And The Sea Gave Up The Dead

ocean princess

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“Relax, Rachel. This is a cruise ship. We aren’t in the middle of the ocean, we’re docked in Barcelona. Don’t you want to spend two extra days here? It’s beautiful.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve always been afraid of the water, Chad.”

Then why did you agree on a sea cruise for our honeymoon?”

He held her close. They were standing at the rail facing the city. Their ship the Oceana was going to be delayed here while divers made emergency repairs on a leaking propeller shaft seal.

“Face your fears. That sort of thing. When we have children, I can’t be the Momma who’s afraid to take them to the beach.”

catherine buckley

Miss Catherine Buckley, boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger.

“Great. How about a swim?” He chided her.

“Swimming lessons after we get back home.” She was only mildly annoyed at his teasing, but she never told him about the dreams of drowning in icy water, of a sinking ship named Titanic, of a twenty-two year old woman named Catherine Buckley.

Her lifelong nightmares had faded until she read a news story saying the Titanic was slowly being eaten away and would vanish entirely in twenty years.

Maybe then the dreams would disappear again and Catherine would finally have peace.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction of October 15th 2017 challenge. The idea is to use the image above to inspire crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Seeing the words “Ocean Princess” on the side of that small craft, I did a bit of Googling and found it could match up to several craft. Renamed MV Oceana, the Ocean Princess entered service in November 2002. According to Wikipedia, “In early April 2014, Oceana underwent emergency repairs after she developed a problem with one of her propeller shaft seals. The ship stayed in port in Barcelona for three days instead of the scheduled one for divers to carry out the repairs.”

I’d recently read about how the Titanic is slowly being deteriorated by bacteria and will be completely disintegrated within twenty years. This breaks my heart because it is the final memorial for all the souls who went down with her. Also, I’ve been fascinated with the legend of the Titanic since I was a child and was both excited and disappointed when the wreck was actually found.

I decided to tinker with history a bit so that both the Oceana being stuck in Barcelona and the discovery of the Titanic’s imminent demise occurs during the same year. I also decided to play with reincarnation a bit. Catherine (or Katherine) Buckley did die aboard the Titanic and I picked her more or less at random from a list of the victims. Her body was recovered and interned in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Massachusetts by her sister who lived in Roxbury at the time.

I took the title for today’s tale from Revelation 20:13.

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

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I Wonder What Would Happen…

egyptian artifact

© Kathryn Forbes 2009

“Why we’re doing this again, Wyatt?”

“We’ve done this countless times, Josue…take a real artifact and substitute a fake in order to maintain our timeline. If we let any evidence remain of alien visitors to ancient Earth, it would drastically change history and you and I might never exist.”

Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter were historians working for an agency that maintained timeline integrity. Whenever the Temporal Event Indicator at their lab lit up, it meant they had another job ahead of them. Today, they were removing the extraterrestrial circuitry from an Egyptian artifact. Actually, it had been in storage in the basement of a museum in London for decades, but tomorrow it would be examined in detail for the first time.

“There. Done. We can go home now Josue old boy.”

“Just once I’d like to see what would happen if we didn’t respond to that pesky light. Oh well.”

Wistfulness and carelessness went hand in hand. Josue followed Wyatt back to the future not noticing he’d left a small but vital control chip behind.

Ellison and Hunter shot forward through the centuries until, crossing over the moment each was born, vanished into the realm of probability.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of October 8, 2017 (yesterday). The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

For this one, I decided to dust off a couple of characters I introduced here. I wrote three stories using them and then hit a dead end. Occasionally, I bring back old characters when I find a new use for them. Sadly, Josue’s mistake ends their adventures before they begin (although since they are fictional and I am their creator, I can resurrect them any time I feel like).

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

Fox Strikes a Bargain

fox

© A Mixed Bag – 2012

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was pissed. It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. He and his mates were supposed to outwit those three dumb farmers and steal all the food, but when he was raiding Bean’s henhouse, the old boy got the upper hand and caught him in a box trap.

