Monday Flash Fics — “Pick-Up”

Trying to get back on my regular posting schedule again. Post-holiday, there was the whole awful explosion in the romance community, and then I got sick and… well, anyway. I’m working on edits for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, as well as final proofs for Of Echoes Born, and it’s time to give myself a moment to just revel in inspiration. So, back to Monday Flash Fics, which this week, brought this little gem:

Monday Flash Fic


The take-a-few-more-steps-and-turn-to-check thing is old hat, but the classics stay for a reason. You see the cute guy, you pass by, and then, a couple of steps later, you turn back to look. If he’s also looking at you?


I’m maybe not as overt as all that, but I’ve done it. I’ve even done more than just smile at the guy once it happens, though only the once, and it turned into a coffee date that didn’t repeat. Still, there’s a kind of happiness in those turn-and-look moments. You get to revel in a split second or two of not only not being alone, but also of being in the company of someone who finds you attractive.

Sometimes, you wink. Sometimes, you say “Hi,” even. Usually? You just smile, and then you both walk on, enjoying the moment.

But this was different.


I’m not GenTech. I should be clear about that. No one mixed and matched DNA to suit their purposes and then stirred for nine months until—voila!—freak cake, ready for frosting. No, I’m something different. Worse, according to most.

All that stuff the GenTech people can do? They learned it from somewhere. I got my stuff the old-fashioned way.

I inherited it.

That I’m living in Canada is one of the few reasons I’m still walking around, of course. No required screenings at birth. I’m lucky. But with the world government looming, and the pressure on the True North Strong and Free, I’m thinking soon enough it’ll just be the True North Strong, and then…


Then I don’t know. Given how the United Earth Charter seems so very, very clear on what is and isn’t human, I’m guessing it’ll be best if I find somewhere else to be. Mars, maybe, though lord knows the Reds aren’t much better. Luna?

Alone in my apartment, I practice. I’m not a teep, thankfully: I can’t imagine how in the world teeps stay off the radar. How would you even practice not thinking too loud? But I’m a teek, and a strong one, I think.

It’s not like there’s a lot of easily accessed information about it. And I don’t go searching, since I’m sure they watch out for people who search that stuff.

I can lift a lot—I’ve lifted my entire set of weights, and it barely feels like effort these days. I can lift myself, too, which was hard to figure out and I dropped myself often at first. The idea is to be so good at what I do that I don’t do it when I’m surprised. Or scared. Or shocked.

Which makes what just happened so dangerous.


I probably would have looked at him regardless. That’s the frustrating thing. He’s handsome. I’m not as keen on his black suit—not flattering, snub collared, so very blend-in-and-take-no-notice—but then again, that’s more or less what I’m wearing, too.

But that’s not why I turned.

It was the hum.

The closer he got to me, he walking his way, me walking mine, passing on an empty street in the night, the louder that hum got. Except it wasn’t a noise. It was… vibration.

Between us.

I could feel it happening and couldn’t stop it in time. An instinct kicked in. Found something similar and… reached out.

Three steps after, I turned, realizing with a cold shock what I’d done.

The look on his face matched mine, I imagine.

We were both about an inch off the ground. It wasn’t on purpose. My teek had just sort of picked him up.

His had done the same to me.

“Hi,” I said. My voice cracked.

“Hey.” He barely managed the word.

We both lowered to the ground.

Now what?



March Flash Fiction Draw Roundup

The stories are in! First thing first? Huge appreciative thanks to everyone who took part. Recent events in queer romance have us all a little dented, I think, so focusing on a romance flash fiction piece might have been some pretty awful timing, but I’m so happy to see such wonderful stories. You’re all amazing.

So, what is this?

Well, the Flash Fiction Draw is basically a randomized card-draw that spits out a genre, an object, and a location, after which writers have a week to come up with up to 1,000 words that fit the criteria. It’s meant to be for fun and inspiration, rather than for serious competition. I do a draw on the first Monday of every month (the next draw will be April 2nd, if you want to join in) and post results the following Monday, updating the post as I find new stories writers have written.

These were the cards drawn (and what they meant):

Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Given “Romance,” “A VHS Cassette,” and “A Fire Watch Tower,” are you ready for the results?

Here they are, alphabetically by contributor:

Lilly Amadu wrote “Light My Fire.”
Jeff Baker wrote “The Men Upstairs.”
‘Nathan Burgoine (that’s me) wrote “Where There Was Smoke.”
Alex deMorra wrote “Everything Was Fine.”
Cait Gordon wrote “I Wont Fogget About You.”
Elizabeth Lister wrote “Scrabble.”
Ralph Seligman-Courtois wrote “Guard on Duty.”
E.H. Timms wrote “Flapjack and Fire-towers.”
Jamieson Wolf wrote “The Colour of Our Love.”

