Tag Archives: short stories

The Elevator Club

“Welcome to the Elevator Club.”

As greetings go, it wasn’t all that ominous. I mean, I’ve heard worse; “I’ve been looking for you”, or, “We need to talk” are pretty terrifying ways to start a conversation. But the Elevator Club was different. It was almost funny, a group of men in well-pressed, well-fitted suits that you could tell were expensive, just by looking at them, standing together in the elevator.

They just carried on their conversations, which was also weird – people usually fall silent when someone walks into a lift, but the hubbub of the Elevator Club just kept murmuring, mingling into the sound of the elevator’s motors.

It didn’t stop – the elevator that is.

Level 27 flicked passed, the light behind the number still illuminated. I turned around, and the man who spoke to me just shrugged.

“I was level 14,” he said, waving his hand toward the doors.

The fluorescent lights overhead just hummed, beating down on us with oppressive, ultraviolent light.

“But when you got in I felt the urge to leave just disappear.” His blue tie seemed to glow.

At level 47 one of the men twitched, he was older, and seemed distinguished, stepped forward, his hand extended.

He stopped, and the elevator began to descend, counting its way back down through the floors.

“I don’t know how long they’ve been here,” he said to me, indicating the men pressed against him.

“They won’t talk to us late-comers,” Blue-tie said to me.

The older man studiously ignored him, examining his fingertips.

“You should feel special,” he said. His voice cracked as he whispered.

“How long have you been here?” I asked him.

He echoed me, his face twisted into a sneer.

I can’t remember. It can’t have been long.

“Level 27,” the elevator said.

I didn’t want to get off.

The light behind the numbers flickered, on-off, on-off, on.

The elevator kept going down.

 

 


 

The Elevator Club was written for this week’s BeKindRewrite prompts:

The Elevator Club

and

Ultraviolent Light

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Red Froth

She looked down at the ticket in her hand.

The rain beat down, drumming a tattoo on the windows, and she understood why, really, she did.

But he had to understand too.

She wasn’t finished making him understand.

“So, Hong Kong – nice this time of year.”

He nodded, whimpering through the gag – it was crusted with his snot – he must have been having trouble breathing by now.

Good.

“Shame it’s monsoon season.”

Panic flitted across his eyes. It wasn’t the same anymore. The great game had changed, what with outsourcing and the lowest common denominator. College kids and tech nerds.

She punched him, unexpectedly, let him drop to the floor.

He struggled again against the ropes that bound him to the chair, but she was listening to the voice in her ear.

“Can’t you hurry it up? It’s pouring out here.” She chanced a look out the window, he was still there, the only homeless man on the street, seemingly muttering to himself in the rain. She wondered where he got the little dog from – but realised that she probably didn’t want to know.

“So. Hong Kong. Why?”

His eyes rolled back in his head, and red froth erupted beneath the gag.

She needed someone else to answer her questions.

 


 

 

Written for this week’s Flash! Friday writing challenge.

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Great Worqs

So, I received an email the other day, out of the blue.

The company it came from is called Great Worqs, and they were asking me to share their concept around, and see if you guys are interested. Basically, they are a company that links writers (that’s us, you guys!) with film makers (that’s some other people over there). Seems pretty cool – I know I’ve got something I’m considering sending over. They’ll be launching their new website in March, at SXSW.

They’ll be choosing a film (or three) to win a £100 prize, so there’s that, too.

Short films are cool.

Go check out their website: www.greatworqs.com

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A Feeble Touch of Sunlight

She staggered through the darkness, the chanting, echoing drone of the wind and the feel of the rough-sided walls her only companions. Well, the wind and the walls and the feeling of black, black eternity. The walls seemed to close in around her, claustrophobic.

She kept turning left – that’s what you’re ‘supposed to do’ in a maze, keep turning left, and eventually you’ll find the exit. She kept finding dead ends. Still, she followed the walls, followed the walls. Down an alleyway, to dead end after dead end. She kept her left hand scraping against the rough stone. Eventually she would find her way out. She lost track of time – darkness has a way of perpetuating itself, of folding time around itself.

She walked until sleep overcame her, and, when she awoke, she walked again. Always in darkness. She drank the water that dribbled down the walls and pooled in the depressions in the tunnel’s floor. She ate fluttering insects and bundles of fur, invisible but fighting back. She shat in the dead ends, so she wouldn’t tread in it on her return journey – if there was a return journey.

She could see herself, bedraggled, gaunt, stumbling, left hand still on the stone wall. She imagined herself passing by in the darkness. She didn’t call out. What could she say to herself, passing in the eternal blackness? Don’t eat me. Please, I know you’re hungry. Please don’t eat me. When she heard footsteps she pressed herself against the wall, silent, and waited for them to pass. They never passed. It always took so long – even though time was uncountable here – so long for her to realise it was her heartbeat.

Or maybe she just convinced herself it was her heart. She always pressed on, sticking to the left.

