Challenge The Spy/Bride Post

P1010937-1000x750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton https://www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk/gallery/sbuxton/chicksands-priory/#.VFW7LPldWo0

P1010937-1000×750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton https://www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk/gallery/sbuxton/chicksands-priory/#.VFW7LPldWo0

Here’s the deal. I was informed of this cool web site: beyardandholmes.com (http://bayardandholmes.com/2014/10/22/new-release-and-the-spy-bride-contest/)   and a challenge they are running. Here’s their challenge:

 We are inviting all bloggers to write a post about absolutely anything espionage or wedding related. Link back to this post to be entered in a contest for a $25 Amazon card and a copy of RISKY BRIDES.

Write about your favorite Bond movie, your favorite historical spook, or how you used to spy on your siblings. Tell us about your wildest bachelor party, you favorite wedding, or your worst bridesmaid’s dress. If you manage to write about both spooks and weddings in the same post, you’ll have your name entered twice.

So, really, how can I go wrong?

Here’s the post.

As some of you may remember, I spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. One of the best assignments I ever had was to RAF Chicksands in the United Kingdom. It was a small, tranquil base about an hour north of London. We didn’t have planes. We had antennas.

The antennas were for listening to what was going on in Europe. I’m sure if anyone is interested they can find information on the internet about “Elephant Cages” and what information was being gathered.

What I liked about the place was that it was an excellent location for my family. We arrived there just as my daughter was turning eight. She was sure that because her name was Elizabeth, she’d be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. Unfortunately that never happened but we did stay there for two tours. We left that idyllic base when my daughter was 16.

One other aspect of the base that was a real draw was that the base had a Priory. An old religious cloister sat smack dab in the middle of the base. It was the hub of many social activities. It never hurt that it had a ghost. Halloween parties were a huge deal. But the place was so lovely, many a wedding was held there. There was a volunteer organization that worked to fund building repairs, keep the gardens up, and just make use of the place.

That was by far my best assignment and many of us that served there still chat via social networks. It no longer serves as a military installation and the Elephant Cage is long gone but the Priory is still there, and I expect, still hosting weddings.

In other news:

By the way, NaNo has started and I’m just ahead of my target goals. I love that. Then if I have to miss a writing day, I’m not all behind and weepy.

I’ve also developed a cover for the cozy mystery I’m writing. Just for giggles, I’ve loaded it on my Pinterest page. Check it out: http://www.pinterest.com/conniecockrell/ That would be my My Books and Stories board, Mystery at the Fair is the cover pin.

That thyme? I got it down, spent an hour and a half picking the leaves from the stems and hung both rosemary and sage to dry.

Last week I talked about Christmas Cards. No can do. But, I’m not giving up my candy making. I’ll try and do some steps in advance in November that can be held in the fridge until I’m ready to complete them and get the tins in the mail.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Flash Fiction Friday: Final Third of Mystery at the Fair

Fonda Fair Butter Sculpture 2009 by Randy Cockrell

Fonda Fair Butter Sculpture 2009 by Randy Cockrell


Here’s the final third of the story with the whole thing in place so you don’t have to look for it. This is my first experiment with the cosy mystery genre. It’s a lot of fun. What do you think? Are you interested in hearing more about Jean Hays? Leave a comment!

Sweat rolled down the side of Jean Hays’ face, her short graying brown hair stuck to her forehead. The sun beat down out of a cornflower blue sky while end of the monsoon season thunderheads built up into towering blinding white and ominous portents of future rain. Rain every year for the fair, she thought as she trudged to the storage container where the plastic tubs of left over ribbons, banners and other fair paraphernalia resided the rest of the year.  She wiped her face and hoped the units were unlocked. The Fair Board President, Arris Van Horn wasn’t answering his phone. He should have them open by now.

