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Flash fiction thread introduction.

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Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  RichardK on Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:00 pm

Welcome to the flash fiction section of the forum.
What is flash fiction?
'Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.'
For our purposes here, shall we say it is any short story of less than 1,000 words?
Subjects or themes are of your own choosing but we may post suggestions here from time to time.
Look forward to reading your stories!
Just to get us all started, please write a story about 'A long winter.'

Richard K.
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  Kay on Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:28 am

I'm intrigued by the Long Winter! No chance of doing anything with it today, but I've got some ideas lurking - hope to have a go at it tomorrow!
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  RichardK on Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:49 am

Hi Kay.
Looking forward to reading your story and, hopefully, where you lead, others will follow.
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  Kay on Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:13 pm

So here it is:

Seasonal Adjustment

It had become 'The Long Winter', not in any official sense, but rather by the consensus of a million conversations over post office counters, pints of beer, school gates and supermarket checkouts. The people, having a firm sense of how seasons should begin, precisely how they should conduct themselves and, most importantly, when they should end, were of the unshakeable opinion that this particular winter was not playing by the rules.

After all, it had begun no less than three weeks and four days early, had been colder than any in living memory, and now had the temerity to have overrun by five weeks, two days and counting. It was perhaps reasonable that, in the common parlance at least, it had earned its moniker.

Red-faced and fingerless-gloved horticulturists fretted over bare flower stall stands. Farmers protested at yet more hardship for the crops, the lambs, the milk yield. And even small children grew weary of the snow, longing for freedom from the tyranny of scarves, hats, mittens and thick welly socks, aching for the simplicity of kicking a ball across fresh green grass.

In a small village in the heart of the Cotswolds, residents gathered to discuss the issue in the store, the usual meeting place for matters of such great import. The shopkeeper, an elderly lady with tightly coiled hairdo and business-like rolled up sleeves, bustled around filling out orders, making the most of the opportunity to flog more stock to gossipers distracted from their usual fiscal prudence by the unseasonal weather.

'I don't remember what it is to be warm,' said one lady, so muffled beneath layers of overcoats and scarves it was almost impossible to see her.

'Our heating hasn't been off since October. I'm dreading the bill,' said another.

'Well, that's it, isn't it?' said a man waiting to pass a parcel over the small post office counter in the corner. Everyone turned to him, not understanding. 'It's the gas company, isn't it? It's all a conspiracy, I'm telling you. Those swines are making a fortune out of this.'

Everyone fell silent, each privately rejecting the justifications of suggesting the gas company might be responsible for the appalling weather. As the conversation stalled, the shopkeeper glared at the man with the parcel and made as many sales as she could before the customers came to their senses.


But as is the way of things, the weather did eventually break. Meteorologists spoke of depressions, highs, lows and changing wind directions carrying the Jet Stream. The spring bulbs suddenly burst into life in flurry of activity as though embarrassed by their own tardiness.

Children were divested of their scarves and hats and mittens, and the people emerged from the lumpen disguise of layered clothing, revealing self-conscious figures and shocked pale skin exposed to the warmth of the sunshine.

Water companies issued pleas to their customers to be careful with their use of precious supplies and warned of hosepipe bans and shortages. Groundsmen fussed over crisping cricket greens, and dogs hunted, panting and drooling, for what limited patches of shade remained.

The elderly shopkeeper bustled around filling out orders, once more making the most of the use of the popularity of her store. If she had an opinion on the weather, she gave no sign. There was money to be made and a freezer to be stocked with ice cream and lollies.

'I can't remember what is to be cold,' said one lady, mopping her neck with a handkerchief and flapping the flimsy fabric of her short-sleeved blouse.

'We're thinking of getting air-conditioning installed,' said another.

All eyes turned to the man standing by the post office counter holding several parcels. Looking down, two brown legs were exposed beneath cargo shorts, his bare feet encumbered by nothing more than flip-flops. He shrugged and gave a cheeky grin.

'It's no good asking him,' said the shopkeeper, rolling her eyes. 'He sells picnic hampers. He's making a fortune out of this.'
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  RichardG on Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:19 pm

I so hope that this is prophetic as we sell picnics made to order and a fortune would come in handy right about now. A nice little repeated snapshot peppered with truth in the way folks speak and react. Here's mine.


In the Bleak.


