Monday, August 19, 2013

Fiction late arrivals

So I kind of got distracted this week.  Being home with my video games again for the first time in month...yeah, 'nuff said.

Anyway, the challenge for this past week was to use a random title generator and write a story from that.  The generator gave five titles and I went with the first one that gave a strong mental image.  Ended up being not too bad, I think it worked better in the present tense.

That's about all I have to say on his one, hope you enjoy.



At the Gunfighter with a Gambit

            I push through the doors to the Gunfighter, letting them swing closed as I make my way through the saloon.  I already know where McKenzie is.
            Everything stops when I kick open the door to his private dining room.  Waitresses with drinks, men paying cards or darts, even the music grinds to a halt.
            I step into the room.  When one of McKenzie’s men tries to stop me I slow only long enough to clock him with my pistol.  He falls to the floor clutching at his mouth and trying to hold in the blood and teeth.
            I slam my gun onto the table, scattering money and sending cards flying.
            McKenzie looks up at me past the brim of his hat.
            “Boys,” he says to the two men at the table.  “Take a walk.”
            They look at me then back at McKenzie.  No one moves.
            He picks up my gun.
            “Take,” he says and cocks the hammer. “A walk.”
            The room empties.
            One of them was smart enough to shut the door on his way out.  I could hear the music pick back up and knew we’d be left alone.
            McKenzie still held my gun.
“Pretty stupid move, giving up your gun.  I’d heard better of you.”
“Those bounties were business,” I say.  “I don’t usually care what my mark has to say.”
“So this is personal then?  I’m honored.”
“You killed my father.  You’re damn right it’s personal.”
He threw back his head laughing and I could see the grey streaking his red hair.
“Kid I’ve killed a lot of people, and I’m too damn old for shootouts in the square.  Why do you think I settled down?  These days I’m usually napping at the stroke of noon.”
“I don’t care how old you are, you’re still going to duel me.”
“Tell you what, let’s compromise.”
He released the hammer and flicked open the chamber, emptying all but one bullet with a smooth efficiency that belies his age.  I didn’t doubt for a second that he could still duel.
He just didn’t want to.
“You know roulette?”  He asks.
I decided to humor him.
I sat down at the table.  “Who goes first?”
He gestured at the table.
“Why not let the cards decide?”
“One spin of the barrel?”
“High card wins, low card shoots?”
“Agreed.”
I sit down.
McKenzie clears the table and shuffled the cards.  I cut the deck and motion for him to draw first.  He shrugs and we both take a card.
Ten versus four.
I spin the chamber of my gun and put the barrel to my head.  The hammer cocks back and lands with a hollow click.
As we draw again McKenzie speaks.
“I recognize this gun.”
Five versus jack.
“You should,” I say as the gun clicks harmlessly in his hand.  “It was my father’s gun.”
Six versus eight.
“Your father was a sheriff, tried to stop me from robbing a bank.”  The gun clicks in his hand again.
Nine versus four.
“He was,” I said after the gun hit another empty chamber in my hands.
King versus ace.
“Did you know that he was a made man?”  The gun hits a fifth empty slot and he set it back down.
I don’t say anything as we draw our last cards.  I look at the queen in my hand and watch McKenzie show me what he had drawn.
A two lands on the table.
I watch him pick up the gun and cock it for the sixth and final time.
Before putting it to his head he says.
“Your father was supposed to chase us out of town, you know.  We were going to give him his cut after he made the chase look real.  But when we were out there he got greedy and stupid, tried to take it all for himself.  He tried to kill me with this gun.”
McKenzie points the gun at me and fires.
I don’t flinch as the smoke clears.
McKenzie looks at me dumbfounded for a moment before going for his own gun at his hip.
I drop the derringer out of my sleeve and shoot him before he can draw.
The force of the bullet knocks him back and he falls to the floor.
I kneel down beside him, taking my gun from his limp hand.
His mouth moves, but the bullet had torn into his throat and no sound came out.  I can tell what he was trying to ask.
“I knew all that about my father, I followed him and saw the whole thing.  I saw you try to shortchange him, and I saw your men get ready to shoot him in the back.  My father may not have been a good man, but at least he was better than you.”
McKenzie coughs blood and reaches for my gun.
“I loaded my gun with blanks.  Guess I’m not as stupid as you thought I was.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Friday Flash Fiction...on Thursday?!?

