57 plus 35: fleeting and misanthropic

Posted: 21 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. You’ve had enough from the 2010 run for a while, so let’s go back a few years earlier, to 2006.

The 2006 run was the second I did, and by now I was comfortable with the format, comfortable enough to experiment with the stories themselves. Some were very sweet, some very dark and a few very… odd.

The first of the two stories below started out as something very different. But it never quite ‘worked’ on the page. Then I remember suddenly imagining the scene, with an actual person waking… and the story almost wrote itself.

The second story was the truest example of a fast fiction I can recall with the possible exception of the 24 I wrote in 24 hours for Comic Relief. The challenger, an old friend, sent it in on behalf of his class; he was a teacher back then. I wrote the story and stuck it up within an hour of receiving the challenge.

I like these two tales. 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: Love Is Spatial
Word: fleeting
Challenger: Jill Allyn Stafford
Length: 200 words exactly

The hands of the clock ticked over to the pre-selected time and before the alarm had been ringing for a full second, her hand accurately stabbed out from beneath the blanket and hit the button.

In the silence, she stretched out, and as she began to awake, her hand reached across the bed and felt for him. A moment later, she registered the absence of his body, and almost as if she’d been knifed, a sharp pain hit her chest.

She rolled up in a ball, tight and hard, wishing the world away.

It was at times like this that she missed him most, missed the heat of his body, even missed the temporary absence, the knowledge that at the end of the day, he’d be back.

But no more – not since the train wreck that had took his life, and destroyed hers.

The tears came unbidden, as they had every night, and every morning, the past five weeks.

Eventually, she knew, that would stop: one night, she’d fall asleep just from tiredness, instead of weepy exhaustion; eventually she would wake with a smile, fleeting or otherwise, looking forward to the day.

One day she would laugh.

One day.


© Lee Barnett, 2006

Title: Never Say Forever
Word: misanthropic
Challenger: Regie Rigby
Length: 200 words exactly

They were right after all; who’d have thought it?

All the doomsayers, all the small minded, ignorant, petty people who warned against bringing back extra-planetary specimens. They were right.

It didn’t take long. In less time than you would have believed possible, ninety-two per cent of us were dead. The rest of us ended up in the capital city; and they all died a few days ago. As far as I know, I’m the only one left alive.

We thought we would last as long as there were stars in the skies and rocks on the ground. Who’d have thought it?

But three days ago, the Strangers landed. Knowing what I do now, I loathe them with a misanthropic passion of hate. My people didn’t die from accident; they were murdered.

The Strangers are giants. Each of them thousands of times bigger than any of us, they destroyed the main city and its star shaped government buildings and long parallel travelways with a gargantuan spike that crushed it and them flat.

At the top of the spike I could even see the bastards’ pennant. Their audacity knows no bounds, appropriating our symbols to show conquest: stars, and long horizontal stripes.

© Lee Barnett, 2006


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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