Flash Fiction February Submissions

As you may or may not have noticed, it is no longer February. But never fear! GUCW’s favourite monthly challenge is not all over and done with just yet.

As we get to compiling our anthology we are still in need of flash fiction stories for many of our daily prompts. So if any of you still have some work in the pipeline you have until mid-April to submit your stories for the anthology.

As well of stories we would love submissions of your artwork to accompany any pieces or simply artwork to decorate the anthology. You can use the prompts on the flash fiction page for inspiration but there will be a general “kitsch” feel to the anthology (-think cheesy 90’s pop).

Submit your work to: gucreativewritingsociety@gmail.com

Find the prompts here: Flash Fiction February 2k17

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!



**Days/ Prompts that haven’t been written on yet:**

22/02/17

Non-binary, pride,

101009617

 

24/02/17

Inconceivable, Iridescent,

“You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”- Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

 

27/02/17

Negligible,  Damask,  

“This world that we’re a-livin’ in, is mighty hard to beat; You git a thorn with every rose, but ain’t the roses sweet!”- Frank Lebby Stanton

So we actually did some work….

We had our first meet up tonight for the new semester and it was a great success! Thanks to everyone for coming along. Despite being in the pub and frequently distracted by beer and chips we actually managed to kick-start this year of creative writing in a pretty productive way. We did a little exercise where each group member took turns writing a line to build up a little story. Here are some samples from our fresh new faces!

Last Night

When I woke up I really wished I didn’t go there last night.

What I saw was imprinted on my eyeballs, every time I closed my eyes it flashed on negative.

I tried blinking, rubbing my eyes, hitting my head, anything to rid myself of the memories.

Nothing worked so the only thing left to do, my last hope, was to go back there and relive that fateful moment.

Tentatively I lowered my feet to the carpet. Even the soft touch of the wool sent spikes of pain up my toes.

Ignoring the aches I hobbled to the wardrobe and slipped in to some new clothes.

Then I opened the door, made my way downstairs and stepped in to the cold, dark night.

The street was dark but the figure ahead was clear.

There, at the end of the road, illuminated by the dim orange dusk of the streetlights stood a tall man in a long coat.

He lifted the coat up and I ran towards him.

The Moss

Drizzle feeds the moss on the wall.

The moss keeps expanding, eventually covering the whole wall and part of the footpath.

Her dog gets covered too and he’s likely to die.

The little girl is very sad and attempt to hold back the tears as they take him to an expert.

The expert confirms that the moss is doing the dog no good and he only has days left to live.

She watches as he turns to stone; the tail that once thumped a rapid rhythm of joy when he saw her solidifies.

Then his ears and his tongue turn in to stone too.

Next to solidify is his heart, and the girl’s goes too- never again can she love another dog so much.

She returns to the wall where the moss grew.

The drizzle starts up again.

“That’s so meta…”

“I volunteer to write the first line of the story,” volunteered David, heroically.

The entire group looked at him in awe.

As waves upon the shore lie….

An unwritten sentence, now write, or wait, now write, or! Wait… now write!

Fergus is confused. So is Molly.

The rest of the class, however, appeared to proceed with complete confidence.

But David was brave and Fergus was confused so where was the point?

There was a long silence with everyone looking at David

And he scrawled on to the paper: “I volunteer to write the first line of the story,” volunteered David, heroically.

…Slenderman?

Something happened to Lucy, that night when her mother was ill in bed and she had taken advantage by staying up late. It was the last night that Lucy ever played video games before going to sleep. Even to think of it now made her brain quiver. It was one of those things that jarred with reality, that provoked a repulsion so strong that it made Lucy too dizzy to think at all.

She’d been drinking perhaps too much coca cola, creeping downstairs every half an hour or so to grab another can from the crate they kept in the fridge. Upstairs, she’d built a kind of den for herself: underneath the window, where she could get a nice cool breeze, Lucy had propped up various bits of furniture from which she’d draped her duvet. In total darkness, she sat under this mini fortress, her eyes glued to the small light of her gameboy.

