57 minus 49: armour and beans

Posted: 29 June 2021 in 57 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing

And so we’re back to the regular ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts on Tuesdays for the rest of the run.

I signed up with Racket in May, and, unless I grow up and stop being childishly excited about the idea, you could well get audio readings of the fiction appended to the tales themselves.

Today you get a couple of fast fictions from the long ago, from the very long ago again this week; one each from the 2005 and 2006 fast fiction funs. Two very different stories, one very silly, one very sad. And both I remember writing with great enjoyment. I hope you enjoy reading them as much.

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.

Enjoy them…

Title: Coked To The Gills
Word: armour
Challenger: [Livejournal: elfie_elfie]
Length: 200 words exactly

I can’t remember what inspired me to realise that the fish were really goths, but once the idea set in, the rest was automatic.

The gentle gurgling of the water was simply too peaceful and had to be replaced, so I hooked up a waterproofed speaker and started piping music into the aquarium. Alphabetically, of course.

I started off with All About Eve, and moved on to Bauhaus. By the time I reached Joy Division, I was convinced that the looks on their little faces bore the required level of angst.

I replaced the pirate ship with a dark grey submarine and the golden castle was replaced, once I’d painted it black. It seemed appropriate to have a guard, so I bought a six inch suit of armour and coloured it black with oil paint, so it would last.

I put in lower lights and started adulterating the feed with uppers, downers, anything I could think of. No dope, for obvious reasons.

Finally, the coal went in. Lumps of the black stuff.

Of course the fish were suicidal! They were goths!

I don’t understand why others have problems with that.

And that, my Lord, is the case for the defence…

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: Thursday Morning Coffee
Word: beans
Challenger: [Livejournal: abbie]
Length: 200 words exactly

He stood outside, enjoying the morning breeze. He lifted the large mug to his mouth, sipping the hot black coffee, tasting the slight bitterness. He remembered how she’d loved to make him coffee from Columbian beans. Not this morning though; this was instant – too much to do.

As the sun rose above the horizon, the sky slowly brightened; she’d always loved this shade of colour, and he’d grown in time to similarly take pleasure in it. Ten years to turn him from a ‘city lad’ into someone who took genuine pleasure from the country and now, thirty years of life away from the city.

The job, the excitement, the office politics; all of it seemed so far in the past, before the delight of her.

He drained the cup and walked back inside, remembering the joy of the past three decades with her. He rinsed the cup, knowing she’d have been angry with it left unwashed.

She’d died peacefully, as peacefully as she’d lived her life. Two hours, and it already seemed so long ago.

He felt his stomach cramp, the first sign.

Then he lay on the bed next to his wife, and waited for the poison to work.

© Lee Barnett, 2006


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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