Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Grow (1061 words)

No one had to tell her that everything was about to change. She had seen the doors slam open, the same as the rest of them. She had heard the shouting, when no one in that room should have lacked the grace or tact it took to keep their voices down. She had watched the negotiations fall apart from the hallway, the knowledge of it crawling up inside her marrow when she should have been blind behind the walls, unaware and quietly anxious over everything until the official statements were made.

No one had to tell her anything, and she didn’t have the time to wait anyway.

She reached for Alcide’s hand and pulled time to a stuttering stop.

He stared at her instantly, but she had to shut her eyes, focusing on smoothing the repeating moment. It was always so hard, yanking them back a fraction of a second and letting it play, them yanking them through the same fraction again. Too long a fragment, and she would make herself sick, watching the people around her shudder in the same motion, over and over. Sounds repeated, hitched, and stuck in tones that didn’t belong to anything or anyone. If she could shorten the repeating moment enough, it would be hard to hold, but people would just freeze and the air would just hum in uncertain harmonies.

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Take Advantage (768 words)

On the hottest day of the year, the skirt of my red dress flutters against my thighs in the breeze manufactured by the fan. I’ve already thrown every window open, and shoved boxes against all the doors to keep them from closing on what little air presses through the apartment. I don’t sit, because the chair holds too much heat against the back of my legs. I’m wearing that little red dress because it’s the only thing in my closet that I can put on and forget that I’m wearing, all light fabric and short skirt that doesn’t know how to cling.

I shut my eyes and I bathe in the air off the fan, and I listen to the kids playing down the street, echoed and faint under the machine hum just beneath my window. There’s a bird somewhere who likes the heavy sunlight well enough. There’s a sigh and rustle that might be a bold breeze, if I can believe that there is such a thing on a day like this.

I know that it’s hot enough, and in a moment I’m going to close all the windows and turn off the fan, but I’m not quite ready yet. I’m not going to like the hug of the hot, dense air, and it’s going to get too tight when I decide it’s time to use it. I decide, without deciding, that I’ll stay as I am for a moment longer.

One moment passes.

Then another.

And I’m sighing at myself. Because it’s the hottest day of the year – the only day I can be sure that I will get this to work – and I’m wasting it.

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: We’ve Done This A Couple Times (818 words)

She waited until the cop passed the lightpost and rounded the corner to step up behind her and put a hand to her throat and a knife to her ribs.  It was a stupid way to make friends. Stupid had not been working out well for Nicole lately, but that only meant that her good luck was overdue. From the way the cop shifted in her grip, leaned forward and braced herself tentatively against Nicole’s hand, Nicole’s luck was stuck up a tree somewhere. Or had stopped for a latte.

“This isn’t a good idea,” the cop said calmly.

“This a freaking terrible idea,” Nicole said, just as evenly.

The cop eased back, taking the light pressure off Nicole’s hand immediately.

“I need your help,” Nicole said.

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Gwendoogle Part LXXXVIII – Thanksgiving and the Question of the Alternate Universe

GwendoogleAnswers served with a little luck

Kate Kearney searched: Quick, will you help me procrastinate?
Absolutely. What do you think Gwendoogle is for? Just go make yourself a snack and come on back.

Watch this video: Bad Lip Reading – Catching Fire

Play this game: Mahjongg Dimensions

And consider the best way to built a stable bridge, castle, and tower out of old socks.

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Gwendoogle Part LXXVIII – Writing, Writing, Something about a Horse, and more Writing

Gwendoogle

Answers served with a pervading sense of seriousness. Except for that thing about the horse.

Kate Kearney searched: What are three things that surprised you about your writing?
I’ve been writing for a long time, and been comfortable in it in the way someone is comfortable walking. It feels natural, and the only time the roll and bump of it feels anything but thoughtless is when I’ve gone a very long time without it (or when I try to do something that is actually well beyond my ability, but we won’t talk about that for now).

So, when I get surprised, I get bowled over.

Like when I was fourteen, and one of my best friends handed a book I’d written to his mother, and she out-of-the-blue informed me that she’d liked it, and that it reminded her of Bruce Coville (a real published author in my library!), not that it was “a nice try”.

Like when I realized that somewhere I had grown up and stopped writing about things that I wished could exist, and started poking things that actually scared me with fictional sticks in that legendary attempt to understand them.

Like when I lost my writing time to an all-consuming job that I was proud to hold down, and realized that I actually needed that time. Not because I liked it, but because I operated better with it.

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Gwendoogle Part LXII – Analyzing, Moving, Inventing, Avoiding, Explaining, Breaking

Gwendoogle

Answers served with approximately fifty percent helpfulness and fifty percent sass

Kate Kearney searched: How do you know what matters in a story? Will there be a quiz at the end?
What matters in a story is the thing that turns Grandpa’s fish story into a story about the confluence of patience and chance and skill and luck, and the desire to force those powers into alignment again.

