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.


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.


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).


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?


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.


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.


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


  1. I'm buying the book :) thanks for the mention but I did nothing its all your talent and the great Chris and Mike tales you produce :)

  2. Wow! I'm gone for a couple of months, and I miss all of this??

    I do remember the original one from CLUB [micro] FOOT, though, because it was awesome. And I really enjoyed the one for BIG [micro] BROTHER this week.

    Can you put them all together in one convenient place for those of us who need to catch up?

    Chris and Mike must really be enjoying reading about themselves battles dragons, etc. What fun! I'm a bit jelly.

    Please keep writing these - I can't wait to see what they do next! :)

  3. Thank you, guys. It's really something to get such positive feedback for there stories. I hope that, when the book(s) are done, you enjoy them as much.

    As for putting the originals somewhere convenient; that sound like a good idea. Might have something in mind. Will keep you posted.