With a wave of his hand the boy produced magnificent shapes and formed islands out of the empty ocean while standing on the cliff. His eyes were closed but he knew he didn’t need them. He used his imagination without bounds, and without the influence of external stimuli.
– Cyberwave, Coloring For Karen
From Jan Christensen: Sad Victory (a mystery short story).
“Of course I’m okay.” Her mouth twisted around the slang word disagreeably.
– J. Christensen, Sad Victory
From Horror Tree: Pale Horse by Lynn Love (a tale concerning a man who may or may not be crazy hears a voice that may or may not be there).
‘That ain’t no wind,’ he says. ‘There’s a voice. Can’t you hear it?’
– L. Love, Pale Horse
From The Chronicles of History: Beyond The Trees by Samantha James (a short story of the fantastique).
A young orphaned girl flees her home one afternoon and finds herself lost in a big scary forest. The child becomes injured but is assisted by an unlikely companion that claims to know the way to the girl’s home at the abbey. Not all is as it seems …
She’d been used to one annoying older brother her entire life, but five years ago Jason had invited his college roommate Alex to come work on the family farm and now it was like she had two annoying older brothers
L. R. Howeler, The Farmer’s Daughter
From Close 2 The Bone: Billy’s Grave by Lisa Short. Two young women discover criminals desecrating their late brother’s tombstone and decide to defend their land.
They had kicked over Billy’s gravestone; Faith could tell when Kayla spotted it lying all askew by the stiffening of her shoulders. They might not have known they were even on a gravesite—she and Kayla had buried Billy themselves, and the only marker they’d been able to place had been a river-worn slab of rock
L. Short, Billy’s Grave
From Literally Story: Crimson Coloured Raindrops by David Darvasi. A curious, charming tale of mysterious entities venturing below a dreamlike-city of steam and fume. Best of the week.
he started cutting the darkness – quite literally. Not for any romantic reason, other than he wouldn’t do anything metaphorically.
D. Darvasi, Crimson Coloured Raindrops
From Literary Yard: The Last Time Rublev Saw The Sea by Tom Z. Spencer. Strongly influenced by recent events, Spencer’s story follows a young man navigating the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
We were told it can’t transmit human to human, and then that masks don’t work, and then to wear masks, and eventually to go home, and lock the door.
“You children are so unlucky for unlike us you hear your music strapped on headphones, and watch your favourite film and music stars gyrate on your palm tops”
N. Panicker, Memories Unspooled
From Nicholas C. Rossis: Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. The advice is basic, but can prove useful to new fiction writers (for more experienced writer’s, I would recommend the T. Bailey Saunders’ translation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Literature).
It doesn’t matter how well-constructed your world is if you’re incapable of dishing it out in smaller portions that are relevant to what’s happening in that particular sequence. If there’s a city that’s important to the story, give the reader the necessary info when the characters actually go there, instead of dumping 500 years of detailed history and politics from three different provinces in a prologue.
N.C. Rossis, on info dumps in fiction
From Curiomancy: Samizdat by Rick Wayne. A excerpt from the author’s scifi novel Zero Signal.
the human cognitive capacity was more or less fixed, artificial minds could adjust their filters on the fly. A wider net meant slower thinking, and vice versa, but they could scale their attention to their needs.
Editor’s note: A little shorter than usual. Been very busy!
THIS WEEK’S FICTION
The Dark Netizen published, Barbies. And also, Embrace, Cave Trip, Date Night and Television as well as several poems. Something that would be interesting to see is a anthology collection of his short stories – perhaps as a PDF (or some similar file-type) – sorted by theme. Given how many of them he writes every week, there is ample content for it.
My heart stopped for a second when I spotted the skeleton remains – finally a discovery, albeit one which showed clear signs of recent burning.
However, the flesh had been picked clean off the bones, which indicated that the Glock resting in my pocket may see use very soon…
At least we’re not deserted islands or soulless rocks.
From Terror House Magazine, Sideburns by poet and short story author, Lou Martin. Short, cruel, compassionate and moving. Easily the best of the week.
