Flash Fiction Friday: Story #5

Flash Fiction Friday # 5 prompt:

Write a story less than 1,000 words based on the picture below:

Flash Fiction #5 Prompt - Snake Mask Picture

“Medusa’s Child”

Ellie sat in front of her computer terminal, her eyes watered from her unblinking gaze. The code on the screen listed endlessly as she slowly scrolled through it searching for the failing section. It was her needle in the proverbial haystack.

“Almost got it,” she said to no one as she leaned back and rubbed her eyes. She had been alone in the lab for awhile, but she hadn’t noticed up until a few hours before when hunger pains had finally forced her to retreat from the glow of the screen. Her dinner had been a bag of stale pretzels she was sure had not seen natural light since the early days of C and a cup of hot tea from the student lounge down the hall. Let the others rot their brains with soda and potato chips.

It had pained her to leave even for those few moments; the program was her life – her academic life. Yet, she had hoped that the few moments staring at something other than her code would bring new focus. But, there had been nothing. No eureka moment. No flashes of light other than the incessant flickering of the fluorescent ones above. There had to be something she wasn’t seeing.

Ellie hunched forward again to pick through the code in front of her. She could hear her mother’s voice telling her she needed to sit up straight and, while she was at it, brush her hair. She unconsciously ran her free hand through the matted mess. Suddenly, she saw it and a twinge of understanding lit her eyes. Her fingers began typing furiously, every now and then hitting two keys simultaneously, insuring nothing would be lost. She could not afford to lose it, not like the last time.

Hours passed before Ellie finally pushed her chair away from the terminal in triumph. She stroked the keyboard one last time to save it. This time she was done and all her work would pay off. Had to pay off. No one believed that mixing artificial intelligence, aspects of virtual reality and game theory, and above all mythology was worthy of her time, especially not the professors who had seen her brilliance in her freshman year. They called it “a game”, but she knew it was more than just game.

The title on the screen stared back at her. Medusa’s Child. She smiled to herself. It was silly, but the idea of naming her pride and joy after one of her favorite myths was just too delicious to pass up. She thought it was a fitting name since her program’s inaugural debut was the myth about Medusa and Perseus. However, it wasn’t Perseus and his gods that interested her. It was Medusa and her sister Gorgons.

“Now she would give the myth a better ending,” she thought.

Ellie got up and stretched her legs. She turned to the row of locked cabinets on the opposite side of the lab. The program was ready. She was ready. Why not.

She walked toward her marked cabinet and pulled out the painted key she kept around her neck on a silver chain. She inserted it and heard the small click. Opening the door, she saw the shadow of a nondescript thing – a burlap sack. Ellie pulled it out and placed it on the counter before her. She looked around the room. For some odd reason, she felt someone watching her, but dismissed it as nerves.

“I’m alone. No one can stop me. I’ll be fine.” She couldn’t help, but repeat the words over and over to herself as she lifted the object out of the sack, using it as a cushion. In front of her, was the ugliest mask she had ever seen. She had thought it a novelty item when she had bought it in the Greek Isles so long ago. The vacation had been her mother’s present to her for finishing her first year of college; something she had not been able to accomplish due to Ellie’s birth. But, since then, Ellie had discovered the mask held secrets.

Ellie looked over the mask. The jumble of snakes that jutted out of the green-tinged head stared at her. She carefully examined a small pack of electronics she had attached to the mask’s backside, making sure it was secure. She picked up the mask and stared into the large, bottomless eyes in the front. She stuck out her tongue, mimicking its facial expression as she carried it over to her terminal.

Balancing the mask in one arm, she reached around the terminal to the jumble of wires at the back. She couldn’t help, but notice the similarities between her terminal and the mask. She had hid behind the machine for most of her time at the college, never allowing others get close. The mask acted in the same way.

She hooked the wires to the electronic interface and punched a couple of keys. She waited for the last dialogue box to appear before placing the mask over her head. She felt her hair catch in the back, but with one good tug, it was on. She winced as some them were pulled out.

At first, Ellie panicked. She hadn’t thought about the lack of eye holes. “Thank goodness there was a hole for breathing,” she thought, but she could feel the claustrophobia setting in. She awkwardly searched her keyboard with one hand while the other balanced the mask on her shoulders. It wasn’t a heavy thing, but the halo of snakes made it cumbersome. She felt for the “Enter” key and took a deep breath. “Here goes everything.”

Ellie pushed the button.

The next morning the cleaning crew found Ellie slumped over the terminal unconscious and barely breathing. The mask had falling unto the floor opposite the monitor. Small scratch marks were found along its bottom edge. They called for an ambulance, and as the EMTs worked on her, they discovered small bite marks all around her neck.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Story #4 (Coming Soon)

This will remain blank for now. Story coming soon.

