Category Archives: Flash Fiction

A Few Days of Fantasy Flash Judge Comments and Winner!

Mark A. King did a stellar job judging our mini-contest, and the results are here. Mark has left a bit of commentary on every story, so take a look below to see what he had to say about yours and others’ efforts. Thank you all for participating. It was truly a joy to see names old and new offering up stories here at LCP. The dragony theme especially made us miss the days of Flash Friday!

Here are Mark’s lovely words about judging:

I want to pass on my sincere thanks for being given the privilege of reading and judging your stories. As you undoubtedly know, both Emily and Tamara are masters of their craft. Such fine authors deserve mighty fine flash fiction and, wow, did you deliver.

It was a tough, but highly enjoyable task. Your words are truly a gift. You are talented. Believe it. Keep writing.

1.) Seamus and Declan on a Welsh Beach by Maggie Duncan

MK: The land of dragons, and leprechauns on a beach, what’s not to love? Wonderful use of dialect. 

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2.) Here Be No Stones Or Dragons But I Wrote A Story Anyway, by Margaret Locke

MK: “The earth’s rich belly swelled above the sand like a ripe melon, water flowing over her, waves baptizing her anew.” aka – how to completely nail an opening.

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3.) The Unmarked Grave by Taryn Noelle Kloeden

MK: It’s incredibly hard to draw emotion in such a short word-count. It takes great skill. In the first few lines, I pondered if the subject was a lost love, a child, or parent. Touching, well-crafted and one to savour.

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4.) [Untitled] by David Kleeman

MK: Wonderful language. With these sort of word-counts it’s about leaving much unsaid and letting the reader fill the gaps. Knowing what to leave and what to write is the hard part. Job well done.

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5.) What Is Lost Can Be Found by @carolrosalind

MK: What do I like about this? “So much” is the answer. A simple concept, but crafted so well that it’s wonderfully mysterious. I love the suspense and the thought of the snakes pulling the narrator in. 

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6.) Sapphire Spellstone by @davejamesashton

MK: I enjoyed the masking of the setting. I had somewhere else in mind, until I discovered it was a pawnshop (I loved this idea). A phylactery, possibly containing the spirit of a magical creature? Fabulous.

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7.) Draconic Destruction by @davejamesashton

MK: “She had awakened, eager to mate.” This scared me. Adored the word “wyrm”. Wonderful ending.

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8.) The Black Stone by Voima Oy

MK: This story is how to craft perfect flash fiction. Superb use of big and small stones. Swapping jewelry boxes for peanut butter amid a post-apocalyptic world. Hungry waves. Brilliant!

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9.) Dragon Mountain by Craig McGeady

MK: Gentle, subtle and heartwarming. Using the picture to show not tell a wonderful moment between generations.

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10.) Dark Waters by David Kleeman

MK: Great sense of mystery and intrigue. As a reader, I’m curious and want to know more.

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11.) Imprisoned by @el_Stevie

MK: Splendid use of setting, mythology and legend. So good, it felt like I was sitting in Stonehenge, enthralled as a great fire-side story-teller recounted daring adventures of ancestors.

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12.) Salvage by Nancy Chenier

MK: Breathtakingly good. Inventive and deep. Sumptuous words and images. Excellent work.

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13.) Happy Anniversary by Nancy Chenier

MK: Majestic opening. Delicate yet intense piece that crosses time, space and species.

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14.) [Untitled] by Jennifer Faust

MK: This felt like watching the pivotal scene in a sweeping fantasy movie. Lovely build-up and enjoyable ending.

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15.) They Themselves by Josh Bertetta

MK: I love that the author has taken the image and crafted not only a different world/s, but cross genres and built a fantastic back-story. Fabulous imagination.

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16.) Dragoncall by Dave Lankshear

MK: And so the real story begins. Even in a micro story it’s possible to use pace to engage the reader, and the author of this story has done just that, building up to the finale (or beginning, as I like to think of it).

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17.) [Untitled] by Rebekah Postupak (Crash Site)

MK: So many reasons to adore this. The personification of the stones (each with distinct personality). The partners discussing the merits of asking for directions (just brilliant). The crash site itself. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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18.) Sea Shells by Allison K. Garcia

MK: Yes. This is how to mix fabulous dialogue, humour, and first-class words such as ‘eep’, ‘sizzle’, ‘chomp’. Loved it—thank you for making me smile.

