I’m genuinely enjoying these writing challenges that I’m setting for myself. Each one is helping me to improve that little bit more, expanding my comfort zone. I’m kickstarting some ideas, and I’m trying things I haven’t done before. So, I think there’s going to be a few more of them coming.
Today’s is designed to address a particular personal challenge. I’ve always had the mentality that I need time to write. If I can’t sit down for at least an hour, then it’s not worth doing. Unfortunately, when I do get an hour, I decide I need at least an hour and a half!
This is kind of along the whole flash fiction side of things. The aim being to work toward the whole “any time writing is better than no time writing” side of things. So, for this challenge, I set myself a five minute limit. In the first instance, I wanted to give myself a chance. Rather than sit down at a desk with a stop watch and force inspiration (always a fun time), I’d wait for inspiration to strike me. Which meant being ready to write at any time (again, a mind set to work towards), and hitting that timer as soon as the moment struck.
In this case, it was standing on the platform for London Underground (Aldgate East, for anyone keeping track), as the train was pulling in. I can’t remember particularly reading any Neil Gaiman at the time, but I feel there’s an influence there. I stepped onto the train, and started writing on my phone. I was done by the time we reached the next station.
The dragon moves fast through the tunnels, carried on wings of shadow. Hurtling fearlessly round the dark bends, twisting and turning in flight, flowing effortlessly around the oncoming carriages. The lights never catch it, for the dragon is swift and wise.
On occasion, it may rest in the little alcoves of the tunnels. The rumbling and roaring of the trains do not bother the dragon. The blue sparks which fly from the wheels do not disturb the dragon.
It creeps, when the mood takes it, along the tunnel ceilings. Hidden in the darkness, and spying upon the travellers who stand upon the platform, looking from face to face, before turning and taking flight once more.
Unless, of course, one of the faces catches its eye. For dragons are as hungry as any living thing, even the dragons that live like shadows in the tunnels beneath the city. They are also, when the moods take them, patient. Patient enough to follow silently through the gloom, clinging to the metal roofs of the carriage, their claws making not a sound. Until the train shudders to a halt, with the excuse of a red light.
And the lights in the carriage flicker. Just for a moment, but a moment is all the dragon needs. The briefest darkness inside the carriage, the longest darkness outside, and one passenger who stood a little too close to the doors disappears from the crowds.
The city being London, no one notices, of course. They simply jostle for the sudden empty space.
There are things worse than dragons there, though. Where the dragons fly, twisting and turning atop the trains, there are things that scuttle, creep and crawl. Things that reach out for the unwary, with a sudden snatching.
Mind the gap.
This worked for me. The moment that inspiration hit, I ran this story off fast, and with plenty of time to spare. What’s more, I was immediately happy with how it turned off, complete in its own right. It works on its own, but could stand development into something longer in a number of genres (for some reason, the dragons and other creatures makes me think of a kid’s book, complete with a modern day night questing into the underground tunnels; or an outright horror, losing the dragons and focussing on the things that feed on passengers in the rush hour).