An Angel Above

The following is my 100 word entry for the Shared Story:Advent Ghosts project proposed at the blog I Saw Lightning Fall. This was fun to write, although it was a challenge to tell the story in exactly 100 words. I hope you enjoy it, and do click the link and read the other entries as well.

An Angel Above

Her crochet angel sat atop our tree that frosty Christmas Eve.

For nine years it had been missing, gone the Christmas she had taken her leave.

Had it really been that long?

Grandma was a crafter. She made things with her hands.

The skiing squirrel, fashioned from walnuts and acorns our family had gathered on our walks for her.

The tiny felt and cotton glove.

And an angel tree topper.

There was no Etsy in her time. Only Church bazaars. And family trees.

The angel was gone that Christmas morning. But I swear it had been there. So had she.

My Flash Fiction Entry: It’s Getting Hot In Here

My entry for the Clarity Of Night Flash Fiction Contest has been posted. Mine is number 39. I’m posting it here also, for posterity. I don’t expect to win the contest, but I’m happy with what I’ve written. Let me know what you think, either here or over at the contest site.

Published July 13, 2041 | FOXNews.com

Record high temperatures were reported across the United States for the thirteenth consecutive month, causing health officials to warn the elderly, the infirm, and mammals to avoid the outdoors between dawn and dusk. Some scientists put the blame on the shoulders of the democrat controlled government at the beginning of the century.

“Although the science is mixed on whether climate change is real, and has it never been proven that the Earth truly is warming, if it was, it most surely be due to the inaction from the left at a most critical time,” said Dr. W. R. Scrued, Political Science, Liberty University. “Not that human action could affect the Earth’s temperature in any way.”

Others take a more spiritual view on so-called climate change.

“If the good Lord meant for us to go outside in the middle of the day, air conditioning woulda never been invented,” shouted Brent Melanin through the driver’s side window of his Ford Decapitator. “Anyways, the Sun is just doin’ what it’s s’posed to. Makin’ the Earth warm.”

Democrat-influenced historians from liberal universities often blame the lack of meaningful climate change legislation on abuse of the filibuster and corporate influence on politics. An overwhelming number of our readers disagree.

According to a FoxNews.com poll, seventy-nine percent of voters blame the democrats for climate change, while eighty-two percent of voters feel that the Earth is not getting any warmer because it snowed that one time last winter.

I Wrote My First Haiku

I just wrote my first haiku.

John Scalzi is having a contest and the winner will have their name as a character in one of his novels. All you have to do is the following (according to the entry post on his blog here):

For the contest, write a haiku from the point of view of some who is either about to die or has just died, from one (or more!) of the following:

1. A spider monkey or monkeys;
2. LASERS
3. Poor GPS directions
4. And, of course, Spontaneous Human Combustion.

Rules!

1. One haiku per person. So make it good.

2. “Haiku” in this case means a poem in 5/7/5 syllable configuration. You don’t need to make a seasonal reference.

3. All entries have to be in by 11:59:59pm Eastern, Sunday, January 16, 2011.

4. If you win, the name used will be your last name. The person using your name may or may not be of your own sex/nationality/creed/sexual predilections, etc. You won’t be able to substitute anyone else’s name.

And there you are. Drop your entries in the comment thread.

Here is my entry:

A threatened monkey
Misplaced bag of taco bell
The sh** hit the fan

Man, I love a good poop joke. And yes, this is my first ever haiku. Kinda fun to write actually.

Flash Fiction – To Have It All

Well, this is my entry for the contest going on over at The Clarity of Night. I turned this in a minute or so before the deadline. Just in time, as they say.

This one is a bit different than most of my other writing. I’m not really sure how good it is, to be honest with you. In other words, this one is less on the silly side and more on the serious side. I tried to get all writerly with it.

Anyhow, here it is. I’d love to hear what you think.

To Have It All

Greed was his poison, folly his chalice. It clouded his judgment and blackened his heart. And it was worth it.

