The Fairy Tale, Remixed Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck’s challenge this week was fun. Take a fairy tale and rewrite it any way you see fit. Only requirement: pick a genre and apply it to said fairy tale.

I played around with a lot of fairy tales, mostly H.C. Andersen one’s but ended up rewriting Grimm’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin and applied a dose of Urban Fantasy to it. I hope I do them both justice.

A fair warning, the story is 300 words over goal and I have not reworked the ending as much as I would like to, as time is up and there’s a new challenge waiting for my attention.

Hamelin City Blues

by Trine Toft Schmidt

It had been a pretty shitty day for the mayor. One in an endless string of shitty days. The mayor downed his fifth scotch and blamed the job. The job and the breeds, they were in collusion to kill him.

He looked up from his empty glass and tried to catch Sid’s eye. But Sid was busy serving a couple of doe-eyed werewolves. Damn breeds!

The mayor nodded to himself, recognizing the fact that he was getting closer to cause of the shittiness. Breeds. Making themselves publicly known. Two days after he’d taken office. Kicking up a raging non-stop shitstorm that hadn’t died down yet.

“Is this seat taken?” A young naiad stood in front of him, smiling, all golden hair and perfect skin, except for an oddly attractive patch of scales that ran up the side of her neck.

He smiled back, feeling a little better already, now that a young beautiful thing wanted to sit at his table. Maybe the shitty day could turn into a rather pleasant night.

“No, not at all.” He had to focus not to slur his words and blink to unblur the view of her.

“Great.” She smiled again and the mayor felt a little light-headed. He’d never tried naiad sex before, but he’d heard it was amazing. “Then you wont mind if I borrow this?”

She put a hand on one of the empty chairs and immediately dragged it away. The mayor watched as she gave the chair to one of her mates and then sat down on his lap, laughing hard, probably at the old gullible fool who’d just got sucker punched. The weight of his world settled itself back on his shoulders.

“Tough luck. She’s a stunner.” A tall lean man, dressed in an outrageous purple and white checkered suit, stood in front of him, holding two glasses of delicious amber-colored liquid. The mayor thought he looked like a gypsy or some other traveller.

“If you want the chair just take it.” This time the mayor didn’t care if he slurred his words. He might as well just drown his shitty night in scotch. If he could get Sid’s attention.

“I thought you looked a little thirsty, so I told Sid to give me two of whatever it was you were drinking.” The man pushed a glass filled with amber liquid over to the mayor, then he pulled out the last empty chair and sat down. The mayor noticed that his eyes were almost white.

“What a crowd huh? I mean, I’ve never seen so many breeds in one place, having fun, being harmonious.”

“They can all go to hell. Or better yet, walk right back into the woods.”

“You don’t like breeds? Odd place to drink then.”

“This was my favorite bar before they all declared themselves. Trouble makers one and all.”

“Really? They all seem peaceful to me”

The mayor emptied the glass, feeling all of his rage and frustration bubble in his ulcer-infested stomach.

“Pah! It’s a facade. I’ve got werewolves running amok every bloody full moon. There’s the vampires,” the mayor shuddered, “…don’t get me started on the fucking vampires.”

The traveller blinked again, slow and sideways. The mayor lost his train of thought for a second, then continued.

“Then there are the trolls, they owe me three school buses and a new fire station. The goblins…” the mayor hammered his hand down on the table. “reproduce like rats. And the ghosts! They are all… hovering and translucent and creepy. It is sickening to be served by a man you can poke your finger through as if he was nothing.” The mayor looked up and saw Sid looking at him, like maybe he could hear him. His translucent body framed a selection of dark rum.

The traveller leaned in closer and something alien, cloying sweet and musky filled the air.

With a sinking feeling in his stomach the Mayor realized that the traveller was something unfamiliar, something fresh out of the woods. He pulled back in his chair and felt the blessed intoxication leave him. The man, or whatever he was, didn’t seem to notice.

“What if I told you I could help you with your problem.”

“We have no problem. I am just letting out steam after a long stressful week.” The mayor donned his politician sing-song voice.

