SnarkWrites: “Killing the Gods Within Us” – Drafts 1-3

Hi Folks! So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out using Twitch to broadcast writing streams as Snark_Runner. Since I’m not sure how that works with first rights issues, I’ve decided that these stories will live on the blog, and anyone interested can see the evolution of the story within drafts. Last night I finished up draft 3 of this story, so here we go. (Draft 3 will be first, with the other drafts following for anyone who wants to see how it started.

The prompt is from Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds, and was just two words: New Life. After a few passes, this is what I came up with:

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Rebirth of the Dragon

Holy bunches of updates, Batman!  While last week’s flash fiction challenge took almost the whole week to write, I managed to get this one out of my skull-meats in less than a day. The gist of the challenge was to go to this site and generate a D&D character backstory, and somehow turn that into ~1k words. It just so happens that this week marked the sixth anniversary of getting one of my good friends into Pathfinder (a 3.5 variant) and pen and paper in general. At that point my friends group was running a pick-up game of one shots based in a tavern that grew into something more and one day faded away. Add thinking about that to awesome Facebook friends generating more characters, and this is what I wound up with. Normally I end this preamble with ‘I hope you enjoy!’ and I still kind of do, but really, I’m writing this one for me, so yeah. Good times.

“You think this will work, Krecdax?”

The young gnome eyed his halfling companion over the dust covered bar of the abandoned tavern. “Don’t know. Don’t care.”

“If we get this open, we might be able to save the Dragon.”

Krecdax glanced at the cracked door, the gutted stone fireplace, the rotting roof beams. “I don’t know, kid, maybe it’s time for the Dragon to die. It had a good run, for a tavern, but it’s seen better days.”

“But what if that locket holds untold riches? Or a treasure map? Think of the opportunity! Think of the -“

“Don’t say it.” Krecdax came to the Gold Dragon Inn in its heyday. Some words held more danger than others.

“Think of the adventure!”

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Good Intentions

Hey everybody! It’s time for another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge! . This week’s challenge was to go to the idiomatic and turn on mixed up idiom into a 1k word story. I got “The Road to Hell is a Girl’s Best Friend” and the resulting bit of wording is what poured out of my brain when I read that. Hope you enjoy!

“What’ve we got?” Elaine asked as she carefully blew sand off the lenses of her wraparound sunglasses. Rubbing the sand away would scratch the polarized plastic, and she doubted she’d find replacement lenses anytime soon.

“Convoy, ma’am,” Renner called down from his watch post. “Ain’t flying no flags. Should I fire a warning shot, let ‘em know to be heading elsewhere?”

Elaine fought down the urge to say yes. “Renner, in twenty years, when have I ever asked you to fire a warning shot?”

The guardsman coughed. “Never. Ma’am.”

“That’s right. They can come in if they want. They got something to trade, we trade. They got an eye for trouble, well, you’d best not be wasting ammo on warnings.”

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Trial by Moonlight

Time for another flash fiction challenge from TerribleMinds! This time the story had to be a mix of two subgenres  chosen randomly from a list of twenty. I got ‘Shapeshifter’ and ‘Military Sci-Fi’ so, of course, I came up with a tale about werewolves in space! or something similar, at least. Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing it. Enjoy!

Jeremiah forced himself to remember that no one designed spacecraft craft controls for four paws. He struggled to reign in his emotions as the Relentless drone tore through the hull of the cargo ship at the heart of the caravan. Deep breaths. Calming breaths. Ignore the stale taste of recirculated air. Calm. Focus. Sweat matted the thick hair on his arms. Please stay arms, please. The young pilot banked left, away from the caravan. Better shots than him could take out the small probes. Jeremiah knew he couldn’t hit the wide side of a storage bay if he didn’t have his targeting computer engaged. No. Hunt the source. Hunt the Relentless. Tear their throats. His mouth felt cramped. He ran his tongue over rows of too sharp teeth. Focus! If he lost control on his first solo mission, the Terrans would never let him into the Galactic Fleet. He had to prove worthy.

“Mr. Collins, is everything alright?” Mary Nguyen, Captain of the Moonlight Ravager, spoke through his comm.

“Everything’s fine, ma’am. Just need to stretch my legs a little bit.”

