He’s Not Here Anymore

desert

© Jan Wayne Fields

“What did you hope to find after a year?”

The question was rhetorical or maybe self-indulgent. He was alone, unlike a year ago when they all gathered to scatter his Dad’s ashes over the land he loved so much. He thought about leaving another rose, but it would just wither and serve no one.

What then?

“Maybe this is all there is, Dad. Maybe it’s just you and me sitting together for a quiet hour, alone with each other.”

He listened to the wind and finally realized what it was telling him. His Dad wasn’t here anymore. He’d moved on.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge for April 27th (although the URL says May 11th). The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

My Dad died a year ago last week. The scene somewhat reminds me of Nevada where I grew up, and also of the area in Utah where my Dad liked to fish.

We actually put his ashes in a hole near his favorite high desert lake. Hardly a secluded spot, but then, it really wasn’t my choice. Thinking about going back produces an empty feeling. It’s just water, rock, sand, and sagebrush. Dad isn’t there anymore. His spirit has moved on.

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

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Everybody’s Got to Have a Hobby

kayak

© Douglas M. MacIlroy

He always took a photo at the end of each job as a keepsake. He’d taken out Frankie “the Weasel” Puleo, who WITSEC squirreled away out here renting cheap kayaks.

It was just a job. Last month, it was a Federal Judge. Next time, it might be a State Senator or a rival drug dealer. No matter as long as he got paid.

Ed wasn’t a great photographer, but he enjoyed it. He just had enough time to make his flight. Helen said the kids were having choir practice at St. Andrews and he didn’t want to miss it.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields 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. My word count is 99.

I couldn’t figure out what the object in the foreground was (some kind of torch or lantern?), so I focused on the structure, the truck, and the kayaks in back. The rest sort of evolved from there.

Oh, WITSEC is the Witness Security Program, otherwise known as the Federal Witness Protection Program, operated by the US Marshall’s service.

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

Starving

broken fan

© Yarnspinnerr

“Raven, where am I?

“Jonathan, there’s a terrible famine here. You must save these people.”

“With what? All I have is an old-fashioned camera.”

“The person who was supposed to photograph this tragedy is ill. By the time he recovers, the opportunity to show the world the horrors here in Bengal will be gone. You must take his place.”

Jonathan Cypher, a man out of time, turned away from the bent fan and stepped off the hotel porch. Seeing the three starving and dying children, he raised the camera to his face, focused, and pressed the shutter release.

bengal famine 1943

Victims of the Bengal famine of 1943. Copyright is or was held by The Statesman newspaper of Kolkata, India. According to that country’s Copyright Act of 1957, the image is now in the public domain (photographs are protected for 60 years from the date of publication), but it may still be under copyright in the United States.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to take the image above and use it as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

To the best of my knowledge, the person who provided the photo is from India, so I wanted to start from there. The yellowish cast of the photo made me think of pollution or chemical warfare, so I decided to see about India’s history during World War Two, and if I could devise a fictional Nazi plot in 100 words. What I discovered was much worse.

You can read all about the Bengal Famine of 1943 by clicking the link, but the black and white pimage just above was part of a photo spread published in the Indian English-language newspaper “The Statesman” on 22 August 1943, and those photos, which made world headlines, spurred government action, saving many lives.

I decided to bring back Jonathan Cypher and Raven to illustrate that sometimes you just have to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills or tools in order to be a hero.

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

The Ghost of the Montreal Symphony House

symphony

© Dale Rogerson

The Montreal Symphony House had been built less than a decade before, but something much older was there. It caused the ornate lighting to sway and cell coverage was always spotty.

His name used to be Erik, and his spirit was first manifest in Paris over a century ago. After departing from there, he has appeared wherever opera or symphonic music was played.

Once he died for love, and now beyond death’s power, he lives for the music of the night. He has been called the Angel of Music, the Opera Ghost, but more commonly, he is the Phantom.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo 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 99.

I saw that the photo is credited to Dale Rogerson and doing a bit of online sleuthing, I discovered she may (not sure about this) live near Montreal.

Since the photo’s file name is “dales-symphony-2,” it seemed reasonable to conclude that this was a photograph of the interior of the Montreal Symphony House at Place des Arts. The scene now being set, I just had to think of a hook.

Although this is a symphony house, I thought that the spirit of The Phantom of the Opera (Wikipedia page for the novel) might be attracted to it, a wandering soul seeking to sojourn anywhere that plays the “music of the night,” to borrow from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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

The Imagination Tree

patio table and tree

© Fatima Fakier Deria

The snow had finally melted around the big imagination tree. He took his laptop out and sat alone. The kids were all grown and the grandkids had their sports. The missus was visiting their daughter across town. All the chairs around the table were empty except for his.

But not for long.

He started writing and they popped in one by one, the sentient robot, the astronaut on Mars, the World War Two British spy. His world was full as the tree looked down at her guests.

