Four Doomsdays – Doomsday Two: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Monsoon River in my Back Yard

I watched from my backyard—luckily a high spot—as a storm cell, a super cell, formed to the south. The fifth one in as many months. Damn! I’d just repaired the roof. I went to the front yard and rang the bell I’d found after the first storm in a local antique shop.

Once, a life-time ago, my sister-in-law used a similar bell to call my niece, Nell, in from her explorations, for dinner. Why didn’t I just call the neighbors? The phones and internet went out with the first storm and were never restored.  Power went out the second storm. That did return but storm three killed it. Apparently forever.

I sighed. My neighbors and friends around town finally stopped claiming climate change was a hoax. Many of them, all over sixty, were dead. Like my husband who had been out looking for supplies, killed by one of the hoard of refugees swarming out of the big cities. Or like our friend, Rick, who was on the roof too long making last second repairs just before a storm hit. Dead. My neighbor to the left, the other side of the drainage ditch, was critically injured as super storm two drove a tree from the empty lot across the street through the front door of his house, right through his chest.

It was a struggle getting him to the hospital, debris littered every flooded road. When we got there injured crowded the emergency room and halls. There were too many injured and not enough staff or medicine. As a 20-year retiree from the Air Force, I could see the doc shake his head at the triage nurse. She made my neighbor as comfortable as they could but he was dead in half and hour. As the neighbor, I told his wife. She went pale. Then tears began to flow but she never made a sound. I sat with her all night, relieved by another neighbor in the morning. kShe died two weeks later. I’m not sure if it was grief or just that she’d run out of her diabetes medicine.

All of us worked together in our immediate neighborhood as best we could but at sixty-five I was the youngest. It was summer but none of us had real fireplaces or even wood stoves. We were cooking over campfires in our front yards with fallen branches and downed trees. There were certainly plenty of those. All of our houses had piped in gas. I’d gone down to the gas company after the first storm and asked how to turn off the gas. Once mine was off, I went to all of the neighbors and got them to turn theirs off. Three days later across town, a house blew, taking a block and a half of neighborhood with it.

Supplies were scarce as the highway up from the major city was blocked by landslides. Without power we were using hand tools to do just about anything. The local hardware stores were major hubs of exchange and advice. The newspaper was also a spot of major importance. They posted messages in their windows and amazingly, they had an antique press in the basement. Probably the only basement in town. They put out a paper a week with news from the state and federal government, what was left of them, information about deaths, where supplies could be located, and food. Food was very important.

My tiny vegetable garden had been ripped to shreds the first storm. The local community garden as well. People with food allergies, like me, were suffering. Many had died, just as those with severe injuries or major issues, like my neighbor’s diabetes. I had gotten some tips from an old-timer about snares. I’d gotten some rabbits. I’d hunt but my husband and I had never had gun. None of my neighbors did either. A small meat market had sprung up in front of the now defunct Walmart from local hunters selling their excess deer, elk, and javalina. Money was gone, it was worthless. Everything was by barter. Civilization as we’d once known it was gone.

How’d this happen? Simple. We’d ignored the climate scientists for too long. I’d demonstrated in front of our state capital for changes to environmental laws but the right in this state and others, was too strong. The arctic and Antarctic ice caps began melting at ever increasing rates. The Pacific current became warmer, as moisture from the melting ice caps not only flooded into the oceans but rose into the air. The heat and the moisture began making storms. Bigger and bigger storms. Then the tundra in Russia, Canada, Alaska and other northern places began to thaw releasing ancient carbon dioxide into the air. It has been a perfect storm, after storm, after storm.

It didn’t matter now, I thought as I went to check my backyard fence. The drainage ditch, twelve feet deep, flooded every super storm. My fence was washing out. There was nothing I could do about it. I worried about my house, at the edge of the ditch. Would this storm wash it out? Like the country and the world, I had to just survive.

The wind was picking up. As I watched the storm come in I realized, Mother Nature was doing what we wouldn’t do, fix the imbalance.

 

Thank You!

