The Price of Adventure

stop sign

© Björn Rudberg

“Sign seems a bit kloogie.”

“Maybe we should turn around, Randy.”

“Where’s the adventure in backpacking if you worry about every little sign, Marcia?”

“I’m just saying…”

“Come on. The sun will go down in an hour.” He grinned and then marched forward.

“I knew this was a bad idea,” she muttered and hurried to follow.

Then the world violently flickered around them. “What’s happening.”

“I don’t know. Maybe…”

The flickering stopped and landscape became heavily forested when it had been rocky before.

“Welcome.” There was a man calling to them from ahead. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Written for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 98.

I’m sure this sign is perfectly legit where ever it was taken, but it sure looks odd, especially the “leg” from my point of view in the U.S. Also, the “face” on the sign looks kind of alien. I let that rule my imagination when I crafted my wee tale.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to


The Mask Crumbles


© Yinglan Z.

Their High School Drama club had adopted this section of the path through the forest near their campus to clean up every quarter. Derek, the most unpopular student in class, brought up the rear while everyone else had already picked up the more easily found garbage and litter and moved on.

Cynthia and Stephanie decided to take a break and sit on the grass and they saw Derek looking under the wooden path as if he were puking. They started giggling at the sight, calling out “Doofus Derek.”

“Those stupid girls, I can hear them. They think I care…hey, what’s that?”

Something was moving in the shadows. “Probably just a cat or a squirrel.” That’s what he thought until the long dormant blackness leapt into his face.

“Oh gross!”

“What is it Steph…oh gross. Derek what did you do to your..?”

Nothing had happened to his face except his mask fell away finally revealing all of the rage inside. The berserker he’d become rushed at the teens. They were just the first pair to die.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 20, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

It was tough to come up with a story based on the image. The guy really did look like he was vomiting and the expression one of the girls seemed to indicate shock or horror. I built on that, leveraging school bullying and how being pushed too far can finally send even the mildest person into a rage. In this case, Derek had a little supernatural help, and his response was beyond deadly.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Curse of the Mini-Mummy


© A Mixed Bag 2013

“Oh you’re not actually indulging him in this obsession, are you?” Jean saw the three toy Egyptian mummies, one with the sarcophagus open revealing an unwrapped head. “Ever since you showed Jimmy those stupid old movies, he can’t get enough of them.”

“Relax. It’s just a phase. I went through it when I was his age. Those Mummy films are classics.”

Mike’s wife stormed off in disgust wondering if her husband ever really grew up.

“Jimmy, come here. I’ve got something for you.”

The nine-year-old rushed into his Grandpa’s study room. “Oh wow! Where did you get those?”

“A little curio shop on the south side. They sell all kinds of strange stuff. I thought you’d be interested. The box even contains what the shopkeeper called ‘Tana leaves’.”

“Real Tana leaves?”

“Probably not, but you can pretend.”

Later that night, when his grandparents were in the living room watching TV, Jimmy began the ancient rite he’d seen in those 1940s movies, burning three of the leaves in a small bowl. Tonight was the full moon, and as the fumes from the Tana leaves reached the partly unwrapped miniature mummy, its eyes began to glow.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for March 18th 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 194.

The “mummies” in the photo are obviously small and fake, but they gave me an idea. I mined elements of old Universal studios monster movies such as The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) to create my wee tale. What will happen when the fumes from the Tana leaves brings these “mini-mummies” to life?

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Buster’s Mystery


MorgueFile 1449286229de9o8

Buster slipped his head out of the partly open library doors when he heard the front door open. Maybe the Man had finally come home. The automations regularly refilled his food and water bowls and cleaned the litter box, but he missed the Man’s warm lap, his soft words, and the touch of his hands on the cat’s fur.


It called his name but it wasn’t the Man. In fact it wasn’t a man at all. It was one of the Man’s machines but this one walked on legs like the Man.

“Ah, there you are.” Buster cowered and then hissed. The man-machine squatted down and its almost man voice sounded kind. “I won’t hurt you. I’ve come to take care of you.”

Before Buster could run, the man-machine moved faster than even he could and scooped him up. The cat loudly protested until the fingers of the man-machine found the spot on his tummy where he loved to be rubbed.


Model NS4 robot from the 2004 film “I, Robot.”

