A Series of Short Stories

Dear Reader,

This three part short story (called Somewhat Serendipitous) began as a simple micro fiction way back when. I wrote parts of this months ago, back before I changed the name of my novel to Extinguish and cut several characters.

Ant and Tim, though, have remained, and their relationship is one of my more enjoyable moments within Extinguish. I like the nuances that come from someone as mild and patient as Ant, when combined with someone as rough and wild as Tim.

If you’ve noticed a lot of Tim lately, that’s because he’s a beloved character. I am often drawn to him, and to his friendship with Ant, whenever I’m feeling stuck or out of ideas. There’s just something extra there that I don’t get to explore in Extinguish, that I love to get the chance to explore with my short stories and micro fictions.

I love this character exploration so much, the story turned into this giant series. If you’ve ever read fan-fiction, this would be a series of thirteen “one shots”. Each of these moments could be complete on their own as their own, but when put together, tell an overarching story.

I had a lot of fun with the layout and the structure, and weaving in little details and easter eggs. Whether or not it works is up to you, the reader, but regardless, I had fun.

So if you have time – each part is about 4,000 words long – I’d love for you to give them a read and let me know what you think.

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 1

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 2

Somewhat Serendipitous Part 3

Also, if you missed my update of micro fictions over the weekend, you can find them here in the month of May.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.

A Micro Fiction: The Curious Case of the Cookie Jar

His suspect sat in an oversized wooden chair that made him seem as small and insignificant as the pet fish. The suspect’s arms were tied down with a thick tie, bound tight around the small, puny wrists.Detective Tim Holt smirked, leaning in to give the suspect a fierce, knowing look. ‘You are the thief, aren’t you Mr Hart?’

Suspect Frederick Hart blinked back at him from his restraints. A tough one, eh. Well, Detective Holt would just have to up his game.

He lunged forward, grasping the suspect’s shirt and yanked him forward in his seat.

‘Did you steal from the Dark Queen?!’

Behind him, a faint giggle echoed out. ‘Dark Queen?’

Detective Holt whirled, glaring at his partner who flushed crimson from her porcelain seat, clipboard in hand.

‘Sorry,’ she muttered, and shrugged apologetically at his suspect.

‘No fraternisation Miss Hart, or I’ll have you thrown off this case!’

‘Yes, Tim. Er, detective.’

Detective Holt turned back to the suspect, his eyes narrowed. ‘Only a fiendish scoundrel would corrupt my most loyal agent. Who knows what else you’re capable of. Now tell me, fiend, where did you hide the booty?!’

‘Isn’t booty for pirates?’

‘Sh!’

The suspect remained silent in his restraints, staring at Detective Holt as if it were he who was crazy, and not the other way around.

‘Listen here, you uncut…that’s not right…’

‘Uncouth,’ supplied his loyal partner.

‘Yes! You uncouth…fiend. I will discover how you did it, and how you hid the evidence. We’ll catch you, with or without your confession, but let me tell you this: your consequences will be dire if you do not reveal the truth now. Now, once and for all, are you the thief?’

The suspect rose an eyebrow, and looked pointedly down at his tied up hands.

‘Uh, Tim—oh, I mean detective! Fred— um, the suspect can’t speak. Remember?’

Detective Holt paused. ‘Oh,’ he said, and fought the flush of embarrassment. ‘Well. I will release only one hand!’

The suspect rolled his eyes.

As Detective Holt began to untie one arm, the door to their dark interrogation room creaked open and the Dark Queen entered!

‘What on Earth? Timothy Holt, what are you doing?!’

‘Mum! You’re ruining my interrogation!’

‘Interrogation my foot, untie Freddie right now!’

‘But Muuum, he’s our main suspect! He stole from the Cookie Jar!’ he yelled dramatically, pointing at the suspect just like he’d watched the detective do in all the cop shows his mother—uh, the Dark Queen watched. ‘And I will get a confession.’

