Thursday, September 30, 2010

No Friday Flash This Week

No new Friday Flash for me this week, but I do have some fiction from me you can read.

The first is my book, The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume 1. This is my first fifty Friday Flash stories from August 2009 to August 2010. Click the link to go to Smashwords and download it for free. If you don't have an eReader, Smashwords will let you read it right on your computer.

The second is also free. These are some of my short stories that have been published in various places on the Internet. Go ahead and check it out (this'll take you to a link right here on my site). There are a few flash fiction stories in there, but also longer short stories.

The third is my eBook, The Breath of Life and Other Stories. Some of these twenty stories are available here on my blog (in the link above), but there are others you can only find in this book. This isn't free (it'll cost you 99 cents), but I hope you'll find it worth it. You can find it at Amazon for your Kindle or at Smashwords for any other eReader (or right on your computer).

I hope you enjoy some of my previously published fiction. I will be back next week with a brand spankin' new Friday Flash.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing Flash Fiction

This past year, thanks to my participation in Friday Flash, I've penned a great number of flash fiction (stories less than 1000 words). For this reason, I think some might like to see my process when it comes to flash. As with all my articles, my goal isn't to tell you exactly what you need to do (every writer is different), but rather to show you how I create my stories. If this helps you, great; if not, at least you'll get a glimpse into my writing life. And what writer doesn't like a view of how others work?

Most of my flash fiction comes from writing prompts. I usually start by jotting down the prompt at the top of the page. Unless I'm caught by a wave of inspiration, I'll leave it and work on something else, letting the prompt mix with other ideas simmering in my subconscious. When I come back to the page a day or two later, I simply sit down and start writing. It often takes a few minutes for anything usable to flow, but once it does, watch out! The words fly onto the page fast and furiously.

If, on the other hand, I find the words barely trickling out, or worse, not at all, I'll start freewriting. It's a simple process--take a blank sheet of paper and bang out ideas about the story. I don't judge ideas at this point; I put them all down so they are visible. Later I can deem which are worthy to be expanded on. I'll also play "What if?" This works the same as freewriting. I'll ask myself questions about things in the story, usually starting with "what if..." and throw out multiple answers. When I get a few down, I'll decide which one I like best for that particular story. Sometimes that's enough to break the log jam in my brain, and other times I'll move onto a new question. Sooner or later, the story is ready to write.

Once I've finished the first draft, unless the story needs to go out soon, I'll let it sit for a day or two (or a week or two if I'm in no rush) before I revise. I rarely find my flash fiction stories need a major overhaul (I'd rather scrap the story and start another with the same idea instead of moving the pieces around), so I almost always just give them a few line-edit passes (however many I feel it takes before the story is ready). I write most of my flash fiction with pen and paper, but I usually edit them right on the computer (with the typing considered my first revision). Once I deem them ready, I'll send them off to an e-zine or magazine, or publish them on my blog for Friday Flash.

Next Wednesday, I'll talk about the nuts and bolts of how I participate in Friday Flash. I occasionally wonder what other participants do, so I figure other writers must have the same questions. Until next time, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Prompt #34

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

You find yourself in a never-ending hallway with countless doors.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#FridayFlash--X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot
by Eric J. Krause

The cursor glided across the screen. He did his best to scan every bit, every pixel. Nothing, so he hit the "Enter" key, bringing up the next screen, the next bit of battlefield, and started the process again. This time he found an "X," and a quick mouse click shifted it to a "0." In the next few minutes, three more popped up, which he likewise eradicated.

"Good work, Private."

Jackson almost swallowed his gum in his haste to turn around and salute the general.

"At ease, Private. I don't want to break you out of your zone. You're doing good work. God's work."

"Thank you, sir." He saluted again, hesitated, and spun back to his screen, hopeful that's what the general wanted. He threw a glance to his right and saw his partner, O'Sullivan, doing everything he could to keep his eyes on his own station.

The general clapped Jackson twice on the shoulder. "Keep it up, Private, and there'll be plenty of promotions in your future."

"Thank you, sir." He found another "X" and obliterated it, hoping the general noticed. A slight chuckle proved he did.

"Carry on, men."

Once the general was gone, O'Sullivan stood and looked over at Jackson. "Dude, you're a stone-cold killer. Five in less than ten minutes." They'd been working side by side for over two weeks, and that was the most he'd ever said.

