The Crib: Flash Fiction Friday Post

The Crib

I watch the stock market feed on the square’s monitor. Three stories tall, the monitor can be seen for twenty blocks. No one can afford private monitors anymore. This is where we get the news. That and the black-market feeds. I wonder, as the rain drips from my broken umbrella down my upturned coat collar, if the feed is right. Or if the black-market is right. Or if it is all a bunch of crap and we’re all being fed a bunch of lies.

More likely it’s all lies.

That’s what ma told me long ago. I believe her. She passed a year ago but she told it true. Always. She had a knack. She could spot a lie a mile away. I wish I had her gift. It would come in handy, it would.

I rubbed my calf. It was hot, and a lump, I was sure. I shook it off. No one could pause for something like a lump. I couldn’t stand around. I had a route and a package. It had to go where it needed to go.

That was another of Ma’s sayings. By way of meaning, do what had to be done. I said I’d do it and by dang, it had to be done. I could feel her hand clouting my head when I’d said one and did another. She didn’t hold truck with that. So now, if I said, I did. Despite the lump.

I run. The monitor news runs through my head. Aliens, they say. Something about aliens. I think that’s a bunch of crap. I think it’s just the posh making it all someone else’s fault. Yep. Why else all the hype. I dodge a youngling beggin’ in the street. More and more of those, and oldsters. But what the hell. They’re no competition to me.

The lump in my leg aches. I ignore it. I can’t make my credits if I’m not moving.

I bound around a rickshaw, then a scooter. They carry people. Ugh. I can’t imagine. What a pain, the people constantly bitching about every damn thing. Better to be a messenger. I just carry small packages, envelopes. Fast! Quick! Snappy! That’s me! That’s until my leg gives way.

I roll. Quick, so no one sees. Like I just tripped on something. The leg aches. The damn lump! But I move on. No one pays a slow messenger. Three blocks to go. A barrier across the street. Criminy’s sake! Another parade? What is wrong with the leaders? Don’t they know what they’re doing? I shove through. I don’t give a crap about who ever I knock down. I need to get this envelope to the address.

Three blocks I shove, elbow, knee. They need to get out of my way. I deliver the message, breathing like my lungs will explode. The secretary gives me a pitiful two credit tip. I push her flowers over and water spills all over her desk and onto her suit. Serves her right. I’ve just run twenty blocks through a parade! She should have more manners.

My comms beep. I have another client, three blocks away. I hurry to the site. Just like every other day.

Six months later I’m in my crib. Bed-wide and two feet longer than the mattress, I lay in pain. I’ve braced my leg up on the top of my crib. My upper neighbor doesn’t’ like it. He’s complained to the owner about the stench, but the owner doesn’t give a flip. What’s it to him? As long as I pay the rent, I can rot in here.

That’s what I’m doing. Rotting. I can’t run. I can’t even walk. On my better days I roll out of this damn cage and pull myself out to the sidewalk. Not an easy feat as I’m three cages high, but I do it. My saved tips won’t last forever.

I make the bandage look extra gross with beet juice but lately that’s not really required. It’s bad enough all on its own. I can just see the neighborhood monitor from the stoop. It’s election season. The monitor is full of the jack-asses claims to help. Damn! What a bunch of crap. Who are they helping? Not people like me. Not people with long-term illness. Not people who can’t pay for medicine. Not people who need a living wage. Damn. I’ve never voted. Never had the chance.

But really. Why would I? Those people aren’t about me. They’re about the rich. The ultra-rich. The people who can buy health. The people who don’t worry about lumps in their legs. The people who I used to run messages for.

I’ll be dead in another six months. The owner will sell off my pitiful belongings and another poor sap will take my crib. And no one cares. Not even me.

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Welcome Mom, Horror Story, Giveaway : Monday Blog Post

Mom and her Flowers

Newest News:

After spending three weeks in upstate NY, the decision was made to bring my mom to Arizona to live. We arrived Saturday night, tired, sore and ready to collapse into bed. Hubby had bought her a bouquet of flowers and put them in her room where she could see them right away. She was very happy but the thank you’s had to wait until Sunday morning when she, and me, were more conscious. Anyway, she’s settled in. There are still a lot of things to arrange but for now she has a TV in her room, a pad to play computer games on, and run of the house.

