Flash Fiction Friday: Copertino Crisis

Spaceship Concepts 3 by peterprime-d53ysxe

Spaceship Concepts 3 by peterprime-d53ysxe via www.deviantart.com

Clarissa Monroe left the hospital where her friend, Bectie Weiss, was recovering from a gunshot wound received when they, and their old high school friend, Ariel Holbrook, were meeting for drinks. She followed Ariel at a trot.
Ariel tapped her temple where an implanted communication device was located. “Boss, where’s my ride?” She listened and stopped at the curb.
Clarissa was panting when she stopped beside her friend. “What now?”
“They’re bringing me a car.” She scanned the sky. “What do you see concerning the aliens?”
A vision of massive machines on the Pacific sea bottom flashed through her mind. Light from each machine made the bottom light as day. She blinked at the headache. “The machines have lit up the sea bottom. I don’t see anything about Copertino now.” She looked up as an air car descended in front of them in a whirl of dirt and street debris.
When it landed, a guy in black jumped out of the driver’s seat. Ariel ran around the front of the vehicle. “Get in,” she called to Clarissa. She spoke briefly to the driver as Clarissa climbed into the passenger seat. Ariel jumped in and fastened her harness. She tapped dash buttons and grabbed the yoke. “Hang on.”
The engines screamed as they shot into the air. Clarissa’s stomach felt as though it were still on the street, certain every traffic law in the city had been broken as Ariel banked hard left. The Pacific filled the front windshield. “How did you become an operator for, what was it? The International Protectorate of Earth?
Ariel tapped her temple. “Status?” She listened. “How many? I’m on my way.” She sighed. “This car is armed with the best weapons on Earth. Every country on the planet contributes. I was recruited my senior year of college.” She tapped a button and Clarissa heard a whine from under the floor of the car.
Outside Clarissa’s window she could see small doors on the upper surface of the wing retract and some sort of gun popped up. Her eyebrows rose. “What’s that?”
“Photon ray guns.”
“There’s such a thing?”
“Sure.” Ariel grinned. “They’ve been operational for the last five years.” She pointed. “Look.”
The seaside village of Copertino was in flames. Surface roads were clogged with cars. Overhead, black, crab-shaped aircraft blasted short bursts of rays at the town.
Ariel banked right. “Let’s see what they’re doing offshore.”
Clarissa’s head slammed into the headrest. “How fast does this thing go?” she forced through her teeth.
“Faster,” Ariel replied. She circled a spot three miles off shore.
Clarissa winced as a new vision shot through her brain. Supports were being driven into the sea floor as huge square platforms were maneuvered into place over them. “They’re building something. There’s a line of underwater ships heading for this location.”
“I’ve got to see.” More whining came from under the floor. Ariel tapped her communicator. “Going into aqua mode. Be advised massive underwater construction underway. Request backup.” She frowned. “I know I don’t usually call for help.” She disconnected. “Prepare for dive.”
Clarissa braced her feet against the sloping floor and gripped the arm rests. The ocean’s surface sped up at them, waves twinkling. She held her breath as the car approached the surface, then they were underwater, bubbles flowing over the canopy. She exhaled.
“I know,” Ariel grinned. “It’s some sort of anti-grav. Cracks me up.”
Clarissa didn’t think it was funny but she was glad there was no hard impact. “Where’s the construction?”
“Straight ahead.” Soon they could see light through currents of stirred up mud and sea plants. “I’m going in,” she said to her communicator. “There are hundreds of ships down here. Hurry the backup.” She punched a button. The plain, flat dash in front of Clarissa opened and a second yoke rose up.
“What’s this?”
“You’re going to help. That yoke controls a second set of guns, under the car.” As she spoke a heads-up display appeared on the windshield in front of Clarissa. “Use the yoke to center the crosshairs over a target. The red button on the right side of the yoke is the firing button.”
“Me?” Clarissa was embarrassed that it came out as a squeak.
“You can do it. Practice now.”
Clarissa wiped sweaty hands on her skirt and gripped the yoke. She moved it up and down, left and right watching the crosshairs in front of her. “I think I have it.”
“Good. Here we go.” Ariel accelerated past the slow moving column of crab ships. “Shoot big ships first, then smaller ships unless they look like attack ships — then shoot them first.”
Clarissa gulped. “Got it.”
Ariel swung the car around and began firing beams of light from the wing guns. “Shoot, Clarissa.”
Swallowing, Clarissa focused on the crosshairs. A large ship with a load hanging from it crept into the circle. She re-gripped the yoke, put her thumb on the red button and when the ship was centered, pushed the button. A thump came from under the car and a missile or torpedo; she wasn’t sure what to call it, streaked toward her target. She held her breath. It hit the ship. “Yes!” she screamed as it exploded and the cargo slid sideways through the water to the bottom. “I hit it.”
Ariel gave her a high five. “Good. Now hit some more.”
Soon other ships and cars swarmed the site and shot down the aliens. They surveyed the wreckage.
“They didn’t fight back,” Clarissa said. “Not a single defensive move.”
“I know. Weird. I’m sure that little detail is being discussed at higher levels.”
“Why’d they blast Copertino then?”
“Also don’t know.” Ariel turned to Clarissa. “You did good today.”
“Yeah, I guess I did.” Surprise was in her voice.
Ariel tapped two dash buttons. “Let’s go see Bectie.”

