Spacepals Review Stuff

Hello!

Glork

My name is Glorken, and I’m The Urban Spaceman’s best and only friend! TUS has fallen a little behind on scientific reports to the Homeworld, and has asked me to step in to help out by reviewing stuff that is super important to you Earth-things.

Before we get to the good stuff, you probably want to know about my species, right? Specifically, you’re looking at me and thinking, “Hey, that guy has no fingers. How does he count?” Right?

Super important stuff you need to know about me…

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Themes: Humour, Parody
Words: 670

Pussycat lay draped over the side of the rowboat, her paw trailing listlessly in the water. Every few minutes a fish would swim up to examine the ripples, only to dart back to the safety of the depths when Pussycat took a swipe. She hadn’t caught anything yet, but she no longer expected to. These fish were very different to the sticklebacks she hunted in the stream back home.

In the back of the boat, Owl sat strumming his small guitar. Every so often he’d stop at the end of a phrase and repeat the bars he’d just played. His voice was mumble too quiet for Pussycat to discern his words; no doubt it was another ode to her beauty. That was pretty much all he sang, these days.

Another fish swam up to the boat. Another swipe of the paw. Another one that got away. Another repeated refrain from Owl.

“Will you stop playing that bloody thing?!” Pussycat hissed. “You’re scaring away all the fish.”

“I told you they were too fast to catch.” Owl slid his guitar beneath his seat and pulled out the picnic hamper. “These aren’t like the sticklebacks we get at home, you know.”

As Owl began carving up the hunk of honeyed ham, Pussycat sighed at the stars. This was not how she imagined her honeymoon. She was tired, hungry, smelled constantly of the bilge-water that found its way into the bottom of the boat, and to top off her list of complaints, the gold ring Owl had bought for her was turning to brass.

Owl appeared by her side and offered a plate containing a single slice of ham. “Here you go, my love. Eat up! It will improve your mood.”

Pussycat accepted the plate and devoured the ham, but the beast in her stomach still growled in complaint. “Don’t suppose there are any eggs to go with it?”

“I’m sorry, my love, but I had to throw them away yesterday; they’d turned quite green.”

“What about the mince and the slices of quince left over from our wedding feast?”

“You used the last of the mince for fishing, and we ran out of quince just before I cooked up the ham.” Owl bestowed a smile on his new wife. “I told you we should’ve brought more jars of honey.”

“Could you please just not talk for a while?” Pussycat sighed.

“Is something wrong, my love?”

Pussycat’s tail bristled, doubling in size. “Of course something’s wrong! Everything’s wrong!” She held up her wrist, showing off the gold-brass ring in the starlight. “The man who sold you this ring was a complete swine. And I bet that turkey-looking fellow who performed our ceremony wasn’t even ordained to marry us.”

“I told you he looked shifty. But you insisted on eloping! What was I to do?”

“You didn’t have to give him all our money, though. Right down to our last five pound note, too!” Not only was she starving and cold, she was now destitute. The proud owner of a brass ring and a boat that leaked. The boat had seemed a bargain at the time, but in hindsight, she should’ve walked away when she saw its name painted on its shallow hull. Who the hell called a boat Pea Green, anyway?

“It’s not all been bad, has it?” asked Owl. He sat on the bench beside her and took her paw in his wing. “We had our first dance by moonlight, with only the stars for company. How many people can say they did that?”

The dance was nice, she had to admit, but it didn’t make up for the cold. Or the hunger. Or the brass ring. Or the misery. “When we get back home, I’m planting roots.” She thumped the side of the boat. “And we’re selling this piece of crap.”

Owl smiled smugly. “I told you it wasn’t possible to circumnavigate the Earth in a rowboat.”

Pussycat snatched back her paw from his feathered grip. “I hate you,” she growled.

Earth


Inspiration for today’s Flash Fiction comes from Edward Lear’s poem, The Owl and the Pussy-cat (which you already totally knew… right? RIGHT?!) .

This is one of those times when I write one thing for two prompts and also sorta maybe just a little bit cheat my way through it. Yesterday, Jade M. Wong tagged me in a “write as much as you can in 10 minutes” challenge over on her blog. The prompt she gave was GREEN EGGS AND HAM. I didn’t get 10 uninterrupted minutes to do this, and it probably came to more like 15, but meh.

