Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Winning Week

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Feb 03 2019

I had the good fortune of winning both Cara Michaels#MenageMonday as judged by Ruth Long this week AND Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads as judged by Cara Michaels! Winning either of those is a pretty great accomplishment–though for any writers seeing this, I recommend giving them a shot anyway just for the excellent practice and to see all the great stories. Winning both of them, I just don’t have the words.

So instead, I’m letting you guys have both stories! The first is from my Fantasy Fighter universe which you can learn more about on this site, and the second from a Magical Girl Alternate Universe of my Four Elven Sisters story which you can learn more about on my Twitter account.

“Hazuki, your grandmother fell…”

Hazuki Akiyama rushed past her mother to her grandmother’s bedside. The room was warm, but the tiny teenager had no coat to add to those by the door. She had stayed in America an extra week, but hadn’t expected to come home to this. Her grandmother was even smaller than Hazuki, and appeared to be sleeping. Hazuki took the old woman’s hand.

“Gran-gran…” Hazuki’s voice caught in her throat. “You said there was a new demon in town. Why didn’t you wait for me?”

“A demon?!” Mrs. Hamada, their neighbor, gasped from the other side of the bed.

Suddenly aware of the other person in the room, Hazuki clammed up. Hazuki’s mother cleared her throat and placed a hand on Mrs. Hamada’s shoulder.

“Whether they are dealing with fact or fiction, Hazuki and her grandmother are very close. Why don’t you and I have some tea?”

Hazuki’s mother winked at her daughter as she escorted Mrs. Hamada out of the room. Once Hazuki was alone with her grandmother she took a breath and returned her focus to her mentor.

“I’m the hero now, Gran-gran. But I’m not ready to do this without you. Please, come back to me.”

The old woman sat up with a hacking cough, then blinked until her eyes refocused.

“I can’t be gotten rid of that easily, Hazu-chan. I was just astral projecting to make sure the demon didn’t try to slip away while I waited for you. Let’s get the bastard.”

The dopey dog that hung out on the corner was no longer what anyone would call little. An infusion of dark energy blew his bug eyes up like balloons, lifting his head to his new height of eight feet. Burn patterns leading up the street suggested his salivary problem had become more aggressively acidic too.

Esmeralda clenched the Crystal Arrowhead in her fist and took a deep breath. The darkness had never attached itself to an animal before. How was she going to calm his spirit to seal the breach? Before she could transform into the magical archer, Vedania, she felt a tug on her sleeve.

“Can I help you catch him?”

It was the sophomore, Coco, clutching the Crown of Heaven with hope shining in her eyes. Esmeralda gave Coco the Crown last week to save both of their lives. Still, it bothered the senior how much the younger girl enjoyed turning into an elf and saving the day. This wasn’t a game.

“Any idea how we do that?” Esmeralda dodged the question.

“Yes!” Coco slammed the crown on her head.

In an instant the underclassman’s stupid pigtails fell off, her ears became pointed, and the Crown transformed into a halo. Now the magical saint, Oaklie, was dressed in a floofy gold party dress instead of Coco’s school clothes. She even loved their sickeningly girly costumes. This wasn’t dress up, either.

“Douglas loves scritches behind his right ear!” Oaklie pointed ahead as wings of light sprouted from her back.

New Year’s Revolution Blog Hop

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Jan 27 2019

I recently had some trouble with my site that resulted in needing to have my #NYR2019 entry hosted over at Cara Michaels’ site. Now that my site is back online I figure I should post it here too–but definitely check out the extended Blog Hop and feel free to read my entry there or here.

As with the most recent Tipsy Santa and Monster Mash Blog Hops, my entry is another 746 words in my Fantasy Fighter universe, which you can expect to hear more about here on this site.

Cara even made this sweet title for my entry she hosted

ENERGY HORIZON
by David A Ludwig

The Agency spacecraft cut through the atmosphere like a knife. All this expedition to stop the apocalypse needed was drink service. Though Caldwell Keller supposed he should be grateful the golem wasn’t having any rations. The wolf-girl was easily consuming a double share.

