Tag Archives: flash fiction

ROW80 Status – Day 76 (March 19)

Goals:

  1. 500 words of new fiction every day
  2. Finish first draft of Finding Valhalla (DONE!)
  3. Start editing Dragons At Dawn
  4. Post to my blog on Monday and Thursday
  5. Post ROW80 updates on Sunday and Wednesday

Word counts:

  • 3/16 – 1000
  • 3/17 – 540
  • 3/18 – 528
  • 3/19 – 537

Six Days To Sabbath is at 25,976 words. Finding Valhalla is finished. Editing progresses slowly on Dragons At Dawn. Blog posts are all on schedule.

On Wednesday I took another break from Six Days To Sabbath to write another short story for a flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig. The idea was to write 1000 words based on a picture of a building with a Hotel sign on the roof. I posted it on my blog and left a link in Chuck’s comments for his challenge. It’s called The Old Hotel. Please give it a read and let me know what you think.

I wish you all the best on your ROW80 goals!

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More Flash Fiction

Last Friday I attempted a short piece for Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge, but I wasn’t able to post it before his deadline. This week I decided to start a little earlier, so yesterday I managed to write my 1000 word short based on his new challenge. I think I like this one better than the last one. I hope you do too.

THE OLD HOTEL

 by Scott Steele

Bernie had been driving for hours. He had left home before dawn and the static from the radio was starting to blend into the droning hum of his tires on the road. The small town ahead was a welcome sight in the fading daylight. The sign said Welcome to Harvey, and was covered with all the logos of the standard municipal organizations. He had to stop for the night. He wasn’t a young man anymore and there was no way he was going to be able to keep his eyes open much longer.

The streets were quiet. No other cars were on the road, and he only saw a few people on the sidewalks. They moved slowly past the dingy storefronts, slumped down as if the lowering clouds were pressing on their spines. The signs in the windows were faded and clumps of litter spotted the gutters like mushrooms on a log. The town suddenly didn’t see quite so welcoming, but Bernie had no choice. It could be another fifty miles to the next town and there was no way he could stay awake that long.

He kept driving, looking for somewhere to stop. Buildings got taller and closer together, looming darkly over the street. He was getting closer to the center of town. A large brick building formed a wall along most of the block, an ancient sign spelling “HOTEL” on the roof. The sign was dark, but a light burned in the lobby, as well as one of the rooms on the second floor.

Bernie parked his old Buick in front of the building and sat for a moment listening to the engine cool. He pushed the car door open and pried his stiff legs out onto the pavement. Standing, he stretched his arms to the sky, trying to work out the kinks from hours behind the wheel. He reached back into the car to retrieve his worn blue backpack from the passenger seat and slung it over one shoulder. He hit the lock and closed the door, trying the handle to make sure it was locked.

He stepped around the car to the sidewalk, staggering as he relearned how to walk. His legs felt like dead wood, and his mind wasn’t much better. He couldn’t wait to collapse into bed.

The entrance to the hotel was a frosted glass door at the top of three wide steps. Apparently the place hadn’t heard of making accommodations for people with disabilities. Bernie was so stiff he wouldn’t turn down a wheelchair if one were offered.

He forced himself up the steps and pushed open the door, stepping into a lobby that should have been in a museum. Golden yellow walls accented with dark walnut columns ascended the full three-story height of the building to an intricately carved ceiling. A large skylight in the center shone with a rosy glow from the last rays of the sunset. Plush couches and overstuffed chairs promised a relaxing stay. They looked so comfortable that Bernie was tempted to skip the room and see if he could just stay in the lobby.

He hitched his backpack higher on his shoulder and stumbled over to the reception counter. A scarecrow of a man stood behind the counter, the creases on his suit sharp as knives. “Welcome to the Harvey Hotel,” he said, his voice sharp, like the points on his thin mustache.

Bernie set his backpack on the floor with a sigh of relief. “I would like a room please.”

“Certainly sir.” He pulled out a registration form from behind the counter and set it down delicately in front of Bernie. “Are you on your own tonight sir?”

“Yes I am.” Bernie quickly filled in the blanks with his vital statistics and pushed it back.

