Approaching Advent

vampire

Actress Kat Graham from the television show “The Vampire Diaries.”

The Second Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The following story contains “adult material,” so if that sort of thing offends you or is otherwise not your cup of tea, you should probably stop reading now.

“Come on over and help decorate, Marishka.”

Sean was helping several others in his dorm decorate their assigned area of the UCLA Student Union. They’d all be heading home for the holiday break in a week and the girl from his one night class (he’d screwed up his registration and couldn’t get into any of the day classes for Beginning English Lit) was the only person hanging back.

“That’s okay, Sean. I’m not really into Christmas.”

There was something about Marishka that Sean found compelling. It wasn’t typical flirtation or attraction. Sure, he was eighteen years old and it was his first time really being away from home, and he could hang out with girls without having Mom and Dad breathing down his neck, but it wasn’t exactly that way with Marishka.

She was African-American, but not only was her skin pretty light, so was her hair and even her eyes. Sean wanted to ask her about that, but he didn’t know how without sounding rude. Maybe she’d even think he was racist or something. It wasn’t just her looks, but how strangely sad she seemed, like she had some sort of secret, something she could never share with anyone.

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The New Neighbors

the fairy farm

© Eric Wicklund

“What do you think, Pumpkin?”

“I think it’s totally awesome, Grandpa. Thank you so much for making it for me.”

The other houses on the block had Christmas lights and nativity scenes, but six-year-old Aubrey loved Fairies, so he made her a Fairy Farm instead.

She knelt down reviewing everything. “Here’s the chicken coop, the barn, an old log, a bench, a table, a little campfire, and there’s the house. It’s so beautiful, Grandpa.” She gave the gray-haired man a hug.

“Wait, Grandpa. What’s that on the roof?

“It’s a cross, Aubrey.”

“Um, why?”

“It’ll be Christmas soon and I couldn’t completely ignore…”

“Silly Grandpa. Fairies are Druids, not Christians.”

“Tell you what, when the Fairies move in, they can decide if they want to keep the cross.”

“Deal, Grandpa.”

“Let’s go in and see how the Chicken Pies are doing.”

Minutes later, the tiny door to the Fairy house creaked open. “Gawd. Thought they’d never leave, Gertrude.”

“Same here, Andrew. Druids. Did you ever hear of such a thing?”

“Indeed, m’love. Let’s do some proper decorating now. I brought the bulbs and tinsel, do you have the box with the lights?”

“Yes, dearest. It’s right with the Nativity scene.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for December 10th 2017. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’ve probably written something like this before in response to a similar prompt, but nothing else came to mind. What appears to be a cross on the roof of the Fairy House was a bit of a problem in the overall context, but then it also gave me my “hook.” So I thought I’d have a little fun with this being the Christmas season as well as “religious preferences” among both humans and fairies.

As an aside, my wife is Jewish so we don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s easy for me to find my house when I come home from work at night since it’s the only one on the block without lights and decorations. No, I don’t even have a fairy farm out back.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

There Are Worse Things Than Being A Tourist

versailles

The Palace of Versailles, France

“But I was just explaining the subtleties of the brass and tortoise shell…”

“It is forbidden, especially in English. We have paid guides and audioguides for that sort of thing, Mademoiselle. I must ask you and your party to leave.”

The museum guard then called reinforcements and escorted Julia-Sophie Dansen and her American friends out of Sun King’s grand apartments and the Palace of Versailles.

Once outside, the specialist in 18th century French art and curator of one of Amsterdam’s most prestigious art museums whirled back toward the Palace entrance and at the retreating guards. “You arrogant pricks. The French are worse than the American President!”

They could see the guard’s stiffen and momentarily slow their pace but then they re-entered the museum.

“Don’t you think that’s a little harsh, Julia-Sophie?” Henry gently tried to calm his host.

“They can’t do this to me. I’ll burn them alive on twitter!”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps street image and location and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Palace of Versailles in France. This location has a very rich history making the selection of a specific topic very difficult. Of course I thought of some sort of historical piece, maybe involving time travel, but I’ve done that so many times before.

Then I looked up recent news articles about the location and hit the jackpot.

I decided to base my tale on a news story published on 31 October 2017 titled Versailles Palace accused of throwing out art historian for ‘commenting on works in English’ to friends .

It seems that Marie-Noëlle Grison, a specialist in 18th century French art and junior curator of graphic arts at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum was visiting the Sun King’s grand apartments with three “American friends” and was explaining to them the subtleties of brass and tortoise shell marquetry by André-Charles Boulle, the King’s illustrious furniture maker. A guard stopped her saying it was “forbidden” for her to do so stating that there are “guides and audioguides for that” (Oh, and other museums and similar establishments in France are guilty of similar behavior according to the story).

