Esme V. Fire

Quite happy with this one! It has magic in it, which I always enjoy.

Fireman? Firewoman? Fire…person?

Esme sighed as she approached her firetruck. The trouble with magic, she reflected, was that while it got you where you need to be quickly, that sometimes meant that you skipped over important parts of the path.

It had been a simple enough spell of purpose; she paid her fifteen hundred dollars, and in return she got given her perfect career. The career that she would enjoy the most, be most suited for…the career that would make her happy.

Purpose was a popular spell-type, and it had definitely resulted in a happier populace, but no one had mentioned to her that when it gave her the career, it would skip over everything to that point.

She knew that she was a fire…girl? No, that couldn't be right.

She knew that she worked for the fire department, for instance. The spell had given her everything she needed to know to start work – it had skipped her through training, given her all the knowledge she needed to put out fires. It had dropped all the vital information of where she worked and who her boss was, but it didn't tell her what kind of relationship she had with the chief fireman, for instance, or whether he was the sort of fellow who would appreciate a good chuckle.

But at least she'd found the job that guaranteed her the greatest amount of happiness, without having to sit in a dusty classroom (did you learn how to save people from burning buildings in a dusty classroom? She didn't even know) or worry about whether she'd make the grade or not.

So while Esme was grateful to the spell for putting her where she needed to be, she was starting to wish that she'd taken the slightly longer path. Not for the vital information, just for the details, the little bits that told her who she'd be fighting fires with.

Firefighter! That was it. She was a firefighter.


6MS: The City

So, uh, how obvious is it that I’ve been reading Discworld?

He was obviously part of the mob.

If you didn’t know the mob like Claudia did, you would have said that was a foolish statement. You would have looked down and not seen a mid-level member of the criminal organisation that secretly ran more than four-fifths of the city.

You would have seen a dog.

But Claudia had been a beat cop for more than a century now, and if you survive that long, it’s because you know things. You know how to look past class, how to look past species.

You saw the stance, the attitude, the carefully positioned hind-legs.

And more than anything, you looked into the eyes of the beast, and you saw the criminal mind at work.

Claudia was walking a new recruit, Jacques, around the scummy side of the city. It was dangerous, but Claudia wasn’t worried – she’d been here for long enough that the people knew not to mess with her. Even the mob wouldn’t touch her, as long as she didn’t interfere with their business.

(after more than a century on the job, Claudia had learned that upholding the law and interfering with the mob’s business were, more often than not, mutually exclusive.)

And so their walk-and-talk had led them past what looked like nothing more than a dog to the untrained eye.

Claudia wasn’t sure whether to smile or roll her eyes when Jacques bent down to feed him a scrap. The dog just stared at her; to Jacques it probably looked like disinterest, but Claudia recognised the disdainful stare of a mobster being patronised by a cop.

“Howzit, Jerr?” Claudia asked, and Jacques almost fell backward in surprise when the dog answered.



6MS: Good for her.

I had technical issues while writing this, got a phone call at the end, and didn't actually see the text on the photo until I'd finished…but excuses aside, I don't think it's too bad. Enjoy!

It was her masterpiece.

Jutting out of the water, everyone around could see what she'd created – what she had created.

Some, she knew, would say it was ugly. Some would say it was an eyesore. Some would say it was totally unnecessary, but she wouldn't let any of that bother her.

It was her creation, her mark on the world, and that was all that mattered.

She wouldn't live to see it, but as it happened, she was right. She left her mark, and as she'd ignored, everyone hated it. Everyone, by extension, hated her, and rarely did a day go past without someone asking “why would anyone create such a monstrosity?”

As part of the elegant simplicity of her statement (or lack thereof, depending on how you looked at it) it had no practical function. It sort of looked like it did, but that just added to its infuriating nature – at a glance, you'd wonder if someone lived there, or if it was a shop, but once you were familiar with the area, you'd know that no, no one did. No one could.

It got to the point where the locals would roll their eyes as soon as anyone asked.

“Oh,” they'd say scornfully. “*That*. Yeah, it's…no, it doesn't do anything.”

And so in a way, she succeeded. Her creation outlived her. She left her mark, she ensured that no one would ever forget her, that no one who saw it would ever doubt that she was there.

It was knocked down over two hundred years later. But two hundred years, that's more than most people get.

Good for her.


6MS: Hardly Daring, But Daring Enough

Today’s SixMinuteStory. This is the first time that I’ve reached the end of one of these and gone “Oh man, I want to know what happens next!”. Here’s the prompt:

The daring were punished.

It seemed almost contradictory, but that was how They wanted it. Ever since the capital-t-They had taken over it, a systematic reduction of risk-taking had been put into place, until the daring were trained not to dare, the mavericks removed and replaced with the mundane.

My sister Joan had wanted to be a baker. You would think that was sufficiently uninteresting for Them, but you’d be wrong – I have no idea how They found out, but after a few bottles of wine at my house, she told me her dream of opening her own bakery. She hadn’t even applied for a loan yet, but They took her.

