This week’s piece of flash fiction for Wednesday Briefs is, unfortunately, not the third part of Disassembly Required. It’s actually a weird, goofball stand-alone piece about a couple of college kids cramming on a Sunday night. Write what you know, right? Perfect for fans of unusual slugs and unusual physicists. I enjoyed writing it, so I hope y’all enjoy reading it!
Slug Love. One-shot. Prompt used: I asked you not to tell me that.
“I asked you not to tell me that!”
“Tell you what?”
“About the banana slugs!”
It was 8 pm on a Sunday night, and Trista and her best friend Ronaldo were at the library. Surrounded by five stacks of books deep, they sat at one of the biggest tables on the group study floor. Only a ring of empty and half-full coffee cups separated their working space from the towering texts that made up their study fortress. Ronaldo’s laptop face was clean, while Trista’s silver laptop was buried underneath layers of stickers that said things like Stand back, I’m going to do science, back in my day, we had nine planets, and drop the base. Instead of the biology essay she had due the next day on the history of forensic zoology, she’d found multiple articles on banana slugs, and was inflicting the minutiae of the Ariolimax columbianus‘ sex life upon Ronaldo.
“So you’re not interested in how banana slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites?” She clicked from one tab to another. “Or that sometimes slugs will bite off the genitalia of their mate after copulation?”
My latest series for the flash fiction weekly Wednesday Briefs, Disassembly Required, is back with part two! You can read the first part here at the link. Previously, our anxious protagonist Beatriz and her assistant Allen had come across a diner in the fog while on their way to take home the machine without a name. I’m sure nothing weird will happen in this odd looking diner, right?
Disassembly Required, part 2/?. Prompt used: fish.
The interior of Frank’s Dining was faintly lit by the morning sun. Streams of orange light dappled across red tabletops and white linoleum, as though the fog had cleared the moment they’d stepped inside.
Beatriz stood in the doorway, unwilling to move. The door had been open when they arrived. Allen had already walked through and was sitting at the main counter, a plastic menu in her hand. The stool almost disappeared beneath the length of her skirt. She appeared listless, or perhaps restless. Maybe even like she hadn’t taken her medication that morning.
Still, Beatriz did not move. They were the only ones in Frank’s Dining. The only lights were the emergency lights. The jukebox sat in the corner, unplugged. The only sign of life was the clean countertops, and the faint odor of old cooking oil that came from the back.
I promise my compatriot and mother that I would write for this week Wednesday Briefs, and not only have I done so, I apparently started a new series. I realize I haven’t finished the last Wednesday Briefs series I started, but by no means is that one abandoned. Anyway, this one has everything: science nerds, lesbians, troubled youths, strange diners, and fog aesthetic. Enjoy!
Disassembly Required, part 1/?. Prompts used: foggy road, “What time do you open?”. Content warning: homophobic slurs.
The drive back to town was a slow one. Fog hugged the road and clung to trees that cast monochrome silhouettes in the haze.
The machine sat in the back of the car, except it wasn’t a machine anymore, because machine suggested the possibility of functionality, and this particular bundle of metal and circuits was no longer operational by human standards.
Her assistant was slumped low in the passenger seat, staring out at the fog without a word. She hadn’t spoken since the hotel parking lot, since tears stung her eyes and cheeks as she shouted, “It’s all your fault, Beatriz!”
It’s been a while since I did a Wednesday Briefs post, so for the new readers, here’s a brief overview: every week, a group of writers post flash fiction pieces based on prompts provided via mailing list. A lot of people like to write series of flash fiction pieces; I have done that before, but recently have preferred stand alone pieces when I do write them.
Below is a new stand alone piece that may be expanded on in the future. It’s a story about two college age guys working in the library, and one dead artist. Please enjoy, and tell me what you think!
Picasso, Pablo, 1881-1973. Prompt used: can you give me a hand here?
“Can you give me a hand here? I can’t carry it down by myself…”
Henri recognized the voice on top of the ladder as one of the RAs from the history library, but couldn’t name the guy. “Sorry, my hands are full.”
He shifted the weight of a stack of bound art periodicals in his arms, nudging a step stool aside as he maneuvered down one of the tight aisles that made up the main stacks. Normally, he enjoyed working in the art section, but when he had to gather up multiple volumes of a journal for shipping purposes, it became more of a chore than a pleasure.
“Ah, shit. I mean, shoot.” There was the soft slam of heavy books being pushed across a metal shelf. “Would I get in trouble if I dropped Picasso on the floor?”
I really like what I got out of this story. I feel like I could expand upon this, given time. I hope you all enjoy it too.
Bolero. Prompts used: man with a guitar, a fantastic creature.
The apparition appeared a few minutes after midnight, when the sky was void of stars and the moon had taken cover behind a thick mass of clouds. In its path, grass grew wild and vines crept across the sidewalk to sink deep into the earth’s foundation.
Dylan was perched at the window, thick dreads hanging long over his Spanish guitar, which he’d spent the past five minutes tuning. Most of the time, Dylan did not appreciate the solitude of his summer residence, a row house thirty minutes from the nearest city, isolated by forest and looping dirt roads and a lack of public transit. The other rooms in the row house had been abandoned as soon as the summer heat hit, and the landowner lived in an air-conditioned apartment in the city. But now, when his guitar was ready to sing, Dylan enjoyed being the only human to hear its song within a ten-mile radius.
Finally satisfied with the sound of his instrument, Dylan’s fingers drifted from the tuning knobs to the strings. The short series of chords that emerged brought a smile to his face, a faint impression illuminated by the dim glow of a streetlight on the other side of the sidewalk.
This week’s flash fiction for Wednesday Briefs is semi-historical fiction, semi-Hamilton fan fiction. I doubt Lin-Manuel Miranda will read this one, but the Hamilton references are pretty clear.
Weehawken, Take Two. Prompts used: “Don’t you know there is no justice?”; “Forget it, this was a mistake.”
Aaron Burr’s shot misses. Not by much—it grazes Alexander Hamilton’s shoulder enough to leave a streak of burnt fabric in what had once been the man’s third-best jacket. The heat of it can be felt in the skin below the sleeve. For a moment, Hamilton stares dumbly at the spot on his body where Burr’s bullet strayed from its intended target. His arm hangs in the air, gun raised to the sky, wavering in the New Jersey breeze that carries the promise of the oncoming dawn.
The moment passes, and Burr is in his face, looking at the immigrant with a mixture of shock and concern.
Wednesday Briefs is a weekly micro flash fiction writing challenge in which participants write short stories based on randomly presented prompts, either in the form of words or images. Pieces are to be between 500 and 1,000 words, and can either be stand-alone pieces or chapters of a larger story.
Below are the various stories I wrote for my blog, Nagareboshi Reviews, split into two categories, original fiction and fan fiction. Prompts used are included in parenthesis.