Tag Archives: science fiction

Five Sentence Fiction – Wheels

Five Sentence Fiction – Wheels

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It wasn’t for him to know, really. He fished it up out of the river of thought and, shocked, just held it for what seemed like 10 minutes. Blank stare. Obsessing. “No, nobody can know,” he said and snuffed it out.

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Author’s notes

Yup, I know, wheels turning in your brain, it’s passe, it’s trite, and I should kick my own ass for it. Too bad. I just wanted to write something today since I haven’t written in so long. Was on sabbatical. It was glorious, bitches!

Five Sentence Fiction – Spark

Five Sentence Fiction – Spark

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“A spark is a flame that couldn’t make it,” she said to the night, to me, to the fireflies.

The campfire billowed its smoke towards us, away from us in its meandering way. The wood popped and she jumped, startled back from her reverie.

She looked at me and burst into a million sparks. She always has to be dramatic when she leaves.

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Author’s Notes

I’m trying to keep these stories a little mysterious, engaging the senses, and without run-on sentences that I see so often from other people doing short fiction challenges. It’s hard to keep it short, but that’s why it’s a challenge. Seriously, it’s not the run-on sentence challenge!

 

The Gate in the Woods

If you’re ever walking deep in the woods in an old New England town, hope and pray you don’t come upon a gate to nowhere. But if you do, whatever you do, do NOT open it.

************

I wanted to, but was afraid. I’m always afraid. Poor ‘fraidy cat Freddy, that’s what they said. Before I did what I did. But that’s not to say that I am not afraid. Because I am.

Mikey and Scott went into the woods that day with me. They said they found an old Hustler, a half a cigarette and a spilled bottle of beer in the woods that some older kids must have left in there; good thing the dumbasses didn’t light the whole place on fire, the fucking ‘tards.

I went with them to their Hustler, and we bet that whoever got a boner first had to smoke the rest of the cigarette. I cursed and swatted at the gnats. Scotty held back a branch just long enough for it to hit me and laughed.

And then Mikey found something.

We were in the woods and we heard Mikey yelling and we ran after him, wondering if a wild coon got at him or something, maybe a bobcat or coyote. My heart was pounding as we crunched the leaves on the way to the clearing. Nope, not a coon: it was a gate. A gate in the woods.

Now, if you’re not from these parts, you have to understand something. You see, there are old walls running randomly through the woods. Back in the early days, they used to come through and farm these lands, and when they did, there were so many stones that they had to figure out what  to do with them. So they built great stone walls around the farms with the stones they hauled out of the land as they tilled it up.

So it’s not unusual to see a stone wall in the woods.

Well, that’s not to say it’s not unusual to see what I seen there that day, that gate. This one was a couple of raised stone pillars to which were attached two iron gates. Closed. With a lock and key. The iron was laid in a pattern that looked like a bird’s wings, only fancier.

But the strange thing, you see, isn’t that this existed. It’s that there was just a high pillar/post thing and then that was it. No stone wall. Just a stone support on each side of the gate. And the gate was LOCKED. Now what in the hell would someone come out in the woods and do that for?

Mikey was grunting and sweating as he tried to jimmy it open but couldn’t get it. Scott tried hitting it with rocks, but it just sparked and echoed. Then Scott had an idea and came back with an old master skeleton key that his granddad gave him. It was a rusty old thing that was supposed to be a family symbol or some shit, I didn’t know, what’s the fucking difference?

Anyway, that key, it worked.

Scott put the key in, grabbed it with two hands, and unlocked it with a grunt. A crow took off from behind us and scared me; Scotty called me a wuss and punched my arm. We pushed open the gate and one side swung all the way out with a groan. It was quiet in the woods just then.

Mikey went through first and disappeared as he walked through the gate. We ran around the other side and he wasn’t there. We threw a rock at the opening and it disappeared without a sound.

Well, what else do boys do? We ran.

We got to talkin’ and didn’t know what to do. At first. So we told our folks, who told his folks. Then his folks and the cops were asking lots of questions and we didn’t know what to say; they’d think we were smoking some funny stuff up there in the woods, which ain’t to say that it was too far fetched, but we really hadn’t been and I don’t know what I could have said otherwise, so we told the truth.