Jackson shrugged. "Just clicking the mouse."

"To you, maybe. Not to them."

"I'm not following."

O'Sullivan scoffed. "Rookies. They don't show that holo anymore. They just point you to a comp-station and tell you to find and click the "X's." If you only knew."

Jackson looked over his shoulder at the door.

"Don't worry. You hit your quota. You'll get a medal for that short ten minutes of work. It takes me a month to get that many, no matter how many I find." He reached into his pocket and flicked a tiny ball of paper under Jackson's chair. "Don't pick it up now. Wait until your shift is over. Then take it to a secured holo room, punch in the code, and get yourself an education."

O'Sullivan said no more. He went back to his screen. After a few seconds, Jackson did the same. At the end of his shift, he scooped up the discarded paper and headed for a holo. His stomach growled at not hitting the mess, but curiosity won out.

The holo accepted the code, and General Rackers, leader of Earth's Armed Forces, appeared. "Operation Smart Bomb is a go. We've finally found a signal that'll locate the mines, and a way to dispose of them. Our satellites x-ray the ground and send their findings back in a basic code. The enemy disrupts any other possible signal--one so simple must be below their worry. As for the disposal method, it's of a high cost, but it's the only way we've found effective. We'll beam a trooper to the exact spot our code monkeys back at base tell us. It costs one life per mine, but it's better than a whole platoon. Or more. We're working on alternative answers, but so far only a living, breathing human will do. Not even a synthetic robot or laser blasts from a war cruiser will work. For now, this is the best and only solution."

The holo shut off, and Jackson sat staring at the now-empty room, his appetite gone. He'd sent five men--five of his brothers--to their graves today. Not even their graves, considering there'd be nothing left after that explosion. Had it been the enemy, the Spacers, he'd have patted himself on the back. But not fellow humans. Not his brothers in arms.

He staggered towards his bunk room, trying to get his head around it. How could he go back tomorrow? How could he sentence more men to die? He ran the general's words over in his head and had his answer. One man rather than a hundred. Yeah. It wasn't fair, but it was what it was. War. It'd let him sleep at night. Maybe not that night, but soon.

As he neared his bunk room, he saw O'Sullivan ahead in the hall. He almost hailed him, but the other man made a show of ignoring him. Jackson could play that game, too. But as they passed, O'Sullivan whispered something that ruined Jackson's career as a code monkey.

"What if that mine would never have been tripped?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


If you're a writer, chances are you've been asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" I'm sure you have a stock answer, be it amusing, humble, or straight to the point. The truth is, though, that we get our ideas from anywhere and everywhere. Our ideas might come from something as big as an earth-shattering event, or as small as simply watching an ant cross a patch of sidewalk. Ideas themselves are cheap; it's what we, as writers, do with them that makes them great.

The purpose behind this article isn't to instruct you on how to spin your ideas into gold, but rather to show you what I do to foster my own into workable stories. If this ends up helping you, great! If not, at least you'll get an inner look at my process. As I've said before on this blog, writers tend to be quite voyeuristic when it comes to seeing how others write, so this should satisfy that portion of the population that reads this.

I don't often write my ideas down. Sure, I have a notebook to jot down those tidbits I think have the best potential, but for the most part, I let the many ideas I come across simmer in my subconscious. I do this because when I'm in the market for a new idea, those that are freshest in my mind are the most exciting, so there's no need to open my notebook to find inspiration (though it is nice to know it's there as a safety net if I need it.)

Often times I'll use a writing prompt to get a story off the ground. Sometimes too many ideas can be just as paralyzing as not enough, so these are great ways to get the pen moving on the paper (or fingers on the keyboard if you write like that). I usually find that those ideas bubbling around in my subconscious will latch onto the prompt, strengthening the potential story exponentially. But more on that next week, when I talk about how I write my flash fiction stories.

To recap, ideas are a dime a dozen. If you simply walk down the street, you'll find plenty if you're paying any sort of attention. I personally find that I don't need to write down most of my ideas--if I forget one, there will be plenty more to take its place. If I really like an idea, however, I will write it down in a notebook for later perusal. Writing prompts are also a way I've found to get a story started so those ideas in my subconscious can take over. I hope you enjoyed my look at ideas, and check back next Wednesday for an article on writing flash fiction. Until then, keep writing and/or reading.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing Prompt #33

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

A piece of roller coaster track falls off in front of your train.

