This is a hard week for me and I found this picture rather hard to turn into a good story. While pondering various story lines, I was musing over the idea of flash fiction. Rochelle, in her rules for the Fictioneers, always says that the challenge is to “Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end.” I’ve been religious with the 100-word rule but I’m sure I’ve broken the beginning-middle-end rule quite a few times, although I try. What I also try to do is: 1) make sure there is some conflict and 2) make sure the characters want something. Without these, especially conflict, it’s not a story, it’s only a scene. Of course, Rochelle makes sure to point out that no one is ostracized for breaking the 100-word and she is very forgiving with other rule bends too. And now, on with the story…
The Mountain is killing me. I feel the life leaching from me into the pitiless walls. The Mountain claims all: innocence, youth, health, time. The walls are fat with my wasted years.
I knew it would take my life, but I vowed it would never take ME. I feel it, though, clawing at my soul. The ME is slipping away, no matter how much I clutch it.
When they bury me, write no name on the headstone, for what they bury is not me, but merely the husk of what the Mountain has devoured.
(found scratched into a prison wall)
March 5th, 2014 at 11:08 pm
David, I could feel his desperate attempt to keep the essence of himself free. Many people struggle to do this throughout their lives in a variety of ways. I hope he can hang on. You grabbed my emotions with this.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:05 pm
Thanks, Janet. That’s the conflict I was going for, although he is slowly losing the struggle.
March 5th, 2014 at 11:47 pm
“The walls are fat with my wasted years.” In that one line you’ve written an entire chapter. Beyond well done to amazing.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Thank you, as always, Rochelle. I was watching some documentaries on prisons lately and they were inspiring, just that most of what prison is, is just killing time.
March 6th, 2014 at 12:12 am
This is one of my favorites by you. And with that I have a confession. I allowed 103 words to tell my story this week. For the first time I have went over 100. I felt I needed to share that with you.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:10 pm
3 words can make all the difference. I’m glad you left them in. 🙂 I’m glad you liked the story.
March 6th, 2014 at 1:49 am
Wow, David — I think you were incredibly successful. I completely understand what you’re saying about the difference between a story and a scene. It’s difficult to achieve. The best of the best flash fiction are those that achieve what you did today.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:10 pm
Thanks, Helena. I wasn’t sure if it had, so I’m glad you liked it.
March 6th, 2014 at 1:54 am
Excellent; well done.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:11 pm
Thank you, Sandra. 🙂
March 6th, 2014 at 2:00 am
David, great story. I feel this accomplishes the goal well! I agree it’s very hard to do the complete story. Some weeks I’m just happy I’ve written something. You know what I mean? I always feel your stories are successful and creative. Just one question, did he write all of that on the wall? Interesting, I just watched a documentary about the K2 mountain and how these guys just stayed up there to die. The mountain does take people, definitely.
March 6th, 2014 at 6:57 am
The idea was that the Mountain is a prison where he’s serving a life sentence. I guess in retrospect that wasn’t too clear. The prison was under the mountain.
March 6th, 2014 at 8:07 am
Oh, I got that. Thanks!
March 6th, 2014 at 2:48 am
This is a heart-wrenching story, but beautifully written. “The walls are fat with my wasted years,” is a wonderful line. I confess I’ve gone over the 100-word limit several times of late, but not this week. I think a few words over is okay.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:12 pm
Oh yeah, there’s nothing wrong. I think that I’m kind of anal with this one, actually. With other writing challenges I’m a lot more cavalier. After all, it’s the story that matters, not the number of words.
March 6th, 2014 at 3:06 am
Ouch. My soul kinda twinged reading that…
March 6th, 2014 at 2:12 pm
I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂 It’s not a particularly happy story.
March 6th, 2014 at 11:47 pm
‘Tis indeed a compliment, and a testament to your story-telling skills!
March 6th, 2014 at 8:29 am
One of your best David.
A few people have already commented on your line ‘the walls are fat with my wasted years’ – this is almost a story in itself. Incredible.
March 6th, 2014 at 2:13 pm
Wow, thanks Dee. I appreciate it.
March 6th, 2014 at 12:22 pm
What’s interesting is I thought it was a guy who was obsessed with conquering the mountain, like a climber wanting that taste of Everest.
Nice work. 😀
March 6th, 2014 at 2:14 pm
I realized that after, that it wasn’t really clear at the beginning. I had an original idea of a prison built under the mountain, to tie in with the picture, but there’s some ambiguity about that in the story.