Ahead the moon was looking big enough to land on. Caldwell detached the orange visored face mask from the collar of his Agency bodysuit. Fixing it in place he engaged the seal and tested the rebreather and HUD.

“You guys sure you don’t want one of these suits?” Caldwell turned back to his team. “Life support might be down when we get there.”

Wenona Grey was back in the wolf pelt skirt and wolf head helmet Caldwell first met her in. She bit him the time he made her try on real clothes. Her chair’s armrests were ravaged from her gripping them and snapping at things outside the shuttle.

For a so-called monster, Karl Victorien was the more sophisticated of the two. In fact, for being stitched from various dead parts, he looked pretty good in a silk three piece. Though, even he reverted to his earlier shirtless and shackled look for this mission. Karl’s huge arms were crossed stiffly, but at least he responded.

“No need to worry. Impressive as it is, your suit is merely a simulation of the aura mastery Ms. Grey and I utilize regularly.”

Caldwell shrugged and sat back as the auto-pilot brought them into the moon base hangar. What was left of it anyway. The place looked like a warzone—and not the kind Caldwell knew from before learning demons were real. By the time the team landed and disembarked their path was blocked by a dozen combat robots even the Agency would be jealous of.

 “We have a survivor!” Karl shouted, leaping between the body he spotted and their enemies. “Something has activated her aura…”

Caldwell grit his teeth as armaments materialized from the robots.

“Okay, Karl, take care of the survivor! Wenona and I—“

Caldwell was cut off by Wenona’s snarl. She swept her finger at the room of robots before pressing her hand to her chest with teeth bared.

“Seriously?” Caldwell watched his savage teammate lunge into the thick of the robots.

“It is better not to get in her way when she is like this.” Karl spoke while assessing his charge.

“Great. On our own already.” Caldwell looked at his shadow, which cocked its head in response.

Exploring the surviving facility was underwhelming. Every robot in the place was dealing with Wenona and there wasn’t much else intact. Life support was limping along at high mountain levels instead of the vacuum of space Caldwell had been worried about. Caldwell did get to kick down a hermetically sealed door with an eight foot tall being composed of flames and empty darkness behind it. That was a thing.

“I’m guessing you’re the one I have to beat to stop all this?” Caldwell wished he’d opened the door in some way he could have closed it again. “Huey, wasn’t it?”

The energy being’s eyes sparked ominously.

“I am Huītzilōpōchtli! I will burn the skies and boil the oceans of your pathetic world, until the flames of my rage have been quenched by the blood of sacrifices beyond count! Then the survivors may serve as my slaves.”

Caldwell cracked his neck and shook out his arms.

“’Yes’ would have been enough.”

As Caldwell settled into his fighting stance the world exploded. Battling a war god in a psychedelic flame vortex was a hallucinatory experience. The mercenary was taking a beating, though only a fraction of what his senses were reporting seemed to be real. His Agency suit was already blasted to shit; fortunately Caldwell was no slouch when it came to aura. Now he just needed any kind of an opening to finish this before that was gone too.

Real or not, the Mesoamerican pyramid rising behind his foe seemed as good an opening as he was going to get. It cast a long shadow. Caldwell’s own shadow emerged from that of the pyramid and ripped the heart from the back of the deity thrashing Caldwell to a burnt pulp.

The moon base slowly rematerialized around Caldwell, who managed a high five with his shadow before collapsing to his knees.

“Hah! That’s a ‘no’ to burning skies and boiling oceans!”

“In your life time.” Karl stepped into the boss chamber with Wenona.

“What did I say?”

Tipsy Santa Blog Hop

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Dec 12 2018

We’ve got another Blog Hop ala the Monster Mash back in October with a comparatively long window to develop and refine a story in 750 words or less.

This time Ruth Long is the host, and man did this one give me trouble! My Fantasy Fighter universe was well received last time so I wanted to stick with that, but merely encouraging holidays and drunkenness without anything like the song prompt from last time eliminated options without inspiring anything particular. I fought hard for these 723 words and now look forward to reading the other entries.

