Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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21-Sept-2018

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A corrupt wizard and a pointy object.

The air in the tent had turned sour. I flicked a rather aggressive fly off of my hand for the third time.

“I don’t feel good about this,” Grant said.

“It will be fine,” I said. I looked up from my spell book and found the prepubescent peasant eyeing the sword.

He then turned his terrified, gaze on me. “But, I’m not supposed to be the king.”

I sighed and shut my book, which caused a thump which in turn caused Grant to jump. “Listen, boy, the tea leafs led me to you.” I stood and clapped him on the shoulder. A shoulder that was more bone than anything else. “And they have never led me astray.”

The boy glanced at the sword again.

I couldn’t blame him for being intimidated by it. The sheathed katana hovered a foot off of the ground in the middle of the tent, with the pointed side down. Even without the blade exposed, there was an unnatural black glow about it that caused most people to look away.

“A sword is just a tool,” I said as I pat the hilt. “It is like any other weapon. It will do as you tell it and nothing more.”

“But what about the rumors?”

“Rumors?” I raised my eyebrows.

“The rumors that if the wrong person tries to wield it that it will slice them to pieces.”

I waved my hand. “The sword has been in my possession for a generation. It has never shown such powers.”

“I heard the last boy who tried died a horrible death.”

I snorted, causing my white beard and mustache to billow out. “Yes, because that fool crept into my workshop, stole the sword and then tried to claim the throne.” I looked down my crooked nose at Grant. “The tea leafs did not lead me to him.”

Grant swallowed, causing the lump in his neck to bob up and down.

He’s on to you.

The sword’s voice echoed in my head, and I shot it a glare before turning back to Grant.

This was going to be more difficult than I had originally thought. Most of the boys that had tried the sword had been thrilled at the prospect of being king. Now this one decided he didn’t feel good about it.

“Take a seat.” I pointed to one of the cushions lying on the ground.

Grant obeyed.

Good luck.

I settled in and gave him a hard stare. “The one thing I haven’t told you is that I’ve traced your lineage back to the last king.”

Grant’s eyes went wide. “But, how?”

“Your mother’s, mother’s, father was the second son of the king. Reportedly he died in the attack, but someone got him out, and he lived his whole life as a peasant.”

“How do you know this?”

I reached into the folds of my robe and withdrew a ring. The blood-red jewel glistened in the faint light, and the black metal glowed in the same way the sword did. I held it out for the boy, and he reached both shaking hands out and took it.

“I found this in your mother’s things. It only took a few spells and talking to the right people to figure it out.”

I never should have told you where the ring was.

Grant’s eyes moved from the jewel back to me. His mouth opened and closed a few times before he finally spoke. “But…but how come she never said anything?”

“Probably to keep you safe. There are many who would still rally under the old king’s banner, and if someone were to raise that banner, the kingdom would fracture.”

Good save.

“But, then why do you want me to take up the sword now?” Grant asked.

I sat forward. “Because, it is time.”

“Time for what?”

Yes, time for what?

I shot the sword another irritated glare before returning my attention to Grant. “Time for the old kingdom to rise again. Time for ancient magic to return, and time for this land to move forward.”

I’d told this all to Grant before, but now he nodded. “I think I understand.”

“Oh?” I asked.

“Yes.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry about wh—”

A stabbing pain ripped through my side and went all the way through me.

I glanced down, mouth agape, and stared.

The sword sat hilt-deep in my ribs.

I opened my mouth and managed two words. “You bastard.”

I told you I would betray you. You should have listened.

Grant’s eyes were wide, but he stood. “I will be king, and your name will go into our history.”

I tried to speak again. Blood was all that came out.

Grant slid the ring onto his finger. Then his hand wrapped around the sword and he pulled it free.

I screamed.

The world went black.

***

I sort of fudged Overcoming the Odds, but I think it worked!

Also, at least I got a wizard and fantasy on the same roll.

Genre – Fantasy

Character – Wizard

Setting – In the Past

Random Object – Katana

Theme – Overcoming the Odds


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14-Sept-2018

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Shoulder Angels and Toenail Clippings

I’ll let you think about that for a minute

I closed one eye and studied the angle of the light. It would shine down from above and just hit the edge of each stair. Perfect.

