To the point, I'm vaguely considering looking into self-publication of some of my flash fics. A couple can be expanded upon, and probably will be. About half will be left quite alone as I don't consider them good enough to be included, or else (in a couple of cases) they are collaborative or based on another Flash Ficcer's work (therefore not something I consider entirely my property).
Here's the lineup I'm considering at the moment:
NightPennants hung limp in the thick air, tattered edges barely stirring in what little breath of wind swept the field. An effervescent haze of smoke clung to the ground, blackening stone, metal, and flesh alike, choking the very fires that had created it. Even the carrion birds flew low, drawn by the promise of new meat and driven from the unnatural darkness of the sky, a close ceiling of pitch clouds and a scant few shafts of steely light struggling through whatever gaps it could find in this world’s final gasping hours.
The Long Night was upon them.
And from the shadowed recesses of the earth, Fjorlag raised her frozen head.
Had any been alive to see her, they might have thought her formed from the shadows themselves; her long body seemed almost to condense from the darkness, running together into a form of rippling black scales and leathery hide. She flowed up out of the broken rocks, swirled to the crooked top of a barren tree, and looked out over the field of battle, silent save
(After editing slightly for word choice (why did I ever mention a midsummer's wind when it's so winter-themed?) and probably expanding the ending to include the single surviving warrior I mentioned wanting to include. This one will become more a short story than a flash fiction in length should I do that.)
LionheartIts first flicker of awareness was of a hot, musty dim place, though at the time it didn’t know what hot, musty, or dim were. It only knew sensation, proximity, and presence.
There were others there – like it, but different. And then others still, not like it at all, and one of them lifted one of its shining kindred from the wall, twirling it, dancing light through the air...
A whistle, a clash, a terrible ringing snap, and one of its kin extinguished.
For the first time, it knew fear.
“No good. Another.”
Another was taken, tested, and duly shattered.
“I thought your work better than this.”
“No – here! My greatest yet. Please, test this one, and know I have no better.”
A hand settled upon it, and it tasted sensations beyond its own newborn fear: boredom, distaste, a vague acknowledgement of its fine form and shining steel. It was turned and spun, examined and shaken, and then suddenly whirled high, twisted, and swung shrieking towar
(Because it seems to be a favorite, and I like how it came out. I may write some more shorts based on the Lionhearts, small adventures which are connected but can be scattered amid the other stories and read alone/in any order.)
The TestWhen Master Ystrum was announced as this year’s examiner, more than half of the young hopefuls immediately withdrew their names from the lists, citing second thoughts as to how ready they were, how another year of study would do them good, how they’d somehow accidentally overlooked such-and-such class when they’d first started out.
Some called those who refused to back out foolish optimists. This was untrue; there wasn’t an optimist alive who could have survived the deep gloom that settled over the remaining handful when their examiner revealed the nature of the enchantment that would grant a successful wizard’s advancement.
“You may have heard tales of musical enchantments,” he had said, stalking slowly across the stage, sharp grey eyes piercing each student in turn. “Harps that play themselves. Gilded birds that sing more sweetly than any living nightingale. Lullaby boxes that can put anything with ears to sleep in minutes. Parlor tr
(Again, a little editing in mind for Ystrum's address to the students/assignment to further push what he was wanting them to display with this impossible task. I have no specific plans to extend this story any further or to write others based on the world/characters, but it could happen. We'll see.)
No VacanciesPeter felt a headache building steadily behind his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to close them for a few hours – maybe even a few days. Unfortunately, he was on duty as Supervisor and would be for the foreseeable future; his only replacement was currently vacationing in a parallel dimension after pulling a decade-long shift himself.
The source of the headache seemed to lack any sympathy for him or his plight. Amazing how a soul could go from satisfied awe to spitting fury in the time it took to apologize and say, “there is no room in the Inn.”
Perhaps a joke hadn’t been the best initial course of action.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but there’s really nothing we can do,” he tried to explain once more, keeping his voice level. “Heaven unexpectedly ran out of housing three days ago. We have construction crews working on it, but demand is, so far, outstripping supply. There’s a waiting list a mile long and it’s gotte
(This one's a maybe, maybe not at the moment. It's interesting in its own way, but a little too similar to a different idea I have. It's also more humorous than usual, but that could be a point in favor. Either way, no major editing/revising is planned for this one beyond perhaps picking over mechanics and maybe tweaking words and phrases as they occur to me.)
