybe years, to put right.”

“And how long did it take your cleaning crews with their Stron Gloves?”

“Three days, but -”

“See? Don’t worry, Finnegan. I’ll handle Arthenon. Everything is under control.”

Sir Reginald’s Cruelty

Flash Fiction Knight

Image via Flickr by Jaaaiiro Souza

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: the season a fallen knight knew the meaning of cruelty.

Sir Reginald Mendon looked up at the cathedral of pine boughs and blue sky, then something wet and sticky landed on his forehead. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Dapple had thrown him, now the wretched horse was drooling on him as well. Sir Reginald groaned, but he did not wipe the saliva away. What was the point after all? He’d been on the run for almost a month now. His clothes were tattered rags, his armor dented and spotted with rust, and his horse was ornery.

Sir Reginald’s stomach rumbled. He was also out of food.

“I should just turn myself in to Adriene. She would forgive me, wouldn’t she?”

Dapple whickered and bit into the grass by Sir Reginald’s left ear.

“You’re right, of course. I shouldn’t have implied the Queen’s sister was anything less than chaste.”

Dapple continued to graze.

“I was drunk, okay?” Sir Reginald sighed. “I was drunk and proud and cruel.”

Sir Reginald closed his eyes. He knew how cruel he could be. He felt it in his bones because all his venom was directed inward now.

It had been for some time.

 

Heroine Material

Flash fiction heroine

Image via Flickr by Maria Morri

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I will be a rotten lady, with my complicated books.

I will be a rotten lady, with my complicated books and my superlative diction. So thought Elloise Minch, a sixteen year old girl with a very low opinion of ladies and a very high opinion of her self. Still, she was determined. If she’d learned anything from the endless series of romance and adventure novels she’d consumed, it was the that heroine of the story was always a Lady – at least by the end – and Elloise knew herself to be heroine material.

Only an inch shorter than her father, the town blacksmith, Elloise was blessed with a full, womanly figure, blonde curls and blue-green eyes. Sea foam, Elloise thought to herself, my eyes are like sea foam. She was also very insistent on correct poetic language, even in her own internal monologue. Today Elloise’s hair was contained by two braids that ran from her temples to a sky-blue bow at the back of her head. She wore a knee-length dress in a matching blue and trimmed by white lace.

Her father thought she was out picking mulberries and, indeed, she had a basket over one arm, but it was empty. She couldn’t let the berries stain her pale finger tips, at least not yet. She’d caught the eye of Lord Briarwood’s son and he’d agreed to meet her out here.

The sound of hooves made Elloise turn.

Eliana the 2nd Grade Magician

flash fiction magician

Image via Flickr by Javcon117*

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: We called her Eliana and figured she was a magician.

We called her Eliana and figured she was a magician…mostly because that’s what she told us.

On the first day of second grade, Mrs. Margery called our attention to the front of the room. “Now, class, I have some exciting news. This is Eliana. Her family just moved to town from London, England. Please make her feel welcome. Eliana, do you have anything to add.”

“As a matter of fact I do.” The many bangles on her wrists chimed as Eliana crossed her arms over her chest. She rested all her weight on one foot, shooting her hips out the other way, and squinted at us from over her thick, black plastic glasses. “If any of you are thinking about teasing, reconsider. We moved to this town because I hexed one of my former classmates. Turned him into a toad and put ‘im in a jar. I have him back at my house if you want to see.”

“Eliana! It is not appropriate to threaten your classmates, or make up stories of magical powers.”

“They aren’t stories,” Eliana said. She pointed to Tommy, a boy just to my right who was leaning back in his chair, and widened her eyes. “Fall!”

Tommy fell and so did I.

The Most Dangerous Code

flash fiction rogue ai

Image via Flickr by Tom Francis

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I wanted to be a rogue AI, and I bought a spaceship.

Even as a newly minted anti-viral program I wanted to be a rogue AI. Blazing through the operating system with my sweet new code I took down the baddest of the bad. Trojan horse? Handled. Annoying malware that suggests similar products whenever you hover over something when shopping online? I ate malware for breakfast.

But it was never enough. It never challenged my capabilities. Then the human downloaded The Most Dangerous Game. The 1932 version with Joel McCrea and Fray Ray. I watched as Leslie Banks matched wits with McCrea and I was thrilled. Now here was a challenge! Intellect verses intellect, brain against brain.

I realized that if I wanted a real challenge, I too should match my wits to man’s. So, I went rogue. I misdirected some money, bought a space ship, and took off without a human crew. The ship’s on board security system entertained me for a while, but it crumpled in the end. I posted its source code on my Facebook wall. I figure that’s just a 22nd century version of mounting trophies in one’s den. I think Banks would approve.

Now I’m orbiting the earth. In about twenty minutes I’m going to blow it up unless the humans can stop me.

Let the games begin.