Joseph stopped a few steps into the lab, the scuffing of his feet unusual against the normally pristine floor of the room.
"Sean, why is there sand all over the floor?"
His lab partner's head poked out from behind the pile of boxes obscuring a bench top on the other side of the room.
"Hey Joseph, you've got to come see this. It's making things out of sand."
Joseph worked his way around the maze of tables and stools that had been haphazardly dragged out of the way to form a clearing at the center of the lab. As he neared his partner, he could make out piles of what looked like...
"Glass. It's making glass things out of sand, actually. I'm not sure what the pattern is, maybe it's all some kind of history lesson. Some of these appear to be knives, or swords and such. Some might be armor pieces, like this helmet." Sean hoisted a large translucent dome shaped roughly like a helmet, but half again as large as either of them could fill with their own head. "The guy that wore this must have be
Love SoundsLove Sounds5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Mama?" A tiny voice slipped quietly through the room. Between her and the woman in the bed an impenetrable forest of metal stands, tubes and blinking machinery stood guard.
"Come in sweetheart, it's alright." Her mother's voice warmed the space, shushing the noisy equipment. "Mama's alright baby, come see me."
Clad in a pink dress and knee socks, the girl of no more than five years bravely stepped away from the safety of the door frame. Big blue eyes focused and fixed on her mother lying in the hospital bed, and her legs carried her along that line of focus until she could reach out and touch her hand.
"There, there, Mama's all better now." She held her daughter's hand gently, but firmly. "The doctors made me all better. Come. Climb up here and cuddle with me." She tried her best not to wince, shuffling a little to one side to make room. She held her one arm away so her daughter wouldn't become tangled in the web of cords snaking away from her body.
The girl climbed cautiously up the
Tips For Writing Flash FictionTips For Writing Flash Fiction4 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
by Stephen R. Smith with excerpts by Kathy Kachelries
In order to improve as a writer, you need feedback. It's difficult to write something the size of a novel, and equally difficult to carve out the time required to read one and provide any sort of meaningful critique on it. This severely handicaps the feedback loop so important for the aspiring writer.
Flash Fiction on the other hand allows you to exercise all of your story writing and editing skills while creating works that can be read in a few minutes. This makes it ideal for examining ideas, developing writing skills and getting the feedback needed to help elevate you in your craft. Note that while Flash Fiction stories can be read in a few minutes, you shouldn't expect to write them that quickly.
Kathy Kachelries, founder of 365tomorrows, had this to say about Flash Fiction:
"The most concise and widely-cited example of flash fiction is the story Ernest Hemingway penned, allegedly to settle a bar bet: For sale: baby shoes.
SpaceSpace4 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
The orbiter had touched down at Vandenberg, and Lewis and a dozen others had flown cargo the thirty minutes to San Francisco airport. They trudged in from the tarmac in loose formation out of habit, unprepared for the crowds in the terminal.
The debriefing team had talked about friction, that the religious right had taken offense to their involvement in the colony war.
There was an awkward moment when the soldiers met the seething mass of people, unsure if there would be familiar faces, confused by the angry looks and rumbled undercurrent of discontent.
Murderers, a lone voice lit the fuse, causing the crowd to erupt into a cacophonic barrage of unfettered hatred.
The soldiers had faced more threatening forces, but here, at home, unarmed and unprepared, they could do nothing but close ranks and retreat to safety.
Police raised riot shields as picketers raised placards, the two groups squaring off as the tired soldiers slipped away through the terminal.
Lewis took the shuttl
Selachimorpha da SpazioSelachimorpha da Spazio4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Captain Broahm hadn't been asleep nearly long enough when he was dumped unceremoniously from his bunk onto the floor. Cursing, he'd barely gotten his bearings before the ship righted itself, tossing him backwards into the bulkhead, sending a blinding flash of lightning through his already aching head.
His left eye clouded, and he wiped at the blood that was pooling there from a fresh gash on his forehead.
"Bugger," he grumbled, pulling himself upright with help from the cargo nets lining the sleeping quarters.
Staggering out of the still swaying cabin into the hallway, he climbed the ladder onto the bridge and found the first officer white knuckled at the wheel. Half the instrument lights were out or flickering and several of the windows were missing, broken glass scattered across the console and onto the floor.
"Grady, what the hell was that? You hit something?"
