Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Flash Fiction: Gin and Sin

As always, this is an entry for one of Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges on his website Terrible Minds. This week's challenge was to write short 500 word story named after a cocktail drink. I have to admit, I've never actually had a Gin and Sin, but it was in my Encyclopedia of Cocktails book and I thought the name sounded cool.

Gin and Sin
    “In vino varitas, but hard liquor’ll do in a pinch,”I say out loud to a deserted bar. The name on the outside says The Gin and Sin after the drink. Apparently they make the best mixes in the system, but that’s not the reason I’m here. No, I’m here cause of the three meter long duraglass window, the best view on the whole station. It offers a nice little vista of Mars below and, coincidentally, the desperate orbital battle happening above her.  It’s the perfect place to watch twenty years of Mars independence curl up and die, kicked to death by the jack boots of Earther aggression.
    I pour myself a glass of bourbon three fingers deep as I watch a three Earth destroyers swarm a Mars cruiser, the M.S.S. John Carter by the looks of it, and start hammering her mercilessly. Their railguns and missile ports fire with the accuracy that only AIs smart enough to run entire alcove cities can deliver, spitting out shots that from this distance look like golen glowing fireflies.  She gives as good as she gets, and I see one of the destroyers bank and break away, her bow rent almost completely in twine. It’s not enough though eventually one of the destroyer’s missiles burrows through her armored hull and hit the fusion engines.  There’s a split second where everything stops and the whole world hangs in stillness. Then there’s explosion.
It flares out, a single blinding white flash, silent as the light. Then it goes dim, a desolate slab of metal suspended above the planet, the last and only testament to the dreams and lives of the people who were aboard it.
    Suddenly the station shudders and rocks, after shock vibrations rumbling through the hull. Shit, we’re too far away from the explosion to have been affected. What the hell caused that?
    I swing around as the sound of footsteps breaks me from watching the silent massacre outside to see Lt. Major Dutch at the bar entrance, huffing and out of breath. Even though we’re the same age Dutch always seemed like an old man, even before the war and the last few bitter months haven’t done anything good to his complexion.
    “Major, the Earther marine’s have breached the top parts of the station,”he wheezes out. “We’re evacking to the surface and joining up with partisan forces there. We need to haul as ASAFP.”
    I gulp down my drink and turn back to the bar.
    “Not me Dutch,” I tell him while searching for some more of the good stuff. “I’m tired of fighting a war that can’t be won. It’s time for me to just sit back, get drunk and wait for the end.”
    “So what, you’re just gonna let some jacked up Earther punk take you out like a bitch?”He shakes his head. “Tom that just ain’t gonna happen. Now you can come quickly with me and we can enjoy some quality Olympus Mons brewed rye. Or I can knock your ass out and carry you and you get nothing.”
    I pause only for a second.
    “What year is the O.M.?”I ask.
    “‘Twenty-nine,” he replies.
    I grab an unopened bottl of the gin and hurry to the evac with Dutch. Hell, I don’t even like O.M. stuff, but sometimes you gotta make do with what you got.

Gin and Sin
60 ml/2 fl oz gin
soda water
30 ml/1 fl oz lime juice

Friday, 8 April 2011

Flash Fiction: The New Old Media

Okay so this is a weird one from a weird flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig  ( that gave us a total of 60 unusable stock photos and told us to use them in a story. Although mine doesn't involve the Mona Lisa per say, this photo did get the old noggin cranked into action. So without further ado, here's my entry.

