Thursday, July 31, 2008

Warm-up: Flik's Fall

Just a little warm-up writing (so to speak)...

He patted the beads of sweat from his forehead and reached for the water skin. The march could not stop here; not beneath the boughs of eternal fire in this damned forest. On all sides the withering branches burned ceaselessly. Curiously, the bard began to compare the blistering, black branches to a child’s stick-drawings. This artist had smeared reds and oranges and yellows across the image.

Another bead of sweat collected on Flik’s brow. They would not stop here, in the thick choking smoke, in the withering heat. There must be a clearing.

The gnome gulped down a mouthful of water. Around him, the weary faces of his companions were cast in a lurid light by the tunnel of fire. He listened closely to the cadence in their unique rhythms and mannerisms, observing and collecting each quarter beat and each beautiful melody. Exquisite music hid even within the ragged bickering between the Ragesians and Councilman Bower.

A haunting tune tugged at the bard’s senses. He snapped his eyes to the molten path ahead. Through the haze, he could make out a patch of light—a clearing. With a whoop, and a half-leap, Flik sprang ahead as quickly as his little feet could carry him. The rest were not long to follow.

The clearing was not much, just enough. A chasm stretched across the old road, its rim lined by the ever-burning forest. Still, the hole in the earth was large enough to pull the trees back and open the fiery tunnel. Fresh air flowed into the clearing along with a bit of that haunting melody.

Intent on deciding the path forward, no one else seemed to notice the tune. Flik focused on the sad key of its notes. It was incomplete, some notes lost on the wind, but whole in its own right. Something primal stirred within the chords, something that stoked the heart of this burning forest. He shuddered.

“It doesn’t look safe,” advised the councilman.

The Shahalesti elf took a long glance at the edge of the canyon. “The burning brush hugs too tightly to the edge. This bridge is the safest way to pass."

Councilman Bower sighed and set his jaw with a grim determination. “Fine. We’ll take it slowly, though. The cracks—"

“There are cracks in the bridge!” Flik chimed in. “This will make a great tale! Chased into the ever-burning forest of Innenotdar by the cruel fist of the Ragesian Army, the valiant heroes and heroines survived the heat and smothering smoke to find a chasm passable only via a crumbling bridge!"

“It’s not exactly crumbling,” corrected the elf.

“Are we done standing around?” demanded the Ragesian woman. She moved past the councilman, stepping onto the bridge. Everyone watched as she walked across, edging around a sizable hole.

“Me next!” Flik shouted. He ran out onto the stone, his friend Arc only a few steps behind. The view was incredible, stretching off hundreds of feet in either direction. Eighty feet below, fires burned in the scrub brush. The cliffs were stark, sandwiched between the oranges and reds of the flames.

The hole in the center was large, easily large enough for a man to fall through. Being smaller than a man, Flik clung to the railing as he passed. His eyes searched downward, noticing a few spots that were devoid of the flames. One of those spots was filled with water and what looked to be a broken carriage.

The haunting tune magnified in Flik’s ears when he stared down. He released the railing of the bridge to cover his ears. Flapping, flickering lights poured from beneath the bridge.

“Bats!” the bard shrieked. “Fiery bats,” he spit as bile rose from his stomach. Like everything else in the forest, the bats wore a skin of eternal flame. Blisters boiled upon the gnome’s flesh as he released his ears and swatted.

More and more of the beasts poured up from beneath the bridge, engulfing his body. Spinning, the world lurched in Flik’s mind.

He stepped off the bridge, into the hole.

The bats fell away quickly, so far above. Hanging between the bridge and the burning brush beneath, Flik could hear that strange melody beckoning to him with its primal energies just as the earth below called him to its bosom.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pure Evel - Explained

I tried to fit way too much story into two few words. My original draft was five hundred words long and I had to cut it in half for submission.

When I first saw the picture of the motorcycle, my mind leaped instantly to daredevils and specifically Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel. I'm not an Evel Knievel or a daredevil expert at all. I did some quick internet research to give myself some basis to churn out a story.

I decided to eulogize Evel, who passed away last year, with my story. The best way I could do that was to imagine what his arrival in heaven would be like. If I were Evel, what would I want eternity to be? Daredevil jumps, of course!

So, I decided it would be perfect if, in heaven, God (or the boss) set aside a 'customized 'little piece of heaven' for every deserving soul. Then, he'd commission a few archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael) to design and build upon that piece of heaven.

All that was left was for the boss to do a final inspection and for St. Peter to bring the new arrival in.

I thought it was a fitting eulogy. Having to cut the entry down to 250 words removed a lot of the subtle hints I gave regarding the setting. Ultimately, I feared many people would not pick up on what I was saying.

Still, I really enjoyed entering and I had fun working past the block that has been plaguing my writing. It was definitely a fun learning experience.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pure Evel (Clarity of Night)

The following was my entry for the Clarity of Night competition. Sadly, I didn't place this time but there's always next time. Ultimately, I think I tried to just cram too much into too few (250!) words. In a couple days, maybe I'll explain what I was trying to do with this story.


The boss shifted, his clear blue eyes taking full measure of the new highway. Contrasting the flat, scrub horizon in either direction, the asphalt arched high into the air before plummeting like a rock cast into a chasm. At a nearly impossible angle, the stretch of road fell nearly vertically before wrenching upward to end at a drop. A flashing sawhorse barricade blinked repetitively at that precipice.

He strolled to the barrier where Mike, Yuri, Ralph, and Gabe waited patiently for praise or criticism of their work. Beyond the barricade was nothing short of a slice of heaven. “You couldn’t find any helicopters for the jump?” he teased.

Mike chuckled. “We figured some rattlesnakes and cougars would be nostalgic for his first jump.”

“Besides, we don’t want him to bore too easily,” Gabe interjected. “There’ll be more shows. We’ll use helicopters then.”

“It’s well done, boys,” the boss drawled. “A bit too much light, though.”

Yuri chimed in, “I’ll kill the lights soon as the star arrives.”

“Perfect.” The boss glanced at his watch. “Pete will be here with the new guy soon. Usher the fans in, kill the lights, and fire up those flaming hoops.”

“It’s your show,” Pete cheerily chimed as he handed over the helmet. Robert Craig mounted the machine, its carburetors growled beneath him. Rings of fire flared to life. Fans erupted in cheers. Craig spurred the Harley into motion, the front wheel screamed in the air as he raced toward eternity.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Clarity of Night

Hi all. I hope all is well.

I submitted my entry for the Clarity of Night short fiction contest a moment ago. Hopefully, it'll be up by tomorrow (it is titled: Pure Evel).

Everything else is still ... going. Finished up another big project at work and I'm looking forward to the next week or two of refocusing on my "real" job. Still P90X-ing.