SCHNAPPS

Sidestepping Santa’s savage swings was a delicate operation. Agent Treeman didn’t want to get crushed by the holiday throne, but he also had to keep Fatboy’s full attention so the kids and parents could flee.

“Graghbaghl!!!” the festive giant spit cottony pieces of his fake beard at his opponent.

Johnny Treeman powered through the nauseating waves of peppermint and vomit on Big Red’s heavy breaths and finally got the opening he was waiting for. The big man splintered his chair with an over extended sweep from the right. Johnny stepped in and delivered a brick breaking left hook to Fatboy’s liver.

Insanity shone from the mad giant’s eyes. Instead of going down or doubling over, he delivered a crushing double hammerfist the agent was barely able stop with a crossed forearm block. The cement under Agent Treeman caved like thin ice, but he just managed to keep his feet under the larger man’s weight.

“Help! Please!”

Eight hours ago, Johnny had been crammed into a technically heated bush plane with mail, packages and the senior agent code named Aphrodite.Even wearing his trim blue tactical snowsuit under his polar bear pelt it was a little cool thousands of feet into the predawn northern sky. How Aphrodite seemed so comfortable in her sleeveless sexy Mrs. Claus getup he didn’t venture to guess.

“He’s your arch nemesis!” Aphrodite’s words were less comforting than the sound of her loading her gift wrapped sniper rifle.

The veteran agent had received intelligence that the escaped dirt bag, Butch Slade, was in this part of the world. She grabbed Johnny and they set out immediately. The Santa costume might have been the third strangest thing Johnny had ever seen B.S. wearing, but there was no mistaking the fiend’s size or power.

“Naughgaghs!!!”

B.S. apparently heard the loading gun too. The giant picked Johnny up by his head with one hand, to charge Aphrodite with Johnny dangling along for the ride. Aphrodite dove and rolled out of the way. Johnny hooked his legs on the larger man’s arm and levered him through the post office wall into the street. The gathered townspeople reevaluated their idea of a safe distance from the disturbance.

“Seriously, who hires a nine foot tall Santa?”

Johnny pulled himself free from B.S.’s grasp and pinned the plastered profligate with an arm bar. B.S. beat his assailant against the ground wildly, but with a face full of snow had temporarily lost track of which direction was up.

“The suit has to be his own,” Aphrodite was unflappably analytic as ever. “There are enough empty bottles here he may have seen the chair and thought it was his too.”

The veteran’s shot split the icy air. B.S.’s face hit the snow and stayed down this time. Johnny maintained the arm bar and shook his head at the collapsed shell that had fallen back into the giant’s neck folds. As Johnny anticipated, B.S. sprang back to his feet with a roar. One thing he could definitely say; Agency missions were never dull.

“I’m going to try to finish this!” Johnny shouted. “Be ready if it doesn’t work!”

As the giant staggered around looking for the sniper, Johnny called on the full strength of his totem. With his own ursine roar, Johnny broke Santa’s arm. He then dropped to the ground and it was Johnny’s turn to lift B.S. The spirit of the polar bear was practically visible around Johnny as he squeezed the suspended behemoth for all he was worth.

Three more shots rang out in practiced rhythm and the giant finally went limp. Johnny dropped his nemesis and fell to his knees, completely exhausted. Soon the earth rumbling snores of the dirt bag started in slow and steady. A bottle of Rumple Minze wheeled through the air to stick in the snowbank next to Johnny.

“Hair of the dog?” Aphrodite emerged from the hole in the wall with another bottle. “Looks like even Butch Slade couldn’t finish all of this.”

“You know I don’t drink.”

Agent Treeman fell back into the snow, oddly comforted by his arch enemy’s discordant breathing, and watched upside down as trepidatious townsfolk crept closer in the wintery stillness.

“I used to be able to get through half a bottle on a good night,” Aphrodite sighed. “I guess we should have brought Caldwell.”

It’s Like Competition, But Participating is its Own Reward

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Dec 11 2018

I recently had the honor of judging for Siobhan Muir’s #ThursThreads where for now I’m exploring Lucy’s story in my New Team Neoshieldfront universe. You can see who I judged as winning that one here.

