Saturday, February 27, 2010

Heat #13: Short Track Speed Slating

This is our final judged event. Alicia and I are the judges.

Are you all familiar with flash fiction? Flash is ultra-short storytelling, complete with a protagonist, a conflict, and a resolution. It's focused, condensed, and often as delicious as a single bonbon. (There's a great article about it here if you want a more detailed definition.)

Your job today is to write a 300-word flash story. Your story can be on any subject, but you must use two of the three following words: short, track, or speed.

Post your entries in the comments before the Closing Ceremonies begin. Alicia and I will pick the winner.

17 comments:

Murphy said...

Okay, I'm not going first - again! :)
Murphy - waiting for someone else - you have until 8:00pm my time, and then? *insert shoulders slumping here and add a grumble* I'll probabaly cave. ;)

Darkspires said...

Carreas Regent shied at the dark essence hovering around his jockey, Dave. The last race of the season and Dave had come to check him over, the same as always before a race. Carreas Regent also liked the carrot Dave offered him, but the shadow scared him.

Milford Lad went down after such a shadow and never got up. They had been stable mates and Carreas missed him. The darkness meant a going away. He had seen it often in older humans, but Dave wasn’t old. His mane shone brown with chestnut flecks in sunlight.

Dave stumbled after putting on his racing silks. He clutched his head, but he straightened, not complaining. One swift boost by a stable lad and Dave was onboard. They headed for the starting grid. The gate went up and they were off.

After two furlongs in Carreas knew something was wrong with Dave. The reactions didn’t happen, the guidance wasn’t there. This was going to be Dave’s last race—the shadow spread into Carreas’ line of sight.

Carreas cared for this kind human. Dave never used the whip on him, he yelled encouragement as they raced, but today Dave was silent. Carreas put his head down, stretched his pace and ran as he had never run before. He looked for his own openings in the pack, careful to make no sudden change in direction.

The last turn of the track and the winner post came into sight, but a big black was in front by a body length. One last spurt, one heart pounding struggle and he was in by a short nose. One last caress and Dave went limp. Carreas skidded to a halt, wanting to help those people rushing on the track. The shadow had taken Dave. He screamed his grief and rage.

Note. I must disqualify myself from winning any place for obvious reason to those who know me. This is a fun excercise for me.

Murphy said...
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Shalanna said...

This may not even be a story. It was a sudden whimsy on my part. I thought it was too weird not to share, though.~~

AWARENESS

The relocation camp wasn't as bad as I expected.

They didn't shave our heads or tattoo numbers on our arms. I'll admit it was different for those in Health Studies or Work Corps. But I was chosen for Joy Division.

Long story short, we're used by the Officers. In any way they like. I've learned you can take just about anything if you know it'll end soon. Sessions are monitored, because we're considered valuable--though nothing's foolproof.

Still, this is the nicest area in the camp. We even have a little park. Really just a wildflower meadow that's mostly thistles and brambles and a couple of scrubby trees. It's a short distance to the park's track, where we walk every day.

Yesterday my bunkmate Rhonda and I circled the track and stopped to examine the tree at the edge. She pointed. "I think it's bearing fruit!"

"Looks like crabapples."

"I wouldn't want to try one."

"Dare ya!"

"Double dare ya."

"Okay, I'll do it." She boosted me up and I plucked one of the small fruits. It had an orange-purple cast and thin skin like a nectarine's.

I took a bite . . . and the world shifted.

Instantly I understood what it meant in the Bible when it said, "Their eyes were opened." I contained all knowledge, even that which I couldn't deal with . . . I knew the reason behind the war, why the camps were REALLY being run, who was behind the New World Order. To know how to bake a crumpet--make a bomb--integrate by parts, I had only to think of it.

I must've trembled. "What?" she teased as she let me down. "Is it sour? Did you pucker?"

"Terrible. You wouldn't want to try it?" I said, only because I knew it would keep her away.

"No way." She laughed.

"Wait a sec." Digging with my hands, I buried the rest of the fruit at the tree's roots. Before I sprinkled the dirt back over, on impulse I plucked a couple of hairs and spat on them, then patted the soil back over. "Maybe it'll make another tree."