“You must realize that this foolhardy plan of yours will never come to fruition.”

Why did I have to get stuck with the verbose counterpart? “You underestimate the idiocy of a teenage boy.” Two could play at her word game. I floated down the rickety stairs to the grimy cement floor below.

“You truly believe you can lure him here with shiny objects?”

“Did you have brothers?”

“No.” Did I detect an edge of irritation in her voice?

I snorted and turned to face my counterpart. She had been beautiful in life. Tall, slender with cascading curls that framed her pretty face. Pouty lips surly would have drawn all sorts of men to her. Her ample bosoms would have helped too. She glowed just enough so I could the ethereal robe she wore and the fact that while it covered everything, it didn’t leave much to the imagination.

Just looking at her made me want to roll in the grime on the floor. “Look, doll, boys will be boys.”

She tossed one of her curls over her shoulder. “I have been working on him all week about thinking before following his impulses.”

“And how has that been going?” I asked as I moved to the small pile of toenail clippings.

“I believe I have made significant progress,” she said. I could tell she was lying because her glow dimmed a bit.

I licked my lips and reached toward a particularly large toenail. A specimen I had gathered from the old man next door. Yellowed, thick and a big jagged along one edge. I imagined what it would feel like to touch it. The way the surface would press into my own fingers, and how it might hurt a little if I scratched the jagged bit along my skin.

Now, I no longer had skin, per se, but I could still manipulate other dead things. It took a high level of concentration, but I could—

“You’re going to touch those?”

The disgust in her voice normally would have made me laugh. Instead I glared. “Quiet, while your betters are working.”

She stepped closer and I ground my teeth. “Why bother? He’s going to ignore your little trail of clues. He’s supposed to be cleaning the house while his mother is at work, and right now he’s dusting.”

“He’s looking at the magazines his friends brought over yesterday.”

If she could have turned red she would have. One moment she was glowering down at me, and the next she zoomed through the ceiling toward Mile’s room.

“Finally,” I muttered. I turned back to the toenail and like a child zeroing in on one pea, I pinched the item in my fingers and picked it up.

Since she would be busy for a few minutes, I looked around and immediately found what I was looking for. A smile spread my lips as I moved toward the shelves that lined one wall. A small bottle of silver glitter had gotten bumped and, in turn, had broken and spilled into a small pile. I brought the toenail to my mouth, licked it and then dipped it into the glitter. The ooze from my tongue gave just enough stickiness to catch a few of the pieces of silver.

“Perfect,” I muttered. I floated back to the stairs and laid it on the edge, right where the light would catch it.

I put two more on the stairs, and then positioned the last on a weak spot.

Footsteps echoed from above, and my eyes tracked Mile’s journey from his room, down the hall, through the kitchen and to the top of the stairs.

I could hear my counterpart whispering at him, but I knew boys, and he wasn’t going to listen. Not when for weeks I’d been trying to convince him that his mom was hiding some of his dad’s old stuff down here.

The door opened, and as soon as his eyes would have spotted me, I disappeared from his sight. A switch clicked, and the light at the top of the stairs went on.

I held my breath. My counterpart had her good claws deep into the kid, but I’d tried a different angle, and today I was hoping my strategy would pay off.

Miles stared into the basement. He was afraid of the dark, but he was more interested in his dad’s old army stuff. His eyes flickered down, and I smiled.

The first toenail caught the light and glittered back at Miles.

Shiny objects were such a simple thing, but so effective.

Miles licked his lips, then stepped down once.

“Keep coming, kid,” I said quietly. “Don’t you want to know more about your dad?”

I could see the conflict on his face, but while my counterpart talked to him more than I did, I pushed him in other ways. In exciting ways. In non-talking/boring ways.

Miles swallowed, squared his shoulders and started down the stairs.

As I had predicted, he stopped to look at the first toenail. His expression when he picked it up almost made me laugh, but that didn’t stop him from going to the next one, and the next.

I held my breath as he came to the last one. He’d picked up the rest, but I had predicted he’d be bored of that by now.

To me delight, instead of retrieving the toenail, he stepped on it. Hard.