Did I miss your entry? Let me know and I’ll add you to the list! And by all means join us next month, when I do the draw again on April 2nd. And if you want to see what people came up with for previous stories? The round-up for January (which was “A Fairy Tale,” “A Tattoo Machine,” and “A Prison”) is here. And the round-up for February (which was “A Crime Caper,” “A Compass,” and “A Soup Kitchen”) is here.

Where There Was Smoke — A Flash Fiction Draw Challenge

Here’s my entry for the first Flash Fiction Draw Challenge (the post for the original March draw is here). In case you didn’t know about this challenge, there’s a video here explaining (and showing the third draw), but the quick version: I used a deck of cards (three suits) to randomly put together a genre (in this case: romance), a location (in this case: a fire watch tower) and an object (in this case: a VHS cassette) and challenged anyone who wanted to play to write something over the next week, with a maximum of 1,000 words.

I ended up being inspired by something Jeffrey Ricker said, and went with a meet-cute romance, though with my usual lens of something spec-fic.

Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Where There Was Smoke

When his search for more about Richard Grant led to fire watch towers, Sal once again felt like he’d been born late.

Not really. A student of history loved history, but the present—being legally protected, say—was good.

But a forest job with minimal contact? Sounded great most days. Way better than chasing queer ghosts.

Not literal ghosts, of course, although ghost-hunting had helped. His first awareness of Grant had been due to an overwrought 80’s ghost-hunter episode.

Homo Haunt of Fire Watch 17.

It started with a footnote a buddy sent him, but forgotten queer history was his field of study. Sal tracked down the paper itself. The footnote referenced the defunct television show, and he’d endured bidding online with fans for the episode.

Winning a VHS cassette hadn’t felt like winning. He’d had to buy a VCR just to watch it.

The host—bleached 80’s hunk with a penchant for speaking as though required to use fifty exclamation marks per half-hour episode—had delighted in the story of the haunted fire watch tower and disappearance of the man who’d signaled the rare root fire that destroyed most of the forest. The ranger was never seen again. The queer thing came later: the host claimed police found “things” in the man’s house, “tainting his hero with homo!”

Sal hated the 80’s.

They’d filmed the episode in Fire Watch Tower 17. The host and his very buxom episode guest both claimed to smell smoke. There was even an onscreen haze in the air itself before they’d run—he shirtless and she barely buttoned—and claimed the haunting a success.

It wasn’t riveting television, but the history panned out. Richard Grant indeed called in the first signs of root fire, and he likely saved many lives of the small town that was razed to the ground by the sudden explosion of flames.

And then he vanished.

And later, yes, “discoveries” were made.

Climbing into the tower, Sal decided it was a lovely place to spend summer. He wondered how much of the original structure was intact. It was rented via online reservations now. Most fire watch towers no longer served their original task.

It had been a whim, but this would be a quiet place to collate his research and write up the chapter for his book on Richard Grant. He cracked screened windows and cross breezes cooled the place.

The bed looked comfortable. The desk was small but functional. And the view—three hundred and sixty degrees—was incredible.

Obviously, the forest had grown back over eighty years.

“No queers forgotten,” Sal said. It was his motto. He put the photograph of Grant up on the desk. It didn’t hurt the man in question resembled a young Oliver Sachs, circa leather-jacket-and-motorcycle. Grant wore a park services uniform, not leather, but he did it very well.

Born in the wrong year.

History crushes sucked.

He’d been editing for hours when he sneezed. His eyes watered, too. He frowned, blinking, and then it hit him…


He stood up, and turned, wondering what—

The smoke vanished. The smell, the sting, all of it.

He coughed once.

“Okay,” he said.

He sat back down. Grant’s disappearance was everywhere; his lap-top, notebooks, and scanned newspapers. After reporting a root fire ready to destroy the valley, he’d just disappeared. Assumption claimed he made a run for it, got caught in the smoke or flames. The tower had withstood, but the smoke would have been too much.

Sal read it all again. If only there’d been a way through.

He coughed.

The smoke was back. He stared, seeing it curl in the air around him, then rose from the chair. He wasn’t losing his mind. This was smoke. He turned—

It was gone.

“Nope,” Sal said. He grabbed his papers, files, lap-top and charger, and packed it into his backpack. He’d hit a motel, or sleep in his car, but screw Fire Watch Tower 17. He turned again, ready to leave.

The brightness of a summer day greeted him. Which wasn’t right, given how late at night it was.

Also, Richard Grant was staring at him.

“Where did you come from?” Grant said. He eyed Sal, not worried or even upset. Just curious.

Sal supposed he looked like a camper.

“You…” Sal managed. He turned again, and the daylight vanished.

It was a spot, he realized. A spot in the tower. An angle of looking. A very specific place, too. Sweat broke out across his forehead, and he retreated, turning slightly.

