The Troll ‘ neath the Towers (Story elements = Conflict and Character) The troll lives ‘neath the forever-shadows of the twin towers. On his commute,… Read more “The Troll ‘ neath the Towers – Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 31 | Flash! Friday”
(Themes = Conflict and Character)
My Boy, Lollipop, liked to eat Sugar. He was the Sweetest Thing.
He once lived In The Ghetto, on the Poor Side of Town, where he said, “Money’s too Tight to Mention”. But he had a vision of escape, he had a Poor Man’s Dream.
He made it rich selling Lemon drops coated in Brown Sugar from a store on the edge of Strawberry Fields. His butchers shop went bankrupt, who wants to buy meaty American Pie, anyway?
The competition didn’t like it. For a while it was War. It was Us and Them. They were Wild Boys, led by a Street Fighting Man, he liked to shoot his Uzi and Bullet the Blue Sky. Oh Sweet Child o’ Mine, he became fretful and screamed into the Dead End Street, crying for safety, crying to go home. Crying for Sweet Home, Alabama.
Got a Special Mention for this one.
Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these; be sure to tell us which two you chose):
* Plot: A clever, now fabulously wealthy man seeks revenge on those who once wrongfully imprisoned him.
* Conflict: man vs man
* Character: escaped convict
* Theme(s): revenge AND/OR justice
* Setting: Napoleonic France
Story Elements: Character & Theme
The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy
She lived her life in the folds of oppression.
He lived his life in the smothering love of his parents.
She once twirled in the sunlight. Once smiled. Her dreams were crayon-colours. Roughly sketched blueprints of respect, dignity, self-worth and a mythical thing called love.
He only left the house when they went with him. Mind that step, son. Have you taken your tablets? Button your coat. Don’t forget the emergency procedures.
She pursued her dreams and saw that glimmer of love in broken men; men that she would come to realise were beyond redemption.
He watched his parents die from the genetic disease that coursed through his veins and was left ill prepared to face the world alone.
She folded into the roles and shapes demanded of her. She was the beautiful dove, the delicate orchid, the fearsome dragon. Between roles, she could not turn back to herself—such a person did not exist.
He hid in the musty shadows of his house. Breathed the mould-spore mists. He didn’t clean the dust, for the dust was them. It was all he had left.
They dreamed. They dreamed of impossible justice.
In their dreams, they danced in the mirror-ball light of the moon. They touched with tenderness. Kissed with compassion. Their origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and feel loved.
Perhaps she would leave these men?
Perhaps he would leave this house?
And perhaps justice would be found in the dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy.
I was very happy with the story, but you never know what the judges will say. What can I say, it felt like a long time coming and I was close so many times. I finally won a FF winners badge!
Here were the lovely comments from Rebekah and judges:
And now: forgive the blubbering mess, but ohh darling draggins, please let the celebrations reverberate across the galaxies: it’s our long overdue, first-time
MARK A. KING!!!
“The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy“
HG: “Her dreams were crayon-colours.” What a gorgeous mental image that is, for someone as fond of crayons as I’ve always been. The implication of those colours is significant and unique. The two characters who are so different from one another, and yet who dream together…amazing. There is such depth here in so few words, such tender feelings and heartbreak. The final line is perfect and leaves you with hope as well as an underlying feeling of despair.
FI: From its unforgettable title to the prose-masked poetry dancing through its lines, “Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy” stole my heart on first reading. Its approach to both character and theme are brilliantly original. Rather than follow the trials of a traditional convict, it shows us two trapped souls from vastly different worlds: a boy living “his life in the smothering love of his parents,” and a girl surviving “in the folds of oppression.” And while many of the stories chose to paint portraits of revenge, this one chased after a “dream of impossible justice.” In their secret selves they crave a world where their “origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and loved,” escaping from that metaphorical prison the boy and girl have known from birth. For soul-searing prose and ingenuity, a worthy winner.
Congratulations, Mark! We’re all so jubilant and overwhelmed and giddy, we can barely contain ourselves. What a gorgeous story from a powerful and beloved writer. Please find here your brand new winner’s page (which has been waiting in the wings for some time now, knowing your day would come) and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:
I blew the smoke from my blunderbuss and readied chamber with gunpowder and buckshot, prepared to shoot the injured daemon should it rise.
It did not.
