Flash Fiction: At Last

The following piece of flash fiction was originally published on Cracked Flash and was the runner up for their week 44 competition. I made some revisions based on the feedback I received from the judges.

At Last

By Sara Codair

The sword fell out of Lenora’s hand. It was over. After years of slaving away on the battlefield her ex-husband, the emperor, was finally dead. His head lay on the ground next to her fallen sword. She expected to feel some sense of excitement or victory, but she was empty, too tired to muster the smallest smile.

After fighting for years without victory, she had all but lost hope, believing the Gods were against her until the mysterious army of white knight appeared out of nowhere. These allies beat back the enemy legions and paved a way for her to reach the emperor and finally slay him. Now, she was watching blood pour out of his corpse like sand in an hourglass.

As the last of the emperor’s blood soaked into the ground, the landscape broke down. Bodies and vultures, mud and murder, armor and arms dissolved into tiny little squares.

Lenora looked down at herself. She still appeared solid. Crouching, she waved a calloused, gauntlet-clad hand through her enemy’s corpse. It went right through his pixelated body to a stone floor.

She choked on her next breath. She’d grown accustomed to the stench of blood, death and sweat, but it’d been a lifetime since she smelt melting plastic mingling with coffee and beer. It was terrible and beautiful and she sucked in as much of it as she could.

“It worked,” shouted a voice as foreign and familiar as the smell.

The battlefield was nothing more than fading dots dirtying the floor of a room filled with screens, wires and video game controllers. Two men rushed towards her. They bore no armor or weapons, and wore only ripped jeans and t-shirts.

“Nora!” shouted one of the men. “Thank God you’re back. Are you alright?”

“Ray,” she whispered as memories long buried broke through the dungeon doors. She ran towards him, all but collapsing in her lover’s arms.

“I love you,” she said inhaling the stale beer and coffee that clung to his breath.

“I love you too. You’re home now. You’re safe.”

She clung to him, crying to tears of relief to be out of the virtual hell her ex-husband had trapped her in. She was back in the real world. She was finally free.

© 2016 Sara Codair

New Story Published on 101 Fiction

Nothing eases the sting of rejection like seeing my story go live on an e-zine’s website, especially when its an e-zine that rejected the first story I sent them. I’m glad they liked my second attempt. 🙂

They also did a great job describing it in their tweet:

“Growing up can be hard, with the peer pressure, and the killing…”

Krikkri should’ve been excited, since it was initiation day. Still, she couldn’t suppress the sensation of minnows in her stomach.” Click to read more!

http://www.101fiction.com/2016/06/maturity.html

Flash Fiction: Hope

Hope

By Sara Codair

“Don’t feel bad. I’m pretty hard to kill,” said GiYu. His purple appendages were already reattached and his torso was knitting itself back together.

The human female nodded and sucked air in through her nose. The slurping sound worried GiYu that the mucus her crying had evoked was making it hard for her to breath. Her skin was still flushed red though, and everything he had read about humans had said they turn blue when they are suffocating. Her eyes were focused on on torso, watching feathery tendons flicker back and forth.

“What do you think of it?” asked GiYu.

At first, the female didn’t respond. However, GiYu was patient. He watched her brow furrow, her lips quiver and her shoulders square before she finally speaking it a quiet, raspy voice. “It’s…Like…like 3-D printing, only without the extruder. It’s…it’s magical.”

“Regeneration is the art of my kind.” GiYu beamed down at the missing section of his torso. It was wide and purple, but shaped like a an earth-tree half eaten by one of their furry beavers.

“Does it hurt?” she asked with a steadier voice.

GiYu shook his head. “It is pleasant, almost like mating. Some of my kind get addicted to it and harm themselves just to experience the pleasures of regeneration.”

“You’re not mad?” Her eyes were wider now, and the tears were starting to dry up.

“Quite the opposite.” GiYu wrapped a fuzzy, purple tentacle around the human female’s back. “I’ve met many humans, but none of them were born during The Melt. None possessed your unique abilities.”

The female’s hands had uncurled as she let out a slow breath. GiYu could see the tips of her ten tiny fingers now. He was pleased to see the flesh on the the tips were still smooth and whole and he was relieved that using her ability did not do harm to her.

“My own people think I’m a monster.” The human’s creamy cheeks glowed red as she looked up. It was the first time her two green eyes made contact with any of his seven eyes. “I burned my family’s home when I was seven. They wanted to kill me, but the government took me, experimented on me, deemed me unfit for service and sold me to you.”

GiYu pulled her closer. “We have plenty of use for a firestarter here on SyLur. Fire is the only thing that keeps the mold at bay, and it really isn’t a problem if you accidentally set me and my kin on fire. We rather enjoy it, and we hope you will enjoy our planet.”

“But I’m a slave,” said the human.

“For now,” said GiYu. “Dedication and hard work may yet earn you your freedom.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

GiYu was pleased to see a flare of hope in the girl’s eyes.

***

The above story was originally written for the Cracked Flash Fiction Competition. It was the runner up, which meant the judges wrote a brief review about saying a few things they liked and a few things they thought could be better. That draft had been written from a more omniscient 3rd person point of view where the human female talked a lot more. The judge liked the concept of the story, but said the following:

“I felt like her personality felt incongruous with her backstory–for someone who was a pariah for most of their life, and probably both mentally and physically tormented and abused (generally what ‘experimented on’ stands for, since experiments tend to not be gentle things), she felt far too talkative and adventurous. It would be more believable to me if she was more timid and had a lot more nonverbal gestures; it might have been useful to write from a more limited third-person view from GiYu, where he observes her more closely, and we hear more of his thoughts.”

