Saturday, November 28, 2015

Flash! Friday: Fear

by Michael Seese

A busy day yesterday. You see, in Chagrin Falls on the day after Thanksgiving they light the big Christmas tree in the center of town. We always have friends over for the event, which means we spent the day...


As a result, I only managed to come up with one story for Flash! Friday, despite the (short) word count of 150 +/- 10.

Harking back to previous years, Rebekah chose to have us incorporate one specific story element -- in this case the character of a hunter -- and his picture.


(It's Stockholm, BTW.) 

My story is called "Fear." 

I own the night.

In truth, I own the day as well. But with the sun riding high overhead, you lose me in the hustle and bustle, the grit and grind of your harried and hurried existence.

Once darkness falls, I seep into your psyche by hissing in your ear two simple words. 

I'm here.

You then see me in every shadow, my minatory smile more unsettling than a snarling tiger. You laugh at me, only because your quivering lips are too dry to whistle past yet another graveyard.

When you were a babe, safe and secure in your mother's arms, you knew me not. But I crept into your consciousness through the creak of floorboard, the wail of the wind, the screech of an owl.

As you grew older, I found new ways to infuse myself in your very fiber, so that now I inhabit your life.

I own the night. And in time I will own you.

There is no Janet contest this week.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Castle: The Last Seduction

by Michael Seese

So, have we turned the corner on the Caskett separation? Only time (and future episodes) will tell. But in the meantime, we got a slight break in the break (or a "timeout from the timeout") in "The Last Seduction."

I enjoyed this episode a lot. It was replete with both humor and wistful weepiness. (For some reason, my spellcheck wants to make the latter "creepiness.)

Overarching it all was the ongoing spat between Ryan and Esposito. It's been brewing for a few weeks now, and finally the kettle came to a boil. (OK, the worst analogy EVER.)

But a lot of humor came from their pain.

Ryan: "I am not jealous you passed the sergeant's exam."
Esposito: "Tell that to the hole in my ass."

Castle, hearing Ryan's Esposito impersonation: "That was a good Espo. Only you didn't say 'Yo.' "

Then, when Esposito was "praising" Ryan: "Normally, his slow-as-molasses ass is never that fast."

Another great scene took place in the sauna. (And not just because the ladies were walking around in towels.)

I loved Hayley's opening line: "The regals have landed."
Then the scene ended with Beckett lamenting, "Yup, she's running in the towel."

Though my favorite vignette of all had to be Castle's infiltration into Lindsey Trent's office. Specifically, the fallout, as he is being forcefully led down the hall, and Lindsey says, "No way you could fool me." Then the camera pans over to a red-headed woman pushing the mail cart the opposite way. And once the mission has been accomplished, Alexis gives Castle the finger-on-nose sign. I re-watched that bit twice.

A few other noteworthy lines...

Alexis: "He's already on wife number 3."
Castle: "You say that like it's a bad thing."

Beckett: "By sending my husband to the city's top divorce attorney?"
Esposito: "Happy anniversary."

Speaking of the anniversary, I thought it was touching that they decided to forgo their dinner to coach Ryan and Espo. And, yes, it was rather heavy-handed to hear them deliver lines to the boys which applied to themselves. Still, it was nice.

Castle: "They've been through way too much together to give up on what they have."
Beckett: "You're a wise man Castle, with a big heart. And you're rather good looking too."
Castle: "You might want to pace yourself with the flattery. You've got a whole dinner to get through."

And I was glad to hear Lanie give us "lividity" once again, between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Picky aside: why did Scott live in his tiny apartment when he had the penthouse at his disposal?

Until next week... um... tonight.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Janet Flash: Preying For Change

by Michael Seese

So, Janet is cat sitting this week. In honor of the ... um, honor, she chose five targeted words for this week's flash fiction contest.


With such a focused set of words, it was hard to come up with the story. (Add to that the fact that I had to unclog the worst toilet backup ever by REMOVING THE TOILET.) But when I got the idea... BAM!

It took about 30 minutes to write "Preying For Change," though that represents

- 15 minutes writing
- 10 minutes cutting ten words
- 5 minutes coming up with the word "nonjudgmental" 

She stands out, her tiger striped spandex a flashing VACANCY sign as she stalks her prey in an urban jungle.

She ignores that he smells like garlic and cops a feel in advance.

She negotiates, accepting $50 instead of the usual $75 because he says it's all he's got, and application fees are higher this year.

