Monthly Archives: June 2014

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Seven

Welcome to week seven of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Our guest judge this week is Kristen Falso-Capaldi.

You have until 6 pm (PST) on Saturday to submit a 500-word story based on the prompt picture below. Post your story in the comments section; include your name, a title, the word count (not including title), and your Twitter handle if you’ve got one. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. We’re on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Photo courtesy of Dave Peticolas

Photo courtesy of Dave Peticolas

About the judge:
Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician, and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer/lyricist for the folk duo Kristen & J, is finishing a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which is an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her stories have received accolades in various flash fiction contests. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and cat. Follow her on twitter @kristenafc

Week Two Winning Story: Time Immemorial by D. B. Gentner

The monolithic obsidian pillars jutted out of the earth and stretched towards the heavens like the claws of a long forgotten titan. They had stood since time immemorial and the meaning of the strange carvings they bore had been lost aeons before. An impossibly tall man strode through the sand surrounding them. His black robes, tattered and frayed at the edges, wrapped themselves around his spindly frame as the wind howled. What could be seen of his flesh was darker than the void from which he had crawled and his eyes glittered with the light of forgotten stars. These pillars were the last remnants of his once mighty empire, though they had not always been.

Millennia before, when the continents were one, and this black figure, in the form of a monstrous leathery bat, soared high above, these pillars crowned the tops of great mountains. There, Yig, the father of serpents, spent his days winding and twisting his great length around them creating his children. While, deep below the still cooling crust of the planet, Tsathoggua, the Sleeper of N’kai, dug his toad like burrows ever deeper in search of their base. But the never ending obsidian went on far below and he grew slothful in the planet’s heat, and slumbered among their cool subterranean foundations.

As time passed the planet began to stretch and break. The great mountains were swallowed by oceans and the pillars were lost to the surface world, becoming the substructures of the sunken city of R’lyeh, where the writhing tentacles of Cthulhu plagued the minds of men. The dark watcher continued to wait and busied himself by taking the forms of men, becoming their Pharaohs and rulers, their visions and profits. Ever meddling in their world, for he knew it was through the ignorant deeds of these small willed creatures his time would come.

His hoards became countless and as the earth continued to shrug and shift, raising R’lyeh and its lost horrors, he became the Crawling Chaos. A great slathering tongue mounted atop three great hooved legs. His hunger knew no bounds and his will was all. Armies of dog faced ghouls, faceless nightgaunts, and other unfathomably nightmarish creatures swarmed the planet. He crushed and obliterated mankind, defenseless against these otherworldly villains. And as his terrestrial targets decreased his ravenous hunger grew. Razing R’lyeh and laying waste to the Great Old Ones and their hidden races, soon there were no others left and so he turned his malign gaze upon his own, leaving the planet barren and desolate. And so, as his towering form lumbered across the planet’s surface, the remaining Outer Gods, Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth among them, grew to fear his limitless power and fled, leaving him abandoned and alone.

The earth continued to heave and sigh. The stars shifted and aligned, and as Nyarlathotep walked among the pillars, their symbols began to glow and cry out their secret names. Otherworldy gates wrenched open between them and his waiting was at an end.

David Genter lives in a suburb of Chicago, IL, where, just two months ago, he and his husband Eric purchased their first home. David is a jack of all trades, running anywhere from wine making/drinking to soap making/lathering, but he’s always enjoyed writing the most. Unfortunately, David has a hard time finding focus with so many ideas running through his head, so most of them die early on. David isn’t working on any big projects, or websites, but he would like to prove to anyone that submitting stories to these types of challenges is worthwhile, even if your vocabulary runs dry after 150 words. When David started his story for last week’s image of the woman with the fruit, he didn’t think he would submit it. It was something he wrote just to prove to himself that he could. When it was finished, he really liked it, so he submitted it. That was enough to convince him to try again. Seven days later, David found himself writing the beginning, middle, and end of a world… And who knows what he’ll be writing next Thursday. The point is to try. Where’s the harm in it? Just see it through to see where it takes you.

David thanks his friends for pushing him as hard as they did with “Time Immemorial.” Even when he didn’t hear them, they kept on screaming.

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Two Winners!

Thank you to everyone who submitted a story this week! I’m amazed at the marvelous range inspired by this week’s prompt.

I loved the immediacy of C. Connolly’s “Appearances and Disappearances.” Written in second person and present tense, the story grabbed me and drew me right in. Juxtaposing the mysterious pillars with references to cell phones and Twitter, Connolly offers a wonderful meditation on humanity’s capacity for wonder and search for meaning even in the age of Google. As always I got great pleasure in Connolly’s language: “sea of shufflers grumbling forward” and “short sharp shock,” for example. Great work!

