This week, we’re back in the thick of things with Disassembly Required. In part six of this serial story, Allen finally gets a last name, a crucial object from part one is remembered, and everything goes even more pear-shaped than Beatriz could imagine.
Previously parts of this story can be read starting with part one. For a quick refresher, part five is here.
Disassembly Required, Part Six
Allen shut off her phone. She’d spent the last fifteen or so minutes composing countless angry messages to Beatriz, only to delete them and start over with a blank screen. But in the end, nothing was sent. Her silence still spoke volumes—or so she thought as she angled her way through the conference hall.
Her face burned. Beatriz had completely shut her out of their project, adjusted the machine without her knowledge or consent, and then brushed off her concerns as a manifestation of conference stress. Beatriz had been right from the first time they met, Allen thought. She really did not bring any joy to the world. Allen’s clenched jaw and unspoken torrent of insults were proof of that.
Back at it again with Disassembly Required, my current flash fiction series running through Wednesday Briefs, a weekly flash writing group. In this latest part, science happens, there is an explanation of recent story events, and someone takes one step forward and one step back.
You can read previous parts of this series here: Part One | Two | Three | Four
Disassembly Required, part 5.
Or, at least a representative image of what scientists describe as time, as what a human brain perceives time as. Maybe it’s a clock, or a sun dial. Maybe it’s a piece of string that stretches forever, or an eternally long slinky. Maybe it’s even a blue police box, its light flashing as it fades out of vision.
Take those images of time and shake them until they disappear like so much magnetic fuzz on an Etch-A-Sketch. Imagine time as an amorphous blob that slides out of your hands the moment you think you’ve got a handle on it.
You can now find a master list of all of my Wednesday Briefs on its own page!
You can also access it from a link at the top of the blog.
I will keep it updated on a regular basis, at least once a month. Check the Wednesday Briefs tag for the most up to date status of what is being written.
Sometimes, the only way to break through a bad spell of writer’s block is to write The Adventure Zone fanfiction. Spoilers only for the conclusion of the first arc in the Balance campaign. Apologies in advance for any errors with D&D lore/worldbuilding, I’m still new to the tabletop roleplay sphere.
Under A Clear, Dark Sky
Your name is [redacted] and your position within the [redacted] is that of a [redacted], which means you are very important and do a lot of traveling throughout the country. You look for objects of great importance, then recover them—and often you do not recover them. Your record so far is zero items recovered. Still, you travel a lot. You enjoy the work. You cut a solitary path through Faerûn and beyond, which suits you just fine. You have known your whole life that there’s no one place you belong.
Your current job has you undercover as a merchant, part of a traveling caravan heading toward a distant market. You’ve received intelligence that the [redacted] will be there, so you brush up on the local dialects and learn the craft of making leather goods as your cover before joining the caravan. It’s a mixed group of humans, halflings, elves, and dwarves, and the overall atmosphere is rather chill. There’s a lot of small talk and storytelling around the nightly fires, and there is no shortage of friendly bartering and exchanging tips to pass the time during the day.
I hope everyone is enjoying the Disassembly Required story so far (and if you need a refresher or haven’t started it yet, you can start with part one here), because I’ve finally written the fourth installment! This week, at least one question gets answered, Beatriz remains awkward, and I find new ways to remember that she’s holding a dang skillet one-handed the entire time.
Disassembly Required, part 4. Prompts used: mist, motorcycle, emerald, bar.
When she opened her eyes, Beatriz thought she was somewhere else. She no longer saw her own car, but the parking lot was now filled with other vehicles. The fog had lifted, revealing a cloudless blue sky. She could hear music and conversation in the distance.
Has the machine worked after all?
She turned and saw Frank’s Dining, well-lit and alive with activity. Figures moved behind the neon-framed glass. The jukebox must have been working, because strains of an old rock and roll song drifted out every time the front doors opened.
Beatriz made a complete circle of the packed lot. She was grateful that she still held on to the kitchen skillet she’d stolen.
“Allen? Are you here?”
Listen, between moving into a new dorm, summer classes ending, and um, (gestures vaguely at the world), all of this, I haven’t had time to properly plot out the next installments of Disassembly Required. So y’all are getting some goofy Game Grumps fanfiction instead. Hey, it’s not as bad as you might think!
Grump Quest (1/?). In which there is a fairly generic RPG setting, Arin has a wand, Dan has a sword, Barry is God, and some goofy good podcast boys show up even though it’s not an Adventure Zone crossover.
Prompts used: “Did you see that?” and a harpsichord. Content warning: as per any Game Grumps episode, there is a lot of cursing (mainly from Arin).
“Did you see that?” Dan waved his sword vaguely at “that”. “Wow, man!”
He turned just in time to see his partner get the shit knocked out of him. A cascade of earth swirled across the air and smacked a small cloaked figure from the sky. It landed in a heap at Dan’s feet. The heap quickly popped upright, and sorted out its crumbled cloak and pointy wizard hat before scowling at Dan. A huge slash across his face was quickly healing itself with green and blue sparks.
“What the fuck, Dan? I thought you said this dungeon was easy?” Arin waved his wand at Dan’s towering figure. The gesture would have been more threatening if it wasn’t a gold bedazzled star on top of a stick.
Hey, here’s the latest part in Disassembly Required, my newest story for Wednesday Briefs, the weekly flash fiction challenge! In the previous part, which you can read here, our good ladies Beatriz and Allen were in a creepy diner, exploring the kitchen, when the lights went out. Will they find the light? Will Allen get her tuna sandwich? Is Beatriz allergic to capers? At least one of these questions will be answered, maybe, kind of, in this latest installment. I hope you like it!
Disassembly Required, part 3/?. Prompts used: weird machine.
Beatriz stepped forward, into the darkness. She reached out for a physical anchor, a counter or a cutting board, or even the fabric of Allen’s jacket sleeve, but found nothing. Her eyes registered nothing but black.
“Allen?” As soon as she spoke, Beatriz knew she would not be heard. The oppressive lack of light seemed to swallow up her words the second they left her lips, swaddled them up and muted them for good.
Another step. She hit something with her hip. Maybe a corner, but she didn’t know of what. Beatriz involuntarily screwed her face up to stop from shouting at the sharp pain now shooting through her leg. At least the thump of her body making contact seemed to travel outward, because it was answered with a quiet “Beatriz?” from the other side of the darkness.
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!”