The Person At The Door – out now!

If another Finn comes across this post today, I wish you a fantastic Independence Day!

I am glad to announce that my second Flash Fiction Month collection, The Person At The Door, is now released!

You can download it from Smashwords:

I will begin working on the next collection soon, but given all the course deadlines ahead of me, it will definitely be 2021 before that one will be out. So far, the pace has been good, though, so I expect to be able to get the rest of the FFM collections out before 2022! Woo!

Take care!

A God of Skies

This August, a series of community challenges launched on Flash Fiction Month’s Discord server: Hydra picks one of the challenges someone in the community has posted into the Suggestion Box. There is no deadline for each challenge, but I’m trying to get the challenges done during the same month they are posted.

The first challenge happens to be one I submitted back in 2017:

  1. Access the FFM Prompt Generator and the FFM Mash-Up Prompt Generator.
  2. Pick the first generated prompt from both generators and combine them.

My prompts turned out to be:

1: I told him he smells of coffee and thrift shops – by Lexi-Cat (Year 2014)
2: Creepy Basements + Sky Writing – by joe-wright

Fun fact: This story started as a first person story but ended up becoming an epistolary one instead along the way.

To whoever picked up and is currently reading this bottled message. There isn’t much time/space for explanation, so I’ll try to be concise. (“try” being the operative word)

I guess this mess started the moment I told him he smells of coffee and trif thrift shops. He laughed it off and told me 2 things I’d never have expected of a God of Skies: he loved coffee to the point of working and living in a coffee shop and all his clothes were from the local thrift shop.

Then again, when I met him, I didn’t know he was a God of Skies up until a night five months and a formed friendship later. We were crashing in the creepy basement of some abandoned house near his shop and he wrote poems I couldn’t understand in the sky when he thought I was asleep.

I should’ve been asleep that night. The moment he found out that I saw what he was doing… well, I’m still not sure what exactly happened. I know that I was unconscious two moments after he turned to see me awake, and when I came to, I was no longer in a basement even though it was dark.

He told me that since I learned of his true nature, he transported me to the plain plane where his kind kept those who had seen them in their element. After that, he dissappeared and I haven’t seen him. Other people I’ve met here have told me similar stories of the gGods they’ve been unfortunate enough to meet and witness.

I really don’t know where I am or how to get out, so if you find this message I sent out… send help, I guess?

FFM 2020 31: Infuriating Computer

No prompt used.

The challenge: Incorporate a real-world event from your personal life from the last 3 days, including today (that is, after July 28th), the story must be magical realism and the story must include three callbacks to previous stories written this month.

My choices of event is from yesterday, when I had to force my laptop to shut down twice during the same day because some relatively recent update to Ubuntu 18.04 has made it have “disconnect from keyboard and touchpad, fuck up playing videos, freeze occasionally and refuse to shut down normally” episodes at least once a day. I did some work and wrote this story on Windows so that an episode like that wouldn’t interrupt me, as Windows only tends to do that while select programs, mostly just games, are on.

I’m not happy about that.

As for the callbacks, I decided to refer to my own stories from this year, in this order:

Gary pressed his laptop’s power button down for the umpteenth time that month. This was the second time the darn thing was acting up today, and he was starting to get frustrated. He needed to get his work done and the stupid thing was not helping at all.

It was even more infuriating than the constant news about Windows 10 updates breaking yet another thing over and over and over again. If only he could afford a new laptop to replace the old one…

Or “if only his sister, Kelly, could use her magic to do something about it”. Actually, he had asked her about it as a joke, but she had told that she could raise the dead — among other things — but not fix computers more hellbent on ruining their users’ days than greedy, warlike aliens ravaging inhabited planets, leaving countless refugees at their wake, or humanity blowing up mechs that are trying to kill them into extinction.

Maybe he should stop reading such apocalyptic stories on his computer. For all he knew, they could frighten the poor thing and be causing its episodes.

Gary chuckled to himself as the laptop booted up. What nonsense. This one’s is just a combination of crappy components and even crappier software. It doesn’t think. There’s no way I’d ever be able to afford a sentient, magic-imbued computer like the one Kelly says her teacher has. And even if I did, it could tell fact from fiction for sure and not get an episode over what I read, not even the raunchy or gory stuff.

Had he not needed to get his work done in time, he might have sidetracked to reading something. However, he could not afford that; the bastard who was currently paying his salary had hidden some crappy extra conditions into his contract in such fine print that he had missed it. He would have to have his reading break later.

Holding onto that hope, Gary logged back in and resumed his work.

