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The Twilight Terror (Flash Fiction Fridays #6)

The last remaining members of Everton’s Council glanced at one another as bells began to toll throughout the city.

“He’s finally here.” One councillor got to his feet. “It took longer than we expected.”

“It was only a matter of time. It took him a year to wipe out the Empire. He was younger and smaller then.” The other councillor shook her head. “We’ve lasted almost as long, but we still don’t know why he’s attacking in the first place. Nobody does.”

“Does it matter?” The third councillor asked. “We’re all that’s left. Either we hold him off, or we die. That’s all there is to it.”


The barrier over the city flared a brilliant blue as a blast of blindingly bright fire crashed into it. The whole city shook beneath the weight of the assault. The barrier crackled and hissed, and frantic cries of alarm filled the air as barrier mages struggled to reinforce the beleaguered bulwark.

“Reinforce the barrier! Hurry! He’s coming back for another pass!”

Beyond the barrier, a massive winged shape raced through the sky. Titan wings beat the air, and the Terror’s black scales gleamed in the moonlight as the dragon swooped in for another attack. Another searing cloud of flame enveloped the barrier. Cracks spread from the point of impact, and the cries of alarm took on a new, feverish pitch.

“Redirect all available magic to the barrier! I don’t care if you have to cut off everything else, the barrier has to hold!”

The Terror’s wings spread, and he hung in the air. His silver eyes shone with malevolent intelligence. This was what made him so dangerous. Dragons were intelligent, but so few of them bothered to use their cunning in battle. They relied on their immense power and durability to triumph. But the Terror was different. He learned with astonishing speed, and no tactic ever worked against him twice.

His scales shifted, turning from black to white, and empyreal flame kindled in his jaws. There was a flash – like a second sun rising – and a beam of impossibly concentrated fire lanced straight through the barrier and struck one of the towers that served as an anchor. The tower didn’t explode. It simply ceased to exist. The barrier flickered, and the Terror fired another lance of white fire.

Inside the barrier, the councillors couldn’t help but admire the beast’s intelligence. A barrier was designed to repel any incoming attack. A dragon’s fire normally dealt damage across a huge area, so the barrier had been calibrated to defend against area-of-effect attacks. The lances of white fire were different. Empyreal fire not only had powerful anti-magic properties but it also concentrated the dragon’s power into a much smaller area.

The result? Each lance could pierce through the barrier to strike the anchors it relied upon. And with two of those anchors gone, the dragon was free to use the fire that had made him infamous across the world.

A torrent of black fire spewed out of the dragon’s mouth. The obsidian tide rolled over the barrier, a tsunami of corruption and decay. The barrier flickered again, and huge chunks of it began to fall away and tumble toward the city below.

“The barrier has been breached! Prepare for combat!”

Above them, the Terror folded his wings and dove. The last remnants of the barrier shattered, and a maelstrom of black-and-white fire roared to life around the great dragon as he landed in the centre of the city.

Pathetic.

The word thundered through the mind of every single person in the city, and images of the horror the dragon had inflicted on the Empire and the rest of Everton drove them to their knees.

Burn!


 

The last councillor staggered to her feet. The city had been almost completely devoured by a sea of black fire. A few magical attacks struck the Terror, but they simply clattered off the dragon’s scales. Silver eyes alight with malice, the dragon unleashed another beam of white flame. The mages and their escort vanished.

This was why people called him the Twilight Terror. A dragon who could wield both corrupting fire and empyreal flame had never been seen before. It made it almost impossible to defend against him. His corrupting flames were devastating, capable of obliterating huge swathes of territory. His empyreal fire was perfect for more concentrated attacks.

The Terror smashed another building and stomped toward the last councillor. As he lowered his head to glare at her through the clouds of ash and debris that filled the air, she finally got a closer look at the dragon’s face.

Black scales and silver eyes… and a small patch of white scales on his snout.

Die.


Timmy looked up from the book he was reading as Spot thrashed in his sleep. The dragon rolled onto his feet and snarled. Flame gathered in his jaws, and he lashed the air with his tail.

