WEP August 2020 Contest Entry

Given the unexpected positive reception from my July piece for the WEP contest, I realized the “Long Shadows” theme would fit a follow-up piece of flash fiction. If you did not read my previous entry it can be found here. I continued to employ and explore the narrow line that separates man from monster in this sequel piece. Compounding on that principal, by challenging the necessity of violence when it comes to the greater good. While I had to shorten some aspects of the narrative to get within the 1,000 word limit, I feel that it still gives the reader some degree of closure. I humbly present, A Royal Request.

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Five years have passed since my imposed exile began, following the vanquishing of the real monster that was terrorizing England’s streets. With reluctance, I come home, at the behest of a cryptic letter sent by her majesty. Trying to avoid any unwarranted attention, I walked upon familiar roads. The streetlights cast about elongated, distorted shadows of the few people I passed, who stood in the alley by the necessity to survive. Occasionally, I saw twisted, glistening phantoms of those who had fallen victim to the predator I became, to eliminate an even worse monster. I made a hastened decision to seek the shelter of a nearby tavern, somewhat annoyed that one of the queen’s many emissaries had yet to greet me.

Navigating my way through the crowd of mumbling drunks, and tired workers, seeking a once familiar balcony. I became somewhat dumbstruck when I discovered a stranger resided in my preferred seat. It would be a trivial task to eliminate this unknown personage, but it would likely summon about unwanted attention.

Taking the seat to the stranger’s left, I remarked, “I fear you have procured my chair, stranger. A most unwise decision that I would suggest you alter in haste for even my gentlemanly demeanor has limits.”

This unnamed person commented, “Then I would suggest you keep your blades under control. For killing me would be an erroneous decision,” his voice possessed an air of familiarity to its tone. “After all, you would not be amongst the living if not for my actions.”

I inquired, “Cheif Constable Redding?”

The man responded, “I did carry that particular title years ago, but how the times have changed since those bygone days. About six months ago, a monstrously brutal slaughter shattered the calm that controlled the streets. Twenty-four people had their lives torn asunder that night in a manner that defies any rational explanation. There have been almost a hundred additional horrific deaths since that particular evening. The queen is extending to you a unique opportunity to serve your native land. If you can help eliminate the source of these gruesome deaths, you will be allowed to return home permanently fully pardoned.”

I remarked, “That does explain the cryptic text of her majesty’s letter. Fear is a potent motivator for everyone, regardless of class or birth. However, the quantities of victims hint at a good-sized nest lurking underneath England’s roads. In the process of revitalizing England into a modern country, someone could have accidentally broken the slumber of these unknown monsters. If I could get access to the cadavers, and examine them privately, determining the culprit is possible.”

Constable Redding commented, “That shouldn’t be a problem, since you will have access to any resources necessary to exterminate the source of these deaths. Your examination of the corpses should be performed with haste, for the shadows of the evening are growing short,” standing up from his chair and walking away. My choice forcibly made to follow the lawman’s lead.


After examining multiple cadavers, and the accompanying information the police had previously gathered, I was reluctant to disclose what may responsible for the heinous acts. If my educated guess was accurate, my actions only dealt with one of the abominations that awakened prematurely five years ago. Which meant I now felt a metaphorical hangman’s noose of guilt coiled upon my neck. The truth of my failure must remain hidden from the world, for I have become wary of traveling the globe.


It took six weeks of precisely made underground explosions to eliminate the smaller nests that resided in the outlying areas of England. A tactical decision that forced any surviving monsters to flee to the large hive underneath the streets of Whitechapel. There rest an inherent cost for those acts, but the consensus was that the greater good outweighed the few lost. Despite the increased quantity of monsters in the localized area, men of the empire had ensured that retreat for the creatures was an impossibility.

With only a singular point of access remaining, we descended into the bowels of Whitechapel. The shadows were protruding from the multiple lanterns we carried, twisting our shadows into menacing inhuman shapes. Yet, it seemed the divines smiled upon us, allowing each member of this party to maintain their composure. Each one of us tense, but filled with a faithful certainty that our actions tonight were necessary.

