Monday, October 19, 2020

Janet Flash: Where There's A Will....

by Michael Seese

My Flash Friday entry "Con Dolore" complete, I turned my attention to the "Nobody Moves to NYC for the Weather Flash Fiction Contest," brain-writing it during a lunchtime jog with the dog.

As Janet said:

We had about three weeks of the AC off but still warm enough to not need the heat. That changed a couple days ago, but the heat isn't on yet. So I'm wearing mittens, a hat, a scarf and my coat IN my apartment.

In the afternoon it's warmer outside than in. Soon enough, I'll be throwing open the windows cause the steam heat will turn this place into an oven. Every winter I understand why people move to Florida. Not that I'm moving to Florida but I get it.

Our words were:

cold
blue
shiver
sox (and yes, you MUST use this spelling. NO socks!)
fox


I wanted to use "sox" in a creative way, and came up with "It's Oxford." I originally imagined some tale of two bluebloods arguing about their college rivalry. 

But sometimes magic happens.  In this case, I came up with the sentence "But only saints resist the twist of a shiv," and the story took a turn from there.

Magic, part 2... After writing that, I said, "Hey, SHIVer is one of our words." 

Without further ado, I give you "Where There's A Will...."



"You graduated Cambridge, right?"


"It's Oxford," he said coldly, steely eyes bluer than his blood.
 

I knew full well the old fox was no Cantabrigian. But only saints resist the twist of a shiv.
 

"Erat quid demonsterdom."
 

"It's quod erat demonstrandum, you half-wit."
 

I mulled a few choice piss-and-vinegar comebacks. But why pile on bloke when he's in a bind?
 

"Look, mate, you're under the gun here."
 

"What do you want?"
 

"Just sign the will. Then you and the missus can go."
 

The ink not yet dry, I pushed the shiv in to its hilt.
 

Something no sinner can resist.

 

I have this scheduled to post a few minutes before Janet posts her daily blog, usually around 7:00. She may or may not have the results today. (It's usually weekend-activity dependent.)  So by the time you read this, it may (or may not) be a winner. 

 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Flash Friday: Con Dolore

by Michael Seese

Some days the words just flow. As has been the case on a couple of recent Fridays, there was both a Flash Friday and a Janet Reid flash fiction contest. And I managed to wrap up both before dinner. 

For the Flash Friday contest, we were to work off this image



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and include a either student or include a road worker. And, exactly 89 words.

I really don't remember what gave me the idea, but pretty quickly I had "Con Dolore" wrapped up and in the books.


I'd paused to wipe the sweat from my brow when a chill, defying the heat, traversed my spine. A siren song—close in distance, distant in memory—bade me to drop my pick-axe and pursue the fluid notes to their fountainhead, despite the entreaties behind me, begging me not to wander.


In a clearing sat a group of musicians, playing as one. Their faces conveyed the serenity I lost the day the soldiers came.
 

I sang, momentarily happy.
 

A sharp rifle retort punctuated the final note of our symphony.


Early tomorrow, I will post the Janet entry, "Where There's A Will...."

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Flash Friday: The Pursuit

by Michael Seese

With life just being so crazy of late, it's hard to find the time to write. (Or at least, as much time as I'd like to write.)  The Flash Friday contests are a double-edged sword. Posted at midnight (when I should be in bed) the stories are due 24 hours later. So you've got to write quickly, and get it done; you can't linger. But with work, and dinner, and the dog, and relaxing....

So this week's entry made it in just under the wire, with me dead tired.  We were given this picture:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and told to "write a genre that’s new to you). For example, but not limited to: fantasy, scifi, romance, mystery, western, comedy, crime, horror, or thriller (or any general audience subgenres of these examples)."

Hmmm. I've pretty much much all of those. So I settled on something I call "The Pursuit," which I think I decided is "Paranormal fantasy." And for good measure, I wrote the story in verse.


I laid
on my back and prayed
to Callisto above:
"Please, dear goddess. Please help requite my love.
I have spent my life pursuing her grace,
worshiping from afar, never witnessing her face.
I wish no more than to savor her skin.
Pay no heed to those calling it sin."
Fingers crossed, did she see my lie?
The goddess, crossed, her icy reply:
"It is not love of which you wax poetic.
No! You are a liar! Pathetic.
Were your goal to feed your family,
I might find a dram of sympathy.
But you hunt only for the thrill,
bloodlust satisfied by the kill."
I felt the need
to answer her charge of basic greed.
"No!" I protested, "my intentions are sincere.  
I want no more than the chance to be near."
Her smile dripped of irony.
"Very well. You shall have your destiny."
And thus my pursuit of the elusive gazelle, alone
captured for eternity, forever etched in stone.



In hindsight, I wish I had written the last two lines more like:

And thus captured for eternity, forever etched in stone
my pursuit of the elusive gazelle, alone.


And perhaps, even using "unknown" as the final word.

Oh well, I can always change it if I submit it elsewhere.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Flash Friday: Life 2.0

by Michael Seese

(Somehow I forgot to hit the "publish" button on Saturday. So this post SHOULD have been before yesterday's.) 

As I mentioned in my post on Thursday, I knew a busy week of flash was forthcoming. So, I'm please to say "one down, and two to go." (Actually, it's two down, since I've already written my Janet Reid piece, and will post it tomorrow.)

In this week's Flash Friday! our mission was to build on this picture:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and write up to 200 words about an inventor, or a conspiracy theorist. I contemplated the image of a weathered boat on a beach, and thought about what an inventor would do to get there. My mind began tumbling over big ideas, which led me to "Life 2.0." 