 

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: Shotgun Curse

Winchester Shotgun by Dionicio via www.DeviantArt.com

Winchester Shotgun by Dionicio via www.DeviantArt.com

This is a Chuck Wendig challenge from May 30th for June 6th. The challenge is to randomly choose one word each from 2 lists of 20. I rolled #6 and #14 which came out to be Shotgun Curse. Here is the story I’ve written to fit that title.

Shotgun Curse

Wilson was at the bar in the Oxbow Saloon. It was mid-afternoon and there were four guys at a scarred round wood table at the end of the bar playing five card stud. Two of the ladies that worked upstairs were standing around the table, hoping for a drink or a tip. The bartender wiped glasses as he watched the game.
It had been a bad week for Wilson. His mule had died four days ago leaving him to haul his winter’s catch of furs on a sledge behind his horse. The horse hadn’t appreciated pulling the sledge and had kicked him in the knee which was still swollen and painful to walk on. The mercantile had given him less than he expected for his furs so he couldn’t get the new shotgun he’d hoped to buy. The shotgun he inherited from his father when he died six years ago hadn’t been much but over the winter it had fallen in the half frozen East Verde River and was lost. Wilson had to go the rest of the winter without any protection or way to hunt for food. He needed a new shotgun and now there wasn’t enough money to buy one, not and buy his supplies and a new mule.
He sipped his beer and tried to think of a way to get the extra thirteen dollars he needed to buy the gun. The saloon doors swung open, letting in a blast of sunlight. Wilson turned to see who had come in.
An old man stood there, silhouetted by the light from the street. The bartender walked to Wilson’s end of the bar. “Howdy, Amos. Beer?”
The man walked to the bar and laid a shotgun on it. He looked like he’d been dragged down Main Street, filthy, torn clothes and a hat that had seen better days. “That’d be just the thing, Sam.”
Amos nodded to Wilson. “Afternoon.”
“Afternoon.” Wilson eyed the shotgun. It looked good. Stock was clean and oiled, as was the barrel. The trigger looked well-kept, there was no sign of rust or corrosion anywhere on it.
Amos drank half of his beer down. “The shotgun is for sale, young man.”
“You don’t say.”
“I don’t need it. I’m sellin’ it cheap. Twenty dollars.”
Wilson nodded. He had twenty dollars but he didn’t want to seem too eager. That would leave him with enough money to buy a new mule and his supplies for the summer, too.

The bartender wandered over after Amos stepped out back to the outhouse. “You don’t want that shotgun, son. It’s cursed.” He pulled Wilson another beer.
“How so?”
“Amos bought that gun off of a trapper last summer. The trapper said the gun was bad luck and wanted to get rid of it. Amos didn’t believe it but he’s had nothing but trouble since he got the gun. His woman ran off. His crops got infested with some sorta blight. The Apaches burnt his barn to the ground over the winter and stole all the chickens.” He shook his head. “You don’t want that gun.”
Wilson nodded but he didn’t believe in curses, he’d just had a run of bad luck all on his own. When Amos came back they made a deal and Wilson picked up the gun. Amos left the saloon with half a glass of beer still on the bar.
The next spring, on a fine clear day, Wilson came into the Oxbow. His clothes were in rags, rope was wrapped around his boots to hold them together. His hair was matted and dirty as was his beard. The bartender pulled him a beer. “Looks as though you’ve had a rough winter, son.”
Wilson gulped the beer down in one breath and signaled for another. “Worst year of my life. Wolverines got into my traps and took every animal I caught. The mule took off half way through the winter and not long after that, my horse just keeled over in the stable, dead as a doornail. Mice ate my supplies. I fell in the East Verde, nearly drowned and half froze when a band of Apache chased me half way to Fort Verde and back again.”
The bartender raised an eyebrow. “That does sound like a spell of bad luck. What happened to the shotgun?”
Wilson took another long drink of his beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and put the beer on the bar top. “I smashed that shotgun into pieces with a rock and threw it in the river.”

