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The Epoch of a Reporter #flashfiction

300 words
News Reporter; Newsroom; Steampunk


There’s a constant clacking from Cindy O’Toole’s typer in the other room, followed by the hiss and clang of the carriage setting back in place. A haze of smoke sits in the newsroom like a cloud of sulphur from the cigs in everyone’s mouth. We all puff endlessly.
It is otherwise silent – even Ben Johnson from the funnies has no quips to the rolling film that plays on the wall behind Editor Ken Dunham. Dunham’s bulky arms, usually crossed, hang by his sides in defeat.
As the film flickers to an end, he swivels to us, skin sicky pale.
“That’s… that’s all we have.” He says, tired eyes falling on each of us with the languidness of a dying ticker. “Who wants to report it?”
We sit silent. Glances are diverted to feet, blank notepads or the wall peppered with past editions of trivial occurrences here in New Melwell. Nothing this big.
“No one?” Dunham asks, before letting out a long sigh that billows smoke from the almost smouldered smoke in his mouth. He pulls it out and stabs it into the tray on the table.
Silence.
“I will.” I finally say, and there’s an almost audible relief across the newsroom.
“Davis. You sure you’re up for it? This… this is some bad shit for a greeny.”
I shrug. “Ain’t nobody signing up so…”
Dunham thinks for a moment, scans the room and sees no one coming to my rescue. He snaps the film from the tripod and slides it across the table.
“Detective John Falon is the guy to talk to.”
I nod. I know.
It had taken a while for my murders to be big enough for the newsroom. Now I could cover my own story while keeping abreast of the city bobby.
I hid my smile.


 

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Microcosmsfic Flash Fiction – The Daughters of Nereus

 

This was my entry to last Friday’s microcosmsfic. Hope you enjoy.


299 words
Nymph / Underworld / Myth
Special Challenge: Death

Within the depths of the great ocean lay a vessel of stone and wood and metal. As ancient as time. A primordial husk borne of demise. Upon the splintered furrows etched into the wood, emblazoned in gold aged and weathered, remained a single word that spoke of times past: Nereus.
From the hollows of the great sunken ark, worn trembling fingers wound gleaming gears onto the bosom of coral shaped as one of human descent.
“Ne’er shall ye taste the bitter elixir of death.” The voice rumbled. Creatures of the sea squiggled away from the words. Fearing entrapment. The old fingers slid the final piece into place, a soft caress and an ancient chant of a forgotten tongue sealing the alabaster skin of the slumbering creation.
She gasped to life with a flurry of froth and foam and the quiet tick of clockwork. Spiralling lashes fluttered open to reveal dark orbs reminiscent of Hade’s realm.
“Bring me souls dear one. Forty-nine more. The surface shall know our woe. This domain shall be Sheol to them.”
The young creature of the sea swam from within the dark abyss to the bright cerulean waters above. To the passing ships and echoing shouts of passing sailors. One of which gazed upon the waters to see a creature of immense beauty. Long dark tresses flowing down bare shoulders. Pink pouting lips whispering promises of love and pleasure.

Unperturbed, he dove to the waters and let the creature drag him into the watery depths. Death clawing at his lungs and throat until it seeped into him and faded into darkness.

She brought the sailor to her father Nereus. The ark thrumming with life as yet another coral-created form waited for the sailor’s soul.

“My daughters… no my Nereids. Long shall ye live with me.”


Shout out to Carin Marais who shared the Community Pick win with me. Read her microcosms entry: The Sisters Oath.


I built this story from the mythology of the Nereids:

THE NEREIDES (Nereids) were fifty sea-nymphe daughters of Nereus the old man of the sea.  They were goddesses of the sea’s rich bounty and protectors of sailors and fishermen, coming to the aid of those in distress. Individually they represented various facets of the sea from the salty brine, to the sea foam, sand, rocks, waves and currents, as well as the various skills possessed by seamen.

The Nereides dwelt with their elderly father in a silvery grotto at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The Nereid Thetis was their unofficial leader and Amphitrite was Poseidon’s queen.

The Nereides were depicted in ancient art as beautiful, young maidens, sometimes running with small dolphins or fish in their hands, or else riding on the backs of dolphins, hippokampoi (hippocamps) and other sea creatures.

The name Nereides means “Daughters of Nereus” but also “the Wet Ones” from nêros the Greek word for “wet”.

