Microfiction: A Spell of Amnesia

A Spell of Amnesia

By Sara Codair

The yellow note was the sole splash of color in the monochrome hall, appearing blank to anyone lacking supernatural sight.

Horacio took a deep breath, channeled energy though the tattoo on his forhead and opened his third eye.

Slanted words materialized: “Usted, dice amigo y entra.”

Horacio spoke, stepping through the door to a conservatory filled with palms and orchids.

“Juan?” he choked on the humidity. “You here?”

“Hola, primo. What can I do for you?”

“Sell me spell of forgetfulness. Por favor.” He handed Juan a fifty.

“Again?”

“Si!”

Juan rolled his eyes.

Horatio woke in a white room with no memory of who he was and how he got there.

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© 2016 Sara Codair

This piece of micro fiction was originally written for 100 Word Story’s Monthly Photo Challenge. It did not win, so I made a few revisions and decided to share it here.

Deceit in the Dark

Deceit in the Dark

By Sara Codair

The vampiress hissed. “Mortal fool! Challenging me will be your doom!”

The knight arched one eyebrow. “Perhaps it will be your doom.”

She screeched, hoping to intimidate him. Her most terrifying, earsplitting howl failed to impress the knight. His eyes and skin were like ice and snow. His was hair weak sunlight glistening on the polar ice. He still had that damned eyebrow raised. It was so unfair that he could arch his right brow so perfectly. She had been practicing for three centuries and had never mastered the trick.

“You’re a fool, challenging me at night in my own castle. Every man and woman who has tried before you became my breakfast.”

The knight laughed.

She rolled her eyes.

A sharp pain pierced her chest. It was the first pain she had felt since Count Dracul had turned her on her 18th birthday. Looking down, she marveled at the iron stake sticking out of her chest. She watched her skin shrivel and turn to ash. She clung to consciousness long enough to see the knight peel off flesh colored gloves, revealing the green skin of a pixie.

“Green bastard!” she yelled. She never would have rolled her eyes if she knew he wasn’t a slow mortal.

“New technology. It lets us blend in with humans and not be burned by iron.”

Count Victoria wanted to curse him one last time, but her throat was already gone.

His blonde hair turned coal black; his face grass green. “I’m no mortal, and certainly no fool.”

The rot and ash reached the vampiress’ brain, and she was no more.

The End.

©2016 Sara Codair

This story was originally posted on Cracked Flash as an entry for their weekly writing contest. It was the week’s honorable mention.  The judge, Mars, suggested I remove the first few lines, and really, she was right. The originally piece started with the line “But the night belongs to me.” I either needed to add more dialogue before or just cut it, and since anything I could think to add would be boring, the first few lines went bye bye, making the piece shorter and catchier (at least in my opinion).

 

 

The Final

 

The Final

By Sara Codair

It was too late to turn back–for all of them. The test had begun. They would either collaborate and score at least 75% and become wizards, or fail, get their minds wiped, and live out the rest of their lives in a factory.

Gretchen didn’t want to spend her life as a mindless soap- manufacturing drone, but no one would focus. Unfortunately, collaboration was essential. They each had a different piece of the equation to solve on the Physics of Potency exam. Jack was so busy ignoring Ricardo that he missed an important variable, meaning that by the time Gretchen arrived at her portion, she had to redo his before she could answer hers. Felecia was distracting Pi; he messed up his portion. By the time the answer was put into the crystal proctor ball, it was wrong.

“You’re all idiots,” muttered Gretchen, but no one heard her.

“Just focus on your task,” she shouted, and they still didn’t hear her.

When they got five consecutive questions wrong, she lost it. It was statistically impossible to pass now, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. She’d prove she was a capable mage, one way or another.

Enraged as she was, gathering power was easy. She wrapped it around herself like a flaming cocoon. Equations danced across her eyelids; she solved them effortlessly. The numbers translated to words as she spoke, sending flaming energy out from her fingers to her classmates. It twined around their bodies, contorting their forms and until they were just a herd of baaing goats.

The exam board materialized. They were all grinning.

“That’s a pass if I ever saw one,” said the headmaster. The deans all nodded in agreement.

©2016 Sara Codair

An earlier draft of “The Final” was posted on last week’s Cracked Flash competition. It was the honorable mention, so it received some feedback from the judges, so I made some changes and posted the final version here. You can enter this week’s competition at http://crackedflash.blogspot.com/

Sunlight Filters through the Fog of Rejection

I know rejections are part of being a writer, but when they come in waves, they can be hard to take, especially when I know I gave 110% to a piece.

Getting two stories on nonpaying e-zines boosted my confidence for a while, but the subsequent  slew of rejections from paying markets was starting to erode it. I’ve gotten at least five rejections in the past three days.

I can deal with quick rejections, but the ones that really hurt are the ones that told me I was close. We enjoyed your story, but

  • you didn’t make the final cut
  • You didn’t get enough votes to get into the third and final round of voting
  • I loved x, y and z about it, but have to pass anyways because we have so many submissions

They make me feel like I am wandering around in pea soup fog, within sight of the lighthouse, but unable to find the harbor entrance.

Fortunately, there are flickers of sunlight slipping through the haze of rejection.

Yesterday, I found out I am a finalist for a writing contest I entered in December. Over 200 hundred have been eliminated leaving the judges with 50 to sort through. I’ve been told the top 20 will get prizes(cash or gift cards), and the top ten published.

Today, I returned from work to find ten new emails appeared in my inbox during my 15 minute commute. They were mostly twitter notifications that came around as a result of winning Cracked Flash competition for the second week in a row. I suspect there is some magic in their prompts and time limit that brings out the best in me. I’m always surprised to see what I can do with three hundred words on a Saturday. Even though there is no prize for winning, it is a welcome reminder that someone likes my writing. And that gives me hope that if I keep at it long enough, I will eventually break into the paying markets.

