Cloister

cloister

© Roger Bultot

A terrified Sandoval Carson treaded across rough, ancient stones paralleled by pitted archways and shrouded by overgrown vegetation. The cloister was just ahead, and so, he hoped, his salvation.

Once he had stepped through the dark mirror that had once been a patio window, he was young again, though, he suspected, only here. He had to find the one who could help him correct all his life mistakes.

“Hello, Sandoval.” The voice was behind him.

“Can you help me?” Carson pivoted and then faced himself.

Dark Carson lunged at him screaming, “I’ve always hated you.”

“Me too,” he gurgled, dying.

It’s been a while, but this morning, I decided to contribute to Rochelle Wisoff-Field‘s weekly 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. My word count is 100.

The color adjustment of the photo made me feel apprehensive, as if I were looking at a horror film, one where the hero was about to be pounced upon by the monster at any moment. In this case, the monster is himself.

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

EDIT: Forgot to add a title and to mention that this is just one of many “Dark Mirror” tales I’ve written over the past few years. Usually, they take a person to their greatest desire or need. It obviously meant something grim in Sandoval’s case.

From Up in the Sky

quarry

© Russell Gayer

“What the hell?” Sixty-two year old millionaire Warren Hollister stared down the long gully carved in his quarry terminating at an unconscious man being put on a wheeled gurney by ambulance attendants.

“It’s like I was saying. Thought he was dead, but when I checked, he was breathing,” gasped Jake Fischer, the Foreman.

“Not a scratch on him.” Hollister shook his head in wonder.

“No clothes either.”

“What are you suggesting?.”

“Who knows what happened? Last year the Russkies sent up Sputnik, and today, a man falls from the sky.”

“A superman, Jake, and right now, he’s mine.”

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

This is actually part of a story that’s been floating around my head for years, the idea that a mysterious man can fall from the sky and into the hands of what could be a ruthless millionaire. Since Jake mentions that Sputnik was put in orbit the previous year, that puts my story in 1958, just over 60 years ago.

I got the scene for my rock quarry from this news story and very loosely based it on the 1953 “Adventures of Superman” television show episode Panic in the Sky (video).

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

The Goats and Graves Reparation

goats and graves

&copy Randy Mazie

“On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, President Donald Trump sent the 101st Airborne to maintain order at the American-Mexican border near Nogales. That was fifteen years ago.” Professor Pauline Vasquez periodically pressed her thumb on the remote, advancing the slideshow in her classroom.

“500,000 migrants, desperate to gain sanctuary, were being turned away by Army soldiers, supported by the National Guard. No one knew who fired the first shot, but it turned into a bloodbath. Three-fourths of the refuges were either killed or wounded while the rest fled.”

One student raised his hand, “Do you know when the genocide reparation hearings are scheduled for?”

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

I Googled “Goats and Graves” since that’s part of the photo’s filename, and I came up with a scholarly paper titled, “Goats and Graves: Reparations In Rwanda’s Community Courts. So in this case, I’m using the image symbolically, when normally, I would have taken a more literal perspective.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed of nearly 500,000 Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from their base in Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. The group condemned the Hutu-dominated government for failing to democratize and confront the problems facing these refugees. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, but by 1992 it had weakened Habyarimana’s authority; mass demonstrations forced him into a coalition with the domestic opposition and eventually to sign the 1993 Arusha Accords with the RPF. The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing him. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, around 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. Many Twa were also killed, despite not being directly targeted.

Since the Rwandan genocide was triggered by half a million refuges, I made that the jumping off point for my own, wee tale. Of course in the case of Rwanda, the relevant events took place over several months and not in a single day. As I was writing, I was also reminded of the Kent State shootings of 1970.

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

Reminder

boots

© Adam Ickes

“Todd, why is there a pair of boots out front?” Kim stood at the window looking at what her husband placed outside.

“They were Erica’s boots. There should be a public reminder.” The thirty-year-old electrician stared wistfully into the fireplace as logs were peacefully consumed.

“Oh.” She sat on the sofa next to Todd. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright to say she committed suicide.” He took her hand.

“You want to go through with the lawsuit, right?”

