Flash Fiction Challenge: “Bliss”

Another flash fiction challenged by Chuck Wendig on his blog, terribleminds. The random plot generated for me was: The story starts when your protagonist pretends to be sick. Another character is a bartender who has engineered a deadly disease.

My story based on this prompt is called “Bliss.” It’s darker than most things I’ve written, but I hope you enjoy it!


Hey boss, it’s Gary. Listen, I’m not going to be able to come in today… Yeah, I’ve been puking all morning, and I just don’t want to spread anything to you guys at the office.

                He hung up and got back in bed. Bliss. Three more hours of it.

                At twelve he got up, fished a pair of pants out of his hamper, and left through the back door. He had never liked his front door. It was too expected.

                He wandered the streets for a while, stopping for an hour in a park to sit and think about nothing in particular.  The complexities of life rushed by, just out of his mind’s reach. It was long ago that he severed that connection. It was too expected. He would rather think about the mundane. Why can’t I remember learning how to tie my shoes? That seemed important.

                Three o’clock found him in a pub, his second pint tasting worse than the first. He switched to liquor. Were the looks from the barman judgmental or curious? They all turn out the same in the end.

                He asked the barman if he remembered learning how to tie his shoes. He wasn’t drunk. The barman answered with another question. Why are you wearing a dress shirt, tie, shorts, and sandals?

                Why not?

                At five-thirty, a man passing by on the street glanced inside the pub, and pulled out his phone.

Hey boss, it’s Paul. Listen, I’ve just seen Gary in a pub on High Street. Yeah, I’ll go in and talk to him.

                Lenny asked him why he was in the pub. He asked Lenny why he was in the pub too. Lenny wanted to know where he’d been for the last four days. That’s a long time to miss work, you know.

                Lenny went home, and Gary talked to the barman again. He normally didn’t like the people that thought about complexities, but this man behind the bar seemed to have his bearings all right. After a long pause in conversation, he looked at Gary with the same look from before.              

I have a bottle of something you might be interested in. I do a little chemistry on my own time, in the back room. I think it might be just what you’re looking for.

How do you know what I’m looking for?

I know what men like you are looking for.

What does it do?

What would you like it to do?


Then it does everything.

                Gary took the bottle home. He called Sarah on the way, explaining to her that he was too sick to make it to dinner tonight. She told him the reservation was for seven o’clock anyway, so it didn’t matter.

                He made it through his back door at ten o’clock, and sat down with his new bottle. Tiny things were moving through the liquid inside. He smiled at them.

                A knock came from his least favorite door a few moments later. It was Sarah. In the road behind her, he saw his boss’ car pull alongside the curb. They were worried about him. He told them they should wait outside, and that he would be back in a second.

                The bottle was cool against his lips, but he felt an overwhelming warmth an instant later.

                He walked back to the door, where his two would-be guests stood. They looked worried, and said he looked absolutely awful. They offered help, a ride to the hospital, anything.

It’s all so simple, Gary said, and died.

                The man and the woman were on the doorstep. One of them spoke.

I guess he really was sick.


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After a Break…

I chose a rather awful time to start a blog on my process of writing a novel, because a few days after my first post, I left on a six-week study abroad trip to London. But in the weeks since I issued myself a personal challenge, I’ve succeeded in generating many pages of notes and outlines for my story, as well as writing the first chapter-and-a-half of what I hope will be the first draft of my first novel.

A post on my experience so far with outlining will come later, but for now I’m focusing more on my time in the UK. Half of the time I am here will be spent studying at Oxford, and I hope that those hallowed halls will give me some extra inspiration to keep writing!

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A Personal Challenge

Here I sit, having finished my second year of college. Halfway done with what might end up being the best four years of my life. Two years gone, and two years left  before that dreaded step out into the real world. The college experience is incredibly valuable not only because of the great opportunities it offers in terms of education, research, and friend-making, but also because it allows each student to spend a few years searching for (and hopefully finding) any number of new passions. How many people do you know that picked up new favorite hobbies, sports, academic subjects, or other activities during their time in college? My guess is that everyone you know who went to college found something new that they discovered a love for.

Well, after two years of college, I may have found a passion of my own. Since taking a creative writing class this past semester, I’ve been writing more and more, and having a lot of fun doing it. So, I plan on taking it a step further, and this blog will serve as a sort of logbook of my actions.

The passion: Writing
The actions I plan to take: Writing a lot.
The personal challenge: Finishing a novel by the end of my senior year.

I don’t just want a first draft finished, I want it edited and in its final form. That’s not to say I will be looking to get it published any time soon, however. I’m writing this book for myself, because I think it’s a great challenge and I’ll enjoy doing it. Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to write a novel and have it published, but as of right now that’s not goal #1.

So I’ll write everyday, and update this blog with my progress. It will be a way to keep me on track for my goal, and hopefully it can be somewhat helpful to any other new writers (youthful or otherwise) who are also inspired to take on this kind of challenge.

So, there it is. I’m going to finish a book before I graduate in May of 2015. Maybe I’ll even finish two or three, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? Wish me luck!

