57 plus 21: equivocate and effervescent

Posted: 7 September 2021 in 57 plus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

It’s Tuesday, so as usual you get a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, another two from 2010 this week.

The 2010 run was the last time I did a lonnnnnng run of fast fiction tales; 150 written in 150 days. One story written every day, none in reserve; one posted every day, even if that meant writing one or two very late at night so I could just scrape in before midnight.

As always, they varied between the horrendously dark – what one friend described as the ‘your mind scares me at times’ stories, some very weird tales and some, rarely I’ll admit, nicer ones.

I’ve no idea now what triggered the first story. I mean, I’ve always enjoyed playing with words, and painting a picture by description. But even so, this one is a bit… odd.

The second tale below is about as ‘realistically dystopic’ as I ever wrote. Weird, but dark; some of my favourite of the 700 or so fast fictions challenges I answered fall into that category.

But I like these two. I hope you will.

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.

I hope you enjoy them…

Title: Amazing Jack of Spades
Word: equivocate
Challenger: [Livejournal: hylandsdeath]
Length: 200 words exactly

The jacket was removed first, slowly but deliberately.

Next came the shirt, unbuttoned one fastening at a time, scarlet painted fingernails catching the eye as they moved down the garment. Expecting the shirt to follow the jacket onto the floor, they were surprised when she gently but expertly tossed it onto a nearby chair.

Her face was almost expressionless, slightly bored, and showing mild irritation. Either way, people weren’t overly studying her features.

Instead, every eye in the place was on her arms and legs… and torso. A tattoo was observed in silence, as was the long faint scar that could have been from an appendix removal. But still they watched intently.

She slid the short skirt down and stepped out of it, then with a sigh, took off the bra.

She pirouetted, then raised an eyebrow enquiringly at the man with the gun. Satisfied that she carried nothing hidden, he nodded and grunted what might have been an apology.

She quickly dressed and then they returned to the poker table where she’d just won the previous hand with a straight flush, jack high.

They didn’t equivocate about accusations of cheating in Deadwood, she realised as she started to deal.

© Lee Barnett, 2010

Title: Because I Said So
Word: effervescent
Challenger: [Livejournal: missymodee]
Length: 200 words exactly

The preparatory fast ended, he drank the traditional effervescent blue liquid, and then, dressed in the proper clothing, he proceeded along a metal corridor lit in noxious green.

He slowed as he approached the door. He recited the calming mantra, but it did no good; his heart was pounding, his palms sweaty. Swallowing twice, he wiped his hands against his trousers, unsurprised though dismayed at his reaction to this regular task.

He placed his right hand, no longer wet but still clammy, against the frosted glass and a door slid open, revealing a space far too small to be called a room. But it was functional and efficiently organised: one microphone and one chair.

The soft voice that invited him to sit was familiar, one he had heard all his life. It had shared his joys and his woes, and it was the only voice he needed to hear. It was The Machine.

He loved The Machine. The Machine told him to love The Machine.

And he obeyed The Machine. For The Machine told him to obey The Machine.

The Machine occasionally allowed him to believe that it was his choice to worship The Machine, however.

Even though it wasn’t.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.

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 up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

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