Funny! Fiction for Cracked Flash

Waiver

Most epic adventures don’t start out with an application and an insurance waiver, but Tom Kinzel, CEO of Chilly Thrills saw the writing on the wall: the positive correlation between epicness and peril. The 200 bodies strewn upon Mt. Everest gave their silent testimony: counterphobia (charging your worst nightmare) while epic, is risky. But to Tom’s way of thinking, the real tragedies were the corpses of entrepreneurial start-ups that met death in small claims court (a misnomer) all because they didn’t have that one little (but “HUGE, believe me”) piece of the business puzzle: the waiver.

I____________________ am a willing participant in the Chilly Thrills 5000K Mt. Mortem hike, an epic adventure of extreme proportions which requires excellent mental judgment and a high degree of physical fitness, agility, and dexterity.

I FURTHER UNDERSTAND AND HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MY PARTICIPATION IN CHILLY THRILLS 5000K MT. MORTEM HIKE INVOLVES CERTAIN HAZARDS AND DANGERS SUCH AS INJURY OR POSSIBLY DEATH AND/OR RISK OF DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF PROPERTY.

I release, waive, forever discharge, covenant not to sue, indemnify, and hold harmless Chilly Thrills from any and all liability, claims, suits, demands, judgments, costs, interest and expense, (including attorneys’ fees and costs) arising from Chilly Thrills’ 5000K Mt. Mortem Hike.

I have read all applications, preparatory materials, and instructions in their entirety (including this waiver) and signed it knowingly and voluntarily. And I’m mentally competent, fully aware that a 5000K peak is 16+ million feet (3280 feet/kilometer x 5000) that brushes against the floorboards of heaven, a destination I couldn’t reach if I strapped twin F-16 thrusters to my boots and chugged a keg of Monster Energy drink. But– I certify I’ve read this waiver in its entirety. Yes. No lie. Every word. Bring on the epic adventure.

Signed, Epic Participant

 

Fiction for Microcosmsfic.com

 

Washed Away

“At it again?” Ella asked, standing over the hunched form of her husband. Darrin’s once-white robe was covered with a dusting of sand and browned on the butt. Ella handed him a steaming cup of coffee. A sand-encrusted hand trembled but received it gratefully. A ring of untanned skin was all that remained of his marriage. Half submerged in a foamy moat and gouging out fistfuls of muck, his other hand was invisible.

“I think I got it right this time,” Darrin muttered.

“How long?” Ella asked, her sweet voice hollow and feathery against the boisterous surf.

“Since two.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to finish before the tide came up. Recognize it?”

“Our honeymoon, Barcaldine Castle. But you got the top wrong. There weren’t any battlements on Barcaldine.”

“I added those… to keep you safe.” Darrin continued to scrape and mold the sand. The hands that played Brahms flawlessly, that delivered love letters, bills, and junk mail. The sure hands smoothed and teased the castle domes as if they were lace-decked breasts or a fragile neck. He drew his fingertips along the parapets as if they were her lips. One last time.

As the structure neared completion, Darrin’s eyes became glassy, but not a drop would fall. Plenty of salt water all around. The Ella hallucination faded as the sun edged over the horizon. At his feet lay the coffee cup full of brown water and sand. No wonder the coffee was bad.

Waves, inexorable and implacable, crept closer and closer. Darrin took the wedding rings out of his pocket: his thick one and her diamond-studded strand he’d discreetly removed before they shut the coffin. He clutched them to his chest. His other hand rooted around his robe pocket until he felt the smooth barrel, the finger hole.

The end.

Flash fiction is uniquely challenging. You get only a handful of words to communicate plot, brush in some character, some descriptions. No waste allowed! I think it appeals to me because I like poetry. But what often happens when I write flash is that most of the tale stays hidden inside my head, never to meet the page. I suppose I got it right with this one, or right enough because it won last week’s microcosmsfic flash fiction contest. The prize for winning? The honor of judging this week. Judging teaches me more about writing than almost any other exercise I do, so I’m grateful for the opportunity. Judging also allows me to do what I love second to writing: encourage fellow writers.

Indiscretion: Flash Fiction

“Oh, everyone just thought you were crazy,” the intake nurse winked at me as she tightened the cinches on my straight jacket.

“I had to use the restroom,” I said, “Real bad.”

“That’s what got you into this mess,” the nurse said, “no pun intended. One can’t just indiscriminately… well, you know. People jump to conclusions.”

My shoelaces peeked out of her pocket, and certainly my necklace was in that same pocket. I could feel the slimy coldness of drool sliding down my chin and I wondered why she didn’t dab at it with the handy towel she kept tucked into her belt for just such occasions. Hers was lightning white, smooth, clearly never used. Why wasn’t that a red flag for someone? Who was in charge?