While in New York, I managed about 18 pages of hand-written horror story. It needs to be transcribed to the computer and completed but at least I have something I don’t hate.

The Gulliver Station box set has some sort of error that’s preventing it from being distro’d to Kobo, iBooks and other places. Now that I’m home, I’ll have some time to repair the error and get it out.

I have my notice to transfer all of my paperback book files from Createspace to Kindle. I’ll try and get that done this week. Other authors have said the process wasn’t hard or very time consuming so I’m crossing my fingers.

Giveaways:

The 2018 Authors/Bloggers Summer Giveaway is over. The list of winners was recently published and again, now that I’m home, I’ll get my winners notified and let you know who won.

 

The 2018 Halloween giveaway is now open but as of this writing, haven’t had a chance to create all of the links. I’ll do that soon and let you know how to join in the fun.  https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. There’s $80 as a Grand Prize Paypal

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. You can buy it at Amazon today. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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The Church: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Adirondack Fall by Randy Cockrell

It was a September, my first Sunday in my new house. I’d cleared enough boxes from the dining room table for me to sit at one end. The sun was just up, and I gazed out of the window, mug of tea in front of me. Maples that bordered the edge of the yard between my neighbor and me were still in shadow but the tree tops catty-corner across the street were in sunlight. The church behind those trees, I didn’t know the denomination, had its steeple bathed in light as well. The church had been built in the early 1900’s and wasn’t large but had that village church look that was postcard pretty.

The belfry was just a square mounted atop the church building. Slats covered the openings. At seven-thirty in the morning, I really didn’t expect to see anything or anyone over there. Too early, even on a Sunday. But just as I was looking away to pick up my tea, I saw something up at the belfry. When I looked back, it was gone. I rubbed my sleepy eyes and looked again. A squirrel jumped from one maple branch to another. The branches dipped and swayed with the squirrel’s weight.

I shook my head. Just a squirrel.

The next morning I was clearing the rest of the boxes from the dining room. It was ten and I was hot, sweaty and dirty and ready for a glass of iced tea. It was a relief to sit down in what I’d established as my spot at the dining room table. The leaves on the maples were starting to brown, I noticed as I sipped my tea. There were already many fallen leaves in the hosta border between my neighbors and me.

I was watching the sunlight dancing on the tree leaves when a movement at the church caught my eye. Again, something up at the belfry. It seemed too big to be a squirrel, but it was hard to tell with all the trees in the way.

The leaves changed, turned orange, red and yellow and fell from the trees. Every day I saw something over at the church. I’d have asked my neighbor, but she only came up from the city once a month for a weekend to check on her house. The neighbors bordering the church parking lot had fir trees on their lot border, so couldn’t really see the church itself. As I got to know the neighbors, I asked about the church.

“Haunted,” Karen Carmichael told me as we chatted in her front yard. She lived four doors down from me on the same side of the street. “The histories say that spot where the church was built was a burial ground. When the colonists pushed the Indians out, they just built over it.” She nodded sagely but I privately wondered.

“Wow. And this is common knowledge?” I wasn’t sure if she was just pulling my leg or not.

“No. It’s in the town histories. If you go to the town historian, it’s all there.”

“Thank you.” I gave her a wave and continued my walk. I’d have to check that out.

A few days later at the historian’s office, I read through the old records. Karen was right, there had been a burial ground there, but the colonists had dug up the graves and transferred the bones to the Indians before they built the church. I thanked the historian and left.

It was mid-November and the whole town was decorated for Thanksgiving. The church was having a harvest festival the week before the actual holiday and had invited everyone on the street to attend. It was a potluck and I came with a casserole.

At the door I was greeted by the pastor’s wife. “Welcome,” she beamed at me. “Thank you for coming. I’m Allison.”