FFM 2020 30: Never Tickle A Sleeping Beast

No prompt used.

“Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”

They should’ve had the slogan say, “Never tickle a sleeping dangerous beast of any kind.”

I mean, the world of Harry Potter has other dangerous beasts than just dragons, so it’d make more sense, right?

Whatever. It’s too late anyway. The beast I tickled is now closing in on me.

I’m a dead woman already.

FFM 2020 29: Run

No prompt used. Although, I seem to be going chronologically backwards in Raiyo and Levi’s story as the month progresses, haha.

Raiyo ran.

He did not want to stop running.

He never wanted to stop.

If only he had a place where he could stop; his body was no perpetual motion machine. It was only a matter of time before he collapsed on the hard, wet asphalt.

The rainfall was getting heavier, so if someone came to him after he collapsed, they would not have good intentions.

He could not afford losing his wallet or anything in his backpack.

His life, on the other hand? Perhaps, if it went out while he was unconscious.

Eventually, Raiyo found that his legs had propelled him all the way to the mall at the city center. A security guard eyed him as he took shaky steps further in, dripping streams of water onto the floor with gratitude that he had managed to get a waterproof backpack for his things. Otherwise, his laptop and phone would have been goners after the rain.

Raiyo only barely had the presence of mind to take his backpack off before half-sitting, half-crashing onto the closest bench. His eyes fluttered shut and the world went blank for a while.

“Young man,” a male voice pierced the blankness. “Wake up, young man.”
Raiyo forced his eyes open. “What?”
“Are you all right?” The voice belonged to the security guard who had been eyeing him before.
He probably suspects that I’m drunk. “Yes… I… I’m just exhausted. I tried to get here before the rain did.” Raiyo let a weak laugh out of his mouth and straightened his back. Hopefully, that would reassure the security guard that he was not going to cause trouble. “No need to worry. I’ll recover in a while.”
“Are you entirely sure? That bruise on your forehead looks bad. Do you need ice for it?”
Raiyo jumped and put his hand on the bruise, then winced when the touch hurt. “Oh, right… No, it’s fine. It looks worse than it is.”
The security guard did not seem to believe him. “Where did you get it?”
“I hit my head on a corner of a closet at home. I bent down to get some items from a bag and straightened myself too fast and at the wrong angle.” Raiyo chuckled to cover his lie. “It’s not my best day with that blunder, forgetting to buy a couple of things and the rain, haha.”
If the security guard doubted him, he did not voice it. “Very well. Take better care of yourself. I hope you didn’t catch a cold from that rain.”
“I hope so too. Thank you.” Raiyo finished the act with a grateful smile.

The security guard nodded and left him alone. Raiyo took a few more moments to regather his strength before he stood up, slung his backpack over his shoulder and headed towards the dollar store to get something as the couple of things he “forgot to buy”. Waterdrops left a trail behind him.

The rain was bound to last longer than his extempore shopping trip, so he could rest and plan his next move in peace.

The only thing he knew about his next move was that he could not go back home that day.

If only he could afford a tent to spend nights like this in…

FFM 2020 28: Awkward Stranger

No prompt used.

The challenge: 1) Omit one of these elements: filter words, thought words, adverbs, bland verbs and 2) include one of these elements: a bargain, a liminal space, a sacrifice, a stranger.

I chose to exclude filter words and include a stranger.

Raiyo did his best to ignore the shaking of his hands and the uncomfortable feeling of sweat soaking his clothes. If he squeezed his hands together to keep them from shaking and ignored the rest of the issues, perhaps he could make it through his first meeting with the whole department without embarrassing himself.

As his turn to stand up and tell what he had been up to closed in on him, Raiyo thanked his past self for his wise decision of wearing a black shirt.

On the opposite side of the table, one of the coworkers caught his attention when they stood up. The man — their boss, Brian, had addressed them as Levi — sported a plastered, awkward smile on his ghastly pale face and gray eyes that darted all across the room even before he spoke up.
“So, uh…” Levi eyed the other people present. “It’s the same old for me. I have nothing new to report. Everything’s on schedule on my end.”
“You have been here with us for two years now, correct? Have you considered moving up in the hierarchy?” Brian’s question made Levi squirm ever so slightly.
Levi’s eyes were fixed on the conference table in front of Brian instead of the man himself when he answered. “I’m comfortable where I am now. The pay and workload I have right now are perfectly suitable for my lifestyle.”
Brian’s eyebrows shot up. “Don’t you have any ambition?”
“Uh… No?” Levi’s demeanor was picking up higher levels of awkwardness every minute he had to stand and answer to Brian’s questions in front of everyone. “I don’t know what to do with my life.”

