I wanted to get back to a little more fiction on this blog again, so I signed up for the WEP – Write, Edit, Publish, a flash fiction challenge.
Then I forgot about it, of course. I spotted the hashtag on twitter a while ago, found a post by my talented friend Jemima, thought of writing, squiggled a bit, planning to post it tomorrow, checked the deadline –22 Feb! I felt rightly embarrassed.
So, I set the kitchen timer for ten minutes–my favorite method of writing short pieces. (What’s yours, dear writer?)
The Prompt is 28 days.
Here’s the resulting ‘flash fiction’, tweaked for proofing errors etc. It is basically a bit of ‘writing stretches.’ Like warmup, only with writing. But I have to learn to let go, and hang loose a little, right?
After twenty-eight days, the world as I know it will be no more.
There will be no more sandwiches, for instance. No Starbucks. After day seven, no feeding the ducks, no watching the swan mate, pushing its partner down under the water. No crunch of boots over gravel.
Day fourteen, no watching pretty girls in their high boots, rushing to catch trains. No watching them, never ought to watch them, anyway. No. No sex. No walking each day from my doorstep to the station. No station. No people inside the station. No buskers, no violins or guitars, no voices raised in song. Each of these days, I will walk these roads, till I walk them no more.
Day twenty-one, be careful. Avoid the camera at the street turn. Set the cap at the correct angle. Look like I’m going somewhere. I am. Going somewhere, I mean. Each day I need to wrap up my bulk a little tighter, walk a little faster. Look normal, normal, just another woman walking to the station, a mother rushing to office having dropped her daughters to school. Only I have no daughters. What would it be like to have daughters? To listen to prattle? To touch downy heads? To be the world to a tiny human? No point now, because I will never have a daughter. All these people around me, every one of them, just so much flesh and blood, like cattle. No, like mosquitoes. Roaches. Yes, roaches. Things that must be gone so a better world may come.
Day twenty-eight will be like any other, until it won’t.
On the 1st of March, USA tested the hydrogen bomb in the Pacific archipelago of Bikini, part of the Marshall Islands.
On the 1st of March Johnny Cash married June Carter.
A plane crashed on Long Island on 1st March, after a long stretch of bad weather, on a day clearer than a sunny day in the mountains.
The US Capitol was bombed on the 1st of March. No one died. $300, 000 worth of damages.
This 1st of March, at the end of my twenty-eight days, will be different. Inshallah.
Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have posts delivered to your inbox by subscribing via email.
Damyanti you have the ability to deal with very sensitive subjects in a practical way so we go beyond the story to the truth behind it. Terrorism is a much broader subject than what we normally think of it as. Each of us views the other side as terrorists and visa versa, that’s not too far off the point.You hinted at that in the atom bomb illustration. Humans, nature and the earth were greatly affected by that and all other tests since. It’s a catch 22 situation where the earth is so violent now that preventative violence is seen to be the solution to ensure the most powerful survive. Plastics, and other non perishables in the very short term are an act of terrorism against future generations human and nature. Whole societies are making deserts out of their countries. Making a cesspool out of miles of the Pacific Ocean makes us all responsible for acts of terrorism in principle. Thanks for this thought provoking blog.
I wonder… but then, why wonder if it’s no more to wonder about! 😉
Ah, love it! I’m so happy that you posted for the challenge.
I love reading your work. ❤️️
Thanks for dropping by Michelle! Loved your piece, as well.
I went to elementary school with Wendy E. Her birthday is on 29 February. I’m in my 60s, but she’s not quite 16 now.
Thanks for the ending of all things tale.
Wow. That got dark, didn’t it?
I love all the imagery though.
You did a great job with this. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, got quite dark quite fast. Thanks for your kind words, and for your visit!
This is a fantastic piece, Damyanti.
I haven’t read much of your work, but after reading this I will look for your short stories. Do share your favourites please.
Thanks for your kind words, Priya.
