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Category Archives: Short Story

This week’s Trifecta Challenge gave us the third definition of the word “worm” and a strict limit of 33 words. Here’s my entry.

“Promises to Keep”

I know you wanted to worm the information from me. I wasn’t about to give you the satisfaction, not even close to giving in and breaking the trust.

I owed her that much.

Our latest challenge from the good people over at Trifecta was this. Construct a 33-word story about love gone wrong. The catch? Don’t use any of these words:

love
sad
tears
wept
heart
pain
So, here’s my entry.

“Goodbye”

For three years we’d shared everything. We’d met family, taken vacations, and grown practically inseparable. Tonight I came home to find all of her things gone, “goodbye” scrawled in lipstick on the mirror.

This week’s Trifextra Challenge gave us this photo. We were told to write 33 words inspired by the image. My piece, The Café, can be read below. It’s flash fiction from photography, for those of you who love alliteration as much as I do.

Creative Commons License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Photo by Thomas Leuthard. Found here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/5678203035/

“The Café”

Evie could be found at her favorite café table with a stack of books every day at three.

Every day at three, Marcia walked past the café, gazing longingly at the reading girl.

This week’s Trifecta Challenge is based on the third definition Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary provides for the word “whatever.” Clocking in at exactly 333 words, here’s “Whatever.”

“The delete key is dangerous, you know. It’s why I like to write with a pen and paper. Pen’s better than pencil, too. It’s harder to throw writing away permanently when it’s not just 1’s and 0’s.” Marion smiled at me. Her arm was resting on my chest, rising and falling with each of my breaths.

“I know what you mean,” I replied. My fingers caught briefly in her hair and I pulled them free. “Sorry,” I muttered as they found her neck.

“S’okay. Didn’t hurt.”

“But I know what you mean about the delete key. That’s the hardest thing for me, when I’m writing something on the computer, anyway. I hate knowing that a single button press can wipe out any idea that didn’t strike me as immediately working.”

“Exactly.” She shifted slightly, leaning against my shoulder. Neither of us were really paying attention to the show we’d put on the TV. Our conversations had the tendency to shift toward work anyway, whether we intended for them to or not. “It just bugs me that I could lose an entire piece as soon as one ‘Whatever!’ moment hits me.”

“Papers can be pulled out of the trash. You know, provided you don’t set them on fire…”

“One time. That happened ONE time. Besides, I apologized for that. But you,” she said, slapping my chest, “won’t let me live it down.”

“Only because you set off the smoke alarms. We’re damn lucky we got the dorm aired out before the rest of the building alarms went off. Last thing we needed was for the RA to catch you drinking that night.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Still, I could always give you crap about the things you got caught doing on campus.” Marion flashed her Cheshire grin.

“Touché, love. I suppose it’s best to quit while I’m behind.” I pulled her close to me, kissing her forehead.

“I love it when I win.”

“That’s why I let you get the last word.”

“Thanks.”

This week’s Trifecta Challenge gave us the “companion” as our word. The definition we had to use can refer to one who is employed to live with and serve another. So, here’s “Companion.”

Confession time. I hated Royce. Loathed, even. Everything about him drove me insane, from the pretentiousness of his name to the stupid coat he wore year round. It wouldn’t have been so bad had there been any other kids our age for us to interact with, but we didn’t have that luxury. Growing up in the labs, we were lucky just to have another civilian family around. Of course, the worst part wasn’t anything that I had any real control over. My parents had been hired years ago that Royce might have another child to serve as a companion.

I guess there were a lot of reasons for me to have resented him. I was eight when I first met Royce and his parents, and Armstrong Base was full of scientists conducting research. Royce was the only child of the sole civilian team there, and he was spoiled rotten from day one. I mean, he grew up with the goddamn moon for his back yard. I grew up in Cleveland. Not exactly comparable.

Then my parents were contacted. “Our son is lonely. Can you help?” I know that the money Royce’s parents offered up wasn’t the only reason they shipped me off. I was going to get an education, the best learning environment in the solar system. Only one catch. I was stuck with Royce for life.

“It’ll be okay, Hans,” they said on my arrival. “Your parents are only a call away.” For the first few years, things went well enough. Then Royce started to realize that he could order me around, and thanks to the surveillance around Armstrong, I had to comply. Fifteen more years of that, day and night. “Hans, fetch a water. Hans, I dropped my fork. Hans, I have more money than your pitiful family could ever make in a lifetime.”

I mean, you can’t say it wasn’t pre-meditated. Just cliché as hell. I mean, honestly. It boils down to “the butler did it,” only on the moon.

This weekend’s Trifextra Writing Challenge features something a little different from the standard. Typically, and Trifecta Challenge centers around a inclusion of a specific word, for which we are given a word limit of between 33 and 333 words. However, a little-known holiday happened to roll around this past week, and so our weekend writing was given an appropriate celebratory theme. November 15th is apparently National Erotica Day, and so we were tasked with crafting just such a piece for the “TrifeXXXtra.” Now some of my readers know that this isn’t a typical theme for my writing here, but it’s still one I’ve tackled in the past. As such, I thought this would be a fun chance to expand my writing portfolio yet again. Without further ado, I present “Necessity.”

