Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two In A Row

By Michael Seese

First the commercial:

I recently published a long short story, Rebecca's Fall From... to Amazon. Tomorrow (Wednesday) it is free. (Otherwise, it's $0.99.) If you've got a few minutes, PLEASE download a copy. Truthfully, I would love to hear your feedback.

Why is it free on Wednesday, you ask? 

Because I am celebrating TWO WINS IN A ROW!

I didn't get a chance to post my latest Flash! Friday entry on Friday or Saturday, because we took our trip to the Century Inn for the music party. (Loads of fun.) By the time we returned on Sunday, I learned my short story, "Alone" had won. I am only the second two-in-a-row winner.

This is the photo we worked from:

Here is "Alone."

They’re all dead. And it’s my responsibility. Mine alone. I am the Captain, after all.

The scalding sands -- and the memory -- may well have been the fires of Hell. With no clouds above, the sun is a relentless, yet honest, adversary. I wondered if I had erred. Should I have done otherwise?

When setting sail, some of the more superstitious men voiced concerns.

“Trafficking is wrong.”

“They’re just children.”

“Using them like that is against the laws of man. And God.”

But lucre has a way of muting morality.

As the storm turned their ship into kindling and their bodies into chum, the crew looked to me for guidance. They prayed I would help. I turned a blind eye. Indeed, not only did I ignore their pleas, I doubled my vengeance. Because they were right. Their actions were against the laws of man.

And God.

Such is the burden I bear as the Captain of all men.

And here are the comments of judge Aria Glazki.

Where do I even start with this story? It stayed with me as I read the others, which may say it all. “Lucre has a way of muting morality” is a very strong center for this piece — that awareness of man’s fallibility, while also a distance from understanding that draw of riches, highlighting the difference between man and God, in a story that on the surface only likens the two.

The initial misdirect of the Captain’s involvement that makes such perfect sense in retrospect; the repetition of the line “against the laws of man. And God,” coming first from the doubt of those involved in a heinous choice, and second from the weary resignation of the one charged with being the “Captain of all men”; the chilling and poignant message of the burden inherent in being God; the pain and the solitude of being the one responsible… Overall, there’s just so much in these few words.

Was the Captain arrogant in creating man? Were the men arrogant in praying to the Captain while knowing they broke those aforementioned laws? Is the very expectation of them being good, and the vengeance that follows when they’re not, also arrogant? An answer isn’t simple in this incredibly complex, thought-provoking story.


My interview will be posted here tomorrow.

And as always, feel free to share your thoughts on "Alone."


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Always A Bridesmaid...

By Michael Seese

OK, if you'll forgive the sexist remark, I'll move forward.

By my count, I've entered 15 of Rebekah Postupak's Flash! Friday contests.  And 15 times, I did not win. One of them, "Big Sister," did earn an honorable mention. But otherwise... nada.

Until this week!

(Cue angelic choir.)

I'm pleased to announce that "The Farm" took home the coveted "Dragon Award."

Here is what judge Betsy Streeter said.

This story does a masterful job of moving between two realities while flipping them on their heads. At first, it’s just an anxious band of humans. And, I love the sentence, “False hope is cruelty.” But then, you pull out to see an insect and the whole description shifts to a new language. Clicking mandibles, hatchday. And you realize, the humans are the scurrying, terrified bugs, and the bugs are amusing themselves without a care. The statement, “They are so cool!” conveys just how the bugs see the humans. Which is just the way humans see bugs. This is a great one to look at for examples of how simple word choice draws such a vivid picture – and how vocabulary can also create contrast.

And the cherry on top: my very own "Sixty Seconds With" interview.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flash! Friday... The Farm

By Michael Seese

Another entry for Flash! Friday that I enjoyed writing. I'm pretty proud of some of the language, as well as the twist at the end. (OK, enough self-horn-blowing.)

We had to work off of this pic.

and include thunder.

Here is "The Farm."

The clap of thunder sent them scrambling for safety. Up, down they hurried, scurried, traversing the steps carved into the unforgiving rock face.

Fear creased their weary eyes as they huddled in the remote recesses of the caves. The parents hugged their children, hushed them, reassured them that everything would be fine.

But would it? Had they made the gods angry? Would the earthquakes return?

Nights, after the children had gone to sleep, the parents would gather and talk quietly.

Of escape.

Of freedom.

Of a life beyond.

