WEP August 2019 entry piece

I struggled with the theme for this month’s contest/challenge. The “Red Wheelbarrow,” wasn’t something that was particularly inspiring to me. Stalling my creative energies for a few days, attempting to craft something that was centralized around the theme. Initially, coming up with the idea of a farmhand who is uncaught serial killer, who uses a red wheelbarrow to dispose of his victims. Realizing rather quickly, that I would break the word limit, or be forced to craft an unsatisfying ending. Taking the dark, violent atmosphere from that idea and shifting gears some to something grim and apocalyptic. Mixing it with some other elements of that story to create a piece of flash fiction, I titled Stained Red.

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My father’s old black wheelbarrow was no longer the farm tool it once was. For years it had been filled various types of vegetables, hay, and manure. Now it was an instrument of horrible design, used to hull the corpses of those inflicted with a horrific virus. The infected were willing participants of experimental surgeries, that left bodies a mash of experimental surgical incisions. Even wrapped in thin black garbage bags, the cadavers leaked their bodily fluids pooling on the plastic shell. They were unintentionally leaving behind growing spots of dried blood that left sizeable spots of red on the black casing. With each hull of corpses, the patches of dried blood grew in both quantity and size. With one swift, strong lift, I deposited the bodies in the snow-covered trench. Hearing the snow crackle under the combined weight of the corpses. The almost endless winter was doing its best to hinder the decomposing process and the accompanying animals that fed on them.

The distinct sound of approaching footfalls audible in this frozen hellscape. Balancing out the old wheelbarrow on its small tire and rusting iron supports, before turning around. Their face obscured by wrap-around trapper hat, that revealed only their goggle covered eyes. Only a few of the scientists remaining here were bold enough to look upon the remnants of their failed research. A bright red cylindrical metal gas can visible in their right hand gripped between the fingers of heavy-duty black gloves. The figure was taking a stand a few steps away on my left side. Making a slight glance over at me in silence, that only served to amplify the empty tension between the two of us.

“Burn them,” the figure said, their voice being gargled and muffled to a point those were the only two words I understood. Setting the gas can onto the ground before walking away, leaving me to do the dirty work.

I was sighing some in annoyance, creating a small cloud of exhaled breath that was visible in the air. The distinct smell of petrol immediately hitting my nose while I lifted the gas can by the cold steel handle. My other hand was angling the gas-can to begin pouring the contents of the gas-can onto the trench while holding in a deep breath. I was doing my best not to inhale the fumes, listening to the gasoline weaving its way through the mass of wrapped cadavers. The noise was conjuring up memories of the babbling brooks and streams from my youth, creating vivid images of my father using the wheelbarrow to haul bushels of hay across the field. I could feel the smile spreading across my face at the thought.

The distinct aroma of gasoline whiffing itself into my nose shattering the picturesque memory, and forcing me to return to this grim reality. Hurling the empty fuel cannister across the trench, before taking one last look upon the covered up cadavers. Pondering some pseudo-religious sounding words to say aloud, that would act as improvised final rites for them regardless of their faith. I was fully aware the words would fall on deaf ears, but some things are sacred and traditional. Not wanting my words to become muffled, I pulled my facial covering down with three fingers. With one swift pull, I yanked the fabric down to my neck, enjoying the refreshing feeling of cold air rush over my unshaven face.

“No one asked for this plague to spread across this land, let alone be an unfortunate victim of the accompanying sickness. Your noble sacrifice in pursuing a cure for all of humanity will be etched into history for all to remember. Anything you left behind for your loved ones will be given to them when the time is right. God rest your souls, and may he have mercy on the survivors,” I said.

I turned and grabbed my father’s old wheelbarrow, now stained red with dried blood. Grabbing the warped wooden handles with one hand apiece, before, going a few short, quick pushes. Knowing this would have to be a quick goodbye to my father’s now bloodstained red wheelbarrow, and forcing the farm tool into the trench. Feeling some regret about destroying something my father bequeathed me, but understanding it was a bitter necessity of containing this infection. With only a few of us left untainted by the virus, it was only a matter of time before the search for a cure ended.

Taking an old, cheap, butane lighter out of my pocket, I rolled the spark wheel with care, having to repeat the motion a few times before, getting a small flame to appear. With the lighter now aflame, I hurled lighter into the trench, keeping a close eye on where it landed. Mere moments later, the corpses were beginning to burn. Watching some in awe, believing I had given a proper sendoff to my father’s now red wheelbarrow, and the dead. Turning around and beginning to stroll forward, doing my best to push the trickle of tears away. Becoming increasingly aware with each step I took, that this was indeed the end of the world.