~ theoi.com/Pontios/Nereides

Friday Fiction: Wattpad Excerpt

As you might know (some of you definitely know), Friday’s are usually Microcosmsfic days, where 3 elements are spun and a bunch of us write a 300 word flash fiction using those elements. The prize is prestige and an opportunity to judge the next round. Last Friday I wrote a Fable called The Man and the Mice and to both my surprise, and glee, I actually won that week’s Microcosmsfic, both picked by the Judge and the Community. *Swoons*

So I wont be entering this Friday as I will be judging the entries. You can, however, enter the comp here: MicrocosmsFic.com Write great stories!

I actually loved writing that fable, and you can read the whole process of how I came up with the story, on my Patreon page (free) here: Inspiration Behind The Man and the Mice

Fridays are also days when I post a chapter of my novella, Innocence, on Wattpad. The premise follows four police officers and a young doctor, who illegally execute a known killer. Now someone (or something) is stalking them.

Here’s an excerpt from the next chapter. Innocence – A Wattpad Novella


The room spins as body leans forward to reach for the fallen injection. The body slumps onto the warm wooden floor with a soft thwack. Eyes glaze over the irregular lines that mark each thin, individual piece of floorboard.

The rows of polished plank begin to sway.

Bend.

Lurch.

They curl upward from the ground and wiggle free from their confines. Oversized gunk drips wet, grey splotches over the curling floorboards, coating them in their mucous membrane and form egg-shaped heads. The droplets slither over the wood, every drip causing the planks to writhe to life. The curled heads wiggle upwards like cat-sized maggots, squirming as the slime devours the wooden meat sack that was once the floor. Together, in rapid gyration they turn to the body on the floor in a unison of tiny beady eyes. Black as coal. Tufts of slick hair drape over the left side of their bulging heads. The gunk continues to drip over their tiny humanoid faces.

The giggles contract into hicks of breathless inhalations, gurgling with saliva dripping down the gawking mouth, then rising into a crescendo of strangled chortles winding into wild screeching.

The maggots skitter as though the sound invigorates them. They skid forward from their coiled perch in frenzied slurping shuffles. They climb over the body in a mesh of wriggling appendages.


What are you currently writing?

Friday Fiction: The Man and the Mice

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Inventor, setting: Laboratory, and genre: Fable.


A Man sought to build a machine, to cure an illness that beset his child. He dug a hole as big as a room below his house and turned it into a laboratory. 

Many days and nights he spent there. Toiling away in the hopes of finding a cure. Yet when he finally concocted one, he feared it would kill his child if untested. 

He noticed then, many Mice that roamed about the laboratory in search of food. 

“Mice. Pray I ask thee a favour.”

The Mice, having seen the man’s compassion for his child, approached the Man without fear,

“Man, what asketh thee?”

“Merely of your labour as my assistants. My child is sick and I require your tenacious perseverance to find a cure.”

“And what shall be our fee?”

“I will build for thee a house of glass, where I shall feed you, provide water, and build you a wheel for leisure. You shall want for nothing.”

“That would please us greatly.” The Mice replied, feeling pleased at having to no longer scrounge for food.

The Man made true on his promise, and built a large house of glass with bowls filled with food, and bowls filled with water. Wheels and tunnels traversed the house where the Mice roamed freely. Beds of hay allowed the mice to repose without fear.

Then, the time came for the Mice to assist the Man, and aghast they watched a fellow Mouse pulled from the bottom of the cage, for that is what is was, and onto a metal platform to be punctured by a needle full of the supposed cure. 

The Mouse died in agony. When the Mice complained, the Man replied

“Sometimes you must sacrifice the many, for the one.”


Totally loved writing this. If you’d like to see the thought process behind this weeks Microcosmsfic, come read it on my Pareon page. It’s free to read so please come check it out.

Friday Fiction: ‘Til Proven Innocent

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Business Person Transport : Car Genre: Crime


Schultz-Werner Automobil were renowned for their reliable vehicles – German engineering at its finest. The death of corporate magnate, Herr Michael Götze, came as a shock, more so when the story revealed that he’d died in a SW Automobil sedan. Once the coroner confirmed he’d died before the crash of a crushed oesophagus, however, the media was in uproar.

I was in uproar. 

Herr Götze had promised to appoint me next-in-line at SWA before we helped move him along to the next life. Only it seemed someone else had beat me to it.

A hurried board meeting was called by the higher-ups that same evening of the crash, where they duly informed us that Herr Götze’s Will had been amended earlier that day and the details would only be revealed in the next official meeting where his successor would be named.

“Aren’t you his successor?” Julian whispered to me as we somberly stalked out of the board room. As usual, he carried a stench of aftershave that bordered on toilet spray.

“How do you know that?” I hushed back at him.

