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"Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
09-05-2011, 03:28 PM
Post: #1
"Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
'K, here's my first stab at starting a thread - let's see how badly I can screw it up... Confused

Are there any budding writers out there interested in posting short stories? I'm thinking that people's existing stories (if any - I have half a dozen that stop short of groanworthy, if I can dig them up,) would be good fun & free entertainment, and having a short story thread just lurking here, staring accusingly, might provide a little nudge for people (myself included,) to create more. Beyond that, people who've never written fiction, but who might have a latent writing ability, could be inspired to start.

That was me in the mid-'00s: A guitar-slinger blues buddy from Portland already had reams of short stories collected in a bunch of notebooks - some of them just a few paragraphs, others running multiple pages, all in the horror genre, which is his favorite thing. He knew I'd done a lot of writing on politics and current events, and shortly after I'd moved to Los Angeles from there, he sent me one of his horror stories via email attachment just before Halloween, with the two-word text "Where's yours?" Thus began an annual trade that served the purpose of dragging me kicking and screaming into fiction writing, thereby opening a whole new world of creativity to me. 'Can't put a price on that. So call this "paying it forward," in a way. Having to write in a genre that I actively dislike turned out to be a great exercise too.

I'm talking strictly amateur stuff, so no pressure - just make people think, or laugh, or shiver, or sob uncontrollably at the awfulness of it all, etc., but mostly just to entertain. Maybe the opportunity for getting a little feedback would be good too, within reason - negative reviews are always more valuable than uncritical pat-on-the-back raves, but hopefully any comments on other people's stuff will stop short of virtual tomato-lobbing. We've got protective eyewear - Cool - but still.

I'll start the ball rolling, but first I need to check: Would such a thing be kosher with the forum rules? (Admins please weigh in.) There's a poetry forum here, but poetry typically doesn't run into thousands of characters per post. This would have the potential to suck up some server space, but hopefully not in a prohibitive way. Obviously anything posted would have to follow the rules on content too - no vampire porn, f'rinstance (damn!)

What say ye?
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09-05-2011, 05:32 PM (This post was last modified: 09-05-2011 05:50 PM by Mufasa.)
Post: #2
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
I for one welcome the prose SC. Fire when ready.

I'm not sure how well received my stuff would be. The ongoing story that I started years ago, is quite long, and a delves into the theory that there are people among us that do not follow the 'human' guideline for aging. Not immortal, simply slower to entropy.
I love ancient history, and the character that the story centers upon has seen quite a lot of it... and all that that implies.

Please be reminded to proof read your submissions if they lean towards the racy side. If spotted, potentially offensive wording or innuendo is subject to the scalpel.

Most of us are so caught up in life that we forget to live it.
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09-05-2011, 05:41 PM
Post: #3
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Once upon a time there was nothing, and then there was everything. The end.

True story.

Don't talk smack about Total!!
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09-05-2011, 05:42 PM
Post: #4
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
That pretty much says it all NBC! LOL

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09-05-2011, 05:58 PM
Post: #5
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
(09-05-2011 05:32 PM)Mufasa Wrote:  I for one welcome the prose SC. Fire when ready.

I'm not sure how well received my stuff would be. The ongoing story that I started years ago, is quite long, and a delves into the theory that there are people among us that do not follow the 'human' guideline for aging. Not immortal, simply slower to entropy.
I love ancient history, and the character that the story centers upon has seen quite a lot of it... and all that that implies.

Please be reminded to proof read your submissions if they lean towards the racy side. If spotted, potentially offensive wording or innuendo is subject to the scalpel.

This a wee bit late, Muffy, but I actually loved your story. It left me wanting more... Smile I carried it around in my work bag for months...school and darn work got in the way of reading it, but once I started I couldn't put it down until I finished.
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09-05-2011, 06:15 PM
Post: #6
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Thanks RN, I appreciate that. Oddly enough - that's what comes out of me when I am overwhelmed or struggling with things.
I honestly don't know if an ending will ever manifest itself (After reading it - I'm sure you understand why)