‘Well you can take your interrogation into the backyard and out of my bathroom! Are those my father’s silk ties?!’

‘We better go,’ Tim muttered to his suspect, quickly untying the rest of Freddie’s restraints and diving for the safety of the hallway, the twins hot on his heels.

‘Tim,’ said his most loyal partner, Miss Hart. ‘Is now a good time to remind you that you ate the last cookie from the cookie Jar?’

‘What? I never—oh wait…’

A Micro Fiction: Lighthouse

Why did we have to take our shoes off? Even halfway up the stairs, my calves burning, and the tingle of fear scratching at my spine (don’t look down, don’t look down), each step made me wonder.

The wooden steps were smooth and polished—maybe by hand, maybe by the countless tread of barefooted people traipsing up to the balcony above.

Above an elderly couple panted above me. Their feet slapped against the steps in slow, heavy footfalls—a stark contrast to my own light, steady trot.

I didn’t allow myself to match their steps. To slow down would be to surrender. The burn would creep in, taking away all my energy, and bringing my progress to a screeching halt. And so I kept on.

The sign on the little gate guarding the lighthouse had claimed it was one of the tallest in the world. I had peered up at it as the wiry Frenchman had come to take our tickets, insisting “no shoes, no shoes” and pointing to the other pair of unclaimed shoes by the gate.

Inside it was cool, and quiet. Hushed in a way that made you speak in whispers. I began my climb, keeping my steps light, and only occasionally peering through the protective netting lining the inside of the spiral staircase.

At the top, I groaned. More stairs led through a hatchway to a second platform. In there, I paused, looking up at the large bulb fixed into the centre of the room. It’s warning clear to all below. “Beware, land here!”

To the side of the bulb was another staircase leading to a metal door that stared at me. Questioning whether or not I really wanted to step out onto that high balcony.

The door was heavy, and I struggled to push it open. Then, as if someone had taken hold of the other side, it was yanked open.

Wind buffeted me from all directions, grabbing hold of my hair and my hat and threatening to sweep it all away. It took my breath and cast it aside, while at the same time pulling me toward the rail. Encouraging me to stare out at the vastness of the island below. It looked so small, so tiny, up there on the lighthouse balcony. Sweat cooled rapidly in the wind, yet, the clear blue water below still looked deliciously inviting.

I felt big and breathless and weightless all at once. Light and free. Like I could take flight from this great height, and join the birds in their twirls and spirals on the gusting wind. I took a deep breath, letting my lungs fill with the pureness of the air up there.

Wind tickled at my toes, biting them with cold. But the sun had warmed the rough wood beneath my feet, and I closed my eyes as I leaned out onto the railing.

‘No shoes,’ I grinned, wriggling my toes as wonder swept through my chest, filling it with light, delicious air.

A Chapter Novella.

Dear Reader,

A Chapter Novella (or a Serial Novel/Novella as they’re more properly known) is a story that is released in sections. Sometimes with one chapter, sometimes with many. Stephen King’s novel The Green Mile, was originally released as a Serial Novel.

This Chapter Novella follows the life of a young fighter pilot, and his mission to reveal the truth about Starship Heart technology.

Rescued as a young boy from his burning Space City, Asher Dow dreams of one day returning to the Cruiser Lullaby. Whispers in his dreams call to him, urging him to follow whatever path necessary to lead him back into contact with the strange girl that spoke not to him, but within him, during his short stay on the ship.

Asher is kind, charitable and makes friends wherever he goes, accelling through Flight School to become one of the top twenty highest recommended Fighter Pilots in within the Star Collective.

Yet when Asher finally makes it back aboard the Lullaby, fate begins to turn on him. Anomolies surround him on the ship, from malfunctioning Transporter Beam’s to Organic Link Up’s to the ship’s mainframe. Nightmares and migraines plague him the closer he comes to the truth. What – or who – is the Lullaby? And will she ever let him leave the ship alive?

