|56 min read
Bet you thought we weren't coming back, didn't you? Well once again we've proved you wrong!

It wasn't easy. No really, it wasn't, and in fact, in future it would be nice if you guys could be slightly less awesome and make this whole judging business easier. But we overcame the hurdles that life placed in our way and judged the hell out of all your fabulous entries.

And so finally (and apparently for the first time since 2010), we are ready to announce not just one, but ALL of the winners for FFM 2015, who will be receiving this very "flashy" mug, designed by our very own wonderful neurotype!

FFM Mug for 2015 by Flash-Fic-Month

Isn't it tentacular?


And so, without further ado, the winners of FFM 2015 are...


----------------------------------------------------- WEEK ONE WINNER ----------------------------------------------------


Some Disassembly RequiredFew cared to admit it, but Sebastian Lloyd had a head for business. It had been hand-fitted by Stanton Precision Instruments and was capable of processing more than sixty-two economic calculations simultaneously. If you wanted the best service, you went to Edwin Pierce Esquire or Jarvis von Hyde. But if you wanted the best price, you went to Lloyd.
    Julius Foster rang the bell on the counter with a brass fingertip. There was a hiss of steam from the back room, and the sound of a chair being scraped back across the floorboards. Knowing the value of everything, and pursuing a more or less sedentary profession, Lloyd had not spared the same expense on his legs as he had on his patented pneumatic processor.
     Foster took the opportunity to have one more look around the shop. The selection of wares out front was adequate—certainly a fair mix of parts—but there was nothing remarkable. Nothing befitting his steady rise into high s
The CatLord Harlington pushes between phosphorescent strands of growth stretching for the lightless sky. A shame that the world has furnished him with no game greater than the elephant—but there are hunting grounds beyond the world, and lands darker than darkest Africa.
    Cold, stagnant water in knee-high boots. The warning click of the Ferniot counter. Shut it off. What threat is ALICE exposure after Malaria in Nairobi? After fever in the Congo? His quarry is near: a few dark tendrils waving above the glowing multitude. He readies his weapon: a shotgun over a large-calibre rifle.
    In the overgrowth, progress is unnaturally slow. Everything is silent, calm. Bright shoots curl around Harlington’s coat, drag across the fabric, then retreat as he passes. Despite the cold, he remembers India, the trail through the wilderness, the guide who vanished into the grass and was never seen again. He presses on, wading through the stalks until they
The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Lucky“Them’s be fightin’ wordses!” cried Bad Grammar McGraw.
    The patrons of the Anvil and Piano fell silent.
    “Wait!” shouted Unlucky Luke, waving his hands frantically. “I said posse. Your sister’s posse.”
    “He’s done saided it again!” McGraw slammed down his chuggin’ whiskey. “These calls for an duel!”
    Unlucky Luke found himself being shoved outside into the dusty street. He wasn’t sure whether it was deliberate or just a result of the natural rush of drunken cowboys hurrying to gawk. Either way, he found himself standing in the middle of the road facing down Bad Grammar McGraw.
    “Ain’t nobody is can outdraw McGraw!” He waggled his fingers over his holster.
    Unlucky Luke was aware that duelling etiquette dictated that he retu
Osiris Likes This“My tongue feels like sandpaper.”
    Nut rubbed her eyes. “Isn’t that normal when you’ve got the head of a lioness?”
    “Yeah, but this is like double sandpaper.” Sekhmet gave her lips an experimental lick. “This is like double sandpaper with extra sand.”
    “Urrgh.” Nekhbet sat up, clutching her head. “I’ve got a hangover the size of Upper Egypt! What time is it?”
    “It’s...” Nut fished her phone out of her pocket. “It’s 2015. Look, we’ve got smartphones and everything.”
    “Oh no!” Anuket started to stand up, realised that standing up would make her chunder, and sat back down. “I was supposed to be at work three millennia ago!”
    “I think...I think, um...I think...” Sekhmet was still slightly


Bodice Ripper'Imogen's bosom heaved as the scaly creature bore down on her. She was famous for being an eccentric adventurer, but had she been too eccentrically adventurous this time?
'She threw her head back in abandon. If fucking a velociraptor was wrong, she didn't want to be right.'
Susan squinted at her kindle. She wasn't quite sure why she'd downloaded this. These stories always seemed to portray rape as a valid romantic option; it creeped her out.
Suddenly a pack of velociraptors burst into the room. It wasn't consensual at first, but after a while it became consensual, so it was okay.
  FFM 04 - The Dream PrisonThe thirteenth bell chimed, and I snapped my pocket watch closed.  I’d been fishing for mythical beasts for weeks in this world of endless night, and knew the shift change didn’t take long.  I knew the paths the guards took, and I knew the layout of their ethereal prison.  I darted forward from the shadows.
What are you doing? the voice whispered in my ear.
“Stopping this,” I hissed.
No.  That is not your place. The voice of The Hat had raised from a whisper to a boom that only I could hear.  
“Shove it.  I’m doing this.”  Pulling my scarf tight, I slipped through the labyrinthine arrangement of holding cells, situated in clusters to maximize neural connection.  It’d taken some work, but I’d found the Gypsy king, and all four-hundred and four of his missing Pied Crows.  The once proud order of dream nights huddled in their cells, their black and white uniforms fading to a fl

Mature Content

   The Lady by the LakeshoreThe bag is bulging and the boy is barely a third of the way around the lake. Who knew there’d be so much trash?! But he’s determined if nothing else, and he returns to his task after a quick water break. The day is warm, with the sun trying to break through the tree canopy surrounding the lake, sunlight glittering off the water where it touches. The shore is littered with rocks, some smooth, some jagged and ready for unsuspecting do-gooders to step on them.
The boy tries using the claw to pick up a can that’s bobbing amongst some rocks, just out of reach. It only serves to push it further into the lake. With a huff and a will of steel, he takes off his shoes and rolls up his trousers, making sure the bag won’t get taken away by the gentle lap of waves on the lakeshore. He wades out, getting past the rocks to feel the sand squish between his toes; he can almost reach the can with the claw, just a little further…
“Be careful, it slopes.” The boy