“There, there, Buster. It will be okay. I’m sorry Dr. Lanning won’t be coming home anymore but we’ve got a mystery to solve. You, me, and Detective Baley must find out who murdered Alfred Lanning.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner for 2018: Week #11. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the authoring of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

A cat? You want me to write a story about a cat? I don’t do cute cat videos.

Okay, I’ll make this work.

Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was the 2004 film I, Robot starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, and James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning.

In one scene, Detective Del Spooner (Smith) goes to Lanning’s house looking for clues as to Lanning’s death and in the process, he finds Lanning’s cat.

So I adapted the scene to this challenge using elements of the film and Isaac Asimov’s first “robots” detective novel The Caves of Steel. Technically, the events in that novel occurred well after Lanning’s death in the Asimov stories, but this is fiction after all.

The human detective in “Steel” is Elijah Baley and his humanoid robot partner is R. Daneel Olivaw (The “R” in his name indicates he’s a robot). In my story, I imagined Olivaw to appear completely robotic, something like the NS4 models in the 2004 movie (see above).

To read other stories based on the prompt or to post your own (please), go to

The Lyrid Event


© Ted Strutz

A small group of amateur astronomers had gathered at Ted’s farm outside Garden Valley to photograph the Lyrid meteor shower that year. It was late and just about everyone had gone back to Boise, taking their cameras and telescopes with them. Only Ted’s trusty old Nixon was on its tripod still aimed at the heavens.

Ted had a dark room in the shed out back but he’d never get to develop the film. Everyone had photographed something unusual from the farm’s unique vantage point that night and they all died within a week.

Ted was next.

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. Mine is 96 words.

The camera pointing up reminded me of when I took Astronomy classes at UNLV during the early to mid 1970s. Sometimes we’d go out to the desert at night to look at different stellar phenomena through telescopes and to photograph some of them.

The Lyrid meteor shower is typically observed every April and this year will be best seen in the early morning hours of April 22.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Sparks Ascending


© 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

Bad Timing

shopping centre

© A Mixed Bag 2013

There are always a few cars left overnight in any parking garage. Some had battery trouble and couldn’t be towed before the end of business while others belonged to people who’d have one too many at a local pub. It was a Sunday morning and the gates were shut and locked so no entry and no exit.

Smith (not her real name) let herself out of the boot of a gray Audi and took the service stairs up to street level. Her victim Medina came into his shop Sunday mornings ostensibly to catch up on paperwork, but in reality he was her competition. There was only room for one assassin in southern England.

Smith looked at her antique analog watch. He should be in the back of his shop by now getting ready for his next assignment. Wait. The shop is dark. He locks the front door but keeps the light on. What the devil?

She hears the silenced shot the same instant the impact strikes her lower spine and she collapses onto the floor. A shoe slips under and rolls her over. Smith looks up at Medina. “Stupid. Did you forget about Daylight Savings Time? You’re early.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of March 11th 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I hate Daylight Savings Time, especially in the Spring when I lose an hour’s worth of sleep. It was made worse today because last night I stayed up late and this morning, I had to be at the gym by eight so I could claim the one and only squat rack they have. It sucked.

I decided to vent my ire by writing this tale. Poor Smith’s analog watch didn’t automatically update as so many digital watches do these days. Oh, before someone mentions it, I know the time change doesn’t occur in the UK until March 25th.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Flight 19

flight 19

Flight 19 Avengers, FT-28, FT-36, FT-81, FT-3, FT-117 and at the top PBM-5 Bu. Nu. 59225 (squadron number 49) – Found at Wikipedia

“We should be landing at Treasure Cay Airport in about ten minutes.”

Lori couldn’t relax knowing they were flying into weather that was nothing like the forecast.

“I’m sure the pilot is competent.” Zach chided his wife on her former career as a Navy combat pilot. She never could relax when flying commercial. “It’s just a little fog.”

“The weather was supposed to be partly cloudy. Does that look like partly cloudy to you?”

He bent over her to look, giving her a quick kiss which made her smile.

“Fog’s clearing. What are those?”

She looked again. “Flight 19.” The pilot of their chartered plane wouldn’t know what the five aircraft were holding a parallel course, but she did. ATC Marsh Harbor must be going nuts.

“An antique air show?”