891 Words

 

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Four Doomsdays – Doom One: Flash Fiction Friday Post

meteor_by_brandonstricker-d6ai470 via DeviantArt.com

The social media feeds and the news outlets and the television and the radio had been blasting for weeks. Everybody had an opinion, but no one really knew anything. I know I’d been hearing about a nuclear attack since I was a child, hiding under our school desks, arms over our heads at the sound of the alarm.

I thought our leadership was nuts. The president, especially. Ranting one minute, friends with all the foreign leaders the next. The Congress was nearly as bad. It was all or nothing all the time. No one wanted to compromise. If a person tuned into foreign news broadcasts, they were calling us out of control.

I kept my head down and took care of my farm. What else was I going to do? I didn’t travel to a whole other planet to stand around whining. People needed to eat and I was good at farming, so I stuck to that.

This is, until the bombs fell. Well, not bombs, actually, just asteroids. I knew that they could be just as destructive, but, my brain, at least, never grasped it fully. Made sense, after all. Why contaminate the environment? The blast from the rocks hitting pretty much was the same as with nukes. Each one wiped out what it hit. Each one also threw so much dirt and dust into the air, the land was cut off from the sun. It got cold. The crops died in the fields. Survivors scavenged across the countryside like a cloud of locusts, stealing anything they could get their hands on.

Me and other farmers, we tried. Bert Spark lost his wife Ann when a mad pack of survivors attacked their farm. Ann was trying to keep them from stealing everything in the cupboards, she had kids to feed, too. But they overwhelmed her and took everything, including her life.

Bert was hurt trying to keep them from stealing the chickens. After that, we consolidated on my farm as it was the most defensible. Everyone brought their stock, any feed they had, food supplies, bedding, the whole lot. We were sleeping in every room of my house but the kitchen and the baths. It worked for a while. That is until the survivors banded together and raided police and army weapons caches.

We had shotguns, some hunting rifles, and were totally out-matched. They shot the livestock and took the carcasses. They surrounded us and wouldn’t let us leave the house. They had trucks and took all the animals they didn’t shoot. Then they raided the barns. There went all the small stock and the feed stores. We lost six farmers in all, four men and two women. I was surprised to see them all drive off without raiding the house. I guess they figured they didn’t need to. We were beat.

Winter came early and we struggled through that. We set traps and caught rabbits and game birds. There was a lot of thin soup. Spring was cold and wet, no good at all for growing crops with the seed we’d saved. We did forage but not much vegetation on this new world was good for humans to eat. We lost the oldest among us. I think she just gave up as we found her in her bed, dead. We lost a couple of the toddlers, too. They caught cold, then pneumonia, and there just wasn’t any medicine to give them. We had a nice spot on a hill, overlooking the farm, where they were all buried.

It never really did get to be summer. The dust in the air kept the planet from warming. The second winter was bad. We lost three more. I’m not sure if it was starvation or disease. Either one had the same outcome. When the calendar said it should be spring, we started getting messages from Earth. Surrender, the messages said, and there would be help coming.

We sent a message out surrendering. Hell, if someone would come and bring food, that was good enough for us. We kept a person on the monitors all the time. Some fool on the coast decided to put up a fight. Moron. That kept help from arriving. We still didn’t have enough warmth to plant. None of us thought we could make it another year.

Then a jet flew over the farm. Those of us outside just stood and stared, mouths open. Days later, military trucks came driving up the road. By the time they parked, we were all outside. Some young Captain got out and soldiers poured out of the back in full fighting gear. I sighed as they surrounded us. There was no point, really. We didn’t have enough strength left to fight them.

He read a long announcement about how we were conquered and were now citizens of Earth. A local planetary government would be established and we’d be taxed to pay for the war. We had to sign a surrender, then they gave us rations. I asked for seed and livestock for us all. We were ready to get back to farming. He said that would all be coming. LeAnn asked for more rations as we were starving. A couple of soldiers took a couple of cases from the last truck and handed them over. LeAnn started crying. The Captain signaled and the soldiers got back on the truck. We were reminded to keep listening to the broadcasts as he got into his seat. We all nodded and he and the convoy drove off.

