The #24TweetStory Collected

For fun I thought I’d write a story over 24 tweets and share it one tweet per half hour for twelve hours. Since it might be kind of hard to read  later, especially in reverse-chronological order, I’ve collected it here in chronological order on one page.

It was a little weird to write it in 118-119 character chunks (the hashtag and progress indicator take a few characters). There is no paragraphing. I wrote it in about twenty minutes, so there wasn’t much editing for style (mostly just for length). Maybe I’ll write a longer version with the same idea later.

The #24TweetStory

I’ve been painting a large, detailed scene every day for the last three months. (1/24) #24TweetStory

I can usually finish two or three canvasses each day, so I’m probably up around two hundred fifty now. (2/24) #24TweetStory

It’s always the same picture, but I’ve never been sure I have it right. I can’t afford to make a mistake. (3/24) #24TweetStory

I have the power to change things, to alter reality as I see fit, but I have to paint what I want to become real. (4/24) #24TweetStory

It’s pretty simple; I paint the world I see, from my own vantage point, but I change something. (5/24) #24TweetStory

It can be something small or something large, but I can make that change a reality. (6/24) #24TweetStory

The bigger the change, the more exact the rest of the image must be, and the higher the cost to myself. (7/24) #24TweetStory

I’m trying to make a big change. It’s not a lot of paint, but it’s a big change in my reality. (8/24) #24TweetStory

The scene is my art room. It’s a small room, and I’ve gotten rid of anything that’s not essential. (9/24) #24TweetStory

The reason is simple: I can paint an empty room more easily than a full one. (10/24) #24TweetStory

So I’ve been working each day inside this little grey box. No windows, just a small light to work by. (11/24) #24TweetStory

My canvasses are mostly grey; I’ve perfected the mixture now. The chair in the corner is a series of blacks. (12/24) #24TweetStory

But that’s easy. I mastered the chair in just weeks. I can paint what’s in front of me. It’s the change that’s hard. (13/24) #24TweetStory

If I want to change my reality, I have to change what I see in my painting. I don’t want an empty chair in the corner. (14/24) #24TweetStory

My new paintings have my dead wife, now alive, sitting in that chair, watching me paint. (15/24) #24TweetStory

I can see her perfectly in my mind, but I can’t describe her perfectly with my brush. What if I get something wrong? (16/24) #24TweetStory

Will she be a shell of herself? Will she remember me? Will this work at all? (17/24) #24TweetStory

I’ve tried little things. I’ve made a flower blossom. I’ve even turned lead to gold, just to see. (18/24) #24TweetStory

It’s hard to do, and it hurts. After the flower blossom I was unconscious for days. (19/24) #24TweetStory

I don’t know what it’ll do to me, but it doesn’t really matter. I have to try, even if it kills me. (20/24) #24TweetStory

But I’m afraid. As hard as it is to suffer with only memories of her, it would be worse to ruin those memories now. (21/24) #24TweetStory

Her expression isn’t right. It’s too happy. She wouldn’t be happy that I’m doing this. (22/24) #24TweetStory

She’ll be mad that I brought her back, probably. I have to do it anyway. (23/24) #24TweetStory

I take out a fresh canvas. (24/24) #24TweetStory

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Short Story: Whip’s Axe

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Whip stepped back and wiped his grimy forehead with the back of his hand. He had been working for nearly an hour and he saw that the sun was beginning to set.
He didn’t feel any pain from his efforts; he wasn’t even tired. He slid his hand down the smooth handle of the axe and felt with his fingers for the tiny bit of polished jasper embedded in the end. His magic combined with the structure of the gem made the tool unnaturally light in his hands and impossibly effective against the firewood.
He shook his head in sad wonder again. A year ago such a use of the magic would have been unthinkable. The magic was for important things, like enchanting swords and strengthening castle walls, not for lightening farm tools and waterproofing boots.
But now, in the aftermath and in the wilderness, survival and comfort were all that he had left. There was no civilization now, and he doubted there ever would be again. Not during his lifetime, anyway.
He shook his head to clear it. No sense chewing over that again.
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

#StoryADayMay 2

Spaghetti with sauce from a jar. Pepsi. #typicalFriday

Matt blinked hard, trying to rub the sting of exhaustion from his eyes. The tweet he had just flung into cyberspace was his usual fare: details of the boring food that was patterned after the rest of his boring life. His phone was happy to help him punctuate his existence with feeble attempts at social interaction.