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Chasing the Things We Run From

Time for another flash fiction challenge from TerribleMinds! This time the story had to incorporate insomnia in a creative way. At the very least, insomnia is there. This one kind of burned it’s way out of my brain. Not super polished, but I feel it fits the piece. Anyway, enjoy!

The blast of a car horn, loud and long and angry, breaks through the haze. I swerve right, barely avoiding the muscle car bearing down on my little economy cruiser.

Look around. Nothing familiar.

How long have I been driving? Days? Weeks? Months?

Years?

Drinking coffee in identical breakfast joints in identical little towns scattered across the map. Lunch and dinner from the same drive throughs with different names and different faces. Bathrooms at gas stations. Sleep at, well… Nowhere. Everywhere. Caffeinate. Do everything to stay awake.

If I close my eyes I see it. I see her. The blue dress matching her blue eyes. Fear. Sea salt in the air. A cracking ringing sound in my ears. Blood. So much blood. I’ve loved her. I’ve always loved her. But I don’t know her name. Don’t know her face. Except for this moment. This everything. Her hand stroking my cheek. Dropping away.

Gone.

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Flash Fiction Challenge: The Tunnel Beneath

Time for another challenge from Terribleminds. This time, I needed to pick a random image and write a short story about it. This is the image I settled on. Here’s the story. Hope you like it! 

Silent footfalls on matted leaves, still damp with the final rains of autumn. A body, passing quietly through the skeletal trees, no crack of twigs or branches disturbed to alert any watchers above. Rusted metal binding oak still clotted with rich earth.

Jade smiled as the ancient wooden door slid open without a single creak, exposing a rough dirt tunnel leading deep into the darkness.

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Audio Fiction: Sibling Rivalry

One of the short stories I wrote that got shortlisted on the  Mash Stories Blog just made its audio debut. I’m happy with the choice of narrator, but it was written almost a year ago, and I’m painfully aware of how of my style has changed for the better since then.

Still, it’s the first story I wrote set in the Psychomachina universe, and without it I wouldn’t have Red and Mal. So, here it is if you want to give it a listen.

 

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: A dog’s dream

Time for another challenge from Terribleminds. This time, I needed to write a short story in five sentences, a real mindset shift after spending the last few months working on a novel length draft. 

The dog barked at the birds outside the window, protecting his family from the intruders in the lawn.

The birds enraged him, not just for being in his yard, but he envied their flight, their freedom.

On a walk, an ancient sorceress (nearly twenty) offered to turn him into a cardinal.

The former dog soared through the skies on scarlet wings, but his heart felt hollow.

He spent the rest of his days on a branch outside the window, singing songs to the family he loved, wishing he could come inside just one last time.

Flash Fiction Challenge: River’s Mask

This story is brought to you by FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: Chose your title and write at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. This takes place in the same universe as the story I posted last week, but it takes place a few years before. These are all set pieces for a fantasy trilogy kicking around in my head. Hope you like it! –FY

Leena Catilyna ran her gloved hand over the skewered rodent Sergeant Twinnings prepared for her. A moment of focus and the Tatter bound to her otherwise useless finger pulsed and heat poured from her hand, cooking the meat evenly. A few months ago and she might have burned their dinner, but long stretches in the field taught her enough basic meal preparation to keep her soldiers happy. No one doubted the effect of a hot meal on moral, especially when sneaking through a damp wood underneath clouds thick with snow. To a Weaver, nothing mattered more than the moral of her troops.

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Flash Fiction Challenge: Loose Ends

Macrocosm
This story is brought to you by FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: RANDOM FLICKR PHOTO CHALLENGE at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. Wow, it’s been almost three months since I’ve done a proper one of these. A little rusty, but fun, and introduces two characters that have been around in the back of my head for a while. Hope you enjoy! –FY

“Do you have it?”

The tall man sat next to the Broker without asking permission. She eyed him as best she could under the dangling hood of her cloak. Boots caked in drying mud adorned his feet, likely the source of the smell that announced his presence. Thick trousers and a patched woolen tunic stretched tightly over his well muscled frame. She caught a glimpse of his face reflected in his ale mug. He’d changed since last they’d spoke. The scruff on his face now resembled an actual beard. So young, pretending to be so much older. His eyes sunk deeper into the growing dark circles beneath them. So tired.

“Keep your voice down, Kensley.”

