Saturday, February 18, 2017

Guppy Must Die

Last week  three-word titles were submitted. Ten were  randomly chosen. I wrote a story using the title 'Guppy Must Die'.
Target Length: ~1000 words

Guppy went out on another delivery with high hopes. He had a teddy bear imposing figure, tall, chunky, but bumbling. He arrived at the Riverside Apartment complex and knocked at the door of apartment 17.
"Pizza," said Guppy, holding out the box to the man that opened the door. He handed Guppy a coupon.
Guppy looked over the coupon and looked up. "Uh sorry."
"What's the problem?"
"This is a coupon for Pizza Hat, but I'm from Pizza Dan. We have our own coupons, but I can't take this coupon. Sorry." Guppy looked down.
"Yeah, I ordered from Pizza Hat," said the man, leaning out the door.
Then another guy showed up behind Guppy.
"Pizza?" He was wearing a hat with the Pizza Hat logo.
Handing over the pizza, the driver took the coupon, and Guppy walked away.
Guppy looked at his printed order again, noticing that the address was for apartment 37, not 17.
He walked over to the other building and two guys come to the door.
"You're late!"
"Yeah," said Guppy, "I know, but I was just over there and..."
Guppy's phone shook and he looked down at the message.
'You're late again. Give them the pizza and come back.' It was Guppy's manager.
"Free pizza."
They took the box from Guppy.

Guppy sat down in Stan's office. Stan, the night manager, walked in. "Guppy this is the fifth free pizza this week. We can't continue like this. You gotta be on the ball."
"Yeah Stan, but this time it was different, I was right there, I..."
"Guppy I don't care. You were late. That's not good. I'm giving you one more chance. Make me proud man!"

A call came in for a new pizza delivery. Stan gave the order to Guppy.
Guppy drove into the neighborhood. There were several parked cars with broken windows on the street, covered in leaves. Guppy analyzed the order, making sure he had the right address. He looked up, seeing a dark house. He took a deep breath, and starting mumbling a mantra to himself. "I can do this. I can do this." He marched up to the front door of the house. There was no porchlight on, and he didn't hear anyone inside. Guppy lifted his hand up and knocked on the door. There was no answer.

From the side, Guppy was jumped on and knocked to the ground.
"Take his money!" One guy said.
"Get the pizza" Another guy yelled.
Guppy squirmed on the  ground, and tried to shield his face.
One guy held up a baseball bat.
"What's your name?"
"Guppy?! What the hell kind of name is that? Guppy must die!" He swung the bat down, beating Guppy all over his body.
Guppy yelled and passed out.

Waking  up in a hospital room, Guppy noticed that all was quiet. A single machine hummed next to his bed.
His arm was bandaged up.
An intern making rounds, came into his room.
"It says here you were in surgery for 7 hours. 47 stitches. You've suffered a lot of bruising and an injury to your right eye. The nerve inside is broken," the intern said, looking over a chart, "You're up for another surgery sometime tomorrow. They're trying to save your eye."
"Will I be able to see?"
“Hare do tell. It’s gonna be a long road to recovery,” she said. “You'll need extensive physiotherapy."
"At least I've got a good health plan." Guppy tried to break out a smile, but it hurt too much.

