Monday, May 24, 2010

Dark Valentine's "Through A Lense Darkly" Flash Fiction Contest

I always enjoy photo story prompts, so we've put another one up at Dark Valentine. We're looking for flash (under 1000 words) inspired by the photo. Here's all the info.

We don't pay for the stories published on the site but Dark Valentine is a paying market for stories published in the magazine. Our first issue will be available in mere weeks, but we're open for submissions to issue #2 now. Here's a link to our guidelines. Dark Valentine is looking for any sort of dark fiction--you pick the genre.

Monday, May 17, 2010


For Needle Magazine's first Flash Fiction Challenge-

This links back to all the stories.


“No…go ahead.”

When the Apocalypse comes, it’s going to look twice as pretty in L.A. That’s the way Chet figures it. The smoke from the September brush fires have commingled with the smog and the setting sun, to make the most amazing collage of red, pink, gray, and…what’s the word?

Dennis moans, “Where’s my lucky vein?” as he flicks his left arm hard with his right middle-finger. “Are you sure you don’t wanna go first, Chet?”

“Ha. No, it’s your money, your stuff and your rigs. You get dibs.”

Dennis finds the well-worn vein and inserts the needle perfectly, in a manner that would make a hematologist envious. The plunger goes down and Dennis goes up, seeking the troposphere and beyond.

Red, pink, gray, and…damn it, what’s that word? Chet went out with a girl whose name was the same as the color. “Mauve,” that’s it. Chet digs Dennis, a bit of bonhomie, good company, and plenty of China White. Denny is a trust fund brat and as everyone around the way says about Dennis, “you can’t spell ‘trust fund brat’ without ‘r-a-t.’”

Still, Chet knows better. All junkies are self-centered assholes, only they are too spaced out to notice it. His friend may be moody to the point of psychotic episode every other hour, but he sure as hell doesn’t steal or screw you for your share when you pitch in for a buy. Jesus, he even paid for this posh hotel room off of Sunset Boulevard. Nothing is better than get your fix on without having to worry about being rolled or killed while you are floating.

“Hey, Chet? You and me are cool, right? We’re tight, yeah?”

“Better than brothers, better than family.”

“So, if the shit hits the fan and we got front row seats, can I count on you?”

“I'm down for whatever, Denny.”

“That’s all I wanna know, man,” Dennis says with a smile. He rises as best as he can, considering his condition. He reaches into an armoire drawer, pulls out a 9mm, and chambers a round. The next fifteen seconds seem like an eternity, as Chet tries to extricate the pistol from his unsteady volatile companion.

“Chill out, man, I was trying to give it to you.”

“Okay, it’s okay, Dennis.”

“No…it’s not okay. They are after me, I can feel it.”

“No one is after you, that’s the stuff talking.”

“No, it’s not the drugs, they really are after me. You’ve known me only for six months. It’s time for them to take me away…and if they do? I won’t survive, man. The things that they do to me? It’s crap that even the CIA would frown upon, guy. I’d rather be water boarded with my nuts attached to four car batteries. I…you don’t, you don’t wanna know. Truly, man, truly.”

Dennis turns even paler, which is quite an accomplishment considering he is already as close to a cadaver as humanly possible.

“All right, man, what do you want me to do?”

“You put three in me…don’t let them take me alive. What they have planned for me is far worse than dying slowly from a gut-shot wound.”

Dennis weeps and Chet embraces him, and nods. “You got it.”

Not that far away, the old man sits down at the front of The Ivy Restaurant. He has on an Edwardian suit, replete with a cane and white gloves. The thin black man across from him peeks out from under his sunglasses and mentally muses that all his elderly counterpart is missing is the ascot. But it’s too hot for ascots, and for perfunctory bullshit.

“Mister Minter, I presume. You can call me ‘Cryptic.’” He offers a handshake, but the old man refuses.

“If we are to do business, I will know your proper…”

“No, Mister Minter. The less we know about each other, the less that can be used as leverage against us by the law. Do you know where he is?”

