car balloons

Photo credit: Vincent Bourilhon

“They’re gaining, Tomas. We need more lift. Hurry.”

“I’m trying Irma. It’s easy to imagine more balloons but hard to make them pull us up.”

Twelve-year-old Irma Ruiz was mimicking the motions of her Papa, remembering how he drove his antediluvian Rambler, putting her hands at the ten and two o’ clock positions on the wheel to steer it. The wheel was wet because of her sweaty palms and every time she looked in the rear view mirror, she saw them getting closer.


“I’m hurrying! I’m hurrying!” Her ten-year-old brother couldn’t afford to look behind them. His head was stuck out the passenger door window looking up, concentrating on visualizing an ever-growing bouquet of helium-filled balloons, red, white, yellow, green, blue, all the colors of the rainbow. He could feel the car continue to climb but they had to go faster and higher.

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The Girl with the Green Eyes

girl with green eyes

Photo credit: Ryn-Sweet-Surreal

She remembered looking at her reflection in a tidal pool. Her eyes were green, like the color of the seaweed coves. She had dark red hair and her “polka dots” (what Papa called her freckles) punctuated her face like the lakes and ponds in the Verdant Hills to the north. Merilyn dressed in clothes the color of her eyes.

She had only been six years old and lived in a village on a river near an estuary to the ocean. The ocean sustained them in so many ways. Some of the men and a few of the women fished on the long boats. Others managed the seaweed farms. A lot of the older kids worked on the desalination units, each of which stood out of the water like solitary and noble sentries, yet provided fresh water to be sold to the desert provinces and the Negev city of Quebracho.

Merilyn knew they were all necessary but none of them were exciting, not like pearl diving.

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Tikkun Olam


© Hossein Zare

This world wasn’t real but then nothing he dreamed was real. Unfortunately, he was dead and all he had left were his dreams.

Jonathan Cypher stood on a salty white plain, the sky above a uniform gray mist. How had he gotten here? He woke up but the statement hardly did his situation justice. He was always dreaming and when he woke up, he was always in another dream.

The dream of the salt plain held two remarkable features. The first was a tree in the distance. Like everything else around him, it was presented in varying shades of charcoal, but it was lush and alive, or so it appeared as it stood on the distant horizon.

Then there were the tracks. Some looked like twin tire tracks but for others, the pair were too close together. What could have made them? There were no vehicles in sight, no sound of engines or people, not even birds. No wind, no rain, the only thing he could hear was the crunching of the salt that probably wasn’t salt under his feet as he stepped down.

The idea of following the tracks was compelling. Something had made them but whatever it was had disappeared at their vanishing points. The only reasonable destination, if reason could be said to apply here, was the tree.

He started walking.

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The Ocean’s Daughter

swimming pool trust

Photo credit: BleachFilm

“Are you sure you want to do this, Sis? We can wait until a better time.”

“There’s never going to be a better time, Cody. You heard what my counselor said. Sooner or later I’ve got to face this. I can’t be afraid of the water all my life.”

“Okay, Darya. You’re in charge. Remember, I’m going to be with you all of the time so if you get in trouble…”

“I know, I know. Look. I’m nervous enough. Let’s just do this.”

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The Überlingen Collision Affair


© Kyle Thompson

2 July 2002 – London

“Are you out of your fucking mind?” MI6 operative Ian Dennis could hear himself asking that question in his mind over and over again. How the hell was he supposed to find the courier’s briefcase amid the widely scattered wreckage of the Tupolev passenger jet? The horrendous mid-air collision with the 757 cargo plane could have sent it anywhere and by rights it and it’s classified contents should have been destroyed.

“The case is covered with genuine faux leather to be sure Dennis, but that conceals the titanium shell. Our man paid a small fortune in bribes to get in on board in Moscow so rest assured, it would survive the crash. It was designed to do just that.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Wilks. But why? This was supposed to be a milk run from Moscow to Barcelona. The courier was part of a UNESCO committee escorting a bunch of children on a school trip to Costa Dorada.”

“Thank you, Dennis. I am familiar with the facts of the Op.” A casual observer would conclude that Richard Wilks was in ill temper because what Ian had called a “milk run Op” had gone terribly sour but in actuality, he was always disgruntled. At age 72, he was one of the last of the old guard at MI6, his career as a field agent having spanned three decades. He was a young agent at the start of the cold war and he had a hand in the fall of the Berlin Wall (though very few were aware of that fact). Truth be told, he hated life behind a desk, but he had been forced to it at age 60 due to a botched hip replacement after being severely wounded in shootout in Sangi, Pakistan.

“Your security clearance does not justify you knowing the full details of the courier’s Op, Dennis. Your job is to go to Überlingen in the guise of an adviser to the German Air Accident investigators, retrieve the briefcase, and return it to London. You are not under any circumstances to attempt to open it.”

