by thefourpartland

It was the end of an age, and the coming of the night. A new dawn had been promised, and for one shining day, it had stood out proud and bright, the hopes and dreams of the mortal world enshrined in the brightness that had followed the night. And there it had stayed, one shining moment to hold against a thousand black ages, the hope of man compressed into a single, fallen star, streaking across the heavens and then disappearing, bringing man ever downward into the despair and the hatred, left only with a single memory, a day that made the night seem all the darker and all the more cruel for the mirror to which it had been held.

Love, purity, valor, these things had been made manifest, a flare of all that was worthy, reduced only to a sliver that could be hidden at the bottom of a heart, buried beneath the layers of oppression and brutality that deadened the senses of all those who now lived. Each who held that sliver felt it dig and grind and gouge away, each painful stab a reminder of what could have, what might have, what may yet still be.

Yet none dared to lift their heads high, to look full into the dawn and to see the light as it might yet be, for in their souls they feared the unknown, the change, more than they feared death, or the thousand tortures of the dying. For now they grasped certainty within their hands, a grubby, small, and sickened certainty, and yet they caressed it and kissed it as if it was the most precious gift in all the land, a boon from the angels who flitted above them in a world they could not comprehend.

Within that certainty they held their whole lives, each step placed as that of the day before, and as that of the day after. A life lived in the crushing grip of routine had stunted them, fitting their growth into a box already provided, men’s souls pruned like so many shrubs, dancing to the biting sheers of the gardener. Aye, they all had souls, but they were shriveled things, dying of ill-use and mutilation. Only that one, little, sliver kept the soul alive, and in some men even that died out, and they were lost from the realm of the living, their bodies moving in determined pace, but with no spark, no fire, no inspiration. They reveled in nothing, took joy from no act. Grey, emotionless, stripped of all passion, each of these sought to batter down, to crush and to rend all acts of selflessness, of pity, of piety, even of spite, for to them, to feel was an abomination beyond all others.

And so they above all others had become the heralds of the new night, ushering in blackness not with trumpets and fanfare, but with quiet words and bowed head, so many downtrodden and beaten men, devoid of will and of feeling. There had remained some few dim glows, the after-images of that one pure moment, but like the last rays of the sunset, caught high on a peak above, they had been unattainable, and soon vanished, and the light of knowledge and of wisdom had become stilled, sucked down into a mire filled with the hatred, ignorance and bigotry of the men who stood forth most proudly, morals corrupted and twisted into a perversion of what was right. And it was here, within the hearts of men, that blame lay forth, and so it always shall be, for when truth was offered, and the light shined free, men shielded their eyes, and ran to caverns of certainty and caves of routine, preferring ever more the dark of night to the light of day. And so it was that light passed over man, and left him laid low.



by thefourpartland

So, after the wonderful success of this week’s Writer’s Carnival, we’re looking to continue by starting on next week’s. We’re always looking for debut entrants, and I know there’s people who’ve expressed interest but weren’t able to contribute this week. We’re looking forward to having you.

First up, the host: The blog carnival rotates around, with different writers hosting each week. If you want to host, sign up here. This list is first come, first serve, and each writer will host the Writer’s Carnival in turn. I will delete double entries, so please don’t.

General rules:
1 entry per writer
Flash Fiction in length
Have fun!

And now, on to next week!

Theme: Fallen Angels. Please note that while the entries do not have to follow the theme, we appreciate it if the stories do.

Collector: Enter your stories for Wed 26th.



by thefourpartland

Welcome all to the initial edition of the Writer’s Carnival. We’ve got 14 stories for you to read today, excellent pieces of flash fiction one and all. I’ll be linking each in the order they were entered, as well as providing a brief introduction and excerpt. I’d like to thank all of the authors who participated, and made this such a success.

A few administrative details before I get you to the stories. I will be opening a list tomorrow morning to pick the next hosts. It will be first come, first serve, and each entrant will host the Writer’s Carnival in turn. I will delete double entries, so please don’t. This last caveat also applies to story entries – please don’t submit more than one per week.

For next week, Emma from the Split Worlds has suggested a theme of “Fallen Angels”. Comments or other suggestions are most welcome. Please note that while the entries do not have to follow the theme, it is appreciated if the stories do.

Red-Cap, Mad-Cap by Maryland Goatman
An excellent piece of mystery. The mind spirals inward, following the story until its conclusion.

I awaken, gasping and heart pounding. Something sharp is cutting into my hand and I look down. It’s a knife! Startled, it drops and clangs to the ground. Frantic, I scan the room. Why was I holding a knife?


The Roulette by Diegosietesoles
A gamble of mind and reality, concentrated around a single game.

