The Greeter

umbrellas

© Dale Rogerson

This had to be a dream because Jae didn’t remember how she got here, and who would decorate a room like this? At only five foot two, the slender Thai co-ed felt tiny in such enormous surroundings.

“Hurry up.” The deep, masculine voice was coming from the shadows ahead.

“This is my dream and I’ll come when I’m ready.”

“You’re not dreaming.”

“But the last thing I remember was going to bed.”

“That doesn’t mean it was the last thing that happened to you.”

“Wait. The car accident…”

“Yes. Welcome to the afterlife, Jae. I’m here to sign you in.”

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

The image looked surreal to me, so that’s how I wrote it. With only 100 words to play with, I could only vaguely develop my idea. Poor Jae.

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

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Five Ridiculously Implausible Things The Progressive Left is Afraid Of

A.M. Freeman

A.M. Freeman as found on her blog.

A little while ago (as I write this), I came across something on A.M. Freeman’s blog called When The Satire Site Can’t Recognize Satire. It was written in response to an article at Cracked.com called 5 Ridiculously Implausible Things The Alt-Right Is Afraid Of (Yes, I ripped off the title). Apparently, the missive’s author S. Peter Davis read the Superversive Press anthology Forbidden Thoughts, first published in January 2017 (to which Ms. Freeman contributed a story), edited by Jason Rennie, and with a foreword by the highly controversial Milo Yiannopoulos, and didn’t like it very much (Oh, keep in mind, I’ve read some of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s work and frankly, I don’t have much use for it).

Reading his review, and assuming his rendition of the stories contained within the anthology are accurate, yes, the themes and content are wildly exaggerated outside the realm of probability, but that was exactly the point. As Freeman pointed out, they were written as satire, blowing modern controversial topics way, way out of proportion to prove a point. The same was done in another Superversive anthology I read and reviewed called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. Yes, they’re all written from a very conservative and sometimes religious perspective, but the concern here, and probably the reason for the existence of Superversive Press, is that SF/F is increasingly becoming biased (or so is the belief) toward the left and perhaps the progressive far left (alt-left?), such that the rest of us don’t have a voice in the genre.

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Quoting You Are Not At Risk

pliskin

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

Fear of failure is a prime cause of anxiety. People think, “If I don’t succeed, I am a worthless failure.”

Someone who fears failure is not willing to take the risks that are an essential ingredient in every new undertaking. This prevents him from taking action in many situations in which he could accomplish a great deal.

If someone accepts that his intrinsic worth as a person is never at risk ― even if he does not succeed at a given task ― then he is likely to try much more to accomplish.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Happiness,” p.131

Every morning, I get an email from the Jewish educational organization Aish.com containing, among other things, quotes like this one. Although I’m a Christian, I tend to “resonate” more with Jewish theological perspectives. Since lately, I’ve been discussing some rather negative trends in the world of SF/F relative to events at the recent WorldCon convention in San Jose, I thought I should provide a counterbalance. We should define ourselves by our best qualities, not by who or what we oppose.

So I thought I should start providing a quote from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin on this blog every morning that I’m able (next week, I’ll be taking a trip and may be offline for a few days). This is probably more in line with my religious blog My Morning Meditations, but I think it’s needed here.

Perhaps it will convince some people that the world of religion isn’t always evil or hateful, and that there may be a profound wisdom, kindness, and joy inside the hearts of many who have faith in a power greater than human beings.

The New Dragon Saga: Wargames

pork chop hill

Painting of the 45th Infantry Division at Pork Chop Hill in 1952 – Found at Wikipedia

Chapter 2: War, except the Master didn’t call it war, he called it “the Games.” Games, but these games were deadly.

It had been weeks, no…months ago when seventeen-year-old Landon had stood in the main Arena at training camp with the other recruits, all kidnapped as he was, from all over the Earth, and from all over time. They had one purpose: to represent this realm in the Games, to fight, battle after battle, war after war, and if they won, the realm gained territory. If they lost, so did the realm, and that meant they died.

They still wore their collars, for cowardliness or defection to the other side would not be tolerated. At the first sign a soldier’s betrayal, there would be a warning pain. At the second, the collar’s charge would be fatal.

For Landon, and some of the others, the collar had a secondary effect: it cancelled the ability to perform any form of sorcery, a skill for which the teen had trained since he was a child.

Today’s game was “Flanders Field,” reminiscent of the trenches and killing grounds of Earth’s First World War, except the other side had styled their troops not only from the early 20th century, but from the first century Roman Empire, the eighteen century American Revolutionary War, and one platoon carried plasma rifles from the twenty-second century Cyborg Wars.