“Social network”. What a joke, he thought as he leaned back against the headboard of his otherwise unoccupied bed. He figured he was one of the only people on Twitter with no followers. Zero. He had tweeted a dozen times, but no one had ever interacted with him. He understood that the “successful” Tweeters (Twitterers? whatever…) were spewing life secrets non-stop for global consumption, but he wasn’t comfortable with that. What’s sad, he thought, is that I don’t even have any secrets worth revealing.

I have no secrets. #srsly

He laughed tiredly, plugged in his phone as he set it on the nightstand, turned out the light and went to sleep.

His phone buzzed loudly, the screen awakening in the darkness.

Matt sat quickly upright and looked incredulously at the device. He just glimpsed a blue-and-white icon with some trailing text before the screen blacked out again, plunging the room in darkness.

He fumbled for the phone, tapped the home button, and read the message.

@matt4243 everyone has secrets #srsly

It was a reply from @not_matt4243. He had never heard of him (or her, he thought with a jolt of hope), of course. Weird username.

He unlocked the phone and viewed Not Matt’s profile. It was blank except for a white egg on an orange background, a typical I-don’t-have-a-profile-picture picture, or maybe an I-am-so-new-I-don’t-know-how-to-upload-a-picture picture. Whatever it was, it didn’t help Matt figure out who Not Matt was.

The phone vibrated again, and this time he saw a new Interaction. Tapping, he discovered that @not_matt4243 had followed him. Matt felt another surge of excitement. A follower! It was happening!

Quickly he tapped out a message:

@not_matt4243 not me. Nothing to hide. #srsly

He giggled to himself, thrilled that he was having a conversation with another person. Well, probably with another person, he reminded himself. Bots were very cleverly written sometimes.

But again a message came:

@matt4243 I know you do. You hide things all the time. You're not #serious.

Matt’s elation vanished like a soap bubble bursting. What was going on? The first time someone talks to him online and they’re being a jerk? Angrily he keyed in a response:

@not_matt4243 I don't even know you. Why are you saying that?
@matt4243 I was there. I saw it happen. I know. 
You didn't tell anyone, but I saw, and I know.

Matt turned on the light. He was shaking now, and his eyes were strangely blurred. Tears, he realized. He was crying. Who was Not Matt? What did he know? How did he know?

@not_matt4243 leave me alone!
@matt4243 I don't think so.

He tapped through a couple more screens and blocked Not Matt’s account to prevent any more messages. Sighing in relief, he sank back into his pillow.

His phone buzzed again.

@matt4243 not that easy. #srsly

It was a message from @not_matt4243b. Matt could barely see through the tears now as he deleted his Twitter account and let the phone clatter to the nightstand. He buried his face in his pillow, moaning and hugging himself. It wasn’t possible. No one knew what had happened. He made sure of that. The only person who saw anything was dead, because he had killed her. The only girlfriend he ever had.

Again the phone buzzed, this time with the green icon of a text message. He looked at it, whimpering.

Sorry, @matt4243. I'm still here. You didn't get rid of me then, and you can't get rid of me now.

Buzz, buzz.

You're stuck with me. I'll always, always be here, Matt.

The screen darkened once again as Matt smashed it with a baseball bat, sending pieces flying in all directions. The instant the debris settled, though, his computer screen illuminated.

Sorry, not going to work. Forget it. #srsly

Shaking, Matt crossed the room towards the LED panel. He raised the bat over his head, but then dropped it from his suddenly-numb fingers.