It was crowded as usual around the roulette table, and Edvard was seated on his accustomed chair, next to Vladimir, watching how the wheel turned and turned. His head rested on his right hand, his lengthy black beard coming out between his fingers. He was tired and it was late, but the wheel kept on turning.


Bathroom Monologue: Paved With by John Wiswell
What is the road to Hell paved with, anyway?

Virg pulled Dan by the wrist until they were out of the woods. It seemed like there was nothing but woods until they set foot outside it, when the road burst into glory. It glittered like gold and platinum, with the intensity of the sun streaming up between the bricks.


Lotion by Paula Johnson
What magic may hide in a little bottle of cosmetics?

Bethany stood at the baggage carousel at New Orleans International Airport willing her suitcase to appear. The last of the passengers were gone, leaving her to stare at the silent metal chute. Here it comes, she thought. Now! It’s coming…now!


Belinda’s Birthday by Petrea Burchard
A story of poignant loss.

Damn hot flashes.

Belinda Marvel rolled over onto the empty Cheetos bag, blowing orange dust in her face. Her pajama pants pinched at the waist. Her stomach growled.


The Old Ways Never Die by Becky Wilson
Where do old religions go? Do they die, or do they carry on?

My work took me to the old Viking city of the north, York. I had been there many times before and each time I always struggled to decide whether it was better or worse. Yet in the sunshine of August my mind didn’t have time to dwell on such decisions. I sipped my hot cappuccino in Starbucks and crossed off another name on my quota.


Fast Folly by Carrie Clevenger
Fast, tightly paced writing, much like the cars that inhabit the story.

I had a tail on the way to my apartment from the office one night.

A black-cherry Mustang in my rearview, twisting through traffic like a head-lit cobra snake, looming there. I cut a quick right, wheels cutting into the pavement when I gunned the engine. It was a strange sensation to see it there: the distance kept immaculate but intimidating.


New View by Kilian Conor
One of Kilian’s exquisite pieces.

No quote for this one, it’s too short. Click through and take a look.


The Saxon Chronicles by Karly Kirkpatrick
Teenage ninjas and unspeakable horrors, mixed up with a German teacher

Sam and Aaron raced through the empty hallways, hoping a hall monitor didn’t stop them to ask for a pass. They’d made sure no one had been looking when they emerged from the doorway under the stairs. The students that passed by were blissfully ignorant of the dangers that lurked beneath their feet.


A New Hobby by T.S. Bazelli
The three voices of fate take on a new challenge, with interesting results.

“Are you not bored, sisters?” Chloe asked.

The triplets sat around the wide table, working away as they’d always done. Asia gently set down a battered pair of shears, a gift from Zeus at her birth. She knew them better than she knew the calluses on her fingers.


The Five Step Plan to Surviving a Merger by David Storey
The future of corporate acquisition, laid bare in all it’s bloodthirstiness.

From the executive office of SGB Enterprises, Gloster had a commanding view of the City sprawling out below him – the Gherkin, Canada Square and beyond, a flawless, April sky. But it was the single, mocking grey hair he’d caught in his own reflection that held his gaze. His first grey hair.


The Shopkeeper Returns by Emma Newman
How does one go on vacation when there is no one to trust? Part of the excellent Split Worlds series.

The tinkling bell above the door made the shopkeeper smile as he returned. The smell of the Emporium of Things in Between and Besides, made new and interesting once more by a day out, released the tension in his shoulders. It was good to be back.


Sanctuary by James Tallett
When the world changes, where do you go for peace?

This was a precious place, a hidden place. This was a sanctuary, a place of peace, a place of joy and of contemplation. For millennia, it stood, hidden away amongst the ferns and trees of the deep jungle. Those who did not know its ways feared it as a strange place, a place of lost time and sudden sadness. They did not understand the gift the sanctuary offered.


The Writer by Jeremy Cai Yixin
A spirit comes to give inspiration, of a most sinister kind.

Today, when I woke up, everything felt different. It was like someone had punched me in the gut and I was feeling the aftereffects. I was also conscious of a strange force choking me to death, distant and strange. But I couldn’t put my finger on what it was; I just knew it was there and that it was real.



by thefourpartland

And here is my entry for the blog carnival. I’ll have a lot of posts up relating to it today, including the carnival itself. In the meantime, enjoy.

This was a precious place, a hidden place. This was a sanctuary, a place of peace, a place of joy and of contemplation. For millennia, it stood, hidden away amongst the ferns and trees of the deep jungle. Those who did not know its ways feared it as a strange place, a place of lost time and sudden sadness. They did not understand the gift the sanctuary offered. Within the bounds of the hidden, there was no time, no disease. Mortal concerns were stripped away, discarded like so much waste.

