Flash Fiction

Although the subtitle of this blog is committing to life as a writer, the truth is: I spend a lot of my time editing, rewriting, and trying to build a social media platform. While these are often enjoyable, and undeniably necessary, activities, they are not nearly as gratifying as scribbling.

Therefore, to keep my writing skills sharp (not to mention my sanity intact) I want to do two 10 minute flash fiction pieces per week.

Results will be posted here.

The Curious Mind of Albert Eddlestein

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: One more biological war and I’m quitting my job.

Image via Flickr by goingfar.org

Image via Flickr by goingfar.org

One more biological war and I’m quitting my job. So thought Albert Eddlestein, though he knew it wasn’t true. War was just one of those things that one needed to accept in the year 21015, especially if one happened to be a scientist. And if there was one thing Albert knew about himself, it was his love of science.

Albert’s first word had been “beaker,” his first full phrase had been, “Please buy me a bunsen burner,” and his first love had been the human genome. When Albert turned five, he synthesized his own flu vaccine. At seven, he opened a small clinic for the children in the neighborhood and all but eliminated illness within a five block radius. And at thirteen Albert accidentally invented a biological weapon so powerful that it started a series of multi-national wars to possess it.

That was the nearly thirty five years ago. Since then Albert had been the captive of one government or another, each hoping he would invent another weapon. At first Albert had refused to work, sitting for long hours alone in his cell. But then he would get an idea. Some thought would catch and he’d begin muttering to himself. By the time he started drawing on the walls, all his captors had to do was give him a lab and he’d be off, pursuing his new idea. He couldn’t help it.

Not this time though, Albert swore to himself as he looked at the chemical compound rotating slowly on his computer screen. This time I’ll leave a boon to the world…

Following Orders

10 minute flash fiction.

Prompt: All the starship crashes were her fault.

Image via Flickr by brownpau

Image via Flickr by brownpau

All the starship crashes were her fault. Lieutenant Evelyn Marsh stared at the screen, at the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of red lights dissipating into static nothing, and felt tears prick her eyes. All those lives. All that training, and work, and dreams undone by a simple navigational hack.

Lt. Marsh clasped her sweaty hands behind her back and turned to face the cabin. “All targets neutralized.”

“Very good, Lieutenant,” Commander Thurston Bracks said, leaning back in his Captains chair. “And the damage to the planet’s surface?”

“Seems to be negligible, sir.”

“Excellent.” The commander paused. “You seem upset Lt. Do you regret what we’ve done?”

Lt. Marsh squared her shoulders and drew herself up to her full height. “It had to be done, sir. The attack ordered by the council was entirely unjustifiable, and our actions today have stopped, or at least delayed, a genocide.”

Thurston nodded and turned his attention back to the blue and green ball that filled the central screen.

“Still,” Lt. Marsh said, undeterred by her commander’s inattention. “I regret the loss of life. I knew many of the men and women on those ships personally. They were good people.”

“The worst atrocities in history of been committed by good men and women who were only following orders,” the commander said without looking around.

Evelyn Marsh’s nails bit into her palms as she turned back to her own, now blank, terminal screen.

“Yes, sir,” she whispered. “I suppose that’s true.”

The Incubator

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I never wanted to be a super villain, but I owned an apartment.

Image via Flickr by 5of7

Image via Flickr by 5of7

I never wanted to be a super villain, but I owned an apartment. I mean, what else was I supposed to do? A single family home was definitely out of my price range and I needed a place to put all my loot. Building a lair was the only logical option.

Okay, so I may have gone a little overboard with the moat and the sharks with lasers on their heads, but I got a tip that they were the last word in home security. You know what I always say, “nothing is more important than peace of mind.”

That’s kind of my catch phrase actually. During my first job I was robbing this bank and I read it right off a teller’s window. It seemed to make people feel better. That’s what it means when people stop screaming and go all white, right? I never could get body language down. Still, I enjoy the appropriateness of stealing a catch phrase.

Now I’m just living the life. Running red lights, popping balloons whenever I see them, and planning to take over the world. The usual.

But on late nights, when I’m all alone, my bath of $100 bills softly lit by the warm glow of a lava trap overhead, I wonder how I started down this road. Did I ever really have a choice, or was it all because I owned an apartment?

Books not Worms

10 minute middle grade flash fiction

Prompt: That girl, with her odd mirrors and her books.

Struck by lightning

Image via Flickr by Foto Moto

That girl, with her odd mirrors and her books. What is she looking for? So wondered Ramie Jefferson, studying his classmate, Alicia.

Alicia had long black curls that tended more towards frizz than ringlets and made her look like she was struck by lightening much of the time, particularly when she grew passionate about something. And, Alicia was passionate about a lot of things.

Bugs? Disgusting.

Boys? Even worse.

Playgrounds? A waste of daylight.

Books? Wondrous objects that should be worth their weight in gold.

Mirrors? The most useful and reliable tools God created for men (and little girls).

Because of her proficiency with dental hand mirrors, Alicia rarely saw the need to look up from her book. If she had to walk to class, she held the mirror in the groove between the pages of her book, the gutter Ramie remembered, and used it to avoid bumping into people while she read.

