[writing] Flash me, baby

WRPA yesterday, which I could so some reading for blurb etc. even though my brain was still a bit foggy from chemo. Hope to work on Kalimpura today.

However, give me something to read from you. Post in comments a snippet, or even an entire flash. Show me and my readers what you’re working on. There might even be a randomly selected prize or two to be mailed out from my big basement full o’ books.

5 thoughts on “[writing] Flash me, baby

  1. Matt H says:

    I’ll give it a go, haven’t proofed it much so please pardon my typos:

    Zev stood along the line with his cousins biting his lip in concentration. Carefully, he reached out, plucked an arrow from the ground, nocked it. He held the bow in front of him waiting for the command from his brother.
    “Draw”, Dago ordered.
    Zev lifted his bow, and gritted his teeth. Now came the hardest part. He pulled back on the bowstring with all his might, straining to bring it back to his cheek. He fought the bow with his left arm, struggled to keep his arm steady and his elbow from locking, while at the same time resisting the urge to loose the bowstring while it bit into the little fingers of his right hand.
    After an eternity, Dago said, “Loose.”
    Zev let go of the bow string, and felt the sharp pain as it snapped against his forearm. He would not admit it hurt though. He wouldn’t. Instead he looked up at the target in front of him. He had hit it which was good. The arrow had stuck which was better. But he was nowhere close to the center. In fact, none of his arrows were close to the center, and it was frustrating. It was frustrating because he knew he could hit the center. He had done it many times. With his short bow of course. But short bows were for kids. Zev was not a kid. He was almost seven. Most Northboys would not learn to draw a full bow for at least another year, but he did not care. He had argued and begged and pleaded with Dago until Dago finally relented.
    Dago walked down the line to him and was talking to him now. “Keep the bow steady. Relax. Don’t rush the shot.”
    Along the line his cousins turned to stare at him. Zev knew what they were thinking; he should not be here. He should be practicing with the children. They thought Zev was trying to prove that he was better than them. Zev did not care what they thought. He was not doing this for them. He was doing this for his father. He wanted his father to be proud.
    By then Dago had walked up the line again and began again. “Nock.”
    Zev took another arrow from the ground and placed it on the string.
    Again he struggled to bring the bowstring to his cheek. He was not a child anymore. He would do it. He strained. He wobbled.
    Zev released the string in a smooth motion as Dago had told him. His arrow wandered to the far right of the target this time. Zev bit his lip harder to keep himself from bursting out in frustration. Everyone else had their arrows clustered in neat circles at the center of their targets. Except Dago. His brother no longer used a full bow, and had even stopped using his longbow last summer to start practicing the greatbow.
    Dago had only been 17 then. Most men could not begin learning the greatbow until at least 20. Uncle Jakum had learned the greatbow at 16. Everyone knew it though no one talked about it, and he had killed his bear that same winter when he was 17 years old, which was astounding. No one that anyone knew about had killed a bear so young. Dago had gone out last winter to hunt for his bear. He had not found one though. That was why he had not gone with their father and the men this spring.
    Zev picked his last arrow out of the ground. This time I will make it, he told himself.
    Zev held his breath and drew the string. It finally reached his cheek. He held it there aiming. Then to his horror, the string slipped, slapped his wrist, and the arrow thudded into the wood above the target.
    His cousins sent their last hail of arrows, and of course they all landed more or less on mark. Zev noticed that his cousins were staring at him. They did not say anything, but they stared. Dago was staring too, saying nothing. Zev wanted to cry, but would not. He bit his lip. He was not a child.
    “Shoulder your bows and retrieve your arrows”, Dago ordered, and Zev complied. As they walked the distance to the target, 15 paces, Zev saw his cousins stealing glances at him. One of them snickered. He couldn’t tell who. It sounded like Mladen. There were 14 cousins practicing with him today. Not all of his cousins of course. He had many cousins. Some of the oldest cousins were older than some of his uncles.
    They were all gone with his father. With his grandfather. To war. Zev did not remember where. Andveland he thought. The cousins who had not killed their bears yet were not allowed to go, but they all used longbows or greatbows and would practice with them much later. Dago would practice with them. Of course, some of his cousins were tending the sheep as well. Next week Zev would take a turn in the fields. That would give the bruises on his forearms time to go down.
    Retrieving the arrows from the target presented a problem. Zev was used to practicing with a short bow. The full bow drove the arrows deeper, which made them harder to get out. Especially when they struck in the wood, like the last arrow he had shot. Zev was not short, in fact, he was taller than some of the cousins he practiced with who were all older than him. But they were all good enough to stick their arrows at the center of their targets.
    Zev saw his cousins stealing looks at him as they pulled their arrows. They would all finish before he would and they would go back to the line, standing, waiting for him, saying nothing. Zev was trying to work out the last arrow. It was stuck high enough that he could not get much leverage on it. So he had to wiggle it, up and down, getting it loose. Then he heard his brother.
    “They’re back!”
    Zev turned to look across the field to the long dirt road that led all the way from the houses and barns, though the fields and pastures, to the River Road. The River Road could not be seen from there, of course, as their family land, their susha, extended quite a long ways. On the dirt road Zev could see a column of men moving, raising a low cloud of dust behind them.
    “They’re BACK!”, Zev yelled, dropping his arrows, and then he was running, holding his bow up so it did not tangle in his legs. In that moment he did not care about his bruises, the shots he had missed, his sore fingers or his ego. His father was home! His father. Zev’s hero. His father was not the strongest in the family, or the fastest, or the oldest, and Uncle Jakum could shoot an arrow farther than anyone, but his father was the smartest and because of that fact, he would be the leader of the family when grandfather died. Zev knew it.
    Zev was passed by all of his cousins, but Dago slowed to run with him and they arrived at the low stone fence together. They were there well before the men came up the road, but they did not mind waiting. The men were walking and had walked a long way, and would continue walking at that same pace as long as they needed to. Zev stood by the wall, hopping from foot to foot, grinning and waiting.
    Finally the group drew close. Zev could see his grandfather, walking in front, shoulders wide despite his white beard, with several of his uncles behind him. Zev waited, searching. Then he began to grow worried. Where was his father? He kept searching. He caught his grandfather’s eye as he came closer, but his grandfather only gave him the same, stoic look that he ever gave anything.
    Zev looked away again, scanning the faces. He could see some of the older cousins now, and that was when he suspected something was wrong. His father must have been somewhere with the uncles, maybe he had been walking behind tall Uncle Svarog. Zev brought his eyes to the front of the line to start over again, and found his grandfather still staring at him. Now he realized that his grandfather was carrying two bows and two pikes instead of one of each, and he knew.
    Zev turned and ran from the fence so that no one would see him weep.