Ras knew it was madness to trust pirates, be they the eye patch variety or their machine gun toting, 20/20 eyesight contemporaries. Yet he sailed with them nevertheless.

As they tightened the ropes on his wrists and ankles, he could have avoided this fate. He needed provide the location of the gem. And yet, even as their boats disappeared, he did not call out to save himself. It would not let him. It would not be shared, no matter the cost.

The restraints had been easy. Thanks to the poor quality knotsmanship of modern day piracy Ras had worked himself free from his restraints in less than a day’s time. Soon after Ras had extracted his treasure from its unmarked spot in the sand.

In my hand I possess more wealth than all of the kings throughout history have ever dreamed,” he said, his cackles muted by the vulture songs. The land and sea remained silent.

“Did you not hear me?” he said, holding his hand in the air. “With this, I could bathe in the most expensive wines in the world. I could dine on only the finest dishes for my lifetime and four, and never grow hungry.”

Ras failed to see another moon. His body receded over time into the sand. A stone remained where his stomach had been, worthless and rare, nourishment to none.

Flash Fiction – The Traveler and The Game

Here’s my entry for the 12th The Clarity of Night Short Fiction Contest. There’s still plenty of time to enter.

The Traveler and The Game

An old man stopped me on my way to the mountaintop. He had a beard as black as coal stretching to the tops of his feet and a long flowing robe so filthy that tiny green buds sprouted upon its surface. A rock, a stick, and a gun lay before him. “Stay for a game,” he said to me. “If you win I’ll let you pass.”

“And if I refuse?”

The man said nothing, instead turning his eyes toward the gun. I got the message.

“Well, what’s the game?” I said.

“Using any one of these items, rid me of that wicked creature,” he replied, pointing a crooked finger at the raven circling overhead. “In one shot.”

I considered the objects at hand.

The rock. Too light and insignificant, it would do nothing but agitate the bird.

More substantial, but terribly inaccurate, the stick was not worth the risk.

The gun was my only true option. Lifting the weapon, I trained my sights on the winged creature. Moving the barrel just to the left of my target, boom click boom, I emptied both chambers. The creature departed.

“Thank you,” said the old man, fading like mist in the breeze, the shot still ringing in my ears. The rock, the stick, and the gun followed.

The land compelling me to rest, I sat in the very spot the man had been. And there I remain, seated, watching the raven fly above, waiting for an unfortunate soul willing to play my game.

Flash Fiction – Happens All the Time

First of all, yes I did complete National Novel Writing Month last night. It nearly killed me, but I did it. I’m totally going to detox for the next week. And sleep (as much as the baby lets me, of course). I’ll post a recap tomorrow.

In other news, I didn’t win the contest at Karen Lee Field’s blog, but I did come in third. So, if the winner and the runner-up are unable to fulfill their duties, I totally get a $25 amazon gift card.

So, for those of you who missed it, or those who didn’t want to click, or those of you who want to read it again, or for prosperity for my own sake I present:

Happens All the Time

Officer Dan stared at the blank sheet of paper, clueless on where to begin. He had been on the force in this sleepy little college town for over twenty years and had never had a night like this. Nor had he ever been so perplexed by his paperwork.

Maybe, he thought, it would be best to start with the date. Friday the 13th. Or perhaps it would be helpful to mention that a full moon had illuminated the chilled autumn sky. Superstitions, for sure, but these details were better than any other explanation he had for what happened that night.

How about the beginning? It began with a routine call. Fire alarm in one of the freshman dormitories. Happens at least once a semester. When he arrived on the scene the building was gone, and in its place stood a group of happy looking dwarfs guarding a large cauldron filled with gold doubloons. Happens to everybody, right?

No, that little incident would be better left unmentioned. After all, by the time backup arrived everything was back to normal. The dwarfs had magically transformed into undersized underclassmen and the gold into a hackey sack.