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19.) The Reluctant Dragon-keeper of Drabenvord by Geoff Holme

MK: I’m a big fan of experimenting with structure in flash/micro fiction. Here the author has included both authors, Street & Shoemaker and their respective novels, Embrace the Fire and Sterling. Clever.

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20.) [Untitled] by Rebekah Postupak (Touch my Stuff)

MK: And let that be a lesson to you! Never. Ever. Touch a dragon’s stuff. See anything like that on the beach – just leave it there. Trust me.

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21.) Stone Quarry by Brady Koch

MK: This is like a great movie trailer. It condenses a huge plot and backstory into a tiny space. Good craft.

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MK: There can be only one winner (sadly).

It was a close call but I have chosen Salvage, by Nancy Chenier. I hope you agree it is a worthy winner in a field of incredible stories.

The words are beautifully written. The images sublime. But it’s much more than that. It is emotion in its highest form, squashed under the weight of intense gravity and condensed into the space of 100 words. It’s a sense of the unknown. It’s a ride on the wave of fear, loss and injury. It’s the complex relationships between ourselves and our families. It’s the intricate struggles with ourselves, who we are, who we were, how we came to be and who we can become. Stunning. Congratulations.

Congratulations to Nancy Chenier, the winner of A Few Days of Fantasy Flash 2016! Nancy, please contact Emily (emily (@) luminouscreaturespress (dot) com) to collect your winnings of copies of Sterling and Embrace the Fire!

LCP, Emily, and Tamara extend a huge THANK YOU to Mark for his detailed and careful judging.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and submitting stories!

A Few Days of Fantasy Flash Fiction

Welcome to LCP’s Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest.

In this round, we are celebrating the release of two books, Tamara Shoemaker’s Embrace the Fire, and Emily June Street’s Sterling. Both are fantasy stories set in worlds with magic, royalty, power struggles, and love. One involves dragons, the other, magic stones.

Below we have an image to inspire your stories. Your story must contain either a DRAGON or a MAGIC STONE, or both. You have until midnight on June 30th, 2016 (PDT) to submit a story of 100 words or fewer. Titles are not included in word count. You may submit multiple stories if you wish.

Post your stories in the reply section to this post. Be sure to include your name, Twitter handle or other contact information, and a word count at the top of your story. See the complete rules here.

One winner will receive copies of Embrace the Fire and Sterling! Our illustrious judge is veteran flash fictioneer and Alpha FlashDog Mark A. King. Winner will be announced Monday, July 4th.

We look forward to reading your stories!

Your photo prompt:

Contest 4

Sterling is here in PRINT

sterling

Sterling print copies came early, so those of you who prefer paperback versions can get an early copy at Flow Studio in Fairfax or you can order a print version now from Amazon.

If you’d like a signed copy to pick up at Flow–-or mailed to you–-please contact Emily directly. emily (at) luminouscreaturespress (dot) com

Ebooks will still be out on June 27. You can pre-order an ebook here.

And don’t forget! Starting on June 28th, LCP will be hosting a mini fantasy flash fiction contest. A print version of Sterling will be one of the prizes. We’re also planning a Goodreads giveaway starting Monday 6/13. Happy summer reading!

Tir na nÒg, the Land of the Young

1848, Liverpool

The Erin’s Queen was moored in the seething port of Liverpool. Cargo of every shape and vibrant colour heaved from vessel to quay. Sounds assaulted the senses. It was easy to be lost in the cacophony of barked orders from old-men to young-boys, creaking ropes on overworked pulleys and the persistent famished screeching of circling gulls.

The mass migration from Éire had brought news of exploitation, death and unseaworthy coffin ships. Of course I’d heard such things, but there were no choices. Our farm had been seized and notice had been served. Prison awaited, unless our landlord paid for our deportation, which he did in a manner that implied we should be grateful to him.

We had little time to gather belongings and we were told the hold of the ship didn’t have space, yet Aoife insisted on changing into what passed for her Sunday best. “We might have nothing in Quebec, but we don’t need family, or money, or even a job,” she said, lit by the struggling morning rise. “We have each other. We have faith. When we first set foot on new soil we will have excitement and pride and hope. We’ll be reborn. We’ll learn. We’ll thrive, my love.”

When she said such things, I forgot the hardships of toiling the lands and remembered why I married her. I could look into her eyes of blue hope and allow myself to dream, even with my ragged clothes and blooded hands.

