Author Archives: steve

Natural Order

We all saw The Event happen. The half of the world that was asleep woke up, and felt compelled to step outside and tilt our heads back. It was there for just about a second: a sharp green light taking up the whole sky, like a bubble or a dome. Then it was gone. We don’t know who or what caused it, except that it wasn’t us. People, I mean. There was some grainy footage of The Event, CCTV cameras and such, but nothing that offered anything new. Nothing that showed us something that we hadn’t seen that night, standing in the garden in our pajamas, staring open-mouthed up at the sky.

We spent the first week trying to figure out what it was. How did that flash happen? Where did it come from? Why did everyone wake up? Then we became nervous and started asking more: what had it done? We tried to look for any aftereffects of The Event, but the search was too broad; we didn’t know where to start of what to look for. Did we check us? Or animals? How about crops? What about rocks, soil, the sea? I guess it’s not surprising that we didn’t notice for a while: the spread of the effect was too broad. Looking back, I guess I expected someone in a white lab coat, horn rim glasses, and a clipboard to come on the news and tell us about “A disturbance in The Force” and what we could do to fix it. Instead, we’re just around the corner from all these big changes, and we don’t know what’s going to happen to us. To the planet.

It was the little things at first; things that you could explain away, didn’t take much notice of. Food seemed to go off faster than it should, however you stored it. Ice seemed to melt faster, whatever the temperature of the room. Flavours seemed duller, weaker. Cars stalled in the middle of highways and refused to start again. Computers became less reliable, if they worked at all.

Then we started to notice other, bigger, things. Things that you thought were a trick of the eye. The moon looked smaller. Measurements were taken, experts consulted. A space shuttle was pulled out of retirement and sent up to confirm: the moon was moving away from us.

We became obsessed with measuring things, checking for changes. What else was happening? We found that the Earth’s spin was slowing. Days had become longer since The Event. Years had become longer. The wobble, Earth’s tilt on its axis, had increased. Things that should be taking millions of years were happening in months, and the rate of decay was increasing exponentially. “Everything is going to shit,” I think was the official line from the President’s office.

No-one knows quite what will happen in the next few weeks. The messed up days and tides have broken the food chain. Fresh food is scarce. Even the tinned goods are spilling out of their rusty containers. Maybe we won’t live to see what happens when the moon finally breaks free of its orbit. Maybe we’ll be hallucinating from hunger when the Earth stops spinning. Maybe our bones will be crumbling when the Earth tilts all the way over.

Maybe there’ll be another green flash in the sky and it will all be over.

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14 - Alternapocalypse, Projects | 3 Comments


[Mine is a remix of Jo’s Nigh story, which I really enjoyed, and should be read before this.]

I’m running late. There’s a new guy coming in for an interview today. I glance up from the street up into the sky. What’s wrong with the sky? I almost drive over someone standing scratching in the middle of the road. Get off the road, you idiot! It’s 8:08 and I’m still three blocks away. What’s with the -

“We don’t know,” she sighed. “Tell Jenny we don’t know either. Not a tornado, that’s all I’m prepared to say. The data’s not making any sense.” The intern walked back over to her desk and reconnected the video chat. The city’s brightest and best appeared, hunched around the webcam. “So, tell us the good -”

The sky stretches around me, metal grey. I turn the final dial on the machine and the little display measuring all the time left in the world shows nineteen seconds. It’s 8:08. My plan was sheer elegance in its simplcity. They’re too late to stop me now! It’s the end of the -

I burst through the door to the roof. He doesn’t seem to hear me over the din of the machine. I don’t hesitate: one slug goes into the back of his head and one goes into the generator sitting next to the machine. Before he’s even hit the ground, all the machine’s lights are out. I did it… I drop to my knees, gasping for breath. Shit. That must’ve been twenty stories.

Posted in 2011-07-18 to 2011-07-31 - Do it your Way, Projects | 4 Comments



I really like the look of Flash Fiction Challenge: An Uncharted Apocalypse.

 I want to see flash fiction set in a very unconventional, never-before-seen apocalypse. A Create Your Own End Times kinda story. Get as creative as you want. I want the world to end — or be in the middle of ending — in a way we’ve never seen before.

Alas, 1,000 words this week (well, by tomorrow) is more than I can handle, so I’d like to remix it for a run here.

Same concept, but 500 words over two weeks, with <= 6 people.

Comment commitment!

Posted in 2011-08-01 to 2011-08-14, Pitches | 2 Comments

You are Dead

Obituaries. Next to the comics and the crossword. Morbid, morose, sad, and yours.

Write an obituary in the second person. Be as dry or as flowery as you like.


Condolences to the family in the form of comments on the obits. This may not be the best time to ask for that R500 you’re owed from last week’s poker game.

Word Count: 300

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sassy Cabernet

In Vino Veritas, and all that. The human race is constantly expanding and finding new ways and places of making booze. Wine on the moon? On a satellite orbiting the Earth? On a floating thingy on a lava bed? At the bottom of a deep sea trench?

Write the back of the wine label, giving some details about the soil, the new cultivars, the farm that produces the wine.



Comments on the wine. Bit tart for your tongue? Wet saddle overpowering the fresh grass? Let the winemaker know.

Word Count: 300

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Insert Stick A into Hole B

Instruction manuals! Who doesn’t love them, used to stay up until 3 a.m. reading them under the bedcovers with a torch, cuddle them on those cold winter nights?

The manual should be a one-pager, about 10 steps long.

The object should be real, but can be unexpected.


Commentage on the other manuals. Perhaps questions, if you get stuck on step 4.

Word Count: 300

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Winners of the Young Inventor Award 2015

The name of the inventor and their invention, plus a brief description (about 100 words) of the invention.

Set slightly in the future to allow for flying cars, jet packs, sentient televisions, etc.



Comment on all other participants entries.

Word Count: 100

Posted in Pitches | 2 Comments