It is Wednesday. Some call it hump day, I call it time to vote day. Yep, here we are with another installment of the Indies Unlimited flash fiction challenge.
The challenge is to continue a story based on the prompts provided. Your portion of the story can be no more than 250 words.
What follows is the written prompt and then my story. Remember a vote for me is a vote for puppies and kittens.
For whatever reason, the general put a lot of stock in the old wizard. I was never one for ancient superstitions and parlor tricks.
To me, battles are won by strategy, force of numbers, and iron will.
But the general would not even begin a campaign without the wizard’s counsel.
He had persuaded the general that the weather would favor our victory. On this assurance alone, we had proceeded into Thrax territory in the late fall. Now the water kegs are frozen solid and the horses are dying.
I heard Captain Manx crunching through the brittle, thin snow behind me. “Looks like you were right. It was too late in the season to begin a campaign in the North,” he said, through chattering teeth.
I could not keep the bitterness out of my voice as I replied, “Being right is cold comfort to a dead man.”
But the gods play funny tricks with both weather and war…
Our Scouts returned from their observations beyond the front lines. Where we suffered the effects of the cold the Thrax army suffered double. Men froze in position on sentry duty. Horses fell never to rise again. Our time to strike was now.
Captain Manx and I left the command tent with new orders from the general. Ready the men. We would push ahead and through. The Thrax army would now fall before our might.
Energy and heat returned to my men. With the goal in sight they were renewed. We marched through at first light, refreshed and ready for war.
I saw it before the call was taken up by the men. The bitter cold proved too much for the Thrax encampment. By the look of it, nature had done more to them than we ever could with sword or bow.
Guards stood frozen at their posts, forever at the ready position, but never to move again. As we moved through the camp we found more men, more horses, all dead. The weather, maybe with another’s help, proved well beyond their abilities to survive.
What magic the old wizard conjured, well, I am not privvy to such knowledge. But I saw it with my own eyes. An army, an entire army, wiped out. Magic may not have been the cause, but it assisted in their deaths.
Sure the ol’ wizard helped us this time. But his aid is cold comfort to the knowledge that he could change his mind.
Here comes week two of the telephone game. This is the 2nd week of a 5 week challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. The idea is similar to telephone game. A person starts out and then it is carried down the line.
This week I added words to a story started by Josh Loomis. The near as I could tell the title of this piece is…
Within the Church
“This is never going to work.”
The witch looked over her shoulder as she drew the pentagram on the wall with red chalk. “If you have a better idea, Father, I’m all ears.”
“Believe me, I wish I had a better idea than drawing these things on the walls of my church.”
“Do I need to remind you that you’re the one that called me?”
“And if my Bishop knew, he’d probably excommunicate me faster than you can say ‘Martin Luther’.”
“He might react that way if he knew about all of the guns on the premises, too.”
Father Benjamin looked up from the shotgun he was loading. “This is America, Miss Crenshaw. Everybody has guns. Even the clergy.”
“Those are the shells we discussed?”
“Silver buckshot soaked in holy water? Yes.”
Crenshaw looked up as the pounding began on the doors. “I knew I should have started there…”
“At least they’re only coming from one direction.” Benjamin worked the shotgun’s pump action as he moved towards the door. “Finish what you’ve started. I’ll hold them off.”
“What, and let you fight it alone?” Abigail Crenshaw dropped the chalk, drawing the silver sword from her dark scabbard. “Not a chance.”
“This is as good a time as any,” Father Benjamin said. He grabbed the handle of the door and gave it a turn. He rammed his shoulder into it and slammed the door into the hall against the creatures in the hall.
They shambled as their bones clacked together. Skeletons, creatures of dark magic mobbed the hall. They weren’t just science experiments gone wrong. The bones assembled at the point of convenience.
Some had three and four arms, others had leg bones growing out of their skulls. A hodge podge of dark evil waited for Father Benjamin and Abigail to join them in the hall.
He burst into the hall blasting rounds from the shotgun into several of the skeletons near the doorway. Their bones exploded in a spray of powdery bone shards. Abigail followed his lead. Her silver sword swung in a wide arc severing bones as it swept through the group.
“Back to back,” Benjamin yelled. “Don’t let them through.” Another blast of the shotgun brought them closer to clearing out his side of the hall.
“Having fun yet deary?” she asked. The silver of her sword flashed through the skeletons that charged her enmasse.
I wasn’t planning on showing up today. I originally wanted to enjoy a couple days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Life doesn’t alway go the way you plan. I mean, I am not really here because I have to be or anything. But I did want to get this written and figured why not. I could just suck it up and do it today or I would end up doing it on the final day of November. (I sound like I am babbling don’t I?).
Where was I? Last days of November, Thanksgiving, turkey coma….
Anyway, tomorrow is the last day of November. For those of us doing NaNoWriMo it is the big day, the last day to finish up our word counts. How did you do? Are you so far behind you want to cry into your pillow? Did you finish weeks early cause, damn, you’re a writing freak?
