The Final Entry

Word Count: 1081
Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 22 minutes

Dear Reader,

From 40,000 I wish you a final, Merry Wednesday! Since starting this project, I’ve planned on writing an introduction to the anthology. I feel that to explain the raw format of the book and stories and what it is they were meant to accomplish from the beginning, into what is now the end, a little background is necessary. So with that in mind I decided the best possible way to introduce a collection such as this, is to write it in one hour, and edit it in thirty minutes. Leaving a rough and only slightly edited thousand words to describe how my brain fell onto the following pages.

When I started this collection last January, I began it as a fun way to keep myself busy between writing projects (I had just finished the first draft of my new SciFi novel and had to start getting it ready for publication). It was also a good way to show how my writing differs now from The Bird Room, which has stories that are years old.

Quickly, as the weeks past I began to look forward to Monday’s (which ended up turning into Wednesday’s) when I would get to wake up, drink coffee, and make up a thousand words of whatever my heart desired. Should I write about robots today? Sure! How about a little boy who cares for his rotting mother in a dystopian future America? Absolutely! Aliens? Duh!

No matter what I was writing about, though, I made sure I stayed true to the idea behind every story. To force it out. Not one story that’s been written took more than the allotted time, and all of the timestamps at the top of every page, are one-hundred percent accurate. With every story’s word count totaling between 800 and 1,300 words creating an anthology of 42,637 (that’s including the short intros before each story, but excluding what you’re reading right now).

The thousand-word short story format is one of my personal favorites. In high school, I had a writing teacher who would have us write a thousand words a week. While the rest of the class spent their time that week thinking about what words they were going to use to fill up those empty lines, I went about my life partying and carrying on like a drunken pirate. Then the night before the assignment was due would roll around, and I’d have to hurry up and finish my thousand-word story. And despite what I thought about them, from what everyone told me, they didn’t suck.

Flash-forward to a decade later, I was on Twitter and saw a hashtag called 1k1hr trending (this is where authors attempt to write one-thousand words in an hour) and it took me right back to those stories in high school. Right back to that elusive place where the mind goes when it is forced to squeeze the creative juices out. It was also at this time that I was thinking about ways to get more of my writing out into the world so when people asked me what it was that I wrote about, not only would I be able to tell them what kind of stories I write, but there would be a place I could send them to where plenty of examples lived.

I didn’t however, have a ton of time to devote to a new project and virtually no money to spend on any sort of publishing expenses (I was already committed to my upcoming SciFi novel). Still, I wanted to be actively writing something that the world could read right away. It didn’t take long before the lightbulb appeared over my head and 40,000: A Rough Draft, was born.

I would give myself one hour to write a thousand word short story, then thirty minutes to look it over and make any quick changes I thought were necessary, before publishing on my blog and sharing through various sources on the internet. This way I was enjoying writing stories that didn’t take too much time away from my other work and people knew going in they would not be reading a polished piece of writing.

Each morning I would go into my office, or to the coffee shop, with basically no idea what I was going to write about. There were even some mornings when I was having a tough time starting and would scan those, first-line generators, for any kind of inspiration. I felt like starting blank was true to the writing format of the stories, forcing myself to be creative, even if it came out as complete crap. It would be a creative pile.

Now, I have forty, one-thousand word short stories that are about so, so many different things. They aren’t all winners, but I like to think that most are decent at the very least (although I’m pretty sure after finishing every single story, when asked what I thought about it, my response was, “eh, I don’t think it’s that great,” with a reluctant shrug). It’s been a fun project and a great exercise that I recommend for anyone trying to stimulate their creativity. I can’t wait to start taking some of these stories and helping them grow into the novels that they are destined to become.

Finally, as my time limit and word count are coming to a close today, I want to thank anyone and everyone who took the time to read these stories as I was releasing them. Getting online and seeing that somebody opened and read the story in their email, or that I had a new comment or vote on my blog or on Wattpad, it made my day every time. So a sincere thanks to you all.

Now onto the next thing. Look for the announcement of my new novel coming soon, and starting in a couple weeks I will be re-releasing the first book in my Jack-o and the Amulet series exclusively on Wattpad with new posts every Wednesday.

Finally, I plan on getting 40,000: A Rough Draft, line-edited to take care of all the grammatical mistakes for anyone who doesn’t want the rough draft version (which you can get free by signing up for my newsletter). It will be available in the near future as an ebook for $0.99 on Amazon.

I’ve had a blast writing these stories and I hope you find something among these pages that intrigues and inspires you. Please Enjoy!

Chad Hofmann

November 18, 2015

 
 
And now I’m here. The final 1,000-word short story. For this one, I wanted to write a sci-fi story about something ending. What better to end then the world? Thanks to everyone for reading and as always, please enjoy!