Figured since I finished it I might as well post it.  I almost feel like I'm being lazy with this story, but I really like how concise it is.  The challenge was to write a scene using four items from the list, and the visuals for these four leapt into my mind pretty much as you see them here.

I like this because it's almost like a poem actually.  I could expand it into a longer story, but I like the punch and the mystery it has being this short.  Anyway, enjoy.


Wasteland

            The road sign hangs crookedly on its post, rusted and illegible.  The wind pushing small clouds of dust over my feet.

            Carrion eaters swarm over a horse carcass nearby, so many that I could hardly see the white of the animal’s skull.

            I tear the badge from my chest and let it fall to the ground.  I'm not a sheriff anymore.

            He lies at my feet, cooling as his blood seeps into the dirt.  I pick up his guitar and start walking.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekly Challenge - Random Plot Generator

Pleased to say I have another piece of fiction to put up.  This week the challenge was to use a random plot generator and write the first one it gave.  Me being me, I of course generated a few and brainstormed until one appealed to me.

The plot I used was "The story starts when your protagonist is forced into a car at gunpoint. Another character is an attorney who invents strange machines."

I'm actually really pleased with this one (probably could use more editing).  The opening was easy to visualize and start writing, and while I had an idea for the rest it evolved into it's own work really quickly.  Making me invent new characters, changing the plan I had but in a good way.  Yeah, really pleased.

Enjoy.



A Deal

            “Get in.”
            The dark metal of the gun barrel gleamed in the light from the street lamp.  With the tinted window rolled half down I could just make out the features of a grizzled old pusher with his hand on the trigger.
            Far be it for me to turn down a nice warm car ride on a rainy night.
            I opened the door and climbed inside.  Grizzly slid over to make room, keeping the gun trained on me as he handed me a bundle of sackcloth.
            “Really?”
            “You know the drill.”
            A glance at the driver showed he wasn’t planning to take any part in this debate, but his posture made it clear he also wasn’t going to put the car in gear until I was blindfolded.
            With a sigh I pulled the bag over my head.
            I heard the soft click of the gun’s safety, but I didn’t make a move.  Grizzly tied my hands with a light knot, keeping them in my lap.  I must not be in too much trouble then, if there was a real problem they wouldn’t make it this easy.
            Driver finally put the engine in gear and we started moving.
            I could hear the steady patter of rain on the car’s roof and the splash of puddles as we hit potholes.  The bounce sometimes enough to knock me around my seat since neither of my escorts had me wear a seatbelt, but that was just another sign that tonight was just going to be a talk.
            When we finally stopped about an hour later I already knew what our destination was.
            I waited for Grizzly to open the door and pull me out.  I reached toward the hood but stopped when he pressed the gun barrel into my back and used it to guide me forward.
            I shrugged internally and just kept walking, noting when we had gone inside by the feel of the floor.  I could have turned towards the correct room but I let Grizzly guide me instead.
            Stopping after a few turns I felt a bright light overhead as Grizzly pushed me into a chair and pulled off the hood.
            Walters sat on the other side of the table, pristine white suit shining in the light.  The ever present cigar pinched in his teeth, unlit so no ashes would be spilled.
            “Do you mind?”  I asked, holding up my hands, “They’re starting to chafe.”
            Walters waved his hand and Grizzly untied me.
            “Coffee?”  Walters asked.
            “Please.”
            We waited as a girl, healthy young thing who looked good for someone paying off a drug debt, served us.  I waved off her offer of ‘sugar’ as Walters generously poured white powder into his own cup.
            “I understand you have a new toy for us?”  He asked.
            I made a show of taking a drink, knowing how he lived for the theatrics.
            Putting the cup down I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a metal cube the size of my fist.  I activated it with a tap and watched it unfold into the shape of a scorpion.
            I looked up at Walters and arched an eyebrow.
            Walters nodded to Grizzly, who placed an uncut brick of white on the table.
            The scorpion immediately became animated and crawled off my hand.  Skittering over to the brick it quickly attacked it.  Spearing the brick with its tail and using its claws to cut and shape, it carved out smaller, perfectly dimensioned cubes. 
            Job done, it crawled back to my hand and with another tap, folded itself back into a cube.
            My job was done.

