The Magician is a flash fiction story which was originally published online by Flashes In the Dark, May 28th 2011.
It has since been included in my short story collection, Enchanted Realms.
Vladimir-the-Magician mesmerised the crowd gathered at his ‘Believe It’ travelling magic show. They clapped. They gasped. They cheered.
The smoke machine choked out its mist as he finished with the grand finale–breathing underwater for twenty minutes while he escaped his straight jacket.
Unbelievable, they cried.
As the last cheers died down and it was time for the crowd to go, Vladimir had one final performance. One they wouldn’t like. He flicked his wrist. The doors slammed shut and locked.
His fangs extended. Now was time for Vladimir the Vampire.
Time for his audience to scream.
is generally described as stories under 1000 words. The stories are brief so there's not room for extra information. They are short, sharp and shiny with few characters.
In fact, you can have stories with as little as six words with the most famous being by Ernest Hemingway:
"For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."
The whole sad situation is conveyed in just those six words. In between the lines we see the anticipation of the expected parents followed by their loss. It gives me goose-bumps every time I read it.
I started out writing short stories around 2000 words but found I really liked writing flash fiction of around 500 words and had a few published by Antipodean SF. These stories also feature in Enchanted Realms (the list of previously published stories is available on my website).
What's to like about flash fiction?
- They're short - it doesn't take long to read.
- There's no excess information - every word counts so there are no extra words.
- You can explore different themes.
- Helps hone your writing skills, especially for a given word count.
- Jumps to the most important aspect of the story - very little set up.
- Many have great twists at the end.
- It's a great way to build up your publication list.
- It doesn't take you months to write a story.
When I'd been brainstorming some short story ideas, the idea of a magician popped up. I didn't want an ordinary magician, instead I wanted a surprise for the audience. That surprise made the story end up in the horror genre, though the action all happens off page. The reader knows what happens next from the final sentence.
You also know Vladimir's character. Yes, he's a great magician, but he's also a vampire with the taste for human blood and delights in terrifying his audience before killing them. So he's a sadistic bastard. We don't need any more words to paint his character for the reader.
Surprisingly this story ended up being less than 100 words. I didn't think it needed any more.
What do you think?
Be transported to fantastical worlds in this collection of nineteen speculative fiction shorts of previously published works and new stories. From wizards to magic mirrors, dragons to ghosts, minions to goddesses, space ships to diamond slippers, there's an enchanting tale right for you.
Eleni Konstantine writes speculative fiction and has had a number of short stories published.
Eleni has a love of chocolate (of course!), fizzy drinks, coffee and relishes her afternoon naps. She lives in South Australia with her family and is human to a sassy Rottweiler.