This post, however, is because just yesterday I got to judge Cara Michaels’ #MenageMonday and that one comes with a badge for judging! You can see the three prompts and all the entries on the initial post, jump to the results post for who I deemed the winners, or just keep scrolling down for my own ineligible entry from my Fantasy Fighter universe in 248 words.

Wintery wonderland stretched out on all sides. Its vastness masked the ancient steamer’s speed but for falling snow rushing past the windows, as if fleeing the train’s destination. Hand carved benches and warm décor gave the passenger car an old world charm. Hazuki Akiyama kicked her feet contently and stared out the window.

“It’s like being in a Christmas snow globe.” She mused aloud.

“That ends at sundown.” The man across from her rumbled.

The man’s face was hidden by the hood of his night black robe. His attire would have better suited a time long before even the invention of the antique they were riding in.

“Ah! Gomen! I didn’t wake you, did I?” Hazuki bowed deeply.

There was far more space in the passenger car than Hazuki was used to. She sat across from the only other passenger on reflex. He waved a large scarred hand reassuringly.

“No, but how did you come to be on this train?”

Hazuki tucked her feet under the bench to keep them still.

“My gran gran got the tickets.”

The man sat up straighter, resting his hands on his knees.

“Your gran gran got you tickets to the underworld?”

“Too many demons have been escaping! As a champion of justice, I must put them back in their place! It’s like cops and robbers but with costumes, ne?”

Hazuki planted her fists dramatically on the hips of her poofy pink dress.

“Then I guess that puts us on the same team.”

They Always Travel in Packs

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Nov 12 2018

Here’s one I wasn’t expecting, I got another Thursday Threads Honorable Mention! How cool is that? Check out the prompt and other entries over at Siobhan’s Blog, or go straight to the winner’s post for the judge’s insights and the winning tale! I’m glad I got back into Flash Fiction, even just sticking to my entries that get recognized is giving me new content for this site until I sort out a longer term plan like Niar Saga or Lost Girls’ Society from before. Without further ado, here is a tale from my New Team Neoshieldfront continuity in 249 words;

Lucy squeezed the grip of her dagger, senses scouring the field for what had set her on edge. The air was fresh, the sky blue and the birds were singing. So many damn birds. Most of her tribe liked to brag about how tough you had to be to live in the desert; but it seemed much tougher to her to live in this pastoral setting.

It was the grass. The grass had set her off, again. Lucy sheathed her dagger with an angry sigh. She trained her skills to a razor edge, able to detect every foe even in perfect darkness. Being so completely surrounded by living things was unnerving. What was the point of so much life?

If Lucy could best her mother or her father in combat she could ascend to command of the tribe. She was sick of waiting. She had thought her father would be the easier option, softened by years of plenty. But she’d barely had a moment alone with him.

She dropped her face into her hands despairingly as the stampede of footsteps broke into the grass line. A chorus of voices shouted her name over and over. Then they had surrounded her. They always travel in packs.

“Lucy!” the eldest of this pack declared. “Our moms said you can take us down to the swimming hole!”

The greatest warrior of her generation knew when she set out that she had a lot of half siblings; but this was just too much.

Let It Go Metal

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Nov 07 2018

I won another Menage Monday over at Cara Michaels’ site! I have to say I was pretty inspired to learn (as one of the prompts) that there’s a male vocal metal cover of “Let It Go”, so definitely go over and check out the prompts and other entries if that catches your interest as it did mine. And without further ado here is another winning Flash Fiction of 246 words fleshing out my Fantasy Fighter story.

The view from the penthouse isn’t so different from my castle. My companion disagrees, and that’s not so different either. I am still looking down on a world I can’t touch, that exists in my shadow but is largely unaware of my existence. I do appreciate the silk suit though. I think I will make more of an effort regarding my appearance going forward.

My companion, on the other hand, was just as resistant to what our host picked for her to wear as we both were to coming in the first place. I had warned him that she was a biter. Hopefully he doesn’t require too many stitches.

By this time our forest should be ablaze with autumn colors, and I know my companion feels impossibly far from her kin. It’s an illusion. A thousand kilometers from our point of origin and I’m no closer to others; so it stands to reason that my companion is no further.

