It all starts with your best foot forward. You write a well-crafted story, at least you think it’s well crafted, and send it off into the world for approval. It’s not about a paycheck at this point, it’s about validation. You repeat your mantra over and over, “I can write, and someone wants to read it.” After about 100 or so rejections, the realization sets in that writing is hard without the right talent, connections, and timing.
I have been writing drabbles, 100-word stories, for about a year now. They are fun quick writes and can be great reads. Occasionally, they spark interest in longer stories.
Below are some of my rejected science fiction drabbles. Some of them have been turned down 5 or 6 times. Rejection is part of being an author until you have honed your craft and made some connections. One day an editor will read my body of work and say, “Hey! We need his talent on our team.” I will continue to collect my rejections and wear them as Badges of Courage (I’m up over 200 rejections this year). I have thick skin and will not be giving up anytime soon.
The drabbles below are too good, IMHO, to be left on a hard drive, so I share them today with all of you. Enjoy!
***Bonus Rejected Drabble***
The Red Scare
The unknown signal traveled across five hundred different radio stations and into over 12 million homes. A single subliminal word engraved itself into the minds of America, obey. The “Red Scare” signal was discovered by the government too late. The communist prepared to take over and crush the upstart country across the ocean.
The next signal carried the second word, kill. It only affected one station located in Rothschild, Pensylvania. The classified report used phrases like, “crazed murder” and “multiple decapitations” among others equally disturbing. The agents wiped the town off the map and destroyed any evidence of the signal.
(Authors Note: This was a rejected submission for the Deadcades story based on the 1920s. I sent in multiple drabbles for consideration, but this one did not make the cut. I eventually made it for my 1950s drabble.)
Behold a Pale Horse
Asiago, the Golden Knight, maneuvered his ship into the kill zone. It was a ploy to draw out the rest of the enemy squad. He forced himself to relax to prevent overreaction. Multiple blips on the radar confirmed their location. He smiled to himself.
Veteran hands activated the engines and warmed up the lasers. Asiago always chose his ship based on maneuverability and stuck close to the moving asteroid. The battle was short. Thirteen combatants entered; now thanks to his trap, only one remained. War was hell. The only outcome was death when you faced the Golden Knight.
Best Laid Plans
Dash chased Garath across the nebulas. A well-placed shot finally disabled the engines and allowed them a face to face confrontation.
“Nowhere to run now, Garath.”
“I was never on the run.”
“I just chased you across five different systems.”
“And here you are in my trap.”
The hologram slowly faded from Dash’s view. A ticking clock displayed on the monitors.
“25, 24, 23…”
Dash sprinted for the airlock.
“15, 14, 13, 12…”
He quickly boarded his ship and made his way to the flight controls.
“5, 4, 3…”
A video feed showed the bomb aboard his own ship. Boom!
Beyond Two Worlds
An ancient relic was the last thing Lieutenant Rogers expected to find on the moon. The sphere allowed a person to access the black aether. The ancient ones waited for the portal to open and finally destroy the Earth. Day and night voices from beyond called out to Rogers. It took only moments for him to bypass the security and acquire the desired object. The chanting began in low tones and over the course of an hour grew in ferocity and strength. The two dimensions merged and became the horror everyone knows today. Lieutenant Rogers never recovered and went mad.
Crash and Rescue
The sky at night was alive with colors from the aurora. It was day twenty-two since the crash on the icy planet, and the rations were dwindling. The temperature was well below human survivability at night and only barely tolerable during the day. Vexian Carthos waited as the signal from the distress beacon broadcast across the galaxy.
Rescue came from Raznutizens looking for new slaves. Slavery was preferred over starvation or freezing. It wouldn’t be the first time he had to escape from alien captors. Vex already had a plan in mind to make his captor’s life a living hell.
Danger From Afar
“So, the legends are true?”
“Yes, out in the cold there’s valuables to be found, but there is something greater.”
“The first true AI.”
“Artificial intelligence exists?”
“The elders exiled it here to save our planet.”
“It found the human race equivalent to a virus and tried to kill us all.”
“How was it taken down?”
“A combination of an electromagnetic pulse and a one-time use power down subroutine bought us enough time to capture it and store it here.”
“So now what?”
“Now it is up to us to find it and destroy it for good.”
Gone To Long
I look deeply into the void, and it peered back at me. I have 4,932 days left in my mission. The retro engine cycles for the last time as the ship approached sub-light speed. Space madness crawls through my brain. The crew is dead; only I remain. The ship’s mission to bring life-saving plants and embryos to Savrin 6 is put aside for now. I have found a way to alter the DNA to create new life. I am God now, and my creations will reign supreme. Humans are such fragile creatures. It is time for our reign to end.
No Love, Only Scars
Time Lord was just a fancy name for janitor of the universe. The ripples of trouble always found him. This time, it seemed, action could be taken. Jaylen stood on the precipice of the portal. Bolts whizzed by his head but did not shock him. The last Time Lord abdicated his position in a violent accident. Now, it was up to him to clean up the mess, or the universe would explode. He held his breath and jumped. It all happened in an instant, but for Jaylen, the journey took over a year. The universe gives no love, only scars.
Once Upon a Dark Night
“Stranger things have happened?”
“Really? When? The sky is bleeding, the portal is open with demons pouring out, and I’m out of ammo.”
“Yeah but remember when we saw that Chinese Crested named Spanky.”
“Dude. You need to get your priorities straight.”
“Gary will take care of the portal; we just need to kill the demons.”
“They look like giant alien dogs.”
“Why is it always us that has to save the world?”
“We were chosen. It is our job to keep the humans safe.”
“Yeah, but why us specifically?”
“I guess we were the most qualified for the job.”
Shelly Saves The Universe…Again
Shelly needed a new job. She knew that she was an underpaid time operator. Every day she saved the universe from paradox and rips in the space-time continuum. A fast reaction was needed, or anomalies could become permanent additions. It was thankless work. Just one, “Thank you for saving the dimension today, Shelly,” would probably make her faint. A blip on the radar set off the alarms in her cube.
“Bravo 14, move to time juncture 1134562 to intercept HVT Rowan.”
“Roger dispatch. Moving now.”
The blip lasted only ten more seconds then went away. God, she needed a raise!
Ships log supplemental: I’ve been affected by an alien drug called, Xzxar. It radically shifts my mood from happy to sad to angry to calm at a moments notice. I’ve placed Lieutenant Howard in charge until it wears off or a cure is found. Long periods of insanity are followed by brief lucid moments where I can gather my thoughts. I may have to go into stasis until a cure can be synthesized. No real harm has come to the crew yet. Although, it has been a while since I’ve seen them and whose blood is all over my hands?
Talks of Peace, Talks of War
Negotiations between the Sylortian and Brell broke down. Threk only hoped he could leave the surface alive. The lunar surface of Kos was picked for various strategic reasons by both sides. Giant lasers rained death from above as multiple skirmishes broke out everywhere. Threk shot and stabbed his way back to his pod and jetted off back to his warship. Survival and escape were the only two things on his mind. Sharp pain and loud explosion were the only warnings he got as the pod tumbled back down to the surface. Now escape was the only thing on Threk’s mind.