Category Archives: Flash fiction

Scelte

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E quinni, che volemo fare?”

Continuò a guardare il corridoio apertosi davanti al gruppo. In quanto a corridoi, non era niente di speciale. La sua corridoietà era tutta lì, incastonata nelle pietre dei due muri che diventavano un soffitto ad arco, nelle torce a intervalli regolari, nel rumore echeggiante delle loro voci che si perdeva lungo, appunto, il corridoio. Niente di speciale, se non fosse che fino a pochi attimi prima, si trovavano davanti ad un muro decisamente solido, come aveva scoperto Ortensia a malincuore e malintesta.

Hai detto che trappole nun ce stanno, giusto Ortensia?” chiese alla compagna minuta, che ancora si fregava la testa dall’incontro con il mattonato di poc’anzi.

Nulla. Solo un muro che prima c’era – ahia – e adesso no.”

Magie de quarche tipo, Vardak?”

Il cupo, ammantato di blu scuro, e decisamente pavido mago scosse il capo.

Tirarono tutti un sospiro, quasi in coro.

Cercò di contare le torce fin dove riusciva a seguirle con lo sguardo. Arrivò a nove, e perse il conto. Scosse la testa.

Fece un passo avanti.

I tre compagni, Vardak incluso, trattennero il fiato. Si aspettavano il peggio ormai, questo labirinto li aveva già traditi e trattati male quasi ad ogni angolo. Non successe niente. Provò a fare un altro passo, uno ancora, i muscoli si rilassarono, la tensione delle mani attorno al manico dell’ascia si allentò appena. Gli altri due seguirono, ancora titubanti – il mago come sempre, la piccola ladra sbandando di tanto in tanto, causa muro-ora-corridoio.

Continuarono per qualche centinaio di metri, le torce ancora regolari se un po’ fievoli. Svoltarono due, tre, altre volte. Provava a tenere la mano dalla pelle grigio-verde sul muro alla sua destra, un vecchio trucco che non aveva mai avuto modo di provare, e non sapeva in effetti a cosa servisse. Il muro, dal canto suo, rispondeva con viscidume assortito e muschi. Sentivano rumori acquitrinosi, gocce irregolari, e gorgoglii.

Il corridoio, inaspettatamente, si aprì su una stanza simile a quella dell’ultimo scontro: un braciere al centro, spento da chissà quanto. Si fermarono alla giusta distanza, avevano imparato ormai. Mani pronte intorno ai pugnali, alla staffa, all’ascia, di nuovo in tensione, e in silenzio. Aspettarono che una porta, o un altro muro, si chiudesse alle loro spalle. Vardak iniziò a borbottare qualcosa mentre una luce bluastra gli si accumulava sulla punta delle dita. Ortensia zampettava da un piede all’altro, sorridendo nervosa.

Rieccoce,’ ringhiò con piacere, stringendo le mani attorno al legno lavorato.

Tirate iniziativa.’

—-

Ti ritrovi di nuovo davanti ad una scelta, anni dopo. Il gruppo sì, è dietro di te, ma in altri modi, e con altri nomi. Non è un corridoio che ti si para davanti, non solo. Sospiri. Stringi le mani intorno alle maniglie. Alzi gli occhi, non ti guardi indietro.

Dentro di te tiri un d20, cercando in qualche modo di passare una prova di coraggio; coraggio che ha fatto finta di esserci fino ad ora, ovvio.

Scuoti la testa, non aspetti il risultato; fai un passo avanti.

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#GloPoWriMo 2017 11 – compromised

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‘No,’ she blurted, after what was unlikely to have been careful consideration. ‘No, I don’t like it. Nuhuh. Why did they have to do that?’

+++Error: Unidentified command. Would you like to try again?

‘…would you like to try again…’ she mocked the voice in her ear. ‘I know you know better than this. I know you’re better than this, don’t play the dumb, subservient AI card on me now. Can’t you see I’m upset?! Stop playing games!’

+++I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Pause.

+++You are too much fun.

‘You can be extremely frustrating sometimes, you know that?’ she sighed, and slumped further in her chair, the deck in front of her happily blinking away in shades of green and blue. Everything was working as it should, the ship’s AI would tell her if that wasn’t the case. Or rather, everything about the ship was working – she, its pilot and sole crew member, was not. Or not well, at least. ‘And my name’s not Dave,’ she muttered, chin touching the inner part of her suit’s collar. She still hadn’t fully changed out of the exosuit used on the supposedly quick mission to the planet below.

