Back in 2007, there was a micro-fiction website called Ficlets. It was run by AOL and was the idea of a dude named Kevin Lawver. It was, essentially, a community built around flash fiction stories of 1024 characters or less. One of the cooler features was that anyone who wanted to could write sequels to your work, kinda like video responses on YouTube. One person could start a story and a dozen other people could pick up the thread if they had an idea for it. It was a really cool idea that could have had some traction.
Sadly, when Lawver left AOL, they essentially let Ficlets die off by never replacing him and letting the community dick around unmoderated. It shut down in early 2009. (Edit – If Ficlets sounds like something you’d be interested in, Lawver has launched a follow-up that he’s running himself called Ficly.)
A few days ago, I found out that Lawver actually tried to save Ficlets from its untimely demise, but AOL wasn’t interested. Instead, he backed the whole thing up into an archive (Ficlets were licensed as Creative Commons works, so he was legally able to do so) and posted it on a memorial site.
Point is, I actually found some Ficlets I posted under an old pseudonym on the memorial site. I’m gonna repost them here for laughs. It’s weird to see how much my writing is changed (read: not as terrible) in just four years. Also, keep in mind that Ficlets encouraged you to leave your stories open-ended for others to pick up, so they all just kinda dead stop. (And for the record, no, no one ever continued my stuff.) I have also included not-very-handy notes and thoughts after each story. They will be in italics. Enjoy!
“The time at the third tone will be… sev-en… for-tee… wun… and… thur-tee… three… seconds.” When mechanical voices sound more inviting to you than anything else, you might try to take a look at where you’re going. Outside, rain drops like fat flower petals wisped themselves over my window. I sat on the edge of my dusty cardboard box of a mattress. It was practically a cot. Of course, none of these things were specifically mine. They were the property of the hardly prestigious Camelot Rest Stop Motel and Diner. Roaches wouldn’t eat at this fucking place. You practically had to arm yourself to go down the concrete walkway to get ice. Green, sterile, fluorescent lights drowned the outside of the structure in a view of concentrated sickness. And wasn’t that what this place was? Sickness. It’s a cancer sore on the back of this world. So far off from anything reasonable or sane. And that was why I was here. I wanted to be here. I wasn’t looking for myself, or the real America, or any of that shit.
Yikes. “Fat flower petals wisped themselves over my window?” Woof. I’m not even quite sure what I meant by that anymore. And what’s with the onomatopoeia robot voice? Man oh man. Next!
He replaced the book on the shelf and pulled down another. The spine was blank. The title on the cover was in Cyrillic, which he did not know. He leafed through the pages regardless, a choking dust plume slapping its hands on his throat and nasal passages. The book itself was mostly in English. It wasn’t the book he was looking for, but it intrigued him. He walked, paying little attention, back to the small oaken table and chair, carved lovingly if not imperfectly, that the monastery provided him. Glancing through the pages, he became aware of an odd feeling of disconnection. He felt it first in his fingertips, then it moved into his palms, up his arms. He continue to flip, page after page. Words, religious symbols, the Tetragrammaton, depictions of the crucifixion, the stigmata, all flew up at him and fought for space in his mind. He felt like weeping, but didn’t quite understand why. This book was obviously holy, but like none he had ever seen. Finally, he turned to the last page in the book.
I think I meant Malefaction or Malediction or something for the title on this one. Anyway, I love the word Tetragrammaton and try to throw it into things whenever I can. Fun fact: This was actually the precursor to a short story I wrote in college that I’ve posted before called Golgotha. I tried to expand this to a full-length story, but took it in a different direction instead. Also, “a choking dust plume slapping its hands on his throat and nasal passages” is waaaay more purple than anything I think I’d go for today. Onward!
“What if this is all there is?” A black billboard with white writing, like a chessboard four stories above the ground. Many people ignored it for the three weeks it was up. In fact, it’d be safe to say that almost everyone ignored it. It was a simple question, though. What if this life, this experience, is all there is? No heaven, no hell, no afterlife, no consequences except those of an Earthly nature. For some people, though, it asked a question they had been asking themselves their whole lives. What if there was nothing more. Would that be so bad? Three weeks later, the next billboard came up. The only way you live after death is through the memories of others. This one, too, made sense to a very few. There was justification for not acting like a fool on Earth; the memories of others. Maybe death was an end, and not just a stage, as they’d been told their whole lives. Perhaps death was just a poetic event, a swan song, and an end to all things. Would that be so bad?
Obviously, I was going through some odd existential phase back then. Don’t all college students do that, though? (oh god say yes so I don’t feel so ridiculous) Although this isn’t really so much fiction as it is a big poop of words directly trying to make a point instead of, y’know, telling a story. I guess I still do that sometimes. So, wait, hey, maybe I learned something through posting these mildly embarrassing pieces! Hooray, progress!