The Target

Taxi

Photo credit: Kai Pilger pexels-photo-462867 Taxi

Peter took a taxi from JFK into Manhattan, seeing the driver frown in the rear view mirror when he gave the address.

Anna had met him outside Terminal 4 where she’d given him the item secured in a laptop case. He was the only one in the organization who could deliver it to the target, but it would mean his death as well. It hardly mattered, He had stage four liver cancer and would be dead soon anyway.

Arriving at the Trump Tower, he paid the fare adding a generous trip. He had more in common with the driver than the man might expect.

Showing his ID, he was waved through every level of security except the Secret Service. Fortunately, the laptop was a working model.

“Donald, how good to see you again.” He shook hands with one of his oldest friends. They exchanged pleasantries in the President’s private suite, and then, “Let me show you that information we have on the FBI.”

The explosion killed them both instantly, raining debris onto 5th Avenue.

Listening to the news, Anna felt both grief and joy. Now maybe the government would reunite all of those poor babies with their parents at the border.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018 Week #25 challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

No, I’m not advocating assassinating President Trump or hurting or killing anyone. However, Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has been blamed for the separation of parents and children who have illegally attempted to enter the U.S., is all over the news and social media. Also, all you have to do is search twitter for the hashtag #resistance, and you can see the tremendous response to this policy in specific, and President Trump in general.

So I thought I’d create an extremist form of that resistance, one in which even some of Trump’s closest friends have joined, and one that is willing to use lethal force to enact political and social change.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

Oh, “Peter” and “Anna” are totally fictitious and is not based on any actual people.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. Remember, this linkup still needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

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This Year’s Father’s Day

father's day

Photo credit: Susan Spaulding

Every morning for the past three years, Gary took his convenience store donut and coffee to the park and had breakfast at one of the picnic tables. It had been a difficult time between the forced retirement and then Helen suddenly and angrily divorcing him. Most of all, he missed his kids and grandkids. They’d taken Helen’s side in the split up. He was lonely but stoic, or at least he pretended to be.

“Grandpa! Grandpa!” It was his grandson Tony running up to him from the parking lot. The eleven-year-old hit him like a loving freight train.

“You’ve really grown. I’ve missed you.” They drowned in each other’s arms.

Gary looked up to find himself surrounded by all of his kids, their spouses, and all of his grandkids.

Emily, his youngest, kissed him on the cheek. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Come home with us and have a real breakfast. We love you.”

It took a few minutes for the old man to compose himself enough to leave the park with his forgiving family.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction of June 17, 2018 hosted by Susan. The idea it to take the image above and use it as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 174.

I cheated somewhat and read Iain’s story before writing my own. Since his theme was Father’s Day ( realize there are parts of the world that don’t have this celebration) and I’m a Dad and Grandpa, I decided to go that route as well, taking a sad beginning and brightening it.

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

Head Tax

escalator

Photo credit: Kaique Rocha pexels-photo-125532 escalator

Manny almost jumped back from top of the escalator when he saw Leah walking across the baggage claim area right below him. She hadn’t looked in his direction and was out of sight by the time he reached the bottom.

He hadn’t expected her to still be at Seatac. Her flight should have arrived hours ago. “Plane must have been delayed,” he muttered, approaching the line of waiting taxis. Entering the closest one, he uttered the address he was given. Manny was grateful the driver wasn’t chatty.

He arrived at the designated part of South Park, paid the driver including a generous tip, and got out. He’d be staying here for a few days, and the first thing he had to do was buy a gun, which wasn’t hard if you had the right connections.

Tomorrow, he’d greet and then kill Leah Thompson just as she left her upscale condo in Belltown. Then he’d exterminate everyone else on the city council who voted to repeal the “head tax.” His uncle Darrel had been murdered by another homeless person six months ago. If the city had been able to provide affordable housing to the needy, he’d still be alive.

I wrote this for the Week #24 writing challenge at Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. 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 196.

The photo looks like it could be an airport and I picked the city of Seattle at random. Looking up news for that city, I found Seattle quickly repeals ‘head tax’ that Amazon opposed. Apparently, Seattle had passed a law taxing big businesses like Amazon and Starbucks $500 per full-time employee so the city could fund affordable housing and services for the homeless. However Amazon pushed back in a big way, so the city council voted 7 to 2 to repeal it. Well, they actually dropped the tax to $250 per employee, but a lot of people were unhappy that the council caved in to big business.

I had planned to write an ominous tale when I first saw the photo, and my research just served to fill in the details.

My having written this missive doesn’t imply that I support or oppose Seattle’s “head tax.” I just needed to give Manny a motive for murder. Oh, the names used in my story are totally fictitious, and as far as I know, no one named “Leah Thompson” is on Seattle’s city council. I’m also not condoning killing anyone associated with this issue or for any other reason.

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

As I’ve mentioned before, this link up needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing your own flash fiction piece.

57 Pink Flamingos

pink flamingos

© Susan Spaulding

“$2500! You spent $2500 on that?” Jeanette watched in horror as she watched her husband Terry insert the last of the 57 pink flamingos he’s purchased on Amazon into their front lawn. The driveway was littered with the debris of cardboard shipping boxes.

