Santa Lives in Arizona

desert christmas

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Seventeen-year-old Humberto knew they’d never make it if they stayed with the mob, so hours before dawn, he took his Mama, his pregnant older sister Esmeralda, and his ten-year-old brother Joaquin and slipped into America just a few miles northwest of Nogales.

“We are lost, Niño.” Mama was always worried. If they could make it to Tucson, Uncle Carlos would take them in.

“No, we aren’t. Rio Rico is just a few miles ahead.”

“Humberto, I have to pee.” Joaquin had walked hundreds of miles, but he was still just a kid.

“We’re in a desert. Go anywhere.” Humberto turned to Essie. “How are you doing?”

“I’m only five months along. Stop acting like I’m going to give birth any second.” Mama catered to Humberto, and she resented him acting like Papa.

“Mama! Mama! Look it.” The child was jumping up and down excitedly. “It’s Santa’s house. Look.”

The squat home with the low rock fence was decorated in red and white, but it was the fat old white man with the bushy beard smiling and waving them over that convinced Joaquin.

“You’re welcome to stay here,” he said in spanish. “It’s Christmas and I’d love to celebrate with company.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 23 December 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Yes, it looks like Arizona, regardless of where the photo was actually taken, so I looked up “Arizona news.” Among other stories, I found one chronicling the arrest of hundreds of migrants that had come into the state across the border near Nogales, so I based my we tale on that event. After that, I tried to “Christmas” it up as much as I could, given the theme.

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

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An Ending in Fire

town

Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi

Kurt stood on the cliff overlooking the tiny Southern California. It was 30 miles west of Santa Barbara and it was all his.

“It looks so peaceful from up here,” he said just to hear something besides the wind. Even the gulls and squirrels were gone, having deserted this doomed land if they could or otherwise having died, just like all the people.

He rubbed his left hand over his short-cropped gray and white hair. “Well, guess I’d better get to it while I still have daylight.”

He knew the National Guard had sealed off everything between Santa Maria and Ventura north and south, and Bakersfield to the east. No one would imagine anyone would want to stay in the danger zone with them, but Kurt did. His family was down there, what was left of them, and now that he’d wired the whole place to blow, he’d exterminate the last of the infected. He wasn’t planning to escape. His wife, kids, grandkids were turned into something like zombies or vampires by the mutant virus. Only he was immune. Standing in town with his back to the ocean, he pressed the remote and the next California wildfire began.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I chose this theme for no particular reason other than it was what popped into my head. Although the limited word count didn’t allow for it, I set my tale in the small southern California town of Gaviota. I’m sure it doesn’t look like the image above, but I needed a location that was small and isolated.

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

The Aulegren’s Children

kelpie

© JS Brand

It’s a tourist attraction now, but they still tell the stories, all ending with the heroic victory over a powerful enemy, perpetually frozen in their equine warrior form. But humans were the invaders, twelve colony ships, master guidance control damaged. AI was smart enough to detect the problem but not repair it, so it found an alternate world.

Unfortunately, it belonged to the Aulegren.

The colonists, being human, “discovered” the land, pretended to adapt, then multiplied like rabbits, taking over every natural resource.

The Aulegren first came as fair lasses and handsome paramours, hoping to use love to found peace.

When humans started raping them and taking what they wanted anyway, Aulegren declared war.

They might have won, but they always restricted their population, living harmoniously with the environment. Humans bred and bred, and with both superior technology, and stolen Aulegren magicks (some humans were gifted with the sight), the colonists won. That’s the official story, anyway.

A few were born of Human-Aulegren pairings and we have to stay hidden, lest we ire the pure bloods. Perhaps someday there’ll be enough of us, but to what end? Live in anxious peace with the conquerors, or begin the war anew?

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 11, 2018 hosted by Susan. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

A quick Google image search led me to this site and the legend of the Kelpie, shape-shifting water spirits who can appear as beautiful women.

I adapted the story to weave my own little tale of conquest and subjucation, with a hint of hope at the end.