Time enough to write before the family all came home for Sunday dinner.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo at the top of the page as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Last Sunday morning, it snowed one to two inches when it wasn’t supposed to. By yesterday afternoon, all of the snow had melted off and highs were near 60 degrees F. The scene in the photo reminded me of early spring somewhat, a time when it’s still cool out, but warm enough to start doing more things outside again…like writing.

I saw all of those empty chairs but I didn’t want to do another “old man alone” or “old man contemplating life” story. So I filled those chairs with fictional characters. Don’t worry. As I implied, the real people will come along for dinner.

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

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 InLinkz.com.

The Lyrid Event

photography

© 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 InLinkz.com.

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.”

wtc

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 InLinkz.com.

Devil in the Ring

boxing gym

© J Hardy Carroll

“Who’s that sparring with Rocko.”

“Murdock’s boy.”

Wally, the boxing gym’s owner was talking to his pal Stan. They always liked seeing fresh talent walk in to train.

“I never thought I’d see him here. Isn’t he in college or something?”

“Law school, Stan.”

“With that much brain power, why’s he training with a bunch of Hell’s Kitchen kids?”

“Probably because of his old man.”

“Yeah, too bad about Battlin’ Jack. They say the Fixer had him hit.”

“Better keep that to yourself.”

“Gotcha. Can’t believe that’s blind little Matty in the ring. It’s like he can still see.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo at the top as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

Daredevil 7

Cover art for Daredevil issue #7 (1964), pencils and inks by Wally Wood

Today, I mined the 1964 origin of the Marvel superhero Daredevil, the Man without Fear. I don’t know how much has changed about Daredevil in the modern world of comic books and I’ve never seen the Netflix series, but in the original story, Matt was being raised by his Dad, a down and out boxer named “Battlin'” Jack Murdock and living in a rough New York neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen. Jack forbids Matt to go into boxing or other sports and pushes him to become an outstanding scholar instead.

Even though Jack is past his prime, the only way he knows how to make a living until Matt grows up is to box. No one but the disreputable “Fixer” will manage him so he goes that route and seems to do very well for a while.

In the meantime, a now teenaged Matt sees a blind and deaf man crossing the street and about to be hit by a truck. Matt has secretly been training athletically as well as becoming an excellent student and has the speed and reflexes to push the old man out of harm’s way. However in the accident, a canister falls off the truck and hits Matt in the face. It contains some sort of radioactive substance which blinds Matt and also amplifies his remaining senses plus giving him a “radar sense.”

Matt continues to grow and train and after graduating college with honors goes into Law School. Jack has had a great winning streak in the ring but he finally discovers that all of his opponents were paid by the Fixer to throw their fights. Now the Fixer wants Jack to take a dive.

Matt is at the fight that night cheering his Dad on and Jack doesn’t want to let him down by pretending to lose. He beats the other boxer but crossing the Fixer proves fatal. He’s murdered later that night.

Once Matt graduates and opens a law practice with his former roommate Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, he decides to go after the Fixer. To honor his promise to his Dad that Matt Murdock wouldn’t go into a dangerous profession, he creates the alter ego “Daredevil,” which was a nickname the neighborhood kids gave him when he was little because he wouldn’t go out for sports like the rest of the boys.

Daredevil pretends he’s recorded the Fixer’s confession on tape and during a chase scene, the older criminal has a heart attack and dies. Justice is done. Matt continues to pretend to be “normally” blind concealing his super senses and Daredevil goes on to fight injustice and some of the most bizarre criminals ever to grace the comic books.

I named Wally and Stan after Wally Wood and Stan Lee. In 1964, writer/editor Lee and artist Bill Everett (who created Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s) created Daredevil, but in issue #7, artist Wally Wood invented DD’s now iconic red costume (and interestingly enough, DD fights Prince Namor in that issue). It wasn’t commonly known then (and Lee still won’t admit to it today) but most or all of his artists had a lot of creative control over the Marvel comic books including plotting and writing, but Stan took all the credit.

Oh, I made up that part about Matt training at a boxing gym just for fun.

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

The Rose Stem

rose stem

© Marie Gail Stratford

The rose stem was another sign that the world was shutting down, except that a small spider had chosen to use it as a platform for dining. The grass was still green but all of the leaves were making their stately transition to reds and golds. He was entering another autumn as he continued through the autumn of his life. He could hear his grandchildren screeching and giggling as they playfully chased each other across the lawn. They were his spring now, no matter how bitter the coming winter.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is (amazingly) 89.

I looked up “rose stem” on Google and only came up with a skin cream. The blossoming of roses is variable but generally they bloom from mid-spring through fall. The scene reminded me of the beginning of autumn here, still pleasantly warm days with a bite in the night air.

So I chose to write another “Grandpa” tale about the “life cycle.” Not much drama to be sure. Just a few moments of reflection as winter continues its relentless march toward an eventual spring outside of my home.

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