#VSS365: Round Up (July 2019)

Hi guys! As you may have already heard, I’ve been writing (or attempting to write) twitter-friendly prompt-inspired microfictions every day for the last month as part of the #vss365 project. I’m enjoying this exercise a lot, and plan to continue doing it as often as I can, but it seemed sensible to collect my offerings for a given month all in one place to make them a little easier to find, and to give me a moment to reflect on the work I’ve put out in that time.

I started taking part in this project on July 2nd, so here are (more or less) 30 stories from the last month, in 280 characters or less. (The prompt word for a given day will be indicated in bold.) Note that certain stories were not, in fact, written on the day of the prompt – there have been days where I’ve fallen off the wagon due to work or other considerations, but I’ve been trying to catch up whenever I lag behind, writing multiple stories at once to fill in the gaps, or else writing multi-tweet micro-epics that span multiple days’ worth of prompts. Oh, and before I forget – there’s a bonus story using the prompt from July 1st available right now for patrons!

Before the coup, he’d ordered her to shear it off. Said it was ornamentation; an unnecessary frivolity; weak.

Today she kneels beside his ragdoll body, examining the creases of his mottled face, and unwinds her braid from around his neck.

July 2nd, 2019

After my fourth short-out in as many months, Vin saw fit to repurpose me.

At least my exosensors were frazzled beyond repair long before he lowered that furnace door. I couldn’t feel a thing; my face was a picture of equanimity as it fizzled and spilt away.

July 3rd, 2019

“ …not just a success, but a decisive victory in the war for freedom.” The General’s speech ends.

A hand in the crowd. “Will you confirm reports that three civilians were also caught in the attack?”

His lip twitches. “I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to say.”

July 4th, 2019

No dial tone. I put the phone down. “It’s totally dead. Again.”

My husband taps at his laptop; pauses; recites from the screen: “to report a fault, please contact our 24-hour support line using the number below.”

“Great. Read it out to me?” A beat. “Hang on!

July 5th, 2019

A lung nestled in the roots of a conifer. Finger bones scattered across the beach, rustling in the ebb and flow of the tide. An eye left to rot at the island’s highest point.

Where I’m from, we don’t bury our dead; we unfurl them.

July 6th, 2019

The last of the high council’s guards crumples, and the hall is still.

Aching, bleeding, I sheath my daggers and drag myself to the head of the vast banquet table. I feast in the company of corpses. Mama always said: it’s worth the sting to taste the honey.

July 7th, 2019

THE EXTEND-O-MATIC GRABATRON 5000! the box proudly proclaims, a cartoonish depiction of a long plastic claw splashed across its front. NOW YOU CAN REACH ANYTHING!

Marie squinted at it. “…why did they put it on the highest shelf?”

July 8th, 2019

From here I can see the wires and frames that built my world and wrote my name. From here I can see the values of continents and the algorithms of belief. From here I can see the screen above, and the sterile dreams beneath.

July 9th, 2019

Wizard and Magician examined the door. “Stand back,” Wizard said, his fists glinting with light. “I’ve got a Hex of Free Passage which should-“

Magician had already picked the lock. “We all have a trick up our sleeves, dear,” she drawled to him as she waltzed inside.

July 10th, 2019

Lyle shouldered his rifle and hauled the cub’s carcass into his arms with a grunt. The rest of the pack lurked at a distance, gibbering to each other.

Upset? Confused? Indifferent? He couldn’t say; with hyenas, even their fury sounded like laughter.

July 11th, 2019

Thirty miles down. I looked back at the tunnel; it stretched into shadow behind me. “How deep do we go?” I asked.

She didn’t turn around. “As deep as it goes.”

July 12th, 2019

He abandoned the chest of sapphires where he’d found them, locked away in that dusty ruin, and dragged his wounded first mate back to the shore. Some things, he’d come to understand, were too precious to leave behind.

July 13th, 2019

“See?” You wave a hand at the cramped, empty space under the bed. “No monsters, nothing scary down here.”

You look over your shoulder. The boy makes eye contact with you. A deep, guttural roar builds in his throat.

You appear to have badly misjudged the situation.

July 14th, 2019

After hours spent trawling pirate sites, he’d found it – a stream of the 1995 extravaganza Waterworld. Grinning, he clicked “torrent now”.

Immediately a wave of seawater burst from his laptop, submerging his room in seaweed and silt.

“Dodgy link,” he spat, dripping.

July 15th, 2019

He started to delve down the back of the laundry bin, discovering odd socks, ripped jeans, old band t-shirts; a dozen different versions of himself he’d invented and forgotten.

July 16th, 2019

Hopkins shook the fresh client’s outstretched hand. The man had a slimy, queasy sort of grip.

Hopkins smiled flatly. “Ah, Mr. -” he double-checked the name tag – “Thompson. Do come in. Your reputation proceeds you.”

July 17th, 2019

“Look,” you say to the cyborg zombie clown rearing up before you, clutching an electric scimitar in one hand and an ornate crossbow in his other, “isn’t this a bit unlikely?”

He slices you in half. You wake up. Or you don’t. I can’t tell you how this one ends.

July 18th, 2019

He stands at the blunt apex of a low hill, grass whistling around his thighs. The contraption mounted to his back presses him down into the soil.

He looks out across the valley. Beautiful plumes of flowers; sprawls of loam; verdant hues.

It’s not enough for him.

July 19th, 2019 (1/3)

His command is what wakes me. I can smell pollen through cracks in the cage.

He’s waiting. I inhale and rise, dragging him into the sky with me. The cage puts him in control after that; my breaths twist and lurch just like he tells them.

I can remember my wings.

July 20th, 2019 (2/3)

The flight terminates in foreign rooftops, the boy mangled by slate, gutter edges, antenna.

His bronze harness is dented where it struck the chimney stack that brought it down.

Inside, something breathes faintly until it doesn’t. Accidents do happen, sometimes

July 21st, 2019 (3/3)

A man drops his wallet in the street. Trees crack and splinter under a bulldozer’s weight. Sulphur bubbles out of mud. A rabbit shivers in its burrow. Girls hold hands at the edge of a playground. A TV cuts out abruptly. Someone starts singing.

Elsewhere, everything.

July 22nd, 2019

At the tip of the highest mountain, a single monk tends to the Temple of Infinite Mystery.

Many venture into the clouds to pass his test and join his order; each and every one of them fails, each making the same mistake, committing the same folly.

July 23rd, 2019 (1/3)

The monk’s test? An unsolvable riddle. Some of the would-be hermits who visit him see, in their imagined solutions, some deeper understanding of material reality; others view the entire charade as a cruel joke on the monk’s part.

July 24th, 2019 (2/3)

The point is obvious: there is, of course, no answer, no solution, no punchline. That’s what fascinates the monk so, high up there in his Temple of Infinite Mystery – the absence of resolution, the denial of explanation. The endless endlessness of things.

July 25th, 2019 (3/3)

Hell froze over a long time back; since then, Old Scratch has had his hands full working on the thaw.

He stands in the arctic chill and watches the latest glacier trickle and seep into the ocean. Closer, he thinks. We’re getting closer.

July 26th, 2019

And that’s all we’ve got for July’s vss365! I’ve already missed the first couple of August prompts, but I’m hoping to get back on the wagon in time to have plenty of exciting micro-stories ready for you to read right here next month. In the meantime, let me know which of these was your favourite! I’m hoping to turn the more successful pieces into fully-fledged pieces of work at some point or another, so consider these the seeds of future projects. Neat!

Until next time,

Alex xo

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