Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Flash Friday: Hidden

by Michael Seese

As promised, here is my entry for the 11/20 Flash Friday competition. Below is our prompt photo which, though hard to see. are termite mounds in Australia. 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And we had to include something/someone unseen OR include something/someone foreseen, with a word count between  180 and 190 words.

I wanted to work off the idea of termites eroding the foundation of something, and settled on the metaphorical "Hidden."


We toil in darkness, deep below the surface. 


We search for softness in the sturdy, then attack it.


We gnaw away— silently, relentlessly, indiscriminately— decaying from within the forgotten foundations upon which you built your home, the erstwhile reliable structure you long ago erected in oblivion, then neglected. 


And the beautiful irony is, we co-opt the detritus of your overtaxed architecture, and use it to establish our base. 


You, meanwhile, remain above, oblivious to the creeping rot which endlessly undermines your happy, stable existence.


You luxuriate in the material bliss you've convinced yourself is "a life." 


You ignore the growing sway beneath your feet, convincing yourself it's just a gentle zephyr, rather than a gale force of change.


You titter-teeter, all the while unaware that the entire house of cards you've spent a lifetime arranging "just so" is about to come crashing down upon your allegedly open mind. 


We are hate. We are invisible, yet ubiquitous. We are patient, recognizing that eternity is on our side. And once the time arrives, the moment for us to reveal ourselves, we know it will be forever.  


For we will not be stopped.

 

For the record, it's not really a story, as it doesn't have a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

Oh well. I guess the muse is allowed to take a day off here and there. 

We'll see how this Friday goes.

 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Flash Friday: Pitfalls

by Michael Seese

So there was a new Flash Friday this week. But I never got around to sharing last week's entry. I think I'll circle back to last Friday, then catch up sometime in the next few days.

The 11/13 Flash Friday presented us with this picture




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 and gave us the following parameters.

- Include a statistician OR include an optimist
- Today’s word count: 103 exactly

Trying to include both the statistician and the optimist, I came up with the original first line, "Gathered around the murky pit, we three: the optimist, the statistician, and me."

Enjoying the rhythm and the rhyme, I decided to write a a story in verse, something that has intrigued me of late. In short order I had "Pitfalls." 

 

Two days wandering in the desert.
Exhausted.
Low on supplies.
Thirsty.
Gathered around the murky pit, we three:
the optimist,
the statistician,
and me.

The optimist peered into the abyss.
"I'll bet there's water down there. If I jump just right, I'll miss
those rocks, and land with a graceful splash."

The statistician looked at him askance.
"Are you crazy? Do you really think you can chance
a foolhardy dive?
I calculate your odds of staying alive at—"

Two shoves with my boot.
One bone-crunching crash.
I now stood, alone.
"Oh look!
Two abandoned backpacks. 
Enough food and water to see me home."




Though it didn't win, it did earn a shout out: "Also to Michael Seese‘s “Pitfalls“ for an amusing story with its fun use of both dragon elements." (The "dragon elements" are including the statistician or the optimist.") 

Next: "Hidden."


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Flash Friday: A Whale Of A Tale

by Michael Seese

Writing is magic. Case in point: this week's Flash Friday contest.

We were given this picture



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and asked to incorporate either a non-human character OR  include a phrase in a non-English language. My first thought was a throwaway line, like "It had a certain je ne sais quoi." But that would have been cheap.  Then I considered something from the whale's perspective, which would have allowed me to use some made-up whale language.

But as the day wore on, nothing came to me.

Dinner.  Nothing.

Then, as I was walking the dog, the idea hit! I pulled out my phone and dictated about half of it, wrapping up when I got back.

So here is "A Whale Of A Tale."

 

The grainy image flickered to life across the flat screen. 


"This is Malcolm Dalton, BBC News. I am standing outside the Natural History Museum, where scientists have made a startling discovery."
 

The focus shifted to a bushy-eyebrowed scientist, who absolutely deserved black and white coverage.
 

"Though marine biologists made every effort to save the beached whale, their labors ultimately were for naught. Pity. When we articulated the carcass, inside her belly we made a startling discovery. The skeletal remains of a human. Further examination determined that he was a male, perhaps 50 years old when he died. We can only speculate as to his identity."
 

Back outside, the intrepid hairpiece now stood before a phalanx of rabidly waving signs. The most prominent read simply, "Jonah 2:1-10."
 

"As you can see, the identity of 'belly man’ has inspired countless—"
 

Pinocchio switched off the telly.
 

"Good old Geppetto.  I'll sure miss him," he said, his nose gaining an inch.

 

If memory serves, I have not submitted any humorous stories for this go-around of Flash Friday. We'll see Monday how it goes.



