Friday, January 29, 2010

#fridayflash--The Horizon

The Horizon
by Eric J. Krause

We stared out at the horizon, none of us saying anything. I had no idea what the other two were thinking, but I couldn't get my old high school crush out of my head. Funny since it'd been over twenty years ago now, and I had a great life, a great family. But with the impending doom coming, she's who my mind chose to flash to first.

Debbie Clark. We'd been in senior year Language Arts together. The memories that laid dormant for a couple of decades poured into my consciousness. We talked each day before class, and sometimes during. We'd crack each other up like old chums and shared gossip that had been life-altering at the time, but now would probably sound mind-numbingly stupid. Why didn't I ever ask her out? That answer wouldn't come, no matter how much of the past I let back in. Where was she at this moment? I hoped surrounded by loved ones like I was.

I rubbed Cindy's shoulders and sighed. She smiled up at me, dried tear tracks traced down her cheeks. Our attention went back to the horizon. The sun would be setting in a few hours, but we wouldn't be around to see it. I envied those in other time zones, those that got their final sunset. I always counted it as the best part of the day.

My first date with Cindy included the most beautiful sunset in recorded history. Maybe I'm a bit biased because that moment also featured our first kiss. We stood on the end of the Newport Beach pier and embraced as we watched the sea swallow up the sun, all framed with an orange and pink sky. We were one of many couples enjoying the moment, but all that existed for me was her. She later admitted the feeling was more than mutual.

I ran my fingers through Tabby's hair. She didn't look back, no doubt to spare Dad from seeing her cry. It was unfathomable I wouldn't get to see her grow up. She had such a kind heart and a sharp mind that she would have made me proud. As I focused back on the horizon, a flock of birds passed. I'm sure Tabby noticed. She always loved birds.

Ducks swam in a pond in the small park down the street from our first house. Cindy and I loved to push Tabby in her stroller down there. She'd sit and squeal in delight as she watched the ducks frolic and float. As she got older, she fed them stale bread crusts, an act which started her habit of eating crustless sandwiches. In the past year, I'd lost count of the number of injured birds or abandoned chicks that she brought home to care for. Cindy and I thought we'd need to put a foot down, but Tabby never asked for help. She nursed most back to health, and even when she lost a patient, she took it in stride. It was sad, but part of nature. We wondered if she'd be a veterinarian.

Of course, that was all before scientists discovered the interstellar comet heading right for Earth.

The light dimmed, and the air grew thick. This was it, and we had front row seats. Tabby buried her head into Cindy, and I engulfed them both in a bear hug. I felt their sobs and joined in with my own, but I couldn't hear anything over the unearthly rumblings, the thunder on hyperdrive. I tried to watch the huge rock enter the atmosphere, but it burned too bright.

I focused on the horizon and concentrated on the two angels in my arms.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Speculative Fiction Writing Prompts

I've discovered I really enjoy writing prompts. I realize that's not an overly profound statement for a writer to make, but it's true. The writing prompts I tend to enjoy are the short ones--just a few words to no more than a short sentence. These allow my imagination, and therefore my words, to branch out in countless directions.

The writing prompts I've been using are good, but they're very generic. What I mean is that they tend towards the literary-type writing. I make speculative stories out of them, but I'd love to have prompts geared specifically towards my favorite genres: horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Sure, with a Google search you can find some, but I thought it might be a fun exercise for me to come up with my own.

I decided that I'd post a new one every week--probably on Monday. Feel free to do whatever you like with the prompt. If you use it just for a quick warm-up, great. If you're in the #fridayflash group and need an idea, super. If the prompt takes your fiction to a longer piece, excellent. I'd love to hear success stories with these prompts, but don't feel obligated to tell me. I'm just having a good time putting them together.

Sometimes I'll put in the title that it's a horror writing prompt, or a fantasy writing prompt, or a science fiction writing prompt, but don't feel that you need to be bound by that genre when you start putting the words down on paper (or more likely on your computer screen). For example, if I call this--Your favorite video game is actually a training manual for death--a horror prompt, you don't need to make it a piece of horror fiction. You could turn it into a sci-fi piece by having the video game be about saving the human race from space aliens, for example. Or you might make it a contemporary piece about a group using the video game as a recruiting tool. Or you can spin it into a humorous story. The possibilities are endless. I'm sure you've already found a slant that I haven't thought of to make it your own.

So, with that in mind, I'll repeat what this week's writing prompt is: Your favorite video game is actually a training manual for death. Have fun with it! I'll see you here next Monday with another writing prompt!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

#fridayflash--Real Monsters Don't Take Time Off

Real Monsters Don't Take Time Off
by Eric J. Krause

"Daddy, the monster under my bed says he gets Sunday afternoons off."

Jim nodded as if this was common knowledge. What he was really doing was trying hard not to bust up laughing.

"Good. That'll give you plenty of time to play Barbies or read a book."

Cara smiled, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and scampered up to her room. Only then did he allow himself a chuckle as he walked in to grab a beer.

