Friday, 26 June 2015

FRACTURED DAWN - episode 11

Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .

A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. Through a series of altercations he finds himself in the town of Bridgewood, a tree farming community far from the larger cities of the state. Gaining a job in the town’s inn, he is given the name ‘Cook’.
When a strange beast murders a child, hunting parties head out into the surrounding woodland to track it down. But the creature is underestimated and lives are lost. Cook is forced to reveal his secret and fight the creature in front of a man who wants him gone; Sheriff Lenton.
As the town mourns, Cook wonders if he should leave sooner rather than later.





“Does it hurt?”
Cook looked at Abigail’s beautiful dark eyes and wondered if he’d ever seen prettier.
He’d been so worried last night when they’d returned to his room. As promised, she cooked for him after the inn had closed for the night. The food tasted good too, good enough for Abigail to take over from him when he eventually moved on. He made a note to mention that to Dusty the next time he saw her.
When they cleared up, she went with him up to his room, staying by his side as he turned the key, and taking his hand as they entered. They stood for a while in the centre of the room, looking at each other in silence. And then her lips had touched his. Abigail was a beautiful, kind girl and he couldn’t deny that her obvious attraction to him had caused similar feelings to form in return.
But then she put her arms around him and pulled their bodies closer, and the stone embedded in the centre of his chest caused him to recoil.
At first she had looked hurt but she must have noticed the glow of the stone beneath his shirt because then the offence went away and was replaced by understanding. Despite the doctors advise about keeping it secret, Cook sat Abigail down and showed her what made him different. If she ran then she ran. And in the morning he would leave, before the town had woken.
But Abigail didn’t run. She touched the stone, touched his face, and pulled him closer to kiss him once more.
And now it was morning, the birds were singing from among the trees that surrounded Bridgewood, and Cook felt all his cares and worries fade away. For the first time since the beach, he wasn’t thinking about his mysterious past life. He knew the urge for the truth would seep back eventually, but right now a beautiful girl was allowing him to have a break and just be.
“It looks like it hurts,” Abigail continued. She ran a finger around the edge where skin met stone. “Do you think it will ever come out?”
Cook didn’t answer her. He just watched her and smiled.
“What?” she said, a look of jestful paranoia on her face.
“Nothing,” said Cook. “I just enjoy listening to you. I could listen to you all day.”
Abigail smiled, rolled over and grabbed a pillow. “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?”
“I wouldn’t dare,” he replied, now faking his own offence.
She hit him; one, two, three times with the pillow before he tore it from her grip and wrestled her back down beside her.
“Would you stay for me?”
“What do you mean?” said Cook.
“I know all you want to do is march out of Bridgewood and explore the bigger world. I know you want to find yourself. But do you think that instead, you could stay here, in Bridgewood? With me?”
Cook hoped his hesitation didn’t cause offence but Abigail seemed to want him to take his time. He knew his answer would be biased if he just blurted it out now because he was in a happy place and things felt great. But they weren’t great. He was a lost man in a town that was slowly growing more suspicious of him as each day passed. It didn’t matter if she wanted him here because it seemed almost everybody else didn’t. They were just too polite to say it.
“If I was to leave Bridgewood-”
“When,” said Abigail.
“If,” corrected Cook, although he knew she was right. “It won’t be because of you.”
“I know you think the town hates you but they’re just nervous around strangers. I was treated the same when I arrived a year ago.”
“You’re not from here?” said Cook. He sat up a little, getting comfortable as learnt more about this woman.
“I ran away from my town,” she said. She looked away for a second; too hide her eyes from his. “Things were . . . difficult, unpleasant.”
“I didn’t realise. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine, really. And things have been so much better here, the odd grabby customer aside.” She ran her fingertips over Cook’s chest, over the stone that glowed softly. “Just give them a chance.”
Cook kissed her on the forehead. “I’d like to think all that was possible. But you weren’t blamed for bringing death to these people’s very doorsteps. I will always be marked by that whether I’m responsible or not.”
“You still think that monster was connected to you?”
“I don’t have much to go on,” said Cook. “So I can’t rule anything out.”
Abigail half smiled, disappointed. She lay down beside him, arm draped across his bare stomach, and nuzzled her head against his chest. “Then perhaps you’ll come back for me?”
“That sounds like a plan.”
                With nothing else to say they lay together in silence. Cook was grateful for this time with Abigail even if they both knew it wouldn’t last. Perhaps he would come back for her if his old life didn’t want him back. But it wouldn’t be because she was his second choice. It would be because he had his answers, and could be a complete man for her, instead of someone broken, someone missing his past.
                He squeezed her, closed his eyes, and breathed in her scent. Lavender.
                When he opened his eyes the woman with the red hair was stood at the end of the bed.
                He let out a snort of surprise causing Abigail to bolt up. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
                Cook looked at her and then back to the foot of the bed. The woman was gone. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking around the small room in case the woman had found a quick hiding place. “I thought I saw something.”
                From the middle of the town came a scream, then another, and another. Cook leapt from the bed and rushed over to the window, standing to the side to stay out of sight. In the centre of Bridgewood, a group of men were circling the townsfolk, knocking some over, dragging others along by their hair. They were rough looking men; armed and dirty. They reminded Cook of the men he fought to protect Tanel.
                “Bandits,” said Abigail who had joined him at the window. “From across the border, no doubt.”
                “Border?” said Cook. “What border?”
                “Navis,” said Abigail. “It’s a few days ride but they do occasionally make their way this far in. Normally they just want a blacksmith, a whore, and some drink. And not always in that order. I wonder what they want.”
                As if he had heard Abigail, a man who looked like he could be the bandit’s leader stood up in his saddle. “We have come for the stone man,” he yelled, raising his broadsword above his head. “And we’re not leaving without him.”



