Uninvited

eric wicklund

© Eric Wicklund

“Do you see, Sky? I wasn’t kidding. They’re really there.”

It had taken nine-year-old Gray almost half an hour to convince his twelve-year-old sister to follow him into the woods behind their campground. He knew she wouldn’t believe him unless she saw them for herself. Mom and Dad were busy setting up for the concert so it was easy to get away.

Sky’s face was right next to the hole in the tree, only the tree didn’t have a hole on the other side.

“I don’t believe it,” she whispered to herself.

“Believe it, Sky. They’re elves or fairies or something.”

“We have to be looking into some other world, Gray. But how is this possible?”

Through the green lens set in the tree’s natural depression she could see what Gray had already witnessed, tiny people with wings dancing and fluttering together as if in celebration.

Suddenly, they both heard a buzzing getting louder and a miniature face of gold with an impish smile appeared. “Excuse me, but this is a private party. Go back to your own summer solstice celebration.”

With that, a door slammed and the hole to the other world was denied the children.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – June 25th 2017 photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

When I first saw the image, the green looked like glass instead of the leaves of trees, so I pretended it was a portal to another world (my favorite theme lately). Gray and Sky are part of a group of families who travel to a remote wooded location every year and have a concert to celebrate the coming of summer.

It seems the little people on the other side of the hole do something similar.

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

The Funny Looking Bird

eagle

© A Mixed Bag 2012

Generalissimo Ramon Carlos DeLaVega, his revolution successful and his dictatorship now well established, ordered his family symbol placed upon all government buildings to inspire the public’s fear and awe of him.

The largest one was placed on the wall over the main gates to his compound. He had lights and cameras positioned to record how everyone reacted when seeing the powerful avian predator.

“Why are they laughing?” DeLaVega asked the same question day after day as he reviewed the morning videos showing the children walking to school. They would all stop in front of the gates, point up, and laugh, then gleefully skip along.

Unfortunately, Generalissimo DeLaVega’s family symbol bore a striking resemblance to the muppet Sam the Eagle. The children loved muppets.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – June 18th 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 123.

Yes, the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo was the muppet character Sam the Eagle.

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

sam the eagle

Found at muppet.wikia.com

It’s Never the Same Twice

© A Mixed Bag 2012

Artie and Paul played chess in the cafeteria of “the old folks home” every Sunday afternoon.

“I got the pieces set up this time. Prepare to lose, you old bastard.” Paul chuckled as he ominously fingered one of the clear glass pawns.

“You prepare to lose you son of a bitch. You don’t even know how the game is played.” Artie insisted in always having the white pieces. They made him feel more virtuous somehow.

“I’ll get you now.” Paul moved his hand to one of his knights and jumped three squares forward.

Artie countered by having his right hand castle switch places with the pawn directly ahead and then moved it diagonally across the board.

Before the game was over, they’d attracted the usual crowd. Artie and Paul had never learned to play chess, but they were so much fun to watch. The “rules” they used to play by were never the same twice.

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction – June 11th 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 155.

I saw the chess pieces set up and ready for play and had two thoughts. The first was the short Simon and Garfunkle song Old Friends (YouTube video). I got a very clear image of two old men, friends for decades, playing a game together complete with friendly jibes and the warmth of deep familiarity.

I also recalled a piece of trivia about the 2000 film X-Men. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Eric Lensherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) were supposed to have a scene together where they played chess, but initially neither of them knew how. A chess master had to be hired to teach them.

As I was writing, I also thought of the “Calvin and Hobbes” game Calvinball, a game where the rules are made up moment by moment. In real life, it would be incredibly difficult to accomplish, but in fiction, it’s a lot of fun.

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

A Time to Go Home

winchers stance

© C E Ayr

Colin wasn’t the only one to stop and admire Winchers Stance at Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station, but it had a meaning to him no one else would understand. He too was hoping for a tender reunion after being away from home so long. The late John Clinch had captured the young man’s emotions in this bronze sculpture all too well. Colin held back his tears as he turned away. He had to make the bus to the Edinburgh Airport if he ever wanted to get back to where he belonged.