A nurse poked her head in, "Sir, you have some visitors."
Guppy perked up, looking toward the door.
Stan walked in. Guppy nodded his head. Stan's jaw dropped, seeing the full extent of Guppy's injuries, taking in a man covered in gauze and bandages.
"Guppy, uh, this is Ray from legal in Pizza Dan corporate, he wanted to talk to you."
A man wearing a dark suit walked into the room.
"Hello Glenn," said Ray.
Guppy looks surprised.
"Your name is Glenn Hampton, correct?"
Guppy nodded. "They call me Guppy."
"Ok," said the man in the dark suit, "I'd like to ask you about the attack."
Guppy nodded.
"How much money did you have on you?"
"I don't know," said Guppy, "maybe $20."
"According to a news report your attackers made off with $30, you also reported this in the police report."
"Yeah, Ok, $30."
"Are you aware of our company's policy, a policy that you signed and agreed to when you started working for our organization."
"Uh, not really."
"Ok, Glenn, well I'll remind you. Driver's are not to be driving around with more than $20 on them and should return to the store to empty the money on them. However, Glenn, you continued to drive around for your delivery."
"Yeah I thought I would get back after this one."
"Glenn, drivers are also required to conduct security calls before delivering to homes that they haven't delivered to before or customers that order online. Did you make any call?"
"No, uh, no I didn't, but I..."
"Glenn I'm sorry but I'm gonna have to recommend dismissal. You clearly violated corporate policy. Your health benefits are to be immediately terminated. Now, Glenn, if you'll just sign here."
Guppy looked up at the man, barely able to move his arm.
"I'm sorry Guppy," said Stan, "there's nothing I can do. This is up to corporate. You've got some pretty heavy medical expenses. They reviewed this pretty well already."
The man in the dark suit held out the form to Guppy. "Glenn this is just a standard form confirming you heard and understood everything I explained. There's nothing more to discuss."
He put a pen into Guppy's heavily bandaged arm, and Guppy scribbled. The man took the form and filed it away into his briefcase.
Stan looked at him, shaking his head. "Sorry Guppy."
The man in the dark suit turned to go to the door. Stan backed out and departed as well.
Guppy, unable to move, looked up and started screaming.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Rebecca looked at her wrist and picked up her books. She pushed the books into her backup and pulled it up on to her shoulder. A girl came up behind her.

"Hey Becca," the girl said.
Rebecca turned around.
"What time is it, Bec?" she asked, smiling.
Rebecca shrugged.
"Huh, got the time?"
"Come on Aubrey, cut it out."
"Oh come on Bec, can't take a little joke, a little ribbing."
Rebecca just looked at her classmate and sighed, turning away.

Rebecca pushed her way out into the crowded hallway of her high school. She moved upstream against the flow of people, struggling to get to her next class. A boy bumped into her and looked up.

"Excuse me," he said. He smiled. "Got the time?"
Rebecca just shook her head and trudged forward.

Rebecca got to the classroom and sat down next to a red-haired girl.
"Hey Monica."
The red-haired girl smiled. "What's goin on, why the frown."
"Let's talk after."
The teacher stood up at the front of the class and cleared her throat.
Monica reached over and squeezed Rebecca's arm.
The teacher turned to the chalkboard and wrote on the board 'Bill Budd'. Rebecca sighed.

In the lunchroom, Rebecca sipped her carton of milk through a small straw.
Monica looked at her across the table.
"So why not just dump the watch already, if its causing so much trouble."
Rebecca looked down at her wrist and shook her head.

"Come on, Monica, my mother bought me this watch."
"But Becca it doesn't even work!"
"That's not the point! You still don't know, uh, what my mother went through to get me this watch. She has, well she has, I guess an attachment to things."
"It's just a watch, how'll she'll know?"
"Monica, she will be personally insulted not seeing her daugher wearing the watch she gave her, even if it is useless."
"I don't know, doesn't seem worth it. Why not just stuff it in your bag?"
"I could forget it, who knows it..."
"It could get broken?"

Rebecca walked home from school. She went through a path off the main road. She kept looking over at her watch, looking at the little minute and hour hands spin around completely loose on the watch face. 

'Why do I have to  look like a freak?' she thought to herself. She grabbed the watch and pulled it off her wrist and put the watch in her bag. She put it down softly on top of her books. She stepped off the path and walked up the street. A car stopped next to her, and the driver rolled down the window.