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 24: “Who The Hell Are Chris And Mike?”


2015 WORD COUNT = 35331 words




Sometimes you can plan your writing as much as you like but that won’t stop the universe throwing you a curve ball when it feels like it.

I’ve got several half written novels, even more short stories, and an ongoing fantasy series all vying for my attention. But instead of worrying about all of that, I’ll be spending July’s Camp NaNo working on a story that is nagging my brain to be told, a story that started back in January of this year as a bit of a joke.





JANUARY 22nd, A DATE THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY

Of the three Flash Fiction contests I take part in every week, I find Thursday’s Micro Bookends the most challenging. With a word limit of just 100, and the extra constraint of having the first and last word already chosen, I struggle some weeks to get everything to work together.

To combat this early on, I started using Micro Bookends to experiment with format. This led to my second entry being written in the form of a triangle as the main character discovered their predicament before panicking as they tried to escape, each line gaining a word before reducing again to the end. A week later I wrote the story backwards to mirror the villager’s curse of reverse aging.

But it was the week seven prompt, a photo of a church graveyard and the words ‘Club’ and ‘Foot’, which sent me down a different path.

It started as a simple 100 word story about two guys, one who believes the dead will rise, and the other who realises his friend has come off his medication. The twist at the end was that the recently released mental patient was right.

Sometimes when I’m writing Flash Fiction and the character names aren’t too important, I’ll just take names from my work colleagues. This time around I ‘borrowed’ from Chris and Mike, two friends who had taken an interest in my writing. After that, if was just a case of riffing Scott Pilgrim and I had my title; CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD.

And that is where it should have ended.





THESE DAYS, YOU GOTTA HAVE A SEQUEL

Two things led to the continuation of Chris and Mike; writers block, and a woman named Stella.

The following week and I was struggling to get a story down. My entire lunch produced nothing and the evening at home wasn’t much of an improvement. The photo was of a gun sat in mud, which was fine, but it was the bookends that were causing the headache; ‘Weight’ and ‘Loss’. I was stumped. In fact, I nearly walked away from that week’s contest until I came up with the ideas of using homophones. Suddenly ‘Weight’ became ‘Wait’ and a story formed. A father and son, or two friends lost in the woods. One hasn’t taken medication and a speech impediment rises. Medication? Like Chris from last week?

