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My Cot Flash Fiction Marathon Entries

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#1 Offline Space: Ocean of Awe

Space: Ocean of Awe
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Posted Jun 12 2012 - 06:21 PM

These are my COT entries to the Warm Up: Flash Fiction Marathon contest/warmup to the olympic thing (the worst being the ones written on my iPod under my sheets :P). Notice how the varies based on how last minute the story was. Anyways, C&C always appreciated :).Also, you can read/review only a few if you like.Flash Fiction Marathon COT CompilationMember name: Space: Ocean of Awe==========Theme: TreasureWord count: 600Story: Old ParchmentIt used to be that whenever somebody mentioned treasure, I would think of old chests filled with golden coins, buried beneath a temple overseas. Something that existed only in fiction, surely something that I, of all people, would never possess. I never thought, for a moment, that a treasure varies from person to person, that my greatest treasures, sitting in the basement, could be old parchment to someone else.-----I first questioned my views on this issue when I met a cashier by the name of Gray Allen. He worked at the used bookshop down on Wilhelm Street, striking up the most absurd conversations with anyone who would listen. I came by to browse and ended up buying three issues of Treasure Hunting magazine, which I used to collect when I was young.Apparently he collected them too, and was quite eager to point out that this magazine focussed on physical treasures such as jewels or collector's items, which plants the wrong ideas in young minds. As he put it, "I will never forget my eleventh birthday party, when I looked a my stack of presents and realized that nothing I had ever gotten truly mattered to me." I can't help but agree.-----That evening, after reading my magazines, I found no joy in flipping channels, no satisfaction in surfing the web. My friends offered to take me to the mall, but I had no passion for shopping. I picked up a Treasure magazine again, having no other ideas of what to do, and found a page heralding entries for a writing contest. I remembered entering a piece, I even won a free, two year subscription to the magazine. I had Long since given up writing, growing too busy with school, then my job. When I tried to start writing again I had profound trouble keeping my stories flowing, and my plots seemed too cliche.Perhaps this time, I thought, it would be different, maybe all I needed was some time. There’s no harm in trying again, so I did just that. I couldn’t use a computer, I just knew that I would get distracted. Writing by hand was far too slow, and I hadn’t seen any pencils in my house for months. In a bout of what just may be insanity, I concluded that the only medium with which I would follow through was my old typewriter, perfectly preserved from my younger days. It rested in a box, along with all my old stories.I brought the entire box and its contents to my bedroom, where I now sit, reading through my old stories. I remember writing DimentioPen as if it was yesterday, describing in detail how Greg, the protagonist, drew a door in the wall, opened it, and stepped into another country. In Over the Ocean I can almost feel the rocking of the ship, complimented by a terrible case of sea sickness, as the crew rush about trying to stay afloat in this storm.I get ready to start typing, thinking of what Grey, the Cashier, had to say. I would not give up my old stories, nor any stories-to-be, for a room full of diamonds. These words, typed so meticulously on this fading paper, are to me my greatest treasure, Grey Allen, the cashier, was simply the map that led me to it. Just two days ago, I would never believe that treasure lay in a small cardboard box in my basement, hiding beneath the trapdoor of boredom. Now? I find it hard to believe that I haven't opened this box before now.-----I didn’t want to write any old adventure story, and I couldn’t think of any plots involving stuff like “the treasure of life” and whatnot, fortunately I got this idea, and I’m relatively satisfied with the outcome.====================Theme: The GameWord count: 598Story: You'll never get away...“You’ll never get away, you’ll never get away, you’ll never get away, you’ll never get away...” the verses repeat over and over in my head. I can’t stop, I can’t get enough. I open my eyes; darkness. What day is it? Which month? I have to stop, this can’t go on. “You’ll never get away, you’ll never get away...” Will I ever get away?I sit up, pulling off my headset and eyepiece. “You’re wrong, I will get away.” The words just slip out. Of course I’ll get away. I am blinded by the sunlight filtering in through the blinds. My eyes slowly adjust as I turn on my computer. June eighth, 4:37 PM: twenty seven hours since I started the Game, of those, at least three hours spent completely unconscious.Shaky with hunger, stiff from lack of movement, I make my way toward the kitchen. Fumbling with a box of cereal, almost spilling the milk, I am barely able to keep my first bite down. I must stop, it's killing me. I can't keep my mind focussed; it keeps wandering off, obsessing over little things. I can’t eat, the sound of the spoon hitting the bowl drives me crazy. My mind prances off in another direction...is this what it feels like to be insane?The day I first played the Game, I had stood in line for