Oh, it’s the middle of the night to be sure so he’s still in bed, but when dawn comes, the bastard and his two pals would have him cold and then where would the Fox’s family be?

“If you agree not to hurt us, we’ll let you out.”

“What? Who’s there?”

“Are you daft? You’re in a henhouse. We’re the hens.”

“If you let me out and I don’t hurt you, what is my family supposed to eat, not to mention my friend Badger and his brood? We have a right to live, too.”

“We know where the farmers keep their larder. Play it smart, and you’ll eat like kings.”

“Seems reasonable. Okay ladies, you have a bargain.”

Thanks to the tunneling skills of Fox and Badger, from that day forth, the livestock and the woodland animals cooperated and they all lived well.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of October 1st 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 195.

Yes, I leveraged Roald Dahl’s 1970 children’s tale Fantastic Mr. Fox for this one. It was the second thing I thought of when I saw the photo. Actually, I thought three things.

First, that fox looked pissed. Second, the Fantastic Mr. Fox popped into my head, so I looked the book up on Wikipedia. The third was I didn’t have the heart to write about a dead and taxidermied animal.

I also didn’t think it appropriate (though it would be natural) for the fox to be freed only to kill and eat the hens, so I worked out a deal between the two “factions” where they’d all benefit.

True story. I used to live in a home in the local foothills and behind my house was a small wild area. We did periodically see a fox hunting out there who we dubbed “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” We even saw him once walking in our backyard with a mouse’s tail hanging out his mouth (presumably the rest of the mouse was inside).

Alas, he killed Mr. Duck’s mate at one point and the Duck was very cranky from that day on.

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

The Way Home

leaves

The leaves made a long-forgotten sound as she walked across the field. Danielle took a deep breath and let it out, watching the white mist sail out in front of her. She wasn’t used to the cold. She’d spent nearly a decade in the desert helping the dragons reclaim what was theirs. The war was finally over. The dragons won but Danielle had lost so much. Her brother died defending what was right. She came back home and discovered Mom and Dad died in a car accident.

Now she was going back to the only home she had left. Grandpa had grown old but he was still alive. Ten years ago, she sat on his lap and he read her the first story about the dragon’s quest, how the demons had taken their homes and put them into exile. She was only a girl when she found the stories were true. She was barely a teen when she stepped through the portal to help.

Now she was back. There. His cabin. Smoke rising from the chimney. She could almost smell his pancakes. She opened the door. He never locked it. “Grandpa, I’m home.”

“Darling. I’ve missed you,” he replied smiling.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for September 24th 2017. The challenge is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 200.

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

Why I Came Back

apartment building

© John Robinson

He could feel the blood seeping down his calf from his injured knee. He wished he could enjoy the morning air, but he had to finish this.

Just go over the bridge to the apartment complex, find which one is her’s break in, and then wait. She left for university over an hour ago but she’d be back by noon.

He pressed different buttons on the intercom and as each resident answered, he said, “It’s me.”

Only one opened the door for him, but that’s all he needed.

He had found a first aid kit in the pantry, bound his wound, and cleaned up the blood. He was sitting in a kitchen chair when he heard her unlock the door.

She didn’t see him at first in the darkness. Then she turned on the light and gasped.

“I won’t hurt you. Please sit down.”

“Who are you?” She was trembling.

“Please sit down. I need to tell you what happened to your parents.”

She stood in the middle of her living room. “My mother. She shot my father and then committed suicide.”

“No, Nika. I killed them, but that was a long time ago. I’ve come back to tell you why.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction of September 17th 2017 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 exactly 200.

I think it was in the film The Bourne Supremacy (2004) that Jason Bourne confessed to a young Russian woman why he had killed her parents when she was a child. It was his first kill, and one where he was specifically manipulated to forget what he’d done. When he finally started recovering his memories, he felt he owed it to the young woman to explain that he had murdered them rather than have her continue to believe her mother murdered her father and then committed suicide.

