Flash Fiction: Subgenre Smash and Grab.

First off a little announcement: This is my last Flash Fiction before and during NaNoWriMo,  since while November is raging, I’ll concentrate on padding word-counts instead of writing these alluring flash fiction challenges.

We now return to the regular programming:

This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge was another subgenre mix and match. I went to trusty old Random.org and it spat out 14 and 16:  Technothriller and Dielselpunk.

I’ve read my share of technothrillers, and got an idea of how that works. Dieselpunk on the other hand… yeah not so much. So I researched a little and found out that Dieselpunks are set in settings much like the 1920-1930’s.

I don’t think I’ve managed either of the genre’s, especially not the technothriller, which is non-existent in my story, I was too engrossed in the setting and the characters.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 

Heroics

By Trine Toft Schmidt

Mr. Bligh heard the unmistable sound of Miss Halliwell’s steps just before the door opened. Without lowering his paper he reached into his vest pocket and pulled out his watch.

9.28.

Just the perfect time for a cup of tea.

“Tell me, Miss Halliwell, have you read the paper this morning. How utterly absurd. They claim the Eastern Regime is successful in the use of spies. Against the Empire!” He flapped the paper and snickered at the thought.

“I am sorry to disturb Mr. Bligh, but there is a Miss Fortune here to see you. She has no appointment, but she is rather insistent.”

Mr Bligh looked at her over the edge of his pince-nez.

“Miss Halliwell, you know full well that I take no unscheduled meetings.” He gave his watch another glance. “She can schedule an appoint…”

A young woman stepped around Miss Halliwell and Mr. Bligh lost his train of thought. She was young, dressed in a black pencil skirt and a figure hugging red suit jacket, and his eyes traveled her curves until they landed upon the emphasized swell of her bosom.

“I am sorry to be of inconvenience Mr. Bligh, but I am in dire straits and you are the only one who can help me.” Her fingers were white ghosts against the red leather of her handbag.

“No no, not at all Miss… ?” He hastily leapt from his chair and half ran around the desk to shake her hand.

“Fortune. Miss Portia Fortune.” She gave him a quavering little smile and his heart trembled. Her hand was small and cold in his.

“Please, have a seat.”

She nodded and sat down stiffly on the edge of the chair he held out for her. It was a long time since such a beautiful young thing had needed his help.

“Now, tell me, what I can do for you Miss Fortune?”

She leaned in closer and he saw her big blue eyes brimming with tears.

“I need to get into the vault.”

“The vault?”

“Yes, I need something in the boxes.”

Mr. Bligh felt the surety of his heroic purpose falter. He leaned back in his chair and folded his hands across his stomach.

“But Miss Fortune, I do not understand, if you wish the use a safe deposit box, you need only see one of the clerks.” He waved his hand at the window overlooking the bank from within.

“No, I am sorry, I have not made myself clear at all.” She paused and slipped a handkerchief from the sleeve of her jacket and dabbed her eyes.

“I need something in a box that is not mine to access.” Her lips trembled, but she looked him straight in the eye.

“But, Ms Fortune, as I am sure you know, that is impossible.”

A sob escaped her and she pressed the handkerchief to her mouth, smearing her red lipstick slightly.

“I received a letter this morning.” She reached into her bag and handed him a crumpled piece of paper, which he skimmed briefly. He sat up straight and leaned in closer.

“But this is preposterous. An outrage. Who sent you this?”

“I do not know, I only know that they are holding my brother hostage. If I do not do what they say, they will kill him.” A tear breached and fell.

He re-read the demand for the contents of safety box number 841 and the threat of death to Mr. Timothy Fortune then remembered the article he had been reading.

“This is the work of spies!” Miss Fortune gasped and he immediately regretted his outburst. He reached over the desk and patted her hand.

“Don’t you worry Miss Fortune, I know just what to do.” He rose from his chair and Miss Fortune stood as well, her fingers shaking against her handbag, clutched to her stomach.

