Tag Archives: flash fiction

Clah Versus the Volcano: a Marshmallow Roast

Clah came into being during a writing exercise a while back, and I had a ton of fun writing about her. A few folks I know enjoyed Clah’s brief flash fiction introduction. They wanted to see more of her adventures. Who am I to argue? When I started writing 15 minutes a day, a new Clah story was one of the first things on my list.

Personally, I think it would be best to read Clah and the Ship before this new installment, but it isn’t necessary. Both stories stand alone.

Clah Versus the Volcano tries to keep the same dark whimsy feel as the original. Same content warning as last time: maybe read the story first before sharing it with smaller children.

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Clah Versus the Volcano: a Marshmallow Roast

by William Munn

Slow and rhythmic, the swaying midnight black tail lulled Clah as she slurped blood from the dead snake’s neck. At the edge of her vision, she could see the tail’s circular stripes encircling the viper’s body in a pale red that matched the lifeless reptilian head lying on the nearby loam. Reptiles were far from Clah’s favorite breakfast, not warm enough for her tastes, and yet one ate what one could catch and kill. Since the recent eruption of her island’s central mountain, and the feast of fleeing animals driven before it, she was having a harder time finding anything furry to eat. Creatures with some fuzz on them were her favorite, you see. Not because they tasted the best, but because it always amused her the way they tickled around the edges of her mouth while she ate.

Clah finished draining the remainder of the snake’s life, and she spat its neck out onto the floor of the forest with some distaste. It landed near the severed head, a sharp contrast to the mossy ground, in a loose pile of noodly limpness. Once, Clah had hidden behind a moss-grown mound as she watched similar viper strike. Its prey was a small fuzzy beast with cute little pink ears and large brown eyes. Those brown eyes stopped darting about as the snake’s venom took hold, paralyzing the fear in them. The struggle ended with the reptile opening its mouth wide and swallowing the creature whole. It was an unpleasant sight indeed, and one Clah never wished to see again. What kind of monster eats their meal whole? she thought.

Where do the bones go?

A shudder started in Clah’s shoulders and extended down to her toes. She bounded away from the deceased serpent to a nearby spot where rare sunlight gleamed through to the forest floor. The beams of shining light reprimanded the mist that still clung nervously to the bases of trees and undergrowth. Delicate and deadly, Clah curled up in a neat ball in the midst of those beams and fell quickly to sleep. Her dreams were soon filled with thoughts of sailors and other delicious morsels.

Visions so delightful weren’t meant to last, and soon Clah awakened to an uncouth and near-deafening rumble. A sound of this nature could mean only one thing, and as she came fully awake, she noticed the ground shaking. Clah uncurled from her comfortable position and looked up in the direction of the single blackened peak at the center of her homeland. Gigantic billows of smoke and ash rushed forth from the open maw at the mountain’s summit, and dully glowing rocks were arching through the sky away from the opening in a firestorm of sizzling death. Wave upon wave of glowing red fire rock poured out of the top of the mountain and down its side toward the forest below. Clah wondered somewhat idly what would make the land behave in this way. She watched in awe for a moment, until the molten wave of devastation crashed over and through the first row of trees and began coursing through the woods in a fiery wave. Another explosion rocked the island, and the ground quaked anew as one side of the mountain simply gave way. A full quarter of the mountain avalanched down to the now burning trees below, followed by another gush of glowing lava. The ground bucked so hard she could barely retain her footing.

It was at this point, Clah considered the fact she may be in real danger. If even the very earth would not maintain its shape in the face of such destruction, perhaps her home in the craggy cliff by the sea was at risk. She turned and leaped away toward the crag. There was one item in her home she must rescue which might also rescue her. She scrambled— jumping over fallen trees, mossy hillocks, and the rushing stream that ran through this part of the forest. The ground shook with another explosion, and Clah dared not look back for fear of risking her footing while dashing through the woods at top speed. A bird took flight from a tree in front of her, fleeing the same general direction as Clah. It was one of the white plumed flyers with a hooked beak. She had always wanted to taste one, but never could because they were too crafty to be caught. No time for such thought, she kept to her route as the flyer veered away, and Clah bounded to the edge of her cliff and scrabbled down it.

Clah stole one glance back at the burning catastrophe and noted that more than half the forest was now buried or in flames. She darted inside the cliff-face gap with the agility of one hyper-familiar with their surroundings. Touch was the only sense she needed, and it was well because the sky was darkening as the growing cloud of ash moved to cover the sun. The crag was in shadow on a sunny day, and now its interior was near complete darkness. Clah made her way to the back of her home and found the thing she was looking for. The small log raft onetime shipwrecked sailor had built at the edge of the forest on a beach near the mountain tree line was right where she left it.

