POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15


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Post June 16, 2015, 07:50:23 PM

POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15
The "I Am Invincible" Challenge: Redux- All Powerful or Omniscience


THE PREMISE: The challenge this time is to write a flash story about a superhero. Thor, Loki, Phoenix; there are many ways to be almost invincible other than biceps and bullet proof, brains, other strange powers. Power is a relative thing and it doesn’t have to always be the irresistible force or the immovable object.


After this contest we will be taking a little break. July will be an off month. I will let everyone know what my intentions are for the future by August. I appreciate the folks that came through in the second month of entry time, and am very happy with the people who got in on time in the first month. I am also happy to say we have new entrants this month. Good luck all!



It All Never Really Ends Here…


Sitting on a couch that stretched all the way across the living room, the only thing the graying and almost bald man named Frank seemed to be capable of doing was staring blankly at the television. The room was almost totally dark, the only light coming from the widescreen TV itself. He gazed at something that no one else appeared to see, something that probably only lay inside his mind…

His wife, Alexandra, who was in her 70s, thought he was a desperate case by now, but in reality she was too. After all, her interests were somewhat foolish: like watching six different soap operas during the day and then watching TV crime dramas all night. But the woman had never worked outside the home and the pension her husband had started receiving, after retiring two years ago, had proven to be more than enough to let them have what they needed to live. The checks had started coming in each month following a strange accident that had happened to her man while he was on duty at his old job. Of course the couple never wanted to dine out, as they had almost never gone out when they were younger, nor did they go to the cinema. They seemed to be happy to just sit at home, as simple as that.

Actually, Frank had never been very talkative, and their discussions had commonly focused on matters like what to buy at the grocery store, what type of plants were best to have in the garden, and so on. Thus you didn’t need to delve very deeply into the status of their relationship to discover what was next for them, because eventually they simply would grow old together. Many marriages went that way, especially between two simple-minded partners, and that was exactly what they were – or at least that was what they were reputed to be among their neighbors nowadays. But they weren’t interested in what the others thought about them, as the couple didn’t feel the need to change themselves or to modify their lifestyle.

The truth was that Frank had become even less talkative than ever over the course of the last few months, after his retirement, but the woman wasn’t too worried: as people aged it was common to become more eccentric than before and more withdrawn, at least at times. What was really important was that the money kept coming in and they would never lack for food, water, beer, medications and the likes. Basically the only important thing was that they remain healthy as long as possible, of course. All the rest might simply go to hell, actually…

--------------------------

Sitting for most of the day on the couch in the middle of the living room, Frank didn’t care about what happened around him. After all, following that strange accident he had been involved in while working at the facility, life had taken on a completely different meaning. Because of the experimental energy that had unexpectedly hit him that day, everything had changed, and the people in charge of the institute had been very glad that he hadn’t sued them. Rather he had quietly accepted his early retirement, along with an extra-amount of money, which was given in exchange for him not raising questions about their poor safety procedures.

In a way, how could they even imagine what had really happened to him? Since that day, he had become an all-powerful and all-knowing individual who was able to make anyone die just by looking at them and wishing they were dead! Beyond that, his mind was capable of thinking at an incredible speed, evaluating and precisely calculating the probabilities that a death that he wished for- and that someone deserved…- might cause greater problems somewhere down the line. For example, right now he really wanted to strike dead the serial killer on TV - but his death, according to his calculations, would cause a missed opportunity for redemption of a friend of his in prison. Given the chance, that friend would be married one day and his son would save a school full of children thanks to his acts of courage…

It was all a matter of running different calculations in his head. Possessing both of those two great, unbelievable powers simply left him stuck for most of the day. As always new characters took the place of the previous ones on TV but when he thought about killing the new delinquents, new calculations of the bad things that might occur if he killed them would stop him cold!

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t easy at all, and he only ended up being deeply trapped in his thoughts, without doing anything in the end. Deciding not to kill a heartless villain required a lot of time, as you thought about the thousands of consequences worldwide, generation after generation, and so on…

For example, his elderly wife Alexandra didn’t deserve to die certainly, at least not yet. But the odds were that one day she would be affected by a mental illness that would force her to murder him: he could see all the signs, given his unending calculations. But what should he do? Kill Alexandra or not kill Alexandra? Should he kill her today or tomorrow, for his own good and for the good of all mankind? Or should he only be concerned about the present safety of his dear wife who would not be truly responsible for the actions she would perpetrate against him in the future?