They never spoke these words in front of the children. False hope is cruelty.

On the other side of the glass, Worker 1421 clicked his mandibles excitedly.

"They are so cool!" he said to his fellow drone. "I'm going to ask the Queen for a People Farm for my hatchday."

"They are fun to watch. And so industrious. Still, I think I'll shake it up and make them start all over again."

Feel free to comment on "The Farm."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Flash Friday "The Nuptials"

By Michael Seese

Another week, another 160 words for Flash! Friday. This was fun.

Here is the photo:

Here is "The Nuptials."

The town hummed with excitement. The day finally had arrived.

“I don’t understand this marriage,” Baron Claudio said to his friend Count Sebastien.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Normally, a king arranges for his eldest son to marry into the family of a near-ally, to strengthen his position. But this marriage… They are not even close to the same station.”

“Perhaps they’re in love.”

“Love?” Claudio scoffed. “What does love have to do with marriage?”

“Nothing, I suppose,“ Sebastien said. “Though, I’ve heard they make a very handsome couple.”

“Oh, that will get them—”

A trumpet fanfare, followed by the release of doves, signaled that the ceremony had concluded. The giddy couple stepped out onto the palace balcony and waved. The royal herald cleared his throat.

“Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Antioch, it gives me great pleasure to present Crown Prince Reginald, and his husband, Prince David.

“You were right,” Claudio conceded. “They do make a handsome couple.”

Feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Flash Friday -- The Kill PLUS a Snippet Of Hell Fighter

By Michael Seese

This week's Flash! Friday one came to me fairly quickly. Honestly, I think it took 10 minutes, start to finish. We'll have to see what the judge thinks.

Here is the photo:

And here is "The Kill."

I pushed the reeds to one side, and waited a good five minutes. I thought I might have spied some movement on the other bank. But I couldn’t be sure.

“See anything?” Amber asked.

“No,” I stated firmly, hoping to mask my indecision. “Let’s do this.”

We waded into the cool water. It felt great. Like victory. Almost.

“We’re going to make it,” she said.

“Let’s hope.”

We stepped onto the sandy soil, and raced for the prize.

We were nearly there when a camo-clad figure stepped out from behind the arch, his rifle leveled. I tried to take aim. But he had us. Amber never even reacted.

Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! Thwack!

She and I each took two to the chest. I dumbly stared down at the red splotches spreading across my shirt.

“Damn it!”

“Nice try, ace,” my opponent said. “But the flag isn’t even in here.”

I peppered him with three rounds of blue paint, just for spite.

But wait... There's more!

I also submitted a short story (6,800 words) to Emby Press for their anthology "Occult Detective Monster Hunter A GRIMOIRE OF ELDRITCH INQUESTS."  (Six hours before the deadline, I should point out.) 

If I may boast, I'm especially proud of the opening. I think it serves as a nice example of that writer's maxim, "show, don't tell." So without further ado, here is the opening of "Hell Fighter."

The thunderclap masked perfectly the single shot. In the flash he caught a glimpse of her face. Two thoughts came to his mind. Pretty. And young. Too young.

Then she was gone.

Feel free to share your opinions of either.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Flash Friday "Fury"

By Michael Seese

Last week, my story "Big Sister" received an honorable mention. I'm hoping for the brass ring this week. But there are a lot of good stories there. Check them out.

Here is the photo prompt:

And here is "Fury."

Larissa stood transfixed as the ship foundered. Lustful waves licked her boards and, satisfied with the taste, consumed the vessel whole. The screams of the sailors died out as each helpless man was dashed against the rocks. She stifled a tear, wondering exactly why she would cry over the loss of a bunch of savages. Men who had enslaved her. Who had used her, nightly, for their personal satisfaction.

Wanting no part of the bastard they learned she carried, they set her upon this desolate shore, assuring her that Fate would watch over them. (All the while placing wagers on the onset, and the agent, of her demise.)

Fate, it would seem, enjoyed irony.

“I’m free now, lover!” she called out.

The tempest evaporated.

As she waded into the now-placid waters, she mused, “Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned. But a mortal’s ire pales when placed next to that of a jealous God of the Sea.”

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Funny Foto #59

By Michael Seese

Something that has bothered me for a long time...

Is it just me, or is anyone else creeped out by the fact that Cap'n Crunch's eyebrows somehow float in front of his hat!

And don't get me started on those corneas which intrude on the brim...