I’m Gonna Live in a Mansion

In baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Luckily though, my mom and dad didn’t count the three disasters that happened in Japan as strikes against my decision to live and work here. If they had, I’m positive they would have benched me with no hope of letting me leave the safety of baseball’s birth place: my home country of America.

Nope, they counted them as fouls. For those of you not versed in the intricacies of Japan’s favorite adopted sport, it takes four fouls to make an out. I only had three and was therefore still in the game.

Like many, I felt the urge to travel the world during my time wandering the halls of higher education, nose in a book, glancing up only to see if any girls were checking me out (sadly, not that many). I had that “itch” to escape the bonds of what I knew and immerse myself, both body and soul, into a whole new paradigm. Life needed clarification, and a journey away from the familiar appeared to be the best way.

Why I chose Japan as the lens that would focus my life is a rather lengthy story. In short, it’s a tale filled with anime, manga, and the influence of a girlfriend in college who just happened to be Japanese. (See? At least one girl was checking me out.) But manga, anime, and my Japanese girlfriend aren’t the three fouls I’m talking about here. Nope. What I’m referring to is completely different, and definitely not what I had expected.

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Flash Fiction: Home Never Leaves You

I never truly understood my hometown’s role in shaping my life. Yes, I was born there, romped in its grassy fields as a wide-eyed child, stumbled through adolescence in the halls of high school, and fumbled my first kiss under a spreading oak. Yet, even with all of those grand events displayed on memory’s mantel, I never fully comprehended the depth of my hometown’s hold on me—not until the day I viewed it after returning from a lengthy journey abroad.

The grassy fields where I had once fought off imaginary monsters had been replaced with neat rows of cookie-cutter homes and precisely manicured shrubs. Lawn ornaments had become the new threat that children would battle.

My high school, once the shining example of higher education, now sat in despair. Its hallways had dulled and cracked, leaving only the ghosts of teenage dreams to haunt them.

The oak tree that had hidden my first kiss was gone. Not even a stump left to remind me of the young and foolish love I had once felt.

Everything had changed.

The new reality didn’t match the carefully sculpted images I’d held dear, and it stung as my foundation threatened to crumble from underfoot.

That’s when I understood. That’s when I felt the truth. That our hometown sits in a far deeper place in our hearts than we let ourselves believe. And even though its outward appearance may change, the lingering memories will affect us for the rest of our lives.



NOTE:
I wrote this mini-post as a test. A website that helps writers find jobs requires that all new sign-ups write a short piece (250 word max) to show off their skills. The editors at the website then rate your abilities on a scale of one to five stars: the higher your rating, the more you get paid. I’m happy to say that I got four stars for this. (Insert smug face here.) Please keep in mind that I used my creative license to its full potential when I wrote this. Those of you who grew up with me will immediately see how things got “adjusted” to fit the meaning I was going for.

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Flash Fiction: Night Crawler for Sale

“This looks like the place,” Matt said, glancing down at the paper in his hand. “Mobil station at the top of the hill.”

Justin scoffed. “Doesn’t look like much. Probably only a dozen nails keeping the roof up.”

“If that.” Matt handed the paper to his friend and angled the SUV into the deserted parking lot. He shut off the engine and the two men stepped out. Cracks webbed through the concrete, leading them past an antique pump to the station proper.

A sign matching the one in Justin’s hand hung from a nail. Below it, an arrow pointed right. He laughed then read aloud. “Nightcrawler for Sale.”

“Guess they never heard about plurals.”

“What would you expect from country bumpkins?”

They made their way to the back, but stopped short after rounding the final corner.

“Howdy,” a bearded old man said. “Here for the nightcrawler?” He spat a brown wad between missing front teeth.

Matt and Justin shared a disgusted look.

“Uh, yeah,” Justin ventured. “Where are they?”

It will be here shortly.”

A powerful jolt blasted the earth underfoot, toppling the two men. The ground parted, and a maw the size of a minivan opened wide. Matt and Justin screamed as they tumbled past teeth as black as pitch and into the darkness beyond.

The forest fell silent.

“I knows what a plural is,” the old man said. He picked up the discarded paper. “Reckon I’ll be needing to put this back. She gets hungry real quick.”