I don’t have any favourites (I don’t much like anything I’ve written), but if you’d like to, my published stuff is linked here: https://www.damyantiwrites.com/published-fiction/
Thanks for asking–I really appreciate it.
Crisp and sharp hitting. Very fast paced and engaging
Thanks, Sunita, glad you liked it.
This was scary, Damyanti. A sense of foreboding, an impending tragedy was looming large from the outset. How did you do such an absolutely amazing job in only ten minutes?
Eeeep, Esha, I don’t know if it is an amazing job, but it Is a job.
The way I write coherent pieces in short time periods is just brute practice. Doing it day after day, for years.
Thank you for your kind words–most days writing is a hard, lonely job, and I have learned to embrace validation. 🙂
It has been said that the best way to eradicate terrorism is to educate the women. However, some women become indoctrinated into violent philosophies. I have no idea what the solution is myself.
There are no short-term solutions, because the problems did not arise in a day.
There needs to be a lot of political will behind diplomacy, pushing for education, of not interfering in other countries–better geopolitics, overall, but that’s not going to happen in a hurry.
I happen to chance upon your post while browsing through and your title was somewhat peculiar and it got my interest. So I sat and I read it through. Even though short, your flash fiction got me stuck on my seat and my breathe just slows down. This sounds like an interesting book to read to read about, if there is any in the future. 🙂
Thanks so much. Yes, there will be a book out soon, but not related to this piece of flash fiction. Thanks for visiting, and taking the time to read this story.
I loved the build up. The story has a nice flow and suspense to hold the reader’s attention till the end. 10 minutes you say? I am not sure if I would be able to finish a story in 10 minutes, that too with a timer running. I will try this method, though. Will let you know if I have any success. 🙂
Thankyou! Sure, let me know how it goes, and wish you all the best!
I first started on this technique with a book called The Five-Minute Writer. It worked for me, and I wrote longer pieces from there on.
Is Big Brother watching? (He may be reading your post right now).
I’m sure they are. And yep, they are reading this post…and have discarded it for the harmless piece of fiction it is. I wish there were less of both: big brothers, and individuals like the protag of my story.
Fast paced. I liked the 1st March bits added in.
Thanks Sally. I was lucky the details fitted in.
From the beginning I knew death awaited your character, but I wasn’t certain how. Now, you’ve latched onto a fear that sent your story to a new realm. Well done.
Thaks Nancy. I didn’t know where the story would end either, only realised it had ended when it did.
I liked this except for the inshallah at the end. It sort of reinforces that terrorism and suicide bombers are Islamic when that is not necessarily true. America has a huge hand in creating terror and she is not Islamic. Our own hindutva brigade don’t think twice about taking out journalist and activists and lynching people at the drop of a hat. I really feel that when we write we have the power to perpetuate an idea or break it down. So…
If there were a next draft, that’s the word I would have definitely deleted, Sunita. This piece is a first draft and imperfect–and your critique is spot-on–I do not like stereotypes and stereotyping an entire creed is just what that word tends to do. I use it often, despite being non-Muslim, which is why it slipped in.
I’m trying to be brave in putting up slapdash piece up for the world to see in order to loosen up a little. Thanks for stopping by, and your comment.
Oooh, that was very scary! Thanks for the shout-out!
Thanks, Jemima. Loved your story set in frozen dystopia.
Hi Damyanti – I feel we’re rather like that over here .. hurtling towards Brexit – or whatever dreaded cliff lies ahead – not quite the end of the world … but sufficiently discombobulating to all normal people … great take on the prompt though … very clever … loved the round up of the events occurring on March 1st – so well done – cheers Hilary
Thanks so much, Hilary.
And i’m sorry about what you’re going through with Brexit–I was in London for a while two months before the vote, and at that time it had sounded a distant, vague thing that would never happen. Let’s hope for good outcomes for all concerned, though that looks difficult at the moment.
I’m so impressed you wrote this in ten minutes! There’s a great build up of tension and from the beginning I was wondering what was going to happen after the 28 days. It was a chilling look inside the mind of someone utterly brainwashed, looking down on other people like they are nothing but cockroaches. Very interesting, but so sad that this is a reality.
