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Our mentor’s dungeon was full of nightmares, and Mal was more afraid than any of us.  From the fossilized Gorgon eye, to the vials of boiling basilisk blood, everything terrified him, but I knew I scared him more than any of those things.

But a necromancer mustn’t know fear, so I cornered him one day beneath the Hydra’s skeleton.  Grabbing him by the collar, I slammed him against the wall.  Wildfire blazed in my eyes as I glared into his and leaned in close with a growl.

And then our lips met, and I felt the fear melt away.
FFM 31 - Fear
Flash-Fic-Month July 31, 2016
Challenge:  Pick your poison.

There were a bunch of challenges available, and this is the one I ended up with: 
Bullet; Blue Your story must revolve around a kiss. Any kiss.
Bullet; Blue Include the skeleton of a non-human animal.
Bullet; Blue One of your characters must face his or her biggest fear.
Bullet; Blue Do all of this in under 100 words.
suggested by ThornyEnglishRose last year

I usually try to end the month with a bang, but this year was a struggle and a half.  Way too little time for me to keep up on the writing and make it consistently good, but there were a few I was pretty proud of this year.  I actually missed all of the non-challenge pieces from this last week, which means I have four stories to finish up if I want a complete year, but I think I might just leave it as is.  This is my seventh year in a row, and everyone has to take a little bit of a defeat now and then.  Overall, I'm still proud of myself for doing as much as I did, given the circumstances.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that kept me going throughout the year.  Most notably, vigour-mortis, C-A-Harland, KiriHearts and ilyilaice come to mind as folks that were always there to read and comment when I was thinking of giving up, even though I had little to no time to read or comment on anything at all this month.  Make sure you give them lots and lots of love on my behalf, as they're all great writers as well as awesome people.  Weaponised falls into this category too, as well as IntelligentZombie and TheBrokenBride and SCFrankles and ... hell, a whole lot of people.  I could keep listing names till next July, but I'm going to leave it there.  Sorry as hell if you got left off the list, but chances are you know that I love you anyway.  (Zig, Joe, etc, y'all know how great you are already.)

Aaaannnyyywwaaayy... It's been a fun year, even if it did almost kill me (it always does), and blah blah maybe I'll be around blah blah whatever.  I'll see y'all next July for sure.  In the meantime.... VIVA! (And yes, this comment is longer than the story itself.  Oops.)
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“We’re going to make a super-sonic man out of you,” someone had said when they wheeled his stretcher into the lab, but in retrospect he was certain that it wasn’t Doctor Jones.  Whoever it had been, they hadn’t oversold the process.  He was certain that he was breathing his last breaths only a week earlier, and now he was lifting weights in a highly classified gym somewhere below the Nevada desert.  The facility was a subterranean labyrinth designated only as TVC15, and Joe had no idea how deep its tunnels ran, nor what other scary monsters and super creeps like himself took residence there.

This particular experiment was headed up by Doctor Robert Jones, whose mismatched eyes and enigmatic smile would have set Joe on edge if he didn’t have such a gentle manner to him.  “Excellent work, Joe,” he said with his crisp English accent, scribbling a note on his clipboard.  “And now the next set.”

Joe dropped the weights to the floor with a thunderous slam and stepped aside to the next set.  The dumbbells had no marking to reveal their precise weight to him, but their size and density led him to believe that he probably shouldn’t be lifting them so easily.  Especially not this soon after totaling his car.  When he dropped this set, he could feel the shock through the slab floors.

“Spectacular,” Jones breathed, “Truly magnificent.  Homo superior in action.”

“Hey, watch it with the homo talk,” Joe tried for a joke, awkwardly rubbing his hands together.  They felt a little like when he tried to carry too many groceries at once.  “So?”

“So physically, you’re ready.”

“Physically,” Joe laughed.

“Indeed.  Psychologically… we’re not so sure.”  He flipped through his notes.  “Would you like a seat?”

“No thank you.  Did plenty enough sitting and lying after the accident.”

“Okay.  Well, the serums are working marvelously.  Your body has already rebuilt well beyond your peak state before the accident.  Energy projection is outstanding, and your flight times are phenomenal.  Way faster than Captain Reactor.”  He smiled proudly as he glanced up from the clipboard, and Joe awkwardly tried to mirror the bright grin.  “But you’re still holding back.”

“I mean… now that I’m actually up and alert and thinking clearly, I just… What about Rosalyn?  Y’know, she was gonna be my wife, and now I’m supposed to just let her think I’m dead?”

