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 InLinkz.com.

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The Girl and the Princess

 

lighthouse

© A Mixed Bag 2013

Ted and Priscilla were slowly motoring away from the lighthouse on Gasparilla Island, the small yacht’s sails secured it being a calm day on the Gulf. They were finally fulfilling their dream of spending the summers sailing the coastline.

“So you say that lighthouse is supposed to be haunted, Ted?” Priscilla was chuckling.

“Presumably the daughter of the lighthouse keeper died there sometime in the early 19th century. She’s been heard giggling and playing upstairs.”

“I’m more interested in the headless ghost of the Spanish princess decapitated by a pirate.”

“Of course you are, you macabre wench.”

Priscilla laughed. “If you weren’t steering this tub, I’d…”

Two unseen figures watched at the railing near the top of the lighthouse. A headless woman and a little girl held hands while a cat’s spectre affectionately rubbed against their ankles.

“Tourists,” the child said in disgust. “Wish we didn’t have to put up with them, Josefa. Glad they’re finally gone.”

She looked up at where the princess’s head should be. Josefa turned as if she were looking down, then squeezed her girl’s hand.

“I know. I love you, too. Let’s go back inside and play with my dollies. Casper, you come in, too.”

When I saw the prompt, I immediately decided to write about a haunted lighthouse and so looked up Top 10 Haunted Lighthouses.

The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island, Florida (number 2 on the list) really is supposed to be haunted by a young girl, supposedly the ghost of a keeper’s daughter who died there. Legends say she can be heard giggling and playing upstairs. The headless body of Josefa, a Spanish princess decapitated by a pirate is said to wander the sand nearby. I decided to make the child and the princess friends. Another lighthouse on the list may or may not have a ghostly cat in residence.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for November 26th 2017. The idea is to use the photo at the top as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

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

Audrey of the Sewers

 

sewer

© A Mixed Bag 2014

“Hey, kid.”

Twelve-year-old Jeff Edwards was crossing the street when he heard it.

“Down here.”

He looked down at the sewer drain.

“Come a little closer.”

“What the…?”

“Wait! It’s not what you think.”

Jeff stopped. The drain was securely grated so he figured nothing could get out. Then he felt something. A little vine had wrapped around his ankle. He pulled but was stuck.

“No, stop!”

“C’mon, I haven’t had a descent meal in forever. Getting tired of rats, mice, and dead goldfish.”

“Somebody help me!”

The vine got stronger, growing sharp spines.

“Just a few toes, I promise.”

“Ka-chunk”. Jeff saw Old Man Henderson slamming his ax down on the vine cutting it in two.

“Run, boy.”

Jeff jumped to the sidewalk.

“Figured this thing’d grown back by now.” He was wearing a metal tank on his back. The sexagenarian grabbed the tank’s hose by the nozzle and sprayed liquid into the grate.

“No. Please. Crap, that hurts. Stop.”

The plant’s voice faded. Jeff looked and saw nothing green was there anymore.

“Damn plant,” cursed Henderson. “My neighbor Seymour dumped it in the sewer but the alien keeps coming back. Herbicide’ll put it down. Best run along, Jeffy.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for 12 November 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

When I saw the sewer grate, I immediately thought of the 2017 film It based on Stephen King’s novel. I’ve never seen the film and never will (mainly because I don’t find being scared to death entertaining), but I’ve seen the advertising and the image of the clown peeking out of the sewer drain in the gutter is iconic.

However, I didn’t want to just re-write the same story and seeing a bit of plant life growing out of the grate, I took a look at the 1986 version of the movie Little Shop of Horrors based on the off-Broadway play and starring Rick Moranis as florist Seymour Krelborn.

In that movie (which I’ve never seen either), Seymour used an alien plant he named Audrey II (the original Audrey is his girlfriend) to draw business to his florist shop before realizing that the plant liked to eat human flesh and blood. The film ended when Seymour electrocuted the plant which destroyed his shop. Subsequently, he and Audrey married and settled down in the suburbs. However, a smiling Audrey II bud can be seen among the flowers in the front yard in the movie’s last scene.