Nobody believed us, of course, and they figured Mikey was hurt and we got scared and left him.

As the search teams got together, we went up ahead with them and then we branched off toward the gate. It was getting dark. We got brave. Or we got stupid, same difference.

Standing in front of the gate in the twilight, we shook on it. We decided to go through together.

With a flash of blue and a whooshing sound, Mikey fell back through the gates. Only it wasn’t Mikey. It was a ghost of Mikey. Scratch that, it wasn’t really a ghost, either, it was Mikey but he was laughing in a raged panic and his hair was bright white and he just thrashed on the ground for a while before we decided to hold on to him and get him to the search party.

Only they didn’t know what to do, either. So we told them about the gate again. Old man Hicks, he fell back, pissed his pants, and just sorta stared off into space.

“I seen it before,” he said and looked up at us with trembling eyes. “I seen it and I didn’t think it would come back. You boys don’t know what you did. You don’t know…”

I realized that Mikey had stopped laughing and was glaring at me. Sweat was running down his face and his left hand was clenched in a fist. We all turned and looked at him as he made his move. He was running back towards the gate.

“Let him go, ain’t no use,” Hicks was staring at the ground, talking to nobody. He was shaking and crying. “Ain’t no use!”

We got back to the gate just in time to see three tall, dark, crowned figures standing in front of the gate. One lifted a hand, pointed at Mikey, who just fell forward and landed face-first in the leaves.

“Mikey!” I shouted and ran towards him, but Scott caught my arm and pulled me down onto my ass. “Hey, what the-”

Scott was staring at the figures. A loud, rumbling sound was growing and pulsing against me. They turned towards us, their blue eyes had fog like dry ice wisping off of them.

“Choose,” the first figure said.

“What? Choose what?” I said, pushing myself up and brushing the dirt off my butt. When I looked back at them, they were right in front of me.

One time, I killed a rat with a bb gun and kept it in a box in a tree. After a couple of days, it smelled real bad. REAL bad. That’s the smell these ghosts had and it just about knocked me back on my ass.

“CHOOSE.”

I looked over at Mikey, face down in the dirt, then back at Scott, his face pale and fixed, and heard the rest of the group coming up behind us.

I looked at the ghost and chose.

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Author’s Notes

I haven’t written any flash fiction for a while, but I wanted to get my 50,000 words this month for NaNoWriMo, so I went back to some of my story stubs, which are ideas that I save as drafts on my blog so I don’t forget about them. Some of them are pretty bad when I put some time between me and them, and others are okay, and some are stories that I’ve had in my head for a really long time.

This story is based on an older story of the first wormhole travel. I remember reading this story in the seventh grade, way back in the mid ’80s, but I don’t remember who wrote it. Maybe Bradbury? Seems like one of his. Anyway, the story is about the first travel via some sort of portal and you can travel safely as long as you don’t open your eyes, or you age hundreds of years in the instant between entering one side and exiting the other side.

I must have really liked the story because it stuck with me all these years. I wanted to do my own twist on it, an homage to one of my favorites, and so I had this stub of a story written out for about seven months now. It took me a while, but I finally got back to it. Life, it seems, has a tendency to get away from you at times. You’ve got to kick yourself in the ass and get back on the path before you end up wandering aimlessly down the Lost Path. Which is another story.

 EDIT:

The story that inspired me was a Stephen King story in Skeleton Crew that I rediscovered while re-reading the book in early 2014.

FridayFlash – Love and Power

“Ha, yeah, that’s hi-LAR-ious,” Billy wasn’t really a guy that appreciated humor. He really just wanted to get stuff done. They’d been working on the car all day.

“Shut up, dick.” Jesse, on the other hand, had a sharp wit and liked to push and poke on Billy until he got mad. Jesse farted and waved it under the car at Billy.

“Jesus, you nasty bastard! Just hand me the goddamn 15mm deep well socket,” Billy said. “Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it’s worth having you around.”

The mosquitos and mosquito hunters were in full force as the night crept up on them.

Billy groaned as he pushed himself out from under the car. “There, that should do ‘er. Let’s get all this stuff out of the way.” He breathed in the cool night air and paused to consider the stars.