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: The Enemy Rule

The day they came by steve2727 d3ddhcp via www.deviantart.com

The day they came by steve2727 d3ddhcp via www.deviantart.com

Today’s story is thanks to the Chuck Wendig Challenge of August 1st at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/01/flash-fiction-challenge-random-title-challenge/ . He provided a list of story titles and it was my job to pick one and write a story to it. This type of writing exercise really stretches the brain. Here’s my take on the title I picked:

The Enemy Rule

I watched as a pair of soldiers stapled an eleven by fourteen inch sheet of paper to the telephone pole. Little knots of people stood around every other pole along Main Street, reading the sheets the enemy had just posted.
I had just come out of the Co-op. There was nothing inside except a few exotic canned goods. One of the first directives to come from the enemy was for farmers to take all of their produce to the industrial park where they had set up an efficient shipping line. Everything was sent back to their country.
When they marched on to the next pole I stepped up to read the notice. A notice! We were back to the seventeenth century. The enemy had dropped four electro-magnetic pulse bombs across the country. That’s all it took to fry every electronic device we depended on and send us back nearly to the stone age. An antique car sputtered down Main Street. Everyone on the street turned to watch. The old cars weren’t electronic so anyone with a rusting hulk in the back yard was doing their best to resurrect the beasts. It was hard to do when parts had to be scrounged locally.
I read the poster.

ATTENTION
1. Curfew is sundown. Anyone outside after sundown will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
2. No groups shall form larger than three non-family people. Anyone found in a non-family group larger than three people will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
3. No travel is permitted outside town limits. All travel across town limit borders must be approved by the People’s Superintendent of the town. Anyone found travelling without the proper permits will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.

It was clear they just wanted to shoot us all and make way for the immigrants. Half of my block had already been cleared. The Wilson family next door were all shot the first day of the invasion. John tried to keep the soldiers out of his house. They dragged the whole family out on the front lawn and shot them, including the dog. I was thankful that I lived alone. That was a month ago. Last week the soldiers helped a family from their country move in. They’ve already dug up the whole yard and started planting vegetables. They even ripped out Emily Wilson’s prize yellow roses. It happened all up and down the block. The new people move in and they begin planting vegetables immediately.

A squad of soldiers came around the corner in a column of two. I stepped into the street and bowed low keeping my eyes on the pavement. That was Rule One on Day One and it didn’t take us long to learn it. A lot of people were shot on Day One.

My stomach growled. My pantry was nearly bare and my tiny vegetable patch wasn’t keeping me fed and it was the height of summer. No food was reaching the markets. I stood up after the squad passed and finished reading the poster. It was more of the same. I turned away. Nothing posted since Day One told us what to do to get along, to survive.
On my block I noticed all the new families out in their yards, tending the new gardens. I bowed politely. They bowed back. There was no point in trying to talk to them. Not only did they not speak my language, they’d retreat into the house if I tried to approach. I could tell which houses the newcomers were in. They all had gardens. I stopped to count. Six houses left with original owners.

An cargo truck was parked outside a newcomer house at the other end of the block. Soldiers carried boxes and bags of food to the house. I slowed my pace and watched. The truck stopped at every newcomer house. At the Wilson’s old place I could see bags of rice, beans and boxes of canned goods and fresh vegetables, even some butcher paper wrapped meat. My stomach growled again.

When the Sergeant looked my way I bowed. He frowned. I went up my front walk and opened the door. His crew came back to the truck and delivered food to the house across the street. I shut the door and hung my shopping bag on the hook in the front hall. Are they getting food because they’re from the conquering country or because they’re cooperating by growing food?

I went out to the garden shed. Like any gardener, I had a lot of seed out there. I looked through the packets; some of it was pretty old. I dug out my seed starter trays, filled them with the last of my starter soil and wet it down. I planted one whole tray with cabbage. It was too late for pumpkin but the acorn squash might mature before the next hard frost. Those went into another tray. I held the Swiss Chard packet in my hand. This stuff could go directly in the ground and it over wintered. I put that one aside. It went that way until I ran out of trays. I pulled my tiller out of the shed and peeked into the gas reservoir. Half a tank. There was about three quarters of a can of gas. I filled the tiller tank and pulled the cord. It started right up.

It took three days to clear the sod. I noticed the new neighbors watching. The third day I even had a brief nod from the new missus over there. The Swiss Chard was the first thing I put in. Then my remaining summer lettuce seed, herbs, cucumbers, and anything that had a chance to mature before winter.