It was not a surprise to me or the tree when through a series of blustering misunderstandings and mistakes, the world got into yet another war right away--and this round it accidentally destroyed itself, mostly. We suffered with the foreknowledge, but there was nothing we could do to stop what would happen. What had happened. What Was To Happen.

Physically, I didn't survive. But the Tree stands forever, amen.

The tree and I watch over the ruins of this world . . . waiting for whatever comes.


What a weird verification word: "relifea"

Shalanna said...

P. S. I originally had a line in that story to the tune of, "So the powerful ones didn't recognize the Tree of Knowledge and banished it to the camp, when they claimed to be actively seeking that knowledge. And if they'd known, would they have done what they did? The irony is not lost on me." But I figured that would be telling too much. And I never could get it quiiiite right.

Still, if the flash seems really pointless, maybe it needs a line sort of like that, without the brickbats.

sylvia said...

EEEK, mine ended up 600 words. I need more time! *rushes*

Jami G. said...
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Murphy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jami G. said...

Murphy,

I don't think it's necessary, but your title is a nice touch.

Jami G.

Dave Shaw said...
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Dave Shaw said...

Oh, for anyone looking for more flash fiction, or a market for same, you might find this interesting: http://www.wingedhalo.com/flashme.html

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with them.

Murphy said...

Oh-kay. I've never heard of flash fiction before (if I'm to be honest) but I get where you should try to establish the sense of a scene right away. Something people are familiar with - so that some of the work is already done for you going in. :) With that in mind. Here's mine.


BODACIOUS (298 words)

“Shit.” A siren blared as red lights flashed against her car interior. “Christ.” Geri pulled over, opened her window, turned off the engine, and cut short her panic as the officer approached.

“Evening, license and registration, please.”

“Sure, um, is everything okay? Was I speeding?”

“No, broken taillight.”

She tugged out her ID and fixed an apologetic look on her face. “Here you go. And yeah, I’m sorry about that,” she hiked a thumb over her shoulder and indicated toward the trunk. She didn’t miss the terrible irony of the situation. “The problem will be solved tomorrow.”

His flashlight illuminated her information, then scanned the confines of the car before the glare hit her eyes. “Whoa!”

“Sorry.” He clicked it off. “Some college kids stole Tressla’s mascot: ‘The Horny Goat’ from the Track Meet tonight. You know. Their star quarterback won’t play without him and the game’s in the morning. But if the thieves are stupid enough to speed down Union Street? I’ll be ready for ‘em.”

“Well,” she forced a laugh. “Not if you’re busy talking to me. Are you gonna give me a ticket? Gee, my husband will kill me,” she got a tiny thrill saying that, “he’s been bugging me for days to get that taillight fixed. I’ve scheduled service at Fred’s Auto for tomorrow. You could call them.” She figured the hopeful tone she affected was a good touch.

He handed back her paperwork and told her to get the repair done. She nodded and said she would. After all, she may not have his horny goat lying in her trunk - but she did have hers. Thank god she’d thought to drug him first. And to think his team finally had a chance to win one. The poor dear. He’d miss it...such a shame.

Murphy - who learned a whole lot doing this! Even that you needed to put a title on your story. :) Hence the removed comment from above. Oops! :D And, holy crap! How to read the instructions...second Oops! Hey, maybe I should change my blog name to 'Comment Deleted'. ;)

Shalanna said...

Hey! Don't delete your comments, y'all! Then I'll always wonder what you said that was too--SOMEthing. . . . *grin*

Jami G. said...

I think my muse is ready to kill me with all these 'Be Creative NOW!' exercises, but it's probably good for me. :) (Reposting because Murphy made me paranoid about 'speedily' instead of 'speed'. :) )

REPRESENTATIVE (280 words)

George forced himself to sit still while the manager tapped her pencil on his application. The speed at which she scanned the page wasn’t encouraging.

She looked up, a smile frozen on her face. “Mr. Robertson, I want to thank you for considering employment with us.” She blinked. Too quickly. “However, here at our global headquarters, we look for people who will be a good representative for our company. We need employees who can present a positive image to the world.”

While she hesitated over his paperwork, he assured, “I can do that.” Her brow arched skeptically.

