2022 minus 04: 12DaysFF – moreover and clasp

Posted: 28 December 2021 in 12DaysFF, 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

During December, while Tuesday has remained the ‘tales from the fiction vaults’ day, I’ve chosen to make them all ‘tales from the Christmas fast fiction vaults’.

For these specific short runs, I asked friends in comics and various fields of entertainment to challenge. Which they did. With funny, silly, clever titles and weird, odd, wonderful words to use.

So here are two more, from 2015’s Twelve Days of Fast Fiction.

Though he deals with irrational numbers, the very rational Matt Parker is that rare person: a mathematician who not only enjoys convincing others of the joy and fun inherent in mathematics… but actually succeeds in doing so. He’s a very funny, very smart man, who could justifiably claim that the lowest ring of hell is reserved for those who deliberately misuse charts.

It was particularly enjoyable to be able to write a story including numbers for Matt.

Pippa Evans is a very nice person who is astonishingly talented. I put it that way around because otherwise you’d be so overwhelmed with her talent that you’d never remember that she’s also a very, very lovely person. She’s funny, silly and incredibly hard working, and I like her a lot.

There are not many stories that, the moment I think of the hook, I laugh out loud. Pippa’s challenge gave me that delight.

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: When Nothing Adds Up
Word: moreover
Challenger: Matt Parker
Length: 200 words exactly

He stepped out of the vehicle, so very weary; he’d been thinking about his bed for the past hour, although in truth an hour meant little to him. He patted down his travelling companions, murmured a few words to his favourite, then left them to be taken away by assistants.

Assistants? When had he stopped calling them elves? he wondered, and shook his head, chuckling. It was not a pleasant sound; despite legends, Santa rarely laughed from pleasure.

The final task awaited him; one last job before blessed sleep. An elf waited by his desk, pouring over a list: billions of names, each accompanied by green ticks, some large, some almost microscopic. The elf, warily, pointed out the discrepancies to Santa: the total number of gifts did not equal that of the recipients. Moreover, he could not verify six of the names. Santa sighed, and reached into his coat.

He was the sixty-eighth elf to have disappeared without trace in the past four centuries. Others had been more stupid, or more clever.

Santa walked to his rooms and placed several large boxes by his bed; then he took the list and slowly, carefully, appended a tick to his name.

© Lee Barnett, 2015

Title: Brand New Dignity, Jane
Word: clasp
Challenger: Pippa Evans
Length: 200 words exactly

It had taken her weeks to find just the right berries, but with some help, she had gathered enough for her purpose. Crushed between two lumps of wood, then mixed with the remains of specific beetles, they would produce the exact shades of vermillion and cream necessary.

Staining the cloth had been easy; the obtaining of it had not, and she repressed a shudder at the nature of her sacrifice. But it had been necessary. She’d given up so much since she’d made her choice, long ago, but this… this she would not forsake. Similarly, making the leather belt had been simple, the buckle and clasp far harder to create.

Sewing the costume had been more pleasant than she’d anticipated, the act bringing back memories of her mother’s instructions, her smell, her smile.

She’d abandoned her first plan, knowing that the required explanations would be too tortuous and absurd; her replacement victim, however, trusted her completely.

It had been worth it though. The laughter from her child had made it worthwhile; giggles of delight at the sight of a chimpanzee standing to attention while dressed in full Father Christmas outfit. Her husband merely grunted, but then the apeman rarely spoke.

© Lee Barnett, 2015

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 very scarily and vert rapidly 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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