Flash Fiction: Wired

wired

Peter pushes the spade into the clay and is booted backwards, his insides buzzing and his hair raised. He finds a frayed cable in the soil and tugs, touching only the plastic coating. It lifts out like a pulled thread, peeling off across an overgrown flowerbed towards the house.

He follows it, or rather lets it lead: up against the portico, tucked into the grouting. He looks up, squints. The wire reaches the second floor and disappears into a corner of a window frame; his bedroom.

Inside, he finds the wire under the window seat. A tiny camera attached to the end.

***

This is a 100-word story for the Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to read some more inspired by the picture (this week provided by Connie Gayer) or here to join in and write your own.

***

Yesterday the Goodreads book awards were launched, and it would be great if you’d vote for my book, Our Endless Numbered Days. You need to log into, or join Goodreads, and then scroll down the page to get to the ‘Write-in Vote’ box and type in Our Endless Numbered Days and click vote. And you can then do the same for the fiction category (on the left) if you’re so inclined. If you get through all that – thank you!

50 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Wired

  1. Haha my imagination is running riot again! I was thinking of you earlier while reading Kim’s review on ReadingMatters for Martin John by Anakana Schofield:http://readingmattersblog.com/2015/11/04/martin-john-by-anakana-schofield/

    Intrigued how the author makes a discomfiting premise into a possible winner. It could go horribly wrong but sounds like she’s done a great job when Kim says:

    ‘the book works on the basis that the reader has to fill in most of the gaps’

    made me think of how effective your flash fictions are in achieving this.

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  2. What a terrifying discovery! An excellent story.

    ConCrit-
    I love how you describe the moment of electrocution. It’s a good example of how to “show, don’t tell.”
    I do wonder what the camera was watching. Does he live alone, or have a wife/husband? Is there a mistress or perhaps a string of illicit affairs? Or maybe he’s a fashion guru stitching what will launch him into world-wide fame. I humbly offer that the second paragraph could be cut, removing the explanation “up against the portico, tucked into the grouting. He squints, looks up.” I’m satisfied knowing he lets it lead him, and then with the image of the second story window, I know he looks up. Cutting the further explanation provides 12 words to explain what is going on in his bedroom.

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    • That’s a really good point – you don’t need to know that he looks up if he sees a second floor window. But, I might not use my extra words for what’s going on in his bedroom. I quite like the reader (in these short pieces) using their imagination. Thank you though for the extra words – I’ll have a think about what I can use them for.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another good unnerving moment. Whenever I dig in the garden I remain hopeful of a long lost curiosity. At the back of our property is a gigantic (4” diameter cable). When I first discovered it, I called in the district services and they came pretty swiftly. They were a Laurel and Hardy team, they inspected and tested very gingerly, but with much clowning. Then they produced a Brobdignagion cable cutter and dared each other to have a go. Finally, one of them seized the machine and put his whole weight on the arm, it sliced through and the cable was pronounced dead. They declined to remove it though, so we still have the open end of the cable in the compost heap at the back of the garden!

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  4. Well-told tale. Hmm… makes you wonder if he really is a regular “Joe-Blow” or someone worth spying on…
    I will have to buy your book! I always like to encourage my fellow bloggers.

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  5. I liked the ‘peeling off across the overgrown flowerbed’. It generated a mental picture of the way tree roots emerge from the soil when you’re trying to pull them out. Good piece.

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  6. Dear Claire,

    You gave a clear picture of the cable as he pulled it from the soil. I liked that he only touched the plastic coating. Although you don’t tell us why, we should know. 😉 Of course you’ve left my imagination to run wild as to why his bedroom is bugged. Well done as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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  7. Intriguing!
    I think leaving a lot to the reader is very effective. But I’m wondering, if you did cut any words, if we could at the end turn with Peter to look directly at where the actual camera is aimed, even if it was mostly kept to our imagination. I really like, ‘He looks up,squints’ because of that aspect of being right there with Peter, in the act of looking up (which is why lifts and peeling work for me, because I can see Peter lifting and peeling). So there’s some contradictory advice for you!
    Good story.

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    • Thank you. I love that idea that he looks directly at the camera at the end (although that would be creepier if the wire wasn’t cut), but I don’t have any spare words unless I cut the looking up bit. Oh contradictory advice! 😉

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  8. What a great last line (in a well crafted story). C– I liked the slow approach to the surprising end, if you’d take that out, the surprise would be in the middle and lose its punch. I’m not all that interested who or why the camera was there, just that it was, and the way he found it. I love the phrase, “is booted backwards…” this makes it really physical.

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  9. he finds it under the window seat – In this sentence I would try to name “it” although I think that would take you over the 100 word limit. “It” takes away from the finding of the camera.

    Otherwise – well constructed and intriguing. Leaves a body wondering . . .

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  10. HI Claire, i enjoyed this tale of mystery and felt Peter’s unspoken “uh-oh” when he realises he is being watched. I like the open ending but my only criticism would be that it is maybe too open – we don’t know enough about Peter or his circumstances to be able to guess who was watching him or why. I know we only have 100 words, and yours were well-crafted, but I felt a pointer or two would help.

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  11. Enjoyed reading this and imagining who is watching Peter and why.
    C – As Sandra said, they description of the cable peeling across the flowerbed is really good. There are lots of strong images – Peter squinting, the pulled thread, buzzing insides.
    The sense of intrigue is also well built.
    On the critical side, I don’t get a sense of electric shock from ‘booted backwards’ – ‘shot/ flew back’ would give a stronger sense of movement. Also, really niggling, I’d swap only and touching around.

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    • I’m going to disagree with you on ‘booted backwards’ – writer’s prerogative 🙂 But I do agree with you on touching and only. I’m not sure why but it definitely works better the other way round, so I’ve changed it. Thank you! Niggling is good!

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  12. Under his window seat leads me to suspect that he’s a voyeur and the the person wiring his seat might just be a proctologist, otherwise the lamp by his bed would have been wired, which would have made the person who did the wiring a possible voyeur and the person in bed a possible proctologist.
    Who knows?

    Bottoms up.

    Randy

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  13. C – The images of the electrocution and following the wire were strong and worked excellently. The pace of the story giving the details of the “portico”, “grouting ” etc was good and aided in the visual imagination process.
    My subjective feedback as a reader : The end was kind of expected (because “his bedroom” led my mind to a hidden camera ) so the last sentence felt more like a validation than a twist.
    If the intent was to leave the reader wanting more and imaginating a whole host of outcomes , then this flash worked very well.

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    • Interesting that you were perhaps looking for a twist, because I wasn’t meaning to write one, just as you say to leave the reader imagining things. I’m thinking about writing an article about readers coming to expect twists in what they read. If you have an opinion I’d be really interested in it.

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      • I was looking for a ‘twist’ maybe because that seems to be the trend in the flash fiction genre…although I do not necessarily follow that pattern myself al the time. I’d be interested in reading your article about readers. As a mystery reader, I expect twists – when I’m reading literary type books I do not “need” or expect twists.

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