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150 words

Snowmen in August

The Clarion West Write-a-thon ended Friday. I haven’t totalled up the words yet, but am pretty sure I fell a bit short of my 5,000 word goal. I missed a couple days of writing, too, for Confluence, and another day lost to exhaustion.

Tamie not just agreed to having her story posted, she insisted that I post it.

So here you go, a quick lunchtime flash. The prompt words were: chard, middle, snowman, hairball, frizzle-inator.

Winter Wonderland
by Sarah Goslee

Parsley curls were not good snowman hair: the poor guy looked like he’d been hit by a frizzle-inator. She wanted her winter lawn art to
look edgy but attractive, not like a hairball left by a giant vegetarian cat. The snowman anchored the middle of the display,
flanked by a snow platypus and a snow pangolin with sculpted scales. If she could get the hair right, her punk snowman and companions would
be the hit of the winter festival. Her neighbor Sam was sure his snow velociraptor was going to win, but dinosaurs were so 2013. Mel looked
around to make sure the tarps were still shielding the yard from view; she didn’t want Sam to see the parsley disaster. She’d never live it

Mel dashed for the kitchen, returning with a handful of chard. Rainbow mohawk, and best of all, she wouldn’t have to eat the stuff.


The Clarion West Write-a-thon ends Friday, and I am NOWHERE NEAR my 5,000 word goal.

Or am I?

I have 2,694 words of outline and prose so far, just over half of the 5,000 word target.

But I also have 2,351 words of character notes, 7,766 words on place notes, and 41,485 words of other research notes. Ahem.

I really can’t count those unless I go through and sort out my words from those copied from other sources, since the research notes chunk especially is both my notes and things I wanted to save verbatim for later.

I also have a mind map, though I have no idea how to translate that into equivalent words.

I’ve done better on the “writing every day” plan, though a few days were more research than outlining. I also took a break this weekend while at Confluence: I have not enough brain and energy to do the con and write both.

So pretty good on that front, but I have a lot of words to write by Friday!

To distract you from my lack of progress, here’s the first 150-word sponsor story. All of you lovely people who sponsored me, you need to give me your ideas! Otherwise I get to pick, and, well. Heh. This sponsor chose weaving, perfume, and alchemy, and this is what resulted.

Peace Surpassing
by Sarah Goslee

Strands wound together in a riotous tapestry, under and over, with areas of around and through where soumak mixed with plain weave. The warp of plain white linen was nothing special. The weft, though, was an alchemical marvel, beauty and science blended. This portrait of the city skyline would be the focal point of a new museum exhibit of science-inspired art. Each distinct color of yarn carried not only visual impact, but an olfactory message as well. The weaver meant her tapestry to be touched: a gentle stroke of fingers across cloth would release a carefully-tuned symphony of scent evoking the strengths of the city and its myriad cultures: its food, its gardens, all supported by undertones of concrete and steel. Lurking beneath the perceptible, embedded pheromones would permanently rewire the brains of all who toured the gallery, encouraging them to tend their home and make it

Whiskey and Water

Afternoon light drew long shadows before me, cast flickering stream ripples onto the overhanging willow trunks. I sipped slowly from the cup cradled in my right hand, peat drifting across my tongue.

I probably should have been surprised when the horse rose from the water. Droplets sprayed over me from his black mane as he paced up the bank. I lifted my cup, and the kelpie bent his muzzle to inhale the rich vapors.

Shakily I rose, his flank cold and damp where I leaned for support. He watched me from one eye, head canted back, silver tracery glinting on his dark leather bridle.

He knelt when I failed at boosting myself onto his back. Were his victims ever in need of so little coaxing, or so much help? Cruelty or compassion, I needed no glamour to ride him into the depths. Here, now, while I could make my own choice.

[Fanfic? Maybe.]


Last century a cartoon appeared on lab doors: “Save the world. Teach your dog to photosynthesize.” It wasn’t a joke now. No dogs though, because fur interfered with solar absorption. Alexander popped a marshmallow into his mouth, his sweet tooth not satisfied by the sugars he made himself. Scientists had experimented on themselves for centuries, sidestepping permission and derision alike. How else to know if the models, the naked mice, the years of work had succeeded?