The next month the supply truck stopped at my house. I bowed to the Sergeant. He nodded back and made a check on his clipboard.

The End

998 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: Defiance

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com

Jennie stood in the middle of a gaggle of High School graduates watching her classmates. They were hugging their parents, getting photos taken; many of the girls had plastic wrapped bouquets in hand. Her white cap slid from her head in the warm June breeze. She unzipped her gown and took it off. No one was going to take her picture and it was too hot anyway.

Her Celtic dragon tattoo glowed green and gold in the sunlight. Missy Chamber’s mom scowled when she saw it over Missy’s shoulder as they hugged. Little did she know Missy had a tat on her left butt cheek, a tiny pair of pursed lips. “So my Mom can kiss my ass,” she told Jennie the night she got it. That was during winter break, right after Jennie had the dragon done.

“What about your parents, aren’t they going to be mad?”

“What do I care,” Missy hiccupped. They were drinking Colt 45 from brown paper bags in the park in the center of town. Jennie had hooked them out of the fridge. Her parents had been drinking since mid-afternoon, they’d never miss the two beers.

As she walked to the door of the school, she passed Carl Chu. His parents had given him a new Porsche for graduation. He winked at her as she passed by. They’d dated briefly last year, a fling on the wrong side of the tracks for him. He’d invited her to his house a few times, his parents watching her every second, afraid she’d steal something. It didn’t matter. As soon as she’d put out a few times the challenge was gone and he’d dropped her over summer vacation.

Her father had backhanded her across the room when he found out. Her mother took her to the clinic to have the baby aborted. She complained to every nurse and doctor about how Jennie was a big disappointment. On the way home her mother told her, “Don’t come begging for a second chance. This was it. Next time get the bum who got you knocked-up to pay for the clinic.”

Jennie kept quiet. You’re no prize either. But she held her tongue. Her mother could hit like a line backer.

In the hallway leading to the classroom where they were to drop off the caps and gowns, she passed a clot of girls surrounding Emily Little. She’d just gotten her acceptance letter to Brown. Jennie remembered going to grade school with Emily. They played together on the playground; Emily too shy to play with anyone else. She was smart then, Jennie remembered. No wonder she’s the class Valedictorian.

Emily nodded to her so she nodded back. Jennie was barely past the group when the whispering began. “Her parents didn’t come.” “Did you know her parents are drunk every night?” “My Dad had her father as a client in a domestic violence case.”

Jennie stood up straighter. She knew the girl’s lawyer father. He tried to pick her up every Saturday night at the diner where she waitressed. What would she think if she knew about her perv father.

She turned in the cap and gown, taking the tassel off and tucking it into her short shorts pocket. At least she’d graduated. That was a miracle in itself. Her parents called her stupid, looser, waste of space, every day of her life. Jennie ground her teeth together. Two years ago she’d retorted, “Takes one to know one.” Her father knocked her across the room and broke her arm and three ribs. Since then she’d said as little to them as possible and stayed out of the house as much as she could.

Andy Coulter stopped her in the hall as she neared the exit. “Hi, Jennie.”

Angry about the girls and her parents, she almost blew by him. She knew he had a crush on her, after all, she was pretty good looking, why shouldn’t he? So she stopped. “Andy.”

He blushed. “Uh, you going to a party or anything?”

“Nah,” she stuck her hands in the pockets and shot out her left hip. “Too lame.”

“Yeah,” he stuttered. “Lame.” His eyes darted around the now bare hallway; all of the posters and announcement sheets had already been removed by the janitors. “You going to college in the fall?”

Jennie stood up. “No.” She swallowed. “Couldn’t decide where to go.”

“Oh,” his face fell. “I got accepted to Ridgeway. Maybe get a degree in electrical engineering.”

“I heard Ridgeway’s good.” Jennie was glad for him but it ticked her off that she would be staying in this dead end town, working for crap wages and tips.

His face brightened. “Maybe you can go to the Community College. It would give you the basics while you figure out where you want to go.”

Jennie dug her fingernails into her palms. “Maybe. Look, I gotta go home and get ready for work.”

“Sure, Jennie. See ya.”

She moved past him to the door. “Yeah, see ya.”

She fumed all the way home. Community College, wh’s gonna pay for that? Not her. Not unless she got a better job. When she came in the front door her parents were in their recliners, beers in hand and cans on the floor watching a movie they’d seen a million times.

Her father called out. “So, you’re graduated?”

“Yeah.” She inched toward the stairs to go to her bedroom.

“Don’t go thinkin’ you’re better’n us. You’re still a stupid twit who’ll never amount to shit.”