A quick character name change and I had a semi-sequel; CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE FOREST OF DEATH.

And that is where it should have ended.

But then fellow flash fiction author, Stella wrote a comment.


I joked with the wife that I’d have to ‘finish the trilogy’ now. But a book? Based on these silly little stories? That was crazy talk. Silly Stella (but the idea hid at the back of mind . . . and waited).





TUNE IN, SAME TIME NEXT WEEK

So I finished the ‘Chris and Mike trilogy’ with CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM and I guess there’s where I should have left it. But that pesky Stella was up to her mind controlling tricks again.


I honestly think that if Stella hadn’t written this comment, then I would have gone onto something else the following week and left Chris and Mike for dust. But her words tapped my ego and I saw a new challenge. Could I carry on with the same characters each week? It would add an edge to the contest where I was forced to bend the photo and the bookends into the world of Chris and Mike.

So that’s what I did. Each Thursday morning I would look at the prompts and then plan on my two heroes getting stuck into another adventure. It was a little like the ‘monster of the week’ episodes from X-Files or Buffy. Chris and Mike would have some banter and then kill or capture a robot/ghost/troll.

But, just like the X-Files, I went and made things difficult for myself.

A throw away comment brought about the idea of a nemesis and it started me thinking about subplots. Subplots?!?! With a 100 word limit. That’s crazy! Yet the seventh episode, CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE EVIL MESSENGER did just that when a crazy hobo demon informed our heroes that their time was up.

Things died down a little until episode 13, CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE LABYRINTH OF SHADOWS. With its cliff hanger ending, the arc of the Labyrinth ended up dominating two more episodes before, in May 2015, the dynamic duo were sent back in time in CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE HISTORY TRIP.

Things got more complicated as each episode led into the next and each weeks prompt tied my keyboard and fingers up ten-fold. I would try to get them to return but the story felt too big at that point to rush it in one. And then I brought in Chris’ dad and a floating prison. And I swear, I wasn’t on drugs. Thankfully I managed to get the pair back to our time last week in CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE SPACE TIME CONTINUUM (only epic could have saved me), and I’m now hoping to return to the one off monster episodes for a while.

And maybe that’s where it should have ended. But do you remember when Stella said BOOK?




IT’S A BIG OLD UNIVERSE OUT THERE

The real life Chris And Mike have often joked about merchandise, hoping to one day see their faces on T-shirts, mugs, or in a movie! But something that feels right at this stage is taking the 100 word Flash stories I’m working on and expanding them into a format with no word constraint.

So for this July’s CampNaNo, I’m making a start on bigger ‘Chris and Mike vs’ stories. I’m expanding back stories, introducing new characters, and giving more room to existing ones (find out more about Stan the Rabbit).

Let’s be clear though, I’m not starting again from scratch. Depending on what size works best, each novel / novella / short story, will follow the plot of each of the existing Chris and Mike stories. From the beginning. There will be no wiping the slate clean. It’s more like taking a balloon and blowing it up.

Stella will get her book.




NO FLASH IN THE PAN

I won’t be stopping my Micro Bookend entries. Because further down the line I’m going to need new plotlines. I still like that fact that I’m controlled and challenged by whatever the contest throws at me each week. Of course, it’s at this stage that Micro Bookends host David Borrowdale realises just how much power he has in the ongoing adventures. It’s his photos and bookends (+ my crazy imagination) that dictates where our heroes go next. Hopefully he won’t do anything cruel.

While I mention David, I’d just like to give him a big thanks. As was pointed out several months back, how can the Chris and Mike adventures be judged blind when everyone knows it’s me? In light of this, David could have banned the stories. He could have banned me. Instead he has let me run free. I, like a lot of the people that read them each week, understand that it is something just done for fun. I have never expected to win with them (although episode 20 did get an HM a few weeks ago) and I don’t do it for that. So thank you David. If anything epic ever comes from it, like a big Hollywood blockbuster, then I’m sure you will get a small piece on the DVD extras about how you where there at the beginning and how you never saw a penny (just kidding, you’ll get an Executive Producer credit!).