“Hi. I’m Corrine. I live in the white house, two doors down.” I raised the casserole dish. “I brought a ham and scalloped potato dish.”

“Bless your heart,” she said enthusiastically. “Everyone brings pasta and it gets a little old.” She turned to a passing woman. “Elaine, would you show Corrine where to take her dish?”

The woman agreed and we proceeded to a table in the community hall that was packed with food. I mingled, meeting familiar neighbors and others I didn’t know. People lined up and got their food then sat at long rows of tables to eat. The meal was about complete, and I was telling the people around me about how I was seeing something over here nearly every day.

There was a lot of speculation. Ghosts, were, of course, the main topic but many of the men were convinced it was just squirrels running around the roof. The pastor stood up to give a little speech thanking everyone for coming when we heard some sort of noise coming from the ceiling. The pastor drifted to a stop as everyone’s eyes rose to the noise. There were two screams and everyone gasped. A few even stood up. That’s when the ceiling collapsed, and two huge raccoons fell onto the table in front of me. Men were shouting. Women and children were screaming as they jumped up and tried to escape. The raccoons ran in different directions creating even more havoc as more tables of people began to run, screaming, for the exits.

The next day, workers were at the church. I went over to see what was going on. The pastor was in a denim shirt, sleeves rolled up. “A whole nest of raccoons. Several generations worth,” he said as he wiped his forehead with a bandana. We had no idea.”

“I should have said something. I’ve been seeing something up around the belfry and roof since I moved in but never could get a good look.”

He nodded. “Well, thank you anyway.”

As I left, I got a card from the exterminators. I wanted my house and attic checked as soon as possible.

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The Universe Calls: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Lightning in the Night Sky

The Universe Calls

When I was seven I could hear the whispers. I told my mom about them but she said I was thinking of the voices on the television.

When I was ten, the voices were louder. Not loud enough to make out what was being said, but they were there. After years of telling my parents, I finally understood that they couldn’t hear the whispers and didn’t want to know about them either. I kept the voices to myself.

Every year the voices grew louder, until I could clearly hear them. No one else I knew heard voices, so I kept it to myself, even when they became so loud it was hard to hear the teachers in school, or even mom and dad or my sister or brothers.

I kept to myself and surprisingly, it didn’t take long for people, even my family, to just kind of, overlook me. My brothers were so boisterous that they attracted all of the attention. What they didn’t attract, my sister did as she acted out with skirts too short and boy friends too wild. My parents had all they could handle. I wasn’t a problem so they just left me alone.

By the time I was sixteen, I could tell who in school might be like me. We were the outsiders. Not picked on, just hanging around the fringes. Slowly, I made friends with them. It wasn’t easy to draw them out. Like me, they’d learned to keep quiet. Eventually, though, we had our own table in the cafeteria.

The others had their own gifts. That’s what we decided to call them. Carl was a math whiz. He could see the answer to any math problem. Secretly he’d gone to the biggest university web sites and pulled their math department’s toughest problems. He’d solved them all but didn’t tell them. He worked with Gillian, who was a computer hacking genius, to break into the government’s sites and find their hardest problems. He solved them as well. Tony was a mechanic. He could fix anything. Along with Claire, who could design anything, they built some fantastic new devices, but we didn’t share. Bob was a plant guru and Cecelia could manipulate light. Sound was Patel’s gift. He could make it open, close, build or destroy.

By the time we’d graduated, we’d cracked Wall Street and all of the overseas financial markets and purchased land and had housing and labs built. We told our parents, the ones who cared, anyway, that we were going on a walk-about. My parents both cried as they protested they didn’t know where the time had gone and they hardly knew me.

That was an understatement. We went to our secret hideaway and called others like us from around the world to join us. The voices kept us busy. They wanted us to build all of this great tech. They pointed out where we could improve things. Soon we had kids, well, young adults, now, come who were charismatics. We started them on political paths as the rest of us prepared.

It took a lot of time as we maneuvered our politicians into place in each country. Our military experts had to run interference several times but by the time I was fifty, we were ready.