I heard that there were pockets of resistance. No matter to me. When the seed and livestock arrived, everyone divided evenly and went back to their own farms. It was tough. The weather didn’t really get back to normal for three more years. It was tough to pay the taxes, but whatever. Life is just tough, isn’t it?

Words: 981

Next week, Doom Two

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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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The Doomsday Vault: Flash Fiction Friday Post

burned_out_building_by_chisatowatanabe-d8mdbcd via DeviantArt.com

I opened the Doomsday vault with shaky hands. Newly promoted to manager, it was my responsibility now to open the vault everyday and check expiration dates, and other things that were located inside. Then to replace as necessary.
Standing inside the massive door, I looked around. A hundred and thirty-two years, this vault had been in existence. Books lined the shelves in front of me. How-to manuals mostly as the planners assumed that there wouldn’t be power available for computers. I sighed. Those wouldn’t ever need replacing. But, the food would have to be replaced on a regular basis. Those shelves were clearly marked and I stepped over to them to check the dates.
As I pulled the expired boxes from the shelves I thought about the current world situation. Everything seemed good. After the Korean situation had been resolved, most countries became peaceful. There was the middle east, of course, there were still a couple of groups that demanded everyone convert to Muslim, but they were on the fringe, even in their own countries. Our group monitored them, of course, but in my morning briefing, they weren’t even mentioned.
I stacked the expired material outside the door and brought in the new foodstuffs. I marked the expiration date on them and stacked them neatly on their shelves. I made note on the inventory what I brought in, then walked over to the weapons rack. Someone had decided a long time ago that there would be some weapons in the vault, just in case of trouble. I wondered for a moment who the designers thought would be around to cause trouble, then put it out of my mind. I knew that most every country had some sort of doomsday vault. I’d been to a meeting last year as I was being prepped to take on the roll. There I met the other managers. As conventions go, it was pretty small, there were only two hundred and three attendees. Not every country had a vault.
It was fun, and I’d made some acquaintances. The British manager was an Irish woman and she’d been manager of her vault for twenty-seven years. If there was a doo-dad that helped with survival, she knew of it and had an opinion on the usefulness of it as well. I took another look around the vault. Everything was in order and I was reaching up to turn off the light when my assistant ran up to the door.
“Karen. Come quick. Terrorists have bombed the capital! It’s on the news!”
I hesitated. There had been no warning this morning of any unrest anywhere on the planet. What had happened? “Call security. We’re going to get a lot of people here in a hurry.”
She nodded and ran off. I pulled the emergency checklist out and began the initiation phase. Three hundred and twenty-two people were going to start arriving any time now. If they’d escaped the bombing. I had a lot to do to get ready.
All in all, two hundred and sixty people arrived. Tales of government buildings destroyed or on fire circulated around the arrival hall. The din was deafening. We weren’t supposed to but since there were empty spaces, I allowed my assistant and her children in. Then we closed the door. There was no telling how long we’d have to stay. The noise died down as everyone moved to their assigned rooms. The monitor in the lounge was on. Newscasters were giving reactions to the attack and showing pictures of the capital in flames.
A commotion in the hall pulled me away from the monitor. Two security officers were facing a man yelling obscenities.
“What’s going on?” I came out into the hall.
“I demand to know why my wife couldn’t come in. I had to leave her home.” He shouted the question at me, all red in the face and sweating.
I recognized him. He was the chief of staff for the vice president. New to the job. “You didn’t have your wife listed, Mr. Fairchild.” If he’d had brought her, I would have let her in. Like I did for my assistant.
“I was going to list her, but there’s just so much.” He looked around at the security guards, then made his case to the people who were gathering around, watching the drama. A few nodded. “I was going to get to it.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Fairchild. I truly am.”
“Open the door and let me out. I’ll go and get her.”
I shook my head. “We can’t do that until we get the all clear or we know it’s safe out there. Why don’t you go to the clinic and get the doctor to give you something to help you relax?”
“I don’t want drugs.” He was beginning to look wild eyed. “I want my wife!” He charged the security officers and the bystanders hurried off.
“Take him to the clinic.”
They dragged him off, him still screaming obscenities. I took a breath. The procedures mentioned that some number of people would not handle the emergency well. I wondered how many more there’d be. That was when I saw Mr. Fairchild running toward me. He had a gun in his hand. Where’d he get that? The security officers were running after him.
Fairchild pointed the gun at me. “Let me out!”
I held up my hand as I shook my head. “I can’t do that, Mr. Fairchild.”
“Yes, you can!” He fired.
I fell backward, hitting my head on the tile floor. It was hard to breathe, then he was standing over me.
“I told you! I told you!” He shook the gun at me.
I could see the officers take him down, wrestling the gun away from him and zip tying his hands behind him. I didn’t feel anything and I wondered about that. Shouldn’t I hurt? I closed my eyes and relaxed into a warm feeling of well-being. Let someone else work it out.
Words: 998