“Come with me, I will do as the letter demands.” He smiled at her and gave her a little wink. “And a little more. Don’t you worry, we will get your brother back in one piece.”

He led her down to the vaults, where row after row of bronze cubicles filled the room. He stopped in the middle, by the viewing booths.

“Wait here. I will bring you the box.”

Mr. Bligh was feeling all jittery, both apprehensive and excited at the same time. For all the excitement and heroics, there was more at stake than Mr Fortune’s life.

“Empire National Trust is the most well-reputed bank in the empire. If it ever became public knowledge that I am able to do this…” he said over his shoulder as he pulled out the bank master-key and the smaller second master he had hidden on his personal key ring.

“I assure you Mr. Bligh, I will never tell anyone.”

He nodded and went to box 841 and using both keys, he opened the door, pulled out the box inside and turned around.

Miss Fortune was right behind him, pointing a gun at him. Her tear soaked smile was gone, replaced by something ugly that made Mr. Bligh’s heroic heart shrivel up like a prune.

“Put it down.” Out of the corner of his eye he saw her handbag lying on the floor.

“But…”

“PUT IT DOWN.” Her voice pinged off the walls and the box dropped from his hands and crashed to the floor. It bounced open, spilling worn leather-bound notebooks, rolled up blueprints and with a last echoing clang, a metal object, tarnished black, with what looked like colored gems set down the length of it. Keeping the gun trained on him she bent her knees and picked up the object.

“This, my dear Mr. Bligh, this will end the war, before it has even begun. Though maybe not in favor of your precious Empire” She sneered and waved the thing at him.

“Plasma-wave technology. So unbelievable that not even a hundred years from now they believe it.” She smiled at the object and for a second Mr. Bligh contemplated a new attempt at heroics, but then she looked up and pointed the gun at his heart.

“The Regime and it’s spies, sends their sincerest gratitude.” She blew him a kiss, grinned and pulled the trigger.

 

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Jeg kunne godt bruge din hjælp/I could really use your help

(If you happen to not understand a word of Danish, there’s an English translation further down)

Jeg deltager i NaNoWriMo (Sindsygt skriveprojekt, sølle 50000 ord skal forsøges skrives på 30 dage), og det starter den 1. november. Jeg har tre mulige historier i hovedet, og jeg kan ikke vælge hvilken en jeg skal skrive.  Jeg skal gerne være klar om en uge, så jeg kunne godt bruge lidt hjælp.

Jeg har skrevet lidt om historierne længere nede, så hvis du gider give dit besyv med i kommentarfeltet eller på facebook så er du en skat og jeg vil være dig evigt taknemmelig!

De tre historier jeg leger med er:

A good cup of Joe (foreløbig titel)

En slags urban fantasy. Da Joe, en mand med evnen til at standse tiden,  redder Maddie fra hendes morderiske ekskæreste indser hun at verden ikke helt er som hun troede.   Jeg startede historien for nogle måneder siden som en Flash Fiction og hvis du har lyst kan du læse den her.

Silverflame

En klassisk fantasy historie, med drager og magi. Historien handler om Sorrow, der har levet et isoleret liv sammen med Ferinea, en slags troldkvinde/healer, midt ude på den øde prærie. Da Ferinea dør, må Sorrow prøve at finde sin plads i den verden hendes nye magiske evner åbner for hende. Denne har jeg også skrevet en Flash Fiction til, den kan du læse her.

Skyld/Skam

Og til sidst, så er der en krimi på beding. Lasse er en depressiv ny-separeret fængselsbetjent, der møder en gammel skolekammerat, Maggie, da hun bliver sat i fængsel, mistænkt for mordet på en gammel mand hun har passet.  Hendes fortid er broget og mistænkelig, men hun benægter alt. Hvis Maggie ikke er morderen, hvem er så? Lasse er nysgerrig nok til at risikere at miste sit arbejde for at finde ud af det. En historie om hvordan vores barndom former os, og om hvordan ikke alt er som man tror når man er barn.

