The Price of Adventure

stop sign

© Björn Rudberg

“Sign seems a bit kloogie.”

“Maybe we should turn around, Randy.”

“Where’s the adventure in backpacking if you worry about every little sign, Marcia?”

“I’m just saying…”

“Come on. The sun will go down in an hour.” He grinned and then marched forward.

“I knew this was a bad idea,” she muttered and hurried to follow.

Then the world violently flickered around them. “What’s happening.”

“I don’t know. Maybe…”

The flickering stopped and landscape became heavily forested when it had been rocky before.

“Welcome.” There was a man calling to them from ahead. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Written for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

I’m sure this sign is perfectly legit where ever it was taken, but it sure looks odd, especially the “leg” from my point of view in the U.S. Also, the “face” on the sign looks kind of alien. I let that rule my imagination when I crafted my wee tale.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to



car balloons

Photo credit: Vincent Bourilhon

“They’re gaining, Tomas. We need more lift. Hurry.”

“I’m trying Irma. It’s easy to imagine more balloons but hard to make them pull us up.”

Twelve-year-old Irma Ruiz was mimicking the motions of her Papa, remembering how he drove his antediluvian Rambler, putting her hands at the ten and two o’ clock positions on the wheel to steer it. The wheel was wet because of her sweaty palms and every time she looked in the rear view mirror, she saw them getting closer.


“I’m hurrying! I’m hurrying!” Her ten-year-old brother couldn’t afford to look behind them. His head was stuck out the passenger door window looking up, concentrating on visualizing an ever-growing bouquet of helium-filled balloons, red, white, yellow, green, blue, all the colors of the rainbow. He could feel the car continue to climb but they had to go faster and higher.

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Buster’s Mystery


MorgueFile 1449286229de9o8

Buster slipped his head out of the partly open library doors when he heard the front door open. Maybe the Man had finally come home. The automations regularly refilled his food and water bowls and cleaned the litter box, but he missed the Man’s warm lap, his soft words, and the touch of his hands on the cat’s fur.


It called his name but it wasn’t the Man. In fact it wasn’t a man at all. It was one of the Man’s machines but this one walked on legs like the Man.

“Ah, there you are.” Buster cowered and then hissed. The man-machine squatted down and its almost man voice sounded kind. “I won’t hurt you. I’ve come to take care of you.”

Before Buster could run, the man-machine moved faster than even he could and scooped him up. The cat loudly protested until the fingers of the man-machine found the spot on his tummy where he loved to be rubbed.


Model NS4 robot from the 2004 film “I, Robot.”

“There, there, Buster. It will be okay. I’m sorry Dr. Lanning won’t be coming home anymore but we’ve got a mystery to solve. You, me, and Detective Baley must find out who murdered Alfred Lanning.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner for 2018: Week #11. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the authoring of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

A cat? You want me to write a story about a cat? I don’t do cute cat videos.

Okay, I’ll make this work.

Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was the 2004 film I, Robot starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, and James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning.

In one scene, Detective Del Spooner (Smith) goes to Lanning’s house looking for clues as to Lanning’s death and in the process, he finds Lanning’s cat.

So I adapted the scene to this challenge using elements of the film and Isaac Asimov’s first “robots” detective novel The Caves of Steel. Technically, the events in that novel occurred well after Lanning’s death in the Asimov stories, but this is fiction after all.

The human detective in “Steel” is Elijah Baley and his humanoid robot partner is R. Daneel Olivaw (The “R” in his name indicates he’s a robot). In my story, I imagined Olivaw to appear completely robotic, something like the NS4 models in the 2004 movie (see above).

To read other stories based on the prompt or to post your own (please), go to

The Lyrid Event


© Ted Strutz

A small group of amateur astronomers had gathered at Ted’s farm outside Garden Valley to photograph the Lyrid meteor shower that year. It was late and just about everyone had gone back to Boise, taking their cameras and telescopes with them. Only Ted’s trusty old Nixon was on its tripod still aimed at the heavens.

Ted had a dark room in the shed out back but he’d never get to develop the film. Everyone had photographed something unusual from the farm’s unique vantage point that night and they all died within a week.