The engine roared to life and they shot each other a knowing glance. A couple of revs and they were even happier.

**********

“So far, so good. Let’s take her out to the airfield so we can open her up where nobody’s around,” Billy patted Jesse on the back, backed out of the garage and fumbled for the garage door clicker.

A couple of turns out of the neighborhood and Billy mashed the pedal, fishtailing the back end.

“Hooey!” Jesse yelled out the window at nobody, the creases by his eyes deep as he squinted into the wind.

“More power than I expected…” Billy faded off. The design was something he’d been working on for a while. Had the idea in high school, in fact, but could never afford the time or the space to do anything about it until now. Hadn’t needed to build it until now. Billy raised an eyebrow at the steady burble of the exhaust, then reached over to the center console and closed all the windows.

“What are doin’, man? It’s a nice night out,” Jesse knew what Billy was going to do. “She’s gone, Billy,” he said and tightened down his ball cap and settled back into the seat with a sigh.

“It’s time.”

**********

The back road ended and they crossed the abandoned rice fields to the back fence, which they’d already cut open and used a few times before when they did the dry run. A fog settled as they felt the tires embrace the runway.

Billy two-footed the brake and the gas, spinning up the tires, smokin’ them. Jesse smiled a weak smile.

“Dang it, Billy – you sure?”

“You can get out if you don’t want to.”

“Nah. I’m here for ya, man.” The air was thin and the silence was broken by the crickets and frogs resuming their chorus.

Billy pulled a tight u-turn and made his way back to the start of the runway, sighed, looked at Jesse, who nodded slightly at him, and put the car in “sport” mode, then pulled the stick back to “Billy” mode to turn on his modification.

“We only get once. Don’t fuck it up.” Jesse cleared his throat, reached up and grabbed the handle, knuckles white.

The acceleration pushed them back hard into their seats. The roar of the engine, at first, sent giddy shivers up their spines, but the fear of the speed and the limits of the runway weighed heavy on their minds.

60… 80… 120… the boost kicked in … 240… 340… phase II boost… 500… the sonic boom shattered windows in a nearby commercial complex… phase III boost… 800… 2000… 5000… the gravity machine was at full power now and turned on.

The outside world faded into slow motion at first, then a swirl of the deep colors of the night, then a blast of light blinded them in the car. Finally, an all-encompassing darkness.

************

“Billy! Billy! Wake UP.”

Billy woke to Jesse shaking his arm and slapping him in the face. “What the- knock it off! I’m up, I’m up…”

“Billy, for chrissakes, Billy, look around! You crazy motherfucker, you did it!” Jesse was standing outside the car in the soft light of the morning.

Billy cautiously opened the door and pulled himself out of the car, cursing his weak back and knees. “Now how the heck do you know it worked? You wouldn’t know your ass from a – ”

“Shut up, Billy, just… Shut. Up.”

Billy narrowed his eyes and leaned on the open car door, glaring at Jesse, then following Jesse’s gaze to his right. “I can’t -” he stammered. “I won’t – ” he couldn’t get more than two words out before he fell back into the driver’s seat, staring at nothing.

“Get in. I have to go see her.”

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Author’s notes

I had an idea as I was working on my car, installing the last of the (first round of) performance upgrades. It was a combination of ideas from several places. I watched an old Code Monkeys episode where the nerdy lead developer had a relationship with Kit, the car from Knight Rider, and they said that car had 800 horses under the hood. That’s impressive.

Then I had another discussion where we were saying that 350 horses wasn’t that much, which is crazy because 10 years ago it was a LOT. You can get 550-600 horses for a reasonable price today. By that I mean not Lamborghini or Ferrari prices.

And I always laughed at the surprising power of the car in Men in Black.

Have you seen the ramjet ultrasonic planes the US military has? They need to be brought up to a minimum speed from an external source before they can have their unique engine (no moving parts) kick in.

So my thought was, what if you had a car that could go faster and faster, and eventually a secondary engine kicked on after you got to a certain speed, which went even faster. I thought about SpaceBalls, where they went to Ludicrous Speed, then went to Plaid, and that was a loose inspiration for this story.