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The New Dragon Saga: Training

sword grip

Found at Kung Fu Magazine.com – No image credit available

Chapter 1: Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon had only been sporadically living with Landon and his family for the past year or so. Now that he had grown to his full stature (about the size of a school bus), he always had to shrink himself downwhen he came to stay with them, as he had right now.

He didn’t tell his seventeen-year-old apprentice anything about his “secret missions,” and Landon knew all too well that once the Dragon’s mind was made up, there was no changing it. The only time they got to spend with each other was during his lessons in the teen’s personal pocket universe, the small pouch which was its entrance was sitting on the top of his book shelf here in his bedroom.

The high school senior slammed shut his calculus book, tossed it on the floor with the other texts, and got off his bed. He pulled the ear buds out and closed the music app on his phone, stuffing it in his pocket. He felt strangely anxious. There was something not right, but his senses couldn’t pinpoint it.

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The Street Children’s Mother

kinshasa

© Google 2014 – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mamadou, Karla, and Bonte were trapped in the alley by the policeman.

“I’ll give you little street rats what you deserve,” he said, unzipping his trousers.

Mamadou was nine, the oldest, and Bonte was eight. The boys got in front of five-year-old Karla, for though man would abuse them all, he would start with her.

“We’re just trying to get some food.”

“I’ve got what you need right here.” He exposed his genitals, which was a common and hated sight to them.

Then a huge shadow blocked the light from the street.

“What is…?” He stopped talking and gazed up at the dragon in terror. A swat of her tail, and he lay broken on the ground.

“I will not hurt you, children.” Her voice was a mother’s kindness. “I will take you home with me.”

Three pairs of eyes were wide with wonder as they entered a different world.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. I found my hook when I read about the estimated 20,000 children living on the street, almost a quarter of them beggars, and how they are frequently abused by the police. I leveraged my “Davidson Children” story (I finally finished the first draft of my novel), since the dragons’ city in exile is a haven for abandoned and dying children from all around the world and across human history.

I figured these children could use a mother.

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

The Gathering Stone

stone

© Sue Vincent

Malcolm Potter was desperate enough to finally make the pilgrimage. He once thought it was all silly nonsense, but things had gone too far. The monster in the White House had made an incredible mess over the past two years, rolling back environmental protections so that his rich buddies could clear cut and strip mine, even in national parks, chipping away at abortion rights, healthcare, protections for all marginalized populations across the board, and having a religious fanatic as his Vice President. The nation was spinning out of control.

He had been a staunch atheist for most of his five decades of life, and couldn’t understand why religions were still tolerated since they were one of the major causes of war, oppression, persecution, and colonialism. Yet, even though his last hope was firmly grounded in superstition and belief in the occult, it was still a hope. Only the stone could restore the correct orientation of the world, and return it to a course that ultimately would lead to utopia.

“Who are you?” Malcolm thought he’d be the only one here, but a woman was standing on the other side of the stone.

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Eruption

geyser

Found at whygoiceland.com – no image credit available

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon, When Hell Boils Over and Boiling Point first.

Asmodius, the King of the Demons of Hell and Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon, were literally battling tooth and nail in a fight to the death at the shore of a bubbling cauldron sea of sulfur and lava, both of them bleeding from a dozen wounds, though the dragon was getting the worst of it.

Hundreds of nearby demons flew or ran to them, forming a semi-circle near the combatants, setting up lawn chairs and sitting down with soda and popcorn to witness the fight.

Buddy had been thrown back by the demon and both paused, heavily breathing the fetid air of Hell.

“So, allies you call. In Hell all cheat.”

“Not so, dragon. What need of I with allies. In Hell, I’m supreme. I’ve got the home town advantage. They just like to watch.” The demon audience cheered for their champion, and Asmodius took a bow.

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Victorious

summit

© Sue Vincent

Casworon stood at the summit, his booted feet planted on the flagstone, his back, torn crimson cape over tarnished and broken chain mail, pressed against the ancient wall. The battle had been won, but at a terrible cost. The field below was littered with the dead of his foe, Jusveer, King of Zedrov, but so was it with his own dead, except for Arabel. His beloved Queen and wife had been taken during the conflict, by agents of Asluitania who were supposedly neutral.

Now that he had won the right to Jusveer’s lands and retained possession of his own, they would likely hold Arabel to random. No, Asluitania would not be interested in ruling these lands, but they would demand a yearly tribute in gold, oil, and spices. Casworon would have to sign a binding decree to pay annually after his Queen’s return. Plus, even if they had mistreated her, he could seek no vengeance against their ruler, Erembour, the sinister Shadowmaster, such was the nature of agreements with evil.

The Warrior King gazed out over the vastness of the western ocean, pining for his love as the distant barge, just at the horizon, carried her away to dark lands.

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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.