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  • Flash Fiction, incomplete draft for “Time Inn”

  • Ted

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    May 17, 2021 at 7:42 am
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    Light floods in through the door as a man walks into my bar. I guess that means it’s day again outside. I don’t recognize him, but his face is shaded by his hat.

    “Welcome to the Time Inn. What’ll you have?”

    “Double shot, forwards.”

    “That’s a lot for a human. Some sort of problem?”

    “Yeah, the present sucks. Maybe the future will be better.”

    I hand him a highball glass with two big pours and three ice cubes. “Sip on that or it’ll hit you all at once.”

    “Thanks.” He takes the drink and heads to a small table in a corner.

    The waitress is serving a table with a couple of Fae, a shapeshifted dragon, and Thor. She spins her hand in a circle to signal they want another round. I turn and start pouring some shots and pints, then stacking them on a tray for her. That’s a crew that’s going to get rowdy later, but they always pay for the damage. Usually, it’s the dragon who ends up paying. I suppose it’s the one with the hoard.

    I turn back as the door swings open again. Out of the dark steps a vaguely humanoid character with bluish glow. “What would you like, friend? I got time by the glass or in a bottle.”

    The stranger stands, looking at me, apparently confused.

    “Look, it’s not that hard. This is the Time Inn. I got people trying to buy time or maybe just borrow it. A desperate few even show up looking to sell it.”

    “Ah,” he says, “I’m here from a non-entropic universe. This is my first experience with time. I’ll take two bottles.”

    “First time, so to speak.”

    “I am replying, ‘yes’. Sorry, did I already say that? All of this linearity is difficult to keep track of.”

    “Tell you what. I’ll give you a glass of forwards and one of back. Drink this one first, then the second one should bring you back here. More or less.”

    “Thank you.” He drains the first glass and disappears.

    It’s turning into a busy night. An older guy steps near the bar. He might be a regular who hasn’t been in for a while. He looks a little familiar.

    “Sorry, didn’t see you come in. What do you need?”

    “Huh? Nothing, thanks. I’m looking for someone.” He looks around quickly. “There he is.” He limps over to the corner and smacks the drink out of hat guy’s hand. “Quit drinking that. You’re just making our future worse.”

    “Now look here!” shouts Thor. I look over at the group. They’re getting rowdy. “Of course, I know more about time than you lot. I’ve got a whole day named after me.”

    “On one planet, and a backwater at that,” sneers the silver-haired Fae.

    “No day named for a buffoon like you in Faery, that’s for sure,” replies the tall dark-haired Fae.

    Thor’s eyes narrow and he glances down at his hammer. “Not just me. My mother and father, as well. So have some respect.”

    “It’s unfortunate the humans don’t respect your brother the same. There really ought to be a Loki’s-day,” says the dragon quietly. That’s going to do it.

    Thor’s chair falls backwards as he stands up. “You dare mention that scoundrel?”

    “I am a celestial dragon. I am written in the stars. I do not dare anything. I just do.”

    This is incomplete. I need to finish the scene with Thor, etc. and add the scene where the non-entropic traveler returns to talk about his experience with time.

  • Ted

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    May 22, 2021 at 7:17 am
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    [Some adds and edits. About 725 words.]

    Light floods in through the door as a man walks into my bar. I guess that means it’s day again outside. I don’t recognize him, but his face is shaded by his hat.

    “Welcome to the Time Inn. What’ll you have?”

    “Double shot, forwards.”

    “That’s a lot for a human. Some sort of problem?”

    “Yeah, the present sucks. Maybe the future will be better.”

    I hand him a highball glass with two big pours and three ice cubes. “Sip on that or it’ll hit you all at once.”

    “Thanks.” He takes the drink and heads to a small table in a corner.

    Marcy is serving a table with a couple of Fae, a shapeshifted dragon, and Thor. She spins her hand in a circle to signal they want another round. I turn and start pouring some shots and pints, then stacking them on a tray for her. That’s a crew that’s going to get rowdy later, but they always pay for the damage. Usually, it’s the dragon who ends up paying. I suppose it’s the one with the hoard.

    I turn back as the door swings open again. Out of the dark steps a vaguely humanoid character with bluish glow. “What would you like, friend? I got time by the glass or in a bottle.”

    The stranger stands, looking at me, apparently confused.

    “Look, it’s not that hard. This is the Time Inn. I got people trying to buy time or maybe just borrow it. A desperate few even show up looking to sell it.”

    “Ah,” he says, “I’m here from a non-entropic universe. This is my first experience with time. I’ll take two bottles.”

    “First time, so to speak.”

    “I am replying, ‘yes’. Sorry, did I already say that? All of this linearity is difficult to keep track of.”

    “Tell you what. I’ll give you a glass of forwards and one of back. Drink this one here, then the second one should return you. More or less.”

    “Thank you.” He drains the first glass and pops like a blue bubble.

    It’s turning into a busy night. An older guy steps near the bar. He looks a little familiar. He might be a regular who hasn’t been in for a while.

    “Sorry, didn’t see you come in. What do you need?”

    “Huh? Nothing, thanks. I’m looking for someone.” He looks around quickly. “There he is.” He limps over to the corner and smacks the drink out of hat guy’s hand. “Quit drinking that. You’re just making our future worse.”

    “Now look here!” shouts Thor. I look over at the group. They’re getting loud. “Of course, I know more about time than you lot. I’ve got a whole day named after me.”

    “On one planet, and a backwater at that,” sneers the silver-haired Fae.

    “No day named for a buffoon like you in Faery, that’s for sure,” replies the tall dark Fae.