“Spot,” Timmy said. “Calm down. You were having a dream. Please, don’t burn down my office.”

Spot blinked, seemingly realising where he was for the first time. He shook his head. A dream?

“A bad one, by the looks of it.” Timmy chuckled. “It must be because of all those pineapples you ate before having a nap.”

Pineapples can’t give you bad dreams. Spot’s stomach rumbled ominously, and the dragon chuffed. Maybe I had a bad dream because I didn’t eat enough pineapples.

I don’t think that’s how it works.” Timmy grinned. “But, hey, you never know.”

Spot tilted his head to one side. Can sheep eat pineapples? I wonder if Little Spot would like some.

“Hmm… I think they can, but we should check with the shepherds first to be sure.” Timmy got up. He was feeling a bit peckish. “Come on. We can grab some snacks and go visit Little Spot.”


Author’s Notes

With Halloween coming up, I thought this would be appropriate. Was it just a bad dream… or was it a glimpse into another world where things turned out a bit differently? Who knows?

Anyway, this week’s post was delayed because I had my second dose of vaccine. I felt awful the day after, and the most bizarre thing was that rather than my arm being sore (that’s where I got the injection), my knees were absolutely killing me all day. It honestly felt like I had arthritis or something, so I just didn’t feel like doing anything. That said, I’m feeling almost back to normal now.

Incidentally, if you aren’t already familiar with them, the characters from today’s snippet are from The Unconventional Heroes Series.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

Pity The Front Desk

Can you imagine working at the front desk of an Adventurer’s Guild? It might sound boring at first, but I think it would actually be rather depressing.

Think about it.

We read plenty of stories about novice adventurers surviving missions by the skin of their teeth as they climb the ranks and becomes heroes of renown. What we don’t read a lot of stories about are the novice adventurers who don’t survive those missions.

Consider the typical ‘weeding’ mission where a village asks some adventurers to kill overly zealous wolves or perhaps a troll. Most novice adventurers probably don’t have great equipment. Instead, they’d be using whatever they could get their hands on in the hopes that they can complete a mission and upgrade. Magic? Potions? Maybe for more experience adventurers, but I doubt novices have access to much of those.

Contrary to common belief, I don’t think a few newly minted adventurers can just wade into a pack of wolves and kill them all without taking so much as a scratch. Wolves are smart, and they know how to hunt in packs. Moreover, novice adventurers don’t have a lot of experience under their belt. They won’t know the tricks of the trade, like how to lure wolves into traps or how to keep from getting ambushed.

And a troll? Good grief. Your average troll will absolutely massacre your average human, and I guarantee you that an adventurer who has never fought one before is going to take one look at it and start quaking in their boots. Fear makes fools of us all, and all the skill in the world won’t matter if you’re panicking too much to use it.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if less than a third of adventurers make it through their first few missions.

Probably the most depressing thing is that the poor schmuck at the front desk has probably seen this happen a million times. I can see them trying to give out advice only to be ignored by novice adventurers convinced of their own eventual rise to greatness. I imagine you can only try to save people from themselves so many times before you just stop trying.

And then there are the veteran adventurers who should know when to quit but who keep on pushing it until eventually either their luck runs out or age catches up with them. It must be pretty gutting knowing someone for decades only to have them not come back from a mission despite you telling them that it’s time to hang up the boots and enjoy some of the money they’ve made. You’re never too old to be an adventurer until suddenly you are… a fact you usually discover a few seconds before getting killed.

Oh well.

I suppose that’s why in a lot of stories there’s a different person at the front desk each time. Who wants to stay in a job like that?

I can see a particularly frustrated former front desk person forming an ‘Adventurer’s Academy’ where new adventurers can get taught by veterans in a bid to both lower the horrific casualty rates amongst novices and give veterans something to do that allows them to stay active without continuing to go on mission well past their prime.

It actually sounds like a decent idea for a story…

I’d better finish what I’m working of first though.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

Object Permanence (Flash Fiction Fridays #5)

Katie raised one eyebrow at the sight of a baby poking her master in the face with chubby fingers. “Master, I know you’re interested in recruiting more minions, but maybe you should wait a few years.”