“Joe, you are dead.  Or at least you were, for a few moments.  We are the dead.  All of us, here.  Those who have already lost our lives, fighting to protect those who still have theirs.  If Rosalyn knows you’re alive, it only makes things harder for her.  And more dangerous!”

“You keep saying ‘we,’ but I’m the one going out there and playing your game—“

“It’s no game, Joe.  It’s a criminal world out there, and things are only getting worse.  The Diamond Dogs are tearing Suffragette City to the ground.  This new Blackstar fellow just abducted hundreds of people off to his secret lab.  The police are completely overwhelmed, and the Super Squad has been off dealing with The Bombers over in Los Abismo.  We could be heroes, Joe.  You could.”

“Why me?  Why don’t you do it?”

“Because you’re young.  And I’m old.  I’m no fighter anymore, but just an idea man who remembers true heroism.  The last of the dreamers, you could say.  Even if I went through all of the gene therapy you have, and received all of the implants, my body simply would not receive the program as well.” There was a hint of sadness in the doctor’s tone, and it occurred to Joe that this man actually wanted to go out there and fight crime himself.  “You, on the other hand…”

“Look, God knows I’m good at lifting shit and flying now—which is awesome, by the way—but you’re talking about actually going out there and fighting criminals and super villains.  The Despicable Void is not going to be impressed by my ability to lift ridiculously heavy weights.”  Joe could feel his tone rising, and the heat flashing up in his cheeks and hands, and he took a deep breath to calm himself.  Lowering his tone, he continued:  “I’m just an average Joe.  I was starting to have a life, man.  Ros is pregnant, and now I don’t get to see Emily play in the front yard?  Instead I go out there in a mask and throw myself into the shit as the world falls down?”

“That’s about the shape of things,” Doctor Jones replied levelly.

“I can’t give everything away.”

“You agreed to this.  You would be dead if not for that agreement.  Either way, Ros and Emily lose you.  Let that life go.  Turn and face the strange.  There are new worlds ahead of you.  I can understand your sorrow, but now is not the time for that.  Now is time for Joe the lion.  Joe the giant-killer.”  He signaled to someone on the other side of the one-way mirror, and a lab assistant walked in to set a steel briefcase on the table next to Dr. Jones, and left.  “You don’t have to worry about Joe’s concerns anymore,” Jones continued, flipping open the latches.  “Instead, you can lose yourself in the role of Mister Fahrenheit. “

The lid opened and Joe looked down upon a folded costume, with the mask that would become his new face.  Like most of the superheroes running around, it was bright and colorful, with a lightning bolt across one side of the mask.  Beginning to truly feel the weight of destiny, the future legend held the mask between his fingertips.

“All endings are beginnings, Joe.  And this one is particularly fortuitous, for in truth it’s the beginning of an end.  An end to the anarchy and confusion growing in our world.  A way to truly protect the people you love.  What do you say, Joe?”

That’s when Joe died, and I began.
FFM 29 - The Supersonic Man
Flash-Fic-Month July 29, 2016
Challenge: 

Bullet; Black ELEMENT ONE - We are the dead

Your story for today must explore themes of death and/or identity.


Bullet; Purple ELEMENT TWO - For in truth, it's the beginning of an end

Include something beginning and something ending. 

Bullet; White ELEMENT THREE - Homo Superior

Incorporate Transhumanism into your story.


Bullet; Purple ELEMENT FOUR - Turn and face the strange

Include at least 10 David Bowie quotes and/or lyrics into your work. Be sure to cite them in your artist's comment!


(I used these:

TVC15

Scary monsters (And super creeps)

Homo superior

Rosalyn

Be my wife

We are the dead

It’s no game

Diamond dogs

Suffragette city

Blackstar

Bombers

We could be heroes

Because you’re young

The last of the dreamers

See Emily play

As the world falls down

The shape of things

I can’t give everything away

Turn and face the strange

Joe the lion

Future legend

For in truth it’s the  beginning of an end



And probably a few more that I forgot. 

Bullet; Black ELEMENT FIVE - The last of the dreamers

Include a character that is based on David Bowie. Enigmatic musician? Alien? Chameleon superstar? A young boy(or girl) with a passion for music, and a dilated pupil damaged in a schoolyard fight? 

They don't have to be the main character, and it doesn't have to be Bowie per se, but it should be some facet or fictionalised incarnation of him given life.  




... So yes, I realize that Don't Stop Me Now is actually a Queen song, but somehow I felt that representing Joe with a Freddy Mercury tune was acceptable in the greater framework.  Obviously Robert Jones comes from David Robert Jones (Bowie's real name), and I tried to put as much of his actual mannerisms and stuff as I could, and then placed him in the center of a labyrinth.