Kensley glanced around the tavern. The Broker knew what he would see. Herself, her silent companion in full black plate mail, and a barman cleaning a glass with his back turned to them, the bar room was empty. “Why bother? No one here will betray us.”

“Ears always listen. Mouths always speak. Do well to remember that in your coming revolution.”

“You try my patientence, crone.” Kensley paused, distracted by the faint hissing that came from the helmet of her silent companion. “Do you have it?”

The Broker slide a small wooden box on the table. “The price has gone up.”

“Again?”

“There were,” a spasm of pain rattled her arm,’”complications.”

Kensley lowered his head. “How many men did you lose?”

The Broker lowered her shaking arm beneath the table. “I lost enough. The price is now thirty thousand imperial.”

“That’s a significant increase.”

“You’re paying for significant power.”

Kensley stood to paced around the room. “No. I’ll only pay ten thousand, as we agreed.”

The Broker motioned to her companion. They started to rise. “Very well. Another buyer will be found.”

“Wait. Fine. Twenty. We can meet halfway.”

She sat back in the seat. “Twenty nine. Take the deal. Negotiate no further.”

“Ok, how about twenty five? You still come out fifteen thousand ahead, and I get to keep some dignity.”

“Thirty.”

Kensley ran his hand through his hair, pulling the shag at the base of his neck. “That’s not how negotiation works.”

The Broker let a half smile dance on her lips. “Thirty five.”

Kensley slammed his fist on the table. “I don’t have that!”

“But you have thirty.”

Kensley sagged. “Yes.”

“Then take the deal, or not. Quit wasting my time.”

Kensley paced the length of the bar several times. He reached into his shirt several times. He reached for the box once.

“Is it really a piece of her power?” he said, fingers outstretched.

The Broker slid the lid back. Inside the black velvet lined box sat a crystalline blue orb, etched with intricate designs.  “A Tatter. The same source of power as the Empress. Frozen. Ingestible. As promised.”

Kensley sighed heavily. He pulled a large pouch from his tunic and tossed it on the table with a heavy thud. Another two smaller pouches joined it, followed by several handfuls of lose coin. “Thirty thousand. A year’s worth of taxes for this province. Every coin to my name. All worth it for the power to fight the Tyrant.”

She pushed the box towards him careful not to touch the orb with her hands. “Do not forget the price.”

“I gave you all the money I have.”

“Not my price. The price it,” she pointed to the blue orb, “will demand of you.”

“I will pay anything for the chance to strike her down and free my people. Nothing and no one will stop me.” A jagged smile cut across his face. “I begin my hunt at daybreak.”

“Of course. A pleasure doing business with you.” The Broker said the last of those words to empty air. Kensley had already vanished with his prize.

She accepted her companion’s offer of aid in collecting the money and carrying it to their carriage around back. Safely inside she removed the heavy cloak and retrieved her jeweled circlet of office. Her companion removed her helmet, revealing a lined face surrounded by close cropped brown hair with hints of grey, a faint smile on her face. The Broker, no Emilia now, glared at her.

“Mother! You nearly gave us away by laughing.”

“I couldn’t help it. I can’t believe he called you a crone. You’re barely thirty.”

“I can’t blame him.” Emilia, brushing away the last vestiges of her black market persona, frowned at her brittle white hair and her wrinkled hands. “If you don’t mind my asking, why give him that power? He did not lie. He intends to confront you as soon as he can find you.”

“Because thirty thousand imperials can buy mercenaries and weapons. Because a war would inflict terrible atrocities on my people, on my land. Because I might be able to convince him to join us once I’ve beaten him.”

“And if he kills you?”

“I imagine I won’t be terribly concerned with anything.”

“Mother!”

The Empress held up her hands placatingly. “Fine, fine. If he kills me, the Empire falls. Don’t worry, I’m not so old and frail that I can’t take one warrior on my own.”

Emilia knew that her mother felt confident about the fight, at least. “What of Governor Dimval?”

“We managed to recover the stolen taxes, so he shall keep his head.”

“Allowing failure to go unpunished? All the other tyrants will be disappointed in you.”

“Next time he won’t be so lucky.” The Empress tapped on the roof of the carriage. “Driver! Take us back to the Traveling Court. I’ve got to prepare for company.”