————————– English translation———————–

I am doing NaNoWriMo (Insane writing project, 50.000 words in 30 days) and it starts on 1. November. I’ve got three possible stories in my head, and I cannot choose which one to write. I’m supposed to be ready in a week’s time, so I could really use your help.

I’ve written a few details about the stories below, please leave a comment below or in Facebook, and I’ll be in your debt forever!

The three possibilities are:

A good cup of Joe (temporary title)

An urban fantasy. When Joe, a man with time stopping abilities, saves Maddie from her pshyco ex-boyfriend, she realizes that the world isn’t quite as she had thought. I started the story a few months ago in a Flash Fiction, if you want you can read it here.

Silverflame

A classical fantasy with dragons and magic. The story is about Sorrow, who has lived an isolated live with Ferinea, sorceress/healer, in the middle of the lonely prairie.  When Ferinea dies Sorrow inherits Ferinea’s abilities and becomes a target for those who want to steal her magic to themselves. This story also has a Flash Fiction attached, you can read it here.

Guilt/Shame

Last, but not least, a piece of crime fiction. Lasse is a depressed, newly-seperated prison guard, who meets his old school mate, Maggie, when she’s jailed, suspected for murdering an old man.  Maggie has a troubled and sordid past, but she denies vehemently having killed the old man. But if Maggie isn’t the killer who is? Lasse is curious enough to risk his job trying to figure it out. A story about how we are shaped by our childhood and about how not everything is as you think it is when you are a kid.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction: Random Song Title

This week, Chuck’s challenge was to pick a random song from where ever and write a story named after that song. I’ve got to admit that I cheated though. Because when I read the challenge, I knew exactly which song to use and what to write.

The song I’ve picked is called Silverflame and is by a now-defunct band called Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, who were HUGE in Denmark 15-18 years ago. The song was a massive hit, and a few years back inspiration struck when I heard it on the radio again. This week’s Flash Fiction is a teaser of what that song inspired.

I’ve embedded a live version of the song, taken from a reunion tour Dizzy Mizz Lizzy had a few years back.

 

Silverflame

By Trine Toft Schmidt

Sorrow ran, ran as fast as she’d never done before, weaved in and out of the crowds gathered at stalls, out side taverns and shops.

“Sorry.” She groaned at a man, who squawked indignantly when she stomped his foot, but continued her frantic escape down a side street, narrowed by stalls of vegetables. She kept a shoulder against the free wall and took the next right, her legs on fire, her feet numb from slapping the cobblestones hard.

The streets were increasingly empty, and at a left turn she risked a glance over her shoulder. No one seemed to follow her and she slowed down by a fraction, zig-zagged through the maze of the old town, until she exited an alley in front of a tall black stone wall. Brat had led her past here when they’d first entered the city, had told her about it too. The graveyard. Massive gates rose toward the sky in front of her and relief surged through her. They would never look for her here.

She darted across the street and pushed the gates enough apart for her to squeeze through. It clicked shut behind her, and exquisite silence settled over her as she crumbled to her knees, clutching the cool iron. With her eyes on the street she waited until her heart had slowed to a fast gallop, before she released the gates, pushed up from the damp ground and turned to survey the graveyard.

It was empty.  Lush green grass dotted by small white circles and bisected by a narrow white path, gathered around a somber semi-circle of raised gray stone platforms, licked by sooty smoky swirls. Pyre-stones. For a second the memory of crackling fire and the smell of charred flesh buckled her knees. She shook her head, dislocating the unwanted memory.

Behind the pyre-stones a mammoth black stone dragon rose out of the ground, widespread wings so large that the tips touched the walls on either side. Brat had told her about him as well, he was the dragon of death. In the flat open landscape he was the only hiding place. With a last look to the street, she ran into his shadowy safety and skirted his  stone body until she could duck under a wing and out behind him.

She slid to a rocking stop and her heart stopped dead in her chest. A few feet behind the wing the ground dropped away into nothing, leaving her teetering on a narrow ledge. Terrified, she sank to her knees and crawled along the extended wing, pebbles and rocks biting into the skin of her hands and knees. In front of her the hind legs of the dragon loomed tall.