Those who left the sanctuary arrived in a different time, a different age, and many were struck low by longing, by change. Only a few could withstand the passage of the aeons, but all too often they would be hunted down and placed in a museum, a trophy displayed on a wall.

Those who stayed gambolled and swung under a sunlit sky, living an orgy of passion and fire. Men tossed away memories as if they were old clothes, worn out and needed no longer. Food was bountiful, free and abundant. It was a garden of Eden for all who stayed. They returned to a happier age, freed from the shackles of their mortality.

Once, these sanctuaries had spanned the world. Stone circles, hidden groves, desolate peaks, lost valleys, all had held the charm and the grace of peace and solitude. Now this was the last, a single great oak standing guard, weathered and cracked in its old age.

The sanctuary overflowed with animals and men, refugees from time immemorial. As other groves had fallen, supplicants made their way to this, fleeing that which chased them. Now they lived with the haunted eyes of the doomed, for each had seen their end, and that memory they could not shake.

The dancing was sorrowful, frantic, exotic, for all who spun and gyred knew that each day might be their last. And so the sounds reached higher, the dancers spun faster, the lives burned brighter, as each celebrated. Lovers cried in another’s arms, passion and pain and pleasure, and animals cavorted through the trees, the lion laying down with the lamb.

The sanctuary stood silent now, for all the creatures had gone. The grand old tree lay in pieces, chopped down by an axe. Nary a breeze nor a breath whispered, for the leaves had fallen, and lay on the ground in winter snow. Death had come for them all.



by thefourpartland

Yes, I know it’s been a couple days since the last JNY update, but I’ve been a little busy moving apartments and getting the Blog Carnival off the grounds. Also had to write my piece for that, which will appear tomorrow morning. I’ve been editing Chloddio’s story, also, and am about 1/3-1/2 the way through.

So, Jenny and his crew are running around an alien dropship. Let’s see what they can do.

Tubes hung from the ceiling, hung in vast profusion. They swung as the ship flew, tickling against one another. JNY-35197 stared. Children. The tubes were full of alien children. Not so much a dropship as a cloning factory then. Perhaps that was what command wanted. Jenny shrugged. He had better things to do.

The eleven moved from the creche into the next room. Another charge, another floor up. Near the top now. Two to go? Maybe three. Repeater fire zipped past. Jenny returned, downing one alien, maybe more. Up, up. One more floor. He hoped.

Jenny scanned the room. Command deck. He gestured, and the grunts fanned out, checking down corridors. Rat’s nest of a ship. Damn aliens couldn’t build properly. A wave back, and the infiltrators moved on. The battlesuits couldn’t be far behind. Had to know where the organ replacements were going, had to. A quick jog, checking, always checking.

Nothing. Where was the damn command? Repeaters whirred from the ceiling, opening up on the troops. Ten dived clear, one got the crossfire. Ducking out and shooting got the twin turrets, barely. The edge of Jenny’s armour glowed from a near miss. Guess the cockpit’s that way.

Clank, clank. The sound of battlesuits on hull. Jenny ran, heading towards the cockpit, the others close behind. A blast door. A big blast door. One demo charge. Peeled back the first layer, nothing more. Another. Nope. A third. Getting there. Four? Crap, only two charges left.

The fifth blew threw the door, and repeater fire came through the hole. Jenny peeked. One guard? Easy. A shot and the guard was down, the grunts diving through the hole. Repeaters on the bridge crew, kill them all. Don’t know what they’re doing, can’t trust em. Five humans guard the door, five more scan the consoles, looking for commands.

Built for alien limbs, two humans needed to be at each console to even try and work them. Jenny punched at switches, trying any that might work. Not that. Nor that. Maybe? The ship shuddered. He’d done something.

Repeater shots tore the silence, the grunts unleashing a torrent through the hole. The battlesuits had arrived. A blast shook the door. Great, aliens were trying to throw grenades through. The third made it, but a grunt fielded it in the air and whipped it back. It blew the other side of the hole, taking battlesuits with it. This was ugly. Too many aliens, too few humans.

Jenny hammered the controls. The dropship lurched. A shout. A screen had turned on, looking down. The dropship was plummeting from space towards the planet. Jenny shrugged. It’s what command wanted. All ten grunts fired through the hole, keeping the battlesuits down and back. Ammo would be a problem if they didn’t crash soon.

The planet grew large on the screen, until hills and valleys appeared. Then rivers and streams. The console screamed in alien, and rockets fired too late to stop the impact. Jenny braced. This was going to hurt.



by thefourpartland

The collector is open! Click here to enter your link and view the list of entered links. Remember, you can enter any short story or flashfiction you’ve written. I’ll be putting together a new flash tonight for the carnival.