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09-05-2011, 06:21 PM
Post: #7
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Well..if you ever add more send it my way Smile
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09-06-2011, 02:05 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2011 02:06 AM by Scythe Matters.)
Post: #8
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
Over on the Stephen King MB (I work as a Beta tester for him), every Halloween we do a chain story. One person sets it up then the next person takes it from there and so on until one person ends it. Each person writes about 200 words so it's not a huge amount of time or effort. There is one archived here:

http://www.stephenking.com/forums/showth...ween+story

We could try something similar, maybe... Huh

... in a world where I feel so small I can't stop thinking big!
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09-06-2011, 03:27 AM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2011 04:16 AM by SpaceCadet.)
Post: #9
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
(09-06-2011 02:05 AM)Scythe Matters Wrote:  Over on the Stephen King MB (I work as a Beta tester for him), every Halloween we do a chain story. One person sets it up then the next person takes it from there and so on until one person ends it. Each person writes about 200 words so it's not a huge amount of time or effort. There is one archived here:

http://www.stephenking.com/forums/showth...ween+story

We could try something similar, maybe... Huh

Meh - I've participated in a few of those in different places too, and they invariably stink. Unless you're sitting down as a group and doing a collaboration on a definite, agreed-to story, of necessity it turns out as a random, disjointed hash that's only mildly amusing as a game for laughs. If people want to do that kind of thing, defiinitely go for it, but that's not what I'm looking for here. Rather, a thread with whole short stories that people have completed themselves, whether a one-liner like NBC's or longer things.

I'll assume this is all a-ok and start with one from a couple years ago that's just over 2k words. I have no idea what it'll do to the look and formatting of this thread, but life is an adventure, neh?
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Again, horror is not my thing so I try to bend the genre to my bidding as much as possible - and since being the author also makes you a minor Deity for the duration... This one arose out of a desire to cop the Dio/Blackmore song title and tap into its intrigue, also a little homesickness. Enjoy...?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Run With The Wolf

The North Dakota countryside in October is about as close to perfect as you can get - at least if you’re talking about running it is. The graded township road that runs past my Dad's farm is the perfect combination of hard and soft, the air is crystal clear, and in mid-October it's nice and cold but not so much that you have to start bundling up. I was back on two weeks’ vacation for my Grandma's 100th birthday party. I wasn’t particularly surprised, but Grandma had broken the century mark and was still sharp as a tack. Her sister – my great-aunt Clara – had been that way too. Along with longevity, my family has a thing for baked goods, and having been stuffed with them from virtually the second I'd set foot in the house, some no-nonsense physical conditioning had become mandatory – if I planned on getting anywhere close to that age.

I hit the road pumped with enthusiasm and broke into a warmup trot. There's something about the way the countryside you grew up in gets into your blood, and it felt great to be back. I suppose it's a lot like that thing where salmon spend a whole lifetime wandering the ocean, then find their way back to the exact stream where they were born just by its scent. The Dakota prairie may look featureless to outsiders, but coming back and breathing in that landscape is near to euphoria for me. You can smell the trees, you can smell the grass, you can smell the very soil beneath your feet.

The wind hit me as I approached the edge of the grove of trees that surrounds the farmstead, and I immediately burst out laughing. That same blast of wind had hit me years earlier, on the day that I'd learned my lower-temperature-limit for running. I had run here regularly in high school in temperatures down to ten below zero without any problem - aside from putting on a few layers of clothes, a good cap and gloves. I'd been doing just fine that day too, the day I’d attempted it at -20F: I had just started contemplating new bragging rights when that wall of trees ended - and the wind chill took me down to something that felt a whole lot like you’d measure it in Kelvin instead of Fahrenheit. I'd just stopped in my tracks, said a silent "You win," turned 180 and hustled back to the house, bragging plans forgotten.

Just beyond the grove and across the road was a place we'd always called the "Silage Pile." Nobody ever told me why, that's just the name that spot had always had. There was no pile of any kind and I never knew what silage looked like anyway. It was just a small hillock at the corner of a 90 degree angle formed by two long shelter belts - those walls of trees, ten or so rows thick, that farmers had planted on the borders of fields all over the upper Midwest, after the harsh Dustbowl-era lessons about what unchecked wind does to tilled topsoil.