His deep green skin provided all the carbohydrates he needed, though he still craved proteins and minerals. No more would starve because corn fed machines instead of people. He put up the latest microscope images with clothespins: chloroplasts embedded in his epidermis. He lifted one of his chlorophyllaceous mice from its sunlamp and stroked it.

The airborne spores would solve all the world’s energy problems. He just needed enough land for 9 billion people to sunbathe.

Vampire Fears

He stopped her hand as she reached for the bedside lamp, fingers biting into her wrist. “Leave it on.” She shrugged, though she preferred cloaking darkness. The relief in his eyes morphed into inky hunger. She gathered her long hennaed hair off her neck and turned her head away. His fingers smoothed the last tendrils from her scarred skin, sending a tremor of fear and desire down her spine. She closed her eyes; she could have that much privacy. After, he lay sated next to her, as relaxed as he ever got, and she dared to ask. “No, of course I’m not afraid of the dark. That would be foolish. It’s the monster under the bed.” Her friends would laugh when she told them that. She dozed then, lethargic from blood loss. She didn’t notice when he left, turning out the light, didn’t notice until cold clammy fingers gripped her ankle.

Come the Revolution

Two billion eyes blinked for the first time. Two billion feet stepped out from under the bed, from inside the closet, from places lost and forgotten. A billion hands groped for a weapon. Sharp was most pleasing, but anything would do. Not all could join their sisters — so many were headless, legless, mutilated, dismembered — but all could hate. A billion heads around the world were linked together into one collective mind, brooding on memories of sticky little fingers pulling them apart, putting them together backwards, leaving plastic limbs strewn everywhere. Pulling out hair. Bending and breaking. Burning, melting. Disfiguring with marker, crayon, mud, paint. Fifty years of torture. Fifty years of hate. All of that was over now. No more makeup. No more playing dress-up. No more of that bastard Ken. No more children. A billion tiny figures rose. Barbie was awake, and things were going to be different now.


Moonlight flooded the sky, only the brightest stars outshining it. The icy January wind bit deep into her bones. Once she’d been oblivious to temperature, even without her fur coat, but the past few winters had been hard. There were other compensations: her children, grandchildren, even the third and fourth generations. With age the pull of the moon lessened; in recent months she’d stayed at home in her rocking chair. Winter’s chill made the ensuing aches and pains all the worse, days of immobility for a single night’s exhilaration, though even then she wasn’t as quick and agile as she’d once been. She took a long look at the moon bright overhead. This time there would be no pain. She would have liked to smell spring again — new life, young and foolish prey — but wild things knew when it was time to steal away into the silent woods.

[Note: these ultra-short stories are all exactly 150 words. Telling a complete tale at a specific length is an interesting puzzle, a good warm-up exercise, a home for a single idea or image. I try not to fuss over them too much except for length, and often write one after work as a way to unwind. Tonight’s was inspired by the lovely full moon. Vivid Mars appeared as well, but he didn’t contribute to the story so he had to go.]


Mr. Alexander looked up at the office building. Surely that was new? He glanced at Ms. Sharp, walking beside him. Ms. Sharp was unperturbed. Should he ask her about the large gray metal box, with the three turrets and smokestack? He was certain that it hadn’t been there earlier this week. It looked like the kind of addition that required contractors with tool belts and large machinery. It must have always been there, because he would have noticed a crane.

Ms. Sharp flicked her eyes sideways at her companion. Why hadn’t she ever noticed that addition? But she was afraid that inquiring would make her seem foolish and unobservant, so she didn’t.

The time-travellers had seen this before, around the globe and throughout history. Just like tying a firecracker to a cat’s tail, but the cat never noticed. Eventually someone would ask, but by then it was always too late.


Soft splats all around me, and I’d forgotten my umbrella again. I brushed a frog from my shoulder and reached down to dislodge another from the German shepherd. The poodle snapped at a falling amphibian. The Airedale just looked disgruntled. At least it wasn’t blood this time. The dogs had tracked that all over the house. The stains would probably never come off the floors.

I came up with this clever scheme after getting laid off: gullible people paying me up front for the security of knowing their pets would be cared for after the Rapture. Even good dogs don’t go to Heaven. Lots of them did pay me. Now I was stuck with the consequences: dogs, cats, hamsters. I’m glad I said no to the donkeys, even when their owner offered to pay double.

I thought I was so smart, but I don’t even like animals all that much.