July Flash Challenge, The Premise:


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Post July 12, 2017, 10:54:01 PM

July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Challenge time! This month I have been racking my brains (and they have been stretched entirely too far before now, LOL!) for something different. I was tempted to get out the old D&D dice and roll up something totally random, but then I realized that would entail a set of lists for the dice rolls to correspond with. So instead, I'm just going to wing it and hope for the best.

Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to write a flash piece on the theme of an encounter with an invasive species of plant or animal which is actually extant in our mundane lives on planet Earth. The special conditions are that you must include an extraterrestrial or supernatural element unobservable and unknown to your narrator, a tool specific to the environment of your set dressing that you either had to research before writing your story or were already familiar with because of your own life experiences, and a near death experience on the part of your narrator.

As per Nate's exemplary examples from the past, I will include a piece that I wrote to serve as a spark to your creativity. Entries are limited to 1000 words, not counting the title, the byline, or the obligatory "The End." You are forbidden from using anything from your back catalog. Your story should be brand new, starting from when this post goes live. Submissions should be sent by PMs to me through the Forums. Reader and fellow writer comments during the challenge are requested. Judging will be a simple poll set up on the Forums software. Yes, there is the possibility that someone will be able to game the system. But I remind you, I am your Publisher, I will know if that happens. The software will tell me, so voters, on your Honor, game the system at your own risk.

This challenge will run for two weeks from this posting for submissions to arrive, two weeks for voting, and may the best being win!

Example Story:

The Devil Is In The Details
By Dan L. Hollifield

Bobby pulled the small Ford tractor into the driveway of the little old lady who owned the land his daddy had rented for farming. He surveyed the overgrown fields with disgust writ large on his teen-aged face.

This place hasn’t been plowed since the Depression, he thought. Blackberry briars, kudzu, wild plum trees—this is gonna be a nightmare. Twelve feet tall if it’s an inch. First, I gotta mow it, then I gotta plow it. Dad can figure out how long it’ll take to plant. This sucks, but we need the land to plant the soybeans to sell to pay the bills.

Bobby saw the little old lady who owned the land waving a friendly greeting to him from her front porch. He waved back, smiling as if he were pleased to risk being ripped apart by saw-briars on this run-down old plantation property. This sucks, he though again. Then with a fake grin plastered across his tanned face, he reached down by his left knee to flip the big lever that activated the bush hog mower hitched to his tractor. The whoop-whoop noise of the mower running filled his ears as he pulled into the huge field to give it its first trimming since Herbert Hoover was president. Throwing the tractor into low gear, he trundled off into the wild undergrowth as he lowered the mower to the ground. The tractor crushed the vegetation in front of it like an icebreaker bulling its way through the polar caps. Leaning away from the briars that attempted to shred his flesh, he started his first round. Within twelve feet, the smell of new mowed plants filled his nose. First round is always the hardest, he thought. Once I get it outlined, I can go faster. Gotta look out for terraces and fences this crap has overgrown. This is the worst part of the job...

In the underbrush, ten thousand creatures eyed the tractor and driver as it passed. Some in animalistic fear, some in instinctive calculation--and some few, in malice.


Bobby navigated his way safely around the sixty-acre field with caution, then on his second pass he angrily shifted the tractor into third gear. Damn briars, he thought as he leaned over the rear fender of the tractor and tried to avoid the razor-sharp thorns of the plants. One-handed, he made a second pass, steering the chuffing and puffing tractor along his previous path.

It will reach the Residence within the hour, My Queen, said a hidden advisor. It is cold iron. Our weapons will have no effect. We cannot stop it.

Then perhaps, replied the Queen in a voice cold as icebergs, we need different weapons.


As the day wore boringly on, Bobby drank some of the beers he wasn’t really old enough to have bought at the roadside package store, but somehow had managed to buy anyway. The icy-cold drink soothed his dry throat even as the unending briars clawed predatorily at his skin. It was almost time to take a break for lunch. Never has a bologna sandwich, beany-weenies, tater salad, and sweet tea seemed so much like a feast to him. The field is half mowed, and Bobby pulls off into the shade of a rotting barn to eat his lunch.

He weakens from the heat, observed the Queen. The Long-Shanks have no inner strength to call upon. When he resumes, we shall be ready. Have you prepared the assassin I requested?

Yes, Oh Queen
, spoke the advisor. Our tool is poised and ready to strike. The barbarian will never know by whose hand his death-blow was dealt.

Excellent, said the Queen. The Residence will be saved. And we will never be suspected. The barbarians do not remember us. They have grown stupid as they breed, like rabbits ignorant of the hunter. My only regret is that the poison will act too quickly for me to enjoy the monster’s suffering.