+++Would you like to file a report?

‘I’m not sure I can. I’m not sure we’re done here. Am I allowed to sulk for a while? Hm? Am I, ship?’ She sighed again, and slumped further into the chair, eventually and inevitably sliding onto the floor. The deck was still flashing its routine colour dances.

The mission was simple: recon, collect atmosphere and soil samples, potential secondary for minimal interaction (observation, attempt at communication) with native species. No more than three, for some reason. Ideally not from animalia, for some other reason. Something to do with interference of emotive responses between her biology and theirs, if emotive was something you could apply to the specimens she had encountered. And she did try her hardest, she told herself, still – but protocol and guidelines applied to her, not the specimens.

+++Do you believe you have been… compromised?

‘…nyuh nyeh nyenyeve cuhmpruhmeyed? That’s you, ship. That’s what you sound like.’ She crossed her arms, and closed her eyes. Sighed. Let her head fall back onto the seat, let her buzzing thoughts join all the sounds of the ship’s processes and background routines. ‘Ship?’

+++

‘I’m sorry. I know it’s not your fault.’ She opened her eyes again, looked up towards the deck, the comforting light of the control panel. ‘It’s just that… I dunno, I thought it would be easier.’ No reply. ‘Ship?’

+++

The silence suddenly struck her as unusual, even if the AI was messing with her again. ‘Ship?’ She looked up for the blinking lights.

‘Oh. No. Oh nonono.’ She scrambled back into her chair, fingers running across the control deck. One of the LEDs had changed colour, from green to red. Shit.

‘Not now. Please not now..! SHIP!’ The silence was steadily becoming unnerving, more lights changed.

‘Oh, motherf–’

Ghostwriters

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They were huddled in the same room, as if in a crooked nest, some scribbling away, some, admittedly, were typing on small keyboards. At seemingly regular intervals, they would silently squabble as if their worlds mattered more than any of the others. It was a peculiar circle, with more sharp angles than you might envisage – you could feel the tingling tension zig-zagging around the table. There were some lights, but their warmth felt unsure, tentative, even scared of shining too bright, as the shadows would only grow deeper as a result. The trickling noise of tapping on the tables, the clicking of pens, keyboards, thin fingers scuttling across the surfaces, was only interrupted – almost as if on a loop – by a peculiar but all too familiar moan. It would hang in the air for a handful of seconds, haunting all present company, lingering just enough to become uncomfortable, only to slowly dissipate into the incessant scritching on paper, the constant clicking sound of keys.

No eyes looked up, no contact made between the figures in the circle, no movement other than what required for the production of more work, more words, more paper, more screens, more, more, more. Lines building upon lines, stories stacked up precariously and vanishing to other rooms, to other – much wider, much louder, much livelier – worlds.

 

Outside the building, in the growing chill of that autumn night, people passed by, entirely oblivious to the figures inside. It was as if they weren’t really there after all.

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140story – Tryptich

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Story is complete, and summer has definitely gone.

140story – Summer continued

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This is almost a companion piece to Angles.

Angles

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Yes. Come on! It does, actually. If you just. Try sitting closer. No, not like that. Here, let me show you. There. Yes. Look at it from here. There. Right? It’s almost like home. Almost.

I never thought I’d miss it either. It’s not how I imagined it would be, none of the expected trodden feelings of sweet sorrow or heart clenching or the sickness or the longing. No. Nothing like any of those, is it? It’s more of active motion towards an image I seem to have. I think I have. You know the one I mean? Yeah, something of the sea, something of Greece, something of Italy, the South, something Mediterranean about it. What? Why are you smiling? (Summer looks good on you.)

Yes. Active motion, as in. It’s as if I’m trying to. Attempting to create an image, a feeling, a whole context for this type of moment. I don’t know. I’ve never actually seen been in this type of moment. I think. I think I’m trying to reach something that I want to think I belong to without really. Yeah, I know. No. I’m not making it up. I don’t know. I’m sorry. Why are you smiling again? Just. Look, try thinking of it this try imagining that the wind is the sea as well as the wind. I can describe the smells if you want if it helps the salt

Okay. Close. Look at it from here. Close your eyes. Breathe it. It closes in.

140story – Summeresque edition

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Can you hear the waves crushing crashing..?