He'd only just popped the top when a grunt, thud, and scream erupted from upstairs. He managed to set the can down without spilling any before rushing up the stairs. She'd probably just scared herself with the monster under the bed talk, but that'd been a pretty loud thump. Life never slowed down when living with a child with an overactive imagination.

At the top of the stairs, a cold breeze brushed by him, though he knew all of the windows in the house were closed. Cara didn't yet have the strength to open any of them.

He burst into her room, his heart racing so fast it hurt his chest. "What? What happened?"

She lounged on her bed, the picture of the teenager she'd become in a few years: a book lay open in front of her, and a Princess Dream slipper hung from her toes. She gave him a sweet smile.

"I told him that the monsters above the bed don't take any time off."

Friday, January 15, 2010

#fridayflash--Black to Blue

Black to Blue
by Eric J. Krause

Dear Stupid Diary:

I hate the idea of writing in you, but if Dr. Quack says I need to, I'll give Dr. Quack what he wants. Meds aren't enough anymore. A padded room with no sharp edges isn't enough. Now they need to make sure I'm happy. Why can't they see the only way that's possible is if I join Sonia? One quick slash of the wrist should do it. I know where to cut now.

Is this what you want, Dr. Quack? Are these the feelings you wanted to read about?

Fine. You were smart to prompt me on this. Otherwise I'd have just cussed at you and your hospital, your jail, over and over again. I still might if this doesn't go well.

My life with Sonia was dark. I hated her, and she hated me. But were we happy? In our own little way, yes, but no one else would have said so. I'm sure those around thought our lives together foolish, destructive. But we thrived on the hate. The more I hated her, the more I loved her. And vice versa.

We lived in a rat hole little apartment on the shitty side of town. We hated our jobs and took it out on each other when we came home each night. I fed off of her negative energy, as she did with me. More often than not we'd fling food and insults over the dinner table and then create the most deviant acts in the bedroom minutes later. In our sick, twisted way we were the happiest, the darkest, beings in existence.

When she died, that darkness faded. I didn't hate. I didn't love. The only thing--the only emotion--was sorrow. I lost everything, both inside and out--my job, my friends, my soul. Black gave way to blue. I could exist in the darkness. Hell, I did more than exist; I thrived. I couldn't do that in my depression. That's why I tried to bleed my life out with a jagged bottle.

One thing you told me stuck, though, Doc. I want you to know that. You said that we need to make do with what life gives us. Fight through. Persevere. And I will. Those guards you have posted are watching, but not close enough. I'll have enough time to jab this pen in my wrist and yank. It should be sharp enough to get the job done. It'll hurt like hell, but what do I care?

Black may give way to blue, but that's not to say it can't all come full circle. Open your arms, Sonia. Here I come.

Friday, January 8, 2010

#fridayflash -- The Next Great Adventure

This story is a companion piece to a #fridayflash story I wrote last September called Uncle Ron. If you didn't read Uncle Ron, you can read this one with no problems. This one is told from the Point of View of Uncle Ron, so his motivations are now clear. Like Uncle Ron, this one is more a slice of life story. I hope you enjoy!

by Eric J. Krause

Ron watched as Mars shrank from view. He wished he could have said goodbye to everyone in person, but the message was easier on all of them. They wouldn't have tried to stop him, he knew that, but knowing he'd never see them again would have made it hard.

Yeah, this was the right way.

Ever since he saw the space elevator at New Vegas, he knew he had to go. He couldn't stay on Mars. The mining gig at Olympus Mons was there for him, but that wasn't his life. He couldn't waste away the years digging in an armored space suit. That was no way to live. He needed adventure, not suicide, especially a long drawn out one.

He waited through the entire flight from Earth to the Mars Space Port in New New York Harbor. Something would present itself. He just needed to be patient, like he had had been in the Old Grand Canyon. He'd be dead already if it hadn't been for that.

Ron paid little attention to the excited babble of his family once they landed. Since he didn't participate, they didn't try to include him. They knew better. Little Jaycee glanced at him a few times, but nothing came of it. She didn't realize what he was like, what he had to do.

On the way past, Ron spied a few opportunities that held promise. He didn't jump yet; better to wait, see them all, and weigh his options. He had a week to show up at the Olympus Mons Mine Station. He'd see the family settled and come back later.

His chance came sooner than expected. The family decided on an aero-taxi, but it only held five. Ron made six. He said he'd find his own way home. And he had every intention of doing so. This was just a preliminary scope-out mission.

Until he met the man going to one of Saturn's moons.

"Five years is all we ask. You'll get a house and never go hungry. We'll even match you up with a mate if you'd like. After that, you're free to do as you please. There might even be an experimental hyperspace jump to another solar system. Or beyond."


After he left the message and headed to the staging area, guilt tried to grab him by the throat. He'd miss his family, right? After all his crazy schemes, they'd always been there to help pick up the pieces and see him through to the next.

Mars disappeared from his view. Yeah, he'd miss them.

But he'd miss the adventure even more.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Newest Published Story

I had a story published today on The New Flesh. It is called The Bird. I hope you enjoy it. It's a horror story about a very strange bird. Let me know what you think, either here or as a comment on the site. Thanks!