Part One: Rescue

A Micro Fiction: The Drive-Through Exchange

He sits tall in the back, happy to be invited, not left behind. His pink tongue lolls out the side of his mouth. The window is down, and occasionally the flash of pink disappears so he can sniff at the air rushing through.

Then it is back, and he grins, long and wide. Normally so serious, so stoic, he sits in the back like a king and grins a goofy grin.

Until we reach the drive-through.

The first time, I don’t notice until the flurry of sniffs that come my way when I accept my crinkly, brown paper bag—except I’m expecting those. The girl in the window grins at me.

‘Cute dog.’

The second time, I see him watching. His tongue is gone, tucked away in the face of seriousness. We are at the window, and as I hand over my card, he pokes his nose over the shoulder of my seat and has a good sniff. I try not to giggle as his breath tickles at my ear, and take my card back. The boy in the window is trying to hide his smile.

The third time I’m on the look out for it. I see him watching from the back seat, his head perked forward in intensity, his eyes focused on our hands as we exchange the card, his head cocked to one side.

The fourth time, I don’t even make it. I’m looking for my handbag.

‘You ready to go?’ I call absentmindedly.

But he doesn’t answer. There’s no patter of claws on the wooden floors. No scurry of movement as I invite him along. At first, I’m too distracted. Where is my card? And why was my wallet on the ground instead of in my handbag?

‘Jasper!’ I call, deciding that my card must be in a pair of jeans or shorts—lucky I have cash.

But he never comes.

First I check the yard. Then I run the street, calling his name. I’m not panicking. I’m not freaking out. I grab my keys and jump into my car, my tires squealing only a little as I skid out of the driveway a little too fast. The streets seem unbearably empty, but I find one person, and pull over.

‘Black dog? Yeah, I saw one. Collie looking thing.’

‘He’s a Kelpie.’

‘Yeah, might’ve been him. Down that way. Near the drive-through.’

For some reason, his words stick with me. The drive-through?

An inkling, an idea of where he might have gone.

As I pull into the car park, there’s a commotion. People are getting out of their cars, standing around, pointing and laughing. Someone has their camera out, filming.

And there, in the middle of the driveway, beneath the serving window, is a black dog. He sits there, one ear perked up and the other swivelling about—listening. He stares up at the girl in the window, who appears quite baffled.

In his mouth, is my missing credit card.

A Micro Fiction: Mosh

Dear Reader,

I have been at CMC Rocks the past two days. I love country music. It speaks to me on a deeper level than other music (though I love many genres and bands).

So for this week’s Micro Fiction, I decided to write about my experiences in the Pit, which I normally avoid.

So here it is. I hope you enjoy Mosh.

Sincerly,

The Jade Writer Girl

Mosh

There is a moment of silence – brief and overshadowed – a hush that falls just before the rumble of noise begins. 

A feeling grows in the momentary quiet (which is not quite silence but rather anticipation). There is a noise to anticipation. A hum. A buzz that starts in your feet and builds to your chest, igniting in your soul.

Lights go up, the sound check crackles and a voice cat calls. A single, solitary call. But not for long.

Voice upon voice, fire upon smoke, elation upon joy. The crowd erupts. You close your eyes and scream, right from the bottom of your heart, dragging it up from your toes until your throat is raw and you still can’t help but grin and all the while – you can’t hear your own cry amongst the call of the crowd.

Bodies press in. Heat erupts. Summer is over, but not in the crowd. Hearts thud in time with your feet in time with the beat.

This moment lasts forever, and yet also no more than a single, ephemeral, nanosecond.

They arrive on stage and the noise, impossibly and beautifully and euphorically, becomes an eruption upon an eruption. 

Still, it is not yet the peak of noise, which comes as the words spill forth from speakers bulging past their limits. The ground pounds, boots thump, ears pop from the sheer volume of voices screaming the lyrics – half wrong and half right and all the while elbows poke into backs and feet stomp on feet and reaching hands bump heads in an attempt to catch that one perfect picture and a smell of sweat and heat and musk pervades the air that in any other circumstance would not be acceptable.

