Friday, September 2, 2011

Flash Fic Friday

Last night, I was pushing my cart through the grocery store, trying to begin restocking the hurricane-depleted fridge and freezer, when my cell phone trumpeted at me. It was my friend Lynn, who wanted to tell me about a beer she'd spotted that she thinks I should try (I don't like beer, as a rule, but I'm game to try from time to time) and then, apropos of nothing, she sent me four words and demanded a flash fic.

I had to put her off a bit, since I wasn't at my computer and I had some actual work for the Day Job waiting for me at home, but before I went to bed last night, I sent her a tiny story, which she posted on her blog.

I also sent her some words of my own (phone, seashell, caramel, balloon), which she has lovingly crafted into an adorable little steampunk (it's her preferred genre) vignette, which I'm posting here in its turn. It's a fun little exercise -- I love doing flash fiction -- so feel free to offer up additional prompts in the comments, and I'll see what I can do with them!

(Warning: absolutely no sexual content whatsoever, but plenty of steampunky gadget porn...)

Johanne R. Scanlon, III hid her aether-pistol, a Maverick Rev.6, under her caramel-colored flight-dress. The folds of practical serge didn't entirely mask the whir of the sparkgap battery powering up. The man rummaging around inside her basket straightened. She shrugged. There was nothing for it but to hope he didn't rush her before the pistol would fire. She certainly wasn't about to step aside and allow him to ransack her belongings.

"That will be just about enough of that, sir," Jo said, stepping closer to her balloon, and leveling the Maverick. "Air Port Mooring authorities are already on their way."

"As A.P.M.A. has been having difficulty with their phonautographs all morning, that's highly unlikely," the man said, turning to face her. She noticed, in a purely not-interested sort of way that he was rather handsome, with black hair and ice-blue eyes. the sort that always made her knees wobbly. "Untrustworthy system, the phone. But don't worry. I'm not skyjacking your airship - which is lovely, by the way, a Rankine model, I'm assuming?"

"Practical Carnot," Jo corrected. "I upgraded to a more efficientturbine engine. Running the spice trade from London to Bombay, I need more power than balloonists who just flutter above the city. What do you want?"

"I had an escapee," he said, holding up a bronze.... thing that squirmed and struggled, a seashell with dozens of mechanical legs and a pair of pincers snapping uselessly at its captor. "I'm moored a few stations down, on the Haliphron, and my co-pilot kicked over a container of these little bastards. I've been chasing them around the port all morning. This is the last one. He was trying to stowaway on your 'ship."

"Well, if you're done reorganizing my basket, sir?"

"Terribly rude of me, ma'am," he said, hasilty. He started to offer his right hand to shake, realized he still had the mech-crab in it, and bowed. "I'm Professor S. McKeon Landers. A pleasure to meet you. Could I, perhaps, treat you to tea and a bite of lunch, as an apology?"

"As long as your little stowaway can come along," Jo smiled. "I've always loved clockworks."

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