“I have helped others with similar… ehm trouble.” The traveller smiled, showing the mayor a row of teeth that looked suspiciously shark-like. The mayor pushed his chair even further back, his ulcer starting up a burn in his stomach.

“I am not interested. But thank you for the drink.” The mayor got up, eager to get away, the world wobbled under his feet. The traveller just smiled some more.

“Sure sure. But I hope you will allow me to give you a demonstration of my skills.” The traveller bend down to the floor and for one wild crazy second the mayor thought he would bring up a gun and start shooting people, but when he reappeared he was holding a flute. The mayor couldn’t help himself, he started to laugh.

“You are going to help me with a flute? You are out of your mind.”

“Well, maybe I am, maybe I am not.” The man put the flute to his lips and gentle watery tones appeared. The mayor looked around, feeling rather self-conscious standing there with a dude playing the flute.

There was a crashing sound and to his right the young naiad stood up, the chair she had borrowed, crashed to the floor. The naiad ignored her boyfriend surprised squawk and made her way through the crowds back toward the mayor. When she stood in front of him she looked up and smiled a slow, seducing smile. The mayor couldn’t help himself, he smiled back and his heart did a little two-step in his chest. The naiad stood on tip-toe and was just about to kiss the mayor when the traveller pulled the flute from his lips and the naiad froze. The mayor watched as she blinked slowly and looked around, saw her expression of disgust when she seemed to realize what she’d been about to do.

“I can make her do anything. I can make them all do whatever it is you want.” The man put the flute back to his lips and the naiad smiled again, pressing her breasts against the mayors chest. When she pressed her lips against his, she tasted like salt and seaweed, like smoke and beer and bubblegum.

The melody changed, became darker and slower and the naiad retreated, her face a blank, her eyes dead. When the tune stopped she just stood there like a robot that had been switched off.

The mayor looked around. Every being in the bar, human or breed, were still, sitting or standing, caught in mid-laugh, or kiss or sneer or talk, their eyes dark voids in blank docile faces.

A rush of excitement flooded the mayor. The traveller could make people do anything just by playing his flute. This was a perfect solution. He could send all the breeds back to where they’d come from, make them forget their civil rights claims and their ambitions and with them gone the mayor could get his wife back, his old job back, he could get his old world back. He turned to the traveller and pushed away the little pebble of doubt that clung to his heart.

“What is your price?”

“Nevermind, we can discuss price and terms later.”

The traveller smiled a hungry toothy smile and put his flute up to his lips again.

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Flash Fiction Friday – roll for your title.

So, lets just skip all the excuses and all the horribly belated holiday greetings. It is  a new year and I’ve made a resolution to cut back on guilt trips this year.

So woohoo, here is the first Flash Fiction of the year, of course courtesy of the fabulous Chuck Wendig who is as witty, entertaining and generally fucking amazing in 2014, as he was in 2013.  I should have made my resolution to be like him, but I would probably suck at it too much and thus guilt trip, so I’ll just stick with participating in his Flash Fiction Challenges instead.

This first one of 2014 involved two lists of 20 words each and the handy help of random.org. I rolled 2 and 5, dropping the title Devil’s Bookstore into my lap.

And here are the 104o-something words going with that title.

Devil’s Bookstore

By Trine Toft Schmidt

There are two types of small towns in this country. Those that welcome you with white picket fence smiles and freshly painted facades, and then there are those that turn you away with a brown rotting sneer and gray concrete travesties.

I definitely prefer the latter, since my business is the ugly and miserable.

Bramville didn’t have much potential. It was of the former sort, a pretty little thing, pastel colored cottages dotting sweeping green hills, overlooking the small cozy town. It was peaceful and content and I hated it, but I still parked my car on the main road outside a cutesy little barber shop.

You see, I know these towns. They hide it well, but somewhere below the shining white paint and the cheery signs, they all hide monsters. All I have to do is take a walk and I find them.