And more than that, if he killed her today, who would fix him dinner afterwards, and who would clean their house while he sat on the couch and endlessly continued his long, important calculations all day long…?

Most of the time indecisiveness proved to be his best decision, although his inability to decide might cause other worse, unprecedented problems here and there, in the future, maybe…

THE END



The Community Project



One of the two big men with black stockings over their heads leaned over the counter to grab the cash. The other pointed his pistol at Yuki. She was about to pay for the can of apple soft drink. She glanced at Eva, a classmate, who stood nearby with lips curled and wearing her stupid pink scarf.

"Give me your schoolbags and purses," the thug grunted.

Yuki got mad. To use perfectly good stockings this way was a waste. And she didn't like robberies either.

But Yuki couldn't to afford to get mad. She couldn't afford a bad report this semester. She breathed in deeply and—

Stuff it. She rifled the can at the thug's head. A bang followed. The bullet merely ricocheted off her right shoulder. She knitted her brow at the hole in her uniform and, when she looked up, the guy's head was no more. Crap, she was gonna lose marks for this.



"Good one, Butcher, killing my suspect," Eva called out, "thought your project was the mob." Yuki ignored her and the hallway of sneers as she entered the Principal's Office.

Mr Clarke was red-faced, his hands planted wide apart on his mahogany desk. "YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS COVERING UP YESTERDAY'S MESS?!"

Yuki squinted as he swivelled his monitor around. It was replaying her body-cam footage in slow-motion: the thug's head exploding on impact with the can. Admittedly, her response was probably a bit excessive, her nickname "Butcher" not entirely unjustified.

Mr Clarke sighed. "Dammit Yuki. I know you mean well and you're one of our most gifted students but you can't go around executing Code Blacks. It's not just your secret powers at stake, nor even this school…"

Yuki knew the speech. They were all-powerful but not all-knowing and they had to be careful with who they saved or took out. Last semester, she sped at a casual Mach 4.1 to rescue an old lady in a wheelchair stuck at a railway crossing. Aside from the shattered car windows, the old cow turned out to be the mercenary "C-4 Granny". Somehow, Yuki had missed the email memo. No prizes for guessing who was responsible for sixty-five deaths and the destruction of her favorite hot dog stand two days later.

"…and are you even listening?" said Mr Clarke with a raised eyebrow.

Yuki's stomach growled.



Yuki mumbled a series of expletives as she strode down the street. Given her abilities, she mumbled a few in parallel as well. As she neared Burger Bomb at the mall, she perked up her ears at some distant screech: something over the police radio about a suspicious semi-trailer on Route-44.

Just as well. She had to make up for the ten deducted marks somehow. This was the "Community Project". She would graduate immediately with a "super" license if she got tops marks for this. No need for further units.

In a second, Yuki whizzed over to an intersection on Route-44. She squinted: two men in a red semi-trailer, a shiny company truck. And carrying her favorite apple soft drink.

How effing dare they.

Yuki blazed toward the moving vehicle, ripped open the passenger-side door—both men were in tactical gear—grabbed one by the vest, dragged him out in front, hurled him through the windscreen and zipped away before anyone could digest what the hell just happened.

She was barely down the road when she asked herself why such well-equipped people would be interested in a semi-trailer of carbonated beverages.

So she dashed all the way back to the now stationary truck.

Yuki leapt into the cabin. The eyes of the driver bulged. He was conscious enough whilst the other was busy bleeding. She grabbed the clipboard beside the seat and read.

She tore off the former's mask. "Who set you up for this job?"

"You… you… mean this?"

Yuki wrapped her hand around his neck. "No, I meant the threat you made against the city cemetery. This left Dalesville and was meant for the nearby Burger Bomb. I assume you wanted to carry out an attack so why the detour through here?"

He pointed at her. "Like… you. But pink… scarf."

Of course. Eva wanted the top spot. It was always her. That sabotaging bitch. But Yuki interrupted her self-imposed exposition with another realization.

"So what other jobs did you have? Hurry up, I'm hungry."

The man grinned. "Enjoy your lunch…"

Just as Yuki heard sirens, there was a flash of orange, a wall of heat and she hit the bitumen a hundred feet from the flaming wreckage. She got up, patted her seared uniform and sniffed. Definitely homemade C-4.

That's it. She'd had enough.



Yuki stomped towards the Principal's Office.