Lars was scared. Admittedly for Lars this was not an unusual state of affairs. For as long as he could remember, the sound of the forest had set him trembling and when the sun went in and the dark fingers of the night stretched through the trees he could barely stand to look at the wood's edge. In his six years in the world, Lars had never even come close to saying boo to any of the geese that guarded the boundaries of the village. His older brothers would bury him up to his neck in the snow and take it in turns to pee on his head knowing full well he would never dare tell.
Fear was a good thing though. Lars knew this well. The time Jesper: his eldest brother had come back with three of the fingers on his left hand black and dead. The sound of the knife through gristle and Jespers screams had inspired in him a fear so deep that he never ever would take his gloves off outside. The tears of the Steigssons from the other side of the village over Benny and Ulfa ensured that he never strayed beyond the bounds of the lamplight after dark, no matter how the moon made the snow sparkle. These fears and others had kept him alive.
Of all the stories that his brothers had told him, there was one that scared him more than any other. Jesper, who was now 16 and a man would start the tale, being the eldest. The others, Lars included, would burrow down under their furs as Jespers voice filled the room and the last flames of the night guttered in his eyes.
Jesper would tell of a time that would soon be upon them, or so it was said. the earth would swell and brightly coloured things would push their way through the muck. The meat that they so skilfully hunted and brought home would rot within days. The gentle river Bern that flowed past the south end of the village would become a torrent which cold sweep you away in seconds. The lake into which the Bern flowed would become less and less safe to skate on until finally it would swallow up any that attempted, sucking them down into its blackness.
Worse than any of these was the sun.
The gentle benevolent sun that lit their way would become an angry roiling ball of flame that would singe their skins like potatoes in the fire. They would either cook, drown or starve, Lars wasn't sure which he feared the most. Their mother would arrive from the Main hut, just as Jesper was telling how their outside would become brown and then fall off.
'Jesper, will you stop with your tale telling. They'll never sleep and besides you and I both know that if it ever does happen it'll be a gift from the gods. It's been so long, so, so long.' With that she would scoop some coals into her bed pan and leave. Jesper would sleep, but not before one final warning that he gave in the sure knowledge it wouldn't happen soon.
There were three sure signs that apocalypse was coming.
Lars had heard the creaking of the ice at the lake this morning, that was sign one.
Sign two was given by the trees. As Lars stood under the great Oak by the Bern he allowed the ice cold water to splash on his face from the branches above.
Lastly and more terrifyingly than anything else. Sticking up from the ground where previously there had only been white was something he could only think could be called green.
He touched it. It was real. He screamed and started running, not stopping until he found his mother.
'Mama, Mama,' he cried. 'It's all true, everything Jesper said is true.'
'I know,' replied his mother, 'isn't it beautiful?'
'Beautiful?' he wailed, 'Beautiful? Spring is coming and we're all going to die.'
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  RichardK on Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:31 am

A Long Winter

‘This is the longest winter I can remember,’ said Percy, ‘and I’ve seen a few of ‘em.’
‘You certainly have you silly old fool, did you used to enjoy the frost fairs on the Thames in the 19th centrury?’ asked his grandson, Eddie.
‘I certainly did,’ replied Percy, ‘and thems were the days when younguns used to respect their elders too.’
‘Well I reckon it’s all down to global warming,’ stated Dirk.
All the regulars in the Faggot and Furkin turned to look at Dirk with disbelief.
‘That’s pushing it a bit, even for you Dirk,’ said Ted, from behind the bar.
‘Well, I do know what I’m talking about. Have I mentioned that I’ve got a degree from the Open University?’
‘You certainly have,’ said Ted
‘Two hundred and thirty seven times, by my reckoning,’ muttered Eddie.
‘So how does a degree in ancient Mongolian agriculture qualify you to talk about global warming?’ queried Eddie
‘Everything’s connected,’ said Dirk as he switched to wise sage mode and stroked his moustache . ‘It stands to reason that, if it’s cold here, the heat must have gone somewhere else. I’ve looked at the Mongolian weather forecast recently and they are going through a heatwave. They have had little rain so there is not enough grass to feed their herds of horses.’
‘So,’ said Eddie, ‘ you think that, if we import hundreds of starving horses from Mongolia, that will warm up the UK and cool down Mongolia so that the grass grows again? What happens when the temperatures go back to normal and we have got hundreds of mongolian horses here that we don’t want? What do we do with them, Dirk?’
‘Yes, you can take the micky and it does seem improbable but I also have a plan for the excess equines.’
‘Oh, here we go,’ said a sceptical Ted.. ‘You’re going to tell us the plan anyway so get on with it so Percy can get the next round in.’
‘First we export the horses to Romania where they can be slaughtered very cheaply. Then they are sent to Hungary where they can be stored in massive freezers. Hungary sends them on to a company in Holland where they are relabelled as beef carcases. They are exported to Ireland where they are made into ‘beefburgers.’
‘That’s ridiculous Dirk, it would never work.’
‘It did last time, Ted. Get the drinks in Percy.’
408 words
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  Kay on Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:17 pm

Richard G: I was totally hooked by the supernatural/ spiritual feel of your story. I figured things weren't quite as Lars was expecting because his mother seemed so totally calm about it all, but the ending still made me chuckle. I'd love to see you do more of the hinky/ spooky/ fantasy/ mythology type stuff, you have a real gift for setting that ambience.

p.s. Thanks for your kind words about my effort - fingers crossed for a picnic summer for you!

Richard K: How did you do that? How did you manage to turn 'long winter' into an explanation of the horsemeat scandal? Ingenious!
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Re: Flash fiction thread introduction.

Post  RichardK on Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:00 pm

Hi Kay
I really enjoyed your story. It made me realise that someone always comes out on top in all circumstances - and it is usually different people. The phrase,'when one door closes, another slams shut in your face.' also turned up.
I really like the way you turn everyday events into larger story.
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