Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fast Fiction 4 - I'm Horrible with Words

Title: I'm Horrible with Words
Challenger: Jennifer W.K.
Length: Exactly 200 Words

The empty Word document taunted him, searing his retinas ever so gently with its harsh white glare.

Writing letters of resignation was always so hard. You almost have to be apologetic for leaving a company. And humble. And you even have to thank them, like a four-year old leaving a birthday party: “Thank you for having me!”

The low wages, the unpaid overtime, the abuse, the condescension…and you still have to allow one final humiliation by smiling and saying “Thank you”. Well, fuck that!

He flexed his fingers (which had stiffened horribly from hovering motionless over the keyboard so long), and they cracked like a ball bouncing spasmodically around a roulette wheel.

And all of a sudden the words were flying from his fingertips. They went exactly like this:

“There are certain qualities I look for in an employer. Like an IQ higher than that of a lobotomised gecko. I’ve wasted three years of my life carrying out your every moronic request, and my belt buckle has more charisma than you. By the way, I’ve backed up your hard drive, and will be forwarding your cache of kiddie porn to the authorities. Please kill yourself. I’m off.”

There. That’ll work.

The End of Fast Fiction Is Nigh…

OK, folks, there’s only 12 more hours to go before I wrap this up. So, if anyone else wants to take a pop at breaking my mind, or if you just fancy commissioning a nice, swift stab of prose from me, this is your last chance. The Comments Box below is splayed wide open awaiting your penetrating words.

Before I forget, some acknowledgements. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where it is due. The inspiration for this stunt came from Lee “Budgie” Barnett’s blog, where he has racked up over 85 slabs of Fast Fiction, and he’s still going strong. Impressive stuff.

Special thanks also to both Brutha B and Bert for acting as joint cheerleaders, pimps and midwives for these Adventures in Fiction. I only wish that I had a Blankety Blank chequebook and pen and a Dusty Bin to reward you both.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fast Fiction 3 - You've Got To Help!

Title: You've Got To Help!
(Strictly speaking, this is 5 words, but I am hungry and grateful for all willing challengers)
Challenger: DG
Length: Exactly 200 Words

I was waiting for the bus home when I saw the White Van slam into the rear of the Hatchback, followed by two distinct roars.

The first was the Hatchback erupting into flames. The second came from the large lion trying to force its head in between the van’s buckled back doors.

Cue the screaming. There’s always screaming. And shouting. Can’t these people shut up and let me watch the damn show? These people with their drab uneventful lives: sleep, eat, work, shit, shower, repeat. Day after day after day. And look what’s served up as an entertaining bit of Reality Theatre right on the street corner to terminate that predictable drudgery! Drama and Explosions and Carnivores!

“Help them! You’ve got to help!”

Which idiot said that? Can’t they see?? That family of five were gone just after “Boom!”. And the bloke driving the van went through the windscreen and straight on the barbecue. There’s no-one left to help.

The lion was still struggling, though.

Afterwards, the newspapers referred to me as “the brave unidentified stranger”. Probably because I was the only one willing to walk towards the burning wreckage. But I just wanted something to light my cigarette with.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fast Fiction 2 - No Moaning No More

Title: No Moaning No More
Challenger: Bert
Length: Exactly 200 words

Blind Berry Jackson made it to the sink just in time to spit out another chunk of blackened lung meat. He knew that he didn’t have much longer.

The needle crackled and popped as he dropped it onto the 45 of his decades-old hit “No Moaning No More”, creaking out of the tinny speaker he had propped up next to his cot.

Jackson collapsed back onto the worn mattress, and felt the tired bedsprings poking at his skeletal flesh. A painful cough ripped through him, as memories of years on the Chitlin Circuit erupted on the back of his eyelids.

The white girls used to sneak in the back door to hear him playing those run-down ol’ dives, hypnotised by his delicate fretwork, his gnarled fingers shimmying across the guitar. He used to fix them with his one good eye, and his rumbling voice would ooze out. “Know what they say? Darker the Berry, Sweeter the Juice.” They would melt when they heard that.

