There are gifs that perfectly sum up an emotion or experience, and there are gifs that defy reality and beg for explanation.
These will be the basis of W.P.G., The Writing Prompt Gif Game.
I want people to send each other the world’s best and worst gifs as writing prompts. The gif can appear at any point in the story. End the story and tag another person with a new gif, invite them to build on the story, whatever you like.
This is all just an excuse for me to collect my favorite gifs for posterity and pretend I’m being productive, but that’s not important.
I’ll go first, with a musical tale I call…
B-Rabbit stood on the stage, trembling, mouth dry, about to lose the most important rap battle of his life before it even began. He stared into the lights to blur the vision of his swaggering rival and jeering crowd, to burn away everything except for the beat. His fingers were clenched around the cheap mic, knuckles turning white as he tried to hold onto the words that were vanishing, unborn, from the tip of his tongue.
He dug deep inside and dredged up all of his anger, fear, passion and pain. It threatened to choke him or tumble from his mouth as sobs and shrieks, but he forced it, through sheer will, to come out as truth.
“Look If you had One shot Or one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted In one moment Would you capture it Or just let it slip?
Yo His palms are sweaty,
knees weak, arms are heavy There’s vomit on his sweater already,
And there you have it, the first of doubtless millions of WPGs.
It has been a long time since I’ve demanded my MTV, but every now and again I’ll catch a glimpse of a music video with some great Sci-Fi and Horror elements.
Allow me to play VJ for a moment and introduce a few videos.
1. 1983 by Neon Trees
I am always on the lookout for vampires. Something about this video, with its Zoltar machine wish opening and Lost Boys style carousel setting made my Vamp-sense tingle. I did not expect a brief cameo (at 3:18) from a fully grown Edgar Frog!
If you do not know who Edgar Frog is, please leave.
2. Thought Contagion by Muse
This suite of videos off the band’s album Simulation Theory is a shot gun blast of awesome sauce straight from the 1980s. There are vampires, werewolves, robots, Tron style VR chases, time traveling phone booths, and Terry Crews taking out Critters with a proton pack. It’s madness.
3. Odd Look by Kavinsky
This one is a bit older but I think some people missed it. Kavinsky is the magic, Ferrari driving zombie altar ego of a french electropop musician. The concept album OUTRUN is like the movie The Wraith. Did you see that one? That’s how cool the album is.
4. Bonfire by Childish Gambino
Before Donald Glover made Atlanta or This is America he was making interesting, experimental videos like these next two. Bonfire is a self-contained horror story set at a summer camp with a great twist.
5. Telegraph Ave by Childish Gambino
This one is full of chill vibes and gorgeous visuals leading to a shocking turn (at 3:40).
6. Deep Down Low by Valentino Khan
Want to see something really tentacular? Check out the video for this house music track that looks like something Junji Ito might experience tripping on ketamine in Innsmouth.
My flash fiction horror story ‘Message in a Bottle’ has washed ashore in this week’s issue of The Arcanist magazine.
The story is under 1,000 words so I won’t write a long essay about it, but I did find the research for the piece very interesting. It begins with a person stranded on a desert island, as told by a message in the bottle.
Scanning Google Earth for the most remote dots of land was surprisingly unsettling. Many places claim to be the most isolated, but to ensure maximum suffering for my protagonist I wanted to ensure the island would not have any food, which is difficult considering that 15th century Spanish explorers seeded every island they came across with goats and rats.
In the end, I settled on something off shore from the Marquesas Island chain. Look up a place called ‘Fatu Hiva’. It is surrounded by unfathomable amounts of ocean. If you zoom out you will see the curve of the planet before you see the closest major land mass.
How would you get on or off such a god forsaken spit of land? That depends on the whims of the ocean’s currents. Some currents are hoarders that take years to deliver flocks of rubber ducks around the globe, others are like serial killers that specialize in severed feet.
There are so many ways to die that you may be surprised to learn that hypothermia will probably get you. After blistering under the sun all day you can look forward to vicious thunderstorms that drench you with freezing cold water.
Here’s a sample of the story…
I recovered a few luxuries from the shipwreck. Some rope, a sharp piece of metal. And a way to make fire. I started each day with a signal fire, casting my thin trail of smoke into the sky like a fishing line.
I made a belt from the salvaged rigging and managed to climb the trees. There, carved into the bark twenty feet in the air, I discovered a series of slashes. There are no straight lines in nature. Someone had been here when this tree was much shorter. Another survivor, marking the days and months.
Who were they? When were they here? Had they escaped? My mind starved for answers as my body starved for food.
There was nothing to do but wither beneath the sun as it crawled across the empty heavens. Too weak to stand, I lay pinned between the sky and sea. I could feel myself being ground into sand. I cursed the sun until it withdrew. At night I was plunged into darkness, alone and adrift between voids that stretched in all directions.
My pop cultural education has exposed me to many heroes and villains, but few impressed me as much as Bolo Yeung.
I won’t bother copying and pasting his life story from wikipedia. Born in China, martial artist, body builder, you get the idea. If you don’t know who he is, you need to watch Enter The Dragon, Blood Sport and Double Impact, at the very least.
He was a terrifying presence, capable of explosive fury and icy menace. What modern day actor could compare to this Chinese Hercules? This Chong Li, the God of Thunder? You would probably need some sort of CGI monster.
Here’s all you really need to know:
Lest you think he’s all bad, here’s an adorable video of JCVD and Bolo having a reunion in 2011.
Who were some of your favorite villains? Leave a comment, or crush an enemy’s spine.
This angry alien is my hanko, a personal seal I used to sign my work while studying sumi-e, traditional Japanese painting. My instructor insisted I get one, and my classmates helped me choose the design.
Because I have a western name, I cannot write it using characters in the Japanese kanji alphabet. I first had to transliterate my name ‘Jeff’ into the closest phonetic characters in the hiragana alphabet, which wound up being “Ji” and “Fu”.
Next, I got to pick from a list of kanji pronounced Ji and Fu. Each kanji had its own meaning, and together they would produce my new artist name. Some of the combinations were strange, and some were over the top. It is considered poor form for both of your names to be bold (e.g: Awesome Thunder!), so I chose ‘luck’ for Ji (a traditional favorite) and ‘wind’ for Fu.
This gave me the name ‘Lucky Wind’, or ‘Wind That Brings Luck’.
Next I commissioned a hanko company to create the stamp. They converted my chosen modern kanji characters into their traditional historical form, which was the ancient script of the Chinese Han alphabet.
When I saw that angry one eyed alien, I was sold. These days I spend my time writing instead of practicing sumi-e or shodo calligraphy, so the alien is going to rep my work in fiction. Don’t worry, he’s not really mad. He’s just working hard.
With the convergence of Black Mirror’s interactive movie BANDERSNATCH and the reboot of MARY POPPINS, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to post my interactive Mary Poppins inspired ‘choose thine own adventure’ game.