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Time for Tea and Treachery: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Tea Set by Connie Cockrell

Tea. My mom always told me it can fix just about anything. An ice-cold glass on a hot summer day after working in the garden makes everything seem right with the world. A nice hot mug of a mint and menthol tea, your face over the rising steam, is the best thing when you have a cold or it’s allergy season. Or a cup with your best friend as she sobs over the break-up with her boyfriend. That one needs pots of tea.

Today, though. Today was a different kind of day. The table was set with my best tablecloth and tea china. I’d selected a Lapsang Souchong tea for its smoky flavor and aroma. It was steeping in its pot in the kitchen as I expected my guest, Zuri Anranyo, any moment. I added a final cookie to the plate on the table then took the package back to the kitchen.

I took a deep breath. Time to put on some soothing classical music. By the time I had it playing on repeat, the doorbell rang.

I invited Zuri in after we hugged. I’m not much of a hugger but Zuri was so I endured the gesture.

“How lovely!” Zuri sat as she looked over the table. She leaned over the low bowl of roses on the table and sniffed. “What a wonderful scent.”

“I picked them this morning.”

“You did?” She shook her head. “You’re a super woman, Orly. Is there anything you can’t do?”

I smiled. “Oh, I’m sure there is. I just haven’t found it yet.” I gave a mock flip of my hand and she laughed. “I’ll be right back.” In the kitchen I took the tea ball out of the pot and put the pot on a tray with a plate of tiny sandwiches then took it into the morning room. “Tea and sandwiches. A proper English tea time.” I put the tray on the table. “Let me pour.”

“This looks wonderful, Orly.”

I poured tea for her and for me, then sat down. “Help yourself to the sandwiches. There are cucumber and a pate. Take what you like.” I watched as she selected one of each, then handed me the plate. I took what she did and put my napkin in my lap. “There is milk and sugar,” I said as I pointed out the little pitcher and the sugar bowl.

She poured some milk into her tea then two lumps of sugar. “Thank you for inviting me, Orly. After…” she shook her hand in a stopping motion. “After Bob came with me, well, it’s kind of you, anyway.”

I ground my teeth together but smiled. “You’re my best friend, Zuri. And, as for Bob, the heart wants what it wants, right.” I ignored the burning lump in my chest.

Zuri nodded and sipped her tea. She made a bit of a face. “That smoky tea, what’s it called?”

“Lapsang Souchong. I love it.” I knew she didn’t. I didn’t much care. “It goes well with the pate.”

She nodded and took a bite of the sandwich with pate. “Oh. Yes. It does.”

I watched as she ate the sandwich and then the cucumber one as well. She looked around the table. I knew she was looking for water, anything to wash the sandwiches down without having to drink the tea. I deliberately hadn’t put any out. I wanted her to drink that tea. I picked up my cup and put my lips to the rim but didn’t drink. She took another sandwich.

“I’ll admit I’m a bit famished.” She patted her lips with the napkin. “I totally skipped lunch. I wanted to get some of the wedding planning done and I knew I’d be here with you this afternoon and didn’t want to rush.” She looked me in the eyes and put a hand over mine across the table. “Things have been strained, I know. And, well, I’ve wanted to make up with you for months.”