Lucy never let a soul know what game she was playing. She kept the little cartridges stacked safely in a metal tin disguised as a money safe. There was no real lock, but the appearance of one was enough to keep nosy parents and friends out. She played with headphones plugged into her ears, blocking out the steady bass of the music next door, the quiet roars of passing cars, the yelps of neighbours’ dogs.

The scene her character was navigating was a small town, with the seeming charm of twee, of pastel-coated innocence. The houses were all shades of soft purple, peach, yellow and green. Fingers guiding buttons, Lucy directed her character around, looking for coins, asking the locals various questions. There were strange creatures in the woods, they mused, with their voices casting a rippling of pixels across the screen and down Lucy’s headphones. She smiled with delight as she left the town behind to enter the forest.

The game entered a more in-depth, three-dimensional perspective. The trees acquired an uncannily realistic texture, stretching to the heights of an unseen canopy. Greyish mist haunted the landscape, so that through the eyes of her character (whose viewpoint Lucy’s gameplay had now assumed) much of the world appeared blurred and slow, as if the game occasionally glitched, shuddering in momentary incompetence. As she began to navigate this new terrain, still thinking of the town’s sweetness and the words of its people, Lucy began to feel rather unsettled. It was a bit too dreamlike. Things shimmered at the edge of her vision… the screen itself seemed occasionally to shake. There was the constant threat of breakdown, of interrupted play. Small bursts of light provided the only guidance, in trails of whiteness that flickered through trees.

Anyone walking into Lucy’s room at that moment would’ve seen nothing but darkness, and a weirdish glow punctuated by two dark dots that were her eyes. The luminesce of her face reflecting the screen.

After what could’ve been hours, Lucy decided to leave the forest, having found nothing but a few coins for her inventory. She wasn’t sure what direction she was going in; she was following winding paths that seemed different as the light glimmered between grey and green and white. She heard her mother coughing in her sleep down the corridor. Eventually, she was back in the town; only this time it wasn’t quite the same.

Fizzling through the headphones was an eerie, dissonant music, that started quietly at first then intensified as she walked around. High tones clashed with atonal, crackling notes that jarred startlingly in distortion. With its colourful houses and shopfronts, the town was like a kind of haunted Balamory. What’s more, whereas before townsfolk had been scattered about like wandering sheep, now there wasn’t a figure in sight. All was barren, deserted, a bare sheen. Sometimes, patches of the environment dissolved and became indistinct, reduced to a shape of shifting pixels. Shadows appeared out of nowhere, even where there were no trees or buildings to cast them. They stretched in lines in front of her, then disappeared altogether.

Lucy took a sip of coke, felt its saccharine acid glisten in her gullet.

While she had taken a momentary break from gameplay, she had left her character standing in the middle of the town green – a circular patch of flat colour that lay in its centre. In the green, the discordant music had grown more intense, so that Lucy even had to remove one of her headphones. She was unsure of what to do next. It was too late to sneak onto the computer downstairs, and look up a walkthrough on the internet.

That was when it happened. Lucy felt her whole vision swallowed in shadow. The screen of her gameboy seemed to scream at her, as the music melted into one long high-pitched note, and the town scene flashed between black and white. A spillage of symbols appeared across the screen, in what looked like Japanese mixed with computer code and exclamation marks. Lucy’s heart was racing, her brain hot with confusion. The thought of it made her want to vomit. She snapped shut the lid of her gameboy.

But then there was only total darkness. It was too dark even to scrabble for a lamp; if she upended any of the furniture it might crash and awaken her sick mother.

So she flipped open the lid again. The town scene was restored to normal, as if she had imagined its momentary rupture. She was no longer in the first person perspective; she could see objectively the figure of her character. But that was when she saw it. Appearing at first in the distance, a small black shadow approaching Lucy’s avatar, it grew closer; and as it did so, the gameplay switched inexplicably back to first person view. The buttons had stopped working; no matter how much Lucy clicked A, B, Start or Select, nothing happened – her character wasn’t for moving.

Like a sinuous figure emerging from the forest, the black shadow stood out starkly against the pastel-coloured houses. Was it coming towards her? It was coming towards her! It was a completely unrecognisable figure – she’d never seen it before on the game’s packaging, or on the numerous websites dedicated to it online. It was tall, very long-limbed…clad in what could be a…black suit? She wanted to walk closer, to see its face, to work out what it was – a glitch, an error of design? Something that was accidentally built into the game play, like Pokemon’s Missingno? A random, misplaced fragment of code?