But we don’t care. YOU don’t care. You flow with a crowd you wouldn’t otherwise delve into. You scream words you cannot hear. You ignore the elbows you cannot feel. Because you are lost in the moment, in the pure, unadulterated sound of it all.

The intensity is almost overwhelming…and yet…it is not nearly enough.

Too soon, though it feels like forever, the lights dim, and the soundboard dies. Spotlights flare. Boots trudge down on crushed empties scattered across the ground.

Your muscles ache, your calves burn, you can’t feel your toes and your voice is making rasping noises it shouldn’t.

Yet you grin. You dance. You hum words to songs you heard hours ago.

Your world is at it’s highest height and nothing can bring you down.

Nothing… except perhaps the morning after.

A (Late) Micro Fiction: Literally

The speech had started about nuclear explosions and, in a way, that was how it had ended. It could have been the fact that the blonde twit before him had attached herself to his best friend’s face for the last three days. Maybe it was that said best friend was currently eyeing off the blonde twit’s brother. Perhaps it was the little pro gay rights badge hanging off her shirt. But in the end it was the thousandth misuse of the word “literally” that ignited the fuse.

‘Jesus Christ have you ever read a dictionary?’ he exploded, stopping the girl mid explanation. ‘It’s literal, as in the sky is literally blue. Or I will literally slap you if you don’t stop saying that word! Or literally tear that stupid pin from your shirt because you’re literally a vapid moron!’

‘Anthony!’ Mrs Goldberg gasped.

‘Do you really think you can just flounce around promoting gay rights when you know nothing about it?’ snarled Ant, ignoring Mrs Goldberg’s outrage – it was too late to stop, the fuse had been lit, and the built up explosion erupted. ‘You don’t even realise that your “boyfriend” is shagging your brother behind your back. No gay kid in his right mind will take up your ridiculous rally. Not in this town. Not when all their parents attend the same church, with the same pompous, hell preaching, homophobic minister! You think it’s so easy for a gay kid to admit how they feel? Like a crush won’t look at you like you’ve grown a second head and run screaming in terror? Like it’s that easy to ignore years of rules and examples and ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t say that’ and the countless stories of men loving women and women loving men and my Mother telling me that ‘boys don’t love boy’s like your father loves me’ and you standing up there preaching at me while you’re making out with my, with my, my…’

The explosion petered out. Realisation crossed the girl’s red tinged face and mortification crossed his.

He fled.

Red faced—in a potent combination of anger, shame and horror—he flung himself down on the front steps of the school and buried his head in hands.

Five minutes later, someone stepped down onto the stair next him, sitting in a swish of skirts and stockings and patting him lightly on the arm. ‘You know,’ said a soft, sympathetic voice. ‘you should start your own gay rally. You’re really very good at it.’

Muffled and mortified be asked, ‘Was it bad?’

‘It was quite spectacular,’ she said. ‘Although, I think most people knew about you and were just being polite about it. Except Tim. And if he doesn’t get it by now, I’ll skywrite it for you. And,’ she added, casting him a wicked grin, ‘just think how fun church will be this Sunday.’

He groaned, reburying his head and praying to whatever god was out there, to open up the ground and swallow him whole.

An Aspiration or Two.

Dear Reader,

It’s now 2017, and of course it’s come to that time following the New Year that we’re all familiar with. The announcing of the dreaded New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve never really been fond of resolutions. Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea (on the contrary, I think setting goals for yourself is a very important part of becoming accomplished in whatever creative endeavour you’re chasing) but more so because I was never raised to partake in resolutions. Any I made for myself during my school years were done so on a whim because my friends were doing it. More often than not, my resolutions were fanciful, quickly forgotten and never achieved.