Right now, at this very moment, I sit at 49265 words or something to that effect. I will finish today. Heck, if I was counting my daily freewriting as part of my NaNo count I would have finished with what I wrote just a few minutes ago. That alone was close to 800 words (My timer didn’t do its job this morning so I wrote longer than expected).
This is an odd position to be in. The goal is made pretty much. Obviously I can finish this last few words up before midnight tomorrow. Have you ever sat at the edge of the finish line knowing that to cross isn’t even an effort at that point and wanted to do something else?
At this point to finish, means I am essentially showing to the world that I did it. I had it in me to do this thing. It is a step beyond the anonymity of saying to myself I did it. A difference between knowing and showing, if you get my meaning. Sure I am going to finish, the story I am working on right now is only about halfway through or so (minimum 20000 word novella).
I guess what the real question is, who are you doing this for? For most people NaNoWriMo is the idea that they can run the marathon. It doesn’t mean that what they pushed and prodded themselves to write for the past 30 days is any good. By all rights it shouldn’t be any good. You can’t expect people who don’t write thousands of words on a daily basis to be able to push out that many words and come up with something coherent. It would be like asking a couch potato to run a marathon without training, or even good sneakers. Sure they might make it but damn will they be ugly at the end.
At the end of the day tomorrow, I will have written roughly 80,000 words. A little over 50,000 of those words were entirely fiction. This isn’t much different than a normal month for me. The fiction count is higher, which is why I started this project in the first place. I wanted to raise the amount of fiction I produce on a daily basis. Mission accomplished, though I can always revert to lazy writing I did before this month hit.
Of course, sometimes you have to think a bit beyond yourself. I have an accountability partner. My friend Jeri Walker-Bickett has been with me every step of the way this month. We send each other facebook notes everyday to announce our counts for the day. It may sound lame but ya know, when you have to say your count to someone, you make that extra effort to ensure you stay on track.
So I guess I have some more work to do today. I’ll see you all on the other side of the line. Bring beer, I think it might be needed.
It seems a bit strange to do this right now. Yep, it’s Wednesday. The day we start our weekly voting at Indies Unlimited and their flash fiction challenge.
Just because tomorrow is a US holiday doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy some good reading. So, you guessed it, I have a weekly flash fiction piece here to enjoy and vote for. But since most of us are getting turkey ready I won’t keep blabbing.
The dogs picked up the scent on a bed of pine needles beneath a large tree. The area was so densely forested, the helicopters would be of no use.
I noticed some of the leaves beneath the tree were tinged with dried blood. Perhaps all the shots in the earlier exchange had not gone wild.
The dogs were following the trail toward the creek and I was worried he might have hit the water just to double back on his trail. As the hounds sniffed the water’s edge, baffled at the abrupt break of their quarry’s scent, I noticed a wet spot just downstream. As it happened, I noticed it just a second too late. I heard the unmistakable cocking of a pistol behind me…
“Now would be a good time to turn around and go home,” Alex said.
“You can’t keep running,” I said. “Turn yourself in before it’s too late.” The dogs caught his scent and ran back to us, all growls and bared teeth.
“I didn’t do it and you know it.” He clutched his left side, blood oozed through his fingers. “If you won’t stop at least let me get ahead. You can say you didn’t see me.” The 38 wavered in his free hand.
“You know I can’t do that. Come back with me. You need a doctor.” I took a step toward him, my gun still pointed at the ground.
“Let it go, Casey. This is it for me. Just…just let me alone. I need to finish this.”
I couldn’t just let it go. He was a damned fool and I wouldn’t let him die like this. A step closer, it was all I needed and I could take the gun end this fool’s errand. “Alex, you know mom would never want you to go out this way.
“Give me a chance to prove your word. I can’t do it if your gone, or dead.” He faltered and I swooped in. His gun was mine and I pulled him up supporting his weight on my shoulders.
The gun shot came from nowhere. Alex died in my arms. Jon Shaw lowered his rifle at the top of the hill. “Good thing I got here when I did, Casey.”
The Chuck Wendig Terrible Minds prompt this week is an odd one. Picture a story, doesn’t matter what one you go with. Now picture what might happen to that story if several different people were telling it but not speaking to each other as they told it.
Yep, the story could end up as a completely convoluted mess. Or it could be really fun. Though I suspect this story might be more fun in the telling than in the receiving.
That is a brief explanation of what is happening over the next few weeks. For five weeks at roughly 200 words at a time, many stories will be told. The way it works is like this: Start a story on your blog and post the link at Chuck’s place. Next week someone else picks up your story and writes the next two hundred words. This goes on for a total of five weeks or roughly 1000 words. In the grand scheme no one would touch the same story twice.
Will be an interesting journey to see where these stories go. For now I offer you my initial words for what could be a very bizarre story at some point.
Larry woke up. The dream was fresh in his mind at least as fresh as dreams can be in that place between asleep and awake. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes wiping away the last bits of the dream.
