Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 107


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!


Flash fiction lightening streak image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo prompt was taken by Russian photographer Daniel Kordan - he has some incredible pictures, definitely worth checking out his site.

Have you sussed what this is yet? It's not some strange photoshopped image, it's actually a photo of an ice cave being illuminated by a flare - an ice cave in Kamchatka in the Far East of Russia. He explored under the glacier near the Mutnovsky volcano. You can read about it here.


Here's a link to the prompt photo.

Yet another sci-fi tale this week.

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 462 words for those who are counting (not including the title and byline).

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.

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Crack the Sky
by
K. R. Smith


"An ominous sign, to be sure," Glornacht said. His eyes scanned the sharp lines cutting through the hazy red hues glowing above.

"Hasn't anyone climbed up the cliffs to understand what's going on?"

"You're not from this place, David, and you must learn our ways. It would be considered presumptuous for a mortal to ascend the mountains. That is the domain of the Everlasting Ones. We have been provided for here, and here we will stay."

"How can a sky crack, Glornacht?" David adjusted the universal translator hoping the meaning of his words might come through somehow. "How?"

"It happens from time to time. I've read of such events in our chronicles. We go deep into the underworld until it is safe again."

"How long will that be?"

"It is difficult to say. A hundred cycles, or a thousand." Glornacht shrugged. "Perhaps more. When it pleases the Everlasting Ones, we will return."

David hung his head. "Let me explain again. I've been above what you call the sky. It's not the sky at all. It's a huge sheet of ice on a world we call Mars. The only reason you can live here is because the rocks shield you from radiation, the ice sheet locks in an atmosphere, and enough ice melts to provide you with water. And now, for whatever reason, that ice sheet is cracking. When it comes tumbling down, many of your people will be injured or killed."

Glornacht looked at the visitor and smiled. "Though I don't understand all your words, what would you have us do? Leave? Even if we were allowed to do so, the place you describe beyond the sky would not support our bodies."

"So, you'll remain here to die—all because of some ancient superstition?"

"Superstition? Perhaps. But we will not die. From what you tell us, we have survived, even thrived here, longer than species has existed. And why did your people leave their home to come to this place? Because your world is failing. At your own hand, I might add."

David had no reply.

"I know you're trying to help, and we are grateful, but it might be best if you helped yourself first." Glornacht put his three-fingered hand on David's shoulder. "And, of course, you—and those with you—are welcome to join us. The Everlasting Ones do not mind, I can assure you."

David looked into Glornacht's eyes. Only six months since landing and the colony was already in trouble. Farming, energy generation, even waste disposal was more difficult than they had ever imagined. Water was critically low. They had investigated the ice sheets as an easy way to obtain a suitable supply. How could he explain that, this time, he was the reason their sky was cracking?

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While you're here...

Author Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.

Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available: If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!



Thanks!


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 105


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!


Flash Fiction header image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

Today's picture prompt was created by Norwegian artist Erlend Monk. He has a few of these, and many images I find intriguing. I might just have to return to use more.

Here's a link to the prompt photo.

Another sci-fi tale (with a touch of horror) this week. It may have even borrowed the germ of an idea from Miranda's own Slipping Through.

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 544 words for those who are counting (not including the title and byline).

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.


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Dark Dreams
by K. R. Smith

We were just being silly, letting our imaginations run wild. That's what they told us. Whatever we were seeing couldn't be real. Even if it was understandable, being isolated in a remote star system, working long hours and often alone. Of course, that sort of concern had no place in the corps. We needed to get on with our jobs. After all, not a single person had been harmed and there was no proof of any other large indigenous life forms on the planet. It was all in our minds, like some childish ghost story.

The higher-level technical types, the engineers and such, scoffed at our concerns. They didn't believe in spirits or phantoms, but then again, they were always safe and sound within the ship orbiting above. We were on the ground. They never experienced the fleeting, nebulous blur that seemed to follow along as we set up the sensors. Or the dark, wispy swirl of smoke that appeared from time to time out of the corner of an eye. Perhaps, they suggested, it was the low oxygen levels, or maybe the higher levels of cosmic radiation, that cause these visual aberrations. Without evidence, what could be done? Never so much as a footprint or bent twig had been found.

Still, at the insistence of the forward landing party, it was agreed they would look into the matter, if only to appease our concerns. Or humor us, I suppose. Despite their own opinions, they appeared to be professional, and quite deliberate, during the investigation. Yet neither the instruments, nor any of the surveillance cameras, detected anything. There were anomalies, of course, but there always are, aren't there?

