Just a friendly warning – if you’re reading this, then it’s likely you have no problems with gay-themed stories. If you do or if you are under the legal age of consent in your country, please leave without reading on. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every so often, publishers have Flash Fiction contests on their Yahoo groups or Live Journals. Apart from being fun to do, they can be a very good way of kick-starting a writer out of a block. Every time I take part in the contests, I’ll post my entry here.   My first attempt ended up being the start of ‘Aloes’, a novel that ended up with Manifold Press.

~*~

 

This Challenge was for up to 100 words using kerosene, spaghetti, penguin

Thanks to the storm, the whole street had no electricity. Some homecoming for Mark – the fancy meal Nick had planned was out. So he raided the cellar for the old camping stove and lantern, and the kerosene to fuel them. By the time his lover fought the gale from taxi cab to the front door, Nick had spaghetti cooking on the small stove, pesto and grated cheese ready to stir into the pan.

 

“Sorry, lover,” Mark said after hugs and kisses. “My luggage’s in Detroit, but I got this in Heathrow…” A Penguin chocolate bar. “It’s a UK favorite…”

~*~

This Challenge was for 150-250 words, using chipmunk, squash [noun or verb], clipboard.

 

I love Todd. I really do. He’s my best friend, my lover, and we’ve been together for twelve years. This year we were going to drive across the border into Canada to get married. We changed those plans when New York State joined the Same Sex Marriage Club, and our parents took over. Well, our moms and sisters, mainly. So we got hitched in grand style in the grounds of our local five star hotel with all our families and friends with us. Our honeymoon is a road trip, which is how we ended up in this small town in the back of beyond, wandering around their old-fashioned county fair. I swear it’s like being in a time slip.

 

Did I mention how much I love the man? He’s a little shorter than me, a year older, and he has curly brown hair, laughing brown eyes and a kind of chubby face with an upturned nose. He loves me right back. He also loves pie. So of course he had to enter the pie-eating contest.

 

Me, I just thank God I had my camera. The sight of my new husband squashing pie into his face until he looks like a demented chipmunk, while a fat dude with a clipboard marked off every pie Todd managed to swallow, is something that’ll stay with me for a long time.

 

 

It’ll be years before he lives it down, and I have the photos to keep it alive.

 

He won, btw.

 

I love Todd.

~*~

This challenge was for 150 words, using oven-baked, poison ivy, attic fan, pumpkin[s]

 

 

“Pumpkin!” Lee cooed in a credible imitation of Aunt Corrie, and patted Hal’s face adoringly, just as she had done.

 

 

“Fuck off,” Hal snorted, batting him away, but he kept his voice to a whisper and he was smiling. “You want to change your mind and go tackle the poison ivy down by the woodpile? Believe me, looking for Uncle Tom’s old phonograph is a better way to earn cookies and sandwiches. She has a secret recipe for oven-baked ham to die for.”

 

 

Lee gazed around the attic, frowning. “Okay, but it must be about ninety degrees up here!”

 

 

“So take off your shirt,” Hal suggested, his voice becoming a sultry drawl. He reached up and turned on the attic fan. “This’ll cool you down when I get you all hot and sweaty.”

 

 

“Yeah?” Lee’s eyes lit up and he moved close, pressing their groins together. “Bring it on, lover.”

 

 

~*~

This challenge was from friend and fellow author RJ Scott – 300 words using apple, shadow, wig

“Are you sure I can’t tempt you?” the Serpent asked.

 

 

“I’m sure,” said Adam’s Seventh Son. He eyed the glossy fruit hanging from the Tree with disfavour. “After all, It’s just an apple.”

 

 

“You’d be surprised,” the Serpent drawled, and looped a few more coils over the branch. His weight made the Apple sink a little lower, a little closer. “Why not try it, just once?” His voice was honey and velvet, the sun gleamed on his scales and transmuted them to gems of crimson, green and jetty black all set in gold. He was sleek, beyond beautiful – for a Serpent.

 

 

Adam’s Son shook his head, his dark hair drifting over brown shoulders.

 

 

“I’m not hungry.” He hadn’t succumbed to his parents’ latest fad of wearing leaves stuck to various body parts and was gloriously nude. The Serpent approved. But handsome and pleasing to the eye as the young man was, he showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm in his posture.

 

 

“You seem – sad.”

 

 

“No. Not really.” Adam’s Son folded long legs and sat in the cool shadow beneath the branches.