D. B. Gentner’s Lovecraftian origin myth “Time Immemorial” gave me chills. It is enormous in scope and rich in detail. From the first sentence I thought I would be taken on an epic journey and I was. Everything in the story occupied such a grand scale: the claws of a long-forgotten titan, the earth heaving and sighing, and the never-ending obsidian. Then there are the juicy details like Crawling Chaos and the tentacles of Cthulhu. So exciting!

Just for fun, my fellow Luminous Creature, Emily June Street, contributed a glorious tale set in a post-apocalyptic world. “Water” offers a perfect example of why I love Emily’s writing—every word counts in her beautifully vivid descriptions and marvelous attention to detail (pale hair dreadlocked in tangles, the narrator’s cracked lips, and that fierce wind). And then there’s the lovely ending—I felt as relieved as Jace by their discovery.

An ache of longing pervades Voima Oy’s beautifully titled “The Singing Stones.” Framed by a marvelous opening, “Sometimes I dream of home,” and a lovely ending, “Sometimes I dream of Stonehenge,” the story conveys that tug between the promise of leaving some place and the subsequent desire to return. I loved the imagery of “ancient moss temples” and the rhythm of lines like “There are languages, and libraries. There is time.” A haunting piece!

I love the power and precision of Karl A. Russell’s “A Life’s Work.” He uses rhythm and repetition to such splendid effect to convey the scope of Travis’s work. Russell’s writing has an immediacy and intimacy that always draws me right in. It’s cinematic in its clarity. And then there are heartbreaking lines such as “It almost thrummed with life, and made him sad to feel it.” Travis’s bitterness is palpable and the ending comes as a shock. Terrific work!

Because I have to, I will declare some winners:

Second runner up:
C. Connolly: For the pleasure of her language and imagery
First runner up:
Karl A. Russell: For the poetic heartbreak of his story

And this week’s winner:

D. B. Gentner: For the epic journey that tingled my spine.

Congratulations, winners! D. B. Gentner’s story will be featured on the LCP blog tomorrow!!

Week Six Winner: Of Earth and Stone by David Gentner

Those who lived in the quiet hamlet had long forgotten the original purpose of the colossal gray stones standing in the neighboring pasture. No trees grew near them; no moss or lichen gathered upon their smooth surfaces. But the air was always fresh, and the lush green of the hilltop always appeared dappled with sunlight, even on the most overcast of days. It had become a place of celebration: a place where they could rejoice in their blessings, mourn their losses, or where one could simply lie, alone, and feel complete.

The Vernal festival had concluded and crops were being sewn in the freshly tilled soil when the missionary returned. He had been there before, always claiming their ways evil and idolatrous. He spoke of sin and salvation, promising everlasting life in exchange for obedience. But to the villagers, it was nothing more than the buzzing of cicadas. The simple folk saw no reason to change when they were already so content. This time, however, he did not come alone. This time, he brought strange men with horse drawn carts loaded high with metal tools and instruments that glistened in the sun. Windows were shuttered and doors barred, in hopes that these men were simply passing through, but the villagers were disappointed to see the tents assembled on the outskirts of town.

The following days brought frigid rain and tenacious winds, and as thunder mingled with the din of the men beginning their work, the air grew rank with the fumes of the blacksmith’s forge. Not long after, one bewildering night, many of the locals were woken by great rumblings in the earth. Mothers consoled their weeping children as fathers went to investigate the source of the disturbance. As a group, they approached the clearing where the stones stood. An enormous pyre had been built, illuminate the area. Hideous shadows flickered and danced on the cracked and crumbled remains of the sarsen. Men had climbed atop them and were reducing them to rubble with hammers and picks, their sweat shimmering in the fire’s light.

Gradually the stones were fragmented into smaller bricks, and construction of a diminutive structure began. The missionary was overjoyed, yet his men grew uneasy. Stories circulated of curious grinding, scraping noises late at night. Large piles of unused bricks were found piled high where the stones had once stood, and many of the workers left after one of them became hysterical, claiming he had woken, choking, his mouth filled with the dust created by the boulders’ destruction.

Despite the many setbacks, the structure was completed in time for the Autumnal festival, and the villagers gathered in the clearing to celebrate their harvest, meager though it was. In place of their familiar stone circle stood a cold, dark chapel. And, as the missionary stood in the archway, arms outstretched to welcome them, the building shivered once, as if it were chilled, and the keystone slid out of the arch and crushed his fragile skull.

