Attention: Due to the holiday madness, we will not be hosting CFFC this Saturday! We will see you (hopefully) back in 2016, on the 2nd! (Note: Make a New Year's resolution to write more flash fiction!)
|I couldn't resist. It's a classic. I only wish I could find it in gif format.|
But before you go! Be sure to read the results for Week 21! :D
Steph Ellis' Reunited
Mars: I like the eerie tone of this piece, only complemented by the theme of karma--he buried his wife, and ended up getting buried by himself. Very poetic. His descent into madness over his sin is clear, only emphasized by the haunting image of his wife returning to whisper in his ear or appear to drive him to insanity.
Although the characterization is well done in this piece, I didn't have a large attachment to this character. When his death scene was upon him, I didn't find myself cheering, "Yes! He totally got what he deserved!" (even though I suspect he did), nor did I really feel sorry for him.
I really like the line, "And now he could clearly see her face, framed by the moon's spotlight." It brings a vibrant image to mind amidst the literal and figurative darkness in the narrative and tone of the piece. Overall, excellent little flash.
Rin: Oooh, this was a nice, creepy twist on the prompt! Lots of good imagery in this, making it easy to envision it, but I wish there had been a bit more explanation as to why he’d killed her to begin with. The fast pace of it fit well with the chilling tone of the piece and the one-sided dialogue built up the tension nicely. I think my favorite line in this one was ‘By rights, there should be snow, a dusting of purification to absolve his sins, keep his crime from prying eyes but instead she was coming back, reappearing.’ Shiver-inducing. Very nice!
First Runner Up
Bill Engleson's The Hills of Forever
Mars: The strong point of this piece is the overall tone and the voice of the characters; in the way of conflict, the story wasn't very compelling, since it's just a little screenshot of a thing, but from a pure tonality standpoint, the lack of conflict only adds to the desolate tone of the piece.
I thought a better justification might have been in order for headed towards the hills--I'd say the evil you know (returning to the highway even if it's 60-75 miles away; about 15 hours away at 5 mph) is better than the one you don't (the hills). I was curious why they didn't know how far away their destination was? Unless this is written in the days before google maps or gps (or road signs?) one would assume distances were something travellers would have a vague idea of.
I appreciate the last three lines, and the very last line certainly leaves you wondering what kind of life he led; they certainly amplify his voice, as well. Intriguing and thoughtful.
Rin: The prompt was used well in this piece, giving us a good feel for the desert setting right from the very first sentence. The characters were distinct and I like how there wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but what there was felt natural and had good flow. There were a lot of good lines in this piece, but my favorite line in this piece was ‘In the chimera of the heat, the hills had looked closer.’ I love that mental imagery. I only wish that I’d been given a little more reason to care about these characters, aside from them just being stranded in the desert. A worthy goal to root for them for or a reason to be disappointed when they failed to make it. That last line was a good wrap up, letting us have a taste of his despair and failure. Of when his hope was finally lost. Great job!
with Dust Red As Blood
Mars: Arek's emotions come off as raw and roiling, which is excellent; the grief, anger, and barganing was worked in there very nicely. He felt like a three-dimensional character, which can be hard to do in 300 words!
The beginning and ending of the story seem formatted oddly to me. The first paragraph is bulky; it addresses at least two different topics, and could be broken up in two or three paragraphs for clarity and/or emphasis. Observe:
Arek dug his fingers into the dry ground. Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands. Tears turned the world to a blurred, red puddle even as he pushed more of the dirt from the quickly dug grave. He wiped his face, leaving it painted in streaks of red dust, tears, and blood.
Some way from him, standing close to the Veil usually hidden from mortals, was one of the Guardians of the Veil. Her light blue cloak stood in stark contrast to the deep brown of the leather armour she wore. Her face was veiled and her right hand hand was clenched around a spear. She stared out over the flat plain dotted with small settlements.
Behind her the shrine of the Khalne Alima stood broken and burnt.
This way feels is easier to read, clarifies different topics, and gives emphasis to an important line.
Similarly, at the end, I felt the last line was very abrupt formatted as it is; it feels as though it should either be followed up by a second concluding line, or be on its own line; there's no pause between thoughts, and so it feels unfinished.
Another thing I love about this piece: the enigma of the guardian. There's kind of an intense level of worldbuilding going on in this little flash fiction. We see that there's a clergy for this religion, there are shrines for a holy figure(s), we get a glimpse into the afterlife of this world, we can infer that the guardian doesn't normally talk to people, and we got a description of the guardian. There's probably other stuff I could find to list here, but wow. It definitely got my attention.
Rin: The description in this piece immediately transported me into the story. I became Arek. My favorite line was ‘Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands.’ I could feel the dirt under his nails, the way it caked on his wrinkled skin, telling me he was an older man. All the little details showed instead of told, bringing the setting to life without bogging it down and letting it keep a good pace. Arek and the Guardian came across as a fully developed characters and I liked the description of the Guardian’s speech, giving an ethereal feel to her. The twist at the end was good, I was not expecting him to be dead. And since he couldn’t see the boy in his afterlife form, it left me wondering if the boy was dead at all or just unconscious. A good ending, to a great piece! Congrats!
Dust Red As Blood
Arek dug his fingers into the dry ground. Red dust caked beneath the priest’s fingernails and clung to the blood staining his wrinkled hands. Tears turned the world to a blurred, red puddle even as he pushed more of the dirt from the quickly dug grave. He wiped his face, leaving it painted in streaks of red dust, tears, and blood. Some way from him, standing close to the Veil usually hidden from mortals, was one of the Guardians of the Veil. Her light blue cloak stood in stark contrast to the deep brown of the leather armour she wore. Her face was veiled and her right hand hand was clenched around a spear. She stared out over the flat plain dotted with small settlements. Behind her the shrine of the Khalne Alima stood broken and burnt.
“Why did you not take me?” he shouted at her. She turned a solemn face towards him. A frown pulled at her brow.
“I was the one who should have guarded the shrine today. You should have taken me!” Arek shouted.
She did not move and kept on staring at him. Behind her the Veil glimmered as if it, too, was seen through tears.
Arek got up and staggered towards her.
“Please, let us trade places,” he pleaded. “Galeun is too young. He was never supposed to have been here.”
“You came as soon as you saw the fire at the shrine. You did not think of your own wellbeing,” she said. The Guardian’s words were clipped as if she was unused to talking.
“You are asking something of me which I cannot give.” The Guardian pointed over his shoulder and the man turned around. On the ground, next to the boy, was his own body, disfigured from the wounds dealt to him.
See you in 2016!