Yes, it was all in our minds, they assured us. And they were right.

It was only by accident, while scanning for background radiation, that we began to understand. The instrument had been improperly set to detect frequencies far lower than intended, below ten hertz, the range covering theta brainwaves. Whenever an apparition appeared, there was a spike in this spectrum. It took us a while to figure out. As they slipped in or out of their interdimensional hiding places, this jump induced a vision, a dark, blurry dream as it were, directly into our brain. Once they knew we had a way of detecting them, they no longer concerned themselves with hiding. That made it all the worse. They were quick to turn this ability of mental induction into endless torment.

And now we were trapped. The ship had departed orbit to resupply. It would be three months before it returned, three months of fighting an enemy both around us, and within, too. We had come to colonize this planet. Unfortunately, they had, too.

So, there were no ghosts, no specters, no lost, wandering spirits. That would have been far easier to deal with than a never-ending nightmare that comes after you even when you're awake. The drugs help a little, I suppose, but you can't turn your mind off completely. Well, you can, and it's a dark thought, one that's has been whispered among a few on the team. I'm not sure if it's courage that allows a person do that—or desperation that would drive one there.

Three months is a long time.


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While you're here...

Author Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.

Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available:  If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!

Thanks!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 103


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:

This week's picture prompt is from German Photo artist Veronika Pinke. She calls this one Magic.

Here's a link to the prompt photo.

Wrote a sci-fi tale this week. Poor Wendell is having problems again. Whenever you see Wendell in one of my stories, you can be certain he's in some sort of predicament!

Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 611 words for those who are counting (not including the title).

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.



Empty Nester
by K. R. Smith

Wendell hated his assignment. Being posted to this backwater of a planet was like a slow death. It even had a fitting name: Aeterna. It meant eternal in an old Earth language, and appropriate in so many ways. The never-ending twilight, the flat plain that covered most of the surface, featureless other than the skeletons of a few tall tree-like plants and the omnipresent tufts of dead grass-like vegetation poking from the sandy soil.

Nothing seemed to change on Aeterna. No wind, no real clouds—only a moist, vaporous low-hanging fog. He had been here thirty Aeternian days already—the equivalent of nearly two Earth months. Even the star around which the planet revolved appeared to be in no hurry to move across the lifeless sky.

This was his first scientific mission to the outer systems. He'd finished the preliminary analyses. Oxygen levels were low, but sufficient for basic life, with atmospheric pressures slightly higher than Earth. Temperatures stayed within the range acceptable for colonization. Organic molecules were abundant, though there were no signs of active life. Everything here looked to have died some time ago. Wendell was used to having too much to study, of never having the time to devote to a thorough job. Here, the biggest problem might be sensory deprivation. Aeterna was a still and silent world.

He glanced back towards his transport vehicle. He had walked farther from it than safety guidelines allowed: When alone, always stay within 100 meters of the transport vehicle per safety protocol 11-06-A.

"Protocol," he snorted. "The most dangerous situation here is boredom."

Despite his contempt for the rules, academy training had been deeply embedded within his brain. His feet refused to take another step. He shook his head. "Yeah, whatever. Returning to vehicle per protocol 11-06-A."

Before he could finish his first step, something grabbed his attention. He wasn't sure what it was. Wendell stood as motionless as the Aeternian sun, waiting, listening for whatever had happened to repeat. He stopped breathing for a moment so the noise within his bio-suit would be minimal.

He thought he heard a faint click.

Wendell turned up the gain on the external microphone. Every now and then there was a clicking or cracking noise, short, but sharp. Sometimes it sounded faint or far away. Others seemed nearby.

He stood there, mesmerized by this eerie, ethereal song. Then a loud crack echoed through his ears from right at his feet. He turned down the gain on his mike, then scanned the ground around him. There was only a single grassy clump close by.

He knelt, peering down into it. The click came again. He pulled the stands away to see the center of it. An opening in the tuft showed a smooth, rounded surface between the dried filaments. He reached for it, but before his finger could touch the object, it cracked, and a claw as long as his foot poked out the top, waiving in the air.

Wendell jumped back and saw a mark on his hand. The edge of the claw had sliced through the outer skin of his bio-suit. It wasn't enough to cause a leak, but disarming, nonetheless.

He checked another tuft. It was the same. And another. They were all the same. The clicking sound was getting louder with each passing second. Even turning off his external microphone didn't help. He could feel the sound through his suit.

