Out of the Mist

fog

© Sue Vincent

Standing by a lone tree at the edge of a grassy field watching the sunrise, Greg Neville felt safe for now. They were probably still hiding in the shadows and some were shielded from the light by the tule fog, but as long as the sun was up and it was warm, they’d remain stuporous and wouldn’t give him a problem. In an hour or so, the fog would burn off. He had been too terrified to sleep last night and desperately wanted a nap, but he didn’t have much time. He had to find his way back to Travis and stop them before they spread the plague.

He’d been waiting at the airfield at Travis Air Force Base yesterday when the C5-Galaxy arrived from Udorn Royal Thai AFB in northern Thailand. Greg wasn’t told if it was the CIA or some other intelligence agency that had procured a sample of the Rakshasa virus from the biological weapons laboratory in central China. He’d flown out from the CDC in Atlanta with the rest of the team under secure orders to test the serum on Rakshasa and determine if it could either vaccinate populations against it or kill the plague outright.

Greg was the only person on the Directive 12 Team who wasn’t a doctor or medical technician. He was assigned in the unlikely event of a worse case scenario. However, instead of this being just another milk run for him, he would become the star player in preventing national if not world-wide Armageddon. That was the purpose of D-12, to handle the most dangerous biological threats. The world and even most of the personnel at Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control didn’t know they existed, and they were no doubt happier for it.

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Sharing Destiny

saurian

Found at Cracked.com

“I think it’s so sweet…how you let your friends encourage you to try and talk to me…”

September 1971

“Go on, Halley. Go over and talk to him.”

“Shut up, Judy. He’ll hear.”

Oh, what are you afraid of?”

“I told you, Diane. I’ll talk to him when I feel like it.”

They didn’t know Isaac could actually can hear them. They thought he was just talking to John and Robert during lunch period and that he couldn’t tell what was happening just a few feet away.

He thought to himself, “God, I hate high school. I wish this wasn’t necessary.”

“Fine, Halley. If you’re too chicken, I’ll go over and tell him you want him to ask you out.”

“No! Wait, Diane.” As her girlfriend started to walk forward (a bluff probably), Halley grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Anyway, see you later, guys.”

“Stay cool, Isaac.” Robert made a salute with his fist.

“Later, brother.” John just nodded. They both saw Halley finally start walking toward him and knew he’d need his space.

“Um…hi.”

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The Demon in the Mask

Venetian mask

Venetian mask

When you touch me my heart melts
(And anything you did wrong I forgive) Yeah, yeah. So you play me and take advantage
Of the love that I feel for you

Why you wanna hurt me so bad
I believed in you that’s why I’m so mad. Now I’m drowning in disappointment. And it’s hard for me to even look at you

-Recorded by Heather Headly
“I wish I Wasn’t (Radio Edit)”
Songwriters: James Wright, Terry Lewis, and James Harris Iii

Four strong, brutal men held Andre motionless in the tiny cell of the North Tower as the unholy Priest locked the iron mask over his face. He didn’t resist, though in fact, it would have been impossible for him to do so. He had failed and this was the consequence and his penitence. If she would have just killed him as she had so many others, at least his soul would have known peace. To be kept alive like this though was worse than an eternity in Hell.

Only after Andre’s handsome and nobel visage was encased in the cold metal did she finally appear. With a nod, the four armed thugs accompanied the Priest out of the cell. Katia took the key to the mask from the Priest and in return presented him with the only key to the door of the tower’s solitary cell. The eldritch clergyman ceremoniously locked it and then returned that key to the Princess as well.

Once the door was secure, she spoke solemnly to the men, “Leave us.”

They obeyed immediately and without a word. Everyone did, everyone except Andre.

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The Alchemist’s Orb

orb

© Sandra Crook

“I want my money back.”

“Why, Romano? I sold it to you at a bargain.”

“You’re a cheat, Valentino. The real Alchemist’s Orb should have turned my worthless lead into gold.”

During the argument, a street urchin slipped into Romano’s shop. “Excuse me, Sir. My Mother is sick and we have no food. Can you spare…”

“Out filthy beggar. Get out!”

As the child ran, Valentino knew the Alchemist’s Orb had worked again. Romano’s reputation was one of generosity and kindness but the Orb had changed his outward behavior to match the cold and miserly stone that was his heart.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge for 15 December 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a wee tale no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was that the object it depicted looked fake. From there, I thought of something magic and, realizing I had a scant 100 words to play with, told my small story of greed and charity appropriate for this “season of giving.”

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

The Dish We’re Served

plate

© Yarnspinnerr

“What are you eating, Grandpa.”

“Ashes, apparently.”

Elizabeth was twelve and still enjoyed visiting her Grandpa for the holidays. Mom and Dad would be up in a few days but this time was just for the two of them. Lately though Grandpa had been acting strange.

“I can make you a sandwich for lunch if you’d like.”

“No, sweetie. This is the plate set before me and this is what I’ll eat.”

“But what is it, Grandpa? It doesn’t even look like food.”

“It’s what’s left of your dreams after the magic’s gone. Dried up like autumn leaves. Good for nothing but throwing away.”

“Oh, Grandpa.” She slipped up behind the old man and hugged him as he sat at the table. You still miss Grandma, don’t you?”

The old man reached up and gently put his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“She was my dream. Now God’s taken the magic away.”

Elizabeth sat in the next chair and put her arms around him. “I miss her too, Grandpa. I promise. I’ll always love you.”

I write this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of December 12, 2017 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I have no idea what’s on that plate and it really made it tough to think of anything to write. I thought about aliens, the supernatural, some sort of tie in to Christmas or Hanukkah, but nothing really clicked. What I wrote above is the best I could come up with. Dining on dead and dried up dreams after the magic has gone. The family members one generation older than me are getting sicker and some have died this year. Looking back, I realize I’ve been looking death in the face. The only thing that gives me hope is the children who will come after us.

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

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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