"I'm sorry, he's in with another student," said what's-her-secretary's-name.

"I know," grunted Yuki as she kicked the door open and marched inside.

Eva sprung from her chair whilst Mr Clarke merely frowned. "I'm glad I reinforced that door, given the nature of this institution."

Yuki pulled Eva's pink scarf and slammed her head into the desk. "Did you reinforce the desk?"—there was a dent—"Guess not."

She let Eva slid onto the floor before commencing her expositional rant on how Eva hacked into her email to delete vital memos and organized certain crimes to provoke her, including intercepting C-4 Granny's goons, making them take a detour.

Mr Clarke sighed. "Probable. But it's still conjecture."

Yuki frowned. "I'm not accusing Eva of working directly with C-4 Granny. The hag probably detonated remotely when she realized her people were off schedule. Still, Eva would have guessed that."

"Fine. I'll deal with her."

Yuki didn't budge.

Mr Clarke narrowed his gaze. "And I'll allow you the chance to regain more marks. You may track down C-4 Granny as well as the mob for the project. But no more mistakes."

Yuki nodded. "One more thing," she said, pointing at the unconscious lump on the floor, "that was a Code Red, she tries anything and it'll be a Code Black."


THE END




Balance

It took a week for people at the outpost to notice what someone had done to the sepd’s nest – but Pojo knew it instantly. Deep inside the caverns of Bernard 2, the empath felt the young man’s laser slice through the fiber eggs of the 4 sepd chicks, leaving only a tiny hole in the fabric of each of the shells. The sepd’s nest had been built on a ridge high enough to be protected from the planet’s indigenous predators, but it hadn’t been high enough to protect it from one of the new humans at the outpost.

The 3-foot-high furry sepds would never hatch out of their eggs now – because the young man had killed them while the mother was hunting for food nearby the nest. The saddest thing for the humans was knowing that the mother still faithfully attended the nest everyday – expecting her 4 nestlings to eventually break free of their shells to find her waiting there to teach them how to survive on the tiny planet. She leaned against her brood 22 hours a day, using her 7-foot body to warm the now decaying chicks, scurrying off only occasionally to get food for herself, using her talons and beak to hunt small animals. But as the futile weeks passed by, even she knew something must be terribly wrong.

Pojo could feel it all, seeing the crime and its result in her mind, the same way she could feel the essence of all life on Bernard 3. She was one of two all-powerful empaths from a once great civilization. The sisters survived now deeper in the caverns than any human would probably ever venture, having existed for millennia, living directly off the energy of the planet’s core. By now the two were almost pure energy themselves, each providing balances for each other.

“A life-crime has been committed against one of the planet’s creatures,” Pojo, the kind-hearted, told her sister Kikpe.

“I felt it too, dear sister – but I felt it first in the shallow hatred of the human who calls himself, Cary,” answered the luminous Kikpe. “I took over his warped mind, pushing him up the path on the cliff. I allowed the crime to happen because bad events must happen to all living things – it is the way of nature. We are both all-powerful sister, but without me you would make sure there was no death and creatures old and sick would suffer forever. Death has its value. Without the death of one creature, another creature would die.”

“Life has its value as well. So I am now free to balance the suffering of the sepd with an act of kindness. Since a violent act has been done by a human, perhaps a human should be used to heal the mother’s heartbreak. There is one human in particular at the outpost, David, who has a good spirit. I will put into his mind an obsession to ease the pain of the creature on the ridge, in spite of the danger of being hurt by the sepd mother.”

And so it was that David, his judgment overpowered by a force he could not explain, began to creep up the cliff, intent on cleaning out the nest by removing the decaying eggs. Others from the outpost watched him from below – even Cary, especially Cary. The voice inside David’s head told him which way to go, which path to take, and eventually he looked down and could see the sepd’s nest a few feet below him. The mother was away, so he quickly scurried down onto the perch.

He checked the eggs and could see with his own eyes the laser holes that had been drilled by Cary. One by one he lifted them, throwing the eggs off the ledge into a stream below. Now the creature could get on with her life, she could build another nest next year, and the humans from the outpost would be sure to value it and protect it. A kind deed had been done to balance the violent one.

Suddenly the sepd mother was flying in front of David, her talons slashing at his arms and legs, her beak pecking at his eyes. Not knowing why the human had done the unthinkable, she grabbed hold of his shoulders, throwing him from the nest. In front of all the spectators, David’s body bounced down the cliff, splashing into the stream at the base of the mountain, in front of the mouth of a large cave.