The Other FourPeople think that the End brings the Horsemen. They are wrong; we have always been here, amongst you, touching your lives with our hands and riding over your work with our steeds’ hooves. We take no true joy in it, or at least no joy as humanity understands; it is simply our nature, our role in the great working of the world, and we carry it out as we were always intended.
If you think about it, you will not be surprised that we have always been present. How many times has a battle been sparked by the fiery breath of War’s steed, or a region conquered by pestilence from the Victor’s poisoned arrows? You did not see them, perhaps, but they were there, inflaming minds against each other and bodies against themselves.
We were not unleashed. We were merely strengthened, for as the World itself began to die, Death grew in power, and as he grew in power, so did his reach, and as his reach grew, so did ours.
Now there is none we have not touched. No might, no privilege can k
Coping MethodsThe library of Daraclus’ Order was a cramped, musty, overcrowded thing – a moderately-sized, windowless room crowded with so many shelves that you had to inch down the aisles sideways more often than not. Only the far back corner had been reserved for a small desk and chair should a man wish to carry out his research in the library itself rather than gather his books and scrolls and take them to more a more hospitable location.
It was toward this desk that Sir Algarth now moved, maneuvering gingerly between freestanding stacks of parchment, shelves, and cupboards, one hand pressed against the front of his tunic. His broad shoulders and heavy build, a boon on the battlefield, only encumbered him in this room, so clearly designed for the skinny monks who lived here. Still, he persevered, until he finally came to a stop beside the desk strewn with abandoned scrolls and the spent wax of three days’ worth of candles.
The woman sitting in the chair, a stately lady even with
Lullaby BoxAuburn dust hazed the air, diluting the already weak light of the setting sun and hiding uneven lumps of stone and shattered beams from sight. Hilde tugged her scarf over her nose and mouth and slid carefully down the slope of what might once have been a carved column, using the tip of her sword as both a crutch and a blind man’s staff. The terrain was treacherous; twice she had nearly been buried by a shifting piece of stone.
Still she persisted. The Red Queen had returned from the grave once before; this time, they must be certain and see her body destroyed.
When Hilde finally came upon the Queen’s fallen form, she almost didn’t recognize her. The cold beauty of her expression had melted away in death, and her crumpled body showed none of her usual regal bearing. If not for the unmistakable fire-hued robes and the enchanted rings visible on her fingers, Hilde might almost have thought that an innocent was somehow caught in the final blast.
It seemed almost wrong tha
RemembranceIn certain times and certain places, the veil between the worlds grows thin. Fey Folk and Humans and the slumbering Dead are allowed these fleeting glimpses of each other, bare hours of interaction.
Drops in the oceans of years.
She waits for these drops like a bird in the desert.
Once, they brought joy. Now she waits for the solstice light to creep through the narrow slit in the wall, cross the floor, and touch the stone altar as it does every year, and her heart is as dark and heavy as that very tomb.
He comes with the light, as he does every year without fail. They speak in whispers.
I miss you. I love you. I’m sorry.
And, as he has done every year for the past century, he begs her to be happy once more, even if she must forget him in his endless sleep.
And as she has done every year since he began asking this of her, she lies.
I am happy. I am.
Tactical DistractionIf days could be killed, Della would have stabbed this one through the throat hours ago.
It started in the morning, far earlier than any bad day should be allowed to begin, with the presentation of...something Della was loath to call an outfit.
“It’s a new technique,” the delivery boy had babbled under her glare. “They said it was...tactical distraction, and they want you to test it today.”
She knew better than to kill the messenger, and so took her knives and indignation straight to the top, which spouted the same excuses and refused to budge on the issue, even when she threatened her resignation. But damn them, they knew she wouldn’t quit on this job; she was too prideful in her work, and they used that against her.
Tactical distraction? Like hell. Della knew what they were really thinking, and it was proven when she got catcalled in the halls. Twice.
She was a professional assassin capable of pinning a fly to a wall across a room, and they had the
Hans IIIHans the Youngest stopped to help the ant, the trout, and the hawk, and they directed him to a hidden castle and gave him the aid he needed in turn to surmount the challenges in entering it.
Inside, he found a room of gold and rubies, a room of silver and sapphires, and a room of ebony and diamonds; each room also held a sleeping princess of like countenance, and an inscription in the great hall of the castle made it clear that he need only ask, and he would receive.
Bewildered, the boy looked around at the magnificence that could easily be his and said, “honestly, I was just looking for my brothers.”