Perhaps it is for the best to kill this savage quickly,
said the Queen’s Advisor. Our power has grown less since the animals have crisscrossed this world with their roads and bridges of cold iron. The Gateways have been closed to us, and our home lies across an impassible gulf. The iron, the thrice-cursed iron they play with in all their devices. Unholy metal that burns as does a forest fire! Else we risk this savage’s cohorts to come for us with fire and iron and extinction for us all.

The savage stirs from his repast, said the Queen. Deploy the assassin!

May your will be law, said the Advisor. And may the savage die in such pain that we sing about its suffering for a thousand years!


Bobby contemplated his remaining three beers in the cooler strapped to his tractor. I’ll save those for later, he thought. Still half the job to do. And I’ve gotta be sober when I get home, or I’ll get a whippin’. He remounted his tractor, and once more began his deadly dull inward spiral path of mowing the ancient field.

Three passes later, Bobby ran into a problem.

Oh My God! I’ve been stung, he thought as he frantically slapped at his left arm, where the pain was a broiling blister of agony. Looking down, he saw the crushed body of a saddle-back caterpillar laying on the clutch-side floorplate of his tractor. Crazily, the tractor wound its way out of the jungle of briars and vines, and Bobby dizzily guided the massive machine into an open area he’d already mowed. With moments to spare before the tractor rammed a fence and dropped off a terrace, he shut the machine down and parked it as he swayed unsteadily in his seat. His vision blurring from the pain, he watched his arm swell up like a balloon. Carefully, in pain, he guided the tractor back to the shade of the barn. Dad’s gonna kill me. I need a beer… Damn it!

The cursed animal lives! The Queen shouted. Evacuate!

The End
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Post July 13, 2017, 08:42:13 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Just checking... Are invasive insects allowed as well?
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Post July 14, 2017, 03:46:22 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Do you want to write about termites...boring?
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Post July 14, 2017, 03:55:32 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Insects are animals. Since the specification is "plant or animal," though, those damnably invasive minerals are out. Too bad, really; that could go places (though not too quickly, I think). Maybe next time.
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Post July 14, 2017, 11:00:20 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Not everybody agrees that insects are animals.
Also, if you've ever seen the amazing coordination of a colony of army ants, what they can do seems not only intelligent, but just a little scary and alien as well.
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Post July 17, 2017, 04:40:49 AM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Mine is already done, just waiting for the usual useful suggestions/reviews before sending it in...eh,eh

I still have to adjust my mind to the present TimeZone in Europe, and that's all...eh,eh
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Post July 17, 2017, 02:00:17 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

kailhofer wrote:Not everybody agrees that insects are animals.

Such people lack education, but that can be corrected easily, and at next to no cost. And I sincerely hope that they don't willfully cling to such misunderstanding.

Moreover, Dan's sample story featured insects.
Also, if you've ever seen the amazing coordination of a colony of army ants, what they can do seems not only intelligent, but just a little scary and alien as well.

I've had ants outsmart me more than once. I watched it happen, and in one instance, it took only minutes; they responded as a small group, away from the colony.

Don't expect that out of a plant.
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Post July 18, 2017, 01:47:12 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Based on some quick research, there are three classifications used at the highest level--the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom and the mineral kingdom. The animal kingdom is then broken down by birds, insects, mammals, etc.
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Post July 18, 2017, 01:53:22 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

The prompt says to write about "an encounter with an invasive species of plant or animal which is actually extant in our mundane lives on planet Earth." Can we use a mutation of an existing organism that may not exist at this time?
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Post July 18, 2017, 04:14:38 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

kailhofer wrote:Just checking... Are invasive insects allowed as well?


Sure, go for it!
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Post July 18, 2017, 04:16:12 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

jpharrin wrote:The prompt says to write about "an encounter with an invasive species of plant or animal which is actually extant in our mundane lives on planet Earth." Can we use a mutation of an existing organism that may not exist at this time?


How can you be sure that said mutation doesn't already exist? I think I'll allow this as a special case.
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Post July 19, 2017, 03:23:51 AM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

Ok, mine has been sent today...eh,eh
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Post July 19, 2017, 03:47:07 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

I made a perfectly good pun and no one acknowledged it.

:evil:
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Post July 19, 2017, 10:12:12 PM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

EddieSullivan wrote:I made a perfectly good pun and no one acknowledged it.

:evil:

Correction--no one encouraged it. :lol:
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Post July 20, 2017, 05:26:42 AM

Re: July Flash Challenge, The Premise:

For EddieSullivan:

Do you want to write about termites...boring?


After I saw, many years ago, Phase 4, the movie, I'm still pretty scared for what some small insects, well organized, and with a new intelligence, could do, in science-fictional terms, of course...eh,eh :mrgreen:

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