Saturday, June 27, 2015

Flash! Friday About... Flash!

by Michael Seese

Before I get into the business of this week's Flash! Friday, I suppose I should crow, boast, shout from the mountaintops casually mention that the previous two weeks my stories "The Fourth Wall" and "Don't Worry, Little One" (the story I wrote on my phone while cooking dinner) were both named first runner up.

Let's see if I can't bring home the gold this week.

I'm pretty happy with my entries. We were asked to incorporate as a character a writer, and this photo of Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon.
























My first idea came out as "Worship."



It was the eyes. They burrowed into her very soul with a relentless, seductive grip, and refused to release her. As if she'd want that to happen.

Or perhaps the lips. So pinched and precise when verbally jousting with Ming, yet so tender when caressing hers with the mercy of a butterfly's wings.

No. It was the hands. A pair of velvet vises that could at once fend off a legion of the Evil Emperor's minions while cradling her waist like a newborn.

He would return. Such was their fate as written. He would come back for her. She knew it. Until that day, nothing could...

"Please move along, Miss. The movie is over."

Why did he call me "Miss?" she wondered. He knows my name. Everyone knows I'm Dale Arden.

She wasn't moving. She'd paid her 25¢, damn it! As she had done last week. And the week before. And the week before that. And...

One of the men in the white coats picked her up, and draped her over his shoulder like unfolded linen. Of course she now weighed 85 pounds. Not eating will do that to a girl.

"Don't worry, Miss. They'll take care of you."

Angela was not worried. He would come. Flash would rescue her.



Then, "A Work Of Fiction."


How could she not fall in love with him?

Chastity Hunter's greatest gift as an author, she believed, was her talent for capturing realistic characters. Whereas other writers' creatures lay flat, hers positively leapt into her life. Once she had a solid image to work with, raw masculinity and inescapable sex appeal would ooze from her fingers. The brawny, yet fallible heroes always proved so real that her readers – bored housewives, a piteous label she once applied to herself – could not help but swoon.

She always began with a physical description.

"Ocean blue eyes that would pull under an Olympic swimmer."
"A steely gaze, which tenderly pierced the armor surrounding a wounded heroine's heart."
"A careless cascade of blond hair."

Once she had the man in front of her, the plot lines would flow.

"What kind of trouble can I get you into, my lovely little pet?" Chastity said aloud.

Assuming she was addressing him, he tried again.

"Please," said the man with the blue eyes and the blond hair, the latter now dirty and disheveled, three weeks removed from his last shower. "Please let me go. My wife... My children... They're worrying about me."

"I can't do that," Chastity said, returning to her keyboard. "I haven't finished you yet."


Please share your thoughts about the stories, or about Flash Gordon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Résumé SPAM

by Michael Seese

It had been such a long time since I'd received any good SPAM, I'd nearly forgotten about it. But then this week...

As you can see from my inbox snippet:


 
based on the last two days, I'm a very popular recipient of résumés.

I think anyone who is not my Mother wouldn't even come close to falling for this. (Sorry, Mom.) But, let's go over a few signs.

1. Two résumés within four minutes of each other? 

2. The subject of the first two begins "Re:" OK, let's think about this. If I were a recruiter (and I'm not, of course) would I send an email to someone titled "Résumé" or "My résumé?" Probably not. So why am I getting a response?

3. If I look at one of them (they basically say the same thing) I see




 





 Wow! That looks really professional. I've got to run right out and hire Traci. That would be considered "cooperation," no?

4. The above came from the third line. I'm not sure how one gets from "obynathans" to Traci, but OK.

5. You'll notice there is an attachment. It's a ZIP file. Of course. My resume is so big I've got to ZIP it up before I send it.

As always, stay vigilant, people.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Janet Reid Flash Fiction: Ashes To Ashes

by Michael Seese

After I finished the first of yesterday's Flash! Friday entries, I read about the parameters for Janet Reid's Texts From Mittens contest. (In honor of Janet getting her paws on the Angie Bailey book of that name.)

As always, 100 words, which must (in this case) include:

mitten
phil
patty
gang
dish

I pretty quickly came up with "Ashes To Ashes."


A mitten and a plastic child's dish were all that survived the fire.

Miracles do happen.

Patty wept, then composed herself and took a philosophical view. Time, and the brass ring chase, had infected the couple, who scarcely noticed their once-carefree life together had grown diseased and gangrenous.