It didn’t take long for us to find the massive underground nest. Somehow the creatures had excavated a cavernous area underneath the city without attracting notice from the people above. The terrifying creatures were circling their encampment, protecting something beyond the lantern’s flame. Based on the remains discovered in the vacant nest, I inferred the abominations were likely protecting the unusual eggs they bore to reproduce. The natural, vile, aroma of the sewers masking our presence. If we could remain hidden, this plan may merit success. Spreading out, in teams of four, we began to deposit explosives on the ground above the hive. Trying to maintain our collective anonymity unless our shadowed-hand was detected, to ensure we departed the tunnels with our lives intact.

Our good luck remained strong until we recollected as a group. With the explosives in place, the retreat could begin. All of us aware that we had fifteen minutes to depart the tunnels before the timers reached zero. , Unleashing a torrent of stone, metal, and fire upon the unknown lethal predator that posed a considerable danger to the citizenry of England.


The underground explosion forced the streets to tremble underfoot, releasing billowing smoke erupted from every nearby tunnel cover. With firearms at the ready, we watched the sewer entrances waiting to eliminate any fleeing stranglers.

Following several ridiculously prolonged moments of uneasy tense silence, I began to suspect the plan merited success. The bomb was successful in decimating the creatures and their eggs, meaning I could finally return home unburdened by the weight of my past.


Word Count: 992 Critique level: Full

WEP December 2019 “Footprints” challenge piece

The “footprints” theme for this challenge proved more difficult than I originally thought it would be. Initially, I considered writing a narrative focused on the pursuit of a dangerous monster into the ancient woods it calls home. Telling the tale from the perspective of hunter, as he tracks the creature using the impressions left behind in the snow. Which after I wrote the introduction paragraphs, I realized that it wasn’t a feasible option despite how it catered to the theme. Building on that idea, I pondered transforming it into the story of serial killer fleeing the police. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems as the previous idea.

Erasing the metaphorical idea board, I starred at blank page uninspired. Managing to discover an idea from a place I overlooked without much thought. My imagination channeling my love of Punk Rock, and its ideologies into something I could shape to fit the theme. Taking inspiration from the songs of various bands and musicians including Beans on Toast, Chuck Ragan, Against Me, Frank Turner, and many more. Telling a tale of a musician who lives on the road and on the stage, acting as a pilgrim of music. Along with taking slight lyrical insight from Frank Turner’s song The Road, which can be listened to below. Underneath that, I humbly present the tale I titled, A Pilgrim of Punk.

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A Pilgrim of Punk

The rain bombarded the bus window, creating a faint melody with each drop that landed against the tinted glass. In silence, I watched from my seat at the passing of the blurred city-scape. Noticing how close we were to the town, I removed my earbuds before casually placing them into my jacket pocket. The screen of my phone brightening as a reaction, allowing me a moment to see it was just past three a.m. Rubbing my thumb and forefinger over my eyes, I glanced around the sparsely full overnight bus. My six fellow passengers strangers following their invisible roads of fate on this gloomy night. All of us would soon depart this bus, leaving behind a ghost of our current selves.

Just before dawn, the Uber pulled into the familiar motel parking lot. The driver popped the trunk before, stepping out to unload the single, worn suitcase that accompanied me when I traveled. In silence, I exited the vehicle with my time-tested guitar bag in hand. I thanked the driver for his assistance in unloading my luggage. I wrapped my hand around the short handle of my duffle bag before, making my way towards the hotel’s front desk after walking through the set of automatic doors. Sitting behind the hotel counter was well-dressed women in a dark red blazer, with the miniaturized version of the hotel logo on the left breast pocket.

She stared up at me through wireframe glasses, asking, “Can I help you, sir?”

I responded, “I’m here to check-in to my room. The reservation is under the name Skibba.”

She nodded and typed the name into the computer that rested in front of her. The blue light from the screen was reflecting into her glasses, casting a brief silence between the two of us. A short ding erupted from unseen speakers, likely built into the monitor.

