This was for Flash Fiction Friday. Here's what the challenge was:
F3 - Cycle 84 - Tick, Tick, Boom
Director Alfred Hitchcock had this to say about suspense versus surprise:
“There’s two people having breakfast and there’s a bomb under the table. If it explodes, that’s a surprise. But if it doesn’t…”
That’s suspense. The dread hanging over the characters like the Sword of Damocles, suspended by a single hair. In the best suspense stories, you actually feel the writer’s fingers around your heart, pumping you like a Martian squeeze toy, making you flip pages faster and faster.
It’s not easy. Oh, the literary critics scoff at suspense writers. Say it’s the easy way out, giving us a terrible outcome to dread. To do it properly, you have to make us care about the poor character tiptoeing on the ice of laser shark lake. And that’s not always easy. I mean, you don’t want readers cheering for the shark, do you?
My challenge to you, is to use Hitchcock’s ticking bomb. It can be an actual bomb. It can be a figurative one. You have 1500 words. Make every one of them count, so we care about your character when the bomb goes off… or they defuse it.
Cue: Write a story of gripping suspense, with a “ticking bomb” of some sort.
Genre: Suspense (may be mixed with fantasy, western, SF, horror… any)
Word Count: 1500
Deadline: Your own ticking time bomb! When the bell tolls at midnight on Wednesday June 21st!
Had a lot of trouble thinking of a story to write, to add suspense to. I ended up looking on Flash Fiction Chronicles for a daily prompt - picked this one for some words to think of, and a quote.
DAILY PROMPT: JUNE 19 2012 - UPSTAIRS-CHEEKY-COUGAR-SCARLET-WINE-TRADE OFF-WIRY-SHELF-LIBERTY-WINDSHIELD
Quote - Not the power to remember, but it's very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence - Saint Basil
Story then came OK - big challenge then was to get it into my blog via an iPad - what a pain. Will go back and format a bit more and edit once I get home - this will be a draft.
"I just hope I don't have a wardrobe malfunction," said the witch.
Red tugged at a strap, and the latticework of lace shifted slightly. "There," she said. "don't wiggle too much, just perch on the bar stool and show some leg. I'll be behind the bar, I'll let you know if anything slips out."
"Who else is playing out this story with us?" asked the witch.
"The wolf is the young stud -easy role for him- and Snow White will be a sweet young thing perched near you at the bar. Flirty, animated sort, skimpy clothes, maybe into drugs, high heels that say 'do me', and annoyingly thin. As in size zero dress. Wiry little thing."
"Should be easy for her to play," said the witch. "I do worry about her, though. She hasn't taken our re-assignments well."
The witch and her friends had been brought to life by the Grimms' tales, then left adrift when interest in the stories faded. Luckily their power to bring a story to life, to boost emotional impact, was still needed. Hence their current assignment.
The witch checked her makeup one more time. "I'm glad that Snow has decided to join us, she is a good fit for this character. I just hope she's not into drugs in her between the stories life too. I'll talk with her later. Let's get going now. Story outline looks easy, let's go breath some magic into it."
She crossed her legs and smiled at the bartender. "Hi, I'm Martha, nice place here. I think I'll start the evening with a JagerBomb."
"You got it," said the bartender. "I'm Celia. Nice outfit you've got on, I like all that peek-a-boo you've got happening."
"Thanks Celia. I need all the help I can get to bait my hook, I don't have a sexy young body like yours anymore."
"Don't worry, you'll still turn some eyes," said Celia.
"I remember when I used to turn all of them," said Martha. "Sometimes wish I didn't remember those days, how easy it was, all the guys, all the parties".
"Well, it is a young crowd in here," said Celia. "More my age."
"Suits me fine," said Martha. "I like the challenge of the chase, sometimes even fighting with some trash over a guy."
She gazed around the room, not too crowded yet. Some skinny little thing sat a few bar stools away, tapping her foot nervously. She had black hair piled high, pale skin, bright eyes, a couple of tattoos, scarlet lipstick, and a minuscule dress over her scrawny frame. Sort of a skanky look.
Skinny girl stared back at Martha, smirked, and looked away.
Martha glared back. Oh, bring it on girl. She could feel an extra bit of aura from the girl, pumping up her appeal, so cranked up hers too. She could already see a few eyes turning towards the bar - obviously for her. Even the most minor of the bit players would be part of the story, both this initial version and subsequent retelling.
"Another drink?" asked Celia.
"Sure," said Martha. She checked her watch then looked over at the door. There he was, right on time, all six foot four inches of him, long black hair brushed back, piercing eyes, strong nose, full lips, that unshaven rugged look, v-necked tshirt to show both some chest hair and his biceps, tight leather pants, and Western boots. And - not that it was really needed - a powerful projection of raw sex. The room silenced long enough to hear a few gasps and sighs, then the buzz resumed, even higher. Martha checked her dress- still ok - then added a little spell to boost her look. Game on. She could sense the increased level of pheromones in the room, as the other bit players reacted the three of them, and reacted to each other in response. Most were here to get some action. The ladies preened, fluffed their hair, hiked their skirts a little higher, and laughed a little louder. The men glowered at each other, flexed their muscles, and tried to check out the two women at the bar without their own girlfriends noticing - unsuccessfully. The new arrival smiled around the room, managing to imply to all the women that they were on his list for later, and to all the men that he was less of a rival and more of a buddy to share a pitcher of draft with later on.
He walked over to the bar and smiled. "Ladies, good evening," he said. "I'm Romulus."
The skinny girl spoke up first. "Hi, I'm Tammy. I'm here with my grandma." She gestured over at Martha.
Martha smiled graciously. "I'm Martha, no relationship to this poor scrawny thing. Can I buy you a scotch and tell you about some of the positions I learned in my Tantric yoga classes?"
Tammy hopped down off her bar stool. "Hey, who are you calling scrawny, lard ass?"
Romulus held up his hands. "Now ladies, I can appreciate both a boyish figure and the more Reubenesque. But would a fight really solve anything? Especially since it's obvious who would win?" He smiled at them both.
Martha slipped down from her bar stool. "Yes. it is rather obvious." She walked over to Tammy and gave her a shove. "Go away, little stick girl. If you really are a girl."
Tammy stumbled back, paused, then launched herself at Martha. They screamed and punched at each other, shoving back and forth, then suddenly Martha was on her back, with Tammy straddling her, holding a knife to Martha's neck.
"This ends now, bitch," Tammy yelled as she started to push the point in.
The witch knew they couldn't really be killed in the stories, but it would feel like it - she knew from experience. And this had gone much further than planned. The wolf pulled at Snow's shoulders, but her legs were wrapped around the witch, one hand twisted in her hair, the other pushing the knife against her neck. The witch could feel a sharp pain, and a trickle of warm blood running down her neck. She pushed with her hands, and her power, and whatever spells she could think up in her panic."Snow, Snow, it's me, it's Agnes, snap out of it! It's only a story."
Snow yelled, pushed harder, her eyes wild. Then she paused, relaxed, and suddenly sat back. "Oh jeez, sorry Agnes. Are you OK? I really got carried away. I guess I took your comments to heart, just triggered something."
"That's OK," said the witch. "I'll need to weave a spell or two to edit this ending out. But what about you?"
"I'm fine," said Snow. "Don't worry about me." She adjusted her little dress than walked out.
Romulus and Agnes looked at each other, both raising an eyebrow.