She raced up the stairs. Oh, yeah? Andy’s comment about the Community College leapt to mind. I’ll see about that. She threw on her diner uniform and left the house. She had just enough time to run over to the college before work.

 

 

The End

962 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: Where Do Babies Come From

Betty holding a leaf on the patio. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Betty holding a leaf on the patio. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Last December I did a writing exercise where I was not to say who was doing the talking, in other words, write a short story with no dialog tags, or other ‘stage’ direction. I thought it came out pretty well but in the interest of easier reading, I’ve added dialog tags and other emotional direction.

Where Do Babies Come From

I was dashing around the kitchen in the usual after work way getting chicken ready for dinner when my daughter, Brittany, looked up from her coloring book at the kitchen table. “Amanda says babies come from mommy’s tummy’s. Is that true?”

The plate of chicken nearly slipped out of my hands. Amanda is a cute little girl but her parents keep her a little too well informed. I swallowed. “Well, that is true.”

Her favorite red-orange crayon hovered over the coloring book page. “How do they get in a mommy’s tummy?”

Now? I’m having this conversation now with a seven year old? I glanced at the clock; my husband wasn’t going to be home for at least another half hour.  “Well. Um, first; mommy’s and daddy’s fall in love.”

Her grey-blue eyes drilled into me. “And then they get a baby?”

I started to sweat. “No, not exactly.” I put the plate of chicken thighs down, washed my hands then walked over to the table. “Mommy’s and Daddy’s love each other. Then, when they think the time is right, when they have a lot of love, so much love that they have extra, then they make a baby.”

She nodded, her little face clearly rolling that information around in her head. “Do they use modeling clay? We made little people in art class out of modeling clay.”

“Noooo, not exactly.” Under my breath I muttered, “I should have bought that, How a Baby is Born, book.”

“What? You need a book to make babies?”

Why can she hear that and not hear me when I tell her it’s time for bed? “Uh, yes. I can show you pictures. How’s that? I’ll get a book that tells you all about how babies are born.”

She shrugged. “OK. Can I have a cookie?”

 

The End

302 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

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

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: Out of the Ashes

Phoenix by FleetingEmber via www.deviantart.com

Phoenix by FleetingEmber via www.deviantart.com

On June 6th, Chuck Wendig issued a challenge, http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/06/06/flash-fiction-challenge-rise-of-the-phoenix/. Write a flash story that in some way relates to the fabled Phoenix of legend. Here’s my take. Click on the link and view the blog comments to see what other authors have done with the story. I think you’ll like them.

Out of the Ashes

“This tower is on the top of an extinct volcano,” the fire tower keeper, Brigette, explained to the group of nine 4-H members and their leader.

The kids ooh’d and eyebrows went up as mouths fell open.

One girl asked, “Will the volcano erupt again?”

Brigette shook her head. “The region has quieted. There probably won’t be another volcano here, ever.”

The kids looked reassured. That was just before the ground rumbled and the tower began to sway.

“What the…” she started to swear but thought better of it with all the kids around. What’s going on? This area is seismically stable. “Get down the ladder,” she yelled as the radios began to slide across the table and the humming bird feeders swung wildly in the air.

Kids ran down the ladder, the 4-H leader encouraging the ones who were frozen with fear.

“Let’s go sweetie.” Brigette took the hand of a little boy who was staring, wide-eyed. “Come on, we need to get down the stairs.” She pulled him toward the hole in the tower floor. The sound of the descending Leader and children echoed up the industrial steel steps.

They were half way down the tower when she saw her house begin to crumble. The ground was shaking and the kids already on the ground screamed. Brigette saw several of them fall. The tower swayed over her. “Let’s go, kid.” He latched onto the hand rail and wouldn’t move.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled. They had to hurry; she didn’t know how much longer the tower would stand in all the shaking. She half carried, half dragged the boy down three more circles of the stairs, the tower creaking from every rivet joint. Brigette dragged him to the Leader and turned to watch her house. The roof was caving in, the walls were tipping into the middle of the house. Boards snapped, glass shattered and the collapsing walls and roof roared. A huge cloud of dust rose over the house.

The Leader was piling kids into the mini-van. “Get in,” she said. “I’ll drive us down the mountain.”

Brigette shook her head. “No, my car seems fine. You go. I’ll be right behind you.”

The Leader shrugged and jumped into the car. “Buckle up everyone.” She did a three-point turn in the van and raced along the dirt road, dirt from her tires fountained into the air. Brigette raced to her car. At the door, she realized there was more to the noise of the house collapsing than just the wood and the glass.