“Everybody knows. You were his favourite.” he placed a hand on my shoulder, “They think you did it.”

It was then I noticed that stares from the solemn employees around us, suspicion drawn on their furrowed brow.

“Well I didn’t.”

Julian shrugged, then ambled off hurriedly as though my supposed guilt was contagious.

I arrived home to find the door ajar. I’d seen enough movies to know I should probably call the police. Twenty minutes later two bulky officers pushed through the door before me to a condemning sight. Frau Götze sat in a pool of her own blood, her husband’s tape recorder in her hand. The one we used to plan his death.

I had been set up.

 

Friday Fiction: Birth of a Villain

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Sarcastic Butler Setting: Skyscraper Genre: Memoir


torre-cajasol-786180_1280

The staples in his abdomen had ripped out again, this time purposefully. Master “Gestirn” Goldstein barely flinched as he removed blood drenched, clear plastic bags from his bulging gut. The carpeted floor of the penthouse loft was covered in vital fluids. Schneider Skyscrapers were going to need a good clean-up crew. As a butler, I cringed.

“Pass me the tray.” He wheezed.

I of course obliged, manoeuvring past dead FBI agents strewn about the sparse room to the tray angled awkwardly in one man’s skull.

“Will you be serving me then, for once?”

Master Goldstein merely smiled, and watched amused as I struggled to remove the tray. It was difficult with all the blood. It was also lodged quite deep.

“I didn’t know you took drugs, Kristoff.”

“Only when you’re around, Sir. I may need some after this.”

“You’ll get used to it eventually.” Master Goldstein stood then, skin flapping over the spandex pants he wore – the only item of clothing on him. He had no intestines.

“Well yes, when you were a caped crusader for justice. Who are you now, Robbing Hood?”

He laughed as he casually removed the tray from the man’s skull. His laugh was a breathy, whistling sound from the constrictions in his body; an internal scar and his arch nemesis’ greatest achievement.

“I’ve found other ways to make a living now. A new body with a new function. I’ve been brought back to life.”

“Well that’s good for you Master Franken-Stein.”

Master Goldstein placed the bags on the tray, crushed powder in some, pills in others.

“Franken-Stein. I like it.” He swept a gnarled hand through what was left of his golden mane. The charred scars of his face made him look like the monster he was becoming – or perhaps, had already become.


I may have missed the memoir part. *laughs nervously

Friday Fiction: Confessional

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: I’ve Always Been Crazy Setting: Village Genre: Crime


confessional-122763_1280

“It’s getting worse Father.”

Francois knelt within the narrow confines of the confessional. Sweat trickled down his temples but his clasped hands shivered uncontrollably.

“The Lord knows our struggles. He sees all and knows all. He will never give you more than you can handle.” The voice replied from beyond the wooden grating separating confessor from absolution.

“I understand that Father but… I literally felt as though my hands were wrapped around her neck and…  and I was squeezing. Squeezing. Squeezing! Her neck…” Francois’s whole body began to shiver. Sweat continued to trail down into his collar, while a hollowness suffused his chest and clutched at his heart.

“It was merely a dream my child, perhaps manifestations of impure thoughts you harbour towards her or her sinful occupation?”

“I don’t even know her.”

“And yet you recall her with clarity? The Lord said, if you hate your brother in your heart then you have similarly committed murder. Do you hate her?”

“No Father! I… may have seen her once? Maybe?”

“Are you certain my child? You are safe in the house of the Lord.”

“I…” Francois searched his memories and could recall nothing concrete. A flash of someone but it was hazy. Fragmented. “Perhaps I’ve always been crazy Father.”

“Ephesians tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the forces of darkness.” A sombre silence filled the air. “Pray ten Hail Mary’s. Tonight, I will visit again for special communion.”

The priest’s door clicked open and suddenly a familiar scent filled Francois’ nose. He looked out the glass portal of the confessional and watched the priest slip a tattered blouse into his vestments. A familiar blouse. He shook his head and turned back to prayer, the suspicion overshadowed by his guilt. He soon forgot about the blouse.

Friday Fiction: The AGA

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Songwriter Setting: Village Genre: Aga Saga


agacooker_02

Vanessa sneered at the aged AGA. A bulky, 3-door cooker sitting against the kitchen wall like a squalid interloper. It’s front creame-coloured door was peeling to reveal the shiny metallic interior. From the back, a pipe ran along the wall and attached to the black bent-tube boiler built into the wall.

“Shall you fix it then?”

The village Engineer wiped his forehead with a grimy handkerchief.

“I’ll try my best mam. We been doin’ more Aether-boiler jobs than steam… and this is very old.”