To tweet your links, please use #WritersCarnival as the hashtag. I’ll be running a search on that and adding any links that weren’t added to the collector.

We’ve got until Wednesday morning to get this off the ground, so please spread it far and wide. I’ll be posting the final set of links sometime Wednesday afternoon.



by thefourpartland

So, this got a decent amount of feedback and comments, so I’m going ahead with it. I will be posting an open collector for the posts Sunday night or Monday morning, and closing it Tuesday night at midnight. Wednesday morning, I’ll post the links to all of the submitted entries. Those who want to do the hosting and the publishing of the blog carnival the next time, please contact me sometime early next week (I’m away all weekend).

Remember that stories posted for FridayFlash or TuesdaySerial are accepted, as are any other stories.

Thanks again for helping to get this off the ground.



by thefourpartland

The next installment in the JNY serial and my FridayFlash. Been interesting writing what’s turned out to be a fun little serial. Still going, of course.

An alien dropship. What the hell. JNY-35167 looked to his left and his right. All along the line, the infiltrator suits were charging. Command gave a reminding jolt. Jenny cursed, and charged, leading the other five organ replacements with him.

Over their head ripped Devastator fire. A dropship exploded, shrapnel tearing into charging humans. Then the light guns on the dropships turned from the Devastators to the infiltrators. Jenny dove for cover. Four left out of forty.

Command barked over the radio, and the organ replacements settled into a fire team overlap, half running forward, other half shooting out turrets and light weapons. That worked. Jenny made it to the base of the dropship. Others arrived, until twenty huddled against it. A demo charge was slapped against the hatch. A blast, smoke, a pause.

Jenny glanced around the edge. Appeared empty. The dropship rumbled. Engines! The organ replacements scrambled for the hatch. Fifteen made it, the last five cooked in engine exhaust. No resistance. Where were the battlesuits? Command hissed, then fizzled. Shielded hull. Not surprising. So no command.

The hole in the hatch showed atmosphere and distance landmass. Flying and not getting shot? Oh. Orders. Great. Jenny gestured and jogged down the corridor, looking for stairs up. He didn’t want to blast through every level, given he had no idea where the cockpit was. A staircase up. The grunts charged, shooting an alien carrying something towards them.

Jenny nudged it with his repeater barrel. Food? A quick check showed the alien had no guns. Another level up. Empty. Another. Empty. This dropship had landed and spit out hundreds of soldiers and juggernauts, and they weren’t all dead. Where were they?

Staircase. Must be halfway through the ship by now. A clink. Shit! Jenny dropped down the stairs backwards. The bang from the grenade echoed in the confined corridor. Found them. Gunfire from behind? A trap. Bugger bugger bugger. Jenny fired up the stairs, hoping those behind could cope. Only way out was up.

His repeater barked, sending streams towards enemy battlesuits. They fell. More came around the corner, laying down fire. Jenny rolled, firing from prone. Another dead. Humans came up the stairs behind him. Winning or driven forward? Half of them were shooting back down the stairs. Being driven. Jenny pointed, sprinting. The last battlesuit went down, and Jenny skidded on the metal plating going round the corner. Organ replacements followed, looking for the way up. He glanced back. Eleven.

Eleven against a dropship. Jenny shook his head and burst down the corridor again. The battlesuits behind were too slow or had broken off. A barricade up ahead, but no suits. Another took point, diving over the barricade. A dull thump, and the grunt stayed down. Mined barricades. Grabbing a demo charge, Jenny slapped it to the ceiling. Going up the fast way.

The humans climbed through the hole, and slapped on another charge. Eight charges left. That should be enough to get to the cockpit. Better pray they don’t have heavy blast doors. Jenny scrambled up and peered about. What room was this?



by thefourpartland

Didn’t write the JNY update I wanted for today, so here’s one from the archives to make up for the missing post.

I am aged. I have known it for quite some time, but it has only occurred to me now to put it down into writing. My mind is not so clear as it was in the days before, and it has taken me longer to frame these words than I would have liked. Still, I felt it imperative that I pass them down to those who would come after, as a word of warning and a word of council.

And please, do not speak false platitudes to my face. I am old, and I know it in no uncertain terms. The first blush of childhood is merely memory for me, while the robust good health of youth resonates only as a pleasant dream. Even the compliance and comfort of advanced middle age is denied to one such as I. It is apparent in my very skin and bones, for they are mottled and loose, hanging where they once stood firm. Thin and frail muscles now command the body of what was once an expert swimmer, and hair that was the pride of my ladyfriends is grey and straggly, and most has long since departed my pate.