She wiped the sweat from her face and lightly touched the metal handles of the shipping container. The front of the unit had been in the sun all day but while it was hot to the touch, she could grab the lever and pull it up. Must be ninety degrees out here. She swung the door open with relief that she wouldn’t have to trudge all over the fairgrounds looking for Arris and stepped inside. It was dark just a few feet inside the metal box and at least a hundred and twenty degrees. Sweat began dripping in earnest. Smells like mice in here, hope they haven’t gotten into the tubs, she thought.

Winding her way past safety cones, stacked tables, buckets of rope, steel cable and broken metal chairs, she stepped over a pile of rebar to reach her stack of tubs. One, two, three, four, she counted, where’s the fifth tub? The heat was giving her a headache. Maybe it’s farther to the back. A pile of cardboard boxes labeled, Mud Run, blocked her way. The storage container held material for several events that occurred on the fairgrounds during the year. Jean moved the three boxes behind her and stepped over a pile of rusting chain. Wish I’d brought a flashlight, she thought. It’s dark back here.

Squinting, she saw the medium blue tub four feet away on top of another stack of bins. There you are. She wiped her face again and held her breath. The smell of dead things was over whelming. I hope nothing crawled into my bin. The ribbons will be ruined. She picked her way past boxes, rusting metal things she couldn’t identify and a broken ladder. She pulled the tilted bin toward her and the pile of bins it was on fell over. Her bin slid to the floor, taking part of her thumbnail with it. “Owww,” she cried as she jerked her hand away. In front of her, the two doors of a metal cabinet creaked open and a desiccated human body fell out on top of her bin. She shrieked and scrambled outside.

She stared, panting, at the open door of the container then dialed 911. “This is Jean Hays. I’m the VP of Exhibits for the fair. I just found a dead body in the storage container on the fairgrounds.”

——-

Standing inside the yellow crime scene tape, Jean watched what looked like complete chaos as an EMT bandaged her thumb.

“That should do it,” he said as he smoothed the tape. “You should get a tetanus shot, too. The Emergency Care place over on the corner of the Highway and Longview Street can take care of you. If you go to the hospital emergency room it’ll cost more.”

“Thanks.” Jean examined her thumb. “I’ll do that.” She nodded toward the crowd of milling police and coroner and EMT’s. “Crime scenes always look like this?”

He shrugged. “Don’t know. There hasn’t been a murder in town since I started working, eleven years ago.”

They were interrupted by a uniformed officer. “Who said it was a murder?”

“It looked like a murder to me.” Jean nodded her thanks to the EMT who left. The officer’s tone annoyed her. She held out her right hand. “I’m Jean Hayes.”

He shook her hand, after a look of suspicion. “I’m Chief of Police Nick White. You found the body?”

“Scared the crap out of me. Fell out of the double door cabinet. Stuff was piled in front of it that held the doors closed. If it was a suicide, how’d stuff get piled in front of the door?” She jerked her chin at the small crowd gathering outside the tape. “The press is here.”

Chief White turned to see a photographer taking pictures with a long lens. “That’s Scott Duley, works for the town newspaper. The editor will be calling me soon for the story.” He turned back to her. “Did you recognize the body?”

“No.” Jean was hot and wanted a drink of water. A whole bottle of icy cold water sounded really good, what with the sun beating down on her head. “It was too dark in there and I was busy getting out. I’ve only lived here a year, anyway. Most people are still strangers.”

His left eyebrow cocked up. “You’re on the Fair Board.”

Jean shrugged. “Not hard. They needed volunteers and I’m a good organizer.”

Nick eyed her then said, “The body had ID, Ida Grange.” He studied her reaction.

She shook her head. “Sorry, Chief, It doesn’t ring a bell.”

“She and Arris Van Horn were an item last year.” He adjusted his equipment belt.

It was Jean’s turn to raise an eyebrow. Why would he share that information? she thought. “You think Arris did this? A poor place to hide a body since he’s in charge of the container.”

The Chief sniffed. “Maybe.” He looked around and waved an officer over. “Take Ms. Hays statement and let her get back to her business.”

“What about my bins?”

He looked directly at the officer. “Check the bins and if they’re clean, let her have them.” He never looked at her, just turned and walked back over to the gurney where the body lay covered.

