Sunday, August 2, 2015

Janet Flash Fiction: Infamy

by Michael Seese

After finishing my two Flash! Friday pieces, I turned my focus to the latest Janet Reid contest. To celebrate one of the regular flash fiction writers securing representation, Janet came up with a contest, asking us to incorporate

agent
paradise
armada
amy
toast


in a story. Always in the rules is the priviso that we can "bury" one of the keywords. So, as Janet noted, "amy/infamy is ok but amy/army is not." I liked the idea of amy/infamy, and used that as my starting point.


She was born on December 7, so her parents named her Infamy. For years she did her damnedest to live up to that moniker.

Buttered toast will stick to the ceiling, she learned by age 4.

Vinegar and baking soda were powerful reagents, age 7.

On her 18th birthday, her parents watched helpless as an armada of men sailed in and out of her bedroom, each planting his flag in this New World they dubbed "Paradise."

And yet, like the sailors of the Pacific Fleet, the bombs which shattered the calm one Sunday morning took them by complete surprise.






Saturday, August 1, 2015

Flash! Friday: Not Like Them & The Delivery

by Michael Seese

For this week's Flash! Friday we head to Russia. Rebekah decided that our novel prompt should be the classic Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy’s tale of a socialite in Tsarist Russia who struggles between her desire for happiness and loyalty to her family.

The story elements to work in were:

* Conflict: man vs self
* Character: unhappy socialite
* Theme(s) (choose one): tradition, social progress, the value of family/marriage
* Setting: Tsarist Russia


We had to option of using a photo from the 1914 Russian film of the book by Vladimir Gardin.


















I wrote the first and last thirds of "Not Like Them" in the shower.


"Look at them. Common tramps. I could never be like them," Courtney sneered, wrinkling her surgically perfected nose. She could muster no sympathy for the girls, despite the fact that they sagged visibly beneath the weight of the most significant decision of their young lives as they filed silently into the clinic, their fears and guilt not helped a phalanx of rabid religious fanatics waving "BABY KILLER" signs in their faces.

She wondered, but only for the briefest of moments, what they must be feeling.

Scared.

Alone.

Unloved equally by their own too-young parents and the selfish bastards who had no qualms about putting an unprotected penis inside them.

"I could never be like them," she repeated.

Courtney locked her Mercedes and melted into the queue. But she was not the same as them. She was not a whore. Even if the protesters were screaming it at her.


Then "The Delivery" at the gym.


Elizaveta struggled to make her way through the thigh-deep snow. Freezing pellets pelted her eyes, and weighted down her hair. Weighing her down more, though, was the burden borne of her mission. She had to see the package, bundled securely in her stiffening arms, delivered to safety.

Winters in St. Petersburg are not for the faint of heart. Some days, there simply are not enough layers of clothing. But once the spring thaw arrives, love blooms as sweetly as the flowers that adorn the tilia trees lining the Neva River.

Just short of her goal – the main thoroughfare ahead – Elizaveta collapsed. The cold would soon consume her. This, she knew. Quivering lips prayed that a passerby might see her in time, investigate, and find it in his or her heart to pry the bundle from her frozen arms, take it home, and raise the child as she would have.

 
As has often been the case of late, there also is a Janet Reid contest today. Check back tomorrow, friends.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Funny Foto #67

by Michael Seese





 
































Does anyone, other than my kids, REALLY need the 5, 10, 15...

Just asking. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Janet Flash: Running

by Michael Seese

A delightful week comes to a conclusion with me, at home, taking care of two sick kids. But at least I had Flash! Friday yesterday, and Janet today.

This week, we had to include

- Indiana
- Book
- Waffle
- House
- Tattoo

in a 100-word story. So I give you, dear readers, "Running."


The Indiana line lay just ahead.

It's close. Closer than the girl I left behind ever could be.

Forever. "Forever," she wrote in my yearbook.

Twelve days. Twelve days until I turn 18. But I can't wait. So I race to escape this place and its Waffle House "culture" before it imprints me permanently.

A tattoo. The first thing I'll do is get a tattoo that says "Freedom."

Just short of freedom, they stop me and bring me back. They say they want me to see her, the girl I left behind.

The girl I left behind, in a ditch.



Kind of grim, I suppose. And totally NOT true, in case you were wondering. 

So what are you all running from?


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Flash! Friday: A Ghost

by Michael Seese

Rebekah upped the ante a bit with this week's Flash! Friday by requiring us to write EXACTLY 250 words. (And unfortunately, em dashes -- which I am so fond of -- seem to add two to all my word counts; so I had to be aware.)

The story this week was The Arabian Nights, a collection of ancient Middle Eastern folktales. Among the more famous of these stories are Sinbad the Sailor, Scheherazade, Aladdin, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The story elements to incorporate:


* Conflict: varies; often man vs man or man vs self
* Character (choose one): street urchin, adventuring sailor, girl unaware of her true heritage
* Theme(s) (choose one): Rags to riches, justice, forgiveness
* Setting: ancient Persia

We also could use this picture























which I did not in writing "A Ghost."