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Word count: 856 Critique Level: Full

WEP June Challenge 2019 Entry

Being considerably occupied with Z Publishing House pieces when last months challenge was going on, I choose not to participate in the April challenge to concentrate my creative energies on those pieces. Knowing I would return for the June challenge instead.

With the challenging theme for this month being “Caged Bird,” I realized I could interrupt that in either a metaphorical way, a literal way, or a combination of them. That being stated, I quickly disregarded my first thought of doing a Faustian style story where the demon acts as the bird. Switching gears to something more imaginative and partly inspired by love of old fashioned science fiction, where unexplored alien worlds are common. Modifying that idea with some more modern thinking shaped by problems like climate change and resource depletion. Crafting a piece of flash fiction I hope you enjoy, titled Hope’s Fragility.


Looking through this self-tinting glass screen, I looked out at this alien landscape. Strange double helix looking trees covered in magenta colored bark, and having deep purple ellipse shaped leaves rested on the western horizon. Their roots obscured by layers of a pale tan soil, that darkened in color as it descended the ragged broken-toothed cliff. Breaking black waves from the adjacent dark sea bombarded the base of the cliff.

I was beginning to slowly stagger forward with caution, attempting to get a sense of any injuries from my forced crash landing on XR-ELP8. The probes I had been sent to retrieve indicated this celestial body had the potential for successful terraforming barring there was a vacancy of sentient, intelligent life. Any proven signs of civilization would cause an uproar in the media if we attempted terraforming in complete disregards to them. While only a few truly understand how our home, had slowly transformed into a rotting cage of increasingly toxic air, corporate control, and rapidly depleting resources.

I was ceasing to move when a high-pitched wail filled my airtight helmet. The noise was immediately drawing my attention to the flexible computer on my right arm that displayed the data it was processing from the endless array of sensors built into my spacesuit. Looking down at the dark screen, I saw that my less than smooth landing had torn three holes in my suit. I was cursing under my breath at my astounding ill fortune, quickly trying to repressurize my spacesuit. Knowing how important it was to maintain a constant internal equilibrium to minimize any changes my body would go through as I adapted between various shifts in gravity in my journey throughout the cosmos.

I managed to temporarily stabilize my suit before heading towards the wreckage of my ship. Stumbling forward into the smoldering crater hoping I had bought enough time to salvage the communication system and send an SOS signal back home. Gravity forcing me to slide downward for a few seconds before I forcibly stopped myself by placing my hands outward. Emitting a brief grunt between my teeth in my pain, as I stood up, stepping over a few pieces of blackened metal alloy plates that slashed through the foreign soil leaving tiny grooves behind.

Feeling briefly grateful when I noticed that the communication panel was still fully intact, and appeared to be in working order. With all the strange circumstances behind the crash, fortune had given me some leeway, giving me some chance I had a way home. Carefully stepping into my seat before connecting my suit’s computer into the ship’s mainframe and running a quick diagnostic to confirm that communications were still operational. Forced to wait in tense silence for a few minutes, thoughts of desperation, panic, and the chance this mission had become suicidal raced through my head. Hearing the steady pulse of my heartbeat begin to accelerate, thumping away in my head like a thousand bass drums being played at four hundred beats a second. Forcing a seemingly infinite amount to pump through my skin and soak my face and armpits.

What felt like a few hours passed but, it was likely it was only a few minutes before three short beeps emitted from the ship’s small onboard speaker. Taking multiple breathes before I looked down at the screen of my suit’s computer. It seems my worst, darkest nightmare had quickly overtaken and consumed any optimism I had left, filling me with a depressing sense of dread. With the primary communication antenna missing and presumed to be in an unknown distant location, I resigned to myself to a grim fate. My protective spacesuit was quickly transforming itself into a doomed cage of nylon, spandex, and synthetic polymers. The high-pitched wailing returning indicating I had inadvertently created more tears in the outer layer of suit. Compromising it beyond any repairs, I could do without proper assistance.

