My story recommendation of the week goes to Dragon Dreams on Cardboard Wings and Tiny Scraps of Yellow by Christopher Kastensmidt, published November 4, 2010 at Daily Science Fiction.
I typically have little use for flash fiction, because it is so difficult for an author to draw the reader into the characters and events of such a short work of fiction. But every so often, an author does draw me into a short-short story, and I can only marvel at his or her skill in pulling it off.
Remarkably, Christopher Kastensmidt's "Dragon Dreams on Cardboard Wings and Tiny Scraps of Yellow" tells an absorbing story in under 400 words, barely longer than this blog post. All we learn in that length about the main character is that she is a computer programmer working in a cubicle farm. Yet her yearning to escape her mundane existence strikes a universal chord.
In his author notes, Kastensmidt tells us that "Dragon Dreams" was inspired by Leonardo Amora Leite's painting "Meu Dragão I" (My Dragon I), which the artist has graciously permitted us to reproduce here (click for a larger image):
Christopher Kastensmidt is an American living in Brazil, who designs video games when he is not writing fiction and poetry. He has co-written a Little Red Riding Hood parody with Jim C. Hines and appeared in various publications including Realms of Fantasy and Every Day Fiction. Judging from "Dragon Dreams," I suspect we will be hearing much more from him in the near future.
Daily Science Fiction is a new site that publishes a story every weekday, at professional rates, and has already featured work by such excellent authors as Mary Robinette Kowal, David D. Levine, Tim Pratt, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar, and Greg van Eekhout. Most but not all of Daily SF's stories are flash fiction (their pattern seems to be to publish longer pieces on Friday), so I'm not their ideal reader, but they got me with "Dragon Dreams."
I highly recommend "Dragon Dreams," and since it won't take you but two minutes to read, what possible excuse can you have for not checking it out?