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


The New Neighbors

the fairy farm

© Eric Wicklund

“What do you think, Pumpkin?”

“I think it’s totally awesome, Grandpa. Thank you so much for making it for me.”

The other houses on the block had Christmas lights and nativity scenes, but six-year-old Aubrey loved Fairies, so he made her a Fairy Farm instead.

She knelt down reviewing everything. “Here’s the chicken coop, the barn, an old log, a bench, a table, a little campfire, and there’s the house. It’s so beautiful, Grandpa.” She gave the gray-haired man a hug.

“Wait, Grandpa. What’s that on the roof?

“It’s a cross, Aubrey.”

“Um, why?”

“It’ll be Christmas soon and I couldn’t completely ignore…”

“Silly Grandpa. Fairies are Druids, not Christians.”

“Tell you what, when the Fairies move in, they can decide if they want to keep the cross.”

“Deal, Grandpa.”

“Let’s go in and see how the Chicken Pies are doing.”

Minutes later, the tiny door to the Fairy house creaked open. “Gawd. Thought they’d never leave, Gertrude.”

“Same here, Andrew. Druids. Did you ever hear of such a thing?”

“Indeed, m’love. Let’s do some proper decorating now. I brought the bulbs and tinsel, do you have the box with the lights?”

“Yes, dearest. It’s right with the Nativity scene.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for December 10th 2017. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’ve probably written something like this before in response to a similar prompt, but nothing else came to mind. What appears to be a cross on the roof of the Fairy House was a bit of a problem in the overall context, but then it also gave me my “hook.” So I thought I’d have a little fun with this being the Christmas season as well as “religious preferences” among both humans and fairies.

As an aside, my wife is Jewish so we don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s easy for me to find my house when I come home from work at night since it’s the only one on the block without lights and decorations. No, I don’t even have a fairy farm out back.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit

Duck Blind


© 2015 Yinglan Z

Glenn and Marie were told to stay in the backyard and never to go up the rise to where the old wagon rested. Of course precocious eight-year-old twins didn’t listen, so whenever they knew Mommy would be busy cleaning or doing laundry, they went up to play in it.

It was really just a collection of wood with the metal wheels barely hanging on. To everyone else, it was an eyesore, and no one knew why it hadn’t been hauled off years ago.

To Glenn and Marie, it was a pirate’s ship, a rocket to Mars, a submarine that had just found Atlantis.

However, it wasn’t an eyesore, pirate ship, spaceship, or submarine.

Inside the blind, Amnathamarz and Fid examined their last set of mental readings.

“These humans are completely unsuited to our needs. They are completely disorganized, obsessed with technology yes, but such a jumble of images. How can we conquer their race if we can’t understand them?”

True, Fid. We’ve seen enough. Off to the next inhabited solar system.

I wrote this for FFfAW Challenge for this week. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction from 100 to 175 words, with about 150 being the ideal. My story is 171 words long.

The image inspired a number of ideas, but I settled on the “duck blind” being used by aliens to assess how to best invade our world. However, to do that, they need to understand us as a race, which was difficult if the only people who got close enough to their blind were children.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, go to

Is That You Talking?


© Dawn M. Miller

I bought the one that said “Corona Extra” on it because it looked cool. Now that I’ve got the place to myself, I decided I wanted to be able to make a small fire on the back patio for those cold evenings when I needed to be comforted.

“Ouch! That’s hot!”

It’s the first time I try lighting a fire in the urn.

“What did you say to me?”

“I said the fire’s hot.”

“But that’s what you’re for, to burn a fire in. Look, it’s a cool evening and I’d rather enjoy a warm fire while sitting on the patio.”

“Too bad”. The thing actually closes its mouth and smothers the flames. I toy with the idea of calling over my next door neighbor to witness this strangeness but decide against it.

“Oh don’t be surprised I can talk. You’re so lonely, you’ll believe anything can keep you company.”

“You mean…?”

“Call your son and his wife. I’ll bet they’ll be glad to bring the grandkids over.”

“But I thought…”

“Just because you’re divorced, doesn’t mean your kids don’t love you anymore. Go on. Make the call.”

I pick up my cell and the urn goes silent forever.

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – March 5th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction no longer than 200 words based on the photo prompt above. My story is 199 words.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to

Better Ideas


Image: Clipart Panda

As much as I’d like to believe that everything I write about comes from between my ears, strictly speaking, that’s not true.

I’ve read about how writers can have certain influences, usually other writers. I have no idea which writers influence me. Decades ago, I may have said Harlan Ellison. Plenty of writers made me want to read, but he was the only one who made me want to write.

Unfortunately, over my long and unproductive “career” of attempting to write fiction, I have failed miserably, mostly because I felt my characters were wooden and my concepts derivative.

I suppose you could say that Isaac Asimov is an influence, but that’s only true because I’ve been writing Three Laws Positronic robots stories. I suppose you could also say Anthony Marchetta is an influence since it was his anthology God, Robot that started off my most recent attempts at fiction writing, but besides the concept of “religious robots” themselves, that’s not particularly true (we really, really think about “theobots” in very different ways).

The closest thing to the truth is that my friend Tom is currently my greatest influence.

Continue reading

The First Set of Ideas

the planet venus


Ideas. I get ideas. Some of them are extensions of my earlier robots stories, but others have been knocking around inside my brain for quite some time. Now that I’m becoming more comfortable in giving those thoughts a tangible expression, I want to branch out and try different types of stories.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. All of the titles are provisional.

The Problem With Ethics

If you’ve read The Rescuers, you know it ends with a lead in to the next story in this series. What happens when a Three-Laws driven Positronic brain is put in charge of automating many or most of the administrative and security functions of the main campus of a major business, the National Robotics Corporation, the company that created the brain in the first place? It may sound like a boring premise, but remember, how humans do business, the good, bad, and ugly of it, is very different from how a Three Laws synthetic intelligence would.

The Man Who Woke Up

This is the start of an entirely new and original series. A man wakes up in an unfamiliar room. He doesn’t know his name and the person he sees in the mirror looks “wrong” to him. He discovers his only hope of finding out about his past is a mysterious woman called Zoel. But she’s not interested in his past, only his future.

The Adventures of Jimmy and Grandpa

My seven-year-old grandson has a terrific imagination. His favorite game to play with me is to act out elaborate scenarios based on games, TV shows, books, and comic books. He’ll start out telling part of the story and then I have to tell the next part. We go round and round until we come up with a resolution to our problem (which typically involves defeating some sort of monster). I’m thinking about writing a series of children’s stories based on our “adventures” together. Oh, I’m not comfortable using his actual name, so I chose an adaptation of his middle name (yes, he’s named after me…awwww).

The Flight of Havoc Two

This tale will be part of my robots series, but it’s set some years in the future compared to the other stories. One of the concepts of manned missions to Venus is not to send astronauts to the surface where they would face hazards that would almost certainly prove fatal, but to have them explore the planet from an airship sailing high in the atmosphere. My premise is to have the first airships be flown by Positronic robots whose task is to build long-term flying platforms for later human explorers. Of course, something goes wrong.

Let me know what you think and feel free to make suggestions.