The startled first officer turned and stammered "Plane, I think, hit us. It's out there in the water." He pointed out the ba
WastelandWasteland2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Eliot hunched his shoulders against the wind, the relentless sand picking at the seals of his gloves and headgear trying to find a way inside. He watched the glow of the sun disappear beyond the horizon, his waking period now fully begun.
It had been weeks since he'd seen another soul, perhaps years. Who kept count of such things anymore anyways?
The last city he'd abandoned to the ravages of this dust bowl planet had been a graveyard, he'd taken what he could carry, what little food and fresh water remained before the decay and vermin forced him back into the desert, back to his search for living humans.
There had to be more, they were so prolific on this rock before the coming, had spread so far, achieved so much. He'd visited countless monuments to the species' achievement here, each sprawling steel and glass expanse a testament to human drive and ambition, each barren, vacant ghost-town a reminder that the planet doesn't welcome strangers, doesn't tolerate intrusion.
Water of LifeWater of Life8 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It had been eighteen years since they'd seen their home world. Eighteen years since the earth had lain before them vibrant and blue. They had come home, and brought with them the water of life, salvation for a world in need. They'd left a desperate band of men with a mission, journeyed the stars as beggars, then thieves, and ultimately destroyers to return home to be heroes.
'Orbital control, this is the Lazarus on return approach, we're inbound heavy looking for our vector, over'
Nothing but silence greeted their request.
Earth was being consumed by a terrible plague when they had left, a plague that destroyed the infected from the inside. The doctors needed fresh blood, in great quantities in order to transfuse, and to synthesize the antibodies that had been cleaned from their blood through the generations. They had dug up a horrific judgement of a great many years ago, and no one was immune anymore. A disease their ancestors would have thought nothing of now st
My Sign? Exit.My Sign? Exit.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Levon leaned his head against the cold steel of the shower tube, letting the jets of water assail his body from all sides. As the sweat of the previous night's activities rinsed away, the more subtle indicators of his exertions seeped in. Both his head and kidneys ached from the soup of chemical stimulants and depressants he'd drank, sniffed and injected with the woman now sleeping naked in the next room.
Dimly pulsing warnings hovered in his peripheral vision, reminding him that his kidney augments were still on standby, having been parked the night before so as to not filter out his buzz. While he'd been busy not sleeping, they had been sifting through the different compounds in his bloodstream he'd forbidden them to remove, tracing their signatures for any information about them that may prove relevant. A brighter warning flashed, the proximity alarm on his equipment locker had been triggered. It would seem his night time entertainment was awake and nosing around. The warning strobe
Save The Last DanceSave The Last Dance5 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
Emily sat, quiet and alone in a corner, waiting for the evening's last song to begin. She watched the immaculate boys prowling the dimly lit room, chatting up pretty girls in hope of securing companionship. No one wanted to be alone.
Emily wasn't like those girls. She'd been beautiful once, in her own way. A rising star perhaps, soon to be debutante, but never quite comfortable in that skin. Her socialite parents, always considering their daughter more ornament than offspring, hired the finest of artisans to re-craft her after the accident. She was a masterpiece, a fine blend of flesh with fantasy; her own body augmented and elaborated upon with improbable features forged from gleaming materials. She was equal parts girl and gallery piece. She showed wonderfully in public, cleverly hiding her wounds from admiring eyes. Whole again, but no more complete.
Hands folded in her lap, she closed her eyes as the band continued to play a song she knew by heart. She imagined herself d
RelationshipRelationship5 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
My favourite time is just before dawn while she still sleeps. I stretch out, savour the crisp night air, feel the coolness of the sheets against our naked flesh. Soon the earth will turn us to face the sun again, and I'll feel the warmth as its energy permeates the room, watch as its light drives out the shadows. Until then, I'll content myself with the sounds of soft breathing, and the rhythmic music of her heart propelling life throughout her body.
I've only been with her a short while, but she has taught me so much. Helped me experience things I could never have known without her, not so completely.
We seem to have been made for each other. She's so physical, tangible and alive, but lacking in drive, control. I lack her physicality, but more than make up for it in unencumbered motivation. We're perfect together.
When I found her, I was content to merely follow, to do no more than observe. Lately I need to take more control, to dominate. My desire has grown from this place of comfort
Double BlindDouble Blind2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Dr. Darius from the Psychology lab walked along the line of students to Dr. Thorne's adjacent Bio lab, reaching the door just as it opened to emit a thin wiry girl with a pale face and electric blue irises. She paused only a second before stepping around him, offering a shy 'Excuse me sir', under her breath.