Richard Grant was still staring at him, only now he looked surprised. Sal wondered if he’d been popping in and out.

“You’re even more handsome in person,” Sal said. Which was dumb. It wasn’t exactly the most important thing.


“I’m sorry,” Sal said. “It’s just…” Just what? “There’s a root fire. This whole valley. It’s… It’s going to be bad.”

Richard Grant turned and grabbed a small CB radio within seconds. He didn’t hestitate. Sal looked out over the sunny day. He didn’t see smoke. Not yet.

Richard’s voice never rose, but by the time he was done reporting, it had begun. Sal could see plumes of smoke appearing all around them. The roots of the trees had caught fire, beneath the ground. It would be death out there, any moment.

He just had to pivot, and turn, and he could go home.


He vanishes, Sal thought. He just vanishes.

“Richard,” he said.

The ranger turned. He saw the smoke. He nodded at Sal. There was respect in that nod. And understanding, too. They were both likely to die now.

Sal held out his hand.

When Richard took it to shake, Sal pulled and turned.

Richard Grant knocked him over, heavy. They landed hard.

In the dark.

No daylight. No smoke.

They were face-to-face.

“Um. Hi,” Sal said.

Richard rose on his elbows, looking down at him. Still calm. Still handsome. “What… Where?”

“Actually,” Sal said. “It’s more of a when.”




March Flash Fiction Draw

Aloha! (I say that because I’m in Hawai’i.)

As a kind of challenge to myself (and anyone else who wanted to try), last January I started a year-long monthly Flash Fiction Draw Challenge.

The first draw (which was a Fairy Tale involving a Tattoo Machine set in a Prison!) and the results were fantastic in January, and February’s draw (Crime Caper, Compass, Soup Kitchen) and results were—I think the general sentiment agreed—much more of a challenge. Well, it’s the first Monday of March, so I’m back and I’ve made the third round of draws.

I made a video of it (you can go check that out on my Facebook page if you want).

The chart from which the draws were made was this (minus the cards from previous draws, greyed out):

Flash Fiction Draw Chart

And the result for March? Ace of clubs, jack of diamonds, and queen of hearts. Which means anyone who wants to play along is going to write a flash fiction piece of 1,000 words within the following guidelines: a romance, involving a VHS cassette, set in a firewatch tower.

If you do participate, please pop a link to this post, or to the Facebook video above so I can gather all the stories again for a round-up post next week.

But the most important thing? This is supposed to be fun and inspiring. If it’s not working for you, take a pass. There’ll be another challenge on the first Monday of April (that’s April 2nd), from the remaining ten items on the list. The “rules” such as they are are pretty limited: You have to use the genre, the item, and the setting (though you can play a bit fast and loose within those guidelines), no more than 1,000 words, and the piece needs to be finished by next Monday (March 12th). That’s it.



Flash Fiction Draw March Result

Friday Flash Fics — Sand & Shore

Today’s Friday Flash Fics shot made me think of “Time & Tide.” That story is set in my fictional town of Fuca, British Columbia, where some of the families have a connection to various elements, and it first appeared in The Touch of the Sea. So I thought revisiting the fellows a little while after the events in the story was in order.

Flash FridayHe’s staring out at the ocean again.

I know I shouldn’t worry, but it’s hard not to. I mean, given what happened with his mother, and who he is, I guess worrying isn’t completely out of the question, but he swore the ocean hasn’t called to him since he decided to stay in Fuca, and I believe him.

So, it’s not that I’m worried the ocean will take him. Really.

It’s more that I don’t know what the ocean is saying to him now.

It’s easy to put a smile in place, though, and it’s not even false. Because he’s here. He’s staying here.

With me.

“Hey you,” I said.

Dylan turns, and a ghost of something passes over his face for just a second. I know he’s been crying, but I don’t think he’s upset or sad.

Even though we’re close to the water, I reach out and take his hand.

As usual, the sea reacts. The next wave splashes up high at us, even though it crests gently everywhere else along the beach. Dylan laughs, and that’s when I feel it, too.

It’s changed.

That splash—the ocean—it felt different.

Not painful, not willful, not even pleading.

The next wave comes in, and Dylan wraps his arm around me before I can pull away. I throw my own arm around his neck.

When the ocean touches our feet it sprays up at us, a jet of water.


That’s it. That’s the difference.

“That’s new,” I say.

“I think we’ve come to an understanding,” Dylan says. He kisses my forehead.

The next wave barely splashes at all. In fact, it almost feels like a loving squeeze around my ankles. Closer to what I feel from rivers, which speak to me the same way the ocean speaks to Dylan.

It’s… loving.

“I like this understanding,” I say.

“Yeah.” Dylan squeezes me, too. “So. My agent thinks the sundial piece is worth recreating, in multiple towns.”

