Lowtown Hanami / Haikyo

Well this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt from Madison Woods inspired several ideas in me, two of which just wouldn’t go away.  This is the first one I ended up writing and it is a little longer than has been the norm, clocking in at 177 words.  I like the tone and imagery of this story, and to change it for the sake of a word count just didn’t feel right.  The second piece, ‘Haikyo’, is much shorter and darker.

Here’s the photo in question, as kindly provided by Madison Woods:

Madison’s story, along with links to all the other Friday Fictioneers stories, can be found at:


I hope you enjoy both stories this week.  Here is the first (please scroll down the post to read the second story, ‘Haikyo’):

‘Lowtown Hanami’

Troll sighed as he watched droplets of water fall from biomesh suspended above his microcosmic garden. Oblivious of Troll’s mood, a pixie sat within, reading a nanobook, gossamer wings fluttering contentedly in the lambent glow of a tinfoil lantern. Living in Lowtown wasn’t the problem; transhuman outcasts had formed a warm community, right beneath the feet of those who exiled them. It was the shortages that irritated. Even water was currency now.

“Still cultivating tiny Zen havens?”

Domino, the geisha assassin had ghosted her way into his home again. She always moved freely in the Tiered City. Most were too scared to suggest she act otherwise.

“A gift,” she said simply and placed something in his gnarled palm. Troll knew instantly what it was and placed it under the drips.

“You stole sakura so we can have hanami festival?”

Domino shrugged shyly. “It belongs here.”

The nanoformed cherry tree which time-lapsed into being was exquisite, its blossoms a perfect neon ephemera, radiant in the twilight. Troll smiled.

“I’ll go get the beer.”

And  here is the second story:


They flitted through the ghost city, Crow guiding Sparrow on his first haikyo adventure. He marvelled at what The Vanishing had left behind: tower husks reverberating with echoes of life, artefacts of the mundane, rendered strange by their permanence.

Sparrow felt his gaze compelled to the ceiling, musty loam trembling with moisture and energy. He asked Crow about it.

“Alternate energy experiment. Top government secret. Why this place empty.”

“It’s… dripping,” Sparrow said, feeling the onset of dread.


“What’s it made from? Looks weird.”

“It is -” Her blade slid neatly between vertebrae, severing life. “People like you.”


26 comments on “Lowtown Hanami / Haikyo

  1. unspywriter says:

    I liked both–a good juxtaposition of the fanciful and the dark. Nice job.

    Here’s mine: http://unspywriter.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/friday-fictioneers/

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Andy,

    Where I see only vague beginnings that fail to take hold, you have found enough to nourish two great stories. Congratulations. They’re both well rendered and each have their genesis in that tiny drop of water. i envy you your imagination.



    • Andy Flood says:

      Hi Doug,

      Thank you so much for your kind commentary. As always, even your feedback is considered and well written (and you always manage a mini-take on the prompt or the content of the story in question!).
      Your comment made me think perhaps you hadn’t posted a story this week. I’m glad you did 🙂


  3. Parul says:

    You conjured a world of your own. It was fun cruising through it!
    Both the stories made very interesting reads! I like your writing style!


  4. Sandra says:

    I loved the contrast between the imagery of a rock/water garden and that final line “I’ll got get the beer.” Terrific. And yes, water is currency these days, particularly where I live. A really good mini tale.
    The second one had all the foreshadowing necessary for an interchange between a crow and a sparrow. No good ever came of such a liaison. Nice work – enjoyed it.
    Mine’s at: http://castelsarrasin.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/spellbound-friday-fictioneers-april-2012/

  5. Lindaura says:

    OOOOH – first story so beautiful. Delicate and exquisitely written, enchanting little world you created.
    Second story – almost as beautiful, but with a horror filled ending. Well done for both.
    here is mine: http://fictionvictimtoo@blogspot.com

  6. Gary says:

    I love the mix of fantasy fairytale and cyberpunk in “Lowtown Hanami” not to mention seeing Domino make an appearance in the ‘Fictioneers world! The uniqueness in each character lends a colourful feel too, reinforcing the strength of the story proper.

    “Haikyo” speaks directly to my love of chillers and horror, and leaves plenty of questions for the readers to answer themselves – is Crow a vengeful spirit, luring unsuspecting victims on haikyo adventures? Is she a government assassin tasked with keeping prying eyes closed? Or maybe she was a subject of the experiments herself? So many questions, so much story in so few words – in both stories – and a rather large amount of awesome.