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The Demigod: A Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

On Chuck Wendig’s blog, “terribleminds,” he gives his readers different fiction challenges. His newest challenge is to write a flash fiction story using one of 20 psychic powers that he listed. A random number generator gave me 18, which was “mind control.” So here is my story, entitled “The Demigod.” It’s my first real attempt at writing in second person, so we’ll see how that goes. Hope you enjoy.

                                                              The Demigod

At first, controlling everyone made things so much easier. There was nothing you couldn’t accomplish once you had everyone’s mind under your control. You thought you would rule this world forever. And you would have been right, if she hadn’t burst into the grand palace last September.
She really had no business ruining your plot. You had everything planned out perfectly. Those two billion slave workers who mined, built, and farmed were really getting the job done, and your private actors and artists were just starting to get used to your influence over them well enough to present something entertaining. Your twenty million scientists were churning out the fastest cars and boats for you to drive, and your space program was innovating at perhaps fifty times the speed it was before you stopped the world from worrying about petty things like war, politics, and religion. The thing you were most proud of, however, was the group of the fifty best scientists you had, who were so close to perfecting the process of reversing aging. You had all this power, and you weren’t going to let death, of all things, take it away from you.

But then she showed up. The little girl, no more than twelve, you guessed. She managed to ruin everything for you. She burst into your palace, somehow making it past your guards. She made you question the power you had over the minds of those soldiers.

And then, an even stranger thing happened. When you tried to climb inside her mind, you failed. You fell down the stairs of power that had held you steady and upright countless times before as you invaded the minds of every human on the planet. You spent months traveling the world, enslaving everyone you could. Sometimes you did it through television, radio, or the internet. Sometimes you did it more personally, looking at a person or group of people in person, and capturing their precious self-hoods. But that day, you failed. The little girl met you on the battlefield of her mind and cast you out, back into reality.

She could not be controlled. You stepped back from her in fear. It was not the girl herself you feared, but the possibility that your power had limits.

She smiled at you and left, and you sank into your throne, shivering. Now it has been six months, and you have watched as she travels the globe, freeing your slaves from your grasp. Over and over she has met you on the field of mental battle, and her victories have been complete. Your scientists, your workers, your peasants—all of them freed by this girl.

Now you have waited another month, locked in your palace and taken by fear. You have lost, but you still have influence over some of your guards, the five-hundred beautiful wives you keep, and the fifty scientists who search for immortality in the basement of the palace.

It is a sunny, cloudless afternoon when she returns. She looks tired, but you are exhausted. She looks thirsty, but you are parched. She looks ill, but you are dying. You know the toll mind control takes on your body, and you see the signs of it in her now. You had known for months that she had the same abilities as you, but this was just proof to solidify your suspicion.

She is followed by an army. They look like they are still being controlled, but it is her that holds power over them, not you. She asks to come inside, and you reluctantly agree. As she passes your guards, you watch as they betray you and submit to her instead. That is unfortunate, as you had instructed them to kill her when she turned her back.

You and the girl stand in your throne room, just looking at each other. Your wives stand in a line along the walls of the massive room, but you know they are under her control now. You tell the girl to walk with you, and the two of you walk to the back of the palace. A single woman follows her, and holds a pistol. The weapon will be your death if you try to hurt the girl, so you turn down a sharp corner and run.

You run faster than the girl, who is caught by surprise. You run into the tunnels beneath the palace grounds, down to the laboratory. The scientists have already loaded their equipment and experiments onto the enormous space ship that sits in front of you. It is your last resort for escape, but life in space is preferable to death on earth. At least you will still have power over the scientists. The ceiling above the massive room is open, and you can see the blue sky above.

But when you reach the ramp to board the ship, the scientists block your path. You turn around and see the girl, and you know that you are alone. It is a truly empty feeling.

“Who are you?” you ask.

The girl walks to the ramp, and the woman with the pistol follows. The woman’s face is familiar, like something out of a dream. You have seen a truly uncountable number of faces in the past twelve years since you discovered your power, but hers is one that you remember.

“Do you remember her? You should,” says the little girl, smiling.

“It can’t be,” you say. The woman walks closer to you.

“Hello, dear,” she says to you. Then she turns and gestures to the little girl. “Meet your daughter. Isn’t she lovely?”

The shock sends you reeling for a moment, but then it all makes sense. You passed the power down to her. When she was old enough to realize what was happening, she freed her mother—the woman you loved before you were consumed by power. Your daughter steps closer.

“You control everything, and seek to be immortal. You are only a man, but you want to be God. No man should have that much power.”

“But you’re doing the same thing, girl. You control them all just like I did!”

“You’re right. But it was just a way to defeat you. Once you’re gone, I will free everyone,” she says. “Even if it means I have to die.”

You reach into your coat and pull out a knife. You run at the girl, your own daughter, and her mother takes aim at you

A single shot echoes around the cavernous room, and you fall to the ground. But the knife has already left your hand, and humanity is free.

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