Not My Heaven

amusement park

© J Hardy Carroll

The ride slowed down and Jessie thought it was over. The man running it yelled, “Free ride” and it started again. He was dressed funny like the girl next to her.

“I’m Harriet. Isn’t this fun?” It was fun and scary. The sky was a different color and the children on the ride weren’t the same.

“Where are we?”

“Heaven, silly.”

“Am I dead?”

“We are but you can get off when it stops again.”

“Why am I here, Harriet?”

“So you know being loved by a Mommy and Daddy is better than anything else, even being in Heaven.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 19 January 2018. 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.

I pondered a number of different ideas for this one, from the sappy sentimental to murderous and dark. I decided to settle on “creepy carnival” but give it a happy ending. I thought about having Jessie actually die, but then figured I’d give her a break and a moral. Even being in paradise, I imagine the souls of all the children who died way before their time would still miss the Moms and Dads who loved them.

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

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Grandmother Spider

spider web

© Victor and Sarah Potter

“Grandfather, you let that creepy spider build her web in your kitchen?”

“Charlotte, don’t be unkind. Grandmother Spider is very important here.”

“But Grandfather, what if the spider tries to crawl on me?” The nine-year-old girl hadn’t visited Grandfather in years and didn’t remember spiders being in his house.

“She is very kind and keeps all manner of pests out of my house. Besides, she’s very old.”

“Will she die soon?”

“I hope not. She brings a very warm light into my house and into my world, just like you do. Now let’s see what we can make for dinner.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 12 January 2018 (although she put “2017” in the title). The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The spider and vintage lighting fixtures reminded me both of an older person’s home and “house spider” myths. Supposedly, you’re not supposed to kill the house spider (though my wife has me do so on a regular basis), but a quick Google search didn’t yield any specifics. Finally, I looked up Spider Mythology and Folklore.

There are any number of legends that depict spiders in a positive light including this one:

Cherokee (Native American): A popular Cherokee tale credits Grandmother Spider with bringing light to the world. According to legend, in the early times everything was dark and no one could see at all because the sun was on the other side of the world. The animals agreed that someone must go and steal some light and bring the sun back so people could see. Possum and Buzzard both gave it a shot, but failed – and ended up with a burned tail and burned feathers, respectively. Finally, Grandmother Spider said she would try to capture the light. She made a bowl of clay, and using her eight legs, rolled it to where the sun sat, weaving a web as she traveled. Gently, she took the sun and placed it in the clay bowl, and rolled it home, following her web. She traveled from east to west, bringing light with her as she came, and brought the sun to the people.

The Hopi legends also attribute the creation of humanity to the Spider Woman and Sun god.

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

Whatever Happened to Jamaica?

bultot art

© Roger Bultot

“What is it, Al?”

“Beats me Enrico, but my calculations say we’ve got another twelve hours and nineteen minutes to find out before the next reality shift occurs.”

“We wouldn’t be in this mess if that plane carrying MIT’s experimental quantum resonator hadn’t overshot JFK International and crashed in Queens. I wonder why only Jamaica was affected?”

“Probably has to do with the available power and the size of field it could generate.”

“Maybe it’s art, Al.”

“Enrico, do you ever wonder what happened to the original inhabitants here?”

“I hope they’re living in a better world than this one.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge of January 5, 2018. The idea is to use the image at the top as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I was stuck on this one but then in the image’s URL, I saw “roger bultot art”. I Googled “Roger Bultot artist” and among other responses, found his Flickr page. Since it says he lives in Jamaica Queens, NY, I set my story there. The fact that it is fairly close to John F. Kennedy International Airport was a plus.

Beyond that, I decided that due to some terrible technological accident, every twelve to twenty-four hours or so, a different version of Jamaica appears on the site. Since the possibility of different quantum realities is limitless (in the fictional universe I’ve just created), all manner of strange and unreal things might appear, including the artwork in the photo above. Al and Enrico (named for Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi) are scientists studying the phenomena.

I guess we’ll never know where the people who were originally living in Jamaica ended up.

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

Rube Goldberg Doesn’t Live Here

wheels

© Ted Strutz

“What’s it do, Mikey?”

“Beats me, Lynn.”

The eight-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister stood contemplating the strange series of discs constructed in their Grandpa’s backyard.

“I’ll take a picture and do an image search.” Moments later the boy’s handheld yielded a result. “I think it’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, a really complicated machine that’s supposed to do something really simple.”

“Like?”

“Can’t tell.”

“That?” Grandpa called from the back porch. “Doesn’t do anything. Built it outta scraps ’cause I was bored. Hey. I found a game I used to play with your Dad. Anyone up for Mouse Trap?

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

I was really stuck on this one. If it really were a Rube Goldberg machine, I’d think its purpose could be derived from looking at it, but nothing came up for me. The best I could do was think of the game “Mouse Trap” which I played as a kid.

Yeah, the story’s weak, but it’s all I could think of.

To read other (and probably better) stories based on the prompt go to InLinkz.com.