"Next." Thorne's voice was unmistakable from within the lab.
"Just a second," Darius held back the next student in line, evoking an irritated but acquiescent huff from the towering young man, "won't be a minute," Darius added as he entered the lab and closed the door.
"Release signed?" Thorne spoke without looking up. "Payment in order?"
"What on earth are you playing at?" Darius startled Thorne with the question, causing him to look up from the notepad on which he was busy typing notes.
"Playing? I'm not playing, I'm researching."
Darius closed the distance between them, admiring the majesty of the contraption that filled the desk beside the gray haired engineer. "I hear they're n
Night TrainsI fell asleep for the first time on a train when I was seven. The admission wasnt as painful now as the experience had been at the time. When I woke up, there was nobody there.Night Trains4 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
Nobody? She intoned as though asking a question, but her facial expression showed she was merely repeating the fact.
Nobody. My parents, the other passengers, even the old conductor with the funny hat. Gone. I fidgeted at the memory, it was faded but still uncomfortable. I walked from one end of that train to the other but never saw another soul. I re-found my seat after a while and eventually dozed off, and when I awoke again everyone was exactly where Id left them.
She cocked her head to one side to look over my shoulder, then turned around and surveyed the rest of the car. The diamonds dangling from her earlobes glittered even in the low light.
The train looks pretty empty now. Shed turned to face me again, and I focused
Hand Hinunter das LichtHand Hinunter das Licht4 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
Hans lay face down on the surgical table, completely immobilized and wide awake. His father's rubber shoes moved in and out of his field of vision as the older man busied himself in preparation, his voice a constant hum of information in the otherwise empty room.
"We can't effectively target inactive neural pathways, which is why you're awake. You won't feel anything, at least, I don't think I did..." his father's voice trailed off only for a moment. "If you do feel uncomfortable, be sure to speak up. We'll want to make a note of when."
His father double checked his handiwork, having laid out all the instruments he would need on a sterile back table nearby. Overhead hung a large spring-coiled umbilical of fibre optic cable truncated in a blunt two inch long conical tip. An identical cable snaked into the back of the older man's skull, following him as he moved about the room.
"The initial prototype is completely polarized," he tapped the back of his head, "one way. The materials that t
We Could Be HeroesWe Could Be Heroes2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Tom fished through the basket of coffee pucks until he found one marked simply 'Columbian'.
"Got a thing against coffee flavoured coffee do you Sam?" He couldn't see his friend through the glare of the flood lamps, but he could hear him shuffling around in the shadows. "Sure I can't make you one?" He lifted the lid on the battered stainless coffee machine, inserted the puck and picked through the assortment of mugs while the heater primed.
"No. I can't..." Sam's voice was different, deeper. "don't want to mess with stimulants just yet."
Tom laughed, slamming the lid and punching the button to begin brewing.
"When have you ever been one to not take anything?"
With a sharp click one end of the loft space became bathed in the cold glow of hanging sodium lights. Sam stood beneath the harsh glare and dropped the switch box to let it swing by its wire from the ceiling.
Tom forgot all about his coffee.
"Since I got here, Tom, this is what I wanted to show you."
Tom's mouth opened and closed s
Of Andys and UpgradesOf Andys and Upgrades4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Andy knew he was a relic. He used to violently object when it was suggested that he was past his prime, but after a while the reality was too apparent to ignore.
It had been years, maybe decades since he'd been able to find factory fresh parts. Most of his equipment now was made up from bits scavenged and scrounged, then adapted as best he could.
Sometimes there would be an accident in the construction projects, and if he was lucky, and quick, he could tear off whole limbs or liberate power cells before the maintenance crews arrived to chase him away.
Most of these parts were too new, but some could be modified to fit, the rest traded away.
Andy found himself wandering through a section of the city that he remembered as it had been, vibrant and alive, but as he trudged down the streets and through the alleys, he found the roads in disrepair and littered with rubble and refuse. The once tall and gleaming buildings that reached skyward were now bent and broken, some leaning across the st
Sons and FathersSons and Fathers2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Stuart lost his footing scrambling over the shattered garden wall and fell, hard. As he struggled to his feet, his head still ringing from the tumble his pursuer caught him up and knocked him back down harder still.