(I don't have many nightmares--at least the kind where I wake up in a cold sweat--but this is one that does it for me. That's why it's listed as horror.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#FridayFlash--The Day Moon

The Day Moon
by Eric J. Krause

Ten stood out on the surface, staring up at the day moon. Thoughts buzzed through his mind, summing up his existence, his ten lifetimes, but out here he had no one to share them with. He'd ignored the advice to bring a voice recorder, but it was too late now to worry about such things.

A flash of movement to his left dragged his attention from the day moon. No doubt another ten out to end it all. A pretty woman, who, like him, wore no life-sustaining suit, walked towards him. He recognized the look of acceptance she wore. He'd seen it in the mirror this morning.

"Hello," he said. "Glad I'm not the only ten choosing this day moon." The words felt thick inside of him, but the radioactive dust hadn't infiltrated his innards yet.

"Oh, I'm a seven, not a ten." She gave him a sheepish grin and looked up to the day moon.

"A seven? Then why are you out here?"

She glanced at him for a split second. "Please. I'm not worth concentrating on."

He nodded. Inside the city she certainly would be, but out here? No, she was right. He turned his face upwards and focused on the day moon. They stood in silence for a few moments until she broke it.

"My five and six ruined everything. We had a good existence going. One, Two, and Four set it all up so the rest of us wouldn't have any worries. Three didn't contribute, but she didn't mess anything up, either." She paused. "I wonder now if she was a warning sign Four should have addressed."

"Why don't you head back in and spin damage control? Make a better life for your three remainders?" His words didn't hurt, but he guessed that was thanks to the day moon. The radioactive dust had made itself at home inside his lungs.

"Believe me, I tried. I slowed the bleeding, but there's no way I can stop it. I'm not even sure Eight can. And even if she does, it leaves nothing for Nine and Ten." Another pause. He wondered if he'd see a tear running down her cheek if he chose to look at her. "They'll thank me for this."

"What did they do?" Ten didn't know how she understood; he stuttered to start, and when he did get the words out, they came in a gravelly squeak.

She sighed. He didn't hear any blockage in her lungs. Maybe the radiation took longer to work on a seven. She went on in a strong voice to describe the underworld and crime dens of New Glory City. He'd have normally found it to be an interesting topic; he'd lived a sheltered existence, one through ten, and knew nothing of the darker side of life, save for what he'd read about in articles on the mind net. A day or two earlier he'd have peppered her with questions, and would have been hanging on her every word.

As it was, though, he paid little to no attention to her story. His entire focus, his entire life, was the day moon. In his reality it grew to overtake the entire sky. As this girl, this seven, talked of robot godfathers and alien con artists, he drifted up to his next existence, the one fabled to never end.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Posts

Okay, today's post is strictly for me. I want to start putting up short posts about writing, but I keep procrastinating. So if I do this today, I've pretty much locked myself into starting this next week--and it has the added benefit of being a bit of a teaser for anyone who does choose to read this. Promotion!

Anyway, I'll be publishing short posts about my writing process, both for short fiction and novels. This won't be a do this type of series, but more of a this is what works for me series. I know writers like to see how other people work (I know I sure do), so this will give a bit o' insight into my process.

As the title says, I'll be posting these on Wednesdays. Now I need to get off my duff and consider the best way to start. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Master List of My Speculative Fiction Writing Prompts

Here are all of my writing prompts for you in one place. No more searching. Have fun with them. If you'd like them formatted differently, let me know. No promises, but I'll see what I can do. For now, newest ones will be listed on top. I'm not going to separate them by genre (yet at least). I'm not going to number them yet, either, unless there is a call for it. I hope these are inspirational. I'll do my best to update this every Monday when the new prompt comes out. There's no need to give me any credit for any story you come up with. Of course, I never mind if you do give me credit for the writing prompt, but it's not necessary.

An extra-dimensional portal has opened up in your grocer's freezer.

The slot machines in the newest casino don't pay out in cash, but in something strange.

A spider in your backyard spins webs much stronger than any other material on Earth.

Something is moving in the floor as if the carpet was made of water.

A candle flame flickers in a strange pattern that can only be a code.

You enter a zombie-infested 5K where the zombies are real, not made-up volunteers.