five straight hours and oh, how rewarding to put on that headset for the first time, to feel myself drifting off, and to suddenly open my eyes in another universe, filled with adventure. I could control myself then, I had no trouble removing my headset after an hour to care for my worldly needs: to work, sleep, and eat.I started playing in my free hours, skipping meals, eventually losing my job. Then I heard the news. The government had outlawed the Game, and were searching houses for the console, giving a full refund in exchange for the Game. Anyone who refused was sent to rehab. I couldn’t give mine away, it had become part of my life. It had become my life. When the man arrived at my door, I was ready. I lied through my teeth, said that I threw it away the moment I heard; when he asked to come in, the Game wasn't there. The moment he left, I removed it from the oven and slipped my headset on.My mental and physical state has degenerated. I cannot go a single moment without obsessing over the Game, I haven’t seen daylight for weeks, except through the closed blinds in my bedroom. Can I turn my life around? “You’ll never get away, you’ll never get away...” the song pushes its way into my head.I step outside onto the balcony. Cool air caresses my cheeks, the sun is shining; I haven’t felt this good since I was young, when I had real friends, when I walked in the real world. I peer down from my ninth story apartment, watching people go about their daily lives, oblivious to my dilemma. It almost makes me resent them. I could jump, end it all, never again have to wear that headset. No.I go to my room, picking up the headset, returning to the balcony. The padding on the earphones has almost worn out, and I have developed rashes around my eyes from constant contact with the eyepiece. I will get away. I force my arm over the railing. Before I can change my mind, I drop it, watch it shatter on the ground. I have gotten away.-----A little dark, I suppose, but that’s what I was aiming for. Addiction (unless it’s a mild chocolate addiction) is not generally a light topic. I had many different ideas for this theme, but they didn’t quite fit, and I would have needed a lot more than 600 words. I’ve forgotten them now.====================Theme: Amor omnia vincitWord count: 600Story: The conquest of loveThe politicians faced each other, their loathing could be felt kilometers away, but each wore a false smile for the cameras. They grip each other’s hands in a handshake, the deal was official, all paperwork signed. As they turned away from each other, each was swarmed by cameras, reporters. Each refused to answer any questions.There would be temporary peace between the nations, trading would begin once again, but the enmity could not be more plain, the hate clear as day, black as night. Peace treaties had been made in the past, but never lasted; everybody knew that this would go the same way as all other attempts at peace, torn down as the age old dispute arose. Once again, they were proved right.Protests were blocked at every turn in both nations, the people silenced. These important issues had to be dealt with by the men with experience and power, who 'knew what they were doing'. The war must go on until here was a definite winner. But the people still tried to shout out to the government; peaceful protests had turned to riots as the military interfered, peaceful newspaper articles, columns, and editorials popped up before the authors started going missing.Who started the war, nobody knew. It was said that each side invaded the other on the same day, at the same time. each accused the other, and would not admit to their own treachery. Many believed that the war was a joint plan formed by both nation's leaders.On the day that the war was re-declared for the fifth time, civilians took to the streets en masse, devoid of banners or slogans, no chants or roars, no demands. Just people, millions of them, out on the street as if it was a normal day. No prior organization, each man, woman, and child knew what to do. they marched, together, to the nearest government post.Some walked right into the army base, greeting the soldiers and shaking hands with the generals, thanking them for protecting the country, showing their appreciation at each man's hard work.Others, in the Capitols, walked right into the government buildings, sincerely congratulating their leaders on their performance, thanking them for the service that had been done for the citizens. Informing the politicians that they were no longer needed, that a new senate would replace the old.The largest masses travelled to the border, shaking hands with 'enemy' citizens, showing their love and appreciation of each other, sharing their experiences. Each found that their frustrations were shared, every person felt the same about the war, the government, the politicians.Then, among the crowd, one voice was raised. "Paper, paper-now a pen!" People rushed about, searching for a shred of paper and a pen. A man rose from the crowd, climbing atop a vehicle, to this man belonged that voice. He called for a man or woman from the Other Side to come join him, and when he had company, he spoke once again. "I have with me a pen, a paper, and fellow citizen of the world, and with this I will make peace as no politician can. It is a pen, and not a pencil, so that these words will never be erased." He wrote upon the paper: 'love conquers all, so let it be that love conquers our land.' He then signed his name, and handed the paper to his companion, who signed on behalf of the Other Side.Although the government never admitted an end to the war, the people lived in peace ever after, united under the conquest of love.