Thank you! I think part of the pace came organically, because it was written so fast, and some of my tension in not being able to meet the deadline seeped into the story. It IS very sad it is a reality, and we really have to figure out what happens to these minds, and somehow prevent this from happening. It is a complex issue, with no easy answers.
Oh man…felt I was rushing through the 28 days at a pace that was fast, like I am riding an emotional roller coaster. The narration was engaging as well as gripping!
Thank you, Anagha. Glad that the pacing worked for you.
An interesting buildup of events given the impressive opening line. Along with an unexpected ending that concluded things in a great way. Well done.
Thank you for your kind words, Christopher.
Wow! I didn’t see that end coming, but it suited the build up perfectly. It’s a sad and tragic story, but somehow also triumphant, in a twisted and desperate way. Great for fiction, not so much for reality. Kudos on constructing something so powerful in such a short amount of time.
Thankyou so much for your kind words–it is definitely not ideal in reality, but I guess fiction gloats in places that reality would be uncomfortable in.
Excellent tension, the first line hooked me and the rest did not flag. Very tight, very enjoyable. Brilliant use of the prompt.
Thanks for the kind words, Nilanjana.
Writing with the ticking timer seems to work well for you. I especially liked the things you chose to “miss” in the beginning of the piece: No sandwiches. No Starbucks. No sex. The kind of sum up today’s world. Good job!
Thank you. I learned to do this during my very first stint at A to Z blogging I think, years ago. Practising a lot means I can create a decent flash in a very short time. Not superlative, but competent 🙂
Thank you for sharing… as my world is in a constant state of change, tomorrow my world will change and today will become a memory, and tomorrow my future world will still be a mystery… don’t have to wait 28 days… 🙂
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy
Oh absolutely. We don’t have to wait for 28 days.
Ah remembering. Some days it even happens when we want it to happen. Or not. Usually I just wait until it is time to write and dive in. Sometimes that gets messy. Other times it works just fine. And most of the time I try not to worry about it.
That’s often the best way.
Racy fiction which at a point makes one breathless
Thanks so much. Glad you liked it.
It felt like I was watching a movie on apocalypse. 🙂 where the world is nearing its end.
And, I liked it. Not because you have written it well, or something, but, there are times when this is just the kind of scene that plays in my head and I begin to wish the world would really come to an end soon!
Yes, we all have those moments, don’t we?
Very ominous like a dark cloud. I can feel the electricity in the lines between. I like writing flash fiction at WEP due to their flexibility. Your story is timely and I appreciated you expanding on the implications behind the story. Well done.
Thanks so much for your kind words. I keep forgetting about WEP, but hope to do better this year.
This was great, especially considering the short amount of time in which you wrote it. This was both urgent and ominous. Well done!
Thanks, Laura, and Thankyou for all that you do to keep this community going.
What an amazing powerful and chilling piece. Chapeau B for writing it in a flash!
Thanks so much!
Oh-oh. That is just scary. And so sad. You wrap up your mysterious ‘coming of the end of the world’ in so many emotions.
Thanks Olga. Glad you like it.
I thought it’s a suicide bomber thinking – looking down on starbucks was a great hint and the contempt for humans – like roaches. Gave me the shudders Damyanti. Well done. An enjoyable read
Thanks Kalpanaa, glad you loved it!
After twenty-eight days, the world as I know it will be no more.
When I read your opening line, Damyanti, I knew I was in for a treat. The prompt lends itself to a countdown to disaster…or happiness…but most are drawn to dystopian futures.
Impressed that you penned your ‘countdown’ in 10 minutes + editing. Like freewriting, this method gives our subconscious a chance. I don’t usually write this way, but I did for this prompt. I knew what I wanted to write about and let it write itself, then I went back and enhanced it.
One of the things I liked most with this flash is the urgency of it, created by the short sentences and questions. Towards the end it was rollicking along.