 

 

“You can tell me,” the Serpent purred, slithering with incomparable grace to rest his great wedge-shaped head on the young man’s shoulder. “You can tell me anything…”

 

 

“It’s just – I’m lonely.”

 

 

“I can cure that.” The Serpent slipped to the grass in a gleaming heap, then rose in the form of a naked maiden with breasts like ripe peaches and long, long hair of sunny gold. Adam’s Son barely spared her a glance.

 

 

“That’s a really bad wig,” he muttered.

 

 

“Huh. Is this more to your liking?”

 

 

Now The Serpent was tall, wide shouldered and narrow hipped. His chestnut hair curled about his head and his green eyes promised many things.

 

 

“Yes!” laughed Adam’s Seventh Son.

 

 

~*~

The challenge was 120-200 words using lead, trampoline, violet

 


This was a nightmare. Kyle couldn’t remember how or why he was running through ancient woodland with only the winter moon giving him intermittent light. Someone was chasing him – a shotgun’s blast echoed among massive gnarled trees, lead pellets ripped through the branches, and a rain of twigs and torn leaves cascaded over him. He tripped over a root, fell, and interlaced branches and dead leaves cushioned his landing like a makeshift trampoline. He half-bounced, half-scrabbled to his feet, staggered between two looming shapes that seemed more like enormous stones than trees – and stopped.

 

 

In the space of a stride he’d gone from winter to spring. Warm breezes drifted by, laden with the scent of young grass and the ephemeral perfume of wild violets. The full moon filled the clearing with clean white light, and someone stepped from behind another huge stone to face him. Dark hair trailed over pale bare shoulders, eyes of lambent gold were set in high cheekboned features, and he was the most beautiful, terrifyingly feral creature Kyle had ever seen.   “Come.” His smiling lips didn’t move. “Come with me and be mine.” And Kyle obeyed, walking spellbound into moonlight and shadows without end.

 

 

~*~

The challenge this time was 100 to 200 words, using Desmond, Brewster, spa, dictionary.


Gloomily Paul Brewster slopped the squeegee mop over the tiles. The smells of chlorine and cleaning fluid prickled in his nostrils. Still, it was a job, and he could use the Olympic-sized pool out of hours to keep up with his training. The area championships were getting closer and his goal was set on the 200 meters Freestyle podium. But in the meantime he had to work. He just wished it wasn’t necessary.

 

 

Other contenders could train during the day – notably Jon Desmond. He, in Paul’s opinion, was his main rival for the medal and there weren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe Jon. He was drop dead gorgeous, with ebony skin, heavy-lidded slumberous eyes, cornrow braids, and he didn’t know Paul existed.

 

 

Running footsteps came toward him and Jon burst through the swing doors.

 

 

“I left my towel in the locker room! Can you – ”

 

 

“Don’t run!” Paul interrupted urgently. “The tiles are slip – ”

 

 

Too late. Jon went flying, Paul tried to catch him and they both fell sideways into the spa. Warm water bubbled around them and Paul had his arms full of laughing, sleek-muscled man.

 

 

“Hi,” Jon purred. “Good to meet you.”

 

 

~*~

The challenge was – 200 words using Godfather, Almond, Cane

 


The house had been his godfather’s, left to Josh in the old man’s will. Luckily there had been no blood-relatives to contest the legacy, which was just as well. Josh didn’t like conflicts.

 

 

The walled garden had been his especial domain – still was. The formal flowerbeds were their usual blaze of spring colors. The almond trees were solid masses of pink, the laburnums swept butter-yellow chains over the pergola and the roses were about to bloom.

 

 

It had taken years of hard work. Josh hadn’t done it all himself. Hal had slaved alongside him, their friendship deepening and changing. Summer days spent in the privacy of the garden, hidden from the world and the old man’s fading eyes, gave Josh a whole new appreciation of the naked male body. But with the legacy came problems. Hal wanted a place in Josh’s life he wasn’t prepared to grant. They argued. Josh didn’t like arguments.

 

 

Yesterday he’d gone to the garden center and bought the blue wisteria, the one whose flowers were the color of Hal’s eyes. He planted it beside the west wall, drove the supporting cane deep until it hit the resistance of Hal’s body.

 

 

Josh didn’t like conflicts.

 

2 Responses to Challenge Ficlets

  • Sara York says:

    Loved the oven-baked, poison ivy and pumpkin challenge, actually I liked them all!

    • Chris says:

      Thanks, Sara, that’s good to know. Challenges are a lot of fun to write and they are pretty damn effective at defeating the dreaded Writer’s Block!

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