Flash: Waves Against the Pier

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The following post was written June 5, 2013.

ConCarolinas 2013 – On Sunday I attended a writer’s workshop. The panelists were:

Moderator – Joe Naff (http://www.moonwingmedia.com/) – Writes fantasy and supernatural thriller with strong female lead characters. (Eternal Forest; The Chronicles of Shyra (Series); The Gospel of the Font)

Panelist – Catherine McLean (http://www.catherineemclean.com/) – Write space opera. (Karma and Mayhem; Jewels of the Sky)

Panelist – Winfield Strock III (http://adventures-above-the-aether.blogspot.com/) – Writes steampunk. (Adventures Above the Aether, Aether Legion)

With this eclectic group of speculative fiction authors overseeing the workshop, we were instructed to write “A scene where the scene expresses the emotion of what is happening.” for fifteen minutes. Okay, I can do that. Below is what was written word for word; no time for editing.

***

Waves crashed around the pier, throwing a fog of salt water around Clyde. Angry tears trickled down his face, leaving tracks in the sea-mist sweat. Life wasn’t fair, he thought.

A scream escaped his wounded heart and was torn away by the unforgiving wind. Soon he would need to leave. The blood-red sunset promised a storm, no matter what the weatherman had said. He looked forward to spending the night in the creaky beachcomber shack he rented, fighting leaks and rattling panes.

She shouldn’t have left him. He had done everything right. From the first spell of summon to the last spell of binding, his high school sweetheart should have stayed with him until death parted them.

What had gone wrong?

An incoming wave driven by tide and storm pushed him back a step. His sopping jeans cling to his skinning legs like lichen. His bare feet slipped a bit on the slimy mold.

He couldn’t even summon her back. The last binding spell made her immune to hearing siren energy. She should have held steady.

(Words 176)

 

We did a round robin with the participants reading their pieces and giving feedback. Then we got the kicker for the second hour of the workshop. Write the same scene but with an opposite or strongly different emotion. Characters may be changed, but the location/scene needed to remain the same. Oh, boy. … I think I can do that. …. Ummm, okay …

***

Waves dashed in ahead of the storm, hurtling towards safety in the sand. Clyde remained on the mossy pier, digging his bare feet through the slimy green coating for firmer footing. He waited impatiently through the ruby sunset for full dark. The storm promised big ones to curl, dare and ride. Wind ripped at his pony-tail, lashing at his back and check.

Should he do this without backup? His partner had left him, refusing to even set foot in the rickety shack they rented each year, after they fought all the way from the city. Hell, Clyde didn’t even know how he was going to get back after the weekend. His high school buddy had left in a spray of sand and gravel.

An incoming wave rushed the aging pier, diving him back a step with its force. His wetsuit prevented him from felling the icy touch, but salt clung to his lips, wetting his appetite for adventure.

Soon, soon. The midnight ride through white crests and driving water would be his world. Centering him as nothing else did. Only in the blue, with water under and over him, when Neptune tried to bury him and he could laugh at the gods did he feel alive.

Unable to wait longer, he checked the tie on his ankle. He picked up the board and ran screaming off the end of the pier and started paddling into the failing light.

(words 238)

 

I really like the parallel I was able to pull. The screaming by the main character and the loss of a special friend. The timing of the second wave pushing him back. The mold/slime on the ancient pier and the existence of the shack to live in. The exercise was fun, and also showed I really need to work on adding more description to my writing. Flash needs most of it stripped, and my long-form writing has suffered because of my concentration on flash writing. I am really glad I attended the workshop.

(post initially published 6/5/2013; republished in new blog format on 7/2/2017)

Flash: Three to the Chest

Clip Art Gun

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“Fuck, fuck, fuck … out of bullets.” Neville cursed as his gun clicked empty. The laboratory cabinet continued to shake as he ducked behind it. His opponents did not have the same ammunition limitations. Fortunately the metal cabinet had been built to handle exploding experiments.

The altercation had turned the laboratory into a war-zone, toppling even the heavy marble tables. One of which Younger was curled behind. “Damn it, Neville. You’re a vampire. Just stand up, take three to the chest and reload.”

Looking at his unarmed human companion wincing as a ricochet chipped the marble beside his face, Neville deadpanned, “Wrong caliber.” He tucked his favorite piece back into the ankle holster. “How about you … can’t you do whatever the fuck it is you do?”

“Thought you wanted some of the coven to still be alive, or at least undead, at the end. Quinn can’t be head vamp without followers.”

“Like you are that powerful,” Neville sneered. “The two fucks over there with their thralls are over four hundred years.” Neville looked around for better cover. He could hear some of the bullets pinging the inside of the cabinet now. They had pierced the front doors.

“If you are sure…” Younger commented.

The cabinet exploded in a rain of chemicals and glass as Neville dashed between several thin metal desks to join Younger under cover. Someone had broken out a shotgun with amour piercing rounds. “Fuck, yeah I’m sure. Just do it!” he screamed.

…. When the smoke cleared, Neville stared at Younger. He tried to remember the last few minutes, but fragments of icy fire and hungry darkness wouldn’t form into coherent thought. It was like someone had obscured his memory after a feeding; something not possible while he was the coven’s enforcer for Quinn.