She didn’t know, she didn’t know. She couldn’t walk away; neither could she walk close. The sight of its strange, abject, unstable presence became too much. She slammed the lid of her gameboy, waiting for its horrid soundscape to be silenced. In fact, she was so caught in terror that she threw it across the room.

But even then, alone under her duvet in her room, she could still hear the haunting melody. Carefully, her whole soul submerged in horror, she grappled with the framework of her den until she could stand with her head out of the window. She breathed in the cool night air, trying to think clearly – felt its freshness sear all the way up her arteries, her nerves trembling with fear and caffeine.

And that was when she saw it again: the slippery, elastic shadow of a man staring up at her from her neighbour’s garden, his face blank like the surface of the moon.

by Maria Sledmere

Berry Picking

It was late August and the evenings were still long. The air in these years is fresh and pure, mottled only with the playfulness of imagination, a flickering light of primary colours; that melody, that lovely  paradox of possibility and infinite security. I’m not sure how old I am, maybe nine, maybe ten; maybe even seven. I think I have plaits in my hair: blonde messy plaits with grass and leaves caught in them, as if I were some kind of woodland creature. I run and spin around a lot, my breath always caught in the dizzying air. Me and my limbs like climbing trees. I reach for branches with my arms; my thin fingers cling to them with earthy nails.

My cousins are here and we’re playing a game. There’s an old rowan tree at the back of our garden, which sucks all the light in the morning then bounces it back towards afternoon. Since it’s nearly September, the tree is rich in an abundance of vivid red berries, gleaming like the eyes of so many children. But to our eyes, they are precious and lovely as rubies. We are pirates, plundering treasure. We are climbing the tree and picking them – every last one – and tossing them in a bucket we’ve found in the shed. I remember the shed so clearly. The shed smells sweetly of sawdust, and that rainy, swampy scent of wet grass that comes from the lawnmower. Sometimes we sit in there, in the stuffy warmth, amongst the buckets and spades and gardening tools, and swap made-up stories.

No time exists in these summer evenings; only the bubbles of our laughter and the slow-changing light. The way our skin glows pale and moonlike as it grows darker. The way our voices float upwards, swallowed by a sea of stars.

We’ve cleared most of the tree now; its branches are bare of berries – left only with green. A green that blurs at the edges, that makes our spirits shimmer. The four of us stand at the foot of the tree, admiring our handiwork. The bucket is almost full.

‘But I can still see some up there!’ someone says. We look up and there are several handfuls still clutching the branches at the top of the tree. We wonder who will be brave enough. The boys step back kicking their feet. I am the oldest; by nature, it will be me.

I climb with ease, with my young sweeping limbs. No looking down. No fear, no notion of falling. My vision is confined to the enticement of those scarlet fruits above me.

And soon I am there, waving my arms triumphantly. I pluck the berries and toss their clusters down to the ground. They fall fast in bloodied, godlike rain. From up here I can see the whole town: what seems like a thousand rooftops rendered magical in the purplish twilight. An atmosphere that pulls at my brain. A moon emerging from a murky horizon, the church steeple thin and eerie against a backdrop of silken clouds. It is all wonder, a view that somehow contains me in its pocket of time. I shake as I finally break away and climb back down.

My cousins hug me as I become the day’s heroine. A whole tree, stripped clean. A child’s harvest of earliest autumn.

My mother calls us inside, but we do not listen. The air is still warm, the light now sparkling with summery darkness. One of us goes to retrieve a potato masher, and we stand round our bucket, our cauldron, like little witches. We take turns to smash the overflow of berries, passing the masher round, watching the red drip and slush and seep as we crush vehemently. Are we making a potion, a poison? Performing mystical rites? Brewing our own bittersweet jam, with its distinct tartness that pierces the tongue and waters the eyes?

We are concocting a tonic for time: for the long hours that melt and fade as we grow and change and lose the clarity of innocence, of childish sight. We relish something tangible and bright.

by Maria Sledmere

Prompts: childhood, potion