What is she looking for in those pages? 

Ramie took a breath and crossed the lunch room. “Hi,” he managed.

Alicia turned the page.

Ramie cocked his head to one side and read the title of Alicia’s book.

“The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.”

A Shield Against the Darkness

10 minute YA flash fiction.

Prompt: The attention of a Prince is easily won, but notoriously hard to keep.

The Warder

Image via Flickr by Zuhair A. Al-Traifi

“The attention of a Prince is easily won, but notoriously hard to keep, Aveline. Aveline, are you listening to me?”

Aveline Thendral, fourth princess of the royal house of Pren, brushed long bangs from her eyes and shook her head. “Not really, Mother.”

“Well, you should, you know. Besides the fact that I’m your mother, I would think that my example would be enough to motivate you to some effort.” Her tone was sharp and bitter for Marion had once been a great beauty. She could have had any man she chose, and she picked the best. King Raymond Thendral was quite the catch…while she had him, but his eye was prone to wander.

“What about my attention mother?” Aveline stood and straightened the front of her dress with two brisk strokes. “Am I not a princess? Why should it be my job to woo, rather than to be wooed?”

“Because you have sisters,” Marion said, her eyes narrowing. “Anyone with an eye to the throne will marry one of them. No one would marry the fourth sister for political power, thus, you must develop a personality.”

Aveline colored. “Who says I don’t have a personality now?”

Marion laughed. “You do, darling. Quite a little firebrand. But everyone knows children don’t really have personalities, or at least, they don’t really count.”

“That’s stupid,” Aveline said, crossing her arms. “Perhaps I won’t marry at all. It seems like an awful lot of work for something not much worth having.”

“Yes, well,” Marion sighed.  “There’s precious little else a woman of rank is allowed to do in Pren, darling. Besides, what would you want to be?”

“A Warder,” Aveline said immediately. “A Shield Against the Darkness!”

The Family Business

10 minute YA flash fiction.

Prompt: That girl, always breathing, always the business partner of wisdom and the antagonist of madness.

Demon Skull

Image via Flickr by Stiller Beobachter

“That girl! Always breathing, always the business partner of wisdom and the antagonist of madness. What is wrong with her?” Brazule, the seventh Lord of the Third ring of Hades ran a distracted hand along one of his spiral rams horns. “Doesn’t she know that madness is the family business?”

“Of course she knows,” Verlock replied. “That’s why she does it. To get a rise out of you.”

Brazule’s growl rattled the chains that lined the walls of his dungeon meeting room. “Well, she needs to stop now before she does serious damage to our family’s reputation. I don’t need to tell you that the position of Entropy In Chief is quite coveted, nor do I need to say how our family came into that position.”

“You do not.” Verlock looked at the charred demon skull that still adorned his father’s desk. A stark reminder to anyone who might doubt the intensity of Brazule’s flame breath, or his resolve. “I’ll talk to her.”

“See that you do. The last thing we need is for her to Rise. Can you imagine the embarrassment? If Tysha leaves the circle for the mortal world, we’ll be lucky to end up on someone’s desk.”

“I said, I’ll talk to her.”

Brazule snorted smoke rings, but Verlock was already walking away.

“Verlock,” Brazule called, and the young demon looked over one shoulder. “If she won’t come round. Make sure she never comes round again. You understand?”

Verlock frowned, nodded, and walked out of the room.

A CCN (Current Creature News) Report

10 minute middle grade flash fiction.

Prompt: Militant Leprechauns have seized control of the Pabst Brewery in order to demand a higher quality of alcohol.

Pabst Brewery Milwaukee

Image via Flickr by Joseph

“This just in, Militant Leprechauns have seized control of the Pabst Brewery in order to demand a higher quality of alcohol. We’re told there are no casualties yet, but there are hostages inside and the Leprechauns are stone cold sober. Now, let’s go to our centaur on the scene, Fetterlock. Fet, how are things looking down there?”

“The mood on the ground is really grim, Manti. Despite the quality of their alcohol, the brewery itself was built to last. It’s basically a modern fortress, and the Leprechauns are using that to their advantage.”

“We’ve heard they want better alcohol, Fet. Were there any more specific demands? And, who delivered their message?”

“The message was delivered by a second grader from a local, Milwaukee, elementary school. They let him go as a show of good will, though apparently anymore wise-cracks about Pabst being ‘magically delicious’ from the students and they’ve promised violence. As for demands, the Leprechauns claim that Pabst is an embarrassment and should do more than add yeast to water. Until that happens, they claim they won’t release the building.”

“Scary stuff. Thank you for your update, Fetterlock, we’ll be checking back to you as the scene unfolds.

“In other news, can an abominable snowman make a viable candidate for president, or are Crump supporters just blowing cold air? All that and more after the break.”

The Song of Brindlestone

10 minute flash fiction.

Prompt: Once there was a story about a boy (but this is not that story).