You take a picture off the wall and find a secret compartment that wasn't there when you hung it.

What are those hideous howls coming from that abandoned house?

You sink into your mattress as if it were quicksand.

An alien invasion has started, but only you see the misunderstanding and can fix it.

A strange email in your inbox can't be true. But it is.

The coffee brew you're drinking imbues you with special powers.

A new rock group can control minds with their music.

A flock of birds follows you everywhere.

The Christmas Tree farm has more to offer than simply Christmas Trees; there's magic there.

Your advent calendar doesn't contain chocolate each day, but something magical.

Fairies and Genies run a website that is offering Cyber Monday deals.

You sit in a haunted prison cell.

You hoist a scythe from an old tool shed, and it turns you into the Grim Reaper.  

The dead are rising, and they're hungry, but not for brains. In fact, they ignore humans altogether.

You see someone standing in the window of an abandoned shack, but when you go in, there's no one there.

You discover the secret of the Bermuda Triangle, but is it too late?

The rain won't stop/won't start. What do you do to rectify this?

Humanity is all set to celebrate the anniversary of an event that changed how people viewed the world. 

You swear you catch glimpses of your long-dead childhood dog everywhere you go.

It's a beautiful harvest this year for your very odd crop.

The word puzzle in your newspaper is giving you a secret message.

Zombies rise from the grave to put on a play. 

Your new grandfather clock turns out to be a time machine.

A toy wand bought from a novelty shop actually contains magic.

Everyone in the world goes blind, mute, and deaf except you.

You awake to find a beanstalk rising to the heavens in your backyard.

The moon looks big in the sky. A little too big. 

A minor cut won't stop bleeding.

Something is scratching the inside of your closet door. 

Your life is on your phone, but you just dropped it into a pit of deadly vipers.

Your mouthwash is actually a magic potion.

You awaken to find yourself locked in a casket. 

You trade lives with your cat for a day.

The new USB drive you bought came preloaded with a strange secret.

Everytime you enter your house, you hear the faint sound of children laughing. You have no children, and none live on your street.

Your rich uncle give you the supernatural secret to his fortune.

You interact with a ghost that doesn't know it's dead.

Your new running shoes have a special feature which allows you to run further and faster, but it comes with a unique price. 

A strange new social movement was actually started by space aliens (or time travelers). 

One of the books in the library glows.

A mummy's curse falls over an entire town.

Your fingernails fall out, but are replaced by retractable claws. 

An app store lets you download magic spells. 

Those toy laser guns at the amusement park souvenir stand aren't toys. 

Your imagination runs wild - everything you imagine comes true. 

Your parents reveal a dark family secret. 

Unbeknownst to you, an alien has been visiting you in your sleep for years. 

A favorite piece of jewelry is more than it seems.

Your favorite childhood storybook comes to life.

What in the world is that in your stocking? 

Santa has a terrible secret that may ruin Christmas.

A newborn child can converse in perfect English. 

The Mayans were right...sort of. 

The airline didn't lose your luggage -- they changed it into something different. 

A new app for your phone bends the laws of physics.

A patch of quicksand leads to another world. 

The fireplace leads to a wonderland, but only when it's lit.

An alien society seizes control of your tablet computer.

A new app lets you copy your soul and download it into different things. 

Your pen contains magic ink. 

A tiny planet declares independence from the intergalactic empire. 

The heat and humidity begin to melt people. Literally.

Days begin to run backwards. 

Terrorists create an app that instantly kills anyone who downloads it. 

The scent of a certain rose does strange things to people's minds. 

Space aliens built the pyramids.

Ancient Atlantis is discovered, and it is a thriving society.

A Twitter follower follows you in real life.

The Post Office demands more than just a mere stamp to deliver your letter.

If a top-secret government computer is shut down, the entire universe is shut down.

There's intelligence in that stray dog's eyes. Too much intelligence.

Your iPod plays a strange song you didn't load onto it.

You turn on the shower and blood pours out of the faucet.

You awaken into the world of your favorite novel.

There's a new app available that lets you control minds.

A tiny dragon, no bigger than a hummingbird, befriends you.

The newest gym craze is exploding exercise bikes: stop peddling and BOOM!

A new bottled water on the market doesn't exactly contain water.

The light from a sun in a distant solar system has strange effects on a crew of astronauts.

A rabbit-eared television set can control time and space.