“Of course she does.” I try not to be too harsh about her. She’s kind of a force of nature, and Dylan’s successes are in some ways owed to her. “But if it means travel, I hope you told her it would have to wait.”

“I did. But it doesn’t. I can work from here. Also, there’s a little gallery all the way in Ottawa that she knows. Features queer artists, she said. I could work some pieces for them, too.” He grins down at me. “Apparently? She was nervous I’d get all settled and content and never sculpt again.”

“Someone needs to tell her artists don’t have to be tortured.”

“I don’t know. You’re still trying to get me to cut down on coffee.”

“It’s not in the hundred-mile diet.”

“See? Torture.”

We stand in silence for a little while. The ocean strokes our feet.

“I’m just kidding about the coffee.” I bump my shoulder against his. “You know that, right?”

“I know.” He smiles.

“Want some?”

“God yes.”

We head back to our new home.

Behind us, the ocean says something to him that I can’t quite hear. Ahead, though, I can feel the river as it leads to the strait, like little shivers of happy laughter.

It feels like that a lot these days.


Monday Flash Fics — Temporal

Today’s Monday Flash Fics photo struck me as a wee bit historical (the hairstyle, the glasses, a stack of DVDs and video games and books and the watch and a man reading a physical newspaper), so I decided I’d found my Joey Brown. If you want to see him as a younger man, meeting someone very strange, he first appeared in another flash fic piece, Argot Status Green.

Flash Monday


Joe closed the newspaper with a sigh. Bad news, worse news, and…

Stop it. Stop thinking like that.

He checked his watch. The day was running away from him, but he’d earned the sloth. He was home late last night after the clinic. His volunteer hours had turned out to be more like a volunteer day.

And night.

Making positive into a positive.

He rubbed his eyes. Maybe another cup of coffee.

He leaned back on the stool, considering, and one of his sandals fell off his foot.

“If I believed in omens,” he said. “I’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Someone knocked on his door.

Joe frowned, then shook his head. If it had been someone from outside the building, they’d have called to be buzzed in, so it probably meant it was Delilah from across the way. At least he didn’t need to find clothes. Delilah was the butchiest dyke he’d ever met—and he’d met many—and wouldn’t so much as blink if he wandered around naked. He was wearing underwear and sandals. It would be fine.

Well, underwear and one sandal.

Another round of knocking drew him from his half-reverie.

“Sorry,” he said, and put down his paper. He crossed his kitchen to the door to the apartment and undid the locks.

When he threw open the door, he froze.

It was him.

“Joey Brown,” the man said.

Joe croaked something, swallowed, and tried again. “You.”

The smile was completely disarming.

“May I enter, Joey Brown?”

Joe took an involuntary step back. He sounded the same. He looked the same. Like, identical. Okay, maybe he had new clothes—he still had that hat, though—and he looked a whole lot less like…whatever he’d looked like, but… It was him. The beard. The eyes.

“Ahn,” Joe said.

Ahn smiled. “Hello.”

Joe closed the door. “I didn’t… I wasn’t sure…” He shook his head. What happened to complete sentences? He used to know how to do those. “You’re back.”

“Nine point six years,” Ahn said.

“Right,” Joe said. “You did say that.” It hit him he was standing in front of Ahn in his underwear and one sandal. “Uh. Let me put some clothes on.”

“Okay.” Ahn was looking around the room.

“Be right back,” Joe said. He went into the small bedroom and grabbed some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. He put the single sandal back on, too. He ran his hand through his hair a few times, eyeing his reflection.

Ahn looked exactly the same. Like, exactly. Who kept the same hairstyle for ten—sorry, nine point six—years?

When he came back out into the room, Ahn was standing by his computer, and he had his hand on top of the monitor.

“How did you get into the building?” Joe asked, then winced when Ahn looked at him with a mild widening of his eyes. “Sorry. I don’t mind. It’s just, there’s a buzzer…”

“Ah, I did that wrong.”

“You look exactly the same,” Joe blurted.

Ahn regarded him for a long moment. It looked like he was deciding something.

“Ahn?” Joe said.

“I am,” Ahn said.


“I am. Exactly the same.”

Joe frowned, and climbed back onto his stool. “You’ve lost me.”

“I did not. I sought you out. I need help.”

“You have a very strange way of speaking, you know that?”

“I do. I am learning, but I will improve.” Ahn let go of his computer. “You are well?”

“I am.” Joe frowned. “And you knew that already, didn’t you? How did you know that?”

Ahn eyed the books on his bookshelf. “Many of these are scienctific fiction, yes?”

Joe nodded. “Yes.”


“Temp…” It took him a second. “You mean time travel?”

“I mean time travel.” Ahn nodded. And he smiled again. “I am glad you are well.”

“Ahn, what exactly does that have to do with anything?”

“Joey Brown,” Ahn said. “I need your help. With something temporal.”

Joe’s other sandal slipped from his foot.