I unconsciously quickened my pace - the Silage Pile had always creeped me out for some reason, as had my great-uncle's place, whose turnoff was just ahead. You could see the uninhabited farmstead about a quarter mile to the north at the end of the solitary drive. Jim, the mechanic who'd worked for my Dad for decades, had lived there into the mid-'70s and he said the place was haunted. That was a little unnerving because Jim was a nuts-and-bolts kinda guy who was about as likely to talk about the supernatural as he'd be likely to talk about particle physics. But he'd said it, and I'd believed him because I'd stayed at that place a couple times as a kid. I'd never seen a ghost, but there was a palpable presence there that seemed to seep through your skin when you crossed the threshold, and I did not like it. My brother had lived there with his family for fifteen years after Jim moved out, and he’d sworn Jim was right. "We weren't the only ones living in that house," was the way he’d put it.

Even looking at it from a quarter mile, the curve of the driveway that defined the low rise the house sat upon looked like a dark grin, and the two square living room windows like glossy black eyes. I was suddenly relieved that I didn't need to go that way. I went back to eyes-forward and cracked an uneasy smile at the thought that if I ran any faster I’d be headed for the record books – or maybe the emergency room at Glory Hospital over in Devils Lake, which was generally considered a fate worse than death.

There are times when the mind doesn’t want to pay attention to the senses. There’s that old phrase “whistling past the graveyard,” but that’s not quite it. That’s a case of trying to make enough noise so you can’t hear anything you know you wouldn’t want to, or maybe to plaster a bright, sunny mood over the top of pervasive gloom. No, that’s not it at all. I’m talking about when you see or hear something that you know you absolutely should not see or hear, at least not in a rational world, but it’s right there anyway. So you just push it aside. An exercise in futility, to be sure, but the brain tries to get away with it anyhow. I suppose it could be a survival mechanism, like an automated way to keep yourself sane, but it was happening now.

I heard it first, above the rhythmic heave of my breath and the staccato plop-plop of my feet on the packed gravel road. It was a muffled rustling of the underbrush in the shelter belt off to my left, then a low, throaty huff that chilled me to the bone. I hadn’t wanted to look, but that struggle between the mind and the senses sometimes works in the opposite direction too, and impulsive curiosity takes over before the mind has a chance to command otherwise. And you find yourself face to face with a beast.

My instinct to look away stepped into the driver's seat, and I didn’t need to decide about motion - I was already in a full-on sprint. What I had seen watching me was an enormous, hairy beast with a face that was part wolf, part human, and it had exuded something raw and visceral. The strange thing was, what I’d sensed in that split second was a primal hunger not for food, but more like a kind of claim, like…ownership?

I didn’t dare to slow or look back until I’d reached the old schoolhouse at the hilltop a quarter mile farther down the road. I stood there gasping for breath and searching for any movement, but saw nothing but the gentle undulation of the prairie grass in the lengthening shadows of the early evening. When my heart rate and breathing had returned to something manageable I turned in the direction of the bridge and set off. “Weird,” I breathed out loud. Surely I’d seen a coyote or a stray dog, and the low light of the shelter belt had played a perspective-game with my senses? Maybe it was time to start whistling.

The row of lilac bushes at the ruins of the old Johnston farmstead on the right side of the road was a welcome sight, even though the purple riot of blossoms and intoxicating fragrance from them were at least another seven months away. For the lilac bushes meant that just over the next hill was the bridge. I reached the top of the hill and there it was ahead of me, astride the marshy fall remains of the coulee.

There was nothing special about the bridge, just a short concrete span over a coulee that flowed east in the springtime to empty into one of the western bays of Devils Lake. Even the concrete side rails had been taken out a few years back, to allow for newer, larger farm equipment to pass, so most people drove over it without even realizing it was there. For me it was like an old friend, a mandatory stopping point on countless bicycle trips to and from my friend Jeff’s place four miles farther along.

We’d typically sit underneath it on hot summer days to get out of the sun and have a meal of PB&Js or potato chips, then spin stories of far-off lands and brainstorm ideas for crazy inventions or new clubhouses. The mind of a pre-teen kid is a veritable workshop of the fantastic, and that shady spot under the bridge was the spark plug that would set ours in motion. At some point those days had faded into memory, and the bridge had morphed into a convenient one-mile marker and usual turnaround point for a solitary jogger, now back on vacation from the big city.