Spot slithered around her and then bounded toward her master’s desk. It’s the baby from before!

“Before?” Katie asked.

“Ah, right.” Her master chuckled and settled the baby onto his lap. The baby boy’s gaze swiftly locked onto Spot. “This young man happens to be the son of one of the maids. I wanted to introduce Spot to a baby, and she was kind enough to let them meet.”

Katie was certain there was more to the story than that. She couldn’t think of many parents that wanted their baby to meet a dragon, even one as nice as Spot. “That doesn’t explain why you’re looking after him.”

“For various reasons, both she and her husband are occupied today. I told them I’d watch the baby as thanks for letting him meet Spot.” He shrugged. “To be honest, it hasn’t been much of a struggle. He’s very well behaved. The worst he’s done is try to poke me in the eyes a few times although I have had to change his nappy. Of course, I am a necromancer. I’ve dealt with far worse things than dirty nappies.”

Katie made a face. She’d seen her master literally wade through the mangled, crushed corpses of their enemies’ zombies. A dirty nappy was nothing compared to that. “When you put it like that…”

“He’s not old enough to crawl around yet either, so he can’t get into too much trouble.” He waved Spot over. “Do you want to see something funny, Spot?”

Spot chirped. Okay!

“Here’s what you do. Come over her and smile at him and then cover your face with your wings. After that, open your wings and say ‘peekaboo’.”

Why? Spot asked as he trotted over.

“Just do it. I promise it’ll be funny.”

Spot did as her master asked, and Katie wasn’t the least bit surprised when the baby gave a happy giggle and tried to grab Spot’s snout.

Why is he laughing? Spot did it again, and the baby boy laughed and wiggled around on her master’s lap.

“It’s a game called peekaboo,” he explained. “And babies enjoy it because they lack something called object permanence.”

Spot tilted his head to one side. What’s that?

“Imagine I’m standing next to a boulder, Spot. If I hide behind the boulder, am I gone?”

Spot shook his head. No. You’re just behind the boulder. Everybody knows that.

“Not everybody. Object permanence refers to the ability to recognise that something is still there even if you can’t see it, smell it, or otherwise sense it. For example, the objects in this room don’t cease to exist when I leave. They continue to exist even if I can’t see them or touch them. But babies don’t have object permanence yet. That’s why he’s giggling. Every time you cover yourself with your wings, it’s like you disappear and then reappear.”

Oh! Spot chortled. It’s like I’m doing magic! He hid himself and then opened his wings with a flourish, careful not to accidentally hit the baby. Peekaboo!

The baby made another happy sound and continued to reach for the Spot. The dragon moved closer and allowed the baby to pat his snout and run his fingers over his scales.

Babies are funny. Spot chuffed and spread his wings slowly but dramatically. The baby’s eyes lit up. Katie couldn’t blame him. Spot still had a lot of growing to do, but he did look quite impressive like that.

“Master,” Katie said. “I don’t suppose that you offered to take care of the baby to get out of doing paperwork for the day, did you?”

“Maybe a little.” Her master grinned. “But you never know when you might have to take care of a child. I thought it might be a good idea to keep my skills fresh.”

“When was the last time you had to take care of a child?”

“I seem to remember a certain child arriving at my castle when she was an even littler girl than she is today.”

“I am not little.”

Spot snickered. Tiny.

“What was that?” Katie asked with a glare.

You’re tiny. Spot didn’t even hesitate.

“…” Katie scowled. “I’m going to get bigger. You know that, right, Spot?”

“Katie, he’s a dragon. By the time you’re even close to normal-sized he’s going to be absolutely gigantic.”

“I guess.” Katie wiped some imaginary sweat off her brow. “I’m just glad you never had to change my nappies or anything. That would be so embarrassing.”

“True, but I did have to remind you to eat your vegetables and drink your milk.”

“It’s normal for a child to think vegetables are evil,” Katie grumbled. “What do you think, Spot?”

Spot nodded firmly. Vegetables are evil. Beef is best.