So I took that suggestion, more or less, before posting the story here. The reader does here more of GiYu’s thoughts. The girl is more timid and has more nonverbal gestures. As she realizes GiYu isn’t going to eat her and is pleased with her actions, then she becomes more talkative.

You can see the original here.

If you have any further suggestions for the piece, I’d love to hear them. I don’t think this piece is quite finished yet, but I am trying document/show my revision process online. I learn a lot from revising and documenting that revision. I hope other writers can too.

Thank you!

©2016 Sara Codair

Flash Fiction: Feline Frenzy

Here is a goofy cat story to brighten your Friday:

Feline Frenzy

By Sara Codair

I see you thought the kitten as it skulked toward the cheesecake.

The cheesecake didn’t say anything back. The kitten took that as a sign that the cheesecake didn’t see him. Just to be safe, he crouched a little lower to the ground. He didn’t walk straight towards the cheesecake, but took a drunken path, zigzagging across the room, hiding behind every obstacle he came across before he reached the table.

He stared up at his prize – just a little further. He wiggled his behind, ready to pounce, when he heard a faint buzzing. Looking around, he spotted a fly hovering near a porcelain vase.

Turning in a circle, he wiggled again, adjusting his angle, and leapt towards the fly. It zipped upwards seconds before his paws crushed it. He leapt again, landing on the end table, knocking the vase over as he sprung towards the curtains. Up and up he climbed until he was level with the fly, which was resting on the ceiling.

He threw himself off the curtains. His paw grazed a smooth carapace before they both tumbled down, landing smack in the middle of the cheesecake. The kitten ate the fly in one bite, then proceeded to lick the cheesecake until his little belly was full.

©2016 Sara Codair

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.

2012-07-07 08.57.38

© 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.

A Short Study in Scholarly Revenge

A Short Study in Scholarly Revenge

By Sara Codair

Life through the lens of a Petri dish: love sacrificed for knowledge. After twenty years searching for truths too small for the naked eye, suffering in my lab, driven mad by failed experiments and failed relationships, I found the answer.

Hours later, I read Studies in Pathology and discovered a twenty-something post-doc discovered it last June and published it today.

She gets the glory, and I get an empty apartment filled with dust and loneliness. She gets a card congratulating her. I get revenge as yellow bubbles grow inside her brain.

It’s easier to create diseases than to cure them.

2012-11-24 09.50.12

©2016 Sara Codair

This piece was originally written for 100 Word Storie’s monthly photo prompt. It wasn’t chosen as a winner, so I thought I would share it here.

Flying Mouse-Squirrel-Bird Thing

When I decide to write a flash story after spending the day grading papers, I end up writing stories inspired by cat toys. “Flying mouse-squirrel-bird Thing” is one of those. My cat has this crinkly, furry toy that is flattened like a flying squirrel but with the face and coloring of a mouse.  It has strings dangling of off its arms with bird feathers. Combine that with a Cracked Flash prompt and you get something like this*:

Flying Mouse-Squirrel-Bird Thing
by Sara Codair

“The princess claims it was the dumbest assassin she’d ever seen, but I find it quite brilliant,” said Marcy.

Her face was like a stone with a small frown etched into it. She glowered at the corpse of a flattened gray rodent, which was covered with both fur and feathers. It had the body of a flying squirrel but the head of the mouse.I had no clue how she had managed to look so serious. When I saw the flying mouse-squirrel-bird thing dive bomb the princess, I just double over laughing so hard I pissed my pants.

“And you are the dumbest bodyguard,” she continued. “It may have looked ridiculous, but its claws were sharp enough to pierce through skin and puncture an artery. Thankfully, it was dumber than you.”

I wanted to respond with something witty, but I could hardly breathe, let alone speak. Of course, Marcy hadn’t even cracked a smile. While I was laughing, she gallantly tacked the princess out of the thing’s way and crushed the doomed creature under her black combat boot.

“Gather your wits. We have an investigation to conduct!”

When I failed to gather my wits, Marcy’s steel-toed boot slammed into my gut. Now I had a more serious reason to gasp for air. She glared while I forced my oxygen deprived body into standing position.

“Alright, I admit it, I screwed up.” I finally managed a few steady breaths. “It’s pretty obvious who is behind this. The Gene Guild was furious when the Princess refused to remove the ban on cloning.”

“But we can’t prosecute a whole organization. It could have been one member acting alone.” Marcy’s eyebrows twitched on her outcrop of a forehead, eventually meeting over her nose.

I stared at the now flattened genetic mashup. “That really was the dumbest assassin. He left his name on the murder weapon.”

“Indeed, it appears he did.” A true smile cracked across Marcy’s boulder-like face as she stared at the initials branded onto the creatures ruptured gut. “I guess we’ll be paying Dr. Horrible a visit.”

Grimacing, I prayed I didn’t die laughing in the mad scientist’s lab.

Marcy rolled her eyes and walked towards our steeds while I chucked in her wake. This certainly was the most interesting case I’d work on in my three month stint in the princess’ secret service.

The End…or To be continued?

This seems to end a scene, not a whole story. Perhaps I will return it it one day soon.

*I will note that I made some revisions to this based on the comments I received from one of the Cracked Flash judges, Si.

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/