Several years ago, Lee “Budgie” Barnett began an experiment on his LiveJournal – write a fast fiction of exactly 200 words every day. The titles of no more than four words would come from his readers.
Six years later, he has over 400 stories and two books: The Fast Fiction Challenge and The Fast Fiction Challenge: Volume Two. I regret that I didn’t hear about this challenge until two weeks ago, when a tweet from Wil Wheaton pointed me to Budgie’s blog. I clicked through several pages, read several stories, got a copy of Volume Two, and was inspired to take up this challenge myself.
Here then is my first and second attempt at fast fiction. The titles are the same that Budgie used, with links to his stories. (Yes, I’m blatantly stealing. I don’t have the number of readers he has, and I can’t come up with the perfect randomness these titles offer.) The only difference between his challenge and my own is the bonus word. It will be challenge enough for me to keep the story at 200 words.
The train bumped and swayed along the track, making his pen scratch through the cheap paper of the puzzle book.
“Damn!” he said, not quite under his breath. The old woman several seats down gave him a sharp look. The lights flickered as they passed through a tunnel, and he was sure she was a few seats farther from him than before. He sneered at her unspoken accusation.
“You think just because I cuss a book I’m dangerous?! I’m in a $700 suit for Christ’s sake.”
The old woman was acutely aware of the emptiness of the train car. She stared at the floor and tried to look pitiful and frail.
“I’m so tired of you judgmental old biddies sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.” He could feel his blood pressure rising.
“Mister, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please just leave me be.” The fear in her eyes made something in his brain snap.
“What I don’t understand,” the doctor told the prosecutor, “is why he did it. I mean, a reasonably successful young man with no history of mental illness attacking a stranger, some a little old lady he’s never seen before? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Not the best story ever, but it’s exactly 200 words long. I promise, the more I do this, the better the stories will get. On to the next one.
He was on a mission. He scratched and scurried and scored and scaled. He knew every baseboard, beam, and bannister, and the schedule of the humans he shared the house with. The clock in the hallway chimed the hour, and he bolted from his hole.
Quickly, quietly, his tiny feet took him soundlessly down the hall, down the second right, then left, straight over slick tile, and JUMP! as high as he could, hoping his feet found purchase on the high-backed divan. Across and jump, landing in the potted plant. Down to the carpet, a few more feet and he squeezed under the door.
He froze in the unexpected dim light, his tiny heart pounding, hoping he hadn’t made a fatal mistake. A second to gather his bearings and an intense fear of the newly installed cabinet lighting. The silence of the house reassured his courage, and he pushed for his goal.
There, on the counter. His prize. The fresh-baked loaf was still warm as he greedily chiseled chunks off with his sharp fangs. He stuffed the bread in his cheeks, clamped his jaw tight, and hurried back to his hole with his reward. He would eat well that night.
Again, not the greatest, but it’s cute and not about murdering old people, so that’s something. Please don’t let my attempts put you off Budgie’s blog. His stories are actually good.