Monday, February 25, 2013

March Friday Flash Fiction Announcement

I have made a decision about my ongoing Friday Flash Fiction. The month of March will be a...

!!!Mystery Theme Month!!!

The five FFF entries in March will be related in some esoteric way. If you can figure it out, guess. If you guess correctly, that'll be awesome for you (read as: "no prizes, but I'll give you a shout out or something")!

Good luck!

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Friday, February 22, 2013

FFF: Initials

Every Friday Kurt posts a new flash fiction piece. This week...

Initials
Word Count: 600

“Christopher David Cook,” said Fran. She lay on top of the covers, patting her round belly.

“No good,” said her husband, Eric, shivering under the covers. “His initials will be C-D-C.”

“Does that mean something?” asked Fran.

“It’s the Center for Disease Control,” said Eric. “Not a good association to make—unless we want people to think of our son as being related to the plague.”

“At least they’re about controlling disease,” said Fran.

“I’m still vetoing it,” said Eric

“Christopher Franklin,” said Fran.

“I’m not a big fan of Franklin,” said Eric.

“It’s a family name,” said Fran.

“I know but… oh, wait, we can’t do that. Then he’d be C-F-C. Our son would be responsible for destroying the ozone layer.”

“Well, we couldn’t have that,” said Fran.

“No, we couldn’t,” said Eric.

“Franklin Christopher,” said Fran.

“The FCC is the Federal Communications… something. It’s the one that does airwaves,” said Eric.

“Is that so bad?” asked Fran.

“I think I read somewhere that they’re the reason you can’t use your cell phone on an airplane,” said Eric.

“Oh, God, I’ll veto that myself,” said Fran.

“I’ll hold you to that,” said Eric.

“How about Franklin Thomas Cook?” asked Fran.

“I like it, but it sounds like a founding father,” said Eric. “And then he’d be F-T-C.”

“What’s that?” asked Fran.

“It’s the Federal Trade Commission,” said Eric.

“Well, dammit,” said Fran, her voice tinged with frustration.

“Don’t get mad at me, hon,” said Eric. “It’s not my fault—”

“Yes, it is,” said Fran. “You’re the one with the last name that starts with C. I should have married Walt Jablonsky.”

Eric laughed nervously.

“Okay,” said Fran, “how about Ethan? We always liked that. Ethan Thomas Cook?”

“E-T-C, said Eric. “Et cetera.”

“Fine,” said Fran. “You come up with something.”

“No, babe, don’t take it that way,” said Eric. “I like your ideas, we just need to make sure it’s properly vetted.”

“I bet Walt wouldn’t have made me vet baby names like this,” said Fran.

“Probably not,” said Eric. “You can’t really be picky about them when your last name is Jablonsky.”

Fran giggled.

“Keep going, we’ve got to be close,” said Eric.

“At this rate, we’ll be lucky to have a name picked out by the time this little guy is born,” said Fran, patting her belly once more.

“We’ve got three months,” said Eric.

“We’ve been at this for five already,” said Fran.

“Oh,” said Eric. “Well, some kids go for years without names, right?”

Fran giggled again. “Ethan Scott?” she asked.

“E-S-C,” said Eric.

“What’s that short for?” asked Fran.

“On most keyboards it means escape.”

“Jesus Christ,” said Fran.

“Hmmm,” said Eric. “Jesus Christ Cook. I can’t think of anything for J-C-C. That kind of works, actually, although I don’t think your parents would like it.”

“Scott Ethan?” asked Fran.

“The SEC is the Securities and Exchange Commission. They’re pretty unpopular right now.”

Fran exhaled sharply and then rolled over. “You know what?” she said. “I’ve changed my mind. We’re having a girl.”

“I don’t think it works that way,” said Eric. “What about Dominic? You always liked that.”

“What middle name?” asked Fran.

“Isaac, maybe?” said Eric. “After your dad.”

“Does D-I-C stand for anything?” asked Fran.

Eric mulled it over. “It’s only one letter away from the FDIC, but I can live with that.”

Fran smiled. “So that’s it? We’re decided.”

“It’s late,” said Eric. “Let’s sleep on it. Maybe something will occur to us in the morning.”

Edited by Carolyn "Spare Me An Adverb" Abram.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

FFF: The Sentence

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week's... is a tad gimmicky...

