For Vlad P.
The tears just simply would not be held back.
He felt his ducts were held open by unseen sprites, goblins of weeping, and the chartreuse fluid drained down his face while his heart remained a parched desert of despair.
From dregs of muddied emotions, streams of endless tears plopped to their demise in the fine yellow dust at his feet leaving minute pockmarks that vanished in a whiff, blown dry by the relentless foul dragon’s breath wind.
The mother ship hovered overhead to his left, shading the end of an alley in deep midday shadows.
Scurrying figures could be seen moving in the near darkness, shadows of a slightly lighter shade, ghosts from the machine doing its bidding mindlessly. Automatons. Mutants. Wind-up toys. Robots. Hyper-ventilated rabid slaves with ears bent only toward one master.
Thongdropulus shivered, snuffled up the last of his tears, wiped his snouted face, and strode aimlessly out of town toward a distant, jagged horizon.
He felt vaguely that in the hills he would be alive, find solace, comfort, a hiding place.
What drove his suddenly insatiable need for comfort, compassion, and rock cover? He didn't stop to ponder but rather set his face stonily toward the hills and plodded toward them heavily, his scaly head inflated with determination and stubbornness.
Nothing -- no shadowy slave, no mother ship jolt -- could stop him. He'd had enough.
The three suns set one after the other as Thongdropulus waddled unwavering on his webless feet toward the distant hills.
Days were short.
The gray glowing night oozed up from the glazed ground like thick ashy steam rising from a dowsed campfire.
He slipped down to all fours and skittered steadily on, the hills moving toward him and getting larger by the second.
Behind him the mother ship hummed and glowed and pulsed. He would miss it but would get over it, of that he was certain. The tears welled up in spurts and he tamped them down by force of will. Sorrow was a waste of time in the face of fresh joy to be harvested once over the ridge line.
He'd heard the stories all his green life and now was going to live one of his own. Perhaps he would become a legend beyond his own mind. He didn't care. He only wanted to get away, up and over, to the other side.
Behind there was a growl, a yawn, a loud breathy flutter as something wet, sticky, and elastic adhered and pulled him up and back through the dark moist air. He knew, and that was the last thing he knew as his neck gently snapped.
A big gulp sounded in the quick-fallen darkness followed by a grotesque burp. The mother, out of the ship, huge and awful and now fed, turned slowly, lumbering back to the ruining slurry of buildings, a reflexive tear forming in her lipid-lidded milky left eye. She blinked it away, uncaring, unfeeling, unfazed, her giant claws clicking in the streets, telegraphing to all that these were her streets, this her world, they bound by her rules.
Thongdropulus thoughtlessly dissolved in the acids of the mother's four stomachs, his small rebellion now nothing more than a mild case of indigestion that would eventually pass as all things pass. She felt sooner rather than later as her amphitilian bowels curdled and churned in digestive conflict.
Her tail disappeared around a final corner as the sweet awful stench of an after-scent clung cloyingly to the dank atmosphere. There was no escaping it. There was no escaping her. There was no escaping the beauty of the twin moons rising full and peachy in the close-minded sky marking the beginning of the long night ahead.
A slave darted out of the alley sweeping the dropped Thongdropulus off the street fretfully.
The mother ascended to the ship.
A pie-eyed two-headed moon cow jumped and brayed.
What do you think of short short or flash fiction? What interpretations do you attribute to my story? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Flash fiction -- aka nano fiction, very short fiction, micro fiction -- is nothing more or less than a very short short story. Reading or writing one is like putting on short shorts instead of long slacks; it gets the job done but makes a different kind of fashion statement.
There seems to be no blanket agreement as to how many or few words constitute a legitimate flash fiction story. They can range from 300 to 1000 words, more or less. I like the idea of the Chinese terms for them as "smoke long" or "palm-sized" stories (see the Wikipedia entry).
It seems many flash fiction stories are of the science fiction genre but not all. Any kind of story can be told very short.
Jesus told flash fiction stories when he taught with parables to illustrate non-fiction truths. When you think of it, many scam emails are a kind of a flash fiction. So are many of the stories we tell each other when we relate the happenings of an entire day in only a few minutes.
Very short stories are akin to poetry in that the story line is condensed and the writing is trimmed to essentials. There's not a lot of room to be flowery in 600 words or so. But they can pack quite a punch just as a shot of a distilled beverage can. I like this definition/quote attributed to Joyce Carol Oates: "The rhythmic form of the short-short story is often more temperamentally akin to poetry than to conventional prose, which generally opens out to dramatize experience and evoke emotion; in the smallest, tightest spaces, experience can only be suggested.”
So, above is my attempt at a flash fiction story with a sci-fi slant. It's a little weird, but fun, and open to whatever interpretation you want to elicit from it or impose on it (but keep in mind that sometimes a story is just a story).
I may do this again on some other future Friday. Should I? Dare I?
Here are some links to additional resources on flash fiction:
- Wikipedia definition of Flash Fiction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction
- Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/14/how-to-write-flash-fiction
- The Remarkable Reinvention of Very Short Fiction: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2012/september/remarkable-reinvention-very-short-fiction-robert-shapard#.Uz7R8aK9ZPd
- Short and Sweet: Reading and Writing Flash Fiction: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/short-and-sweet-reading-and-writing-flash-fiction/