Category Archives: Flash Fiction Challenge

Miss Jean Louis: so little is known

miss jean louis profile shot

The glamorous Miss Jean Louis, famous doyenne of G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S., is an international woman of mystery, who rarely grants interviews and never poses for photographs. She is a cheerleader for those making their way into the ways of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, encouraging their fledgling attempts to complete items. She is also a keen and snarky observer of the shenanigans some participants have pulled. She maintains a cool distance from the fray, unless her rapier wit and quick disciplinary actions are required. She doesn’t seem to require our admiration, yet one gets the sense that an occasional “Yes, Mistress” would not be uncalled for… or unappreciated.

About her origins, little is known. Her Twitter profile says only that she was “born in a hut in Khor Angar, in the dirt. Midwifed into the world kicking and screaming” (sic), with no further details to feed the hungry minds of her 17.4K followers.

Khor Angar is an African town, located in the northern Obock region of Djibouti. You can find it on the west coast of the Bab el Mandeb Strait. Along with a relatively recent statue to Miss Jean Louis, you will also find an airstrip there.

khor angar satellite view copy

We know nothing about Miss Jean Louis’ childhood, although there are songs sung in Khor Angar about a copper-haired girl child with a green eyes who charmed a storm into calming, thus saving the crops one summer. The song is reputed to be hundreds of years old, but recent visitors there speculate that the lyrics were changed within the last generation or two, perhaps in response to an exploit by our now-famous doyenne. The truth of the matter may never be known, as Miss Jean Louis’ age and date of birth remain information she does not share. So we cannot determine with any certainty if the timeframe of the lyrics change coincides with Miss Jean Louis’ childhood years.

One intrepid Gisher, who has requested anonymity, went to Khor Angar and tried to locate Miss Jean Louis’ parents. Alas, none of the villagers would provide their names or any identifying information about them. Indeed, some of the elderly women of the town indicated that Miss Jean Louis had sprung from the tide as a toddler, with no parents in evidence. Of course, Midwife Zeira, an elderly and nearly blind woman who claimed to have assisted at Miss Jean Louis’ birth laughed at this notion, but declined to offer the name or current whereabouts of either parent. She said only that they were golden-haired and had excellent manners for outsiders, with strange accents when they spoke French.

One can only hope Miss Jean Louis will decide to open up about her early life, perhaps by penning an autobiography. At least 17.4K people be sure to push it to the top of every sort of bestseller list.

#GISHWHES 2016 #GoTeamAbnosomeLovesPhotobombers #Item 124

 

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Klutzy Kenny: a flash-fiction entry

When he tripped stepping off the landing of the boatramp to the World Showcase Lagoon and fell, he wasn’t thinking about his older brother Bobby calling him Klutzy Kenny for his whole life.

When his sunglasses bounced on the concrete, he wasn’t thinking about how stupid he’d always thought it that in horror movies some silly girl in ridiculously high heels would try to run away at some point, only to trip and fall and get killed by the monster.

He wasn’t thinking, as his head smacked the sidewalk and a coppery taste filled his mouth, that 26 was too young to die or that being chewed on by a zombie was too cliche.

Instead, he was thinking about his mom carping on him to wear sneakers. “You’re gonna break your fool neck in those flipflops, Kenneth. You have enough trouble walking straight without inviting disaster.”

Well, fuck, he thought. She was right.

The last thing he saw before he died was the Eiffel Tower above the restaurant where he’d made reservations for dinner.

The last things he heard were a gutteral snarl close behind him, a woman’s keening wail of terror as she fled, and a toddler calling, “Mommy! Mommmmmy!” after her.

The last thing he smelled was souring melted chocolate ice cream on a Mickey Mouse fudgsicle wrapper two inches from his left eye on the burning concrete, overpowered a second later by an ungodly halitosis. Its mix of old cigarette smoke and decaying meat were bad enough to knock a body out… a moot point in this case.

Then came the pain, blood red and white hot, as the unseen creature clamped its foul teeth on the side of Kenny’s neck, just above his left shoulder, and ripped out a chunk of flesh. Hot spurts of blood from his torn jugular kept perfect time with his slowing heart, coating the face of the nightmare that was gnawing Kenny’s shoulder to the bone.

When his heart stopped, so did the pain, and he was grateful.

**

It was night when Kenny opened his eyes again, just in time to see the ticket kiosk before he walked into it, but not enough to avoid it. He suspected it would have hurt if he’d been moving faster, but that didn’t seem to be an option.

He shuffled across a moonlit plaza, France behind him and Morocco ahead on his right. The lagoon, dark and stagnant, was on his left.

