Apartment 51 - Winter Flash Fiction Challenge

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Apartment 51 - Winter Flash Fiction Challenge

Postby Hugh Hologram » Jan 28, 2019 6:40 pm

Hello, and welcome to Apartment 51!

I'm not quite sure why it's called Apartment 51, to be honest, as no alien research is done here and, as you tour it, you will see this is mostly a proper bookstore-café mashup, but it is. I'm also unsure about the staff attire; although Delia is quite satisfied with being a flapper girl and calling everyone "darling", I'm not quite comfortable in this projection. But enough about me, and back on script.

Apartment 51 is the newly renovated space above the Cup & Platter, and it is meant for those of a literary bent. It is, quite literally, a "speak-easy", but of the more bookish sort. I've heard there's a secret room or two hidden in here, with an assortment of--ahem--banned books, if you are in the mood to explore. It will also be the permanent home of Ditto Town's Flash Fiction Challenges. Flash Fiction Challenges are designed to create very short, self-contained stories on a given theme or prompt, within a certain set of parameters. Once stories have been submitted, writers can provide each other with feedback, of the friendly sort.

As you explore, please note the following rules:

General Rules:
1. Keep in mind that this thread is specifically for authors to post finished pieces and receive feedback. It is not for roleplays.
2. For the same reasons, please refrain from discussing tangent topics or plotting in this thread.

Flash Fiction Rules:
1. Keep all posts rated “G” or “PG” for the sake of our younger members.
2. Your story must be longer than 10 words and shorter than 1500 words. All stories must be on the prompt given, and all stories must be given a title to differentiate from stories written by other authors.
3. Members may only post one story per prompt.
4. All characters must be characters you have invented yourself, not taken from other authors. This means fan fiction is not allowed. You can use your characters from other Ditto Town stories, or ones made up just for this thread.
5. Remember again to post the title of your story at the top.

Feedback Rules:
1. Always include the title of the story you are commenting on.
2. Remember to THINK—are your comments true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind?
3. Make your posts substantial. For example, if you want to say “Good job!” or “I really liked your story!” add some details (“I really liked your story because it highlighted the strong friendship between Cheddar the Chipmunk and his Talking Thimble without being overbearing and cheesy”).
4. Please keep in mind that all writers are at a different place in their writing journey. Thus, we ask that you focus on giving feedback, rather than editing pointers.

Without further ado, your prompt is as follows:

Every year, as summer wanes, all known creatures of the world make the final cozy touches to their home before they go into hibernation for the winter. This year, however, your main character has woken up in midwinter--and they are wide awake.

Feel free to revise this prompt to fit your individual storytelling style by changing the tense or changing any pronouns necessary to fit your characters. Also, keep in mind this event will come to a close on February 28th.

Now, sit back, relax, and perhaps have a nice cup of suitable beverage. I'll be back down in the C&P, if anyone needs me.
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Re: Apartment 51 - Winter Flash Fiction Challenge

Postby Ryadian » Feb 11, 2019 5:02 pm

Standing Vigil

By the time I came to my senses, I was already sitting up. I knew I was wide awake, but I wasn't certain why. I looked at my Etlen and my children, but they were all still asleep. I shivered - even beneath all my fur, it was still frigid. The thermal vent we'd built our winter home around could only combat the cold so much. I was sure - the Winter Rest wasn't over yet. So why was I awake?

I was tempted to reach out to Etlen, but decided against it. Just because I was awake didn't mean I should wake him. Even assuming I could. The cold weather lulled us into a deep sleep, one that only the warmth of spring could dispel. Even finding perpetual heat sources didn't fight off our natural urge to sleep.

I tried to think clearly. Had anyone ever woken before the Winter Rest was over? Well, there were some stories. Legends, really, about beasts that could endure the cold of winter and weren't driven to shelter and sleep the way we were. Brave heroes would stay awake all winter, standing vigil over the sleeping tribes to ward off the beasts. But those were just stories, weren't they?

That was when I heard the sound - a shrill cry, not loud but piercing, even through the walls of our home. Instinctively, I rose to my feet, ignoring the bitter cold as I shed the last of my blankets. I must have heard the sound in my sleep, and it drove me awake. I must simply have been sleeping more lightly than my husband or children, for even now none of them stirred.