—–

After an eternity of questions and a maddening examination of the bins, Jean was released. In the Exhibits building the Superintendents surrounded her.

“What happened?” was the primary question. She told them what she knew and they drifted off to complete their set up.

Karen Carver, Superintendent of Homemaking Arts, approached her half an hour later as Jean reviewed paperwork for the exhibits. She handed Jean an icy bottle of water. “I expect they kept you standing in the sun. You’re probably thirsty.”

Jean took the bottle and untwisted the cap. “They did.” She drank half the bottle then her right eye squinted. “Sorry, ice cream brain.” She recapped the bottle. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Karen glanced around the building. “Um, did you hear anything?”

Jean cocked an eyebrow. “As in?”

“You know; any suspects?”

Jean didn’t really know these people. While they’d had a few planning meetings, she wasn’t friends. She wondered how much to say. “Well, the Police Chief asked probing questions.”

“Probing?”

Jean asked, “What do you mean?”

Karen shrugged. “Well, you know, it’s a small town. A body was found in one of our storage containers. It’s got to be a short list of suspects.”

“Do you have a theory?”

The woman looked around again. The fans that moved the hot air drowned out any nearby conversations. “Well, Ina George has been missing for months.”

“What do you know?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t say.”

Jean’s military training kicked in. “If you know something, you need to say so, to the authorities.”

“Well,” she tugged at the hem of her sleeveless blouse. “I don’t know for sure.”

“Come with me,” Jean said in her best Master Sergeant voice.

Karen fidgeted but after a command wave, followed Jean to the crime scene.

“Chief White,” Jean called from the outside of the crime scene tape.

“Yeah.” Annoyance spread across his face.

Jean had the urge to say “FU” and turn away but she held her ground. No small time police chief was going to intimidate her. “It’s important.”

He said something to the officer beside him and strode to the tape opposite them. “I’m a little busy, Ms. Hayes.”

“I understand that, Chief.” Her voice rose slightly and he scowled. “Ms. Carver is one of my Superintendents and I believe she has some pertinent information.”

He questioned Karen, then called an officer over to take her information while he stepped away to make a call on his radio. Two squad cars raced off, dust spewing into the air.

It wasn’t until the next Tuesday that she read in the paper that Arris had been arrested for the murder of Ida Grange.

A week later she bumped into Chief White at the local grocery. “Ms. Hays.”

“Chief.”

“Thank you for the tip last week.”

“My pleasure, Chief.”

He looked uncomfortable. “Uh, have a good day.”

“You too, Chief.”

She rolled her eyes when they parted. “What a clown,” she muttered.

 

The End

500/485/488 Words

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August is a long Month

Cover for First Encounter by Connie Cockrell

Cover for First Encounter by Connie Cockrell

We’ve had a lovely rain a few days ago, an inch and a half’s worth. Everything plant perked right up. Two of the apples fell from the tree Saturday morning. They aren’t very large but they tasted good. Husband saw them on the ground from the office window and told me they “self-harvested.”
The Northern Gila County fair is in two weeks. The fair book is out, posters have been hung around the area and we’ve kicked off a contest. Take a selfie with one of the posters and after Liking our Facebook page, post the picture. Drawings will be made for prizes. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northern-Gila-County-Fair/136645043024179. I try to post something new on there at least once per day. I continue to update the website, www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com, to add information concerning all of the activities, attractions and entertainment.
My novella, The Beginning, has had a title change to First Encounter. I am also trying out a new editing service, SilverJayMedia.com. I sent them a sample and they returned it quickly and with a lot of corrections. Ack! I thought I had edited it better than that. Anyway, I’m going to have them edit the whole thing. They have a very cool estimating tool on their site so you can see how much their different editing services will cost. I really like that feature. With it you can see how much each service costs individually or added all up. You can pick the service or set of services that best meets your needs and wallet. Give it a try you writers out there.
Hot! I tried out Amazon’s new Pre-Order feature. It was very easy for me to use and I put First Encounter up on it for pre-order. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MW8AYOK Release date is scheduled for September 18th.