They said it couldn't be done. I proved them wrong.

A simple carpenter, I'd never asked for more than an opportunity to earn a living. Then I heard the call.

I labored, day and night, beneath the sun's might and the torches’ light.

The naysayers gathered outside my home to enjoy the spectacle. Mocking me became a sport, of sorts.

"Not a cloud in the sky."

"Two of each? Do us a favor. Leave the skunks behind."

The ark finished, my family and I gathered our wards, huddling in the dark for seven nights, the unrelenting jeers outside our lullabies. The torrent, on the seventeenth day of the second month, drowned out their vitriol.

Afloat, asea, we rode the whims of the currents for one week, two weeks…

On the 28th day, one of the animals took sick. The plague spread throughout the ship. The animals overcame it. My family did not.

Two days later, we made landfall.

Now, sitting on the unforgiving beach, I watch nature reduce my ark, and me, to our bare bones. Yet I find a small measure of comfort knowing that animals will some day reclaim the Earth. Alas, not so the human animal.




I like it. It's fun in an overbearing, bombastic sort of way. 


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Janet Flash: Fall-down Comedy

 

by Michael Seese

In a display of what I assume is mid-COVID ennui, literary agent Janet Reid proclaimed herself "so ready for the end of this week," and some "lollygagging."

That led to the (not officially named) "Lollygagger Contest." 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In case you don't recognize the image, that's the Lollygaggers scene from "Bull Durham.")

We needed to use the words:

loll
sprawl
snore
more
plot

in our 100-word story. 

I immediate thought about break "loll" into "LOL! (something). And I pretty quickly hit upon the idea of "Fall-down Comedy."


Nervous hands fumbling with the microphone, I thanked grace that owing to the venue, they couldn't see the fear sprawled across my face.
 

I cleared my throat.
 

"Good evening, folks. So... anyone here from out of town?"
 

Silence.
 

Apparently, irony doesn't translate well.
 

"I feel good. I've spent weeks training for this," I said, flexing my thumbs.  
 

More silence, the wickedest of marplots.
 

Then the heckling started.
 

"Could this be more boring?"
"I wish you could hear me snore."
"LOL! LOSER!"


I hastily switched off the phone, thus ending my first—and last—foray into the world of SMS stand-up.


Sometimes the serious ones resonate with her, and sometimes the funny ones do. We'll see what this week brings.



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Flash Friday: Afire

by Michael Seese

I wanted to catch up on last week's Flash Friday, as there will be another tomorrow. And perhaps there will be a Janet flash contest as well. (And just today I learned of an Australian flash fiction contest which posts its prompt on the first Friday of every month. So I'm gearing up for that one as well.) 

For this week's contest, we were given this photo





 

 

 

 

 

 

to use in a story, between 190 and 199 words, and include an act of justice or an act of mercy. 

I had a REALLY busy day last Friday. But...

My son asked me to drive him to a friend's house, about 15-20 minutes away. Heading home, I brain-wrote nearly 300 words. So then I had to severely edit it down. But the end result was "Afire."

 

The men with the guns and the iron chains came and raped my village. My wife, my children, me. They threw us on filthy ships and stole us to America, then tore all I had left away from me. In the still of night, amidst the others’ sobs, I would light a fire to honor their memory, and pray that some day there would be justice in the world.
 

The Nazis came and dragged us from our beds. In the camps, we spent four years starving, suffering, dying. My mother, my father, my sister didn't make it out. I did. And every year, on the anniversary, I lit a fire to honor their memory, and prayed that some day there would be justice in the world.
 

One sunny afternoon, I stood, helpless, as the police officer pressed his knee into the back of a man's neck, and held it there until he died. The opportunists hijacked our righteous anger to burn and plunder. In the privacy of my home, I lit a fire to honor his memory, and prayed that some day there would be justice in the world.
 

There is no justice yet.
 

Just a world ablaze.


Though it didn't win, one judge noted, "Mark King‘s 'Where Her Soul Goes to Walk' was an important, excellent, and moving commentary on race relations and the lives of marginalised people, as was 'Afire' by Michael Seese – powerful and meaningful work, a privilege to read."

I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm thrilled by each and every kudo.

Let's see what happens tomorrow.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Flash Friday: Hom(p)eless

by Michael Seese

I'm happy to report I was able to get a Flash Friday! entry posted this week, despite being dead tired. (Life is hard.) 

We were given this picture



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and asked to write an exactly 93-word story that included either an animal or a plant. I considered something like "Ficus and I rode the train home..." about a man who had gotten fired, and was taking his possessions home from the office. Then I morphed into thinking about a literal animal, like a seeing-eye dog. But then I hit on the idea of a figurative dog, and from that idea came "Hom(p)eless."


My "bed" smells like their asses. The designer soap scented weekday warriors in Armani armor, riding the iron steed into battle against their corporate dragons.

But the gentle rhythmic sway allows me the luxury of dreaming I'm floating free, a capricious sailboat navigating gentle seas. The lingering Chanel n°5, I imagine are hibiscus blossoms adorning the head of a tropical beauty.

Alas, my blissful dream withers under morning's glare. I gather my tattered things and take refuge in a dark corner, like a whipped cur which, in their unforgiving eyes, I truly am.


Kinda sad. But I do like the imagery. Tomorrow, we'll learn what the judges thought.

And, I hope neither I, nor any of my friends, find myself in his position.