Author’s Notes

Trust Timmy to find a way to slip a lesson into a game of peekaboo. That said, Spot’s mental and physical development have been extremely rapid. There may well have been a point when he didn’t understand object permanence, but he moved through that stage too quickly to ever remember not having it. Katie also has a tendency to forget that she is, in fact, still a child, something that Timmy does like to remind her about every now and then. But, yeah, Timmy can do a bit of everything. He can create nightmarish zombie abominations that will haunt your dreams for years and babysit.

Incidentally, if you aren’t already familiar with them, the characters from today’s snippet are from The Unconventional Heroes Series.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

Another Season

Well, the NBA season is going to start soon.

It’s time for another season of supporting the San Antonio Spurs. I look forward to raging out at my computer whenever we lose a game and running around the house like an idiot whenever we win.

Obviously, the last few seasons haven’t been ideal, but I’m okay with that. How many NBA fans have gotten to see their team win five championships? It’s basically the Lakers and Celtics, and in the case of the Celtics, you’d have to be pretty old to remember five since Larry only won 3 and their most recent one was 2008. Meanwhile, the Lakers had the three-peat with Shaq and Kobe and then two more with the Kobe and Pau Lakers.

As for the Spurs, quite a lot of us can remember all of the championships since they were in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. That’s seven years since the last one, but I still remember the games like they were yesterday.

Go Spurs Go!

P. S. Why am I a Spurs fan? I really liked David Robinson when I was a kid, and then Tim Duncan became my favourite player. Then Manu showed up. I was formerly a fan of He Who Betrayed The Spurs, but, seriously, there are some things I can’t forgive as a fan, and what he did to us was one of them.

Creation (Flash Fiction Fridays #4)

Death loved Life, but he was well aware of the other Greater God’s eccentricities. The last time she had been this enthused about one of her creations, the mortal world had been devastated by honey badgers the size of elephants. To this day, she insisted that the sudden increase in mortal death rates had absolutely nothing to do with her beloved honey badgers and that being ordered to make them smaller was a terrible injustice.

“Look!” Life held up her newest creation. “I call it… the freshwater platypus!”

Death studied the creature intently. It was… unusual, to say the least. It had the bill and webbed feet of a duck, the tail of a beaver, and the body and fur of an otter. Had some mortal described the animal to him, he would have assumed it was a hoax or a joke because clearly, no such animal could exist. Except, clearly, such an animal did indeed exist.

“It’s… interesting.”

Life raised one eyebrow. “Interesting?”

The pressure radiating off Life would have been enough to drive most gods to their knees. But Death was no mere god. He was a Greater God, and the mightiest of the Greater Gods besides.

“Yes,” he said at last. “This platypus appears to be a mix of different animals.”

“Oh. Is that what you meant?” Life gave a jovial laugh and patted the platypus. The animal made a happy sound and wiggled about. “Well, I thought it might be fun to create something that’s a bit of everything.” She made a face. “My first few attempts were a bit unusual, but I think this fellow is just perfect.”

Death had no desire to know what ‘unusual’ meant. Given Life’s powers, unusual could mean anything from a cute and cuddly hamster with wings to a nightmarish abomination that was better suited to tormenting the wicked in his realm. “Out of interest,” he asked. “Why does it have venomous spurs?”

“No reason, really.” Life shrugged. “I just thought they’d be nice to add. You never know when you might need venomous spurs.”

This was, after all, the same goddess who had decided that combining the mongoose and cobra into the mobra was a splendid idea. Admittedly, the creatures were quite adorable, but they also had a mean streak and venom deadly enough to drop a mortal in a matter of moments.

Just then, a troubling thought occurred to him. “Wait… you said this was a freshwater platypus. Presumably, then, you’ve also made a saltwater platypus. What does that look like?”

Life’s eyes lit up. She was truly lovely when discussing her creations. “Oh! Of course, I’d be happy to show you.”

They vanished and reappeared on a nearby beach. Life whistled sharply, and Death’s eyes widened as a titanic shape rose out of the sea. Water sluiced off its titanic frame as the saltwater platypus towered over the beach, and the sky shook as it reared up and let loose a mighty roar.