-----This was terribly last minute, and as a result, the story kind of sucks. I literally wrote this in less than an hour, submitted it, and the next day realized that I still had a whole day to write it XD. If I had known, I would have done my original idea, which goes something along the lines of “love means nothing to a tennis player”.====================Theme: UltimatumWord count: 599 wordsStory: Catch 22I can’t do this. This time, it truly seems that there is no alternative. Countless times, I had escaped tight situations, always choosing the third option when provided two choices. Now, I have no hidden alternatives, no escape from certain doom.Today is the last day to dawn on one Earth colony. It’s up to me to decide which. If I press the button, a planet, ridden with countless terrestrial immigrants, will be destroyed. If I refuse, my own colony will meet the same fate. If I tell anyone about this, we are all doomed.I received the the transmission from Earth via Quantum Communication at 1713 hours. The New Terrestrial Government, founded by the three Corporations, needed their people to remain on Earth, they couldn’t lose them to the colonies. I was assured that everybody would believe it to be an accident, an impact from an enormous asteroid, that brought about such a catastrophe.Why somebody would do this, how somebody could be given so much power, is beyond me. Is the economy more important than the people? Is that really their reason, their justification, for destroying an entire planet?Find the third option. There is almost always a third option. Almost always. I look around the small room they had put me in; there, surrounded by buttons and switches, is the Button. They had offered me a generous share in the Market if I pushed the button, I would be one of the richest people in the Galaxy; I know some people who would take that opportunity, no matter the consequences. I’m not one of them, and I can’t decide whether that’s good or bad. It would certainly spare me this dilemma, but I don’t want to imagine myself with so much power, so many riches, at the expense of billions of lives.Other than the small panel of buttons, a telephone, and a door, the room is bare. I can’t escape: that would mean the destruction of my home world. I can’t press the button: that would be the end of so many lives. I wasn’t told what the other buttons do, but I can’t risk pressing them. There is too much at stake.“Why can’t you do this yourselves?” I don't expect an answer. Then the telephone rings. I have never used a telephone. It rings again, I don’t know how to. I pick it up on the third ring, putting the curved part to my ear, as I have seen people do in 2D photographs. I hear a voice, edged with the slight inconsistency of an artificial tone, on the other end. “We cannot be held responsible, should anybody realize the truth.” I hang up the phone.Why would it be an artificial tone? There must be something that I’m missing, some little bit of information, that would make this all make sense. I think of all those countless conspiracies that I had seen on the Entanglement before it was was censored; perhaps they were not so far off after all. I remember one, which claimed that the Government designed an Artificial Intelligence to manage the economy, but had lost control over the AI, which gained control over the military, among other sectors. Of course. Perhaps there is a third option after all...I pick up the phone and press numbers at random. To my astonishment, the call connects. I speak. “Would you mind asking the Government what their military has been up to?” I walk out of the room. There is nothing more to do. If this fails, we were all doomed anyways.-----I’m hoping to expand on this sometime, it might make an interesting political sci fi story. I was originally going to do something about how this theme was like an ultimatum (because I was having a lot of trouble thinking of an idea), but the way I wrote it was terrible.====================Theme: Character storyWord count: 484Story: The camp doctorSitting at night at the foot of his bed, sometimes staring glassily at the tattoo of the crowned wolf, other times gazing blankly at his hats, which rarely left the small trunk filled with his belongings. Each day was a struggle: awakening to dawn's persistent rays, he would coax himself out of bed, force himself to meet the hopeful expressions of his patients, cower at the sad faces of their families.He would drag himself into that tent, feel the odor of death, pain, and misery wash over him as he took that single step from freedom into a living grave, awful beyond words, something no one should ever experience; a very crime unto humanity. This was the hospital of the refugee camp at which he worked, served, as a doctor. The people being treated had fled from someplace, escaping terror and exploitation, hoping for something better; if only they had known what awaited in these camps.It was his job to keep these people alive; nothing more, nothing less, but despite his desperation to escape from this awful reality, to hide away in his room until the sun rose mercilessly the next morning, he would sit at the children's beds, keeping them company when they had no