Raiyo’s heart jumped at those words; they resonated with him. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, either.

Who was this awkward man who seemed to be just as nervous, uncomfortable and aimless as him — and let it show?

In the silence that ensued as Brian tried to come up with something to say, Raiyo made his decision. He wanted to get to know this man and learn how he dealt with life.

Brian’s eyes lit up. Levi’s own widened a little, as if in anticipation of an unpleasant idea to be launched at him.
“I actually have an idea on what new you could do. We have a new recruit, Raiyo,” Brian gestured at Raiyo, who paled when all the eyes turned to him, “who comes from the same studying background as you. He’s currently studying at the local university. You could help with training him and perhaps even his studies. Of course, that would mean that you get a raise.”
Levi stood in place, frozen. Raiyo could have sworn that the poor man’s face got even paler than it already was. Everyone’s attention was fixed on the awkward man again, and the silence increased the pressure each second.

Levi turned to make eye contact with Raiyo. Raiyo gave him a small, awkward smile, a feeble attempt at saying “I’m awkward as well”.

Levi turned back to Brian. “Very well. I’ll do it. Can you get the paperwork for adding that to my contract done today?”
“Absolutely!” Brian grinned. “Thank you, Levi. Myra, do you mind if we skip to Raiyo now that I brought him up?”
Raiyo froze. While Levi did his best to sit down without making any noises, the woman next to him replied, “Of course not. Go ahead, Raiyo.”
Raiyo took a deep breath through his nose and stood up, then plastered a less awkward but just as fake smile on his face. “Hi everyone. I’m Raiyo. Umm… I started here three days ago, so I’ve spent my time training until now.” As he got nothing more than nods, he sat down, relieved.

The rest of the meeting went in a blur as Levi and Raiyo eyed one another, both confused and intrigued by the other’s actions. They could not wait to get out of the meeting to learn more about each other.

Who are you, awkward stranger?

FFM 2020 27: Almost Home

No prompt used.

Veriwia stared at the Dragon Peaks. The journey towards them that had felt like it was never going to end was almost at its end. The mountains that had once looked as tall as her index finger were now looming over her. She could even hear the dragons’ cries with her ears and not just her soul.

With a new burn spreading from her heart to the rest of her body, Veriwia started to run again. She was almost there.

She was almost home.

FFM 2020 26: Bombing Hooligans

No prompt used.

The hooligan gang was hollering below, completely unaware that their usual hanging spot was full of bombs. Louise smirked in delight; if she managed to get this mission done, she was one step closer to recovering who she had been prior to her amnesia.

The fire that ensued lighted up her hope and her past.

FFM 2020 25: A Webby Carnival

No prompt used.

Day 25 was the day of the collaboration challenge, and we were given till Sunday to complete our stories. Therefore, this story came on the 26th because of that.

This story ended up being 1000 words long as well, so this is my third entry for Little Prose 2020.

The challenge: Team up with someone, pick a poison from the list and combine the poison’s challenge elements with your collaboration partner(s)'(s) own. Optionally, you could make an entry without collaborating with anyone, in which case you needed to pick two poisons and use them to make a response piece to another writer’s FFM 2020 story.

My poison gave me this challenge: 1) The story must include a fairground, carnival or circus and 2) it must feature one of the following things: something wrapped in silk, an animal companion, a cage full of butterflies, a grieving child, a toothless tiger, discarded candy-floss.

My partner, bookcrusher, got this challenge from their poison: 1) The story must have supernatural elements and 2) there must be something bloody and something delicate.

You can read bookcrusher’s side of the story (which I absolutely recommend that you read) here:

Out of these elements, the story has these:

  • A carnival as a setting
  • My protagonist as something wrapped in silk AND as a supernatural being
  • My protagonist’s spiderwed as something delicate
  • The boy’s scraped knee as something bloody

The carnival is always the highlight of my year. When there is more than one, they are the highlights — the more, the merrier!

People usually couldn’t see me, so I could do pretty much anything I wanted without getting caught. I was smiling from ear to ear — not exactly literally, luckily; my ears would have gotten itchy if I had — when I entered the carnival area. Without paying the entrance fee, of course, because if anyone saw me, no one would believe them. Ha!

What to do first this year?

