Updated: Aug 25, 2020
This week I drafted my flash piece, HOMECOMING. This story took shape in my mind after sitting on the prompt (you can find out more about my first impressions in the Week Zero post) but getting the words on the page proved more challenging than I'd anticipated. Not because of the short word count, I enjoy writing flash pieces, but because The Rules state that you need to keep your first draft in all it's messy glory. Which is not how I draft. I write and delete probably more than double of what ends up on the page, and while that does slow me down, it's my process and one I found very hard to break for this exercise.
Below you'll find a little more about this week's triumphs and challenges, an aesthetic for my flash piece, and the story itself, which came in at 1,011 words. Yes, I maintained the messy glory of the first draft, typos and all. Next week I'll be posting my self-edited version, so be sure to come back and check out the much cleaner (better) draft of HOMECOMING then.
Aesthetic for HOMECOMING
*note* This is definitely not one of my better aesthetics, but these beautiful images came from a free-stock photo site and I wanted to try the blog's built in collage maker.
HOMECOMING First Draft
The radio crackles, speakers buzzing to life for the first time in over seventy-six days. I sit bolt-upright and reach for the dial to hone in on the interference. We’d given up hope. But maybe… Those out on the resupply mission were considered lost to the wreckage of our old society. There’d been funerals. It felt silly to hope for their return now, with only the the faintest indication of life outside of our community, but ever since we’d had to relocate for the camp’s safety, and we hadn’t heard from them someone always sat by the last working radio hoping for we’d given up hope.
Except for keeping the camp’s last working radio manned just in case someone somehow survived, made the long journey back to our old camp out in the yukon wilderness, found the note in our overrun base, and made it back into transmission range of our new camp in Whitehorse. It was the longest of shots, but not everyone in the camp had lost all hope. (fix above to reflect it’s not everyone) Some of us manned the radio in our off hours, not willing to believe that all eighteen of our best people perished out in the ruined world. Maybe they just needed time to get home.
But winter was only a few short weeks out, now that the warmer days of summer were gone, and the hopes that the team would make it back before the first snowfall were wearing thin—even amongst the believers. Except for me. I just couldn’t believe that Dale souldn’t be wasn’t was lost out there; he couldn’t be. Not stubborn-as-hell Dale.
The radio crackled again, this time a single word four letters made it through the airwaves.
The radio buzzed and despite my desperate tuning I was am unable to get the voice back. It was is them. It had ghas to be them. To use the letter designation for the military detachment they’d come from had to mean iot was them. Right?
I pressed the button on the mic and use the codeword for the team. “Grey Squirrel, is that you?”
I release the button and wait for a reply response.
The radio cracles again and a few broken syllables make it through. “CF…ba-…-doned …”
Static fills the air.
I look over my shoulder to see if the sound accidentally wakes the others, but then remember that they should wake up, this if it’s themn, then this is great news. What’s Those left from the base will wanmt to know.
After a long moment of silence, I depress the biutton again. “Grey Squirrel, You’re breaking up, [find appropriate radio phraseology] repeat, over.”
I release the button and listen in anticipation.
TWhen the radio crackles again, the voice comes back mostly clear. “We are in a helicpopter.” Static. “…low on fuel…” More static. “Grey Squirrel coming home if we can fin...” A final burst of static. “Just on the outskirts of town. Over.”
My heart leaps in my chest. I recognize the voice. “Dale? Is that you? Over”
“Yes… no time…need location… fumes. Over.”
“I have to go to the roof.” I shout into the mic. “Look for a flare. I’ll be waiting in the middle of town, on the roof of the white building my the rive.r.” I grab the drop knock over the mic in my rush to push back my chair. It squeals on the linoleum floor. Let it wake the others. Theyr’e home.
My fingers fumble in the box on the highest shelf above the station; it’s where we keep the flares. My fingers close around a slender stick and I’m grateful we aren’t out of these too.
Another burst of static. “less than five min… Over.”
I’d been on my way rushing out of the room, but I stop and turn back to relay a quick final message “I’m on my way to the roof now. No one manning radio. Look for visual confirmation of location in two. Over and out.”
The mic wobbles when I set it down, and I’m out of the room before it settles. Unable to contain my excitement, I run jog down the corridor and slam my fist into the door to sarah’s room. She’ll want to be awakefor when the crew lands arrives. She hasn’t seen her husband since before the birth of their son, and she’ll want to know he’s safe. I hope I didn’t wake the baby, but the news is too good to let Sarah stay asleep.
I hear a
Once through the living waurters of our warehouse, I break into a sprint. The first rays of sunlight just lightening the sky beyond the row of tall windows. My feet pounf on the pavement and I make quick work of running up the two three flights of stairs. These stair have become my daily exercise routine and they can’t slow me down. Not when Dale is this close.
I burst through the door to the roof and scan the horizon to the south, then to the east. While I can’t see it in the early morning light, the sun just cresting the horizon, I can hear the faint thwomp thwomp thwomp of a distant helicopter. The engine stutters then settles back into rhythm. They must be lower on fuel than I feared. But they’ll make it. They’re so close. And we desperately need the supplies they are hopefully carrying if we’re to make it through the harsh upcoming winter.
Striking the flare, I hold it hish over my head, but I don’t feel like I’m visible ebough. The buildings around me aren’t very tall, but I don’t want them to miss me. I climb up on the crates pallets stacked against stairwell and stand on the highest point of the building and holding onto the rusted pole, I lean out and wave the flare wildely.
Soon the thwomping reverberations draw near and the helicopter comes into view. I wave my arm in a wild hello, the bright flare a beacom welcoming them home.
Week 1 Triumphs
Found a way to make the trope feel fresh (I think!)
Finished my draft despite the issues with not deleting (see more in the challenges below)
Week 1 Challenges
Editing as I write—I have sloppy typing so it creates a lot of deleting (see other challenge below) most of the typos in my piece come from this sloppy typing and it drove me crazy not being able to correct my silly mistakes. Even looking at them now... I'd better wrap this up so I'm not tempted to edit the squiggle red lines.
Not deleting as I write—this one is especially difficult since my writing process is a lot of half typing and deleting as the words and sentences rearrange themselves in my head. Not deleting as I wrote proved to be a huge barrier in me knocking out my first draft. I only finished my piece today due to...not writer's block, but something that felt akin to it.
About C.M. Fick
C.M. Fick is a writer from British Colombia, Canada. She's recently finished her 6th ms titled #GreenDeath, launched QueryConnection (a forum for querying writers to workshop their query letters), and is also a co-host and admin for the Twitter event #Write4Life.
When she's not writing, managing forum business, or networking with other writers, she's running around after a 5 year old who rules her life.
This is her first Writer-In-Motion.
Some fun facts:
My first book was initially meant to be a graphic novel
My favourite movies are the Alien franchise (all except 4, which I'll still watch because it's still Ripley), Starship Troopers, and Beauty & the Beast (live-action or cartoon)
I'm awkward AF (but I feel like this is an authorly trait shared by many)
I have an obsession with house plants (it may or may not be a problem)
The grey in my hair is natural (I started to grey at 18)
I like to read pretty much anything under the SFF umbrella, horror, and mysteries. Some of my favourite authors are Kelley Armstrong, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire, Stephen King, Jeff Vandermere, and Lois Lowry