And let’s not forget the fans (can I say that?). Stella got the ball rolling and she will always by the #1 fan. But there were others too. Whether they knew they were encouraging me, or just felt like they were helping ‘the special kid’, it took all of your comments to turn Chris and Mike from a 100 word joke into a serious writing project.

And of course a massive thank you to the real Chris and Mike. They’ve seen the funny side and have enjoyed the stories as much as you guys. They even took the time to recreate my picture in photo form. Of course, I wish they’d stop sniffing around for a pay check. I’m not rich. Yet.



WRAP IT UP

Next Wednesday will be day 1 of CampNaNo and will come with its obligatory update post that evening.  Hopefully it starts off okay. Fingers crossed.

Thank you for following me on a journey through Chris and Mike’s creation. Hopefully there’s a lot more of them still to come.

See you in seven.

*****

June 27th sees the celebration that is National Flash Fiction Day and to celebrate, I thought it would be fun if Chris and Mike’s adventures spilled out of Micro Bookends. Look out for longer word counts as Chris and Mike take on Flash! Friday and Flash Frenzy.

Three contests. Two monster hunters. One Flash weekend.

*****

The adventures so far:


Chris And Mike vs The World
Chris And Mike vs The Forest Of Death
Chris And Mike vs The Temple Of Gloom
Chris And Mike vs The Spinning Bird Kick
Chris And Mike vs The Lesser-Spotted Dragon
Chris And Mike vs Plan A
Chris And Mike vs The Evil Messenger
Chris And Mike vs The Librarian
Chris And Mike vs The Escaped Doctor
Chris And Mike vs The Brides Of Vengeance
Chris And Mike vs The Scourge Of The Nile
Chris And Mike vs The Murderous Threat
Chris And Mike vs The Labyrinth Of Shadows
Chris And Mike vs The Chamber Of Flames
Chris And Mike vs déjà vu
Chris And Mike vs The History Trip
Chris And Mike vs The Phantom Fencers From Hell
Chris And Mike vs The Man With The Golden Molar
Chris And Mike vs The Choice Of Two Doors
Chris And Mike vs Scum And Villainy
Chris And Mike vs Limberline, The Floating Prison
Chris And Mike vs The Space Time Continuum

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 23: “FlashDogs: Solstice”


2015 WORD COUNT = 34472 words


If I was put on the spot to pick my three highlights in writing so far I would have to say:
Finishing my first ever NaNoWriMo back in 2007.

Getting my first ever Flash Fiction contest win over at Angry Hourglass.

Holding the physical copy of the FlashDogs: Anthology (vol 1) in my hands.


The spirit and skill of the FlashDog community is summed up in the fantastic Anthology that was released last December. From a small idea, the project grew and grew, fully rewarding the small group of writers who stood up and dared to make something from nothing.

Being asked to contribute was an awesome moment. There’s something really special about seeing your own work in print, something you can show to people and say, ”see that story? I wrote that.” I felt validated.

Oddly what made it so good was that it wasn’t my own personal project. You see, if I had just self-published my own novel or collection, I don’t think I’d have felt as good. Don’t get me wrong, that moment is still coming and it will be easily added to the list of my personal highlights. But being included in something else meant people out ‘there’ thought enough of my writing to want to put it into something they were working on.

It was just cool.


And now it’s happening all over again.

So, in four days time (Sunday 21st June you will be able to purchase the FlashDogs Anthology (vol 2).

Now it’s time for the info dump.


This time round there is a common theme running through the Anthology. While we all worked from a single prompt for the last book, a lot of us also included other random stories where we were allowed free reign. I myself submitted a Christmas story, a Super Hero story, plus a hightlight from my Flash writing. An eclectic mix, to be sure.

This time we were given the overall theme of Solstice (hence the release date) and this has been split into two halves; light and dark. That’s right folks, we’re following the likes of the Twilight and Hunger Games movies and splitting our sequel into two halves.

So, Solstice Light will contain your happier, more upbeat stories, written to give you hope and perhaps show you the better side of mankind.