"Want a ride Rebecca?" the older woman asked.
"Sure," said Rebecca, opening the passenger door. She held her bag in her lap.
"How's school?" the woman said.
"Are you up for another babysitter gig? I got a call from a friend asking."
"Sure Mrs. Abbey, but maybe I check with my mom first."
Mrs. Abbey honked at the car in front of her. "Rebecca I want to tell you that I'm really impressed and proud of you."
Rebecca turned and looked at her, making a strange face.
Mrs. Abbey stopped in front of Rebecca's house. "Wow I'm thirsty, can I come in for a glass of water."
"I can bring you, just wait here."
"It's no problem, Rebecca, I'm not in a hurry, I can park on the street."
"No, my mom might be sleeping now, don't want to disturb her."
"Ok, I don't want to cause any problems."
Rebecca got out of the car, and Mrs. Abbey drove off.

Rebecca watches Mrs Abbey go down the street and turn the corner. She opened the front door to her house, confronted by boxes and a heavy dust in the air. Fresh laundry detergent, video tapes, and pens lined the front hallway. Rebecca tiptoed down the hall and peered into her mother's bedroom. She saw her mother on the bed, fast asleep. Clothing and old newspapers littered the floor.

Reaching her room, Rebecca closed the door behind her. She poured out her backpack onto her bed. The watch tumbled out on top of the books. She grabbed the watch and held it up. She attempted to throw the watch away in her trash. Then she stepped back and reached into the trash to dig it up. She looked at the watch, dangling it in front of her face. She put it back on her wrist, shaking her head.

The next day in class, Monica looked over at Rebecca, squeezing her arm, just above the watch. The teacher finishes writing on the chalkboard. "Ok, why does Billy still bless the captain after her has sentenced him to be hanged?"
Rebecca sat upright.
"Monica?" asked the teacher.
Monica just shook her head.
Rebeca raised her arm.
"Yes Rebecca."
"He believed that he had their best interests in mind."
"Ok that's a good direction."

At her locker, Rebecca  looks down again at her watch. Monica taps her on the shoulder.
They sat at their usual table.
"Monica, I think I've realized something."
"About literature class?"
"No its just that all my attempts with the watch are really to keep my mother happy but this actually makes me miserable."
"So what you gonna do?"
Rebecca took off the watch she threw the watch to the big garbage at the end of the table.

When Rebecca came home,  her mother focused on her arm, noticing the missing watch.
"Where's your watch, Rebecca?"
Rebecca looked down.
"Rebecca, where's your watch, where is it?"
"I, uh,"
"I threw it away."
"What? You did what?"
"Come on, it's just a stupid old watch."
"You have no idea, what you've done."
"It's just a watch."
"No, it's not. It's a protection. Rebecca you're not safe without your protection?"
"Protection, what are you talking about?"
"We're are hunted, there are creatures that will take us down in the middle of the night. You need to have your protection."
Rebecca looked up at her mother. A door slammed in a another room, and her mother turned suddenly.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

How to Write a Short Story

Getting started in Flash Fiction and writing prompts, I often get bogged down in ... getting started. I start writing, like a pantser, and find myself unfocused and concerned that the narrative is not developing. So I've brought together some good suggestions for how to get started on a short story.

How To Outline A Short Story - For Beginners

Outline a Short Story in Seven Steps

7 Steps to Write a Short Story

How to Properly Outline a Short Story

How to Write a Short Story

Friday, October 7, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge: A Scary Story, Part One

Daniel wandered off from his family. They stayed at the beach and Daniel climbed the rocks away from waves, looking for shells. Daniel was already 12 and felt like he could explore on his own and didn't need to drag along his sister with him.

The waves were loud. He couldn't hear his father calling for him.  Daniel found a pretty, shiny shell and picked it up and put it in his pocket. He heard a slight chirping not far off, and climbed up on the rocks.

Above the rocks, a black car was parked in the field. The door opened and a man stepped out. Daniel stood up on the rocks and turned, looking back and seeing his family far away up the beach. The man walked away from his car and looked at Daniel, gesturing to him to come toward him. A woman opened the door on the driver's side and looked at her watch.