A radical environmental group starts assassinating smokers.

Is that Santa climbing down your chimney...or something else entirely?

Your favorite stuffed animal comes to life.

You have a superpower, but it only works when adrenaline courses through your veins.

That's not candy in Grandma's candy dish.

You can create and control the undead.

A Witch visits the used broom salesman.

A ghost serenades you every night at midnight.

You must find the secret book hidden in the library.

You discover the world actually does revolve around you.

A picture frame brings photographs to life.

You become a character in a classic video game.

You can't let the clock strike twelve!

The tender, tasty meat at that new restaurant comes from space aliens.

There's a strange bacteria in the town's water supply.

There is a talking mouse in your house.

The devil wants to make you an offer.

A new designer drug produces strange effects on those who take it.

The rifles in the shooting gallery fire real bullets.

An unconventional monster terrorizes your town.

Did something in that painting/photograph just move?

A packed commercial airplane flies through a mysterious wormhole into a different dimension.

You awake to find yourself in a maze.

The evil black knight turns out to be the kingdom's beloved fair princess.

A family of monsters is living in your closet.

You have zombie-like symptoms, but you don't think you're dead.

An angry mob stands at your front door.

Your car gains a mind of its own.

You discover an ancient magical treasure in your backyard.

You travel back in time to warn your younger self about something.

One wrong step will drop you into a pit of deadly snakes.

Something sinister on the dark side of the moon makes itself known.

Two knights square off for the love of a fair maiden.

A doll comes to life.

You often turn invisible, but can't control when or how long.

A certain slot machine in the casino is supposedly cursed.

You get a telephone call from a dead friend/relative.

You have a pogo stick that can jump through time.

Something starts moving under your skin.

It's a full moon out.

After the "Happy New Year!" has been shouted, someone is found dead.

The North Pole is under attack.

Someone (or something) crawls down your chimney.

An assassin targets the king.

Your child discovers a dead body while playing at the park.

Your company puts a strange drug in the coffee.

You travel 1000 years into the future.

You discover your spouse/significant other leads a double life.

Flowers and trees start singing to you.

You awake sealed in a coffin.

Subliminal messages in a popular song infect the world.

You awake to find yourself strapped down in a torture chamber.

No one remembers who you are.

You find yourself in a never-ending hallway with countless doors.

A piece of roller coaster track falls off in front of your train.

Time stands still for everyone but you.

The court jester is really a powerful wizard.

A strange website promises something (good fortune? Unending power? Never-ending riches?)

You wake up and find yourself on a space ship.

Your bathroom mirror leads to another world.

A gameshow based on death/murder.

You discover your best friend performs human sacrifices.

"X" marks the spot.

Your significant other explains the wine you just drank was poisoned.

Someone (or something) is following you, but you can't see them.

A fair maiden must rescue the dashing knight.

You find yourself on a "Wanted: Dead or Alive" poster.

Every path leads to certain death.

You find a magical garden where money really does grow on trees.

You hear strange voices while listening to your iPod.

The king requests an audience with you.

You walk through cobwebs.

A tiny spacecraft crashes through your bedroom window.

Gnomes follow you home.

A buzzard circles above you.

Space aliens knock on your front door.

Your dog strikes up a conversation with you.

An Internet virus affects your computer in a strange way.

You hear a nearby train whistle. There are no railroad tracks anywhere close.

The court jester has a sinister gleam in his eyes.

You're alone, but there are footsteps in the hall.

You find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The local zoo displays a real unicorn.

There is a monster inside your mattress.

A dragon is spotted flying over a distant farm.

A shooting star just changed directions.

Your favorite video game is actually a training manual for death.

Writing Prompt #32

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as science fiction, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Time stands still for everyone but you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


by Eric J. Krause

He wiped the sweat from his brow and hefted the crying woman onto his shoulder. She'd climbed the multiple stories like a trooper, but now, so close to their goal, she couldn't go on. He'd seen it so many times that he carried her without giving it a second thought.

He stepped over and through the wreckage, avoiding the broken step halfway up the second-to-last story. As they got to the top, the light energized her, and she hopped down and ran the rest of the way. She called a thank you over her shoulder, but didn't see his wave and smile.

He headed back down all 110 stories. That lady had been the last to dig herself out of the ruins, but he had to make sure. He'd helped almost 1500 dead souls find their way to peace, but he'd count himself a failure if he left even one behind.