It left this mission that once gave hope to a dying world, into a task that could cost humanity its future. This planet was becoming one elaborate reluctant cage for an Earth-man who only wanted to serve the world. That was my last thought as this alien world fell dark around me.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 705

A long delayed update

It has taken me longer than I would have liked to create, edit, and publish another post on my various social media pages that are linked to my WordPress sites. The main reason for it is because I’m growing to favor writing the old-fashioned way, by hand. Which seems to increase my productivity overall, even with me splitting my creative energies between multiple projects and ideas. Even though digitizing them is taking longer than I would have preferred.

In addition to that, I’m also working on expanding the ideas I prefer to work on digitally since they are in one of two states of existence. The first state is the idea is still developing and thus is a waste of paper until it passes that point. While the second state is the story started digitally and has expanded past the point where it would effective for me to transfer it a notebook and write it to a point of completion. Why they tend to lean towards either extremes is something I do not know, and would prefer not to think about.

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.

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?

A possible prologue to something more….?

“Remember my young apprentice we strive to keep ourselves balanced. There cannot be light without darkness, life without death. Let others close their minds and align themselves towards something they do not fully understand,” closing the polished antique silver lid on the meditative brazier, before resuming “Awaken my apprentice, it is time to end your mediation.”

Watching my apprentice slowly awaken as the mind-altering smoke faded from the room. Allowing his body to begin purging the gas’ effects from his conscious. The mediation ritual was the second part of his studies that forcibly opened the mind’s true potential. Feeling the sheer power coming from my pupil at this distance even as walked across the ancient stone chamber. The strength I had felt from him when I discovered him in a partially burned down farmer’s shack had grown.

Wide hazel eyes looked up at me as I approached, the gas still having a slight effect on him. Staring at me in silence, hopefully adjusting quick enough to begin practicing some of the more straightforward lessons I have taught him. If what I noticed on my travels through the world grows, the balance will collapse. Leading to something ancient and remembered only in myths to awaken from its forced slumber. Making my innermost fears come true, the few who recalled the forgotten truths would need all the strength they could muster.

WEP 2018 December Contest

With the contest theme being Ribbons and Candles for the final challenge of the year, I wasn’t confident about what I wanted to do.  I considered doing a Victorian-inspired holiday celebration with a steam-punk aesthetic. Upon researching some Christmas/Yuletide traditions from the time, I realized it may not have been the best idea to attempt with this particular theme. Clearing the slate so to speak, I also consider doing a small town inspired Christmas through the eyes of a time traveler.  Which I thought would work well but after six-hundred words realized ending the idea without revealing the main character’s secret was impractical. There were just too many questions left unanswered for the ending to feel complete.  Trying to find something that would work within the festive theme,  I stopped thinking about the idea for a couple of days. 

Somehow that managed to shake an idea from my head. Using the 1920’s to imagine a world where jazz filled the airwaves, and the mob ruled entire cities. With that atmosphere in mind, I considered a few ideas before settling on the idea that would become my contest entry which I present below. 


The winter chill had filled the air the snow by the time I entered the speakeasy. Mr. Domino had renovated the place since my last visit. Art Deco laminate tile ran through the entire floor, giving it a hexagonal black and white pattern that reminded me of a piano. Vaulted stone painted white decorated the ceiling. Brass chandeliers hung by silver steel chains were dropped from the ceiling. Bright red and blue ribbons hung across the bottom of every light. The strong scent of tobacco and homemade moonshine filled the air. Brass-heavy jazz was playing from some unseen musicians intertwined with the aromas. Several young flappers were dancing to the music with their fellas.

Weaving my way through the crowd of dancers, I made my way to the bar. A burly bartender in a tailored three-piece grey suit stood behind the bar. Slicked back greasy black hair stopped at the man’s ear, adding to his clean-shaven face. Deep brown eyes watched the dancers for a few moments before glancing at me.

Asking me “Watcha drinkin tonight,” while his gaze hinted a silent message; either get your drink or leave.

Glancing around at the few other patrons who were standing at the bar, before responding “A Manhattan but first a message for the owner. Tell him Mr. Keys has arrived, he will know who I am.”

The bartender nodded before going to make my drink. My suspicious nature was forcing me to glance around. Looking for associates of the man I was looking forward to seeing. The iron in my pocket was feeling heavy as several men in all black tailored suits began approaching me. A gold domino lapel pin rested on the right side of the jacket of the suit. Black fedoras were tilted just enough to obscure their faces from view. Tommy guns with wooden stocks pressed against their shoulders.