The Romanian

montenegro

© Björn Rudberg

He was among the locals and tourists trapped in that little shop when Italian troops declared curfew. An unseasonable cold front lightly dusted medieval Kotor with snow. He couldn’t remain until morning but preferred to leave undetected.

He walked past quaint hats and other curios intending to escape out the rear.

“Monsieur, stay. You’re safe with us.” The Frenchman thought he was being kind.

“I have business elsewhere,” he said in accented French.

Antonie slipped into the darkness, encountering the three soldiers patrolling the alley. Later, they’d recall experiencing sudden fatigue. No one knew what happened to the Vampiritic-looking Romanian.

I authored 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 100.

At first, I had no idea what I was looking at. I did a Google image search but it primarily came up with salami and various cloth items. Finally, I was able to figure out they were stacks of knitted hats.

I saw the photo was credited to Björn Rudberg so I went to his blog and saw the domain country extension was .me which is Montenegro. I did more Googling (the research took longer than the actual writing) and found the medieval coastal city of Kotor among other things.

I couldn’t find a news story that interested me, but noted the history of the area during World War II and how it was primarily occupied by the Italians from 1941 to 1943. That still didn’t provide me with a complete “hook,” so I leveraged the vampire character Antoine from my Sean Becker Undead Series and placed him in Kotor when the Italians first occupied the area in April 1941. Given the snow in the background of the photo, I made up an unseasonable cold snap.

I’ve read stories (okay, Marvel’s “Dracula” comic books from the 1970s) which took a modern-day vampire and sometimes set him back in history through flashbacks/memories. I thought I’d try that with Antonie who exists in 2017 but who is thought to be very old.

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

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.

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.

Elusive

 

storage shed

© Russell Gayer

“Got the DNA evidence from SFPD in 2007, and it leads here, April.”

Two temporal investigators closed in on the Zodiac Killer at an abandoned farm’s outbuilding.

“Go in here, H.G. I’ll circle around.”

The young 19th century man waited and then entered the cinder block building.

“H.G! Hurry!”

He rushed inside and saw her standing by the body. “What happened? Dead?”

“Very, but how?”

“Who said I was dead?” The voice came from all around them. Both H.G. Wells and April Dancer realized the murderer was really a demon who had been possessing serial killers since the dawn of time.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge for December 1st. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I’m leveraging a story I wrote last week for Rochelle’s challenge, Just Stepping Out for a Week, Be Right Back about a time traveler who occasionally helps H.G. Wells track down some of history’s most notorious killers.

In this case, I continued that story only to have them find the nature of the Zodiac is actually a single eternal spirit, one who possesses the bodies of human beings and compels them to kill.

I admit to stealing the idea from an episode of the original Star Trek series Wolf in the Fold written by Robert Bloch and leveraging his own “Jack the Ripper” theme.

Unfortunately, 100 words isn’t a lot to explore a complete concept, but hopefully I’ve managed to instill some sense of mystery and menace.

Oh, I took the name “April Dancer” from the title character of a late 1960s TV show called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E (a spin off of The Man from U.N.C.L.E) starring Stefanie Powers.

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

Just Stepping Out For A Week – Be Right Back

 

closet

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Oh there you are. I was wondering where I put you.”

April opened her “junk closet” and finally found the time machine. She hadn’t used it in so long she’d forgotten where it was hidden.

“Honey, what are you doing?” Brady was calling from the kitchen while making breakfast.

“Be there in a minute,” she called back.

The text message she’d received last night from H.G. said he’d finally found the Zodiac killer and he needed help taking him down. Shouldn’t take more than a week or so, but she’d be back before her husband had the bagels toasted.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

I saw the clock in the photo and immediately thought “time machine”. I mixed in a few character references I’ve used in the past in relation to the topic and created my occasional “time cop”. She has to help H.G. Wells capture the infamous Zodiac Killer which will take about a week, but with a time machine, from Brady’s point of view, she’ll only be gone a few seconds. Just feeling a tad whimsical this morning.

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

Burning Bridges

 

iowa city fire

© J Hardy Carroll

Devon had been lucky to get away before the police came. The bounty hunter killed or maimed twelve heavily armed men when she escaped. He got away with a broken arm.

Time to erase his tracks both in Chicago and here in Iowa City. It would look like an accidental oven fire. All records connecting him to the human trafficking ring would be ashes and he would be long gone by the time firefighters put out the blaze. He’d saved enough in offshore accounts to start over. The bounty hunter did him a favor when she took out the boss.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wissoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 100.

This reads as a complete story but is also part of the Mikiko Jahn saga which is growing by leaps and bounds. The events in today’s tale take place shortly after Murder at 900 North Michigan (written also for one of Rochelle’s prompts) and both tales are a bit of foreshadowing of their expanded versions.

I noticed one of the fire trucks in the photo had a sign saying “Iowa City Fire Department” and when I looked up recent news articles about fires in Iowa City, I came up with an article published on the 13th titled Fire causes $20,000 in damage to Iowa City apartment. I also discovered that it’s just over 220 miles from Chicago to Iowa City, so a three-and-a-half hour drive wouldn’t be out of the question for someone escaping a “bounty hunter” who had just busted the major crime ring he had been working for.

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