Daniel reached into his pocket and felt the shell. It was smooth, with a sharp jagged edge. He looked around but saw nobody else. The old man by the car shrugged and pointed at Daniel. "Boy!" he yelled. 

Daniel stepped forward and approached the old man who was a dark suit and black tie. The man smelled dingy, like mold. He reached out and touched Daniel on the shoulder. Daniel flinched but didn't pull away. "Your next."

Daniel stared up at him. Up close, he looked very old. His skin overlapped in thin flaps. His eyes were glossed over. His frizzy white hair was sparse. His hand shook and dug into Daniel's shoulder. Daniel reached up to push away the man's hand. The old man had a tight grip.

"Don't touch him," yelled the woman from the driver's side. Both Daniel and the old man turned to look at her. Daniel stepped back away from the distracted old man.

"Boy!" called out the old man.
"Come back!" said the woman.

Daniel ran back towards the rocks. He stopped for a moment and looked back. The car door closed and the engine revved up. Daniel breathed hard. He felt his shoulder where the man had gripped him. It was wet. He looked at his hand and it was covered in green goo.

The car tore across the field. Daniel reached the rocks and jumped onto the highest rock. He looked down and saw the rocky embankment below, uneven and jagged. To the other side was a steep drop off to the beach below. "Come here," said the woman again, "you touched him!"

Daniel looked over his shoulder at the woman, the car was just a few feet behind him. She closed her door and came closer to Daniel. He closed his eyes and jumped off the rock to the beach. The fine sand cushioned his landing. The woman looked down from above as Daniel squirmed on his back like a trapped turtle. The waves crashed up on the shore.

Daniel screeched. A sharp pain shot up his leg and he curled up his knee to his chin. He saw the gash from the rock up the length of his shin. Blood surged. He spread the green goo all over his knee. Tears welled up in his eyes and he screamed. "Wait! Wait there!" the woman said. Daniel pushed himself back up against the rock and propped himself up. He reached into his pocket and threw the shell up at the woman. He took a breath, and looked down. His leg was clean. No blood.

He ran. Daniel didn't look back. He thought he heard the woman calling his name. He stumbled over the sand and lurched over a rock. Then he heard his father calling out. His father noticed him and pointed to Daniel. Almost out of breath, Daniel came to a stop by his father and mother and sister.

"Where were you?" his father yelled, "crap we were worried sick about you. Don't ever just wander off like that. This is our special vacation." His mother hugged him. His sister tugged at his hand.
"Yuck what is this?" she said, rubbing the green goo off her hands. Daniel pushed her back.

"Nothing," Daniel said, "let's go." The family got into their minivan and drove off.

Later in the evening, they came to the boardwalk. The lights were ablaze. A ferris wheel stood tall over the crowd and entertainment. Daniel walked with his sister and parents. "The roller coaster," his sister said, and ran over. His parents bought tickets. The roller coaster raced past. Daniel watched the light zip back and forth. Daniel and his sister got into line. She pushed Daniel. "I wanna sit in the front!"

"We'll sit where ever we get."

"I wanna sit in the front." She hit Daniel.
The line moved slowly forward. His sister folded her arms and stood in place. Daniel jabbed her, urging her forward.  She remained rooted in place, and other kids in line slowly pushed ahead.  Daniel grabbed her and yanked her.
"Hey!" she said, "stop."
"Come on, just move."
They shuffled forward in the line. Finally they reached the front gate. Daniel and his sister took a step forward. A woman's arm came down, cutting off their progress. The gate to the ride closed. Daniel looked up. The woman smiled at him, nodding her head. Daniel looked at her, and clenched his teeth. He looked around. At the gate stood the old man in his dark suite. The roller coaster made its full round on the track, and flew back into the loading station.

Daniel grabbed his sister's hand, pulling her back.
"Daniel let's go, we're in front!"

Daniel shook his head. The woman pushed them forward.

The old man looked down at Daniel. "Your next."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Subtext - A new Insight

Heard some good insights that helped me to grasp subtext better.

