Flash: Frozen

Stock Art of Frozen Pool

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Okay, that didn’t go well.” Kai said.

 

Brook looked across the pier and newly frozen lake. Fog shrouded the immediately surroundings because of the sudden switch in temperature from steamy summer to frosty winter. She pulled the wet towel tighter, grateful she had climbed out of the water using the aluminum ladder now covered in icicles before Kai cast his spell to take the edge off the burning July day. “Understatement handsome … That is definably an understatement.”

 

(Words 78 – first published 4/7/2014; republished in new blog format on 11/12/2017)

Flash: Mannequin

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Brandson approached the mannequin cautiously. Too many weird fucking things have happened recently. Things appearing to be alive weren’t, things that shouldn’t be alive were, and we don’t even describe what was happening with the dead things. But to get to the other side of the room … to get to the next door which may lead out of this mad house … he must pass within arm’s reach of the mannequin.

“Because of course the door leading out is located directly fucking behind you.” Brandson commented out loud. “No offense darling, you’re beautiful but I stopped dating blowup dolls a while ago.”

All the room’s illumination pointed to the mannequin, making her plastic face shine. Her arms, covered with long black gloves, wrapped around herself tightly in fear; a feeling Brandson was becoming more and more familiar with. An evening gown stretched downward, wrapping her legs tightly together, before spilling down the small dais located immediately before the door he hoped lead out of wherever he was. Threads flowed out, crossing the only lighted path available.

Behind him, he heard a thump and a wet screech. “Yeah, yeah. I know you’re still there you mother-fucking salad!”

He hoped the last nightmare couldn’t uproot from its planter.

Brandson considered taking a step off the well-lit area to avoid the unraveling threads. He peered into the darkness. The four spotlights, each hovering in seemingly empty air, destroyed any night vision.

He returned to studying the mannequin, and jumped seeing her hands had moved. Instead of hugging herself, she was now trying to pull her hair from around her neck. Her complicated coiffure started in a bun at the top of her head, secured with a few sticks topped with cut gems. Multi-color strands wrapped around her head, behind her nape and then again around her neck.

“Shit, are you alive?” he asked, staring. The plastic face and hands made no movement. The eyes seemed to focus on him, pleading rescue, screaming in fear.

Looking down, to make certain he didn’t step on a thread, he discovered the cloth had pulled back to dressy cocktail length. The hem now skimmed the top of her very sexy, plastic knees and her shapely legs continued down to strappy black heels. Her toe nails were painted the same exact bright shade as her lips.

The mannequin looked a whole hell of a lot better than the blow-up his brother bought him as a joke when he went off to college. Shit, if Old Susie had looked this good he may have stayed away from Psycho Miranda. How long ago was that?

The floor raised into a little meter by meter square for the mannequin to stand on. The lighted path only extended a decimeter either side of the step. He debated looking up again to see what the plastic being was doing, but decided against it.

Muttering “No guts, no glory.” he made a run for it. Keeping an eye on his feet and tapping peripheral vision to watch the black skirt and the dark shadow, he rushed by the podium.

A gloved hand grabbed him as he passed and yanked him hard enough one of his feet took a step onto the platform before he could regain his balance. Brandson looked up to see the mannequin’s hair was wrapped around the arm grabbing him. She had pivoted and now faced the door denied him.

As he watched, the multi-color strands writhed where they separated the fingers gripping his arm.

“Please, sir.” The plastic doll begged. “Leave while you can.”

The woman’s face still shined plastic, but now looked like a clear plastic mask glued over a human face. Her eyes no longer were glass orbs, but bottomless green lakes of fear and concern.

“Is this the way out?” He asked. Brandson tried to take a step back only to find her fingers were not letting go. In addition, something had snaked around the foot located on the dais.

“I don’t know.”

The hair crossed from her fingers and started to wind around his bicep. Brandson  yelped.

“Is This The Way OUT?” He asked, his voice getting louder and louder as he used his other hand to untangle the strands.

Tears pooled, turning her eyes pure jade. “I don’t know.”

He dropped his eyes to his foot and discovered his own jeans hand lengthened to merge into the wood platform. “Then what the fuck do you know?” He asked contemplating how to escape the second part of the trap.

Her voice changed, picking up speed from her previous slow cadence, and a gutter hiss punctuated each word. “Dolly dear in spider web, bite your mate so you can live.”

“What the fuck?” He asked, snapping his head up to look at her face. For a second, he saw hairy legs reach out from the bun on her head. Mulit-faceted eyes blinked once on their stalks before returning to their gem-like camouflage appearance.