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

Rainbow’s Edge

rainbow

© April Pearson

A rainbow is nothing magical, just the result of light shining through a lot of drops of rain and being dispersed into a spectrum of light in the sky. Okay, I’ll buy that as far as it goes, but why is it in the shape or a bow?

Sometimes the bow forms a semi-circle with ends that touch different parts of the earth. What would happen if you came across one of those ends.

Yesterday, I did.

I was hiking on a trail in the deep interior of the Valley of Fire. The sky was overcast. I love November. It had been raining all day, but the storm was ahead of me now. That’s when I saw it; the edge.

The base was fuzzy, indistinct as it touched the ground, and there certainly no pot of gold there. It looked more than a trick of light, especially as it illuminated the shadows, cut off from the sun’s rays.

On the 4th day in November, Madelyn April Cross touched a rainbow and became all the colors of the universe. Then she knew what to do next.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of November 4, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 185.

I can’t really tell you what made me write the story the way I did. I can tell you that the Valley of Fire is a real place that is roughly 60 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. I hiked there many times in my youth.

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

I May Not Know Art But I Know What I Like

art

Image credit: Fandango

“So, what’s with the crap?” Tammy waved her arm at the unlikely collection of two beat up rocking chairs and a dead tree.

“It’s art, I guess.” Her companion Ryan scratched his head in puzzlement.

“We had to pay to get in and see this? And look at the price. Who’d pay $800.00 for this?”

“Come on, hun. Jay’s a nice guy, and we said we’d support his debut here at the art museum.” Then he grabbed her arm. “Hush. Here he comes.”

“Ryan! Tammy!” The young man dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a tan sports jacket approached holding out his hand. “I’m glad you could make it.”

They each shook hands with the broadly grinning artist.

“What do you think?” He waited expectantly.

“Well, it’s interesting,” Ryan said, trying to look contemplative.

“Yes, that’s what it is. Interesting.” Tammy hoped she could bluff her way through the conversation.

“Oh, come now. You know it’s just a bunch of junk thrown together, but it’s what the public likes.”

The couple both stared at their neighbor like he’d suddenly turned green.

“Excuse me, Mr. Fellows?” One of the exhibit managers approached Jay. “A gentlemen says he wishes to purchase your work.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 21, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I didn’t want to write about an art exhibit, but the surroundings clearly indicate that’s what this is. Hopefully, I managed to put a sufficient spin on the topic.

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

A New Home for Diablo

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August MorgueFIle 139596857318u1t

“Bubbe! Baby chickies!” The enthusiastic three-year-old girl let go of her grandmother’s hand and ran over to the heated glass enclosure. She pressed her palms and nose against it and then pulled back. “It’s hot, Bubbe.”

“It’s okay to look, but don’t scare them, Dani.” The sixty-year-old bent over and put her hand gently on the child’s shoulder.

“Look, a kitty-cat.” The toddler spun to her left when she spied the black feline out of the corner of her eye. Surprisingly, when she zipped over to the edge of the counter to pet it, the cat didn’t even flinch.

“Your cat is amazingly calm,” the grandparent said to the young cashier.

“Yes, and he needs a new home, unfortunately. The former owners had to move and couldn’t take Diablo with them.” The woman’s raven hair was as dark as the cat’s fur.

“Diablo?” The older woman quickly pulled her phone from her purse as her granddaughter continued to pet the cat. “Jim. It’s me. How would you like to give an abandoned cat a new home?”

I wrote this for week #42 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 176.

I admit that the photo didn’t immediately inspire a pulse-pounding, dynamic tale of action and adventure, but I remembered my wife telling me that she took our granddaughter to a local gardening and feed store the other day, and they did have a cat there needing a new home. On a separate occasion, I’ve visited another branch of the same store and saw chicks in a heated case, so I put the two events together.

And no, we didn’t adopt the cat. I made that part up.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As of this writing, I’m the first to contribute, so please consider adding your own wee tale.

Thanks.

The Liars

ox head

1361226489r9nsl MorgueFile

Loren Jackson stopped her Jeep Wrangler in front of Erwin’s rundown one-room shack located a ten miles south of Barstow. He said the isolation helped him keep his head clear. Time was running out, and the investigative reporter needed answers, whether corroborated or not. The Senate vote to confirm was only two days away.

