Lorenzo’s Gulls

gulls

© wildverbs

“Come, my friends. I’ve got more food for you.”

Lorenzo Thornton had been friends with the gulls for decades, but then he was as good a murderer as they were scavengers. He’d found easy prey in hitchhikers and runaways along the coast highway near his cabin behind the white dunes, and his private graveyard was only a few hundred yards away. No one would miss his victims.

But he never buried the bodies before the gulls came and picked them clean. He knew they loved him, and he loved the gulls. They were the only thing he did love.

At seventy-eight, he sat in a lounge chair, drank a bourdon, pondered his disability income from wounds suffered in war, and his successful kill rating in the decades since. It was in the afternoon sun of July when he dozed off and his black heart finally stopped.

Then the gulls gathered, hundreds of them, and they watched and waited. As the sun began to set, they allowed Lorenzo to provide them one last meal.

I wrote this for the 173rd FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 173.

Of course I looked up Gulls and discovered that they’ll eat just about anything, living and dead, and sometimes will “feed in association with other animals, where marine hunters drive prey to the surface when hunting.”

It wasn’t hard to write my wee tale after reading that.

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

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Stones

park

© Michelle De Angelis.

The beautiful park, the gentle couple strolling just ahead of him, the cool of the summer evening only made a dull impression on him, all because her blood had added one more stain to his soul.

“She was only three years old, God. Why did that butcher have to murder her?”

Detective Keith Simmons was due to retire soon. This would be his last murder investigation and he thought he’d seen it all. Then he saw the blood and her torn, battered body.

He suppressed sorrow and summoned rage. Prison was too good for that scumbag. There was a better justice.

“Excuse me.” He looked up and saw one of the people who had been ahead of him. “I believe you could benefit from this.”

Keith mutely accepted the note she was holding. As she turned back and started walking with her companion again, he unfolded it and read, “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”

Tomorrow, he’d visit the child’s family again. It was his first stepping stone.

I wrote this for the 172th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Yesterday, I read a news account (actually several) about how a man with a knife attacked nine people, six of them children, at a girl’s third birthday party. The three year old died.

After reading it, I wrote my own commentary, feeling the hope being drained out of life because of such events.

Today, I’m trying to be a bit more optimistic and not let things like this defeat my spirit. It isn’t easy.

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

Frozen Love

ice

© Enisa

It had to be as beautiful as possible, but because of the ice sculpture’s size, Victor had to use automated industrial saws and chisels. It didn’t help that he was working alone in a freezing warehouse, but he required absolute secrecy.

He sat behind the console of the remote control unit and directed robots with heated metal arms to smooth out the edges.

“It will be alright, my dear. This will be the most elegant piece of artwork I have ever produced.”

The rented semi was out back, the temperature inside adjusted to below freezing. He’d arrange an “accidental” explosion here to cover his work, and then hide her away someplace that would always be winter cold.

“Perfect. Absolutely perfect.” Victor stood and pulled his gloves on, then walked up to the twelve-foot tall frigid form. Through the pristine pure ice, he could see her dressed in elegant silk, now as cold as his own heart. “You will never leave me for another, Nora. I shall keep our love frozen in time forever.”

I wrote this for the 170th FFfAW Challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

The photo looked like some sort of ice sculpture, so I looked up the basics of making one. I also knew I wanted to make it big.

I borrowed the character names from an old Batman villain called Mr. Freeze. In the 1990s “Batman the Animated Series,” he was Victor Fries (pronounced “Freeze”), who, while trying to cryogenically freeze his wife to keep her from dying of an illness, is interrupted by his corrupt boss. He messes up the process, killing Nora, and changing Fries to someone who needs a sub-zero environment to survive. Thus a super villain is born.

In the case of my wee tale, I didn’t give Victor superpowers, but I did turn him into a homicidally jealous artist.

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

A Suburban Horror Story

two children

Photo credit: wildverbs

“How did it happen? I mean, who was looking after her?”

Gerald and Marni were standing with the crowd of neighbors on the other side of the street watching. Police cars, fire, and paramedic units were seemingly cast in random arrangements in front of the stylish home in the upscale neighborhood.

“I think her brother was supposed to be watching her.”

“Are you nuts, Marni? He’s only five.”

“Hey, it’s what I heard.”

The onlookers made a collective gasp as the tiny body was carried out, drawfed by the adult-sized gurney.

“Oh my God.” Marni buried her face into her husband’s chest and sobbed. “She was only a baby.”

Marni’s husband stared across the street, trembling as he saw the haunted expressions on the faces of the little girl’s parents. Their young son was clinging to his mother’s leg and wailing.