Mature Content

   The Good GuyHank burst through the shack’s window, his six-shooter pointed at a man in black who was frantically buttering baps.
“Draw your gun, rattlesnake!” snarled Hank.
“What?” The man looked up at him. “What’s going on..?”
Hank touched his white stetson. “Just the good guy arriving to deal with the bad guy.”
“Oh, for…” The man put down his knife. “Did you actually read my invitation?”
Hank lowered his gun and dug out the card. Shootout Tonight! was at the top. He looked more closely and tucked under RSVP he spotted Dress Code: Goth. Hank glanced at the man in black again. He was wearing a crucifix and a steer skull belt buckle.
The Goth frowned. “I’m just trying to organise a neighbourly get-together and…” There was a knock and he started towards the door. “That’s stereotypical thinking. ‘Black, bad’! ‘Whit
   The Law of Space-TimeFor a rig I'd built in my tool shed, it looked like a pretty promising little time machine. A spherical frame, eight feet around, with the pilot's chair anchored in the middle, half-surrounded by monitors. After the faculty decided not to accept my original project, I moved onto a more mundane study of physics, but in secret, for years, I'd been smuggling out the equipment I needed from their lab. Finally, it was ready.
“All systems functioning within parameters” flickered on the central display. I settled into the seat, feeling more nervous than I ever had in my life. I punched in the activation sequence and felt the machine start to hum with power.
I switched on the camcorder I'd mounted inside and watched as a shadow rose up all four walls of the shed. Night had fallen from my perspective. I let out a single laugh, feeling elated at the first sign that it was working as intended. Then the room filled with new light as the next day began. By now the on-board computer woul
  FFM 4 - The Spine of the WorldHe can't remember when he last took the medication. It could have been weeks. He doesn't know, can't think: skull pulsing with maggots. They've burrowed into the cavity of his braincase, squirmed against the flat bones of his cranium. He hears them sliding, feels them fester in his grey matter. Feels them breed.
He can't go outside. Hasn't tried, too afraid, yet promises each time, huddled in a dull corner, he will do it, soon. He sees a flickering shadow waiting. He hears metal screams. He is cured but they will poison him. To leave was slavery, to stay starvation.
He reaches a hand but his fingers are palm leaves. His body is a knife, too sharp to move incautiously. He has no choice, never had except for the when of his fate. Leaves wrap around the scaled handle of his door-turned-tree. Feels the jolt of electricity when it resists, but he pushes through and turns.
His footsteps fail. He steps outside the monolith. The shadow is behind him, above him, somewhere he can't see. The tree
  FFM15 - 9: Rodent on a StringYou have items with missing data. Please update missing fields.
“Oh no.” Zeus bit down on his lip and squinted at the message on the screen. The little box was blocking his page. He wanted it gone. He nudged the small rodent until the arrowhead rested on the OK button. He pressed down on the rodent and the offending box disappeared.
Zeus sat up with a grin. That wasn’t so hard. He didn’t know what Hera was always complaining about. Dealing with computators was easy. You just needed to keep pressing on the rodent and everything would work out.
Before Zeus’s smugness could build any higher, another box appeared on his screen, causing him to groan. This one wanted him to put things into boxes. Well, he could do that. He used the arrowhead to select each box, then pressed the letters on the writingselectorpad to fill each one in. Pushing the arrowhead down to the bottom of the box he pressed OK again.
There. Easy. No need to call the grandkids after all
   Ghoul--Day 7“Remind me why we’re here again?” Elliot whispered.  For the second time in a week, he was on his hands and knees crawling through a section of the city sewer.  Fortunately, it had been shut off from the rest of the sewer due to issues with the pipes about ten years ago.  Unfortunately, it still stank.
“Because if we don’t find it by tomorrow, they’ll find another one of our classmates disemboweled on the roof of the school,” Raven replied.  “Not that I would really mind—violent, unexplained deaths add a nice touch of horror to the monotony of school—but I’d rather watch them haul the body out than be the body.”
He could just barely see her ahead of him in the beam of his dying flashlight; she was moving a lot faster.  Probably because skinny-jeans and combat boots are better for crawling in sewers than sweatpants and Vans, but he liked to think it was just because she was shorter than him.
  Click! Hot Sex In Temple!A tidal wave of numbers in red. The notifications kept coming. There were none defending her in the comments, none calling out the abuser. All their words were spat at her. They’ve seen her whole and deemed her ugly.
He had tagged her in the videos, but she wasn’t that girl anymore. That screaming virgin was gone.
Her phone pulsed with notifications. It was like his hands were still on her, groping, violating, piece by piece eroding her value as a woman until she became nothing.  A snake nuzzled her cheek.
There was no choice but to leave this town and find a place to be alone. But first . . . she picked up her phone and channelled all the hatred they sent behind shields of anonymity. Medusa, with great care, took a selfie and posted it online.

----------------------------------------------------- WEEK TWO WINNER ----------------------------------------------------


Day 11: Ghosts and Pirates, Oh My! (Plus Pi)Tim, anticapitalist astrodynamicist, disavowed an empire built for those renegade marauders. Pirates gleefully ran to the promised land.
Taking to sewers they all saw torments, all so ghostly summoners could erotically go partying.
Ragnarok: just a privateer hitting a mirror: hurricane and lightning levelling all. Timothy stood, a dumbstruck idiot shouting at buccaneers. Irritated pirates thus retreated.
Then came Death, cleansing. It was terrifying. Heaving cleavage, a reaper that nightmares gather to. Mirrored ghosts, so heathenish, harassed marauders.
Phantasms slumming sewers so cleverly, questioned why. Shit offended in there. Tim gave up, apocalyptic reasons completely aweing Timothy. Evidently, wizardry is theatricalised.
  FFM day 16- Smoke and ScalesThere’s a place between the lights, in the darkest gutters of this world, where the misfits and the disavowed find sanctuary. Somewhere in between the lights, the gleaming attractions that attract all magpies and modern day privateers, is a palpable, sinister thing.
The girl was sprawled on her floor, just by the window. Now bathed in moonlight, she’d enjoyed a book in the daytime, drinking words and sunshine in the hours before her death. That window was the last warm comfort she had known, before the curtain dropped.
Simon stood in the doorway, a pipe shoved in his mouth. He drew the smoke deep into his lungs, savoring the way he felt like his ribcage held traces of the sun.
Creatures like him were literally junkies for fire, living for the next chance they had to feel something burn. When it got bad enough, it didn’t really matter what, or who, burned. Dragons weren’t a common sight in law enforcement; little to no self control had caused good men to b