At Last

Word Count: 1032
Writing: 57 minutes
Editing: 17 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 14 minutes

It feels like a dream to me now, even then, it never felt real. The way a distant memory plays on the outskirts of your mind. Leaving that feeling like a smell you know but can’t quite distinguish. Or a word that teeters at the place just beyond the tip of your tongue, and if you don’t grab it fast enough, poof, it’s gone forever.

That’s how the past feels, but I hold on every time, it hasn’t fallen into that place of long forgotten love just yet. The closer I get to the end, though, the harder it is to hold on to. And I’m close now, close enough that I can smell it on the breeze.

I’m certain I’m not the last one left, that would be sheer narcissism, and I just can’t believe I’m that special. But, I am one of the last. I haven’t seen another human in what feels like ages, couldn’t even tell you who the last person I talked to was. I know they’re out there, though, looking for the end of the world just like me.

The apocalypse wasn’t anything like what most people expected. At first, when the world believed the rapture was to blame for all the disappearances, war broke out. It seemed mankind had decided instead of banning together and figuring out just what in the hell was going on, it would be more beneficial to destroy what was left of ourselves and Earth as we knew it. It went on for almost a decade, most of my childhood, people killed each other, while others just up and disappeared from the planet. Safety became an illusion, a fantasy to pass the time between death.

Finally, they’d had enough. I was eighteen when they came to us, the sky around the entire world filled with ships of all shapes and sizes. They sat cooly in the upper atmosphere as every electronic billboard, television, computer, cell phone, tablet, anything and everything that had a screen, was hijacked by a purple humanoid creature, with a bald head and short yellow antennae hovering over his eyes where the brows should have been.

“We’ve awakened all of the qualified souls from program, EARTH, shutdown will be commencing immediately. Thank you for your participation.”

The words were understood in every language, but no one can remember really hearing the actual words. It was like the alien moved his lips but spoke to every human on Earth’s mind. After the announcement, as suddenly as they’d appeared in the sky, they vanished.

War continued for as long as the Earth remained sustainable. The shutdown began to affect large patches of the planet. Where there had once been solid dirt, and rock, there were holes. At least, that’s what we started to call them. As it normally is with holes in disguise, if you didn’t know what to look for certain doom was unavoidable.

Nobody still walking the patchy surface of the Earth could say what lay beyond the flimsy wall of reality that hid each hole. You might be walking by a bush and catch a little shimmer out of the corner of your eye, they want to attract you, want to draw you in. You walk over to inspect, and that’s it, nighty night.

Since the announcement and the beginning of the shutdown, rumors of the end have grown. A place where this program EARTH, is more rapidly shutting down. Like a giant white nothing devouring the planet a few of us still call home. And I aim to find it.

I never did have much in my life, another child of a war-torn world that’s meaning is now shrouded in possibly more mystery than ever it had been in its long history. Nobody knew what program EARTH was, from what it sounded like this planet was nothing more than a computer game for aliens. That’s what I’ve come to accept at least. But, I also know there’s a way out.

When the purple alien-man told the world all of the rapture people, the qualified souls, had been awakened; it was then that I decided I would look for the way out until the day I died. I didn’t really have much else to do anyway, and survival seemed like the most natural thing to try and accomplish.

Now here I am. So close to the end, and am I afraid? Of course, being afraid is a major driving factor behind the will to survive. Without my fear, I would’ve given up the fight a long time ago and jumped into one of the holes like so many other people.

It’s not the possible death that frightens me, though, not even a little, it’s the life. The one behind me, that chases me like a malicious shadow in the night; and the one that may lie ahead. The one buried in the unknown white nothing that I know waits hungrily only steps before me. It seems there will be only two options when I get there.

The first will be to say goodnight to this program EARTH, say goodnight to the sweet delicacy that is being human. No matter how bad it ever got on the way to this point, it was a delicacy, there was good among the bad. There was love in the war, and not just for myself, but for others. Without love, there could be no war. I remain happy I got to be part of this experiment we called humanity in an alien program named, EARTH.

 The second option is to dive headfirst into the unknown, the adventure of the white nothing. A blank page to fill with memories that one day will only dance on the tip of my tongue. I’ve searched far and wide for my answers, for the hatch that would allow me to escape the world I knew, and join the others in the world of the awakened. And here I stand, at the cusp.

I’m afraid of what’s to come, but I’m a survivor, I’ve never been one to say no to an adventure, and it seems more frequently then not; there is no end, only more beginnings.

 
 
Merry Wednesday world. The idea for this story happened when I was on the way to the coffee shop this morning. I was listening to a song and it talked about everything you touch turning to gold. So naturally, it led to an author being kidnapped by aliens and forced to tell new stories all the time or die. We’re almost to the end now. Only one more story left. Please Enjoy.