“Nope. Those five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers disappeared over seventy years ago. I’ve got to talk to our pilot.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image and location to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Treasure Cay, Bahamas. Wikipedia wasn’t particularly revealing about the location, and while the larger environment of the Abaco Islands has an interesting history, I felt a bit lazy this morning and decided not to do all that much research.

The Bahamas are on the northern edge of the Bermuda Triangle, and while I don’t believe the triangle really is some sort of mystical or otherwise mysterious portal to other times or dimensions, I thought I’d give Flight 19, five Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared in the triangle on 5 December 1945, a way to finally get home, albeit almost 73 years late.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

Waiting in 1979


MorgueFile 1401035280bwq0a

One of the perks of being “unstuck” in time and space was being able to re-experience things long gone such as a “lead burger” at that greasy spoon just north of U.C. Berkeley. Jonathan grasped the massive bun and bit down, mustard oozing over his fingers. It was a warm July evening in the East Bay, but his real destination was France a few days in the future.

Days ago from his perspective, he discovered that he could dream about fixing problems in the timestream of different quantum realities. He lamented that he couldn’t do anything about the Islamic revolution in Iran or the hostage crisis that would begin in less than four months. Six-year-old Etan Patz was kidnapped in New York at the end of May and his disappearance would remain a cold case until 2010. He couldn’t do anything about that either. In fact, he couldn’t even prevent the deaths of Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. However, he could track down the ODESSA member who planted the bomb in their car and reveal the location of his confederates to Interpol.

Jonathan Cypher dipped a french fry into his catsup and waited.

I wrote this for  the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner Week 10 writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 193.

I am again leveraging my character Jonathan Cypher who you last saw earlier today in Our Honored Dead and before that in Tikkun Olam. In that tale, it was revealed he is a soul or “neshamah” of a dead man who now has the ability in his dreams to travel the timestreams of different quantum realities correcting flaws or problems introduced by human free will in the created multiverse.

When I saw the burger, I was reminded of a burger joint I used to eat at in the late 1970s on Euclid Avenue just north of the U.C. Berkeley campus. I set my tale in 1979 and then searched Wikipedia for some likely event I could insert Jonathan into.

The one I chose occurred on 9 July:

A car bomb destroys a Renault owned by Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at their home in France. A note purportedly from ODESSA claims responsibility.

A lot of other things happened including the rise of the Islamic Revolution that year including the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.

Unfortunately, on 25 May:

Etan Patz, 6 years old, is kidnapped in New York. He is often referred to as the “Boy on the Milk Carton” and the investigation later sprouts into one of the most prolific child abduction cases of all time. This is a cold case until 2010 when it is re-opened. Pedro Hernandez is later charged with strangling him after being sentenced to life in prison for murder and kidnapping in April 2017.

Jonathan can’t change everything, but I did allow him to do some damage to the ODESSA organization, which was a group of Former Nazi SS members who aided in the escape of Fascist war criminals after the end of World War Two.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

READ THIS: This writing challenge is re-emerging after a long hiatus so if you are so inclined, please contribute a story and help popularize it again. Thanks.

Our Honored Dead

war memorial

© Sandra Crook

“You consider this site to be a war memorial, Jonathan?”

“It’s foolish to see it otherwise, Raven. In fourteen years, an American President will give Iran nearly two billion dollars in cash ostensibly to inhibit their nuclear weapons development, but the hideous result was to fund a whole new era in world terrorism. How many more World Trade Centers is the future facing?”

“Our holographic presence allows us this view of the destruction, but how do you propose to heal such a pervasive characteristic in humanity?”

“I can’t fix it all, but I’ve got to start somewhere.”


Aerial view of the World Trade Center site taken September 23, 2001

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to take the image above and use it to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 97.

The monument in the photo contains the words “A Nos Morts” which I’ve learned refers to a vast number of war memorials commemorating those who died during World War One. That made me think of the site of the World Trade Center formerly known as “Ground Zero” which led me to consider the state of world terrorism.

Getting political, I also recalled that terrorism takes money and Iran is the principal source of finances for middle eastern terrorism and its effects all around the world. Giving Iran $1.7 billion in 2015 probably didn’t stop their nuclear weapons program and it certainly gave terrorism a big, big boost.

My character Jonathan Cypher, who just yesterday discovered his purpose is now looking at how best to begin “fixing the world.” Can his dreams change reality so radically as to eliminate all forms of terrorism or will he only be able to alter specific expressions of it?

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to