Subtext is the act of setting up to strong points and then leaving the reader to fill in the information from their imagination.

This could be like showing a guy punching another guy, then we go to the next chapter. The next chapter starts a few months later, showing the two guys sitting in suits in a corporate boardroom together.

Those are the two strong points
 - punching a guy for unknown reasons
 - sitting together in a corporate boardroom

The writer hasn't described or explained any of the events that happened between these two points or what lead up to the points. This creates the subtext for the reader to conjecture. This creates the suspense for the writer to reveal elements down the road.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fiction Challenge - The Idiomatic

The Idiomatic basically mashes up a few idioms into something new and very possibly inane, and very possibly wise. This was the backbone for this fiction challenge.
Length: ~1000 words

I clicked the Idiomatic and I got the following phrase for my story:
“Give a man enough rope and he is a friend who cares.”

Enough Rope
by Martin Perlin

My grandfather always said to me "Give a man enough rope and he is a friend who cares." I hoped to be that friend.

Sam was either going to be the next mega success or destroy himself. We finally saw each other at Walter's wedding. It was the first time since high school. Sam was always the class clown, making pranks and drawing attention to himself. Once he glued a lesson plan to the teacher's desk and she spent five minutes trying to pull it up. The class was on the floor and Sam was smiling like a Hollywood director watching his big scene projected in front of an audience.

At Walter's wedding, I had arrived alone, fresh out of college and just starting my first job at Deloitte. It was a foot in a door. Not glamorous, and really just a starting position but I had student loans to pay. Sam stood against a wall. I was about to call out to him, but he put his finger to his lips and shook his head to be quiet. I turned around and looked in the direction that Sam was looking. I guy stood next to the hors d'oeuvre table talking to a blond woman. The guy shook his head as she spoke, while leaning on the table. Sam smiled and covered his mouth.

Suddenly there was a loud blast of flatulence from behind the guy. He froze and the blond woman turned, calling out to a friend across the room.

"Wasn't that great," Sam said, holding up the small remote he held in his hand. "I hid the speaker behind that cucumber salad. Nobody ever eats that."

"Good to see ya Sam," I said, "what's up?"

His face went to stiff and serious. He asked me what I'd been up to since high school and where I was working. He told me how he'd been working for his uncle selling industrial washing machines to hotels. "But I'm about to go out on my own and I could use someone like you."

He told me about he was tired of selling the washing machines and had an idea for a new venture. "Bicycles," he said. The way he presented it, I couldn't argue with him. Gas prices were shooting through the roof and everyone was looking for alternatives for getting to work. The bike trade had come a long way since I was riding a BMX in high school. Now people had 18 speed mountain bikes and cruisers, with heavy-duty lightweight frames. Not only were these cool looking but they were damn expensive. If remembered paying $300 for a bike in high school, now commuters would pay as much as $2500 for a medium of the line bike and could even go as high as $9500.

Sam said that he had a supplier that could get the trendiest bikes at a deal. The business couldn't be better, a bonafide sure thing. So by dessert at Walter's wedding, I was hooked and we were talking about merchandising and promotions. The next day, I gave notice at work. Within a month, I was sitting in a 300 square foot office with Sam.

He had set up an office for a king, with a big oak desk in front of a big leather office chair. I was put up in a more modest office next door, with standard furniture from Office Depot. The rest of the operation consisted of storage units where Sam kept our merchandise.

In our first month we were pulling in a 300% profit, selling bikes for top dollar to shops all over town.  We were the best bike source around, edging out larger established players. Within a few months I forgot about my student debts (even though they were still hanging around) and took at financing on a BMW convertible. Sam had a big Lexus SUV, always bigger than my wheels. We hit the clubs and picked up women every week.

One morning I came into the office early, and I found Sam hunched over his desk. There were lines of white powder across his desk. He rolled his eyes up at me. "Get out!" he said. I stood there in surprise. "You heard me? Get out!"