I nodded. “I know. It’s,” I took a breath, “awkward, is all.”

She patted my hand and picked up her tea. Zuri sipped.

“Let me get you a cookie.” I handed her the plate and she took two. She always had a sweet tooth. “Your favorite.”

She smiled. She loved those crispy lemon cookies with the large crystals of sugar sprinkled on top. I’d gone clear across town to the bakery where she bought them, just to make her feel comfortable. I watched her bite into one, eyes closed, savoring the clean lemon flavor. “Ummm, these are so good. Did you get them from LaMont’s?”

“I did.”

“LaMont’s is the best. Thank you.” She finished the cookie and sipped more tea. “You know, this tea really goes with the tartness of these cookies.”

“I thought so too.” I picked up my cup and pretended to sip again. “Now tell me about your wedding plans.”

I listened to her drone on for an hour. I made sure her tea cup stayed full and the sandwiches and cookies were close to her hand. When she left, I closed the door. If she kept eating like that she was going to need a bigger dress. Then I snorted. No, she wouldn’t.

Bob called me the next morning. I could hardly understand him for all the blubbering. “She’s dead, Orly.”

I made the appropriate noises. “I’m so sorry, Bob.”

“She was so relieved when you invited her to tea. Thank you, Orly, for giving her a lovely afternoon.”

“My pleasure.” I smiled as I hung up. I’d cleaned up everything yesterday afternoon. One last thing remained. I pulled the bottle of poison from under the sink and dumped it down the drain. I rinsed it several times, soaked the label off of the bottle and taking them with me, tossed the bottle in a dumpster at a gas station on the other side of town. I threw the label in another dumpster in mid-town. No one would ever know.

999 words

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Coconut-Lemon Whip: Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

Finished Lemon Whip

Coconut-Lemon Whip

I apologize for the lack of posts. March and April were extremely crazy for me but I didn’t forget about you. April saw me take an actual vacation, to see my daughter in southern California. We enjoyed the beach (cold!) and Solvang, CA, (hot!), and my daughter’s and her room mate’s new house. It’s small, but the back yard has producing fruit trees. One was a Meyer lemon, the lemons ripe and ready to pick. So of course, I brought home five of them. What else could I do but make a dessert?

I’m still sticking to my Paleo life-style. Whatever your eating style, there’s nothing wrong with whole, fresh food, especially straight from the tree! Fair warning, because of the coconut oil and milk, this isn’t low fat but it is “good” fat. Enjoy in moderation. It makes four 8oz, ramekins of dessert.

Paleo Lemon Curd

Hardware

Sauce Pot

Strainer

Measuring cups and spoons

Knife

Cutting board

Zester or Micro-plane

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup juice: 5 Meyer Lemons (6 or more regular lemons depending on how juicy they are.)

1 T Lemon zest

3 eggs (whole)

1/4 C Honey

6 T Coconut Oil

See the rest at Chicklets in the Kitchen.

 

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite dessert to serve family or guests? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

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Thirty Years: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Cold

You may remember I follow the Chuck Wendig blog over on TerribleMinds.com. He likes to toss out story prompts and see what the writers who follow him come up with. The stories are usually awesome, there are some great writers out there. Anyway, the most recent prompt was to write about revenge. Here’s my take on it.

Thirty Years

Joe didn’t even notice, at first. I start small. On his commute to work, I got mud on his trouser leg. He was annoyed, of course, but it barely registered with him. Then it was a wrong number, right in the middle of his presentation. You’d think he’d know enough to turn off his cell in a situation like that.

Then it was a flat tire on his car, just when he was about to take his second wife out to dinner. Life is so stressful. Just one more thing to aggravate a man. I cancelled his hotel reservation at his conference. He ended up paying extra after spending half an hour at the hotel desk. He missed his client dinner. His boss wasn’t very happy. Then I cancelled his order for his wife’s anniversary present. It was such a lovely sapphire and diamond necklace, too. He was on her shit list for a month.

I hacked his work computer and made files disappear. More trouble with the boss. He was passed up for that promotion he’d wanted. Wife wasn’t happy about that, either. I helped that along by planting a note in his pocket, lightly scented and written in lavender-colored ink, all hearts and flowers. She left the next day.