    • Andy Flood says:

      Thanks Gaz. Domino was always going to make at least one appearance in some form or other 😉 I’m always keen to find out what you think of my stories but this week I was particularly hoping you’d like ‘Haikyo’. Mission accomplished!

  7. tollykit says:

    Liked both stories but it was the second one that really spoke to me. It leaves me with more questions that answers.

    Here’s mine

  8. rich says:

    wasn’t ready for that ending. should it be “people like you” or something else instead of people?

    • Andy Flood says:

      Hi Rich,
      With benefit of hindsight, I think maybe I should have chosen different codenames for my urban explorers (haikyo). As the story stands, it has the potential to confuse, with the story being read as two birds. The use of ‘flitting’ may have reinforced this perception with a few readers. Maybe I need to pay attention to clarity. Live and learn, as they say 😉
      (No idea what I would have written for the closing line, if I had been writing it as a tale of two birds…) Thanks for reading.

  9. TheOthers1 says:

    I liked the first one a lot. My question on the second was did she kill sparrow or some other being? Maybe I’m dumb.

    My attempt: http://unduecreativity.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/water-the-earth/

  10. Good stories, though my sense of mystery sends me to the second one. Here is mine: http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/fridayfictioneers-diamond-tear-drops/

  11. Madison Woods says:

    I liked the first, but really liked the second. As far as questions about using the word ‘people’, I consider all creatures ‘people’. Some are winged, some 4-legged, but they all ‘people’ the earth and therefore the word works for me. To differentiate between species then I’d call them by name, like sparrows, crows, horses, cats, etc.

  12. JKBradley says:

    Enjoyed both of them.

    The second had me fooled for a while, thinking there were birds flying through a city. Then the severing of life sealed it for me.


  13. teschoenborn says:

    I loved both tales. The first a story of savoring the glass half full, the second of always watching your back. Wonderful.

    Here’s mine:http://teschoenborn.com/2012/04/20/friday-fictioneer-5/

  14. Both were great and even had me wondering if Lowtown and the ruins could, somehow, be integrated together in some way.

    Here’s my story: http://wp.me/p24aJS-3Z

  15. Second Story: Filled with a world’s worth of backstory, characterization, and subtlety. Awesome to figure out, but hard to follow with a single read. The twist at the end was well done.
    First Story: This one grabbed me more. I suppose it’s the combination of poor little Troll and the fascinating environment of the Tiered City, Lowtown in particular.

    More than anything, the stories of yours I’ve read so far all seem to be tantalizing glimpses into vast, fantastical worlds. It’s epic, and though it’s hard to pull off in a self-contained story, I’m loving the style.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Here’s mine at:

  16. This is very interesting; two stories! I, of course, have my own difficult week (the product of which is Lost Sun; though even that I ended up tightening down thanks to a commenter), but I never ended up with TWO stories.

    Personally, I thought the first (longer) story was more interesting. It was probably stranger too, but the think I liked about it was outcast soul of it. I felt good for the characters when they got to have their own hanami matsuri too.

    The second one was shocking – when I got it. Had to read it twice. My attention was drawn first more to the words than the story… for example, I really wanted to know what haikyo meant. And I admired (though misunderstood) the wording ‘musty loam’.


  17. janpoulton says:

    Hi. Sorry for late feedback but better late than never. I really enjoyed both stories and they were very accomplished pieces of writing. Both ‘Lowtown Hanami’ and ‘Haikyo’ were excellent and unusual interpretations of the picture prompt. I am facinated by the unique characters and worlds which you created. The first story creates a delicate image of a fragile world, precariously exsisting. It also highlights effectively how precious water is to us all(in reality as in fantasy). I particularly like the descriptive phrases such as; ‘biomesh suspended in a microcosmic garden’ and the image of a Pixie reading a ‘nanobook’. What a beautiful and magical environment you conjure up but at the same time emphasising the fragility of their world.
    In the second story I was impressed with the way you use phrases such as; ‘fragile husks’ and ‘loam trembling with moisture and energy’ again showing the importance of water. We would all become dried-up husks without it and equally when it has rained our world seems to tremble with moisture and energy. I think although your stories are based in fantasy worlds you have skilfully linked it to the problems in ours. Loved the unexpected and nasy ending. Looking forward to reading more of your short fiction. 🙂

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