The Missing Short Fiction

There’s a certain lack of flash fiction going up the last few days. I think we’re at the start of week two of the problem, and it’s not ending any time soon.

Where is the flash fiction?

Why have you forsaken us the slivers of fiction delivered thrice weekly?

I want to know what is happening in that serial piece!

Where is my ham?

Okay, I can’t help you with that last bit but I can explain what’s going on with the rest of the questions. So where is the flash fiction? Well currently all of those words are being poured into the novel project. I’ve been behind on this since January, and frankly since the sale of Novels is meant to be my primary source of income I need to double down on production. The 1,000 words going into flash each day are now going into the novel. That basically means I’m getting the bonus writing time equivalent to an extra day and a half of writing each week. That’s a lot. That means the novel is likely to be done a week or two earlier, and that translates to the book getting published earlier. You see where I’m going with this?

I haven’t forsaken the flash fiction, but in all honesty it’s had to take a back seat. I promise it will return in full once the first draft of the novel is done. I also intend to not let this happen again by developing enough of a backlog that when I have to take a month away from the flash fiction I have enough to throw into the pot. This also includes the serial fiction piece. That one is important anyway since it’s a bit of a prequel to events of the novel.

Regarding the Patreon campaign:

With the changes to flash fiction, current fulfillment on the requested fiction is temporary halted. I can’t post what isn’t written yet. I will, however post chapter 1 of the novel. This is a pre-editing, pre-second draft review version of the chapter so take it with a grain of salt. If you’re not a patreon, sign up now and you’ll get to see this right away. If you stay signed up, you’ll also get yourself a full copy of the book once it’s done.

Okay, back to work on the novel. The faster that’s done, the fast we’re back to full production of that flash fiction.

Flash Fiction: Go In Disguise

Today’s story is inspired by Know. Your. Fear. by Stéphane (Wootha) Richard.

His vision was blurred. Droplets were on his forehead and when they slide down past his eyes he could see the red of them. There was the sound of something large scrapping along stone. It pulled something from the wall and the sound of metal chains clashed against stone.

If you go down to the woods today…

The thing clasped his feet together with the chains. The cold metal actually felt good against his skin. It beat the thrumming in his head, and the sound of blood in his ears. The large thing started to move away, and the chains rustled as it took a light step.

You’re sure of a big surprise…

He grunted in surprise when the shackles went taunt and the chain started to drag him away from the wall. Arms flailed to grab purchase on the stone but every time he pressed against the ground the thing moved again, throwing him off balance.

If you go down to the woods today…

There was no use trying to scream. They had tied the collar so tied around his neck and the cage around his jaw held him mouth shut. Only guttural grunts of panic and fear while he kept trying to claw at the ground. His fingers were starting to bleed while his legs and back scrapped across the stone.

You’d better go in disguise…

There were more bodies here, where the thing had taken him. Some small, some large, most staring at him. He had wiped the blood from his face when he had given up trying to push himself off the ground, and his vision was slowly returning. Sunlight poured into the stone halls from cracks and boarded up windows, and the occasional torch lit the area in dancing shadows.

For every bear that ever there was…

He could make out their shapes now. They were made of cotton and yarn. Some had no ears, some had large round fluffy things. All of them had eyes of some sort; some buttons, some marbles, and some ripped out. Almost all of them had mouths, but those seemed like after thoughts. Dirty nasty gashes like someone had taken a knife to the fabric.

Will gather there for certain…

They pulled him into a large chamber. So many of them had gathered in the chamber, and lined the walls until there was a circle for them to bring him. He could see the light pouring from a hole in the ceiling, and it was burning his eyes.

Because today’s the day the…

His feet touched something wet and he looked down to see the scattered pieces of others. Not the stuffed things that closed ranks behind him. Arms and legs and pieces of people. There were skulls, but some still had faces, still had eyes he recognized. Faces that had gone missing months ago. Faces the school had put posters up about. They lay strewn about a pool of coagulating blood.

Teddy Bears have their picnic…

She was there, in the middle of them. The large bear that had dragged him into the room had given the chain to her. She was pale, with pointy features, and ripped flesh. Where there were claw marks and gashes across her body there were stiches of twine and chains. He couldn’t see her face behind the heavy mask she wore, but the sound coming from her wasn’t human. Blood coated her feet and legs as she kneeled in the blood, and between them rested on the crimson stones was a knife. She yanked the chain to pull him closer while reaching down.

I recommend reading while listening to the below:

Flash Fiction: A Slayer To Come

Today’s story is inspired by Dragon Empress by Michelle Monique.

“You came all this way to see me?” She said. She called herself serpent queen, but she bore no dragon blood. I knew such things; I could sense it. Though she commanded the wyrms, they didn’t do so out of respect. The truth lied in the orb before her thorn.