“Well…” Death said. “It seems as though krakens and leviathans might have some competition.”

Life’s smile was blindingly bright.


Author’s Notes

Today’s snippet is set in The Divine Assistance Series.

As Jurassic Park is so fond of saying: Life will find a way. And Life does find a way, all the time, to make creatures that are equal parts terrifying, adorable, and just plain crazy. I mean how else can you describe a platypus? It’s like someone went into the character customisation screen of a video game and just slapped something together because they thought it might look cool. On the upside, the saltwater platypus is not real. Australia has enough dangerous wildlife. Mountain-sized aquatic mammals would be overkill.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

My Brain On Sunday Morning

Me: Sleeping peacefully.

6:00 AM arrives.

My Brain: Get up, idiot! It’s 6AM on Sunday, and you’ve got an assignment for Lagrangian Dynamics due at 8AM Monday morning! Move! Move! Move!

Me: Combat rolls out of bed like a ninja and staggers toward my desk.

My Brain: Come on! There’s no time! Get to work! Now!

Me: Starts up laptop, scrambles to grab a pen and paper…

My Brain: What are you waiting for? Get to work! Go! Go! Go!

Me: Wait… a Lagrangian Dynamics assignment? That doesn’t make any sense. I finished that course fifteen years ago. There’s no way I can have an assignment for it.

My Brain: If you don’t hand in your assignment, you won’t get your PhD in Physics!

Me: I mean, yeah, I have a major in Physics, but my PhD was in something else… and I already got it it ten years ago…

My Brain: …

Me: I’m going back to sleep.


Author’s Notes

This actually happened to me on Sunday morning. I woke up and was gripped by this incredible fear of what would happen if I didn’t submit my Lagrangian Dynamics assignment. I rushed over to my desk, prepared to get to work, and then realised what was going on.

If my brain didn’t belong to me, I would have punched it.

Note: I did quite well in Lagrangian Dynamics. Admittedly I only did the standard course, not the advanced one, but I did about as well as you could do on the standard course. I was, at one point, interested in a career in physics, but I opted to pursue my PhD in another field. You can probably guess what it was based on some of what I’ve written.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

Progress Report 27-09-2021

Well, it’s time for another progress report. Also, please keep in mind that if you ever see a date on this webpage, it’s going to be in the Australian format (Day/Month/Year) rather than the US format (Month/Day/Year). Obviously, that’s not much of an issue with today’s date, but it can definitely be a bit aggravating when it’s something like the 8th of October (i.e., 8/10/2021).

First of all, work continues on Cosmic Delivery Boy. That should be coming out late October or early November, deepening on how long it takes to tidy up at the end. It’s looking to be around 70,000 to 80,000 words long.

I’ve also gotten a lot of questions about what’s next on the schedule. At the moment, the next thing I’ll be working on is the third book in The Attempted Vampirism Series. I’ve basically got the plot figured out, so it’s really a matter of sitting down and chiselling away at it. The working title for the book is Attempted Rescuing.

I can’t say too much at this stage, but I can say this. In the last book you got to meet a descendant of Roger the Relentless, the legendary founder of the Raccoon Empire and one of the most powerful wizards in history. In Attempted Rescuing you’ll be meeting a descendant of the equally legendary Stanley the Steadfast, the legendary founder of the Squirrel Union and one of the greatest paladins to ever live. After all, when the leviathans and krakens tried to flood the world, the dragons didn’t fight them alone. They had allies: squirrels and raccoons.

So, yeah, that’s what the plan looks like. You can find my stuff on Amazon or Audible.

Cover Up (Flash Fiction Fridays #3)

“I understand that you’re new to this, Mark, but it would really help if you could start killing things.”

He stared at me, and I tossed him a shotgun. “Seriously?”

“Mark, I’m not sure you understand what we’re dealing with.” I leaned around the corner, took aim, and blew the head off another zombie. “We’re in the early stages of a zombie apocalypse. Right now, there are a lot of zombies, but not so many that we can’t just kill them all. In a few hours? Yeah. I don’t think we’ve got enough guns for how many there will be.”