He thought of their own backyard pool. The faces of their three children who were visiting their grandparents in Utah came into view unbidden. How horrible to be a parent and lose a child.

I wrote this for the 169th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I just read a news story stating that the nineteen month old daughter of Olympic skier Bode Miller drowned. It’s a tragedy every parent dreads.

There’s no news about the cause or manner of death, but since the family lives in Orange County, California (my family used to live there over twenty years ago), the first thing that came to mind was a swimming pool. They are extremely common down there.

I remember our home had a pool, and when our children were very young, we had a motorized cover installed. It was impossible to slip under, and to open it, you had to insert, turn, and hold a key in a spring-loaded lock.

Of course, a child that age could easily drown in a bathtub as well.

Here in Southwestern Idaho, we have an extensive canal system that provides water for farmers and some neighborhood sprinkler systems, and every year, a few children (and the occasional adult) drowns in one.

My wee story is both a study in tragedy and a cautionary tale. When kids are that little, leaving them alone in or around any body of water for any amount of time is dangerous.

My condolences to the Miller family on their loss. As a parent and grandparent, I can feel the icy touch of death every time I hear about a child needlessly perishing.

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

Return to Delhi

indigo

Photo credit: yarnspinnerr

The Airbus A320 Neo landed back in Delhi after one of its two engines stalled in midflight to Ranchi. Passengers and crew were safely returned to the ground, but not allowed to approach the terminal. Investigators ordered the passengers to be deplaned and escorted to a quarantine area.

Captain Laghari was justifiably incensed as federal investigators held him and his crew on board the airliner.

“I apologize for this unusual treatment, but I don’t think you grasp the problem. How long was your total time in the air?”

“Approximately forty-five minutes. The normal flight time one way is 110 minutes.”

“What is today’s date?”

“It’s Sunday, June 3rd.”

The investigator removed his smartphone from his jacket pocket and pressed the Home button.

“That’s impossible. It says it’s the 12th.”

“Sir, on June 3rd at approximately 10:03 a.m., your aircraft disappeared from radar and was presumed lost, however no wreckage was discovered. Then, an hour ago, you reappeared on ATC screens and requested permission for an emergency landing. A lot more went wrong than just an engine.”

I wrote this for FFfAW Challenge 168 hosted by Priceless Joy. 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 174.

Naturally, I looked up the airline company and found the news story IndiGo flight stalls engine midair due to snag. Apparently, this low-cost commercial air company has had more than a few problems.

Sometime ago, I wrote a short story called The Final Destination of Flight 33, which was based on a 1961 Twilight Zone episode written by Rod Serling. It’s the story of a commercial aircraft that travels through time into the past and then perhaps into the future.

I decided to give my little airliner’s passengers and crew the same problem today, but only projected them nine days into the future, although for them, practically no time had passed at all.

How would the authorities react to such a mystery?

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

Oh, I’m suffering from another bout of insomnia so it’s going to be a rough time at my day job later.

Flight Girl in Dieselworld

aircraft

© 2017 – Yinglan Z.

“Do you think you can fly it, Keisha?”

“I’m not sure. I trained in a Cessna 152, not some World War Two wannabe.”

The sixteen-year-old was once again in a different universe, the one she had saved last year, only for her friend Josiah Covington, twenty years had passed. She remembered him as a shy, intelligent nine-year-old boy, but now he was nearly thirty. Unfortunately, he also had a broken arm, so escaping Tyson’s heavily guarded aerodrome was in her hands now.

“Remember how our principles of aviation are different.”

“They better not be too different, otherwise, we’ll never get out of here.”

Keisha helped Josiah into the rear seat and then hopped into the cockpit.

“I see the starter. Battery looks good. Plenty of fuel. Barsoonian charge is on standby. Ready.”

The young engineer used his good hand to close the cockpit. “Take her up. We’ll only get one chance to make it out of here. We have to stop Stanley Tyson’s mad plan to use nuclear weapons from your world to conquer Europe.”

I wrote this for the 167th FFfAW Writing 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.

This is something of a “sequel” to Return to Dieselworld and based on the character Keisha Davis, whose latest steampunk adventure you can find in Prelude to Piracy. I thought it would be fun to have Keisha experience different “sub-genres”.

Fun fact: Not far from where I live, we have something called the Warhawk Air Museum which has aircraft and other exhibits from World War One through the Vietnam War era. I’ve been there with my grandson and it’s a lot of fun.

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

Oh, and don’t worry about what a “Barsoonian charge” is. That’s being revealed in the steampunk story line.

Want to see more of Keisha in Dieselworld? Read The Adventures of Rocket Girl.