Sitting by a window near the back of the bus, he tolerated the nearly hour long ride imagining how she’d be there to greet him. He couldn’t get a message to her, but the date and time of his return had been established long ago. Once he arrived at Heathrow, it would be a simple matter to make it to Holborn’s abandoned Aldwych platform. The gate back to his own time was there. It was time for the historian to go home to his wife.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge for June 4th, 2017. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 200 words based on the image above. My word count is 175. Once I looked up the image, I was able to get enough background information to craft my wee tale. I’ve put links in the body of the story to help readers see what I discovered.

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

The Long Memory

piazza navona

© Sally-Ann Hodgekiss

“This is the man I saw when I was in Piazza Navona, Officer. The one who vandalized the Fontana del Moro.”

“Thank you, Mr. Russo. We have your statement and the court will contact you about his trial.”

Giovanni Russo left the police station and two police officers escorted the vandal to an interrogation room.

“Sir, you have no identification. Who are you? Why did you decapitate the figures on the Fontana with a rock?”

“Stop questioning him, Romano. He should have a lawyer.”

“He isn’t asking for one, is he, Bianchi?”

Both officers looked at the mysterious man. They’d never understand the thoughts transpiring behind those ancient, haunted eyes.

Piazza Navona had been built on the site of the 1st century Stadium of Domitian where the Romans went to watch the games. That was where he’d died for the first time. Since then, an endless stream of reincarnations brought the horror back with each lifetime. Now in 2011, his current incarnation was quite insane.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – May 14th 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 164.

On September 3, 2011, the Fontana del Moro was really damaged by a vandal, though he was photographed by security cameras rather than seen by a live witness.

Also, the Piazza Navona really was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian. I used these two bits of history to craft my wee tale this morning.

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

The Unexpected Guest

fly

© A Mixed Bag

Jerry’s hobby of refurbishing used laptops provided him with a modest additional income and some interesting experiences.

“It’s amazing what some people will leave on their hard drives,” he murmured as he opened the lid to his latest acquisition, one he found at a yard sale.

He was used to finding all sorts of food stuffs, potato chip crumbs, flecks of sandwich meat, drops of soda pop, on and around laptop keyboards, but the insect was something new. What’s more, it was still alive.

“Hello, little guy. You must have been caught in their right before they closed the lid and put the laptop out. Good thing I didn’t wait until next week to get to you.”

The fly’s wings were barely fluttering. It was caught by a leg. It was only a fly but…

Jerry had a magnifying glass and light rig he wore on his head to let him do close work. He used his smallest tweezers to create a gap between the space bar and the keyboard housing. The fly was free and took off.

The young System’s Analyst opened the window of his second storey apartment and escorted his unexpected guest back to its native habitat.

I write this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge for April 30th. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction based on the photo above that’s no more than 200 words long. Mine is at the max: 200 words.

I decided to write something simple but uplifting in response to the prompt. Not too many people would have let the fly go free, especially with all of its legs intact.

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

The Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming

garden

© John Brand

I used to hate gardening, but that was before. Now I find it gives me a sense of peace. I remember that he liked gardening. He found it relaxing, even in the heat of the day, which used to drive me crazy.

I wear his old gardening hat. The brim shields my face and removes the glare from my eyes.

It’s springtime, the season of life. The cherry blossoms are in bloom. I have to clean them up of course, but now instead of just being work, it’s a duty and a privilege. I use his old wheelbarrow, the one that reminds me of the difference between belief and faith.

I hadn’t realized how deep his faith ran, while all I had to fall back on was belief and an intellectual’s arguments to defend it.

His death shook me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It’s tremors disturbed my beliefs and threw me into the deep waters of faith. I drowned in that faith, and rose again like my Dad will someday in the resurrection, just like trees bloom again in the spring.

I wrote this as part of the Sunday Photo Fictioner challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 183.

As some of you may know, my Dad died suddenly last Wednesday afternoon. My brother and I have been going through Dad’s things and our Dad never seemed to have thrown away anything. It’s been quite a chore.

But it has let us know our Dad in a way we never really did before. We discovered his passions, his habits, and how he saw his life. Unlike the story above, he wasn’t quite the avid gardener I’ve painted, but in viewing the green and growing things in my parent’s house, and now it’s my Mom’s house, I find hope for the future, a transition from belief to faith.