He could hear others milling around, their steps slow and halting, their breathing labored and wet, but no one was talking. He didn’t feel like talking either. In the distance, concealed loudspeakers were playing what Kenny and Bobby had always described as “relentlessly cheerful, manic Disney music.” They used to caper, monkey-like, when they said it, but tonight the music didn’t move him.

Something was moving him, though, some restlessness or instinct or itch deep inside his brain. He couldn’t stop, even though he had no idea where he was going or what he was looking for. He was operating on some sort of walking autopilot… or shuffling autopilot, anyway.

He let his feet carry him past the Morocco and toward Independence Hall. He had some idea that maybe he would find… something… inside it, and he closed his eyes to try to picture what that thing was. He opened them when another shuffling body bumped into him, knocking him on his ass. The middle and pinky fingers on his left hand bent backward and snapped when he landed hand-first on the steps. Kenny heard the noise, but there was no pain.

Weird, he thought, as he tried to look at the damage. He grasped his pinky and tried to bend it back to a normal angle, but he couldn’t really see it well. Something was definitely wonky with his vision.

Finally, he gave up, rolled onto his knees and crawled. He wasn’t sure he could stand up, and he wasn’t in a hurry, so crawling would do. He’d made it halfway up the stairs when a smell of warm mammal caught him up short. He didn’t know why he wanted it, but – gods – did he want it.

He scrambled to his feet and shamble-ran toward Italy, joining the throng of those like him who had caught the scent too, and who were just as determined to have it as he was. He realized he was drooling and he was starving and he had to have it and chew it and feel its flesh tear in his mouth and fill his aching and empty gullet.

So focused was he on locating the evasive odor that he didn’t see the low concrete wall in front of him. He felt it when it hit his shin and sent him sprawling onto the baby stroller on its far side. When he tried to stand, his right leg wouldn’t support his weight, and he fell again. He looked down and saw his shinbone poking through his skin.

Well, fuck, he thought again.

He settled into a sort of crab-crawl, on his hands and left foot, dragging his broken right leg behind him. He didn’t hear anyone else nearby and the delicious aroma was gone. Still, he had to keep moving.

Hours passed. Canned music played, the others slowly shuffled back into view and Kenny kept crawling.

Just before dawn, he saw the ugliest cat he’d ever seen climbing out of a trashcan near the gates of China. It settled down to gnaw on something it had dragged out of the can, a corndog or pretzel maybe.

Kenny picked up his pace, gaining ground until he saw it wasn’t a cat. It was a huge possum, and it looked so… very… edible.

The possum didn’t notice him until he was nearly on top of it, then it hissed at him and ran off toward Norway.

Well, fuck, he thought. There has to be some food here somewhere in this world. I’m so hungry.

-30-

(995 words)

Writing challenge time!

I’ve avoided writing – a lot – until recently, as you’ve no doubt noticed. But I have always looked forward to reading Chuck Wendig‘s Friday Flash Fiction Challenge posts, hoping to be inspired enough to get off my ass and complete one. Errr, that is, to get on my ass in front of the computer keyboard, ’cause I find it easier to write at the computer these days.

This was not always the case, as I used to prefer longhand. It’s convenient, after all, to not need a computer to write whenever you have an idea you want to capture. And I still scrawl stuff down on paper, but it’s gotta be really short and spontaneous.

I think blogging for the last 6 years (at my other blog) has accustomed me to typing my thoughts. Also, my day job as a 9-1-1 operator/dispatcher involves a metric crap-ton of typing information into a computer program… and typing it fast, with no time to handwrite first. Plus my hands get sore if I write too much longhand (probably because I grip the pen/pencil too hard… always have).

But I digress…

This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge didn’t capture me immediately, until I clicked the link to get my own fantasy-character concepts, twice. Clicking it twice might have been a bit of a cheat, but I was underwhelmed by the first 5 suggestions. What the hell, I thought, I’ll try again. After all, I’m the boss of my writing, right? Right!

And the last of my second round of character concepts made me giggle out loud, as my sick and twisted imagination supplied some pretty silly visuals immediately. So I’m gonna give this one a shot.

I’ll post it when it’s done. Challenges are issued every Friday, each with a one-week deadline, and I hope to get it done by then.

As for the prompt that made my brain-gears turn, here it is: A clumsy zombie is doomed to wander the world.

I know! So. much. potential!

Before I get on that, though, I have 350 words to write on my novel-in-progress.

And for the record, it feels amazing to be jazzed about writing again. I highly recommend it.