If You Don’t Believe In Me

destroyed church

St John Church in Benwood, West Virginia (Photo: CNS)

Darwin Oliver Starling stared down at the smoldering ruins of the Vatican from the window seat on Flight 3076 which had taken off from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport ten minutes ago. Police agencies all over Europe had been investigating for a week, but so far had no clues as to the method used to initiate such mass destruction, or who had perpetrated such a heinous act.

“Heinous.” Starling whispered the word to himself. It was the worshipers of the Christian God who were heinous, and the Secret Order of Athéiste had been dedicated to wiping them from existence for the past two-hundred years.

It wasn’t just the Catholics, of course. In spite of what the news and entertainment media seemed to be pushing on the uninformed masses, Christianity wasn’t represented only by a bunch of child-molesting Priests, and American southern televangelists with big hair and greedy pocketbooks. They were everywhere.

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He’s Not Here Anymore

desert

© Jan Wayne Fields

“What did you hope to find after a year?”

The question was rhetorical or maybe self-indulgent. He was alone, unlike a year ago when they all gathered to scatter his Dad’s ashes over the land he loved so much. He thought about leaving another rose, but it would just wither and serve no one.

What then?

“Maybe this is all there is, Dad. Maybe it’s just you and me sitting together for a quiet hour, alone with each other.”

He listened to the wind and finally realized what it was telling him. His Dad wasn’t here anymore. He’d moved on.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge for April 27th (although the URL says May 11th). 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 100.

My Dad died a year ago last week. The scene somewhat reminds me of Nevada where I grew up, and also of the area in Utah where my Dad liked to fish.

We actually put his ashes in a hole near his favorite high desert lake. Hardly a secluded spot, but then, it really wasn’t my choice. Thinking about going back produces an empty feeling. It’s just water, rock, sand, and sagebrush. Dad isn’t there anymore. His spirit has moved on.

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

Sacrifice

spider-man

The cover art for Spider-Man issue 33 (1963)

“You’re going to be fine. Just hang in there. We’ve got heavy equipment coming. We’ll have the two of you out of there in an hour.”

“What?”

Ben Howard was on his knees. How did he get here? Wait. The earthquake. The little girl was going to be killed. Somehow he managed to push her in a hollow space as tons of concrete and steel rained down around them. What was that about heavy equipment?

“Can you hear me?”

Ben opened his eyes, not realizing they’d been closed. There was an opening in the rubble just in front of him. A firefighter. That’s who was talking to him.

The girl! He looked down. She was unconscious but breathing, thank God. Oh no.

“She’s not going to make it. Damn it! I didn’t push her all the way clear. An artery got nicked. She’ll bleed out. You’ve got to do something.”

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The Pit Fiend Promise

lady in black

Lady in Black

The lady in the black satin dress walked into the bar because of the Pit Fiend Promise she had made. Except for the cocktail waitresses, she was the only woman in the place, and the men all turned to watch her walk in. Some obviously thought she had incredible assets both below the hemline and the neckline, but the vision of others was probably too blurry to make out the details.

“What’s your order, lady?” The barman was past middle-aged, weighed over 300 pounds, and looked like whatever dreams he may have once cherished had since sailed away from him over the horizon.

“Scotch, neat.”

He turned to get a clean glass and reached for a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

“Say, Baby. Can I buy you a drink?”

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Sparks Ascending

sparks

© Enisa

The plane crash! He was falling with flaming debris all around him!

Wait! It didn’t hurt and he wasn’t falling. More like he was going someplace important.

The debris was glowing but not on fire like he thought. In fact, it wasn’t pieces of the plane. What were all these sparks around him?

He caught a glimpse at himself and was shocked to see he was glowing too. Were the other sparks people-shaped?

Trying to call out to the others, he realized he didn’t have a mouth let alone a voice. He didn’t have hands or feet or limbs or any sort of body he was used to. He just was.

“Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”

He heard a voice telling him something he already knew. There was a plane crash, he did die, but he wasn’t dead. He and all of the other sparks around him came from the Divine and were returning to the Divine.

“We’re finally going home.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of March 13, 2018. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

The photo reminded me of a belief in Judaism that we are all “Divine sparks” issued from our Source to be born into the world and when our lives are done, the sparks seek to return to that Source.

Imagine at the point of death, you experience yourself as an incandescent spark flying upward with so many others seeking out your Source, being overwhelmed with the need to return to it.

I briefly remembered the opening to Philip Jose Farmer’s novel To Your Scattered Bodies Go which was the first of the “Riverworld” series (great series beginning but fizzled at the end). The image doesn’t really fit beyond the superficial, but imagine us all belonging to the Almighty, made in the Divine image. I think death will reveal that to us.

Oh, the Bible verse I quoted was from Luke 20:38 (New American Standard Bible).

By the way, on another one of my blogs, I wrote something like this, only it wasn’t a fiction piece and it was somewhat expanded: Searching for Sparks.