Nothing moved on the bottom floor. He could neither hear nor sense any souls burrowing through the rubble. He'd finished. The only one left to save was himself. Fatigue chose that moment to crash down almost as hard as the tower when the plane exploded into it. Now that no one depended on him, where was he going to find the energy to march all the way up to the light?

He lifted one heavy boot up to the first stair, and implored himself to continue. With the desperate souls, the jaunt to the top, even the spots where debris made climbing a necessity, took little time or effort. But now that he was on his own, the stairwell might as well have been a broken path up Everest.

He couldn't bring himself to quit. He wouldn't lie down and wait for whatever end he'd earned to come get him. That wasn't his style. He needed to meet his afterlife head on, and that meant traversing the rubble-strewn stairwell all the way to the top floor. To that white light.

And continue he did. Up past the cave-ins. Up past the impact site. Up, up, and up some more. He'd lost count, but if he had to guess, he'd dragged his tired body, his tired soul, up the tower three times further than possible. Until finally he recognized where he was. He heard the soft hum of the light, and willed it to fill him with energy as it did for all those he helped.

A few more steps up brought a tingle, but no renewing power. That was when he realized, too late, that they'd always been revitalized after the broken step halfway up the second-to-last story. His steel-toed boot came down on that step, and his foot crashed through. That first trip, who knows how many hours, days, millennia ago, he'd done the same, but he'd pulled himself out as if nothing had happened. Every time since, he'd remembered to skip it. Now, however, he tried to escape and couldn't. Would this be his eternity? Stuck tight in the ghost of a destroyed building, a story and a half away from salvation?

The pitch of the humming above him altered, and soft footsteps echoed off the walls. He stood waiting, watching. A being made entirely of light rounded the corner and stared down at him, smiling. No words were exchanged, but he knew he had its supreme gratitude for saving the souls which otherwise would have been lost. Peace, love, and hope filled him, and he knew now he could continue his trek to the light above the 110th story without trouble.

Before he could move, the almost 1500 souls he'd liberated descended to him from around the heavenly being. They lifted him out of the broken step and hoisted him to their shoulders. They carried him like a king up the final steps, and the warm, peaceful light enveloped him.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friday Flash Book

My newest ebook, The Friday Flash Stories of Eric J. Krause: Volume 1, is now available as a free download on Smashwords. This book contains my first 50 Friday Flash stories, as well as an introduction. If you have an ereader or an ereading app for your smart phone, iPod, or any other device, check it out. As I said, it's free, so there's no downside for you. If you've enjoyed any of my Friday Flash stories before, you can now have them in this handy-dandy package. If you've only read a few, or none at all, then this is fifty brand new flash fiction stories for you to enjoy. Click on the title above and check it out! I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Writing Prompt #31

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as fantasy, but take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

The court jester is really a powerful wizard.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Audio Recording of "When He Comes Calling"

Here is this week's audio recording, "When He Comes Calling." Click here to listen. I tried a bit of voice acting this week instead of simply reading the story, so I'll be interested in seeing what everyone thinks. I'm still not perfect with the reading, but I feel I'm getting a bit more comfortable with the microphone. Anyway, this was my second entry into #fridayflash, published a year ago. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

#FridayFlash--Abandonment Issues

Abandonment Issues
by Eric J. Krause

"Did that car have a white stripe on the top?"

"What car?" Summer didn't look up from her book.

"The red one back there." Mark sighed. "Never mind. The road's playing tricks on me."

This trip down I-15 from Las Vegas to Orange County would do that. Nothing but mountains and desert, heavy on the desert, and he couldn't even listen to good music because Summer would pitch a fit if heavy metal came over the speakers. Not that he hated her country music, but on a long, boring drive, some Ozzy, Anthrax, or Slayer would ease the pain.

There it was again. A classic red sports car with a white stripe on the roof sat abandoned on the side of the road. It looked identical to the two others he'd seen: the first in the mountains after Stateline, and the second a few miles past Baker and its world's tallest thermometer. Now here was another, not five miles later. What were the odds that he'd see these on the same stretch of highway, relatively close yet miles apart?

"Can you do me a favor?" he asked.


"If I see a red car on the side of the road, can you help me read the license plate?"

This time she put her book down. "What? Why?"

"Just indulge me. You don't even need to watch for it. Just get out a pen and paper."