Under a lot of stress at his job, he made mistakes I didn’t create. He was let go six weeks after wifey left. That’s when the drinking really took off. I didn’t even have to drain his bank account. The wife handled that all on her own. The home owner’s association began hassling him because he was letting the yard go. Those fines really start to add up. It only took six months for him to lose the house all together. You’ve got to keep up the mortgage payments, and that’s tough to do when you can’t get a job. His old boss wouldn’t provide a letter of recommendation. That really looks bad to the prospective employer.

The police started showing up at the crappy apartment he rented, after an anonymous tip said he was building bombs. The landlord tossed him out. He was reduced to sleeping in a homeless shelter, where everything he didn’t have on was stolen, even his shoes. I didn’t do that. Not out of generosity, I just never thought of it. The homeless were doing my job for me.

He started begging on the street, a bottle of cheap booze tucked into the pocket of his thrift store jacket. The cops arrested him for taking a leak at the back of a building. Now he had a record, on top of all the other problems. His downward spiral hardly needed me to do anything any longer.

It was winter when they let him go. They found him, frozen, in the dumpster he was in trying to stay warm. My job was done.

Joe was number six. The last one. Now I could breathe. I was free. Free from the memory of those six college football players who thought it was funny to grab a hundred-pound girl heading to her dorm from a night study at the library. They took turns. Laughing, drinking, having a good time. My life was ruined. I couldn’t concentrate on my studies so I dropped out. I had nightmares. I went to support groups. None of that helped. But then one day, it occurred to me that I could make their lives a living hell, just like they did to me. So I took computer classes. I studied psychology. I apprenticed at a stock brokerage to learn finance. Then I started on the list.

One at a time. Some of them collapsed fast. Number four took ten years. But Joe was the last one. Revenge is best served cold, they say. Thirty years, cold, by my experience.

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Yellowstone Arrival: Flash Fiction Friday Post

In June of 2017, my husband and I traveled up to Yellowstone National Park to visit a friend and see the sights. This describes the entrance to the park.

A Bison studies us as we pass by on the entrance to the park. A Bison is the size of a sedan.

We left the sun-baked desert and entered a world of green.

Flat and green, it seemed to run forever.

Crops and houses and schools.

Tame.

Safe.

It was a surprise when we entered the tunnel.

It ran for miles.

Lodgepole pines small and great.

Once in a while they opened and before us ran rivers and meadows,

dotted with great hulking brown shaggy behemoths,

placid in the impermanent sunshine.

Wild.

Dangerous.

Boiling mud, steaming water, birds and fish, elk and bison, cliffs and meadows, rivers and streams.

Our hearts beat quicker.

This is where we’re meant to be.

Not hemmed in.

Not scheduled by mere clocks, but by the sun and moon.

I take my meeting on a wind-blown hilltop,

The earth spread below me in a cloud-dappled wonder,

The way the first human saw it.

It is good.

 

Thank You!

139 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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It’s So Beautiful: Flash Fiction Friday Post

New Babylon by DigitalCutti on DeviantArt

I was scrolling through Pinterest, a SciFi page, and saw the above picture. It looked so lovely. A place I wanted to go. But a story about a beautiful place with lovely, generous people who would help a bunch of refugees sounded like a boring story. So I came up with this. If it reminds you of The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells and Morlocks, well, yes. Read on.

It’s So Beautiful

We gathered around the monitors as if around ancient campfires.

“I thought it was a lie,” my best friend Jazana breathed softly, as though she didn’t want to break a dream.

“They said it was true.” My response was lame but I was too fascinated with what was on the monitor to think of a sharper comeback. Jazana was right. None of us had really believed what our board of governors had told us. Oh, yes. They’d shown us pictures. Both of Helicity, the new world, and of our old world, Earth System One, Ganymede.

The old world, which I clearly remembered, was a pit of corporate greed and too many people in too small a space. The ship, Rebellion, was put together secretly, though the details we were given were fuzzy. I mean, how’d the leaders of the rebellion hide a whole space ship? But anyway, we were loaded on in secret, shoved into cryo-pods and frozen. They’d woken us two years ago and began teaching us skills.