Thursday, November 5, 2020

Janet Flash: The Heretic

by Michael Seese

Ah, yes. Now I remember...

Two Fridays ago (October 23) literary agent Janet Reid posted the Get Back On Track Flash Fiction Contest, saying

This was one of those weeks I'd like to forget. I was down for the count for most of it, and have just now resurfaced to start digging around in my inbox.

She asked us to us

track
rant
couch
super
noise

in a 100-word story. I forget what had me so occupied Friday AND Saturday that I didn't write. I guess the muse was taking a holiday.

Then, Sunday morning, while driving to the Pittsburgh airport (about 90 minutes) I came up with "The Heretic," and brain wrote it (dictating, of course), stopping at a turnpike rest stop to clean it up and post it.


"The Heretic"

"Ouch. Could you try to be a little more careful with those nails!"

"Oh, all crucifixees complains about that," he said apologetically.

"How about that rack over there?"

"Actually, it's a Catherine Wheel."

"Learn something new every day."

"What do you think?"

I never was good with snap decisions.

"I don't know…"

"They do comes with a 100% money back guarantee."

"Super. I'll take them all.

Granted, it might be overkill. But with the family coming over for Thanksgiving, and the "rigged election" all they'll want to talk about, these little beauties should help keep the noise down.

It didn't win. But it did make the short list, with the comment, "Turkey Day at the Seese residence promises to be quite the day!"

And she's not far from wrong.

PS: I'm creating this post a few days before the election; hopefully, by the time you read it we'll all be relieved, and saying "President-elect Joe Biden." 


Monday, November 2, 2020

Janet Flash: Demons

by Michael Seese

Looking for "an infusion of flash fiction to get my mind off next Tuesday," literary agent Janet Reid offered us an unnamed flash fiction contest. Use:

croc
frock
mock
lock
swok

in a 100-word story. 

Since my Flash Friday effort occupied Friday, I had to wait until Saturday to write this one. And somehow, time got away from me. (Like that NEVER happens.)

Then, while waiting for my wife to get her Halloween costume ready (she went as a witch) the idea struck.  I wrote the first four paragraphs pretty quickly, and came up using "crockpoint" for "croc." Then we went to the party, and nothing happened for the rest of the night. Except for, you know, party stuff.

Luckily, aided by "Spring Ahead / FALL BACK," I gained an extra hour in the morning, and completed “Demons.”


The clock mocked me.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Empty prescription bottles lay scattered across the floor, dwarfed by the equally exhausted vodka bottles.

"A crockpot," they always whispered as I would wander down the street, engaged in animated arguments with ghosts. 

Back, now, in my barren space, panic set in as my feet of rock began to sink in the quicksand, my descent aided by the Devil's claws dragging me under.  Once the Demon has woken, no lullaby will stuff that genie back in the bottles.

Resigned, I reached for my last resort, and drew back the hammer.


I'm not sure what dark place that came from. Perhaps the same fatalism Janet was feeling. 


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Flash Friday: Real Life

by Michael Seese

Another dual-flash week. Tonight, I will share my latest Flash Friday story, and tomorrow, 100 words for Janet Reid. (Actually, 98, think.)

And I seem to recall I'm missing one or the other from last week.

This week's Flash Friday asked us to use this picture,



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and write at most 200 words that also included a dollmaker or a fugitive. I kicked around a bunch of ideas, but nothing came of it. 

Then around 11:15, in the middle of watching reruns of the "Big Bang Theory," It hit me. Dead tired, I forged ahead, and posted it at 11:53, seven minutes before the deadline. Then, I rushed the dog out for her evening walk so I could get my 10,000 steps.

The result is "Real Life."


The curator's request seemed simple enough.

"Make them lifelike."

To the layman, it might sound straightforward.  But delve into the specifics…

The skin has to mix flexibility and resilience.  It needs to be thick enough to withstand the slings and arrows the battles of life hurls at it, yet respond kindly to the touch of a loved one.
 
The eyes must be able to focus, laser-like, on the task at hand, yet have the foresight to gaze into the distance, searching the horizon for unseen traces of the future.   

Now let's talk about the gut for a minute.  The gut needs to digest both critical nutrients and the truth, all the while serving as the ultimate arbiter of life's greatest decisions.

And the heart.  It has to remain a closed loop, efficiently delivering blood to the critical organs, yet be open enough to allow entrance to all who need a piece of it.

Quite the challenge.

In the end, I just decided it would be easier to just "borrow" a few of the specimens from our last foray to Earth, encase them in acrylic,  and put them on display.


So far, I've gotten two nice comments from fellow bloggers. Results will be available tomorrow morning.

Now, I wonder if I have the energy to complete a 350-word Weird Christmas story, due at midnight. 

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.