The Fall of the Saints

photo prompt

© A Mixed Bag

The Milan Cathedral, a once majestic landmark, was in ruins. He never thought to visit this ancient structure, anathema to his own nature, an artifact to a once vast empire. He looked up at the Saint and the Priest. The Priest was struggling to keep the Saint integrated, but his powers were weakening, his prayers growing more faint each second. He was the last Priest. The revolution had effectively crushed their dominance. She was the last Saint, and the reluctant Magician’s target. He had no wish to harm her, but their hold on the world must be completely broken.

He began his magical rite to the horror of the Priest. An unexpected look of serenity appeared on the Saint’s visage. She knew her time was done.

The spell completed, the Priest collapsed, exhausted, and the Saint vanished from her holy vestibule in the cathedral. With her passing, so did the age of religion pass. It had taken Prospero long centuries to accomplish his task, but he had finally restored the age of mysticism across the world. Now his daughter Miranda would be free of Sainthood and return to rule as the Duchess of Milan.

This tale was written in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 19th 2017 challenge hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a short piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at 194, and I confess, it was only around 140 words in its first draft. I was delighted to discover I had more “room” to add details to my mythic story.

The minute I saw the photo prompt, something reminded me of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. I’ve never seen it performed or read it, but there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which began with the character Data (played by Brent Spiner) performing in the play on the holodeck as the character Prospero. Data, being a very literal person, had trouble understanding the character and Shakespeare’s symbolism. Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), explained it this way:

“Well, Data, Shakespeare was witnessing the end of the Renaissance and the birth of the modern era, and Prospero finds himself in a world where his powers are no longer needed. So, we see him here about to perform one final creative act before giving up his art forever.”

I thought it would be interesting to reverse things, and have the modern era and the church attempting to perform its one last creative act in the face of Prospero, who was determined to end its reign. In the play, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, and in addition to being a magician, Prospero is the Duke of Milan. In the play, he was attempting to restore his daughter to her rightful place. In my story, he succeeds.

To read more stories inspired by this prompt, to go InLinkz.com.

The Old Astronaut

spacesuit

© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to InLinkz.com.

The Lost Steinway

piano

© Mike Vore

Of all places, she found it in the first floor public men’s room in a deserted hotel in upstate New York. It was Monday, September 2, 1985, 4:35 a.m. In less than two hours, the demolition crew would be here to level the place. They would have destroyed this priceless treasure.

NaCumbea placed her hand gently on the tarp covering the old Steinway. “I know a couple who would love to take care of you, beautiful.”

She expanded the field radius of her time jump suit to include the piano and set her coordinates for the distant future in a parallel quantum reality. Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter were protectors of rare historical artifacts. NaCumbea knew they’d take good care of the last piano Bill Evans played before he died.

It didn’t exist in their reality, but it did in hers, so she agreed to find it for them. After all, she owed them one.

I’m probably cheating a bit since these flash fiction stories are supposed to be stand-alones, but I couldn’t help leveraging not only my Martin Fields and NaCumbea time travel stories, but also a separate series involving the characters Wyatt Ellison and Josue Hunter, who I also referenced in my recent story Unraveling.

The photo prompt is from FFfAW Challenge-Week of March 07, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the prompt above to create a story between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal target. My story is 156 words long.

To read other stories based on this prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Listener

clouds

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I always feel better when I talk to you. I don’t know what’s kept me away so long. Well, I guess I do. The same things in my life that I should bring me closer to you. My worries, job pressure, my son’s relationship with that horrible woman, all the things I am absolutely powerless to change.

I guess it was looking up, seeing the sunlight filtered through the clouds, it reminded me of you, reminded me we haven’t talked in a long time.

I’m back, God. I need you to listen. I need your mercy. We all do.

Written in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ writing challenge. Based on the photo above, the author is supposed to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. Mine came in at 99.

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

A Kindred Spirit on the Farm

calf

© majesticgoldenrose

The little boy approached the calf timidly. Grandpa thought little Teddy would enjoy visiting the farm. He’d lived in Seattle all his life and this was his first trip to Idaho. He’d be here all summer long before having to return to his Dad.

“It’s okay, boy.” Grandpa crouched down beside the child. He won’t hurt you. Go ahead and pet his nose.”

Teddy walked forward. He looked back at his Grandpa, who smiled and nodded reassuringly. Then the boy slowly reached out to the calf, which obediently let the child rub the fur above his nose. Teddy smiled for the first time in months, and then giggled.

Now maybe the healing could begin. The calf knew what it was to lose a mother, too.

Written in response to the FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 28, 2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The challenge is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words, with a word count of 150 being ideal. My story came in at exactly 125 words.