The stair under his foot gave way, and his leg went through to his thigh. Miles cried out in pain and anger.

He’d live—it wasn’t nearly as fun to kill my assignments as it was to torture them—but his mother was going to be very, very angry.

***

Okay, this was fun.  I could have done another thousand words easy!

Except, I’m not sure I have an actual thriller in me.

Genre – Suspense/Thriller

Character – Someone Already Dead

Setting – A Dark Basement

Random Item – Toe Nail Clippings

Theme – Good vs. Evil


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7-Sept-2018

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Not All Monsters are Ugly

My lawyer looked over her glasses at me, her drawn-on eyebrows rising above the red rims. Her gaze traveled from my unkempt hair, over my prison jumpsuit down to my hands and back up to my face. She closed the folder in front of her and cocked her head to the side. “You’re really going to stick with this story?”

“Yes.”

A flicker of irritation crossed her face. “You realize I could get you a reduced sentence if you would—”

“Confess,” I finished before she could. “Yes. The other seven lawyers told me the same thing.” This time I looked hard at her. The shackles that tied me to the table clinked as I folded my hands together. “Which is why I asked for you.”

“So I could just let you die?”

“That’s right.”

She snorted and pulled the glasses off her face, allowing them to dangle from a pink string that went around her neck. “And why exactly do you think I would do that?”

I frowned. “Because, you represented David Ball.”

“He’s a psychopath. He did the things they accused him of.” She brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes. “You are not a psychopath.”

“But I did what they are accusing me of.”

“So you’ve said, and yet you won’t confess.”

“You have my side of the story there.” My eyes strayed to the shut folder, a few papers sticking beyond the manila.

“This?” She pointed. “This is fiction.”

I’d been through this too many times. I leaned forward. “Does it matter? I stabbed three little kids more than two dozen times with a pair of fabric scissors.” I kept my eyes locked onto hers.  “And if no one else believes in the real monster, then that leaves me.”

The lawyer’s hand trembled as she pulled it away from the folder. She cleared her throat and brushed the hair out of her eyes again. Her voice waivered a little as she continued to look me in the eye. “The judge wants you to tell the story.”

“No.”

“Things will go easier.”

Red hot anger swelled inside of me, and I slammed my hands against the metal table. “I’m not sure how many times I can explain this to you idiots. If you’re going to kill me, kill me. If the law is too chicken to do it, then move me out of solitary and let the other inmates have a stab at it.”

The lawyer swallowed and watched me as I watched her. Her eyes narrowed. “You really believe you did the right thing.”

“I wouldn’t have stabbed three kids to death if it hadn’t been the right thing to do,” I said between clenched teeth.

“Not everyone sees it your way.” Her voice was barely a whisper.

“I hope no one sees it my way,” I said. “I hope no one else sees the things those children were.”

“And what were they?”

I shook my head. “Monsters.”

“What kind?”

I met her eyes again. “The kind that want humanity to fall so they can rise.”

The lawyer licked her lips. “And where do they come from?”

She seemed genuinely interested. “I don’t know,” I lied.

“What if there are more?”

“Then humanity will have to save themselves.”

The lawyer sat forward, put her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together. “I’d like to offer you a deal.”

I opened my mouth to tell her that there would be no deal, but my tongue wouldn’t obey, and my jaw shut with a click of my teeth.

She took that as a good sign. “We can fake your death, keep you isolated and moderately comfortable in a non-prison facility. In return, we use you to find more of these monsters.”

This time I thrust my thoughts out my mouth, but the monster inside of me forced me to smile instead. A voice I barely recognized spilled out.

I tried to push it back, but my control over it was slipping.

They needed to kill me.

They needed to kill the monster. Instead, it spoke, “I’m listening.”

The lawyer smiled.

***

Once again this leaned a little more toward horror than crime, but there was a crime in it. I feel good about that!

(Not sure I should, mind you.)

Genre – Crime

Character – Hero

Setting – Earth(ish)

Random Object – Scissors

Theme – Death


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31-Aug-2018

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As Michael from The Good Place states:

“Diamonds are just carbon molecules lined up in the most boring way.”

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, but I didn’t take my gaze off of the Inspector. It towered over me by almost a meter, and it’s six appendages could easily combine to rip me limb from limb.

I knew because I’d seen it happen. The urge to look to my right—where I knew that the cleaning bots had neglected to scour a piece of brain matter from the last human who had come in here—forced me to shift my weight again and stare harder at the Inspector.

This time the Inspector would take my offering. I’d procured the largest one in existence, and I was certain that the Inspector could sell it for a pretty coin.

A humph came from the Inspector, and he lowered his top appendage along with the clear, perfectly cut diamond in his claws. A noise resembling a dying yerka came from its mouth. I knew just enough of the Inspector’s language to grind my teeth.

A moment later, the translator kicked in, the metallic voice emotionless. “It is worthless.”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “Check again, I assure you, it is quite valuable.”

The Inspector gazed down at me with its faceted eyes. I saw myself a thousand times. “It is worthless.”

Annoyance bubbled up inside of me, and I threw caution to the air filters. “I’ve watched every old Earther vid that I could find, and they all say that this is one of their most valuable substances.”

Another humph noise, then the spine grating speech, then the translator. “Earthers are all slaves.” It leaned forward. “Or thieves, like you.”

I took a step back, suddenly reminded that this Inspector was the only one who would even deal with humans. I bowed my head. “There are many who are interested in Earther antiquities. This piece would be a valuable addition to any collection.”

The Inspector studied me. Or at least I thought it was studying me. It was hard to tell when the eyes didn’t have a pupil, and the little mandibles near its mouth flickered back and forth, tasting the air.

A small farting sound proceeded a scent that made my eyes water. I held my breath for as long as possible before letting it out slowly. The Inspectors said that they used the smell to unmask lies. I was pretty sure that they did it just to make every other being in existence uncomfortable. A few species would vomit, to one it was deadly.

I’d spent enough time with this Inspector that I knew when to wait. I kept my eyes up—resisting the urge to blink—and my shoulders back. Supposedly making yourself look bigger helped. Pretty sure that making my skinny frame look bigger without some sort of alien implants was mostly impossible, but this was my last shot, and I desperately needed the money to get off of this station.

The Inspector turned its focus from me back to the diamond.

It had taken me months to get a hold of it. Some Earther had given it to the leader of the Genra as a gift back in the early days after Earth’s obliteration. The Genra had given it to a servant, who had been using it on a mobile for their children. I’d managed to trade it out for a fake. Hopefully no one would notice until I was well away from here.

“This rock is simply carbon.”

“All precious things are made up of basic materials,” I said.

The Inspector clicked its mandibles a few times. “Wise words from such a young one.”

I held my ground.

“It might be worth a few coin.”

“A few?”

“Yes.”

This is where things got dangerous, but I needed the money. I stretched my neck and puffed out my shoulders again. “It’s worth at least twenty thousand.”

Silence.

I waited.

The Inspector stared at me, unmoving.

Perhaps I’d gone too far, but it was too late to go back now. The one unbreakable rule when working with Inspectors was that you never backed down after the first figure had been thrown out. Negotiation was fine, but you stood by that figure until they talked you down.

Or ran one of their clawed limbs through your stomach and then ripped you apart with the other five.

Well, I could either die here, or in some other terrible way in a few weeks. So I stayed where I was.

After a few seconds the Inspector let out what I could only describe as a squee. Its middle section contracted, and a second squee joined the first.

I braced for the worst.

A third squee.

Was the Inspector laughing at me?

“Inspector, I—”

It interrupted me. “My dear little human, this piece of rock isn’t worth five hundred.” It threw the most valuable diamond ever to be mined from the surface of the Earth and tossed it into the corner with a pile of what looked like garbage. “My children can use it to cut their teeth on.”

I opened my mouth to protest.

The Inspector held up a limb. “Now go and find me something valuable.”

I closed my mouth. I wasn’t dead. That was good, right?

My eyes flickered to the corner, then back to the Inspector. I bowed.

It waved an appendage.

I waited to curse until I got back into the hallway.

***

I feel like I’ve gotten the In a Shop option way more than anything else for the setting. Still, it worked out this time!

Genre – Sci-Fi

Character – Male

Setting – In a Shop

Random Object – Rock

Theme – Crime Doesn’t Pay


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