» flash fiction ¦ What You Can Get Away With

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of the Colchester WriteNight group at 15 Queen Street. We’re a group of writers that gets together twice a month (on the 2nd and 4th Mondays) to write, talk and go to the pub afterwards – all the traditional things that writers do.

As this week’s meeting was just two days before National Flash Fiction Day, tonight we had a flash fiction challenge, and as I’m trying to put more content up on this blog again, I thought I’d share what I produced. The challenge was to produce a 300-word story containing twenty words from a list (in order, if possible) on any subject, in any setting you wished. So, my mind came up with this:

“Green.” He said, satisfied.
A rather presumptuous statement, I thought, and wondered how to respond. It came in a flash.
“Archetypical opening.” I countered, hoping to inject a small bug into his processing. He grimaced like a disgruntled gargoyle, deep routines within him mulling over its meaning, staring through me as if I was transparent. Higher intelligences had a tendency to regard us humans as fleshy interruptions in their communing with the deep strata.
“The inevitable decline of Sparta.” He said, and the pencil in my hand snapped. My subconscious had ascertained the meaning of his talk, even if the near-infinite levels of complexity buried within his manner were incomprehensible.
My mouth was arid. Their simulacra were almost perfect, brash in their ability to replicate humanity to, but there was always something instinctively wrong, like an oval trying to pretend it was a perfect circle. Thoughts like that could make you psychotic if you kept them too long.
“Babble.” I said. “Balderdash, piffle and tosh.” Instinct told me the right response, and instinct was why I’d been sent here. I tried to relax, feeling like I’d sent my queen forward on an attack, then realising I’d not checked the location of his knights.
I was just to restore the balance with them, make up for the negligent way my predecessors had negotiated. I didn’t have to push for victory, just phone it in until sufficient respect had been paid.
The transition in him was sudden. “Policing.” He said, and I suppose that’s the closest his kind get to admitting error. Or announcing our immolation in seconds with barely a thought. That’s the problem with higher intelligences and symbol-based communication, it’s like us humans trying to talk to our gut flora and expecting witty repartee.

Not the greatest story ever told, but it uses all twenty words in order, and if you’re trying to work out what they are, I’ll point out that only one of them – ‘green’ – is used in dialogue.

Anyway, if that inspires you, National Flash Fiction Day is on Wednesday, and the next meeting of WriteNight is on Monday 28th May.

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