I am invisible. A ghost.

A spectre. A wraith that haunts these streets. Unable to find a way to my home, any home, I bobble in the waves of humanity that wash over me every day. Lacking a body, I drift to wherever they push me. To the sides. To the fringes. Out of their way.

I am invisible. A ghost.

How else to explain the people who look right through me as I press my nose against the glass beside their laden table? Before them sits more food than I have known in a year. Soon, they will pay their bill and walk away, abandoning a feast. Later, I will wage war against the feral cats, as we all fight to claim the prize from the trash can behind the restaurant.

"I am invisible. A ghost."

I say this to the others. The boys like me. Boys who, under other circumstances, I might call friends. But they're not friends. They are rivals, as we compete for the coins. The cast-off clothing. The desperate sips of water, born from the overnight dew that condenses on the awnings of the shops lining the street and drips down to our eager mouths, even as the spiteful sun takes his share.

"I am invisible. A ghost."

I shout from the rooftop as I prepare to prove to them – to the merchants, to the tourists, to the others – once and for all that I am a ghost.

For everyone knows that ghosts can fly.


I like it. You?

Look to this space tomorrow for a Janet Reid entry.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

by Michael Seese

A timely flash fiction entry for the latest Janet Reid contest.

Our mission: incorporate 

watch
man
total
flim
flam

in a  100-word short story. So I give you "Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes."

The persona, flamboyant. Total glam. Everything about her said, "Watch me!" As she stepped onto the red carpet, flimsy dress miraculously clinging to her curves, the tortured journey to this place seemed as far removed as the name she no longer owned.

Years ago, a thousand lifetimes ago, she stood tall on the world's biggest stage. The spotlight felt good. Warm. Then, obscurity came calling and pulled her -- kicking and screaming -- down its slippery gullet.

But she was back.

This is my night, she thought. Nothing could ruin it.

Until the question that was perched, vulture-like, on everyone's lips managed to take flight.

"Hey Caitlyn! Do you miss being a man?"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Flash! Friday: The Fourth Reich & The Queue

by Michael Seese

A pretty good week for Flash! Friday, IMHO. This week, we were asked to incorporate elements of George Orwell's 1984 in a story of 200 - 225 words. Specifically:

* Conflict: man vs society (government)
* Character: historian
* Theme(s): Censorship and/or totalitarianism
* Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)


And we could use this picture. 

















So first I came up with the (slightly) light-hearted "The Fourth Reich," which I pretty much wrote in the shower, with an extra 100 words for good measure. (Hello, red pen.)



The walk across the compound was brutal beneath the August sun. Even the razor wire seemed ready to melt under the oppressive heat. I breathed a sigh of cool relief once I stepped inside the commandant's plush office.

"How fortunate that we have you as our 'guest,' Herr Winston," he said.

"I didn't have much choice. I just happened to be lecturing here when the war broke out."

"Regardless, our Supreme Leader has requested that you assist us with a special project. We have seized control of Wikipedia. Our computer scientists are busy deleting the inaccuracies."

"Inaccuracies? Such as..."

"That the Americans were the first to land on the Moon. That Germany lost the Second World War. Minor details such as those. Our Leader has asked you to correct them."

"You want me to rewrite history?"

"What is that expression? 'History is written by the victors.' "

"You're forgetting one thing," I said. "Your side hasn't won yet."

"The war will be over soon enough."

The commandant was right about that. But he couldn't know that one of us had smuggled a tablet into the camp. That we had knowledge of the world outside. That at this moment, the Enola Gay II was streaking toward Berlin.

"Commandant, there's another quotation you're forgetting. 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' George Santayana." 


Then, in literally 10 minutes I wrote "The Queue," which allowed me to use one of my favorite words, abattoir


Their faces convey words more clearly than their voices ever did. That's why they are all here.

Standing in this queue.

Waiting.

I sit in the control room, my finger on the button, and try to imagine their stories.

The young flaxen haired girl, asleep over her mother's shoulder. She looks almost like a rag doll, an effect enhanced by her mother's youth. To her, joy is a foreign concept. She has spent her whole life knowing only want.

The tattooed street punk. Eyes down, he wavers from side to side. A stiff breeze would lay him flat. I'm sure he once was all bluster, arrogance, and attitude. The bruise on his cheek tells me the fight has been beaten out of him. Repeatedly.

The old man, hobbled by arthritis, barely able to stand with the aid of his cane and his equally wobbly wife. He probably remembers the days before The Regime, when freedom was more than a word in a dictionary.

Some days I think about taking pity on them. Praying for their souls. But in the world –– or better said, the country –– we now live, prayer is illegal.

And why should I cry for them? No one will shed tears for me when it is my turn to face the abattoir. And I know I will, someday.

We all will.


Thoughts good, bad, or otherwise?