I crept up to the front entrance of our home. We’d never even considered putting windows in our winter home before - why allow the cold another entrance? - and now I cursed that decision. I would have to talk to Etlen about that when summer came. I grabbed my bow and cautiously opened the door.

I was stunned by the light - what light! How could the moon be so bright?! I forced my eyes to adjust, before I finally realized that it wasn’t the moon - it was the sun. The sun shone in the winter? But the days grew shorter as winter came on, we knew this. I thought winter came because the days ended for a time. More than that, the sun was reflected off of the ground and the world covered in white. Snow! So much snow covering everything! I had seen snow before, but I had never seen so much. If the first snows came before the Winter Rest, it was a sure sign that the time was coming soon. Even the sight of the snow brought to my mind images of sleep and rest, and curling back up next to my family safe and warm. I wanted to go back inside.

Perhaps I would have, had it not been for what I saw off in the distance. Two, perhaps three hundred feet away, I saw a large creature, the sun behind it and casting a horrific shadow across the otherwise shining snow. The creature walked on all four legs like many beasts, and I could see a series of large spines growing out of its back.

I could tell by its walk and the hungry sheen in its eyes that it was a predator of some kind. Worse than that, the creature looked lean, but if I had to guess, that was not its natural shape. It was likely hungry, and desperate. Perhaps it was an animal that, like me, had woken too soon from its hibernation and had no food, and was now desperate for a meal. Or perhaps it was like the creatures of legend who had no need to sleep, and could easily prey on those who did.

I spent too much time considering these possibilities. Its head turned my way, and I heard it snarl. It had seen me. It turned, scrambling in the snow and almost losing its footing, giving me a few precious seconds. Once it started in a straight charge, though, it charged at me with such speed!

To tell the truth, I don’t remember exactly what happened next. My instincts and my pounding heart seem to have taken over as I loosed my arrows to drive it away. I remember it shrieking at least once, so I must have hit it; the next thing I truly remember was being back inside, the door closed behind me, panting for breath, the sound of the creature shrieking, and its footsteps in the snow getting farther away.

Perhaps that would have been an almost welcome sound, if it hadn’t been followed by a second sound. I heard another cry, very similar to the first - but, pointedly, not quite the same. It was quieter, more distant - and coming from the wrong direction. There was at least one more of those things out there.

I rubbed my eyes, hoping to restore some warmth to them after the icy cold of the outside, and trying to figure out what to do. Some part of me thought of the cold, and still wanted to sleep. But I need only have one look at my Etlen, and my children, before I knew that I couldn’t do it. None of them had woken during any of that commotion. For whatever reason, I was the only one. So I was the only one who could protect them.

I didn’t know whether I would need food, or whether the food I’d eaten before the Winter Rest would be enough to sustain me. I didn’t know whether or not the sleep might come to claim me later, perhaps when the threat was gone again. But I did know that there was a threat to my family waiting outside our home. So, like the legends of old, I would stand vigil over my family for as long as I could keep my eyes open.
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Re: Apartment 51 - Winter Flash Fiction Challenge

Postby stargazer » Feb 13, 2019 8:37 pm

Standing Vigil by Ryadian

*contains spoilers*

Rya, I loved your story! In just a few words you’ve created an image both familiar (love of family) and alien, not to mention hints of a mythology of ancient heroes sacrificing their winter sleep for the safety of others. I liked the surprise of realizing the sun shines during the winter, and I really enjoyed the end, in which your protagonist does what must be done and thus makes herself a hero.

Confession time: in many respects, my own story (which is finished and is being polished up for submission) may well come across as a cheap imitation of Standing Vigil, but I prefer to think of this as 'great minds think alike' as opposed to plagiarism. I've given some thought to writing something else instead, but this seems to be the story my characters want told.

The importance of family is a theme in my tale as well, and that may explain some of the similarities. (I like to think that family is a theme in much of what I've written here, whether it's about the Baxters or the gargoyles of the Ditto Story).
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