Some started running towards the corpse of the man, hoping he might still be breathing – although everyone knew he was dead. But before they could reach him, a luminous ball of light could be seen floating on the water in the cave, being bounced about by the current. The ball got closer and closer to the corpse in the stream, eventually crashing into it, splashing its luminescence over the body. David could be seen rising slowly from the water now, shaking his head as though to clear it, before the crowd rushed towards him happily.

Deep inside the cavern, it was Kikpe who spoke first. “You gave him back his life. Now things are out of balance again.”

“Do what you must,” answered Pojo softly. “He should not have died – he was doing my bidding, I forced him to face the sepd.”

Kikpe began to glow as she concentrated on the mind of a young man who had eagerly done her vicious bidding.

Outside the cave, Cary ran towards David with the others meaning to welcome him back to the living. However, something distracted him – no one would ever know what – causing him to lose his step on a patch of slippery moss, cracking his skull open on the rocks.

“Sister, this man could have changed his ways,” said Pojo, irritated at the turn of events.

“A tooth for a tooth,” was Kikpe’s reply. “A life for a life.”

The End



"Do you see what I see?"

Sia sat in her meeting discussing how to make people achieve the crucial changes in their lives that they needed to move forward.

She had a long memory ... they were discussing the same thing in Ancient Egypt. She was frustrated because she had a different take on the whole matter than most. But in these computerized modern times, it all seemed to work so differently than the way she remembered!

Joe, the project manager was launching into one of his long speeches.

"The trouble, is that sometimes people know that they need to do something, but they can't get it done, because they can't find out how to do something they don't know in the first place. It's like the Chicken and the Egg problem".

Sandra added, "or like that game Jeopardy, run backwards. It's like asking that Trebeck guy, "I'll take $400 but I don't know either the question, or the answer."

Sia had some ideas. "Well, my hair stylist does wonders to hide my grey hair, but I've been around this a few times. Sometimes you don't change the person, you change everyone else around them."

Joe said, "Whoa! What does THAT mean?"

Sia said, "It's something a little like what you call a zeitgeist, a mood of the times. Ever notice that sometimes, "it all just seemed right" for ships to sail oceans? Or take to the skies? Often even before a pioneer, is a daydreamer, a precursor. But they often speak in nothing more than private notes, so even if you encountered them, you might not catch on to some of the bigt ideas they are up to."

Joe asked, "Well, okay, where do you want to go with this?"

Sia answered, "Fraud prevention. Not the insurance claim type - more like individual rumors, half truths, and outright lies and hustles don't work precisely the same way that they used to for the rest of history. Now, not counting the jokers and trolls, whenever you hear something, you can reach for your phone, or your computer at home, and check into it for yourself instantly. Sure, sometimes the information is blurred, but you can also get answers that often weren't available except for extensive research if at all."

Joe asked, "How does that affect us so strongly?"

"Because unfortunately many of the strongest mis-truths end up "grandmothered" into public consciousness."

Sandra asked, "Don't you mean "Grandfathered?"

Sia smiled. "See? That's because men made themselves into might-is-right regimes, and that worked its way into the language. It gets funnier. You have an entire town in Arizona named after a bird that doesn't exist. That whole flames thing? The Greeks got it wrong when they visited the temple of Benu. But it stuck because no one rememebers the Egyptian version."

Joe began to smile.

"So, who exactly are YOU?"

Sia sighed. "Ah, see, laziness. Because in the old days, you had to ask. Now you can just look me up. But perception and habits are different things. No one remembers the Egyptian Goddess of Perception either. Because I didn't have all the "cool kids" worshipping me. There were too many of us. I helped inspire the internet. But people won't even use it to change their perception."

THE END


Dating Star Storm


Mike Paterson fidgeted nervously in his chair. His tongue felt dry and swollen in his mouth. He reached across the small table for the icy beverage sitting there. The ice sounded like little bells as he lifted the glass with shaky hands to his lips. He took a small sip and swished the cold liquid to moisten his mouth so he could speak.

“Are you sure she won’t be able to hear us?” Mike’s voice cracked a little as he spoke.

