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.

            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.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Weekly Challenge

I'm gonna go ahead and say it.

I'm proud of myself.

That's right, three weeks in a row of writing short stories.  Thank you Chuck Wendig for the regular challenges, because otherwise I'd probably flail around an fail to come up with an idea.

Speaking of, this week the challenge was to take a list of pop culture items and combine two of them into one story.  I went with Star Wars and the Walking Dead.  Once again I had fun just thinking about it, I brainstormed all the things I thought were themes of the pop culture items I knew and those two jumped out at me.  Almost went with Batman but the vigilantism angle just wasn't working this time.

So yeah, we're back on zombies.  That didn't take long now did it?

The main thing I wanted to avoid here was having just a crossover fanfiction.  I didn't want to have the Walking Dead survivors find lightsabers and use the Force, or put zombies in space (they've done that, it's called Death Troopers...good book actually.)  Instead I tried to combine what I felt some of the themes were, and ended up with a zombie apocalypse ruled by a totalitarian government.  Enjoy.

P.S. My word count is rising, I broke 900 this time.  XD

“Hey boss, I think he’s coming to.”
            You open your eyes to a small concrete room with weak lighting coming from an old camping lamp off to one side.  Two people, a man and a woman, are leaning over you as you try to sit up.  Ragged clothing and matted hair are the uniform traits.  Behind them are shelves with an assortment of what looks like emergency survival gear.
            “Where-“ your voice cracks, they hand you a canteen and a flask.
You drink from both.
            “Where am I?” you ask.
            One of them, the guy, grins, “You’re alive.”  He laughs at his own joke.
            “Ignore Marcus,” the woman says with a shrug.
            “Hey, Mara, come on!”
            “Where am I?  And who are you people?” you ask.
“We’re with the Underground,” Mara says.  “We’re smugglers.”
“And right now we’re smuggling you,” says Marcus.  “Congratulations buddy, you just got recruited.”
Turning back to you Mara says, “We pulled you from the wastes.  What do you remember?”
            At the question, it comes back to you.  The walking and the fear.  The hunger and the thirst…especially the thirst.
            You take another swig from the flask, you’re not nearly drunk enough for this.
            “Hey, hey, hey!  Easy on that, that’s mine!”  Marcus shouts.
            “What he means,” Mara interrupts, “is that you’re dehydrated.  Stick to the water for now.”
            She reaches for the flask and you take one last drink before handing it back.
            “Shouldn’t have let me have it in the first place then,” you grumble.
            “It was to make my job easier,” she looks down sympathetically.
            You follow her gaze and see your leg.  You remember twisting it as you fell from the Republic’s Criminal Execution chute, falling outside the city wall and into the wasteland.  The splint you made has been removed, it makes a pile of old debris and the remains of your coat in the corner.
            “I was waiting for you to wake up before we set it,” she says.  “This is going to hurt.”
            “Geez Mara, can you work on your bedside manner?”  Marcus says.
            Mara ignores him.  “Here.”  She hands you a thick piece of wood.  “Bite down on this.  Marcus, hold his shoulders down and keep him still.”
            You lie back and try to relax, putting the block in your mouth.
            Mara counts down, “Three…Two…”
You take a deep breath.
            With a wet crunch the twist in your leg is reset and you dig your teeth into the wood as you cry out, the pain making you sweat.
            “Crap, give him my flask before he passes out again.”  Marcus hands you the flask and you take another drink before giving it back and drinking some water to wash out the foul taste that suddenly fills your mouth.
            The pain clears your head, and something nags at the back of your mind but you can’t remember what it is.
            “Easy there, man.”  Marcus helps you sit up.  “We’ve got you.”
            Mara is replacing the splint around your leg.  She looks up.  “How long were you in the wastes?”
            “More importantly,” Marcus cuts in.  “What did you do to piss off the Republic?”
            Your head still hurts, the room is too warm.  Taking another drink, you say, “I think I got drunk…tore down some propaganda.  Maybe beat up some Enforcers?”
            “Yep, that’ll do it!”  Marcus laughs.
            Mara takes another look at you, waiting for an answer to her question.
            You wipe the sweat off your face.  You’re still thirsty and you take another drink.
            “I don’t think it was that long, it’s a little hazy.”  The memory of your exile is still a blur.
            “Do you have any other injuries you need me to look at?” she asks.
            “No,” you cough.  “I’m fine.”
            You take another drink while scratching at an itch on your chest.
            “Your splint was pretty well put together.  This was your coat right?”
            “Right.”  The room is getting warmer.
            Mara holds up the shirt.
“Any idea how it got so bloody?” she asks, with a concerned look.
            The silence in the room is stifling.  You wrack your brain but you can’t remember anything, the heat is making it hard to think.  You swallow water but the taste turns your stomach and you spit it back out.
            The water hits the floor flecked with bile and red with blood.
            “Oh shit,” Marcus whispers.
            The sight of the blood brings your memory back.  Limping away from the city wall, trying to move as quickly as you could, knowing you had to find shelter before it got dark.
            Before the Corpses came looking.
            “I was bitten.”  You say, your hand going to your chest.  The memory of the bite comes back as you feel the tear in your skin through the fabric.
            “Oh shit, shitshitshit!”  Marcus is backing away from you, crawling towards the wall.  “Mara, Mara we have to dump him.”
            “Shut up Marcus, we should have enough meds to help him,” she says.
            “He’s already coughing up blood,” Marcus is reaching behind him.
            “Marcus, sit down and shut up!” Mara yells at him.
            Marcus ignores her and pulls out a pistol, aiming it at you.  Before he can fire Mara grabs his arm, wrenching the pistol out of his grip.  The two fall back and slam into the far wall and the pistol clatters to the floor.
            Your chest itches like it’s on fire.  You’re sweating bullets and the room is oppressively hot.  You’re thirsty but can’t stand the thought of water.
            Your two rescuers keep fighting.  The room begins to spin.
            You reach for the gun.  You know what you have to do.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Wordsmithing Continues