In a moment of perfect synchronicity, the needle skated off the end of the record just in time to catch the last breath rattling out of his body and into the fusty air of the room.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fast Fiction 1 - Will Mime For Food

Title: Will Mime For Food
Challenger: B
Length: Exactly 200 words

As a huge blob of rain hit him right in the eye, all Marcel could think was, “This is going to end badly”.

He stared helplessly as a lump of white makeup rolled down his cheek and landed like a lump of bird diarrhoea on his shiny black loafers. As the heavens opened, the crowd started to disperse. Women screeched as the rain came down, as if they were The Wicked Witch of the Fucking West, melting under the onslaught of filthy city water.

Each bullet of rain took bits of his facepaint off and hurled them at the ground. He wanted to shout “Stop!” at the fickle punters, but he was sure that would be breaking some old mime Code of Conduct.

His black gloves now streaked with red and white, he bent over to pick up the battered trilby at his feet and flicked through the varied detritus resting at the bottom.

Three pounds and fifty nine pence. Some euros. (What the hell was he supposed to do with euros?) A guy’s phone number scrawled on the back of an old travelcard. And a greasy wrapper containing a half-eaten cheeseburger. Oh well, at least dinner’s taken care of.

Fast Fiction - Prologue

And we're off. Before I dive in, a small disclaimer that applies to everything written as part of this challenge. Here it is:

All site contents ©2005 AKA, Sucker Punch and http://straybullets.blogspot.com. The author has asserted his moral (and immoral) rights. Sho Nuff! Absolutely nothing found here may be used without prior permission of AKA, but feel free to link to anything you find here.

OK, now that's out of the way, let us begin.

Fast Fiction – Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

OK, let’s play. I want you to challenge me. This is the deal:

You give me a 4-word title (do it in the Comments Box below), and I’ll write a short piece of fast fiction. For the purposes of this challenge, I’ll define Fast Fiction thus: Firstly, it’s short. Very short. Let’s say it’s a piece of fiction of 200 words. Secondly, I have to really bang it out. This means no re-writing, no polishing, and no screwing around staring at the screen wondering what I’m going to write. And that’s it.

So, you throw a 4-word title at me (as long as it isn’t a pre-existing 4-word title, so no To Kill a Mockingbird or Catcher in the Rye – be original), and in return I’ll throw up a 200-word piece of fast fiction just for you. You only get one piece each. But everyone who challenges me gets one. (Judging by the miniscule number of hits this blog gets, this isn’t going to last long, but, screw it, what the hell?)

Ready, steady…GO!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Paint the Whole World with a Rainbow

OK, so it’s not just teething.

Buttercup continues to suffer and volleys of spew still bounce off the walls of the AKA household. The doctor says it’s a gastrointestinal virus of some kind…made worse by the fact that she’s also caught a cold off the back of it. It’s the coughing that does it…that’s what makes her throw up so often.

All three of us are really starting to feel the effects of endless upheaval and lack of sleep. Buttercup is not her usual ebullient self, and her happiness only surfaces at rare moments when she knows she can have a bath (man, does that girl love baths!), and she can sit in the water playing with her toy octopus. Or when she can get a hug from her parents. Her discomfort is causing her to be a lot more clingy than normal, and she always wants to be close to the safe arms of her mummy or daddy. It’s heartbreaking to see my little scrapper so withdrawn, quiet and sad, when usually she’s a source of endless mischief and chatter.

Mrs. AKA and I are ragged with sleeplessness and stress, and we are sniping at each other for no reason. As for me, whenever there’s a shortage of sleep and rest, my back is the first thing to go. (One of those unfortunate side-effects of being tall). I grimace in agony with every movement, I can’t seem to stretch myself to my full height, my body is fighting me to twist itself into a question mark, and I creak like the Tin Man whenever I try to do anything. I also occasionally have outbursts where I shout “Oil Can! Oil Can!”, but to no avail.

Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of when Mrs. AKA and I first “hooked up”…in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in others like we are still only at the beginning of something. Obviously, instead of marking the event with the all-purpose AKA Dinner-And-A-Movie Date, we spent the evening carrying out the frustrating ritual of ridding our home of an overabundance of regurgitated food.