FFM 2015 16: Sexing SilhouettesI’ve raised my glass to watch the olive sink down on its stick when I see Smoke through the martini. He’s looking around the bar for me, his papery peppery hair fluttering about. I put my cocktail down on the counter and take a step toward him. He takes an involuntary step back.
“It’s so dark in here, I didn’t see you.”
“It’s the fall guy,” he tells me. “He’s taken a fall.”
Broken bones? Obscure provincial hospital to dispense with a paper trail?
He shakes his head. “Shovels.”
Let’s go.
Smoke doesn’t move. He’s staring at the bartender, so I stare too. The bartender’s lighting up a Marlboro Black and saying, “Yah two are a pair ah serious weirdos, yah know that?”
“And you,” Smoke says, “are dying of lung cancer in three months’ time.”
We’re drifting out and down the steps when Smoke bursts out, “Would it really kill you t
  FFM16 - A Tail of DespairTimes are tough for all of us and we have to look out for number one. Or in my case, one through six as my litter numbered five little ones this year. I'm not sorry about what I did. I don't know the other squirrels who buried those nuts, and I don't care to know them. I am the one who found them, so in my books that makes them mine for the taking.
I suppose you want answers. You want to know why I did it, how I found the location and how I got them out. And you probably wanna know how I could do such a callous thing as steal them. Well, let me tell you it gets easy to do hard things when your being is at stake.
Five extra mouths is a lot to feed. It was getting late in the year and I knew we weren't going to make it through the winter if I didn't come up with a plan real fast. There was just no way I was going to be able to find and store enough food for all of us in time.
I had already lost a baby by mid-September. Fell right out of the nest, head over tail straight down to the groun

Mature Content

  FFM 11 - Plot Ripper (Bodice Twist)In the wild west, one month passed since the zombie apocalypse, and also since Gershwin lost his lover. He remembered Juwanda's stricken face, her hand reaching out, her last words: "Oh, Gershwin!  Take me!"
But she was too far away. He grabbed the only one he could reach—a velociraptor. They couldn't understand each other at first and were both too grief-struck to try. Him with Juwanda and the velociraptor with his fallen pack and a woman named Susan.
By now, his hope that they survived had faded into grief. All he had left was Juwanda's ribbon, found near a crushed body and now used to tie his lengthening hair, and Susan's kindle, which was useful for learning how to understand the velociraptor he was stuck with.
His name was Alex and he was the leader of a band of velociraptor pirates. Retired because none of their jobs mattered now. In return, he told Alex his story: born in a circus, worked as a fairground giant, then ran away to the wild west.
They stayed together in t
  Silver NoirSilver bullets come seven to a magazine, all fitted to a special handgun carried alongside the usual, and every single shot has to be accounted for. Expensive little things. A cop can get written up for being too wasteful and careless with them – there’s been problems, see, with some of the less upstanding boys selling the silver on the side, then reporting a lot of ‘missed shots’ in mysterious ‘it got away’ Big Fish circumstances.
I used all seven of mine last night. Every single one, against just one target. None of them missed. The first was fatal. I kept shooting anyhow.
I am far beyond write-ups now.
I should turn myself in, I know. I should have done it last night, after I’d finished staring at the body. I wasn’t thinking. I was blank. The force was all I knew, and now it was gone. My life was over. I left the gun there – no ammo, no further use in it for me – and I just…wandered off.
I’m not wandering anymor
  FFM15 - 16: Veuve NoirThere is a place where dreams and reality blur into a single, pleasure-filled haze. Where the air is thicker than the water, and the water runs with honey. Where there are no rules or limitations, and all pain, pleasure, and paradise bows down in the name of the queen. They call it Silk.
Silk was the kind of joint that leant its name to its clientele, or the other way around. Never in the same place twice, it was the elite of the elite. If you could afford to know where Silk was going to be, you could afford whatever they were selling inside. Butterfly dust, bee venom. Heck, even aphids’ honey was on the menu there. Or so the rumours went.
See, my partner and I had been on Silk’s trail for months. Following one dry lead after another. Like leaves in the fall, our clues on the elusive club were dead and cold, slowly being plucked away by the wind and the night. And the body count had continued to grow. Never mind the unlicenced honey, or the black
  Lait FataleIt had been raining for hours, and there was only the light from the streetlamps to guide me as I made my way across the garden to where my payment was regularly left. I’ve never met my employers, naturally—they don’t want to get their hands dirty. That’s why they hire hedgehogs like me. Well, they used to hire me…
People can get squeamish about this kind of work. They’re able to ignore what I do to the slugs but they don’t have the stomach to think about me targeting the worms. What I say is, if you put out a hit on the slugs, you’ve got to expect a few associated casualties.
But perhaps I shouldn’t complain. They always pay upfront and it’s good stuff. Cat biscuits. Dog food. Though tonight I reached the bowl and it was something different.
It gleamed in the dark—white, pure and innocent. Maybe that should have been enough to warn me. Nothing that sweet can be trusted. But I was getting old and tired and sloppy. I ate