She said, “I found your reservation, sir,” digging something out from within the desk, handing me an unsealed vanilla envelope, with a few pieces of laminated papers protruding from it. “You are in room number 212. Take the stairs to your left and then turn right. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”

I responded, “That should be all for now,” grabbing the envelope and tucking it inside my empty jacket pocket.

The woman nodded, dismissing me with a simple gesture. I walked away before heading up the split-level staircase, following her unneeded directions. I traced the footprints of memory, while I made my way towards my room for some much-needed sleep.

*****

Squashing the dying remains of a cigarette under my boot backstage, a habitual ritual I performed every time before, stepping onto that evening’s stage. I starred out at the audience, aware that I was retracing the footprints of a forgone youth. Grabbing the microphone, I said, “This isn’t the first time I have played this familiar stage,” strumming softly on my guitar. “I see some familiar faces, and some unfamiliar faces here tonight. Hopefully, all you enjoy have enjoyed this evening so far and will continue to,” starting to play the intro for Shackles and putting every fiber of emotion into the song, belting out the lyrics.

I refuse to imprison myself in your shackles.

Instead, I choose to follow my own path traveling the road to unknown places.

Playing overcrowded pubs and undersold stages alike, tracing footsteps that aren’t my own.

Having drinks with strangers in dive bars the world over, understanding that living on the road was the key to my freedom.

Creating new paths in cities familiar and mysterious, traveling the road a pilgrim of music all my own.

Watching the crowd near the stage start to stir, jump, scream, mosh, and dance around, creating a simple, primitive display of musical jubilance. In my several hundred, if not thousands of times playing this song, the meaning of the tune had transformed over time. When I wrote the lyrics for the first time, it was about the horrible terms of the unfair contract and how the legality of it controlled my art and life. Now, it represented something more than that, standing for the roller-coaster, nomadic lifestyle of a musician. I continued to play, moving my fingers about the nickel-plated strings of my guitar without a thought. The individual strings of my guitar acting like an old friend that brought me a constant stream of pleasure and pain. Each chord I played a cathartic release of raw emotion, that metaphorically left me exposed to the world. Yet, I found myself reinvigorated by the relentless energy of the frenzied crowd. That ethereal sustenance a spring of strength I used to perform each night.

Watching the energy of the crowd wax and wane throughout my two-hour set and short encore. My callused fingers playing the last few chords, while the stage lights began to dim, the speakers echoing out the final note of the evening to an exhausted audience. I was carrying my guitar backstage, walking along a well-traveled invisible path. Ready to create more footprints on the endless road that was my lover and life-long friend.

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Word Count: 853 Critique level: Full

A brief update

The month of March seems to have flown by, with my sole creative focus being pieces to submit to the Z Publishing Anthology for 2019. With the word limit quadrupled from last year, it allowed me to craft tales with more complexity and details then previously. Along with giving me the ability to craft four unique entries in different genres that kept to my writing style while keeping under the 5000 word limit. While I have yet to hear back regarding the status of anything I wrote, I know that my submission did go through Friday afternoon. Now to wait and see what their decision regarding the acceptance of each piece.

A news update

This year seems to be flying by for me, even if I’m not particularity sure why. However, I do have some news to share with my social media followers.

The first item of news being my award for the WEP writing contest for last month. To my surprise I managed to win the award for most comments, and I would like to thank Denise, Laura, Nilanjana, and Olga for that. Along with thanking everyone who read, commented, and critiqued my entry for the contest. Which for any new followers can be read by clicking the link here: https://christopherscottauthor.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/wep-february-2018-contest-entry/

Secondly, I have been asked to submit pieces again for the Z Publishing House anthology for 2019. With the submission deadline for my state coming up in a month, it will likely be a main focus of my creative mind. Given the increased 5000 word limit for this year, I doubt I will have time to write much else. Wish me luck.

WEP February 2018 contest entry

When I first saw the theme for this month’s contest was 28 days, I wasn’t particularly certain I would enter. Thinking it over for a few days after sign-ups began. Finding unexpected inspiration in the extreme cold that seized the northeast at the end of January and the beginning of February. Inspiring me to craft an epic style poem, where entities of myth live inside the cold. Along with bringing to Earth a champion for humanity, who would fight back against the cold and the creatures that live within. A piece of flash fiction I call, “Forces Of Nature.”