“He’s at a boutique hotel off of Sunset.”

“Well, then by all means, give me the envelope under the table.”

Mister Minter discretely hands it to him and Cryptic takes the money, and fans it. He runs a counterfeit marker across them, and then tucks the money in his jacket.

“We’ll take my vehicle, Mister Minter.”

“Hold on,” Mister Minter says as he takes off his gloves to reveal burned hands. “Be forewarned, he can be resourceful.”

“So can I, Sir, so can I.”

Chet is happy. He’s forgotten Dennis’s troubles and he’s found his own happy niche. They are both passing up the stratosphere and orbiting with the satellites, zero gravity. The door swings open with a thump and a bang. There’s a thin black man with a shaved head pushing a laundry cart. It’s Cryptic and he has on a bellhop uniform, but no bellboy moves with that kind of speed and determination.

Chet rises as if he’s been jolted by defibrillator paddles. He stands up to the oncoming challenge and he panics, because he can’t remember where the gun is…until he realizes that it is in his hand. He points it at Cryptic and pulls the trigger.

Only there is no trigger to pull. The gun is out of his hand and pain shoots through Chet’s now-broken wrist. He tumbles to the ground in agony, and that agony is doubled as he hears his friend’s ear-piercing scream.

“Don’t let them do it, Chet! Don’t let them do it! Kill me, Chet, fuckin’ kill me! I would do the same for you, end it! Fucking end it!”

Chet crawls towards the pistol, only to have Cryptic kick it away. He is rewarded for his efforts with a stomp to his left hand. Cryptic picks Dennis up and body-slams him into the laundry cart. Chet lies on the floor, helpless and in pain. His friend is carted out into the hall and he can hear one last cry, “Fucking kill me, Chet. Don’t let them put me in rehab. Not fucking rehab!”

The End


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Best Of: "B*tch"

Some of you have read or even heard this story, and some of you haven't. The title is "Bitch" and I guarantee that whatever your initial impression is of the title or the story, you are completely incorrect. In a reversal, I'm going to do this differently. I won't repost the story in its entirety on this blog, and I'm going to list the audio version first. It's on Seth Harwood's Crimewav podcast, and it was produced by the great Aldo Calcagno.

We're talking Episode #26: First comes "Beer" by David Price and then "Requiem of Wind And Rain" by James C. Clar. My story kicks in right around 25:11.

Or if your computer/Internet device can't play podcasts, you can read the original version at Powder Burn Flash.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Needle Magazine First Flash Fiction Challenge

I'm beginning to think that Steve Weddle is a cyborg, when does he stop?

Now he has a flash fiction contest going, and the first prize is...'re going to have to read on-

Let’s have us some flash fiction up in these parts.

Come up with a flash fiction story of no more than 1,000 words.

The story MUST have a needle in there somewhere, somewhere. Phonograph. Tattoo. Syringe. Knitting. Don’t care, but ya gotta have a needle.

Post a link to your story by MAY 18 (that’s a Tuesday, folks). If you don’t have a home for your story, we’ll find a spot for it around the innerwebs somewhere.

We’ll start the linking up here on that day.

That Friday, we’ll randomly pull someone’s name outta the hat and give away a NEEDLE T-SHIRT. (You can get a mug instead if you don’t wear shirts.)

That’s the random part. We’ll also look through the stories to see whether anything might be a good fit for the summer issue of NEEDLE, expected out around the first of July. If it seems like a fit, we’ll chat about it.

Are you in?

If so, post in the Needle Blog's comments and we’ll get this thing rolling.

Thanks and have fun.

Clickety-click the green here for the details.

Monday, May 3, 2010


This is for the "Sweet Dreams Flash Fiction Challenge" by Patti, Aldo and Gerald.

This is one of the few bars left in San Francisco that has a jukebox that still takes change and still plays vinyl, and that's why I love this hole-in-the-wall.

Did I say "hole in the wall?" Yeah, there’s that too, from where Jay slammed an unruly drunk into the corner, just right past the last booth. That was last week, and he just duct-taped a plastic sheet over it this morning and called it "fixed."