I decided to extend that idea, having Seymour find the bud and flush it down the toilet. Audrey II survives, but old man Henderson, having discovered the carnivorous plant and realizing what it was, keeps it in check each spring with his ax and a tank of herbicide. He’d been working in his yard when he heard Jeff scream and, knowing what happened, grabbed what he needed and put Audrey II down for another year.

I just wrote this tale for the fun of it, mixing a serious horror movie with a horror-comedy musical.

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

Incident on the Dover Bridge

tank

© A Mixed Bag 2013

President Trump declared a state of Martial Law for the affected areas of the Eastern Seaboard, including New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, for lack of any better idea. The impossible was happening. Groups of Native Americans, along with their houses and towns were appearing at random in different geographic areas, replacing whatever and whoever had been there before.

The President’s interim Science Advisor Michael Kratsios checked and found there was a small group at MIT experimenting with cross-dimensional fields which possibly caused these phenomena.

Captain Roberts had directed his tank over the Dover Bridge crossing the Choptank River about five miles from Easton, Maryland. Halfway across the span, the bridge changed and in the middle of the bridge was a military troop armed with rocket launchers.

“Franklin, get us stopped in a hurry.”

“Yes sir.” Sgt Caroline Franklin brought the tank to an abrupt halt. Roberts popped the turret hatch hoping he could talk his way out if this mess, whatever it was. The leader of the group called up to him.

“I’m First Warrior Achak Running Bear of the Lenni Lenape Militia. I understand you think you own this land. We’re here to take back what is ours.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of September 3rd, 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

I tried to find the actual location where this photo was taken, which isn’t likely to be where I’ve set my wee tale, but I failed miserably. However one of the references for “dover bridge” Google pointed me to was the bridge and river I used for my story. I’ve leveraged some plot points from a series of time travel stories I’m currently writing based on the works of the late Andre Norton (whose real name was Alice Mary Norton), particularly a chapter I published yesterday called Incursion. What would happen if a scientific experiment went wrong and started replacing parts of our world with an alternate reality, one in which Europe had never colonized the Americas? Today’s piece of short fiction gives us a taste of the answer.

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

Flowers in a Teacup

cups

© Dawn M. Miller

“Be careful not to spill, Daddy.”

Jacob gently placed a full teacup on each of the three poles at his five-year-old daughter Emily’s direction.

“Thank you, Daddy.” She ran up to him and hugged him. “I love you.”

Jacob bent down to hug her. “I love you too, Sweetheart.”

He stood, took Emily’s hand, and together they admired his work. “Do you really think the fairies will come for your tea party tonight?”

“They’re really shy, Daddy. We can’t be around or they won’t come.”

“Then how do you know…?”

“The tea will be gone, silly Daddy. They’ll leave flowers in the cups to say ‘Thank you.'”

“Okay. We’d better get going.”

They walked across the field back toward home. Jacob planned to fulfill her fantasy later that night.

It was after nine before he could get away. Halfway out to where he’d set the cups, he saw fireflies fluttering around them, but they were so big. After they left, he walked to the cups. In place of the tea, each one contained an arrangement of wildflowers.

Jacob looked at the flowers in his hand and set them on the ground. Even fairies knew not to disappoint a little girl.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for August 27th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is exactly 200.

I had a tough time with this one mainly because I don’t think the ending comes as much of a surprise. Still, I wanted to write something family-oriented and uplifting.

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

Uninvited

eric wicklund

© Eric Wicklund

“Do you see, Sky? I wasn’t kidding. They’re really there.”

It had taken nine-year-old Gray almost half an hour to convince his twelve-year-old sister to follow him into the woods behind their campground. He knew she wouldn’t believe him unless she saw them for herself. Mom and Dad were busy setting up for the concert so it was easy to get away.

Sky’s face was right next to the hole in the tree, only the tree didn’t have a hole on the other side.

“I don’t believe it,” she whispered to herself.

“Believe it, Sky. They’re elves or fairies or something.”

“We have to be looking into some other world, Gray. But how is this possible?”

Through the green lens set in the tree’s natural depression she could see what Gray had already witnessed, tiny people with wings dancing and fluttering together as if in celebration.

Suddenly, they both heard a buzzing getting louder and a miniature face of gold with an impish smile appeared. “Excuse me, but this is a private party. Go back to your own summer solstice celebration.”

