Welcome to the Write…Edit…Publish blog hop. The theme for this October edition is – Thriller.
The prompt is based on Thriller, released in the early ’80s, an unofficial anthem for Halloween and horror. Both singer and song are music industry icons. Thriller has sold 70 million+ copies worldwide, and Michael Jackson, known as the King of Pop, is one of the controversial and culturally significant figures of the 20th century. He is credited with some landmark music and reinventing complex dance moves like the moonwalk to make it his own signature. Like the Beatles, MJ was, during his lifetime and remains, more than a decade after his death, one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has left a massive and unique thumbprint on the music/entertainment scene of the late twentieth century.
So I decided to experiment with this playful flash prompt which comes from Kathy Fish: The Art Of Flash Fiction.
Write the same ONE paragraph story THREE TIMES. Keep repeating the same elements, but change something in each version that takes the story in a new direction. See how this changes the overall arc from the first to the last section. See how you can create a sense of movement and rising tension simply by moving things around.
Try using echoes. Repeat images, words, or lines of dialogue.
My flash fiction is 415 words.
* * * * * *
A figure loitered under the streetlight, cigarette dangling from wind-bitten lips. A scruffy beggar, dragging a battered brown suitcase shuffled past, looked up once and then stopped. The figure leaned forward, said something to the beggar who simply offered a dismissive gesture with a gloved hand.
The figure resumed position, dragged deeply on the cigarette. A glowing tip illuminated some of the face while the rest remained hidden beneath the brim of a fedora. A curl of smoke danced at the cigarette tip, twirled this way and that, drifted upward and intertwined with the night fog that hovered over the city.
The beggar, shuffled along for about 400 metres then stopped, made an about turn. The suitcase still firmly in place, the beggar moved back in the direction of the figure under the streetlight.
The streetlight flickered.
# # #
The beggar shuffled for 400 metres and stopped. The battered suitcase fell to the ground with a thump. The beggar moved slowly and deliberately in the direction of the streetlight, pausing midway to change direction and instead turned at a ninety degree angle, to face the street corner on the opposite end, where a pavement vendor plied an assortment of wares.
Meanwhile, the huddled figure under the streetlight desperately tried to ward off the biting cold that had suddenly descended. The fedora had been lowered, collar turned up, face and body hidden beneath the woollen coat that extended from top to floor. Through the thickening fog, the streetlight flickered.
The vendor shivered and hopped from one fancy-clad foot to the next busy blowing hot air onto icy hands.
The beggar reached the vendor who signalled and extended a hand. The beggar drew closer and they exchanged a few words. The vendor hesitated, held out a hand and then passed something to the beggar.
# # #
The vendor shivered and watched the scruffy guy drawing closer and closer. The vendor signalled to the beggar.
Across the street, the streetlight flickered.
Then it died.
There was a scuffle, a muffled shout, a heavy thud and – nothing.
Five minutes passed.
A click punctured the inky silence.
A tiny flame illuminated the crouched figure, who fiddled with the sneaker laces.
The figure leaned forward, shook out a mane of long hair, and in one swift motion, secured it into a bun at the nape of her neck, then placed the fedora on top.
She picked up the battered suitcase and extinguished the tiny flame.
I’m not sure how effective this piece is, in terms of the prompt set by Kathy Fish. What do you think?