Thursday, April 24, 2008

Moderators / Admins Still Needed!

The wonderful and talented Susan Helene Gottfried of West of Mars has agreed to help with some of our future flash fiction carnivals. I've been told that the lovely Gwen Mitchell will also assist, but we could use a few more volunteers to rotate duties.

This isn't a very onerous gig-- just think of a theme, post the theme and deadline, then post the links to the stories. Think of it as a good deed and easy karma!

Leave a comment if you want to help, especially if you can organize a carnival in the May-through-August period, which promises to be a little hectic for me and Susan.


Friday, April 18, 2008

April FFC: Elements: Earth, Sky, Fire, Water

Thanks for your patience, everyone. I also want to thank our writers for participating this month. It's a crazy one for both me and BunnyGirl, so we're just glad that you folks are still coming around and writing with us.

The beautiful and talented Ms Gwen Mitchell will be hosting the May FFC in her Writer's Retreat blog as BG and I will be really feeling the craziness of our work lives then. I aim to be back on board fully by the middle of May and BG hopes to be back in time for a Father's Day holiday FFC. If anyone wants to volunteer to run/host June's main FFC, please send me an email ASAP.

The theme, of course, for this month was the Elements: Fire, Water, Sky, and Earth.

Now then, in the order in which I received them:

God Has Given Me This Beautiful Thing by Mr Alex Watson (Please read and comment on this one first as I won't be able to moderate comments reliably for a few days after Monday morning due to circumstances beyond my control. VLee)

Reacquaintance by Kathleen Oxley

Turbulence by Susan Helene Gottfried

The Day After by Susan Helene Gottfried

Rain (a flashlet) by Susan Helene Gottfried

Chapeau by Susan Helene Gottfried

The Planter Box by Evilynne

In a Dry Land by Ann Pino

Muse by Andrea King

Elementary by A. Catherine Noon

The Element of Fire by Eaton Bennett

The Power of the Eclipse by ElizabethAnne

Please read everyone's flash and comment on those open to it. Feedback is our friend, after all.

Thanks again for joining us!

April FFC: Mr Alex Watson: God Has Given Me This Beautiful Thing

Mr Watson included an author's note which I feel should be read prior to reading his flash: This piece takes place during the Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979), also known as the Second Chimurenga, in which various guerilla organizations sought to overthrow the white minority government of Rhodesia in southern Africa and replace it with a majority government. ZANLA was one such guerilla group, and the Rhodesian African Rifles they faced in battle were mostly comprised of black soldiers loyal to the government. The fighting ended with the negotiated Lancaster House Agreement in 1979, which led to the creation of the state now known as Zimbabwe.

Edward Matesi was changing into his uniform when the knock came. His wife had answered it, their one-year-old in tow; a quick whispered conversation later, Edward found himself face to face with Joseph Nkama.

"Have you heard, Comrade Matesi, about our great victory?" Nkama said, flashing his winning smile. "The department store in Salisbury smoldering from our firebombs, many too afraid to leave their houses!"

"I have heard," Matesi said, "of the women and children who were there, wounded and killed. Many were burned alive."

"ZANLA regrets that such is necessary," said Nkama, "but that does not change the fact that it is necessary. The Rhodesians will not submit unless such things become a fixture of their daily lives."

Matesi donned his cap, emblazoned with the emblem of the Rhodesia African Rifles. "If you say so, Comrade Nkama."

"Do you know who carried out that attack?" Nkama continued. "It was Ndabaningi. He was also placed in the RAR to aid the Second Chimurenga. And aid us he has."

"This is all very well and good," said Matesi. "I too aid you. I pass information along to the ZANLA. I sell weapons to the ZANLA. In this Ndabaningi and I are brothers. So I do not understand why you have come here speaking of things I already know and things I already do."

"The time has come to move beyond such things, Comrade Matesi," Nkama said. "All are to aid the struggle now, not only through information or weapons, but through direct action. The time has come for you to renounce your membership in the RAR, and to do so with a forceful attack, a trial by fire."

"I have to man a checkpoint in the bush," Matesi said. "Nothing but two privates with me who would run like sheep at the first sign of any gunfire. What do you expect me to do?"

Nkama opened the parcel that he was carrying, and removed a Soviet-made hand grenade. "One car," he said. "Incinerate one Rhodesian car, and you will have done ZANLA an inestimable service. Cleanse the enemy with righteous fire."

Matesi hesitated for a moment, then accepted the weapon and thrust it into his pack.

"Good," Nkama said. "I look forward to reading of your victory in tomorrow's papers."