Charles Vorhees, reporter for the Daily Blab, continued to busily make preparations for the interview. He thought to himself, Of course she can hear us, she’s a freaking immortal being with supernatural powers. Aloud he said waving his hand in dismissal, “No. No, we’re safe here, the walls are lined withdihydrogen-monoxide. Military sources confided to me recently that it’s her only weakness.” Charles waited a beat to make sure Mike wasn’t going to object to his ruse.

Mike took another sip of water, his eyes darted around the room. “The floors too?” he asked.

“Of course Mr. Paterson, we’ve taken every precaution so we can conduct this interview.”

Charles hovered a finger over his tape recorder. “May we begin Mr. Paterson?” he asked. Mike nodded slowly and Charles pressed record. “So how exactly, Mr. Paterson...”

“Mike. Please call me Mike.”

“Okay Mike. How exactly did you and Star Storm meet?”

“She rescued me, that’s how it started anyway.”

“She rescues lots of people Mike. Could you be a little more specific?”

“True, but I think it was because of my blog.”

“Alright Mike, just tell me what happened.”

Mike squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. He wasn’t used to talking about himself and Star Storm had warned him not to talk about their relationship. A bead of sweat formed a wet horizontal line across his forehead. He dabbed at it unconsciously and then began to tell Charles Vorhees his story.

“For the past two years I’ve been running the highest rated Star Storm blog on the internet from my mother’s basement. I have spiders that collect images and stories about her heroics from all over the world. I guess you might say I’m her biggest fan.

“Then three months ago, I was running some errands for my mother in town. I had to stop at the bank and I walked right into a robbery. Everyone looked right at me, including the bank robbers. That gave one of the tellers just enough time to press the alarm button. Things went bad fast after that. The robber closest to me was pissed off to put it mildly. He leveled his gun at me and fired! I’m pretty sure I wet myself. Please don’t print that. Everything slowed down, I could even see the flash exiting the muzzle of that guys weapon! I hit the ground hard and I was dazed for a few seconds. I can remember thinking that a gunshot wound should hurt. I felt moisture so I thought, I’m hit, I know I’m hit. How come I can’t feel it? To make sure I wasn’t paralyzed by the bullet I sat up. I looked myself over... nothing... not a scratch. I looked around and the robbers were gone.

“People came over to help me up. They told me that Star Storm had saved me, saved all of us. I’d never had an actual encounter with her before, and I missed it. I didn’t even get a glimpse of her. The bank manager decided to close the bank for the rest of the day and ushered everyone out the door. I just stood in front of the bank and stared at the sky. I actually started to worry about having to tell mother that I couldn’t finish my errands because the bank had closed. And then the world dropped away.

“I was floating high above the city and it felt like I had left my stomach back where I had been standing. Star Storm spun me around to face her. She looked into my eyes and smiled. She knew my name. She told me she had been following my site for over a year. She made sure that it received the less mundane heroics before any of the others. I guess you’d say my site had it’s own special fan. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why but, then she kissed me.

“Things got really strange after that. Every time I left the house I’d wind up in the middle of some life threatening event. Sometimes buildings would collapse, trains would derail, or meteors would suddenly enter Earth’s atmosphere and head directly for whatever part of the city I was in. Sometimes people around me died while I was whisked away to safety. She would smile and tell me that she couldn’t save everyone. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Star Storm was causing these random disasters. She did it to be close to me. I begged her to stop. Apparently it’s some sort of mating ritual on her home world. Somehow I’m the only genetically compatible human she has found since being abandoned here. She wants to mate. I’ve never mated with anyone in my life!”
Charles interrupted, “Wait, you’re saying you’re a virgin?”
“I’m telling you she’s killing people to be with me and that’s the first thing that you want to know!” Mike yelled.

Suddenly a far wall exploded inward. “Hello Sweetie!” Star Storm growled. “I told you not to speak to anyone about us.”

Headline, Daily Blabb:
Head Reporter Charles Vorhees and Star Storm blogger Mike Paterson missing for more than a week. Authorities continue to investigate.

Remote Island in the Pacific:
“Behave yourself boys. I’ll be back soon.” Star Storm disappeared over the horizon, another disaster needed to be averted.

The End




To vote, rate these stories using the form below with scores of 0-10 (in whole numbers) and send it to me via PM:

Categories:
1) What overall score would you give the story?
2) How good was the Characterization?
3) How effective (or original) was the plot?
4) How clear was the setting to you?
5) How good was the use of dialog?
6) How well did the story meet or address the challenge as it was given?

NOTE: you must have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. Join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. If I suspect a voter of being a false identity (i.e. a troll), I won't count their vote.

