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.

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What It Means to be Free

truck, pumpkins, flag

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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

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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.

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.

Frozen Memories

restaurant

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Noah Banks stopped in front of the four-star restaurant his Grandparents used to take the family to when he and his sister were kids. Mom told him when he was six that this wasn’t the sort of place you ordered a PB&J or hot dog with extra relish at, but what did he know?

The young man chuckled at his own childishness. Grandpa never minded, and since the old man owned the place, neither did the management.

But that was twenty years ago and everything had changed. The place was still set up, pristine, orderly, waiting for patrons who would never come. He looked up and down an almost deserted Wilshire Boulevard. Everyone was in the shelters waiting for the next Glazzuarq orbital bombardment. Amazingly, this part of L.A. had been spared so far.

Half a block away, his shuttle to the spaceport was just pulling up. The U.S. Marine hustled, carrying his heavy duffel. He had to get to Vandenberg in time to launch aboard the battle cruiser “Intrepid” and fight those alien goonies in space. But before going, he just had to say good-bye to the rest of his family, now all interned at Forest Lawn cemetery.

I wrote this for Week #32 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. 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 199.

Since you can see the reflection of trees in the window, the POV is from the outside looking in. I thought about memories, and how a young woman I used to date many decades ago, told me when she was a child, she did order PB&Js at expensive restaurants her parents took her to.

The rest just unfolded in a dystopian sort of way.

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

When Meg Comes to Visit

ferry and birds

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The Golden Gate Bridge was almost completely concealed in early morning fog as the 6:30 a.m. ferry made its way from Vallejo to the San Francisco Ferry Building. It was a typical Monday morning commute, and a much more civilized way to get into the City, though the crowding on board was still barely tolerable.

It was Erma Carr’s first day traveling to work by water, having given up with both driving and BART, this being somewhat ironic, seeing that she was an Ichthyologist.

“Hey, look at that.”

“Is it a whale?”

“Whatever it is, the thing’s huge.”

The comments of her fellow passengers pulled her toward the starboard side of the ferry, which was facing the Golden Gate and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

“There’s a dorsal fin. Is it an Orca?”

Carr’s blood proverbially froze in her veins. She was a shark biologist working at the Steinhart Aquarium, and had done her Master’s Thesis on extinct shark species. What she was looking at was impossible. The Megalodon species had perished over two-and-a-half million years ago. It was nearly as big as the ferry, and as it breached the water, she knew it would kill them all.

I wrote this for Week #29 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 195.

I found out the other day that a film called The Meg is coming to theaters in August, based on the book series by Steve Alten. Yes, another shark movie, but this time the shark is 60 or 70 feet long. You can read more about Megalodons at Wikipedia or do a Google image search to get some sort of idea of how huge these brutes were.

I wrote this one just for giggles.

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

So far, I’m the only one participating in this week’s linkup, so please consider adding your own story. Thanks.

Waiting for Time to Pass

airport

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I can barely see them inside because of the glare on the window, but they all look like ordinary people. Ordinary people getting on with their lives, unlike me. In the window, the reflection reveals the plane behind me, the luggage carts, the main terminal, everything out here except my own rather ordinary face. You see, I don’t have one yet.

I’m an inventor, Dr. Ernest Pratt (no relation to the actor). I had (or will have) a research lab on the grounds of the Albany International Air and Spaceport. My company “Superluminal” is trying to develop a faster-than-light drive. I was the only one in the lab sometime past 2 a.m. when it happened; the accident. One minute, I was trying a new lattice configuration, and the next I was looking at an airplane that Charles Lindbergh should have been flying.

A newspaper told me it was June 15, 1928. It was still the Albany Airport, but a hundred years ago.

mail plane

EARLY BIRD…This Fairchild FC-2 Cabin Monoplane, with strut-supported wing, was probably similar to the plane E.B. White rode in his flight over New York City. (Quora)

I’m invisible and immaterial. My theory is that if I stay sane and catch up with present time, I’ll have a body again. I’ve made it ninety years so far. Another ten and I’ll have it made…I hope.

I wrote this for Week #28 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner writing challenge hosted by Roger Shipp. The idea is to use the image at the top as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I forgot about the word count limit as I was writing, so I was most of the way through a longer story when I realized it wasn’t going to fit the challenge. I’ll publish it later and put a link to it here if you’re interested in more of the details of Ernest’s woes.

Anyway, I looked up the The world’s 10 oldest airports and found that Albany International Airport best suited my needs. According to that site:

The first airmail operations at the airport began in June 1928, while passenger services began in October of the same year. The airport witnessed the movement of 180 passengers in 1929 and now handles over 2.5 million passengers per annum.

Above, I’ve included the photo of an old mail plane from that era for reference.

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

I’m seeing more participation this week, but it’s not to late to write and contribute a story for Roger’s Linkup.

For a longer version of this tale, read Waiting for Time to Pass (Expanded Version).

Timeless Saint

person and train

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He didn’t look a day older than the last time I saw him, but that was over forty years ago. He could still pass for a kid of nineteen, but I was almost seventy. I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call telling me to meet him here. He stood alone as the BART train that brought him to East Oakland pulled away in a blur.

“Why me? Why now?”

“Because it is who I am and what I was born to do. I saved you in a war halfway around the world, and now you’ll return the favor.”

“Who the hell are you and why aren’t you old? You pulled me out of that firefight in Nam. You were shot seventeen times. I never asked about it then. How are you even alive?”

“My earliest memory is of Masada. I don’t know how I escaped death there either. I only know that the lives I’ve saved over the ages have always been called upon to save others. This is your calling, Derek. For nearly 2,000 years, I have been called the Saint. There isn’t much time if we are to avert a nuclear holocaust. Come with me.”

I wrote this for Week 27 of the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I have certain characters and scenarios living in the back of my mind. One of them in “The Saint” (with apologizes to Leslie Carteris, Roger Moore, and many others), who is either a medevac helicopter pilot saving the lives of wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War, or an immortal being saving lives so that at a later date, they could save others.

This being the American Independence Day, I felt like I should write about someone heroic.

Oh, the The Siege of Masada occurred from 73 to 74 CE, but the curious question is was “the Saint” one of the Romans or a Jew?

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

As I’ve mentioned before, this link up needs a lot of love. Please consider contributing your own story here.

Happy Independence Day to you and yours.

Where the Ghosts Come From

ghost

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“Let me out, do you hear? Let me out!”

Olsen Hoyt pressed his intangible form against a non-existent boundary between the neither-world and the real one.

“Why did you do this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Pressing his non-face against the nothing holding him, he wept nullified tears.

Their plan was to leave Hoyt, and everyone like him, alone in the dark for all eternity, but inventor Dennis Tyson couldn’t resist adding more payback. He walked into the Qualdonitron control systems matrix and selected his former supervisor’s virtual cell, one of over a billion. Then he whispered across the void, “You deserve it.”

“Who’s there? Why do I deserve this?”

“Your kind has been in control long enough. It’s time for the rest of us to take charge. Monsters don’t deserve existence, but death isn’t punishment enough. Now thanks to the invention of the Qualdonitron, the privilege of dominance is ours.”

“Privilege?”

“Your people have caused millennium of suffering. Now it’s our turn to create the pain.”

It took all those like Hoyt countless years, but eventually, they learned how to come back to the world as ghosts. Now their presence would be forever haunting.

I wrote this for the Week #26 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 very loosely based my story on some of the lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1971 classic song If You Could Read My Mind and specifically:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

Of course, there are other themes involved, but I’ll leave it to the reader to discover who Hoyt and Tyson could possibly represent.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As I’ve said in previous weeks, this link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.