She estimates the coefficient of friction before subtly applying some spit.

She goes home. Her father is watching television.

“How was the movie?”

“Lame. Not worth the $10. Goodnight, Daddy.”

She nuzzles with Mr. Whiskers, eliciting an nonjudgmental purr, then vomits in the toilet.

I welcome your opinion.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Flash! Friday: In Here

by Michael Seese

It is with heavy heart that I write this. In this week's post, Rebekah announced that Flash! Friday would end this December. So this is the third-last entry. (As you can imagine, there were a lot of sad comments posted; but we all wish Rebekah the best.)

This week, our prompt was the Gabriel García Márquez work One Hundred Years of Solitude, which spans the colorful, tumultuous, convention-and-reality-defying generations of the Buendía family in their fantastic town of Macondo. (Full disclosure: never heard of it.)

The story elements were:

* Conflict: man v man (not gender specific)
* Character (choose at least one): a child born with a pig’s tail, a son returning from sailing around the world, a father who named all his sons after himself, twins fated to die at the same instant, a paranoid beauty contest winner, an iron-fisted matriarch, a man who figures out an ancient cypher, a musician, a mechanic, an author who wins a trip to Paris
* Theme (choose one): solitude, the inescapability of family, magical realism, language, time, fate
* Setting (choose one): an village cut off from the outside world, a banana plantation

And this picture.

I came up with the first and final lines pretty quickly, then had a good time filling in the gaps.

The result is "In Here."

Sometimes when the mists would clear, I’d stand at the border and peer over to the other side. It seemed so beautiful. And tantalizingly close, though in reality miles away from my tentative fingertips.

"I'd like to go out there sometime, Mother."

"Why, dear child, when everything you need is in here," she said as an elephant alighted on her shoulder.

"I just think it’s time."

"Come," she said, leading me away from the edge, and deeper into the jungle. "Let’s have some lunch." The elephant trumpeted joyfully as she handed him a gumdrop. “Hurry. A storm is coming.”

I looked up. Clouds that sounded (and tasted) like Rice Krispies consumed the sky. A symphonic cyclone swirled down to the forest floor, uprooting the Pixie Stix trees. Priests in prehistoric garb prayed aloud for pestilence, only to be rewarded with marionettes mocking their words and rhythmic dances. Then all fell calm. The sun returned, a kaleidoscope in Crayola colors.

As lovely as it was in here, I’d grown weary of it. I thought often of escape. But I knew it’s not possible. Mother has been very clear.

"You can never leave this place, dear child. Insanity is your home."

And as has been the case of late, there will be a Janet flash fiction post tomorrow.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Castle: Cool Boys

by Michael Seese

We watch Castle, in part, because we enjoy the leads and the interactions between them. But let's be honest. We've "known" them for 7+ years now. So they probably have become slightly less interesting to us. That's why it's great when the writers can introduce a memorable character to stir the pot.

I felt that way about "The Nose." And I would say the same for Detective Ethan Slaughter, who made a return in "Cool Boys." 

Part of his charm is, much like Mia The Nose, he doesn't CARE that people don't like him. But even more than her, Slaughter takes Castle out of his game.

Witness Castle's facial expressions -- aka the looks -- which ranged from surprise to fear to disgust to amazement to amusement.

Plus, it's obvious to me that Slaughter is the man Castle envisions himself as being.

Suffice to say, this was a funny episode. The writer's gave Slaughter so many good lines. (Or, there were good lines about him.)

Martha: "Don't 'mama' me, darling."

Slaughter: "This whole thing's a little above my intellectual paygrade."

Slaughter: "We're like Butch and Sundance."
Castle: "You know they died, right?"

Castle: "Flowers are a nice thank you gift. A giant Rambo knife... That's psychotic."

Slaughter: "Criminal Good Will Hunting."

Slaughter: "I'm not role model material."
Castle: "He's really not."

Castle: "You know you can take out the SIM card, right? I've lost more phones in this line of work."

Quick aside: It would be fun to know exactly how many. Two others immediately come to mind.

Castle: "Yeah, I'm sorry. I'm trying to be scared. I just keep picturing you doing jazz hands."

Quick aside 2: That might be one of the funniest Castle lines EVER.

Louis: "You've got that kind of clout with the mayor?"
Slaughter: "Hell, no. But Castle does."