Ted was next.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. Mine is 96 words.

The camera pointing up reminded me of when I took Astronomy classes at UNLV during the early to mid 1970s. Sometimes we’d go out to the desert at night to look at different stellar phenomena through telescopes and to photograph some of them.

The Lyrid meteor shower is typically observed every April and this year will be best seen in the early morning hours of April 22.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

The Girl with the Green Eyes

girl with green eyes

Photo credit: Ryn-Sweet-Surreal

She remembered looking at her reflection in a tidal pool. Her eyes were green, like the color of the seaweed coves. She had dark red hair and her “polka dots” (what Papa called her freckles) punctuated her face like the lakes and ponds in the Verdant Hills to the north. Merilyn dressed in clothes the color of her eyes.

She had only been six years old and lived in a village on a river near an estuary to the ocean. The ocean sustained them in so many ways. Some of the men and a few of the women fished on the long boats. Others managed the seaweed farms. A lot of the older kids worked on the desalination units, each of which stood out of the water like solitary and noble sentries, yet provided fresh water to be sold to the desert provinces and the Negev city of Quebracho.

Merilyn knew they were all necessary but none of them were exciting, not like pearl diving.

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Flight 19

flight 19

Flight 19 Avengers, FT-28, FT-36, FT-81, FT-3, FT-117 and at the top PBM-5 Bu. Nu. 59225 (squadron number 49) – Found at Wikipedia

“We should be landing at Treasure Cay Airport in about ten minutes.”

Lori couldn’t relax knowing they were flying into weather that was nothing like the forecast.

“I’m sure the pilot is competent.” Zach chided his wife on her former career as a Navy combat pilot. She never could relax when flying commercial. “It’s just a little fog.”

“The weather was supposed to be partly cloudy. Does that look like partly cloudy to you?”

He bent over her to look, giving her a quick kiss which made her smile.

“Fog’s clearing. What are those?”

She looked again. “Flight 19.” The pilot of their chartered plane wouldn’t know what the five aircraft were holding a parallel course, but she did. ATC Marsh Harbor must be going nuts.

“An antique air show?”

“Nope. Those five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared over seventy years ago. I’ve got to talk to our pilot.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and location to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Wikipedia wasn’t particularly revealing about the location, and while the larger environment of the Abaco Islands has an interesting history, I felt a bit lazy this morning and decided not to do all that much research.

The Bahamas are on the northern edge of the Bermuda Triangle, and while I don’t believe the triangle really is some sort of mystical or otherwise mysterious portal to other times or dimensions, I thought I’d give Flight 19, five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared in the triangle on 5 December 1945, a way to finally get home, albeit almost 73 years late.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

Waiting in 1979


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One of the perks of being “unstuck” in time and space was being able to re-experience things long gone such as a “lead burger” at that greasy spoon just north of U.C. Berkeley. Jonathan grasped the massive bun and bit down, mustard oozing over his fingers. It was a warm July evening in the East Bay, but his real destination was France a few days in the future.

Days ago from his perspective, he discovered that he could dream about fixing problems in the timestream of different quantum realities. He lamented that he couldn’t do anything about the Islamic revolution in Iran or the hostage crisis that would begin in less than four months. Six-year-old Etan Patz was kidnapped in New York at the end of May and his disappearance would remain a cold case until 2010. He couldn’t do anything about that either. In fact, he couldn’t even prevent the deaths of Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. However, he could track down the ODESSA member who planted the bomb in their car and reveal the location of his confederates to Interpol.

Jonathan Cypher dipped a french fry into his catsup and waited.

I wrote this for  the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner Week 10 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 193.

I am again leveraging my character Jonathan Cypher who you last saw earlier today in Our Honored Dead and before that in Tikkun Olam. In that tale, it was revealed he is a soul or “neshamah” of a dead man who now has the ability in his dreams to travel the timestreams of different quantum realities correcting flaws or problems introduced by human free will in the created multiverse.

