A New Home for Diablo

chicks

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.

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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

dog

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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.

What It Means to be Free

truck, pumpkins, flag

MorgueFile May 2018 1413924415vgvbk

Young Nate had a blast running through the cornfield and picking out pumpkins, but then the little boy saw his Grandpa standing by an American flag next to the field.

“What are you doing, Grandpa?”

“Remembering when I was your age and we kids said the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the flag every morning.”

Nate looked down if he were embarrassed.

“What’s wrong?” Grandpa put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The fourth grader looked up at Grandpa. “Some kids at school say we should kneel instead of stand in front of the flag because of racism.”

Grandpa knelt down. “I know that our country has done bad things and we still have problems that need fixing, and if people want to kneel, that’s their right. That’s what makes America free. But it’s never been about what’s wrong with America, but about our ideals, who we are when we’re our best. I’ll always stand. People who forget that will always live in fear. The flag is a reminder of what freedom is, and when you’re free, you’re never afraid.”

The old man was kneeling in front of the flag, but only so he could hug his dear grandson.

I wrote this for Week #37 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing 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.

Yesterday was the 17th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against our nation, and America still carries a lot of collective pain from that day. I wrote a wee fictional tale honoring the victims and those who survived them, so the feelings are still fresh within me.

I wish I had more than 200 words to express what I’m trying to say. I know that there will always be people who will kneel in front of the flag as long as they perceive there being social injustice in this nation. That’s their right as American citizens. That’s what it means to be free. But what I tried to say today echos what I recently wrote in a longer essay a few days back.

Right now, a lot of people are afraid of that guy in the White House. They’re afraid about who will be the next Supreme Court Justice. They’re afraid of a lot of things, real and imagined. But I choose not to live in perpetual fear. Yes, I get scared of things sometimes, but both my identity as an American and my faith in God help me realize that I wasn’t born to be afraid. Isaiah 43:1 says “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

The Almighty was addressing Israel, not the people of the nations, but through faith to the King of Israel and by his merit, the rest of us can also be called children of God. Presidents are temporary. God is everlasting. If you don’t believe, that’s fine. We all negotiate our relationship with the Creator in different ways. I’m just glad I live in a country where people are free, both to kneel in front of the flag and to pray to and have faith in God. It’s the same country, and it’s the same freedom.

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

P.S. Don’t forget to contribute your own story to Roger’s linkup. Thanks.

Moving to the Beehive

apartments

Michael (Black) Ritter pexels-photo-41506

“I’m Erika. Welcome to the beehive.” Erika Kiribati was the unofficial greeter for the San Jose State dorms. “I’ll get that box.”

“Thanks. I’m Josh. There are more people living here than the town I grew up in.” Josh McKenny had his hands full with his duffel.

“You get used to it.” The 19-year-old Samoan picked up the box and elbowed the elevator’s ‘up’ button. “Family help you move?”

“Dad’s looking for a place to park.”

“Where you from?”

“Wallace, Idaho. About 80 miles east of Spokane.”

The elevator doors opened. “Which floor?”

“Fifth.” Erika pushed “5” as Josh hustled in behind her.

“I’m in 605. Come on up when you’re settled.”

520’s door was ajar and Erika pushed it open with her foot to find a young African-American.

“You Josh’s roomie?”

“Name’s Gabe Johnson.”

“Josh McKenny. You met Erika yet?” The two men shook hands.

“Nope. How’s it going?”

Erika and Gabe shook and then she turned. “Nice meeting you Gabe. See you soon, Idaho.”

The boy from Wallace and the Oakland native sized each other up, and it wasn’t the first time Josh questioned the wisdom of going to school out-of-state and away from everything he ever knew.

I wrote this for Week #36 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 199.

True story. I once knew a guy who was born and raised in a small town in Idaho. His parents were divorced and his Dad moved to California and was an instructor at San Jose State University. He got a terrific tuition break so decided to go there but once he saw the size of the dorm, he turned around and went home. The dorm really did have more people than the entire town he’d grown up in. Culture shock is still real.