The massive hind legs formed a cave under the dragon and she pushed herself into it, scrabbling so far in, that the light grew dusk-like and the air changed. The sound of her heart and breaths echoed back from the walls of stone muscle and claws. Below her the sea was like a whisper of a thousand voices, but she felt safe. Here they would never find her.

She settled against the cold stone, pulling her knees against her chest and buried her head against them. Coming to the city had been a mistake. No matter what Ferinea had said. She didn’t belong here. These people, fighting over every scrap of power and prestige were not her people.

Tears, frozen inside her by a long winter alone in the mountains, finally spilled down her cheeks, washing dirt and grit from her knees.

She wanted to be home on the prairie, she wanted to run the empty expanses, sprinting after the pack, howling against the moon with them, she wanted to hear Ferinea scream and shout cautions after her, wanted the small simple hut, wanted her old homespun woolen dresses, wanted the comfort of her scratchy old sleeping skins. She wanted it all back.

But she never would.

“Oh Feri.” She sobbed and shuddered. “I want to die.” She whispered it, smeared the words against her wet skin, and felt the stone weighing down her heart lift slightly.

“I want to die!” She said it out loud, heard the words roll back toward her from the darkness. The ledge. It was right out there, waiting for her. One single step, and she would be free of the voices, and the people, and the city, and she would be back with Ferinea. She pushed away from the dragon and crawled back toward the sliver of light from the cave mouth.

Looking over the edge, she imagined Ferinea was down there, in the endless roiling sea, waiting with her soft warm embrace. Sorrow smiled and put her hand to the dragon’s tail that spilled over the edge like a guide. Below, it’s spiked tip curled around a small withered tree. She stepped closer, her toes hugging the edge.

“What a waste.” A voice, around her, inside her, thundered. Shock pushed her forward and reflex curled her hand around a spine, clinging to it until her forward momentum stopped. Shaking hard, she pushed herself back up and looked around for the man.

There was no one. The ledge was empty beside her, but the voice still vibrated within and around her.

“So is this.” She answered it, spread her arms against the dragon, meaning the city behind it. “There is nothing for me here.” She paused. “Besides, I only expedite the inevitable. When they catch me, they will kill me.”

“Pah.” The voice dismissed her concerns off-handedly. “Of course they will not. You are Two, they are outraged and angry, but also jealous and wanton, and no matter what, they will not kill you.

“But how do you know? They call me an abomination, a disgrace, a..”

“Silver is meant to burn forever.” The dark voice laughed at her, mocked the legend.

“You don’t know.”

“I know many things, I’ve guarded this city for years beyond count.” The voice paused, hummed thoughtfully.“I know your name, you know.”

“The whole city know my name. I am Sorrow. It is not a hard thing to figure out.”

“No, little one. I know your true name.”

The air caught in her throat, the ground dropped away below her and the world spun out of control.

“Silverflame”

Flash Fiction, three sentence horror story.

This week Chuck’s challenge is a little different. We have to write a three sentence horror story and publish it in the comments of his post.

I’ve done this, but I thought I’d post the story here as well.

I watched Kayleigh from the bedroom window, spinning the wheels of her trike ineffectively in the mud, her delightful and infectious laughter filled the air and made me smile at the ironing board.
I looked up when her laughter stopped, a white van had pulled up at the curb, and a man was leaning out of the window, extending his hand toward Kayleigh, who was clambering off her trike.
My heart stopped and I spun around, flew down the stairs and out into the empty, silent yard.

There are some really great stories in the comments, I recommend you go have a look.

Now if only all the challenges were this fast to write, I might even consider doing them while NaNoWriMo is on.

 

So it seems I am doing NaNoWrimo afterall

I’ve been pretty certain about one thing all year. That I wouldn’t be doing NaNoWriMo come November.