“Did you give me something?” I asked, “I don’t usually drool like this.” I hoped my hint would get her to wipe my face, my own arms being unavailable and all.

“…nurse?” I said.

She seemed to be struggling with an uncooperative clasp, but it was awfully convenient she had an excuse to ignore me.

“Did you drug me?” I asked, raising my voice.

“We gave you an anti-diarrhea… there.” She had finally gotten whatever piece of my contraption stymied her. The room teetered back and forth.

“My necklace,” I managed, “It was a gift.”

“A gift? How thoughtful of you. I’ll keep it always,” she patted her pocket, and I noticed her smile turned wicked. A wave of horrible understanding crashed over me.

“When can I go home?”

“When you can use the bathroom like a big girl… and when everybody agrees you’re not crazy.” She winked. Or was that a nervous tic?

“All I did was use the men’s room. It was vacant.”

“Yes, well. You’re not a man, are you?”

*This was an entry for Cracked Flash Fiction’s weekly contest. They provide a first sentence and you run with it for up to 300 words.

Metamorphosis. Fiction for Microcosmsfic

The little boy. I never considered him a target until the day of the falcon. That’s what I called it anyway: the day of the falcon. See, I pass this kid every day on my way to school, but on this day a peregrine falcon had landed on his head. I expected the bird to flee, but both just stood there like time was a DVD, paused.

I’d gladly trade my acne for those majestic black and white striped feathers and steel-blue crest. My life for the falcon’s, stuck fast as I was between desk and chair and subjected to what was essentially a manufacturing line. We were tubes. They bent us, punctured us, riveted their ideas into us, never gingerly, never tried to coax anything in. No. Teachers slammed their convictions into us with a press brake and slid us on to the next grade. My life was not my own.

A peregrine falcon soared above. Or sat upon a toddler’s wayward tresses. Whichever. Still, he sat.

Like he owned the boy. No one bothered to shew him off. The boy, of course, could do nothing. I thought, if that bird could get away with it, so could I, right? Yes, the more I considered it, the more certain I became.

I began to see myself anew. Above. The. Law.

The boy. Three years old. I could take him. I could get away with it. Just like the peregrine falcon with a mouse.

The boy never blinked. He never spoke. No one would hear.

I felt the serrated blade of my hacksaw. With my mind I felt it.

His days were numbered, this brazen pissing boy of bronze. If a peregrine could abuse him as a perch, he wasn’t beyond my reach.

Manneken Pis, Dutch for “little man pee” Brussels

Disturbed teenager/Brussels/Memoir – those were my prompts for this flash fiction piece. This time I had to do some major amputation on my word count. When I got to the “end” of my original story, I had 387 words. I could only keep 300. Talk about killing your darlings…

I love memoirs. I love disturbed teenagers.

Brussels was the only part of the trilogy I didn’t have down, so I did a little research. Writers have to do research. I’m not against work. It’s just that writing on a subject I don’t know is frightening. Even after researching, I could get something embarrassingly wrong… an author must be willing to fail. I am willing.

Rather quickly I found a delightful statue called the Manneken Pis. Sounds like mannequin piss, doesn’t it? Uhem, well, the shoe fits. Of course my next vision was of a disturbed teenager wreaking a little havoc with said statue. And bam! Inspired. I thought I’d chronicle my process. Sometimes I get a prompt that does nothing for me. The original elements of this contest were: driver/race course/tragedy. I tried to find a story in those three. It was me, mentally groping in a black cave, never finding any light. After a time of trying and not succeeding to plot a story, I gave up and spun the handy spinner they provide at Microcosmsfic and hallelujah!

I hoped the boy would seem like a living boy at first. This famous statue is often dressed in outfits that communicate a message or a celebration, sort of like dressing one’s yard geese. He seems to be the rivet between culture and its fleeting colors. What struck me was how bold the little boy is, and how audacious it would be to defame such a work of art. What kind of mind would do it? How would a person get there mentally? These are the thoughts that inspired me.

 

The Solution: Cracked Flash Fiction Entry

Dragons stalked the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings. Gulligan sighed. Rush hour. A dragon who had the bad sense to scuttle in front of Gulligan found himself violently kicked. The iridescent creature rolled end over end and hit the curb, sending up a cloud. Brittle things, Gulligan thought, for all their noise and pollution. Pieces of silvery scales lay like dust, drawing the trajectory of Gulligan’s kick.

Gulligan mumbled an apology and kept walking. The three-inch pest began to swear in its own language. Gulligan understood, but pretended not to. From behind he could hear metal scraping against the charred asphalt and knew the dragon was coming after him. Gulligan stopped short. Sure enough, he felt the sting of warmth and impact as the dragon rammed into his calf. The smell of his own seared flesh was immediate, but Gulligan did not flinch. Again the dragon came at his feet. This time, Gulligan lifted his leg at the last moment, sending the animal reeling.