Jazana wrapped an arm around me. We were both orphans. Somehow both of our sets of parents had died in the pods. I sighed. The world looked so good on long-range. Modern, clean, beautiful. There wasn’t a trace of smog on the screen. As the planet rotated and our ship drew closer, we could see that the whole planet was like that. I dashed the tears from my eyes.

Jazana and I were in the same track, engineering with a minor in leadership. We were going to be management. There were lots of engineering lessons. We were the ones taking care of this ship. But there were also lessons on leadership and government. Economics, too, and social engineering. One day one of us could be the governor. Leader of our rebellion colony. Helicity was a stopgap home. We’d learned that the info about Helicity had been stolen. None of our data had indicated if Earth System had ever visited the planet. It was a risk, our teachers had told us. But one worth while if we could find a planet of our own.

A week later our leaders shuttled down to Helicity, their capital city of Tatham, to meet with their planetary leaders. I could hardly concentrate on our pulse engine power coupling lesson as thoughts about what was going on whirled through my head. A spanner banged down next to my hand on the cover of the coupling.

“Bang, Zuri. Congratulations. You’ve just killed us all.” Sergeant Aranyo glared at me.

I blushed to the roots of my blonde hair. “Sorry, Sergeant Aranyo. I lost my concentration.”

“Pull your head out. Start again. All of you. Thank Zuri for it.”

I had a sympathetic look from Jazana but the other five cadets gave me a glare. That was going to cost me. Probably my dinner. My stomach growled. We’d been on short rations for the last six months. I couldn’t afford to give up my dinner, but it looked like Jaque, the Captain’s son, biggest bully in our age group, was going to make me pay. The others went along because it was just easier that way. No one wanted Jaque’s attention on them. No one would stick up for me against that, despite all the training that said otherwise.

After dinner, the board of governors shared pictures of Tatham as they rode in hover cars from the landing pad to the Council chambers. It was so beautiful. There was no word on whether they’d let us stay, give us supplies, or even give us the address of another planet. It was too early, the Governor Prime said. I believed him. He was such a kindly looking man.

We worked all week, different engine systems each day, with combat training tossed in to keep us in shape. Somehow, I was always paired with Jaque. I had the bruises to prove it. The seventh day I limped to the medic. She took a look at my knee.

“It’s not broken, just bruised. I don’t have any pain meds. I have to save them for serious cases.”

I nodded. That’s the way things went on our ship. Too little of everything.

“Keep a cold pack on it when you’re not working.” She handed one to me. “Bring it back in three days.”

“Of course.”

On the tenth day, the Governor was back on the monitor. A deal had been struck. We were going to be allowed to move into the city—get jobs, while the council of Helicity decided on a home planet for us.

The cheering could be heard all over the ship.

Off-loading began on day twelve. I had everything of value I owned in my duffle. Jazana and the other girls from my cabin were in line with me. We couldn’t stop grinning. We talked about what new food there would be and how much of it. We talked about walking in the sunlight, breathing fresh air, getting pretty clothes instead of ragged ship suits.

Off the ship we were loaded onto transports and taken through the downtown out to the countryside. I was so excited. Even when we entered a tunnel, I didn’t think anything of it. We were off loaded into a cavernous space with cement-looking walls. We were escorted to various halls, separated into different rooms in some random-seeming fashion. I was separated from Jazana.

I was led to a conveyor belt and shown how to attach one strange widget to another. Then the belt started. We worked for hours, then given a dry ration and a bottle of water in a room with at least a hundred cots. I was too tired to eat and fell asleep.

The same happened the next day and the next. It’s been fifty years. I haven’t seen Jazana. There are rumors, of course, that we’d been sold to save the rest. And the shock collars, to keep us in line. I haven’t seen the sun in all that time.

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Slave Elf Part 51: Flash Fiction Friday Post

 

Part 51

Find Part 1 here.

 

When they arrived at the palace, Mage Kaepli took down the protective spell and they all entered.