As you can tell, I have lost nearly everything, and, although I put these words to the paper with good form and proper diction, it has taken me longer than it would have even five years ago, both because of the physical act of grasping the pen, and the trouble that I take to shape the words. My mind is still active and healthy, but it is declining, and the lucidity is gnawed upon at the edges of the day, slowly shrinking as it takes longer and longer for me to fully arise and come to my senses. There is a suspicion of Alzheimer’s from my doctor, but I tell him it does not matter. At this age, time will claim my body well before that particular disease can claim my mind, and so I do not worry, although I do regret the loss of the memories I make today. I will not be able to hold and cherish them as I would those of five or ten years in the past, ones that are firmly rooted in my head.

That is what they do not tell you about old age, and the blessing and the curse that comes with it. Everyone knows of the body becoming weak and the mind slowly failing, but there is one, and only one, aspect of life that grows sharper and clearer with each passing day. Where once I would have struggled to remember what I had done some two weeks in the past at a particularly exciting dance, I can now recall the events of that evening with perfect clarity, down to the names and the faces of the women with whom I danced.

Unfortunately, this holds equally as true for the days that were bad as the days that were good, and often those that were bad are the ones that spring most readily to memory in a quiet time of contemplation. I can remember the dances that I loved, but I can also remember the sicknesses, the illnesses, the losses of kith and kin. It is a gruesome joke, but I tell myself I will make an itemized list of everything I have lost, and hand it to St. Paul at the gates as proof that I should be allowed to enter. I can certainly recall them better than he, now. One day, perhaps sooner than I like, I will see myself bandying Tehranian street names with the nurse who stands at the side of my bed. I was there sixty some years ago, and I remember them more clearly than I do the food that I had last night for dinner. That, I cannot name at all.

Still, it has brought back the sweet and dear times that I spent with those that I loved, and I had forgotten far too many of them, forgotten to cherish them as I should have. That is the other gift of the aged, and like the memory, it is a blade that can sooth and sting, perhaps in the same quick pass. I can see what has gone before, and realize what I did not do, and should have done, and what I did do, and what I should not have done. But I push that aside, and concentrate on the good things, the pleasant things, that reside still within my memory. The present offers me little, for I am old, alone, with my wife departed and my children scattered across the globe in pursuit of their own lives, and so most days are spent between me and my memory, where they still live, little children seeing the ocean for the first time, dancing and bouncing along a damp sandy spit, too young to do anything but enjoy the scene before them. I think I appreciate that more now than I did then. Or take the time I took my daughter’s hand and marched her down the isle to see her groom, who blushed well more than she did at the ceremony. They are still together, and doing well, and from their last letter, not only am I a grandfather, but I am soon to be a great-grandfather. That news will stay with me, and will not be lost into the ravages of an aged mind, I tell you. I must have them up soon after the child is born, even. There are a few privileges that are bequeathed to those of ancient form, and I take full advantage of them.

As you can see, my mind has already begun to wander a little from the topic of memory that had been the purpose of this epistle, and to force it back to the course would take enough out of me that I would not truly recover the skien of thought. I shall just admonish those who read this letter to think carefully on what it says and what it contains, and to wish me well, wherever I may be.

I bid you adieu, and I go now to seal this with my will.



by thefourpartland

Update: How does Wednesday sound for Blog Carnival day? And I’d like to get theme suggestions in today, so I can put a poll up for the next carnival (the week after next Wednesday).

This is an idea that sprung to mind this afternoon, and was fleshed out by chatting with a few other authors.

What do writers think of a blog carnival for twitter writers? For those who don’t know what a blog carnival is, this is a great example (just click on any week). Basically, each week a blog would have the privilege of hosting the carnival, and provide links (and usually short excerpts) to all those who submitted articles for the week. This drives traffic to multiple blogs and writers, and allows new writers to get their name out there in a simple manner.

To differentiate this from Friday Flash and Tuesday Serial, I would suggest that each week has a theme (or perhaps two themes) around which the stories are written. This theme would need to be announced a week in advance of the submission date. I believe a poll would be the best method, so that writers may choose that which most interests them.

Stories would be of approximately 1000 words, and can also be submitted for Friday Flash or Tuesday Serial. Good stories deserve as wide an audience as possible.

There would also need to be a coordinator for the blog carnival. Much as I like the idea, I won’t have consistent enough internet access over the summer to serve in the role, so someone else would need to be nominated.

For those interested, please comment here, or send me a message on Twitter. I would like to have 5-10 interested authors before starting this up.