Author scores for their own entry will not be counted.

Like so for each entry please:

(Title)
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:


Voting will close on Sunday, July 5th, 2015 at approximately 8 p.m., East Coast Time.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

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Post June 16, 2015, 11:14:43 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Okay, let's do this!

I am in half decent shape again today, so I'm gonna at least make up for some of the bad days and get my poll result in!
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Post June 17, 2015, 07:13:29 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

My votes are(a) already in...eh,eh :D
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Post June 18, 2015, 09:31:59 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Great stories this time! Votes are in!
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Post June 19, 2015, 11:18:11 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

I always love the variety of stories people write about a single topic. My votes are in >:D
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post June 29, 2015, 09:09:56 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

My votes are in.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post July 01, 2015, 05:30:28 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

I'm working on my votes now.

I don't know if this was previously discussed, but it's easily for a story to get "Procrustean chopped" if it completely discards an entire catalog. Dialog is one of the main ones.

"It All Never Really Ends Here…" Has no dialog! But is it fair to give it a zero and then punish the entire story by dividing by a too-big denominator?!

So I'm putting N/A in my vote for dialog on that one and hope the rest of the scores can be divided on the smaller denominator.

I just finished reading "By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Binet to chat with a friend about it, and it would have the same situation - it only has some three lines of dialog. It happens when you get a "narrator exploring issues" type story. A lot of mine ended up in that category.

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Post July 01, 2015, 06:11:50 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

My votes are in!
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Post July 04, 2015, 01:28:19 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

I went back and checked the rules. In contests past, DIALOGUE between two characters was a requirement. The current rules omitted that requirement. Since it wasn't stipulated can that category be left out of the score calculations for this round? In the future, I'd like to see dialogue added back into the requirements.
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Post July 06, 2015, 02:09:35 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Hmm. I can put it back in the rules I guess. But no it can't be omitted. The scoring isn't being changed at the last minute. It is what it is...
I will be doing my bit tonight as I was tremendously busy and am running behind due to some rather large goings on. Stay tuned.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post July 06, 2015, 08:43:29 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

I will be counting votes tomorrow and announcing a winner and possibly a new contest.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post July 07, 2015, 11:55:52 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Eddie wrote:
I will be counting votes tomorrow and announcing a winner and possibly a new contest.
We're watching and waiting, but we all know what it's like to be too busy to breathe, so we're pretty patient as well. 8)
Since the house is on fire - at least let us warm ourselves.
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Post July 07, 2015, 12:42:21 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." (The Salmon of Doubt)
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Post July 07, 2015, 07:39:30 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

EddieSullivan wrote:Hmm. I can put it back in the rules I guess. But no it can't be omitted. The scoring isn't being changed at the last minute. It is what it is...
I will be doing my bit tonight as I was tremendously busy and am running behind due to some rather large goings on. Stay tuned.


Well, re-do my vote with a zero in dialogue if you have to ... it just feels like a sticking point in the rules! (Watch my story not be last place because the other one gets a zero in dialogue... bleh!)

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Post July 07, 2015, 07:43:38 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

EddieSullivan wrote:I will be counting votes tomorrow and announcing a winner and possibly a new contest.


Some things might be going right in my life for once, and that frees up some energy away from negative spirals!

So I'll at least ponder a new challenge! Now I just have hope my ice-breaker entry this month is enough to keep me moving faster than my glacial pace!
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Post July 07, 2015, 08:35:33 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Congrats!

Joey To
"The Community Project" on the win!

Scores:

It All Never Really Ends Here… -Sergio Palumbo 181.6
The Community Project- Joey To 215
Balance-bottomdweller 205.6
"Do you see what I see?" Taophoenix 175.2
Dating Star Storm pahosler 211

I will do what I can to get another contest up soon. If you have a request now is the time !
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Post July 07, 2015, 11:19:48 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Wow, a strong win to a newcomer! We haven't seen that happen in a while. Congrats, Joey, and welcome!

Here's how I saw 'em:

It All Never Really Ends Here…

1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 3
3) Plot: 3
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 0
6) Challenge: 10

total 27

Comments
Fascinating premise, but the man is trapped in indecision and can't do anything, so there's no character arc. I think that with a different setup (plot), you could have forced this character to do something.
Sorry about the zero, but—no dialog to score.