When I saw the burger, I was reminded of a burger joint I used to eat at in the late 1970s on Euclid Avenue just north of the U.C. Berkeley campus. I set my tale in 1979 and then searched Wikipedia for some likely event I could insert Jonathan into.

The one I chose occurred on 9 July:

A car bomb destroys a Renault owned by Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at their home in France. A note purportedly from ODESSA claims responsibility.

A lot of other things happened including the rise of the Islamic Revolution that year including the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.

Unfortunately, on 25 May:

Etan Patz, 6 years old, is kidnapped in New York. He is often referred to as the “Boy on the Milk Carton” and the investigation later sprouts into one of the most prolific child abduction cases of all time. This is a cold case until 2010 when it is re-opened. Pedro Hernandez is later charged with strangling him after being sentenced to life in prison for murder and kidnapping in April 2017.

Jonathan can’t change everything, but I did allow him to do some damage to the ODESSA organization, which was a group of Former Nazi SS members who aided in the escape of Fascist war criminals after the end of World War Two.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

READ THIS: This writing challenge is re-emerging after a long hiatus so if you are so inclined, please contribute a story and help popularize it again. Thanks.

Our Honored Dead

war memorial

© Sandra Crook

“You consider this site to be a war memorial, Jonathan?”

“It’s foolish to see it otherwise, Raven. In fourteen years, an American President will give Iran nearly two billion dollars in cash ostensibly to inhibit their nuclear weapons development, but the hideous result was to fund a whole new era in world terrorism. How many more World Trade Centers is the future facing?”

“Our holographic presence allows us this view of the destruction, but how do you propose to heal such a pervasive characteristic in humanity?”

“I can’t fix it all, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”


Aerial view of the World Trade Center site taken September 23, 2001

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to take the image above and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

The monument in the photo contains the words “A Nos Morts” which I’ve learned refers to a vast number of war memorials commemorating those who died during World War One. That made me think of the site of the World Trade Center formerly known as “Ground Zero” which led me to consider the state of world terrorism.

Getting political, I also recalled that terrorism takes money and Iran is the principal source of finances for middle eastern terrorism and its effects all around the world. Giving Iran $1.7 billion in 2015 probably didn’t stop their nuclear weapons program and it certainly gave terrorism a big, big boost.

My character Jonathan Cypher, who just yesterday discovered his purpose is now looking at how best to begin “fixing the world.” Can his dreams change reality so radically as to eliminate all forms of terrorism or will he only be able to alter specific expressions of it?

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Test Flight


Image found at Vector News

Cory was conducting another sweep of the void in search of any contacts in the area of space where what Krista called “the indiscriminate drive” deposited the ship.

“Nothing, Captain. No coalescent bodies of any kind. I’m only reading dust and hydrogen gas. Impossible to tell our location in relation to the Solar System without a frame of reference.”

“That’s fine, Mr. McKenzie. Continue scans until further notice.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Captain Forest Quinn volunteered to command the experimental jump drive vessel Kingfisher, Elon Musk III’s brain child. In theory, a ship equipped with the Tesla drive could instantaneously jump from one point in space to another using a virtual point-to-point link through subspace. All of the unmanned probes including a quarter-sized model of the Kingfisher jumped to specific coordinates between fifty and three-hundred light years from Earth and returned safely by virtue of their AI guidance systems.

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Actor Christian Bale as John Connor in the 2009 film “Terminator Salvation.”

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before. Joe Kelley had been confined in the Detention Center for nearly a week and compelled to read and view all manner of anti-Christian and progressive texts and films in an effort to “correct” his views on the existence of God and particularly the God of the Bible.

He was surprised they hadn’t simply arrested him, beaten a confession out of him (or “disappeared” him like so many of his friends), and then sentenced him to a long prison term. Then he realized that with his son Gabe being a high-ranking official on the local Public Education Council, the Progressive Enforcement (PE) Police didn’t want to embarrass him by having the news media report that his Dad had been convicted of seditious religious beliefs.

At first, his Counselor Mx Torres considered “converting” him to a state-approved inclusive Christian church, but when the psychological test results came back, the recommendation was to completely reprogram him to deny all faith in Christ.

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