Clah had been fascinated in the sailor’s progress as he worked to craft the vessel, and kindly waited to eat him until he finished his creation and was pushing it into the waves. She played on the boat in the surf of the beach that day, but only after enjoying her meal atop it, and giving the sailor an impromptu burial at sea by nudging him overboard. Being the curious creature she was, Clah wondered at how the raft could stay afloat with her riding its ridged back in the shallow waves of the incoming tide. Perhaps it was sinking, but very slowly, she thought. In the end, she had dragged the log construct to the crag, and now occasionally brought the raft out to play with it in the safer cove just north of her rocky one.

Today she pulled the vessel back to the cove quickly. Only as needed did she stop to hoist it over her head so not to damage it on the jagged lava rock jutting up from the black sand of her beach. She peered nervously at the mountain, and it shuddered and rumbled deeply again as if admonishing her, and another gout of fiery liquid rock flowed over its edge and sped across the already darkening layer beneath. Some already reached the edge of the forest at the north cliff of the cove. It was spilling over the brink and pushing out across the sand.

Clah rushed to the spot she intended to launch from, she pushed the raft into the surf and climbed atop it, paddling at the water with two legs to gain more distance. Moments later, ocean water hissed and steamed as lava pushed out into it, blackening on contact and releasing a stench like eggs left too long without a mother to tend them. As the tide took her out to sea, Clah watched her only home shrink in the distance and wondered where the ocean would guide her tiny craft.

Clah and the Ship: a Bedtime Story

A fun thing happened the other day. My writing group got together, and WE WROTE! It was a really fun idea that Steve Diamond gave us while we were attending LTUE last month. We each picked two (or more) words from a list of random words and wrote a complete story with them.

You know. A. Complete. Story.

Beginning. Middle. End?

Anyway, the stories that came out of this exercise were really fantastic and further convinced me that I am the least talented member of our group. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the little story I put together and I’m going to share it with both of you! You don’t even have to fight each other for the right to read it!

I’m calling it a “bedtime story” because it feels fun and a bit whimsical to me, but beware– this bedtime story does have a bit of a dark side. Consider this the only content warning you will get: maybe read the story first before sharing it with smaller children.

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Clah and the Ship: a Bedtime Story

by William Munn

clahWave

The waves curled their way over the sparkling black sand and dragged it through craggy lava formations and out into the roiling surf. When the light caught the swells from the right angle, they shone with an inner light that was unknown anywhere else in the land. Those beautiful, rhythmic arms of the sea rose and fell with hypnotic and deadly regularity. Occasionally, ships could be seen in the distance en route to some far-off destination. No one attempted to make landfall on this beach for the rocks would make it sheer folly.

This day was darker than most. An ominous storm savaged the western horizon, tendrils of it reaching out to the onyx land of the isle like wavy boneless fingers. The waves rose higher, driven by the gales of the malevolent front, and the sea birds that oft frequented the craggy shore in search of dinner had flown off looking for a less precarious perch.

Clah was not afraid of such perils as changeable as the weather. Indeed, she willed the storm to her from her crag in the base of the cliff wall just behind the beach. The sheer basalt wall had been her home through many such encounters, and Clah knew that a storm of this magnitude could bring untold treasures to the isle. She walked out onto the sand on all of her appendages, her dark eyes scanning the coast for anything of interest. When she noticed it, Clah scurried back into her home and watched from the safe vantage because she was cautious, and the object of her interest was far closer than she had dared to hope.

The ship was quite large, and rising from its middle were two enormous poles as big as tree trunks from the jungle atop the cliff. They had crossbeams attached and swathed in bunched-up white cloths of wind-catching. To the wildly bucking rear of the craft, there was a raised area where many men scrambled about like angry ants trying to do something with a round, wooden object. The circular roundwood thing had a dozen or so sticks protruding from it at evenly-spaced intervals. It didn’t seem to be responding in a way that pleased the men, and indeed, the ship appeared to be making its way rapidly toward the stony shore broad side first. The waves had grown with the winds and the darkness in the West was doing the same. They propelled the vessel with effortless ease to the doom Clah had foreseen from the moment she first spotted it.

It collided with crushing force, the breakers thrusting it at a speed the ship would not have normally attained on its best day, the crashing groan was so deafening as to drown out even the mighty waves and shrieking wind. Men flew from the ship with the force of the impact, some of them flung through the air hurling toward the beach, only to be caught and impaled upon the cruel rocks or crushed upon them by the prodigious weight of the pounding surf.

But. One man was flung free. He was clear of the reefs, and the tall waves snatched at him as he fought his way to his feet, stumbling away from the vicious ocean and her mighty disdain for the lives of men. He shuddered at the booming crack, as the spine of the ship was defeated by the forces arrayed against it. He turned gasping to stare as the rest of the boat gave way and started to release its ribs, spilling interior contents out like the guts of a man disemboweled.