Story restrictions:
Write a story using the photo as inspiration. The story can’t be longer than 250 words.
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks

(If you’re new to flash fiction, please be sure to read about the genre here.)

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What is Flash Fiction?

flashfictionFlash Fiction is, in simplest terms, a type of short story taken to the extremes of brevity. The challenge of such stories is crafting a satisfying narrative in the fewest possible words while still engaging the reader.

 

Flash fiction comes in many lengths:

  • The six-word story
  • Twitterature (140-character stories)
  • The dribble (50 words)
  • The drabble (100 words)
  • Sudden fiction (750 words)

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for flash fiction. Some websites and contests make their own word or character restrictions.

Here on Well Woven Tales, if a piece of flash fiction was written with a set word or character restriction in mind, I’ll include that information in the post.
flashfiction4001

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Transport – Chapter Three

cover-smDarrell and Mikolai made their way past the broken door and into a similarly dysfunctional corridor that zig-zagged its way through the adjacent area, Darrell in the lead with Mikolai trailing behind. The hairs standing erect on Darrell’s neck informed him that the disruptor was still aimed squarely at his back. How long was he going to keep this up? After all of the jobs Darrell had completed, the man still didn’t trust him? I guess that’s just part of working for the mafia. Trust no one.

Doors lined both sides of the dim passageway with tarnished placards announcing their purpose: administration, food storage, break room, meeting hall, staff kitchen, and others. A few rooms had no placards at all, only a slightly cleaner rectangular patch where a placard used to be, but those rooms were just as mundane.

Darrell knew this because he got a good look at each and every door and each and every room they passed. When the two men approached a door, Mikolai would force him on ahead to open it and turn on the inside light. The smuggler would then, with the caution of a cat, peer around the doorframe, weapon taking the lead, and confirm that no one lay in wait.

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Transport – Chapter Two

cover-smDarrell could clearly remember the three times he had ever feared for his life. This current predicament with Mikolai brought that total up to four. It was no surprise that Mikolai was involved in all of them, yet the burly man still wondered why Darrell refused to join his team of mafia thugs.

In an instant, Mikolai had reached his brawny arm around Darrell’s neck and pulled him up off the floor into a headlock. He slammed the muzzle of his disruptor into Darrell’s temple, the impact causing an audible thunk to sound in his ears as pain shot through his skull. His windpipe cinched closed, leaving the remainder of his breath trapped inside his lungs and preventing him from taking in more. He kicked his legs out in a desperate search for purchase—maybe one of the pipes along the floor edges, or the empty utility boxes lying open with their security panels dangling free on wires, or maybe one of the many zero-g handrails imbedded in the wall—anything to relieve the pressure crushing his throat.

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Transport – Chapter One

cover-sm“Darrell! How are you my good friend? It’s been what… three months since we last did business?” Mikolai bellowed in his uneven, accented English as he lumbered through the docking hatch, arms outstretched in greeting, a cheshire cat grin showing through his prickly beard. The red whiskers stuck out sharply in random directions as if he’d been tased one too many times. Considering he was a mafia smuggler wanted by pretty much every law enforcement agency within the Spiral Arm Colonies, he most likely had been shocked one too many times.

Darrell hated dealing with the criminal, and now he had to do it yet again. He always figured that working for the mafia would someday end in his death. He didn’t know when, but one thing was for certain: it would be at the hands of the man standing before him.

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Introduction to Transport

cover-smThe idea for Transport came from one of my very first short stories. Originally, it was called, “Nightmare in Space”. Yeah, a cheesy and weak title, but what else would you expect from a ten-year-old boy in the fifth grade? Thirty-five years later, I dug out the basic plot from the dusty playground where my inner child had once romped and began to flesh out the details of a complete story.

This is my current “novel in the works”. If you look at the sidebar on the left (or at the bottom, if you’re using a smartphone), you can see how far I’ve progressed. My plan is to finish the rough draft this year (2016) and have it ready to go by the spring of 2017.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the chapters presented here. If you have any comments on my writing or the plot, please feel free to comment after each chapter or contact me.

=> Transport – Chapter 1

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