She stared at the house. Is that roaring? Brigette opened the car door, the ding, ding, ding of the keys in the ignition alarm could hardly be heard. It looked like the house was trying to stand back up. “What…?”

As she watched, debris rose up and slid away from the house. A claw, the size of bus came out of the middle, shoving bits of wall and plaster out of the hole, then another, followed by a beak. Brigette blinked. A head poked up covered in red and gold feathers. It screeched as it pulled itself out of the ruin. As the sunlight hit the feathers, they began to light; waves of fire covered the monstrous bird.  A bit of egg shell flared into flame and fell off of the bird’s body.

Brigette got in the car and turned the key. The engine turned over and the bird turned its black eyes toward the noise. It screamed again. Chills ran down her spine as she shoved the gear shift into drive. “Holy crap,” she whispered as the giant bird spread its wings over the remains of her house. It flapped once, twice, screeching each time. Heat washed over her.

She sped out of the gate and followed the dirt road down the mountain as fast as she could negotiate the hairpin turns. At the nearest Forest Service office she tried to make a report. They were too busy. The area she’d just left was enveloped in forest fire. On the TV, there were reports of a giant bird flying overhead.

A reporter was interviewing an ornithologist from the University. “It’s a Phoenix,” he told the camera.

“But those are a myth,” the reporter said.

“Apparently not. From the maps, it appears that the bird has risen from an ancient volcano. That would seem appropriate, given its fire background.”

Brigette stared. A Phoenix? The whole southwest is going to burn. She grabbed a Ranger, “The TV says it’s a Phoenix. Look!” She pointed at the television. Pictures of the beast were being shown as people took pictures of it from the ground. Later in the day Emergency Defense offices opened. People were told to evacuate. The Governor appeared on TV during a phone call to the President. Aid in the form of the Air Force and Emergency Management was promised.

The next day there were reports of other Phoenix’ arising from extinct and dormant volcanoes around the world. It was now an International emergency. With only the clothes on her back, Brigette drove to Nebraska; an old college friend lived there, far away from any volcanic activity.

A year later, people huddled in caves or collapsed stone buildings, the land around them burnt and blasted. Brigette and her friend had joined forces with a few other survivors. They had a garden started and life was settling in. They learned to set snares for rabbits, no one wanted to be outside where a Phoenix, high in the sky, could see them and swoop down. The Phoenix were excellent hunters, people didn’t roam too far away from stone shelters.

One of the survivors told a child. “We thought they were a fable, a myth. They rise from the ashes, we were taught.”

Brigette stirred the communal pot of soup. “I wish they’d go back to the ashes.”

 

The End

998 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: Hell

Hell by graph93 via www.deviantart.com

Hell by graph93 via www.deviantart.com

http://graph93.deviantart.com/art/Hell-2161159

The prompt was Hell. Write anything as long hell was mentioned. This came to mind.

HELL

I never meant it to happen.  It was an accident, a mistake, and I’m sorry, I really am. It doesn’t matter though, I’m here now and there’s no going back. Regret is its own special kind of hell, isn’t it? All of the major religions tell us that hell is waiting for sinners. I was never much of a believer. Sunday was my day to go hiking, to sleep in, anything but go to church.

All of those church-goers, looking down their noses at me, judging, whispering behind their hands, what do they know about it? Yeah, I was only seventeen but weren’t they kids once? They never made a mistake? I gave the baby up for adoption. It seemed like the best thing to do. The adoptive parents were nice, the baby would be better off with them.

College was a drag because I had to work, too. I got off work at the local megamart at midnight. Of course it was raining. By the time I got to my car I was soaking wet. I wanted to get home, get warm and dry and go to bed. Class was at eight in the morning. Who the hell schedules college classes for eight? A sadist, that’s who.

The roads were flooded and I was trying to avoid the worst of the water, squinting against the glare of lights through the rain and off of the puddles. The wipers could barely keep up, even on high. I couldn’t have been doing more than twenty miles per hour.

The other guy though was going a lot faster. How do I know? He’s here too, for killing me. He’s apologized a hundred times at least for being drunk, for driving so fast, for not letting the bartender call him a cab. That doesn’t matter either. I’m here, along with my regrets. Would I have repented, given enough time? I don’t know. It just seems unfair that I’m here because I was an unwed mother.