Clah chose that moment to spring upon her prey, hurtling from her crag, to sink her wicked teeth into the neck of the unsuspecting sailor. He was delicious if a bit gritty from the granules of black sand that still clung to his skin. She hadn’t had a treat this savory since two storms prior when a man and his son had taken refuge on a beach some miles to the north.

Sighing with the contentment of the truly satiated, Clah curled up next to the now slumped man and watched with pleasure as the waves continued to roll in stronger and more powerful. After a time, she drowsily made her way back to her home in the crag and let the rhythm of the storm and the ocean lull her into a tranquil sleep.

Gross Misuse – Flash Fiction In The RFR Universe

Happy Halloween! Well, tomorrow anyway. You get the idea.

pumpkin

Behold! A flash fiction story in the world of Rue From Ruin. It is not an official part of the story, but it is intimately related to it. I repeat, this IS NOT RFR – Part 5. If nothing else, it’s a bit more light-hearted than Rue. It also has a different protagonist. Thanks as always to my lovely sounding board, Meri, and also to my good friend Michael Ripplinger, for keeping me from publishing an unreadable Halloween nightmare of crappy writing.

At any rate, it was an absolute blast to write. Perhaps Gross Misuse is the start of a new tradition on the blog. Flash fiction for Halloween in the world of one of my longer stories.

I hope you enjoy…

Gross Misuse

It was usually quiet here. I remember the first time I was placed in my dark, narrow home with my brothers. So cozy.

The cleanings once happened regularly. Strong chemicals were employed, removing the buildup of time. But those days were gone, and it had been some time since the people in gray and white had come. My siblings and I were no longer our spotless and shiny selves.

There is absolute despair in disuse. Always lying still; never called upon for the job for which you were made. Though – I would never have wished for what happened this day.

The day passed slowly like any other but pass it did. The light of it bled through a crack in the door to our darkened home. I longed, as always, to be brought out into that light. The world needed to know I hadn’t lost my edge.

When night fell, my brothers and I lay in silence as our domicile returned to nearly complete darkness. We heard a crashing noise, quite strange after what seemed like ages of stillness. It startled me, but, of course, I could not jump. It is not in my nature to do so.

A terrible snarling followed the crash, and a high pitched sound howled into the night.

My home was torn from its enclosure, and everything I knew was turned upside down. The violence of this sudden eviction was such that my brothers and I flew from our confined space. Our oddly-shaped cousins from neighboring homes met us in mid-flight. The sound of our meeting was a cacophony of tinkles, clangs, and clinks.

During that split second in mid-air, I wondered if I would be stuck somewhere at the end of my impromptu flight. Would I be left, dulling, half embedded in some weaker material?

No. That was not to be my fate.

A strange, strong grip plucked me out of the air. It was firm and rough; more so than any hand that had held me before. It also seemed to… smoke. That’s probably not the right word. It was like I was made of dry ice and evaporation was squeezing its way out from between where we touched. Having been forged at over nine hundred degrees Celsius, I knew it wasn’t I releasing the foul-smelling vapor into the air.

The hand seemed to tremble as if in pain but tightened its grip in response. It bubbled a wet and putrid ooze against me. The hand’s owner ran, chasing a second form at the edge of sight. The figure was difficult to make out at such high speed. I caught a glimpse of my captor as he wiped his scruffy face with the back of his arm. We had burst out into the moonlit night, and his rough features were mostly visible. He was hairier than most men I’d seen. Unkempt. Something was off about him as well, but I couldn’t quite place it.

There was no time to ponder the strangeness of it as my abductor sprinted and leaped to catch his prey. He slashed out powerfully with me. I found my target and reveled in the feeling of slicing through skin, flesh, gristle, and even bone. I hope you’ll pardon the cliche, but I was like a hot knife slicing through butter.

The feeling was exhilarating at first. I was meant for this! Cutting, chopping, carving, slicing – but no, not into a living being. Not like this.

I was an instrument of the glorious kitchen. Made for working with food, not killing things like some crude slaughterers implement.

Still. I cannot deny the pleasure I felt in my heart at being put to use.

It almost distracted me from the howl of pain and the stench that rose from the body I had cut. It was the same reaction that came from the seething hand that held me. I noted that there was blood on me now, and it was boiling and steaming as well. The odor sickened me.

My captor leaped at his prey knocking him to the ground. He laid my frothing blade against the neck, daring the creature to move. A thin wisp of mist rose from the spot where my edge rested firmly. I couldn’t quite see my victim’s face. Its neck was enormous and was covered in unusually thick, coarse hair. This creature was even stranger and stronger than one that grasped me.

I resigned myself to the fact I had become an instrument of death. I would probably end up in an evidence lockup.

Then, my wielder began to speak.

Perhaps this day would end without a death on my conscience after all. As a silver butter knife, I never expected to be holding onto that hope so feebly.

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If you enjoyed Gross Misuse and are unfamiliar with my serial story Rue From Ruin, you should check it out. I have a least three readers who think it is extra neat!