They took her, and They whipped her.

My sister Joan came back broken. She still smiled, but the laughter was gone, and so was the dream. When she was offered a position at one of the big chains, assistant baker in the back room, she leapt at the opportunity, and she even seemed happy.

Fortunately, I’ve never been daring. I’ve never had lofty dreams, never wanted to fly too close to the sun. I’ve always been happy enough with the status quo, and so for the longest time I assumed I was safe.

And then, of course, I met him.

He wasn’t even a high risk, but if Joan’s experience had taught me anything, it was that barely daring is too daring, and so as soon as I saw him, as soon as I realised my heart was fluttering and nervously wondered if he’d noticed me noticing him, I knew I was screwed.

He worked in painting, I was an accountant. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but it’s daring enough…

6MS: The Sepia Girl

I like today’s. I didn’t feel any need to rush. It’s a repeated piece of stimulus, but quite a different story to the last time I used it.

The sepia girl smiled at me as I tucked her photograph back into my wallet.

I’d found it several years ago, inside a book in a box on a table at a garage sale. I hadn’t ended up buying anything from the sale, but I’d taken the photo. I suppose you could say it was stealing, but I’ve never thought about it that way.

She seemed lonely. I was just taking her from a life spent between pages on the Ottoman Empire, with me. I travel a lot, and a part of me wanted her to see the world.

I know it’s just my imagination, but ever since I’d rescued her from a life spent reading the same few historical paragraphs over and over, something about her smile had seemed more genuine, less forced.

The first time, I’d been in the middle of Morocco, and I’d pulled my wallet out to pay for a trinket or a coffee or something, and seen her there tucked between my US bills and the local currency. I’d pulled her out, and shown her the world, so different from the one she was used to.

Since then, any time I had to use cash or show ID, I’d show my sepia girl where I was, what I was doing. The photograph of the smiling girl had probably seen more of the world than the real girl ever had. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about how attached I was to her, either.

It’s just a photograph, I know that. But I gave her a name, and showed her the world, and it made me feel good. I’m not crazy, I’m normally not even sentimental. But why stop yourself from doing something silly and pointless if it makes you feel less lonely?

I call her Jane.

6MS: Snips and the Rats

This one started autobiographically but then the inspiration sparked and it went in a different direction.

When I was a child, we used to have pet mice. The first one was called Snips and I don’t remember how or why, but we had it for a few weeks and then it died.

According to Grandpop, who is not the most reliable storyteller…no, that’s not quite true. He’s a reliable storyteller, he’s just not the most reliable truthteller. According to Grandpop, Snips didn’t die of any ordinary mouse cause of death.

Snips died because he got in with the wrong type of animal.

Again, I’ll stress that this is all according to Grandpop, not something I saw with my own eyes. Grandpop will swear black and blue that it’s true, but he says that on the first night that Snips arrived home, the little creature found a way to escape the cage that my sisters and myself lovingly made for him, and worked out how to gnaw his way into the wall.

Into the wall where, in Grandpop’s words, “the rats abide.”

I never saw these abiding rats, but I did once or twice see mum putting rat poison out, so there might actually be a kernel of truth in the centre of Grandpop’s elaborate tale. Grandpop says (and I never questioned how he knew the details, but I’m sure he would have been able to give me an answer if I had) that Snips entered as the rats were playing cards in their abode.

Snips, being the friendly sort, asked to be dealt in, and to everyone’s surprise (not least of all Snips’) he was good. No, more than good. He was practically Rain Mouse. No matter what the game, no matter what he was dealt, Snips managed to bluff his way through, play the odds expertly, and by the end of the evening, the abiding rats owed Snips more than a house full of cheese.

The next morning, our first full day with Snips, I do remember him being tired, but I’m not saying that means that Grandpop’s story was true…

6MS: The Gift That Wasn’t

Forgot to blog this morning! But it’s a writing day, so here’s a six minute story:

Black and white. I couldn’t believe Dad had done it again.

I know I’m lucky, I do. You can say I’m spoiled if you like, but it doesn’t matter – I’d asked for ONE THING this Christmas, and it was colour.

I looked up at my father, tried to fake a smile, and said ‘Thanks’. As soon as he turned away, I rolled my eyes, and unwrapped my next present.

A sweater. Great. I wondered what colour it was – if I went out wearing this and one of my friends actually GOT what she asked for and could see whether or not it matched my jeans, my hair…I was screwed.

My brother Billy opened his present next. A jigsaw puzzle. Thanks Dad. How are we meant to do that when we can’t even tell which bits are sky??

Maybe it would be better, I sometimes thought, if we weren’t even in a privileged family. Maybe if I knew there was NO chance of getting colour, even for a few days, it wouldn’t bug me so much that we didn’t have it. Maybe I’d consider myself lucky to even have black and white – I know that some families have to rely on government hand-outs, and they only get two-tone. At least our black and white is greyscale.

But it’s just annoying, when your Dad works at the company, and makes enough that they could easily get it for the whole family.