We called him “Sideburns.” Somehow, in some long-forgotten childhood reasoning, that seemed a good moniker for the guy who prowled alleys and back porches rummaging through trash cans and piles of cast-away items.
From The Library of Nell, Leporine, a short and sultry tale of fantasy and lust. Written as part of the Friday Flash challenge.
She moans a little when he whispers another “good girl.”
For writing circular recommendations, drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Flash/microfiction length pieces which forms part of a continuous series that goes beyond the length of a flash fiction will be included either under the SHORT STORIES or NOVELLAS & NOVELS sections, depending on the length of the series in totality; they will not be included in the flash section from here on out given that they are only a portion of the whole story and not a true flash/microfiction unto themselves.
Richa Sharma of iScriblr published the appropriately scribbly short fiction fragments, Fahrenheit 451 and Million Dollar Baby as part of a literary challenge to create a story in only three lines. In my opinion, she did a sterling job of it. If you’re a new fiction writer looking for practice, look up her form and try your hand.
“We’ve got 24 hours before they burn them all down! Hurry up!”
The literary journal, Gone Lawn published Empire of Light by the talented and charming Melissa Goode. The short piece is brisk and uplifting as her prose.
“We are a blip in time and space, nothing compared with matter and history, but that does not diminish a single thing about us.”
“I remembered the axolotl. Some creatures aren’t meant to grow up.”
Ramya Tantry of Miles Before I Go To Sleep… recently published Finish The Story: The Art Student. As the name implies, Ms. Tantry’s story is as-yet incomplete; the point of the post is to see how other fiction writer’s build off of her existing microfiction. Its a pretty fascinating tale so far (and getting fairly lengthy so I suppose I could have also placed this in ‘short stories’) concerning art and magic, a burned man, Dante’s Inferno and a pact with a ‘crossroads demon.’ Some writers have already made flash contributions, including circular regular, The Dark Netizen. Go check it out and – if you’re a fiction author – consider trying your hand.
The man removed all his clothes. It was clear that the melted skin was pretty much all over and not a hair grew out of it. Standing on the platform his head brushed the ceiling tiles.
Amy couldn’t resist asking him “Your skin, were you born like that or….” She couldn’t finish the question, but he answered anyway, it’s what most people asked him.
“No, I was a firefighter, at 9/11. I was caught in a fireball.” He could say it now, seventeen years later, without breaking down.
Speaking of The Dark Netizen, he’s been busy with some poetry as well as the moody flash fiction tale, Another Dark Day.
“This fog can be wiped off with a quick sweep of my hand. I wish removing the clouds in my life was as easy.”
Avani Singh of Blogggedit, who we covered in our last installment, made good on her promise to deliver consecutive slices of horror literature with the final installments of her memorably titled, ‘Weirdo Elevator’ series. Below we’ve provided the series in its entirety:
From Burning House Press, Wisconsin by songstress, Sam Lou Talbot, whose fleeting, fragmented narrative is compelling but a little too scattered. Whilst beautifully written I wonder if it might have worked better as a song with the music filling in the narrative gaps in the story. Also from Burning House, Bomb Nostalgic by Mauricio Figueiras; a tale of Hollywood-backed filming of nuclear bomb tests in the wastelands of Nevada. Smacks of Don Delillo.
“His bronchial and alveolar tubes have been replaced with an expanding nuclear mushroom that eats up the entire thoracic cavity.”
From Terror House Magazine, The Manipulators by Jake Belck whose prose reminds me strongly of a less manic Bret Easton Ellis. A tale with many lessons for those with the eyes to see and the best of the week.
“See ya around,” were the last words to his wife of seven years before Leo cut the call.
“This is the inner workings side of the zoo. We’re on our way to see the Elephant Lord.”
NOVELLAS & NOVELS
Seen a promo for a teen urban-fantasy romance novel titled, Imminence: Book 2, by Kat Stiles. Now, I’m not knocking the content of the book, I haven’t read it – seems to be quite good if the plethora of 5 star reviews are anything to go by – but the cover gave me a hearty laugh.