The second call of the evening was no better. According to the witness,a student was passed out in a shrub near the stadium. It was a serious matter, for sure, but sadly not terribly uncommon.

What the caller failed to mention was the bearded man standing over the unconscious student, holding a wand and mumbling Latin, or some variation of the dead language. They told him at the hospital that the young man will make a full recovery, but Dan wasn’t so sure.

None of that could be included, nor could his run-in with Officer Smith. Dan’s head throbbed as he remembered the smug look Smith’s face when he had offered to cover the rest of Dan’s shift. Dan declined, refusing to give his rival the satisfaction, using what remained of his fragile will to refrain from punching him in the face.

The memory spiked Dan’s adrenaline and led him to an epiphany. He picked up his pen, ready to do something he had never done in all his time on the force. He would lie, and not just a little white lie. He would report that it had been a quiet night, with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Maybe he would mention the fire alarm, and maybe he wouldn’t.

Smiling for the first time all night, Dan put the tip of his pen to the paper. Just as he began to write, he caught movement outside his window out of the corner of his eye. A black cat, raised a paw to its brow, saluted, and with a smile walked away. Officer Dan’s pen was not far behind.

The following morning, the Chief of Police opened the door to his office and found a note, in which the following text was written in shaky handwriting:

I QUIT – OFFICER DAN

Story Posted!

The 500 word story I wrote for Karen Lee Field’s writing contest has been posted to her blog. If you have a few minutes, why not go over there and give it a read. It’s a pretty fun story, I think. If you get a chance, why not read all seven entries and vote for your favorite?

Anyhow, here’s a direct link to my entry, titled Happens All the Time. Feel free to leave me comments/feedback either at her site or in the comments of this message. Or via smoke signals, but only if you live in Centre County, Pennsylvania. That’s probably the only way I’d see the smoke. 🙂

Happy October!

By the time you all read this, it most likely will be October, my favorite months of the year. In celebration of the month of Halloween, I’m going to pin my little flash fiction story Frank to the top of the blog for the month.

Frank was a little story I wrote in 2006, and has probably been the most popular post ever on this here blog. Those that are new here, and there are quite a few of you, really should check it out. I think you will enjoy it.

The coolest thing about Frank has been the emails I’ve gotten from it. More than one elementary school teacher has told me they have read Frank to their classes for Halloween and even analyzed the story. How cool is that? Anyhow, check it out and let me know what you think.

We Went There – A Ficly Story

Have you all heard of Ficly? It’s a website where you write stories 1024 characters in length (a character being a letter, punctuation, a space, a carriage return, etc).  Once you write a story people can add to your story with a prequel or sequel. Users also rate and comment on your stories.

Anyway, I used to be pretty active over there, especially when the site was owned by AOL and called Ficlets. Anyhow, I just started posting stories over there again. Here’s one I just wrote, titled We Went There. I hope you like it. You can see more of my stuff here: http://ficly.com/authors/strugglingwriter

We Went There

“40th anniversary of the Moon landing today,” said Walter, glancing at the night sky.

“Meh,” replied Tyler, as his thumbs pecked away at his phone’s tiny keypad.

“What do you mean, meh?” said Walter, fighting the urge to knock the phone out of his son’s hands.

“Big deal,” said Tyler, finally looking up. “A bunch of guys went to the Moon. Why go to the Moon, anyway?”

Walter wanted to scream at his son about President Kennedy’s challenge, about the Cold War, about the need at that point in our nation’s history for something, anything, positive. Instead, he said, “You want to know why we went to the Moon?”

“Yeah,” answered Tyler with a smirk. “Why bother.”

“Because it was there,” answered Walter, making eye contact with his son. “Because we needed to know.”

Tyler put his phone in his pant pocket, the one specifically designed for cell phones. He too looked to the sky. “Dad,” he said. “Do you think we’ll ever go farther than the Moon?”

“I hope so,” answered Walter. “I really do.”