Well, everything except the eyes. He could still see the eyes. It wasn’t the first time they invaded his sleep, it wouldn’t be the last.
The memories faded as he went about his morning. Breakfast, shower, clothes, his morning followed a pattern he set his mind to years ago. Variation, unthinkable. He woke at the same time, dressed at the same time, ate the same thing. Science and predictability were the cornerstones for the perfect routine.
He opened the garage and pulled his red Stratus down to the road. Red the color of safety, the same as every car he owned had been. The sun crested the horizon, as he pulled onto the road.
Larry left for work an hour and a half early every morning. He preferred to avoid rush hour. Most days the stop lights were still blinking.
His billboard had changed overnight. For the longest time a show for the MGM Grand graced the board. This morning it was unfinished. The picture was gone. A portion of a new one in its place.
The eyes, the ones from his dream followed him as he crashed into the car in front of him.
Here we are moving into the final week of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I am a little under 40,000 words. Not quite where I would like to be but still in a position to finish out the month at a comfortable pace. Makes it sounds idyllic and easy doesn’t it.
This is where the trouble comes in for me. For some reason the past few days have been hard pressed to get work done. Within the past three days I have accomplished about half the amount of writing I would have liked to accomplish.
Sometimes that is the trouble with goals and such. Sometimes things come up to get in your way. That has been my past few days. Whether it is getting up way too early or having to deal with life outside of the written page, there has been something there draining my time or my energy.
The thing is I have still pushed forward even through all that. Not as much as I would have liked but progress was still made. One of the days I managed to push out 800 words before exhaustion closed my eyes. Another day it was 1000 words. That is two days where I did the work I normally do in one. I didn’t make my goals on either of those days.
What do you do when you fail to meet your goals? Do you stop and beat yourself up? Or do you look at the larger picture and think of ways you can work that much harder to make it to the finish line?
We are all pushing toward something. It isn’t a race anywhere but in your own mind. Setting smaller incremental goals are important to finding our way to the end goal. If all we see is the big goal at the end we never know when we are making wrong turns. We never see the places we need to change our plan of attack to put us back on course.
This is true in writing as well as anywhere else in our lives. Keep your eyes focused on the big goal while minding our direction through the smaller goals.
This week Thanksgiving will pose a challenge, as I knew it would. Just as my anniversary posed a challenge last week. Either way there is still work that needs to be done and I know what my ultimate goal is. For now, I have work to do.
You know what day this is right (first person to say hump day gets beaned with an eraser. I’m talking about the old school chalkboard erasers too)? Yep, it’s flash fiction vote day. This is the day that those who wrote a flash fiction piece for the weekly contest over at Indies Unlimited, do their best to garner your favor. I suck at garnering favor, just sayin.
Anyway, the process works like this: They announce the new prompt on Saturdays. The prompt being a picture and a short bit of text. By Tuesday it becomes our job to produce a 250 word story based off the prompts. On Wednesdays it becomes time to vote. Anyone who wants to can head on over to the Indies Unlimited site and take the two (count them 2) seconds needed to push a button.
I like to share my story here so you have it fresh in your mind when you visit their site. Sure you could read and vote for other people while you’re there. But why would you want to? I mean I have all the story you need right here. So vote for my story or the squirrel gets it…
Oh ya, and before we get into the story, I post not only my contribution here but also the original prompt with it (The whole thing ties together). So the story starts with their prompt and then the last 250 words are my contribution. Now enough yakking, it’s story time.
The Nutty Detective
I’m Buck Bushtail, squirrel detective. I’d been hired by gorgeous Foxy Redfluff to track down a prize acorn someone had nabbed.
I’d been running my paws ragged looking into every hole in every tree in the forest. I was afraid I’d lost the scent, when a little bird told me he’d seen something suspicious over at the dam.
Those are some busy little beavers over there. I thought I’d investigate. Little did I know there was an eagle who’d been watching me like a hawk. It seemed I’d picked up a tail. I mean an extra one…
It hit a down draft as it dove toward me. It was the flapping of wings that alerted me at the last second. I tucked and rolled as the eagle shot past me in its dive. In evasive mode I dodged and darted away from the eagle.
I lost the element of surprise with the beavers but it was too late to stop now. They were shutting the doors to their dam but that couldn’t stop me now.
I flew into the air in a forward rush. My nosedive into there dam didn’t leave them any chance of shutting me out. Though that might not have been my best idea of the day.
Two beaver goons toward over me as I lay prone on the floor. The third, a bruiser of a beaver, he was the real charmer.
I forgot the acorn for a moment as my mind raced to figure a way out of this. With as big as beavers are it is really the tails you have to watch out for. Those things pack a wallop.
I let them all get in real close. You’d be surprised at how patient a squirrel can be. When they swung around for the tail thwap I fell back letting them smack into each other. They hit so hard the dam shook the acorn loose from the wall.
A quick dodge and dart and me and the acorn were out of there. Foxy was overjoyed when I returned it.