2022 minus 18: 12DaysFF – except and butterfly

Posted: 14 December 2021 in 12DaysFF, 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

For the remaining four weeks of this run, while Tuesday will remain the ‘tales from the fiction vaults’ day, I’m making them ‘tales from the Christmas fast fiction vaults’.

I’m going to be putting up two each Tuesday from the Twelve Days of Fast Fiction runs I did: two each from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – the last year I did them.

For these specific short runs, I asked friends in comics and various fields of entertainment to challenge me.

Which they did. With funny, silly, clever titles and weird, odd, wonderful words to use.

So here are two more, from 2013’s Twelve Days of Fast Fiction.

The first story was written for Si Spurrier, a wonderfully clever writer of extraordinary talent with a viciously funny talent for plotting stories and then executing those plots. I use ‘executing’ advisedly, as his writing takes any sacred cows you have out back and uses a bolt gun on them. And he smiles while doing so. As a writer who prizes words, I suspect that Si would agree with Mark Twain’s observation that ‘for a writer, the difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug’.

So for Si, a story about someone who just can’t find the right words, no matter how desperately he tries…

The second story was written for Sarah Pinborough, whose writing I take enormous pleasure in reading; glorious prose that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until you’ve found out… what happens next. Her stories stay with you long after you’ve finished reading, percolating in your mind until they pop up, delightfully unexpectedly. I like both Sarah and her writing a lot.

Sarah gave me a title that could only – in my mind, anyway – have been the first line of something in rhyme; I’m not sure what the subject of the story is, but I can picture it perfectly…

Both received the same prompt as always:

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 these examples…

Title: Every Word Is Wrong
Word: except
Challenger: Si Spurrier
Length: 200 words exactly

Once a year, Santa rises from a months’ long sleep, and walks to an desk that was ancient when he first commenced his duties. He sits at the desk, then dips a plain quill pen formed from the feather of a long extinct species of hen into a bottle of pure raven ink.

And then Santa writes a letter. And into that letter, the legendary jolly good-natured fellow pours out venom and bile, anger and bitterness, begging to be released from his responsibilities, analysing in forensic detail why he should not be obliged to continue his rounds across the planet known as Earth.

When he has finished, he places the letter face down and leaves the room, returning immediately. And always, always, there remains only a white card, upon which is the single word CONTINUE.

Santa Clause never swears. Never. Ever. Except when he reads the card.

Then Santa launches his sleigh over a world covered in white, a uniformity blanketing continents, what were once countries, and the blistered remains of cities.

Santa spends the day in his craft, his tears freezing against his thick beard, listening to the sound of radiation laden winds, desperate once again for sleep.

© Lee Barnett, 2013

Title: It Lived Under Monday
Word: butterfly
Challenger: Sarah Pinborough
Length: 200 words exactly

It lived under Monday, whatever It was;
It’d been there a very long time.
Eating away at the start of the week,
Dissolving the minutes with lime.

It arrived on Sunday, but quickly decided
The first day It didn’t like much,
And with butterfly whim, it fast looked around
For sustenance, comfort and such.

Saturday was not to Its taste,
Nor Friday; not at all to Its liking;
And Thursday was ‘manufactured’, It felt
Full of metal and plastic and piping.

It then spent a fortnight in Wednesday;
It thought that It might have found home.
But boredom with the middle day of the week
Occasioned It once more to roam.

Tuesday It liked, It actually liked.
It burrowed and set up Its den.
Then sighed at the inelegance of the name of the day
And eventually moved once again.

So It lived under Monday for many a year.
Millennia had gone past by now.
Since It created Its residence under the Day
And fed on each minute and hour.

There It stays all year, except for one day.
It journeys not far, never fear.
Just to whatever day Christmas is on.
Don’t you think it goes faster each year?

© Lee Barnett, 2013

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 now less slowly approaching.

I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid 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 the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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