  2. Hoarfrost
    (c) 2011 Maura Anderson

    As the crescent moon sets, shadows deepen to ebon velvet and the relief of dawn seems a lifetime away. The night sky is now decorated only by the faint shimmer of distant stars, their meager light unable to warm the sharp, freezing air.

    Slowly gathering in the depressions and hollows, a light mist begins to blanket the land. Icy tendrils flow out and fill the valleys, deepening from silver to grey as the growing fog works to block out even the light of the stars until the very land beneath it seems isolated from the rest of the world.

    A place between the worlds of Sun and Moon. A time and place so temporary and so rare it bears no name of its own, yet it’s the only time she can walk the lands of man again.

    The fog thickens and roils into a column, then a vague form emerges and solidifies into a tall, gracile female form. Clothed in flowing robes that changed from white to grey to midnight black in a shimmering pattern, her presence makes the very air weigh heavily and the residual warmth of the earth fades into a dusting of frost. Her white hair streams out behind her like tendrils of clouds and glistens with drops of ice.

    Released, at least for a short while, from the prison of her own making, she wanders this small part of the land of man. All the life she has missed, all the plants and animals she lost through her own attempts to manipulate others. Slow tears flowed down her face only to drop frozen to the ground, a trail of diamonds to mark her path. A gently caress coats a crocus in glistening frost. A slight brush against a bush freezez tendrils water dripping from its branches into tiny icicles.