I jumped on to my steam-powered bike. Fired the engine–it gave a satisfied hiss as the wheels engaged with the cobblestones and the primitive power unleashed.
I rode through Byzantium, skimming the lurid fabrics, their dyes dripping to the floor making my steam-bike skid.
Then I stopped as I saw her.
I am a maker of monsters. A creator of people. A conjurer of worlds.
I am a writer of code.
It was good to play my game instead of staring at the code.
My screen is my codex. My keyboard, my lunarium. My mouse, my pippin.
I eek out my time.
Dad waits at home, with glazed eyes, dishevelled hair and shirt undone. He hasn’t worked since she passed away. I’ve been torn between living my life and caring for him.
I have started to wonder if he is beyond saving.
But Mum lives on. I paint her face on a passing character. Code fruit-stalls in the colours she loved. Write messages beneath the objects the players can’t reach.
The machine is my codex and I am the scribe.
No mention for this one, but it’s one I am very proud of and it related to me in terms of finding creative ways to honour my mum.
I wipe the spittle from my mouth and the crusting sleep from my eyes. I know he’s there. Watching. Waiting. Mocking.
He is the commas. The stuttered pauses. The rat-a-tat-tat of the delete key sounding like gunfire.
I face my evil twin. I know I can do this. Others say I am foolish to listen to him. I know I am ill prepared to confront him.
He is the walls of missing writing degrees. The face of establishment. The fear of rejection. The fear of success. The crushing marathon ahead of me, when I can only manage shaky steps in a lush green park.
In my war, dedication is my only weapon against such a foe. Therefore, I steal time from those that deserve better. What sort of man have I become?
He laughs at the ticking deadlines and wistful word-counts. He gathers the dust of my neglect.
Others say that I am a strong. A leader of words. A creative hero.
He sees me with my doubting eyes, unkempt hair and roughened clothing. He knows I am a fraud, a hero that never was.
In my peripheral vision, I see others face their own evil twins and I realise I am not alone.
No mention this week, but this was from the heart and it meant a lot to write it.
Under | Ground
He opens the door with his elbow. Turns the taps with the sides of his hands.
Scrubs. Scrubs. Scrubs.
Until skin is raw and soul is clean.
Puts on his uniform. Adjusts the collar. Polishes the buttons with a disposal antibac wipe. Makes the required checks, the required number of times.
Heads for the Underground station.
Into the bowels of hell.
He sits in the cabin. A mole moving through the tunnels.
Cha-cha cha-cha, Cha-cha cha-cha, says the sound of the tracks.
Sparks fly like fallen angels in the night.
The drone of the auto-voice as they approach the station.
Always the same.
The woman on the platform.
Will she jump?
Always the same.
She makes the sandwiches for Sophie. No butter. Crusts precisely cut.
Makes the meal for Cliff now. No time later. Cottage Pie, it’s Thursday.
Quickly showers. Changes. Changes again, the other mums notice repeated outfits in the same week.
Timesaving techniques employed to achieve maximum impact with minimal time.
Run to the Underground.
The oh-so-slow passengers. She shouts at Sophie if only she’d been quicker packing her bag.
She never listens.
Always the same.
On the return, she straddles the edge of the platform.
The train approaches.
Always the same.
Although this story didn’t place, I used it as a rehearsal for a character in my début novel.
The Original Mr Grey
One of them wears a white suit. Has golden hair. Has teeth that are so white you need headache pills to recover from his smile.
If you find yourself surrounded by your family, in your old age, in a hospital — it’s him that you’ll want to meet.
To know him is to love him.
One of them wears a dark cloak. Hair, if he has any, is hidden behind a hood. Once a year, on Father’s Day, he likes to dad-dance with his rusty scythe.
If you find yourself on a train, car, or plane and something unexpected happens – it’s him you’ll want to avoid.
To know him is to fear him.
Me? You don’t know me. That’s the point. I’m the other one. The one that nobody sees.
I am your dull wait at the dentists.
The punishing bureaucracy.
I am your interminable train ride home. Each. And. Every. Night.
I make sure everything is tedious and repetitive. The highs and lows balance. Until your life is spent and you wonder what happened to it.
The other two always called me Mr Grey. Now they tease me about fetishes and playrooms (whatever they are).
It seems I’ll have to change my name.
I blame the writers.
I got a Special Mention awarded for my cheeky use of what was a topical issue that week.