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

The Accidental Traveler

snow

© Mara Eastern

He’d been surprised by the snow when he woke up this morning. It wasn’t in last night’s weather prediction, but as Marty McFly says every time someone watches “Back to the Future,” “Since when can weathermen predict the weather, let alone the future?” Then he chuckled to himself as he remembered why. Last night he’d fallen asleep on Friday, July 24, 1970. This morning when he woke up, it was Thursday, January 9, 1986.

Phil Morton was just a few days shy of his sixty-fourth birthday when he became unstuck in time and place. Fortunately, he was in good health both physically and mentally, so he was able to endure the shock and stress involved.

The first time it happened, he woke up at home less than a year in the past and for a whole day, he thought there was something wrong with his memory. How could he remember the first seven months of 2018 when it was only July 22, 2017? He had awakened in his own bed. His wife was with him. The grand kids were visiting. Everything was normal except he recalled living almost another full year that for everyone else, hadn’t happened yet.

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I Can Never Dream About Home

brain scans

Brain scan images found at PositiveMed.com

“I’m sorry but I don’t see much hope, Kathy.”

She turned from the neurologist to look down at her husband. He’d been in a coma for five weeks now following the car accident and still wasn’t showing any signs of brain activity. The machines and drugs kept his lungs breathing and his heart beating, but as much as she didn’t want to believe it, her husband of thirty-five years died when the garbage truck ran a stop sign and crushed the driver’s side of his car.

“I just need a minute alone with him, Doctor Schiavo.”

“Sure, I understand. I’ll be right outside.”

Kathy heard the door close behind her. Except for the usual medical monitor noises the room was silent. She was alone. It was a horrible decision to have to make. Their four children, spouses (three out of four had married and Lizzie had just gotten engaged) and eight grandchildren were right outside. How could she take their Daddy and Grandpa away from them?

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Not My Heaven

amusement park

© J Hardy Carroll

The ride slowed down and Jessie thought it was over. The man running it yelled, “Free ride” and it started again. He was dressed funny like the girl next to her.

“I’m Harriet. Isn’t this fun?” It was fun and scary. The sky was a different color and the children on the ride weren’t the same.

“Where are we?”

“Heaven, silly.”

“Am I dead?”

“We are but you can get off when it stops again.”

“Why am I here, Harriet?”

“So you know being loved by a Mommy and Daddy is better than anything else, even being in Heaven.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge for 19 January 2018. 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 100.

I pondered a number of different ideas for this one, from the sappy sentimental to murderous and dark. I decided to settle on “creepy carnival” but give it a happy ending. I thought about having Jessie actually die, but then figured I’d give her a break and a moral. Even being in paradise, I imagine the souls of all the children who died way before their time would still miss the Moms and Dads who loved them.

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

Falling Down the Bardo

vairocana

Image of the four-headed Vairocana or the celestial Buddha who is often interpreted, in texts like the Flower Garland Sutra, as the Dharma Body of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama).

“What happened?” Daine Ramsey found herself in a tunnel of light. She had no idea how she had gotten there or where she’d been a moment ago.

“What do you see?”

The voice was unrecognizable. It wasn’t just that Daine didn’t know who was speaking, she couldn’t even tell if it were a man or a woman. It was more like listening to music but the music made words without a voice.

“Who are you? Where is this place?”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a light.” Daine tried hard to see the other end but it was so bright. “I see a path. Will it take me out of here?”

The “voice” didn’t respond.

“Hello?”

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The Dish We’re Served

plate

© Yarnspinnerr

“What are you eating, Grandpa.”

“Ashes, apparently.”

Elizabeth was twelve and still enjoyed visiting her Grandpa for the holidays. Mom and Dad would be up in a few days but this time was just for the two of them. Lately though Grandpa had been acting strange.

“I can make you a sandwich for lunch if you’d like.”

“No, sweetie. This is the plate set before me and this is what I’ll eat.”

“But what is it, Grandpa? It doesn’t even look like food.”

“It’s what’s left of your dreams after the magic’s gone. Dried up like autumn leaves. Good for nothing but throwing away.”

“Oh, Grandpa.” She slipped up behind the old man and hugged him as he sat at the table. You still miss Grandma, don’t you?”

The old man reached up and gently put his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“She was my dream. Now God’s taken the magic away.”

Elizabeth sat in the next chair and put her arms around him. “I miss her too, Grandpa. I promise. I’ll always love you.”

I write this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of December 12, 2017 challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I have no idea what’s on that plate and it really made it tough to think of anything to write. I thought about aliens, the supernatural, some sort of tie in to Christmas or Hanukkah, but nothing really clicked. What I wrote above is the best I could come up with. Dining on dead and dried up dreams after the magic has gone. The family members one generation older than me are getting sicker and some have died this year. Looking back, I realize I’ve been looking death in the face. The only thing that gives me hope is the children who will come after us.

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