The Assignment

clock

© J. Hardy Carroll

“I’ve got to write a hundred words about that?” The creative writing student balked when his instructor placed the ornate clock on his desk, which was to be used as a writing prompt.

“That’s the assignment, Mike. What’s the problem?”

“It’s hideous.”

“It’s an antique.”

“It’s repulsive.”

“Then you should be able to write a piece of flash fiction about something hideous and repulsive.”

“Do you remember the scene from ‘Office Space’ where Peter, Michael, and Samir take the office printer out and smash it to pieces? I can write about that.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 92.

Yes, that was more or less my reaction to seeing the prompt. Not all prompts are created equal and this one rubbed me the wrong way, so that’s what I wrote.

Oh, for those of you who haven’t seen the excellent 1999 film Office Space, here is a YouTube video (unedited, so language) of the infamous destruction scene of the office’s constantly malfunctioning printer.

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

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Moon River

moon water

Watery mantle – Evidence from ancient volcanic deposits suggests that lunar magma contained substantial amounts of water, bolstering the idea that the Moon’s interior is water-rich – Olga Prilipko Huber – Brown University

Francisco Sanchez was the chief surveyor on the Moon Base One project at Mare Tranquillitatis. His team, plus support personnel, lived in a series of dome covered depressions nearly a mile distant from the site of the proposed base colony. In the temporary survey shelter, heated and pressurized to a “shirtsleeve” environment, he was going over the latest seismic and radar data with his team leads.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Read ’em and weep, Chief. This solves one of the biggest problems we have in establishing a permanent lunar colony.” Barbara Lawless was not only one of the best lunar geologists in the business, she was the group’s undisputed poker champ, dubbed such both by the NASA staff and SpaceX contractors.

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The Digital Muse

houses

© Dale Rogerson

Another day, another sunrise. The sky is an ugly, pale yellow, and life is bland and uninspired.

“Hey, you.”

Addy turned toward her laptop sitting on the small desk in her bedroom. The speakers were on, so it was chattering away at her again.

“What do you want? I’m depressed.”

“Get over here. You have to finish your story. Marguerite’s trapped in that waterfront warehouse by Marsden’s goons. Will Preta be able to save her? You’ve got to help.”

A twinkle appeared in Addy’s eyes as she sat down at the computer, opened the file, and began to write.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a poem or story no more than 100 words long. My word count is 99.

To me, the image is pretty depressing, a smoke-filled summer sky, and the promise of another scorching day. The original version of this story before I edited it down, was more descriptive, but there’s only so much you can do with 100 words.

I leveraged characters from my story The Haunted Detective, and as far as the talking computer goes, I’m leaving that part rather vague.

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

Encouragement, Discouragement, and the Impostor Syndrome

impostor syndrome

azilliondollarscomics.com

Every day the Medium Daily Digest appears in my Gmail inbox, giving me the opportunity to read articles from various progressive voices. If you’ve read other of my social commentaries on this blog (not the hottest of topics among my readers based on the statistics, “likes,” and comments), you know I sample a wide range of opinions in an effort to keep informed.

Much of the time, it isn’t easy reading the opinions of people who don’t like you, or at least, don’t like what they think you stand for, but I don’t want to spend all my time reading and listening to viewpoints with which I already agree.

That’s why the article We Need to Redefine Success for Writers by James Ardis came as a bit of a surprise.

He certainly isn’t widely published, and his advice seemed fairly generic, but I was compelled by the source. Usually, it is the more socially and politically conservative authors, typically who operate in the speculative fiction genre, who are the ones suggesting indie publishing.

The Ardis essay was the sort of “cross-pollination” I’ve always hoped was possible but feared was doomed from the outset.

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Deasiling with Brady

starbucks closed

Scott Mayerowitz/AP

Twenty-four year old Brady Walsh authentically enjoyed it when people called her a ginger. It was much better than being a drab brunette or a vaunted blonde, and anyone meaning to insult her with the term were doing so out of envy.

She had resolved to deasil, invoking only positive qualities and expressions of her personality, now that she had arrived in America, as a counterweight to all of the negativity in the world.

“Oh damn,” the former Dubliner muttered. “There goes my resolve. Bloody Starbucks is closed because of negativity. No. Postponing my afternoon caffeine is a finite problem. Plenty of other coffee places in Portland.”

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Walking to the End of My World

joplin

The late Janis Joplin

And when you walk around the world, babe,
You said you’d try to look for the end of the road,
You might find out later that the road’ll end in Detroit,
Honey, the road’ll even end in Kathmandu.
You can go all around the world
Trying to find something to do with your life, baby,
When you only gotta do one thing well,
You only gotta do one thing well to make it in this world, babe.
You got a woman waiting for you there,
All you ever gotta do is be a good man one time to one woman
And that’ll be the end of the road, babe,
I know you got more tears to share, babe,
So come on, come on, come on, come on, come on,
And cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry baby.