Neha Sharma of Literary Lemonades published, The Damsel In Distress, an apt criticism of the eponymous trope. It bares noting, however, that though her criticism is spot-on, the trend in fiction, literature, film and TV seems to be consistently away from the-damsel-in-distress and more towards The Mary Sue (any female lead who is good at everything to an absurdist degree and typically displays masculine traits). Ms. Sharma delineates the trope and breaks it down further into three sub-categories.
Bushy-haired, bespectacled (optional) shy girl who prefers books over male attention, only to transform later into a gorgeous diva for the hero, who understandably becomes the first ever man in her life.
A smokin’ hot girl from an academic background. She is unaware of her good looks and would finally make the hero fall in ‘true love’ for the first time.
An introvert girl who has clearly suffered some trauma in the past and she cannot trust anyone anymore. She finally meets our jolly-good hero who saves the day.
My summation is that both the mary-sue and damsel-in-distress tropes (when used a a focal point for a character) are around equally efficient at generating unbelievable and fairly boring fictional persons. Now, as ever, 3D characters are key.
STORGY landed an interview with James Frey (who wrote I Am Number Four with Jobie Hughes under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore) that delved into bibliophilia, literary criticism, bad press coverage and what is most important to a fiction author.
Q: “Do you think that honestly, that you sold out at some point?”
FREY: “I don’t know right? I actually had a tonne of fun doing Pittacus Lore and doing End Game. In some ways I don’t think it’s a sell out because it’s the least likely thing anyone ever expected me to do-“
Lastly, gnOme published the aesthetically engorged NEMO by X. Looks promising.
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“I had pestered my father to take me on the Sling Shot ride the night of the disaster. You can actually see a photo of us standing alongside the ticket booth if you watch the documentary on the Travel Channel. My father is easy to spot in a red and white checkered shirt and navy shorts. I’m holding his hand, wearing a baseball cap. The picture was taken about a minute before the accident.”
Fishburn’s tale was one of those stories that I could have easily imagined being elaborated upon and turned into a full length novel. I’m curious whatever became of the child and the two young lovers…
The Library of Nell has been quite active since debuting with several new pieces available, including Dirty Dozens, a collection of her writings from Storyin12‘s daily prompt challenge as well as the raw, honest and sensual short story The Next Generation which is, in my estimation, one of her best works so far. One thing that many contemporary romance writers miss is the fact that, for the erotic, it is not just enough to be graphically sensuous, nor merely emotionally dramatic, but to syncretically employ both in the work. This Nell does aptly.
“A mirror reflecting. Nothing abnormal. That is how mirrors work. Right?
Recently, I had come across a garage sale. An old man had put up the sale, it was not going well. No customers, and the lawn was filled with junk. I exited my car and decided to check it out. Among all the balderdash objects for sale I noticed a mirror priced at peanuts. It’s reflection showed the shed. A lady went inside it, followed by the old man, axe in hand.
“Please pay in the shed.”
I ran away before the old man could say or do anymore.”
The latest entry from The Story Hive, Jinx, really showcases her talent for eccentric, memorable dialogue.
“This isn’t how you treat your unofficial bodyguard/human rabbit foot.”
If her characters were less whimsical, I’d feel pretty bad for them, they’re always getting jinxed or cursed!
She also published, The Black Door. A mysterious tale. Perhaps we will learn what happened to Lake in the sequel.
“He was the drowning man breaking the surface of his memories.”
On 2nd September 1882, to the shock of the Royal Camera Club, the 1st photo of lightning was taken by Miss Aurora Blitzen. Many had believed it impossible to photograph the phenomenon. As Aurora explained, “The problem is persuading the lightning to keep still for long enough.”
Lastly, though a poem and not a work of prose fiction, E. A. Gray’s beautifully imagistic Coalfire, I felt, deserved a mention.
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Noteworthy was the (very) short story Rescue from The Dark Netizen. A humorous excursion of misbegotten Don Juanism.