“Come on. We can afford it. You know how much dough we stashed away from the Corleone caper.”

“That’s not the point. But we’re supposed to keep a low profile, you moron. Why don’t you just get a couple of spotlights and set off some fireworks while you’re at it? Maybe you could send an email to Vito and Sonny telling them our address so they could come over and blow our brains out.”

Terry walked to where his wife was standing on the front porch and put his arm around her. “They look swell, don’t they?” The Cheshire Cat never had a grin as wide as his.

“You’re nuts. They’re tacky as hell.”

“Exactly. We embezzled millions from the mob working as their accountants and we’re on the lam from them and the Feds. What better cover to hide behind than the queen of all tacky lawn ornaments?

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for June 10, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction of no more than 200 words. My word count is 189.

Lacking an immediate story idea when I first saw the photo, I Googled “Pink Flamingo” only to come up with the tacky but classic 1972 film Pink Flamingos created by John Waters. Except for the idea of criminals hiding out, I found nothing I could use in that movie (and I’ve never seen it), so I moved on.

Then I found The Tacky History of the Pink Flamingo at Smithsonian.com and I had the rest of my “hook.”

These plastic monstrosities were created in 1957 in an effort to allow people to accessorize the “sameness” of their tract homes that reproduced like lemmings in the post-war era. You can read the full history for yourself, but apparently:

In their yard near Leominster, Nancy and Don Featherstone (the sculptor who was commissioned to create pink flamingos) typically tend a flock of 57 (a nod to the creation year) that neighborhood college students feel compelled to thin.

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

A Glitch in Time

concert

Jack Gittoes pexels-photo-761543 Concert

This was fantastic. He never thought he’d see Lennon, McCartney, and Starr perform together again. They certainly showed their age, their voices not quite as vibrant as he remembered from childhood, but they were legends.

Oswaldo Gantz watched his grandchildren holding up their smartphones to take photos just like all of the other kids around them. People Oswaldo’s age tended just to watch and listen and experience both the current performance and all of those played through the halls of time.

It was all thanks to him that Lennon was still alive. There was nothing he could do about Harrison’s brain cancer, but it was a virtual piece of cake to arrange for Mark David Chapman to be stabbed to death in a mugging a day before he was supposed to murder Lennon in 1980.

Now that his trial run turned out to be such a success, he’d have to figure out how else he could improve history. Hopefully, he’d be able to fix the little glitch in the system. He never imagined that saving Lennon’s life somehow resulted in the laws being changed so Arnold Schwarzenegger could now be President instead of Donald Trump.

I wrote this for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #23. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 195.

I already wrote one time travel story this morning, so I decided to try another. The image is obviously of a modern concert since you can see people taking photos with their cell phones. That stopped me from sending my character back in time to watch Lennon’s last live concert in 1975, but what if he’d never died? He’d be around 78 years old today.

Just having a bit of fun.

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

Roger’s linkup still needs a lot of love, so please contribute a small story of your own. Thanks.

The State of Dying

burned house

© C.E. Ayr

“This is the perfect place.”

“But it’s just a burned up building, Grandpa.”

“Exactly, Amy. Bring your brothers and sisters. Tell them to have their squirt guns fully loaded. We’re going to have a supersoaker blast playing “spy” in here.”

The eight-year-old grinned as she ran back next door to his house. His neighbor’s wrecked home reminded him that he needed to move out soon too. He’d turn seventy next year, and the state’s ridiculous “right-to-die” law for the terminally ill now allowed legalized murder of anyone over that age, whether they wanted to go or not.

Their bloated environmental laws worked about as well as their population laws. The government had killed 75% of the native plants and animals, and now they were working on the people.

He turned as he heard five pairs of running feet approaching. “You better get going, Grandpa.” At ten, Chad wasn’t the oldest, but he was the ringleader.

“Unless you want to get soaked.” Five-year-old Emily had that “killer” gleam in her eye.

“I’m running.” Mitch dashed into the ruined structure. He had to move the family to one of the free states before the jackboots came after them all.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of June 3, 2018. 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 196.

For some reason, the image reminded me of both Florida and California. I chose the latter since I used to live there, and “Googling” the search string “California dying,” I came up with plenty of information on that state’s “right to die” law at both The Los Angeles Times and Death with Dignity. I also found an article about the demise of California’s Sierra forests, which are perishing in spite of all the tax money California’s state senate can throw at the environment.

I know “dying with dignity” is a controversial issue. People of faith tend to believe that giving and taking life should be left to God alone, but it’s hard to watch someone slowly dying and in great pain when you could ease their suffering.

Also, I actually do have a great concern for the environment. One of the reasons I like living in Idaho is because of the vast areas of wilderness, the mountains, rivers, and lakes. But something obviously went wrong in California’s case, because people from that state are moving here in droves.

Anyway, putting that all together, I authored today’s wee dystopian tale.