On an impulse I seized upon the chance to have a look underneath – a chance to reminisce, surely, but also an excellent excuse to take a breather. Not exactly an attitude consistent with the whole goal of fitness, but there you are. The long-dead reeds crackled when I half-stepped, half-slid down the bank at the far side and ducked under the worn concrete beams. The coulee bed was a mass of mud and dead vegetation, pockmarked with the usual hoofmarks of cattle and horses just as it had always been. It seemed disappointingly small now, but that’s the way all childhood places get when you allow a revisitation to strip away the mist of embellished memory. I turned around to climb back onto the road, and I suppose that was when I bumped my head.

A wash of dizziness emerged through a strange mental haze and I stood there, wavering on my feet in front of the old schoolhouse. "What was…that," I wondered, head swimming and cold sweat beading my skin. “Here…how…?” The breeze was so very loud now, the sound of air passing over every blade of grass amplified to a roar, and there was an overpowering stench of decay. I looked at the old school and stared, fascinated, at a field mouse, scurrying along the foundation. He too was making a loud scuffle, and I turned back toward the west, to the lilac bushes and the hill, and beyond it, the… “Bridge,” I said, dazed.

“I was just th…”

I touched the top of my head but there was no bump, and no blood on my fingers, just… There was a set of elongated welts on my forearm now, a little blue and a little yellow like they had been healing for a long time, and that was puzzling because I couldn’t remember having injured myself in the last few days, or even seeing them before. The dizziness had begun to fade, but the hazy sensation remained, and an incredible racket coming from seemingly everything around me. And that smell!

“How’d I get here from the bridge – ‘don’t remember… Maybe I’m getting the flu,” I mumbled, absently.

I shook my head and waited for the feeling to pass, then started off at a cautious trot. In a few strides I had glided back to my comfortable pace. The delirium hadn’t left me – indeed, it seemed to intensify with every footfall, and I wanted to run faster. I could feel the wind on my face and in my hair and it was electrifying. I could feel my blood as a torrent within my flesh, driven by a heartbeat that seemed to mash it into and out of my chest like a steel piston. The strength in my legs was suddenly exhilarating; my feet seemed to grab hungrily at each patch of road that they touched. The cacophony of smells that had seemed rancid began to order itself into a clear, vivid picture of the world around me. I closed my eyes as I ran and concentrated on the scents and sounds – the mental picture of my surroundings was as sharp as eyesight.

The predominant smell - alongside the dried grass, the post-harvest grain stubble, the oil and grease and metal of… that would be the machine shop, that pungent smell of moist wheat mixed with the propane that the big drying bin used for fuel - was Mom’s buttermilk cookies, and I slowed to a trot at our driveway. I walked up to the front of the garage, dimly puzzled at the calmness of my pulse and respiration, approached the door, and felt my blood turn to ice. The were-beast was inside the garage, staring straight at me through the glass door. Something odd registered dimly through the shock, the door swung and the reflected beast moved with it, sideways, and there was Mom, smiling.

“Ah, you’re back,” she said, with a curious twinkle in her eye. “And I see... you’ve crossed paths with your great-uncle. Well I suppose it was about time, but if I’ve told him once I’ve told him a thousand times... Come inside kiddo, it’s time for a little talk.”


The End.

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09-06-2011, 05:18 PM (This post was last modified: 09-06-2011 07:34 PM by Mufasa.)
Post: #10
RE: "Small Tales" - Short Stories, Anyone?
SC, I have a stack of "Years Best Sci-Fi" that I go back to now and again. This reads like a short story from Tad Williams or even early King.
I need to determine the best way to post something of mine. "Firstborn" is quite long, but as stated before, could probably be ended at any given point - but never truly completed.

If someone pleases - let me know if this document is not opening properly, or if the codec seems to screw up the phrasing.

“This ends here – now, or your choice will be removed. Is this understood?”
Ambrose glared at her. In response, Kala slapped him across his face - hard.
“I will not ask again.”
“YES!” Ambrose yelled.
“Yes, what?”
“I understand!” he shouted.
Kala stood and started to walk away, but turned to Ambrose.
“He told you the truth. He has no idea why or how he came to be. But know this; if you attempt this again, I will kill you without hesitation.”
And she was gone.

From Firstborn


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