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The Moon At My Shoulder


© Justin Peters

“I must be dreaming. I mean, you can’t be God.”

“Yes, you are dreaming and I am a manifestation of the Almighty that won’t totally blow your mind.”

Lucas Todd still felt like his mind was being blown. He’d just been accepted into UCLA’s Astronomy and Astrophysics graduate program. Ever since his Dad told him about watching Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon on television, he wanted to go there, too.

NASA’s manned space program had gotten pretty disappointing since then. His Dad always thought he’d see a permanent Lunar Base or maybe even a colony being established during his lifetime, but poor Dad died of cancer last year. Lucas didn’t want Dad’s dreams to die with him.

If either NASA or a private space agency was going to establish that Moon Base, then Lucas was determined to be a part of it

“I mean, I don’t even believe in God, well not really.”

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primordial soup

© Gyaban

The last place Christopher Sanderson expected to wake up was in a comfortable bed in a richly furnished and adorned room, though he was surprised to be waking up at all. Bright sunlight from the large open window on his right momentarily blinded him, but he welcomed the warm breeze, the rustling of tree branches, and what sounded like friendly bird cries which were so different from the cries of dying men.

Then it all came back to him and his beating heart began to race.

He heard two quick knocks on the door which then immediately opened. A very large Japanese man entered carrying a tray. Christopher sat up in bed and noticed for the first time he had been dressed in silk pajamas. Last he recalled, he had been draped in rags soaked in sea water and blood.

“Do I have you to thank for my rescue?”

Without replying, the fearsome looking man set the tray down on a side table, stepped back, and then bowed.

Not knowing what to do, Christopher nodded back. “If this is a Japanese prison camp, the accommodations are certainly a great deal better than I would have expected.

The large man finished his bow and though the gesture seemed polite and genteel, his facial expression was one of hostility and even malevolence. Without a word, he then turned and left closing the door behind him. Christopher was directing his attention to the tray when he distinctly heard the sound of a lock being engaged. Perhaps he was a prisoner after all.

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deus ex machina


People assumed he saw everything all at once, but if that were true, clearly the sensory overload would have driven him crazy the first half-second he’d been connected. The only reason it was possible at all was because of his unusual brain structure, specifically a complex network of interconnections that “shadowed” the typical systemic neurology everybody else uses for sensory processing. His “extra” processing system was ideally suited for managing massive amounts of digital information.

So Kelly Elliott agreed to become a guinea pig and let the eggheads at the Conceptius Institute on the University of Washington campus hook his brain directly to the internet.

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The Raven Queen

snow white huntman queen

© Jeff Simpson

The Raven Queen was ancient, perhaps as old as the Flood of Noah or even older. She had possessed many names and many guises over the long millennia depending on which people she chose to bless or curse, their languages, traditions, and the like. She had her favorite identities so when apart from the places of men, she would adopt one that pleased her.

She was also very moody. She could create, deceive, protect whole nations, or murder Kings. It was just a matter of which side of the celestial and metaphorical bed she woke up on in any given age.

“What shall we do today, Kutkh?”

“Call me Ishmael,” the archetype perched upon her shoulder replied.

“You jest certainly. Quoting a work of man again? Melville won’t write that line for centuries.”

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© Mrs White

Wednesday could only make squawking and chirping noises but her sister Friday understood every word. She was the only one who could.

“Because everyone hates us, Wednesday. You know that. You’ve known that ever since you were old enough to see how different you look.”

Wednesday shook her head, her large beak moving from side to side. She chittered.

“I know you’re scared. It’ll be quick. Like going to sleep maybe. I’ll be with you. We only have each other.”

She tried to say “I love you, Friday,” but only inhuman sounds escaped her throat.

“I love you too, Wednesday. I always will. But you know there’s no place in the world for us.”

Wednesday pulled her hand out of Friday’s and squawked.

“No! I won’t leave you. It doesn’t matter that I look like everyone else, it matters that you’re my twin sister. Now we’re going together or not at all, and if we don’t go, where can we return to?”

Tears escaped Wednesday’s eyes as she let Friday take her hand again.

“Now come on, Wednesday. The water’s just over there.”

Friday led Wednesday to the ocean and then into the ocean. They would always love each other and in death, be perpetually inseparable.

I found an intriguing photo at the Up Against Mortality blog that lead to Photo Challenge #172. It was such a mournful image and certainly my melancholy tale reflects that.

I gave my characters names inspired by the poem Monday’s Child. In this case, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” and “Friday’s child is loving and giving,” though her expression of love is a dual suicide.

Friday could have left her twin since looked perfectly human, but their bond was stronger than that. Even as the author, I wish they could have found some place that would have accepted them.