March 6th, 2014 at 5:23 pm
This carries deep thoughts… I enjoyed the expressions…
March 6th, 2014 at 7:03 pm
March 6th, 2014 at 5:52 pm
Adifferent angle this time! 🙂
March 6th, 2014 at 7:05 pm
oh that poor chap. one wonders what he did to end up there and how sad are the wasted years whether or not he did anything. Thought provoking. 🙂
March 6th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
I was going to write in his backstory, but I couldn’t do it in 100 words. He was a chemist’s apprentice who accidentally mixed the wrong chemicals and killed someone, so he was sent away for life.
March 9th, 2014 at 8:04 am
I love your story. I have found myself thinking on it. Thank you for the back story. Also I know it has already been commented on but the line “fat with wasted years” is profound.
March 9th, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Thank you, Sarah. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
March 6th, 2014 at 10:53 pm
All the sadder when you read the backstory. I must admit, I missed the prison wall reference the first time I read this and assumed he was obsessed with the mountain. Reads well either way, but makes more sense when you realize he’s in prison.
March 6th, 2014 at 11:04 pm
What an excellent piece depicting the desolation of someone fighting a losing battle-of losing oneself but still trying to hold on,to their soul!Loved the line ,”The walls are fat with my wasted years.” and the last line too-great imagery David!
March 7th, 2014 at 1:05 am
walls fat with wasted years, loved that phrase! this was definitely mournful and creepy. i imagined the prisoner gradually fading from this world…
March 7th, 2014 at 5:59 am
Ah. the last line made it all the sadder.. wasting away like that. You have really captured the feeling of the (unjustly?) jailed prisoner… like a failed Count of Monte Christo..
March 7th, 2014 at 6:12 am
Good story. When taken to mean adversity, many people will certainly fall to the mountain
March 7th, 2014 at 6:19 am
March 7th, 2014 at 12:28 pm
amazing story David, it has a touch of classic in it!
March 7th, 2014 at 3:01 pm
David, Usually, I find explanations like your final line unnecessary and pedantic. Here, however, it works. Kudos!
Your final line answered the questions I had about the narrator without giving away too much information. This means you’ve nailed the art of telling a story while at the same time nurturing your reader’s imagination. This is no small feat. Nicely handled.
March 7th, 2014 at 4:11 pm
Although short, this is a well-written journey into a man’s soul. Well done.
March 7th, 2014 at 11:40 pm
Pretty philosophical that. I read some of the other comments and would like to not know the back story. I thought it was magical the first reading.
March 8th, 2014 at 12:41 am
The back story isn’t really necessary, and considering it’s not in the story, even what I say is apocryphal. Feel free to disregard it or make up your own. 🙂
March 8th, 2014 at 1:55 am
Very atmospheric story.
March 9th, 2014 at 1:02 am
For someone who felt challenged, you really wrote a powerful story here, Dave. The journey to hold onto the “self” is always potent. Loved this: “The walls are fat with my wasted years.” Amazing.
March 9th, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Maybe I was channeling my tiring week. 🙂 Glad you liked it.
March 10th, 2014 at 1:11 am
You should channel more often; it was great! 😉
March 9th, 2014 at 7:41 am
Jeezaloo, you HAVE had a hard week! 🙂
But yeah, I agree with others — the turn of that one phrase is wonderful.
March 9th, 2014 at 8:32 pm
Yeah, this isn’t even fiction: it’s just a recount of my week. 😉 Well, school just started this last week, so that’s why it was tiring. This one should be a lot easier.
March 10th, 2014 at 10:47 am
i really felt this person’s pain and isolation…oh, what a prison sentence!
March 10th, 2014 at 7:46 pm
I can’t imagine. It would drive some crazy, I think.
March 12th, 2014 at 7:29 am
Just as I was thinking what a great story this was, the last sentence lifts it into something altogether better.
March 12th, 2014 at 11:49 pm
I can see a major story out of this and it does make me question, How did he get into this predicament? Is he alone in his ‘death’ or did he leave someone(s) behind? Granted for this posting it doesn’t matter, but it left me very curious and wanting. I love it. Keep it coming.
March 17th, 2014 at 10:31 pm
There is definitely a lot more that could be done with this. That is one problem with the 100-word limit: it’s very restrictive on elaborating.