What matters in a story is that thing that makes the Iliad into a story about anger, the kind that you have the right to carry when the powers don’t give you your due, and what you don’t have the right to do when you’re angry.

What matters in a story is that thing that makes Romeo and Juliet the villains in their own tragedy.

What matters in a story is the thing that makes both Katniss and Cato victims of a world gone wrong, and might even make Cato the more pitiable of the two for all the life that was stolen from him.

And yes, there will probably be a quiz.

It might be administered by a professor, who wants you to know three themes the author discussed, the metaphors they used to reinforce them, and why they matter.

It might be given by your best friend, who wants to know if you noticed her favorite character and that one awesome line that ties the whole plot together for her.

It might just be given by yourself, as you flip through trying to remember where that one scene was with the dragon explanation for life on earth…

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Gwendoogle Part XLI

Gwendoogle

Answers served: three-hundred sixty-six and counting…

Flip the Otter searched: What are three parallel universes I should be careful about avoiding and how do I get to them?
It should be noted that the first time I read this question, I thought you were asking for three very bad ideas, just so you could accomplish them.

Tobuscusfollowhimheknowtheway

I see now that you were asking how to get to these universes, so that you could avoid any accidental entrances. Usually, I would just give a blanket statement about avoiding dark alleys, glowing doorways, and any trail, hole, or cave frequented by talking animals. The following universes deserve a special warning however:

1. Any universe where your parents were never born, never met, or never gave birth to you. If I’ve learned one thing from Science Fiction, it’s that these worlds are full of either Social Awkwardness or Emotional Trauma, and nothing good comes from experiencing them. I doesn’t do you any good to know that your mother will give your name to her dog, if she doesn’t actually have you.

You get to this world through Rifts in the Space/Time Continuum (never Tears in Time and Space, though they sound like the same thing to me…). Stay away from aliens who can have anything they want with a snap of their fingers, and malfunctioning space ships.

2. Reality. Don’t stop reading. I’m talking about that universe where your life is just a movie set, and everyone in that world thinks that you are the actor who plays you. It’s unnerving. It’s unsettling. It’s enough to make you lose your lunch, when you realize that you can’t even survive in that world, because you don’t know how to play yourself in front of a camera. Nothing is more humiliating than being fired from that job.

Don’t jump through windows with glowing sigals on them. Don’t take doors that weren’t there thirty seconds before. Don’t fall asleep. (Good luck.)

3. The World Populated Entirely By Shrimp. All of its charms get old inside three seconds. You’ll tire of it very quickly.

The only way I’ve heard of getting there is riding piggy-back on an unspeakably powerful and unbearably ancient being. ShrimpWorld is probably the least of the reasons against taking that ride, though.

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Flash Fiction: Jump (703 words)

“So, just tell me,” Harry said. Leaning back in his chair, he took a deep breath. “What do you need to be comfortable saying yes?”

Shereth looked up fast, like the question surprised her. She had her arms crossed on the table, shoulders hunched while she read the papers and tablets in front of her. She blinked at him, then looked right back at the papers and let out a heavy breath. “Gee, Harry,” she murmured. “I dunno.” And she flicked her eyes up to his one more time, mouth tipped in half a smile.

Harry signaled the waitress for another drink.

“You’re offering me a job,” Shereth said. She shifted the top page, sharply to the side and tilted her head at the page underneath. “Your job. Which for some reason you don’t want anymore. Probably something to do with your fiance being convinced it will get you killed one day.”

“Not killed…” Harry corrected.

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Wednesday Serial: Construct (Part XIX)

construct

Kelsey slid the next sheet with its set of symbols toward Lizzie. Arms folded in front of her, Lizzie watched them come across the table and didn’t move. They weren’t simple patterns anymore, each symbol made up of half a dozen pieces that changed or shifted between each one in the line. She could figure out what came next – though it would take a her a while – but she simply didn’t care anymore.

Lizzie looked at the clock in the corner. She had thirty-five more minutes in this room, according to the schedule.

Kelsey glanced at the clock as well, following her line of sight. “Bored?”

Lizzie smiled wryly. “That’s one word for it.”

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Wednesday Serial: Construct (Part XVIII)

construct

Lizzie was thinking. Ethan watched her do it, with her eyes down toward the papers in her hand, but sometimes shifting off the page. She was too still, sitting in the extra chair by his desk. She usually had a slow grace in the way she moved, but this was tension. She sat absolutely still, as if she could give her thoughts more freedom to run around her if she kept her elbows and toes tucked out of the way.

She’d been thinking for days, and Ethan couldn’t blame her. His own mind felt too full, and he was exhausted from all the running it had been doing.

“Will it help to say it out loud?” Ethan asked her.

She looked up from the folder in her hand, caught him looking at her over the top of the papers he was comparing. She considered the question. “Muttering to myself might feel good. I’m not sure it would help.”

Ethan smiled. “Don’t knock it until you try it.”

She laughed quietly. Ethan liked the sound of it. It had been a rare enough sound that week.

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