General

Friday Flash: Sweet Sixteen

Today’s Friday Flash! It still needs work, I think, but I am not sure exactly what.

Crazy color smeared across her face. Pale pink on her eyelid transformed into neon pink on her eyebrow. The left eyelid was colored light blue, but somehow bright blue dotted her cheeks. Her hair was powdered with lemon yellow. Similar colors spilled down her shirt and the new white shorts she’d wanted to wear for her birthday party.

“What are you supposed to be?” he asked.

She burst into tears. Oddly, her tears made no tracks through the color on her face.

His wife chose that moment to come in and scowled at him. “She’s a Neon. Her ability is to spread color on every surface.”

He winced. That was the most useless Neon ability. Invariably, they were house painters, interior designers or fashion designers. Artists, too, many times.

Too bad his baby girl could only draw stick figures and hadn’t the fashion sense of a poodle.

“Come here.”

“Papa!” She threw herself into his arms. “What am I gonna do?”

“I don’t know, sweetie.” He closed his arms tight around her. “We’ll figure something out.”

They had time. She was only sixteen.

General

Friday Flash: Snake Woman

This is my first Friday flash of the year – and my first in many, many months. I meant to post this last week, but I forgot. 😦 This is an experiment, using a different POV from a story I posted earlier.

She peeked in the window. Her old yellow scarf moved in the breeze and she yanked it back. The room was dusty, and littered with pencil stubs and torn paper. The man was inside. He bent over a pad of paper, fingers smudged with graphite. This looked promising.

She moved around the house, past the scraggy grass in the front lawn. There was a kitchen garden in the back. A basil plant grew by the side of the house, its leaves a bright, verdant green, in direct contrast to the faded whitewash of the house.

She squatted in front of it, and cringing, reached inside. But her fingers passed through the soil painlessly, like air through a flute. The bones were buried among the basil roots. Perfect. She cradled them in her hand and lifted them out. The skeleton was no larger than her hand, dead so recently that bits of flesh still clung to its skull. The burial must have been rushed, she thought, the ceremonies not properly observed. Otherwise the basil would have protected the small baby from such as her far better.

A dead baby and a grieving widower – this was perfect. She picked several delicate finger bones and chewed. It would tell the babies in her belly how they should appear to the man.

She left the bones on the ground and rose, turning to the window. The bells on her anklets tinkled in the air, as loud as they had been silent before.  

The man walked came outside from a second door. She smiled at him and pulled on the magic of her people. It covered her like a new silk dress, soft, pliable yet strong. The man gazed her, entranced. She embraced him; his arms wrapped tightly around her. He breathed on her neck, long, slow breaths, and she led him inside.

She made him man food, but left the dust in the room alone. Night fell and she took him in the bed. Finally, finally, she let the magic go. He saw her as she was. His eyes widened above her; he gasped and moaned as though overcome with fear – or desire. His sounds were a wonderful music. She grinned – and drank down his energy. Afterward, he lay on the bad, watching her with wide, staring eyes.

She gave birth on top of him. Blood soaked the bedding. Her babies slipped from her, tiny, writhing, hungry creatures. They bit his lips, sipped his blood. The man would care well for them for a few years. She would be back then.

She knew the villagers would leave him be. They knew her people’s reputation.

flash friday · Short Story

Friday Flash: Escape

This isn’t quite what I hoped it would be, but it’s done now. 🙂

 

City lights gleamed in the distance. They were pinpricks of   life, of hope.

He automatically searched out the building with the spire made of stacked metal gargoyle skulls. Even obscured by wet and fog, it was beautiful. His family lived there, walked and worked in its rooms. He’d spent the best part of childhood there.

His lover’s home was a couple dozen blocks past it. He’d thought it was his home, too. He was wrong.

“Come on.”

He looked over his shoulder at his friend. His friend’s dark clothing was wet from the rain and his hair was slicked back. But his gaze held only rough sympathy.

“You knew it would end,” his friend stated.

He nodded. He knew. It still hurt. He took a deep breath of the cool, rain-scented air. “Time to go.”

The both walked to the edge. He placed his hands on the wet railing and looked down. The river below was dark and the waters roiled in the storm.

A small boat bobbed in the water. It was barely visible. He swung his legs over the railing and jumped.

The splash he made was lost in the storm’s fury. The water was numbingly cold. A moment later, his friend dropped beside him.

They looked at each other, than started swimming.

 

Writing

First Day of National Novel Writing Month 2012

I have decided to do National Novel Writing Month. Thank You to all my friends who encouraged me.

So I loaded Scrivener and started a new short story project. Stared at the empty screen. Panicked when I realized I couldn’t remember any of my ideas for a short story. Took a deep breath and calmed down enough to recall I have been wanting to write a short pre-writing sort of story about the death of the character’s grandmother.

I have thus far written one sentence and I don’t know what else I am going to write. Maybe I should have decided I was going to do this earlier, did a bit more planning. LOL

But I am less panicked now and I know some of what I want to write. I am not going to do the traditional sort of NaNo. Instead I want to write five 10,000 word stories.