I asked, “Escorting me to see Mr. Domino gentlemen?”

The men nodded in unison before directing the black barrels of their Tommy Guns up. I have enough odd jobs to know what that meant. Giving me little time to stand up before beginning to walk away. Raising myself from the stool, I followed them ignoring the chaos of dancers moving to the music.

The music had grown steadily quieter by the time Mr. Domino’s goons led me his office. They motioned for me to enter the door before taking a watching spot by the door. Finding Mr. Domino was waiting for me, tapping a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A polished silver Colt M1911A1 was resting on his antique wooden desk, within arms reach if necessary.

Mr. Domino asked, “Is the deed done Mr. Keys?”

I nodded, before producing a vanilla envelope from my pocket. Placing the container down by the gun, knowing the envelope’s contents would sway Mr. Domino’s immeasurable appreciation. Mr. Domino spilled the envelope’s content onto his desk. Ten severed ring fingers rolled onto his office, with their gold rings still attached. Each finger belonged to Mr. Domino’s competition.

Mr. Domino began to grin before commenting, “You have done well, Mr. Keys. These rings will make fantastic trophies for me to inspire fear from anyone else foolish enough to challenge me. As much as I would prefer to keep you around, I’m not foolish enough to cross my sister,” opening his desk and pulling out a small cloth bag. “Take this and my blessing to marry my sister,” standing and grabbing me the collar of my shirt. “Break her heart, and I will break you,” letting go of my collar.

“I know,” grabbing the cloth bag as I remarked.

Mr. Domino nodded once, before allowing me to leave his office. Shoving the money bag inside my pocket, trying my best to hide it from everyone. This money was my way of starting something new with my beloved Margaret. She knew the full extent of my past and didn’t care. Hoping between my reputation and her being the sister of Mr. Domino would be enough to scare any enemies away.

*****

A few hours later I arrived at Margaret’s house, the bag still hidden inside my pocket. She opened the door with a smile before I could knock. Leading me to her kitchen table, where a vibrant red unlit candle sat on a silver tray. A box of matches rested beside it, two of them poking out of it.

Margaret commented “Let’s light this candle and begin our new life together,” handing me a match with a smile spread across her face.

Smiling as I took the match, more than ready to start our new life together.


Word count: 774 Critique level: Full

Hmm…Where to go from here?

“Remember my young apprentice we strive to keep ourselves balanced. There cannot be light without darkness, life without death. Let others close their minds and align themselves towards something they do not fully understand,” closing the polished antique silver lid on the meditative brazier, before resuming “Awaken my apprentice, it is time to end your mediation.”

Watching my apprentice slowly awaken as the mind-altering smoke faded from the room. Allowing his body to begin purging the gas’ effects from his conscious. The mediation ritual was the second part of his studies that forcibly opened the mind’s true potential. Feeling the sheer power coming from my pupil at this distance even as walked across the ancient stone chamber. The strength I had felt from him when I discovered him in a partially burned down farmer’s shack had grown.

Wide hazel eyes looked up at me as I approached, the gas still having a slight effect on him. Staring at me in silence, hopefully adjusting quick enough to begin practicing some of the more straightforward lessons I have taught him. If what I noticed on my travels through the world grows, the balance will collapse. Leading to something ancient and remembered only in myths to awaken from its forced slumber.

 


I can feel there is something here, I’m just not sure what. Granted I know the whole orphan protagonist is slightly cliche, but it is an acceptable cliche for some reason.

A start to something…

Honestly, I have no idea what inspired this story idea. Any thoughts on it would be much appreciated.


Glancing down with loving eyes, at my newborn son held precariously in my arms. Seeing him reach out to the world for the first time. His bright sapphire eyes reflecting me, while possessing a familiar but faintly glowing golden color. Doing my best to hide my surprise from my wife, I carefully handed him back to her. Knowing two things with great certainty; he was indeed my son, and his life would be more unusual than anything I wished for him because of it.

My wife, lovingly cradling our first born in a mixture of relief and exhaustion. Waiting for two doctors and nurse to leave the room before speaking. Agreeing only to tell the medical staff just what was absolutely necessary. Even though we had our guardian in the place with us, in case the medical staff turned out to be more malicious then their benign appearance suggested. Given how capable my wife and I were, our child had incredible potential brewing within him.

The one doctor pulled down his dark green face mask before commenting, “We will give you four some privacy. Press the call button if you need something, and a nurse will be here to help,” giving a quick glance to his coworkers before walking out of the room. The nurse shutting the door behind her as she left the room.

