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:

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

Advertisements

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!”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: Rebirth of the Dragon”

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.”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: Good Intentions”

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.”

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: Trial by Moonlight”

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.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: Chasing the Things We Run From”

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.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: River’s Mask”

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.”

NANOWRIMO CHALLENGE: A SNIPPET OF YOUR WORK – The Cicada’s Drone

*Walks around the blog, kicks the tires. Wipes away a thick layer of dust.*
Hey everyone, sorry for neglecting the blog so much in the past few weeks, but I’ve been super focused on writing. Since I’m NaNoWriMo-ing, and the challenge at terrible minds was to post 1k of your best stuff, it’s a pretty easy. Except for the fact this is pure rough draft, and I’m putting it out in the world without any polish. That’s a little scary. But yeah, here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been working on. Enjoy!

 

“Jesus Christ, Roy. Do you have a death wish?”

Conroy laughed. He hadn’t actually eaten anything substantial for most of the day, just a few candy bars and a sandwich, just enough to keep his brain from shorting out. This about balanced it out.

“Life’s too short for carrot sticks, Azure.”

They sat in silence while he slowly devoured the grease bomb. The buffalo sauce was relatively weak, but still enough to provide a bit of a tingle in the back of his throat and his nostrils. For a few minutes, everything was forgotten. The gruesome visions always on his mind, the certainty that he was letting so many people down by doing this, by being a private detective, mostly because it sounded cool. The shame of being an embarrassment, a terrible friend, all of it faded as each grease soaked bit vanished from the plate. He sat back with a satisfied smile on his face.

“Now, Azure, cut the shit. What did you want to talk about?”

She smiled, really smiled, for the first time that night. “Welcome back, Roy.”

She pulled a couple of photos from her pocket. “I found these paintings in the victim’s bedroom. They look like something you might have run into back in the day.”

Conroy looked them over. More detailed version of some of the things from the sketchbook. Finished works. “Yeah, they look familiar.”

“Feel up to consulting again?”

He smiled. “Sure. My fee’s gone up a bit.”

She glared.

“I’m sure I can cut you a deal though, for old times sake.”

#

When Sergeant Benson dropped Conroy off at his office, he didn’t notice anything wrong at first. Oh, sure, the shadows danced and pulsed menacingly, but that happened almost every night. He climbed the stairs, ignoring the low growls coming from the office below his.

He ran his fingers along the steel railing. Near the top the warm metal became damp, sticky. He brought his fingers to his nose, fearing the coppery smell of blood. Sweet, sharp, but rich. Something else. Some other viscus fluid then. Something strange. He wiped his hand on the wall. There was enough here that he’d be able to gather more if it proved the least bit interesting.

The door stood open, cracked an inch. Conroy muttered a curse. He locked it. He remembered locking it. Could he have forgotten? No. Someone was here. Someone had broken in. He reached for the small gun that nestled in the small of his back.

He pressed his hand against the door. Warm. Smooth. He looked at the doorjamb, at the lock. He expected to see some sign of a break in, a busted lock plate or maybe scratches at keyhole. Nothing. Pristine. Just like he’d walked out and forgotten it. Whoever did this was good.

Conroy pushed the door open. Inside it was dark, deep, a pit that he could fall in forever. He navigated by memory, stepping around furniture as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. A window, shades drawn back, let a little bit of light into the room.

“Well met by moonlight.” he whispered.

Through the reception area, into his office proper. A glow, blinding him. He raised his gun, finger on the trigger, ready to fire.

“Wait!”

That voice. Familiar. Didn’t belong here. Not now. Wrong. Conroy shook his head. He lowered the gun, confused. Standing by his desk, clad in a diaphanous gown, was a face familiar and foreign.

“Maureen?”

The woman nodded. Conroy held his hand up to his face, trying to block some of the glare. He realized that the glow wasn’t coming from anything in his office manager’s hand, but from the dress itself.

“The fuck, Maureen? I thought you were in the Rockies with Danny.”

She nodded. “I had to come here, to warn you.”

“About what?”

“Just take the money and walk away. There’s things at work here, forces that you cannot begin to comprehend. You cannot hope to survive this. It’s been a good run. It’s time to let it be.”

“Sorry you wasted a trip, but don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

“Let it go.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know how to explain it. I owe the kid. I took his money. I need to solve his case.”

“You’re not that good a person, Conny.”

Conroy bristled at the nickname. Maureen was the only one who could get away with calling him that name to his face.

“Fine, you’re right. It’s the mystery of the thing. This is too weird. I’ve got to know what’s going on.”

Maureen tousled his hair with her hand. “Curiosity killed the cat.”

“And satisfaction brought him back.” Conroy replied.

Maureen smiled the ghost of a smile. “We miss you, Conny.”

“Back at ya, kid.”

“We’ll see you soon.”

“You bet. Just come back safe when your vacation’s over.”

Maureen turned and took three steps towards the door before exploding into a cloud of silver moths, each one glowing as brightly as her dress. The swarm circled the room twice, buffeting papers and posters before flying out through the closed window, up towards the moon.

Conroy woke with a start. He lay facedown on his desk, a line of drool dried to the side of his face. In one hand he held the bottle of codeine pills. A quick rattle showed it was emptier than it should be. In his other hand he held his picture of Maureen and Danny, on their wedding day. In the photo, Conroy had his arms around the happy couple. Everyone was smiling and laughing. It seemed a world away. Conroy reached up to brush away the tears streaming down his face.

With shaking hands he put the bottle back into his desk drawer, and the picture back on his desk, next to his laptop stand. The office was just as dark as in his dream. He flicked on the light, blinking rapidly as the bright light caused his already damp eyes to water.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Space Opera

This story is brought to you by FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: YOUR VERY OWN SPACE OPERA at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. This is kind of building in the world touched on by the Ragged Abyss story, though takes place a bit in the future. Hope you enjoy! –FY

Klaxons blared throughout the ship, echoing down twisting hallways and through cramped quarters. Dozens of crew members surged to their feet. The Captain found a new quarry. Time to hunt.

“Ready the aft cannons!” Her voice crackled over the loudspeaker, filled with exuberant joy.

Remington Harto rushed to his battle station, his tattered cruise ship uniform hanging loosely around his newly toned frame. He glanced at the other gunners as he slid into his chair. Mostly fresh faces, though not necessarily young. A gray beard sat only a few feet down from him, just as low as Remington on the totem pole, and Lieutenant Nuvella, the woman leading their little squad, looked so young that even MilSec would have told her to come back after a few years. But that young face was split by a deep scar. Experience was all that mattered on the Strange Aeon.

Three clicks and a scan of his thumb print brought the weapon to life. The monitor on the targeting computer lit up, showing a clear view of the wide expanse of space.

Continue reading “Flash Fiction Challenge: Space Opera”