Solstice Dark, on the other hand, will be filled with darkness, depression and the kind of endings that people enjoy from Game of Thrones.

That’s not to say that one book will be all Disney and Rom Com while the other is all Cronenberg and Tarantino. We have a skilful band of writers in the FlashDog community and you can trust at least some of them to slap your expectations in the face. Hard. Us FlashDogs know how to twist a prompt to our own devious needs.

Last time round we all scrambled for the e-book as soon as it was available so that we could dive in and see what the others had brought to the table. While it was great to have our work out there for other people to purchase and enjoy, there was just something so special when the physical paperback version of the Anthology rolled around in the early months of this year. This time, the paperback will be available day one alongside its digital sibling. This is great news and I myself will be getting up early to order a copy or two (and paying that little extra to Amazon so that it gets to my doorstep quicker).


I have four stories going into this volume; two in Solstice: Light and two in Solstice: Dark.



POTENTIAL
The first of my Light pieces, Potential, looks at the bond between father and son during divorce. Despite a tough few years, things are looking up for the pair until something strange, something dangerous, threatens to tear them apart for good.



KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
Set in the same world as TANKS FOR THE HELP (from Anthology 1), this story takes a look at the crumbling world from a different characters point of view, a woman who has fallen in with a bad crowd and fears she will never be saved.


COST OF FREEDOM
The first Anthology story I finished for this project, Cost of Freedom explores how far someone is willing to go to save the person they love. What lines will they cross? What deals will they make?


MERELY OBSERVING
The little story that almost got let behind, Merely Observing takes a comically dark look at an unknown threat to our world. Perhaps we won’t even see it coming.



As before, the proceeds from the sales will be going to charity. FDHQ has this time chosen The Book Bus, a charity that helps bring books to children around the world who don’t have access. After the necessities of life like food, water and shelter, being able to read is something that can really change the lives of any human being, young or old. You can find out more about The Book Bus here.
The book will be available this Sunday via Amazon (I will be adding links across Twitter and this blog as soon as they’re up) so help a charity and get a beautiful collection of fantastic stories for the trouble.

Before I go, a big, big thanks goes to the incredible team over at FDHQ. Although they appear to be from beyond our realm, I’ve been assured that they are mere mortals, just like us. They have jobs, families, lives. And yet they somehow find the time to communicate, rally, organise, design, and edit a project that is one hell of an undertaking.  Without Tamara Rogers, we wouldn’t have such good looking covers. Without Emily June Street, we wouldn’t have consistent and professionally formatted stories. Without Mark A. King we wouldn't even have a project to work on. And without Lord David Shakes, we wouldn’t have whip marks and malnutrition.  

And let’s not forget, without the FlashDogs, we wouldn’t have the best Flash Fiction community in the whole wide world.

For a better look at the mad men behind this project, check out Rebecca Postupak’s interview over at Flash! Friday.

Enjoy the FlashDogs Anthology volume 2 this Sunday.

See you in seven.




Friday, 12 June 2015

FRACTURED DAWN - episode 10

Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .

A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. Through a series of altercations he finds himself in the town of Bridgewood, a tree farming community far from the larger cities of the state. Gaining a job in the town’s inn, he is given the name ‘Cook’.
When a strange beast murders a child, hunting parties head out into the surrounding woodland to track it down. But the creature is underestimated and lives are lost. Cook is forced to reveal his secret and fight the creature in front of a man who wants him gone; Sheriff Lenton.
Now, the town mourns.