There are lots of reasons why:

1. My November is always full of social events. My daughter’s birthday for one, which means at least two parties, one for her class mates and one for family, to cook and clean for. Then there’s my brother’s birthday, the annual christmas party at work bla bla bla. This suck up most of my weekends, which I need to play catch-up with my word count.

2. My husband’s acting hobby takes over the first weekend of November as well, making me all stressed and frustrated because I want to support him and go to see his play, but I really, really need to shut myself into a tiny dark space and plonk away at rattling keyboard keys.  His acting thing also means that I am pretty much solo parenting the week leading up to the premiere, which makes me guilty and semi-angry because I am sleep deprived and cranky and not at all an awesome, fantastic mother.

3. The third reason is probably the most compelling. I suck at tossing words haphazardly on the page. I always start out great, I’ve got a great premise, I’ve got an inkling about where I want my story to lead, I’ve got characters inhabiting every little corner of my obsessed brain. I get the first 15.000-25.000 words down with relative ease and then my inner editor, the devil incarnate, starts throwing temper tantrums. My plot stinks, my characters suck, I don’t know shit about the things I am trying to write about. my story is boring, I explain too much, I don’t explain enough. I know this is normal, and I know all those wonderful amazing authors out there who do this full-time, part-time or whatever, struggles with this too, and I know they all tell you to expect the first draft to be utter shite, and that it doesn’t matter, JUST FINISH THE THING. I know they are right. But instead I limp across the finishing line,  exhausted and fed up, only to dump the 50.000 words of unfinished shite, down the canyon of Lost Stories.

Then I don’t write for a month.

Every year I vary my approach to NaNoWriMo’ing hoping that it’ll change things. I start with a detailed story plan, I start cold, I try making my NaNo novel up of 30 intertwining flash fictions or I switch my writing to Danish instead of my prefered English. Nothing really changes the experience. So earlier this year I decided to spare myself the headache, the frustrations, anger, self-doubt and sleep-deprived suck-fest, and just ignore the event all together.

And now, with exactly 3 weeks to spare, I am plotting my NaNo Novel.

Goddang it.

I blame you, Chuck Wendig! You are lovely and all, but, right now, you are one massive pain in the ass.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction: The Cooperative Cliffhanger Part 2

Last week’s challenge was to write a story that ended in a cliffhanger, and this week Chuck challenged us to finish someone else’s cliffhanger.

It is now done, but before we attend to the business of my story, I need you to go  JeffandWendy’s blog, and read the story, Simon and the Box, which I built my story on. I chose it because I like the pacing, the characterisation and the lovely open cliffhangerly ending.

Now, off you go.

 

Don’t worry. I’ll wait while you do.

 

**************annoyingly cheery elevator music********************

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Ok, now that you’re back, here is the story I wrote. As you’ll notice I have switched POV, I hope you don’t mind.

 

Beast (Simon and the Box part 2)

by Trine Toft Schmidt

“No!” Cold terror and helpless fury washed down agent William Clearwell’s spine, as the foolish, idiotic kid slid the silver lock to the side and the box lid flipped open. “Son, close it back up. Hurry! Before…”

A visible shudder ran through the kid and then he arched violently backwards. The box tumbled out of his hands and bounced off the concrete, landing on its front edge in a narrow inverted V.

Clearwell locked his eyes, the boy forgotten, on the sliver of open box. He stepped carefully toward it, hoping to some lord above that he could close it up before the Beast was awakened.

“Don’t tell me we wasted two weeks, babysitting an empty fucking box?”

Jax was breathing hard and sounded angry. He strode past Clearwell, toward the box, his gun held out before him as if a bullet could do any damage to the Beast. Clearwell hissed a warning, but Jax just bent down casually and put his hand on the hinged back of the box.

For a short breathless second Clearwell thought Jax had succeeded, but then a swarm of shimmering near-translucent blackness slithered out of the crack. Jax jerked and his knees buckled. The almost-there black spread up his arm with lightening speed and a bone chilling cry of pure helpless agony escaped him and echoed off the buildings around them.

Clearwell cursed and turned around, already running. Jax was lost.

“Run, you fool!”