My author friend Selena Laurence is getting ready to release several books over the next two or three months. In celebration of that, she’s promoting two of her previous books, A Lush Betrayal and Camouflaged. She’s an author of Edgy Contemporary Romance, and knows how to make those stories hot and sassy. Both books have been discounted for this promotion. Hurry to take advantage of it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know if you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.
I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here. Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. Apple (iTunes) and Barnes and Noble now have it up on their sites. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Flash Fiction Friday: Fourth of July

Fire works 2013 4th of July by Randy Cockrell

Fire works 2013 4th of July by Randy Cockrell

Fourth of July

Ernie lay on his back in bed, left arm under his head propped up on a pillow. He took a drag from the first cigarette of the day as he watched the daylight grow stronger through the pulled shade of the tiny camper he lived in.

He jumped at the sound of poppers in the dirt road that ran past the front of his trailer. A glance at the clock made him groan. Seven-thirty in the morning and the little brats were already out playing with fire works. He flung the sweaty sheet away and stood up. It was a single short step to the screened window. After he pulled the shade aside and winced from the full brunt of the early morning sun in hung-over eyes, he yelled, “Knock it off,” then slammed the window shut.

Ernie sighed. That was just going make it hotter in the camper, but he couldn’t take the constant pop, pop, popping. It sounded too much like gun fire. The ashes from his cigarette, still between two nicotine-stained fingers, dropped to join the remains of its brethren on the lifeless carpet beside the bed.

In what passed for a kitchen he scooped coffee into the maker and filled it with water. He punched the start button and was made a slightly less grumpy as the sound of water begin its path through the fresh grounds.

Shouts of warning rang out from the road outside, the kids set another string of poppers alight. Ernie braced. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, in rapid succession with screams of glee coming from the now larger pack of kids gathered from the trailer park. He stared out of the tiny window over the sink at the trailer next door, smoking the cigarette and waiting for the coffee.

He wanted to get out of town, get to the country, someplace without parades, crowds and fireworks but the car was in the shop. Before the coffee was done he poured some into his least dirty cup, letting the still brewing coffee pour over the hot plate, hissing and steaming and adding to the burnt coffee smell. He shoved the pot back under the stream and sipped the life blood of his day. His nerves were already on edge from the popping and screaming outside.

When the phone rang he jumped. Who the hell is calling at five till eight? He picked up the cell phone lying on the table amidst the remains of take out wrappers, bags and empty cans of beer.

“What?” he snarled.

“Good morning to you, too, buddy,” the voice responded with a laugh.

“It’s too early, Brian.” Ernie scrubbed the cigarette out in the overflowing ashtray next to the loveseat. He put his coffee on the stained arm of the sofa and plopped his feet on the coffee table, scattering more take out wrappers. “The damn kids are outside already, firing off poppers and screaming like the Viet Cong.”

“Come on out to the house, Brother. I’ve got brats and ribs and Mary’s made potato salad. No fireworks, I promise.”

Ernie’s interest picked up. His brother Brian had the childhood home, an old farmhouse they grew up in. He swallowed some of the still too hot coffee. “Car’s in the shop.”

“I’ll come get you. I know how the 4th brings out your PTSD. Say yes.”

Ernie lit another cigarette with his Zippo. His engraved unit crest nearly rubbed away. A screamer went off. It sounded like it was right outside his trailer. He dove for the floor, coffee flew all over the loveseat and ragged carpet.

A tinny voice came from the phone, now on the floor just under the kitchen cabinet. “Ernie? Ernie? What was that? Are you OK?”

Face flushed with shame, Ernie got up and retrieved the phone. “Yeah, I’m all right. Damn kids set off a screamer.” He walked back to the loveseat and picked the cup up. He poured more coffee into it and shoved the kitchen table wrappers off onto the floor to sit down at the table.

“Are you coming out?”

“Yeah,” Ernie scrubbed his three day old beard. If he stayed here much longer those kids would be dead. “Yeah. Come and get me. I’ll be cleaned up by the time you get here.”