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

One Last Hill

uphill

MorgueFile April b5afa0fad12c0fc6b1d0bf8cc983d6e4

The hill seemed to get steeper everyday, but then, it really wasn’t the hill, it was him. He was getting older, always older, each and every day. He couldn’t remember the last time he could actually ride his bicycle up the hill on his way home. Was it last year? No, maybe it was five years ago? How old was he? It didn’t matter.

“Half way up.” He huffed and puffed. He got out of breath more easily these days, and he was just pushing a bike up a hill. “Have to make it home.” Home was at the top of the hill. If he could get there again, he’d be safe.

“Wait. Need rest.” He leaned against the wall. The old man couldn’t breathe and there was a terrible weight on his chest.

Then he was six years old again and racing his bike up the hill with his mates Jerry, Tommy, and Little Sam. They were all laughing and zipping between the parked cars. He made it. He was home. He was free.

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge for 2018, Week #22. Once again, the idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 175.

I couldn’t read the sign in the photo, even magnifying the image, so I couldn’t use that to influence my writing. Instead, I concentrated on the (presumably) old man pushing his bicycle up the hill. I let my mind drift and this tale is the result.

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

As always, you are invited to contribute a wee tale to this linkup.

Fallen Hero

headstone dog

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Marine Corporeal Jeffrey DeYoung could barely hold back his tears as he accepted the folded American flag in honor of Cena. Five-hundred people were attending his funeral, all Marines in their dress blues. Cena had been raised to be a Marine since he was very young, and during his tours in Afghanistan, he’d saved thousands of lives.

“There’ll never be another like you.” DeYoung listened to the taps performance as the coffin was lowered into the grave escorted by eight German shepherds. Then, on command, they issued their own salute to their fallen comrade, howling for thirty seconds.

Cena fell, not in the service of his country, but to bone cancer. The Michigan war dog was interned with seventeen other military canines. This weekend, we mourn our honored dead in the United States Armed Forces, but never forget the most dedicated and loyal members of the service are not always human.

cena

Cena with his handler Marine Cpl Jeffery DeYoung – Photo Credit: Fox 2 News.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction – May 27, 2018 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 151.

Given that this is the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., and seeing the prompt was a photo of a dog and a headstone, I thought it fitting to pay homage to the dogs who have served our country. My tale is a fictionalized version of the events in the news story Michigan bomb-sniffing war dog gets military funeral. On August 24, 2017, Cena was buried with full military honors at a cemetery in South Lyon, Michigan. You can click the link to get all the details, but it’s very touching.

In doing my research, I also found a book on the history of military dogs, as well as this commentary.

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

What the Gull Saw

bird

Photo Credit: MorgueFile April 62433e902

The news from Florence said, “After a three-year-long restoration, Renaissance master Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection can once again be admired in its original glory.”

Yes, it had taken that long for the painting to be restored, but at the same time, it was also being copied. What was being admired at the civic museum in Sansepolcro, the little Tuscan down where the artist was born in the early 15th century, was a fake.

A private collector had paid a fortune, though not what the actual painting would be worth on the open market, to have the restorer make the switch. For him, it was worth every penny.

Now, the actual painting of the resurrection of Christ was on its way to the collector’s hidden vault on his island in the Caribbean. The only witness to the crime was a lone gull who had watched the true article being loaded into a moving van. Of course, the little bird brain would never talk.

I wrote this for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #21. 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 162.

The town reminded me of Florence, Italy, so I looked up some local English language news articles and came across Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection restored published last March in the Florence Daily News. It seemed like a good setting for an art theft.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz. This link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider writing your own response to the prompt.

Thanks.

The Tunnel Dwellers

tunnel tour

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Thousands of people had taken the tour of Seattle’s underground, what was left of the original city after the devastating 1889 fire. The city was rebuilt on its ruins one to two stories above, leaving these tunnels as a monument to history. However, only a few realized that just a portion of the original underground was restored in 1965. People had been taking this tour for over fifty years now, and had never guessed the truth.

An old 1907 newspaper story gave him the clues necessary to find his way into the real world under the streets of Seattle. Over a hundred years ago, the tunnels harbored flophouses for the homeless, gambling halls, speakeasies, and opium dens. They’d been cleared out by police anticipating the 1909 World Fair in Seattle, and left to rot. The tunnels were forgotten by most, but once rediscovered, found a new use. Now they sheltered the city’s covert den of vampires who had been preying on its citizens for decades.

Jeff had seen all he needed to see. He would notify the local branch of the Van Helsings, the international and secret Catholic order of vampire hunters. There would be another fire just after dawn tomorrow.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of May 20, 2018. 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 197.

The image seemed more benign than sinister, just a bunch of tourists walking around, so I looked up famous tunnel tours. That lead me to Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of old Seattle, which I’d heard of. I found the original history of the Seattle Underground, including the fire, and then the other facts I cited in my small story.

It was perfect for horror, which I knew because I’d watched the 1973 television movie “The Night Strangler” starring Darren McGavin, back in the day.

I decided to leverage the world I created in my Sean Becker vampire stories. Now a centuries old banned Catholic order of vampire hunters has found where Seattle’s population of the undead has been hiding. Collateral damage is assured, but in their eyes, it’s a small price to pay for ridding the Northwest of these feared, supernatural predators.

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