            Walters agreed to the usual price easily enough and I had an order for a full supply of what he was already calling his new cutters.
            Driver dropped me off where they found me, and I gave the hood back to Grizzly as I stepped out of the car.
            Once they were out of sight I started walking, two streets down I ducked into an alley.  A quick jump to the fire escape and three fights up I was knocking on the apartment window of Marcus’ law office.
            Elyse opened the window and I climbed inside handing her my coat with a smile.
            “He’s in his workshop.” She said.
            “Of course he is.”  I smiled.
            I made my way down the hall, passing the office which doubled as his library and letting myself into the workshop.
            Marcus even looked up as I entered, unbending from the workbench with acrid smoke rising past him.  Putting his tools down he turned to me, the protective goggles made his eyes seem more inquisitive than usual and caused his hair to stick out in random directions.
            “How’d it go?”
            “He bought it, literally.”
            “Fantastic!” He said.
            “You’re sure this is a good idea?  We’re making it easier for him to peddle cocaine.”
            “It’s fine, I told you what the scorpion does.  When it strikes it injects untraceable chemicals into the drug that will cause the user to lose their addiction.  Soon Walters won’t have any customers.  And the more he uses these, the faster that will happen.”
            “And the faster he’ll find someone to blame.”
            “That’s where you come in Detective, you know where all his warehouses are thanks to the tracking bugs I built.  When the time is right, break your cover and strike.  Surely you must have enough to arrest him by now.”
            “When you came to me I was hoping you’d have enough to bring him in right away, you are his lawyer after all.”
            “I had enough to lock him up, but not to destroy his cartel.  But that’s the best part, when he calls for me to defend him we can take down his entire operation!”
            I thought about that, it almost felt too easy.  But then, Walters wasn’t exactly the smartest crime lord I’d ever tried to bust.
            Anyone who takes that much crack with his coffee probably fried his brain years ago.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Metafiction

Metafiction is a tricky beast.  Any form of meta-artwork is supposed to draw attention to itself as art while using the styles of that art.

Spider-man making a joke about superheroes isn't meta.  Deadpool is meta because he knows he's fiction and takes every chance to break the fourth wall using comic book narration boxes and even grabbing the frames on the page.

But moving on; yes, it's Friday.  And that means a short story!  Last week the challenge over at Terribleminds was to write the last line of a story.  This week Chuck took ten of those lines and challenged his auidence to use them as the opening to a story.

It ended up being extremely short, but I kinda like how it flows.  As always, I hope you enjoy.

MetaQuest
            Once upon a time, there was a story so short, it was only a single line.
            This is not that story.
            This is not the story where the strapping young Hero saves the girl and wins the kingdom, and it’s not the story where he saves the kingdom and wins the girl.
            This is the story of the Hero who does not know he is.
            In this story the Hero still goes on his Quest.  In this story the Hero’s family dies in front of him, forcing him out of his humble beginnings and into a Legend beyond his comprehension.
            But in this story there is no Loyal Companion, no Wise Mentor to advise our Hero and instruct him in the old ways.
            The Hero is left to fend for himself, to find his own way in a world that he was never prepared to experience.
            Somehow, against the odds, the Hero still finds himself allies.  The Rouge, the Rival, the Redeemed.  He finds these allies and learns to rely on them for support, to help find his way as their skills complement his own.
            They make their way together in the Hero’s adventure, sometimes managing to resolve their own stories along the way, sometimes not.  The Hero trusts them with his life, with his hope.
            Only to eventually lose his allies, his friends.
            The Rival is first to fall, taking a blow meant to slay the Hero, using his sacrifice to prove himself the better of the two.
            The Redeemed soon gives his life as well, facing his own past and falling as he slays the demons of his own creation.
            The Rouge, if only by virtue of his skill, stays with the Hero the longest.  Finally leaving this world in the dead of night, the true cause of his death as mysterious as he was.
            The Hero blames himself each time.  “If only I was stronger.  If only I was better.”
            “If only I was a Hero.”
            The Hero grows in skill and stature, in myth and legend.  Eventually coming to understand his destiny, driving himself ever forward.  Shouldering his losses, embracing his burdens, accepting his fate.
            The Hero faces foes and fiends, men and monsters.  Pressing onward he begins to see the end of his journey.
           The path of his life, beginning to end, is laid before him.  The Hero sees the truth of this, and steps forward to face the end.
            Because this is not the story of the glory of the Hero.
            This is the story where the Villain wins.
            This is my story.
            Let’s begin.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fiction Challenge - Sub-Genre Mash-ups

So I did skip a week on the fiction challenges.  I have no excuses, I just couldn't get a way to make the topic work for me.