Mature Content

  Silver LiningThe side-effects were a problem. Not for Frank—it was his product, and an entrepreneur always stood by his product—but for business itself. It had been quite a while since he’d been able to act as the face of his own company. That was Tony’s job, though by now even he was getting a bit too scaly for the people on the street. Frank parted the blinds of his office window and peered out at the pinprick ember of the cigarette at the corner of the road. Tony spotted the sudden chink of light from the window and met Frank’s gaze, his eyes dim circles like a deer’s on the highway. Well, not like a deer’s, but not human either. That definitely wasn’t helping sales.
    The phone rang.
    “Yeah?” Frank ashed his cigarette into the coffee cup on his desk.
    “Hey, Frank, is that you?”
    “No, this is Frank’s secretary: the hot brun

----------------------------------------------------- WEEK THREE WINNER -----------------------------------------------------


PyreThere’s a place between the lights, in the darkest gutters of this world, where the misfits and the disavowed find sanctuary. While Inglemouth Narrows fit Yves like a glove, Asha had never really belonged here. She'd been meant for greater things.
Now she was dead.
Yves sat against the wall he'd staggered back into, trenchcoat pooled around him, his one good eye staring unblinking at the body. She was framed in a square of moonlight, and that was wrong.
Sunlight, thought Yves. It's supposed to be sunlight.
He'd been dead before. He didn't want that for her. Every time he'd found himself floating in that void, discarnate and nameless, she'd brought him back. She'd mended his wounds with her own djinn fire, knitting flaming scars on his skin. He was half surprised that he hadn't fallen down dead the moment her soul was extinguished. Her power was the only thing holding him together, literally and metaphorically.
His hands moved independently of his brain, finding a ci
AloneThe pines bend and rustle in the wind, whisking up the rain as I climb the hill to the lookout point. I used to come here every night after the abduction wondering if you were there in the town below, or if you were dead, or a vision, or a dream.
Sitting at the precipice in the wet grass, I see warships bristling on the horizon, and millions more mixed up with the stars above. A single towering ship sits poised over our town, its talons dug deep into the rubble. I push myself over the edge.
They conditioned us to end our lives once humanity had been eradicated.
We were supposed to do this together.
Search PartyWe find Adams and Lee crumpled in the snow at the foot of the glacier. Their footprints have already been covered by the blizzard, but it wasn't hard to locate them.
“Christ, they're dead,” says Collins. He's kneeling next to them, checking pulses and pupil dilation. I'm not sure why he bothers, it's clear from the way they lie and the crimson stain on the ice at roughly head height. I wipe the blood away. There's a shadowy object frozen behind it.
“Do you see this?” I ask. “There's something in the ice, it's huge.”
Collins squints. “A boulder?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “There's no way it's a boulder, look at those twisting shapes there.” The object did indeed have a great deal of tentacles, corkscrewing into the dense blue ice.
“Holy shit, that's a creature? Something prehistoric, or something?”
“Got to be.”
“This is fucked up. Rob and Scott killed each other next to this thing?&



Mature Content

   21.15 MnemonicsHe awoke to sunlight in his eyes and the smell of her. Every day, he would stay in bed just a little bit longer than he ought to, just to bask in the glory of smell she had left behind. It was roses and mint and sandalwood and woman and a million other things he couldn’t have described, even if he tried, but it was her, and he would never forget it, as long as he lived, and probably not for a long time after he died.
But every day, the smell grew fainter, the sheets seemed to grow colder, and it was one more day since the last time he woke with her actually there.
  AbsenceHe thought it would be her conversation he would miss, or the sparkle of her eyes, or her laugh, or the feel of her hand in his, or the things they did together, or the softness of her lips, or the sex. But what he missed most, in the end, was only the feel of a warm living breathing body beside his in the bed as he slept: the knowledge that, there in the night and the darkness when he must close his eyes and loose his mind and forget the world, and the world might as well forget him, when anything might happen to his sleeping body or his dreaming mind, he was all alone.   The Iron HengeThe Henge was a marvel. Where so much in the Alterworld was chaos and madness—adaptation indistinguishable from aberration—here was order and sense. This was an object with meaning: a function to perform, a message to be discovered.
    I lifted the mouthpiece of the radio to my lips. “The structure is approximately eight feet in height and between thirty and fifty in diameter. Difficult to be say without better illumination. It appears...” man-made would be hideously inappropriate, “deliberately assembled.”
    I walked around the perimeter of the Henge, apparently a perfect circle. It would be difficult to prove conclusively that this was not the result of some natural process. It could conceivably have been an artefact left by some long-dispersed ALICE hotspot, but it could not be purely geological. For one thing, the streaks of rust suggested it was at least partially composed of iron. For ano
    FFM Day 21- 116 DaysThe bunker holds 40 people. They wear soldiers’ true uniforms: blood and piss and grime. They huddle in the dark, screaming as shock-waves rage through rock and steel. The explosions subside; the siege ends.
The hatch is buried.
The war ends in a hole: no heroes, no options. The wild grows in their hearts, thick and lusting, sharp like thorns.
29 days after food, they eat leather. They dream of rescue.
60 days after, they eat shoes and cardboard and blankets. Soldiers swallow candle wax and dream of a flesh-lottery.
115 days after, they execute a man for mutiny.
116 days after food, they eat meat again. The body is only going to rot, after all.  