Unfortunately, I think that’s a trend (or a trap, perhaps), that many people fall into. When you set goals that are too high for yourself, you may succeed, but you’re more likely to fail. Thus you’re more likely to become discouraged and give up.

I’ve noticed of late, that this is how many people feel about resolutions and I believe that this is because people forget to take things in little steps.

An aspiring novelist may say: “I want to write, edit and publish a novel by the end of the year!”

This goal is admirable, but not attainable. Not in the beginning anyway. This is how young (or starting out) creators breath fire to their self-doubt. This is how they set themselves up to fail. You need baby steps. Baby goals.

“This year, I want to write 20,000 more words than I did last year.”

This is the attainable goal. This “attainability” is what I want to do with my “resolutions” (shall we call them, Writerly Aspirations?).

I’m at a point in my life where I finally have room to make time for writing. Not just stealing snatches of time from my day-to-day life, but really scheduling it in and actually sticking to it.

Having learnt to write during those snatches of time in 2016, I’ve perfected my ability to delve into a story at short notice, in a short space of time, and produce something that’s half worth reading. Rather than improving my talent, the past year seemed to be about improving my control.

I used to be so picky about my writing space. I couldn’t write in anything but the perfect conditions. Alone in a dark space, with the door shut and the music blaring and the tv off. I had to have snacks and lollies to chew on while I thought, and heaven forbid I was interrupted (see you later, writing time!).

Someone recently asked me how I manage to write at work during my one hour lunch break. She said, “I couldn’t do that, I just couldn’t concentrate with all the other people at work. Not in such a short space of time. How do you do it?”

At the time, I didn’t have an explanation for her, but now that I’ve thought over it, I think the answer is that I got stubborn. It’s taken a long time for me to realise that wanting to write, really wanting to write, means shutting up, sitting down and actually doing it.

It’s not anyone else’s responsibility but my own. It’s not anyone else’s problem but my own. Saying I want to write, and meaning it enough to stop the excuses and carve out the time (no matter the place, the noise, or the distractions) is the difference between writing 10,000 words in the space of 12 months, and writing a 100,000 words.

I no longer expect the universe to make this easy for me. I’ve realised that if I truly want this dream, I have to work, and to work hard for it.

That is what I learnt in 2016.

Now it is 2017 and I have new things to learn. Matching my growth as a writer, with my control as a writer. As I said, I now have room in my life to make a decent writing schedule. Two hours every weekday after work (I no longer get a lunch break, and that suits me pretty well).

With this newfound writing space, I want to set myself some new goals. Goals that go in line with what I want to learn and achieve as a writer this year.

So, without any further explanation, here are my Writerly Aspirations for 2017:

  • Read at least one book a fortnight (you know the saying, if you want to write a lot, you must read a lot).
  • Publish at least one blog post (of an indeterminable length) each month.
  • Write at least one micro fiction a week (up to 500 words).
  • Write one short story every fortnight (Up to 3,000 words).
  • Finish at least ten chapters a week (two chapters for every weekday writing session).
  • Send out one polished story (micro or short fiction) every month to somewhere.

 

Contrary to what I just said above, these goals are perhaps a little out of my reach – at least all of them at once. However, I do believe that I can achieve at least some of the above, if not all. For myself, aiming high might mean failing, but I might get a lot further just for trying than if I’d aimed low.

While this is exactly what I was saying not to do with your resolutions, I am at a point as a writer where I think this will work and, if it doesn’t, I won’t get discouraged. I have aimed high knowingly, prepared ahead of time that I may not accomplish all that I have set out for myself. This is the key, I believe, to not becoming discouraged.

After all, I managed 50,000 words on top of full-time, 40 hour work weeks during last year’s November Novel Writing Month. This was something I didn’t think possible two years ago. Thus, I think my goals aren’t too far out of reach of my abilities. I am now prepared as a writer for these kinds of aspirations. For these kinds of challenges. It’s time to really push the boundary, to see what I am capable of as a part time writer.