When Brian arrived in his new SUV, Ernie was sitting outside his camper, shaved and in clean clothes, smoking. Brian got out and gave his brother a hug.  “I don’t see any kids.”

“I chased’em off.”

“Glad you’re coming out. Mary made your favorite, lemon meringue pie.”

The two of them got into the car. “You two are too good to me. I’m a mess.”

“That’s what family is for, Ernie. You did your duty, time for us to pay it back.”

Ernie stared out of the passenger window as his younger brother backed out of the parking spot. The camper was rusted and ugly. The lawn chair he’d been sitting in was missing half of the webbing. He could still hear the pop, pop, popping of gun fire deep in his memory and if he took his hands off of his knees, they’d be shaking. He felt the way his camper looked. “Thanks, Brian. I appreciate that.”

 

The End

874 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday: Mystery on Titan

Ice Dragon by Aerin Kayne via www.deviantart.com

Ice Dragon by Aerin Kayne via www.deviantart.com

This story came about because of a challenge on Chuck Wendig’s site. So I rolled the random generator and got Military Science Fiction and Comic Fantasy. Ack! It took me a couple of days to come up with a mash up of those two genres. After you read this, go back to Chuck’s site and check out what other writers came up with. I’m sure you’ll be entertained.

Mystery On Titan

“What a pit,” Airman First Class Carl Andrews said as he rubbed his hands together on his first day on the job. “People used to complain about being stationed in Thule, Greenland. Hell, that’s a garden spot.”

Staff Sergeant LeAnn Rice sniffed. The heat in the new base on Titan, the sixth moon of Saturn, wasn’t up to the task of keeping the base warm. Her nose ran constantly. “Well, the scientists love studying the atmosphere and the hydrocarbon lakes. We’re just here to provide a forward lookout to the edge of the solar system.”

Carl snorted. “You think aliens are gonna come streaming in from the far edge of beyond to say hi?”

She shrugged. “Doesn’t matter what I think, we’re here to monitor the satellites they sent out to Pluto and send a call to Earth if we see anything. It would have been nice if we could have been on the sunny side of Titan though. It’s kind of depressing being always in the dark.”

By necessity they were on a four year tour of duty. It took too long to get to Titan to make the time on base any shorter. Two years went by and in a schedule that put them together every two weeks, Carl and LeAnn were again on duty together.

“Look,” Carl pointed at his monitor. “A ship is coming in.”

LeAnn looked up from her monitor where she was making notes in the log. “Can’t be. The supply ship isn’t due for another two weeks.” She got up.

“I know that,” Carl said, “but it looks like an incoming ship to me.”

LeAnn leaned over his shoulder to peer at the screen. “It’s coming from sun-ward, that’s for sure.” She went back to her desk, changed her monitor to pick up the signal from Carl and keyed her mike. “Unidentified ship, this is Titan Base Herschel, please identify yourself.”

Carl turned to stare at her. “It’ll take a few minutes. Shouldn’t we call the Captain?”

“And tell him what?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Just seems like he should be informed.”

“Give it a minute, Carl.” LeAnn tapped her fingernail on the desk. She turned to a second monitor and pulled up the records from the last supply ship. Tapping the screen she scrolled to the record of the last ship’s approach to the base. The flight path traced from Earth, on its nearest rotation around the sun to Titan. The path in a blue dotted line made an arc, directly between Earth and Titan. Carl got up and stood behind her.

She tapped a command into the first screen and a dotted red line traced out behind the mystery ship, a record of its path since the computer first noticed it. LeAnn blinked. “It’s not from Earth.”

“Crap.” Carl dashed back to his seat and began a staccato tapping on his keyboard. “I’m extrapolating the path backward,” he told her. “It, uh, looks like it slipped in around Uranus and is sling-shotting toward us.” He whipped his chair around. “It’s alien.”

LeAnn hit the button to call the Captain. “We’ve got aliens on approach,” she said when he answered.

“I’ll be right there.”