Oh, in the body of the story, I included a link to an essay I wrote based on a parable of a man who pushed a wheelbarrow across a tight rope. I think it is quite illuminating.

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

Quit Putting Dragons on Clocks

dragon clock

© Jade M. Wong

Charlie Wise had been stopping by the Curiosities Shop every Thursday afternoon for the past ten years. This time he saw something different.

“Antique clock, Phineas?”

“I have a terrific new repair guy working for me.”

“Yeah, but a dragon?”

He keeps adding dragons to everything.”

“You know, I’d buy the clock if it didn’t come with a dragon.”

Phineas leaned on the counter and pushed up his bifocals. “Come around next week. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Okay, Phineas. Have a good day.”

“You too, Charlie.”

After closing, Phineas went into the back, took out his keys, and opened up the workshop.

He was still hard at work.

“You know, I could have sold that clock you worked on today if it didn’t have a dragon on it.”

Everything he’d worked on had a dragon on it.

The old Elf, who had been starving after becoming stranded outside of the Fantasy realm, looked up. “Sue me. I like dragons. Everything you have me work on is so…ordinary.”

Phineas slammed the door shut and locked it.

He muttered to himself, “I’d toss that pointy-earred bum out on the street again if he wasn’t so good at refurbishing antiques.”

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – April 16th 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine came in at 196 (after quite a bit of editing). I realized that the natural response to the photo would be to have the dragon come to life. I decided to try a different approach.

To read more stories written for this prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

For the Love of Cynthia

viking

© A Mixed Bag

The fake Viking boat was the only unusual thing about the park. It overlooked Suisun Bay to the north and bordered the Point Edith Wildlife Area. Cynthia always felt safe in the reserve, which is why she told Richard to meet her here each morning after it was over.

Early on a Monday morning, the park was deserted, though there was plenty of evidence that hundreds of children played here the day before.

Cynthia always loved children, but they were never able to have any together. Small wonder given her unique nature. How would she ever carry a pregnancy to full term?

The full moon was just about to set so she’d be coming soon. In his left hand, he had the rucksack with her clothes in it.

The wolf appeared out of the bushes to his left. Even knowing who and what she was, Richard still felt afraid.

Moonset. She collapsed on the grass and started writhing, her shape twisting, fur vanishing. In moments, she was his beautiful wife again.

He ran over to her now shivering form. “It’s okay, darling. It’s over. I’ll take care of you.”

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – April 9th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine came in at 189.

I’ve written werewolf stories before such as The Wolf’s Mate and Violation, so this is merely a continuation of that theme, though with different characters.

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

I’d Give Everything I Have for You

pier

© Jules Paige

It had finally stopped raining when Jack Bishop reached the little used pier. He wanted to sit down, but he couldn’t. He had to get to the end, to where Billy and he used to fish when his son was little.

Jack stopped and looked down. His right hand was pressing against the bleeding wound at his gut as hard as he dared, shot thanks to a mugging gone wrong. He was a goner, but he had to reach the end of the pier.

Lance Corporeal William Bishop was killed when his vehicle ran over an IED near Baghdad on August 13, 2011. The magician said that if Jack could reach the end of the pier before dying, he’d trade his life for Billy’s.

“Made it. I love you, son.” Jack sat on one of the benches, his life coming to an end. “I’m here for you, Billy. You’ve got the rest of your life to live. Make it a good life.”

******

twilight zone

From the 1963 Twilight Zone episode “In Praise of Pip

Billy sat on the bench and helped his five-year-old son Todd bait the hook on his fishing line. “God, I wish your Grandpa were here to see this. I miss him so much.”

I wrote this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 26th 2017 challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 200 words based on the image above. I made it at 195 words.

This story isn’t exactly original. It’s loosely based on a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone called In Praise of Pip. Actor Jack Klugman plays a small time bookie named Max Phillips who’s in deep with the mob. The only light in his life is his son Pip, who is serving as a soldier in Vietnam. Fate gives Max a second chance, but it involves trading his life for Pip’s, who otherwise would be killed in combat.

The ending scene with actor Robert Diamond playing the adult Pip, alive and well, having survived serving in ‘Nam, talking about how much he misses his Dad still breaks me up.

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