Each sized up the other.

“Your kind never watch where you’re going,” the dragon said in the common tongue.

Gulligan snorted. “You landed right in front of my foot.”

“You shouldn’t even be on the street. The streets are ours.” The dragon pruned its ruffled scales, pulling out the chipped ones. New ones would grow back. Old ones littered the ground. The lightest metal flakes began to quiver. The dragon narrowed its eyes and backed away. He wondered that the boy hadn’t cried when he burned him. Realization began to dawn.

Too late. The dragon recognized the hum of electricity, saw the boy’s eyes vacate the avatar. Dead eyes were the last thing he saw. He and countless others were crushed to the Bombshell Boy Electromagnet, society’s solution to the dragon problem.

The end.

Random thoughts: Judging for CFF taught me more about writing than countless hours spent butt-on-chair, a little phrase I picked up from this article. It’s helpful to boil writing down to this simple, if crude phrase (I cleaned it up). Kind of reminds me of Nike’s Just Do It. Both find power in pith. Succinct advice. Not confusable. How to write? Sit down and write. Nothing’s easier than freewriting. Oh yes… what I learned from judging– understandability is more important than finesse. If I can’t understand a story, I can’t appreciate it.

A Jungle Fable, Microcosms Entry

 

On a dismal November day an election was held to determine who would rule the jungle. This jungle was, in fact, a great laboratory in which a grand experiment was taking place. Only two animals ever got traction as rulers: the donkeys or the elephants. This went on and on in a sort of power tug-of-war.

The elephants were colossal, fat beings that could and would crush small creatures. Laws annoyed them, for they got in the way. The donkeys, preferring not to be called asses, were burdened creatures. They carried around other people’s treasure, redistributing it and enacting lots and lots of laws to legalize their ends. As often happens in contests, winning and holding power became more important than governing the jungle. So many promises the elephants and donkeys made… so many broken.

Ticked off and exasperated beyond belief, the animals panted for something heretofore… insane. An animal unlike the donkey or elephant, wily, vicious, depraved but powerful: a businessman. He swept into the jungle on storms of discontent provided by the donkey-elephant wars and made a great, great victory, a huge victory. He said he was an elephant but no one believed him or gave a rip. Only a donkey or an elephant could wear the crown. Some rules must be followed. Others broken. A businessman knows this.

Into the jungle he came roaring. And tweeting. Donkeys and elephants alike underestimated him, and this gave him an edge. The businessman wouldn’t read their scripts, wouldn’t play by the jungle rules. He invented new rules and resonated with scores of jungle animals.

A businessman presides over the jungle now.

The moral of the story: Rules are for chumps, not Trumps.

The end.

*Every Friday Microcosms offers a unique writing challenge. They supply genre, setting, and character, and you supply the flash fiction, up to 300 words. The judge is usually the previous week’s winner. They offer voting options– you can vote for your favorite piece, and every week, the judge chooses a favorite line out of every entry. That’s author love, I tell you.

This week I couldn’t resist. I’m really too busy, but the prompt got me thinking…

Prompt: laboratory/fable/inventor

The Prettiest. Flash Fiction.

aura-of-light-800x480“Sometimes it’s better to hide the unsightly with shiny things than to try to fix it,” said the mother. “Grab that box of Christmas tinsel from the attic. And a fork.”

The child’s noisy rifling through the silver drawer induced a clamorous tune, followed by staccato thudding on the attic stairs. She returned breathless, holding a fork in one hand, a dusty red box in the other.

“This?” She asked, fingering the wayward silver strands.

The mother took the bright silver lengths and held them to the light. The tinsels flashed and shimmered, squirming in her arms like a lightning strike. She gravely handed the tinsel to the child. “You do the honors. It’s your first time.”

The child wrapped the silver noodles around her fork and jammed it in an eye socket.

“Yes, that’s it,” counseled the mother, “Now hold the tinsel down with your fingers and gently slide the fork out. Now the next one. We can stuff her mouth with dryer sheets soaked in cinnamon oil, so she doesn’t stink. Grab the red sequins and we’ll sew her mouth closed, but we’ll leave slits like a sachet. See?” The mother beamed with pride as her daughter bent to the work, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.

“Yes, like that. Sew her mouth into a smile. You just have to pull hard on the thread. She can’t feel anything.”

“I think I hear her crying,” the child protested. See, where she’s coming apart?”

“Just use more tinsel. Wrap it like a necklace and no one will know her throat is cut.”

The child obeyed, her eyes widening at the transformation. A slight smile played at the corners of her tiny mouth.

“This is the prettiest Christmas doll ever, Mommy.”

“Almost as pretty as you,” murmured the zombie.