Once he arrived at his post, Matesi had made up his mind: he would do as he was asked, if only to stop Nkama's badgering. He knew that, for all the man's smiles, he was dangerous.

For some time, it seemed as if there would be no opportunities at all that day. Matesi and his men were relegated to guarding a wooden pole set across a dusty and deserted dirt road. The only cars that passed were local busses, laden with villagers who were already sympathetic to ZANLA.

Turning the grenade over in his hands—it was small enough to be concealed in one palm—Matesi ruminated on his attack. A wealthy farmer's car, perhaps, or a Rhodesian Army officer on an inspection tour. The privates were like dry sticks; they'd burn with whatever blaze was put to them. Matesi fully expected them to open fire when and if he did, and to follow him into ZANLA service.

When a personal car finally did appear, Matesi was relieved to see that it did in fact carry Rhodesians. He motioned for it to halt and walked up, grenade in hand.

"Where are you going today, sir?" he asked.

The driver stuck his head out; the man was freckled and flaxen-blond. "Bulawayo, eventually," he said. "Taking the family in to pick up some things at the druggist."

The word "family" gave Matesi momentary pause. But no, the beaming wife in the passenger seat made no difference. She too was Rhodesian, and as Ndabaningi had drawn no distinctions, neither should he.

"We're getting some asthma medicine!" a voice said from the back seat. Matesi looked over and saw a young girl there, hair in pigtails. She was clutching a black knit doll with spindly strings for arms and legs, and Matesi had a brief, stabbing thought of his young ones at home.

"That's a fine doll you have there," Matesi said. One quick pull, a toss, and then three seconds.

"Thank you," the girl said. "Her name is Fabunni Zene. Mummy says that means ' God has given me this beautiful thing' in Swahili."

"But we do not speak Swahili in Rhodesia," Matesi said. His hand trembled as he regarded Fabunni. So much like his daughter's…

"Mummy says that more people in Africa speak it than anything else!" the girl said. "That's why Fabunni chose it, to be a part of Africa."

Matesi pulled the pin; there was nothing save the dead-man's switch between that moment and an inferno. The car, and all its occupants, would be purged from Zimbabwean soil with primal fire.

The girl leaned closer to Matesi, as if to deliver a secret. "She has a pet llama," she said. "And one day she's going to grow up and make everybody get along."

"Don't bother the guard with your doll," the woman said. "He's busy."

"No, madam, it's fine." It was now or never; the man was becoming impatient. Matesi looked into the doll's wide, dark button eyes.

"Ncube!" he cried. "Raise the gate and let this man through." One of the privates moved toward the mechanism.

"But don't you need to see my identification?" the man asked.

"No. Go now," Matesi grunted. The car was lost is a cloud of dust a few moments later.

Returning to the guard shack, Matesi re-inserted the grenade's pin and dropped in the weapons locker. It would not burn today.

"Everything all right, boss?" Ncube asked. "You spent more time talking to that girl than the driver!"

Matesi sighed. "God has given me this beautiful thing," he said. "I don't know what is right any more."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April FFC Theme Announcement: Earth, Fire, Water, Air - The Elements

Sorry for the delay. Big changes are occurring in my life and as I could not find a host for April, I got behind.

At any rate, the rules for the April FFC are as follows:

1. There is a shorter writing span of TEN DAYS rather than two weeks. I apologize for this, but that is how it needs to be for this month. Hopefully May will be more normal. At any rate, your flash to be hosted here in the FFC blog or the link to your flash must be sent to me via the FFC email address by midnight on April 15th. Yes, I know that's Tax Day in the US, but my schedule is such that I have no choice. I will have the links and stories posted no later than noon on the 18th. I will try to post them earlier, but barring disaster, it shouldn't be any later.

2. Word limit is 1000 words. Please proofread for spelling and grammar. We are not your Mama or your English teacher. Thanks.

3. Your entry must be verifiable as belonging to YOU. Please submit via your main ISP email address if you are a new participant. The only Gmail entrants we'll accept will be those coming from previous participants or those with credible referrals. Yahoo email is acceptable, but only just. We are sorry if this inconveniences you, but for legal reasons it is necessary. I, as admin, must be able to verify who you are. And yes, the information will remain confidential.

4. I guess you're wondering what the theme is, huh?

THE ELEMENTS: Earth, Water, Fire, Air

Use them all or only use one. You can even do one flash per element and submit each one on its own. However you are inspired is what you need to do.

I chose this theme because of all the weird weather that comes with Spring.

What are you waiting for? Go WRITE!