Mature Content

  LosingI suppose I’ve just seen one too many pictures of skinny, perfect models. I’ve had enough of being this weight. It doesn’t help that my new colleague is a size 6 and gorgeous. The sort of woman who can get away with wearing that ridiculous t-shirt with the octopus on the front, even though she’s not exactly young.
So. My mind is made up.
Should I be losing weight this quickly?
Saw the doctor but I got the usual: leave it a couple of weeks… If you’re still worried, I’ll refer you for some tests...
Yeah, I get it. Go away… Go away…
Today, nearly everyone I bump into seems to be on a diet. Mina from the office down the corridor, John at the newsagent’s, my neighbour Pauline. Me and Pauline joke about how well we’re doing.
Everyone always wants to be thinner but it suddenly feels like weight loss has turned into a craze. When I get to work, I think about asking my colleague if anyone she knows is losing weight too but we

----------------------------------------------------- WEEK FOUR WINNER -----------------------------------------------------


The Great GauntletIt had begun as a successful day. The solar winds had been kind, and Elianara had nearly made it to Zerxath with her load of smuggled ether ore when she was suddenly blindsided by a trollish warship. Now her ship was demolished, the ether ore was gone, and Elianara was hanging suspended in a force field and being questioned by a trollish legionnaire in a black leather trench coat.
“What business has an elf with a shipload of ether ore on Zerxath?”
“What do you think?” Elianara rolled her eyes. “Better question: why am I still alive?”
The legionnaire scowled, clasping his hands behind his back. “Do you know the legend of the Great Gauntlet, elf?”
She did. The Great Gauntlet had been made by the dwarfs of the Dark Planet, as the story went: it could shelter the wearer's hand from any heat, even if they should reach into the core of a star. But it had been used to dark purpose, and all the evil it had touched had corrupted it, until even its
The PriceAt first we didn't know that it was alive. It fell to earth as a violet mist; and violet and misty it would remain, though it sometimes took the form of a woman and sometimes that of a man. Its speech, such as it was, was little more than well-formed wind: an amethyst sparkle whispered into the mind, soft and glittering. For a long time, at first, we couldn't understand it, and knew not what it was that had fallen to us from some distant star.
It lived among us, and learned from us. It learned to take our shapes and hiss our words in such a way that we could hear them. It learned to laugh with us and weep with us. We gave it a name: we gave it many names: but it simply shook its head and laughed and said, “We have no name. We need none.”
Whence had it come? It gave us no answer. And wherefore? It smiled at us, a secret sparkling smile, and said only: “This world is so beautiful.”
And it was. We showed it all the beauty of our world: the mountains and the forests
The King's GiftsOn the boy's first day accompanying the king about his duties, the king's councilor came to them with a sheaf of scrolls. “My lord,” he said, unrolling the first, “the Ambassador of Zazir desires a token of your goodwill. The Zazirian army is mounting, my lord. We must buy them into peace or prepare for war.”
“Ha!” snorted the king. “Send him a white elephant: that ought to please him.”
“The Ambassador of Zazir will be honored by the gift of a sacred elephant,” agreed the councilor, and unrolled the second scroll. “Do you recall the carpet-merchant who decorated your palace? He must yet be paid.”
“He was rude to me at the last feast,” said the king. “Send him one too.”
The boy frowned at that. Why should one who dishonored the great king be granted so sacred a gift? But he said nothing, for the king's word was law.
The councilor unrolled his third scroll. “Then there is the matter of t
Jeanne's MiracleJeanne stared, flabbergasted. She had looked out of the window expecting to see a lovely gibbous moon. She had not expected to see a two-headed barbarian in a codpiece.
She tried to speak, realized that there was nothing she could possibly say in this situation (not to mention that the barbarian wouldn't hear her through the glass), contemplated turning back to the carrot she was meant to be peeling, and instead went right on staring.
The barbarian winked at her with both his heads and walked up to the window, where he stood in stark contrast to the black night behind him. The word chiaroscuro utterly failed to cross Jeanne's mind, along with a great many other words: she was still grappling with the concept of speech in general.
He knocked. She opened the window.
“Greetings, Jeanne, most pulchritudinous of maidens,” said the barbarian's left head. “As you have summoned me, so have I come. What wondrous adventures we shall –”
“I didn'


  The HydraThe pre-dawn morning was clear, the moon was still bright, and Celery had never been more flabbergasted in his life.
“Wait, go back – what was my part in this… this amorphous little plan of yours again?”
Skall the Barbarian grinned, showing off every gap in her teeth to full effect.
“Distraction,” she said.
The rogue was just puffing up to let their muscle know exactly what he thought when Sir Ethanol elbowed him in the side.
“Let it be,” the knight muttered, polishing Excelsior with his usual care. “It’s not a bad plan, and we’ve spent this entire quest trying to get her to think ahead. We need to encourage every scrap of judgment she shows.”
“Do you even remember what happened the last time we went with this kind of plan? Blue’s best healing spells barely managed to cicatrize your wounds!”
“This isn’t going to be like Terminus,” Ethanol replied. “We know what
  Fight the UnfightableSummoned from its eldritch sea, the Hydra reared its heads, unfurling, silhouetted against the moon. The first head approached with a vicious twinkle in its yellow eye, its needle teeth bared in a deadly grin. Moist acid breath stung my eyes like ethanol.
“Tell me a ssstory,” it hissed.
I swallowed. “Once upon a time-”
“A sstory about a barbarian. And forgiveness. And a carrot.”
“Once upon a time there was an orcish barbarian called Raknar. A legend in his own time, the tales of his exploits are many, but this one is perhaps the greatest of all. Raknar journeyed the length and breadth of fiction, and no foe could offer him a sufficient challenge. Ennui set in, but as he travelled, he heard tales of one place all monsters feared to tread. One day he found himself at its gates, and it was anticipation, not fear that filled his heart. This was where the greatest monster of all dwelt. This was his ultimate quarry. Dauntless in the face of certain d
  25.15 Crazy 8sTo look at, you wouldn’t think much of anything ever went on in the Eight Palms apartment complex. The buildings were the most boring shade of taupe that I’d ever seen, the grass was well cared for, and the sidewalks were clean. The only fly in the ointment was the body.
The management had gotten a call from a neighbor about the smell coming from unit eighty-eight, and when they’d checked on it, management called the cops. So here we were, my partner and I, plus a couple of uniforms rounding up witnesses and CSI looking into the minutiae surrounding the body.
“That’s the eighth Spider dead in two months.” Octavius sounded about halfway between frustration and admiration for whoever was taking out the gang of sorcerers.
From what I could tell, the four decorative buttons on either shoulder of his vest proclaimed his affiliation, and the look of shock on his face and lack of any marks on his body proclaimed that his death had been magical. I’d le
   FFM30 - ChimeraNot many in England had heard of a menagerie, and those who had certainly never thought they would be able to see one with their own eyes. The royal zoo was the most exciting earthly thing a peasant could experience, after the annual spring toenail contest and shearing, that was. Even though the animals were right in front of their faces some were still too stubborn to believe they existed, chalking the beasts up to devilish illusions.
The collection had originally begun as a security measure to protect the king's palace from the French. Roe deer were all that were required. The variety and ferocity of the protective animals grew with the number of countries that tried to invade. The beasts were gathered from around the empire and placed in pits and cages around the tower to further deter intruders. The king's esteem grew with his assemblage of teeth and claws and fur and roars. Soon, any exotic-looking animal was brought to the king, teeth or no. Lions, bears, hippos, a gigantic snapp