According to some people, that makes me a NaNo rebel. I don’t think I agree. I am still going to write 50,000 and I disagree with people who think 50,000 words worth of short stories is easier 50,000 words worth of a novel. It’s still 50,000 words.

General

National Novel Writing Month 2012

I did National Novel Writing Month last year, but I didn’t finish until well after the New Year. I did write more daily than I thought possible, so it wasn’t a loss.

This year, with NaNoWriMo starting the day after tomorrow, I am om the fence about whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year. Last year was an experience, but I am not sure it is one I want to repeat. I was on the fence even before Sandy arrived and destroyed transportation, likely adding lots more time to my daily commute. So I will probably have a lot less time than last year to do this. Also, large chunks of the city are without power . . . so yeah. Now I am even less sure.

Plus, it will mean taking time away from editing. That’s a positive thing, IMO. I could use time away from it. Editing sucks.

IF I do decide on participating National Novel Writing Month, I will probably write five 10,000 word stories. I have never written so much as one 10,000 word story before and read hardly any. So it won’t be easy. Short stories are their own little world, one I don’t usually gravitate to naturally, so it will be a challenge.

It’s still 50,000 words. 😉 It means writing one story or 10,000 words every five days. Which, yeah, feels scary just thinking about it. Advice, thoughts, anyone?

I don’t actually have ideas for five long-ish short stories, but I imagine they will come. (Yes, pantster, me!)

reading

Free Reads on Google Play

 

So I was searching through the books in Google Play. I went through various menus, Featured, Top Selling, New Arrivals in Fiction, New Arrivals in Non-Fiction, until I arrived at Top Free.

I expected this section to be filled with classics. That is, books whose copyright had expired, along with a few other, more recently published books. I was wrong.

Well, not completely. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells topped free books the list. There were a few other titles, too, that I didn’t recognize and could possibly be classics. (I am not an expert on the classics.)

No, mostly it was bonus stories from writers I’ve heard of. Patterson, Christine Warren, Jenna Black and others. Which surprises me. I didn’t get any and I suppose they are complete stories, just short. I usually go looking for those bonus short stories on the author’s website. A couple were more novella sized – around 100 pages. Google Play is probably a pretty good outlet for them, too.

Plus! There was also a whole free book by Jayne Ann Krentz.

I didn’t see a lot of a self-published books, which surprised me. At least none I recognized.

 

fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Born

Part six in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one, two, three, four and five here.

Gazelle woke slowly, delightfully warm and dry and comfortable. She kicked at the blanket, but the whole bed shook and whined. It sounded like a pup.

Her eyes flew open. The sky overhead was a bright, cloudless blue. She sat up and froze. She lay not in her bed or even a patch of grass, but on a gigantic web stretching across the branches of dozens of trees.

A dust devil lay curled up across her legs. No, in her legs. No –

“It’s part of you now,” someone said.

She looked up to see the dust rider who had come to take her. “Part of me?”

“It will you let you go eventually.” His lips curved into an amused smile. “Like a boy’s balls dropping.”

“Like what?” What was wrong with this man?

“Until than you are joined at the tail. So to speak.”

“What!”

He laughed. “Don’t kick your devil when he’s asleep. It bites.”

Joined at the tail? She eyed the baby devil and tried to move her legs. The wound-up dust devil uncurled a little and shifted; she moved forward on the web. And though she couldn’t see her legs, still the web felt rough and sticky under her.

The baby devil lifted its sleek, pointy head and yowled. It had a mouthful of sharp, white fangs.

“He’s probably hungry,” the dust rider said and pointed at the far edge of the web. “Take him over there.”

“How?” demanded Gazelle.

But the dust rider only smiled.

Gazelle took a deep breath and pretended her legs weren’t encased inside the dust devil. The baby devil responded, it’s head and body undulating under her. She grabbed on with both hands as it crawled forward to the other end of the web.

Large stripes of raw, bloody meat hung from thinner branches above them. The baby dust devil swallowed the carcass of a piglet whole. It turned than to look at her out of dark, unfathomable eyes and rubbed itself against her chest.

Gazelle gulped and touched its head. Only then did she realize her chest seemed to have gone flat. She frowned down at it. She even wore a flight suit, like the dust rider worn. But who -?

“It’s your skin now,” said the dust rider.

He had followed her across the web and now stood watching a few feet away.

“I – what?” Lord, but couldn’t she say anything else to him?

“Your skin,” he repeated. “We are not human anymore. Your breasts will come back when you give birth.”

She gaped. Not human.

“The stories are true. We really are gods. You are a very lucky girl, Gazelle, to be chosen.”

The End!

There might be people who want more. I know there could be more, that I could turn this into a much longer work. But, honestly, I am done. I want to get back to normal Friday flash fiction.

(Unless I turn this into a Tuesday serial. Still thinking about that.)