Over the past ten years, she had used the aged recluse to point her in the right direction in half a dozen exclusive stories. She’d even won a Pulitzer for breaking the Clinton scandal, though it didn’t garner her much favor in the eyes of her progressive colleagues. The psychic had never failed her, so she was confident he would come through this time as well.

It was still early morning and cold in the desert as her booted left foot stepped across the open threshold. He was sitting cross-legged, eyes fluttering, holding what looked like a cow’s skull on his lap.

“What the heck is that thing?”

He opened his eyes and looked up. “A symbol. They sometimes manifest when I come out of a trance.”

“What’s it mean? What did you find out? Which one of them is telling the truth.”

“They’re both lying.”

I wrote this for Week 40 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I know, I’m taking liberties with the prompt, but the whole Brett Kavanaugh confirmation three-ring circus hearings have been weighing heavily on my mind for a while now. I keep considering the allegations and what’s come up so far from the FBI’s investigation, tossing them back and forth in my thoughts. There are a few things.

It seems that none of the people at the party where Dr. Ford alleges she was sexually assaulted even remember being there:

Each has said previously that they do not recall the gathering Ford described. Eric B. Bruce, Smyth’s attorney, issued a statement Monday saying Smyth “truthfully answered every question the FBI asked him and, consistent with the information he previously provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he indicated that he has no knowledge of the small party or gathering described by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor does he have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”

At least one of Kavanaugh’s friends have stated Kavanaugh is an aggressive and belligerent drunk, which could support Ford’s allegations that he assaulted her while intoxicated.

On the other hand, the various phobias Dr. Ford states she continues to suffer from (including a fear of flying even though she regularly flies) have been refuted in a letter from an anonymous party claiming to be Ford’s ex boyfriend.

I know. A witness claiming Kavanaugh has a history of being aggressive when drunk and an anonymous ex-boyfriend saying that Ford isn’t claustrophobic because she once lived in a 500 sq ft apartment and lived for a time in Hawaii (and unless she took a ship, she most likely got there by flying). It’s not much to go on, but consider this.

Let’s say that those allegations are factual. It means both Kavanaugh and Ford lied under oath and are both guilty of perjury:

A person convicted of perjury under federal law may face up to five years in prison and fines. The punishment for perjury under state law varies from state to state, but perjury is a felony and carries a possible prison sentence of at least one year, plus fines and probation.

If proven, then technically, they both could go to prison. It probably won’t go that way, but even if Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh are established to be factual, in all likelihood (again, assuming a friend and an ex-boyfriend are correct) they both did lie.

Anyway, back to the photo challenge. To read other stories based on the prompt, and so far, mine’s the only one, visit InLinkz.com.

No Evidence

cottage

© Susan Spaulding

“It happened in there.” Fifteen-year-old Christina Stevens pointed at the opening of the tiny, twisted cottage sitting in the park.

“I’ll have a look.” Senior Officer Angela Conner nodded at the teen then turned to her partner. “Watch him.”

“You bet.” Rookie Officer Jordan Beck grabbed handcuffed seventeen-year-old Sam Kelly by the shoulder.

“Why are you doing this, Chrissie? You know I didn’t do…”

The boy was interrupted by an elbow to the gut. “No talking to the victim, perp.” Beck scowled at the now doubled over high school senior. Then he gave the young blond girl his most charming smile.

After a few minutes, Conner walked back out of the cottage holstering a strange device.

“What’s that?” Chrissie sounded nervous.

“It’s a Temporal Scanner, Ms. Stevens. We’ve been using them for about five years now.” She turned to her partner. “I scanned the time frame when she said the incident occurred. Kids were in and out of here last month drinking beer. Stevens and Kelly were present but never at the same time and never alone together. Uncuff him. There’s no evidence.”