Until today – this morning? this afternoon? – there was light ahead, weak and yellow, but light, light, up ahead. She took her hand from the wall. She ran. She ran. Tripping and spitting out curses, scraping raw her right knee when she fell. Her voice sounded strange in the blackness. She passed into the light.

A cavern opened up around her, the walls soft brick, unclimbable, opening onto the grey sky.

A feeble touch of sunlight.

It kissed her skin.

A tunnel open on the far side, a black mouth.

She stuck to the left wall, and worked her way around to it.

Back into the dark.

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Some Interesting Anthologies…

Lily Fairy – Luis Ricardo Falero, 1888

So, I’ve stumbled across a few interesting short story and/or flash fiction anthologies recently, and thought maybe I should share the love…

Here you go!

Deadlines, July 31

The Lane of Unusual Traders (Flash Component) – Tiny Owl Workshop

The Lane of Unusual Traders is a world building project. The aim is to write or otherwise bring the Lane, the City of Lind and the world of Midlfell into existence through stories, illustrations, comics and, well, through whatever other creative means present themselves as the story grows.

The story begins in a lane known only as The Lane of Unusual Traders…

Monsters and Maps – Cricket Magazine

Cicada’s out to fill an upcoming issue with krakens, ogres, and other beasties, literal and figurative. We’re interested in the monstrous as dangerous and strong; in monsters that lurk without and within. Monsters may show up on maps (especially weatherbeaten old sea charts), though largely as shorthand for the uncharted and unnamed. We’re interested in the way maps help navigate the wilderness, inspire exploration, and track relationships, spatial and otherwise.

Subversive Fairy Tales – The Book Smugglers

What We’re Looking For:

  • DIVERSITY. We want to read and publish short stories that reflect the diverse world we live in, about and from traditionally underrepresented perspectives.
  • Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult audience submissions are welcome. Good speculative fiction is ageless!
  • Creativity & Subversion. We love subversive stories. We want you to challenge the status quo with your characters, story telling technique, and themes.

The Journal of Unlikely Entomology – Unlikely Story

Beautifully-written fiction, characters that grab us by the throats and refuse to let go, worlds that draw us in and demand to be explored. Genre isn’t particularly important to us—speculative, mainstream, slipstream, and the unclassifiable tales in between—we’ll read anything; all we ask is that the stories meet the requirement of the theme of the issue. For The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, this means bugs.

Blue‘ – 101 Fiction

Anything and everything blue. Literal or figurative. The sky, the sea, a pair of eyes, the pattern on an oriental plate. A desultory mood, a filter, a way of seeing the world. It can be an impression, or a synaesthetic scent. It doesn’t have to be the focus of the story, and you definitely don’t have to use the word ‘blue,’ so long as it is identifiable and recognisable. It could be a topaz necklace like tiny icebergs strung together, or the flash of turquoise from a kingfisher’s wings.

We do loosely hold to four genres – science fiction, fantasy, horror and surreal – but we’re generous in our interpretation of those. If the story grabs us, shakes us, scares us, excites us, sings to us in some way, that’s the important thing.

 

There you go. Good luck, and maybe I’ll see you in one of those anthologies, our stories rubbing shoulders!

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Today is the day!

The Town of Midlfell, Home of the Lane of Unusual Traders – Terry Whidborne

Today is the day.

The day that The Lane of Unusual Traders comes to life…

The Lane of Unusual Traders – an exciting new project from Tiny Owl Workshop.

And there are only twenty lots available in the lane.

Get writing!

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An Evening with Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury on writing, and life. Well worth the hour – plug in your headphones,

blank out your roommates, your kids. They’ll get over it.

Video thanks to University of California Television. 

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Camus

“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” 

Albert Camus, author of one of my favourite novels, The Outsider (also known as The Stranger.)

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SciFriday #7

 

Babel 08. UGV 01 – Duster132

SciFriday! ~100 words.

Science Fiction (or Horror, or Fantasy!)

Hop to it! 

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Too Many Chefs Spoil the Broth

Raymond Blanc Cooking School, Oxford – Jorge Royan

There’s a short story of mine, Too Many Chefs Spoil the Broth, that I wrote almost two years ago, is perennially popular on my blog – although the visitors come in fits and starts. I’m pretty sure it must be on a school curriculum somewhere: Write a short story about the proverb ‘too many chefs spoil the broth’. Because that’s what the search terms are, ten, twenty people a week. WARNING: SWEAR WORDS, SOON.

too many cooks spoil the broth

 

LAST WARNING FOR SWEARS!

Continue reading

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Notes on Writing Weird Fiction – H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, circa 1934

 Horror and the unknown or the strange are always closely connected, so that it is hard to create a convincing picture of shattered natural law or cosmic alienage or “outsideness” without laying stress on the emotion of fear. The reason why time plays a great part in so many of my tales is that this element looms up in my mind as the most profoundly dramatic and grimly terrible thing in the universe. Conflict with time seems to me the most potent and fruitful theme in all human expression.

.