“I know it won’t make any difference to my sister, but a person who cyberbullied her shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Yesterday, the rather colorful and expressive New York State Senator from Brooklyn, Kevin S. Parker, responded to a criticism from Republican Candice Giove that he had improperly used his parking placard to block a bike lane on a busy street by tweeting “Kill Yourself!” It’s all over the news including The New York Times and USA Today. After receiving a great deal of public criticism from fellow Senators, journalists, and the general public, he apologized, and then kept attacking Ms. Giove.

No, I seriously doubt Ms. Giove will commit suicide as a result of Senator Parker’s insensitive and impulsive tweet, but it did put me to mind of cyberbullying which occasionally does result in children and adults committing suicide. In my story, Todd put his sister’s hiking boots on a low wall in front of his house as a memorial. As a society, we need to do better.

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

The Return of Uncle Martin

laptop and globe

© Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Chris, what’s going on?” Susan O’Hara stood at the storage shed watching her husband tap at the laptop keyboard, attached to a rough, plaster globe wrapped in wire.

“Tracking his spacecraft. Dad said he’d come back. Found the diagrams and the frequency in his papers.”

“Your Dad was crazy. He thought his uncle was a Martian.”

The forty-four year old engineer kept focused on the screen with occasional glances at a blip of light appearing on the makeshift sphere. “I’m getting something.”

He toggled the volume up and a voice came through. “Tim. Help. The robots are taking over Mars.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction only 100 words long. My word count is 100.

Some of you may already have picked up references to the 1960s TV sitcom My Favorite Martian which starred Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. Walston played a martian stranded on Earth who is helped by a young newspaper reporter named Tim O’Hara (Bixby). O’Hara explained the martian to his landlady as his “Uncle Martin.” The show ran from 1963 to 1966 and I remember watching it as a kid.

Both Walston and Bixby are no longer with us, and I used the birth date of Bixby’s deceased son Christopher (he tragically died at age six) as the basis for creating the probable age of Tim O’Hara’s son, who has inherited the legacy of knowing there is life on Mars. Since we keep sending robots to the Red Planet, I thought I’d make that the source of “Martin’s” angst.

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

The Man Who Would Be God

railroad tunnel

© Dawn M. Miller

Fanatic time traveler Michael Robert Obe knew only murder could change the future. “Sorry, kid. This is the only way.” The eccentric (or insane) physicist held the bound five-year-old boy by the collar of his shirt while standing on the railway trestle.

“I loved this view when I was a kid. That’s why I brought you here. Too much at stake in my future world to let you live.”

The child looked up at his captor in terror.

“Good-bye, Freddie.”

Obe rolled Fredrick Christ Trump into the Colombia River to drown.

“Now to see what sort of world I’ve created.”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

As you may have guessed, Fredrick Christ Trump was the father of our current President Donald Trump. I know this harkens back to the old time travel paradox of whether  or not you would kill Adolf Hitler as an infant in order to prevent the Holocaust. I’ve written stories like that before, but given that (at least in social media) any action that would inhibit, stop, impeach, erase, Donald Trump (or anyone conservative, or anyone suspected of being a Trump voter or at least not a Democrat) seems justified, I decided to take it one illogical step further. Would you murder Trump’s Dad when he was five years old to prevent a Trump presidency? In other words, would you kill an innocent little boy in cold blood because you think it’s the greater moral good?

Interesting question.

To read other (kinder, gentler) stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

After the War

waterfall

© Dale Rogerson

The flowing water was marginally warmer than the frigid air, but Lance dressed for the weather and felt comfortable crouching down on a flat rock near the falls. At his feet patiently sat the urn. When he first met Tamara a decade ago, he never thought she liked the cold and the mountains so much. He was used to snow, being raised as a “flatlander,” but he’d have a hard time getting used to the altitude.

Pouring out the open clay container, her ashes rained into the stream like tears. “I wish I would have told you I loved you.”

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

Yesterday, I wrote the opening to a wee Space Opera called The Girl He Left Behind, which was my response to a completely different writing challenge. You can’t tell because of the brevity of this piece, but this is the aftermath of winning an interstellar war, with Lance being one of the few survivors. He takes the ashes of one of his fellow soldiers, a woman he always thought was just a friend, but who had fallen in love with him, back to her homeworld, the only one to have not been destroyed.

War isn’t kind, even to the victors.