“Necessity”

I needed to feel him again. There was incredible warmth to his skin, an almost radiant heat in his touch that caught me by surprise every time we made contact. It was like this no matter how long it had been since our last night together.

The simple brush of his hand on mine was enough to send my mind racing, dreaming of what grand adventure he might have been planning. I don’t know that what I felt for him was love, but there was no denying that I felt something beyond physical, whether it was his hands, or his lips, or his tongue… His first kiss brought me to life. The spark of the brushing of our lips carried with it all of the forbidden knowledge I’d yearned for, changing everything I thought I knew.

It was intoxicating to be around him. His favorite cologne smelled like pine trees, and after we’d been together I could still smell it, mingling with our sweat. I would ache for hours afterwards, but I reveled in it. He would shower and leave for work. I would stay curled up in bed, basking in the afterglow. Eventually I’d make my weak-kneed way over to the bathroom for a shower of my own.

We would see each other as often as we could arrange, but it was never enough. He seemed inexhaustible, and always wanted to take me as many times as he could in a single visit. No matter what we would do to mix things up, he would still leave me shivering in ecstasy after each climax.

I wanted him, and I hated myself for it. I was supposed to be strong, independent, not whimpering in orgasmic bliss beneath him, but I couldn’t help the way he made me feel. It ran counter to everything I’d thought about myself before we met. Still, when we found each other, there was something indescribable. I needed to feel him again, and I knew he needed me too.

For this weekend’s Trifextra Challenge, we were instructed to write 33 words about a beast in an unusual place. As it’s nearly Hallowe’en, I decided to write this one for you. Why? Because flash-fiction horror is fun! Here’s “Seeing is Believing.”

“Mom! Can you come look at my eye?”

“What for?”

“It feels weird.”

“Did your brother poke you again?”

“No, Mom. Just come look.”

“Coming. Now, what THE HELL IS IN YOUR EYE?!”

This week, Trifecta celebrated their 99th writing challenge (not including “Trifextra” bonus challenges) with something special. Typically, challenge entries involve using the third definition of a given word in a story that ranges between 33 and 333 words. The 99th challenge, however, was something special. We were given a photograph of page 99 of the Oxford English Dictionary and told to write exactly 99 words using one of the words on the selected page. The page ranged from “babushka” to “back” and included several wonderful, potential-filled words. I opted to go with the first that caught my eye, and so I present you with “Babushka.”

“Babushka”

I’ll never forget the stories that my babushka used to tell me when I was a boy. She would take me on her lap next to the fire and speak in a hushed voice about the things that lived in the woods, and how she was one of them once, before she fell in love with a human. She once said that certain things linger in the blood, and can remain dormant for years, and that I must never tell my mother. After all, they may still be out there, watching and waiting to see if I’m like them.

Today’s entry is a response to the latest Terrible Minds Writing Challenge, and comes to you courtesy of the wonderful Chuck Wendig. We were instructed to choose a word from each of two columns of ten words. These two words would give us our title for a thousand-word story. From there, we were free to choose genre, setting, etc. so long as the title was composed of those two randomly selected words. It is with great pleasure that I present to you “The Apocalypse Mechanism.”

“The Apocalypse Mechanism”

I found myself hypnotized by the button. It sat there all day, just peeking up at me from beneath its warning label-emblazoned plastic cover. The labels said “Do Not Push”. The button seemed to say the exact opposite, but I knew what would happen if I pressed it. Hell, the alarm system would engage the second the cover was flipped open
(I wanted to push it)

and that couldn’t even be accomplished without two keys, only one of which was ever in my possession at any given time.

So I stared at it. Me versus the button. The greatest showdown never to be broadcast live on television, though one documentary maker had come down to film my little chamber about a year and a half after I started. Our little chamber, I suppose. Marco and I took turns. I don’t know if he stared at the button the way I did
(I wanted to push it)

like I was looking deep into the eyes of the lover I could never have. We never talked about it. He only spoke Italian, and I only spoke English. He had the other key. I wore mine around my neck. I think he did too, but again, we didn’t exactly have the best of conversations, or any conversations, for that matter. Language barriers and whatnot. Pretty sure the guys upstairs planned it that way, but there’s no way for me to know for certain.

The chair was pretty comfortable, so I guess you could say it was a cushy job. I mean, how many gigs can you find where you get paid a shit-ton of money to sit in a big chair and wait patiently for nothing to happen? Not many. This one was one of a kind, too. It was an armchair, too, not a desk chair or anything like that. Designed for me and me alone. There was a matching one opposite mine, made for Marco, and we never sat in each other’s. We wouldn’t have been comfortable. That was the way it was designed. I asked once what would happen if one of us had been killed, and the only response I’d gotten was an offhand comment about having to draft a plan for a new chair.

