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  • Writer's pictureSydney J. Shields

Flash Fiction Challenge!

I turned in my revisions to my agent on Friday of last week. I spent the weekend with my best friend who came to visit me, but since she left, I've been practicing the art of thumb twiddling (aka doing nothing).

I posted a tiktok asking what the heck I'm supposed to do while waiting for more feedback, and Megan Eccles (@ MeganJaureguiEccles) suggested to try writing short stories. I said "Megan, how? I need a tutorial on how to write tiny things." And Megan said, "Watch this video:

So, I did! Because I do everything that Megan says! She's a genius and a BRILLIANT writer.

This is a lecture from Brandon Sanderson's creative course, with special guest lecturer Mary Robinette Kowal. I took this seriously and participated in the interactive assignment! The challenge: write a piece of flash fiction with a specific number of sentences allocated to each section. Mary provided the following details:

- Write a story about a Jockey

- Write a story set on a coaster

- Write a story in the Sci-Fi Genre (I kinda leaned more steampunk, but the vibe is right)

- Write a story in under fifteen minutes

- 250 words (Mine is more like 350...but hey, it's my first try!)

Here is what I came up with:

Underneath me is a thrumming metal machine covered in rotting fur that once held blood. Real horses are a nearly extinct luxury that I can’t afford unless I win, and I never win—at least, not honorably. The poor folks who can’t escape the rush of the race come here to the stallion circuit, and we race our makeshift beasts on the rusty tracks until their steam runs out.

I shouldn’t be trying again so soon after my stallion’s last breakdown, but the winners of this race get extra rations, and I am hungry for what I am owed. Every loss has kept my stomach and my money pouch empty, and I need this win to fix a lot of broken things.

The countdown is too fast, and my stallion is the only one that doesn’t move from the starting position. I’m pressing the bright red button with my heel as hard as I can, but the stallion stalls and sputters below me until the other riders are halfway through the track. By the time we’re finally in motion, I’m already fucked. The other riders look like specs of black hope fleeing from me. There’s one way to save my ass, but if I get caught trying it again, I’ll be worse than hungry and poor—I’ll be killed.

Better to be killed trying than die waiting. The only way to win now is with bloodfuel, even though it’s been outlawed for centuries, but I don’t care—I’m an outlaw, too. I find the tuft of fur that covers the sharp blade on my stallion. I run my palm across it smoothly and pretend to feel nothing as I deftly move my hand from the blade to the horn of the saddle. There’s a mouth there with a leathery black tongue that shoots out to lap up the blood that pours from my wound. I feel it purring below me as it’s satiated, and then, we are the wind.

The wind is a hungry thing, and when we cross the finish line before the others, I know that I am just like the monster that I keep hidden beneath the metal.

Last place gets killed for sport, their blood on my hands as they die in my stead. I lick it up and know that I, too, am fed.


It was a fun little challenge! I have never in my life attempted to write a short story, flash fiction, or any tiny thing. Not sure if this is my calling, but I'll keep trying!

ttyl u sexy moth creatures <3

slay the day

- syd

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