one. Pulling up his sleeve, he would tell stories about the wolf with a crown, on occasion he would even put on a show of hats for his younger patients.Every night he would pray that the injection would cure, that the surgery would not fail. Every day he would watch patients grow thinner, see those once hopeful eyes full of despair, confront the concerned families, laden with bad news.Within three of his thirty nine years on this planet, he had seen, heard, and smelled more than any man should in three lifetimes. If not a man, woman, or child died in a week, it was extraordinary. If a month went by without a death, it was a miracle. With every child who died he felt a stab of pain, yet he had developed a strange apathy toward the family as they cried over their lost kin. How would they feel in his shoes, where his very life was death? If he cried over every child lost, as he did in the beginning, there would be nobody to care for the survivors. They thought that they had lost all hope? Try facing a child's mother, father, brother, after a failed surgery. Try confronting the hopeful families of hopeless cases, day after day, week after week, month after month.Despite the everyday horrors of his occupation, the relief felt after a successful surgery, the elation of bringing good news to a recovering refugee's family, and the hope that one day, these people would escape the bindings of this cruel reality, pushed him through each day, week, month, of the selfless existence of a refugee camp doctor.-----A last minute entry, not entirely satisfied, but I don’t think it was too bad, though perhaps a little depressing. I was going to do something concerning the Doctor (like Doctor Who), but the age would have been just a little off...====================Theme: PreparationWord count: 555Story: Home“Prepare for the storm of the eon - when mountains will be moved by great continents of ice, when the howl of a hurricane is no more than breeze, when baseball sized hale is considered microscopic - trust not your belongings to the cellar, for their very foundations will be ripped from the ground; trust not your money to the safest bank vaults, for every last credit will be scattered like leaves in an autumn wind. When the time comes, be prepared to escape from this turbulent world - prepare yourselves for the journey, homeward bound, that we have planned for centuries - to reunite with our fathers, to touch the soil where it all began: Earthward bound!”I switched off the newsfeed. Of all the ridiculous things these people advertise - the destruction of a colony? Though I suppose this isn’t exactly your average colony composed of either deported criminals, scientists, or voluntary citizens - this was rather accidental.Long before I was born, a starship full of scientists, astrophysicists, and miners travelled to a distant star to mine a planet composed entirely of precious stones and invaluable metals. The scientists came because the planet was located just within the goldilocks zone, and their fancy observational equipment hinted toward the possibility of sustaining terrestrial life. They were quite correct: 90% of the surface was covered with water, a perfect atmosphere...and a massive planet just next door.Once dispatching a landing pod to explore our planet, the scientists were unable to return to the mothership due to the terrible tides and extreme storms. Rescue missions were unsuccessful, and half the crew of 1713 was marooned on this planet, an involuntary colony. Generations later, we are preparing to say goodbye to this paradise we have created.-----Crowds walked into the grand airships, which would soon transport the involuntary colony out of the atmosphere, fueled by the storm. I can’t help overhearing one young boy badgered his grandfather with questions: “granddaddy, what will Earth be like?”The man, much aged since the spice stores were depleted, replied to his grandson. “Absolutely gorgeous. The cities were incredible, buildings as tall as the waves, but they would yield to the endless, untamed wilderness. I never ventured outside the city gates, but the holograms were just incredible. You will love it, I’m sure.”I still can’t believe that after all this time, we are just leaving; I can only hope that we return within my lifetime.-----Every airship prepared for liftoff, every seed discovered on the planet stored away, every passenger in their seats; we are ready to leave. The atmosphere left behind, these airships would provide a constant propulsion toward Earth. Though the journey would take thousands years traveling just below the speed of light, we will be asleep until our arrival.The storm is at its peak: though we can’t feel it, we can see and hear it on our screens, our cities being plucked from the ground, which is swallowed up in tsunami kilometers high. The cameras switch off. Nothing left of our brief, yet well established civilization. Everything we worked for, gone.-----We all crowd to the viewports, trying to catch a glimpse of our new home. Where are those cities that covered the continents? Where are those great forests, the oceans?Where is planet Earth? Gone.Time to return home.-----This was ridiculously last minute. I had to think of an ending in two minutes, so it’s a little scarce, however I may elaborate on this idea.====================Hope you enjoyed them. Nothing has been changed apart from a few misspellings/typos (that were pointed out by the built-in proofreader).=)