He gulped and took a moment to steady his grip on the shotgun. “And there’s no curing them?”

“Let me put it this way. The initial wave of zombies were created by an eldritch ritual. Those zombies then gained the ability to create more zombies by killing people. If someone is walking around as a zombie, then they’re already dead.” I reached for the last of my grenades, pulled the pin, and tossed it into the oncoming horde. The explosion rocked the street and sent bits of zombie flying every which way. “We’re just putting them out of their misery.”

“I… I guess.” He raised his weapon and fired. The grimace on his face said it all although his aim wasn’t half bad. The zombie he’d shot toppled back with a wet thump.

“Good.” I patted him on the shoulder. “Now, just keep shooting. I’m going to call and ask where our reinforcements are.” I pulled out my mobile phone and dialled a familiar number. “Haley, I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m dealing with about as a hundred times as many zombies as I’ve got ammunition. Please, tell me those reinforcements are inbound.”

The woman on the other end of the line was as cool as a cucumber, which was a pleasant contrast to the demented howling and baying of the zombies. “We’ve already set up a perimeter to seal the area. Reinforcements should be at your location in ten minutes.”

“Ten minutes?” I took a deep breath. “All right. I’ll talk to you later then.” I hung up and gave Mark the good news. “Keep your chin up, Mark. We’ve got reinforcements incoming. Ten minutes.”

“Great.” Mark peeled off a pair of quick shots. “But how are we going to cover this up? I mean… how do you cover up a zombie outbreak?”

“The same way we cover everything up, Mark. We’re going to say it was a gas explosion.”


A few hours later…

“See.” I pointed to the television as Mark and I sat down to grab some coffee. The clean up crew was sweeping the area door-to-door, but we were pretty confident we’d gotten all the zombies. “What did I tell you?”

The late night news anchor had an earnest expression as he talked about the damage a series of unexpected gas explosions had done along the harbour front in Balmain.

“I can’t believe anybody believes that,” Mark muttered.

“What’s more likely, a series of unexpected gas explosions or zombies?”

“…”

I patted him on the back. “Just be glad we’re not handling something in the desert. It’s kind of hard to pull the whole ‘gas explosion’ thing in the middle of nowhere.”


Author’s Notes

The narrator (Mike) and Mark are from The Department Series. That series centres around the adventures of Mike, a member of the Australian Department of Unusual Events. One of the running gags in the series is that the Department constantly uses gas explosions to explain away paranormal events. Did you have to demolish an apartment block up to kill a coven of vampires? Gas explosion. Did you blow up a cottage to kill some werewolves? Gas explosion. How about an eldritch entity laying siege to the coast? Gas explosion. Mark is a newbie to the Department, so he’s a bit sceptical about the whole strategy. Mike, however, knows what the score is.

Favourite Movies – The Princess Bride

I’ve watched a lot of movies over my time. Indeed, you could make a reasonable argument that I’ve probably watched too many. However, there are certain movies that have always stood head and shoulders above the others, at least to me. Today, I’d like to mention one of my favourites: The Princess Bridge.

What stood out to me when I first watched the movie was its sense of humour. There is a certain wry amusement to everything that happens. From the way the famous duel between Inigo and Wesley is fought to the way Wesley wins the battle of wits or outplays Prince Humperdinck, it’s almost as if the movie is giving us a playful nudge and a joking wink. And I absolutely love that. It doesn’t treat its viewers like idiots, and it uses the viewers’ knowledge of the genre to accentuate the humour.

And the characters are glorious.

Within minutes of meeting Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik, you know exactly who they are. Despite this, they don’t come across as cardboard cut outs. The more you learn about them, the more you like them. A lot of this, of course, has to do with the actors. I can’t think of a bad performance in the movie. Everyone does a good job, and they all seem to be having the time of their lives too. It’s not a surprise that for many of the actors in this movie, the characters they play would be the ones people would forever associate them with.

And then there’s the dialogue.