The button was green. That really threw me off the first time I sat in that chair. I’d been expecting red when they gave me the breakdown of the job. It just seemed logical that a button that could end the world would be red, you know? Nope. Green. Big and friendly, almost a neon green, like it was telling you “Don’t Panic” or something. Like it wanted to be pushed. I’m fairly certain it did, because then it would’ve been all over, but when I mentioned that to the staff psychologist, he said I was just projecting.

The button was only part of it, of course. The room wasn’t built to house anything, it was everything. The whole complex I worked in was the device, and the room with my little chair and my big friendly “Do Not Push” button
(oh, gods I wanted to push it)

was only a little chamber, a tiny fraction of the thing they called “The Apocalypse Mechanism.” Designed by the most brilliant minds on the planet, top to bottom, including my chair. I can’t call them the best minds, because if the best minds had been around at that point, it wouldn’t have come to the building of that damned thing. The best minds would have been able to come up with something better, a plan that wouldn’t involve Earth being sacrificed.

Still, the minds we had left were brilliant. They had taken good care of them in the facilities back in Russia. Neat little rows of jars, cleanly labeled, and so on and so forth. I’d actually gotten a tour of the place a few years before I got my button-watching job. A cold set of shelves, but like I said, they held the most brilliant minds left on Earth. They put them to use, and away we went, letting them design the mechanism that would allow us to hide our tracks completely.

Marco and I each worked on ten hour shifts. Ten hours on, ten hours off. Since we were underground, it didn’t really matter much to us that we didn’t see daylight. What was left to see on the surface anyway? Nothing I hadn’t seen before. Nothing I wanted to see again. Ten hours sitting, waiting for the word that it was time to wake the other, time to use the keys, time to release the plastic cover, time to push the big green button.

It would mean that the world would end. Earth would be destroyed, and the home of the human race would be lost to history forever. Marco and I would have no choice but to stay behind, of course. As far as I knew, he was just like me. No family, nothing left. No reason for us to be on the ships that would be setting course for the colony worlds far from our solar system. My button was the trigger. I held one of the two keys that would prevent anyone or anything from taking our home and using its resources against us. The Apocalypse Mechanism. The ultimate in scorched earth tactics.

I stared at the button for a lot of my shifts. I could have read, I suppose, or listened to music, but I couldn’t help myself. I knew that I’d have to push it one day. I could feel that from day one, so I stared at the button. I stared at it for five years, ten hours at a time.

Until now. Until the alerts. Too many ships still orbiting, trying to leave. Too many people still in range. No way to protect them now. No choice. I call Marco. We draw out our keys, unlock the cover.
(I don’t want to)

We push it together.

Here’s my entry for Trifecta Week 97. We were asked to use the word “ass” in a postpositive sense. Having fun with that one yet? It means that I got to write a story with “dumb-ass” as a key word. It’s short (333 words, so long-ish for Trifecta) and a little silly, but here, nonetheless, is “Stranded.”

“You know, sir,” Nolan said, finally finding his voice. “Dumb-ass over there has a point. If we don’t get back in the next three hours, the ship will leave without us.”

“Yeah,” Beckett chimed in. “Because he’s the one who set the auto-pilot before leading us out on some wild-pteranodon chase.”

“I want a pteranodon,” Shyle murmured, continuing his doodle in the sand.

“Not the point, Shy. Also, Beckett? Weird expression. Don’t use it around Shyle again. You know how he gets. And Nolan?”

“Yessir?”

“You’re right. I hate to say it, but Harker’s right too. We’ve got to get in high gear if we’re going to make it back to the ship. Harker. How far off course are we? Never mind. Don’t talk. Beckett, ping the ship. Get us a route plotted, double time.”

“On it, sir.”

“Nolan?”

“Commander?”

“I don’t care if it’s true or not. Don’t call Harker a dumb-ass. He’s still a part of the team.”

“But he was wrong! There was nothing out here. Not a scrap of salvage. Nothing worth even making the trip, not to mention the risk of getting stranded.”

“Hey guys?” Beckett called. “I’ve got a course to the ship, but you’re not going to like it.”

“Why not?”

“Well, sir, take a look. According to Harker, we’ve now got under three hours to make it back to override the autopilot, right?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Because according to the beacon, the ship is currently ten klicks farther than our original touchdown point. Which means either we’ve gone way past what our suit gauges say we’ve traveled, or…”

“Or someone’s moved the ship. Damn. Where’s a pteranodon when we need speed?”

“Said I couldn’t have one,” Shyle mumbled.

“Keep drawing, Shy. Where’s that leave us, Beckett?”

“In a word, sir? Screwed.”

“How screwed, scale of 1-10.”

“Shut up, Nolan. Go sit with Harker.”

“Uh, Commander?”

“What, Nolan?”

“Harker’s gone, sir.”

“Beckett?”

“Ship’s gone too.”

“Crafty son of a bitch…”

“Yes sir.”

“What now, Commander?”

“Hope for pteranodons.”