The manager gave it a little spin to turn it around and quickly skimmed over it, making sure it was complete. “Everything seems to be in order,” he said, as if Bernie had just passed a test. The form was replaced with a key, presented with a flourish. “Room 215, up the stairs and to the right.” He gestured to a small door at the far side of the lobby labeled stairs. It was next to an old-fashioned cage elevator decorated with a large sign telling everyone that it was “Out of Order.”

Bernie took the key gratefully and picked up his bag. He pushed open the door to the stairway. It was a simple concrete affair, but tastefully decorated as it was obviously the only way to get to the upper floors. He climbed wearily up to the next floor and stepped out of the stairwell, turning to the right as instructed.

The second floor hallway was dimly lit with wall sconces placed at the midway point between each door, providing just enough light to see the numbers on the doors. Room 215 was the third one down the silent hallway. Bernie unlocked the door and stepped in. He flicked on the lights, revealing a small yet tasteful room, furnished with a double bed, a small desk and two chairs. A dresser across from the foot of the bed held a small television. A mediocre oil painting hung on the wall above the bed. A tiny closet to the left of the door offered hangers for his clothes, and a tiny bathroom on the right provided a place to take care of his other essential needs.

Bernie threw the deadbolt and stepped over to the bed. He tossed the backpack onto one of the chairs with a thud and sat heavily on the end of the bed. He pried off his shoes and socks, tossing them carelessly onto the floor. He fell backward onto the mattress, too tired to bother with removing the rest of his clothes.

In his exhausted state, the relief of sleep came quickly. Tomorrow he would find the man who had sent him the bag full of money, and he would kill him.

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ROW80 Status – Day 72 (March 15)

Goals:

  1. 500 words of new fiction every day
  2. Finish first draft of Finding Valhalla (DONE!)
  3. Start editing Dragons At Dawn
  4. Post to my blog on Monday and Thursday
  5. Post ROW80 updates on Sunday and Wednesday

Word Counts:

  • 3/13 – 523
  • 3/14 – 504
  • 3/15 – 531

Six Days To Sabbath is at 24,371 words.  Finding Valhalla is finished. Editing progresses slowly on Dragons At Dawn. Blog posts are all on schedule.

After writing Zombie Guinea Pig, I started thinking about writing some more flash fiction, but I don’t really know how. All my work so far has been on novel or novella length stories and I’m not sure how to focus on only one idea for a short story. I have lots of books on writing a novel, but none on writing short fiction.

I need some help! Please leave a comment with any recommendations you have for books on how to write short stories. I really appreciate your help with this.

Good luck on your goals, and see you back here on Sunday!

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Filed under Fiction, ROW80, The Writing Experience

ROW80 Status – Day 69 (March 12)

Goals:

  1. 500 words of new fiction every day
  2. Finish first draft of Finding Valhalla (DONE!)
  3. Start editing Dragons At Dawn
  4. Post to my blog on Monday and Thursday
  5. Post ROW80 updates on Sunday and Wednesday

Word counts:

  • 3/9 – 605
  • 3/10 – 802
  • 3/11 – 1000
  • 3/12 – 644

Six Days To Sabbath is at 22,813 words. Finding Valhalla is finished. Editing progresses slowly on Dragons At Dawn. Blog posts are all on schedule.

On Friday I took a break from Six Days To Sabbath and wrote a short story. It was from a flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig. The idea was to write 1000 words based on the phrase “Irregular Creatures”. I wrote a little story based on my new guinea pig. I didn’t have it finished in time for the challenge, but I did post it on my blog. It’s called Zombie Guinea Pig. Please give it a read and let me know what you think.

I wish you all the best on your ROW80 goals!

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Filed under Fiction, ROW80, The Writing Experience, Uncategorized

Flash Fiction

Last week I came across a post from Chuck Wendig. He was proposing a flash fiction challenge. The idea was to write 1000 words on the words “irregular creature”. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have any ideas until this morning, and the challenge ended at noon EST. I finished it just before 10 CST, but since I was at work I couldn’t post it until my lunch break – after the contest was over. But since I went through all the trouble of writing the damn thing, I thought that SOMEONE should read it. That’s where you lucky people come in.