The Sentence
Word Count: 598

“James Humphrey Harvey—having been found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, three counts of fraud, half a count of first-degree manslaughter, twelve counts of criminal negligence contributing to a homicide, six counts of depraved indifference contributing to a homicide, one count of aggravating a baboon (also contributing to a homicide) one count of grand larceny, one count of stealing a government vehicle, one count of wrongfully imprisoning a government official, one count of wrongfully imprisoning a government official’s nice lady-friend, sixty-seven counts of impersonating a licensed zookeeper, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of grand theft auto, the strangest count of forgery I’ve ever heard of in all my years on the bench, and one count of attempting to defraud the Federal Government—you are hereby sentenced to serve a term of not less than sixty years, and not longer than your natural life, in a facility to be determined by the department of corrections; additionally, you will be required to make restitution to the families of Jake Corman, all of the residents of Willoughby Lane, the families of the owners of the Laurel Park Petting Zoo, the City Council of Westphalia, the mayor, that nice young lady who was traveling with the mayor—also, I personally think you owe an apology to the mother of that poor baboon—as well as all of the members of the VFW Men’s Chorus who donated their time and their pensions to your ludicrous scheme and, since the court gives me some leeway in how restitution is to be made, I decree that you will spend at least twenty days of your prison sentence wearing that damned chicken suit that you tried to convince Mr. Corman was waterproof, and I want you to go door to door to every resident of Westphalia—including the residents of Willoughby Lane, once their houses are rebuilt—and get down on your knees and beg them to forgive you for your greed, your reckless endangerment of human and animal life, and your irrevocable, unpardonable, inexcusable stupidity with regards to the proper care and storage of incendiary devices, and, while I am the first to admit that no one—no one—will ever forget little Jakey’s sixth birthday party or the high speed limo chase that preceded it, there was no real expectation that you would produce a baboon, no indication that anyone thought you were serious or sober when you made that promise, and every reason to think that Jake would have forgiven you for not producing a baboon and even if that weren’t the case, acquiring one at gunpoint seems like a poorly thought-out plan, as does transporting it in a commandeered motorcade, and even if you had made it to Mexico that evening, I’m certain that the Mexican authorities would have had no problem extraditing you back to the United States to stand trial, especially if they bothered to spend ten minutes in a room with you first; furthermore, and I mean this with all sincerity, if I ever hear about you going within a hundred feet of a child’s birthday party—presence of a baboon notwithstanding—I will drive to a state with loose gun ownership restrictions, buy the biggest firearm I can afford, track you down, shoot you once in the head and once in the chest, and then turn myself in to face whatever consequences are coming to me and, frankly, the world will be a far, far safer and a far, far better place for it.”

Edited by Carolyn Abram (bless her).

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Monday, February 11, 2013

SALE: "Leaving Home" to Daily Science Fiction

Today I'm happy to announce that I've sold a short story to Daily Science Fiction. The story is called Leaving Home. This is my first professional sale, and I'm grateful for the interest the editors at DSF have taken in my work. I don't yet know when it will run, but I'll post links when they are available. (Note: Leaving Home will not be running on this blog with the fiction pieces I post here.)

Stories are emailed to subscribers a week before publication on the site, so consider joining Daily Science Fiction's (free) mailing list. I obviously have a bit of a bias, but they publish plenty of authors who aren't me, and their stories are quite good as well.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

FFF: The Monster In The Closet

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of original flash fiction. This week's entry...

The Monster In The Closet
Word Count: 600

Jim had just settled in for the evening—he had stretched out on the couch with a book and a glass of wine—when he heard the pitter-patter of his six-year-old coming down the stairs. Little Bryan poked his head around the corner at the bottom of the stairwell. “Daaaaad,” he said.

“It’s past your bedtime, kiddo,” said Jim.

“But Daaaaaad, I can’t sleep,” said Bryan.

“Did you try laying down and closing your eyes?” asked Jim.

Bryan nodded.

“What’s the problem?” asked Jim.

“There’s a monster in my closet,” said Bryan.

Jim raised an eyebrow. “I doubt that,” he said.

“There is,” said Bryan.

“Well, you need to go to sleep anyway,” said Jim. “Why don’t you lay down and pretend that the monster isn’t there?”

“But Daaaaaaad—” said Bryan.

“Go to bed,” said Jim.

Bryan hung his head and loped back up the steps. Jim could hear the bedroom door open and close. “Now, where was I?” he asked. He’d gotten about a paragraph into his chapter when he heard tiny footsteps above him. “Bryan?” he said. The footsteps stopped halfway down the stairwell. “Bryan, I can hear you.”

Bryan’s tiny head peeked around the stairwell. “Daaaaaad, the monster’s still there.”

“You need to go to sleep, Bryan,” said Jim. “It’s past your bedtime and you’ve got school in the morning.”

“But Daaaaaaad—”

“No,” said Jim. “There’s no monster.”

“Could you look, please?” asked Bryan.

“No,” said Jim.

“Pleeeeease?”

“No!”

“But Daaaaaaad—”

“But nothing,” said Jim. “You are too old for this. You need to go to bed and go to sleep.”

“But it’s really real,” said Bryan.

“Then it’ll still be there in the morning and you can deal with it then,” said Jim.

“Can’t I just take a knife with me?” asked Bryan.

“Absolutely not,” said Jim.

“I know where they are,” said Bryan. “In the butcher’s block.”

“I said no,” said Jim.

“I’ll be careful,” said Bryan.

“Do you want to get a spanking, Mister?” asked Jim.

“Just a small knife!” said Bryan.

