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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Koi no Yokan

man on beach

Man on a beach – free stock photo

The sky was a brilliant cyan when she first saw him on the beach. He was staring out at the ocean as if witnessing a tragedy and in spite of her vow of utter celibacy, she experienced an overwhelming sense of Koi no Yokan. Whispering a curse and then immediately regretting it, Merilyn continued her run across the shoreline leaving the solitary young man behind.

The hostel was serving thin Miso soup and fish again that evening when he walked in. Merilyn tried not to roll her eyes as Donn, at the head of the table, was again vaunting about his prowess with the Shinai and how he was sure to win the Kendo games which would begin the next week. They heard a noise at the door and she recognized the man from the beach standing at the threshold. Tradition demanded that even an ego as big as Donn’s cease pontificating so they could greet the visitor.

They each in turn stood and bowed to the stranger, introducing themselves and welcoming him to the competitor’s hostel. He bowed in return in a gradual manner which she would learn was his way in social settings, though most certainly not during battle.

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The Switchman’s Lantern


Image: Google Images – labelled for re-use.

Josiah Bell was a switchman like his Pappy before him. He had a gimpy leg from an accident he had when he was six so he walked the tracks carrying his lantern in one hand and a long pole in the other. On top of the pole, he hung a red kerchief on a nail which he liked to wave at the engineers as they drove their enormous machines along the tracks.

He was working the yards in Chicago and it was damn early in the morning and cold. He done heard on the radio what those Hitler and Mussolini fellas was doing and how them Germans sent their army into peaceful Denmark and Norway. Josiah was a peaceful man and a simple one but he didn’t take to no bullies. He’d been bullied plenty as a child because of his bum leg. A lot of folks wanted America to stay out of that mess in Europe and maybe they were right, but then who was gonna take care of those bullies?

The 3:10 from Omaha was just coming up to his switch. Josiah set down his pole and grasped the metal bar and with a practiced hand and steely sinews, pulled, switching the course of the train from the main line to the freight yards. Then he stood, putting most of weight on his good leg and waved his lantern. No use waving the kerchief on the pole, too dark to see it.

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Starting Small

tiny writer

© Goroyboy

“Oh my god, look at those cuticles. Your nails need help, Larry.”

“Hush, Violet. This isn’t about my nails. Worry about your own nails.”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s with the tiny quill pen. Miniature calligraphy?”

“My long suffering wife, you know my handwriting sucks.”

“Then what’s up, dearest but daffy husband?”

“Hand me the itsy-bitsy inkwell, will you?”

“Sure, but you didn’t answer my question.”

“I think my fingers are cramping.”


“Okay, okay. Don’t shout. You’ll break my concentration.”

“Ha, it’s been broken for…”

“I know what you’re going to say.”


“You know how I’m always saying I want to write this epic novel.”

“Right, and six years later, no novel.”

“Agreed with chagrin. I’ve finally realized that I can’t go from nothing to epic.”

“So you decided to start small. This is a bit literal isn’t it?”

“Yes, but I just finished my first small project. Want me to read it to you?”

“I’d be delighted. Let me get my coffee first.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of March 6, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 165.

Yes, the first thing I noticed was the condition of the cuticle on the writer’s thumb and how the nail was cut (not dissimilar to my own) and only then the tiny quill pen. I decided to let the literal describe the state of many of us in the blogosphere, authors with grand dreams desperately trying to crawl off the drawing board or the sheet of paper.

You have to start somewhere and often that somewhere is a very small place.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Test Flight


Image found at Vector News

Cory was conducting another sweep of the void in search of any contacts in the area of space where what Krista called “the indiscriminate drive” deposited the ship.

“Nothing, Captain. No coalescent bodies of any kind. I’m only reading dust and hydrogen gas. Impossible to tell our location in relation to the Solar System without a frame of reference.”

“That’s fine, Mr. McKenzie. Continue scans until further notice.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Captain Forest Quinn volunteered to command the experimental jump drive vessel Kingfisher, Elon Musk III’s brain child. In theory, a ship equipped with the Tesla drive could instantaneously jump from one point in space to another using a virtual point-to-point link through subspace. All of the unmanned probes including a quarter-sized model of the Kingfisher jumped to specific coordinates between fifty and three-hundred light years from Earth and returned safely by virtue of their AI guidance systems.

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Never Trust an Angel

woman pointing gun

Young woman pointing a gun (Shutterstock)

“As far from the east from the west has He distanced your transgressions from you, she said. If your sins are frozen like the snows on Kilimanjaro, I will melt your heart like the wings of Icarus, she said. Ha! The best of times, the worst of times and brother, this is the worst of times.”

“Quit your bitching Milo and put your back into it.” The prison guard waved his shotgun vaguely in the young convict’s direction to emphasize the point.

He held up his pickaxe momentarily entertaining murderous thoughts, but even if he could bury the business end of it in that fat pig’s chest before he could react, the others would cut him down in a New York minute. Not worth it. Milo brought his tool down on hard, merciless rock, as hard as his stoney heart.

How had he ended up here? Oh yeah. Her.

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Actor Christian Bale as John Connor in the 2009 film “Terminator Salvation.”

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before. Joe Kelley had been confined in the Detention Center for nearly a week and compelled to read and view all manner of anti-Christian and progressive texts and films in an effort to “correct” his views on the existence of God and particularly the God of the Bible.

He was surprised they hadn’t simply arrested him, beaten a confession out of him (or “disappeared” him like so many of his friends), and then sentenced him to a long prison term. Then he realized that with his son Gabe being a high-ranking official on the local Public Education Council, the Progressive Enforcement (PE) Police didn’t want to embarrass him by having the news media report that his Dad had been convicted of seditious religious beliefs.

At first, his Counselor Mx Torres considered “converting” him to a state-approved inclusive Christian church, but when the psychological test results came back, the recommendation was to completely reprogram him to deny all faith in Christ.

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The Unlikely Alliance



“You want me to take over as the Director of the Safe Housing Project. Me.”

Jake Buchanan was sitting across a table at a local diner from Bishop as she made what he considered an outrageous suggestion. What could she possibly be thinking of?

“Just let it sink in a minute, Jake. You’ll see it makes a lot of sense.”

Bishop lifted her coffee cup to her lips to take another sip and Jake couldn’t help but notice her hands. She had transitioned nearly a decade ago, but he always felt her hands, about the same size as Jake’s, didn’t fit in with the rest of her appearance.

“Sense? You know me. I’m as conservative as they come. I’m almost sixty years old, white, male, cisgender, married to the same woman for thirty-five years, three kids, two grandkids and another on the way. My life’s practically a painting by Norman Rockwell.”

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They’re Finally Here


From the mini-series “It” (1990)

“I’m getting tired of all these clowns trying to lure our kids into the woods or back alleys and I’m going to stop them any way I can.” Brett stuffed the business end of his .45 into his waistband as he opened the back door.

“No, please don’t.” His wife Sheila ran up to him and grabbed his free arm, then staggered backward as her furious husband shook off her grip.

Nine-year-old Teddy and his six-year-old sister Pam were peeking into the kitchen from the hallway not knowing who to be more scared of, the clowns or Daddy.

For months, reports of clowns wandering the streets of communities all across America had been in the news, but in Alanville, Idaho, things had taken a frightening turn.

The small, rural town in the center of the state, famed for its apple orchards, had a population of barely 5,000. It was the type of American community where everyone still knew their neighbors, people waved and said hello as they passed each other on the sidewalk, and doors on cars and houses were only occasionally locked. It was what magazines called a “family friendly community,” a wonderful place to raise children, or at least it had been up until last month.

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