Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Four

Welcome to week four of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! Luminous Creature Emily June Street returns for another week of judging.

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 Laura Lynn Lukens

Photo courtesy of Laura Lynn Lukens

Week Three Winner: The Strange Machine by Voima Oy

And then, one day, the numbers changed. Pi became a pattern, repeating. Then, things got really strange.

Before that, Emi was a model, a face in trendy magazines. In real life, she was fond of red fingernails, black cats and black dresses. She had just bought a rehabbed loft in the warehouse district. She loved the white and empty space, the light from the floor to ceiling windows.

Many artist types lived in the neighborhood, and that’s how Emi met the diLunas, Vasco and Rae. Emi could tell they would become good friends. Rae was charming and talkative. Vasco was more quiet, but she liked him, too.

One evening, they invited her over to their place. They lived just down the street, in an older, less-improved building. They had cats, and lots of room to work in. They made all kinds of unique and useful things.

The space was filled with their eccentric objects. Suspended from the high ceiling was what looked like a skeleton of some strange creature in flight.

“I have to ask,” Emi said. “What is it, a bird, a dragon, a whale? ”

“Yes!” Rae smiled in delight. “It is also a light fixture. I am so glad you enjoy it.”

“Oh, I love your work!” Emi danced from piece to piece. Wood, steel, polished bones. She was imagining these creations in her own new place. She had never seen anything like them. “Do you sell these things?”

“Of course. We do commissions, too.” Rae said, whirling around the room.

“Whatever you would imagine.” Vasco added, his arms outspread, as if he were about to take flight.

“Could you?” Emi said. “Why don’t you surprise me!”

So, that’s how it started, anyway, pleasantly enough. In no time, the three of them were inseparable, doing everything together.

Then, one day, Vasco and Rae delivered Emi’s commission. She had no idea what it was. A towel rack? A time machine?

“Yes, and it is based on numbers,” Emi explained. “Fibonacci ratio. Triangles. And Pi.”

“It is also a light fixture,” Vasco said. “Here are the instructions.”

She should have read the instructions, Emi thought later, after it was too late to change the settings back to the way they had been. She turned the knobs this way and that, again, and again and again. Colors began flashing, repeating, flickering like fireflies.

Vasco, standing in the white room, his arms outspread, as if he were about to take flight. Rae, whirling in the white room, dancing.

Hadn’t this happened before? Now, the numbers had changed.

Patterns began repeating.

Then, things got really strange.

Outside the windows, everything was swirling, like a hurricane or the arms of a spiral galaxy, a vortex of spinning colors. In the center, an eye was forming, a green eye with a black slit, like the eye of a cat. The winds began to howl.

Emi was alone in the white room at the center of the world.

Then, everything went black.

About the Author:

In real life Voima Oy lives in Oak Park, IL on the western edge of Chicago, south of the expressway and the elevated train line.

She has written short forms for years–poetry, prose poems and very short stories. She loves the possibilities of twitter and flash fiction!

She also has a blog, Chicago Weather Watch, where she writes about life, nature and weather.

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three Winners!

I am faced with the most difficult part of my week: picking the Week Three winner. Given that this week I biked over 60 miles, heaved a piece of soapstone from a very finicky box, and also finished and formatted a novel, this is saying something.

I’ve rewarmed my coffee, eaten a snack, browsed the Twitter, and walked the dogs. I have vacuumed, rearranged the desk, and dusted the living room. The only thing left to do now is pick the winner. I’m feeling like a five year old presented with thirty-one ice cream flavors. My inner child is throwing a tantrum. But here we go.

Tony Caruso posted early with “The Easily Distracted Doohickey” a hugely amusing stream of consciousness rant by a mysterious device in the midst of an existential crisis. And by “hugely amusing,” I mean, “I cackled wildly while reading it.” Caruso’s consistent voice, style, and humor impressed me. I can see this piece in the Shouts & Murmurs section of the New Yorker with a line drawing of a ladder barrel and a cat on top. My favorite line, which I’ve been repeating to myself in tortured tones, is: “What if I’m a clothing rack? How pathetic would that be?”

Karl A Russell batted second with another wickedly funny story, “The Workout,” about the reunion of a frisky couple. Karl’s story has been doing its Pilates. It has core strength; he makes every word count and packs an entire plot, complete with twist, into a tiny number of words. Karl was also the first to identify the true nature of the device in question: it’s a Pilates apparatus called a ladder barrel. I’m still dying to see “how [Rose] can use it later…”

Russell Magellan, unknowingly or knowingly, wandered in to prime Luminous Creatures territory with his story, “Treasure Chest,” about a son who inherits a mysterious object from his mother. It turns out the machine contains the key to bringing Ross deeper into magic. Magellan nicely balances story, description, and character. Also, I spotted a magic wand in there. Magic wand=extra credit point in my book.

Voima Oy painted a vivid picture of urban artists in “The Strange Machine.” Oy also picked up on the Fibonacci spiral on the side of the ladder barrel in our prompt picture. I was blown away by this story’s natural rhythm and ability to speak between the lines—the numbers and patterns that hinted at the ultimate outcome. I’d love to read a second installment that shows me what happens after everything goes black.

C. Connolly took the prompt in an entirely unique direction with “In Loving Memory,” using the image as a loose inspiration for an Icelandic/Scandinavian death ritual. Connolly created a mysterious, slightly ominous world full of small details: a boat’s bronze dragon prow, ritualized drinks with hints of inebriated visions, and a journey into other realms.

Casey Rose Frank made me giggle with her fictionalized craigslist email exchange, “For Sale.” She earned points for creative alternative storytelling and an eye to detail—I noticed that Eric didn’t capitalize Pilates but Amy did. I deeply sympathized with the teacher at the Y who was unimpressed by Eric’s barking in downward facing dog, and “Wait, what?” was a perfect ending to the exchange.

Jacki Donnellan produced an experimental piece, “Fully Equipped” which managed to tell a story almost entirely obliquely, through (imagined?) dialogue between a mother and her child’s therapist. This story really worked at the emotional level, and the final lines “So, Mrs. Smith. Just how far can you bend over backwards to help your son? Shall we see? Shall we watch?” echoing the questions at the beginning of the session literally made my skin crawl with dislike for the self-described “prodigy of remedies.” This is another one I could see in the New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs.

Don’t laugh, everyone. I actually had to make a rubric to judge these because I was simply hopeless at making a decision otherwise. My rubric contained criteria such as “word economy” and “voice” and “structure” and the amorphous “overall feel.” It was based on numbers, so not surprisingly our winner this week is:

Voima Oy for “The Strange Machine”

Our runner up is:

Karl A Russell for “The Workout”

Thank you all for participating and producing such a diverse and exceptional bunch of stories.

Here is the Ladder Barrel in its natural habitat:

Ladder barrel

Yes, it’s possible to lie down on it without re-killing one’s corpse.

And it is also a light fixture.

-EJS

Summer of Super Short Stories Week Three

Welcome to week three of Luminous Creatures Press’s first Flash Fiction contest! This week your judge is Emily June Street.

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 Melissa Thornhill