Three minutes later he and Dr. Gifford, lead scientist, burst through the door. “Where is it?” Captain Brooks skidded to a stop beside her.

LeAnn pointed at her screen, the red-dotted path now longer. “I sent a call out eight minutes ago.”

“Why?” Dr. Gifford asked as he pulled his glasses off and wiped them as he stared at the screen.

“We thought it was the supply run, early.”

The speakers came to life. A thin, reedy voice nearly drowned in static came through, “Herschel Base, this is the Atamattal ship Thahhsskkt, on approach to the moon you call Titan.”

The Doctor stopped polishing his glasses mid-stroke.

The Captain grabbed the headset from LeAnn and jammed them on his head. “Thassktt,” he mangled the word. “What is your purpose?”

“Annual holiday,” the crew heard over the static. “We come here every fifty of your years.”

Captain Brooks stared at the Doctor.

The Doctor shrugged. “Must be a pretty cold species to vacation on Titan. Ask if they’ve been to Earth?”

The Captain did that.

“No, the third planet is too hot for us. Our people have been picking up your transmissions for a hundred years, so we can communicate with you. We’ll be setting down at the northern pole. The lakes are beautiful this time of year.”

“Uh, we’re happy to meet you, Thassktt.”

Two days later, a team went to speak with the aliens. The alien ship was settled on a rock outcropping and the human shuttle landed beside it. The shuttle commander and Dr. Gifford stared. There, on the so called beach, were six dragons of varying sizes. “Must be children,” Gifford pointed at two of the smallest who were throwing pawsful of the petrochemical mist at each other.

The largest dragon turned at the sound of the shuttle and spread wings, taking off in a down blast that sent smog whirling in all directions. It landed in front of the shuttle and peered in through the windows. “Sorry you can’t join us,” it said through the glass, “too cold for you.” It sighed. “It’s too bad, we love this moon but I suppose now that your species is here, we’ll have to find another vacation spot.”

“Not for a long time yet,” Gifford said. “We’d like to share cultures with you.”

The dragon nodded. “We get that all the time. An official delegation is needed, you know. It’s not for the likes of me to talk but thanks for the offer. I’ll make a report when I get home.”

He turned and rejoined his family. No amount of coaxing would get him to talk again.

Back at base, Captain Brooks made his report to Earth. The long wait began.

 

The End

985 Words

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Living with the Road

Georgia AT Hike0006

Eddie sat in the molded orange plastic chair. He pulled out his netbook and logged into the Laundromat’s WiFi. He only came into Bland every 7 or 8 days. This was his chance to check email for messages from his mom and dad and the few people he still kept in touch with.

Bland, Virginia, wasn’t much, a wide spot at the intersection of I71 and State Highway 52. The post office, small grocery, Laundromat and tiny hiker store supported the hikers going to the Appalachian Trail through the local Blue Ridge Mountains.

The email from his mother was upbeat. Everyone and everything was fine. Did he want anything sent?

The only other email was from Vickie. He remembered hiking with her along the Appalachian Trail the year he left the Army. Three months after his discharge, the idea of walking 2300 miles through the quiet of the woods sounded like the thing to do. He spent the last of his saved pay on backpacking gear and headed for the southern terminus of the trail, Dahlonega, Georgia.

It was tougher than boot camp and Afghanistan combined, minus the shooting. He caught up to Vickie, trail name, Mountain Mama, in North Carolina. She didn’t talk much and was easy to talk to. He camped in his own tent. His nightmares didn’t allow him in the close confines of the shelters found along the trail.

Four months later, in Millinocket, Maine, they traded emails. She went back to her family’s farm in Vermont. He went back to his parents. That last month at home with his parents was awful. He couldn’t sleep, nightmares about Afghanistan kept him a nervous wreck. They wanted him to see a shrink, take drugs. Eddie couldn’t do it. The first trip to the VA shrink was his last. The wrecks wandering the halls of the hospital were more than he could take. He told them he had to get away for longer.