Thank you to the good people that run Cracked Flash.

###

Here is the winning story:

The Phoenix

By Sara Codair

We all knew he was going to set himself on fire, and we were right. Henry and I just never imagined how our son, Dane, would go up in flames.

It happened over summer vacation. The sun was scorching and the black top was so hot you could cook stir fry on it. Dane was angry. The wheels on his favorite skate board had melted. His face was beat red, aching with sunburn. So when Billy Jones tried to steal his Nintendo DS, he just lost and burst into flames.

The medical examiner said it was spontaneous combustion, but he wasn’t there when it happened. He didn’t see his son out on the street raising a fist to punch a kid twice his size, just go up in flames when the sun hit his fist. He didn’t see how quick the body blackened. He didn’t see the naked baby screaming in the ashes – a baby that looked exactly how the burning boy had looked twelve years earlier.

The papers said all that was left of Dane was a charred skeleton. They don’t know about the infant that wakes me every night crying for milk or to get his diaper changed. No one knows save Henry, and no one else can know. Not even my mother.

We’re already packing. Henry has an apartment picked out across the country, and a buddy at work who can hack the system and get baby Dane a fake birth certificate and social security number. I don’t know what Henry told his friend, just that it wasn’t the truth.
Like a phoenix, Dane was reborn from his ashes, starting life anew. So we, too, would start over, in a new town where no one knew our names.

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A Win on Cracked Flash

For the past two months, I have made it part of my weekend routine to participate in the Cracked Flash writing competition. They post a sentence and some inspiration images allowing writers 24 hours to come up with a 300 word story. All entries are posted to the comments. The following Wednesday, a winner and two runner ups are chosen.

This Wednesday, my story, “Her First Rodeo,” won.  

This is my second time winning this competition, and I’m just as excited as I was the first time. In an world so full of rejections, it is refreshing to see somebody appreciated my writing – to see somebody gets me. Cracked flash is a unique competition that I would recommend to any writer.

One thing that sets this apart from other contests is the time limit. 24 hours is not very long. Because I have other projects I’m working on, papers to grade, and occasionally, people to see, I usually only have time for two drafts. One where I write the story and exceed the word count, then another where I cut back and improve the language. Some weeks my stories have flat characters and week plots. Some weeks, they are funny and dynamic. Twice, they have been good enough to win.

Winning does’t mean the stories perfect, and the judges know that. My favorite part of this competition is that their statements about the winners usually point out a few things they liked about the story and one or two ways it could have been better. While I can’t send my 300 word to a lot of publications because simply being on the web means it is “previously published” I could revise it and expand it until it morphs into a new story.

The short might be like a cucumber seedling. It starts out small, but turns into an enormous vine that produces dozens of delicious fruits.

My 300-word story about a sheriff and his apprentice placing a tracker on an outlaw alien might just evolve into a 3,000 word story about those same to characters tracking said alien, apprehending him, and realizing he wasn’t a villain at all but a victim who was framed.

It will take a few months for this seedling to grow into sprawling vine, so please take a few minutes to look at this little green baby and don’t forget to visit Cracked Flash on Saturday for some #writing #inspiration.

Her First Rodeo

By Sara Codair

“It’s a bad plan, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s making bad plans work!” said Joe.

The Cantina was dark place that reeked of stale beer. Horrid country was barely audible over the drunken shouts of ranchers–exactly the kind of place their quarry would hide.

“We’re gonna get killed,” muttered Molly. She was rookie, fresh out of the academy.

“Every man in here is carrying a gun.”

Molly wasn’t wrong about the guns, but Joe was unconcerned. They were a crucial part of his plan. He walked straight to the the counter and order a shot of whisky before shouting, “I’m looking for Greggor Tams. First one to give me intel gets fifty bucks.”

The men froze. Conversation ceased. The automated singer crooned about losing his wife, truck, and hamster while the click of safeties switching off improved the melody.

“We ain’t snitches,” said a man whose face resembled a raisen.

Joe grinned. No face matched his quarry’s, so he examined each gun and hand carefully, focusing on a gleaming silver pistol, held by a blue-tinted hand. Alien magic could create some good illusions, but the flaws always showed closest to objects from their home-worlds, especially laser-pistols.

He knew Molly had spotted it when she fainted.

“I ain’t askin nobody to snitch,” shouted Joe. “Just wanted to see how my apprentice held under pressure.”

“She didn’t hold at all,” laughed raisin face, putting his gun away.

“Next round’s on me.” Joe slipped three bills to the bartender, picked Molly up and carried her to his truck, careful to bump his quarry on the way out and plant a tracking device.

Molly sat up as the pulled onto the road. “I can’t believe that worked. The fainting act is the oldest trick in the book.”

An Inspiring Image:”Dull Blade” and The Doors

doorsWhen I fist took this photograph on a cold February day in Portland, I had no idea what it was going to do for me.

When I started selling on Etsy five years ago, I made prints of it and put them in repurposed frames and sold them. Not only did I sell several on Etsy, but I also sold several at local flea markets.

I no longer maintain my shop on Etsy, but these doors are still working for me. In November, my writing group assigned it a prompt where we had to choose an image of a door and tell a story of what was behind it.

For that exercise, I wrote a short story called “Dull Blade.” That turned out to be the second story I had accepted for publication, and the first one to be published that was full length, not flash. I hope you head over http://fantasycrossing.com/ and read it.

Here is a brief excerpt:

José couldn’t make his hands stop shaking. That was a problem. He couldn’t shoot straight when his hands were shaky, and if he missed, the demon on the other side of the door would probably rip his guts out...click for more!

If you ever find yourself lost for words, pull out one of your favorite photos and tell the story behind it.

-Sara