Five Sentence Fiction

Below is a sample of Five Sentence Fiction I have written 
for Lillie McFerrin's weekly challenges since January 2012.
For more great challenges, check out her page HERE.

     Across the chasm that separated her from the encampment, behind a wall of twisted vines and angry mosquitos, Nora settled in with her camera. It had taken her weeks to get there - weeks of hard traveling by banana boat and overcrowded buses, a bribe here, a hard-won conversation with a local street vendor there.
     But it had paid off. Though she could not span the gap, Nora could see the atrocities unfolding in the camp that no one wanted to talk about, that the local government "couldn't find", that the outside world didn't know existed.
     Swallowing back the grief that threatened to swallow her whole, Nora focused her lens on the victims as they were lined up - one photo for each haunted soul she could not save.

     The haberdashery was no place for a lady - polite gentlemen, yes; but then gentlemen were supposed to go to the haberdasher for all their "elite particulars," as Auntie Mara always said.
     Beatrice, however, was determined to choose the perfect present for her fastidious fianc√©, no matter what Auntie or her wretched instructor at "finishing school" said on the matter. The shop owner was all politeness, but a bit frosty in his demeanor; but Beatrice chose to overlook it with all the faux grace of a headstrong girl used to getting her way.
     Upon leaving, however - one foot on the boardwalk, the door still creaking closed behind her - her own "progressive" notion of deportment withered at the sight of a dashing young man striding up the street, cane and gloves in hand.
     Heat rushed to Beatrice's face as she clutched her lapdog and thought bitterly: Be gracious, even if it kills you - that's what they taught at the school, isn't it?

     Through the wash of stained glass the room appeared almost throbbing, a tableau so intense that everything within it seemed wounded and raw. Light bled across the ornate furnishings, stealing their original beauty while infusing a macabre richness to every texture and polished surface. 
     The phonograph alone was revealed as a thing of beauty. A delicate flower of tinfoil and lacquered rosewood, it blossomed on its white stand, now tinged with anemic health in the cascading light. Alone and untouched it played as the handle wound down, pulling the needle through the final bars of "Maple Leaf Rag."

     Reaping souls was a grisly business - but curious too, and full of surprises. The final gasp, a last look of wonder (or terror), a squeaky question forced through a dying breath...there was no way to know how a person would ultimately face death until the last second.     
     Welsan hadn't filled his soul-glass in a while. His customers weren't happy; they'd been begging for a fresh supply for weeks - but he wasn't worried. Murder and war, plague and massacre all thrived in the world, and it was his duty to know where to find them.

     West of the icy lake there was a windfall of broken firs, and there I fled like a tormented animal. From my snowy march earlier in the day, I knew the trees had fallen round a tangle of old barbed wire fencing, and hoped the wicked metal would rout the little demons.
     Puncture wounds and a little rust-burn made no difference to me, if it would restore my sanity.
     I burrowed through the snow into resin-scented shadow, scrabbling at the wire, feeling the barbs catch at my skin as I cringed against the hypnotic voices that wormed into my ears:
          We sing your blood and lick your bones
                 And glance between your ribs and toes
                          To know what makes you fear and cloy
                                 And what will drive you mad with joy...

     I stood before his office door, steeling myself for this long-delayed conversation. My fingers knuckled round the door-latch as I sucked a sharp breath between my teeth, forcing back every skittish thought and worrisome doubt that plagued me. What if, what if, what if...?
     Can't go there - you are strong, you are ready, you are the better person, you are right, I told myself.
     I held onto that one thought, twisted the door-latch, and went in.

     My skin comes alive on its own, rippling inward, backward, up my neck with a suddenness that makes me stop and pinch my eyes shut.  I breathe through my nose and hold my wrist to my forehead, feeling for the feverish warmth I know is there.
     Can’t get sick - not now, I tell myself (knowing there never is a good time to be sick.) Three jobs, two tutoring students – and when am I ever going to be able to make more pottery, at this rate?
     I wait till my skin recoils to its usual state of affairs, and make a beeline for the medicine cabinet.

     Drought is murder.
     Growing toward the sky and the center of the earth in all seasons, my one lust is for water. My roots spread wide, grope deep, branches clawing the air for any taste of moisture as insects burrow into my skin to suck my sap dry. I give what I can, but it is not enough - for either of us.
     Then, in the distance - a peal of thunder.

     Harsh defiance stood between her and freedom, though she could not see it. She was perpetually sore from straining against it, her face splayed grotesquely against the transparent wall, while the rest of her body folded into a cage so narrow it took up virtually no room. Though so cruelly distorted, her vision was not - a cruel gift by those who had ensnared her. She could see through her glass wall into a vibrant world, full of life and beauty and color - a dream from which she was forever barred.
     And all because she was gifted in one pitiful strand of prophecy, enabling her to tell dangerous flattery to whoever muttered: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall..."


  1. Wow! Fantastic, I'm sooo gonna have to try this! Yearning is so powerful...well, they all are! You have a gift :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Corey! And if you haven't participated in Five Sentence Fiction before now, I would heartily recommend it. They are great quick challenges meant for sharpening your writing skills.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Wow, "Yearning" IS powerful. And I love the Five-Sentence Fiction idea. Nice work.