It's me, Matt. Jessica. #srsly

#StoryADayMay 1

He staggered along the street in the failing light. His small, brown leather bag looked as though it had been through a war, so scarred and scuffed was it.
It has been, he thought, struggling to maintain his tragically slow pace. We both have.
Lash looked around and saw a brick apartment building ahead, maybe a four-plex, about three minutes’ walk away. In his current state, though, it would probably take five or six minutes to reach the questionable safety of its walls. He shrugged the brown, leather bag more comfortably in place across his body and gritted his teeth together. This was going to be tough.
A shadow flitted by in the corner of his vision. He refused to look, instead concentrating on the maybe-haven drawing closer. He fought down a surge of panic and kept shuffling along the nearly dark street.
The blow was a surprise, though not precisely unexpected. Lash staggered but did not fall as the wiry body slammed into him from an alley to his right. He did not let his bag drop, but rather reached inside it as he spun away from his attacker. He pulled out a small, .22 calibre pistol and swung it towards the enemy.
The sights lined up on a slim, haggard boy, maybe thirteen, but with thirty years of experience in his eyes. Lash wasn’t unduly concerned by the threat the boy presented, but he didn’t like getting caught in the open, and he didn’t want his other opponents to catch up as reinforcements. That would be disaster.
Lash tried diplomacy first, more out of a sense of honour than a belief that it would be fruitful.
“Listen, kid, I know you don’t want to eat this bullet. I don’t even want to feed it to you, but we’re in a tough spot here. I need to keep walking, and you need to stop me. Trouble is, if you try to stop me, I’ll have to kill you.”
The boy’s eyes were dead flat and dangerous. Lash could see the muscles tensed on the lad’s arms, coiled and ready to spring for him.
Lash tried again. “Tell you what. You slide back into that alley you came from and I’ll keep walking. Anyone asks, I must have gone another way, ’cause no one like me came walking down this street. You live, I save a bullet and a few minutes. Win-win, kid. If you make me shoot, we’ll both regret it, ’cause these rounds ain’t cheap anymore.”
The boy’s cold eyes looked less certain behind the lank, greasy hair that fell across them. Long moments passed, then his tension drained slowly away and he stood up straight. Nodding once to Lash, the teen warrior walked calmly and silently back into the dark alley he had hidden in.

Flash Fantasy Fiction: Mining for Silvers (minor edits plus audio version)

I decided to read the flash fiction I wrote last week. When I did this, I realized there were a few errors. I’m sure there are more, and my reading of it feels a little stiff, but I’m sharing it anyway. Follow the links to download from my Google Drive.

Book 5 – Mining for Silvers.MOBI [for Kindle]

Book 5 – Mining for Silvers.ePub [for other e-Readers]

Book 5 – Mining for Silvers.mp3 [audiobook]

Book 5 – Mining for Silvers [Google Doc]

Flash Fantasy Fiction: Mining for Silvers

Just finished another very short story (701 words) in the same world I’ve been writing in. It’s fun, and always surprisingly difficult. MOBI (Kindle) version here.


Kyle drove the pickaxe into the wall. It tossed up a few sparks and jarred his arms. He was tired, but he was determined to earn his silver piece for the day. Two more cartloads of rock and he was done. Just two more.
He lifted the axe high and sent it into the rock. It thudded this time instead of sparking, and he grinned. A soft spot. He shrugged off the pain and exhaustion, raised the axe and began raining down blows upon the stone. Chips flew and a moment later a large chunk tumbled from the rock wall and rolled to a stop at his feet.
Kyle tossed the pickaxe to one side and bent to lift the boulder into his cart. As he did, he caught a glint in the torchlight. His eyes narrowed and he shuffled over to the light with the stone.
It was a ruby.
Kyle felt his blood pounding in his ears. He looked around quickly, although he knew there was no one nearby. He was one of the deepest miners in the Company, and the handful of other men down here were in their own, distant tunnels.
Carefully, he lowered the rock to the floor of the tunnel and grabbed the torch. He passed it back and forth over the surface of the stone, trying to decide how large the ruby was. He decided it might be a couple of centimetres across, but it was hard to tell.
He reached across and retrieved his pickaxe. Sitting next to the boulder he started to tap away at the grey rock surrounding the gem, trying to uncover it further. As he chipped away the dull stone, he decided that the ruby was bigger than he had originally thought, perhaps four centimetres along its length and three centimetres across. There was no way to know how deep into the rock it burrowed in the dim light.
He spent an hour or more carving the prize from the stone, careful not to damage it in any way. The edges were rough, but rubies were among the most prized gems for their ability to Warm when Infused, and even a chip that came from cutting the ruby would be worth more than his daily silver.
It wasn’t until he had broken away all he dared that he realized the problem. The ruby was far too large. There was no way he would be able to smuggle a gem of this size out of the mine; the Company searched all of their employees thoroughly as they left each day. He had hidden gems to get them past the Company before, but they were just tiny pebbles. This rock was massive. If he could get it safely out of the mine and find a buyer, he wouldn’t have to work again for years, perhaps ever.
Kyle frowned, thinking hard. He knew he should have come out with a cartload of rock already; the Company was almost certainly getting concerned already. Or suspicious, more likely. He had to move quickly, or someone would come looking for him.
He made up his mind. He dropped down at the end of his tunnel and wedged the priceless ruby into a cleft in the rock. Shaking his head in disbelief, he stood, raised his pickaxe again and brought it down hard in the very centre of the gem.
It shattered, tiny fragments showering the miner, the walls, the floor. Kyle dropped the ax and fell to his knees, gathering up the smallest pieces of the red stone and putting them in his mouth. He swallowed hard, forcing them down with water from his small waterskin, wincing as the sharp edges scraped past his throat. He smashed the largest of the remaining pieces again, and swallowed the smaller treasures that resulted. Again and again he repeated this, until his mouth was raw and bleeding, and he could find no more rubies on the floor.
He gathered up all of the worthless rocks he could find to cover the treasure in the cart, rinsed his mouth out with the last of his water, and whistled tunelessly as he pushed the heavy load back up the tunnel.

