Welcome to week 16 of the Year of Stories!
In a laboratory somewhere on Earth, a vast scientific project is about to bear fruit. Meanwhile, somewhere else entirely, a girl pleads with an old mystic named Kolio to save her mother's life, or, failing that, at least her soul. In the valley of the lifewater, two worlds collide...
The highlighted Store release for this week is Memoirs of the Model Agent: The Associate Bilateral Forthchancellor and Her Daughter, a 2,500-word sci-fi comedy that acts as Chapter 2 of the earlier How I Rescued Mr. Dimbles. Read it now for only $0.99!
Agent Connolly continues to rise through the ranks of the Chancellorate's security forces. She finds herself the personal bodyguard to the daughter of the Associate Bilateral Forthchancellor. At a school track meet, chaos erupts, and she finds herself caught up in a dangerous and reckless conspiracy.
To read previously released stories, check out the Year of Stories page.
Today I found this little flash fiction piece lying around in one of my writing folders. I wrote this as a contest entry for a local newspaper, but I never heard back, so I assume it didn't make the cut! I might as well get some use out of it, though, so here it is.
The guidelines for the contest were that the story had to be under 500 words and had to include the words whale, impress, and cosmos.
"Pardon me, miss; you aren't allowed in here." The declaration came from a furtive, bespectacled man with a thinning patch of salt-and-pepper hair. He was peering around a sheet of plywood that was acting as the door to a makeshift beach hut constructed out of stacks of driftwood and covered over with a few patchy tarps.
Heather Normandy flashed her press badge. "I'm not just another gawker, sir. I'm with the newspaper." A gust of wind kicked up some sand from the beach, and she turned to shield her camera.
"I'm sorry, but you can't come in," replied the gatekeeper.
A rough hand tapped Heather on the shoulder. "Excuse me, miss," said a gruff gentleman holding a large bucket of seawater. Heather stepped aside, and the gatekeeper let the man through.
Heather craned her neck to see through the gap as the man passed inside. "I know you have a beached orca in there. You have no right to hide this from the public!"
"Is your bravado supposed to impress me?"
"Oh, I have to impress you?" said Heather sarcastically. "What if I told you I was the second runner-up of the 2004 Miss Cosmos Pageant?"
The gatekeeper gave her a funny look.
Heather heard the sloshing of water and a low moan of distress. Several voices muttered inside the hut. The man who had just entered stepped back outside with an empty bucket.
A tall man wearing a toque and carrying a large bundle of old bed sheets walked up next. The gatekeeper said, "Excellent, Jason!" and let him in. Returning his attention to Heather, he said, "I'm afraid I simply can't let you in at the moment. You're a woman; it wouldn't be decent."
Heather was outraged. "What is this, some kind of sexist publicity stunt?"
"No, no, of course not! How could I expect to maintain my membership in the Oak Bay Society of Moral Living if I were a sexist?"
Someone else on the inside whispered into the gatekeeper's ear. "Excuse me, miss," he said, pulling the plywood shut behind him.
Heather heard some whispered conversation. Then the gatekeeper popped his head back out.
"Good news!" he said. "You can come in now. But please keep your photography, um, tasteful." He politely held the door open.
Heather strode into the gloomy hut and pulled out her camera. The beached orca was lying on its side, feebly opening and closing its massive jaws. A dozen men were stationed around it, rubbing it with wet cloths and dousing it with buckets of seawater. Heather began snapping photos.
Then she saw what had been done with the bed sheets: they had been crudely pinned together and wrapped around the orca about two-thirds of the way down its body.
"What's with the whale diaper?" asked Heather.
"Far be it from the Society of Moral Living to expose a living creature's nakedness to a member of the opposite sex," said the gatekeeper. "It simply wouldn't be decent."
For those of you who don't check out TypeTrigger very often, or have never been there, you really should. I can't say enough good things about the site and the community there.
If you really don't want to head over there and check out the stories I've written, or all of the other great writing, here's the latest bit of flash I did, in response to the prompt "representative."
"I am a representative of the Poppledop Gang," the pudgy blond boy told me, "and this is a list of our demands." He was standing at my door wearing an ill-fitting little suit and waving a clipboard under my nose like it was a weapon. I had no idea who he was or what he wanted, but it was kind of cute.
"Demands?" I asked him. "But you haven't given me any reason to listen to them yet!"
"Oh," said the boy, apparently caught off guard. "Sorry, I should have said that first." He looked down at his clipboard. "Ok, we, the Poppledop Gang, have taken your cat, and also your dog, and if you do not submit to our demands, we will put them both in a cage and you will never see them again!"
"Oh dear!" I said, very sweetly. "My cat and my dog are best friends! How could their good relationship possibly last if they are forced to spend time together?"
"And there will also be a badger in the cage," he told me.
That was an unexpected wrinkle. "Where did you get a badger?" I asked.
"Don't believe me?" he threatened. "Here are our demands. 1) Free ice cream for all gang members, in perpetuity. 2) Private use of your backyard for Poppledop Gang business, no questions asked. 3) We get to rename your pets whatever we want."
"Uh huh," I said sarcastically. "Yeah, sure, I'll agree to that."
"Oh good!" said the boy. "Can I have some ice cream?"
"No." I closed the door and went to look for my pets. I couldn't find them.
An hour later there was a knock at my door. I still have no idea where they found that badger.