Mature Content

  FFM 2015, July 31 - Never Screw Over A HackerThe code was finished. I chewed on my stalk of celery to calm my nerves. The only light in the room was the moon and the monitor. Everything was done, everything perfect. There would be no reprieve, no forgiveness, not for her.
"Excelsior!" I whispered quietly and pressed enter. The code that would be the vessel of my judgement began to compile.
I swiveled on my chair and looked out the window. In the far distance the USS Dauntless was barely visible. On its deck was the experimental rail gun that they called Terminus - the end terminal, the final stop. It was nothing but an amorphous mass in the dark, but I knew the barbarian prowess it was capable of.
Something beeped behind me. I turned back towards the monitor and was met with an error message. I was completely flabbergasted - how could my perfect, pulchritudinous code betray me? 'Line 345 - error'. Useless. In the twinkle of an eye, I had scrolled down to the offending line. I saw nothing wrong with it, which meant the offe
   FFM 2015 25: RocksWe’ve been to the Gems Gallery before. But never on anniversary night.
She likes watching the smiths drilling. Setting rubies in gold windows. One smiles and hands us an unpolished sapphire. She takes it. My hands are full, one hand holding hers. The other, in my coat pocket. Clutching a black box.
She trains the sapphire under the yellow light. “It’s just a rock.”
“A glowing blue planet,” I correct. “Just waiting to happen.”
She bops her fist on my head. “Quit being a sap.”
We’re led into the next room, carpeted red. Her smile tightens into a line. TV screens beckon with glittery fingers. Sparkle sound effects. The assistant bounces on peppy heels. Yanks us straight to the silver display. “This would look great with diamonds. Miss, would you like to select one?”
“Yes, a drink. I’d love one.” The assistant bounces away. Sighing, she turns to me. “Why are we here? ”
   Dung“So you’re interested in taking on the role of dung sweeper to the elephants who pull the Emperor’s coach?” said the Lord Chancellor.
“I am,” said Simone as she sat on the chair, swinging her legs.
The Lord Chancellor raised his eyebrows. “Do you have much experience in this area?”
Simone gave an awkward grin. “No. But I am only 8.”
“That’s no excuse. Many younger children have a far better work history.” The Lord Chancellor tapped his fingers on the desk. “So tell me: why do you want this job?”
Simone wrinkled her brow. “Well… my parents died and I was thrown out of my home. I need to find somewhere to live.” She stared off into the distance. “Running water. Warmth. Maybe only having to share with 16 or 17 other people.” She looked back at the Lord Chancellor. “I want to work hard and better myself. And be able to buy something to eat.”
   FFM Day 25- The Genesis of EvilThe abyss is not a prison, but a crucible, and the victor is he who permeates the human consciousness.
A broken figure stoops, scythe in hand, surveying the vastness of Hell.
Souls replicate infinitely: from the venal to the violent, every Hitler, Rasputin, and Mengele, drip from the walls. There is no devil here, only infinite copies of madmen with sesquipedalian tongues, vomited from the core of human existence. The clones feed on each other with ecstatic voracity.
Death turns from the placental vault, entering the axis mundi. An umbilical vortex, it carries him back to Earth. The victors follow.

Special congratulations is also due to those FFM 2015 participants whose FFM 2015 stories won Daily Deviations. Well done!