Taking a deep breath, my wife commented “He has the gift inside him,” sighing some as our son reached for her pointer finger. “I know we never wanted this for him, but apparently the choice was out of our hands for once. He will need all of us if to protect him, including you, Zero,” glancing at the ex-soldier bodyguard the Protectorates assigned us. He had been standing in the far back of the room, watching in silence while the medical staff were working. “Promise us you will keep him safe if they find us. Even if that means leaving us behind.”

Zero remarked “The Protectorates may have something to say about that, but I will try my best to follow your wishes, Evaline,” bowing his head some. His phone audibly vibrating in his back pocket. Silently pulling it out of his pocket barely glancing down at the display, before putting it back into his pocket. “The escort has arrived to take us to a more secure location. They will be entering this hospital in five minutes. Gather everything you can with haste, Jason. Your son and wife will need protection as they recover.”

Taking a quick glance at Jason, I nodded moving to gather my wife’s things. Knowing that their protection was of the utmost priority for me. Pulling the barely unpacked duffle bag from the room’s faux wooden closet. The pregnancy pants and a loose fitting shirt was resting on top of the pack. Unzipping the bag about halfway, I shoved the clothes into the dark green duffle bag. Tossing a few clean white towels that were neatly folded into the bag as well. Sealing the zipper, before looking back at my wife and son. Evaline had our son neatly wrapped in the light blue blanket the nurses had placed him in. His tiny hand still grasping my wife’s pointer finger.
Setting the bag against the bed, before helping my wife move off the bed. She had swung her legs over the lowered bedrail, waiting for the escort party to arrive. Six heavily armed Protectorates bodyguards barged into the room. Each one looking intimidating with unmarked black armor covering them. Thin black cloth masks covered the lower part of their faces, from the nose down. One of them was pushing a wheelchair in front of them, moving towards the bed. With help from Zero, we slowly lifted my wife from the bed. Lowering her and our newborn son with care into the wheelchair’s padded dark blue cloth seat. Slinging the duffle bag over my right shoulder, before gripping the pale blue foam grips at the wheelchair’s back. Zero and two of the other Protectorates forming a small guard at the front of the wheelchair. The other three guarding our backside, as we began to leave the hospital room.

Happy Halloween everyone

All Hallow’s eve had arrived, bringing a thick supernatural like fog with it.  Spectral balls of concentrated white light were flying through the mist, leaving no trail of their existence behind. Leaving the illusion of misguiding bright spots in the fog. Fortunately, the small coven I belonged too, were already gathered in the forest. An old black iron cauldron resting in the center of a circle of mature white oak trees. Intricate symbols of long forgotten magics were precisely engraved into the metal. Blue and orange flames danced under the cauldron, heating the mixture to a boil.  Bubbles popping on the liquid’s surface released bittersweet aromas of its ingredients.

My companions and I exchanged quick glances over the cauldron, knowing our window had begun to open. Nodding in unison we began to chant, “On this night of divine power, we praise your name the almighty mother of darkness Hectacte. The full moon rises as the barriers between the worlds fall. We beg for your aid on this night to grant us the power we need to protect your faithful. Keep us safe against those that wish to harm our kind. With this sacrifice of blood, we beseech you to aid us,” each one of us drawing a simple silver coated dagger. Pricking our thumbs with blades’ tips. The blood dripping steadily into the solution, making it fizzle even more. “With this sacrifice of blood, we beseech you mighty Hectacte. Protect your faithful from those that wish to do us bodily harm,” going silent, as more blood dripped into the cauldron.

The trees creaking against a mighty wind that appeared without warning. A raspy voice followed answering our pleas, “I will give you the power you seek, but be weary my precious followers’ power can be consuming to those unready to accept it. ” Bringing another mighty wind that extinguished the flames, as the voice fell silent. The supernatural wind wrapping itself under the cauldron and lifting it into the air. Spinning it with incredible speed, before raining the contents of the kettle down upon us. The mixture soaking into our bare skin, as it emptied. All of five us exchanging quick glances, as Hectacte granted us our desire.

Feeling empowered by the mixture, I commented “The time has come to strike back at this severe persecution of our kind. Let us began while the barriers are down and our power is fresh,” beginning to walk back towards the town. Knowing I was being followed without hesitation by the others of my coven.