Totally not an excuse.

Anyway, this week the topic was to take two sub-genres of fiction and crush them together into one story.  I bounced through a few different combinations; Superhero-fantasy, Dying Earth-Dieselpunk, Magical Realism-Techno Thriller, etc.

Then the first line of this story popped into my head, enjoy my insanity.



Deathiversary
            Cassie stuck her tongue out and giggled at how the pool of blood gave her reflection some color.
“Cassie stop that,” Robert waved to her.  “Come here.”
            Making one more face at herself Cassie glided over to the couch, leaving a trail of ectoplasm as she passed through the end table.  She sat down in the air, hovering just above the cushions.
            Robert put his arm across the back of the couch and Cassie leaned back just enough to let them overlap slightly, her incorporeal with his physical.  She sighed contentedly, cold fog gusting out as she spoke.
            “You always know just what to get me.”  She said.
            “Well you’re not hard to please,” he said with a gesture to the corpse still dripping blood on the floor.  “I figured you’d prefer the whole package instead of just a red mess.”
            “True enough,” she smiled.
            “Anything you’d like me to do with the body?” he asked.
            “Leave it for now,” She looked around at the dust and grime.  “I like how it adds to the d├ęcor.  We’ll let Fido have it on the next full moon.”
            “Where is that mutt anyways?”
            “He’s wandered off again, something about ‘escaping this accursed place.’  He’ll be back once he gets hungry.”
            “Why do we put up with him?”
            “Oh he’s just going through a phase, you know how werewolves are, always with the drama.”
            A wet scratching sound caught their attention.
            “Victor,” Robert shouted. “You get out of there!  Bad boy!”
            The vampire backed away from blood it had been sniffing at and started to back out of the room eying the puddle pleadingly.
            “Oh, I’ve had my fun,” Cassie said. “Let him have it.”
            Robert waved his hand at the mess and the vampire began lapping at the blood, purring happily as it did.  Drinking its fill it turned and skulked from the room, disappearing into the darkened hallway.
            Turning his attention back to Cassie he asked, “So do you remember what tonight is?”
            She frowned thoughtfully for a moment, “Halloween?”
            “Well yes, that.” Robert shook his head, “But I was thinking of our anniversary.”
            “Oh sweetie, you remembered!”
            “Of course I did, it’s hard to forget the night you killed your wife.”  He laughed, “And you know, I have a bit more of a present planned for you than just a bloody chuck of meat.”
            “Oh really now?”  Cassie asked.
            Robert held up his hand, “Just wait, it should be any minute now.”
            “Robbie, you know ghosts have no patience.” Cassie put her hands on her spectral hips.
            Unmoved he asked, “Really?  What else do you have to do with your time?”
            “I’ll have you know I’ve a very busy schedule, it takes a lot of skill to rattle chains in just the right way.”  Her smirk betrayed her amusement.
            Before he could reply the sound of tires crunching on the gravel driveway came through the broken windows.  Cassie flew off the couch and stuck her head outside, missing the window in her excitement and looking through the wall.
            “Teenagers!”  She shrieked, “You brought me mystery hunters?!  Oh you’re the best murderous psychopath a girl could ask for!”
            Robert looked out the window, keeping himself out of sight and watched the four teens climb out of the van.  Two boys; one muscular lad in a football jacket, the other all in black, including his makeup, got out of the front.  The girls; one a mini-skirted beauty queen and the other a sweater-wearing bespectacled bookworm, climbed out the back.
            “I may have spread the word about our little ‘abandoned house’ when I was a few towns over hunting down your present.” Robert said with a wave to the corpse.  “I saw those kids helping arrest a petty thief and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
            Cassie latched herself onto Robert in a hug, ending up halfway through his body. “Thank you so much!  Just promise me you’ll let me play with them first?”  She said, looking up at him through his collarbone, her hollow eyes pleading with his soulless heart.
            “Tell you what,” Robert grinned, “let’s make it a race.”
            “But there’s only four of them.”
            Robert’s expression turned thoughtful and he didn’t say anything until the barking of a large dog came from outside.
            The two smiled and said together, “Tie-breaker.”