The Community Project

1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 10

total 43

Comments:
Fun, but the plot was a little hard to keep track of.
I especially liked:
"Yuki mumbled a series of expletives as she strode down the street. Given her abilities, she mumbled a few in parallel as well."


Balance

1) Overall: 5
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 4
6) Challenge: 10

total 38

Comments:
Dialog seemed a little stiff. I didn't like the ending quote; it seems to imply that these sisters could just take turns killing off the locals one at a time until no one was left.


"Do you see what I see?"

1) Overall: 3
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 1
4) Setting: 1
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 4

total 19

Comments:
I couldn't make sense of the plot at all. Looking up the mythology didn't really help, either. So, some people are in a meeting, they talk a little, one of them is an Egyptian deity, and nobody does anything.



Dating Star Storm

1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 2
3) Plot: 2
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

total 32

Comments:
Star Storm's motivations and behavior seemed inconsistent and incomprehensible to me. A mating ritual? Well, maybe that explains why she's on Earth; her homeworld must be a wreck. I don't know how Mike survived with the wrong number of chromosomes, but since he's off in isolation, shouldn't he be getting it on with the super-lady instead of hanging out with Chuck? There were an awful lot of water references, but I don't know why.
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Post July 07, 2015, 11:32:36 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Eddie, I've got a suggestion for the next contest. This won't be too hard to set up, since it's been done here before (just not recently). It's where you specify three objects and/or activities that have to be included in the story. Those are always fun.
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Post July 08, 2015, 02:30:10 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Many congratulations to the winner!!! :D

For me, I just gave the highest score to Dating Star Storm as I liked it, with a funny ending, in a way... :lol: :D

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Post July 08, 2015, 09:07:57 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Thank you all for the read and the support!
I very much enjoyed this contest.

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Post July 08, 2015, 05:00:28 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Lester Curtis wrote:Wow, a strong win to a newcomer! We haven't seen that happen in a while. Congrats, Joey, and welcome!

Here's how I saw 'em:
...
"Do you see what I see?"

1) Overall: 3
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 1
4) Setting: 1
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 4

total 19

Comments:
I couldn't make sense of the plot at all. Looking up the mythology didn't really help, either. So, some people are in a meeting, they talk a little, one of them is an Egyptian deity, and nobody does anything.



Hi Lester.

I have a few wry remarks for this entry of mine. I knew it would "bomb" in the scores, but it did "other things" for me.

- I used it heavily as an icebreaker to do *anything* than skipping yet another contest out of lethargic inertia (when my already slow writing pace doesn't do me in!) And as I mentioned briefly elsewhere, when I *do* get going, I get "2.36 stories" in my head, and yes, this was ".30 of a story". A long while back, people were remarking that the challenge-fun&games zone over here has a real "workshop" aspect to it. So to me, even though it would tank in a real vote, better to "get the fragment out of my head" than have it keep lurking and trying to insert itself into better efforts!

- "Oh look, I got a 6 in Dialog, which I never get!" This is because in my "growing up with SciFi", a lot of the stories I liked shined the brightest with author descriptions of stuff, and dialog is "only a recently added skill" to SciFi so to say. So in a funny sense, "they talk..." is high praise because ... they talk! Usually I risk what happened here, getting zeroes in dialog! So as a 5% joke, I said "okay, I'll tank every other category, but for once they can't get me on people not talking!" (Sadly, someone else landed that infamous honor! It's a little Procrustean - "Every story must have dialog, and I don't care if you just got accepted by Asimov Magazine, if there is no speech, you get a zero!" My wry side makes me want to make my next story about mimes being the only possible ambassadors to a planet which never evolved language! (The 0.06 spinoff joke-idea, see above!)
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Post July 09, 2015, 12:42:17 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

TaoPhoenix wrote:
Hi Lester.

I have a few wry remarks for this entry of mine. I knew it would "bomb" in the scores, but it did "other things" for me.

- I used it heavily as an icebreaker to do *anything* than skipping yet another contest out of lethargic inertia (when my already slow writing pace doesn't do me in!) And as I mentioned briefly elsewhere, when I *do* get going, I get "2.36 stories" in my head, and yes, this was ".30 of a story". A long while back, people were remarking that the challenge-fun&games zone over here has a real "workshop" aspect to it. So to me, even though it would tank in a real vote, better to "get the fragment out of my head" than have it keep lurking and trying to insert itself into better efforts!