Image via Flickr by Bill Gracey

Image via Flickr by Bill Gracey

Once there was a story about a boy (but this is not that story). This is a story about a dragon, who merely wanted  to be a boy, which is strange, because, usually, when given the option, I think most people would choose to be the dragon. But still, it’s not my story, it’s his.

Brindlestone was a young dragon, and all alone in the world. His parents had been slain by mighty adventurers who carved up their bodies for armor and weapons, and stole his siblings to raise as their own. At least, that’s what Brindlestone told himself.

You see, Brindlestone never knew his parents. When he hatched in a warm cavern inside the lip of a valcano, it was empty. No parents, no friends, no horde of gold, nothing. At first, Brindlestone didn’t know what to make of this. He looked around the cavern, warmly lit by glowing magma, and was very confused.

Wasn’t there supposed to be more than this?

His legs were a little unsteady at first and his wings were covered in a thick, sticky, slime, but dragon babies are somewhat more developed at birth than human offspring, and soon Brindlestone was walking well. He explored the the cavern. Swimming through great underground lakes, mirror bright and smooth as glass. He wove through forests of great stalagmites and stalactites, which sparkled and shone with reflected light. Until finally, at the very back of the cavern, he came to a stout wooden door.

Through this door was a great library with shelves upon shelves of thick, leather bound books. Now, Brindlestone couldn’t read, but many of these books were illuminated with bright, clear illustrations that showed what they were about. They were about the death of the dragons.

He learned that beings that looked very much like he did, had been fear and hunted throughout the land. Their bodies used to forge the weapons that would destroy their kind, and he learned of Human kind, the great destroyers.

Yet, instead of hating these mysterious beings. This hours old creature, made from magic and mystery, felt compassion for the human race and even a twinge of envy. He looked at the illustrations of families, and then of homes being burned by terrifying black shadows in the sky, and he something deep within him stirred. The sorrow of the lost and the lonely.

The door creaked open and Brindlestone whirled around.

There, in the doorway, stood on old, bent man with a white beard so long it tucked into his belt and a pointed blue hat. “Don’t worry, I won’t harm you my son.”

Agent Alison

10 minute middle grade flash fiction.

Prompt: Call me Alison, not that that’s my name.

Flying Bike

Image via Flickr by voyageAnatolia.blogspot.com

“Call me Alison, not that that’s my name. You understand, secret agent stuff.” Alison, or whatever her real name was, flipped long auburn hair over one shoulder and grinned.

“Aren’t you a little young to be a secret agent?” Tyrone asked. “You can’t be much older than me. What are you, twelve, thirteen?”

“Fourteen, actually,” Agent Alison said, zipping up her leather jacket. “And I have a special dispensation from the government because I’m a genius.”

“Humble, too.”

“Shut up.”

“And subtle. It took you all of what? Three minutes to tell me that you’re a secret agent. What kind of secret agent does that?”

“The smart kind. Do you believe I’m a secret agent?”

“Nope.”

“And therein lies my genius.”

A slight smile curled Tyrone’s lips. “Do you want to go to the library with me after class?”

Agent Alison grinned again. “I’m afraid I cannot. I’ll be in Russia, stopping a nuclear missile launch by the time school ends.”

“I’m not sure you’ll get credit for that. How will  you ever pass eighth grade?”

Agent Alison sighed. “That is one of the main draw backs of being a secret agent: one never gets credit.”

With that, Agent Alison strode to a motorcycle parked along the gravel drive in front of the red brick school building.

“I don’t think you should be driving that!” Tyrone called after her. “You don’t even have a driver’s license yet!”

“Don’t need one,” Alison called back. “I have a secret agent license. When you have a license to kill, the government lets you do pretty much anything else you want to.”

Tyrone just shook his head, watching as the young woman strapped a full faced helmet over her fly away hair and turned the ignition. Then something strange happened. Wings unfolded from the sides of the bike. Alison revved the engine a few times, then took off, gaining speed for a short distance on the road before taking to the sky.

“Well, I’ll be darned,” Tyrone said.

Attention: Bad News

10 minute flash fiction.

Prompt: I knew she was talking, that was the problem.

5152277940_155733486f_o

Image via Flickr by bc the path

I knew she was talking, that was the problem. I was expected to retain this information but all I heard was “Wah Wah Wah, wah wah.” It was like watching Charlie Brown try to pay attention in school, only this was a hospital and there was a doctor in front of me with my MRI results. The bright fluorescent lights hurt my eyes.

“I’m sorry. Could you repeat that? I’m not sure I understand.” My voice sounded calm in my ears. Distant, but calm. That’s good, I though. At least I’m not falling to pieces.

The doctor’s mouth drew down and I noticed the dark circles under her eyes. I wondered how long it’d been since she slept. How many times had she been the bearer of bad news since her brown curls touched a pillow?

“Cancer, Mr. Eugenides. You have Leukemia. We caught it early. That’s good. It means we have a lot of treatment options.”

I’m gone again. I got the important bits this time. I think. But I can’t seem to pay attention.

My hand reached automatically for Ruth, but she isn’t there. Stupid, I chided myself. She hasn’t been there for years.