When I saw the photo prompt, it reminded me of that particular sequence in the movie, so I decided to recreate it. I know that’s horribly unoriginal of me, but it was the very first thing to pop into my head.

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

The Faith of Parents

flood

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“Thank God we stocked up on supplies before it got bad, Rick.”

“Must be the frustrated Boy Scout in me. Never want to get caught with my shorts down.”

Rick and Rachel Norman turned when they heard the giggling behind them. Their daughters, five-year-old Amie and her two-and-a-half-year-old sister Hannah were laughing. “Daddy’s shorts down,” Amie chuckled. The girls thought the idea was hilarious. As long as Mom and Dad were with them, they had nothing to worry about.

“You two squirts want breakfast?” Daddy pretended to chase the now squealing children while Mommy turned back to look out the window. The food wouldn’t last forever and the news said the devastating series of rainstorms assailing California had no end in sight. Years of drought and now this.

“No power, so it’s cereal again, kids.” Daddy served them with entertaining flourish getting the milk from the cooler. Like Rachel, he was worried too. They had to hold out until the rescuers came. News radio said Police and Firefighters were making sweeps of the different neighborhoods by boat, but they could only go so fast.

“Soon, God. Make it soon for the sake of our Babies,” he uttered his silent prayer.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction for September 10th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200 even.

My wife is out of town and my son works weekends, so I spent all Saturday and Sunday with my two grandchildren. They can be a handful, especially my two-year-old granddaughter, but they are definitely worth it. Monday morning and back at work again. I won’t see them for at least another week, so of course they’re on my mind.

I know it would probably have made more sense to choose Houston, New Orleans, or any place in Florida as the scene of my disaster, but given the long-standing drought California has endured, I thought I’d “spread the wealth,” so to speak.

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

Incident on the Dover Bridge

tank

© A Mixed Bag 2013

President Trump declared a state of Martial Law for the affected areas of the Eastern Seaboard, including New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, for lack of any better idea. The impossible was happening. Groups of Native Americans, along with their houses and towns were appearing at random in different geographic areas, replacing whatever and whoever had been there before.

The President’s interim Science Advisor Michael Kratsios checked and found there was a small group at MIT experimenting with cross-dimensional fields which possibly caused these phenomena.

Captain Roberts had directed his tank over the Dover Bridge crossing the Choptank River about five miles from Easton, Maryland. Halfway across the span, the bridge changed and in the middle of the bridge was a military troop armed with rocket launchers.

“Franklin, get us stopped in a hurry.”

“Yes sir.” Sgt Caroline Franklin brought the tank to an abrupt halt. Roberts popped the turret hatch hoping he could talk his way out if this mess, whatever it was. The leader of the group called up to him.

“I’m First Warrior Achak Running Bear of the Lenni Lenape Militia. I understand you think you own this land. We’re here to take back what is ours.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of September 3rd, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I tried to find the actual location where this photo was taken, which isn’t likely to be where I’ve set my wee tale, but I failed miserably. However one of the references for “dover bridge” Google pointed me to was the bridge and river I used for my story. I’ve leveraged some plot points from a series of time travel stories I’m currently writing based on the works of the late Andre Norton (whose real name was Alice Mary Norton), particularly a chapter I published yesterday called Incursion. What would happen if a scientific experiment went wrong and started replacing parts of our world with an alternate reality, one in which Europe had never colonized the Americas? Today’s piece of short fiction gives us a taste of the answer.

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

Flowers in a Teacup

cups

© Dawn M. Miller

“Be careful not to spill, Daddy.”

Jacob gently placed a full teacup on each of the three poles at his five-year-old daughter Emily’s direction.

“Thank you, Daddy.” She ran up to him and hugged him. “I love you.”