The Fermi Pair o' Socks“Captain, I’m getting a reading from the device with the blinky lights.”
    “The one that goes ‘Voort-voort BING’?”
    “Voort-voort BING!” pinged the device.
    “The very same.”
    “Great Scott...” The Captain stared around at the alien landscape. It seemed the least likely planetoid in the universe to be capable of sustaining life, but the device with the blinky lights was never wrong. “What are we dealing with here?” he demanded. “Is it carbon-based? Silicon-based?”
    “Cotton-based,” said Science Officer Bunsen, waving the device over a nearby crocheted conifer. “And further, the flashing device that goes ‘beep beep’ indicates that there is movement just behind that knitted knoll.”
    The Captain whipped his weapon from its
  A Story of How a Horde of Elephants Saved My ButtThe problem about wearing a dress is that it gets in the way of everything. The problem about wearing pants is that people yell at you claiming you’re a disgusting witch and should be burned to death before men walk up to you and just shrivel up and die from the sight.
Okay, so the witch thing wasn’t completely wrong. I mean, it’s not even my fault. It’s not like I wanted to have magic powers that just randomly conjure up a hoard of elephants. I mean, having magic powers is cool and all, but not when you live in the late 1600’s and everyone wants to kill you because you’re wearing pants.
And like the worst part about having powers is I literally cannot tell anyone otherwise these brilliant town folk will surely want me burned at the stake. And it’s ridiculous because they’re just shooting people down every hour, claiming “she’s a witch!” just because they don’t know how to take care of their cows and literally they
   FFM Day 29- What's Left BehindIn a dim parlor, the men sat in clusters, some chatting with ghosts, others staring mutely. Men muttered and cried, gritting teeth in agony- they reached for limbs that weren’t there anymore.
Someone slammed a door, distant, but cacophonous. Someone coughed, loud as a landslide. Charles flinched. His eyes flitted from body to body, looking for a distraction. The room was stifling, smelling of old blood and myriad maladies.
A boy across from Charles whispered to himself, eyes vacant, face cheerful. In a voice like bullets, sharp and quick, “I’m gonna drop it, I’m a coward, don’t let me drop it, just please take it away from me.”
Charles saw what the nurses and doctors couldn’t, but it never passed his lips. The sunlight spilled across the floor in gashes, rending the boards, blood swirling in the grain of the wood.
The men weren’t trapped in their heads; they were falling out of them. Their skulls were cracked open, many literally. They sw
   Plattery Will Get You NowhereMr. and Mrs. Bartle had enjoyed their day out at the Great Exhibition.
They had admired the phonograph that could store an incredible twelve wax cylinders and play them in any order; they had seen the amazing hydraulic hand (which had a slightly unfortunate range of gestures); and they had even made a purchase—a vessel that was kettle, pot and cup combined, and sold already filled to the brim with steaming tea.
And now to finish the day off, they were watching a charming gentleman in one of the booths demonstrating a serving platter.
“...so you see, you wind it up here—” The gentleman placed the platter flat on a table and rotated a handle. “—and then put this lever to ‘on’…”
The platter vibrated into life.
“Now you just have to enter your instructions.” The gentleman indicated the keyboard on the side of the platter. “For example…” His fingers clattered over the keys and there was a ping. The gen
   Intelligent DiscussionThere was only one seat left in the bar. Richard slid into it without a second thought, without even glancing at either of his neighbors…until he heard the one on his right call for the bartender at the same time as him. Then they both looked.
The patrons immediately around them hushed. Over by the door, the bouncer looked quietly attentive.
“Is there a problem, gentlemen?” the bartender asked, a clear warning in her tone. Richard gave his neighbor another side-long glance, saw his own narrow-eyed, wary expression reflected back at him, and offered the first tentative flag-wave of a truce.
“No. I’m here for a vacation.”
“…me, too,” said the other, and since there were still no other empty seats to be had, they settled back into their adjacent stools and did their best to ignore each other as the rest of the bar relaxed around them.
Unfortunately, ignoring your arch-nemesis, an arch-nemesis apparently on vacation i
  Make It CountIt’s fourteen steps from the door to the wall. I’ve been counting for an hour. The guard goes to the door, turns on his heel, then I count:
One. Two. Three.
I can’t hide forever. Either he will divert from his path and discover us or the others he’s with will come back. Regardless, anything changes in this situation and we're done.
Four. Five. Six.
His footfalls are sharp; precise. He’s wearing boots and khaki pants and a black shirt, like he’s trying to be military but not quite making it.
Seven. Eight. Nine.
There’s a whimper and I try not to make a sound of my own. The baby I came to rescue is stirring in the carrier on my lap. I can see his lips twitching, his head beginning to shift. I find the pacifier in the seat and hold it up to his lips. He opens his mouth automatically and takes the offering.
Ten. Eleven. Twelve.
My heart thuds in my chest. Fourteen is the scariest number, because at step number fourteen,
   Just Pay for the Donuts, Heracles    The register rang out at four ninety-five. Heracles took out his phone and stared at the icons. One of them had his money in it. If it could be called money. It seemed more to him like arbitrary numbers assigned for people to shuffle around. How he longed for the days when he could just pay in good, solid coin. A man knew where it was and how much he had at all times back then.
    “Do you need some help?”
    Jason was peering over his shoulder, finger outstretched to tap one of the icons. Heracles snatched the phone away. “The Lion of Olympus does not need help ordering donuts!”
    “Well, order already. There’s a line forming.”
    “I’ve already ordered. I just need to pay.”
    “Hurry up. I’m starving.”
    Heracles tapped a likely-looking icon and treated the entire shop to the sounds of smooth jazz. He mashed several icons until i

Mature Content

Entry # 107 - July 1, 4015
Captain’s log, Major Tom Malverne reporting.  We’ve finally made progress, after five years of research.  In Tesla’s studies of “The Door” in Death Valley, he suggested it might open into a completely different world, though the reports are unclear on what might be in those other worlds.
We can more comfortably say that we now know.  The Saviour Machine has worked exactly as designed, and the good ship Rosalyn is currently parked beside the first manmade, fully-stabilized wormhole.  The first probe is already returning, with what appears to be some sort of sediment.  Further research needs to be conducted before the wormhole is ready for humans, and I will note progress as it continues.  -TM
Entry #115 - July 6, 4015
Research on the Stardust is going almost alarmingly well.

(Our apologies if we missed you on this list.  So many great pieces, and so many worthy DDs! )


While we're at it, we would like to give a very special thanks to all of the FFMers who volunteered their time and energy to assisting the Hydra this year.  If it wasn't for the assistance of people like you, we simply could not have managed this year.  Most notably, we would like to extend an extra special thank you to one FFMer who has tirelessly and thanklessly worked to help us make this the best FFM ever.  

The-Inkling is likely going to chop off a few of our heads for putting the spotlight on her, but we're not worried; they'll grow back.  While keeping up with every ridiculous challenge we could throw at her, and writing every day, she has assisted in every aspect of organizing the month, whether behind the scenes or in the chatrooms.  A long-time FFMer, she's been here from the very first year, and we are fortunate to have her among our ranks.  Perhaps we may even eat her heart one day, to add her strength to our own.  In the mean time, we salute you :salute: and thank you from the very bottom of our scaly black multi-heart circular system.  Here are just a few of her awesome challenges from this year: 