Speaking of Louis, I loved his rapid-fire explanation of how he found Slaughter by hacking his life.

And, though we didn't get "lividity," Lanie gave us a new great word: exsanguination.

Picky aside: Something both my wife and I noticed... In the opening scene, where Ryan, Esposito, the SWAT team are attacking, why didn't Ryan and Espo get helmets?

As I write (and post) this, I realize "The Last Seduction" already has erred. I'm going to make a bold prediction and say the video call where (ostensibly) an attorney asks about divorce is a complete red herring.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Janet Flash: Hidden

by Michael Seese

So in between distributing popcorn for the Cub Scouts and ... you know, living ... I had to find time to write my story for Janet Reid's latest 100-word adventure. Our mission was to include:


Literally as  started typing in the basics of this post on Saturday afternoon, I came up with the idea of doing something like Kakfa's The Metamorphosis, albeit with with a beetle. That gave me the opening line, which became "Hidden."

A beetle scurries beneath the icebox, ignoring the amorphous fuzzy gray blob lying there.

I work frantically to clean. They'll be here soon, and I want everything to be spotless. Though I do love having guests, they leave such a mess. Bit by bit, I get everything tidied up, stowing the mop scant seconds before the knock on the door. Answering, I am cool as a cucumber.

"No, officer. I don't recognize her. Mutilated, you say? That's horrible. Yes, I'll lock my doors, and report any suspicious people. Thank you."

In time, I will find the finger under the fridge.

As you can see, this is nothing like Kakfa's tale of a man who becomes a cockroach-like bug. What can I say? My muse rarely listens to my ideas.

The problem with posting this late is, the results already have been announced. Though I didn't win, I did make the short list.

Here are Janet's comments:

Only after that last sentence do you realize the guest leaving "such a mess" are not in fact the same people coming to the door.

That last sentence is like flipping an image from positive to negative: same lines, but you see everything very differently.

That's an incredible feat, particularly with so few words.

Not bad for a Monday.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Flash! Friday: Sacrifices + One And One

by Michael Seese

Hoping to build off last week's Flash! Friday win (I did mention I WON, right??) I tried to come up with two strong entries for this week's contest. (As if I don't always.) You can decide if I succeeded.

Our prompt was Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan's allegory that follows the adventures of eager, oft-stumbling but good-hearted Christian as he leaves his doomed native land in a quest to reach the glorious golden shores of the Celestial City.

The story elements to use were:
* Conflict: man v man, man v self (not gender specific)
* Character (choose at least one): a pilgrim; Beelzebub; a man whose mission is to help others; someone who talks too much; someone who loses his/her life for standing up for what is right; a corrupt mayor; someone whose primary purpose in life is avoiding hardship; a cheat
* Theme (choose one): salvation; good v evil; the value of true friendship; the dangers of temptation
* Setting (choose one): a doomed city; a corrupt and wealthy city; a long road; a palace guarded by lions

And this photo:


The idea for "Sacrifices" came to me while getting the kids ready for school.  I pretty much brain-wrote it on the way to work.

"You take it, Mike. Save yourself. I'm a goner anyway."

Jacob was right. I just hoped my face wouldn't betray my concurrence.

At 10, we played war. Fifteen years removed, this was no game. Our enemy treated prisoners like shit. Wounded prisoners worse. He'd last a week if he was lucky. Two if he wasn't.

"Hell, I was hurt worse that time you winged me hunting in Harper's Woods. We'll make it."

Above us, gravel crunched under foot.

"Take it!"

"No. I'm not leaving you."

I kissed my best friend's forehead, aimed through the tears, and gave him our last bullet.

Then I set out to do something fun, using Beelzebub as the character. At the gym I wrote "One And One." I came up with the second line first, and the rest flowed pretty easily.

"Come on, lucky sevens!"

Einstein’s opinion notwithstanding, God does play dice. And at the moment, He was losing.


Satan smiled. Satan always smiled.

The Creator rolled. The Prince Of Darkness waved his hand, freezing the bones in mid-air.

"I’ll make you a deal. You’ve already lost love, music, art. And now you’re wagering the animals. I’ll give all that back. In exchange for one thing."


"Man, of course."

"You’re on!"

The dice resumed their rendezvous with destiny.

"Snake eyes. You lose, old friend. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go for a stroll in my Garden."

I am SO going to burn.

Until then, there is a Janet contest, which I have not yet begun. But I have 24 hours.