April 22nd, 2008

International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day

ETA: There's an IPSTD celebration in pussinboots that you might want to check out--get your story illustrated! :)

I can't believe it's been a year already. I don't have a long one for you--here's a 500 word flash piece called:

Luck in the Labyrinth

by C. S. Inman

The barbarian wore scarred black armor, a greasy leather helmet, and indigo knee socks.

"I'm seriously going to eat you," the minotaur said, but actually he was rather full. So he sat there for a moment, sniffing the barbarian and trying to pretend like he was savoring the scent of human fear, instead of thinking about a nice, cozy nap.

Frightened by the flexing bull nostrils, the barbarian scuttled backward, tripping over his broken sword. It had cracked against the minotaur's mace like a bone in a harpy's beak.

"You can't eat me!" the barbarian cried. "The witch put me on a ten year payment plan for these magic socks, and they're so ungodly expensive because they're supposed to repel you! "

The minotaur shrugged. He didn't see why his victims always told him why he couldn't eat them, when he clearly could. This barbarian, for example, barely reached the minotaur's oversized belt buckle, and one good swipe would yield a smear of human paté. (Regretfully, the minotaur's pantry was empty of crackers.) The narrow entrances to the labyrinth allowed only the most bite-sized morsels. It was probably designed to keep the minotaur hungry, and even thinking about it gave him the urge to stubbornly cram another meal down his throat. He advanced, but he lacked enthusiasm.

The remains of the barbarian's splintered shield crunched under his sandals as he retreated. When his back hit the wall, he wept. "I'll give you these expensive, magical socks if you let me go!"

The minotaur paused. He'd never had socks at all, and certainly not knee socks. He wasn't really sure indigo was his color, but it was dark down here, and besides, anyone who saw the socks was going to die anyway. And he was really full.

"What's the magic?" the minotaur asked.

"They're good luck," the barbarian sobbed. "The witch said they're about eight-hundred cricketpower, and even a four-leafed clover can't compare for reliability!" The last word ended on a wail.

Well, they were obviously useless, the minotaur thought. But at least they weren't cursed. And they did look like a nice cotton lycra blend, the kind of comfortable fit that you could really count on.

"Okay. Gimme the socks and I'll show you the exit," the minotaur said.

The barbarian sighed in relief and unlaced his sandals. The socks were all sweaty, but so was the minotaur, so he didn't mind so much. The indigo cloth stretched nicely over his hooves, and he admired them. "Neat. All right, go straight, hang a left, hang a right, then two lefts. The exit looks like a wall, but if you just push your hands through, it'll open for you."

"Thanks," the barbarian gasped, dashing down the corridor.

The minotaur sat down on the labyrinth floor and ruminated over the nature of good luck. Were the socks useless, since the barbarian was now making payments on socks he didn't have? Or were they good luck because he was still alive? It was a good question to ponder while one sat alone in a dark labyrinth and waited to kill intruders.