I think that Bowie taught a lot of us that it was okay to be weird, and okay to look closer at things that might otherwise seem unbelievable and even scary.  I think that for a lot of his fans, when he passed it felt like losing a mentor of some sort.  It only seemed right to put him in that position, guiding someone as they went through their ch-ch-changes, showing them the bizarre wonders hidden inside of themselves, and then giving them a fabulous costume.  (There was going to be something in there about how that one used to be his, and how they would have to modify it for Joe, but no room for all that, so we get to assume that Joe flies around looking like Ziggy Stardust, I guess.)

That paragraph kinda got away from me, I think.  Anyway, I think I like this.  Connects with a couple of other flash fics I've done over the past few years, and this Joe may have actually been in one (or that could've been another Joe in the same superhero world.  Meh.)

Anyway, we miss you, Bowie.  I considered not writing again today, but it was DBD, so I had to.  :heart:  Viva, folks. 
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My captor told me not to talk, but I coulda said so much.  Coulda told him these mountains were ogre territory.  Coulda told him his garish uniform matched female ogre body-paints.  I coulda told him it was mating season.  I even coulda told him that that rock he was leaning against... wasn’t a rock.

Coulda.
FFM 27 - Coulda
Flash-Fic-Month July 27, 2016
Challenge: 55 words, no dialogue, speculative fiction.

Subtitle "But he was dressed like a ho."  I don't think there's much more to say about this one. We can assume the dude deserved whatever he got, if he was someone's captor.   ANYWAYS.... Viva!
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                The capital city of Fahul was a flurry of panic, as everyone with any sense hurriedly packed up their most important belongings, grabbed their families, and fled for any border they thought they could reach.  Not just out of the city, but out of Ossily altogether.  Men, women, and children alike swarmed out of the city, packed together like bees crawling through the streets and alleys of their hive.  The entire population was leaving, and yet Rena found herself pushing her way back in.

 

                She twisted and winded through the endless crowd, shoving with elbows or shoulders when she had to.  It was an endless procession of the same face, over and over: tired, terrified, almost wild.  She imagined that she had that face, too.  After all, she had the same motivation as any of these people:  family. 

 

                They had agreed to meet at the metro tunnels.  They only had each other to wait for, and that was the spot.  Naiah knew that, but there was still no sign of her.  The guide was waiting at the tunnels, but Rena was confident that she could get home and back with Naiah before the group left.  She followed the pillar of smoke in the center of town back to her neighborhood.  The ramshackle old apartment buildings looked even more dilapidated now that they were predominately abandoned.  This part of town was eerily silent in contrast to the crowds on the main roads, and she froze to a halt outside of her building.  The door seemed somehow ominous and forbidding, and she stared at it for a long time.  A light breeze drifted through the street, rustling trash bags and tickling against the hairs on her neck.  The air smelled of dust and petrichor, and for just a moment she felt a peace, as though everything was going to be okay. 

 

                “You got this Rena,” she murmured, and choked on the words.  A rustle had echoed from the closest alley, but this time it wasn’t a garbage bag.  She knew that dragging rasp all-too-well, and her peace shattered.  Gasping for breath, she lunged for the door, and almost screamed when she felt the deadbolt catch.  This was it.  There was nowhere to hide.  That nerve-wracking dragging sound had haunted her nightmares for weeks now, but she had somehow never thought they would catch her.

 

                Again, the rustling sound, but short and faint, followed by a soft thump on the stone paving.  She froze and listened.  A weak scratching sound, a final rattling breath, and then silence again, other than the soft whisper of the breeze. 

 

                Rena counted to three, waited another second to gather her nerves, and leaned over to look into the alley.  Ten steps ahead of her, the beast laid face down.  She had seen one before, and seen the shriveled remains of their victims several times more than that.  But she had never seen one killed, nor seen what horrors were hidden under those bizarre leathery cowls they wore.  The first raindrop landed on her shoulder, and she licked her lips to combat the drought that had come over her mouth.  They tasted like ash and dehydration and like the bile of absolute terror. 

 

                “Hey,” she hissed, stepping back.  No response.  She picked up a rock and threw it at the body as hard as she could, and still nothing.  The rain was picking up, but she barely noticed the droplets peppering her face.

 

                Up close, the lump reeked of body odor and copper and rotten meat, and was smaller than she had expected.  The cloaks made them look so much bigger from a distance.  Standing over the creature, her muscles quivered with an overdose of adrenaline, but she had to see for herself.  Had to know what horrible beast had killed her parents, and her neighbors.  Kneeling down, she grasped the edge of the cowl.  Dried blood had crusted all along the underside, and she had to the literally peel cloak off the body, with fingers that were quickly losing strength.