FFM 2015: An InheritanceThe young woman and the giant arrived on the edge of town in the middle of an afternoon downpour, and behind them followed the storm.
Dripping water, Ruth sighed and exchanged a dubious look with Sparrow. They’d never really needed words to get what the other one was thinking, ever since that first moment Ruth had found him in a fairground tent in Beaumont eighty years ago.
Catching the implicit meaning in her look, Sparrow shrugged his massive shoulders. “If they catch up they catch up. Either way, there isn’t anything we can do about it now. The town is inviolate, they won’t dare breach the borders without consent.”
“Fair enough.” Ruth turned back towards the building, tugged her coat belt a fraction tighter as though to gather her resolve, and ascended the two short steps to the front door of the Bar.
The sign on the outside was turned to read ‘Closed’, but she knocked anyway, and after a small wait a man in his late twenties ope
FFM 2015: Aurora“I’m tired, Sen, and it’s easier this way. Can you imagine? No more loneliness, no more fear or doubt. I won’t ever have to be alone again. ”
Seneca shook his head in disbelief, unsure whether to laugh or cry at the absurdity of the situation.
“You can’t do this, Abby. Not now, not like this.”
She was the one who had brought him into the fold in the first place, and now she was abandoning him for some psycho-tech thought experiment. For fucking Aurora? He could see the edge of one of their vidboards through the apartment window. A vista of stars and smiling faces, and the slogan ‘Aurora, connecting the future’ on a constant loop.
It was a fucking hive mind, a sublimation of the self into a greater whole, and yet people had welcomed it with open arms, even yearned for it. As though it were a religion, or a drug, though in truth it was something much more dangerous than both. And now he was going to lose her to it?
FFM 2015: Guardians“The signs! Look at the signs!” The street preacher cried, shaking his fist at the graffiti on the underpass wall as though any of it made a lick of sense.
Years of buildup had accrued on the concrete, tags and slogans and random pieces of artwork overlapping and interweaving to form a portmanteau of frenzied styles that resembled nothing so much as some infernal homage to the madness of the underworld. Someone had recently written “days be strange” and “Beware of shape shifters” across most of the lower wall in dripping red paint, which was presumably what the crazed man was referencing, but really what was the point.
Beware of shape shifters? Like Myrtle and every other sucker out there in the world didn’t know that much already.
Huddling resolutely into the folds of her ancient tan overcoat, Myrtle adjusted her grip on her plastic grocery bag and shuffled past him, easing her aching joints along the road and up towards the subs
FFM 2015: The world breaks everyoneThe landscape of my homeland has become an incomprehensible wilderness of charred remains through which I sift daily, searching for some remnant of you, though I know you are long gone.
All these years of fighting, for nothing. But I promised you I’d come back, come hell or high water, so that’s what I’m doing.
I take shelter in the mouth of a sleeping cannon, and watch as the horizon collapses like a burning star. And maybe this is the end, and maybe I died months ago, and maybe I didn’t, and this is all just a dream, but I remember the fire and the murder and the blood and you and I remember you and-

And to everyone else, congratulations and thank you for another fantastic year of excellence and mayhem! Viva!
anonymous's avatar
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ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Very cool, congrats everyone! :w00t:
toxic--sunrise's avatar
Woo! Can't wait for next year. 8D
inkedacrylic's avatar
Congrats to all the winners! :party:
vigour-mortis's avatar
vigour-mortisHobbyist Writer
Great work, guys! High fives all around, followed by fist pumps of course.
HugQueen's avatar
HugQueen Writer
You had me at flashy. :')
Vocable's avatar
Vocable Writer
Congratulations to everyone! \o/
C-A-Harland's avatar
C-A-HarlandProfessional Writer
Congratulations to all the winners. This year was a lot of fun, and there were some really outstanding results. High Fives to everyone involved. You guys rock!
joe-wright's avatar
joe-wright General Artist
Wow, thank you! Judging all the entries is a tremendous undertaking and I'm incredibly impressed by all you hydra heads. I really appreciate all the effort you go to to make FFM so awesome. While I enjoy floating in my bubble, having fun and not being very helpful, I feel a little bit of guilt for not pitching in, so I'm making it a matter of public record that I intend to chip in next year.

Thanks to everyone in the chat for being in the chat, and also thanks to Intelligent Zombie specifically, because I'm pretty sure 'Pyre' succeeds mainly on the strength of the opening line I stole from her!
DamonWakes's avatar
DamonWakesProfessional Writer
Wow! I wasn't expecting the winners to be announced at this point. I certainly wasn't expecting to be one of them (and in such good company!). Thanks for running this: FFM is easily my favourite writing-related event of the year.

Seriously. NaNoWriMo can take a long walk off a short story (though if any other FFMers are interested, I'll still be participating this year).
TheBrokenBride's avatar
ohshit. Congrats, everyone! =D
RogueMudblood's avatar
Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions! And thank you all for organizing it. :la:
Rieal-Dragonsbane's avatar
Rieal-DragonsbaneStudent Writer
Congratulations everyone! :clap:

That mug is amazing.
The-Inkling's avatar
The-InklingHobbyist Writer
Scaly fiends. That's awfully sweet of you. :cuteflirt: 

And well done to all the winners! Viva!
days-be-strange's avatar
days-be-strangeHobbyist Writer
This was my first FFM and it was awesome.
Congratulations everyone. :) 
TuesdayNightCompany's avatar
Hah, wow, I didn't expect this to show up! Congratulations to the hydra for surviving the horde!
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
I'm... surprised. Also honored, but mostly surprised. Thank you, O hydra, and thank you as always for July.
SCFrankles's avatar
SCFranklesHobbyist Writer
Many congratulations to all the worthy winners! Put your fingers in the air  I'm especially pleased that DamonWakes is amongst them - lovely to see the kid getting his mug at last :D And thank you for the honourable mentions ^^

Also, well done to The-Inkling - I had no idea she was doing so much behind the scenes. I really take my hat off to you! :faint:

Thank you for all your hard work, Hydra ^^ Viva! 
DamonWakes's avatar
DamonWakesProfessional Writer
Ha! Thanks. :XD: I feel as though I've got plenty out of FFM already, but this was definitely a welcome surprise.
WindySilver's avatar
WindySilverHobbyist Writer
Awesome! Congrats for everyone! :D
anonymous's avatar
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