Good grief, I love the dialogue in this movie. A great example of this is the banter between Wesley and Vizzini during the battle of wits. It is hilarious and utterly shameless in poking fun at people and places (I love the dig at Australia they manage to slip in). Likewise, there are some truly memorable lines and passages. The two that stick out most in my mind are “My name is Inigo Montoya…” and the “To the pain…” both of which tell you everything about the characters involved. And the bit where Buttercup throws herself down the hill after Wesley after hearing “As you wish…”.

But the thing that really stood out to me about the movie was the way it felt. It’s a warm movie. You feel happy watching it, and you’re happy when it’s done. You could be having a bad day, but when you watch the movie, it just makes you smile and laugh, and I think that’s fantastic. There are some people who insist that for a movie to be good, it has to make you sad or cry. I’ve always thought that was rubbish. Make no mistake, there are fantastic movies that will make you sad or cry, but a great movie doesn’t have to do those things. A great movie doesn’t have to deal with matters of existential importance, nor does it have to address the nature of the human condition or anything like that.

A movie can be great simply because it makes you smile.

The great movies are the ones that stand the test of time. They’re the movies you can come back to over and over again. All you have to do is hear the name of the movie, and memories will come flooding back. The Princess Bride is one of those movies, and there was a time in my life where I could honestly have recited the entire script of the movie from memory.

If you haven’t already watched it, I would strongly urge you to watch The Princess Bridge.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on writing and other topics, you can find those here.

I also write original fiction, which you can find on Amazon here or on Audible here.

P. S. I’m not going to lie, if confronted with a battle of wits, Timmy would do exactly the same thing as Wesley.

Charades (Flash Fiction Fridays #2)

“Monkey fighting a bear!”

“Hydra brawling a dragon!”

“Man making tea while dodging arrows!”

“A ship harpooning a kraken that’s grappling a leviathan!”

Katie nudged her master as Vicky and Sam continued to absolutely slaughter everyone else at charades. “This is kind of unfair, isn’t it?”

“Just a little.” Her master bit back a laugh as Sam simply transformed into a near-perfect copy of a tiger wrestling an anteater except with way more eyes, teeth, and tentacles. “But, hey, it’s just a game, and there’s a reason Sam had never lost a game of charades.”

The timer ran out, and Vicky pumped her fist and high-fived Sam. It was one of the most bizarre things Timmy had ever seen: an astral projection of the highest-ranking cleric in the country high-fiving a protoplasmic horror from another dimension.

“Hah!” Vicky grinned. “That’s another win for us. Maybe we should switch games.”

“Charades is a load of crap,” Avraniel growled. “How about darts?”

“Are you suggesting darts because you know you’ll win at it?” Timmy drawled.

“Damn straight.”

“How about a board game instead?” Old Man suggested. “Something that involves more luck than skill to keep things interesting.”

“I think I know a game…” Timmy smirked. “It’s called Monopoly…”

Two hours later…

“Heh.” Timmy folded his arms across his chest. “It looks like I win.”

“You had to be cheating.” Avraniel glared. “Nobody can possibly be that good at Monopoly.”

“Aye.” Daerin glowered. “We dwarves are masters of Monopoly. To be crushed so utterly, there must be foul play at work.”

“Nope,” Katie said glumly. “My master is basically invincible at Monopoly. Trust me. Sam and I team up against him all the time, and he still always wins.”

“On the upside,” Gerald said. “Maybe we can try a different game.”

Katie took a deep breath. She might have lost at Charades and Monopoly, but there was one game where she had yet to know defeat. “Gerald, do you have a stick we can borrow?” The bureaucrat nodded and handed her a stick. “All right. Let’s play… Limbo.”


Author’s Notes

Yep. Being a protoplasmic horror with near-absolute control over your own shape and biology will make you basically invincible at Charades. Likewise, Timmy has the combination of good luck and business acumen required to be an excellent Monopoly player. Funnily enough, Katie might actually struggle to win Limbo this time since Vicky is currently an astral projection (and thus can never knock over the bar), and Spot is actually shorter than her due his body structure (although that won’t be true for long). Still, don’t count her out. Katie might not like being short, but she does being short better than almost anyone.

Incidentally, if you aren’t already familiar with them, the characters from today’s snippet are from The Unconventional Heroes Series.