My true hope, the one I dare not write down in my list (because this one really would discourage me if I fail), is to complete both novels I am currently working on. This is the real aim that drives my Writerly Aspirations. But, I won’t commit myself to that goal. Not yet, anyway.

So, with that all said and done, I hope you stick with me throughout the next 12 months, to see where my Aspirations lead me. I am excited for what’s coming, and I hope you have goals that excite you too.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl

An Observation

Dear reader,

If there is anything I have learned over the past several years, it is that I am very good at rewriting things.

My current book (the not-so-well-loved, often-times-bemoaned novel Extinguish), is on it’s ninth draft, and second edit.

When I refer to drafts, I talk about major rewrites and overhauls. That doesn’t include all the little (and by little I mean the entire book) edits I did of each draft.

This time, I’ve decided to shift a pivotal event to a later point in the novel, and to also cut a central character. I still have to rewrite the new ending (I canned the old one in draft 8) which I’ve been avoiding for several months now. There’s about 50,000 words and who knows how many hours worth of work ahead of me. I’m tired. I want this novel to be finished. Yet I know these changes will be worth it. I know that sacrificing these things that I worked so hard on in previous drafts will ultimately make this a stronger novel.

Every draft has brought this book closer to a product I can be proud of. It’s not been the easiest project. Especially now when I am so often at war with it. Flicking to the open document on Scrivener makes me cringe. Scheduling in writing time to work on it fills me with dread. I feel a faint flicker of something like joy whenever I work out how to fix a plot point, but then when I realise all the extra work I will have to put into this novel in order to rework that section of the story, I want to cry under my bed.

Yet, after each draft, I get to the end and find that I am proud of pushing through. I tell my friends I’ve finished my novel, and I wander around in a daze of happiness that it is at last over.

This doesn’t always last. Particularly now, when my friends begin to ask, “haven’t you already finished that  book?”

The answer is yes. Nine times, yes I have finished this book, but it isn’t there yet. Wherever there is. Sometimes I wonder why I keep at it. I have other ideas. I have an idea that is bursting to speak to me, to talk me through every weave of it’s tale, and yet I stubbornly persist with the old one.

I can’t cast it aside. Because casting it aside would mean that the last four years of work would be for nothing, and while there is still a long road to go, I just can’t give up. I’m so close I can smell the whiff of success on the air. It’s faint and almost undetectable, but it’s there. Trust me.

That’s what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me hanging onto this story, desperately encouraging it to keep moving towards the end-goal.

Maybe one day I will let it go. Maybe I’ll move on fully from it. For now I’ll juggle my two projects and see where it leads me. The one that wants to speak to me, and the one that wants to fight me.

Writing is hard. Writing is full of hours of long work and toiling away on your lunch break or in the middle of the night or in the hour before you have to go to work.

It’s exhausting. It’s piecing things together and pulling them apart and piecing them back together again. It’s listening. It’s trying to be listened to.

But in amongst all that hard work (and sometimes sorrow and anger), is a lot of joy. I love my work. I love my characters. I’m tired of not quite getting it right, but I’m not tired of them. I want to do well by them, which is why I keep pushing at this.

My point in all this, dear reader, is that you should always follow your passion, even when it feels like your passion will lead you to insanity. Somewhere past that insanity is a blossoming light, ready to welcome you into a beautiful place.

I can feel that place getting closer-I’ve even been there a few times already. Just a foot in the door, so to speak, but I’m keen to go back. There’s something very fulfilling about following your passions, regardless of the frustrations and hard work. Or perhaps in spite of those frustrations.

So if you want to write, if you want to create, do so. But remember that it will be hard. There will be long dark moments of self-doubt and annoyance and frustration. You will have to learn to ignore the fear inside you, telling you you can’t do it, telling you it’s not worth it. But it is worth it. If you have the patience and determination to push through, it most definitely, most beautifully worth it.

Sincerely,

The Jade Writer Girl.