“And we pray to Obitus, pray that he may carry the souls of the passed, and watch over them as they now reside in his kingdom. Our loved ones were taken too early but we must be grateful that their worries and fears have ended now. Obitus protect them.”
The elderly man, Link Frouster, closed up his well-used book and bowed his head. The rest of the townsfolk lining the graves of the fallen hunting party did the same. All except Cook. He stood away from the group, beside a tree on the edge of the cemetery, watching the proceedings.
He looked at the community gathered around the graves, watched as they stood with their pain unspoken. He had no knowledge before this place and he hadn’t had much of a chance to really get to know the town he had stumbled into, but it was clear from the anguish that they now bathed in, that this kind of thing didn’t happen very often, if at all. They were struggling with the loss, not just because the people now gone meant had truly meant something, but because they just didn’t know how to mourn on this scale. The elderly passed on, maybe there were a few accidents by the men felling trees, but a vicious killing of so many in a single night had rocked the town to its very core.
And Cook knew that with the beast slain, he would be next on their list to blame.
Despite the Sheriff’s words when the second hunting party had found them, the Sheriff had backed off from Cook. Perhaps a slow respect had built as does when one man saves another. But the way in which Cook had done it, outing his powers in front of a man who already suspected, already feared, that wouldn’t go away.
And people were beginning to fall in with the views the Sheriff had of Cook even before the creature reared its ugly head. The violence that had befallen the town would only fan those flames.
Cook knew that he could not hang around much longer.
“I didn’t think you would come,” said Castor as he stepped up beside Cook.
“It didn’t feel right to fight beside these men and women but not stand beside them as they passed.”
“I see the Sheriff and you are getting on better.”
“By better, you mean he isn’t trying to chase me out of town?”
Castor chuckled. “What did happen out there?”
“Something evil tore the heart out of your town.”
“It’ll grow back.”
“It’s my fault.”
Castor rested his hand on Cook’s shoulder. “You can’t blame yourself for this. You turning up and that creature turning up, it’s just coincidence. It’s just bad luck.”
Cook turned to the doctor then, his eyes welling a little. “I should have changed.” He said, tapping his chest. “I should have used this and taken that thing down sooner. Because if my fear of this power I have, ten men lost their lives.”
Castor sighed then. “You think the town fears you now? Wait until they see what you can become. Things like this creature, things like you, they don’t happen out here. This is a quiet part of the land. We cut down trees, we ship them off, we get paid. The capital leaves us alone and we just get on with it. But a man walking around who can turn himself to stone, that kind of thing gets out there. It brings attention.”
“I need to leave, don’t I?”
“That’s not what I’m saying. It’s why you have to keep your secret.”
“Why bother? They already hate me.”
The two men looked over at the graves as the mourners began to leave the cemetery. A couple of people looked their way, muttering things. Wife’s still cried. Children wore blank looks, their understanding of the situation not fully there yet.
“Them?” said the doctor. “They’ll get over it soon enough. I mean, give them a little credit. Some have just lost their world and you’re the easiest target to send bad feelings to, is all. Let them focus all that negativity on you for now; the stranger, the oddity. But come next spring you’ll be joining us at our Foliage Festival and we’ll all be friends.”
“You’re quite the optimist,” said Cook.
“Someone has to be.”
Cook shook the doctor’s hand. “Whether I’m here next year or gone tomorrow, I just want to thank you.”
“No need, my boy.”
“Yes,” said Cook. “Yes there is.”
“This life is a short one,” said Castor. “It’s easier if we all just get through it together.”
Cook nodded as Sheriff Lenton approached.
“Sheriff,” said Castor. “You’re looking a little better. Got some of you colour back.”
“Feeling stronger every day,” said Lenton. “I’ll be by later for some meds, if that’s okay?”
“Sure thing,” said Castor. “Ribs still playing you up?”
“Only when I laugh,” said Lenton, no hint of a smile on his face. He tipped his hat to the doctor and gave Cook barely a nod. Castor turned as the Sheriff started back into town.
“I hear this one saved your life,” said the Doctor.
Lenton stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “That he did.”
“He’s a good man.”
Cook went to stop the doctor from carrying on but Castor hushed him.
“What’s your point, Doctor?”
“No point. Just seems like some people round here had him pegged wrong. I figure any man brave enough to stand up to that monster can’t be a bad thing round here. Don’t you agree?”
“I don’t worry about a brave man,” said Lenton as he turned and carried on down the path. “I worry what it is that makes a man that brave.”
Cook and Castor watched the Sheriff go. Eventually Cook spoke up.
“Why did you do that,” said Cook. “Why did you poke him like that?”
“I didn’t poke him. Just letting him know that I know about you. Give it a day or two and he’ll come and see me off his own back and ask questions about you. Hopefully they’ll be the right questions. Hopefully he’ll see sense.”
“I can’t stay,” said Cook. “You’ve got to understand that.”
The doctor looked at him then. “You saved my daughter’s life. For that I’m in your debt. Now you’ve saved his and maybe a lot more by taking care of that beast.”
“How do you know he’s not right about that thing?” said Cook. “How do you know it didn’t follow me from wherever I’m from?”
“Do you think it did?”
“No.”
“Good enough for me,” said the Doctor. “Look, this isn’t about whether you want to leave or not. I’m not trying to convince you to stay. I get that you’ve got answers to find and that ain’t gonna happen if you’re stuck in this back woods town. All I want is for you to leave of your own free will and not be chased out of here. You go when you’re ready and not when the Sheriff or anyone else says.”
“And if I leave tomorrow?”
“Don’t care as long as it’s your choice.” He smiled a Cook then, a cheeky smile. “Though I’m not sure you’ll be heading off so fast.”
“You think you know inside my head better than I do because you’re a doctor and I’ve got no memory?”
“No, boy. I think you won’t leave too soon because I know women.” He nodded behind Cook to where Abigail was waiting. Castor patted Cook on the shoulder and headed back into town.
Cook waved to Abigail and she made her way over.
“How are you holding up,” he said.
“I’m okay,” she replied. “More concerned about you, if I’m honest.”
“Me? I’m fine.”
“You’re a brave man, Cook. Rescuing the doctor’s daughter, standing up for me. And now this.”
“It’s not bravery. I just want to help.”
“Modest too,” said Abigail. “You’ve put yourself out there for people you don’t even know. You’re a good man, Cook.”
“But am I?”
“How do you mean?”
“I’m not even a month old in this new life of mine. Who knows what I was before? And who knows what I’ll become later?”
“You may be a stranger to us,” said Abigail, taking his hand. “But a man who is hiding doesn’t put himself out there, doesn’t put himself into danger, the way you do. Maybe you were bad. Maybe something happened and put you on a wrong path. But here, now, you have a clean slate. In a short period you shown yourself to be a good man. That’s what I see before me know.”
“You’re too kind to me, Abigail.”
She kissed him on the cheek. “Come see me after your shift tonight. I’ll cook for you for once.”
Cook lent against the tree and watched her go. He was still anxious to get out and discover his old life and this new one was getting more complicated by the day.