Give Was Her Resting? from Terror House Magazine a read, echoes of Reynolds Price.
“Well, ain’t that sweet? Old fool and his doggie.”
The voice came from behind him, and Bud jumped and turned. Standing right behind him was a a pale, cadaverous young man with a tuft of hair on his chin and large metal discs in his earlobes. He was wearing a filthy T-shirt and the rank odor of his body struck Bud like a fist. Behind the young man was an even younger black man, dressed all in black and wearing a knitted skullcap on his close-cropped hair. Both of them were sneering at Bud, and both of them had glittering, crazed eyes. The one closest to Bud lifted a pistol and pointed it right between the older man’s eyes.
“Where’s the pills?”
Serialized (Sometimes Ongoing) Stories
One of the more interesting pieces of writing I read this week was the fascinating and yet-unfinished fiction series, The Devil’s Peak (I & II) by R. C. Darabant of The Story Hive. It is one of those tales wherein, the less you know going into it, the more tantalizing it is and we are certainly interested to see how it ends.
In our own capacity, four parts of the fiction series, The Photographer’s Dilemma are now available here: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4.
Novellas & Novels
I’ve currently been reading a number of novels, one of which entitled Dark Journey(Bantam Spectra, 1991) by the pseudonymous horror-writer, A.R. Morlan, stood out as being particularly compelling. Fans of Harlan Ellison’s work will likely appreciate the text, as Morlan explicitly makes mention of the fact that Ellison’s Gopher In The Gilly, played a vital role in inspiring certain sections of her own tale. From the backcover:
TOWN OF EVIL
Ewerton: a decaying small town, its glory days many years gone – if they ever existed… Few residents know that these times were built on corruption and lies, that the town was founded on evil. Palmer Winston glimpsed the eerie truth in a mysterious woman – and spent his last fifty years trying to recapture it. His oldest friend, Lamer Nemmitz, saw her too – it turned him sour and mean, as his humanity withered within him.
CARNIVAL OF HORRORS
The Water Carnival: a faded memory of imagined better times. This year will be the most memorable in Ewerton history. This year the South-State Enterprises Carnival, outlawed in Ewerton since 1923, returns. The crooked games, the mentalist, the freak show. And the true horror, disguised by a beautiful face and a Veronica Lake waterfall of caramel-blond hair, a thing born of corruption.
NIGHT OF JUDGMENT
The Ewerton High ten-year reunion: when she will return to her hometown and give birth to a terror from which there can be no escape…
Just as spooky as it sounds (only better written than the amusing, but rather in-your-face sensationalism of the promo text, which probably wasn’t written by Morlan herself).
Commentary, Critique & Analysis
A interesting entry from Alina Hansen this week in the character of Gertrude Stein’s “Autobiography” of Alice. The piece, though in no wise lengthy, was quite informative on one of the writer’s most popular works, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (it is not actually a true autobiography, hence Hansen’s deployment of air-quotes in her title) for someone like myself who is not well-versed with the works of Stein.
BEST OF THE WEEK
Our nomination for the best fiction-related piece of the week is not, itself, a work of fiction but rather a historical exegis of the life, times and works of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges by OddMadLand entitled, Erase Their Eyes, Ensure Their Devotion. As someone who knew next to nothing about Borges, the piece was considerably edifying (and exceptionally written, as is everything at OddMadLand). It is a lengthy article but well worth the read.
(The existence of these new events bring more to the event than there was before. There is a devil behind them, it is the antichrist. Jorge Luis Borges wants us to understand that by turning away from time in favour of space a wrinkle is created that allows the devil to dance behind our back. This leads to a powerful realization, that the apocalypse is cumulative, gradual, always already happening, that the antichrist is a time traveler who, in altering the timeline, creates chaos at a distance, chaos for the future. If for God time is always complete, than the only way for the devil to sabotage Gods absolutely completed space is to create alternative versions of the original events. That way, blasphemies would occur: like sons being peers to their fathers or christ’s resurrection.)