Taking The Challenge!

I have not written a word of fiction, relating to my series or otherwise, for weeks. WEEKS. It has me feeling pretty shitty, too. Between work, the house, and personal life issues, my made-up fantasy world has taken up residence in the trunk. It’s not even in the backseat, which is a shame. I can’t even say the writing is suffering because of too much TV or gaming, and that’s almost a tragedy right there.

I need a kick in the pants. Luckily, thanks to the supremely talented author, Marian Allen, who can be found here: http://www.marianallen.com/, and her post yesterday about Story A Day May, I think I’ve found it.

I am not great at short stories or flash fiction. At least, I don’t think I am. Letting others read stuff I think I suck at is beyond my comfort zone. All of these have inspired me to do just that. I’m going to participate in Story A Day May 2013. My goal is to write a piece of flash fiction each day between 500 – 750 words. No more, and certainly no less. I’m going to use word prompts, which is something else I never really utilize. I’m also going to post them here, for all the webz to see, which makes me want to delete this post right now, but I am resisting. I’ll just do the ‘tortured artist’ routine after I’ve hit publish and go enjoy a vodka drink.

For May 1, I used the word prompt that my author friend used as a starting point. (That’s right – I know this fabulous lady in real life!) Today’s words were given to me last night by a co-worker, when I explained what I was doing and that I needed three words to work into a short piece. Which reminds me, any of you kind, kind followers out there that want to toss in some word prompts in the comment section, please go ahead. I’m using 3 each day, so be creative.

Without much further ado, here’s the first two flash fiction pieces of May 2013. Constructive comments always welcome, and while everyone is reading, I’m going to go fetch that drink and order some fattening pizza, because it’s been that kind of day. 😀

 

May 1, 2013

Prompts: caramel, binder, Stonehenge

Word Count: 658

 The Safe

“Do you remember when we went to Stonehenge?”

“Stonehenge. Let me think …” Carol swiveled her head in Joe’s direction. “You mean the side trip you took that nearly got us arrested? Yes. I remember.”

“I only bring it up because I thought we could visit the catacombs before we leave Paris. There’s lots of skulls down there,” said Joe.

Carol let out a huff and turned back to the seven foot, one-ton safe they stood in front of. They were supposed to have the code, but that part of the plan hadn’t worked out for them. The insurance company hacker, Ellie, was in a van parked ten blocks from the house, trying to open an encrypted file that supposedly contained the safe code. Carol was a great safe-cracker, but this was the Vaultinator 3.7, and she hadn’t been able to open one yet without knowing the code.

Most jobs were easy. The insurance company they worked for sent them to retrieve stolen goods when the owners had reasons not to call the authorities. Carol and Joe were high-end thieves who stole from other high-end thieves. They’d brought back all sorts of objects: jewels, art, money, actual gold bars, historical artifacts, rare books, and whatever people cared about enough to insure for millions of dollars.

Currently, the safe she was trying to crack belonged to Casper Highforth, a highly-skilled and arrogant art thief. He had stolen a fourteenth century painting of a ferret, insured for 3.7 million. Carol and Joe’s modest commission of ten percent made this job more than alluring, as did the fact that Carol once dated Casper, and she jumped at any opportunity to ruin his day.

She began turning the lock again, ear pressed to the safe, listening for the barely-audible click. A loud crackling sound came from behind her, completely ruining any chance of getting the second number. She whipped around.

“What are you doing?” she hissed.

“Want one?” Joe held out his hand, all the while chomping loudly. A square caramel sat in his palm, wrapped in pink cellophane.

“Do I want a caramel?”

He nodded.

Sometimes, she wanted to smack her partner. But what he lacked in timing, he more than made up for with the uncanny abilities to sneak into anywhere undetected and charm information out of anyone. Their boss said that Joe could sell fire to the devil.

“I do not want a caramel, you idiot,” she said.

“You sure? You look like you could use a sweet,” said Joe.

The vibration of his cell phone saved him from a nasty reply. He brought it up to his ear, listening and rolling his eyes. Joe held out the phone.

“It’s Ellie. She cracked the file I got from Casper’s secretary.”

“About freaking time,” said Carol, snatching the phone from Joe. “Ellie, what took you so long?”

“I’m sorry,” said Ellie, high-voice strained and full of remorse. “I left the binder of fourteen century anagrams in the hotel room.”

Just like Casper to use outdated words to hide a numbered sequence. “Do you have the code or not?”

“Yes.”

The young woman read off the seven digits, and the number of turns in between. Carol, breath held, swiveled the lock back and forth, until it landed on the last number with a loud click. Joe grabbed the top of the handle, helping her to pull open the heavy door.