What I don’t like here is Annie Lennox in the blue dress.

She’s not Ms. Lennox herself, but close enough that David Stewart would want to start a reunion tour with her. She has played “Sweet Dreams” ten times in a row, which is about four times too many even for a Eurythmics fan, which I am not. She has on a $400 electric blue dress, yet the nail polish on her fingers and toes is chipped. She never strays far from her raggedy purse, but that’s to give her .40 caliber Glock a reassuring (and what she believes to be discreet) pat.

She is from the Pamela Anderson School of Acting, with her ersatz twitches and faux withdrawal symptoms. She might use many things, but I doubt she uses meth, coke or heroin. Everything about her, including her high-end salon dye job, clashes with these surroundings, and who she is supposed to be. Jay will see through this right away, and he will bypass slamming her into the wall for cutting her up in the basement.

“It’s gonna be awhile. Jay went to the bank to get change…so you might want to go somewhere else,” I mention.

"Do you know when he's going to be back?" she asks firmly. She's trying to seem braver than she feels, and I used to be scared like her, too, but that was more than a lifetime ago.

I swirl and sip my shot glass of rotgut like it’s fine cognac as I say to her, "He's not holding today."

"That's not why I'm here," she blurts.

"So you're here to meet a date?"

“No,” she says with the all the warmth of Finland in February.

“Then you’ll probably want to go where you’ll find one.”

“Are you the owner?” she demands.

“I’m just watching the joint for him,” I mumble, and shake my head. She sizes me up for the first time and sees an old barfly in a denim outfit that’s older than she is. She looks away and instantly writes me off…big mistake.

“Then pour yourself a glass of ‘Shut The Fuck Up.’”

I pour myself another shot and I say, “Noroc!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means ‘to your health’ in Romanian.”

“You’re weird.”

“My dear, I’ve been the same that I’ve always been…it’s the times that have gotten stranger. If you live long enough, though I don’t see this happening, you will come to realize this too.”

I close the distance between us and her eyes widen as I get closer, then they go blank. Her mind is…malleable, though not enough to get her to leave this place. I sniff around her and I was right; other than her beauty, she lacks that certain something. Jay enters the bar and the sunlight from the door snaps her out of it.

“I’ll see you sooner than both of us would like,” I whisper, but her attention is already completely focused on Jay. He has that effect, and we both want Jay…for the wrong reasons. This time he’s not alone; he has some psycho named “Daily” with him. I don’t know how that sociopath got his name, but I’ve seen him stab people over $5 bets. The Lennox clone, a.k.a. Officer Newcomb, has arrested him before, yet she unfortunately doesn’t recognize him.

I leave this bar and maybe I leave my conscience there, too.


I have lived a long time, a lot longer than my apparent age and longer than you can imagine. Still, I have just thimbleful of wisdom to show for all that time. So I have to work hard at most things, just like anyone else…sometimes, more so. It would be easy for me to leave Officer Newcomb to her death in the basement, because all I want out of the equation is Jay and saving her would jeopardize that.

As I slip in behind them, she trembles with her own gun being jabbed into her head by Daily. Being a coward, he has blindfolded her. All the better to do what needs to be done, which should lessen the need for no unnecessary explanations later on. Daily is easy to subdue, Jay…much less so, though I knew that going in. I leave Officer Newcomb still trembling down in the basement; she’ll come around, though I don’t know if she will ever recover.

As for Jay, my rare AB+ treasure, I have to figure out how to get him out of the building without being seen. I wish I could explain everything to Officer Newcomb. How we don’t run around in tuxedoes with our hair slicked back, and we sure as hell don’t fucking glitter. But I have no faith in her intelligence, because she came into a place like this without wearing a wire or having any backup. So I doubt that she would ever understand the ways of the Nosferatu.

The End

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I was wrong, there will be another Writing Quote from Michener

These quotes came from The Creative Screenwriting Weekly Newsletter.

"To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make."

- Truman Capote

"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions."

- James Michener