Holy Smoking Moses!  Two weeks in a row?  What miracles be this?

No seriously though I'm proud of myself for still writing and not falling off the wagon onto the train tracks and getting run over by the loco-procrastination-motive.

The reason for my continued keyboard pecking is again thanks to and Chuck Wendig's weekly writing challenge (found here I reccommend following the link just to read the other entries for this challenge.

This time (as you'll see if you looked like I told you too) the challenge was to pick three words from the list of ten (why didn't you already know that?  Click the link already!)  At first I was trying to pick ones that would work with a fantasy short story that was percolating in my head.  As most people know, fantasy is my preferred genre for writing since it's easy to explain the crazy crap I throw out.

But I couldn't really make it work so I free associated the ten words, you know just writing down the first things that came to mind when I thought of them.  Ex. Divorce made me think of; Break, Pain, Loss, Love, Confusion, Fear.  And as I did that with all ten words this piece evolved pretty instantaneously/effortlessly.  I'm tempted to post what I associated all ten words with but instead I'll post the story.  It's a bit more slice-of-lifey than I normally write or even read, but I'm happy with it.  Also my thanks to my Grammar Nazi proofreader (you know who you are) for the help.

Separation Anxiety

            ‘The divorce was hardest on David, he blamed himself.  We’ve tried to get together over the holidays but…” I’m not sure how to finish the thought.
            “He wasn’t willing to come?” Dr. Slate asks.
            “No he was, but the children didn’t want anything to do with him.”
            The office is warm, cozy in that family sitting room kind of way.  A comforter is draped over one couch and a soft recliner completes the set.  The typical therapy couch is off in the corner, almost in timeout.  Only present in the room as if to keep up appearances.
            The coffee table has various odds and ends, playing cards, a Rubik’s cube and some of those bent metal puzzles.  I pick up one of those to keep my hands busy.
            As the silences stretches on Dr. Slate pours herself some tea, I can smell the pinch of herbs she’d added.
            “Would you like some tea?  It’s mint.”
            No, thank you.”  I take a deep breath. “I had automatic custody since the adoption was in my name, we were never legally married, you see.  David, bless him, didn’t try to fight it or anything and I didn’t want to cut him out of the kid’s lives.  Blood or not, he’s still their father too but…” I can’t help but trail off again.
            “It’s natural for children to be upset in any divorce,” she pauses. “In a case like yours, if I had to guess, I’d say they felt abandoned.  Do you know the history with their birthparents?”
            “Walk-outs,” I say. “Both of them.  And none of the relatives that social services could track down were willing to take them.  David and I, we were a foster home at first, just for them to have a roof over their heads.  But we decided to take them in permanently.”
            “And that was eight years ago?”
            “Yes, one big happy family.  At least until we split up last year.”  Even saying it makes me grimace.
“It sounds like they feel abandoned.”
“I’m sure they did-do.  And things…things have been going downhill since then.”
            “Can you give me an example?”
            “Last Christmas.”
            “What happened?”
            “David came to the house that morning.  We wanted it to be a surprise so we hadn’t told the boys.  They wouldn’t even look at him,” I have to pause for a moment.  “John, he’s eleven now, wouldn’t take any of the gifts David brought.  And Jason, he’s nine and he follows his brother in everything.”
            “What happened next?”
            “David was devastated.  He left early, he didn’t stay for dinner like we’d planned.  I asked the boys why they had acted that way and,” I have to stop again.  “And they said it was my fault for ruining our family.”  I can feel myself beginning to cry.
            “You can’t blame yourself for this.  Relationships end, it’s natural.  No one is to blame here.  Not David, not the boys and certainly not you.”
             “I think they feel like I betrayed David, betrayed them by driving him away,” I take a tissue from my pocket.  “I’ll take some of that tea now.”
            She nods and pours me a cup.  The flavor of the mint is surprisingly refreshing and helps my hands stop shaking.
“Thank you Doctor,” I wipe my eyes.
“Of course Michael,” She smiles.