The Return of Flash Fiction Friday

I’m getting this in just under the gun this week, but here’s my “entry” in this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig: That’s My New Band Name.

My band’s name, per this site, was “Possessed Success”.

Not my best work, but I’m just trying to flex my muscles again as my new job now includes much more creative writing.

Enjoy & Happy Friday!

Possessed Success were a shitty band.

Possessed Success was a shitty band.

I’m no good at verbs of being – especially as it relates to groups of things like bands or assholes – and this group of guys was definitely a little from column A, a little from column B.

Shane (the guitarist) had started Possessed Success when his old band, Orthogonal Unorthodox, had split up over religious differences. It seems you can’t have a speed-metal band with a Catholic lead singer (go figure). At least *they* weren’t able to figure it out.

The rest of the new band came from similar backgrounds: endless squabbling over cash and transportation and booze and venues that eventually ended in burned bridges and failed friendships. The drummer, Knox, even got kicked out of his apartment (though, to be fair, that probably had something more to do with the fact that he’d slept with the guitarist’s sister).

“What? She said she knew him. How was I supposed to know that knowledge was sibling-dependent? For all I knew it was carnal!”

Possessed Success was as much a barbaric yawp or wishful thinking as it was a functioning band. Mostly it was just an excuse to shred really loudly in an abandoned warehouse over on the west side.

“I’m pretty sure they filmed an episode of that zombie TV show here,” Shane had mentioned on their first night of practice.

“Walking Dead,” Jimmy interjected.

“I thought we were Possessed Success,” Knox pointed out to no one in particular.

Once the pleasantries and chit-chat were out of the way, they rattled off some old Megadeth and classic Metallica (pre-Black Album *only*) and shook the girders for more than an hour. It didn’t seem to matter to any of them that no one could meedly or squeedly like Mustaine or howl like Hetfield. It only mattered that they weren’t at home or at work or fighting. Not with family, not with friends (especially girlfriends), not with old bandmates or building managers or anybody else.

The three of them against the world.
They were possessed.
They’d find success.
They were: Possessed Success.
[Cue Flaming Logo and Gong crash!]

When they were here in the (relative) quiet that came from deafeningly loud music, nothing else mattered (except, maybe, arguing over whether they should play “Nothing Else Matters”).

And that’s how/when the fighting started.

Shane said “Yes” to the question at hand.

Jimmy, the singer and bassist, said “No”. Those Sting-tooled types could be typecast as tools just like Sting. The shoe certainly fit.

Knox pointed out that “Lars killed Napster. Plus, he’s like a complete tool.”

“Isn’t that like saying the same thing twice,” asked Jimmy.

“Your mom asked for it twice,” Knox responded and was promptly hit with the butt end of the mic stand.

Retaliation with drumsticks and forty five minutes of sweaty expletives and ridiculous wrestling followed. The melee was over when Shane’s brother tossed everyone PBR’s to cool them all off.

“I never thought I could diffuse a situation with a brain grenade, but they’re a lot less violent than the real thing.”

“Anything is less violent than the way these two pussies fight,” Shane interjected.

The next round of brawling kicked off by that comment was bloodier than the first and, also, much wetter and foul-smelling, thanks to the addition of the beer.

Once everyone decided they’d rather be drunk and happy than sober and slapped, morale improved. But only just a little.

*Slurp*

“So,” someone sighed, “is this it?”

*SILENT BEAT*

“I guess so,” two others answered in unison.

*CRACKING CACKLE*

“Y’all are all ridiculous.” This was Shane’s brother. He slipped out the back narrowly avoiding a shower of beer cans being rained down upon his head.

There were all ridiculous. A bunch of dumbies worthy only of ridicule. So they did the only thing that came naturally: they got drunk, played one last song and promptly broke up.

The final tally:
No shows
No t-shirts
No songs
No groupies
12 cans of beer
4 hours of lost time

They possessed no success, Possessed Success, only proving how elusive it can be to reach your dreams.

Great band name, though. They were (was?) possessed of such high hopes.

Until next week (or I write again)!

Beginning, Middle, End

How do you write an entire story in only three sentences? If you think that’s a tall order (or maybe even an impossible question to answer) you should re-calibrate your expectations and try writing a story in only six words. Both can be done but it takes a little planning, effort and creativity.

I’m game enough now that I’ve got a 25 day streak going on my daily writing that this week’s challenge from Chuck Wendig seemed like a great test of my skills both in writing and in editing.

Last time out I had to cull down almost 800 words to meet the 500 word requirement. This time I’m only writing down what is necessary. I’m going to try and say my peace (and write my piece) without any wasted words or extra punctuation.

Here goes:

There was a look across the room that sparked the romance, though neither of us could ever seem to recall exactly who had looked first and who had returned the gaze, but it was more or less mutual from the word go.

The first winter was cold and yet we both managed to stay warm enough, basking in the glow of each others’ mutual admiration and near-constant physical attention.

By the next summer you’d have thought it was winter by how chilly we treated each other, we were barren and frozen out of even the barest conversation.

Maybe not literature but it’s writing.

Once more:

“I love you,” she said before we’d even gone out three times and it scared me to hear it but I kept on seeing her despite my fears.

“I love you,” I said as we welcomed our first child, a daughter, into our family, into the world.

“I love you,” she said at my bedside that morning and I’m glad it’s the last thing I heard her say.

Better, perhaps, but pretty sappy.

Last try:

The command codes were given; passive voice hides process, avoids prosecution and persecution or so I was told.

The verdict was rendered; swift and decisive justice, even if I never faced my accuser or got to call witnesses in my own defense.

The blade was dropped; the death blow delivered and yet, somehow, no one was ever to blame.