With that, a door slammed and the hole to the other world was denied the children.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – June 25th 2017 photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as an inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

When I first saw the image, the green looked like glass instead of the leaves of trees, so I pretended it was a portal to another world (my favorite theme lately). Gray and Sky are part of a group of families who travel to a remote wooded location every year and have a concert to celebrate the coming of summer.

It seems the little people on the other side of the hole do something similar.

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

The Relic

predator

© A Mixed Bag

“Wow. Where’d you get that?”

Thirteen-year-old Jess had been a fan of the Predator movies ever since he watched the original when he was nine.

“My uncle. He made it for a display at ComicCon to promote next year’s reboot.”

Bobby was Jess’s best friend and they shared a special love for horror-based science fiction. It was great that Uncle Bill designed costumes for movie studios.

“Ha! I bet the Predator in the reboot will be a lot scarier.”

“Probably be CGI, though, Jess. There’s a real art to making a costume for a human actor.”

Bill Owens was listening from the kitchen. He was glad to help his nephew score extra points with his friends, but their conversation was paving the way to the future. Computers could often create more impressive visual effects than models, costumes, and make up, but a whole century of film making had depended on people like him. Bill was due to retire soon, a relic from another age.

Written for today’s Sunday Photo Fiction writing challenge. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long based on the image above. My word count is 164.

One of my guilty pleasures is the 1987 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. I’ve seen most of the other films in the franchise including the Aliens vs. Predator movies, but this is my favorite. I was tempted to write an actual “Predator” story, but I figured everyone else would do that, so I went in a different direction.

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

The Unexpected Guest

fly

© A Mixed Bag

Jerry’s hobby of refurbishing used laptops provided him with a modest additional income and some interesting experiences.

“It’s amazing what some people will leave on their hard drives,” he murmured as he opened the lid to his latest acquisition, one he found at a yard sale.

He was used to finding all sorts of food stuffs, potato chip crumbs, flecks of sandwich meat, drops of soda pop, on and around laptop keyboards, but the insect was something new. What’s more, it was still alive.

“Hello, little guy. You must have been caught in their right before they closed the lid and put the laptop out. Good thing I didn’t wait until next week to get to you.”

The fly’s wings were barely fluttering. It was caught by a leg. It was only a fly but…

Jerry had a magnifying glass and light rig he wore on his head to let him do close work. He used his smallest tweezers to create a gap between the space bar and the keyboard housing. The fly was free and took off.

The young System’s Analyst opened the window of his second storey apartment and escorted his unexpected guest back to its native habitat.

I write this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge for April 30th. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction based on the photo above that’s no more than 200 words long. Mine is at the max: 200 words.

I decided to write something simple but uplifting in response to the prompt. Not too many people would have let the fly go free, especially with all of its legs intact.

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

Quit Putting Dragons on Clocks

dragon clock

© Jade M. Wong

Charlie Wise had been stopping by the Curiosities Shop every Thursday afternoon for the past ten years. This time he saw something different.

“Antique clock, Phineas?”

“I have a terrific new repair guy working for me.”

“Yeah, but a dragon?”

He keeps adding dragons to everything.”

“You know, I’d buy the clock if it didn’t come with a dragon.”

Phineas leaned on the counter and pushed up his bifocals. “Come around next week. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Okay, Phineas. Have a good day.”

“You too, Charlie.”

After closing, Phineas went into the back, took out his keys, and opened up the workshop.

He was still hard at work.

“You know, I could have sold that clock you worked on today if it didn’t have a dragon on it.”

Everything he’d worked on had a dragon on it.

The old Elf, who had been starving after becoming stranded outside of the Fantasy realm, looked up. “Sue me. I like dragons. Everything you have me work on is so…ordinary.”

Phineas slammed the door shut and locked it.

He muttered to himself, “I’d toss that pointy-earred bum out on the street again if he wasn’t so good at refurbishing antiques.”

I wrote this for Sunday Photo Fiction – April 16th 2017. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. Mine came in at 196 (after quite a bit of editing). I realized that the natural response to the photo would be to have the dragon come to life. I decided to try a different approach.

To read more stories written for this prompt, go to 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.