We’d changed the laws, planet wide. Kids received proper schooling, food, and medicine. More and more children had the gift and we put them to use. Warfare fell away and the last dictator was gone. Cities were cleaned up and the environment, close to collapse when I was a girl, was recovering.

That’s when the voices told me to assemble our leaders. Not the politicians, but the leaders of our little group that I had assembled decades before. I was the conduit, where we’d received our instructions so far.

I spoke as the main voice in my head spoke.

“We congratulate you all,” said the voice who called itself Notion. “You’ve worked hard and followed our instructions. Well done.”

The group in front of me cheered. When they quieted, Notion continued.

“It’s time for us to join you. And for you to join us. We will arrive in a week. Meet us at the spaceport you’ve built. We’ll be together at last!”

There was much cheering at that and while the others asked me what else Notion was saying I could only shake my head. Notion was gone.

Preparations were made. A band was assembled, the best of our musicians that existed. Bunting was raised along with a speaker’s platform. No instructions for the kind of housing Notion and the others needed were given but we prepared an entire hotel with every kind of food Earth had to offer available.

The day arrived, and we were ready. I was on the platform, along with the original group. The ship, if it could be called that, landed. A bright ball of energy and smaller energy balls separated from it. They floated over to us. I could hear Notion.

“Greetings, children.”

I repeated the words before I realized that everyone could hear it speak. It continued as we all gaped in surprise.

“We are grateful for your diligence. We appreciate your efforts.”

I watched as other balls of energy left the ship and as the ship shrank. A ball of energy hovered over each person present. Other balls of energy drifted away. Notion hovered in front of me.

“And you, Cheyenne, we thank you most of all. It’s time for your reward.”

I was surprised. What reward? No reward had ever been mentioned. We were just saving our planet.

Notion drifted closer. Its light was blinding but not hot. I turned my face up to it as it drifted closer. I wasn’t afraid. I closed my eyes. I could feel it touch me, a tingling. Then warmth crept over my whole body. There was a flash of pain, then nothing.

Notion shivered, then made itself draw a breath. It opened its new eyes. “Ah. That’s nice.”

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A Writer’s Job: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

It’s possible that you wonder why, as a writer, I cannot get stories to you faster. I understand. It seems to take a really long time for me to produce and publish your next favorite series book. To be honest, it feels like a long time for me, as well.

A look at my current to do list might let you in on what’s going on. These are not in any kind of order. Just how they occurred to me as I was making the list.

AuthorShow.com – a note to myself to apply to the audio and visual podcast program that provides some exposure for authors. (Marketing)

Brown Rain Covers – I have them done, just want to update the interiors to match Tested’s interior. (Marketing)

Brown Rain Interiors – Yep, see above. (Marketing)

Gulliver Box Sets – What I’m currently working on. (Marketing)

Pre-Order Slave Elf – Get the story Slave Elf up on multiple platforms/sites as a pre-order. (Advertising)

Edit Slave Elf – (Editing)

Amazon Affiliate – Re-apply to Amazon for affiliate status. That way people coming to my author page or a book page, can continue their other Amazon shopping and I get a tiny cut at no additional expense to my readers. (Cross-Promotion)

Set up Amazon AUS, NZ, CAN – Officially set up my author page and books on these country sites for more exposure to English speaking readers. (Marketing)

Set up Optimize Press – This is a site that gives me assistance in setting up my marketing pages. (Marketing)

Pinterest Class – This is a Mark Dawson beta class that I have not been able to access despite the fact it appears on my class page. I’ll have to contact someone to get it to open for me. I’d love to learn how to use Pinterest to expand my reader base. (Marketing)

SAM – this is actually a book festival reminder that as a non-profit organization I have to annually re-certify that our organization is tax-exempt. (Volunteer)

Post Review – I had a nice review of Tested from Reader’s Favorite. I need to post it on my Tested pages (Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords) (Advertising)

You may notice there’s no reminder to write. I don’t need a reminder to write, it’s always in the back of my mind. I need to write a flash fiction to post every Friday and current writing projects include finishing It’s All About the Music, (plus 2 more to make 5 in that series), a horror story for December deadline, and edits for both Mystery at the Reunion and the 2nd Zoe Ohale story, Troubled Campus.