Later he came into my office and asked about the upcoming orders. He was totally casual, playing with the pens on my desk. He didn't mention or even hint at what went on earlier. "We got to put aside all the orders," said Sam.

"Why?" I asked, "this will be a great month."

"I've got a big order to fill. This will cover the year."

"How will we fill it?"

"Don't worry, I've been branching us out. I've got more than enough channels."

I've always said that I should listen to my hunches, and I guess I shouldn't have ignored my own advice but that's what happens.

I spent the rest of the day talking to all of clients, backing out of all the orders and trying to save some face for possible future deals.

"You got a suitcase," Sam asked. Sure, I said, and then Sam told me to sit down in his office. "I've cornered a big shipment of bikes out of California, but we'll need to fly down and drive the shipment up. We need to go tonight."

"If it's more bikes, then why cancel all our orders?"

"Don't you get it? Don't you get it college boy. How do we have the cheapest bikes in the market?" Sam said.

"You said you had connections."

Sam stood up and slammed his hand on the wall. "Connections! Connections! It's gangs, petty thieves, and drug addicts. They're stealing bikes across town and I'm paying them off to get this stuff cheap."

I guess I just wanted to go along and pretend this wasn't possible, that my old friend Sam wouldn't pull me into an illegal operation. It was obvious all along that this was too good to be true. How else could we be the cheapest source of bikes in town. It was too good to be true.

"Come on, get packed we're going," he said, "we're hitten the big leagues. I got a connection to make us the biggest cocaine dealers in the Northwest."

"Got all that," I said. A radio crackled.

"What the ..." Sam looked at me. The front door of the offices crashed open. Officers and agents poured in, pinning Sam against the wall, and pulling his hands behind his back. I unbuttoned my shirt to pull off the recording equipment. I just needed to give Sam enough rope because I was a friend...who cares.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Inspiration - 10 Sources of Daily Writing Prompts

I found that I've gotten sidetracked in an effort to write every day, losing focus and inspiration. So I have put together a quick research of Daily Writing Prompts for inspiration.

1. Writer's Digest: Creative Writing Prompts
Need an idea to help you get started writing? You’ll find hundreds of fun writing prompts here – perfect for beginning a new novel or short story, or simply giving your writing muscle a workout.

2. Story A Day
Check out StoryADay’s writing prompts. Each prompt is intentionally ambiguous, adaptable to any genre and style, and comes with a list of tips to help you delve deeper into the ideas. 

3. 365 Creative Writing Prompts
If you want to become a better writer, the best thing you can do is practice writing every single day. But we know sometimes it can be hard to think of what to write about! So we put together this list of 365 creative writing prompts to give you something to write about daily.

4. 365 Days of Writing Prompts
A prompt to fire your imagination, each and every day for a year

5. Creative Writing Prompts
Use the creative writing prompts and creative writing ideas to create stories, poems and other creative pieces from your imagination. The writing prompts can even help you come up with creative content for blogs and blog stories.

Daily 5 minute writing exercise addressing aspects of craft as varied as point of view, dialogue, plot, synthesthesia, body language, imagery, and beginnings.  May they be both fun and useful for your writing.

7. I Dare You To Write
This blog is meant to challenge you, to make you think about things that you’ve never thought about and maybe write something you’ve never written before.

8. Figment Daily Themes
Sign up for Figment Daily Themes to receive an original writing prompt every morning. Figment Daily Themes will push you to work on the range of your craft, focusing on character, setting, dialogue, personal essay, verse, and more—plus occasional prompts from acclaimed authors.

9. Trifecta Writing Challenge
The Trifecta Writing Challenge consists of two different types of writing challenges, Trifecta and Trifextra.  All challenges begin Mondays at 9 am EST.  All challenges close Thursday at 7 pm EST.

10. Writing Prompts that Don't Suck
Tired of only finding sucky writing prompts on the Internet? I know I am. Check back every day for a new prompt that totally doesn't suck.

Your Turn
Do you have any sites you recommend for Daily Writing Prompts?