It is such a bonus that you hung loose with us for this WEP prompt. Thank you for participating. (I was beginning to think you’d forgotten). Great that you made the deadlline!
Thanks Denise, and I’m really sorry I did almost forget about the challenge.
I think the deadline pressure might have helped focus my subconscious a bit.
The pace might also have come at the pace at which it was written, pretty much within the ten minutes I gave myself.
Thankyou for organizing this and I’m determined to do the rest of them this year. ( I hope no one is laughing in the background as I say this.)
Deeply impressed you wrote this amazing piece so quickly, Okay, you mentioned tweaking in but still. I like the March 1st ending even if I celebrate that day as my wife’s birthday and St David’s Day. My flash is more of a snail race.
Ronald, each flash, each piece of fiction is complete unto itself. I quite liked yours! Writing fast, in some cases, accesses the subconscious, which has its own piece of organic logic.
Thank you so much for your kind words.
Wow! You wrote this in 10 minutes? That’s impressive and your writing skills are obviously tightly honed. So, the jist here is that bad things generally happen on March 1st, but “god willing” (Inshallah), it won’t, this time. In the meantime, your protagonist is anticipating the end of the world. Love the humans as mosquitos or roaches analogy. Bottom line, we need to wipe out humanity and start over. I think we all feel that way, at one time or another. Such a pwerful piece of writing!
Debbie, I can’t write novels at quite this pace, and that’s the goal I’m working towards–personally.
Flash pieces though, I’ve practiced a lot, under tight deadlines, and this felt like going back to my A to Z Challlenge years when I wrote a story a day based on random word and picture prompts.
Glad you like it. Putting it up is also an act of sublimating my ego–I’m too much of a perfectionist sometimes, and perfect gets in the way of good, in life, and in writing.
All the 1st March days she talks about were either more positive or created less loss of life. Hers will be different, because God willing, she intends to take out more lives, and end their world as she ends her own.
Wonderful to have such natural talent! So, this was about a suicide bomber. Makes sense! The “Inshallah” should have been a clue. Duh!
Haha not sure about talent—just long hours of practice, over years.
Funnily enough, that word is the only one I would skip if I did a second draft, because it reads a bit ham-handed to me now.
But that’s the thing about these pieces I’ve decided to fling on to the internet: they’ll be flawed pieces, hanging around, taunting me forever 🙂
I take it that will mark the end of the world… Or just of her world.
Her world, and that of as many as she can take with her.
Wow, Damyanti. This yanked me right through to the end with such power. The premise of knowing the number of days remaining was mesmerizing.
Thanks Diane. I think often of death, and what it would mean to me, personally. I took some of that and put it in here.
It was effective!
Powerful (as always!). My emotions roller-coasted through this.
Thanks for the kind words, Jemi. I’m glad you were moved by this.
When I was a boy in elementary school, we had nuclear bomb drills. Air Raid sirens would blare outside the school and echo mournfully throughout our small town. Our rote was to hide under our wood desks. We knew the likelihood of attack near us was high, as there was a large field of oil and gas tanks a few miles away near the airport. A nuclear blast, they said, could easily reach us.
I found your piece riveting on many levels. First, what was going to happen in 28 days? Something apocalyptic no doubt. Second, it was a farewell to the small bits of life that compose the larger mosaic. And the ending was a surprise. Not so much the aftermath of nuclear testing, but the profound impact on life itself by relatively unnoticed events. It was clever and effective to research This Day in History to build your story.
I started in with fast writing and the first few paragraphs came in a flash.The 1st March sentences took a bit of googling and I was plain lucky that bombings had happened on that day.
This is a look inside a suicide bomber’s head, how they begin as human as we are, caring about the same mosaic of life we do (in fact, life seems shinier with tiny details now that they are so close to death), and even until the end their essential humanity needs to be squashed, and others seen as roaches so they can let their world go, and eliminate a part of our world in the process, all in the name of the ideology they have been brainwashed into. Even a small bomb that destroys a few dozen lives is the end of the world for the bomber and his victims.
This is beautiful 🙂