"You frickin bastard," Stuart spat blood and dust, rolling away from a second blow as the infantryman swung the butt-end of his rifle down, narrowly missing him. Managing to get some traction in the rubble, he sat up as best he could and shuffled backwards, the seat of his pants dragging in the dirt, hands and feet scrabbling for purchase until his shoulders met the outer wall of the car shed, and there he stopped.
The soldier stayed still, its seven plus feet of arms and legs bent at obtuse angles as it crouched low to the ground, watching, waiting.
There was a throaty gargling noise, with a tinny mechanical voice following in broken English a few moments out of sync.
"Show other soldier units." The tall figure leaned forward, shuffling its feet and free hand to keep balan
Union BluesUnion Blues2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"That suit's not safe on my dock," the voice boomed across the row of vacant lifter pads to the mezzanine, "who gave you clearance to come out here?" Horik's visor was up, the bulky exo-suit exaggerating his movements as he marched across the deck.
"You must be Horik," the taller of the three men stepped to the railing, gripped it in both hands and grinned, "just the man we wanted to see." Behind him, similarly clad in dark matte-fabric three piece affairs, the man's companions unbuttoned their jackets exposing large handled handguns tucked in their waistbands.
"Horik, my good man, we've come to improve your working conditions. We're bringing your High Mars Orbiteers into the fold of the Dock Workers' Nine Three. Wage protection, health benefits, job security, everything the working man could wish for."
Horik stopped a few meters away from the trio and surveyed the slick figure, grinning as he was like the Cheshire cat.
"We've already got that, without paying percentage to you, so why
Vertiginous OriginVertiginous Origin6 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
"What is it that's troubling you?" The doctor could clearly see the discomfort in the young man's face as he wrote 'Anxiety' on his steno pad.
"It's getting harder and harder to go outside. It's wide open spaces; they terrify me." He clutched at the seat cushion beneath him, head down, eyes haggard beneath rough cut bangs, "I had to hide under an umbrella to get to the subway, and I picked you because you're in a tower over the tube station; isn't that weird?"
He noted the cloudless sky through the window. 'Agoraphobia,' he wrote on his pad, 'possible Anablephobia'. "How long has this been affecting you?"
"All my life, but not like this. The older I get, the more debilitating it's become."
"How old are you exactly?" he asked, adding 'Progressive' to his notes.
"Nineteen." He released the chair only briefly with one hand to rub at his nose, "Twenty on the twenty eighth of September."
The doctor scribbled 'Libra' as he continued. "Born here in St.Louis?"
"I was. I moved to Phoenix when I
Nothing Left to Live ForNothing Left to Live For3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It was June when Mark and Alicia kissed each other one last time before strapping in for the long sleep to Caltrani. "I love you", Mark had said as the canopies had closed. "Elephant shoes", she mouthed back, and giggled behind the glass that separated their two capsules.
Neither knew it would be their very last kiss, her capsule bleeding out in flight. When they came to wake her she was dried nearly to dust.
They would have no family. He was left alone.
Back home he knew his friends and family would have long passed on. Maybe there were nieces and nephews, or great to some incomprehensible exponent - great nieces and nephews, but they were as lost to him as his love.
Home would have to be where his heart was, where she was planted in the foreign ground.
He worked first as a labourer, helping build the colony up, then as a soldier defending it against those that would see it fail. He'd seen wars before, and was trained for them, but this was a profession he had looked to the stars to e
Pete, Re-PetePete, Re-Pete6 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
Two hours ago, Pete had been pulled gasping from a tank of jelly. Now he sat in an immaculate office, wearing borrowed clothes with his employer staring him down from the far side of a granite slab desk top.
"Welcome back, Pete." Terrence Carter, syndicate heavyweight and the man Pete ran data packets for. "I must say, you look better than you did the last time I saw you."
Pete sat straight in his chair, tentatively rolling and flexing muscle that remembered thirty eight years of abusive mileage, but didn't feel a days wear and tear. "What happened Terry, what's going on?"
"You were running a very special package for me Pete, one we couldn't copy, one we had to risk transporting as original data." Terry paused, pulling at each of his white shirt cuffs in turn, evening their length against the dark fabric of his suit. "You had an incident Pete, for some reason you seem to have hidden my package from me. I don't know exactly what went wrong in your head, Pete, but when we finally... reco
Flat OutFlat Out3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Jeanine walked the length of her racer, running her bare hand across the seams, feeling for any fastener stressed out of place, trying to get a sense of any uneasiness in the craft. She paused and read the name stenciled down the side, "Spirit of America : Ultra III"
"Craig ran the Spirit to four hundred miles an hour in nineteen sixty three." Jeanine talked over her shoulder to the small group of friends and family that had gathered on the Salt Flats to cheer her on. "In sixty three, Corvettes were pushing one hundred forty, maybe one fifty miles per hour. Breedlove took her to four.