To read other stories based on the same prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

NaCumbea

olive

© A Mixed Bag

Time Traveler Martin Fields was spending Tuesday evening experimenting with the perfect vodka martini. The single olive might offend James Bond, but Martin thought it was the appropriate garnish. No time travel assignment from Isis in more than two weeks, so he mostly focused on his non-existent love life.

Martin felt nauseous, but sure it had nothing to do with his drink.

“What the hell!”

The olive and thin liquid streams were rising out of his glass.

She materialized in the center of his living room in a purplish haze. The olive and vodka returned to gravity’s control.

“Hello.” She had an enchanting smile and a time jump suit to die for, if it was a jump suit. Could have just been a freakishly futuristic skin-tight catsuit laced with photo-circuits.

I sat up. “I suppose stuff like this shouldn’t surprise me.”

“It shouldn’t, Martin.”

Great. She knows my name and where (and when) I live.

“Name’s NaCumbea.” She didn’t extend her hand by way of introduction. “I thought now that you know the ropes, you should know you’re not the only one.”

Before I could respond, the purple haze around her brightened. “Come get me.” The chase had begun.

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction for February 26th 2017. The goal is to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine is 199.

To read other stories based on the photo prompt above, go to InLinkz.com.

Again, I’m using my recurring time traveler Martin Fields, who first started training for this job in the story On Wednesday The Time Traveler Got Wet.

This story concludes in Catching NaCumbea.

The Passing

snowfall

© Sarah Potter

Snowing again.

Tony took another sip of his bourbon. Perfect night for getting quietly potted.

His cat Merlin rubbed against his ankle and meowed.

“Hello, pretty one.” He took the cue and sat in his chair in the living room. Merlin immediately hopped up onto his lap and exposed his tummy for scratches.

“I’m glad I have you right now.”

Tony took another drink and felt the buzz increasing.

He’d buried both of his parents yesterday. They were both in their eighties and suffered so much near the end. Thank God his wife would be coming home from work soon.

Written for the 24 February 2017 edition of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioners photo writing challenge.

The goal is to use the photo prompt above to write a complete piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. Mine is exactly 100.

You can find other stories written based on the prompt at InLinkz.com.

This story has some slight basis in fact. Without going into too many details, my parents are declining rapidly and the end for both of them may be nearer than I wanted. It’s a good time to consider who we leave behind and who is yet with us.

Cyrille

brave

Photo: Provided by Kristen Johnson / KTVB.com

“Cyrille, we always knew there was something a little different about you, but we didn’t think it was this.”

Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were sitting on the sofa in their living room confronting her. They were always kind, but a bit reserved. Cyrille had been renting a room from them for a little over a year. She was three months away from graduating with her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering.

“I promise that it doesn’t make any difference in our relationship. I’m still the same Cyrille who’s lived here for the past year.”

“Well, that’s the problem, Cyrille.” Mr. Johnston was like one of those sitcom Dad’s from the late 1950s, always playing the role of straight man to utter seriousness. “We don’t think we can continue to rent a room to you.”

“But why not?” Cyrille started to get out of her chair, but then realized they might see it as an aggressive act.

Continue reading

Redemption in a Playground

photo prompt liz

© Liz Young

I used to be like this junk. Drinking, smoking, a broken plastic person. A terrible father. A worse husband. Disreputable, divorced, self-destructive. But that’s before they were born. My grandchildren. They made me believe in myself because they believe in me. Now the man I was is just like this stuff, discarded. I’m sitting on this hill watching them frolic on the playground in the park below.

“C’mon down and play with us,” Johnny shouts.

“Yeah, Grandpa. Push me on the swing,” Cindy adds.

I stand up and walk toward my redemption.

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioners challenge. Based on the photo prompt above, you’re supposed to write a complete story of no more than 100 words. Mine came in at 93.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Angel’s Eve

© Sunayana | MoiPensieve.com

© Sunayana | MoiPensieve.com

They rode through the city on their scooters on Angel’s Eve just before midnight. They rode through the avenues just as their parents and grandparents had before them.

The streets were filled with celebrants and anticipation. They could only hope that this would be the year she would return.

The clan Dunnmerry rode the lanes, waved at the crowds, and shouted “Happy Angel’s Eve.” The people in the crowds waved back with the greeting, “May she return to bless us.”

The brightly lit banners, all white and feathered, adorned every boulevard and byway. Just a few minutes left. The Dunnmerry riders arrived in the square. They got off their scooters and looked up expectantly.

Midnight came but not the Angel. They would have to wait another year and hope she would return to free them from the occupiers. The lights went off and a voice crackled out of loudspeakers all over the city.

“Return to your homes. Maintain order. Work begins in the mines promptly at 6 a.m. by order of the Commandant.”

Written in response to FFfAW Challenge-February 14, 2017. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story, based on the photo prompt above, between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal target. My story comes in at 173 words.

To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.