She opened her mouth to protest, but to her credit swallowed the comment and shrugged. She pulled out a scrap of paper and a Luxor-Las Vegas souvenir ball-point pen from her purse. "I knew I kept this up here for a reason." She smiled at him before returning to her book. He wanted to lean over and plant a sloppy kiss on her, but at 70 miles per hour, that didn't sound like a smart idea.

Since he was prepared, he figured that would be the last of it. But no. A few miles later, parked on the shoulder, two tires on the pavement and two on dirt, stood another one.

"Quick," he said, "the license plate."

Summer placed her book in her lap. "I saw 2HEV1, but that was it," she said.

"Better than me," Mark said. "All I saw was that they were California plates."

"I'd prefer you kept your eyes on the road anyway," she said while she wrote on the scrap of paper, maybe the receipt for the same pen. "Are you going to tell me why we just did that?"

"That's the fourth car I've seen abandoned on the side of the road."

"So?" she said. "That doesn't sound very unusual out here."

"They all looked the same. Identical."

"Oh," Summer said. She remained quiet, and her book lay untouched in her lap. A minute or two later, she said, "Could it be performance art? You know, like when that guy littered that highway with yellow umbrellas?"

"Maybe," Mark said. It was as good as any explanations he'd come up with. "I'll let you know if I see another."

She put her book aside. "I'm curious now. I'll watch for the next one."

It wasn't long before that came up. "Crap, I still couldn't make out the entire plate." She looked at her scrap of paper. "What I saw matched, though. It has to be some weird art project. There's no other explanation."

Mark nodded. "But what's the artist's statement?"

"Maybe it's just supposed to be a conversational piece for the drive."

Mark chuckled. "It is keeping my mind off of work tomorrow."

The next one came a few miles later. "I think I see someone," Summer said, but as they passed, there was no sign of anyone. "Guess my mind's playing tricks on me."

"I don't know. Have you noticed that we're the only ones out here? I'd been so wrapped up in this mystery that I hadn't paid it any mind. But . . ."

"Yeah, it's kind of weird," Summer said. "Last time we drove home, you cussed out traffic the whole way."

They continued in silence until they passed the red car again. This time they both saw movement.

"What is it?" Summer asked. "It looks like a person made out of shadows."

Mark nodded. Even though they zipped by at 70, when he stared at the shadow man, it was like the car slowed to a crawl. It stood about six feet tall and had the outline of a strong, fit man. Though its face had no features, Mark could sense it looking back at them. Summer asked him if they should stop, but he shook his head and pressed down hard on the gas pedal, getting them over 70, beyond 80, and up to 90.

They passed the red car three times in quick succession, each time with the man gaining more definition. It went from a free-floating shadow to a non-descript, as generic as they come, Caucasian male. It mouthed some words to them, and a deep, creepy voice replaced the Montgomery Gentry song on the radio.

"Stay the course and drive to the light. It's time." The song didn't come back; the radio belched static.

"What's going on?" Summer asked, hysterics bubbling in her voice.

Mark didn't answer. The car wasn't on the road, hell, not even on the ground anymore. They shot straight up in the air towards a searing white light. As bright as it was, it gave off a peaceful vibe.

"Can you see behind us? Or below us, I guess?" Summer asked.

He checked the rearview mirror. Their car lay smashed on the grill of a big rig. An ambulance had arrived, but the paramedics weren't in a hurry. They pushed two gurneys to the back of the ambulance and drove off without the lights flashing or the sirens wailing.

Mark put his hand on her knee. "I guess the light's the only option."

Tears hung in Summer's eyes, but she smiled. "I guess so."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Newest Published Story

I found out today that I have a very short story (only 101 words) in the compilation, Dog Days of Summer 2010. My story is called "Bowl o' Red," and you can find it on page 33 of the collection. (I'm even more excited about the fact that it was chosen as an Honorable Mention.) Check it out, and let me know what you think. And while you're there, give a look at the other stories. It's filled with excellent authors, and each story is only 101 words long, meaning you can read a bunch in a short period of time. Very cool! You can also visit this link to see more about the book, as well as see an interview with Sam Adamson, the author chosen as the grand prize winner (congrats, Sam!). Big thanks to Michael J. Solender for putting this together. I had a good time crafting my story, and I can't wait to dig into the other stories.