The window in the next room opens. My companion steps out over the ledge, catches a gargoyle on the way down then descends the tower’s exterior until the next rooftop over is within range of her prodigious aerial talents. Those talents being among the reasons our host recruited her, I hope this comes as no surprise to him. Mostly I hope I won’t be called on to retrieve her.

I have decided to fight for our host’s cause. As for my companion, I’d rather let her go.

Thursday Threads Week 337

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Nov 04 2018

It was a good week for me for Flash Fiction! After the Menage Monday win I also got Honorable Mention over at Thursday Threads. You can check out the host, Siobhan Muir’s site for the prompt, rules and other entries here–or just skip to the judging and the winning tale here!

For here it seems like as long as I’m going to show off my honorable mention badge I might as well post the story that won it too–the 249 word story of a Sentinel I created for Zensara Studios’ Unity Table-Top Role-Playing Game, who does not appear themselves in the story.

The Fell Tormentor twisted its head around, trying to work out the kinks. A massive yawn revealed all four rows of razor teeth in its double jaws. One more village to harvest and it could finally get back to the warmth of the Pit. Finally one of its Grim Captains came shuffling back, with a few extra breaks in his limbs from the look of things.

“What’s taking so long?” The Tormentor growled.

The Captain saluted as best he could with his dangling arm.

“We encountered resistance… We’ve been hammering them, but we can’t get through…”

The Tormentor dropped its face into one of its talons. Leave it to ghouls and zombies to be impeded by mortal soldiers.

“How many are there?”

The Captain hung his head. “There’s just one.”

“You said you’ve been hammering ‘them’.”

“We can’t tell if they’re a boy or a girl.”

“Boy or a… How young is this lone defender?” The Tormentor’s eyes flashed dangerously.

“Almost twenty winters! Probably…”

At least the Captain seemed to understand the severity of his failure. Since the masters complained about harvests coming back in too many pieces, the Tormentor had tried to leave the actual work to its minions.

“They can’t possibly cover the entire village! Just surround them!”

“We did, but they built up the village walls with our fallen.”

“How many of us are left?”

“Just the two of us are left.”

The Tormentor grumbled darkly. This would not be a good return to the Pit.

Menage Monday 2×05

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Oct 31 2018

Super Excited to be able to say that I won a Menage Monday challenge! My entry pertains to the Monster Mash entry I did for the blog hop and can be considered to take place after it. Thanks to Cara Michaels for hosting and Ruth Long for judging! There were some good reads this week, so for the other stories and the prompts (Menage Monday always has 3–this time a picture, the phrase “not an option” and the song “I Put A Spell on You”) head over to the challenge page!

2×05 Champ

David A. Ludwig | @DavidALudwig

For use of prompts and story impact. There was so much STORY packed into these 152 words and the PROMPTS were seamlessly tucked into the action. I found myself wishing there was more to read.

The winning tale:

“Where is the demon?”

Mifuyu woke in darkness, smothered by the stench of burnt flesh and stinging ache of returning to her body with fresh injuries. The last thing she remembered was a knock at the door, and a man’s voice saying ‘room service’. That could have been months ago. She hadn’t been so naïve as to hope she’d awaken in her hotel room, but this situation was definitely worse than usual.

The agent jerked Mifuyu’s head back by the hair. “This doesn’t end until you answer my questions.”

The involuntary medium looked up at her tormentor with resigned eyes. But when she tried to speak she couldn’t make a sound. She couldn’t even open her mouth. Why couldn’t she open her mouth?

BECAUSE YOU’RE MINE.

“You will tell me where the demon is.”

Mifuyu watched the interrogator light a propane torch. The demon was still here. Telling was not an option.

 

I left comments on all of the other entries for the Monster Mash challenge, but even after multiple attempts some never showed up. If someone wants my response to an entry for a flash fiction challenge I participated in, you can be sure I had one–but I guess trouble shooting the comment side of internet posts is enough outside my wheelhouse to call 2 attempts enough.

