November 2011’s 713 flash fiction winners.
In November 2011, we asked you to explain the story behind the Staffordshire gold hoard. The following writers produced stories that made us shudder (in a good way), think, and smile. One writer, Bernard S Gaidasz, is new to Kazka Press, and we’re happy to welcome him to our community. You’ve met C. L. Holland and Jamie Dement before, as have we, and their words continue to impress us.
We hope these stories impress you too! As you read, don’t forget to rate the stories. Your ratings help us decide whose stories we’ll include in our quarterly 713 eJournal. As well, and as always, if you like what you read, share the stories widely on Facebook and Twitter using the handy icons found at the bottom of each full story.
Or, you know, you could print your favorite out and read it aloud in the town square. In fact: do that.
Video or it didn’t happen, posted to our Facebook page!
Anyway, enough of my words. Scroll down and enjoy this month’s entries.
L. Lambert Lawson
Founder and Publisher, Kazka Press
Conversations with Dragons
C. L. Holland
It was said that beneath the ridge a dragon lived, like the one Beowulf fought, smooth-scaled and dreadful. It slept in darkness, guarding its hoard, and only a fool or desperate man would wake it.
Cynewulf and Athelstan dismounted at the edge of the trees and led the horses far enough not to be seen from the road. In silence, Cynewulf lifted down the saddlebags while Athelstan tied the reins to a nearby tree. They continued the rest of the way on foot, as they’d been told, in case the dragon chose to feast on the horses.
The night air chilled as summer left. Darkness chased the blues and purples from the sky as the sun set over the farm. Ælric stood against the fence and waited. Frustration seeped into his heart.
“You are but a boy,” his brothers said. “The Order is very specific, even with Father’s influence with Master. You would not be welcome until your sixteenth year.” Ælric kicked the wooden crate at his feet. He only had two more months.
Muffled voices carried across the still air. Stern and commanding though Father was, Ælric could not make out the words.
Myrddin and Medraut
Bernard S Gaidasz
The soft soil of the heath yielded to the hands of the men as they dug in the near silence of the evening. Thin tendrils of mist drifted through the wood, following the winding course of a nearby creek.
“Dig fools, he’ll be soon upon us!” The soft hiss came from a hooded form standing some distance away.
One of the kneeling men looked up, his wide eyes trying to locate their pursuer in the darkening wood. He raised his right hand and began to cross himself. The figure leaped forward and slapped the man’s hand down before he could touch his right shoulder. “That will call him upon us as surely as the hound brings the hunters to the fox.” The kneeling man glanced at the thickening fog and nodded. “Finish digging.”
October 2011’s flash fiction winners.
In October 2011, we asked you to describe the origin of UVB-76’s preternatural signal. Eight wonderful stories from eight wonderful writers.
Mikhail sweated as he turned the enormous crank. It had to be done every twenty-four hours—a half hour’s cranking and the device would continue to function. He’d been doing this every day for ten years, the responsibility having passed to him when his father died.
He left the hardware room and went back to his dacha. “Did the money come, Anna?” he asked.
His wife shook her head as she served up his borscht.
Mikhail swore. “It’s been a month they haven’t sent anything. Without money, we can’t stay here any longer. And we can’t keep sending the radio signals.”
“I don’t believe you.” Ken Lawrence pointed at Dmitri Matochkin, his tipsy grin taking away any anger the gesture might have implied.
Dmitri smiled and took a sip of his bourbon. “Of course you don’t. It does sound fanciful, does it not?”
Lawrence and the elderly Matochkin had sat and drank for hours in Matochkin’s hotel room. They’d talked about the Cold War and espionage practices in the United States and the Soviet Union, the topics on which Lawrence was doing research for his dissertation.
Matochkin had emigrated to the States early in the century. Last night he spoke on a panel discussion at Lawrence’s university on the topic of US/Russian relations in the 21st Century. He had not been optimistic. After the panel had ended, Lawrence asked Matochkin if he could to have a few minutes of his time. The old man agreed and told him to come by the next evening.
C. L. Holland
The dog wouldn’t stop barking.
Svetlana Grigorevna crunched across the snow towards it. There was no security around the radio tower, not since the voyenni gorodok was abandoned. No guards, and the gate was unlocked despite the signs on the fence that warned only military personnel were allowed. There was only the dog.
The poor thing looked half starved, although she supposed it must be fed by someone–there weren’t enough trespassers here to feed even a small one. It raised its head as she approached, and growled in its throat until she produced a handful of pelmeni. It fell on the dumplings and Svetlana investigated the buildings while it was occupied.
Just Before Sunrise
The Major always came just before sunrise. Some of the prisoners had trouble sleeping and some woke easily to light, but by those dead hours of early morning most had been spirited away towards something akin to sleep.
Unwashed for weeks and trembling with cold and hunger, Anna paced her cell, sleep blurring the edges of her vision but escaping her regardless. She tried to focus on the songs that the waking birds outside were singing but all around her thrummed the pulsing heartbeat of the radio tower.
Over the loudspeaker of the women’s barracks the signal broadcasted without end. Anna crushed her hands against her ears, rocking on her heels, drowning in the darkness, holding her breath, hoping the burning in her lungs would distract her attention.
UVB-76 Intelligence Memorandum
Theorizing the purpose of Russia’s communication’s outpost, UVB-76
Russian Outpost of UVB-76 has been monitored by Joint Signal Intelligence (JSI) in Bainbridge Island since the early 1980s. Military interest piqued in 1992 when random beeps switched to more consistent and quicker buzzing transmissions. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials, working with National Security Administration (NSA) cryptologists, have unsuccessfully attempted decryption for nearly twenty years. A series of Russian names have occasionally infiltrated the airwaves, leading DIA and NSA to believe this facility a numbers station for spy activity.
Brad N. Phelps
September 7, 2208:
My name is Charles Xavier Daniels, and I was there for the end of the world. I was there when the UVB-76 broadcast stopped. When society as we know it stumbled and fell, never to get back up again.
Every 18 years the signal changed. For 11 of those cycle changes an underground movement grew. UVB-76 started with radio waves. In the early days of the revolution, it hit the Internet. When data-streaming reached subconscious levels, and rendered the Internet obsolete, the UVB-76 movement has spread worldwide.
Following Cold Footsteps
I thought I saw my brother the other day.
“So?” you say.
“My brother has been dead for four years, or at least I think he has,” I say. No more could have been said, no more words need be spent.
I have been traveling since, following my brother. Crazy I know, but really what choice does one have when his dead sibling comes a calling? Or….at least I think it was him.
When my father was alive, my life was simple. Like he said, I would grow up to be a beautiful woman and marry an officer, a soldier better than he’d ever been. And I’d be happy, as long as I made sure my soldier liked westerns. A man who understood westerns was a good man. He’d also have black market connections. I would want for nothing. And then my father died and we were civilians surrounded by military families and trees that produced nothing but frozen bark.