One Hundred Word Microfiction.
The one hundred word microfiction challenge was the first one I signed up for during the lockdown of 2021, I was shielding and thus housebound for about four months so I needed to do something to alleviate the monotony of the situation. I sat up until around 4 A.M. waiting for the prompts to arrive, I couldn’t have been happier:
Genre: Sci-fi. (One of my favourite genres)
Action: Switching off a light.
Word: Emerge. (Easy!)
I actually came up with two stories in about an hour but could only use one, the following story is the one I used. It placed sixteenth out of fifteen, garnering an honourable mention.
Manners Maketh Man
“Thank you.” said the switch as the light turned on then off; the people, of course, said nothing.
“Have a great day.” said the vending machine as they waited for breakfast to emerge; again, they said nothing.
The long, snail’s paced grey lines of people stretch back for miles, even longer than the traffic that chokes the city’s arteries like solid steel cholesterol. No words flow, voices stifled behind breathing apparatus. Conversation now long since extinct, colour drained from gaunt framed skin. The only dialogue, the only life comes from the automated services that keep the industry’s human mechanism running.
The next story is the one I rejected in favour of Manners Maketh Man; would it have done better? Who can say? But I’ve included it here as a little bonus.
The weight of eternity presses down this far from home. Every time I emerge from sleep I feel I’m slowly losing the spark those shining stars once instilled in my soul. Out here, drifting past unfamiliar constellations, I feel only time slipping by. I rise from the mattress and catch sight of my reflection. I stand, swaying this way and that, watching as the reflection does likewise with eerie precision. I feel unnerved by this as I switch on the light; perhaps it’s how harshly I wear the years of space travel or perhaps it’s because that window leads outside.
And as a further bonus, here’s a little thing the competitors do in the forums, a Bad Hundred Words Challenge, there’s no points or glory for this, it’s just fun. Here’s the one I wrote for it.
He turned on his science light, which didn’t exist because it was fictitious; thus it was a fiction of a science bulb, a science fiction if you will. Hence we must conclude that this is a narrative of fictitious science and as such is a science fiction story, on account of all the science that is, as we have now established, a gossamer thin veil of a fiction. It may emerge later that the bulb is a mere metaphor for the fragility of a weak plot or perhaps is a weak plot that masquerades as questionable metaphor. Or maybe not.
This brings us to the 2022 Hundred Words. This was a bit more difficult as I was now back at work. The prompts for this were as follows:
Genre: Horror. (My jam!)
Action: Borrowing a book.
I only wrote one for this challenge, it was tough to try to come up with something original so I eventually decided that I would do something a little close to home. This particular story was inspired by my experiences with anxiety.
Illusion of choice
It stands behind me; stale breath inches from my ear, a cold weight ever present.
The bloodshot eye rolls down, then up; the distended, needle lined maw cackles, hyena-like.
“I like this one?”
“No. You don’t!”
Dirt black talons drag across my neck, suggesting punishment for defiance.
“We want this!”
Slender fingers select something horrifically different.
At the desk, the librarian stares daggers through me; the book is scanned and handed back in scathing silence.
“I won’t read this...” I whisper as I leave.
“Of course you won’t!” It sharply hisses. “You never do anything worthwhile!”
Unfortunately, this one didn’t place, although I can understand why that was, it’s written from a very personal angle which might not be so engaging to the reader.
For the customary Bad Hundred Words I came up with this:
“Can I borrow your book?”
“Please? I really need it!”
“It’s in the prompts. Oh, also: Present.”
“Nothing. Just lend me the book for a second!”
“You can take the book; I’m done with it.”
“No, I need to borrow it!”
“I’ll just leave it here for you.”
“Cool, I’ll give it right back!”
“No, you keep it, it was crap anyway.”
“No. I. Need. To. BORROW it!”
“Geez, what’s with your attitude?”
“Would you say you’re horrified by my attitude?”
“No, I’d say you’re being a dick.”
“Now I’m horrified!”
“You’re also dead.”