I’m also scheduled for a book selling/signing on September 15th, October 13 – 14th, and December 8th. So I need to inventory my on-hand books to see what needs to be ordered. I sold quite a few at the Payson Book Festival and need to re-supply.

It’s obvious I do a lot of tasks that are marketing oriented. I need to if I want my reader numbers to grow.

And that’s it! Lots to do and all of it needs time and energy. Some days I just want to play games on Facebook.

Giveaways:

The 2018 Authors/Bloggers Summer Giveaway is in progress at https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. There’s $80 as a Grand Prize Paypal Cash and 27 books and 27 prizes available to win.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. You can buy it at Amazon today. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Watching the Rain: Friday Flash Fiction Story

I wiped the fog from the kitchen window with the towel I’d been using to dry the dishes. Rain. What a surprise.

When they’d told us on Earth that the planet was rainy, it never really registered with me. I was from Seattle after all. I was used to rain. Anyway, that’s what I thought. I sighed and turned back to the kitchen. The psychologists made sure our prefabs were bright and cheery. All of the lights, in every building, were full spectrum so that we wouldn’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder. SAD they called it back on Earth. Here it wasn’t something just the occasional person got. Apparently quite a few of the original colonizing scientists went mad and killed each other. Can’t have that with the permanent colonists.

I finger-combed my son’s fine hair, same as his father’s, and gave him a smile. “Finish your breakfast, Eddie.” He nodded, mouth full of scrambled egg, as he kept his eyes on the cartoon on the monitor.

“Breakfast, Ed!”

“Right there!”

I dropped sliced bread into the toaster and poured a coffee for Ed. I was still amazed at how well the agriculturists could mimic real coffee from the yeast vats. There was some squawking about when we’d get real coffee, real dairy, so on and so on. You’d think they were deprived or something. All we ate on Earth was yeast food. Just because the scientists said we’d get real food someday. I rolled my eyes. Takes time to raise animals after all, and plants. Nothing Earth derived could survive the climate here. Time, I thought. Need lots of time.

Ed came into the kitchen. He kissed Eddie on the top of his head and gave me a kiss on the cheek as the toast popped up.

Eddie finished his egg by pushing it onto his spoon with a slice of toast. Then ate the toast.

Ed buttered his toast and slurped his coffee. “Great bread, honey. I love that you make it from scratch.”

I smiled. As a botanist, I had a part of a greenhouse. I was developing a strain of wheat that might work here.

Ed finished his toast. “Come on, buddy. Time for me to walk you to school.”

They both put on their rain gear and walked out the door with a wave to me. I watched from the cleaned window. They got halfway to the next pre-fab and collapsed. I pulled the curtain and cleaned up the kitchen. The bread went into the disposall.

I was at my computer when the knock came. I answered, letting the colony leader and the security officer into the foyer. “James, Alex, what’s going on?”

James looked uncomfortable.

“Uh, Anna.” Alex pulled his hood down. “There’s been a problem.”

I looked at each in turn. “Problem?”

“Yeah.” James took a deep breath. “Your husband and son were found out on the walk. Dead.”

I blinked at them. “Dead?”

“Yes.” Alex pulled his pad from an inside pocket. “Something about poisoning. The local plant alkaloids. Was Ed experimenting with anything here at home?”

“No. No. He kept everything in the labs. Some of the local plant life is toxic even to touch.”

The two men nodded. “Sorry for your loss, Anna.” James took my hand and patted it. They pulled up their hoods. “We’ll send Mary by.”

“Mary.” I nodded. “That would be good.”

“Sure.” They left.

I went back to the computer. That would be good. I was sick of Mary, too.

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Writing: Daily Blog Post

Moon and Clouds by Randy Cockrell

Hey!

Writing, or really, editing. I’m going through the Gulliver Station box set and correcting those pesky punctuation and grammar errors. Have also found a missing word or two.