 

                The body under the cloak was female, severely lacerated, and as shriveled and wasted away as all of the victims they had found.  A terrible certainty was growing in her chest, and a voice in the back of her head screamed to just get back to the metro station and mourn Naiah while she walked.  She already knew, though.  She just needed to confirm it.  Her hands shook as she reached down to brush aside the tangle of black rain-soaked hair, and her breath hitched as she looked down into her sister’s emaciated face. 

 

    “I don’t under—“ Rena started, but the words caught as a sob in her throat.  None of it made any sense.  She tried to say Naiah’s name one last time, but instead all she could find was a scream.  Misery and agony washed over her so wholly and intensely that she never noticed the soft shuffle of the leathery cloak, nor the spindly arms that began to slide from within the folds.  She never saw the hidden mouth spread wide.  All she knew was pain and heartache.  And then blackness.  And finally, a heavy dragging scraping sound. 

FFM 22 - (Part 4) Homecoming
Flash-Fic-Month July 22, 2016
Challenge: Collab challenge + Horror + Use each sense 2 times + Include Allegory + Include foreshadowing.


I get together with the same three awesome folks every year for the collab challenge, and this one was no different.  As always, it was excellent to work with a couple of my favorite FFM'ers! 

The various parts of the collab can be found in order here:
Part 1: (Part 1) Departure by The-Inkling
Part 2: (Part 2) Asylum by joe-wright
Part 3:  by Wolfrug
Part 4:  Right here, baby.
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    Yup, you know the drill.  It's FFM again, so I'm crawling out of the cave and throwing my literary spoor at the walls and anyone who makes the mistake of showing me their teeth.  /awkwardgorillametaphor

    Also!  The Lady in Black received a DD last month, and of course I didn't notice it until weeks later.  So, belatedly, thank you so much to neurotype and all of the folks who took the time to read, comment, and fave it!  I'll be digging through my message center when I have time, and properly responding to all the wonderful comments.

    On the subject of time, I should note that I may not be as active this July as I have been in previous years.  I'm working in a steel shop now, and we have a lot of projects coming up that are chewing up a whole lot of my time.  What's left generally goes to the wife and kiddo.  I actually spent all of last month saying "Screw FFM this year, I'm not doing it."  But I still left the AJM project hanging at the end of last year, so I had to come and try to tie it up.  Which means that my pieces this year may not always fit the challenges, or stand up well as flash fiction.  I'm trying to tie together the pieces that I set up last year, and I won't always be able to make these new ones stand alone.  But I'm seriously trying to have a satisfying conclusion to the mystery of the Door by the end of this month!  

    Anyway, what is everyone else up to?  What have I missed?
  • Listening to: The Lost Highway Soundtrack
  • Reading: Flash Fics, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  • Watching: Orange is the New Black
  • Playing: Pokemon X
  • Eating: Cuban Food
  • Drinking: Coke

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distortified
The Great and Powerful PuP
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Oh lord, I've been meaning to make an ID for more than two years now. For now, just use this as a picture of me-

:D

Current Residence: Verona, NJ
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Operating System: WinXP (Though I'm on Mac OSX, now. >_<)
MP3 player of choice: Pandora.com Radio. Seriously, it beats MP3s, or the actual radio.
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Favourite cartoon character: Dr. Membrane (From Invader Zim)
Personal Quote: Some folks say that chocolate is better than sex? Writing's better than chocolate.
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:iconthebigtear:
thebigtear Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday~~~! :3
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2015  Professional Photographer
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!! :glomp:
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:icondistortified:
distortified Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
:glomp: thank you!

I know we don't talk anymore, but I hope you know that you're still awesome and I miss our absurd conversations! I'm trying to be more active on dA lately, so hopefully we can get back to those days haha
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:icon1pen:
1pen Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2016  Professional Photographer
Seriously what have you two been up to? I MISS YOU PEOPLE SO FREAKING MUCH.  I haven't been on dA in awhile (back now tho), because twitter ate me alive. Pretty active on both. Also so much work. Family. etc.  
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:icondistortified:
distortified Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Oh man so much catching up to do haha. Sooooo much. I don't do twitter, but I've been all tangled up in Kik chats as of late. If you're on there, or Skype, I would love to chat some time!!
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:iconzjoriz:
zJoriz Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2015
Congratulations ^^
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:icondistortified:
distortified Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you thank you!
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:iconcrazeguy:
crazeguy Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday! ^ ^
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:icondistortified:
distortified Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank ya very much!
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toxic--sunrise Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2015
:tighthug:
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