Patty picked up the mitten and dish, and left for preschool, to retrieve Katie. She took one final look, knowing nothing else of value remained in the smoldering rubble. And, she finally felt free to smile, secure in the knowledge that the police would never find the cremains of her philandering husband.



Not a bad weekend of writing work. 

So, what did you write this weekend? 

Oh, and I hope all the Dads out there are having a good Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Flash! Friday: Two Tear Jerkers

by Michael Seese

Another double entry week for Flash! Friday, though I hadn't planned on writing a pair.

I always refrain from reading any of the other entries until after I've written mine; I don't want to inadvertently borrow any ideas. This week, we had this picture.



 



















I just knew (no offense, Flash! Friday friends) that everyone would write about a metaphorical train wreck. So I decided to write about a literal one. Here is "Choo-Choo."

"Pull back! Pull back!"

"I can't stop it!" Jim gasped. "We're going too fast!"

"You have to. The bridge is out."

"What are we going to do? We're doomed!"

"Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane..."

Indeed, a plastic figure in blue tights, red cape trailing, swooped in and under the toy engine, saving the day.

"Yay! Superman!"

"Mikey, this is the old West. Superman wasn't around yet."

"Oh, Dad! He flew really fast, and went back in time. That's how he was able to save the train."

"Now it makes sense. Say, wouldn't that be great? To be able to go back and change things?"

"What disaster would you stop, Dad?"

Jim paused. "That's a tough one, buddy. There have been so many. It's hard to pick only one."

"I'd save the Titanic."

"That would be a great choice."

The dreaded popup on his cell phone caught Jim's attention.

"Mikey, it's time to go. I need to get you to Mommy's house. Please pick up the train, so it's ready to go when you come back next Friday."

"I will. I don't want to be bad."

"Bad?"

"Yeah. Mommy always says, 'Only bad people make messes and expect someone else to clean them up.' "


We were supposed to include déjà vu as a thematic element. I support I sorta did.

But then, while cooking dinner (and having read a few) I came up with another idea. In (literally) about ten minutes I wrote "Don't Worry, Little One." 


Seeing my baby sleeping, I couldn't help but think of a number of "firsts."

The first time she slept in her own room. I'm not sure who was more scared.

Don't worry, little one. Everything will be fine in the morning. You'll see.

Or the first time I took her to the ER. She tripped on the rug one afternoon, and split open her chin on a toy choo-choo.

Don't worry, little one. Everything will be fine in a few days. You'll see.

Or the first time a boy broke her heart. Split it wide open, on Prom Night, no less.

Don't worry, little one. Everything will be fine. Not tomorrow. Maybe not even next week. But in time. You'll see.

I suppose among all those vignettes, her first trip to the ER seems most vivid right now. Though in time, I probably won't be able to recall it all, as the memory will be supplanted by this one.

Her last trip to the ER.

We eventually would come to learn she sent a text.

"Brandon is racing a train to the crossing! This is what it means to be alive!"

Don't worry little one. Everything will be ...
 


So have you written any flash lately? If not, consider Janet's contest, which opens today (Saturday) at noon, and closes 24 hours later.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Flash! Friday: "All The World's A Stage"

by Michael Seese

Another good week on the Flash! Friday front. We were given a photo of this rogue.



















The photo is from 1847; his name is Louis Dodier, and he is in prison. I guess I could look him up. But it's late.

So I thought about the idea of prisoners, and came up with two rough ideas. Then I read that the setting had to be a theater. "I can work that in," I said. 

So first is "The Fourth Wall."

Samantha overcooked the eggs. Again. She also burned the toast. But she knew Jonathan wouldn't be angry. He probably wouldn't say a word. He could no longer be bothered to recite his lines. She, too, had grown weary of intoning the same stilted, dated dialogue, night after night.

For years, Samantha and Jonathan followed the script.

Dutifully.

Get married. Buy a house in Middle Generica. Have a child. Have another. Daycare. Play dates. Chuck-E-Cheese. Skinned knees. Soccer. Ballet. Acne. First heartbreak. Driving lessons. Acceptance letters. Graduation. Freshman orientation. Student loans. A $150,000 scrap of paper, times two.