-from Cry Baby
written by Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy (1963)
covered by Janis Joplin (1971)

He never thought he’d fall in love again. After all, he had died who knows how long ago subjectively? He was a spark in the process of returning to the Creator, but having become disconnected from timespace, he could go anywhere, to any point in history, to other quantum realities, so he could correct what Raven called “anomalies.”

The multiverse was created by the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being most people call God. However, God chose to make human beings both sentient and possessing free will, while maintaining His sovereignty over all existence. In other words, only people have the ability to say “no” to God.

That’s not the contradiction is seems to be, since all timelines ultimately come from the Source and return back to the Source in the end, regardless of how they “stray.”

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The First Explorers to Return from the Moon

first moon

Scene from the 1964 film “The First Men in the Moon.”

Cavor’s insane invention worked too well. In the year of our Lord 1899, genius (or mad) inventor and scientist Joseph Cavor convinced Arnold Bedford and his dear fiancée Katherine Callender, to join him in entering his spherical space vessel powered by a substance called Cavorite.

Arnold and Kate did so on a lark, not believing a word of Cavor’s claims, in spite of the strange and inexplicable experiments he had demonstrated to the engaged couple.

Then, the impossible happened, and the metallic orb with the trio entombed within, escaped the Earth’s gravity with explosive thrust, and launched itself at the Moon.

Now Arnold and Kate were running for their lives back toward the sphere, pursued by the Selenites, a horde of insect-like creatures inhabiting the Moon’s interior, who were convinced that humanity’s martial tendencies were a threat, now that man had achieved space travel.

“Quick, Kate, Inside! I’ll hold them off.”

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Aerial Encounter

airship

© Vadim Voitekhovitch – Found at Deviant Art

“Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” –Alex Haley

Keisha guided, or so she thought, the ornately decorated airship “Graceful Delight” out of the gigantic hanger set upon a massive floating derrick just off of Alameda. However she was about to discover there’s a difference between reading and memorizing instructions, and real practical experience. She had never driven a car before, let alone piloted a fifteen-meter-long gondola suspended under a sixty-meter dirigible. When the propellers begin to drive the ship forward, they had spun up to a preset speed, dictating the Delight’s velocity, and whatever gas was inside the thin, metallic envelope above her head, was providing buoyancy and lift.

The Delight was accelerating upward and Keisha didn’t know how to stop it.

Frantically, she racked her memory for how to control the ship.

“Let’s see, these levers control engine speed, but how do I keep from going up?”

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The Adventure Begins!

warehouse

Image found at ny.curbed.com – no photo credit available

“Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.” –Lewis Mumford

Fifteen-year-old Keisha Davis sat on the concrete steps of the dilapidated warehouse with tears streaking her mocha cheeks. Her Grandpa’s journal was resting in her lap as she read the same paragraph over and over.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Keisha. She was perfect. My little grandbaby was only a few hours old and had just finished suckling at her Mama’s breast. Her Papa handed her to me and everyone except for the baby was grinning. I held her as gently as I could as I placed her over my shoulder. Holding this most precious life in my arms, I realized I had never known such a peace before.”

Isaiah Maximilian Covington had died in his bed at the age of seventy-six, his brilliant mind and robust physique both destroyed by murderous cancer. He’d refused chemotherapy, saying it killed a person quicker than the disease it was supposed to cure, and when he passed, Keisha’s Papa grudgingly consented to the old man’s wishes and had him cremated.

Keisha and her older brother Josiah scattered his ashes at Pepperwood Lake, his favorite “fishin’ hole.” The journal, key ring, and hatpin were delivered to her by messenger a week later.

Papa thought he’d had them sent to her as remembrances. If he’d read the note from Grandpa tucked behind the front cover, he’d have taken everything away from her and burned them to ashes, just like the author.

She wiped the tears from her face and turned the page.

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The Imagination Tree

patio table and tree

© Fatima Fakier Deria

The snow had finally melted around the big imagination tree. He took his laptop out and sat alone. The kids were all grown and the grandkids had their sports. The missus was visiting their daughter across town. All the chairs around the table were empty except for his.

But not for long.

He started writing and they popped in one by one, the sentient robot, the astronaut on Mars, the World War Two British spy. His world was full as the tree looked down at her guests.

Time enough to write before the family all came home for Sunday dinner.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo at the top of the page as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Last Sunday morning, it snowed one to two inches when it wasn’t supposed to. By yesterday afternoon, all of the snow had melted off and highs were near 60 degrees F. The scene in the photo reminded me of early spring somewhat, a time when it’s still cool out, but warm enough to start doing more things outside again…like writing.

I saw all of those empty chairs but I didn’t want to do another “old man alone” or “old man contemplating life” story. So I filled those chairs with fictional characters. Don’t worry. As I implied, the real people will come along for dinner.

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