But there are always strange new wonders in the world to take our minds off our daily struggles. Don’t believe me? Look! Scientists have taught dolphins how to perform the Batman theme song!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sick Note

So, it wasn’t the restful weekend that I had hoped for. Buttercup had a high temperature and she’s been teething. To alleviate her teething pains, she sometimes sticks her little hands in her mouth to get to the source of the discomfort. Without fail, she always manages to hit her gag reflex. My house has been swimming in rivers of baby vomit for days now. (I have to admit, the sight of Mrs. AKA with a face covered in projectile puke did make me laugh, like a live-action bukkake freeze frame right in my own home!)

All three of us had to keep going through more wardrobe changes than a catwalk model, with piles of rancid towels and t-shirts, bibs and bathmats, sweat pants and socks queuing for their turn at the washing machine.

And with every new volley of creamy gook congealing on our clothes, we then had to make sure she was still well fed and well watered, to stop her from getting dehydrated and hungry. But, being a tough little cookie, she barely grumbled the whole time. Seconds after an obviously uncomfortable retch, her little brown eyes watering from the pain, she was laughing and smiling again. That’s my girl!

Mrs. AKA, on the other hand, wasn’t feeling quite as buoyant. Being hunched over mopping up an ocean of lumpy upchuck from the kitchen floor on a Sunday night, losing track of the number of times you’ve had to clean up over the space of a weekend will do that to you.

As for me, I’m just pragmatic. As soon as the puke hits the fan, I just go into calm problem-solving mode: this needs to be moved, that needs to be wiped down, we need to make some more food, get her some fresh water, etc, etc. You would be right if you think that sounds like grace under pressure…

And in the background to all this, the world carries on crumbling around us. South Asia Earthquake. Guatemalan mudslides. Avian Flu hits Europe. Death and destruction everywhere…

And on a much smaller scale, but also tragic in its own little way, on a day when the folks at Aardman Animation should be ecstatic that their signature characters of Wallace and Gromit have taken the top spot on the American box office charts, a devastating fire has wiped out the entire archive of this unique company, eradicating an irreplaceable part of animation history.

It all puts a bit of baby puke into perspective, doesn’t it?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Goodbye Grey Sky, Hello Blue

The weekend comes, my cycle hums, ready to race to yoooooooooooou.

Yes, only hours to go before the weekend arrives and I can claw back a couple of days of normality for myself. So, let’s take a leisurely stroll through the news:

Despite strenuous denials from the White House (because they are usually oh so honest), George W. Bush has been flapping those inarticulate gums once again. There’s no stopping the man! This time, Bush is reported as saying: “God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

Oooookay…

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t that the kind of shit that serial killers say ALL THE TIME? Stuff like: “Sorry, mister, but God told me ‘Jack, you must cut up that little girl and then feed her parts to your hogs out back!’" or maybe: “The Lord came to me in my sleep and said 'Frankie? You know that woman of yours ain’t right! You better get that axe from the barn and teach her whose boss!’”.

INSANE people claim to perpetrate acts of violence due to The Voice Of God. PRESIDENTS should take counsel from people who aren’t just disembodied voices telling them to go and kill.

What else? Well, there’s this story on the BBC which begins: “Cutting edge studies on artificial dogs' testicles, locusts which watch Star Wars and penguin defecation have been honoured with Ig Nobel awards.”…I think I can let this pass without comment, because it speaks for itself….

And finally, Stately Wayne Manor escapes being burnt to the ground by a raging fire.

That’s all. I have a weekend to enjoy.

These Happy Days are your's and mine, Happy Days.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kneel before Zod!

Now, I like comics more than most, but this is just sick and wrong. That poor, poor kid…

Maybe the Avian Flu that’s about to wipe us off the face of the planet is coming to thin out the rapidly growing number of insane morons on our poor, ravaged, twisted little mudball.

And when did “pandemic” replace “epidemic” as the all-purpose media-endorsed word to describe a massive widespread something-or-other? Hmmm? Enquiring minds want to know!