My own little allegory/lament on the use of passive voice. I had an English teacher in the 11th grade who HATED it, but it does have its uses.

Anyhow, Happy Friday! Hope you enjoyed what I wrote.

Flash Fiction: Irregular Creatures

Here’s my entry in Chuck Wendig’s Irregular Creatures flash fiction challenge. I’m used to 1,024 character (1kb) fiction (read my Ficly stories that meet this constraint) so I didn’t quite fill 1,000 words, but I’m happy with what I wrote.

I call it “Three”. Enjoy!

Warning! Warning! Warning!

The mechanical voice didn’t sound all that concerned so why should I stop my work? Progress marches on; Down the hallway and to the left.

In between the triune and untroubled transmissions a siren sounded, whirring an alarm like a lost ambulance ambling and echoing down each corridor.

Didn’t stop me, wouldn’t stop me, couldn’t stop me.

I round the bend and there are lab coat rats – regular science folks – rushing in the exact same direction as me.

Passing me.
Lapping me.
Paying me little to no attention.

They don’t know me and I don’t know them. We’ve only ever seen the backs of each others heads bent over rows upon rows of microscopes or glowing terminal access screens or, heaven help me, grading papers. We might as well all be numbered samples, vials of this or that, locked away in a storage freezer waiting to be viewed in close-up detail, sliced into pieces or presented before a throng of jubilant onlookers.

But that allusion is too literal, too cold, too much like a craven killer collecting bodies; counting coup.

A guard or three now race past me, in what would appear to be full-on riot gear, going the opposite direction. They’re joining the fray and I’m just trying to get out of the way, get away (getaway).

It’s a stark contrast between the uniforms of the regular janes and joes in our long, white coats and the dark black body suits of the guards. I’d say they were military but there are no patches or insignias, no identifying marks or chevrons, save for a simple, rectangular text box over each left breast: NuMove Research.

That’s our unifying characteristic, us and the guards, we all have that same phrase on our personage. I’m headed for the parsonage to pay the patronage.

Will the people even notice me?
Will the people ever notice me?
Will the people never notice me?

I kinda hope not.

There’s screaming up ahead, sheer terror, and for what? There isn’t smoke streaming or rubble rabbled to rouse us from our work. There isn’t even any blood or gore or horror anymore. It’s all just a fake thriller to disguise the real surprise.

People stop to stare or pointedly point at some part of the structure, unseen, where something (anything) must be happening. But it isn’t. Not now anyhow.

I turn back to shake my head, make it seem as though I care as well. Share the shock, feel the pain.

I manage to avoid the gazes as most folks are too busy ogling nothing to bother with me. I maintain my momentum, working my way toward the back of the crowd. I feel the fringes and take a turn one last time to make sure I remember my home, my birthplace, and fix it in my mind’s eye.

My mind’s third eye. The one that winks at the little boy who has seen me for who and what I am.

He’s pointing to the place I used to be when he finally has his father’s full frontal attention. Neither of them really want to believe that I was ever there at all.

I’ve made my escape unscathed and now I get to see.

See what all the fuss was about.
See what I was missing.
See the sea and beyond.

See, as three, as I was meant to be, when and where they can’t hold me.

I hope you liked it. If you want to contribute your own “Irregular Creatures” Flash Fiction story, you have until tomorrow, March 11, 2011.

For good measure, here are some eBook, internet fiction & general writing links I’ve been saving up for a post. Draw your own conclusions.

Ficly Friday: I Was Promised A Flying Car

For a long time I’ve been turning around the phrase, the exhortation, “I Was Promised A Flying Car“, in my mind.

I always saw it as the beginning of a post-apocalyptic movie or novel or maybe even a long-form magazine piece on all the crushed dreams of kids like me who never went to Space Camp but got Epcot instead. Whatever.

I’ve finally (or potentially for the second time, but no more than third) put the line down as the beginning, middle and end to a Ficly Friday story.

Please enjoy “I Was Promised A Flying Car” and leave me comments here or there.

If you’re participating in Ficly Fridays – either regularly or haphazardly – let me know and we’ll exchange links.

Happy Ficly Friday!

Kindling

After spending our most recent vacation with my in-laws (two of whom, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law own Kindles) I’d made up my mind that a refurbished Kindle might make a nice present, perhaps for my 33rd birthday or Christmas.

Then a funny thing happened. Amazon got all “Big Brother” with two books by the George Orwell (naturally), Animal Farm and 1984.

You can imagine what happened next:

Lots of folks up in arms.
Tons of “isn’t it ironic” tweets.
Folks (me included) thinking about switching their allegiances to Sony’s eBook reader.

Then the truth came out, stranger than fiction as it always seems to be. Turns out the real culprit in this crime were the publishers who told Amazon they had the rights to sell the book digitally when they did not, in fact, have those rights.

So Amazon’s actions actually protected well-established, prior-art-style copyright as most folks know it?

This isn’t some gigantic bait-and-switch that amounts to theft of a users’ property?

The entire concept of DRM & internet-enabled device/software/media management hasn’t just been dealt a deathblow (Don’t tell the RIAA)?

Yes and no.

In the short term, it’s not good for eBooks which have been exposed as nothing more than portable book-renting kiosks.

In the long term it’s good for Amazon, which keeps the relationship with publishers and (some) customers who see them vigorously defending copyright.

For me: I don’t want any part of a remote-controlled, technology-crippled, tether-bound money pit.

Unless, of course, I could distribute my blog there.

In which case, sign me up. ;-)

What do you think about Kindle? Own one? Still want one (despite this news)?

I see digital distribution/engagement/consumption as a forgone conclusion, I just don’t know if I’m willing to tie myself to Amazon & the Kindle just yet.