On the other hand, I have a horror story due by December. I’ve been thinking about possible story plots after reading the book Writing Horror. One idea concerns the local saloon that’s said to be haunted. One of the several ghosts seen on the property is of a prostitute. I’m thinking some sort of body take-over of a modern woman who’s “compatible” with the now dead woman. The modern woman is aware of what’s going on but not in control. How would she get out of the control of the ghost? How’s that sound for an idea?

That’s it for today!

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. You can buy it at Amazon today. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy my Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Horror Stories and Fear: Daily Blog Post

A Thistle with a butterfly, a honeybee, and a fly. The fly is kind of horrific, don’t you think?

Hi!

I was asked to join an anthology for horror stories. I have written some horror, see my little collection of Halloween Tales. But that’s not my main genre. So, given that the deadline for my story is rapidly approaching, I ordered a book, Writing Horror, by Edo Van Belkom. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the book and am picking up some good tips on writing horror and getting a refresher on just plain, good writing habits. I’m pleased with my purchase.

One of the exercises in the book is to create a list of 10 things I fear. He lists both his list and Stephen King’s list. Here’s mine so far.

  1. Rats (and associated with them, mice)
  2. Being confined. (I once participated in a demonstration with police on the correct way to handcuff a suspect, me being the suspect. I was pushed up against a wall, hands pulled behind my back and the cuffs put on. It happened quickly, and I had a visceral reaction I had never felt before. An instant fight or flight response sent adrenaline through my system and an overwhelming urge to fight back. I managed to resist the urge as it was just a demo. But I have never forgotten that feeling and have a new understanding for how an actual criminal must feel.)
  3. Conflict. (I’m just not good with conflict. Is that a fear? Perhaps. I’ll have to think about it some more.)
  4. That’s it. That’s all I’ve come up with so far. What is it that you fear?

That’s it for today!

Tested released January 31st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Four Doomsdays – Doom Three: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Mushrooms, Otherwise known as Fungus by Randy Cockrell

“And in other news…”

I half-listened as I changed my three-month-old daughter, Becca. It was always bad news on the TV and I was too engaged with my first-born to care about whatever was troubling the rest of the world. My world was perfect.

Still on maternity leave, I took Becca down to the kitchen and poured my husband, Ron, his coffee and put it on the table at his place. This was his first day back to work from paternity leave. We’d had such a nice time this last three weeks. I was sorry that he had to go back to work already.

He came into the kitchen, adjusting his tie. “I’m sorry I have to put this thing on again.” He sat down at his place as I put a bowl of cereal in front of him.

“Then don’t. You don’t have to wear it.”

He shook his head. “No. If you want to get ahead, dress for two levels above where you are. That’s the CEO. He wears a tie, I wear a tie.” He scooped cereal into his mouth.
I shrugged. Ron was ambitious and I couldn’t blame him, so was I. But my system was still swimming in maternal hormones. At the moment, I couldn’t generate any sympathy. “Your call.”

I pulled Becca to me and pulled up my shirt. One of the best parts of the day was nursing time. I could feel her little mouth clamp onto my breast and begin to suck. I still couldn’t believe that I had a baby and I was feeding her. Me. Out of my own body. The wonder of it was still overwhelming. When I looked up, Ron was smiling at me. “I’m going to miss this.”

“I’m going to miss you.”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah. Oh. Did you see the news? Some sort of infection is sweeping through India. Killing babies.” He studied Becca, still going strong on my breast. “That sucks.”

I nodded but didn’t answer. What must those parents be feeling? I’d be frantic.

Ron scooped up the rest of his cereal and gulped down his coffee. “Home by six.” He got up, grabbed his brief case and kissed each of us on the head.

“Drive safe.” I was talking to his back as he headed out the door to the garage. He waved and was gone.