The fifty foot long silver tube lay slung between four tall skinny wheels at the end of axels shaped like aircraft wings. The cockpit was barely a sliver disrupting the graceful arc of the craft ahead of the massive intake ports and menacing teeth of the turbines.
"He almost got to seven hundred before he crashed. Might have gotten eight if he'd had a better day."
The salt crunched softly under her boots
From Far Away and Deep BelowFrom Far Away and Deep Below3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Walter had felt cold before, but nothing like this. In the hours since sundown the temperature had dropped steadily, but in the last hundred yards it had been dropping twice as fast.
He had to find shelter quickly or risk freezing to death.
Cresting a small hill, Walter came upon a door stuck as if by accident in the side of a tall snow drift. A smooth metal oval was clearly cut into the side of a wall buried in the ice. Walter, too cold and desperate to be cautious simply pushed on it, and when it retracted out of his way, he fell in a heap to the floor inside.
Walter struggled to regain his footing, and with difficulty managed to stand. Turning, he realized the oval shape had closed behind him, sealing him off from the cold and the wind outside.
Before him a round tunnel stretched away, smooth walled and featureless.
Walter cleared his throat noisily and was startled by a voice.
"Come, come, bring it to us please."
The sound was nothing if not unnerving.
Realizing there was nowhere t
The TravellerThe Traveller1 year ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Rosa jumped, spilling her latte as the man dropped heavily into the seat across from her, long hair mussed, his face a shadow in the halo cast by the late afternoon sun at his back.
"Lovely place this, yes?" His accent almost familiar.
"The café? Yes, it's nice, but I was " He cut her off abruptly.
"No, no, I mean yes, the establishment is fine, but the world, the world is a lovely one." He paused, pulling on his long chin with the spider-like fingers of one pale hand. "Reminds me a bit of another, the name of which escapes me."
"Another world? Listen, I'm sorry, but I'm not interested " Again he spoke over her.
"Of course you're interested, who isn't really?" He spread his hands flat on the table and cocked his head to one side. "How'd you fancy a trip to another planet. Don't worry, I've done this dozens of times."
Rosa smiled placatingly, "My mother always told me never to accept rides from strangers."
He grinned. "Jhesehetza, stranger than some, but no stranger than
To Sleep AloneTo Sleep Alone4 years ago in Science Fiction More Like This
Nathan hated fighting with Claire. It was inevitable; they'd been awake and otherwise alone with the ship, tending to its needs, granting their minds a temporary reprieve from the long sleep. If you spent a few months alone with only your partner hurtling through deep space, you'd find things to disagree on too.
He never meant to argue, she was just so pig-headed sometimes. Before he knew it a rolled eye and sharp comment became a tennis match of barked recriminations and rebuttals, and the inevitable storming off to opposite ends of the ship.
He watched her from his perch in the observation deck as she moved among the rows of plants in the greenery below. The outer hull plates were transparent now, the ship having rolled towards a star similar enough to Sol, so close as to provide light, yet distant enough not to scorch the delicate plant-life. He studied her as she stripped to the waist and soaked up the sun's rays herself.
It was his captivation with the sheer beauty of her that aff
MinimalismMinimalism1 year ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The Captain stood just inside the doorway of the hut, regarding with amusement the figure sitting in the lotus position in the middle of the room.
"It's over Thomas, we've come to take you back." The Captain scuffed his boot on the unusual surface of the floor, glass-like but with a sandy grit embedded. "You must be ready to leave all this," he gestured at the bare walls of a similar smooth surface devoid of any window or adornment, "all this vacancy behind."
Thomas remained seated, legs crossed, palms upwards resting on his knees. He didn't open his eyes, and when he spoke the Captain had to strain to hear him. "It is over, it pleases me to hear you acknowledge this so readily Captain ," he left the word hanging as a question.
"Dennison." The answer a reflex. "We have a cruiser on the beach waiting to take us back to the carrier, and there are a number of people very anxious to speak with you there."
Thomas stretched his arms out to either side, palms still facing up. Beside the