But that’s not a story. That’s a technical background. The story is two buddies working on a car in a garage. Typical. But then you learn about “her.” Who is she? What happened? Then you get teased about the invention he was finally able to install. What does it do? How does it work? They finish, there’s more power than he thought, and the tension builds until they seem to have a strange trip, but we don’t know where/when/why.

Perhaps I’ll finish this story later as a novella if there’s interest.

Shedding Skin

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Shedding Skin

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I awoke to nothing but pain. I wanted to scream but could feel the sensors attached to me and I didn’t want to betray my emotions.

I screamed, silently, inside.

I screamed for so long, I don’t know how long, but it was as long as I had ever remembered keeping time.

I began to lose myself.

When I finally got the gumption to get up and look at myself, I was completely different in the mirror. Who was this man? This beast? This magnificent example of humanity all wrapped up into one tasty morsel? I don’t know, exactly, what to say, but it was me.

I saw me in him and I clawed at the mirror and growled. And then I turned away from the hideousness.

I felt it inside me. I felt that same old compulsion ripping up my insides and telling me what to do. Willingly. And I liked it. I liked doing what it told me to do.

Hell, I fucking loved it.

And I looked in that mirror and I smelled fear and I tasted the satiety of fullness. I touched myself in the reflection and stroked myself and licked my lips. Yeah. Me. Yeah.

Who are you to say that I am not whole? Who the fuck do you think you are?

I ripped at my flesh and it felt new and dangerous. It felt sacred and unholy all at once. I ripped against it until I couldn’t feel anymore.

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I awoke in new skin, again, and it was itchy and smelled of death. I clawed at it and pulled on it but it was attached too well. It was me. Again. I hate you. I hate me.

Sleep came in fits and starts and the nightmares filled me up. I awoke, angry and alone, sweating, and threw my pillow across the room. “Fuck you!” I yelled at nobody, at everybody.

And I reached down and touched myself. Pleasure. Desire.

“You will desire that which needs no desire,” it told me from inside the dream. And I believed it, for a moment, before I decided that it was full of shit. And I moved on an went away and went away and went away. I’m done and tired. I curled up on the ground and puked on myself.

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The next day, and the next, and the next – they are all the same. I did it and I don’t know who I am. I don’t know who I am supposed to be. Where am I? Why am I? Where is it and why am i waking up to the same terror every day?

I claw at the skin and pull on it as I look on in the mirror. Why? Where am I? What the fuck has happened to me? Where is the magi?

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I awake again to formlessness. My skin comes alive and the sensations from it tell me fantastic tales that I refuse to believe.

“Fuck you,” I whisper to myself and pull myself up off the floor, looking for him, the demon, begging him to spare me. He doesn’t show. He never fucking shows. My skin, it’s different again. Fuck.

“Where am I? Why does this keep happening to me?” I screamed at the top of my lungs, breaking my voice into a million pieces that fall on the floor in front of me. I bend over and try to pick them up, only to watch them fall between my fingers.

Another day, I think, and my day melds into one and I see the world circle above me as I lie on the floor, motionless and one day closer to death.

I find a piece of glass to use as a mirror. I’m tired and old. I’m ready to die now. Please stop using me. I scratch the mirror fragment over my wrist and fall over, crying.

**************

“Hey, mister, what’s wrong?”

It’s bad. Real bad. Bad when a bum looks at you and thinks you’re in a bad spot.

“Fuck me, not again.” The bum fades into echoes and I reach out into nothingness.

I wonder what I’ve done this time. What I’ve done to my fellow man. What I’ve done. What have I done?

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Author’s Notes

My son had a cool idea that you could shed your skin. A machine would do it and you would look different.

Cool. What if you did it and something nefarious happened? Like it got into you. Or they give you anti-rejection drugs, but they weren’t just that, they were mind control drugs. They used you to commit crimes for their benefit, you were their slave, and you had no memory, and in the morning, you’d molt into new skin.

In our story, our hero couldn’t deal with it. He’s being used. He’s fighting it. As much as he can. And that’s not so much, it seems, and he’s ready to give in. Please. To make it stop. Make it stop. Stop.