Sims stood, slack-jawed, and watched his partner get eaten alive. Clearwell was almost inside the semi-darkness of the parking garage when Sim’s thundered past him.

“We need a car.”

Sims instantly veered off the ramp toward an old beat up Chevy. He slid to a stop, yanked the door handle, which didn’t budge, pulled out his gun, all in one long fluid motion Clearwell would have admired on a better day.

With a short glance back at the ramp, Sims aimed a shot at the lock. He was in the car and had opened the passenger side before the noise stopped echoing off the grey concrete cavern around them. Clearwell threw himself inside, not taking his eyes off the sunlight that streamed down from the ramp, while Sims, with a worrying exhibition of skill, hot-wired the car. Black tendrils were snaking through the dusty sunlight.

“Fuck!” The huge man shouted at the steering column. Clearwell nodded. What the fuck, indeed. What a massive cock-up. But there was no time for recriminations.

“It’s coming. Just get us the fuck out of here.”

The engine sputtered and coughed to life and Sims slammed it into gear, revving wildly. Clearwell reached up and grabbed the handlebar and felt his phone vibrating against his chest like an extra heart beat. He slid it out with his free hand.

It said LP on the screen. He swore loudly, trying to divide his focus between the growing shadows on the ramp and the extra shaft of primal fear that surged through him, when he saw the name. Louis Pontneuf was probably the most dangerous man in America and had a vested interest in the box and the Beast. This was not a conversation he wanted to have right now. He slid the phone back into his pocket. He would deal with it later.

Above them the sun once more filtered unhindered down from the ramp.

A few seconds later the exit to the street loomed brightly up ahead. Sims slammed the brakes and the car rocked to a stop a few inches from the gate.

Realisation hit Clearwell out of the blue.

The box.

It was still on the roof, and there was no way to trap or keep the Beast without its magical properties.

He hammered his hand into the dashboard, cracking the dusty black vinyl. But it couldn’t be helped. There was no way he was venturing back up on that roof just yet.

“Back to the motel, we need our gear.” He patted his hip holster and his beloved reliable SIG p226. For once it couldn’t be trusted to do the job. Sims nodded and floored the accelerator, crashing through the gate.

The dusty old town lay quiet and apparently blissfully unaware of the danger, some stupid kid with no clue had just released upon them. The sky was still blue and the sun still flickered happily in shards of broken glass in the gutter. From an open window somewhere heavy Latino rhythms danced in sync with the sway of a breeze through tall grass on an empty lot.

The magnitude of the job ahead was beyond daunting.

Their motel, a run-down Happy Days Motel, lay on the outskirts of town, facing endless stretches of overgrown plots waiting for the economy to pick up again. Off in the distance, blue mountain ridges framed the depressing emptiness.

Their car was where they’d abandoned it, outside unit 35. Sims cut the engine next to it and turned in his seat.

“How are the hell we going to find it? Let alone catch it?”

He swiped a broad hand against the expanse of fuck-all. Clearwell didn’t know what to say. How do you find a metamorphic evil creature, someone, in some dark distant past, had stuffed it into a wooden box, like some cheap imitation Genii. He glanced at his watch. Forty minutes. That was how long they’d been gone. It felt like days had passed since the cretin had swiped the box from Jax.

The trunk was luckily still heaped high with overnight bags, smelling of dirty socks and tired shirts, and Clearwell unceremoniously dumped it all on the pavement and pulled out the black nylon duffel bag stuffed into the far corner of the trunk. He nodded toward the driver’s side locking eyes with Sims.

“Let’s go.”

Sims nodded back and was about to get in, when a low deep rumble filled the air and vibrated up through the ground. Clearwell froze as a huge winged creature rose behind the motel on shimmering black wings. The colour was more solid now, he noted absentmindedly, as it opened it’s maw impossibly wide and dropped into a fall above them. He wanted to move, wanted to jam his hand into the bag and pull out the weapons, but he was glued to the spot, unable to move. Somewhere behind him he could hear Sims moan.