She was a gile, something like a humanoid reptile. Her skin was scaled and horned, but she bore the features of mammals, with an armored bosom covered only by a leather corset and gown. The leather looked bovine, but I could see where strips of draconic skin had been used for seams and wyrm gut for stitching. Her attire was smart. I’ll give her that. The gut and skin would lend her power, but if the entire dress was made of the draconic flesh she would be their pawn instead. The throne she sat on was also covered in cow leather, although wyrm knuckles made up the arms and a pair of collar bones supported the back. The entire display was setup to channel dragon energy without it consuming her.

“Tell me, dragon-slayer. Are you here to kill me, or just my children?”

“Both,” I said. “Your dragons defile the land, and your will is the cause. But more than anything, I’m going to destroy that rock of yours.”

The orb was sitting on a pedestal the queen could reach by leaning forward enough in her chair. It rested on a velvet cushion, a red nearly identical to the tone of the underside of the queen’s gown. The orb wasn’t smooth or polished, but it was refined. Were it a perfected orb the fight to come would not likely go in my favor. These hearts were powerful and they lent energy to the dragons effected by them. The more it was perfected the better the results, but it took a skilled hand to smooth the stone without shattering it. This serpent queen did not have such a skilled craftsman, thankfully.

“You boast too much for my liking, slayer. But, I am generous. I know there are others like me out there in control of their own armies. To have an agent like you to assist me against them would be most beneficial, don’t you think?” She smiled, revealing two rows of razor sharp teeth. That was cosmetic. Gile have teeth like men, and while some are sharp, most are reasonable like in any animal. I hope it had hurt to do that to herself.

“Are you so blind?” I asked. “My presence alone is weakening your hold on your wyrms. Time enough and I’d drain your little stone and they’d try to consume us both.”

It was a bluff. The charms I wore were weakening the influence of the heart but never enough to break the hold she’d have. I needed her to attack me first though. That’s how my sword, Bitter, worked. It would act as a normal blade were I to attack someone first, but if someone else were to strike at me the blade hastened my movements against them. It was not a blade for someone who would sneak about.

The queen looked to her orb and the four young wyrms in the room with us. I could see her faith in the artifact fading. Now, if she just took the bait.

Her command to the wyrm might have been mental, but she nodded when she gave the command. The pressure changed around me as the large form tried to crash into where I had been standing. Bitter had already commanded me to unsheathe her, and by the time I realized she had me jump I was already coming down on the wyrm’s head. The strike was perfect, hitting between the bone just above the eye socket, where the optic nerve and the brain could be hit from a vertical attack. My blade severed the creature’s sight and its ability to breath in one stroke. I stepped off just as it’s bleeding brain screamed at its body to rise and try to gasp for air. Its head swept past my back as it moved back in a panic. The perfect blow. It would die in moments once it finished suffocating.

The queen looked terrified, and I could feel the emotions of the dragons around me wash the area with fear, confusion, and awe. I flicked the blood and brain matter from Bitter and pointed the blade at the orb.

“Now then, Serpent Queen, I must fulfill my oath.”

Not much to say about today’s fiction other than to point out how total bad-ass that photography is from the inspiration.

Serial Fiction: Hands – Ep 006

“So how is he?” Deron asked.

Dr. DeProspero looked exhausted. When Glen was brought in, Deron had called the Doctor’s emergency line. He had drove in immediately and had spent the last two hours with Glen in the ICU.

“Not good. Not good at all.”

The two of them were in a special waiting area outside the intensive care unit for family and lawful associates. The countless wrappers of gum and candy Deron had gone through while trying not to scream his head off made for quite a pile on the table between them.

“His exertion tonight was so overwrought that I’m afraid that even if his burns heal, he may never feel his hands again. He may regain some slight movement once the muscles repair, but as he stands now I can only recommend total implant replacement.”

“But he won’t able to project through cybernetic hands.”

The doctor tilted his head down towards Deron.

“That may be for the best. Mr…”

“Travis. I took his name,” Deron said, unconsciously rubbing the band on his left hand.

“Right, Mr. Travis, Glen’s current position as a projectionist may not be best suited for him. While he may be proficient beyond what you or I can do with simple parlor tricks, but his continuous injuries do not lend him to continue in the field as a professional. Much like any physical sports athlete of a similar age, it may be best to consider other endeavors.”

“Dr. DeProspero to ward three. Dr. DeProspero to ward three, please,” the hospital intercom speaks said.

DeProspero stood and turned to Deron.

“A nurse or me will be back shortly to give you an update. As I said he is stable and once we’re sure he’s ready you can visit him. It shouldn’t be much longer.”

“Okay. Thank you, Doctor.”

Deron stood up and offered to shake the doctor’s hand. Instead of shaking it, DeProspero cupped it between both of his hands.