“Well I ask you do to more than just try. This is an heirloom sir, it best be fixed.”

“Of course, mam.”

She saw the scowl creasing his wrinkled face, smudged with soot like the lower-class civil servant he was.

“I’ll be in the Drawing Room. Find me when it is done.”

She whirled away in a flurry of ruffles flaring from her crinoline. Like an inverted rose, the scarlet dress flared around her hips, silk crawling up to the high-collar styled with intricate golden gears. Although the daughter of the Royal Engineer – she drew no correlation between her father and the man in her kitchen.

“Must you always be so rude, Vanessa?” mother asked without lifting her head, seated with a cello angled away from her knees.

“Is he not below us?”

“Your privileged ancestry began with a man very much like him.”

Vanessa glided across the carpeted floor and gazed out the window. The village, once further away, now loomed closer. Threatening to overtake.

“Do we not come from a family of cabaret singers, song writers and… whatever it is you do mother.”

Mother raised her eyes and sighed,

“Much like the AGA you despise so, the future catches up to us. Apart from your class, what shall you offer to it?”

Friday Fiction: Thimble

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Seamstress Setting: Second-hand Shop Genre: Crime

I am the guest Judge for today’s Microcosms Fic, so please do drop by and honour us with your flash fiction.


singer-1849853_1280

“Come in child.” She said from the doorway. Her raven hair, streaked purple under the hanging light, had been tied into a bun that pulled her face taut. Jade eyes gleamed with the cluster of gold hanging around her neck, watching the man hesitate on the porch of the second-hand shop simply named Thimble.

“Thank you.” he tucked the fedora under his arm and slipped within the gloom, hands clutching and unfurling as his gaze swept around the room. Racks lined the walls and twisted across the room, pouring with various sewing machines likely seen in an antique shop. The air swam with incense and lavender over the musk of perfume she wore.

“I’m looking for…”

“Hush. Follow me.”

She trailed a shawl that matched her hair. Arms raised like T-Rex claws led to limp hands adorned with jewels on arched fingers, leading the way into the establishment. They traipsed through the maze of shelves toward a table where a sewing machine sat to the side of it. Two high-back wooden chairs had been arranged across each other. The woman plunked down into one of them.

“Sit.” She raised her eyes at him until he carefully slid in. Clasped hands rested on the table. They sat in silence while the woman stared.

“It’s my wife!” he finally shouted, then sheepishly lowered his head, “It’s my wife.” he said softer.

“I am well aware. That is why you came to me. For protection, yes?”

He nodded. His adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. Eyes scanned the room nervously.

“What is your fee?”

Now it was her turn to rest her hands on the table, laid flat over one another,

“No charge at all.”

A smile edged his lips in uncertainty,

“The body… is in the trunk of the car.”

Friday Fiction: Interstellar Blind Date

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Bride Activity: Coming from Space Genre: Romance


Substation forty-two-seven. A glossy enamel coated hexagon floating against the dark expanse of space in the Northern corner of the Milky Way galaxy. In constant rotation around it were two satellites from DISTV, hovering higher than normal allowing the influx of passenger ships to stream in, while each satellite streamed the convoys to homes across the galaxy. The season finale of Interstellar Blind Date accrued its highest viewership since the romance between the Mantodeanite dancer and her partner during So You Think You Can Congambaltz. Reality TV had never been showcased on extra-terrestrial transmissions and they were eating it up faster than female Mantodeanites ate their male partners.

The running broadcast would finally reveal the contestants to one another, in a face-to-face date-cum-wedding between the star-crossed lovers in every sense – and only the audience knew of their fate. To each other, Ara had fallen madly in love with Diptera, the reverse tenfold, during silhouetted “online” dates where the two never saw each other’s faces; viewers on the other hand were privy to their identities and watched with bated breath as neither contestant guessed the other. Oh it made for stellar television alright, and the final episode would be the most watched, downloaded, torrented and eventually sought after episode in all of history.

Ara sashayed onto the stage with a veil over her face however everyone had turned to see the slowly widening compound eyes and gaping segmented mouth-parts on the spindly Diptera. The crowd sat in abject silence. Ara dragged her bulbous body forward, wedding dress and all, eight thin appendages clacking asynchronously while her chelicerae scissor in excitement. Diptera edged forward slowly, too terrified to notice the translucent threads around the stage.

“Diptera.” She whispered, “They should have given you a less revealing name.”

*Mantodea are praying mantis and the females eat their husbands.

Diptera is the “scientific name” for a fly and if you haven’t guessed it, Ara is a spider. Short for Arachnid.

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