Twenty-eight days have passed since the cold cast its icy hand upon the northern part of the world. It is somehow bringing with it entities both physical and ethereal in its wake. Creatures that have more of a place in mythology than in the real world. There was one strange bright spot in this frozen land, in the form of a man. Perhaps man is a bit of understatement to describe this stranger to our world. A stranger who seems to radiate an intense amount of heat from his body, almost as he can somehow focus and amplify the fiery nature of the sun. While the survivors of the cold world have given the stranger many names, I have taken to calling him Cinead. Watching this mysterious man from afar as he fights back the creatures of the cold.

Twenty-eight additional days have passed since this unnatural age of cold began. Cinead has fought back against the creatures of the winter on behalf of the human race. He was miraculously winning enough fights to bring his existence to the attention of the seldom seen Beria. Her name was only whispered in the direst of times, casting an almost mythic atmosphere around her. From what little information I could gather from both people and prose, she had a spiritual link to the cold. The cold that was beginning to take a visible tole on the survivors. Despite Cinead creating spots of warmth to shelter humanity from the dangerous and intense chill, forcing Beria to issue a hollowed challenge to Cinead. A provocation I believed that if lost, humankind would bear the ultimate consequences.

Twenty-eight days had passed since Beria announced her challenge to Cinead. Beria’s summons for combat was answered and agreed too. They are bringing about an unstable sense of peace between the creatures that took shelter in the cold and their hostile stance on the remaining survivors. Combining their incredible powers to shape and alter the landscape to create a neutral battleground. The hopes of humanity keeping an invisible watchful eye on the area, to make sure the fight would be fair.

Another twenty-eight days had passed since the challenge had been agreed to, and the arena created. Cinead and Beria stood on opposite sides of the makeshift coliseum. Each starring in silence at each other like pugilists before a championship fight. Except for this time, there was more on the line than just a shiny belt. This battle could ultimately decide the fate of humanity. From an unseen corner, I watched staying undetected by the champions of fire and ice, waiting for the fight to move past the tense staredown and commence the altercation. Greatswords of crimson fire and sapphire ice rested over their shoulders, ready to strike.

Twenty-eight minutes passed before Cinead and Beria charged at each other. Their blades forged of the elements themselves colliding. Each impact was releasing bursts of steam into the air. The steam was growing at an exponential rate until it began to obscure the two fighters. Each champion was becoming a radiant beacon of color in the dense fog. The energies emitting from them both were releasing flashes of light into the mist, giving me some idea of what was happening. Cinead and Beria were fighting with an almost inhuman pace, with neither of them appearing to tire. With a furious pace, the two continued to struggle, with each strike releasing more and more light into the fog. The colors were starting to blend into a dark shade of violet at the center of smog obscured arena.

An additional twenty-eight minutes passed before the fog began to dissipate at a steady rate. The colors that filled the air vanishing with it. An intense and radiant glow of orange light piercing the remaining, thinning fog. Cinead appeared to be victorious over Beria, who was lying impaled on the ground by Cinead’s flaming greatsword. Her sword of ice resting far outside of her reach. With both hands, Cinead reached out towards the midday sun. The air was starting to sparkle between his hands, almost as if Cinead was conjuring something from the sun’s light. Cinead’s body began to emit a pale orange glow. With what I imagine was an incredible focus, the glow radiated around his body, like a fiery aura. This aura was moving up his body at a steady pace towards his hands. Cinead somehow was shaping the energy into a long cylindrical pole of pure flame. The tip of the pole was starting to emit and produce a short curving blade. With a slow arcing two-handed swing, Cinead brought the flaming head of the ax down on Beria’s neck. Cinead repeated the precision arcing movement three more times before decapitating her fully. With its purpose now fulfilled, Cinead let the ax vanish from his grip. The champion of the cold now resting defeated and dead.

An additional twenty-eight days passed before the dangerous arctic chill released its grip on the world. With the cold vanishing, some semblance of normality and civilization returned to humanity.


