Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Masha & Pobeda’s Interstellar Ultra-Cosmic Submarine Adventures’…

It’s almost the end of the month and that means it’s high time I filed my monthly Pictonaut challenge piece. It’s been hanging around in my notepad in extra-rough form for way too long anyway so, yes, here it is word processed and put up on the internet for other people to see if they wish to see it.

This is how it rolls: every month His Supreme Eminency Meister John Steele picks a picture and urges writers to conjure up a short story inspired by the image. I seize that challenge and see what I can come up with. For October’s effort, I had to work out what to do with a submarine that has somehow found itself in outer space…

Submarine in space image by Dmitry Maximov.

Thinking on this image by Russian artist Dmitry Maximov I started to feel the fingers of the Cold War coming out of the past. I also had questions: how did the sub get into orbit? What do you do with a submarine once it has reached outer space? Who would be commandeering this thing?

A submarine in space strikes me as an absurd proposition that should be fun. I decided that it needed to be extremely silly and as my ideas came together I found that I had a ludicrous concept sprawled out in ink across several notebook pages. Those notes have been blasted up into a freewheeling pitch-cum-script treatment for the pilot episode of a children’s TV series that will never get made. Still, it’s fun to go on creative imagination trips like this and that is the joy of writing and the reason that challenges like Pictonaut are worth a go.

Regardless, I’ll leave you to read it for yourself. It’s rougher than a ride through the Kuiper Belt on the back of a moped but, still, it may entertain you. It may also have potential to become a cult TV sensation either as a live-action series or as a cartoon if there’s no special effects budget to work with.

My Pictonaut challenge effort for October is ‘Masha & Pobeda’s Interstellar Ultra-Cosmic Submarine Adventures‘. Talking dog; girl with telekinetic powers; Soviet atomic sub going through a transdimensional portal. If these things pique your interest, please read on…


Pictonaut Short Story Challenge for March: ‘Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk’…

It’s the end of the month, ’cause time marches on and March is right on into April which is a brighter month full of fools, budding flowers and showers (all of which make a nice change from frigid bastard cold March. Seriously, confound you Winterish March. I’m flipping you off, flipping the clock forward and leaping forward to have fantastically fun sunshine-blast of a Spring).

With it being the end of the month it’s time to finally file my Pictonaut challenge effort which – as set by supreme future ruler of 1/7th of the Milky Way, Sifu John Steele – is titled ‘Going For a Walk’. Basic go-over the rules again: John picks an image and challenges people to write a short story about it. I accept the challenge every month, enjoy doing it and recommend it as a nice writing exercise.

This month’s Pictonaut inspirational image was a photograph taken by Simon Friedland. It’s a photo of 4 people crossing a bridge in the Soviet state department store of Moscow in 1930. It got me thinking and I grappled with the question of how to tackle this and turn it into a wordascope. Possibilities came to mind and I started to write a story about the Moon colony of Novoye-Moscow and its eccentric, homesick ruler who’d totally erased all traces of modernity to make his own Old World Space Museum. That idea got junked and the Fake Moscow Moon colony became an elaborate sham in which performance artists pretended to be the Tsar (long dead back on Earth) and made public appearances at specified times. These routine moments were part of the big con to convince the brainwashed refugees that they were still living on Earth and that the Grand Russian Empire was still going strong, winning the war against the Khanate revival or something.

That one was aborted as well. I’ve murdered many imaginary Moon Russians over the past month. Nevertheless, there’s still a story to be told and that’s the tragic tale in the link below. The photo raised a few questions, some horrible life possibilities and some general concerns about the human condition and the nature of reality. I saw something Sisyphean and dystopian in the monochrome captured moment and typed up the following short strand. It’s a bit bleak for Easter but, hey, you’ve got chocolate to cheer you up if it brings you down. I hope you enjoy reading it, if only to ensure that all those Moon Russians didn’t die in vain. Here’s my Pictonaut challenge short story for March then, titled ‘Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk’

(Click the link to read the whole thing. If you missed it, here it is again: ‘Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk, Going for a Walk’.)