Chuck Wendig today set a “pick one of ten one-word titles and go nuts” flash fic challenge. I don’t know why I had Lear’s poem in my head when I read this prompt, but here we are.

According to Jade, I now need to tag at least 5 bloggers and offer a new prompt, but since I am That Indecisive Person who struggles to pick things (don’t ask my favourite food, colour, animal, etc) I’m just going to leave this open to anybody who would like to join in the fun. So, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and put something out there! Full rules on Jade’s page linked above, and your new prompt is…

*after agonising for 25 minutes due to aforementioned indecisiveness*

SUMMER CAMP

Let’s talk about Drabbles

I like to think of drabble as the baby brother (or sister) of flash fiction. Where a flash fiction may run from a few hundred to a couple of thousand words, a drabble offers a more concise style of telling a story: 100 words or less.

“But it’s not possible to tell a story in a hundred words!”

It is. In fact, it’s possible to tell it in less. But a hundred is a nice round number to work to.

The Drabble has a very informative post about the art of drabbling here. There is something very satisfying about writing concisely to a small word limit, especially when others enjoy reading what you’ve written.

If you’re a drabble reader and not already following The Drabble, what are you waiting for?! If you write drabbles, then you might like to offer one for submission, to widen your audience and share your work.

You can read one of my own drabbles accepted for publishing at The Drabble here.

And for my favourite pick of drabbles I’ve read so far, check out Empty Vessels.

Got a drabble you’d like read? Stick a link in the comments below and I’ll take a look!

Themes: Fantasy, Horror
Words: 333

Her gnarled knuckles ache with the pain of age and cold as she directs the brush this way and that across the upright canvas. Darkness is her comfort, her old friend, her nightly blanket. Darkness, because eyes clouded by cataracts require no light by which to see.

Swish.

Time, her old nemesis, claws at the few days she has left, scraping them away hour by hour. Each minute slips through her fingers like minnows in the stream, each lost moment dragging her closer to oblivion.

Swish.

The hog-hair brush runs dry. Methodically, she dips it down into the red on her palette. Blood-red. Virgin heart red, to be specific. It will make a lovely rosy colour on the portrait’s cheeks. The flush of youth. Yes, she will be young again.

Brown the hair, brown harvested fresh just last night. The woodcutter’s daughter, her lovely skin, her oak-coloured tresses. Pigtails, she wore. Pigtails no more. The body will be found soon enough.

The boiled-up bones of the baker’s newborn babe give ample glue. The long brown locks lie beautiful along the portrait’s hairline. How well they frame those flawless cheeks pinked by virgin blood.

Swish.

The finishing touches, now. Blue eyes, cornflower blue, to match the blue sky. The dress of the goat-herder’s daughter, ripped to tatters. A wolf, they say. A wolf is fine for the woman. Let the wolf take the blame.

The eyes in place, sightless she stares at the vision of youthful beauty. A face to break a thousand hearts. Much better than the wrinkled, saggy flesh her real face has become. Wartless, hairless, free from liver-spots… yes, this face will do nicely.

She puts down the paintbrush and picks up the spell-book. A whimper draws her blind eyes to the corner of the cottage, where the blacksmith’s daughter, fairest of the lot, lies bound and gagged.

Should she?

Yes. Why not? A new body to go with her new face. Smiling toothlessly, she picks up the wickedly curved knife.

moon


This slightly macabre flash fic was written for a Blog Battle challenge, with a theme of Selfie and a genre of Fantasy.

Rather than go with a more urban or contemporary fantasy, I thought I’d stick with something a little more typical for the genre. I’ve come in waaaay under the word limit, but I hope you enjoy the story. It was inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Themes: Fantasy, Crime, Rebellion
Words: ~1030

They knew him as The Shadow and spoke his name in whispers for fear of reprisal. He’d robbed six nobles in the last month alone, and now The Shadow had his sights set on a seventh. The wheels of the gilded carriage scattered clouds of dust into the night air as the horses blew heavily in their traces. They had travelled far this night, and swiftly.

The carriage was not unprotected, but that merely made his task more of a challenge—and increased his enjoyment of tweaking noble noses. The six mounted House guards he had anticipated, but the plainclothes men had the look of mercenaries about them, which was even better. Mercenaries exploited the fear of others; they would find themselves unpaid at the end of this night.

