Saturday, 8 October 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: Brand New Monster

As some of you may know I follow Chuck Wendig's blog over on I love Chuck's writing style, and his advice is at once punishing, truthful, and always from his heart. I also love the challenges he comes up with every week, and I liked this one so much I wanted to give it a go. So, here we are, in 1000 words, a story about a monster that no one has ever seen before. Vampires, zombies and werewolves - get lost. Your kind aren't wanted 'round here.


A glum little gremlin sat at the bottom of Sheryl’s bag. Technically he was a wingless fairy, but none of the gremlin’s would ever admit that they were related to those annoying fluttery creatures. Always so full of themselves and, worst of all, smiling all the time. Even while they tangled up peoples hair as they slept, and pushed coins and pens down the side of the sofa, they always smiled and laughed. Bag gremlins rarely smiled, or at least not in front of anyone. This particular gremlin hadn’t smiled for a long time. You see, he was bored.
Dan (his parents liked human names so inflicted him with the dullest they could find) had not had anything to do in a long time. Day after day he sat at the bottom of his human’s handbag, waiting for something to be put in there that he could work with. When he’d been a youngling, and appointed as Sheryl’s personal bag gremlin, everything had gone fine. More than fine in fact. If Sheryl was on her way to school he got the chance to fold up all the corners of her books, and rubbed the spine until he was sure the pages would fall out. He punched the front covers so they dented, and lost their shine. And it was even better when she covered her books in paper and pictures; so much to rip apart! Not to mention the assortment of pens he got to open so they’d leak everywhere. When she got a bit older she got a “walkman”, some strange human device that played hideous sounds. But oh, the delight of tangling up the string attached to it, with the semi circle of plastic attached at the end. Then he’d discovered that on either end of that crescent were two soft and removable coverings. The joy of pulling them off every time she stuffed those “headphones” (what odd creatures humans were) into her bag, so that the next time she took them out he got to hear her grumbling and watch her hand rummaging around the bag to find them. He didn’t know why they were so important, but he knew it was a big deal if they came off, so he made sure to do it at every opportunity. Actually, that wasn’t entirely true; he sometimes left them on, and other times didn’t tangle up the attached cord. It meant the next time he got a much better result from Sheryl, who would swear and sometimes even tip her whole bag out! He could laugh on that for weeks. Only to himself of course.
Now, things were not the same. Where before there had been books a plenty to scrabble and scrape, now there was some hard and resistant thing, which even had a cover over it made of leather to stop him getting at it. But it wasn’t like normal leather, all soft and animally tasting. It was hard and nasty to bite on, so Dan quickly gave up on that. He didn’t know what it was called, but it seemed to have replaced the books. There weren’t even any pens to push into the lining of her bag, or a notepad to scrunch paper up. The only thing left was a piece of cord, though this one only had round things at it’s end, without the removable bits. Though he made the most of it, tying it up into the trickiest knots he could manage, it wasn’t the same.
The life of a gremlin wasn’t what it used to be. He’d heard that others were having this problem too, in the few times he poked his head out the top and chatted to another clan member from their own bag.
Maybe I should take up vacuums, he thought, that gives you the chance to use dirt and hair to block it up, even make it spew all the filth back onto the floor. But it wasn’t the same. There wasn’t the daily amusement in it, and was more for gremlins wanting to retire than those only in their first half century.
Suddenly a thought occurred to him. Why should the fairies get the chance to tangle up hair, and move things around while human’s sleep, when he could easily do it too. Yes, he couldn’t fly, but he could climb and he was always in the house anyway. Just think of it, all that stuff in the bathroom, in the bedroom, all those pens left lying around, all waiting to be hidden in the most inconvenient places. Dan covered his wide mouth with his taloned hands, holding in a giggle. He mustn’t lose it, he had to stay focused on the plan. The fairies were not going to like this, but he was bigger than them. Anyway, he’d tear their wings off if they tried to stop him.
Later that night Dan crept out of the bag that had been his home these past five years (the bag before had been far more comfortable - until he ripped the lining apart) and he scurried to the bedroom down the hall. Sheryl was asleep, and didn’t stir as he pulled himself up the bedding covering her. He sat on the pillow next to her head and set about tying her hair together. And he suddenly realised he was grinning. A fairy spotted him before long, flitting in unannounced as was their habit. He threw it the finger and it sped away. Nothing was going to distract him from the sheer joy of doing something again. He actually let out a high pitched (and far to fairy like) laugh. Once he was done he moved the hair pins from the side table onto the floor and began to search for other things to work on.
In this way the great war between fairies and gremlins began. Dan had no idea it would come to that when he started, but when it did, he couldn’t help himself. He smiled. 


  1. Hi! Reading all the entries into the challenge.
    This was so fun! I really liked it. Your bag gremlin has a wonderful little personality.

  2. Nice story. And it explains a lot, too. But I have one question: Where are my goddamn keys!

  3. Thanks for the feedback guys! I like Dan, though I wish my own bag gremlin would leave my headphones alone...

  4. Can you find the missing $20 from my bag? Thanks for the fun read.

  5. Thanks for the comment mamacasz. I found mine tucked into the side pocket of my bag when it went missing - true story! Maybe your gremlin had the same idea...