Edited by Space: Ocean of Awe, Jun 13 2012 - 03:40 PM.

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#2 Offline Mel

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Posted Oct 31 2012 - 11:00 PM

Official Short Stories Critics Club Charity ReviewHi there! I'll be reviewing three of your short stories. Let's get started, shall we?"Old Parchment"As someone who has to write out all of her stories by hand (sadly, I do not own a typewriter), I appreciate. Treasure doesn't have to be precious jewels and I like how lots of people, including yourself, took a more metaphorical look at this.

It used to be that whenever somebody mentioned treasure, I would think of old chests filled with golden coins, buried beneath a temple overseas. Something that existed only in fiction, surely something that I, of all people, would never possess. I never thought, for a moment, that a treasure varies from person to person, that my greatest treasures, sitting in the basement, could be old parchment to someone else.

I think you could have left this paragraph out. It doesn't say anything that you don't show later, and it makes your story read more like a narrative essay. Not that there's anything wrong with narrative essays, but I assume you were trying to write a short story here. It would be much more advantageous to start your story in media res with the conversation with Grey Allen. Then you can go through the main characters experience as they come home and realize that they need to right stories again.Secondly, the title. I'm not sure "old parchment" is appropriate; parchment calls to mind something much more ancient. "Old Sheet of Paper" doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but I'm sure you can figure something out. :P"You'll never get away..."This is how I felt when I got caught in the internet this evening. :/ The draw of another world is powerful, and your classic take interested me. However, considering the characters situation, I did not feel like any of his/her feelings came through. He/she was far too logical for someone at the end of his/her rope.

My mental and physical state has degenerated. I cannot go a single moment without obsessing over the Game, I haven’t seen daylight for weeks, except through the closed blinds in my bedroom.

He/she sounds like a computer, not a person who is hungry and tired and exhausted and can not longer tell reality from fantasy. This brings me to the point of narrative bias. First person narrative is going to have a severe bias because that is how the character comes through. (It's pretty hard to write for that reason.) The narrator here won't think in exposition just for the readers' benefit, they are in the world right now and it is happening around them."The Camp Doctor"I see a potential in the first paragraph. We have a setting that seems rich and varied, but then all at once it becomes vague. I'm not asking you to build an entire world here, but how about some more details? Details are what make a story come alive; they feed the reader's picture of the narrative. Instead of telling us about the doctor's experience, why not show him walking among the sick, or performing a surgery? This who story has no dialogue, and as a consequence it feels like one big exposition that I don't need. I don't feel emotionally invested in it.This brings me to one of the trends I saw throughout your stories. You feel the need to explain as much as possible to the reader in what words you have. You're never going to be able to do that in Flash Fiction. Flash Fiction gives you an opportunity to give your reader a glimpse of a world. Trying to explain the entire situation will only waste words that could otherwise be used to bring life to your prose.I apologize if this may have come across as harsh. You have a variety of interesting ideas here, and your writing is solid. You just need to learn to avoid explaining everything. Keep writing, and have a Happy Halloween. ^^
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