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

Blowing Bubbles

bubble

MorgueFile May 2018 file1831341080767

Kent Ingram had been chasing the hyperfold for decades. The first time he encountered it was in 1916 during the Battle of Jutland. The HMS Indefatigable exploded, German shells having penetrated her ammunition magazine, but instead of being thrown over the railing, he fell into what looked like a large, misshapen bubble…and found himself in Springfield, Missouri in the U.S. The year was 1894.

Since then, it had appeared randomly in his life, sending him from one place, one time to the next. The last time was Los Angeles, California in 1980. After five years, he got tired of waiting, and, with his accumulated knowledge, established a life, married, and had children. They had a home outside of Shasta, plenty of countryside for the kids.

“We’re out of bubbles.” Five-year-old Emily held up her wand in one hand and the empty soap container in the other.

Before Kent had a chance to react, his eight-year-old Todd burst out of the tool shed. “Found some more.”

“Me first,” Emily demanded as she ran toward him.

“Finders keepers,” Todd laughed and then blew a large bubble that continued to expand until it looked very familiar to Kent. But should he step through this time?

I wrote this for Week 35 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner photo challenge hosted by Roger Shipp. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I’ve written before about time travel and mysterious portals, and the bubble in the photo seemed to fit the bill. I had to look up 10 Significant Battles of the First World War (The Battle of Jutland was number three) and do a little bit of Googling, but otherwise the story wrote itself.

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

It’s Not a Scarecrow

scarecrow

© Anurag Bakhshi

“You know, I don’t think the flower bed is in danger from crows, Lindsey.” Kurt stood with his six-year-old daughter admiring their handiwork.

“I know that, Daddy. I just thought the flowers could use some company when we’re not around.” She stood, hands on hips, pride written all over her face.

“Well, you sure made good use of those old clothes we were going to donate to the thrift store.”

When she didn’t answer, he looked down and saw tears in her eyes. Kneeling, he put his arms around her and Lindsey held onto him tightly. “I know you miss her.”

“Why did Grandma have to die?”

“That’s why you wanted to make this, didn’t you? So we wouldn’t give away her clothes.”

“I miss her.”

“It’s okay. I miss her, too. We’ll keep anything of hers you want. I promise.”

I wrote this for the August 19th edition of Sunday Photo Fiction. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 141. I know. I usually push the word count to the limit, but I didn’t need so many this time around.

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

For Bubbe

bakery

Daria Shevtsova pexels-photo-1070945

Faye Ballard chained her bicycle to the post and dashed inside just in time for class.

“Ah, Faye. Glad you could join us.” Their teacher Jeremiah Lamb wasn’t the most patient person, but he knew baking like Michelangelo knew painting.

“Yes, Mr. Lamb. Thank you.” She quickly put on her apron and stood with the other students waiting for today’s demonstration. This was the day she had been waiting for, the one that made her sign up for class in the first place.

“Today, students, we are going to learn how to make a classic bagel. The lox is extra of course, but I’ve plenty of fresh salmon available so we can add some flair to all of our brilliant creations. I start with one-half cup of warm water…”

Under her breath, Faye muttered, “This one’s for you, Bubbe.”

Her dearest grandmother turned 86 last week. She was in an assisted living home now, her memory not being too good. All Faye’s life, Bubbe had baked her the most wonderful bagels. She couldn’t anymore, so it was Faye’s turn to treat her. Bubbe kept saying she wished she could have a good bagel with lox and cream cheese again.

I wrote this for week 33 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. 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 198.

My wife is Jewish and our grandchildren call her Bubbe, which means “Grandma” in Yiddish. My Mom is 86 and does have short-term memory loss, and although she’s not Jewish, I think its important for her grandkids to give something back to her as well.

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

As I write this, I’m only the second contributor to this link up, so please consider adding a story of your own. Thanks.