Now he camped along the trail, moving from shelter to shelter every few days to keep the Trail Runners happy. They didn’t want people setting up permanent home in any shelter. It was fine by him. He could talk to the day hikers about his through hike. He could talk to through hikers about what they’d find up ahead. He could sit in the quiet of the woods and listen to the birds and watch the deer pass by. It was enough. Until now.

Vickie was going to the hiker festival, Trail Days, in Damascus, Virginia. Did he want to meet there? He looked at the date on the computer. The festival was two days away. No way he could hike halfway down Virginia in two days. He wanted to see her again. He hadn’t had a nightmare in three months. Without thinking he hit reply and typed, “Would love to meet up. Same campground. See you there,” and hit send. He wondered afterward what he was thinking. He hadn’t had a car since he started camping here a year ago. He finished his laundry and hitched a ride back up highway 52 to the trailhead. It took four hours to hike to his tent. He stuffed it all in his pack and headed back down the mountain. It was 6pm when he got back to the highway and stuck out his thumb.

A guy heading south picked him up. “I’m going to Broadford, you goin’ that far?” he asked the driver.

“Sure. Hop in.” The driver saw a thin, dirty, long-haired, bearded guy as they headed down the highway. “Been living rough for awhile?”

Eddie nodded. “Been backpacking. There’s a hiker festival in Damascus I’m going to.”

The driver nodded. “Big adventure. I always wanted to do something like that, but, you know. Wife, kids, job. There’s never any time.”

Eddie nodded. He heard that a lot from the weekend hikers. The guy let him off at a small truck stop. “Good luck, getting to Damascus.”

Luckily a trucker was headed down 91, the Saltville Highway. He looked Eddie over before he decided. “You ain’t no junkie are ya?”

“No, sir. Hiker, headed to Damascus.”

“I can drop you at Glade Spring.”

“I’ll take it.”

They left the truck stop at 10pm. The trucker turned on his Sirius radio and they listened to classic country until he reached Glade Spring. It was late when the trucker pulled into a gas station there. “Stay out of trouble, son.” He advised.

“Yes, sir.” Eddie dragged his pack down. “Thank you for the ride.”

It was too late to hitch. There was hardly any traffic on the road. He found a patch of woods and set up a camp. The next morning he was on highway 609, headed for Abingdon. He slid his pack on his back and started walking. It was mid-morning before he caught a break. “Where ya heading?” the young guy asked. Eddie hesitated. The car reeked of pot. “Abingdon.”

“Yeah, I’m going there. Get in.”

He decided the short ride was worth the risk and tossed his pack in the back seat. They no more than started when the guy offered Eddie a joint.

“Thanks, man, but, I’m allergic.”

The driver stared. “No shit, man. That sucks.” He lit up anyway.

Eddie rolled the window down a little, letting some of the warm May air into the car. The driver cranked the radio up on some headbanger station. By the time they got to Abingdon, Eddie had a headache. “Thanks man,” he told the driver when he left the car.

“No problem.”

In Abingdon, Eddie caught the hiker shuttle to Damascus. They dropped him at the huge campground southeast of town where most of the hikers stayed. He hurried to his old spot. Vickie recognized him immediately. “War Dog!” she yelled and ran right to him. She gave him a bear hug then looked him over. “You’re not eating enough. Come on over, I’ve got stew.”

Eddie felt like he’d come home.

The End

999 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: C5

I found out after I wrote C5 that today is also National Poetry Day.  What a nice coincidence.  Today’s offering is what’s sometimes called narrative poetry.

It’s so heavy.

Accepting so much steel and the small, squishy bits that control that steel.

It’s wings droop, loaded with the responsibility for getting the war machine from point A to point B.

The red lights wave, signalling it’s time to go.

But it’s so heavy.

It rolls so slowly, ponderously, across the tarmac to the point where it will begin its run.

Engines wind up, roaring until the ground shakes.

Squishy bits in their sleep awake, willing the beast into the air – pushing it higher with their thoughts.

A sigh of relief when it lifts off the runway; they subside into their slumber.

The sound of freedom fades into the distance.

The end

113 Words

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

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