Return of Four by Flash Piece 3: Jewel Creek

Purple River Scene

Jewel Creek

The sudden impact made Eric drop the paddle into the fast-flowing water. His kayak slammed against the hitherto invisible rock, jolting his entire body. In less time than it took him to blink, Eric found his head underwater as his craft capsized. Less than a second later, thanks to a well-practiced body lean, he righted himself. To his left, he could see the yellow blades of his paddle slowly floating down the mud-colored river.

Not seeing much of an alternative, Eric put his hands in the water and used them to direct his kayak towards the paddle. The water craft got him close enough that he could grasp the aluminum shaft and drag the paddle back into position. Eric resumed his course down the river, keeping his eyes open for more hidden rocks. As the waning sunlight began to paint the horizon in shades of purple, Eric saw something gleaming in the water ahead of him.

He piloted his kayak towards the glinting object. It was a blue gemstone about the size of his clenched fist, tinted purple by the sunset. Eric pulled the jewel out of the water and let the sunlight play on all the intricate facets of the stone. He weighted it in his hand, surprised by its lightness.

Eric tossed the gem beneath the fiberglass hull of his kayak, where it nestled between his feet. He paddled to the river bank and disembarked from his craft. After changing and stowing away the kayaking gear in his battered SUV, Eric retrieved the jewel and placed it on the passenger seat.  As he began the drive back to Cleveland, he could hear a low arrhythmic rumbling pulsing from the front of the vehicle. Initially he turned the radio off but that didn’t end the noise. Hairline cracks started appearing among the jewel’s various facets. These cracks grew wider and wider until a diamond-shaped reptilian head burst forth from the gem and lunged at Eric’s hand, sinking its fangs into the soft webbing between his thumb and fingers. Eric screamed with pain and instinctively jerked his hand away, swerving into the next lane of traffic before passing out of consciousness and life.


 

As followers of this blog are no doubt aware, back in March of this year, I participated in a Flash Fiction writing challenge known as “Four by Flash,” which had the goal of producing sixteen flash fiction pieces (four a week for four weeks) in a single calendar month. However, the full extent of that challenge was to repeat that schedule four times in a calendar year for a total of sixty-four pieces. I had earmarked June as my second month to attempt this feat, vowing to do better than I did in March, where a late start meant that pieces were still dribbling out in April.

With today being the nineteenth, I should have nine or ten pieces completed and posted by now. As ever, my flexible approach to deadlines renders this somewhat inaccurate, as this is my third piece for this set.

I have two separate sources of inspiration to try and get things done this time. The first, and the inspiration for this piece was a comment made by a good friend of mine, Fo Facy,” who said something about “fighting the wind for dominion.” A sentence I found so evocative I had to write about it. I promised that she would receive the credit for being my muse this time, hence that link there.

My  “prompt bingo card” provided the inspiration for this 363-word piece, which combined with my last piece means I have two squares marked off. This piece was prompted by the square reading “Glitter in gutters,” so my card currently looks like this:

Flash bingo2

Stock photo courtesy of  Andreas Krappweis

Advertisements

Return of Four by Flash Piece 2: Expectations

halfman_halfgroom

As followers of this blog are no doubt aware, back in March of this year, I participated in a Flash Fiction writing challenge known as “Four by Flash,” which had the goal of producing sixteen flash fiction pieces (four a week for four weeks) in a single calendar month. However, the full extent of that challenge was to repeat that schedule four times in a calendar year for a total of sixty-four pieces. I had earmarked June as my second month to attempt this feat, vowing to do better than I did in March, where a late start meant that pieces were still dribbling out in April.

With today being the fifteenth, I should have seven or eight pieces completed and posted by now. As ever, my flexible approach to deadlines renders this somewhat inaccurate, as this is my second piece for this set.

Working from the “prompt bingo” card I mentioned in the last entry, I’ve opted to maximize my chances by opting to use the center square as my prompt. Here’s the card:

Image

The center square is a song lyric prompt and reads:

“And you can trust me not to think

And not to sleep around

If you don’t expect too much from me

You might not be let down.”

The source of these lyrics is this 1990’s track:

So, without further ado, here’s the 376 word piece:

Expectations

Expectations

A hush descended upon the church. Brice stood at the altar, his eyes fixed dead ahead, staring at Father Heslop. As the strains of Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” on the pipe organ reverberated around the building, all eyes but Brice’s stared at the recessional doorway.

Muriel, Brice’s bride-to-be, failed to appear. The organist slowed down the tempo of the music as much as he prudently could. Still no sign of Muriel as the Wagner stopped and silence enveloped the congregation. Whispers soon filled the quiet as the various wedding guests murmured among themselves. Brice could feel the creeping red blush of embarrassment heat up his hairline and travel down his face. Brice tried to shake off his reddening face but was thwarted when the cell phone in his breast pocket proved not to be silenced after all and began blaring out Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.”

As the echoes of the 1980’s hit bounced around the church’s alcoves, Brice answered the call, casting a furtive glance at Father Heslop. The priest just shrugged his shoulders.

“Brice, it’s me,” Muriel said.

“Where the he- where are you?” Brice asked.

“Two doors down. I can’t deal with people right now.”

“Your father’s going to hate you for this one,” Brice said, disconnecting the call. He bolted back up the aisle and ran out the door. After a couple of moments of hesitation, the congregation figured the wedding wasn’t happening and began to file out.

‘Two doors down’ from the church meant the county courthouse, where Muriel stood with a Justice of the Peace. She wore her wedding dress but the veil was stained with tears and her eyes rimmed with red.

“Thank God you’re here,” she said.

“I just left His house to get here…” Brice began.

“I know, but I couldn’t do something that big, even with your help.”

“What? Get married?”

“Oh, no, I can do that. Just not with more than these five people,” Muriel said.

Brice acquiesced to her wishes and the two of them became man and wife in the courthouse. Now all he had to do was explain this to the sixty-plus guests they left at the church.

“Do you think you can handle a hostile reception, Mrs. Nobes?” he asked.

“Let’s find out.”

Stock photo by Rob Darby

Return of Four by Flash Piece 1: Charybdis

Image

As followers of this blog are no doubt aware, back in March of this year, I participated in a Flash Fiction writing challenge known as “Four by Flash,” which had the goal of producing sixteen flash fiction pieces (four a week for four weeks) in a single calendar month. However, the full extent of that challenge was to repeat that schedule four times in a calendar year for a total of sixty-four pieces. I had earmarked June as my second month to attempt this feat, vowing to do better than I did in March, where a late start meant that pieces were still dribbling out in April.

With today being the fifteenth, I should have seven or eight pieces completed and posted by now. As ever, my flexible approach to deadlines renders this somewhat inaccurate, as this is my first piece for this set.

I have two separate sources of inspiration to try and get things done this time. The first, and the inspiration for this piece was a comment made by a good friend of mine, Fo Facy,” who said something about “fighting the wind for dominion.” A sentence I found so evocative I had to write about it. I promised that she would receive the credit for being my muse this time, hence that link there.

My other source of inspiration came from the Richmond WriMos Facebook group, specifically Brandy Spicer, who came up with the concept of a “prompt bingo card” for moments when inspiration doesn’t come. As a result, I will be using this as my card to get all sixteen pieces done. This first piece doesn’t actually let me mark off a square, so no bingo for me yet:

Image

Now that preamble is out of the way, here’s the piece which clocks in at 436 words:

Charybdis

Priscilla splashed her feet in the ocean. For as long as she could remember, water had been her element. Her mother joked that Pris (a nickname she hated) was born with gills. The family vacation to Punta del Faro, Sicily began four days ago, and Priscilla had spent almost every daylight hour out on the sandbars or in the sea itself. When the clouds receded, Priscilla could see the Italian mainland in the distance.

Priscilla swam out to sea, letting the salt water mat her red hair against her head and shoulders. She rolled over on to her back, floating happily. Priscilla stared up at a cloudless blue sky, shot through with languid sunbeams, as she drifted away from the shore.

As the sounds of the beach receded, Priscilla felt rocks in the water scratch at her back. She turned back over, and saw six jagged stones poking through the spume, moving as if somehow alive. Instinctively, Priscilla pushed off against the rocks and left them behind her. To her left, she could just about see the promontory of Punta del Faro and angled her body towards it.

It proved a fruitless effort as a gust of wind from nowhere dragged her away from both the rocks and shore. A churning sound immediately in front of her presaged a whirlpool, with an angry funnel cloud piercing it from the otherwise clear sky.

“Daughter of Poseidon,” the cyclone said in a voice like a thousand hurricanes, “this is your end.”

“You must have the wrong girl,” Priscilla said in panting breaths, “I’m the daughter of Adam and Felicia Bassinger.”

The whirlpool continued to roar formlessly as it pulled Priscilla closer. Desperately, she kicked out to shore, fighting the wind for dominion over her own body.

The funnel cloud took a humanoid shape, though the cyclone still raged within and about its body. “Aeolus will have his sacrifice,” the gale force voice exhaled.

Priscilla beat against the water, swimming as hard as she could back to shore. It made no difference as every stroke brought her closer and closer to the whirlpool. Fatigue numbed her body and dulled her senses to oblivion. As she sank, she closed her eyes…

When she opened them again, she was completely dry and on a bed in the beach house her family had rented. Next to her was a trident with a waterlogged scrap of paper tied to the central tine. She read the almost illegible words scrawled on the paper:

“Keep Swimming, -P”

Priscilla wrapped her fingers around the trident’s handle and felt something like an ocean current course through her.

 

Whirlpool photo courtesy of Vikaadi

2014 Goals – Revisited (Again)

Like every blogger ever, my first post of this year was talking about my goals for 2014. I then revisited it a couple of months later because I’m nothing if not a beater of dead horses. In that spirit, let’s look again at those goals as June approaches.

Goal 1: New Job

I got the one I was hinting at in my prior goals post. It required jumping through a few more hoops than I had hoped, but I’m enjoying it immensely for the most part and am working with good people.

Goal 2: New Home

Success here. I’m writing this blog entry from an apartment in Wilmington, DE. I haven’t been here very long, having had to bounce around various hotels and long stays as part of the hunting process, so I’m still mostly empty and unfurnished, so while it definitely feels like a new place,it doesn’t feel like a new home yet as I’m still putting my stamp on it.

Goal 3: New (to me) Vehicle

Well, this goal radically changed. Because of my location and job location, I’ve gone with the radical step of having no vehicle whatsoever, having donated my beloved van to charity. I’m able to walk basically everywhere locally, and have train, rental car or Greyhound bus options for visiting friends & family back down in Richmond, though only on a limited basis due to budget.

Goal 4: New Friends

Although, as mentioned above, I do get along with my co-workers, I don’t really see them as friends outside of work. Some of that’s due to circumstances, what with most of them living over the border in Pennsylvania and my lacking a vehicle (and to be honest the inclination) to meet up.

I have made some new friends, though in my typical nerdy style most of them are people I only “know” via the internet. I have met one of them in real life and they have been great fun to hang out with and generally feel like I’ve known them for years. It was a great experience and one I intend to repeat. And that’s all the detail you’re getting, humble blog reader…

Goal 4: New Diet &  Goal 5: New Weight

This is definitely my biggest (no pun intended) relapse from last time. Hotel living isn’t amenable to cooking so there’s been a lot of eating out. As I’m sure you’re well aware, eating out is definitely not a reliable way to lose weight. Fortunately, I have an actual kitchen now, so I’m able to cook for myself in my limited fashion, so that should help return these goals to the original track.

The one minor issue is that a box of cookware that got set aside to go through as part of the whole moving thing appears to have ended up donated to Goodwill instead, so I’m missing a few items that would be nice to have (a couple more pans, specifically) and need to purchase a few things to properly stock up the kitchen (notably a food processor, a bread knife and some measuring cups & jugs) as well as pick up a knife block I may have inadvertently left in the Old Dominion. Of course actual furniture (like a non air mattress bed) are slightly higher priorities right now.

Goal 6: New Wardrobe

Well, thanks to generosity from friends and family I have more dress shirts and pants now, so I’m wearing those more often, particularly as part of the office attire. Plus, I look damn good in them, even if I say so myself. Will probably look to purchasing a new suit or two before the year is out, assuming some weight loss happens.

Goal 7: New Attitude

I’m totally acing this goal. I’m feeling like a much more positive person than I used to be. I honestly don’t recall the last time I really lost my temper about anything. I finally feel like I’m pulling myself together and am just generally happier with my lot in life. There’s still a few things that need changing, but that’s always going to be the case.

Goal 8: At least 1 new novel drafted outside of NaNoWriMo

Yeah. This hasn’t happened. It probably won’t this year at the current rate I’m going. Partially due to a lack of focus on my part with the whole life-restructuring stuff that has been going on. I’m still keeping my writing hand in though. Just with the ultra-short pieces that have comprised the Four By Flash Challenge entries from April(ish), sixteen more of which I’m going to attempt to publish in June.

Goal 9: Same old core self at the heart of it

I’m still me. Though I fee like I’m a significantly better version of me than the one who wrote the last one of these 2014 goals revisited pieces. Now I just need to work on getting to know actual people in the area outside of the realms of Facebook, Google+ & Twitter.