“We’re doing everything we can for Glen right now, but soon he’s going to have to make a hard choice. I hope you’ll be there to help him keep his own health in mind.”

Deron nodded.

“I will. Always.”

*****

“Hey floppy,” Deron said as he stepped into Glen’s unit. He had been moved from the general floor to a private unit in the ICU. The date clothing had been stripped from him, and he was now wearing only a light hospital gown and massaging socks. Two large boxes were strapped to his arms and Deron could see blue liquid inside. The liquid was too opaque to see Glen’s hands and he was thankful for that. Several lines were attached to Glen’s right arm; an IV drip, a line checking his pulse, an energy strip, and a few others. A mask covered his face below his eyes and a clear tube from that lead to a pump next to the side of his bed. Above all the equipment was a triangle pointed down and a rune of the Kahm The-Solace. Seeing that ward against possession gave Deron a certain level of comfort.

“Looks like they’re giving you the good meds.” Deron looked at the IV bag hanging next to Glen.

“Yeah, feels like it. I can’t feel anything.” Glen was weak, but he was breathing strongly.

“That so? Well you had me worried sick.”

“I know.”

Deron reached over and ran his hand over Glen’s forehead. Glen sighed in comfort.

“Well, you feel that.” They both chuckled.

“Did the officer come by yet?” Glen asked.

Deron nodded.

“He did. I gave a report and he said he’ll be back to take yours once you were up for it. He said to thank you.”

“What did I do?” Glen had closed his eyes as Deron had started to rub his thumb in a light circle on his forehead.

“You got the slinger. Officer Lance said the patrol found the weapon about half a block away with its barrel melted. The mugger threw it away and they said they have prints from it.”

“Hey-hey, go team Travis.”

A nurse pulled back the curtain to the ICU and smiled at Deron.

“Hi there. Just checking his vitals. You are?”

“His partner.”

“Okay. Good, glad he’s got someone to take care of him. He’s been a sweetie.”

“Don’t spread rumors. I’m a badass,” Glen said, his eyes now sealed and his breathing becoming light.

“Looks like you’re about to drift off.” The nurse chuckled. “Don’t worry, you can stay with him for a little bit. The doc will be in shortly to give him a review before we send him to a room, but you’re not in the way.”

“Thank you,” Deron said.

“Okay, all checks out. I’ll be with you again in a few minutes. Get some rest, Mr. Badass. You’ll need it for healing.”

Hands is a serial fiction series set in the Draco Artificium universe. Read the first piece here. Find the rest of the series here. New episodes go up Wednesdays.

Status Report – April 2016

It’s the first Monday of the month, and that makes it update time.

The first quarter has now come to a close. Three months of self-publishing goals and deadlines have passed and where do we stand? March was the start of a weekly serial fiction. In addition to the Monday/Friday serial fiction we’ve been putting out we’ve kept up this project to par. I say to par because we didn’t get the overflow I wanted for the short fiction. Instead we’re still writing week to week and in some cases missing the Patreon week-a-head-of-time goal. That’s passing but it’s not great. Since we’ve talked grading scale here in the past I think that earns at best a B. Yes, it’s good we’re writing but we’re not taking that extra step we need to accomplish our end goals.

The Novel is somewhere around 15k. It’s nowhere near complete and that’s really my fault. I got distracted, pure and simple and for two weeks now I’ve set a Friday deadline of 20k words. Well, now it’s time to up the ante. I know I can do 3k a day. I did it several times over the last few weeks, days when I wrote both flash fiction and a short story. Those are great things but they’re not my goal. The novel is. So That’s the gauntlet, 3k a day this week. 30k total by the end of Friday. That’s with flash fiction as well out there. It means I need to have between 3.5-5k writing days every day this week to meet my deadline, but this is necessary. I’ve been saying the novel will be done by December, January, February, and March so far. April is the final deadline, and with the current word count and my goals of 70-80k words for the story, I’m going to need 15k a week to get there. Current grade for novel writing: D

So that’s our April goals:

  • 15k for the novel each week.
  • Complete all of April Flash fiction by April 15.
  • Get back to weekly podcasting.

Flash Fiction: Golden Fields

“Where you able to find the way?”

Bryan smiled.

“Am I not here?”

Roland gave him a playful shove and the brothers laughed at their joke. It felt good to laugh, especially in these darker times. The days were full of sadness, and the loss of a great friend and leader weighed heavily on each of the brothers’ mind. They were heading west, to the great city by the coast. There they would meet with the rest of their party. Gal had suggested the gathering after the past night’s events, and each of the group travelled along the salt coast to find those who would honor the fallen and to prepare the gathering. Roland and Bryan would be the last to arrive, having spent the night in the home of their fallen leader. His parents, shadowed and heartbroken, declined to travel with them. They would honor their lost son in their own way.

“Do you believe these events are occurring, Roland?” Bryan asked.