Jacob bent down to hug her. “I love you too, Sweetheart.”

He stood, took Emily’s hand, and together they admired his work. “Do you really think the fairies will come for your tea party tonight?”

“They’re really shy, Daddy. We can’t be around or they won’t come.”

“Then how do you know…?”

“The tea will be gone, silly Daddy. They’ll leave flowers in the cups to say ‘Thank you.'”

“Okay. We’d better get going.”

They walked across the field back toward home. Jacob planned to fulfill her fantasy later that night.

It was after nine before he could get away. Halfway out to where he’d set the cups, he saw fireflies fluttering around them, but they were so big. After they left, he walked to the cups. In place of the tea, each one contained an arrangement of wildflowers.

Jacob looked at the flowers in his hand and set them on the ground. Even fairies knew not to disappoint a little girl.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for August 27th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 200.

I had a tough time with this one mainly because I don’t think the ending comes as much of a surprise. Still, I wanted to write something family-oriented and uplifting.

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

Melvin’s Basement

© A Mixed Bag 2012

It had been two years since their divorce was final and Melvin finally had his basement set up. It was the toy room he dreamed of as a child. Space, the final frontier, and all of the aircraft, rocket ships, and space stations he thought would be reality in 2017.

“I was promised my moon base.” Melvin murmured. “Where is my moon base? Where is my rotating ring space station? Why haven’t we colonized Mars yet?”

When he was twelve years old, Star Trek first came on the air and Melvin dreamed. Then he got older, went to college, got a job, got married, and had kids. Jeannie had been the practical one in the marriage. She detested clutter, so out went his models, his comic books, his scifi novel collection.

Married life became an exercise in control and being controlled. That ended two years ago to the day. He had spent a fortune to rebuild his paperback and comic book collection.

“I’m free.”

Melvin sat down near the basement door and admired his toy room. Now if only he had someone to share it with. Melvin was free of his family and now he was free to be alone.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Writing Challenge for August 20th, 2017. The idea is to use the image above to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I think anyone who’s been married for any length of time knows that there’s quite a bit of compromise that goes into a marriage. Sure, you need to live out your dreams but you also need to make room in your life for what your spouse needs. Apparently, that didn’t happen between Melvin and Jeannie, but then again, we haven’t heard her side of the story. Sadly whatever happened has left Melvin a very lonely man.

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

Sherlock and the Doctor

dr who

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“This is ridiculous, Watson. I deal in facts, not fiction.”

The two men had just stepped onto Baker street after exiting their flat and made, what to one of them, was a startling discovery.

“But I tell you, Sherlock, this Police Box wasn’t here when we went to bed last night. How could it have been installed so early on a Sunday morning?”

“I envy you sometimes, Watson. Not often, but sometimes. You’re mind is so simple and uncluttered. Obviously this is a hoax. See, the word ‘Demo’ is clearly posted on the door, and the door itself is locked.”

“How do you know it’s locked?”

“Try it.”

“Ugh. Yes, you’re right. I can’t budge it, Sherlock.”

“Come along, Watson. We’ll be late for our breakfast appointment and I believe our next case.” The tall, eccentric man called out toward the street. “Taxi!” Abruptly, their transportation stopped in front of 221B Baker Street. The duo entered and then rapidly departed.

Moments later, the door of the Police Box slowly opened and a befuddled older gentlemen stuck his head out. “Are they gone?”

I wrote this for the writing challenge at Sunday Photo Fiction for August 13th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 186.

I think sometime back in the 1970s I watched a few episodes of Doctor Who (Tom Baker was playing the Doctor then) but have no interest in its current incarnation (mainly because I’d have to “catch up” by watching over 50 years of episodes and who has that kind of time?).

On the other hand, I’m slowly working my way through the more recent BBC television show Sherlock (currently in the middle of the second season) starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. I thought I’d throw the two together just to see what would happen.

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