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 22: “A Quiet Week”

2015 WORD COUNT = 32653 words


I haven’t really been what I’d call ‘a writer’ this week. Only two contests entered. Still, it’s the calm before the storm. The next few months should hopefully be busier as one project I’ve been involved in comes to fruition while another I’m desperate to start on gets closer.




ANTHOLOGY

I have a bigger and more specific post planned for next week, but I’ll just say that the FlashDogs second anthology is due for release in less than two weeks.

If you enjoyed the last one then this one is going to impress you tenfold. With two books making it up, that include stories based on four different prompt photos, and all linked to the solstice, it’s going to be an eclectic mix of raw talent for your reading pleasure.



CAMP NANOWRIMO

Every November I attempt (and in most cases succeed) NaNoWriMo. The challenge of taking an idea and getting it past 50,000 words in just 30 days is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Last year I added another large chunk of word count to my year by venturing into CampNaNo territory. CampNaNo is a little less ridged than its bigger brother. It’s a world where you can choose your own word count, a world where you can stray from novels and write anything in any format you want.

I enjoyed working on my novella, TATTOO, back in July 2014, so I thought maybe I would give it another go this year. The relaxing nature of Camp means it acts as a kind of warm up to the main November event.

But what will I be writing, I hear you ask. Well, I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few months that I have something planned for my Micro Bookend contest creations, Chris and Mike. This year’s CampNaNo is that plan. As with the FlashDogs Anthology, this project will have its own dedicated post in the upcoming weeks, a post where I’ll talk about how it all started and where I see it all going.