Infusing for Fun and Profit

Here’s a [very] short story I wrote last night; about 850 words. Here’s the MOBI version if it’s helpful for you.


Earlier in the evening Edgar had extinguished the torch over the door, so as he walked by now it was easy to slip into the near-darkness next to a window. He’d heard that the owner of the house was a rich, young woman who had moved into the city against her father’s wishes. He hadn’t seen her, and he expected she was home, but it didn’t matter to him. He would not be caught.
From the inside of the cuff of his jacket he took a gem – an emerald, cut into a perfect cube, very small. Edgar pressed the tiny rock against the metal securing the window lock. He looked about to make sure the street was truly empty then called forth the magic.
Bright green strands of power burst from the emerald, whipping and thrashing about his fingers. He harnessed them quickly with his mind, expertly wrapping them about the lock to Soften it. The light died away as the spell ended. Edgar took a moment to allow his eyes to adjust, then lifted the window pane slowly. The metal of the lock stretched out like a thick syrup, thinner and thinner in the middle until it finally snapped. He stopped lifting the pane and Dispelled the enchantment, tucking the emerald back into his cuff. He flattened the threads of the now-ruined latch to one side and swung his legs over the sill.
It was completely black inside the house. It was a dark night, and his eyes were not completely recovered from the brilliance of the magic. He dug inside his jacket again and drew out a metal cube, about two centimetres on a side, which was glowing faintly. He lifted up the dim light and raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.
He was in a small library, or perhaps an office. Shelves of leather-bound books covered the wall at the left end of the room, and a desk piled with books and papers stood at the other end. Books were valuable, so Edgar felt a certain temptation at the sight of the collection. He shook his head. He had broken into this house to steal jewelry. It wasn’t just for the money; there might be gems.
The door to the hall was straight ahead. He padded slowly and silently through the house, looking cautiously into each room that had an open door. There were more rooms than he expected, but most of them were open and empty. Finally he found the room he was looking for.
He smiled when he saw that the bedroom was carpeted; it made him nearly noiseless. The bed was directly in front of him and the owner of the home was asleep in it, as he expected she would be. The sound of her breathing was soft, slow, and regular. Perfect.
He quickly and quietly moved the dressing table. Opening the drawers as cautiously as he could, he held his Brightened cube up for illumination. He was disappointed to see mostly plain, silver jewelry. He was hoping for gems in the mixture, or at least some gold, but it was all silver and base metals. His information was wrong. This was not the spoiled daughter of a wealthy merchant; she was not even particularly well off. He took what he could without making any noise, leaving behind the tangled pieces and those which he thought might jingle and betray his presence to the woman sleeping two paces away.
He bit his lip as he slid the final drawer back into the table, took his too-light bag of pilfered jewelry, and returned through the darkness to the library. When he reached the window again he paused.
Nearly any book in the library was worth more than the meagre cache of jewelry he had found. Was it possible that a merchant’s daughter spent her coin on books instead of adornment?
Edgar crossed to the desk and grabbed a few of the books that were scattered across its surface, stuffing them into his bag. He also took the papers; he could read, and he felt a twinge of curiosity about the girl. Perhaps he could learn more about her from the pages of her writing. He circled the desk and discovered that it had a single, small drawer on the right-hand side. He opened it and caught his breath.
Gems. Dozens of them. Sapphires, garnets, rubies. Emeralds like the one in his cuff and diamonds like the one fused to his Brightened cube. The drawer was half full, an almost unimaginable treasure, especially to someone like Edgar.
The thief glanced about apprehensively, his stomach churning. He knew now why there was only silver in the dressing table. He knew what the wealthy girl did with her money.
She would not waste coin or gems on jewelry. She was an Infuser, like him.
He swallowed hard and closed the drawer, leaving its contents untouched. He crossed quickly to the window and slid it up again, careful to avoid the remains of the lock. After standing in the darkness of the room another moment, Edgar swung over the sill and into the night.