Critique level: Full Word count: 854


The tease of a blank page, and unfinished ideas

I doubt I’m the only writer who feels the blank page is often a tease for the creative mind. The empty page poking, prodding, and challenging the imagination for a reaction, almost begging to write on. Yet, the responses to all that probing seem to be split between turning the creative juices on, or deeper into a state of dormancy. In some ways, the probing is the equivalent of fencing for the mind. 

For some that dormant state is one of their worsts fears. While for others, the is one often overlooked fear, that of an unfinished idea. Usually, ideas that appear and disappear with all the ease of lighting a candle. While the potential of the rough ideas could be argued at an almost indefinite length. Should one attempt to relight the inspirational candle of the concept, hoping, the original inspiration will come back or is it better to move on. I’m curious to know what my fellow creatives think about that. Is returning to the idea a worthwhile use of time, or is it better to toss the idea away?

Is too much creativity a good thing?

With the end of the year approaching, I’m looking back at the past year. Realizing I may have too many projects splitting my focus, without losing sight of one or another idea. Along with trying to learn the new WordPress format to create posts. It makes me wonder if an excess of creative energies is a good thing or a bad thing? 

 

Granted the excess is better than having creative blocks but can be overwhelming at times. Trying to balance the new and the old ideas without getting them muddled within each other. Even worse, losing the inspiration behind the idea in general. At a certain point, it conjures this image of a waiter carrying a tray of food. Each food representing an idea, with the waiter’s tray representing the mind. The more food you add, the heavier the load becomes until it becomes unmanageable. 

Does anyone else agree? Disagree? How do cope with both the excess and the dry spells? 

Ummm…where was I going with this?

Looking past my platform, I carefully glancing over the bloodstained white masked faces of the surviving graduates of this year’s trails.  Out of the fifty potential candidates who were eligible for the trails, only eight remained alive. The trails had eliminated the weakness from the group. Leaving behind the ruthless and toughest survivors. Each one more than capable of doing anything and everything required to survive the dangerous world they were about to enter.

“You eight are the only survivors of your class. Enabling you to leave the academy you have called home since you were nothing more than mere children.  With the skills and lessons instilled in you here, you will endure any and every hardship you may encounter in your work above.  The custom built gear is waiting in suitcases in your rooms. Welcome to the Legion, graduates of this year’s class.”


I’m not even sure what I thought when I typed this. There is something more here, but my mind fails to recall what it is. Any ideas?

Hmm….What happens next?

“The Arks are almost at capacity sir,” looking into the cracked screen of a broken computer monitor.

Nodding his head once, before commenting “Then began the sealing process and cryogenic gas release after that. Once life signs are almost gone, release the nanite gas into the arks. The window of saving humanity is closing.”

Obeying his command, I began remotely sealing the Arks. Listening to the analog style countdown clock tick away. With the Arks wholly sealed, I initialized the release of the cryogenic gas. Knowing the process with the nanite infiltration of the human body had to be performed when they were unconscious. Minutes had passed before life signs on the arc began to rapidly diminish. Starting up the release process of the nanite gas, before looking at my boss.

“Any last words sir,” I asked, watching the progress of things.

The commander ran his thumb and forefinger over his eyes. Taking a deep breath before grabbing the broadcast microphone. Pushing down on the small red button, before commenting “With minutes remaining before the countdown ends, there are so many things that should be said. To ensure humanity endures the collision, some will have to be sacrificed. What happens after the collision will no doubt be fraught with challenges. All I can say is good luck, and may God have mercy on you,” as the countdown clock hit zero.

May’s End

Hard to believe May is almost over already. At least it has been a productive month; I wonder if that is why it flew. Even though I have been writing/working on several pieces, I keep forgetting to post anything here. Granted writing most of them by hand makes that a slightly time-consuming task to perform. Even though some are continuations of ideas, I have posted here previously like Thief in Neon, and my Steampunk/Magic hybrid idea. In addition to a few old ideas, that I put on the back burner since the inspiration faded on them. I did submit to Z Publishing House for their writers’ anthology I was emailed about over my vacation. Still waiting to hear back but I doubt that will happen before the end of June.