The western sun blinded them a moment as they crested the last large hill towards the coastal city. Here the golden color stretched across fields and small hills until reaching the outskirts of the city. Clay and brick took on masks of light and shadow until the city hugged the sea and the entire body of water looked ablaze with fire.

“With the miracles I have seen, no, I have a hard time coming to grips with these days, brother.”

They paused there a moment, watching clouds pull in and dance before the sun. At first only the wind joined them but soon the sound of sandals on the pressed dirt of the road joined the soundscape. The figure coming up the hill was tall, lean, and filled the men with warmth as he was washed in the sun’s light.

“My fellows, why do you idle on the road towards the sea?” the new arrival asked.

“We pause for reflection, my friend,” Bryan said. “The evening’s beauty inverts the mirror of the darkness of these past days.”

The new arrival raised his brow.

“Darkness you say? While I see cloud I do not recall it hiding the sun or basking us in shade for more than a few minutes of leisure.”

Roland chuckled, “No. Not true darkness, but we have lost one of our great men of the world. He was taken from us, judged, punished for his light, and slain. My brother and I go to the great city to morn him.”

“It seems you walk with a shadow over you then. I would walk with you, if you’d have me. Perhaps I may grant some light over these shades.”

The brothers both nodded.

“Certainly, fellow traveler. Thought he is lost to us; his words are not. He would have you walk with him as a brother, and so join us as a brother.”

They continued down the road, towards the great coastal city and its glowing rooftops. Where two brothers walked in the shadow of loss, three walked forward in the light together.

Flash Fiction: Swarm Bonds

Today’s story is inspired by Bloop, by Ian Jun Wei Chiew

“The site is beautiful. When did it get commissioned?” Rav was moving towards the stream that ran through the site. The crisp ruby color of the water was glowing, and it illuminated many of the nearby spires.

“About two weeks ago. Architect designed it on a dare from the Second High Magistrate.” Wess was the escort for the sortie, and had brought Rav here to review the work the Crafters had completed several hours ago. “They worked through the weekend and I must inform you, they used your swarms.”

Rav paused, taking his vision away from the rounded metal hills and floating spires around the site. He pointed to himself and Wess nodded.

“You’re joking! Mine? The Second High Magistrate’s private crafters used my swarms to make this?” He cheered and looked at the site again in deeper admiration. “This is a dream. I just know it. I’m in my holo-suite with a downloaded dream.”

Wess laughed.

“No. No, little Hatcher, you’re not. The life you brought to existence has proven its worth.”

Rav had fallen to his knees, and was looking at the bank of the water. The ground was a glass like material. From a distance it looked smooth but up close he could see it was crumpled into multiple little hexagon shaped tiles. This gave the surface grip while near-perfectly reflecting the ruby light of the glowing stream.

“Look! Here,” he said. “There’s my markings! How did I not see that earlier?” He was indicating a small chip in each of the hexagons. It was a series of bumps that would be missed by the naked eye, but all Hatchers programed their swarms with some signature. Rav choose the world pattern lines where a thread of his genetic imprint could be found.

“Perfection, my pupil. Truly. The Second High Magistrate is pleased. Not just with the Architect’s quick design or his Crafter’s work, but with the stability of your swarm. The Architects are already working on another project for her, and they are working closely with the Crafters. They also want to work closely with you.”

Rav gasped, and looked to his guide.

“Wess, I. They want me for another project? So soon? I thought they preferred to source many swarms.”

“Of course they do. But the Second High Magistrate is more conservative. She likes to work with what has proven to work. Which is why you are officially informed of your promotion to chief Hatcher of Triforn-Three.”

That was it. Rav felt consciousness escape him a moment and nearly fell flat on the ground before the swarm lifted up and caught him. The ground curved and then lifted until he was in a seated position when Wess came over to him, laughing.

“Are you okay?” Wess said between chuckles.

“Chief Hatcher of an entire planet? Wess. Wess, I don’t know if I’m ready.”

“You are, my pupil. You are. You’ve earned this. I’ve seen your swarm. I’m standing on the fruits of it as we speak. Your creations are ready to do more than just design a beautiful garden that will be torn down the next time some official gets bored. They’re ready to take part in building an entire world.”

He looked at Rav and smiled, then leaned in and gave him a kiss on the forehead.

“You have come so far since I first met you as a little birth. My pupil, I am so happy of you. From the small little world we come from, you now move to design a giant. I couldn’t ask for more. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The swarm helped Rav lift up and as he caught his bearings he looked around once more. The design of this garden wasn’t his. The exact building wasn’t either, but the heart of the works belongs to the strength of his creation. His sigil was on every stream bank, every plant, every standing spire. It was a fraction of what was to come, of a world built by the labors of his brain. He looked to Wess and beamed. He could do it. He knew it now. It was time for him to prove his worth.