As to how I write a story—there is no one way. Each one of my tales has a different history. Once or twice I have literally written out a dream; but usually I start with a mood or idea or image which I wish to express, and revolve it in my mind until I can think of a good way of embodying it in some chain of dramatic occurrences capable of being recorded in concrete terms. I tend to run through a mental list of the basic conditions or situations best adapted to such a mood or idea or image, and then begin to speculate on logical and naturally motivated explanations of the given mood or idea or image in terms of the basic condition or situation chosen.

 

Some more of H.P. Lovecraft’s (it stands for Howard Philip, by the way) ideas, his thinking about “weird” fiction and horror. Just thought I’d share it with you. H.P. Lovecraft’s Notes on Writing Weird Fiction.

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Book Review: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree, Jr.

Now, I’ve done a bit of research, and apparently when you review a collection of short stories you have to review each individual story – I’m not going to do that.

And it’s not only because I’m lazy – I actually don’t want to ruin any of these beautiful stories for you. You should buy this book, I’m not joking.

James Tiptree, Jr. was probably one of the best science fiction authors to have ever written. Why am I tagging a bloke called James Tiptree, Jr. in my year of reading women? Because James Tiptree, Jr. was actually Alice Sheldon, an intelligence agent for both the USAF and the CIA, who wrote as Tiptree to protect her professional career.

“It has been suggested that Tiptree is female, a theory that I find absurd, for there is to me something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing.”  – Robert Silverberg

NOW, SPOILERS BELOW!

Continue reading

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SciFriday #6

The Rabid Unicorn – Minna Sundberg

It’s Friday.

And you know what that means. 

It’s SciFriday! ~100 words.

This one doesn’t have to be sci-fi, but I’d love to see if you can manage it!

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The Protector of the Forest

Protector of the Forests – MetolGuy, via deviantart

He still strides, through the forests of this world, forgotten. His protectorate is shrinking, his strength waning, but still he is strong beneath the twilight eaves of green shadows. At his footsteps once grew tangled saplings, each striving to reach the golden light of the sun, to dominate and conquer the canopy. Now his footsteps hammer against the grey-black earth, spreading a carpet of lichen and moss. He is dying. He knows this, as surely as he feels each chainsaw’s biting teeth, each bulldozer’s grinding blade, each lick of fire. He still strides through the forests of this world, cursing his own impotence and his cowardice, cursing the little men who come to fell giants.

They still flee in terror when he appears, but their stories are no longer heeded, neither the old stories nor the new, dismissed as drunken, ancient trifles – once more the men come into the forest.

He will show them his power.

He must.

Ancient groves go wandering, and new growth springs up amidst the suburbs, the ghosts of living forests erupting.

The Protector of the Forests must save his charges.

Whatever the cost.

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Yet Another Lane of Unusual Traders Teaser

Midlfell - a fragment of cartography by Terry Whidborne

Midlfell – a fragment of cartography by Terry Whidborne

The indomitable Terry Whidborne and the glorious Tiny Owl Workshop

give us another map fragment from the upcoming Lane of Unusual Traders

– which opens for submissions in late May –

and I’m loving the rabbit!

And I’ve heard a rumour about music and the lane…

more and more curious.

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Another Lane of Unusual Traders Teaser!

BkFyT6wCYAAVfTj

This is yet another Lane of Unusual Traders teaser, from the Tiny Owl Workshop

those are my words, the introduction to the anthology.

And yes, I realise there’s a spelling error there.

Probably mine. 

The Lane of Unusual Traders is a collection of

dark fantasy/magic realism/horror (maybe) stories  –

it’s exactly the kind of thing that the label “speculative fiction” was invented for.

The submissions window opens in May.

I’ll keep you posted! 

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Unfettered Project

Just your regular reminder that the

deadline for Tiny Owl Workshop & Terry Whidborne‘s

Unfettered project

is rapidly approaching!

April 14th!

Get scribbling!

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The Unfettered Project

White Deer, by Terry Whidborne

Just another reminder that the über-creative Tiny Owl Workshop

and the super-talented Terry Whidborne have put together a series

of illustrations for an anthology of speculative fiction stories, Unfettered.

The deadline is on April 14th. They pay professional rates, and publish beautiful books.

Get writing.

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Dowl - image via Human Descent

Dowl – image via Human Descent

We had made a terrible mistake…

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Quinkins – A Reposting for Goblin Week

Quinkins - from Wallaroo

The wind cut through the long grass, stirring the wilderness, providing a moment of gentle relief from the midday sun. A mob of wallabies lounged beneath the blue-grey gum trees, and Ballanan crept through the scrub, his spear-head forging the path before him, his movements echoing the wind’s own footsteps. Just the way his father had shown him.

His father would be so pleased – Ballanan had fashioned the spear himself, now he would finally prove himself a man.

The tribe would feast tonight.

Mount Boonballbi loomed before him, casting its shadow long across the land between them.

He didn’t even notice the imjin creeping up on him.

His father called out his name into the gathering darkness, shouting out until he grew hoarse.

He wept by the fire.

The imjin feasted that night.

Continue reading

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