After Becca ate, she had a bath, clean clothes, and was down for a nap. Time for me to shower and dress. Then it was into the kitchen, the baby monitor on the counter, as I washed up the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. The TV cycled through to another news cast. I listened this time as the story about India came back on. “Just in,” the newscaster looked into the camera, face concerned. “It seems China has had a similar outbreak as India. The government there has been keeping it quiet but refugees coming over the border of Nepal have reported children dying by the thousands.
I shook my head as I dried my hands. Poor parents. How awful.

“The Indian government has called on the United Nations for medical support.” The newscaster went on to the next story and I turned off the TV. I was glad I didn’t live over there.

That afternoon, I met some other mothers at the park. Of course, Becca was too young to run and play but it was good to get her out into the fresh air. “Did you hear about India and China?” I asked as I sat down.

“Yes. What a nightmare.” Carol’s baby was the same age as mine. We were in the same room at the hospital. “I cannot even imagine.”

“It’s the conditions,” Margery said with a sniff. “The sanitation over there is non-existent. No wonder there’s disease running rampant.

“What if it get’s here?” Joan stopped talking to wipe her three-year-old’s nose. “I mean, with air travel, disease can spread around the world in no time.”

Margery shook her head as she watched her four-year-old son go down the slide. “The people with the illness are not rich enough to travel. We’re safe enough.”

We all nodded but I wondered. I took pre-med in college before transferring into computer science. Disease was no respecter of socio-economic classes. Look at the plague back in medieval Europe or the flu back in the 1900’s. Millions of dead. Europe lost so many people modern historians marvel that the continent recovered.

I mentioned it at dinner that night.

Ron nodded. “It’s all everyone was talking about at work. Apparently, there is something going around in the bigger cities.”

It felt like my heart was in my throat. “What kind of something?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. Lot’s of kids sick. But it’s all a rumor. There’s nothing on TV about it.”

After dinner was cleaned up and Ron was watching a recorded game, I got on the internet and did a search. Pictures put up by private individuals showed grieving parents. YouTube videos showed anguished parents pleading with everyone to stay home and not go out in public. A fungus they said. Some kind of deadly fungus.
I told Ron.

“Can’t be. It would be public by now if there were that many cases.” He went back to the game.

I could hear Becca begin to cry over the baby monitor.

I went upstairs. The poor thing was screaming as I went into the bedroom. “That’s okay, sweetheart. Momma’s here.” I picked her up. Out of the spot where her skull met her neck, something white sprang out.

I screamed, holding Becca out from me face down in the crook of my arm, something long and white. Blood seeped from around the base of it.

Ron came racing in.

“Call 911. Something’s wrong!” I sobbed as Becca kept screaming.

Cordyceps, the doctor said. A new, virulent strain of fungus. By the end of two years, every child under the age of five was dead.

Words: 1000

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Haunted: Flash Fiction Friday Post

screamer-by_eurai at https://www.deviantart.com/art/Screamer-29923535

https://www.deviantart.com/art/Screamer-29923535

“Where’d you get the parts?” Lieutenant Wong studied the inventory on his crystal.

“From a salvage company. They recovered the Del Rio from Hippolita Four.” MaintTech Dora Soledad checked her crystal. “Shame about the Del Rio.”

Wong nodded and clicked off his crystal. “Yeah. Three hundred and twenty-seven colonists and the whole crew, dead.” He sighed. “Okay. We’ll go with these. Start with the engine. That capacitor is way over due for replacement.”

Dora nodded. Wouldn’t be if the company cared about anything but the bottom line, she thought. Wong turned and left the maintenance shop. Dora went over to the shelf where the capacitors were stored. She looked over the parts. They all looked pretty good, so she picked one, grabbed her took kit, and headed for the engine room.

The Chief Engineer, Sue Goode, was sitting watch at her boards and greeted Dora when she arrived. “No kidding, there are parts?”

“Yeah.” Dora grinned. “I grabbed a whole list of parts as soon as I saw them come up on the sales boards. Used but in good condition.”

“Fantastic.” Sue grinned back. “About time.”

Dora put the part in, tested it, and was done in an hour. She gave Sue a wave as she left.

The next day she was at the noon mess with the third engineer, Dave Bookman. “It was creepy down in engineering last night.” He sighed. “I kept hearing things.”