The Serendipitous Time Bandit

time piece

© Enisa

Samuel Joseph Grant gazed down from his hotel room at the side street below in 1894 Leeds. He wouldn’t be born for a few months, but the strange device he’d found at that bombed out château near Amiens was a remarkable gift. It was immediately obvious that it was a timepiece meant to be worn on the arm, but what he hadn’t realized at first was that the term “timepiece” had more than one meaning.

Sadly, he discovered its former owner with half his head missing, most likely the unfortunate result of a slight miscalculation. Had he materialized a few seconds later, he would have not been victimized by the German cannon bombardment. However, his anonymous benefactor’s ill-luck became Grant’s good fortune. That day had marked the end of his career as a corporeal in the British Army, and the beginning of his adventures as a time bandit.

With all of history to choose from which to derive wealth, where, when, and what should he sample first? Extending his arm, he prepared to set the controls.

I wrote this for the 166th FFfAW Writing Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. As always, 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.

The photo struck me as combining both the new and the old, so that could only mean time travel. Not a lot of research went into this one. I pretty much went with my gut.

If you were so inclined, where and when in history would you choose to rob?

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

Keisha Takes Off

metal hanger

© Yarnspinnerr

Minutes ago, fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis had entered her Grandpa’s workshop, which was actually an old, dilapidated warehouse on the edge of town. The only thing Grandpa built that looked like it would work was the strange airship he christened “Graceful Delight.” Following the directions in the journal she had received by messenger days after he’d died, she donned the old leather flight jacket, with the matching helmet and goggles.

She inserted the hatpin in the keyhole, and then pressed the big red button in the console’s center while yelling “Contact!”

But instead of motors whirring and engines humming, she heard a loud, metallic “BANG!” and the Delight shuddered and trembled like a dog shaking off water.

Staring out the windscreen, Keisha saw she wasn’t inside the workshop anymore. It was a huge aircraft hangar, all steel beams, and corrugated metal. The Delight’s propellers were spinning up. She was lifting off. A large aperture was opening just ahead, as the girl used the old ship’s steering wheel to guide herself into a new future.

I wrote this for the FFfAW 165th Writing Challenge of May 1, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

A little over a week ago, I wrote a small tale called Keisha’s Grand Adventure about a fifteen-year-old African-American girl who, following the instructions in her recently deceased Grandpa’s journal, entered his run down workshop to discover the only thing he ever built that actually worked, a strange, anachronistic airship from early in the last century.

Today, it transports her into another world and the beginning of her “grand adventure to find an “alternate” version of her Grandpa, and then together, to save both planets.

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

Find an expanded version of Keisha’s first two stories at The Adventure Begins!

Horror in Straw

straw people

Photo credit: Ellespeth

On a school field trip, third-graders Tony and Martha decided to do a little independent exploring. Slipping away from the rest of the group, they headed into a secluded field.

“I think they’re some kind of scarecrows or something.” The boy wrinkled his nose in thought.

“That seems silly. I mean they look like they’re working, and they’re…” she blushed gazing at the straw women’s attributes. “…women.”

“Let’s have a closer look.” Tony started to run forward.

“Wait! Remember? The farmer told Mr. Pushkin none of us were allowed in this field, and that it was dangerous.”

He turned back toward her. “Oh, come on. We aren’t going to hurt anything. I just want to…”

“Tony! Get out of there!”

He saw the expression of horror on Martha’s face and then spun toward the field. The straw people were moving. One of them was swinging her ax at him menacingly.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of April 24, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 150.

Yes, I noticed the two straw people were supposed to be women, and of course, the first thing I thought of was that they were haunted.

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

Flowers and Scars

wreath

Photo credit: Goroyboy

“Aren’t they pretty, Eva?”

She kept the name the nuns gave her. She had little in common with them, but they made occasional allies in her fight to take the children away from the depravity of the streets.

“Of course they are, Malika. Where did you get them?”

“The old man said he was closing his cart for the day and they wouldn’t sell.” The six-year-old waif nodded vigorously.

Eva trusted few men, but she had been watching the vendor for months with an eye that sought evil. So far, she had seen nothing from him to threaten her children.

“I wanted to give you something as pretty as you.”

Eva smiled weakly and was brought closer to tears than she wanted to be. A child of the streets herself, although now an adult, she bore a multitude of invisible scars and some physical. Suffering from rape at age three, she could never bear babies of her own. Yet her shelter was full of the laughter of all the children she would ever need.

I wrote this for FFfAW Challenge 163 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

This is part three in a small series that starts with The Downfall of Eva and continues with Whatever Happened to Eva. I’m trying to give her a happy ending, but as you can see, even healing leaves behind some scars.

For more stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.