I really enjoy when I am challenged, to some extent, to lay on the stupid. This is where Fiction 440 comes in. It is a Lansing based group, which challenges folks to write a flash fiction story of no more than 440 words. The stories usually have to contain certain words or feature a theme.
Tonight is the 10th edition of this event (at Soup Spoon Cafe), and the stories had to include the words Score, Sack, and Fumble.
Now, Fiction 440 doesn’t require your stories to be stupid or silly, but that is just what I go for. These stories are read aloud at places which serve booze, so with that in mind, I try to make my stories as ridiculous as possible (here is my first submission, Party Pooper).
My entry for tonight’s event, A Good Day, is below. It has ‘space Vikings.’¹ Yes. I have a feeling I will not be asked to attend the next event. I also wrote this in about 20-30 minutes, and went right up to the midnight deadline, so if there are any grammar or smelling errors, that’s why. Which is fine. Sometimes you just need to take a Devil May Care approach to writing and crank something out, space Vikings or not.
Erik stood on the bridge of his dragon head spacecruiser and watched the chaos on the view-screen. Lasers flashed outside. Ships exploded. Men died. It would be a good day.
Erik hurled his mug of space-mead to the floor, “To battle.” The crew cheered as the spacecruiser broke its orbit and screamed for the planet’s surface. The Pantheran laser satellites were only a threat above the planet. Erik’s brother Lorn, expecting an easy sack, ignored the satellites and approached Panthera at maximum speed. His charred, lifeless ship floated in the starry ship-graveyard above the planet.
Erik gripped the handle of his laser-axe, Veinbiter, as the ship entered Panthera’s atmosphere. The time to mourn his brother would come later. Now, there was only time for one thing: battle. Erik snapped on his stained, purple helmet as the helmsman counted the seconds until touchdown. Each of his helmet’s dents and scratches told a story.
The dragon head ship burst through a bank of orange Pantheran clouds like a nightmare. The Pantherans who were not in awe, ran, as the wedge-shaped ship landed and shook the ground. Erik was the first off the ship, and whirled Veinbiter over his head. A pair of Pantheran warriors roared and flashed their yellowed, dagger-like canines. They lunged for Erik, but Veinbiter was faster and tore their silver flesh. Blue blood sprayed and pooled at Erik’s feet.
Two. A good start, Erik thought, but far from evening the score of his lost brother. Lorn’s brawn and blade would be missed, but Erik looked at the upside: it meant more Pantherans for him.
Another pair of Pantherans felt Veinbiter’s kiss and joined their brothers on the ground. Four. A decent effort, for an ill man, as Lorn would have said. Another swing of Veinbiter, and a head sailed several yards. Five.
Erik threw his shoulder into a Pantheran making a feast of one of his men, and they exchanged blows. Erik’s helmet had a new story, and his tally went up to six.
A thunderous roar cleared a space around Erik. An eight foot tall Pantheran warrior with a flowing silver mane, roared again and ran for him. Its clawed feet tore up the shimmering green grass, and its silver tail whipped about with every step. Erik pulled a detonator from his utility belt and hurled it at the stampeding beast. The Pantheran fumbled with the detonator as its curved handle became entangled in its mane.
A flash. An explosion. Seven. Under his helmet, Erik smiled. Today would be a good day, indeed.
¹ While it does not take place in space, I highly recommend the Viking novel, The Long Ships. Its influence on this story cannot be stressed enough. Here are a couple of other flash fiction pieces inspired by the book. One . Two. They are equally ridiculous.
Daniel J. Hogan is a geeky cartoonist and writer living in Michigan. Daniel is available for freelance writing and cartooning commissions (view his writing samples). This post contains affiliate links, unless it doesn't.