Bewildering Stories

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Bewildering Challenge 64

The Iceship Cometh

by NewB

It wasn’t easy being the only child on the ship. Captain Dan had just shooed Lila off the bridge again, and Mom was busy prepping the cafeteria for the lunch crowd. Only Bizmo was willing to play with her. Then again, Bizmo never denied Lila time or attention since his firmware upgrade.

“Bizmo!” She called sweetly to her companion. “Follow me. I have...”

(5000 words)

... again,” said Bizmo, unable to take his eyes off of the grisly sight.

“Shut up, Bizmo,” said Lila. She was still clutching Captain Dan’s heart in her good hand, watching intently as the blood streamed down her forearm. It pooled on the underside of her chubby elbow, the bubble growing hypnotically large in the low gravity of the ship. Twenty seconds passed in silence. Finally, too obese to hang on any longer, it fell to the deck and splashed on Lila’s feet, staining her white shoes an obscene shade of green.

Lila twisted her dimpled cheeks into a sneer. “Mom always told me never to trust a Rigellian.”

Copyright © 2003 by NewB

“NewB” explains the challenge far more clearly and succinctly than we possibly could. Here is his cover letter:

Hello, triumvirate.

I have a few throwaway story fragments I wrote for purposes other than actually making stories out of them — exercises in writing convincing dialogue, or expository text, or little narrative chunks I wrote because they seemed interesting, but haven’t found a place in a story.

It occurred to me that they might be made useful if I turned them into flash fiction, in a non-standard way. They’re only flash fiction because I’m deliberately leaving out huge chunks of what would normally be expected. You could think of them as typical 3000-5000 word stories, missing the vast majority of words. One story might consist of an opening and a final paragraph, with all the intervening text missing. Another might simply be a 250-word chunk taken from the middle of a story, or just a beginning, or just an ending.

I think this could be interesting. Their success will depend on how well the fragment conjures images and expectations in the reader’s mind, and the stories would be slightly different for everyone, depending on how they mentally fill in the missing narrative.

Or, they might end up being pointless and boring chunks of writing.

I’m including one of these stories below. If you like the story and want more along these lines, I’d be happy to provide them. They could be a short series of stories published over the course of four or five subsequent issues.

Quite a while ago now, the Submissions guidelines were expanded to include what has since become the Bewildering Challenge. As our guidelines indicate and our readers have seen, it can take any number of forms. NewB’s contribution, like others, have caught the spirit: onward, to the exploration of “white space” in creative writing!

Thank you, NewB, this is quite a colorful challenge, and we look forward to receiving more from you!

Copyright © 2003 by Bewildering Stories

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