Monday, January 26, 2015

Flash Fiction: A Steam-Powered Rat out of Treasures

If you ever frequent my other blog, The Lonely Young Writer, you may have seen my post on generating ideas. In that post, I recommend using a random title generator such as this one, and then write for ten minutes using that title as the prompt for your story.

The result is, more or less, flash fiction.

I was feeling stuck yesterday, so I decided to loosen up the writing muscles a bit by doing this exercise. The title generator spit out this monstrosity of a story title: "A Steam-Powered Rat out of Treasures." I was a bit flummoxed at first, but highly intrigued. I ended up spending 25 minutes or so writing it, rather than just ten, but I think it was well worth it.

As the story is speculative in nature (it has steam-powered rats; of course it's speculative), and as I haven't posted anything here since November, I thought I would share it. Constructive criticism is encouraged and welcome.

"A Steam-Powered Rat out of Treasures"
© A.L.S. Vossler 2015

Pain is all it knows. It sits in its glass prison, waiting, watching, hoping that the water dish and food will be returned soon. Instead, the people pour water into the reservoir on its back and shut the lid.

It hates the thing on its back.  The thing on its back makes it hot, makes steam, and makes the metal legs move.  It misses its old legs, the legs it could feel with, the legs it could move by itself. But the metal legs whirr and click: whirr like the tiny rotary saw tied to its metal tail, click like the buttons on the controller that moves them. They reach in with big forceps and lift it out, checking to make sure the limbs work.

They say it cannot lose the fight this time.  It is better than last time.  They will surely win.

The fights are the worst.  Others similar to it, some with extra legs and big, sharp metal ears, or their jaws replaced with powerful vises, are put into the circle. It is made to fight with the others – fight with the others, or it is hurt by the others: scratched, cut, bitten, stabbed. Fight or die.

They say that it is time for the fight. They put it in the smaller cage and carry it away.

All it wants is to hide in the soft nest it once had; a soft nest lined with tufts of polyester and old gum wrappers. A warm and comfortable nest, surrounded by abandoned tops and jacks, a shiny tab from a pop can, balls of paper, a doll’s head, an old plastic ring: a beautiful nest filled with beautiful treasures.

A big voice echoes as they bring it into the arena.

“Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the battle of your life: incumbent champion, The Big Cheese, faces the challenger, The Packrat! Will The Big Cheese’s reign of terror end, or will The Packrat be nothing but a smear of blood and fur on the floor?”

It hates the fights.

As always, constructive criticism is welcome in the comments.

If you enjoyed this piece of flash fiction, please take a moment to share it on your favorite social network. 

Image credits: The image is a compound of "Silhouette Mouse Sitting," courtesy of Piotr Siedlecki at, and "Steampunking It," courtesy of Randi Klugiewicz at