I’ve never been on time for anything… really

Well, I am going to be late with my Flash Fiction Friday #4 entry, but this time it will be due to my lack of internet access. I will be out of town for the week, and will be lucky if I can connect with the dreaded…. dialup. (I may faint right here and now.)  However, I do have an idea, and get this, and outline. (Yeah… no kidding.)  So, I should be able to at least write it.

I’ll submit it when I get back to civilization.

I cheated…

Yes, that’s right. I admit it. I am a cheater. I submitted my entry for Flash Fiction #3 after the deadline. I really have no excuse. Procrastination reared its ugly head, and I kept putting it off. And really, what a time to put something off. I mean, all I had to do was write a bad story. I do that practically everyday in my head, and yet I couldn’t sit down and write a bloody horrible story until an hour before it was due. I finished the story about 30 minutes after 12 midnight, but it took a bit longer to trim the fat (i.e. the word count).

I don’t even know if it is sufficiently bad. Wouldn’t that be a hoot. In intending to write a bad story, I write a half-way decent one. Sad. Sad. Sad.

Flash Fiction Friday: Story #3

Flash Fiction Friday Prompt #3 (750 – 1,000 words):

“…write the very worst short story, between 750 and 1000 words, you can. Must contain at least three of the following words: putrefy, jewellery, encephalogram, aardvark, banana, and zombie. Extra points for using all of them. Yes, I know I’m evil, why do you ask? 😀

Cliches are nearly required, as are excessive use of adverbs, sentence fragments, run on sentences… Extra points if you include the opening phrase “It was a dark and stormy night…“”

“It’s Always Better to Take the Gun”

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

“You cannot start the log that way!”

“Why can’t I? Huh.”

“Well for one thing, we are in space.”

“So what? Huh.”

“There is no night in space.”

“Well duh. Space is dark. Night is dark. And, we did go through an ion storm. Huh.”

“You’re an idiot,” Motorhead said angrily. He hated when Herschel said anything that made any sense. Well sense to an aardvark, but sense none the less. And, he hated that he almost always ended anything he said with ‘Huh’. It was as if he was challenging someone to a duel.

“Um… excuse me. Who is the one that saved your butt? Huh.”

“You did.”

“That’s right. So let me finish my captain’s log. Huh.”

Motorhead shook his head and walked to the bulkhead doors, he waited for them to open. They always took a second more than normal to open and what seemed like milliseconds to close. He was sure the doors had it in for the people on the ship. Finally, they opened up, and he quickly strode through the archways. Swoosh. Slam. He barely had enough time to get his heels through.

“Hah. Not this day. Not again.”

Motorhead continued down the ship’s hallways toward his bunk, limping slightly from his second time through the doors.

He entered his bunk and flopped into his cot. He thought about how he had ended up on a spaceship with Herschel Jackson as his captain. The story Herschel was recounting in his log was incredible, but the story of how they met was better. In fact, he could remember it like it was yesterday. Technically, it had only been yesterday in ship’s time. Thank god for near faster than light space travel.

The day had started out as any other, except that he had decided to sign up for the Space Corp. Their ads always stated,”have an adventure over several lifetimes”. He had wanted to find a way off of Earth, because Debbie, his girlfriend, had been pressing him for a certain piece of jewellery that always followed a certain question that he was definitely not ready to pop.

He had shown up early, expecting to be the first in line, but he hadn’t been. He had ended up being the sixty-third in line. Herschel had been sixty-second, but had stepped out to get a banana from a vendor on the corner and had returned to stand behind him as the new sixty-third.

Herschel had struck up a conversation with him. Talking about how he hoped for some kind of adventure to the stars. He had asked him if he was prepared for the numerous tests they would give them, including the encephalogram to check for mental diseases. His answer had been something about how no one was prepared for that inquisition. Herschel had agreed.

Just then, they had both noticed the vendor acting a bit odd. He had been throwing his bunches of bananas at a group of unruly customers who were mindlessly walking into his fruit cart.

“What the heck?”

“Don’t know? Huh.”

Huh?”

“Those people look like…”

“Look like what?”

“They look like zombies. Huh.”

Suddenly, the sixty-first person in line had turned around and lunged for him with his mouth open and the flesh from his face putrefied and falling off.

Suddenly, Motorhead heard a gun blast next to his ear. He had jumped, his ear ringing. He felt a tug from behind. He swung, hitting air.

“Hey. I was saving your life. Huh” Staring in his face was a huge smoking gun with Herschel attached to the end of it.

“Where the heck did you get that?” Motorhead had sputtered, his heart racing, but he hadn’t been sure if it had been the gun blast or that he had almost become zombie food.

“We’d better get moving. The blast scared them, but I think they might be coming back. Huh.”