“One…”

“But Daaaaaaad—”

“Two…”

Bryan grunted and kicked at the carpet, but he acquiesced. He hung his head and trudged his way up the steps, scraping his feet angrily as he walked.

“Don’t drag your feet,” said Jim. He heard one last kick from the stairwell, and then orderly shuffling. “If I have to come up there,” shouted Jim, “you’re not going to be very happy about it.” He listened as Bryan’s bedroom door opened and closed—forcefully. “Love you,” Jim hollered.

“And now, back to my book,” Jim said.

A series of bangs and thumps jerked Jim to attention. The clatter was intense, but it ended abruptly. Bryan’s door opened and closed. Tiny footsteps came down the stairs. Bryan came around the corner, his mouth dripping a coarse, green fluid. He threw something on the coffee table—it looked like a furry black ear. Green slime dripped out of it.

“Now do you believe me?” asked Bryan.

Jim looked at his son. He looked at the furry ear on the table. Then he looked back at his son. “Did you bite that off?” asked Jim.

Bryan nodded.

“Is it still alive?” asked Jim.

“I tied him up with my jump-rope,” said Bryan.

Jim rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he said. “Get a knife from the kitchen—a small knife—and you’re going to have to clean up when you’re done.”

“Thanks, Dad!”

“And don’t torture it for too long,” said Jim. “You’ve got school in the morning.”

“Love you, Dad!” Bryan yelled. He grinned wickedly and scampered off.

Edited by Carolyn Abram.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

FFF: Rest For The Wicked

Every Friday, Kurt posts a new piece of flash fiction. This week...

Rest For The Wicked
Word Count: 600

Professor Vengeance held up a hand for calm. “Please, people, we need order,” he said, but to no avail. The meeting was getting out of hand. “Order!” he shouted again, and pounded a metal fist on the lectern. “We can’t take our grievances to management unless we know what they are.”

“Better benefits!” shouted Hefty, a gelatinous thug with an eating disorder.

“Shorter hours!” said a low-level enforcer in the back of the room.

“We can’t just say we want shorter hours,” said Vengeance. “That’s the problem. Shorter than what? We have to ask for something concrete.”

“Let’s ask for a forty-hour week,” suggested a thug in a clown costume who called himself “Killjoy”.

“Who has enough henchmen for that?” asked Vengeance. “I don’t think it’s realistic.”

“If Dr. Disorder can afford a Shrinking Machine, he can afford to run us in shifts!” said Killjoy.

“It’s not about money,” said Vengeance, “it’s about supply. There just isn’t enough muscle to go around. Now, we could ask for better overtime pay.”

“I’d rather have better job security,” said Hefty. “Supervillains don’t always have cash on hand; I don’t want to get fired during the slow season.”

“And by fired he means rubbed,” said Killjoy. A chorus of yeah’s echoed through the hall.

“See, now there’s something we can ask for,” said Vengeance. “Non-lethal downsizing.”

“What about plain-old job security?” asked Hefty. “I can’t get private insurance.”

“I think we can offer a few options,” said Vengeance. “Base-plus-commission for seasonal work and maybe a higher base with no commission for villains with year-round funding.”

“That’s another thing,” said Gigantopithecus, crouching in his chair to avoid the ceiling fan. “I want to know who’s paying my check. I know Dr. Disorder gets money from a foreign power, but I don’t know who.”

“We can ask,” said Vengeance, “but we’ll get some push-back from management.”

“I don’t want to find out I’m taking money from Syria,” said Gigantopithecus. “It ain’t dignified.”

“Dignified?” asked a thug in the third row. “You want dignified? I temp for villains all over town, and each one makes me wear a different outfit: snowsuits for Captain Cold; clock-themed outfits for The Timethief; fatigues for General Shockenaw. How am I supposed to build an identity? I look like a freaking clown.” The thug eyed Killjoy warily. “No offense,” he added.

“Do your employers pay for the outfits?” asked Vengeance.

“Sometimes, yeah” said the thug.

“Good,” said Vengeance. “That’s something we can ask for. Now, what else?”

“You know what I can’t stand?” asked Dark Bart. “They spend all this money on these elaborate fortresses, but we have to patrol them alone. We should be working in pairs so we can’t get snuck up on.” This brought another chorus of yeah’s.

“Good,” said Vengeance. “I think we can establish a minimal security-staff requirement based on square-footage and points of entry. Can you come up with some numbers, The Calculator?”

A slim man in square glasses nodded. “I’ll work on it,” he hissed.

“This is good,” said Vengeance. “I can go to management with this. If they don’t like our terms, we threaten to strike.”

“One moment,” said a voice in the back. It was The Soothsayer. “Threatening to strike is good, but you should know something. If we actually do strike, Dr. Disorder will bring in Gestapo Pete to kill us all.”

For a moment, no one spoke.

“Ah,” said Vengeance, breaking the silence. “Well. Maybe we can wait to present our demands, then. See you all next Tuesday night.”

Edited by Carolyn Abram.

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