    The first faint colors of dawn begin to drain away her cloak of fog and she knows her time here is over again. As she fades from the land of man, her last heavy sigh flows out over the branches of a tree and freezes instantly into the lacelike tendrils of her namesake, fragile and delicate. Even that beauty is doomed to disappear at sunrise, leaving only a memory and the faint scent of the wild and regret.

    She is Hoarfrost.

  3. Joe says:

    This is discovery draft stuff. I dove in this afternoon not knowing what to expect, and got this. I think it’ll prove useful.

    “Hypothetically,” Lucien said, making sure that in Palmer’s mind the document was most certainly concrete, “if you had the original report, and its much feted and vetted little brother, and you wanted to pick out the points management saw as germane to the death of a field agent, how would you do it?”

    At the far end of the line, Palmer sighed. “I’d read the brief. I’d note the points it made up front, and weigh that against time devoted to particular incidents in the balance of the report.”

    And he’s still staffing a ground floor desk after eight years with the company? Overlooked asset, this one. “Well now I know you’re testing me, Horace. And I pass. Because I know you’re going to look at what they’ve redacted. Any points they’ve excised as need-to-know are things you need to know. They’ve been cut because they point out a vulnerability. Or a mistake. I have the full fairytale, Horace. What I need is the Disneyfied version. I see where they’ve cut, and I know where to look for the good stuff. So send me what you’ve got, and I’ll compare it to what I have.” He shuffled papers on the desk. Paused at a Rural King circular. Steel-toed boots were twenty percent off. “If you’re quick about it, I may let you know what you’re missing.”

    “How soon do you want it?”

    He drew a star by the boots. Wondered if they came in brown. “Assuming you can’t send it from the office, I’d do it as soon as I got home.”

    “Ten grand.”

    Lucien jotted a number on the circular. “Sorry?”

    “My fee for emailing a document after six p.m. Ten thousand.” Palmer sounded pleased with himself. “If you’d called before five, I would have done it for eight.”

    Lucien laughed.

    “You think I’m kidding?”

    “No, Palmer. I think you’re serious. That’s why it’s funny.”

    “Laugh all you like. You’re not seeing a page until I get paid. Offer expires noon tomorrow. After that, we renegotiate price.”

    “How ’bout a counteroffer”

    “More season tickets?” Springs creaked. He was kicking back in his chair, probably had his feet on his desk. “Saw the Bears’ draft picks. I’ll pass.”

    “I have something better.”

    “You want to sign over your BMW? We’ll talk.”

    “Or,” Lucien said, “or–you email the report, and no one ever hears this.” He stopped the digital recorder, backtracked the counter to the number he’d written on the circular, and pressed play. For a handheld, there was surprising depth and range to Palmer’s voice as it brokered a ten thousand dollar deal for company information.

    “I have always hated you, Lucien.”

    “I’d rather have been your friend.”

    The springs creaked again, the sound longer this time, Palmer slowly righting himself. “I’ve seen what happens to your friends. Incident photos weren’t the sharpest I’ve seen, but they were in color. If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer to remain your extortion victim.”

    Lucien took a breath. Kept his voice steady, for the most part. “How far do you live from the office?”


    “I’ll give you twenty-five. You’re two seconds late, and every office in the building has their morning coffee with the Horace Palmer soundtrack. Enjoy your evening.” He cut the connection.

    For a while he thought of Palmer, sweating, screaming at traffic, foot heavy on the gas as he drove like a man with the devil at his back. With luck, he’d be too panicked to think of stopping at the wi-fi hotspot a block east of the building. Lucien smiled. Let him sweat, he thought. He heard Palmer’s voice again, low, mocking, but edged with genuine fear: I’ve seen what happens to your friends.

    The smiled faded.

    Twenty-five minutes.

    Should have given him fifteen.

    Lucien tucked the circular in his pocket and killed the light.

    1. Wow. I LOVE this snippet!

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