Delia went to her rooms over the objection of Master Kaepli. “But Majesty, you belong in the King’s rooms.”

“Not until I talk to my mother. That will be the end of it.” She went in and closed the door. Outside she could hear two guards take their positions on either side, and sighed. They were just as tired as she was but there they were, standing guard. All she wanted was a proper bath and a huge dinner. But the few cooks the army had with them wouldn’t have had time to heat water, let alone cook anything. She remembered the state of the kitchen. Totally cleaned out. Someone would have to go hunting or something before anyone had anything other than camp rations to eat. She hoped her mother had supplies.

It was a week before her mother arrived.

Delia was in the courtyard to meet her. She gave her mother a hug and a kiss on the cheek after she’d dismounted. “Mother. I’m so sorry.” Her mother looked pale and thin in her white mourning dress.

Raele patted her daughter on the cheek. “I’m so proud of you. You defeated our enemy. There is much to be happy for.”

Delia walked with her to Raele’s rooms. “Rest, mother. May I get you anything?”

“Later, daughter. We’ll go see your father before the burial.”

Delia nodded. “Let me know when you’re ready. I’ll escort you.”

Raele nodded. “Thank you.”

That evening they went to the throne room together. Now Ucheni was in his finest robes, his crown upon his head. Candles surrounded the body and an honor guard of twelve surrounded him. Raele, put her hand on his. “He loved you. Very much.”

“I know. He showed it in every way.”

Raele sniffed and used a delicate handkerchief to wipe her eyes. “He died too young.”

“Iyuno paid for that.”

Raele turned to her daughter. “I heard stories.”

Delia shrugged. “He treated with orcs, Mother.”

Raele sighed. “True.”

They had a quiet supper in the Queen Mother’s rooms and Delia took her leave early.

Three months later, the coronation was held. Raele was still in her rooms but Delia had moved into her father’s apartment. It seemed weird, to her. She stood in front of a floor length mirror as Alia stood by and servants fussed with the coronation gown. It had been less than a year since Corpet the caravan master had given her that blue gown to wear. Slave to Queen in that short amount of time. It didn’t seem real.

Alia nodded. “You look beautiful.”

Delia studied her reflection. Her hair had been just lightly dressed, so that the crown could go on her head. Her hair mostly flowed down her back. A black river reaching to her waist. She teleported a mug of tea to her hand from a nearby table. It was a trick she’d developed one day by accident when a quill was just out of reach. Alia’s eyebrow rose. “Just in private, Ali. It seems silly to have you fetch it when I can just call it.”

Alia shook her head. “As you will, Majesty.”

Delia rolled her eyes. Alia was a stickler. Fortunately, Kaya still had a sense of humor, as did Couran, Relan and Sisruo. She needed friends and confidantes, not masters. “I’ll not do it in public. I promise.”

The ceremony lasted too long, Delia thought, but her mother looked pleased and that’s all she could hope for.

She thought about Captain Catari and poor little Gallett. Both had died in the sick tent, some poison they’d gotten from orc darts. Her thoughts turned to her mother. One day, her mother would move out of the next door apartments, replaced by a husband. That might be Sisruo. He’d passed his exams after he’d healed and was now a Master Mage himself. They would be a powerful couple, if it all worked out. She was still too young to marry, though. Another hundred years or so to get to know him, and her people, and her culture. It would pass in no time.

Thank You for Reading this Serial

670 Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story. It was supposed to be a simple flash fiction of 1000 words or less. It ran long the first day and I thought it’d finish up in four or five parts. Hah! Little did I know. The story took off with me and here we are, over 50,000 words later, finally come to an end.

I don’t like the title, Slave Elf, but it was all right for a working name. Here’s the thing, I’d like a new title. So I’m going to hold a contest. I’m going to get this story edited and put into novel form. Whoever suggests the winning title, will get the story as a signed paperback. Make your suggestions in the comments. I give this contest a month, closing May 18th. Get your suggestions in before then. Yes, you may make multiple suggestions. US residents only for the paperback. Overseas readers, I’ll send you an ebook if you win.

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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