He let out a low whistle. “Pay dirt. God, that is an ugly ferret.”

Carol held the painting up to the light. “I don’t know which is uglier, the ferret or the little boy.”

Joe took it, sliding it into a protective cover before putting in a satchel. They closed the door to the safe, left through the same window they’d entered, and climbed down the drainpipe.

“So, catacombs?” Joe’s face was lit up like a kid on Christmas. He did love history.

She sighed. “Fine. We’ll go.”

 

 

May 2, 2013

Prompts: lice, sunshine, thunderstorm

Count: 574

 New Growth

 Fourteen months had passed. Fourteen months to the day. Margret thought about the ordeal a little less each day, which made this day all the more special. Standing on the beach, pants rolled above her knees, she stood where the water washed over her feet and ankles while combing her fingers through sections of damp hair, immensely satisfied at the return of her hair’s former glory. The afternoon sunshine illuminated the golden curls, giving her head a bouncy halo. Margret hoped her hair would continue to grow; she had cried when they cut it, despite the necessity.

A shadow fell over her—William. She smiled at him, at his nearness, grateful they had found each other.

“You’ve been by yourself all day,” said William.

“I know.”

“You want to talk about it?”

Margret shook her head, letting her fingers fall from the blonde locks. Will grinned and tugged on the end of a thick curl. “You can’t stop playing with your hair.”

“Do you know how long it took to get rid of the lice? It’s finally long enough that I can play with it,” she said, knocking his hand away.

The siblings fell silent, staring at the ship anchored in the bay, and at the ocean. She never thought anything would make her feel free, but the water did.

“It has been eight months, hasn’t it?”

She looked up at him in shock. Will nodded. “I noticed it right away. Each month, on the first day, you get quiet and sad, sometimes angry, and you always pull away, Mags.”

Ever the big brother. Margret gave him an odd smile. “Fourteen months, actually, but we didn’t reunite until I’d been free for six of them.” She sighed and stretched out her arms. “Three hundred and ninety-five days since I walked out of Madame Sophie’s house. Look how far I’ve come.”

“Farther than most would’ve, I reckon,” Will said.

“Aye, from less than nothing to a wanted fugitive.”

“A very wanted and wealthy fugitive.”

She laughed. “Never having been a poor fugitive, I imagine there’s quite a difference.”

“You have no idea. For starters, we wouldn’t be standing on a warm beach in what we think of as the middle of winter,” said Will. “We’d probably be suffering through the freezing cold of Sertha, sleeping in alleys and barns.”

“The benefits of piracy,” Margret mused.

“Successful piracy,” said Will. “Thank Creators you found me and not some other wretched excuse for a sailor.”

“Thank Creators Captain Saundar found me,” she said. “I know too well what could have happened had some lesser man discovered me sleeping in that dinghy.”

“Alix Saundar is a good man.” Her brother stepped close and took her hand, squeezing it as he placed a kiss atop her head. “Don’t stay out too much longer, Mags; it’s going to thunderstorm.”

Margret shook her head. “There’s not a cloud in the sky.”

“Trust me.” He backed away, pointing to the brilliant, tropical blue sky. “I can predict the weather!”

“Go predict me a strong drink,” she shot back.

A couple of hours passed. Margret sat in the sand, knees drawn up, watching the tide fall and contemplating her current situation. Sighing, she shifted and her eyes were drawn upwards and to the south. Dark clouds were gathering, moving with slow purpose. She waited until they covered the beach, and headed for the rundown tavern at the first rumble of thunder.

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4 responses to “Taking The Challenge!

  • Phillip McCollum

    Wow, nice progress. Glad to hear you’ve gotten past that block. I know how that can be and it’s a difficult hole to get out of. Story a Day May sounds like a good impetus to get your fingers on the keyboard. There is a lot to be said about writing something every day.

    Really enjoyed your stories as well!

    • Jessica Paul

      Thanks!
      Writing each day is a habit I need to acquire. I figure this month of writing may just help get me there. Plus, my husband keeps giving me prompt words, so I think he’s not-so-subtly holding me accountable.

  • nancy

    Hey, Jessi….GOOD STUFF. Of course, word prompts can only bring out what’s in a writer. Isn’t it great that what is in you is……
    GOOD STUFF?

    • Jessica Paul

      Thank you! Using the word prompts is going better than I thought. While I’m at work today, I was thinking about what to write, and didn’t really come up with anything until someone gave me my daily words. Now I’m putting up warehouse and constructing a story, which is soooo much better than putting up warehouse by itself.

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