He then called security and had Grison and her party ejected (I made up the part about her yelling at them afterward).

This whole thing seems pretty unreasonable from my rather limited American perspective but apparently on top of the general admission, the museum charges €7 (£6) per person for a group guide and a private guide costs €15 per person, so perhaps this is a matter of economics and not just whether or not Grison was disturbing other museum patrons.

That seems kind of greedy and certainly arrogant to me, so I thought I’d have a little fun teasing the French along with Donald Trump just a bit. The news article certainly did nothing to improve my perception of the French but then again, the average French person might be quite different from museum guards (I can only hope).

By the way, this did create a small social media storm on twitter and the museum eventually offered an apology, though from my point of view, a rather half-hearted one. Go figure.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

When Erica Walks in Darkness

portal

© Sue Vincent

Erica knew she had been down this corridor before but she couldn’t remember when. She wanted to stop, turn around, and go back the way she’d come, but she didn’t recall where she’d been before now. The corridor was cold but it felt warm ahead where the light was coming from.

“Come now, Erica. Don’t dawdle.”

A man’s voice. He sounded familiar but she didn’t know from where.

She took another step forward, then another. She stopped and looked down. A simple, white blouse, plain woolen skirt with the hem down to her knees, black patent leather shoes. She was dressed almost like a schoolgirl, but she knew she was an adult. Erica started walking toward the light again. Then she was at the entrance to the room.

Even standing at the threshold, it was hard to see. There was a fireplace, a piano, chairs, a small sofa, all early 19th century, all very expensive. The portrait over the mantle was of a distinguished gentleman. It was the same man who had called to her, who was standing just to the right of the very same mantle holding a drink in his left hand. He offered it to her.

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Stop Me From Falling

woman

From p90music.com

“It makes no sense to be falling…you’ve got her, I’ve got him, should not even be calling…”

“It’s not a good idea for you to call me, Jonny. There’s someone else. If he finds out about you, he’ll kill you or worse.”

“Then why did you give me your number?”

“It was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that. You should hang up now.”

“I can’t. Ever since that night, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

“You have to stop. It was a one-night stand, nothing more. You should stay with Lucy.”

“How do you know about…?”

“She’s good for you. Leave me alone. You don’t know where a relationship with me will lead but I promise, it’s no place you want to go.”

She broke the connection before he could respond.

“Jonny, what are you doing?”

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Mistaken for Miracles

icy tree

© Dale Rogerson

“I hate Christmas, Stefani. I’m not helping you put lights on this icy tree.”

“You’re such a Scrooge, Austin. Christmas lights bring miracles. Don’t you believe that?”

“I don’t believe anything. Let’s go inside, I’m cold.”

“Brendan will help me.” Flirting always worked with Austin.

“Oh, alright.” The two university students trudged back to the dorm.

“Lights again, Felman?” Arvid complained. “Don’t they know the more they change the world with technology, the greater the curse upon them?” She and her fellow elf were sitting invisibly on the tree’s branches.

“You know humans, Arvid,” rolling his eyes.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration to craft a small story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

I actually re-wrote my story which originally was more along the lines of environmentalism and global warming, but everyone writes about that, so I was pretty disgusted with my lack of imagination. I changed it, but alas, the theme is largely the same. The more we humans try to “beautify” the world around us, the more we miss out on the natural beauty it already possesses. Forget the lights. Enjoy the ice.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Beginning of the Fall

BART

BART West Oakland Station – © Jeremiah Cox

The First Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

Running and out of breath, Sean Becker barely made it to the Embarcadero Station in time to get on the 6:13 train east. He was just another commuter ending another workday like the hundreds around him.  He couldn’t possibly imagine that tonight was the beginning of the end of everything he had ever known and the advent of an eternal nightmare.

He squeezed into the crowded car and found a pole to hang onto as the doors shut and the train started moving. It would take almost an hour to get to the Dublin/Pleasanton Station and another 20 to 30 minutes to drive home. At least he didn’t have to live as far away as Tracy or even further from the City just to afford a home.

The horrible Bay Bridge Toll Booth crash yesterday had made commuting on BART a total mess as people who normally drove were forced to take the rail system. He silently endured, reminding himself to be grateful to Jesus that he had a good job, and that they’d bought their home in Dublin when it was still affordable. God was good. He was good to give him a wonderful wife like Janet and three beautiful children to care for.