OTHER

Other than that I’m just trucking along. I plan to write a couple of short stories over the next few weeks when I’m not planning for CampNaNo. Hopefully I’ll have the links to them on Wattpad when they are readable.

Until then, enjoy the sun, get psyched for the Anthology, and take a peak below at last week’s Flash! Friday story as well as the last three weeks’ worth of ‘Chris And Mike vs’.

See you in seven.




FLASH! FRIDAY

This week we had to include a farmer as the main character. Enjoy.


THREE ASIANS WALK INTO A SHOP

Three Asian gentlemen have been window shopping for a good fifteen minutes now. While my ad girls dance their dance for them, I stay behind the counter, reading the paper, being all patient. Like Papa used to say, ‘let ‘em come to you.’

Eventually they build up the courage and enter the shop.

“Afternoon, gentlemen,” I says. “Anything I can help you with?”

They confer like they’re on a quiz show before the short one in the middle speaks up. “We like to buy some women.”

I grin because my bank balance is about to get bigger. “You’ve come to the right place. Please, follow me.”

For some reason I bow because it seems like the thing to do. Oddly enough, they all bow back. I take ‘em through to the back and then on down to the basement. Hunching over the keypad, I enter my old man’s birthday, opening the door to the farm.

Lining both sides of the dingy room are twelve bio pods. Each one contains a synthetic woman, some still in the early stage of accelerated growth. My beauties.

“Gentlemen,” I says. “You can take off the self, or order from scratch.”

That’s when the short one utters my two favourite words.

“How much?”




MICRO BOOKENDS



CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN MOLAR

“Fear is our weapon,” said the man in the grey suit. “You can’t win.”

Chris punched him again while Mike kept watch at the end of the alley.

The man spat blood and looked up at Chris, laughing. “I’ll never tell you where he is.”

Chris noticed something then and smiled. He punched the man again and this time something golden shot out, landing next to Mike’s foot.

“Is that his tooth?” said Mike as he picked it up.

“Sort of,” said Chris. “It’s more of a key.”

“To what?”

“To a floating prison.”

“Floating?” said Mike. “So I guess we’re flying?”





CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE CHOICE OF TWO DOORWAYS

“Soap?” said Mike. “What do I need soap for?”

“To clean out your ears,” said Chris. “Don’t you hear that?”

“All I hear is the freezing wind, approaching prison guards, and you telling me that one of these doors means certain death. Which is crazy.”

“One door offers safe passage to the prison interior, the other leads to an undisclosed death.”

“Like a fatal security measure?”

“Exactly,” said Chris as he slid the golden key into the lock of the left door.

“Wait!” said Mike. “How do you know it’s that door?”

“Don’t you hear the music?” said Chris. “My Dad loves opera.”






CHRIS AND MIKE vs SCUM AND VILLAINY

“Under no circumstances do you hurt my father,” said Chris.

“Which one is he?” said Mike, as he picked up a hardback bible from a bookshelf

Lined up in front of the pair were seventy-nine very angry prisoners. They looked hungry. For violence.

“I’ll deal with the degenerates.” said Chris.

“Who you callin’ ‘degenerates’?” said a scar faced man with an out of date moustache.

Chris sighed. He rolled up his sleeves, revealing phoenix tattoos on each forearm. With a simple incantation, the fiery birds left his skin.

The colour drained from the prisoners and they fled en masse.

Only one man remained. Chris smiled. “He’ll be the only taker.”



Last Thursday’s entry got an Honourable Mention, the first award a ‘Chris And Mike vs’ story has got since the very first episode. Here’s what judge Jessica Franken had to say about it.

“I was already smiling after just reading the title. Oh, scum and villainy: you are no match for Chris and Mike! This is a compact, complete story that, at the end, launches the next scene in the reader’s mind. I love that the question posed in the second line hangs in the air until the last line. It’s fun to imagine how Chris and Mike got into this situation; great use of in media res. Favorite details include Mike’s bible weapon and the prisoner’s out of date mustache, a fun morsel that tells us he’s been in prison for a while. Also, I want Chris’ tattoos so bad now.”