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In brief, Flash Fiction is a short form of storytelling. Purists consider 75 – 100 words the limit. Less-rigid purists say 1000 words or less. 250 – 350 words are what I tend towards.
Though the form is extremely short, it is not a medium that tolerates fragmented storytelling. The biggest challenge is to tell a complete story in which every word is meaty, to strip away the fluff until all that remains is a tough, clean-scraped core of a story that fixes itself firmly in the mind of the reader.
According to Wikipedia: (and I completely agree) “Flash Fiction differs from a vignette in that it contains classic story-telling elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or confrontation, and resolution.” That being said …
This nightmare came through me early morning as I slept. And from that disturbing experience this allegory was birthed. Whether physical or spiritual, forces manifest, at times, to disrupt our lives in an insidious quest to make our minds a domicile for unrest, fear and lies.
'Sanctuary' is a hybrid of poetry and prose
dramatized photograph by Russell Cederberg
In cadenced fury
Ravaged the shoreline.
Roosted atop jagged cliffs
A weathered cottage creaked
In quicksilver winds.
Even the fearless
Would be foolish
To venture out on
A night that clawed
At the senses as darkly as this ……
A sudden punctuated
Knocking rattled the wooden door.
Jolted from dreams, my tired bleary eyes
Focused on a twisted human face squinting
Through the window; his wet cloak clung to him;
The pounding became frenzied.
“What do you want?” I blurted in affected tenor
“Sanctuary,” a darkened voice growled
In that instant
My life flashed in
Brief sketches before my eyes;
A kaleidoscope of grainy grays and
Superable images washed through me;
Something was amiss, terribly amiss
As sharpened steel this sinister
Sound had somehow sliced through the
Aging gristle of sedentary ramparts, and then,
To worsen matters, a sense of inadequacy was devouring
Me now in great gulps; I felt vulnerable, condemned, doomed.
Again the perfervid knocking jarred my nerves.
“A moment please,” I cried out, nervously
Fumbling for my slippers
Outside, as vivid white lightening
Etched the atmosphere in hot traceries,
Thunder exploded like cannonade in battle.
Clammy voices were murmuring (in my brain)
Doleful elegies to one banished now to the far
Doldrums of Horse Latitudes
In that small window the
Waning fire was casting eerie
Shadows on a weatherworn face; his
Stringy hair danced wet in blustering wind
Again the door shook and
Old hinges groaned in protest.
“What do you want?” I cried out despairingly.
“SANCTUARY” The voice roared maniacally.
“There is no room and I am not alone,” was my courageous reply,
“I am armed fiend, so be gone, and take your accursed turmoil with you!”
Cursing me bitterly, the figure turned and vanished into the darkness.
Soon thereafter the fierceness of all I had imagined lessened.
richard lloyd cederberg
A Monumental Journey Novels
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|Reviewed by C. McGovern-Bowen
|always be true to one's instincts...
truly exceptional piece, richard.
|Reviewed by Lynette Bat-Abba
|Sir Richard, that just scared the crap out of me! I had to go read it again to see how you did it, then read it again and look up words I didn't know. "Flash Fiction"....thank you for the info I NEVER heard of in school. Sure wish you taught somewhere. I would be in the front row and taking notes, notes, notes, probably asking too many questions.
"the figure turned and vanished into the darkness"
I don't want it in little Kansas! I just locked my door.
|Reviewed by Holly Ibbitson (Reader)
|Richard, can you write! ENJOYED!
|Reviewed by Sheila Roy
This is a fascinating piece. I'd like to see you embrace this style more often, because it's the perfect vehicle for your vivid word choices. I think with all the world tragedy and odd weather, I've been thinking end of world scenarios. Perhaps that's why this story of yours reminds me end-of-days. There's supposed to be a time when we'll need to husband resources and not go outside and not answer the door. It's that moment specifically I 'see' in your poem. For the person at the door looks like our 'sister', but she's probably not what she seems. Opening the door, even to a trusted person, could spell disaster. The Scorpio in me wants to see more in this, too. I can't help but wonder if the teller/dreamer is struggling with the decision to trust someone close - with a secret, money, feelings.... Excellent writing. Love and Hugs,
|Reviewed by Susan de Vegter
There was a knock upon my door while reading this and I JUMPED.
Wow! Richard Cederberg...you have a winner!!!
|Reviewed by Liana Margiva
|EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!! Liana Margiva|
|Reviewed by Georg Mateos
|Somewhere in your story you pushed me inside Alighieri's nightmarish inferno, because, like there, there's no sanctuary for the sinners.
On the philosophical side of storytelling, sharing one of your nightmares with your peers which such literary purity let only place for one word..."kudos!"
|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|you are such a talented writer-i am always in awe of your talent|
|Reviewed by Ann Marquette
|Scary write, but scarier is the face painted by your brother :-)|
|Reviewed by Andy Turner
|Deleted what I was going to say. I can't do it justice with my limited diction.
But. This is very poesque. It does have the feel of powerful novel.
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|Your brother casts a fiercesome image. If that was at the door, I doubt it could be turned away.
|Reviewed by John Flanagan
|When we read, there are levels of satisfaction and this dramatic piece offers the very highest, Richard - you hold, you inform, you frighten, you resolve...all the elements of fine narrative and storytelling.
And Russell's artwork is mightily impressive, too.
|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|I wish I had your talent or your brothers...but I'd probably waste it like I do with everything I have or get...enjoyed this horrific offering...Ed|
|Reviewed by E T Waldron
|Chum,I feel privileged to read your incredibly gifted work(and your brother's art,too) You are both richly blessed with talent! Thank you for sharing. This was a chilling pleasure to read!
|Reviewed by Leslie Hoffman
|Richard, I compliment you and your brother, Russell, for the exceptional talent you both possess. Your dream memory is astounding. As a reader, you took me into the nightmare with you. I am unsettled, but triumphant--your strength of character having warded off the fiend. Thank you, also, for the brief Flash Fiction lesson, a form I'm currently exploring. ~leslie|
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|Grisly, almost, recreation of the dream which probably had you fully awake and sweating sour droplets. To stave of the menace you had to did down deep and find the courage you possibly did not realize you had. But when that courage was unleased upon the nasty's beckoning at your chamber's door. The dastardly coward slipped away to find another dream to pester . . .|
|Reviewed by Douglas Bentley
|In review of your poetry, Richard, this is quite extraordinary. Filled
with graphic imagines only a dream could produce. Virtually what I would describe as Apocalyptic. As to the context of the poem, It was quite disturbing. Your preciseness to detail astonished me.
|Reviewed by The Poetess
|Very intelectually powerful.|
|Reviewed by Peter Schlosser (Reader)
|I hope to someday be able to write like this. You inspire one to perservere Richard. The only thing larger than your incredible brain is the spirit which drives your pen. Quite a combination. In layman's terms: cool story!!|