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Empty #writephoto

We dug into the ground with pick and axe, iron and steel biting into rich earth. We delved for everything which sparkled and shone. From the ground we tore everything precious, and some things which were not.

Then we dug into ourselves. We pulled out our sparklies and shinies, the jewels of our hearts and minds, and we wore them on our sleeves and around our necks. We wore them so that others could see and admire our beauty.

We ruined the Earth. Nothing would grow. As for our hearts and minds? As barren as the infertile fields we tilled.

Jewel


This little story is something I wrote a week or so ago, when my muse offered me a random taste of inspiration. I was going to hold on to it until I found a reason to post it, and that reason has now materialised in the form of Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. If you’ve enjoyed this story, please check out some of the other submissions on Sue’s blog!

Write Stuff, Win Stuff

A chap who likes writing (and waffles) is running a competition for people who also like to write (though I believe waffles may be optional).

The premise? Write 200 words of anything except play, screenplay or poetry. Post in the comments over there, and wait for some fellow human beings to judge your worth. Should you be deemed SUPER worthy, you’ll win some stuff plus bragging rights. You could also put your achievement on  your CV/resumé or college application forms, I guess.

You can see my entry here, and if some of the details are ringing bells in your noggin, it’s because I also wrote a little flash fic set in this fairy realm (which is from my WIP, Shatterstone).

Now you should go and make words happen. Huzzah for words!

(P.S. Did you check out my previous post on de-cluttering your inbox? Because this is my second blog post today. Gasp! If your inbox feels claustrophobic, go read what I wrote earlier.)

De-cluttering Your Inbox

Getting email updates from your favourite blogs is a lot of fun, but sometime the sheer amount of Stuff™ arriving into your inbox can be overwhelming. For sites that update several times a week (or several times a day) it can be tempting to hit ‘Unsubscribe’ in an attempt to declutter your inbox. I imagine a few of my own followers occasionally groan at the number of updates they receive each time I post a new flash fiction or poem.

However! There are ways of reducing and/or better managing the number of updates you receive to make following blogs by email a more pleasurable, clutter-free experience. Here are a couple of tips you might find useful.

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Themes: Horror, Demons, Suspense
Words: 993

It came in the night. A rage-filled howl shattered the peaceful air of the valley, screaming its promise of pain and death. Zihao’s eyes flew open. He pushed himself up from his futon and grasped the hilt of his sword. Fear clawed at his stomach; he fought against it, and won.

He slid down the ladder from his treetop hut. The demon’s taint was in the air, oily, charred, a bitter stench of fire and blood. It was faster than Zihao had imagined; piercing screams told him it had already reached the village.

Guanyin!

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She felt it before she saw the first clouds shadowing the horizon. The gentle breeze  changed swiftly, picking up speed, gusting through her feathers, urging her, fly! fly!

“Storm!” she screeched as she wheeled through the turbulent currents. “Storm!”

A thousand others took up her call, joining her dance on the swirling zephyrs. Far below, in the rocky cove, hunting seals heeded the call and moved to the safety of the shingle beach.

“Storm!” she screamed at the floating wooden animal beneath her. But the pale-faced creatures standing on it merely waved up at her, deaf to her warning.

UFO


A Bird’s-eye View

Every other Sunday I’ll be publishing a drabble about, or from the perspective of, a bird. This week’s bird is the ubiquitous Gull. What’s so special about the gull, you ask? Here are three facts which you may not know about this noisy, often annoying family of birds:

  1. Gulls can drink salt water! Their exocrine glands allow salt to be excreted through their nostrils, so whilst drinking salt-water is a big no-no for you and me, gulls manage quite well.
  2. Gulls are monogamous, and their mating bonds usually last throughout their entire lives. In this, they do better than some humans!
  3. Hybridisation between some species of gull is quite common, making gull taxonomy a particularly tricky subject.

I like to imagine that to the first European settlers reaching America’s shores, the sight of gulls nesting along the coast would’ve been a measure of comforting familiarity in an otherwise strange and dangerous land.

To view previous bird-related drabbles, click “A Bird’s-eye View” above, or select it from the Short Stories section of the menu at the top of the page.