Bottled CatharsisAt least twelve different people in the city sold Joy under the counter, as far as Dyllan knew. Most of them also sold Happiness and Contentment, and a few offered Euphoria as well. Love, in all its varying degrees and strengths, never seemed to be in short supply, and potent Hope was usually available if you were willing to pay for it.
Dyllan suspected a couple of the shadier individuals even kept some bottles of Anger and Fear in their secret back rooms. People had uses for those emotions, after all.
But nowhere in the city could he find a drop of Sorrow or a swallow of Grief.
Why feel down when you can feel better? The black market merchants shook thin vials of sky-blue and sun-gold emotion under his gaze, turning them artfully to show the fizz and bubble trapped within the glass. Forget your sadness. Lighten up.
He could. One sip of Happiness and he’d see no reason to cry. Even a drop of Contentment under the tongue every day would see him through life, day by d
Strength's MandateJames heard his door open, recognized his mother’s footsteps, and deliberately rolled over, wishing that his seething mood was potent enough to distort the atmosphere. He pressed his lips together, glared, tucked his arms tight against his chest and generally threw off every signal of inapproachability he knew.
“James?” she asked, her voice soft now. “I have something to show you.”
“Leave me alone,” he growled.
“It’s important.” Then, because she knew him too well, she added, “Please.”
James remained inert for a few seconds longer, just to suggest that he couldn’t be easily persuaded. He then groaned, rolled over, and swung his legs off the bed, toeing his shoes on. His mother left his doorway, moving to wait for him instead at the front door of their small apartment.
They left in silence, and in silence they walked the dim halls, passing dozens of numbered apartment doors, taking a lift down to the work leve
(Stand-alone with some planned editing, because there is a certain unfortunate implication of ideology as it is. The idea that the strong should shelter the weak is a good one in pureness, but it has historically been twisted to mean that the strong should control the weak "for their own good". Nobody has picked up on this and pointed it out, but I'd still feel better changing it. Also, I'd be getting rid of the challenge line, as it is technically a quote from a TV show (Or so I assume).)
NeverlandThey didn’t mean to rename the valley in their reports. An intern just happened to refer to it as Neverland once, and the name stuck. Naturally, this made the children the Lost Boys and Girls. Any leaders they identified in the myriad gangs they only ever glimpsed at the peripheries were nicknamed Pans. As for Hook and his Pirates...well, the captain figured that the blockade skirting the perimeter of the hot zone might count. They were the only adults for miles because of the virus.
Scientists were still working on identifying it and figuring out its underlying causes. All they had at the moment was that it was isolated to this one region, that it had sprung up seemingly overnight three years ago, and that it was both virile and deadly...but not to pre-pubescents.
Now bands of wild children roamed the land. The government organized air drops of food and supplies and maintained the blockade to keep the mystery infection from spreading...and, as they soon found necessary, to keep
(Another one that could do well with expansion, though I'm not quite sure what I would write. Don't want to make it a novella in a short story collection. It could end up standing alone.)
DreamlandOld Velda lived out of sight of the village, her ramshackle hut tucked away behind a tall hill crowned by a forbidding grove. Sometimes the boys played at creeping close, daring one another to touch the rough wood siding without being caught. Sometimes one was brave enough to reach out and rap quickly at the door before pelting back to safety.
Connor lifted a shaking hand, knocked twice, and did not run.
“What?” Velda snapped, the door jerking open with a suddenness that sent a jolt up Connor’s spine so that his shoulders jumped.
His mind stuttered for a response, groping through his carefully rehearsed speeches as a beleaguered man gropes for a shield.
“Timmy says you’re a witch,” said his mouth. His mind heard this, and its groping grew more frantic. “I mean, I need help. I mean, my sister—”
“Ah. The wee fool in dreamland, aye?”
Velda stood aside, gesturing impatiently with her cane. Connor would have much rathe
(Maybe expand, maybe stand-alone.)
That's fourteen flash fics, some of them with the possibility (even probability) of additional connected stories or slight expansions of theme or plot. If anyone has any suggestions for additional stories or continuations, please share. I can't promise I'll do them all or that, if I do, it'll come out anything like you expect, but it could help.
Of course it'll be a while before it's done. I need to learn lots about publishing venues and options, any costs that might be involved, means of promotion, etc, not to mention actually writing and editing everything and compiling and formatting it. But I think I could do it.
More news on this as I go along. Don't worry, I'll start drawing more again soon.