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Eaten

Part five in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one, two, three and four here. Part six next week. 😉

He freed Gazelle and she jumped down. The dirt was firm, undoubtedly tamped down from the passage hundreds of dust devils.

“That way.” The dust rider pointed at people clustered around the bonfire. “Go.”

She hoisted her bag over one shoulder and walked. She was stiff, achy and cold from the long ride. She hoped she could sleep soon.

She pushed as close to the fire as she dared; it felt good on her chilled skin.

“Careful!” A boy about her own age grabbed her elbow and yanked her back.

“What -”

“You almost stepped on them.” He pointed at the ground.

Gazelle looked down. Eggs. Large, sand-colored, vibrating eggs lay in a heap. They were so close to the fire it was a wonder they didn’t burn. Or cook. Maybe this was an odd dust rider cooking method. She thought longingly of scrambled eggs.

She didn’t know how she’d missed them before.

Even as she watched, a tiny crack appeared in the egg in front of her. A small bit of shell fell away and a slender brown tail slipped through. It waved wildly, banging itself against the shell, and the shell broke apart. A small, glistening wet dust devil cried into the night air.

Gazelle gaped. A dust devil hatching. Who would have guessed?

All around her, the other eggs hatched. Soon the air was filled with the shrill screeching of the new-born dust devils.

The one she was watching suddenly quieted, studied her with one blue eye and then leaped at her. She stumbled back and threw up an arm over her face.

Claws tore into her scalp and sharp teeth tore into her shoulder. Gazelle screamed. It thrust its strong, slender tail into her mouth.

Gazelle scrabbled at the creature. But her fingers slipped on the wet scales and she could not pull free.

She bit the creature’s tail and sharp pain bloomed on her shoulder. Her sight went dark and she knew she was dying.

They’ll tell Papa I died during training.  

The baby devil spit saliva on her shoulder. It rolled down her back, leaving only cool numbness behind.

Treacherous Rider.

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Devils’ Lawn

the devil’s lawn

Part four in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one and two and three here.

Gazelle handed the dust rider her single knapsack and watched him strap into the dust devil’s harness. She wore her heaviest canvas jacket and wondered how a dust rider could be so daft as to insist on something so heavy in summer. She was going to melt like a pat of butter.

The dust devil flicked long, curling ears at his rider. He smiled, patted its head and spoke to her. “Climb on up. I will strap you in first.”

Mud-colored spines ran along the sides of the devil. She put one foot on it and clambered up to the saddle. The dust rider showed her where to put her legs, then looped a harness over her shoulders and leashed her to the saddle. Like she was a cow or something, too stupid to know when to stay still.

She scowled at it. The leather trapped her as surely the gold paid for her.

The dust rider hoisted himself in front of her and strapped himself in. He did not, she noticed sourly, use the shoulder harness on himself.

He caressed the dust devil’s ears. “Fly!”

It reared up, roiling under her like a fishing boat caught in a storm. Gazelle fisted her hands, fingers digging into her own skin. She would not clutch at the dust rider. She wouldn’t.

Miles of long, sleek brown skin stretched out behind her. The wind from the dust devil’s launch rocked tree branches and blew her mother’s skirts up.

She watched her family farm become smaller and smaller until it was a mere spec on the ground. They flew above the clouds and she could see nothing but white fluff. Her ears froze and then burned. The devil was a comforting warmth under her.

Gazelle didn’t know how long they flew, but the sun set. The rider handed her some hard biscuits from somewhere.

It was still dark when they started descending. There was a gigantic grassy space, enclosed by wire fences and lit by dozens of torches. Many dust devils gathered on the ground. A small group of young people like her huddled in the middle, close to a big bonfire.

“The devils’ lawn!” the dust rider announced.

As a side note, I think this one might be least stand alone out of all them so far.

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Dust Rider Bought

eye of the devil
Part three in my Friday flash series experiment! Parts one and two here.

“Gazelle!” her mother called.


She took a deep breath, wiped her hands on her gray cotton pants and walked out the front door.

Up-close, the devil was very impressive. Scary. It turned a single, window-sized, cloud-colored eye toward her.

She stopped at the edge of the porch, staring. Even wrapped around itself like a snake, it was bigger than the house.

The leather-clad dust rider smiled at her. “Gazelle Root?”

She raised her chin. “I am not going with you, sir. My life is here.”

“Gazelle. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a great honor.” Her mother turned to the dust rider, a greedy glint in her eye. “How much is the family’s compensation?”

“Why don’t we talk about that? Inside?”

“Of course. Gazelle, make tea.”

Fuming, Gazelle turned on her foot and stormed to the kitchen. The sitting room was steps from it and voices carried clearly.

She scowled at the pot of boiling water and pictured dumping on the dust rider’s head. Maybe her mother’s, too. Her father, too, for saying nothing at all.

She took a deep breath to calm herself, prepared the tray and carried it into the sitting room.

“Good news,” her mother said. “We settled on 5000 golds for you.”

“I wish you joy,” snapped Gazelle.