Monster Mash 2018

Writing | Posted by David A Ludwig
Oct 17 2018

Okay, I’m going to take a shot at this longer period and higher word-count flash-fiction challenge. If anyone else wants to get in on it check out the details at Laura James’ website.

A Halloween/Monster/Horror related story of 500-750 words inspired by Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous” song. Weighing in at 743 words including the title, I present;

No More

The gilded iron doors to the underground club had been knocked off their hinges into the decadent entryway. Red drapery and dim light masked the spilt blood from sight, but did nothing for the choking stench of violence and fear. It was nothing Aphrodite hadn’t seen before. She pushed her regret at not arriving sooner to the back of her mind.

Her cerulean cane in one hand and trusty pistol braced on top of that, she advanced as quickly as prudence permitted. She was immediately engulfed by agonized groans of the dazed and wounded patrons. Hellish shrieking came from deeper still into the bowels of this temple to sin. The veteran agent only had one target here, but she’d been in the business too long to assume that meant only one threat.

Aphrodite dropped to a knee behind the balcony railing and averted her eyes from a sudden intense blaze. On the dance floor below, an Asian woman—just a little too big for her gore drenched school uniform—had also rolled out of the way of the fiery blast. Even as the club returned to its discreet ambient lighting, the woman’s shadow thrashed around like a crazed animal and the woman gave another unearthly shriek. Mifuyu Shizuka, Aphrodite’s target, was apparently still possessed by the demon the crazed medium had stolen from Aphrodite’s best freelancer.

“Kill you! I’ll kill you!!!” Mifuyu howled as she rushed a buxom Grecian business woman across the dance floor.

The Greek smiled coldly. “This should have been between us. I will make you regret harming my patrons.”

The club owner’s leathery wings spread as she materialized a whip of brilliant flame to drive her assailant back out of range. Aphrodite cursed. Things just got a little too interesting. As shadow and flame clashed cataclysmically below, Aphrodite holstered her side arm and set down her cane. Taking her rifle from her back, she braced it on the railing and debated who to aim it at.

The crazed medium ducked and wove in repeated attempts to outflank her opponent with her autonomous shadow. Eruptions of hellish fire kept the fiendish club owner safe as the battle destroyed the dance floor. With a practiced sigh, the agent squeezed the trigger and ended the fight.

Thirty minutes later paramedics were removing the last of the patrons. Aphrodite sat back to back with the owner in the middle of the shattered dance floor. No wings, horns or tail were evident on the owner anymore—not even any tell where they had come from.

“Thank you,” the owner leaned her head back against Aphrodite’s. “for your help.”

“Hhm…” Aphrodite ran her thumb over the silver ball head of her cane.

“My name is Melantha Karahalios, by the way.”

“I know.”

“Oh… Then it was hard for you deciding who to shoot? I really thank you then.”

“She hurt one of my men. Badly.”

Aphrodite tucked her chin in, and Melantha lowered her head too. There was silence. The dark haired succubus glanced over her shoulder at the platinum blonde human.

“I have been a big fan of your career from the beginning.” Melantha offered.

Aphrodite clenched her jaw, “Then you should have known better than to try to end the world.”

Melantha shrugged with a flourish of her manicured red nails. “That was months ago. Besides, I couldn’t very well get out of it. You know how it is; demons and contracts.”

“You’re still on the list.”

The demon’s wings emerged long enough to pull her to her feet with a single powerful flap. Aphrodite glanced back at where Melantha had made sure to leave her left leg to keep the agent from falling backward.

“Well, thank you for clearing the club first. Shall we dance?” Melantha reached down a hand to help Aphrodite up.

Aphrodite looked at the proffered hand a moment before shaking her head.

“I’m tired.”

The human collected her rifle and slung it back over her shoulder, rising to her feet with the help of her cane. Her succubus companion tittered happily with a gesture to the backlit bar up the stairs.

“In that case, can I buy you a drink?”

Aphrodite felt a twinge of longing for her fast living hard drinking youth.

“Maybe… tea.”

She would carry on as she always had another day. For now, she would indulge a well earned respite. The two women ascended the stairs together, sisters for an ephemeral moment.