“Okay, I stand corrected.” He stepped between the rapidly decaying bodies of the ancients they had been fighting, approaching his suddenly scary mortal ally. At least Neville hoped he was an ally. “Fucking powerful. How the Hell…?”

“Don’t ask, don’t tell, and don’t repeat, my friend.” Younger smiled enigmatically.

Sirens could be heard between the rubble resettling and liquid drips. “Riiiight.” Neville shook his head. “Well, Quinn owes you one and so do I.”

“Think you can cover this?” The scourge waved his hand at the wreckage.

Neville pulled his cell phone out of his back pocket, a quick glance at the time indicated it was only four AM. Dawn was still a ways off. “If I can’t, I got people who can.”

“Okay, I’ll be going then. Just remember next time to ask the bad guys to provide the same caliber bullets.”

Laughing Neville agreed, “I’ll do that.”

(words 447 – first published 5/22/2013; republished in new blog format on 6/04/2017)

Flash: Diamonds HIding

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The diamonds fell from her hands, scattering like stars in the night across the black marble. And as uncaring as the cold stars looking on from the sky, they reflected her falling, winked red as blood pooled out, and hid in the shadows when daylight came.

***

Younger did not know why he was here. The cops never called him. Yet this time they did.

DJ and Jeffery grunted greeting as they lifted the police tape. He nodded to the officers, debating talking to them. Spotting the detectives, he decided against it. Lance and Paul were assholes. Which made him being called in even more strange.

Not his normal strange, but the WTF?!? strange you get when your mom compliments your death metal tattoo.

Though he knew if those two called him in … his normal strange would be happening soon enough.

(words 141 – first published 5/1/2013; republished in new blog format on 4/2/2017)

Flash: Me, Again

Clip Art - Forest Fire

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Finally finding his cell, Younger looked around to steady himself before placing the call. Trees uprooted, blood and dirt mixed into a crusty mud, small underbrush fires providing flickering views of the devastation. How he hated this next part of his hereditary “second job”.

Three quick numbers dialed, he held the phone to his ear when the ringing began. A pleasant woman on the other end confirmed he reached the correct number. She continued the automatic pleasantry with “How may I help you?”

“It’s me, again.” he stated grimacing. “Michelle, right?”

“Huh, what? Yes, my name is Michelle.”

The man leaned against a tree waiting for the woman to realign her world. Not everyone identifies 911 operators by their voice. He called way too much.

A nervous voice betrayed her recognition after a moment. “Oh, Mr. Younger. Do I need to send any special equipment?”

“No … no leftover bombs this time. Everything detonated. No need for an ambulance either, so you can recall that.”

“Where are you located at this time sir?”

“Damn, give me a minute to find that GPS gizmo the cops gave me.” He started searching the area. “It can’t be far from where the phone was, they started in the same pocket.”

“Can you describe the location?”

He snorted as he recognized the standard question from her screen. But the prompt worked, “On the Powder Monkey Trail in Cameron Park, about a quarter mile in … maybe.” A metallic glint reflected in the dying fires. Younger kicked a squishy bit off to reveal the machine he was looking for – perfectly crushed. Sighing, “Yeah, well, I am at a switchback. Lots of grooves and ruts from dirt bikes.”

“Officers should be there shortly. Please stay on the line.”

“Not a problem Michelle, I know the routine.” And hated it. Modern bureaucracy at its finest. Red tape to tie him up for the next day. He would need to call his work shortly; fortunately working for a company three states away as a virtual programmer gave him leeway in getting his forty hours in. Flex time a-plenty to deal with the tokens his mother’s bloodline brought his way.

“Sir, the officers have arrived at the parking lot and are heading down the trail. They have asked me to remind you not to move anything.”

“Fuck, that would be Lance and Paul.” Younger looked the way they would be coming in. His eyes drifted to the stringy mass decorating tree limbs. “Could you tell Paul to bring a puke bag? He ain’t going to last long.”

Next time. Next time, he promised himself. Things will not devolve to the point he needed to call the nice girls at 911. Except maybe for a date; Michelle sounded hot, when he wasn’t scaring the shit out of her.

(words 468 –  first published 3/13/2013; republished in new blog format on 2/5/2017)

Author Spotlight: Kalayna Price

Kicking It Amazon Book Cover

Book Cover from Amazon

The quiet, sweet dark voice whispers, “Want to fire dance?”

A USA Today Bestselling author, Kalayna Price, has two series: Alex Craft (Grave Witch) and Novels of Haven (Once Bitten), both featuring strong women with powers carrying debilitating prices. Alex Craft sees ghosts (who are great spies, but terrible backup) and Haven has vampires. I loved the Alex Craft books and look forward to reading her Haven series.

At convention panels, Ms. Price needs to be mic’ed – her speaking voice is as soft as her pen is strong. But her witty advice is worth hearing as much as her writing is worth reading, so I will sit in the first row listening to everything.

You can find out more about Ms. Price at her website, including her fire dancing: Kalayna Price.