I decided to look around first, taking in everything. Whenever I saw something interesting, I conjured some spiderweb and marked the booth’s top corner.
“Mommy, look, Spiderman is here!” a human child shouted, pointing at the web I had just splatted at the cotton candy booth.
“Yes, of course, dear. There are people dressing up,” the child’s mother said. Her tone and lack of looking at the web made it seem like she did not care.
“No, Mommy, someone launched some spiderweb at the booth!” the child said.
“Of course, dear,” the mother said, still not looking.

I snickered, attracting the child’s attention, and scurried away, my silk scarf fluttering as I did. I made sure some spiderweb flew in the air as I went.

Once I had marked my targets, I got into action.

First stop: one of the game booths.

It was hard not to snicker as I planted some heavy-duty webbing on a few targets and retreated to watch what unfolded. As if ordered, a group of young men came there. I grinned and jumped in anticipation when the middle guy picked a ball and threw it.

He missed, ha!

The one on the left took their turn, threw and hit an unwebbed target.
“Woo!” the man shouted. “What do I win?”

The booth man gave him a big pink unicorn plushie. The other two men and I burst into laughter.
“Hey, this is fabulous!” the young man said and hugged the plushie, indignant. The others fell to silent grins, but I kept snickering.

Now it was the last man’s turn. He threw, hit a webbed target — and the ball stuck there !

I snickered next to him.

He looked around himself in confusion. “What’s going on? Who’s laughing?”

The booth man frowned, took the now webbed ball and gave out a tortoise plushie.
“Okay, you two look ridiculous with those plushies, but now I want one too!” the man in the middle grumbled. He put some coins on the table. “I’ll try again.”

I knew he was going to miss, so I decided to help out. I had my webs ready.

He threw.

I launched.

The ball stuck to a target with a satisfying splat. The man and I cheered. The booth man, on the other hand, just frowned when he took the new web off the ball. I think I heard him say, “So this is what the old man talked about…”

The man in the middle got a hilarious monkey plushie.

I snickered and left the scene, once again with spiderweb trailing me.

Then I felt I was being watched.

It was a child, looking straight at me, frightened. He turned to adults and said something, but they dismissed him.

Interesting. Few people can see me.

He looks nice. Maybe I should talk with him.

First things first, though. I need some cotton candy now.

Okay, okay, fine, I need lots of it.

Lots and lots of it.

I wonder if the same woman is still at the booth.

One delicious cotton candy lunch later — the woman was still at that booth, by the way — I saw the child again. His parents dismissed him again when he said something, so I decided to approach him. Maybe he needed a friend.

The moment he figured out I was going towards him, he bolted.

Huh. I guess he doesn’t need a friend.

I mean, surely he can’t be afraid of me. I don’t have terrible fangs or anything. I just float, am kinda transparent and wear silk.

Yeah, he just doesn’t need a friend.

Time to go mess up a game booth. I need something else to think about.

One game booth turned into five game booths and a popcorn booth raided. I could hear people talking about my webs and snickering. I snickered; if they could see me, I’d be in trouble.

Yet the only one who could see me was that kid. He’s the first one in years to be able to see me — at least as far as I knew. He had probably already left with his parents, though.

Except he hadn’t. I noticed him at the pancake booth with his knee hurt. Poor kid.

I hid behind another booth to make sure I didn’t get noticed. If he ran away with that knee, he could get hurt again. If I only could do anything…

Hey, I could!

I just had to be sneaky.

Very sneaky.

And have the web ready.

I dove under the table next to the kid’s table and waited to make sure he hadn’t noticed me. When I heard nothing from him, I dashed under his table. He didn’t look under the table. Good.

I took a look at the scrapes on his knee. There was dried blood and dust around them. Nothing my webs couldn’t deal with, though.

I smiled, trying my best to contain my snickering. I pressed the webs on his wounds as lightly as I could to avoid starting him and bolted.

If he noticed me, I didn’t know. However, I knew that I had done something good this year.

As I left the scene at sundown, I snickered at the new memories. This was the best carnival in years. So much fun!

I can’t wait to see the next one! Maybe that kid will be there too.

I sure hope so!

Maybe some year he’ll let me talk to him, too!

I can’t wait!

FFM 2020 24: Bad Contract

No prompt used.

Shade stared at the words in front of her. The contract was full of holes filled with clauses in small print at the edges of the paper.

For them to think that she did not notice their treachery was an insult to her intelligence. Such tricks would work on the common folk, but never Shade — or any other assassin worth their pay.

They would pay for their insults, Shade decided and crumbled the paper. It was time to get rid of some now frightened liabilities.

Liabilities who knew who she was could not be allowed to stay alive.