Tears welled up in the girl’s eyes. “But you’re supposed to just believe me.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of September 30th. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a flash fiction piece no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

Yes, I know this story will be especially unpopular in light of the recent testimony given at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to potentially confirm him as a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m not defending Kavanaugh and I’m not saying that his alleged victim Dr. Christine Ford is not being truthful. I’m also not saying that victims should routinely be disbelieved or ignored. However, I am deeply disturbed by the thought that 100% of all allegations of sexual assault must be believed without any evidence whatsoever and with no consideration for any other circumstances.

In my wee fictional tale, I decided to create the one piece of technology that could impartially examine the evidence at the time in which a crime was to have allegedly occurred. If Temporal Scanners were real, we could look back at any point in history and observe what actually happened. Memories (and any other motivations) would be irrelevant, since investigators could see and hear what really occurred.

It wouldn’t be a matter of belief. We would actually know.

To read other (more acceptable) tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

I’m sorry, but there are always two sides to every story. I’m just presenting the flip side of the coin.

Time’s Answer

leaves

© Tsukushi – Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

foggy fence

Photo credit 14946675160vn34 AugustMorgue File – found at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner

Fifteen-year-old Olivia Caie shook her scarlet mane in frustration. Broden and Nicol had never shown up, tricking her into building the Magika alone. It was sunset on All Hallows Eve. She’d never make it home in time.

Had the haunts already arrived or was it only an owl’s call? “Wait. The Magika can protect me, but I’ll have to stand inside til dawn.” The ancient design was her only hope.

###

Sean Watson walked along the fence in the fog wondering if he’d made it. A girl’s voice from the trees ahead sent him running through dry leaves toward her. He saw the shivering teen dressed in a full length gingham dress, huddled on the ground, arms wrapped around herself, muttering.

Seeing him, she gasped. “Sir, have the haunts gone?”

“I won’t hurt you. What were you saying before?”

She stood and giggled in embarrassment. “A poem. ‘Katy’s Answer’ by Allan Ramsay. I recite poems when I’m afright.”

“Allan Ramsay, but…” After a temporal accident in the 21st century, Sean found himself in 6th century England, that is until he discovered a way to manipulate the gateway. He didn’t quite make it home. Ramsay’s poetry was popular in 18th century Scotland.

I wrote this for two photo challenges, Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Photo Challenge #231 and Week 39 of Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. The former asks that participants use the presented photo as the inspiration for crafting a poem, short story, or other creative work of any length and you can click the link above to read all story entries. The latter asks the same but using no more than 200 words, and normally has a separate link to read submitted stories but today it’s missing (It’s fixed). My word count is 200.

This tale is actually a sequel to a short story I wrote called The Blacksmith’s Well, which I tried to summarize at this end of this story. Time travel is a fickle thing.

Magika is a 2010 film, but at a source I can no longer find, it also references the occult in ancient Persia, at least I think it does. I needed an exotic name for the circle of leaves.

And yes, Allan Ramsay is a real person.

A Girl and Her Dog

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MorgueFileJune2018 1418535473h5g6w

Toby trotted casually through the water, understating the panic he felt last night during the storm. The reason for this was the golden retriever now had two sets of thoughts in his head; his own canine concerns, and the comforting presence of Marianne.

“Good boy, Toby. You’re almost there. Just another block and then turn right.”

They’d been having these sorts of “conversations” since he was a puppy, so they no longer scared or confused him. It was a natural consequence of living with the eight-year-old girl and her family.

He remembered the storm, the flood, being separated from them during the evacuation, but she kept him calm.

Then he turned the corner and caught sight of the shelter, the gymnasium of a high school. She was waiting outside for him.

“Toby!” He could hear her this time. She was screaming and jumping up and down with joy.

He broke into a run and didn’t stop until she was grabbing his wet fur, hugging him. He jumped with her, barking and then licking her face.

“I missed you, Toby. Please stay with me always.”

“Okay, he’s back.” Daddy’s voice echoed in her thoughts. “We’ve got to go before we’re discovered.”

I wrote this for Week 38 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner photo challenge hosted by Roger Shipp. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Given that the dog is walking in water and the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I thought I’d make my heroine a flood victim…as well as a mutant telepath.

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