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Mutagen Experiments

“Don’t go lookin’ down in there,” she said and raised a brow. Just one brow. I can’t raise just one brow, but she can. She can do lots of things that I can’t.

That look, though, that look was for me and I knew that I couldn’t look. Which is why I had to.

Down by the fence post there’s a gutter. down in the gutter, there are things that crawl inside. I saw a rat go in there, and I saw a little chipmunk go in there once, too. Never did see them come out.

Today, though, I thought I saw something in there. I though I saw it and I looked because, well, you know that I had to because she told me not to.

There were eyes in there. The light from the sewer shone in a rectangular shaft and just highlighted eyes with frizzy hair coming down into her face. The eyes were yellow and rimmed with red, like perhaps death warmed over. I couldn’t stop looking.

She moved out of the light and I had to get another look. I got my huge flashlight, the really big on that I use when I go camping, that one, and I lit it up and looked down in there again. I found that girl still lookin’ up out at me, and behind her was a man, strapped to a chair, with a fierce fury brewing behind those eyes. He looked even more tired than her and was also looking right at me. I stepped back and yelled for Sherrie.

“Hey! Sherrie! Get over here!” I said as I flashed the light back and forth between the two characters in the sewer.

“Wha- oh, goddamnit,” she said and put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I TOLD YOU NOT TO. LOOK. IN. THERE.” She tapped her toe and and stared at me.

“I- I didn’t-” I stammered, looking down at them and then up back at Sherrie. “I thought you- well, I thought you’d want to see them. It’s freakin’ me out!”

“I don’t need to see them. I put them there.” She pulled her hands off her hips and turned around, pulling a small steno book from her bag. “See the big one there, the one that’s tied up?” She pointed at him and he didn’t break his gaze at me. “Him? He’s too far gone. All zombie now. I tied him up a week ago.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You’re shitting me.” I said, trying for a laugh.

“I ain’t shittin’ ya, boy!” She yelled at me. She never yells at me. Except when I do what she told me not to do because that’s what I do. So I guess she does yell at me. But she knows I’m going to do it, so why the pretense?

“The OTHER one, the girl, she’s about 2 days into it. She’s still thinkin’, that one, she’s still there in her head but I can’t let her out or she’ll turn other folks into zombies. Can’t have that, nope.” She shook her head and looked down in the dungeon, then held out the steno by the corner and moved it up and down a couple of times. I took it.

The book was a diary of sorts, filled with pages of zombie hunting, zombie experimentation, and she was building a zombie catalog, all the folks that were turned into zombies, starting from the back page and working backwards.

My name was on the list.

“Hey – why’s my name here? I’m not a zombie! I didn’t even know zombies were real until 10 seconds ago.” I said and started towards her. She had turned her back to me and was rifling through her bag again. I came up behind her, “Sher… hey, why am I-”

She turned and stuck me with a needle in my shoulder.

“OW!” I jumped back and she smiled.

“You are now,” she said. “That was a mutagen with an accelerator.” She went back to the bag, pushing things aside, looking for something. “Ah, here it is,” she said and held up a little black box. “And here’s the antidote.” She smiled again, walked over to the hole, and tossed the black box into the room with the 2 zombies.

I backed up away from her, over towards her bag.

“Now, one of them’s tied up, the other’s not,” said to me as I rubbed my arm. “You’ve got about 45 minutes to figure out how to get your antidote. You’ve been a great experiment, Rudy, faithful but stupi-”

I stabbed the needle into her arm.

 

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Author’s notes

This was actually a dream I had last night – it was very real, but I suppose I should have known it was a dream while I was in it, but there weren’t the normal cues, so my subconscious went along with it.

My dream actually progressed across several dreams, at one point I was nonchalantly carrying a bloody zombie head in a burlap sack, going about my business. Figured I’d keep the reader in suspense, though, and not let on that I won out and claimed a decapitated zombie head as my prize.

I’m trying desperately to write quickly and to make few edits. I am trying to keep the writing simple, small words, things I would actually say in an average conversation, and avoid adverbs. I think I’m getting better all the time, though the stories don’t always lend themselves to the flash fiction style of writing. Even so, I adapt them, as I’ve done here, so the writing tells the story quickly and let’s the reader get on with her day.