The End

332 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: The Djinn and the Orphan

Genies Simon by sweetpoison67 via www.sweetpoison67.deviantart.com

Genies Simon by sweetpoison67 via www.sweetpoison67.deviantart.com

banner_sweetpoison_deviantart_by_sweetpoison67-d37avpp

This story is from the Chuck Wendig (www.terribleminds.com) flash fiction challenge of 3/28/14. We were given 10 random words and were directed to choose any five and write a 1000 words or less. The words: Whalebone, Foxglove, Djinn, Orphan, Lollipop, Casket, Hermit, Hound, Acid and Topaz. I actually used 6 just because it made sense to my story. Check out this post: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/03/28/flash-fiction-challenge-five-random-words-2/ to see all of the other responses to this writing prompt.

The Djinn and the Orphan

Emil walked along the beach looking for treasures. He’d already found a whalebone that he could sell to the carvers in the market. That would pay the street gang to leave him in peace on his tiny bit of street at night. He hoped he could find something else that would buy him a few meals too.

A mile along the beach he saw something sparkle. Using a clam shell he dug it out of the sand. It was a glass bottle, with the stopper still in place. A quick examination showed it was not cracked or chipped. What a lucky day!

He pulled the stopper and was knocked to the ground by a blast of air and smoke. When the air cleared, there was a huge man standing on the beach in front of him. Emil shrank back, large men were usually mean.

“Greetings young master,” the man bowed low. “How may I serve you?

Emil had to think. Generally large men served only hits and kicks. He crabbed backward and then stood up, poised to run. “Who are you?”

The man straightened. “I’m Abdul, the Djinn of the bottle you hold. I offer you three wishes for setting me free.”

Emil blinked. He’d heard tales in the marketplace about the djinn. He remembered they were tricky. “Oh great djinn, I’d like a hound.”

The djinn cocked an eyebrow. “Why a hound, young master.” His deep voice sounded like thunder.

“I’m an orphan and the hound will protect me and keep me warm at night on the street.” Emil dug a foot into the sand to help him push off into a run if needed.

“Fair enough, young master.” The djinn waved his hand and at Emil’s feet sat a massive hound. It gave Emil’s leg a lick and submitted his head for Emil to scratch behind its ears.

Filled with wonder, the orphan petted the hound. This seemed to be working out well. He ventured another wish. “Great one, I’d like a casket of topaz.”

Again the djinn waved and at Emil’s feet was a casket, one by two feet, lid open, topaz of every shade of yellow sparkling in the sun. Emil looked around the beach, no one was near. He bent over and snapped the lid closed before anyone chould see. He tucked it under his arm. This was a windfall that would support him for a very long time.

“Great Djinn, does the hound have a name?”

“That is for you to decide, young master.”

“I shall call him, Aslan, for he came to me out of the sky.” Emil gathered his courage for the next question. “I am Emil. And what is your name, Great Djinn?”

The djinn bowed, low. “Very courteous, young master. I was known as Khan, in my youth.”

“Sir Khan, what is the custom when it comes to the third wish?”

The djinn shrugged. “Some ask for even more wealth. Some wish for fine houses. Some,” he arched his eyebrow, ask to rule the world.”

It was Emil’s turn to cock an eyebrow. Ruling the world seemed a bit greedy to him. It would be nice to have a house and servants though. It was dangerous on the street all alone. He thought back to the storyteller’s tales about this problem. The third wish was the trickiest.

“Great Djinn, I am but a poor orphan boy.” He reached out to pet Aslan. “It would be nice if I had a home and servants and a teacher so that I could grow up to be a fine and wealthy man. If you were me, what would you wish for to achieve that great goal?”

The djinn clapped his hands together, making a loud thunderclap. “Well asked, young master. I can make that happen if you allow me.”

Emil swallowed, this could end horribly for him if the djinn was evil. He tucked the chest of topaz under his arm more securely. “What happens to you when you grant the third wish?”

A look of surprise crossed the djinn’s face. “No one has ever asked that.” He shrugged. “I go back to the bottle until the next finder.”

“That doesn’t seem fair. How can you be freed from the curse of the bottle?”

The djinn narrowed his eyes and stared at Emil. “The bottle must be broken. Then I will be free. But it must be broken before the third wish, otherwise I am returned to the bottle for another hundred years.”

This was a hard choice indeed for Emil. He really wanted that house. The hound began to chew on the whalebone. Emil moved it away from the dog. He could still sell it. The djinn waited patiently, huge arms crossed.

“I have enough, Great Khan. Break the bottle.”

The djinn’s arms fell to his sides. He blinked. After a moment he told the boy, “You must break the bottle, young master.”

Emil nodded. He walked down the beach to find a rock. He came back to the djinn and Aslan and put the bottle on the whalebone. With all his strength, he brought the rock down on the bottle. It scattered in a hundred multi-colored pieces. The djinn sank to his knees and wept.