Leltro Strey

Word Count: 987
Writing: 56 minutes
Editing: 17 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 13 minutes

Outside the wall, they roared in anticipation, chanting his name over and over, Leltro Strey, Leltro Strey! Of course, that wasn’t the man’s real name, he’d once been just another Joe or Bob, or maybe even Ben. A simple American name that he now spent hours trying to remember every day. But it never came, he’d been Leltro Strey for too long now. The teller of tales was what it translated to in English. Sometimes, when he wasn’t trying to remember his plain jane name of his past, he would try and figure out how many years it’d been since he’d been taken from Earth. But time was different in space and it quickly lost its meaning.

Leltro dropped his head into his hands and took long deep breaths as he stared at the baseball sized scar in his calf. This was his routine, before every show while they chanted his name from the other side of the wall, he would let his long hair fall over his hands and shoulders creating a veil from the world. And he would remember. He could still feel the burning from the spear as it tore through his leg. They all laughed when he screamed, making a joke out of him in an alien language far beyond his human comprehension.

“If you ever again you tell a tale the universe already knows, never again will you tell a tale.” The things voices were deep and gurgly when they spoke English, like a man trying to speak through a throat-full of mouthwash. He’d been relaying his favorite story, The Princess Bride, a classic. The spear was ripped from his leg before he was carried back to his cell and left to prepare his tale for the next day.

A person wouldn’t think beings who thrived off of such intelligence could possibly look so hideous. They were fat and green, with pig-like snouts and large brains that pressed up against the skull of their heads so fiercely the imprint could be seen on the scalp.

It took many years before Leltro finally felt like he understood the creatures. But it was the same night as the spear penetrated his leg that he knew exactly what they wanted from him. Beyond the wall, as his mind swam with pain, he heard another man take the stage. He began speaking and was immediately cut-off by what Leltro could only assume was the same gurgly monster that had just given him the piercing of a lifetime.

“We have a new teller of tales now, no longer do we need your unoriginal babble. Once we thought you were the greatest in the universe and fed on your words with much joy. But now all you spout is old and recycled swill, your words taste like poison in our mouths, and so you shall taste poison in your own.”

Leltro listened to the words, certain he was having some sort of terrible hallucination and would soon wake up in his comfortable king-sized bed on Earth. The monsters erupted in noise on the other side of the wall and Leltro passed out.

Deep breath in, deep breath out. This was his routine, he made himself remember that night before every show. Leltro didn’t know how many shows he’d performed anymore, couldn’t remember how many stories he’d told. He tried to keep count for a little while as a way to keep track of time, but without ever seeing beyond his cell and the showroom, time meant less and less to him until eventually, it was nothing more than a word he used in his tales.

He thought about the irony of his predicament on occasion. When he’d been whatever Joe, Bob, or Ben that he was on Earth—before they’d captured him—he’d been an acclaimed author of fiction. It was a joke he and his author friends had, that one day he would be hailed as the best storyteller in the entire galaxy. If only he could send a message back to them now, maybe a picture of the best storyteller not only in the galaxy, but it would seem the entire universe. He wondered if they would be jealous. After all, the monster’s that now chanted his name did nothing but search the deep expanse of space for better story tellers. And he could tell by the silver in his hair that he’d been the best for some time now. Be careful what you wish for, he thought to himself.

Leltro heard the familiar footsteps dragging their way down the hall and he lifted his head out of his hands. Showtime was upon him once again. He stood from his cot and walked to the doorway of his cell. To the naked eye, it appeared to be nothing more than an empty, doorless arch. Leltro had found out the hard way that if one tried to walk through, however, it was lights out until they woke you up for the next show. He could still remember the guards laughing as they prodded him awake and to his feet, and he thought maybe he’d tell an angry story at the show today.

The monster’s oversized head appeared in the doorway and he heard the light whoosh that meant it was safe to exit.

“Leltro Strey, will it be today, that you give me a preview, of what it is you have to say?” It was the same question he’d been getting from the rhyming guard since his first show. Leltro kept his eyes forward and answered the monster with complete silence, the same answer he’d been giving him since the first show. After all, there were no words to be wasted on the way to the stage. If he was to be the best in the universe, if he was to keep his life, he needed every word in his body to spin thin air into gold. 

 

    40,000: A Rough Draft

    Welcome to my collection of forty Scifi, Horror, and Fantasy short stories. Every Wednesday during the year 2015, I wrote a new one thousand-word short story in one hour, gave myself thirty minutes to edit, then published it here. 

    Please feel welcome to leave any thoughts you have in the comment boxes. 

    For a free e-copy of the completed book leave your email in the box above. 

    Enjoy.

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