He leaned forward. “Really. I’ve represented the entire human race before.” Her brush off seemed imminent, so he rushed his words. “I know it sounds crazy, especially the whole alien part–-” She didn’t move, but her pencil clattered to the desk. “No, no, not like that.” He took a deep breath to start over. “I’ll make this short. Do you remember the NASA Voyager missions? The space probes we sent out past Pluto?”

When she gave him a vacant stare, he skipped to the good part. “There was a Golden Record on each of the probes, a ‘Greetings to the Universe’ type of thing. Anyway, I recorded one of those greetings. It’s my voice. So if an alien ever finds one of those probes, they’ll hear me welcoming them on behalf of the entire human race. So to answer your question, sure, I can represent this company to the world. No problem.” He sat back, confident he’d made his case.

She smiled tightly and said in an overly pleasant voice, “I’m sorry, Mr. Robertson, but you’re just not qualified to work for McDonald’s.”

Dave Shaw said...

Whoops! Lost a required word in the first edit and didn't realize it. Very small revision:

CLAUDE'S SURPRISE (300 words)

Claude enjoyed the party. Lovely girls and boys, filled with the innocence of youth and cheap beer. Enrolling at the university had been brilliant.

Most of the children tonight were familiar. He had even had liaisons with a few. As he chatted, he became aware of a newcomer. Dark, short, with curling black hair and saucy eyes. Her broad shoulders, full chest, and child-bearing hips reminded him of another, long ago in Sicily. A most delectable girl.

He approached her, joined in the conversation of her group, and patiently worked his charm until he had her to himself. American girls were so brash, but this one tempered it with a maturity that seemed out of place for one so young. Intriguing.

"It's stuffy in here. Would you care to walk outside, Josey?"

She dimpled. "Sure. It isn't every night that I get to stroll with a French gentleman."

He led her away from the fraternity to the running track. No one nearby. Perfect. He turned to her and bared what he was, to savor her fear before he made her forget.

"Ah, you're a vampire. I thought that's what I tasted."

He blinked. No one in all his centuries had reacted like this. "You don't fear me?"

She giggled. "I'm sorry, Claude, but you're not that scary."

She would pay! This one he would drain. He leapt at her, bit her neck, and began to suck.

He gulped a mouthful, and stiffened. A fire began in his belly, a horrible fire of pain, but he stood rooted. She pulled out of his grip and giggled again.

"You really ought to check the FDA stickers on your meals, Claude. Vampires are animated by magic. Guess what my blood absorbs?"

She laughed and skipped away as he slowly, painfully, withered into dust.

Murphy said...

Sorry T&A, I think I started an epidemic. But, please make note - I call shot-gun on the Comment Deleted blogger name. :D

Murphy

sylvia said...

HOUSE OF MIRRORS (299 words)

Susan stood wide-eyed at the carnival entrance. Lights flashed from all directions and snotty-nosed children covered with pink remnants of cotton candy dashed past at high speed. The rollercoaster rumbled overhead on a twisting track. An old woman with purple scarves offered to tell fortunes. The air smelled of popcorn and sawdust. Susan fingered the precious coins in her pocket. She was pretty sure she'd discovered paradise.

She bounced through the crowd, adults striding past as if she weren't there. She paused at the carousel but no one paid her any attention. No one except for the fortune-teller. Susan didn't want her fortune told. She wanted to go on a ride.

She stopped at the pastel teacups spinning wildly. They twirled and twisted so fast, she felt nauseous. She saw herself in one, coins flying from her pocket. She was leaning out to reach them and then the slam of a teacup handle, smashing her to the platform as the ride ground to a halt.

Susan stepped back. The teacups still whirled. She stepped closer, coins clenched in her fist. She was spinning, falling to the ground, again and again.

The purple-scarfed gypsy pulled her back. "You shouldn't be here."

Susan trembled. "I don't want to go on the teacups."

"It's over. You need to go now," the gypsy said.

"It's true, isn't it. What I saw?"

"Long ago, it was true. Now it's a reflection. You need to move on." The fortune-teller wiped away Susan's tears. The carnival sounds faded. "Goodbye," said the woman.

Susan was alone. There were lights in the distance. How does a ghost move on? She began walking towards the lights.

She stood wide-eyed at the carnival entrance, lights flashing from all directions. Snotty-nosed children covered with pink remnants of cotton candy dashed past.