“What kind of things?” Dora took a sip of her soup.

Dave shrugged. “It sounded like screaming.”

Dora’s eyebrow rose. “Screaming.”

“Yeah! I checked over that whole engine. Everything in the room. Couldn’t find anything wrong.” Dave shuddered. “Creepy.”

Dora nodded. “Sure.”

Two days later, she was walking along a passageway when she caught sight of something from the corner of her eye. When she turned to see it, it drifted away, like smoke, through the bulkhead. She shook her head. That wasn’t possible. Seeing things, she thought, and went on her way.

At the evening mess, it was all the talk. Just about everyone had seen or heard something. Just inside hearing range, or just about in sight, it was scaring everyone. “What could it be?” Dave asked her. “Are we all going nuts?”

“Everyone? All at once?” Dora shook her head. “I’m not buying it.”

“Well, something is happening.” He crossed his arms. “What’s the Captain going to do about it?”

Dora shrugged. “He can’t stop people from seeing things, Dave.”

Dave stood and picked up his tray. “I guess. But something is going on.”

Dora finished her meal after Dave left. Thinking about it. Finished, she went to see the Lieutenant. “Sir. Have you heard about the ghosts?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I’ve been hearing stuff myself.” He studied her. “You?”

“I’ve seen something, not sure what.”

“Okay. What do you have?”

“It seems to me the sightings started after I began using the parts from the Del Rio”

He rubbed his chin. “How do you figure?”

The sighting I had was in the hall where I’d replaced a fan blade the day before in the air handling system. Dave Bookman heard screaming the night I replaced the capacitor in the engine room. I’ve been listening to people talk about where they were when they had a sighting. It’s all places I’ve worked over the last three days.” She took a breath. “Where were you when you heard stuff?”

He thought a moment. “Outside the bridge, for one.”

“I replaced the switch plate to the door.”

“Let’s talk to the Captain.”

They met in the Captain’s ready room and explained Dora’s theory. “And how did it happen?” he asked.

“I heard the Del Rio crashed hard, Sir. Quite a psychic shock. Drove their, souls, I guess, right into the nearest thing.”

The Captain nodded. “Sounds like a lot of hooey to me.”

“What can we do about it?” Wong asked.

“Nothing. It’s a figment of people’s imaginations.”

“But Sir,” Dora started to speak. He cut her off.

“No. I’m not buying it. Dismissed.”

Dora spent the next week doing her best not to use any parts from the Del Rio but often, they were the only parts available. Apparitions hung clearly beside the shelves and racks in the Maintenance Office. She tried to talk to them, reassure them, but it didn’t seem they could hear her.

People were starting to look haggard, especially the people who were hearing screaming. Dave Bookman collapsed and had to be taken to the clinic where they sedated him.

The Captain showed up in the Maintenance Office, stopping short just inside the doorway. His eyes grew bigger as he looked around the crowded room. “How long?” He gestured at the ghosts.

“Four days.” Dora looked around. “I try to talk to them. But no response.”

He rubbed his cheek. “I’ll check with the doctor.”

Dora nodded as he left and went back to work.

The doc started in the Maintenance Office. “Captain said you’ve been talking to them.”

“Yeah. It doesn’t help, though.”

“Supportive counseling, it’s called.” He watched the ghosts as they drifted around the room. Better is what you’ve already done, in vivo exposure. They’ve been put back on a space ship. Eventually they’ll see that nothing bad is happening and they’ll get better. Probably disappear.” He turned to her. “They don’t bother you, interfere in any way, anything?”

“Nope. They just drift around. I walk around them, though. It seems rude to walk through them.”

The doc nodded. “Yeah. I can see that. Just keep talking to them. It’s about the best we can do.”

He gave the people who could hear screaming drugs to keep them calm and set others to talking to the parts that had been installed around the ship.

It took three months for the first of the ghosts to disappear. Last to go were the screamers, the shock of their death more acute with them. Dora was a little sad to see her ghosts go. They were good company.

Words: 1000

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