He felt her free hand unbuttoning his fly. Brandson’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Help me push them down,” she instructed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said as her hand stroked his dick, pushing the jean fabric apart. After a second thought, he started pushing the cloth down. They both worked the tight denim until gravity took over. He was almost ready for the killing kiss as a release by the time they were through.  He started to lean towards her.

“Sir, … I will not free myself at another’s expense.” Her plastic mask moved as her face tensed. Still staring into his eyes, she brought up her free hand and crashed it down on the arm held in place by the spider silk. The plastic shattered.

With the detached hand still gripping his arm, he fell backwards against the door. His jeans remained attached to the dias.

With her remaining hand, the woman was holding an arm ending shortly past her elbow. Plastic goo froze mid-drip from white shards. Her plastic face, returned to looking like a plastic doll, was twisted in pain.  Four feathered boas rose out of her bun as though supported by wires and bent inward to frame her face. Her gown was once again tight around her legs. The trailing loose fringe hem had all the threads stretching towards his jeans and him.

Reaching up, he used the doorknob to help stand. Keeping an eye on the woman and her captor, he whispered to her. “I wish I could help you.”

He opened the door and stepped through to discover what was beyond.

(words 1,096 – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 4/15/2013, published on old blog on 4/21/2013; republished new blog format 9/10/2017) 

Editing Rant: Weaving Plotlines

Image courtesy of wowspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Internal and external plot lines apply here at the long-form. Single plot lines go to the short story entrance on the side.

Anything longer than a short story should have multiple plot lines woven together, and even the best short stories have more than one thing happening. The most obvious is an internal emotional journey of the main character, such as coming-of-age, and the external situation needing resolution, for example a killer needing to be found in a mystery. Outside of the internal and external (emotional and action) plot lines, most stories include multiple relationship interactions including family and romance.

Adding additional story lines is easy. Keeping them all advancing and interacting with equal tension is not.

This is where the plotter has the advantage over the pantser. An outline indicates where beats happen, the need to circle back and concentrate on the mystery and allow the romance to take the back burner in the science fiction thriller. A pantser after completing the book often needs to find all the stray plot lines and trim them or weave them in to the story cloth.

One thing you should not do is concentrate on only one part of the story until running out of steam then switching to the next plot. Maybe during the rough draft, just so all the information is on the page. You can’t rewrite until the writing is done. But after the initial writing is finished, the internal and external and relationship plot lines should be integrated. A reader shouldn’t look at a scene and say “this scene was written to advance the emotional growth plot line”.

The only thing a reader should know is they need to read the scene so they can move to the next scene because everything is woven so tightly together the story pulls them from the beginning to the end.

WRITING EXERCISE: For your present work-in-progress (WIP), define all the plot lines occurring.

MY EXAMPLE: In Honestly, the following plot lines are occurring:

Book Cover for Honestly

1. Internal – Kassandra’s acceptance and adjustment after her breakup. In particular, but not limited to, her sense of self-worth and worth of being loved.
2. Relational – Kassandra’s relationship with her son and their relationship with her ex; adjusting to the new dynamic.
3. Internal (indirect) – Troy’s ability to reveal his physical vulnerability to others. 
4. Relational – Development of Troy’s and Kassandra’s relationship, revealing the past and figuring out the future.
5. External – Kassandra’s job situation and balancing her needs of being a parent against the need for income.
6. External – Troy’s physical therapy and injury recovery requirements, his ability to accept them, and the ongoing impacts medically to his life.
7. External (indirect) – Troy’s ongoing job with the military.

Not every plotline in Honestly is fully developed, nor is every plotline directly visible to the reader. Number seven, Troy military job, may have impact in future stories within the universe they come from. Kassandra originally appeared in Light it Up, part of the Atlantis Warden urban fantasy universe.

Flash: Tank

http://www.deviantart.com/art/night-at-the-oasis-36345289

copyright 2006-2013 foolishbunny

“Fuck.”

 

Startled, Neville immediately went on full alert. Anything to set Younger cursing could not be good. Neon lights blazed over the gas station, making an oasis of light and cement in the black night. Nearly seven hundred miles from their stomping grounds, the needle pegged empty and they had to stop for gas. Ramps had been closed the last fifty miles because of flooding. This was their only chance before the fumes ran out.

 

Neville leaned forward in the passenger seat to access his gun tucked into a back holster. “What’s wrong?”

 

“I hate using stolen cars. I never know what side the gas tank is on.”

 

(words 108– first published 10/2/2013; republished in new blog format on 8/06/2017)

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)