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

One Honest Man

totem

© J.S. Brand

“A totem pole? I’ve known you for forty years, and you never told me you were native.” Leon Bell stood, looking incredulously at the creation of his friend and neighbor Marshall Griffin.

“I’m not, but why can’t I have my own monument to the symbols that I consider important?”

“But this is a public park. You can’t just deface a tree…”

Marshall scowled up at his friend from his blue lawn chair. “What do you mean deface? This is art.”

“I guess I don’t know what art is,” Leon growled back.

Marshall smiled. “You’re the only honest person I know.”

I wrote this for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the image. It vaguely resembles a totem pole, but the symbols weren’t what I’d consider traditionally first nations, so I pondered “cultural appropriation” and how to play that out. That’s when I came up with Leon and Marshall, two old friends who no longer have time for false politeness or illusions of propriety.

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

It Tolls for Thee

chess

© Jeff Arnold

Nine-year-old little Sarah had lived here all her life and never saw something so horrible. It was like Papa’s chess set. All those people were just praying and worshiping and a man with a gun came in and knocked the pieces down, just like that.

They say he’s a racist and he blamed us for hurting his people. They say guns are too easy to get. At school yesterday, some of the kids said maybe it’s because of who is President, that because he’s the first like him, that maybe he drove this person Dylann Roof crazy. Don’t think so.

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

I’m going to state for the record that you’re not going to like this. Ever since Donald Trump became President and sent his first tweet, he’s been blamed for just about everything including the recent Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. But if it is true that all violence since November 2016 is the direct result of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, then how can we explain all acts of violence before Trump became POTUS? I mean, it’s as if news and social media believe if Trump were silent, or if Hillary Clinton were President, everything would be unimaginably peaceful and the United States would be paradise, just as it was during President Obama’s administration (that last bit was deliberate sarcasm, but to make a point).

So I leveraged the Charleton church shooting (which occurred during Obama’s administration) in which nine African-American worshipers lost their lives at the hands of 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, who blamed African-Americans for a plethora of ills.

This is not unlike 46-year-old Robert Bowers who blamed George Soros in particular, and the Jewish people in general for hurting “his” people (presumably non-Jewish whites) and (allegedly) murdered eleven Jewish worshipers as a result.

Both Roof and Bowers are extremists who believe a people group was responsible for their problems, and saw gun violence as the only solution. But what was the real cause?

Both incidents are very similar, such as attacking their targets in a house of worship, and openly stating that their motivation was bigoted hate. However, Barack Obama was the President when Roof committed his crime, and Donald Trump is President now. I find it difficult to believe that the sole cause of either man’s heinous acts was the President of the United States.

Could Trump’s statements be somehow inflammatory and a contributing factor in Bowers’s actions? Maybe. There’s no way to tell. There’s no way to tell if he would have done the same thing if Hillary Clinton had won the election.

That’s my point. There’s no way to tell. So don’t be so sure of your assumptions, because that’s all they are. I think a lot of people are taking their current fear and loathing of the President and applying it to any bad event that occurs, no matter what the circumstances and without examining the facts. That’s faulty logic. We need to be better than that.

The bottom line is that innocent people died in both events as the result of a very disturbed bigot. Always blame the person who pulled the trigger, and always mourn the victims and comfort their families. If we all did that, we’d be better people for it, and we’d serve those suffering communities rather than our own fears.

Oh, the title comes from John Donne’s famous poem For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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

The Eye

glass ceiling

© Roger Bultot

I ran into the building to get away from the angry mob of protestors outside.

What is this place? The middle of the room is contained in a sort of marble circle. Who is that by those torches?

“Oh good, you’re here.”

He’s African-American, bald, and I’ve never seen him before in my life.

“Hurry. There isn’t much time.”

“Time for what?”

“For you to go through the eye and restore the balance. The world is terribly divided, and only you can manipulate reality.”

“Who am I?” Then I felt myself lifted up toward the glass oval in the ceiling.

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

I’d love to have figured out where this photo was taken, but that would have required a lot of work, and I’m short on time lately. The oval-shaped window in the ceiling reminds me of the large window in comic book character Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Last night, I read a story about a man with amnesia who turned out to be an alien, and I have a tendency to write a lot of stories featuring a Messiah-like figure. Put all that together, and you have the tale I just wrote.

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