I must that Bramville’s pretty went deeper than I’d thought. It wasn’t until I crossed to the eastern side of town, that the painted shingles and shutters reluctantly gave way to ugly seventies tract houses and weed infested empty plots. It was all miserably sad and unattractive, but they weren’t monsters by far. To much care was stowed upon lawns and gardens. It simply wasn’t atrocious enough.

So I kept walking, my gut-feeling urging me further and further down a disintegrating road that eventually came to a complete stop at some old train tracks. On the other side the road was a path leading into a dense impenetrable line of trees. My heart started dancing against my ribs. Something old lurked behind there, I could feel it as a cold happy chill racing up my back. This was what Bramville didn’t want me to see.

Brambles and nettles ruled the forest, grasping at me as I struggled to pull my suitcase after me. Somewhere to my right branches snapped and a flock of crows rose from the trees above me all in a huff. I followed their witch-like caws out of the forest into a field of thistles.

In the middle of the field stood what had once been a beautiful, two story, red brick plantation house with a covered porch sprouting from an impressive Greek revival colonnade in the center. If I closed my eyes I could just see Orry Main leaning against the railing of the balcony on the second floor.

It was in terrible disrepair, nobody had taken a paint brush to the woodwork since sometime before the war and the front door was two warped plywood boards hanging on rusty hinges. The brick had weathered to slivers and only the middle four feet of the porch looked safe to stand on, the rest was a jumble of boards, rusting bicycles, washing machines, sofas and old carpets.

My heart skipped ahead in double speed. It was all I’d ever hoped for.

I stopped and eyed the house. It looked deserted. No smoke came out of the chimneys and a scrap of lace curtain swayed gently in the gaping hole where a window had once been. The only sound came from the crows that had settled in an old chestnut tree to my right. But I could feel eyes on me and one of the curtains on the bottom floor moved minutely. I allowed myself a smile and flipped my suitcase over on its side to sit on, slipping my sunglasses into the breast pocket of my black suit.

I settled into the wait, crossing my ankles and tilting my face to the sun. Above me a crow cawed and flapped its wings noisily.

I waited.

The sun was on its way down when, finally, the plywood door squeaked open and there was a creak of stressed wood. A thin-as-rails woman with lank mousy hair and creases the size of grand canyon on the sides of her mouth stepped out on the porch.

“What do you want?” Her voice was rusty and phlegmy, courtesy of a forty-a-day Marlboro habit. I brushed off specks of dust on my pants and stood up.

“Madam. I have a simple question for you.” I smiled.  She narrowed her eyes.

“Is that right?”

“Are you happy with your current living condition?” I spread my arms to encompass the house and the thistle field.

“Listen mister, get off my lawn. I ain’t buying what you’re selling.” Her eyes flicked to my suitcase. Curiosity is such a bitch.

“Please.” I fondled the handle of the suitcase and she licked her lips. “What harm can come from a simple question?” She snorted and I smiled again.

“Listen if you are from some sort of freak-ass religion trying to sell me Jesus on a stick, then you are wasting your time.”  I held my hand up in mock surrender.

“I am not a religious man, madam, I promise.”

“And how is my current living conditions any of your business?” She stepped a little closer dropping her arms to her side.

“I am so glad you asked.” In one fluid move I flipped the suitcase over on its back, released the clasps and opened it up. In two seconds flat my trap was up and operational. She wouldn’t know what hit her.

“I told you, I ain’t buying nothing you have to sell.” She shuffled her feet and tried to wrench her eyes away from the glittery paper that was now on display.

“I am not selling you anything you can’t afford.” I took a step back and she took a step closer. I call it the Swedish dance, my suitcase a perfect substitute for the maypole.

“What is that?” Her eyes were glued to the thick magazines. I took one and presented it to her with a flourish. She took it and turned it in her hand with glittering eyes. The paper sang as she riffled through the pages, fast at first and then slower and slower until each sheet clicked against her nails like a playing card against the spokes of a bike.

“Have you ever heard of Sweden madam? It is truly the land of milk and honey. And this, this is the IKEA catalog.”

But she was already gone, her eyes wide open and dreamy, her fingers gently caressing the image of a deep white sofa.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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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.