55 minus 11: bulbous and darkness

Posted: 6 August 2019 in 55 minus, fast fiction, fiction
Tags: , , , ,

Some more fiction today, a couple of particularly fun tales, and for once, I actually remember the ease with which the ideas for these two came to me.

The first seems obvious in retrospect: the alliteraton of the title and the challanged word. The second took some time to get just right, but again the title gave me a mental image around which I formed a tale.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

(Note: [via Livejournal] as the challenger merely means it was from a no longer current Livejournal user])

Here are two very different tales.

Mark Twain is reputed to have said that. for a writer, the difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug. (‘firefly’, for non-Americans.)

Rarely was that more true for me than with the first story. You’ll see why.


Title: Barbecued Babies
Word: bulbous
Challenger: Sarah Houlton
Length: 200 words exactly

The rain ran rivulets down the wet washed windows, leaving long smears and streaks. She never noticed it, as she anxiously approached the bluff brick building.

“Morning, Mister Monkton”, she suggestively slowly said as she woefully walked unwillingly into the huge hallowed halls of the Association for the Advancement of Alliteration.

“Hello Helen,” he quickly came back with, taking her torn ticket and then scribbling his scrappy signature.

With a superbly stunning smile, she actively aimed herself at the enormously elegant elevator, and saw his sad sallow facial features definitively disappear from view.

When she reached the fifty-fourth floor, and the delicately decorated doors slid silently apart, she heard the howl of hysteria, loud and lurid laughter that presaged problems.

Speedily sloping soundlessly along the long crowded corridor, her opulent office awaited. And once inside, she was stunned senseless by the view of the violet vision therein. It vexed her.

A bulbous mass – botanical, Browallia. Presented in purple, the florid flower festered.

Standing still, she swore, then sighed and slowly sat. Sitting, she searched for her incredibly inconvenient in-box, overflowing with obnoxious officialdom.

The abysmal advertising had to suddenly cease, she decided, desperately.

After all, inflammable infants caused complaints.

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: Raindrops on Leaves
Word: darkness
Challenger: [via Livejournal]
Length: 200 words exactly

The foyer of the holo-recreation area looks pretty swish. But then it would, wouldn’t it?

I wonder, as I’ve done before, what’s real, but I chicken out of touching anything to check. I’m pretty sure they rely on that: everyone being too self-conscious in front of the other patrons.

I turn around slowly, looking at the other customers. It has never actually occurred to me before, but how many of them are real? And how many of them are wondering the same thing about me?

I hear my name called and saunter over to the reception desk, sliding my hand over the reader, paying for my entrance.

There’s a brief hum.

I arrive in the darkness of a suburban garden; it’s raining, soft gentle rain.

And there’s a tree.

At least they all think it’s a tree – it’s apparently the best the technicians could design, based upon old images from lots of family videos archaeologists had recovered.

Brown wood with a green covering, now soaking wet from the rain. Can you imagine what this must have been like back in the day?

A representation of real wood: never fails to impress me.

Apparently, it’s from the type called gardinus shed.

© Lee Barnett, 2010

Something else tomorrow…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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