After the children began inking their own stories, the leads' lives lost their direction. They played each night to an empty house. A change in scenery, downsizing, could not disguise the inescapable fact that their production, despite a great run, would soon be closing.

Prisoners in their own lives, Samantha and Jonathan continued to go through the motions, trying to flesh out their once-robust, now two-dimensional, roles. But after so many stagings, all of the drama – the ad-libbing – had been wrung from their performances. The only question left in Samantha's mind was when the curtain would fall.

And which of them would be the first to exeunt.


And then, around 11:20, I finished the allegorical "Prisoners."


Darkness fears light. For light is inquisitive. Insistent. Indefatigable.

I often wonder what I could have done to merit incarceration, though, in reality, I recognize my ruminations are merely an exercise in philosophical esoterica.

Cogito ergo inimīcus.

I think, therefore I am the enemy.

My crime?

I told the truth.

The Bard opined, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

Unfortunately, fools erroneously believe the boards upon which they tread were harvested from the Tree Of Knowledge, and their lines were scripted from pens divine.

Theater Of The Absurd, at its finest.

Lamentably, the truth is welcomed only begrudgingly, and embraced only at arm's length. Indeed, it is regarded with suspicion, a slippery, slithering inconvenience. We all know how mankind views snakes. As an inherent evil, one which should be vilified, feared, and driven from Éire.

So, here I sit, in solitary confinement, waiting while the powers-that-be search for a jury of my peers.

I am reason.

Thus, I rot, locked away by a human stain which fears the light of truth. Still, I cannot remain idle. I must find a way to escape.

For if I were to stay here, how long would it be before I share my cell with hope?

Let me know what you think of either.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Perfect Escape

by Michael Seese

Another 11th hour effort for a flash fiction contest this week. This time, it was for Janet Reid's contest. We had to incorporate the words

stage
actor
crane
chorus
ghost


in our 100-word effort. I started writing it on the plane home. My first thoughts were having it be about an aging starlet who "didn't stand a ghost of a chance of starring again." I scrapped that idea, and came up with the first two lines. Then contemplating it in bed this morning, I finished "The Great Escape."



A crane swoops down to the lake and finds his dinner. A chorus of crickets serenades the evening star.

"A penny for your thoughts," my wife says.

What should I say? That I'm sad to think at this stage we've been reduced to ghosts in our children's lives? That when you factor out the dependent-care years, our lives are basically over?

"I was thinking I could die happy here."

"I could, too," she says, taking my hand, her grip already slightly weaker.

"Another glass of wine?" I ask, grateful that the Cabernet's peppery flavor masks the bitterness of the poison.


Let me know what you think. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Flash! Friday: That Shall He Also Reap

by Michael Seese

I'll make this brief. By the time you read this, we'll probably be back from vacation. So I had to work this story around splashing in the pool and walking on the beach. (End bragging.)

As I prefer to do, I focused on this week's picture first.


 













(The caption reads "inspection." That will be relevant when you read the story.)

I had some ideas, but nothing really clicked. Then I read the other part of the prompt -- that the character had to be a farmer -- and realized that my ideas-in-progress would not work. 

So I came up with the concept around 5:00, and pieced it together over the next few hours, finishing and posting at 11:37.


So here is "That Shall He Also Reap."

Be not deceived.
Should I be a naughty nurse? No? What about a French maid? Mais non? OK, I'm a Catholic school girl, sweet and naive.
God is not mocked.
Just for you, I'll wear the uniform. Snow white Oxford shirt, plaid skirt, knee-high socks.
For whatever a man sows.
I have a story, a story no one knows.
That shall he also reap.
A secret I can no longer keep.
For he that soweth to his flesh.
I tried. I really tried to do my best.
Shall of the flesh reap corruption.
But with a father who drank himself into oblivion, I became a "parent" at 16. My mother? What to say about a mother who fucked the gardener, the pool boy, the neighbor? No man was safe from her obsessive-seductive compulsion.
But he that soweth to the Spirit.
So I ran away. But the thing your high school track coach doesn't tell you is, the faster you run, the faster the pursuit runs. So this now is my life, or something near it.
Shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Upon closer inspection, I needed affection, attention, love, understanding. But all I had at dinner was cacophony of silence and a plate full of emotional fasting.


Thoughts... good, bad, ugly? Also, there is a Janet Reid contest tomorrow, so check back on Sunday.