David Genter lives in a suburb of Chicago, IL, where, just two months ago, he and his husband Eric purchased their first home. David is a jack of all trades, running anywhere from wine making/drinking to soap making/lathering, but he’s always enjoyed writing the most. Unfortunately, David has a hard time finding focus with so many ideas running through his head, so most of them die early on. David isn’t working on any big projects, or websites, but he would like to prove to anyone that submitting stories to these types of challenges is worthwhile, even if your vocabulary runs dry after 150 words. When David started his story for last week’s image of the woman with the fruit, he didn’t think he would submit it. It was something he wrote just to prove to himself that he could. When it was finished, he really liked it, so he submitted it. That was enough to convince him to try again. Seven days later, David found himself writing the beginning, middle, and end of a world… And who knows what he’ll be writing next Thursday. The point is to try. Where’s the harm in it? Just see it through to see where it takes you.

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Two

Welcome to week two of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest!

You have until 6 pm (PST) on Saturday to submit a 500-word story based on the prompt picture below. Post your story in the comments section; include your name, a title, the word count (not including title), and your Twitter handle if applicable. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. LCP is on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Photo courtesy of Emily June Street

Photo courtesy of Emily June Street

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Six

Welcome to week six of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Our guest judge this week is Rebecca J. Allred of The Angry Hourglass.

You have until 6 pm (PST) on Saturday to submit a 500-word story based on the prompt picture below. Post your story in the comments section; include your name, a title, the word count (not including title), and your Twitter handle if you’ve got one. Only stories submitted before the deadline will be eligible to win. We’re on San Francisco time; check the world clock if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Courtesy of Beth Deitchman

Courtesy of Beth Deitchman

Week One Winning Story: The Enchantment by Karl A. Russell

With a snarl of dismay, Elizabeth hurled another peach against the wall of the barn, to explode in a shower of sweet flesh and brilliant blue sparks.

Why hadn’t it worked?

The Faer Folk were masters of the Romantic Arts, or so it was said, and she had spent a whole month’s allowance on the seed and a further three months on the tending of it, till the tree bore a whole bushel of the enchanted fruit and she gave the first and the finest to the stable lad. She had not given James a clue as to why she had chosen him for this favour, nor any inkling that the peach was more or less than any other, so why was he not here now, in her arms?

It was wrong. She knew it was, both in thought and deed, but she could not stop. She was the daughter of the lord, and he was but a serf to do her bidding, but that just made it all the worse, knowing what her bidding would be… She thought of his bawdy laugh, so loud and free, his bond with his fellows and the kinship they shared; It was everything she missed, up there in the manor house, everything she would wish to be, if she had but half of his courage and carelessness, but she did not.

Most of all, to be true, she thought of his warm brown skin, the twinkle in his sweet blue eyes and the way he smiled when she caught him looking her way at morning prayers…

Oh, James…

Just the thought of him brought her to a shuddering standstill, one more peach in hand, bound for oblivion against the bare boards. Instead she sank her teeth into it, angrily, imagining that it was his sun-browned shoulder, that the peach fuzz against her palm was the downy skin of his arms, that the sweetness coursing through her was his own. The juice ran over her lips, across her chin, fingers trailing it down her throat, to the soft valley beyond. Enraptured, she lay back against the warm straw, the half eaten fruit rolling from her hand. Lost in thoughts of him, she let go of all that she was and should be, gave in to her feelings and her form, and spent a timeless instant whispering his name in ever faster breaths.

Then she sat up suddenly, aware of eyes upon her.

“Miss Elizabeth…?”

“James?”

He reached out a strong, rough hand to help her up, thinking that she had fallen, but as their fingers met, a spark like life itself flew between them, and he fell forward, joining her in the hay.

Gazing into his eyes, she knew that the enchantment had worked, and she surrendered herself to its spell.

Realizing that his mistress felt for him as much as he felt for her, James pressed his lips to hers, gathered her up in his arms, the untouched peach crushed in his pocket.

Karl A. Russell comes from the North West of England, where he lives with his wife and five year old daughter (his toughest critics). He’s been writing on and off for his whole life, but only started to actually finish and submit things a couple of years ago, when the spectre of turning 40 started looming in the not too distant future. He can be found most weekends posting at Flash! Friday and The Angry Hourglass.

Karl is currently working on a novel, which he might get to the end of this time, if he doesn’t waste all his spare moments on Twitter. If you want to read more of his work, his pay-what-you-want charity collection is available here.