“Yes. Yes, of course. Where should we go?” Motorhead had not been sure if he should follow a man who carried a gun on his person when no one had carried a weapon since they had been prohibited by the Acts of 2091.

They had run around the Space Corp Headquarters looking for an entrance when Herschel had gotten the idea to confiscate a spaceship. He had said that it had to be safer in space than on Earth. Such logic could not have been argued with when there had been zombies chasing them.

They had headed for the spaceports, not knowing how they would get inside a ship, much less fly one, but they hadn’t had to worry. They had found several people thinking the same way, but none of them had gotten up the courage to go inside.

It had been Herschel who had stepped up, once again. He pushed a big red button and the door opened. They had just begun heading inside when…

Swoosh. Splat. The second person got flattened by the door.

“Well. No worries. We’ll just have to hold the button. Huh.”

Herschel had then motioned for him to walk through.

“Show them that there isn’t anything to fear, Motorhead. Huh.”

“Oh sure, nothing to worry about,” he said as he had tentatively walked through the archway.

Suddenly, the zombies appeared and everyone chucked their fears, running through the doors to safety. Perhaps if they hadn’t, they would have noticed the little boy with the bite wound.

With the last of the passengers through, Herschel calmly let go of the red button and walked slowly through the archway. Amazingly enough, the doors held.

“Herschel, can I ask you something?” he had asked curiously.

“Sure. Huh”

“Why do you have a gun? ”

“Oh,” He had pulled the gun out, brandishing it. “I always found it better to take the gun rather than the cannoli. Huh.”

Just then, the doors swooshed shut inches from his butt just as the first of the zombies headed up the ramp.

(Posted 09/15/06 @ 2:23 AM)

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Five years…

This entry will not be about writing. Five years ago today, I was sitting in front of my computer and alternating my line of sight between the monitor and the horror plastered on the television screen. Earlier that morning, I had been terrified, wondering if my father had the early shift or late shift at his work near the Pentagon in DC. I hoped that for one of the few times in his life he was late for whatever reason. My fears were unfounded. He was fine, and had only been on his way in to work when the third plane hit the Pentagon. He was okay.

I remember feeling lost, like someone had torn a fabric of my future from me, as I watched those horrible images unfold. The only thing that kept me coherent were the people I had met on-line because of a kinship that had grown from a shared liking of a science fiction B-movie. Strange as it was, these people had become my friends and now we were sharing one of the most painful moments of our lives together. It was something unexpected and beyond tragic.

Even today, though I’ve drifted away from these friends, I still think of them and how they helped me through that day. For me, that was the most important memory I could take away from that day. This day. And, I am grateful.

For my friends at PB.

It’s all in the journey…

So, I am starting at the beginning… again. I’ve been participating in Flash Fiction Friday for the past two weeks now. And, I’ve been having a lot of fun. This week’s prompt is slightly more difficult, for me at least. It involves writing badly. Okay so it’s not THAT difficult, but still to write badly on purpose. You could almost trip yourself up and write a good story. Plus we must use a certain amount of words from a word list given by our Mistress of Flash, Laurie from Peregrinas. Oh, and our word limit for this week’s challenge involves a minimum and maximum word limit.

I don’t know what these challenges will lead to. Perhaps I’ll decide to look over at my story list and pick one and just write the sh!% out of it. I don’t know. I’m afraid to even look past this week’s challenge. However, I have triumphed over one of my bad habits. In the past, everytime I’ve started a story, I would just stop and let it rot. I can’t tell you how many story fragments I have on my computers. They could all be compiled to make a book or at least a small novella. Well, I started last week’s challenge pretty early and then left it alone. Suddenly, it was Thursday. However, I didn’t panic. I simply clicked on the story tab, did a quick review, and began writing again until I finished it. I did have to do some editing, but it was done. It felt kind of historic and a bit empowering. Needless to say, I felt good.

So, let’s knock on some wooden pencils and hope that this continues.

Will miracles ever cease…

That’s two in a row ladies and gentleman. Two stories, albeit really short stories, that I’ve written. This week’s was supposed to have a limit of 1,000 words. However, I’ve gone slightly passed that by roughly 60 words. I am a bit frustrated, but oh well. I’ll live.

The story and this week’s prompt appears in the post below.

It is no longer password protected and now is within the 1,000 word limit.
It is password protected so anyone who wants to read it, and does not already know the password, can e-mail me at larisse at gmail dot com and put Flash Fiction Friday #2 Password Request in the subject. If you can help me lower the word count to the 1,000 word limit, many thanks will head your virtual way.

Critiques are a bit more welcome this week. I think my skin has grown a bit thicker already. Have fun and enjoy… or don’t. Either is okay with me. I am just basking in the glow of something long overdue.

Oh, and feel free to comment on the first story, as well. I think I’ve fixed the comment problem.