Here it is. Please comment and let me know what you think.

ZOMBIE GUINEA PIG

By Scott Steele

 My guinea pig started the zombie apocalypse. I know, you would never expect that something so cute and fuzzy could cause the end of the world. But it’s true. Here’s how it happened.

I decided to do something special for my wife on Valentine’s Day. She loves animals, but we live in an apartment and so we can’t have a dog or cat. They do allow fish and hamsters, but larger animals aren’t allowed. We have a hamster, a cute little short hair, dark gray with a white beard and white paws, but she isn’t very cuddly. She doesn’t like to sit still and is always jumping around whenever we get her out of her cage. We also have a tank full of fish that we keep over the television, but they don’t like it when we get them out either.

So last Valentine’s Day I decided we would go out to eat. We went to a Culvers restaurant near our house, and had a nice meal. The restaurant is near the pet store where we got our hamster, and I thought maybe we could stop in and get some supplies for the little critter.

We perused the aisles for about fifteen minutes, trying to decide what sorts of things we could get for our little furball. I was considering getting her a new cage, thinking that maybe we could connect it with the one we have so that she would have more room to run around. But the cages were kind of expensive, and we decided to look around while we thought about it.

We went into the room where they have the small animals and there he was. Mostly dark brown, he has a white stripe down his nose and a large white patch on his left side. He was so cute! There was also a completely white guinea pig in the cage with him, but we barely looked at that one.

My wife knew right away that she had to have him. It turned out to be a lot more expensive than the hamster cage we had been considering, because we had to get a new, larger cage just for him, and all the supplies to go with it. But at least my wife was happy.

We got home and got our new pet settled in to his new home. We set up the cage in front of our television so we could keep an eye on him. It was also the only place we had to put it.

Things went well for several weeks. He was nervous at first, and I found it was best to talk softly to him to calm him down before reaching in his cage to pick him up. But we kept it up, getting him out at least once a day. We would hold him in our laps, petting him gently and feeding him parsley. Eventually, he got used to us and calmed down a bit, allowing us to pick him up without struggling.

Then he got sick. I don’t know if it was something in the hay or radiation from the television. But one day we noticed that he wasn’t eating as much. The next day he didn’t move at all when we went to pick him up, and I noticed a greenish pus leaking from the corners of his eyes.

We made an appointment to take him to the vet, but the next day he was stiff and cold in his cage. My wife was devastated. I had to take off of work to stay with her. Even though we had only had him for a few months he was a part of the family.

We decided to dispose of the body in the afternoon. I found an old shoe box, and we sadly lined it with paper towels. I opened the cage to lift him out, and was shocked when he twitched. It was only a small movement, and I thought that maybe I had just imagined it, but then he moved again. I watched in amazement as he slowly rolled into his normal position, looking at me with his beady little eyes.

I should have looked closer before reaching into the cage. I should have noticed that his eyes were no longer the dark brown that we were used to. They had turned a deep, blood red. I should have seen that his fur was falling off in clumps. But I didn’t.

I reached into the cage and he raced around, avoiding my hand like he had when we had first brought him home. I tried talking softly to him, attempting to calm him down, then reached in again. I finally managed to corner him so that I could pick him up. I pulled him out and gently cradled him in my arms. His little body was still cold, and felt oddly softer than normal. I suddenly remembered when our last hamster had died, and how her body had lost its normal firmness when I pulled her out of her cage. But by then it was too late.

As I stood up to move to the couch where I could sit down and pet him, he suddenly thrashed in my arms, and before I knew it he had taken a bite out of my hand. I yelled in pain and surprise, and tried to pull my hand away. That’s when I noticed his bloody eyes.

I pried his teeth off my hand and quickly put him back into his cage. I washed the wound and bandaged it, but the damage was already done. I quickly got sick, and before I knew it I had joined the ranks of the damned. My wife was the first to join me, followed by the neighbors, members of my church, and my coworkers. By then we had achieved a critical mass, and the infection spread across the world.

So that’s the story of how my guinea pig started the zombie apocalypse.

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