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Pulling the Strings

July 26, 2013

This week’s flash fiction challenge involved a random plot scenario generator that spat out two characters and an action for each of them.  I had an idea, but I couldn’t bring it to life until I started telling myself the story in a female version of the voice of the narrator from Bastion – gently Southern, no nonsense, sure of itself.  This is a technique I’m sure I’ll be using again, when I can’t find the right words or the right description.  The voice cut through all the others in my head offering distracting suggestions, and, I hope, makes it flow more naturally, and with more character.

I’ll tell you what the random generator told me, but later.  I don’t want to spoil the story.




She landed in a crouch, breathing hard, watching.  Dust settled.  Bits of metal somethings clinked, crashed and wobble-rolled out of the cloud.

But it was over.  The mechanical millipede, or whatever it was supposed to be this time, fumed. Torn metal and popped struts jagged from its carapace, and black clouds billowed from its belly.

High up in the leftovers of the cockpit, its operator fumed even darker.

She stood up, wiped a little bit of blood from her cheek.  Someone broke the fallen hush with a  whoop, and all the innocent bystanders broke into a roar, clapping and cheering.  The Artificier and his latest invention of terror were defeated yet again, and never mind the damage.  Just one more scrap heap in another broken-down nowhere town.

Here on this dust plain beyond the fringes of civilisation, he could make monsters and chase her all he liked; these people meant nothing to no one.  At least, not until the stories started getting told, filtering back.  The inventor, gone mad and rampant, and the mysterious girl who foiled him at every turn.

She gave a tiny nod, satisfied with her work today.  But then she saw him move, the slightest of motions.

Their eyes locked.  His hand was on some kind of dangerous-looking lever.  She tensed and, unblinking, tapped her jacket pocket over her heart.  His eyes blazed like the fires slowly burning out in the engines; that last shriek of twisted metal giving way was the grinding of his teeth.  But he let the lever go.

She slung her hammer over her shoulder  and turned away.  The crowd parted for her, chanting her name.

“I’ll get you next time!” he yelled out over the celebration.  The townspeople hushed, eyes wide.

She halted.  Then she grinned and blew a kiss over her shoulder.  “You just try!”  The crowd went wild.

A little smile touched her lips as she walked away.  She knew his secret.  As long as she had it, he would keep on trying to catch her.  And as long as he wanted it back, she would keep on living, and keep on winning.

And she would always be the hero.




So the random plot generator gave me this:

The story starts when your protagonist uses someone else to get ahead.

Another character is an inventor who is determined to make your protagonist look bad.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Christopher Shawbell permalink
    July 26, 2013 10:06 am

    That was fun! I’m sure that every comment will share my sentiment; I want more! I just dug the way you described the machines, and your action narrative matched it perfectly. Great intro, climax & resolution; a complete little story here. Well done!

    Typo alert, my friend: “…broke the the fallen hush…”

  2. July 26, 2013 12:16 pm

    Guh – thanks for that. I copy-paste my sentences around too much for my own good, and always miss those double ‘the’s.
    And thanks for the rest of it too – I thoroughly enjoyed writing this, and I want more of the story too. She’s standing there, with boots dusty and oversized hammer strapped to her back, saying “Come on. You want to see where I’m going, you best be by my side.”
    He’s behind, picking up the pieces and glaring daggers at her long, long shadow. “If you only knew,” he mutters. He shakes his head, snaps his dark glass goggles back over his eyes, and turns away.
    Me, I’m standing in the middle, not sure who to follow.

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