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The Protector

iowa city fire

© J Hardy Carroll

The Present

“I’m gonna help you out Devon, but it’s the last time.”

Devon Willis was recovering from a compound fracture of his right arm at Rush University Medical Center. He’d told the police that he’d gotten into a fight with three other guys. Didn’t want to identify them and didn’t want to press charges. His doctor said he should stay for another day or two, but he had to get out of Chicago. His brother Cameron was going to drive him to the place he kept in Iowa City. Only Cameron knew about it, Devon’s hideaway.

“I know. I appreciate it. I swear I’ll pay you back.”

“The only thing I want from you is to never hear from you again. You broke poor Mama’s heart more times than I know. I haven’t told her you called me again. Figure she don’t need the grief.”

“I just need to get away from here. The other night…”

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The Girl, The Unicorn, and Their Kitten

enisa

© Enisa

“Now you knew I had to grow up sometime, Marigold.”

“Yes, but it all seemed to happen so fast, Phoebe.”

Phoebe couldn’t actually see the unicorn, but that was just as well because she was driving South on Interstate 5 and unicorns are terribly distracting.

“That’s what Mom and Dad said, too.”

“But your parents aren’t immortal, Phoebe. I am. The passing of centuries to me is like how the passing of a few days is to you.”

“Then I aged from eight to eighteen in the wink of an eye.” Phoebe was joking around but it was no joke to Marigold.

“Please don’t jest. I want to savor every moment of being your friend.”

“You will, Marigold. I promise.”

“When do we get to this ‘UCLA?'”

“In just a few hours. You’ll have to stay hidden on my clothes when we’re there.”

“Fortunately, little Muffin can be my eyes and ears, Phoebe.”

“Familiar spirits do come in handy, Marigold.”

“They do indeed, Phoebe.”

“Meow and please don’t speak of me as if I’m not here.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of December 5, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for authoring a piece of flash fiction no more than 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I admit to being momentarily flustered when seeing this week’s photo prompt. “What in the world can I make of that,” I thought.

In 1983, My wife and I moved from Berkeley to Orange County, California, both so I could attend graduate school and so she could take charge of her recently deceased Dad’s house. I drove down with our cat “Mamacat” (long story). Well even though I had her sedated and in a carrier, she was pretty unhappy, so I put my hand in her carrier to pet her. Bad mistake, grievous error. She was out like a flash and parked herself under the brake pedal. I was traveling South on Interstate 5 at about 75 mph and if I had to stop in a hurry, she was going to be toast.

Fortunately, everything all worked out, but the photo sort of reminded me of the journey. I couldn’t really use that story, but the horses on the woman’s blouse reminded me of unicorns.

True confession time. I read a comic strip called Phoebe and her Unicorn written and drawn by Dana Simpson. I don’t know why I started reading it. I saw that it was new at GoComics.com and decided to give it a whirl. Then I got hooked, although sometimes I get a little annoyed at Phoebe’s millennial generation parents (I assume they’re about Simpson’s age).

I decided to use the character names for my wee tale, age Phoebe ten years and have her going off to university. I had to make something up for the kitten since there isn’t one on the comic strip. Just a fun, lighthearted tale.

In the comic strip, absolutely no one is surprised or otherwise reacts to a full-sized unicorn always being around Phoebe, but I decided for the sake of UCLA that Marigold would have to hide as a design on Phoebe’s clothing. Besides, I’m not sure she would have fit inside the car otherwise.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Last Night at Freddy’s

dantdm fnaf

YouTube Video DanTDM – SISTER LOCATION CUSTOM NIGHTS #4!!!

“So what did you think, Grandpa?”

“What did I think? Where did you hear about Five Nights at Freddy’s, Landon? The DanTDM YouTube videos were pretty scary.”

“Grandpa, I’ve faced real magical danger with Buddy. This is only a game.”

“Well, I guess so, but as old fashioned as I am, I don’t think this is very good entertainment for an eight-year-old.”

Landon and Grandpa were spending the weekend together and had been sitting on the sofa in the living room watching a series of videos on Grandpa’s iPad involving a really popular and really scary video game series. Daddy and Landon’s sister Dani were visiting Aunt Jamie in California and Buddy had been spending the past week in a small pocket dimension meditating and studying. All of the adventures they’d been having over the past year had caused him to lose time in his own investigation of magic and improvement as a mystic master, and he finally was able to get back to what he needed.

“Oh, come on, Grandpa. It’s just harmless fun.”

“Scary fun, Landon.”

“I’m not scared.”

“Oh, how about how high you jumped whenever there was a jump scare.”

“You jumped too, Grandpa.”

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