Well, when you explain it that way, it makes perfect sense ... I think. :? I would never have thought of entering a story fragment in a contest, but it isn't prohibited (and shouldn't be IMO). You at least get feedback here, which you may or may not if you posted it in the Workshop forum.

BTW, I fully identify with the slow writing pace problem.

Oh, and if you choose to allow it, this fragment still CAN insert itself into better efforts.

- "Oh look, I got a 6 in Dialog, which I never get!"
snip
My wry side makes me want to make my next story about mimes being the only possible ambassadors to a planet which never evolved language! (The 0.06 spinoff joke-idea, see above!)

I think the emphasis on dialog comes from the plain fact that communication is an essential aspect of social life for any species—sometimes even essential for survival. We big-brained sophonts have refined it, but communication goes on among birds, animals, insects, plants—maybe even archaea. It can be surprisingly complex, and some of them are skillful liars.

You should be encouraged with the score and use it to your advantage. If nothing else, it tells you that when you do use dialog, you at least don't suck at it.

That mime concept ... could be the ultimate irony, since your characters would be communicating, and the reader would be receiving this in the form of—words.
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Post July 09, 2015, 02:55:18 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Congrats to Joey To for that person's story, Community Project. The story I liked best was Dating Star Storm - just because it was easy to understand and was funny at the end - and the supergirl wins (I'm a girl, ergo). SORRY! - but sometimes it is just that simple.
I was glad to be able to write my story Balance because I heard about caves that were recently explored in Cambodia(?) that are big enough to fly a jumble jet through and have their own forests inside the cave. I wondered what would happen if they found 2 people sitting in the middle of all that, what would they be thinking? What if they were the yen and yang of god? So that's why I wrote Balance. I never did see the PBS thing about the cave though. I need to get cable. *sigh*
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Post July 10, 2015, 09:04:19 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Oh my gosh! Thank you ente and bottomdweller!

Second place is the highest I've placed in the challenges so far. I was worried about it because some of the formatting disappeared, like the italics for internal dialogue, which caused a few of the words to get squeezed together and maybe changed the feeling a little.

I really wasn't thinking about water as a theme, but employing dihydrogen monoxide was meant to be humorous. An unfortunate number of people don't get it when you refer to good old H2O that way :)

I wrote a story last year here that managed to incorporate dialogue even though the characters were cave diving. I had them communicate with each other using hand gestures and underwater writing slates. Where there's a will there's a way.

Flash fiction is danged hard to write! Getting the least amount of description in without losing bits and pieces that would otherwise enrich the story or clarify meaning seems to be the hardest part of all, at least to me.

Happy writing everyone. I hope that whatever the next challenge is I'll be able to squeeze another story out of my tiny brain for it!
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Post July 10, 2015, 09:15:53 AM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Two possibly quirky ideas for challenges:

The story is almost entirely dialogue between two individuals

A story similar this: Six blind men describe an elephant. Here's a wiki link for the unfamiliar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

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Post August 04, 2015, 12:05:36 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

bottomdweller wrote:... I heard about caves that were recently explored in Cambodia(?) that are big enough to fly a jumble jet through ...


Per above, I get ".06 %" stories out of a joke that really doesn't belong anywhere the main stories I write. I laugh at my 3-liner jokes, then (try!) to move on.

But "epic typos" are some of the best sources of surprise stories! You *meant* "Jumbo" jet. But what you *said* was ... Jumble Jet!

- "In a future age of cutting more costs" ... is 43 Billion too much for a jet? What if Nokia bought out Boeing? It would come in a big box to be assembled!
- Some friendly alien race comes to visit and stay for an extended time in a benevolent mission of helping us with science, health, tech, etc. Then after a long hard day working with geologists in San Francisco fixing the San Andreas Fault ... he goes to work on his hobby - assembling his Jumble Jet!

Sigh indeed ... it's so good to be able to brainstorm again!

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Post August 04, 2015, 04:46:19 PM

Re: POLL: APHELION FLASH FICTION CONTEST: May '15 /June '15

Lester Curtis wrote:...
You should be encouraged with the score and use it to your advantage. If nothing else, it tells you that when you do use dialog, you at least don't suck at it.

That mime concept ... could be the ultimate irony, since your characters would be communicating, and the reader would be receiving this in the form of—words.


Heh nice little compliment about the dialog!

Meanwhile I did once try something vaguely like that Mime / communication comment, and it didn't go over well, but that version was too abstract. I'll try to find it later if I can / and remember!

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