Posts Tagged ‘si spurrier’

You’re well used to reading stories created in response to challenges issued as part of The Fast Fiction Challenge.

For a few years, I did something at Christmas entitled Twelve Days of Fast Fiction. Friends – writers, actors, comedians – issued challenges, from which stories resulted. I haven’t done it for a couple of years, and I don’t know whether I’ll restart it this year. (Probably not.)

But, for the remainder of December, I’m going to put some of those Christmas tales in this slot.


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.

Here are two stories written for friends from the second Twelve Days of Fast Fiction.

Two very different stories await you; two very different stories for two very different writers. One of the stories below is quite absurd, one quite sad. I leave it to you to decide which is which. My thanks once again to Sarah and Simon for the challenges and the fun I had writing the tales.


The past few years have been fun for the many fans of Sarah Pinborough’s writing, including me. Glorious prose that grabs you and doesn’t let go until you’ve found out… what happens next. And her tales stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them, percolating in your mind until they pop up, delightfully unexpectedly.

I like her (and her writing) a lot.

It is not well known that Sarah once solved 16 Soduko puzzles simultaneously while blindfolded.

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


Si Spurrier is a writer of extraordinary talent with a viciously funny talent for plotting stories and then executing those plots. I use ‘executing’ advisedly, as his writing identifies any sacred cows you might have, then takes them out back and uses a bolt gun on them. And smiles while doing so.

I’ve known the man for more than a decade and I never cease to be grateful for it.

It’s a little known fact, by the way, that Si is short for Sin Wave.

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


Some more Christmas fast fictions next week.

Meanwhile, something else, tomorrow…

Si Spurrier is a 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 smiles while doing so. I’ve known the man for the best part of a decade and never cease to be grateful for it.

It’s a little known fact, by the way, that Si is short for Sin Wave.

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

This story is part of The Twelve Days of Fast Fiction (More information on the Twelve Days here)
Day 01: The Misanthropic Principle – challenger: Jamais Cascio
Day 02: Robot Ghosts of Apocalypse – challenger: Cherie Priest
Day 04: The Train Didn’t Come – challenger: Emma Vieceli
Day 05: Living Happily Ever After – challenger: Neil Gaiman
Day 06: Embargoed Until Midnight – Challenger: Corrie Corfield
Day 07: He’s Making A List – Challenger: Mitch Benn
Day 08: Fingers On The Windowpane – Challenger: Leah Moore
Day 09: Santa Abduction Narratives Recalled – Challenger: Paul Cornell
Day 10: Copula Numb – Challenger: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Day 11: It Lived Under Monday – Challenger: Sarah Pinborough
Day 12: Batman Sure Likes Tea – Challenger: Tiernan Douieb

Edit to add: An ebook of all twelve stories is available for $0.99. Click here for details.


“There are two hundred stories collected in this volume. They are funny, they are thoughtful, they are romantic, they are frightening. To me, though, they are more than entertaining. They are inspiring.” – Wil Wheaton, from his introduction to volume 2 of The Fast Fiction Challenge

Two volumes of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing 180 stories in Volume 1 and a further 200 stories in Volume 2, for £3.00 each, are available in ebook format from the author; email for details.

The following post has gone up at Whitechapel, the board started by Warren Ellis, but fairly recently taken over in a bloody, horrific coup by Si Spurrier, the superbly talented writer of [recently] X-Club and A Serpent Uncoiled:


You know, I was going to call this The F-art Fiction Challenge, but Si overruled me.

As some of you may be aware, I had a writing thing going for several years entitled The Fast Fiction Challenge. The rules were simple: people challenged me with a four word title and a word to use in the tale and I wrote them a story of exactly 200 words.

I answered about 500 challenges, and in 2010 wrote 150 stories in 150 days. And yes, I published a couple of collections of the stories.

Well, Si and I got together over Christmas and decided it was about time I did some more of the stories. And it felt like an opportunity to widen the spectrum of art-challenges for you guys on this board.

Hence this new challenge:

The Art of Fast Fiction

OK, THE RULES.

Monday morning, 9th January, I’m going to put up a previously written Fast Fiction. It’ll be exactly 200 words, as previously stated.

Artists here will have until Saturday evening, say midnight British time, (4pm Pacific) to put up either a one panel spot illustration or a two page comic book depiction of the entire story. Hey, I’m limited to 200 words – you’re limited to two pages. The art can be pencilled, inked, coloured, lettered… entirely up to you.

Saturday night/Sunday morning, Si and I will pick a winner and announce it. The winner gets to pick a new four word title and word (no matter how weird or mundane) and let us know, and I’ll write a new story which will go up on Monday at noon UK time… which will start the whole thing running again.

So you get six days, (Monday through Saturday) to showcase your art and/or story-telling abilities.

Something we have to be very firm on upfront: this isn’t a call for anyone else to write new prose stories here or to suggest story ideas. As has been stated here before, the moment we start inviting folks to post their own fiction we get into all sorts of trouble. So: this is ART ONLY. The only thing the winner gets is to suggest the title and (occasionally, at my whim) possibly an extra challenge to make it a bit more fun for everyone involved.

(As an example of the latter, I was once challenged to write one in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet; someone else wanted one in which more than 50% of the tale was told in dialogue, and yes someone once challenged me, entirely within the rules of the challenge, to write a 200 word sex scene.*)

OK, let’s see how this goes, yes?

See you Monday Morning.


So that’s it. This could be interesting, yes? Drop by and join in, why don’t you?

* Yeah, like I’m going to link to that one.