This isn’t going to be the top five most popular posts of 2020. All our most popular posts were articles, written years ago, some of which I’m proud of, some of which I wince at. I’m not interested in celebrating or promoting them. They attract viewers all on their own, whether I wish they would or not.
These are the five stories I wrote and published on the blog in the year 2020 that I am personally most proud of. The ones that still resonate with me. The ones that don’t make me cringe and think “Well, that was definitely dashed off in five minutes.”
Before I get to them, I do want to mention The Undying Truth, the best thing I had published in 2020, available in a boxset from Big Finish. Writing Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield was a dream come true and the actors and production were incredible.
I also want to mention Gaslit, which I wrote years ago for a magazine that has sadly passed into the great magazine pile in the sky, but published on this blog this year.
Without further ado, the five flash fiction stories I wrote this year that I’m actually still proud of:
Many years ago she sealed herself away, leaving only one small window through which she whispers to her faithful, her sayings echoing in the painted alleyway, the words of gods you can see only in the dark and only hear in the silence.
She does not know there is no one left to listen. It might break her if she did, if she is not already broken.
On the last world of a distant and lonely system, there was a circus made of light.
There were dawn-tamers, cracking shadow-whips. There were twilight dancers, grey and dim yet coldly beautiful, whirling and pirouetting. There were acrobats, burning like suns, swinging across trapezes of night.
This was so very long ago. The world now is dark and silent. Its sun has turned cold. The circus is only grey dust, without even an ember to light it.
But still people watch the circus, through telescopes and instruments, as the light of it travels through the dark between the stars.
There was a girl in the laundromat who’d tell your future while you waited for your clothes to dry. She did it with cards – not Tarot cards (she said there was no magic in something made to be magical) but worn-out baseball cards and library cards with scribbled names and gift cards for businesses long closed.
I asked her to tell my fortune once, but she just smiled sadly and told me she was so very sorry.
In the shadow of the University in winter, the sellers bring their best ideas, their cleverest postulations spread out on their stalls, and buyers haggle for concepts and bargain for notions.
Always examine ideas before buying them. Last year I bought “Perhaps we’re all alone in this universe after all” and I have not being able to wake without weeping since.
There is a strange road that runs through the wilderness. Beside it lie the troll-lands where the trolls sleep as stone by day and walk by night, the barrow-mounds where dwell the unquiet dead, the wildwoods full of snarling wolves and wild, and the river where lurk the merfolk and the river-spirits.
At its end, there lies the old tower, with its ringing bell, and there, at last, is safety.
(Counting on fingers…) Well, that’s five. Take care. See you all in 2021, which shall hopefully be a better year for all of us.