Wendell looked to his vehicle. It was impossibly far away, with the path between it and himself alive with thousands of flailing claws.

The tufts weren't just clumps of dead grass; they were nests.

And what was in them was hatching.


While you're here...

Author Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.

Author Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available:  If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!

Thanks!



© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 102


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post: This week's photo prompt is of a sculpture taken at a specific angle. This was created by Zenos Frudakis, an American sculptor and this is called the Freedom sculpture and can be found at 16th and Vine Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He does interesting work. Here's a link to the prompt photo. I borrowed an idea from Jewish lore for this story. It's a little horror, a little romance, a little sad. I'm not Jewish, so take anything I write here with a grain of salt. Kosher salt, of course. No offense intended with the bad joke... Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 352 words for those who are counting (not including the title). 

There is a downloadable PDF version of the story on my Patreon site.


The Golem's Dream
by K. R. Smith

Ezra looked down at his hands; they were strong, but rough and indelicate. He had been created from the dust and clay, brought to life by the words of his mistress. His duty was to serve, which he did gladly.

Why would he not? The tasks were simple enough: protect her, fetch food and drink, sometimes carry objects too large or heavy for her graceful frame.

Above all, he could enjoy her presence.

He had delivered the evening meal and was standing silently by the doorway as his mistress entered. Her sumptuous hair, her gown, her body all flowed effortlessly as she moved. It was so unlike his clumsy, plodding ways. She walked past him, then stopped suddenly and turned to face him.

"You are my crowning jewel, Ezra, my greatest achievement. You are of the earth, yet at times I look at you and feel there is more there than I know." She looked into the dark pits of his eyes. "Are you happy? Can you even understand what that means?" She shook her head and smiled. "If only you could speak."

If only. He raised his hand to reach for her but could not bring himself to do so. How could he defile her beauty with his coarse touch? He lowered his hand and gazed into the distance, embarrassed by his effrontery.

His mistress retired once the meal was finished, and Ezra returned to his small room. Many troubling thoughts filled his mind. Could he bear to leave her? Never. And yet, could he bear to stay, to be forever tormented by impossible dreams?

Ezra knew the answer.

He looked in the mirror at the word written on his forehead. His fingers dug into the clay, ripping away the one letter that would end his frustration. As his body failed, he staggered backwards, his limbs, his torso, crumbling. His only hope was, that perhaps, she would finally understand.

In the morning, all that could be found was a piece of clay with the mark א engraved upon its surface surrounded by streaks of dust in the shape of a hand.


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Squirrels And More!


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

On the publishing front, the editor for Lonesome Train, the anthology containing my latest short story titled Momma Knows Best, says it is in the final stages of editing and should be available soon. Not soon enough, but soon. It's all relative, I suppose.

For those who are more likely to visit my blog here than find me elsewhere, I wanted to let you know about my Patreon Haiku post for April. This particular post is free for everybody to view and it has cute pictures of squirrels. And a haiku. What more could one possibly want?


Image of gray squirrel


Anyway, click on this Patreon link and you'll soon be enjoying this post. Okay, I don't really know if you'll enjoy it, but I'm an optimist.

While you're at it, please consider helping these writers!

Troy Blackford and his family is having a difficult time due to the potentially fatal illness of one of his sons. Help him out if you can. You can also find him on Twitter.


Troy Blackford & son


And last, but not least, Terri Deno has a new book of poetry available:  If It Was New York, Summer 2009. Please consider purchasing a copy. Writing is her only means of support, so let's support her writing!


https://www.amazon.com/Was-New-York-Summer-2009-ebook/dp/B07P678X53


Thanks!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, April 1, 2019

April Is Twice As Nice!


It's officially April, so we have two events starting this month!

Image of quill and pen


First is National Poetry Month.

If you'd like, visit the website and you can get a free poster!

I know a few folks who will be doing a bit of poetry for the occasion. I'm sure Terri Deno will have something out there, or you can a copy of her new book of poetry And check my Patreon site for a free visual haiku (part of my monthly series).  You don't have to be a member of Patreon for this one. It should be available soon. My little poem will be to celebrate Squirrel Week, an annual feature of the Washington Post, and possible the best part of that newspaper. Well, okay, I like the crossword puzzle, too.

There's also Camp Nanowrimo.

I won't be participating, but check out a few writers on the web - it shouldn't be hard to find one who is. Or maybe you should just try it yourself. It's a great way to force yourself into starting that novel you always said you'd write!



© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 99


Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a photo prompt from Miranda Kate's 99th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo prompt - as best as I can ascertain, I believe was created by someone under the name of Georgie69 back in 2008, as it appears on a blog with many other pictures designed around the same picture, but the blog seems not to be in use after 2009.

Here's a link to the prompt photo

If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.

This time I present a really short horror tale in a traditional style called Just A Job. It is also posted on Patreon, with free access for everyone that includes a downloadable PDF file of the story. Only 340 words for those who are counting!




Just A Job
by
K. R. Smith


It's dark now. They're all asleep—or what passes for sleep by the ones inside. They never close their eyes. 

I know people will wonder why I did this. Why wouldn't they? It's such a beautiful place. The elegant buildings, the graceful bell tower that marks the hours with a peaceful chime—yet whose bright, clean walls serve only to hide those hideous beasts inside from prying eyes. 

It was only a job, I reasoned, a way to put a few dollars in my pocket. Taking care of the patients was all that was required. Clean them up, feed them, that sort of thing. And keep quiet about it when in town. We have to protect their privacy I was told. It seemed innocent enough though I was warned there might be situations I would find disturbing. I had no idea.

Patients? Ha! What a ridiculous distortion of the word. They're not sick. Whatever they are, they're thriving. A captive existence to be certain with each one chained to the floor, but thriving nonetheless. They grow stronger each day. It's their keepers who are the sick ones. 

Feeding time was the worst of all. Some of what I saw in their food bowls looked uncomfortably familiar. I assured myself I was wrong. I had to be. People don't do that sort of thing.

Last night, I heard the doctors talking. It was nearly time they said. For what purpose, I refuse to imagine. I had no choice but to act. Any sane person would agree.

The gas lines in the cellar have been loosened just enough for the fuel to escape. It will take a while to fill the rooms beneath the facility. Eventually, the vapors will find an open flame. I've made sure of that. The main door has been locked to keep anyone from escaping until that happens. I suspect some innocent people will die, too. There must be a few left there. 

Am I mad? Possibly. That doesn't mean I'm wrong now, does it? 

Well? Answer me! 


© 2019 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Haiku For March 2019


Just a reminder: It’s okay to leave comments!

I've put a new haiku out on my Patreon site (sorry - patrons only). This one celebrates the Full Crow Moon which will appear tonight along with the spring equinox. It's also called the Full Worm Moon, but that wasn't as appealing to me! This is another of my monthly haiku that is on a formatted photo I've taken. Here's a teaser of the full image:


K R Smith March Haiku Teaser Image


Here's a link to the Patreon page: Haiku For March 2019

Please note that Patreon isn't Internet Explorer friendly, so it's viewed best using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, February 15, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 94


Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a photo prompt from Miranda Kate's 94th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:

I picked this week's photo as it is Valentine's week and it seemed appropriate. It was created by a company called Ars Thanea, and it is an actual sculpture they made, called The Ash. An explanation about how they did it is here. 

Here's a link to the prompt photo

If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.


This week's effort is a short horror/noir story called By Any Other Name. It is posted on Patreon, with free access for everyone. The link is below!







© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Friday, February 1, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 92

Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a photo prompt from Miranda Kate's 92nd Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:

This week's photo was taken by a guy called Garret Stark who likse gaming. From what I can gather he took a lots of shots of his dice, and this is one of them.
Here's a link to the prompt photo

If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.

This is a short horror story called Bones. It is posted on Patreon, with free access for everyone.







Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Updates And News For January 2019





I have new stories coming! Here's a link to my Patreon post on what's happening!


© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 89

Everyone likes a little flash fiction, right? Thanks to a photo prompt from Miranda Kate's 89th Mid-Week Flash challengeyou're going to get some! This is from Miranda's post:

This week's prompt photo I found online, probably through Twitter, but I can't find any results on its origins online on any searches.

Here's a link to the prompt photo


If you want to join in, here's what she's looking for:
General Guidelines:

Story length: Anything up to 750 Words (no minimum).
How enter: Either provide a link in the comments, or post the entire story in the comments.
Deadline: I will post a new one every Wednesday, but if you're inspired by a previous weeks, go ahead and write for it.
Genre/Theme: All/Any - completely open. It doesn't even have to refer to the picture.

This story is a "second part," so to speak, of an earlier story I did. It was called Ave Maria. That  story, like this one, was also posted on Patreon, with free access for everyone.





Ave Maria, Part II






© 2018 K. R. Smith All rights reserved