                     The Old New Media
Father Vincent checked over the files once more as he paced about his office.  It just wasn’t possible, he thought. This couldn’t be real, it had to be a hoax. The images he held in his hands showed a young man, early to mid twenties with red hair who was conventionally fairly nondescript. Unconventionally however the man was a freak or a miracle, the good father hadn’t quite made up his mind yet. Photos of portions of the young man’s body showed what looked like tattoos covering nearly all parts of his body. What differentiated him from a typical carnival tattooed man was the fact that the full color images were of a more ...divine nature, showing images of saints performing miracles, of angels descending from the sky in pillars of light and of heavenly vistas whose true glory and magnificence were only hinted at. Not exactly the usual fare for the desecration of the flesh, truly. The most intriguing and indeed unbelievable  part of it was the fact that they weren’t even real tattoos. not ones made of ink at least.     According to the medical report that came attached with the pictures, there were no dyes or inks found in the skin cells affected and it seemed that the markings were caused by a very odd effect of melanin in the epidermis. So far the young man, named Charlie Walker, seemed to be defying medical science and inspiring faith in all who gazed upon him.
    And that was why Father Vincent was about to meet with him. Charlie lived in the priest’s diocese but wasn’t a part of the congregation or even a regular church goer of any denomination. Even still the good father felt compelled to visit him at least once before the Vatican sent their own investigator to attempt to debunk this new...phenomenon. Father Vincent didn’t want to label it a miracle, at least not before he got a good look at it.
    A knock at the door broke him of his reverie.
    “Come in,”he said.
    The door opened and in walked in two young men with similar features and red hair. They were obviously related, brothers more than like, with the younger man, most definitely Charlie absently looked about the priest’s stark spartan room while the older one would occasionally type something on his smart phone. They made quick introductions where Father Vincent learned that the older man’s name was Fenton, was apparently Charlie’s manager and that the pair were indeed brothers.
    There was an awkward silence in the room.   
    “I’ve heard a great deal about you,” Father Vincent said trying to break the ice.
    “Everybody has padre,” Fenton replied, not looking up from his device. “We’re pretty busy these days. Going on Larry King and David Letterman next week.”
    “To be honest father, we’re really only meeting with you because it’s what our aunt Ruth would’ve wanted,” Charlie told him.
    “Ah yes, you mean your aunt who passed away a year ago,”Father Vincent said. “She was a very devout parishioner, her.”
    “Mmm-hmm,” Fenton replied.
    Father Vincent bit down on his lip almost hard enough to draw blood.
    “Do you have any idea of why this has happened to you my son?”he finally asked Charlie.
    “Beats me father,”Charlie said. “I can’t say I’m a real church going man or that I’m really all that holy. All I am is just honored to have been chosen.”   
    “I see. Do you mind taking off your shirt?”
    “Whoa, padre,”Fenton smirked. “He’s a little old for your kind’s taste don’t you think?”
    “Not entirely what I meant,”Father Vincent said. “I meant to see the pictures.”
    “Of course father,”Charlie said while he bared his torso. It was exactly like the pictures except even more breathtaking when viewed in full. The whole of it presented a panorama so awesome in the traditional sense of the word that took his breath away.
    “If you think that’s something then check out the best part,”Fenton said.
    Charlie stuck out his tongue, causing Father Vincent to gasp. Upon it was the blessed virgin Mary was emblazoned there, posing as serenely as if she were drawn by a master painter from the Renaissance.
    It took Father Vincent a long while to fully recover.
    “’re aware that normally these sorts of ...manifestations don’t often affect living people,”he eventually managed to say. “Even similar things like stigmata or miracle workings quite quite rare.”
    “Yep, I checked it out on Wikipedia as soon as it happened,”Fenton said. “A unique little miracle just for the Walker clan.”
    Father Vincent breathed out slowly. He considered himself a patient man, but Fenton’s attitude and arrogance was quickly putting to the test the exact limits of that patience.
    “You’re not a believer are you Fenton Walker?”he asked.
    The older brother looked up.
    “It’s not that I don’t believe padre,” Fenton said, finally putting away his smart phone. “It’s pretty freakin’ hard not to believe in God when this kind of stuff happens to your own kin. What I don’t believe is all of this.” He waved his hand around, indicating the church. “What I don’t believe in is ancient relics and tradition for the sake of tradition. Of having a big bureaucratic organization acting as a go-between the regular Joe Smo’s and God and telling them exactly what to think.
    “You know what this means, padre?”he asked. “This is God finally getting serious about this particular relationship between Him and mankind. This is Him finally realizing that he can’t have a bunch of yahoos in corny robes be His P.R. men in an age where TV, video games and the Internet rule the masses. This is Him throwing out a balls to the wall, take no prisoners style of religion that even the most A.D.D. generation in history can understand.
    “This,” he said pointing to his smart phone,” and this,” pointing to his brother’s back, “are exactly the same thing. A big freaking way new to communicate.”
    “What about faith?”the priest asked. “If God is indeed doing as you suggest, then He’s taking away the entire need for faith.”
    “I don’t think so father,”Charlie spoke. “This is not the first time God’s acted in such a direct way, and I believe that more miracles like this are on the way. Blind faith was invented by the Church when they couldn’t show divine providence while claiming to act as His agents. This is just His way of bypassing the middle man.”
    Charlie put his shirt back on then shook his head.
    “I’m sorry my brother and I were so blunt with you, father. If you wish we’ll meet with the Vatican investigator when he arrives. For aunt Ruth’s sake, you understand.”
    They left without any more parting words and Father Vincent good hear Fenton talking on the phone in the hallway, going over what seemed like the details for a movie deal. The good father reached into his desk drawer, pulled out his bottle of scotch he kept in case of emergencies and poured himself a tall drink. He felt along his neck where his collar pressed against it, and thought good and long about the future.