    Thor’s eyes narrow and he glances down at his hammer. “Not just me. My mother and father, as well. So have some respect.”

    “It’s unfortunate the humans don’t respect your brother the same. There really ought to be a Loki’s-day,” says the dragon quietly. That’s going to do it.

    Thor’s chair slides backwards as he stands up. “You dare mention that scoundrel?”

    “I am Draco. I am written in the stars. I do not dare anything.” Fire crackles, forming wings behind his shoulders.

    Lightning sparks as Thor squints. I slide out from behind the bar, carrying my persuader. It’s a little something Hephaestus made for me, out of a branch from the first tree. It’s indestructible and handy for straightening out just about anyone.

    Marcy steps between them and pushes Thor back into his chair. “That’s enough. Be nice or be gone, I don’t care. I don’t need this crap from any of you.” They’re all quiet, stunned. She starts collecting the empty glasses and putting them on her tray. “Draco, you paying for all this? Or are you having another round?”

    Before anyone speaks, the air flashes blue and something drops onto the table. The blue humanoid rolls off the edge, sending the Fae scrambling.

    “Well, that was certainly something,” he says, while standing up. “I shall bring some friends to experience this in the future, or the past.” He’s catching on to this time thing pretty quickly.

  • thesurrealari

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    May 24, 2021 at 7:47 pm
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    Ted,

    You have a lot of interesting things going on in this story. I like each of the elements individually: The non-entropic time-traveler, the Thor/Fae/Dragon disagreement, etc.

    I would like to see some more shape in the story; some connection between the various individual elements, or story from the bartender/narrator that gives it a bit more of a narrative arc. You have about 250 words left, so there is plenty of space to work that out.

    I also wonder what would happen if you started the story with the non-entropic time traveler. The worldbuilding/explanation which is included in his story too, so I don’t think the other human necessarily has to come before, especially because the he doesn’t factor in the rest of the story.

    That said, the high concept here is really cool. I think this has a ton of potential moving forward.

    • Ted

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      May 28, 2021 at 7:33 am
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      Thanks, Ari. I have been considering arranging this differently. I’m trying to think of it in terms of comics panels for illustration, so I can order the scenes.

  • Ted

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    June 4, 2021 at 7:06 am
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    [Third pass. I got rid of the human sub-story to focus on the Thor/dragon/fae argument and the traveller from the non-entropic universe. Also combined the two fae into one, since they each only had a couple lines. That shortens it to about 550 words. Recommendations welcome.]

    Tonight, Marcy is serving a table with a Fae, a shapeshifted dragon, and Thor. She spins her hand in a circle to signal they want another round. I turn and start pouring some shots and pints, then stacking them on a tray for her. That’s a crew that’s going to get rowdy later, but they always pay for the damage. Usually, it’s the dragon who ends up paying. I suppose it’s the one with the hoard.

    I turn back as the door swings open. Out of the dark steps a vaguely humanoid character with bluish glow. “What would you like, friend? I got time by the glass or in a bottle.”

    The stranger stands, looking at me, apparently confused.

    “Look, it’s not that hard. This is the Time Inn. I got people trying to buy time or just borrow it. A desperate few even show up looking to sell it.”

    “You are please understanding,” he says, “From a non-entropic universe I am. This is my first experience with ‘time’. I will have two bottles.”

    “First time, so to speak.”

    “I am replying, ‘yes’. Sorry, did I already say that? This linearity is very difficult to keep track of.”

    “Tell you what. I’ll give you a glass of forwards and one of back. Drink this one here, then the second one should return you. More or less.”

    “Thank you.” He drains the first glass and pops like a blue bubble.

    “Now look here!” shouts Thor. I look over at the group. They’re getting loud. Immortals get kind of weird, if you pour enough years into them. “Of course, I know more about time than you lot. I’ve got a whole day named after me.”

    “On one planet, and a backwater at that,” replies the tall dark Fae. “No day named for a buffoon like you in Faery, that’s for sure.”

    Thor’s eyes narrow and he glances down at his hammer. “Not just me. My mother and father, as well. So have some respect.”

    “It’s unfortunate the humans don’t appreciate your brother the same way. There really ought to be a Loki’s-day,” says the dragon quietly. That’s going to do it.

    Thor’s chair slides backwards as he stands up. “You dare mention that scoundrel?”

    “I am Draco. I am written in the stars. I do not dare anything.” Fire crackles, forming wings behind his shoulders.

    Lightning sparks as Thor squints. I slide out from behind the bar, carrying my persuader. It’s a little something Hephaestus made for me, out of a branch from the first tree. It’s indestructible and handy for straightening out just about anyone.

    Marcy steps between them and pushes Thor back into his chair. “That’s enough. Be nice or be gone, I don’t care. I don’t need this crap from any of you.” They’re all quiet, stunned. She starts collecting the empty glasses and putting them on her tray. “Draco, you got gold for all this? Or are you having another round?”

    Before anyone speaks, the air flashes blue and something drops onto the table. The blue humanoid rolls off the edge of the table, sending the Fae scrambling.

    “Well, that was certainly something,” he says, while standing up. “I shall bring some friends to experience this in the future, or the past.” He’s catching on to this time thing pretty quickly.

    • thesurrealari

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      June 15, 2021 at 11:33 pm
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      Ted, I think the choice to focus and narrow was a good one. You still have two parallel stories, and I’m not sure how they’re connected yet. I think a closing comment by the bartender that conflates the non-entropic travel with the repetitive nature of the Thor/Fae/Dragon story might tie it together.

      Alternatively, one of the other characters could make the remark, I think the narrator works best, but it doesn’t have to come from him. I think that kicker at the end would make a big difference, though.

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