Before sail, I held Padraig tightly. My precious boy, my gossoon. Although he was five, he looked like a toddler. Sometimes I feared I would crush him in my embrace. “The journey will be hard, son. You mustn’t cry, whatever you see. It is a long way and we would do best not to upset anyone. Can you do that for me, Padraig, my little man?” To this he grinned and nodded.

The dockland skies were gunmetal grey and clouds pregnant with overdue rain. The moon hung in the morning heavens, a caught trespasser in the dawn. It was only as the ship set sail that I realised the vastness of the anthracite sea. Approaching the harbour walls, a solitary tree jutted out of the stonework, all twisted convex and concave limbs, black and very dead—it stood like a guardian between the worlds.

Before twenty days had passed, we were no longer repulsed by stench of spilled stomachs, other smells filled the air—sickness, disease, the stink of humanity turning on itself to fight for scraps of mouldy bread.

We lost the first one on day twenty-five. An old woman, Josephine. She started the journey with eyes of empathy and wisdom. In my great shame, I was relieved when I no longer had to look at her unfocused and lifeless stare. Once the rattle of the death in her lungs had left her, I could once again hear the churn and crack of the angry ocean. Her family pushed her up, through the square of blinding light. We heard the splash a moment later. No prayer was said.

By day thirty, sharks followed the boat, they say.

On day thirty-three, it was a jumble of bodies, insects and madness. Departed relatives were pushed aside, survivors refused to touch them and the captain paid one sovereign for each body recovered and jettisoned. We watched the boat-hooks descend into darkness and grab what they could—hoisting, dragging—it mattered not, the treatment the dead.

By day forty, Padraig had succumbed. His fever not tempered by his mother’s touch, his discomfort barely eased by the tales of Tír na nÓg, the land of the young. I did not tell him the tales of Oisín and Niamh, but of a forever-gossoon named Padraig.

When he passed, no tears left his eyes.

We would not allow him to be touched, or hooked. When others talked of the disease he would bring, Aoife made inhuman screams and I threatened consequences.

Weeks passed. No words. No mourning.

Stepping ashore the new lands, she straightened her dress and held her head high, carrying our rag-doll gossoon in her arms.

I recall these events for you, my precious girl, for there is hope in everything. Even when enduring a day, minute or second feels impossible, there is a fragment of hope. For you were the first born in these lands and the world is yours. With your first breath, we found purpose.

Follow Mark A. King on Twitter: @Making_Fiction

Let Me Tell You My Story, To Help Us Pass the Time by David Shakes

Squealing brakes, glittering glass and concertinaed metal took my babies from me. Cold in the ground they lay and I, in my grief, wept freely into that consecrated soil.

* ‘There are no accidents,’ say the children. *

What had I done for them to be taken so young? It’ wasn’t right and I cursed the man who took them. He still lived, still walked the earth while my babies were buried in it. They didn’t even take his job.

* ‘No event has a life of its own,’ chorus the girls. *

‘Take up their bones and head for the hill where a single tree grows,’ Maman told me. ‘Wait there, don’t matter how long, wait – wait until the last leaf has fallen of its own accord.’

* ‘There exists a sacred cycle between the living and the dead,’ say the children. *

‘There is a price child, always a price.’ Maman said.

I said I would pay it. I didn’t have to think. I walked the hill and sat beneath the skeletal tree. My broken nails were caked in dirt. I picked them clean like the bones of my children that lay beside me – bleached white by the moonlight.

* ‘The serpent eats its own tale,’ chant the girls, giggling. *

‘When the bare limbs part the clouds and you see the stars, slip them bones in the water. Then tell Xevisio of the great harm done to you and yours. If your cause be just, He will ask Agbe what can be done.’

* ‘What you do unto another, you do unto you. We are all one,’ say the children. *

The sons of Mawu took pity on me, and my babies came back, swimming up from the murky depths. I blessed those Vodun and then bit my lips. Behind my babies’ eyes, old souls stared back – hungry souls.

* ‘We are the vehicles for the expression of the serpent’s power,’ say the girls, their voices deep and serious. *

First a voice from the waters said, ‘Your babies still slumber – they cannot be sullied by this deed.’
And then came a voice from the tree, ‘The Loa will do what must now be done.’
Finally, a voice from the sky said, ‘There’s always a price my child, always a price.’

