Saturday, October 17, 2015

Flash! Friday: Retreat & Fireworks

by Michael Seese

This week for Flash! Friday the word count (remember, it varies) was 100 words +/- 25. Admittedly, I often am challenged to edit down to that after I've finished. But mentally, knowing it only has to be 100 words makes it seem easy.

To wit: 

The novel prompt this week was Moby Dick, "the blubber-infused tale of a raging, peg-legged sea captain bent on avenging himself on the white whale responsible for his injury."

Quick aside: the birth name of techno artist Moby is Richard Melville Hall, and he says the author was his great-great-great-granduncle.

The story elements to use were:

* Conflict: man v self, man v nature (not gender specific)
* Character (choose at least one): a wooden-legged sea captain, a pacifist forced to help with someone else’s revenge, an easygoing storyteller oblivious to danger, a chief’s son/prince working on a ship, a mighty whale.
* Theme (choose one): revenge, fate v free will, the power of Nature, friendship, the cost of obsession
* Setting (choose one): a whaling ship, a sea port, an island, the middle of the ocean

And, we had this picture.

So back to my opening comment about "easy." In the shower, I came up with the opening line "Call me screwed," and wrote the basics of would become "Retreat." I did away with the opening line because it wound up not fitting.

With a sarcophagal WHOOSH the transport doors closed and the flight toward our destinies began. Hurtling through hollow space, I cast glances at the others and hoped fate would be kind. My hands cradled the key to my own escape.

A lost cause. A lost war. New recruits plucked from their mothers’ wombs and fed to the fray. Across the galaxy the enemy waited, lurking in the murky waters of the planet Octopoda. Only a miracle could save them. A miracle named...

Alas, the war would have to wait. We slid into the Times Square station, and readied to battle the forces of capitalism. I slipped the fresh-smelling book into my briefcase and marched onto the platform, oblivious to the severed tentacles beneath my feet.

Then I started with that line again, and proceeded to "My hands wouldn't stop shaking." I liked the latter much more, so that became the opening. I also changed the POV, initially third-person, and then to second person. (Something about second-person POV stories makes them seem so much more... I don't know... "immediate.") So here is "Fireworks."

Your hands won’t stop shaking. Had you eaten anything in the past three days you’d be vomiting. Instead, unseen tentacles twist your empty guts like a worn dishrag.

Your wife begged you to give them up. The drugs. But you wouldn’t. You couldn’t. And now more shit than you even knew existed is hitting fans all around you.

The flashing red and blue fireworks detonate inside your ragged eyeballs. The police yell, ordering you to drop the gun. But you can’t. Your hands are shaking. Were they not, the bullet – your last bullet – would not have missed. And it would be you, not your wife, lying on the lawn.

So you can’t put the gun down. You need the police to finish the job.

I'm pretty happy with them. Your thoughts?

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