I forced a smile again as I opened a gift from Stacey, Dad’s new girl-of-the-year. It was a hat. Great.

It looked like it was patterned, but without colour, there was no way to know for sure. I put it on, and saw her start to correct me, before guiltily stopping.

It took me another present or two to put it together, and then I exploded.

“you got HER colour!? HER!??”


6MS: The Disco Bull

Um, so I'm not really sure what happened here. Sorry about this. That's the nature of six minute stories, I guess – even if you have nothing to say, you have to keep writing. If you'd like to read something that's actually good, I recommend this short story by my 15-year old brother.

Prompt: “The disco ball was turning.”

The disco ball was turning.

The Mighty Fwarriors turned in shock. Their ambush on the Gold Chain Club had been going well – too well. Now they watched, as the disco ball slowly turned…into Disco Bull.

“Curses!” shouted Melissa, leader of the Fwarriors. She'd hoped that just once, just this one time, they could have a successful ambush, but she knew that it was probably too much to ask for.

Superheroes, supervillains – these are normally pretty clear cut terms. One group fight on the side of good, the other on the side of “evil”. But in the real world, such terms are never as clear-cut as they appear in comics.

The Mighty Fwarriors considered themselves good, of course – who doesn't? Their attack on the Gold Chain Club to take out Disco Bull and his reign of capitalism came from nothing but the best of intentions.

But Disco Bull wasn't enslaving orphans, or planning to destroy the world. His focus was on bringing back the disco, bringing back the traditions of his parents' generation, creating a place where people could come and groove without the trappings and complications that the modern day had brought.

He'd banned drugs and he'd banned sex. But had he gone too far by banning mobile phones? The Mighty Fwarriors thought so, but without the clear division of “good” and “evil” it was hard to say.

Life is hard.

6MS: The Many (Fatal) Loves of Sal

I’m about to start my writing for the day, so I whipped out a 6 minute story. I kept an eye too close to the time, and so the program stopped letting me type with one word to go (and a typo in the final sentence.)

I considered fixing it before posting it here, but I’m confident that my readers can work out what I was trying to say. (or maybe not! There are two possible endings, now that I think about it. Which one I meant will never be known.)



Sal was in love.

A part of her felt that she’d always been in love, and almost each time with a different man. But this time she knew it was real. For this man, she’d been in love with twice.

Sal had first met Harold two years ago, when he was about to be hit by a falling piano. That was when she’d known it was love most true, love most divine.

If Sal possessed anything close to an introspective nature, she may have realised that each and every time she fell in love, it was with someone on the brink of tragedy, most often death.

There was Timothy, who had been diagnosed with cancer mere seconds before Sal had realised that their love was true and eternal. There was Michael, who had just found out that the mob had a hit out on him, and when he’d told Sal, she’d almost fallen to her knees and wept at the power of their love.

And now, when she saw Harold unwittingly walk into the path of a runaway train, she’d realised that this was love most tender, most pure. She’d realised that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Harold (or at least the rest of his life) – she wanted to be with him always, and share their deepest innermost thoughts and desires.

Sal’s hand went into her pocket, where the ring sat. She’d bought it on a whim, almost a decade ago, when she’d heard about a natural disaster taking out half of a city. Her heart had pined, she’d vowed to make sure that she always followed the path of love, and she’d walked into the nearest jewellers and purchased an engagement ring.

Now, at last, the opportunity to use it had come. Now, at last, she could enter into that most sacred covenant, pure bliss, the most holy of ceremonies.

Now, at last, she could get married.

She stepped forward to propose to Harold, who she hadn’t seen in so many years. She stepped forward to profess her love.

But bvefore she could, a train hit h

Read it on the site.

6MS: Passport Problems gives you a piece of creative commons stimulus and six minutes to write a story. No revisions are allowed; you have six minutes, and then you’re done.

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I looked at the passport, and then back up at the woman standing in front of me.

“Are you serious?” I asked, a puzzled look on my face.

She looked sad.

“What is to be funny?” she said, her broken English somehow endearing.

“I don’t know how they do things in…” I turned her passport over, and looked at the country name listed. It took up three lines, and many of the letters just looked like squiggles to me. “…your home country, but over here we do things differently.”

“Is me!” she smiled, and I felt my tough exterior melting slightly. “Is me, is true! I swear it to be!”

“Excuse me, sir.” Turning to the man behind her, I borrowed his passport to use as an example. “You see, your typical passport will have a photo like this in it. Yours…well for one, it looks hand-drawn.”

“Yes, yes!” she cried excitedly. “Is hand-drawn by Duke of Yoggolomoniantia! He best drawn hand in world. Passport is good, yes?”

“No, I…”

I sighed.

“Listen, I’m afraid that I can’t let you in. Not with this…I mean, for heaven’s sake, one of your tit is showing!”

“Is good tit!” she said, and started to remove her top to show me. “Is best tit in all of Hagroniantominialopskell! You like?”

I stared at her tit briefly, and then looked down at the passport.

“Oh,” I said. “I suppose it is you.”

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