* ‘We act for the He who made the trees and the ropes,’ say the children. *

So we walked down from the hill. I held their hands in mine, these babies who were not completely mine. We walked down the hill and met the road. We walked the road to the same stop where it happened.

* ‘All this has happened before and will happen again,’ the girls whisper conspiratorially. *

We got on to ride and I met you and told you my story. They didn’t even take his job you see? He’s still driving the bus.

* ‘You’d better get off soon.’ say the children. ‘Real soon.’ *

Follow David Shakes on Twitter:@TheShakes72

The Wolf Moon by AV Laidlaw

The wolf moon and the winter constellations shone hard and cold behind the branches of the birch trees as John Summer led the gelding by its halter along the track. Hoof falls cracked the icy earth. The gelding snorted a cloud of ghost breath that dissipated slowly in the moonlight. Then there was silence among the snowdrifts and trees until the old man, slouched on the back of the gelding, silver streaks in his black beard and his eyes hidden under the rim of his hat, began to sing a soft lullaby. He was drunk and his wrists were tied together with knotted rope.

“Hush now,” Summer said. “You’ll only call the wolves on us.”

“I don’t fear ’em. The wolves ran with me up in the mountains.”

The old man continued to sing the same lullaby Summer had sung to his youngest as the boy slipped away into the cold and hunger of winter. Summer dropped his hand on the Smith and Wesson in its holster and thought he could finish that song now. But there was a way with these things, they had to be done properly as his father had shown him and as his grandfather had shown his father all the way back through the generations. He led the gelding onwards, even as it stumbled over the rutted track, towards the hill rising naked from the woods.

When the old man saw the blackened and lighten struck tree on the hill summit, he stopped singing and sobered. “You’re gonna do this, ain’t you?” He twisted his hands and shifted his weight in the saddle but John Summer knew how to tie ropes too well.

“There’s more whiskey, if you want.”

The old man said nothing and Summer shrugged. The gelding stood obediently under the thickest branch as Summer clambered up the trunk, hands scratched by the rough back but too cold to feel. He looped a rope over the branch and tied it hard as he could, then dropped the nose around the old man’s neck. The old man raised his hands as if in prayer but there was nobody a man like that could pray to.

The moon turned yellow as it sunk towards the horizon, glittering the ice crystals on the tree. Summer slapped the gelding’s rump and it bolted back down the track. It would find its own way back to the farm, even through the darkness.

Summer stood and looked at the figure that was once a man but no longer a man swaying at the end of the rope, its feet pointing down and its head lolling to one side, still wearing the hat that hid its eyes. This was a simple thing done in the night, deep in the woods. That was the way his father had taught him. He drank whiskey to keep himself warm as he watched the winter stars fade and the pale blue dawn break across the eastern sky.

Afterwards, he walked back down the track to the farm and full moon followed full moon rising copper coloured into the night. He planted corn in the fields under the sun that burnished his skin and turned the air thick and dusty. Mary swelled with child and he told her they would cope, they always did, although there was nothing that could replace what they had lost last winter. The corn turned golden and Summer sharpened his scythe on the whetstone, over and over until the blade shone as if it cleaved the sunlight itself. From time to time he glanced towards the white mountains rising in the distance and gripped the scythe handle more tightly.

On the eve of the harvest moon, he sat on his porch and watched a figure riding down the track from the mountains. Summer walked to the gate to greet the man. He was old, silver streaks in his black beard and his eyes hidden under the rim of his hat, and under his breath he sung the soft lullaby that Summer had not heard in seven months.

“You knew I was coming back,” the old man said.

“You don’t learn your lesson easy.”

“Neither do you, John Summer.” The old man dismounted. He stood for a moment with his thumbs in the pockets of his jacket, looking at the farm as if he meant to buy the place. Then he took a rope from his saddle.

Follow AV Laidlaw on Twitter: @AVLaidlaw

The Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness II Winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our winter flash fiction contest! We had many whimsical and wyrd tales from which to choose. It was a difficult decision but here they are, the winners of the 2016 Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness flash fiction contest:

Second Runner-up:
The Wolf Moon by AV Laidlaw

First Runner-up:
Let Me Tell You My Story, To Help Us Pass the Time by David Shakes

And the Winner:
Tir na nÒg, The Land of the Young by Mark A. King

Congratulations! LCP will feature the winning stories on our blog and Mark wins the entire LCP catalogue!