Emil put the casket down and sat on it. Aslan laid his head in the boy’s lap for more petting. When Khan stood up, he bowed deeply to the boy. “I am grateful, Emil. I have been prisoner for many centuries. Now, I will help you. I will be your guide and protector.”

“Thank you, Khan, but I’d rather have a friend.” He held out his hand.

Khan stood and shook with the boy. “To friendship.”

They lived long and prosperous lives ever after.

The End

958 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr

Flash Fiction Friday: A New Life

I wrote the following story in December as a writing exercise. Many thanks for fellow author J.A. Marlow for her support during that class. You can see her blog here: http://jamarlow.com/

A New Life

A sleek, black town car pulled up to the curb across the street. A tall white woman, sandy blonde hair pulled to the back of her head in a French twist, got out of the back right door.  Settling her patent leather handbag in the crook of her arm with leather gloved hands; she turned to her right and began a quick walk along the sidewalk. A woman sat on a sheet of cardboard against the front wall of the haberdashery. She pulled her crocheted knit cap down to cover her ears. The raveling yarn of the hat made a hole where graying black hair showed through.

A torn piece of cardboard with the words, Please Help, scrawled on it lay in front of her crossed legs, held down with two broken pieces of brick. The woman in the mink stopped, bent down, and dropped a folded bill into the red plastic can. She stood and walked quickly to the 5 star restaurant a quarter block away. She looked up the street as she opened the door and a rush of warm air stirred the fine hair around her face. The woman on the cardboard nodded and she went inside.

Two hours later, the woman in the mink left the restaurant. Her town car was parked up the block, the only available parking space. The knit cap woman was standing, arms wrapped around herself, shifting from foot to foot. She saw two men, three day old beards shadowing their faces, lurking in the alley and peeking around the corner to the sidewalk. At two in the afternoon, foot traffic along the block was thin. People were at work or in the stores. She stopped shifting when she saw her benefactor walking toward her, face down out of the cold wind.

She hesitated. She’d been attacked before and hospitalized for days with a broken arm, broken ribs and a concussion. The men looked mean, and desperate. Junkies, she thought, as she saw how thin they were. They wouldn’t like her interference. Her benefactor grew nearer. If she didn’t do something, the two men, whispering and pointing around the side of the building would attack the woman.

She stepped out to the middle of the sidewalk. The men glared at her. The woman in mink was getting closer. The beggar saw the older woman slow down. The men pushed at each other and pointed at her. Her heart rate skyrocketed. Would they come after her? The well dressed woman approached the alley corner. She had to do something fast. The men shook their fists. She turned around to look behind her. The men couldn’t see what she was looking at.

“Cops comin’,” she hissed.

The men froze. She turned around to face them. “Cops!” One of the men punched the other in the arm. They turned to run, knocking over a pile of crates in their hurry. They were out of sight down the alley when the well dressed woman passed the edge of the building. She turned to look at the noise.

She sighed and walked the last 10 feet to her savior. She held out a hand. “Thank you.”

The older woman hesitated. People rarely talked to her. They never shook hands. She reached out her right hand tentatively. The woman took it with both of hers. “You saved me from a mugging, maybe saved my life.” She stepped forward and hugged the older woman.

“My name is Elaine Manking. What’s your name?”

She didn’t know what to do. “Uh, Mitzy. Mitzy Polanski.”

“Ms. Polanski, may I ask why you’re on the street? Do you live out here?”

Mitzy thought that was too personal a question. She backed up a step.

“I’m sorry. I’ve distressed you. I didn’t mean to be so nosy. I just wanted to know if I can help. Do you need a job?”

Mitzy edged her way back to her coffee can. “I could use work.” She broke down her barriers enough to admit, “I left my husband. It’s hard to get a job if you don’t have a place to live.”

Elaine nodded. “I think I can help. Would you be willing to come with me?”

Since escaping her drunken, brutal husband, no one had offered any help at all. Mitzy stared, trust in the kindness of strangers was long gone. “Where to?”

“My apartment. You’ve saved my life, I need to repay it. You can stay in my guest bedroom. We’ll get you set up, new clothes, a job, an apartment. It’s the least I can do.”

Mitzy nodded. “Fair enough.” She thought for a moment. “Your husband going to be OK with this?”

Elaine smiled. “He will be once I explain.” She held out her hand. “Come, the car is just up the block. Let’s get out of this cold wind.”

Mitzy picked up the can and tucked it under her arm. She picked up the cardboard and brick and tossed them into the dumpster in the alley. “I’m ready,” she said.

They walked to the car and got in. A new life was waiting.

 

 

The End

852 Words

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

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr
Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblr