FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - May 2017

Writing challenges, flash fiction, interesting anecdotes, amusements, and general miscellanea.

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Post August 07, 2016, 05:20:23 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Darcy and Annabel’s Story

Liz Milne

Darcy was a poet, he felt, a poet in his very soul. He wrote poetically, it is true, but always subjectively. His subject was himself and he was excessively fond of his subject.

The problem with finding yourself to be the most satisfactory person that you know is that it leaves very little room for constructive criticism, which might lead to improvement and growth. Without improvement and growth… Well, suffice it to say that Darcy was not as great a poet as he fondly imagined himself to be, but no one ever told him that. An enormous propensity to sulking ensured that.

So: Darcy, a bad poet who is unlikely to improve but who insists on reading his bad poems to his friends and family at every opportunity, taking their noncommittal praise for mere ignorance.

But then, one day, Darcy fell in love.

This episode of falling in love was abrupt and immediate. Darcy saw Annabel behind the counter at his local coffee shop and was smitten. She was perfection. She was tall, slim and blonde with just the right amount of excess bosom offset by large guileless blue eyes. Annabel on her part saw a slim young man – not much to look at, in truth – with bleached-blue hair topped by a well-used beanie. His slightly ragged jeans were en pointe, fashion-wise, and the instant sparkle in his eyes on seeing her was flattering. She made his peppermint soy cappuccino as slowly as she could, smiling at him often as she worked. By the time she handed over his drink, awkwardly slopping foam into the saucer because she tried to ‘accidentally’ touch his hand, they felt like friends. He waved aside her apologies and offers to make a fresh drink, not wanting to seem like a jerk. Inside, he was annoyed. He liked his coffee to be perfect and it wasn’t his fault that she was so overcome with his proximity that she became careless at her work…

He stayed in the coffee shop until the end of her shift, then left, timing his table tidying activities so as to step out of the coffee shop just after her. He struck up a conversation and she smiled, still drawn to his initial charisma. However, by the time they reached her car – and his, coincidentally they were both parked in the same car park, although at different sides – she had gone off him.

Every time she tried to tell Darcy about herself, her job or her family, he listened with barely disguised ennui, before, after an occasional token acknowledgement, turning the subject to himself, his job or his family. At first she tried to tell herself that it was simply his enthusiasm to impress her, but even that allowance had its limitations and Annabel quickly determined to waste no more time on him. Taking out her car keys, she unlocked the door and turned to him,

‘Well, it was nice to meet you, but I have to go now.’

‘But, I was just about to tell you about the time I saved my friend’s life. We were all high – never mix cocaine and speed, FYI – and he decided that he wanted to climb th-’

‘I can’t abide people who take drugs.’

‘Oh, me too. I don’t any more. Anyway, he-’

‘I have to go.’

‘No, wait…’

‘I have to go now.’

Without conscious thought, Darcy put his hand out to grasp her arm.

‘Let go of me! How dare you! HELP!’

Instead of letting go, he pulled her closer and put his other hand over her mouth to block the screams.

The next thing he knew, he was driving home, the limp figure of Annabel in the back seat. He had positioned her to look as though she was sleeping, and draped a blanket over her cosily. No one saw him and he made it to his small, ground-floor apartment without incident. He carried Annabel inside and lay her carefully on the small, two-seater sofa.

He sat, looking at her for hours, marvelling at her clear, blemish-free skin, the delicate tracery of veins on her eyelids and the sensual curve of philtrum into lip. What was it about her appearance that drew him to her, he wondered, as her mind was so clearly inferior.

He must explore this idea further, dissect it so to speak, so that he could write beautiful poetry about it.

Carefully, delicately, he raised the scalpel and began.

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:22:00 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Limerick Lover

Meg Sefton

The flight crew aboard the transatlantic to London gathered in the meal prep area, as their duties permitted, to discuss the singular passenger on board with them, a passenger who, once more, brought with him his own weather system, who flirted incessantly with the young, blond, beautiful Cecily Dumarks, reciting various bad limericks in an impassioned plea, grasping her hands in his, his hands cold and trembling like wrecked jellyfish along the shore. His name? Felonious Pebblesong.

So a few of the crew are gathered since tucking the passengers away for their long transatlantic naps when, like clockwork, Mr. Pebblesong extended his clammy white tentacle, mashing the overhead button for cabin service. All the other passengers were asleep or buried in their books and only the crew witnessed the fog bank setting in and whisps of the cool, damp, cloudy stuff floating through the cabin, dank with the smell of it.

When Jakes Stirstraw, one of the male crew, tried to answer the gentleman’s summons he was immediately rebuffed and told only his “friend” Miss Dumarks would do. The crew decided Cecily would go in as requested, but she would tie a rope to her waist. Last time she fell into a cloud bank with this man and the crew hadn’t noticed. It wasn’t until a few forced kisses and tears later that Cecily was finally retrieved from the limerick lover’s assault.

Cecily approached. “Yes, Mr. Pepplesong?”

The enraptured passenger smiled at her, his dark eyes wet with pleasure and joy, his skin white as paper in contrast to his dark fedora. “Let me have your hand, my dear.” She held out a small delicate paw.

“Ah yes,” he said. “I remember this sweet hand, so fine, so warm.”

Cecily began to tremble despite being able to rely on the S.O.S. “What can I get for you, Mr. Pebblesong?”

Mr. Pebblesong, practically singing, practically thrumming, poured forth: “There was an old man of Shalott whose love had given him the hots, so away with her he ran til they put him in the can, oh that poor old man of Shalott!”

Cecily began to tug hard at the rope but she got no response.

He pressed on: “There was a beauty of Calcutta who loved me since the day that I met her, so I gave her a ring to add to her bling, oh what a lucky gal from Calcutta!”

“You have to let me go, Mr. Pebblesong.” But the tin-eared bard was sucking her in, pulling her onto his lap. He was about to sucker kiss her when she saw a packet in the seatback pocket: “In case of an attack by a limerick lover, break pack.” Gratefully, she burst open the limerick lover emergency pack and extracted a perfect retort. She laid it on the lap of the shocked and crestfallen Mr. Pebblesong and made her escape:

“Good luck with your trip cross the pond. Of you I never was fond. But you’ll be home soon, and stay there marooned, no love after your trip cross the pond.”

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:22:49 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

The Wayward Poet

Chadden Basnik

Finnick watched the man, Crowley, scribbling words onto the floor with a stubby marker. The walls were a body of work that encompassed volumes of words.

“It is some of the worst poetry I’ve ever read,” Martin chuckled.

“You’ve read it? He allowed you in?”

“Well, no. He was sedated.”

“I see.” Finnick rubbed his hand along his jaw. “Has he let anyone in since he arrived?”

“Not that I know of. His doctor either speaks with him from here or uses tranquilizers. He’ll stick his arm out for blood work, medication, to grab a food tray. He really only becomes unhinged when someone tries to enter.”

“Why; do you know?”

“He thinks they’ll steal his words.”

“How strange.”

On the wall opposite the door, Finnick could see two lines written larger than the rest:
I painted her with blood/Gave her personhood. Martin was right, this was awful, just awful.

“You do know his story; don’t you?” Martin asked.

“No, not really.”

“He turned a machine.”

“What does that mean?”

“It was a machine and then it was...well, it was one of us.”

“That’s not even possible. Do they have it? Has anyone seen it?”

“I hear it was destroyed.”

“By whom?”

“The church. The government. Who knows.”

Finnick was intrigued. “May I have a go at it?”

“Be my guest,” said Martin. “He may not speak with you. He’s unpredictable in that regard.”

Finnick knocked on the glass as Martin walked down the hall, screen in hand, monitoring the other patients.
“Hello in there. My name is Finnick. I’m a writer too, a journalist actually.”

There was no reply. The man was sprawled on the floor in blue scrubs and matching cloth boots. His hair hung about his ears and just above his eyes. It was dark with a sweaty slick look that showed patches of mottled skin.

Finnick came here for a story. He wanted to know the series of events that would lead a person to the Wayward Asylum. This, however, felt like a jackpot.

“You created something,” Finnick said.

“I created a woman.” The flat voice floated up to Finnick but the face remained concentrating on the words being written on the floor.

Finnick could make out a couple of lines: Open up the coffin lid/In my body slid.

“Sometimes we must step over the edge, break boundaries,” Finnick remarked. He was in pursuit of the man’s justification, hoping that would be a roadmap in.

Crowley looked up, appeared interested. He popped to standing and jumped to the window of the door. “They’re trying to get my brain to work, but I just want the mating to commence.”

Finnick felt unease at Crowley staring into his face and because that was really creepy.

“I thought perhaps you’d explain to me what happened, tell me about her, tell me your story.”

“Archipelago,” he said and began to walk around the room with his hands clasped behind his back. His mind remained a self-imposed lockout.

“She may still be alive,” Finnick coaxed. “Archipelago, that’s her name; right?”

“Will you bring her to me?” Crowley's face look tortured.

“I can’t find her unless you help. Tell me about her.”

“It will seem far fetched to the uneducated,” Crowley stated.

This was not going to be easy, but at least getting him to talk was. The one thing Finnick became sure of was that he needed to get into the room and read the walls, that would be the key to unlocking this mystery. He departed when Martin appeared to escort him out, but he returned with regularity.

A month later when Finnick arrived, Crowley allowed him to enter. He sat stiffly upright on his bed, motionless. His eyes stared off without expression. Finnick heard the hiss and click of the door as it closed and locked. He was alone with Crowley. His hands were shaky. He broke rules as well as personal protocol and lit a cigarette. He placed it between his lips and inhaled. The smoke exited his nostrils. The situation was a precarious one. This could go either way, he thought as he looked around at the fragments that floated from one wall to another, words in a multitude of colors and sizes. Through those words, that God-awful poetry, Crowley’s inner longing and craziness was visible from ceiling to floor.

“I’m beginning to believe.” Finnick said. He removed the recorder from his pocket.

Crowley lowered his head until his chin hit his breast bone. His shoulders shook. Finnick couldn’t tell if he was crying or laughing.

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:23:45 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

The Roaming Troll

Michele Dutcher

The human had been inside the florist shop for almost two minutes before he heard what seemed to be sad grunts. He pushed his way through the floral forest, the room being filled with a variety of beautiful flower arrangements, before ascertaining that the painful dirge must be coming from behind the counter.

“Oh roaming troll, Oh roaming troll. Wherefore art thou, roaming troll?” sighed a voice from behind the cash register.

“Excuse me,” said the human to whatever creature was lamenting behind it. There was a sudden flourish of activity before a male dwarf appeared, walking up a set of steps to look at the human standing there.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” the dwarf said looking up at the human who was still a foot taller than he was, even with the stepstool.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” the human, Tom, replied while smiling down on the short though sturdy dwarf. “You seem a little down.”

“Is that a crack about my height?” the dwarf fired back.

“Not at all, sir. You merely seem to be a little depressed. I couldn’t help but overhear your lament about a troll. I hope everything is okay.”

“Oh it’s fine. She just keeps running off. My true love is a beautiful troll, who lives under covered bridges, and she flitters here and flitters there and I never know where she is. I keep trying to tie her down with my poems of eternal love, but they don’t seem to be having much affect so far.”

“Trolls don’t like to be tied down – even I know that much,” agreed Tom. “But I’m sure your heart is in the right place…if you have a heart. I just moved here from Boston…dwarfs do have hearts, right?”

The proprietor of the shop crossed his arms and dug his bearded chin into his chest. “We have two of them, thank you very little!”

Tom couldn’t help but laugh. “You said ‘Thank you very little – because you’re a dwarf and you think being little is a good thing.”

The dwarf’s black eyes were practically on fire with spite. “Even humans from Boston have heard the phrase, ‘Good things come in small packages’.”

“Right you are! Right you are. I meant no disrespect,” answered Tom with a tiny bow of apology. “I came in looking to order floral arrangements for my next marriage…”

The dwarf cut him off with a huff. “How can you talk about getting married again when I’m standing right here in front of you and I shall never be married?”

It was becoming obvious the human would need to provide a little romance counseling if he was ever to get his flowers and be on his way. “Well, if poetry is your forte, let’s hear another poem.”

“Okay, I guess it can’t hurt.” The dwarf took a tiny pad of paper out of his back pocket, read it to himself and then nodded. He took a deep breath. “My heart bubbles with love, My gut bubbles with Fizz, Love is a beautiful thing, No matter how ugly it is.”

The human seemed doubtful. “The first part was heading in the right direction but the last of it somehow went astray with the whole ‘ugly’ thing.”

“I wrote that one after seeing a hedgehog and a mole making out in a Laundromat…oh my, ugly…”

“Yes. I can see your point…”

“…down right revolting…but it was love, none the less.”

“Yes, yes, ugly love. I see what you mean.” Tom took a moment to get back in the right frame of mind. “If you truly believe that being short is a good thing, you might want to build up that aspect of your personality in your poetry.”

The dwarf began to brighten a little. “It’s a thought,” he said, beginning to think. “How about this one: My message is clear, My love is true, I’ll never run short – on kisses for you.”

“That’s the spirit!” said the human. “Now about the flowers for my next wedding…”

The dwarf seemed to perk up with the thought of quoting better poetry to his true love, whenever she crawled out from whatever bridge she was under. “I’m more hopeful than I’ve been in quite a while, human.”

“My name is Tom.”

“So let me offer to supply your marriage with flowers, human, with my gratitude. Is this your second marriage then?”

“Let me put it this way,” said the human, standing tall as if to quote a beautiful poem. “Love can happen to anyone, Human or dwarf or elf. I’m a true believer in marriage – having been married six times myself.”

The heartsick dwarf took a swing at the human, hitting nothing but thin air before falling off his stepstool in a heap - and Tom grabbed a bouquet of daisies as he ran out the front door.

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:24:31 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Beware of the Half Truth: You may receive the Wrong Half...

Sergio Palumbo

Blonde of hair, 5’8” tall, of North-American birth, Brent had always considered himself to be a very handsome man. His job as an experienced steward aboard a starliner that travelled between Earth and other planets, transporting many wealthy customers every week to famous destinations in near space, had helped him make good use of the many opportunities he had to meet and date beautiful young women.

At first, he had already had many sexual experiences with all sorts of female humans who travelled to space colonies within the Solar System during his rookie years, and later on longer spaceflights bound to the nearest alien planets. At times he had experienced some quirky encounters but those had happened when he was very young and stupid. Out of all of those odd rendezvous, the one that he was most embarrassed about was a sexual fling that had occurred with a female multi-legged being from Ghiix. That incident had left him with some unpleasant consequences that he had only been able to heal from after a long treatment process.

But how could you miss a chance like that? Or how could he have passed on so many other delightful moments, even if some of them had almost caused him to lose his hands?

During one of these encounters he had lost a part of his ears, because – long story short - a hungry wondrous alien had thought they would be tasty after having sex with a human. His colleagues always told him he would never learn and maybe they were right. The fact was that he was made this way and he didn’t think he could ever change.

His past risqué behaviour had now brought him to his present problem. Some of his friends told Brent that he needed to forget about a particular alien female but he was certain they were wrong. He never listened to his friends anyways.

The object of his present obsession, with whom he had actually fallen in love, was a female alien from Frawe. Her features were hard to describe but simply put one might say that she looked like an Elf – one that a person might see in a picture from some ancient Fantasy videogames from Earth. Apart from her paper-white skin and those serpent-like pupils, that were certainly not of his world, she had all the traits you usually saw in such fabled creatures - at least the ones that appeared in games like WORC of WarRaft, or in the comedy version of Warriors of Might and Co(u)ld. His newest love was 8 feet tall, had extremely pointed ears, a slender yet strong long-legged body, greenish curls. The alien clothes she wore were transparent and allowed people to see much more than they should have, if a calm and restrained manner was to be maintained during the long spaceflight.

Brent knew he was obsessed, but how could he help it? Every time he thought of her delicate features, those unnatural beautiful eyes, and the noteworthy height of that female creature from Frawe, he could think of nothing else: it was true love.

Everything about her was so wonderful, even her alien voice was sensual and so beautiful to him! After a while, in his love madness, Brent started reciting brief pieces of poetry to her that he had taken from some Old Earth poems. He did this whenever he approached where she sat or brought her drinks or food according to the services offered aboard the space vessel. He always tried to use his best male voice, a deep masculine one, so he could attract her attention.

A couple of the phrases the man quoted were: “Once you have learned to love, You will have learned to live” and “The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart”. He repeated these lines every time he passed by her seat.

She usually replied in a kind way, and her speech appeared to be so soft, so attractive to him. Actually, it was not easy to understand what she meant, although he had tried many times, but he had never let any difference in languages impede his attempts to bed a woman before…

Things were even more difficult in this case, as the Frawe ethnic group she was from made her speak in her native dialect, which was different from the common language the rest of her species spoke. These were the times when you needed a universal translator, like on Star Trek ™, for example. But the simple fact was that such a thing hadn’t been invented yet!

So Brent was greatly surprised when he was told by another steward who had been stationed for some months on the Frawe home planet, to “Forget about her.”

“Why?” the man asked him in return.

The special dialect she spoke, the other explained, might make her words appear as sensual sounds, and the man had always taken them that way, but their meanings were not sensual. As a matter of fact, what the female alien kept trying to tell Brent was: “I really think you humans are like ugly Dwarves before the eyes of a female citizen from Frawe. Do you have in your Fantasy tales from Earth Dwarves dating Elves? We don’t - because this would be senseless.”

Those unkind words fell hard on Brent’s sad ears, and an unpleasant aftertaste was left in his mouth at the end of the translation. However, he could comfort himself by remembering a very ancient 3D movie on Earth, called “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ™”, that was the last one in the series and he remembered the love affair between an Elven warrioress named Tauriel, and a young warrior Dwarf, Kili. But that female Elf was not that alien, regretfully, and that lucky Dwarf was not him, by all means

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:25:21 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Bats of a Feather, Flock Together

George T. Philibin

“I just love to recite a poem before I bite the victim,” Vincent the vampire said.

“Okay, I give up—why do you like poetry,” Tudlow said, another vampire. They were walking together late one night in Pittsburgh, hugging the back alleys and river paths.

‘Oh, you know. You like fair maidens. You say their blood taste so sweet after you scare them for a few minutes. Well, I find that if I recite poetry, their blood mellows and becomes like an aged wine. I don’t drink wine much anymore, but the blood from a poetry-loving victim—well only a good connoisseur of wines like I used to be before becoming a vampire would know,” Vincent said.

“I’ll have to try it sometime,” Tudlow said.

Vincent started on another poem as they walked under the 10th avenue bridge.

Oh, to drink the blood of poetry
To taste its nectar and death
Boy, do I like a good O positive
But Rh negative is also a friend!.

“You and your poetry will be the un-dead of us,” Tudlow added.

“Let’s turn into bats and soar over to Carlson Street. This time of night the drunks are going home,” Vincent said.

The two vampires jumped up and transformed in bats. They started across the river and as they flew, Vincent just had to recite another poem.

Above I see, below I feed
Yes sir, I just love to see
lights to the East
Lights to the West
Maybe young maiden will be the test!

“I thought you didn’t care for young maidens?” Tudllow said.

“Oh, they’re Okay. Some really like poetry, but most just stare when I recite a poem. That’s no fun. I need them to interact and, well, tell me if they like my poem or not,” Vincent said.

“Are you serious? You expect them to tell you if they like your poem or not? That’s just weird,” Tudlow said.

‘Oh, I’ve gotten feedback,” Vincent said. “You’d be surprised how poetry calms a victim. Hell I had one victim say that she was going to publish my poem in her high school yearbook. I left her go.”

“As much as I hate to admit it, I believe that,” Tudlow said.

Vincent and Tublow landed on the other side of the Monogahela River. At the river front behind a large dumpster, two feet protruded out. Tudlow standing in front looked at Vincent.

“Remember the last time you tasted blood from a wino?” Vincent said. “ You tried to scare him first, then after he didn’t respond because he was too drunk to know what you were, you sank your fangs into his neck. After two swallows, you spit the blood out and barfed your stomach out for five minutes. Then the wino woke up and laughed at you so hard that his pants fell down. Then–and I’ll never forget this one–he said, ‘Can’t handle the hard stuff, can ya!’”

“Well, what the hell would you have done...recite him a poem!” Tudlow blasted out.

“The poems work better than scaring them. I’ve had much better success with poetry then scare tactics. Much better,” Vincent said.

To give poetry is to give like a fine wine
To read poetry is like a cured Cabernet Sauvignon
Yes, my friend, you would know these things.
But you were only a parking lot attendant before an un-dead!

“Will you knock that off! I was working my way through college. Really, we’ve been over this before-----give me a break,” Tudlow said.

They left the dumpster and walked down the river front. A few couples and some small groups were walking down the street for during the warm summer nights the river front became alive with people. A good hunting place for Vincent and Tudlow. After coming out of an alley and rounding a building, they started down James Street. There at the corner was a tall blond girl waiting, it seemed for a ride.

“Okay, let’s see you get that one with one of your poems,” Tudlow said.

“No problem. Just listen and learn,” Vincent replied.

Vincent walked up to the girl and she didn’t seen frighten or even concerned much.

Your hair, your eyes, your every look
Your heart I’m sure was wanted by all
You see, I’m just a poor helpless lad
And you, my dear, a helpless lass.

The Blond looked at Vincent and said, “What the hell you think you are? Batman? If you want to talk that stuff to me, I’ll cost you 100 hundred dollars? See? And tell your buddy over there he can join in for another fifty.”

Vincent just stared wildly. I’ll show you something you’ll pay for! Then the blond started opening up her blouse, but before she could get if fully open, a metal cross, bright with mirror like qualities that hung around her neck reflected itself to Vincent. The street lamp’s rays of light hit the cross and with the correct angle, its beams reflected into Vincent’s eyes as they shot off the cross!

Ahhhhh Vincent screamed. Tublow also backed up and almost tripped over the curb! Vincent hid his eyes from the cross, but with the blonds movements, flashes from the cross hit Vincent and Tublow’s eyes like wielding flashes when they looked.

“Don’t you two like girls or something!” the blond screamed.

Back down the alleyway the two vampires ran. They could hear this blond screaming: “I bet you two have a thing for each other. I bet you take baths together with rubber duckies and things like that!”

“Oh yes, poetry will calm the fair maiden,” Tublow said between laughs“You’ll see...they just love poetry!”

“Well-- if you had tried to scare that one, she’d have bitten you dead head off!” Vincent barked back.

“Well, if she tried that—I would just read her one of your poems!” Tublow shot back.

Silence! Let’s go back downtown. Better class of victims there!”

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:26:16 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Little Black Riding Hood: Wolf Slayer

Jim Statton

‘I'm a criminal profiler with the Temporal Police Force, an inter-dimensional law enforcement organization that travels through Earths timeline continuum, correcting incursions by interstellar beings. Our job, stop crimes before they happen and punish the perpetrators for what they intended to do.

My destination is Los Angeles in the year 2057. A serial killer is murdering gang bangers, pimps, thugs and drug dealers throughout the city and I'm sent to stop these murders from happening. Normally, I wouldn't care about preventing the proper disposal of human garbage, but it is known to us that the future grandson of one of the victims will become an influential world leader and so we've got to save the dirt bag for his semen contribution.

I've made the dimensional transport to the downtown district at the coordinates where the next murder is to take place. The city is decorated in cheap neon. You can hear the pain of human suffering in the distance. Periodic gunshots are heard; the faint sounds of screaming fill the night air. This is one huge garbage pale. I hate the scum that is out there.

I see a silhouette of a figure moving toward me. It's dark but after a few minutes I make out a black female, approximately 5' 6 wearing a black cape and hood, which conceals her identifying features. As she draws closer, I add one more thing to her description...she was drop dead gorgeous. I don't know why that phrase particularly comes to mind, but it seems fitting. She smiled at me as she passed. I was breathless - and aroused. I never gave black women a thought romantically speaking, but she possessed all of my thoughts for the time being.

I spied her walking into an unlit convenient store across the street. That seems odd.’

The action continues to takes place inside the store out of sight of the detective. He waits by the lamppost for her to exit.


She walks into the store’s darkness; a cigarette is lit in the far back of the room barely illuminating four men from its orange glow.

"Hey b-otch. Check out the fine bod sho-tee rockin' all dat ice." the first gang member said

"Oh no you did-n’t," the ebony beauty starred down the men without fear. She disrobes her hood and cape revealing herself to be a beautiful, full-breasted woman in a halter-top. She wore dark form fitting pants, which showed she had a bod for sex.

"If you a playa, den you got a piece. Let me see it," another gang member said leering at her. "Don't make me come an get it. I wouldn't mind strip searchin’ you bitch."

"Would ya like me to off ya," she looked at him sternly. "I'm not talkin' about what you think I’m talkin’ about,” she says with an attitude.

"Listen dawgs, she needs some schoolin'.

When the gangbanger was in arms reach, she moves her hand towards his pants. He did not see the sharp pocketknife she was holding.

A few seconds later, he screamed. One of the thugs shouted, “She cut off his member and threw it on the floor.”

As the gang bangers start to rush at her, she quickly grabs the gun from the bleeding thug’s back pocket and fired six shots killing the other three who were approaching her.

As blood pored from his jeans, he slid to the floor. She knelt beside him, running her fingers in his hair, twirling a strand around her index finger.

"Dare, dare my little man. I ain't mad atcha." The black beauty began to spout hip-hop poetry as he lay bleeding to death.

I got the goodies and you be da wolf, howling at the moon. Do ya want some of dis, do you want some of dis. You be off the meat hook dawg, lyin in my lap, your head in my lap. You off the chain, off the meter, no longer sweeter without the peter. So what you sayin' my man, you pants are saggin' no more dragon, You gonna get down, get loose, get buzy or is life gettin' fuzzy as it oozes out of you. I bang in my white tee, I slang in my white tee."

As he fades to death she whispered in his ear, "Little red riding hood was my sista. You knocked her up and she goes and offs herself. Die you mudder focker!"


The detective by the lamppost begins to walk slowly towards the store after hearing the shots a few moments earlier. Just as he is about twenty yards from the door the building explodes in a fiery ball of flames, debris lands everywhere for a city block. The detective is knocked to the ground by the blast. When he gains focus, he sees this same woman walking towards him out of the smoke that billowed around her. She lowers her hand to help him to his feet.

"What happened?" the detective asked.

"Nuthin' you should worry your pretty little head about sugar," she responded.

"You're the serial killer, aren't you?" the detective asked.

She moves her hands over his chest, her face close enough so he can feel her hot breath on the nape of his neck. "Your dark overcoat, hat and rubber soul shoes give you away baby.

A knife appeared and moments later she slowly pierces the skin cutting his throat from one ear to the other. As the detective falls down to the ground he cries out in a raspy voice, "Lady!"

She bends down and says in his ear, while playing with his hair, “Yes sugar."

He looked into her black eyes and said, "I'm not sure I like the way you flirt."

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:26:57 PM

The 'How do I Love Thee?' Challenge

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Play


Me thinks he's a bad poet, not merely a playwright; a play wrong often wrong on stage and in bed. I dare not foretell his impotent smile may give way to revealing of a more personal matter. His effeminate nature belies his sweet spirit for he is not as he seems. A greater story lies within this tale of switch and bait.

Anne, the secret love of the renowned poet and scribe, breezes into her boudoir. It is a room of burgundy and beige fabric that rustles as she passeth by, a design noting a house of great wealth, with a four-poster bed accenting the bedchamber.

Greeting her in a sleepy haze, a mug of ale in one hand and himself in the other is her intended, known to us as merely Will. Her intended of what you may ask? Of that, we will have to see.

Anne speaks upon her entrance. "So long a night my love and I seeth thou hath not bothered to clothe thyself... although I love thy fair skin, enough of a good thing will last me for some time to come."

Will sleeks towards the great beauty before him and says in the manliest of ways, "Thy many dresses are too small for my virile body. I protest, for thou sayest to me, that for a night of coupling, I might choose a gown for myself."

Anne, despairing of their impassioned pretense, states plainly for the bare bard, "You may have the frock dangling in the archway. And now, let us return to your play titled, 'Two Dead Teens Splattered on the Floor'. Me thinks the title needs work."

To hold his attention, Anne speaks to Will as if talking to a small dull child, "I shall rewrite this too if thou wilt get dressed in whatever attire and let us begin once more on the porch scene...wait, wait...let us call it the balcony scene. What saith thee?"

Having chosen an evening gown, Will stood in front of Anne with pouty lips and replied, "Doest thou think this gown maketh me appear...fat?"

Will was rarely interested in writing, for he only sought adulation on his finished rewrites.

Anne who wrote in his stead, toiling in anonymity, quietly quilled in silence. A woman was not looked upon favorably in this day when usurping what is considered a man's propriety and certainly never to write in distinction, except to pen a grocery list. However, it is known in the hearts of workingwomen everywhere, that in time, they will in fact rule the world. But for now, it is their lots in life to be submissive and for men to believe they themselves are superior. But steadily, the clock ticketh.

Bored with talk of writing, Will wanting to frolic, begs the question to his beloved Anne, "Shall we not forget writing for the day and allow me to pen thee something more arousing? I wonder if a game of, 'the porcupine and his concubine might be in order?"

"I do not need to be pricked so early in the morning,” Anne replied. "Thou hast a play to write and if not, a sonnet, for thou art in indebted to many establishments namely the local tavern and every brothel throughout England. They will not dance horizontally for free and thou knowest this. Now sit down with me and dream up the lameness which I must rewrite for thy reputation is at stake.

Hearing none of this, Will begins poking her bosom as if this was mutually satisfying. After a moment, she grabbed his hands and said loudly, "Nipples...are not buttons!"

To fawn upon Anne’s sympathies, Will woos her with impromptu poetry. "Thy perfumed body doeth not repulse me; in pain and simple ponderings I beckon thee to not merely flop in my arms, for thy smooth feminine body may slip through and falleth to the floor, not a befitting place for an adorned ladyhood..."

"Enough!" Anne screamed in response to his grating poetical meandering.

Exasperated, Anne walked over to Will. Getting on her knees and laying her head momentarily in his lap, she raised up to kiss him. He quickly places a hand on either side of her face and twists her head side to side in a playful psychotic manner. She abruptly jerks her head back and with a finger raised in a scolding position she exclaimed, "Ears...are not handles!"

After a moment, Anne gains her composure and saith to him, "Listen Will, imagine the softest, most loving touch you could ever give to a woman and then...taketh it down a few more notches."

His mind had already darted in another self-consuming direction. "I needeth a stage name. No one regardeth me upon hearing my name of birth.”

Upon that sentence, a servant walked in and spoke saying, "The latest reviews are in."

"What did they say of my play, 'The Mad Cow That Danceth in the Moonlight?’” Will sat anxious awaiting the verdict.

Anne looked puzzled and asked the bard, "You performed a play without letting me rewrite it first?"

Will said in a dither, "Yeah...he, he."

The servant regretfully responded, "The local critic has stated of your play 'The Mad Cow That Danceth in the Moonlight", "
That it was utterly without merit. The playwright milked the audience for laughter with every slight bit of punnery."

"I'm sorry Will. Do not be too despondent," Anne said seeking to console him.

Will ecstatically cried out, "Did you hear that! Did you hear that! There be my new name...Willford Playsucketh!"

Anne looks at Will with a blank expression on her face and then as if giving up, bore him her middle finger.

The End
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Post August 07, 2016, 05:27:44 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - ?

- Winner -

Ernie's Angel

N.J. Kailhofer

Ernie slowly, lovingly, ran his hand over the top of the hodgepodge Machine that filled most of the room. Deep down, he was certain. This will be the one. This one will make her love me.

Pulling his chemical goggles down, he threw caution to the wind. Charging across his small, run-down apartment to the hand-made keyboard, Ernie's gloved hand pressed enter.

Deep within the oversized black box at the heart of his ad-hoc mad-scientist laboratory, a piece of it scribed with the prettiest script font Ernie could find, and then rolled forward a piece of parchment. The cutter sliced the end off, and the selection tumbled out of the machine's chute into his trembling hands:

    She was for me
    Done and moody,
    Like an old, almost-past hemorrhoid.
    I stagger across the street,
    Still, I'm weeping:
    Angie peeing.
    Forsaken love in my Polaroid!

Ernie wailed in this thick, Jersey accent. "Gross, and it's bad poetry! I can't woo Angie with this!"

He started to wad the poem up, but then stopped. He thought, It was kind of about love... Syllable count was good, and it had rhymes in it. He wondered if he reworked the content matrix...

Ernie thought about his home in Neptune City, New Jersey, and was bound and determined that his town would be known for something other than giving birth to actor Jack Nicholson. They're gonna know my Machine. After it wins Angie over for me, the sky's the friggin' limit. Money, super-weapons... whatever. My Machine will make it. Together, we'll run the whole borough--like one of those mob couples in the movies.

The thought made him smile: Angie on his arm, wearing something skin tight and sexy, the mayor on his knees, giving him the keys to the town hall. He and Angie would live in the hall, together. He'd fix it up really pretty for her with his construction skills and his Machine. She'd be proud to live there, proud of him. Together, they'd teach those bums from Avon-by-the-Sea and Bradley Beach to not talk down to a guy from Neptune City.

The lights went out.

"Dammit," he muttered. "Not again." Construction work, his day job, was in short supply these days, and he hadn't paid his bill. Now he was going to have to sweet-talk old Mrs. Needleman across the hall to let him run an extension cord over. If only I didn't need that electric company.

The Machine, Ernie realized. It can make my own friggin' power source. He realized it wasn't the order he wanted to do everything in, but if he had no lights, Angie wouldn't be able to see his poem when he finally had the right one.


A knock interrupted. It was almost ready.

Through the peephole, he saw it was Angie. Black flowing hair. Brown eyes. Beautiful face. A body to kill for--and people say--without tan lines. Plus, she was wearing her low-cut Hooters uniform, praise be.

He pulled open the door as fast as he could.

"Hey, Ernie," she said. "Ya cousin Margie says I should stop in and see yous because you ain't been out in days and won't see nobody, and if anybody can get you out, it's me. Ya cousin's been like a sister to me, so here I am."

She smiled at him and he forgot how to talk. He gurgled in greeting, and gestured her into his apartment.

She looked at his mad scientist getup. "You goin' to a costume party? Oh, can I come? I'll go as a Hooter's girl." She let out a really long giggle.

She looked around his barely-lit apartment. ""Whassamatta, your lights ain't working, or something?"

"N-no," he finally managed. "I'm workin'... somethin' special. Gonna have... own power."

"How's that?"

"My Machine. It makes... stuff."

She looked around, not getting it. "All this crazy wiring and computers and sparky things, that's a machine?"

"The Machine." He nodded, wishing his words worked right.

"What kind of machine? What's it do?"

"Anything. Anything I tell it to do." Just then, the timing bell went off. "It's ready."

She stared at him blankly. "What is?"

"The power."

Ernie opened the door to the delivery and brilliant light poured out. He reached his gloved hands in and withdrew a small white dish, filled to the edges with a brilliant, white light. He set it on top of the machine. "This is gonna make everything happen."

Angie's jaw dropped, and she leaned close. "What is it?"

"Power," Ernie replied. "Raw, liquid power, ready to be used any friggin' way I want."

Angie picked up a slip of paper sitting next to the bowl of power. "What's this?"

The bad poem.

"No!" Ernie reached out to grab the paper, knocking the light forward, spilling it onto Angie's chest.

Angie convulsed as the power absorbed into her.

In front of his eyes, her skin and hair turned extra-pale, white. Her chest grew two cup sizes. Her brown eyes turned black.

Still shaking a little, she read the paper in her hand. "Ya love me."

She knew.

Angie thought for a minute, then smiled at him.

Abruptly, one of her fingers reached out, experimenting. A beam of the same white light leapt from it, cutting a hole right through the door of his apartment.

She touched the Machine. More light jumped to the machine, which started working immediately.

"What're you doin'?"

"I got the power." She giggled again. "I have like, power, to do anythin'. I want the Machine to make me one of those sexy, bulletproof comic book outfits where my boobs will always look great. That's power. Then I'm going to take over this town, and you're gonna be my sidekick, Bad Poet."

He frowned. "Angie, does that have to be my name?"

She pointed to her cleavage. "If you wanna get closer to these, that's your name from now on, lover boy. And call me Seraphina... the Burning Angel."

Ernie grinned. The Machine's poem worked after all.

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:35:16 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

The challenge this month was to tell a tale of two friends in a fantasy setting. For extra difficulty, stories had to include the ocean, an onion, and a catapult.
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:36:04 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

From Seconds to Centuries

The Fisher of Men

"Driving by all these luxury apartments with an ocean view, knowing I could buy them if I wanted," Reverend Billy Joe Johnston ruminated over his success to his long time friend and business manager, "Why, I remember when I couldn't even afford a burger with a slice of raw onion."

The man sitting beside Billy Joe in the limousine was his friend and long time business partner Don, who oversaw the financial side of the reverend's ministry. After Don was released from the federal pen, he couldn't get a job hocking old dilapidated vehicles on a used car lot. For a long time, they were inseparable.

Billy Joe had black hair and eyes and a slight Cajun accent as most who were from Louisiana. He enjoyed having people do what he wanted them to do. Don was paunchy, mostly meek and very compliant to Billy Joe.

"You're awful quiet Don, is anything wrong?"

Don had been suspicious of Billy Joe dating other men and was more than indignant of his pretense of affection. "Well, I have a bit of a headache Billy Joe."

There was silence for the rest of the ride. Billy Joe was rehearsing his message, looking forward to the night that would follow. One thing about male prostitutes, they don't know who you are in the dark.

The coliseum parking in every direction was jammed packed. It was reported that 100,000 tickets were sold. Many of the vendors were sold out of merchandise. They push marketed personal advertising products with Billy Joe's name and image imprinted on them. One item was a toy catapult, which didn’t sale well.

Don wistfully remembered how their friendship began. They had confided in each other over every detail of their lives. But as Billy Joe became more famous, with his face on billboards, in religious magazines and other trappings of fame, he began pulling away from Don.

The limousine pulled into the parking garage at the coliseum.

"Listen, Don, I won't be needing you after the sermon so why don't you head back to the hotel and get some shut eye. I'll get with you sometime tomorrow."

"I can be on stand by Billy Joe in case you need..."

"No, I got it, I'll see you tomorrow."

Don looked dejected. "I'll pray for you, I really will," Don said teary eyed.

Without looking over his shoulder he replied, "Sure thing brother."

As the reverend walked away from the limousine fading into the shadows, Don sobbed.


Inside the arena, the audience was loud and chanting Billy Joe’s name.

Accompanied by bodyguards on either side, he was escorted onto the stage as the crowd stood to their feet with thunderous applause. Billy Joe thought to himself that he had finally made it, from grifter to God's spokesman.

The announcer stepped to the podium. "Are you people of God revved up tonight?" The audience erupted in loud cheering laced with Amens. "Let's give God a big round of applause. Can I hear an Amen?" The crowd shouted Amen. " Do you love God's messenger for the hour we're living in?" The crowd yelled, “Yes."

Reverend Billy Joe Johnston took the mic from the announcer's hand and continued. "Can you say Hal-le-lu-jah? The crowd shouted it back to him. "Well praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Hallelujah people you can all sit down." After a few minutes, everyone was seated and waiting for Reverend Billy Joe to speak.

He looked out across the sea of people, his coal black eyes reflecting the faces of his believers back at them.

"How many of you have your prayer cloths with you? If you don't, raise your hand and one of the attendants in the aisles will gladly give you one, for a thirty-dollar love offering. I've laid my hands personally on each and every one and have anointed them with oil.

He paused and continued.

Another way you can bring your prayers closer to God is by making a seed gift of faith to our ministry. When you give to God's servants, you are actually giving to God. After all, we are His hands and feet." He smiled and chuckled to himself.

Suddenly there was commotion in the aisle in front of the pulpit. "You son of a bitch, I know you are going out tonight with other men! How could you do this to me? I've loved and have been faithful to you for twenty years, how can you just shove me aside?" Don stepped to the front of the stage having walked down the aisle during the selling of the prayer cloths.

Reverend Billy Joe tried to recover. "I believe the devil himself has entered our midst my brothers and sisters. This man needs deliverance from this foul demon." The manager, who was shaking and crying, pulled out a gun and fired a round into the air. "I'll send you to God 'without' a prayer cloth!" Don fired four shots into Billy Joe's chest and abdomen before shooting himself in the head.


Time in the spirit realm moves seconds to centuries. The soul once known as Billy Joe Johnston was seeing the evolution of time as his body fell backwards unto the stage. In the time it took for his body to hit the floor, he had seen a millennia pass, until the time the sun went super nova and the earth was in flames.

A messenger of light appeared beside him, radiance pulsating as he spoke. Picking up the soul of Billy Joe, he held it outstretched for a time and a season. The soul begged the question, "Why have I died so soon?"

The messenger of light spoke to him saying, "He never gave you permission to use His Name."

Dark spirits full of foulness like ravaging beasts came up from below and gnawed on him as they dragged him to the underworld.

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:37:10 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Kit and Kaboodle

Kandi Tims

Over the grassy meadows and wood lawn wild was a pair of good doodling squirrels, who loved adventure and challenged evil at every turn. Kit was a voluptuous femme fatale, always a charmer with the boys. Her thick brown eyelashes, which gave her an exotic mystique along with her luxurious fluffy bottom, caused everyone to say she was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Kaboodle was the mastermind; skillful and inventive, smart and crafty as squirrels go.

Late one night, Kaboodle noticed three strange men roaming around the house where his human family lived. He and Kit lived on a high-rise apartment tree branch, overlooking a grove of nut trees. Along with their buried stash of food, by any squirrel standards, they were living the good life.

Squirrels are by nature curious and most cautious. Kaboodle watched the three men sneak around the house. He was protective of his human pets.

Kit nestled next to Kaboodle, "What are you going to do, baby doll?" She used a little shoulder action when she spoke.

"We're going to need help," Kaboodle said intently.

Hootey flew over and sat beside Kaboodle as they watched the events below. He was the resident owl and intelligent observer.

"Whooo do you think they are?”

"Up to no good. Have you noticed what they're driving?"

Hootey nodded toward the car parked across the street.

"Recruit the leader of the pack and don't take no for an answer," Kaboodle said to Hootey.

"I don't like wolves. They’re always hungry.”

Kaboodle turned to Kit, "We need Grizzly."

"There is only so much charm I can muster." Kit looked up from under her beautiful eyelashes.

"We need a hitter," Kaboodle said insistently. She sighed and scurried down the tree.
_ _ _ _ _

In the tallest of the trees, considered penthouse apartments, a flock of blue jays were snoozing with full bellies from emptying the neighborhood's bird feeders. ‘Nice humans’ they thought as they slept.

"Wake up, I've got a job for you!" Kaboodle knew that blue jays are known to attack first and never ask questions later. They were getting plenty of rest for their spring flight to the west coast for their ocean vacation.

"Hey jive squirrel, what do you think you're doing?" The flock leader originally lived down town and sported a different accent than the rest of the neighborhood blue jays.

"I need help..."

"You need help, you need help! And how is that my problem?"

"The humans in that house below, they're being robbed."


"They are the ones giving you food."

The blue jay leader looked down and then said, "How can we help?"

"I need noise makers. Perch on the window seals and make loud noises."

"Is that it? We'd do that for fun." Kaboodle scurried down the tree.

One of the thieves went to get their car to load the loot. As he made his way to the driver's side, a wolf moved around the back end and faced him. The man slowly walked backwards turning his head to see another wolf stalking him from his rear. The wolves were intent on enjoying some gracious living at the man's expense.
_ _ _ _ _

The blue jays started a party on the windowsills, screeching and laughing loudly. Kit supplied them with party nuts and was an elegant host. A ground squirrel, pint size really, invented a make shift catapult out of a two-by-four and a medium sized rock and slung garbage towards the window including onions and watermelon rinds. The robbers heard the ruckus and were becoming anxious.

"I'll quiet them down" said a thief as he grabbed a broom and walked towards the back door. As he opened it with a start...he saw an eight-foot grizzly bear standing in front of him. The bear growled; the man froze with fear. Seconds later, he closed the door and ran towards the kitchen.

Suddenly, the door was torn off its hinges and the bear galloped into the house chasing the robbers.

They yelled and ran into the bedroom, locking the door behind them.
_ _ _ _ _

A police car was passing by and slowed down in front of the house. A herd of deer was standing in front of the driveway, unwilling to move. The police flashed their lights and gave a burst from their siren, to no avail. So they pulled into the driveway to turn around and the deer followed behind them.

The officers got out of the squad car and were greeted by a buck, which herded them towards the backdoor. Once around the back, they could see signs of a robbery in progress and entered the house. Hearing cries for help, they walked down the hall and into the bedroom to see two men on the bed with a giant bear sitting on top of them. It's a little known fact, that bears can open doors by turning doorknobs with their teeth.

The bear jumped off the bed and climbed out the open window. The men were handcuffed and arrested and lead out to the squad car. The birds let out one more hoop and dispersed.

Shortly there after, the police found the thieves abandoned car across the street with the third robber up a tree...visibly shaken.

The bear smiled as he passed Kit on his way home. Kaboodle asked, "How did you get him to play his part?"

"Believe me, it was not cheap." She turned her head and smiled.

"After the commotion was over," Kit flittering her eyelashes and asked, "You wanna go back home and share your nuts with me."

Kaboodle thought to himself, 'What in the world could she possibly mean by that?'

As they were back at their branch apartment, Kaboodle looked at his lifelong friend and love and said with a satisfied smile, "I love it when a plan comes together."

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:38:41 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Hearts of Stone

N.J. Kailhofer

A frothy, low wave slowly rolled in, lapping gently against a pair of stones piled halfway up the long, white, ocean beach. Blue sky poured from the heavens with such intensity, clouds dared not appear.

Seagulls called to each other as they circled a black, empty, galley ship tilted on its side against the sand. Its sails were tattered, dark, and dirty. A tangled, fraying rope plunged from the ship to a rough-hewn hole through the center of the larger, blood-red and gray speckled stone.

Beside the gulls and the waves, there were no sounds across the cove until the smooth, black stone complained, "Would you stop touching me?! Half a mile's worth of empty beach, and you have to lay right on me?"

Tucked partially beneath the rough anchor stone, Natalie had had enough.

Angelo, resting mostly to her side, replied in a soothing, thickly-accented tone, "Señorita, I am only barely touching you. The sailors who put me here are to blame, not I, but why dwell on negatives? It is a beautiful day in a beautiful world. The sun is bright, and high in the sky. It feels so warm on my back. Ah! Do you hear? The birds are happy, telling jokes to each other."

"I wouldn't know. You're blocking my view and my sunlight." Natalie asked, "You can understand the birds?"

Angelo paused only for a moment. "No, but I believe if I were a bird, I would be telling jokes, so what's the difference?" He chuckled in a friendly tone. "On a day such as today, anything is possible... Although, are you sure you are feeling all right?"

"Yes. Why?"

"You are sounding a little gravelly." He hooted with laughter.

"Oh, brother." Rock humor.

Angelo asked, "You have a brother? Is he near?"

"No, it's just me on this beach, or at least it was for the last thousand years since the ice pushed me here. It was nice. Quiet."

"Oh," Angelo replied, "not to worry, then. I am here to keep you company now. Really, for a thousand years, you have been sitting on this beach, all alone?"

"Yes. It's fine." Will he ever stop talking?

"What do you do with all that time?"

"I watch the world. I know the lapping of ocean waves, the blades of grass there at the edge of the sand. There is a human fort out of sight, past the grass. Sometimes the humans come down to the sea, and I watch them. Mostly, I enjoy the quiet."

Angelo chucked. "Not me. Ever since I was pulled from the ground in Ciudad Real, I have traveled the world. I have seen wonders you have never dreamed of, my dear."

"Really." Natalie tried her best to make her tone as disinterested as she could.

"Believe it or not, my journey started because I am soft. I am made of mostly red cinnabar, unlike you with your hard, basalt body. That's why they wanted me. It was easy to carve the hole through me for the anchor rope."

He paused. "That was quite painful, but I bore it heroically, and did not crack."

Natalie wished she had eyes to roll.

"It was worth it to see the crimson sunsets over yellow-flowered trees in Nihon Koko. To see divers pull beautiful, white pearls from the green sea in Parsa, to see the spires rising over Ganarajya, or the pillars of the Giant's Causeway lifting out of the ocean in frigid Albion... but there was no one to talk to."

For a week straight, Angelo spoke about the things he'd seen. In spite of herself, Natalie began to be interested. It kept her mind off the rising noise from the direction of the humans. Noise of battle.

A half-eaten onion splashed into the thin wash of water behind Natalie, surprising them both. It dropped from the hand of a particularly dim-looking orc.

A squad of squat, leather-clad soldiers armed with swords stood around the stones.

"You!" the leader shouted. "Take that red stone and bash through the gate of the fortress!"

Onion Orc cut the rope, grabbed Angelo, and started running.

Natalie thought about Angelo gone. She would be alone again. Finally, blessed peace and quiet was hers, and...

She didn't want it.

"No!" She shouted to the orcs, but they didn't hear her. "He's too soft--he'll break!"

"You!" The leader ordered, "take the other one and put it in the catapult!"

Strong hands grabbed her and put her in an already-wound, lowered catapult. From her vantage point, Natalie could see Onion Orc sprinting toward the human's gate through a hail of arrows, Angelo held high over its head. It would reach the gate in a few seconds. Angelo would be gone, forever.

She rocketed into the air toward the fort. She screamed.

She struck the wooden gate. She heard a deafening crack. Splinters exploded everywhere as the door ripped loose from stone and pounded inward to the ground. Natalie rebounded into the dirt, in front of Onion Orc.

Every part of Natalie howled in pain. A long crack was open across her back.

The orc paused, as if disappointed. It dropped Angelo, then drew its sword and ran into the fort. Dozens of other orcs followed it. Angelo rolled to a stop alongside Natalie.

"What happened?" Angelo asked.

"In the air, I begged the walls to let go of the wooden door. Loudly."

"Why did you do that?"

"So it would fall down and the orc wouldn't need you. I couldn't let you be smashed to bits."

Angelo was speechless for a moment. "But look what it did to you. The crack runs almost all the way through you."

She made her voice sound as much like his as she could. "But I bore it heroically." She chuckled. "That's what friends do for each other."

If anyone in the whirl of battle had been looking at Angelo and Natalie, they would have seen tears coming from stones.

Tears of joy.

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:39:44 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Sergio Palumbo

The pirate ship was sailing along the Ocean Coast in search of its next target, be it a small sea village or a lonely unprotected outpost. The crewmen aboard were content with their life as outlaws and were well aware that they did possess a powerful weapon to aid them during their plundering: a weapon that most ships did not have.

The vast majority of catapults that military vessels this size held on deck were the double-armed type, exactly like the one they had. They had such a powerful warship because their captain once stole it in a daring move, when a huge pirate fleet had surprisingly attacked a port of the Empire and the escaping soldiers had left it behind while fleeing for their own lives.

So, this new crew had made the ship their new home, turning it into their pirate vessel which was equipped with a device no other such sea-craft had at that time, at least not among the common sea thieves of the long Ocean Coast.

While they were sailing across that expanse in search of possible prey, Jalmk, the tall dark-haired thirty-year-old sailor considered that they were faster than many military ships, and their weapon made them a difficult opponent to anyone else. Why should they fear any enemies?

However, there was something that all seamen were afraid of: the fabled Vampire Pirates of the Ocean Coast. In fact, though ghost vessels made crewmembers fear the unknown seas elsewhere, here sightings of an ancient ship that was full of undead warriors had made many seamen cautious when approaching other sea-craft to be plundered. Some said it was a cursed vessel whose crew had to endlessly cross that stretch of the ocean and prey upon evil pirates. Others thought the crewmen had drunk human blood to quench their thirsts - which had turned them into the peculiar undead creatures they were now. Their need for blood made them constantly sail the sea – not only at night.

Desperation appeared on the men’s faces that morning when a black ship was spotted behind them, and their eyes filled with fear as the unusual sea-craft moved towards them. They wished it were a ghost-ship or a sea monster! But it wasn’t, and that meant they had stumbled into the worst possible enemy any pirate vessel might encounter in the middle of that ocean…

They tried their best to outdistance the ship but it was soon clear that their sails were not big enough to match the other’s black sails. So they began being busy rushing about, grabbing the arms and shields they had aboard, and getting ready to battle to the death instead of surrendering to those bloodsucking monsters. Some considered jumping over the sides of their ship but most couldn’t swim. So, it was a matter of simply making a stand in the end.

Then, Lrektl, a blond-haired friend of Jalmk who rarely lost his ability to think clearly, came up with a better way to deal with those creatures. He approached his friend and told him: “I know how we can stop them. Let’s go to the storage room and get all the onions we can find. Then we’ll fill up our catapult with them and fire it.”

What? Onions? Why should we use them instead of boulders?” Jalmk asked his friend.

“Their ship is cursed so there is no way our weapon can destroy it…but vampires are afraid of onions.”

“Where did you hear of such a way to get rid of those cursed creatures?”

“It was one of the many things I learned while rolling a whore in a tavern in a southern port. When you say that nothing good can came out of spending time with women of ill repute, I’d have to disagree!” the other cried out.

“So, what now?”

“I am going to warn the captain. In the meantime take all the onions we have aboard…” Lrektl uttered.

Jalmk didn’t know if it was desperation or just given the faith he had in his crewman, but the captain allowed them to proceed with their strange plan. The catapult worked by pulling back on the rope which connected the two arms. While sweating cause of the warm climate, they just waited for exactly the moment and when the arms were bent back against the tensile material, the rope was released and the arms snapped back into place, propelling the projectiles forwards towards its target at sea.

Throwing onions instead of other materials against your enemies! Truly, Jalmk would never have believed it if he hadn’t seen it for himself…

After the first launch, and the others that followed, nothing seemed to happen. The cursed ship was still after them, and you could still see the undead crewmen walking its deck. So, why was that?

It was at a certain moment that Lrektl made a face, paused for a breath and emitted a whimpering voice. “Thinking about it again, it was not onions…” he said in a dejected tone. “It was garlic that harms vampires! If I just hadn’t always been drunk while bedding those women I would have known better…”

Looking at Lrektl, an astonished Jalmk told himself that he had always been a very good friend, and he had saved him many times in battle previously, protecting him with his shield or healing his wounds. If only his memory had been as good as his great courage! As tears filled his eyes, the man considered that it was bad enough that they would soon become prey to those monsters, but at least he would have liked to have faced his death with purpose and resolve.

Though, with all the onions they had touched while preparing their huge catapult, and all the tears that presently filled his face, it was obvious that Jalmk would not die in the respectable, manly way that he wished he could…

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:41:21 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

The Onion Field

George T. Philibin

“I’ll make you cry!” Littejoe screamed. He was one of the village idiots, and he just pitched an onion at Dracona.

Dracona looked at the onion sailing toward him and sneered at the prospect of a village idiot telling him what and what not he could do and pitching an onion at him. The very idea of a village idiot messing with a vampire!

“Keep you distance,” Deadman said. The last time you got a stomach ache and you couldn’t swallow blood for a week. . . keep clear of that onion field.”

“I know, I know. We better do something about them. They’ve been planting those damned onions closer and closer to the castle every year now. They’re too close for comfort!” Dracona said.

Both vampires turned their heads and looked at the ocean behind Castle Montery, their home. Over the years, more entrance doors and glass windows and open archways were added, since the castle served no defensive purposes anymore. The waves slapped against the shore, and the wind often whistled about the battlements and sometimes screamed, it seemed, when a violent storm approached. Deadmand and Dracona were two vampire buddies that lived in the castle, and they decided to check out the field of onions which was encroaching on castle Montery’s grounds.

“I’m telling you there’s garlic in there somewhere. I can feel it. Don’t you?” Dracona said.

“Hey, vamps. We’re agona get you. Yes we are. Just stay in your castle and we’ll get you,” Holbe another villagers screamed!

“Why the insolence of that idiot. Threatening me! The most powerful one of the all!” Deadman said.

“We want your castle! And we’ll get it! Yes we will! You’ll have to move!” Holbe screamed,

The full moon beamed down on the onion field, and Deadman and Dracona looked and examined every detail that showed itself under the moonish rays of light. But what confuse them, was the large wooden object the was slowing moving toward the castle. It was pushed by a group of village idiots. What was it? What was the purpose of it. Why? It didn’t make sense.

“I’m telling you, I don’t like the looks of that thing—whatever it is,” Dracona said. “I smell garlic. Smell it!”

“Yeah, it’s coming from behind that thing.” Deadman said. “Well I sure as hell don’t want to fly over and take a look. Remember the last time we flew over that village of idiots? They had the nerve to shoot at us with garlic in their sling shots!”

“Oh, man----that one villager had a good aim too. Those idiots never listened to their elders about us, did they,” Dracona said. “I know the elders tell them to stay away from the castle.”

“No they don’t! Young people don’t respect anything anymore!” Deadman said.

“What is that thing?” Dracona said.

The wooden thing slowly moved toward the castle, and the odor of garlic also permeated the air. This upset Deadman and Dracona.

Redfen! Redfen! Get over here!” Deadman screamed toward the castle.

Redfen came stumbling out of the castle and said, “Yes master.”

“Sneak into that onion field and find out what the hell they’re up to. And find out what that thing is!” Deadman said.

“M-Master I-I-I c-can’t. . .” Redfen started to say.

“Just do it!!” Deadman blasted.

“Y-Yes master.”

Redfen hobbled out and into the field. He kept himself low and crawled.

After a short time in which Deadman and Dracona waited for Redfen’s return, Deadman finally screamed: “What’s taking him so long! If he’s not sleeping under that table, he’s goofing off behind the garden, pretending to be trimming the grass. I tell you we should have hired that other one!”

“Well, we did get him cheap,” Dracona said.

“Cheap! Why he’s costing us plenty just to feed him!” Deadman blasted out.

After another few minute, Redfen came quickly hobbling out of the field breathing very heavily.
He hobbled up to Deadman but didn’t say anything because he was out of breath.

“Well, what’s out there!” Deadman screamed. He waited another second or two then repeated the question again. By this time Redfen caught some of his breath and could utter a few sentences.

“It’s–It’s –a catapult. Yes—a catapult!” Redfen said.

“What!” Deadman screamed.

Redfen now able to speak said, “It’s a big catapult and they have many baskets of garlic behind it. I heard one villager say, “This will drive them out.”

Before Dracona could say anything a clunk noise washed over the castle and all three looked toward the catapult. A basket of garlic came raining down on them—the garlic dispersing in flight, and when the garlic landed, the individual cubes covered an area the size of an average front lawn,

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .” Deadman and Dracona screamed in unison. Redfen just said, “Oh- my -God.”

Clunk! Another volley of garlic hit the castle, some entering open windows while others landed inside the courtyard. Others hit the battlements, and to their surprise, small crossed were also mixed in with the garlic.

A large group of villagers were now running toward the castle, and they were carrying a battering ram. The garlic kept raining down on the castle as the villagers neared the front door.

“Let’s get outta here!” Deadman screamed.

Out a back window facing the ocean both vampires flew.

“I wonder what enraged them so much?” Dracona said.

“I know what it was. And I told you not to do it that day we flew over their village when they were shooting at us!” Deadman said. “We always left the villagers alone, thinking they would let us alone. We never bit any of them!”

“Hey, they were shooting garlic at us. So what the hell, I figured. I’ll just relieve myself over them. I know I got one or two in the eye!” Dracona said.

Deadman just shook his head.

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:42:19 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

The Wedding Feast

David King

There is told a parable about a King who had a Son who was getting married. And the King was so excited, He sent out his servants to invite the noble people, all the senators, congressman, attorneys and physicians, all those who were cool in the kingdom.

But the big shots said, "No way, we're too busy to come to the King’s Sons wedding banquet." So when the servants told the King that the biggies wasn’t coming, the King got - - rooooar - - he got mad is what He did.

So the King told his servants, "Go to where the scunges hang out and tell anyone who wants to come, that they are invited to the wedding feast."

His servants asked, "Are you for real?"

And the King said, "You got it!"

And so the servants went back into the streets and welcomed anyone who wanted to come to the King's Sons wedding banquet.

Before the wedding feast, the Son moved freely amongst his people, bestowing gifts (some would say miracles), to those in need.

One day, He went into a synagogue (that's a Jewish church). The religious leaders stared at Him with suspicion, and conspired to entrap Him. So they handed Him the book of Isaiah and asked, "Why don't you read us something?

And so the Prince said those famous words, "That's cool" and began reading the part in the book of Isaiah saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach the good news and set the captives free."

And then He closed the book and handed it back to them.

And while everyone was looking around, the King's Son spoke and said, "Today, this scripture...is fulfilled in your ears."

Now the Sadducees and Pharisees, they were the religious leaders back then, instead of getting all excited and saying, "Far out, the King's Son is here! We don't have to die for being creeps! Let's invite our friends to the synagogue for a covered dish dinner and play some volleyball on the front lawn.”

Well, instead of doing that, they took Him outside of town and tried to push Him off a cliff.

Not cool!

But the Son just walked away from them cause He was the Prince. When you're the Prince you've got lots of options for getting out of trouble. He said, "I'll see you guys later," and He split.

So when the Son left the synagogue, He walked into the street and met a prostitute named Mary. She had a demonic spirit, in fact, seven of them, who spake to the Son and said, "We know who you are, will you torture us before our time?"

And He spoke to the demons saying, "Leave her now." And immediately they did.

The Son continued to meet people as He walked, once passing an old catapult displayed as a monument in the town square. There he met a man named Matthew, who was cheating people while collecting taxes.

Later that day he walked down to the ocean. Saw a fisherman named Peter casting out his net.

That evening he met a man with a fuzzy face, singing a song in the street. David, yes that is my name. Getting loaded being weird, that was my game.

When He had gathered them together, the Son said to them all, "Come follow me. I love you and My Father loves you too.

And we said, "Sir, you don't know how bad we are."

But the Son said, "Yes I do. My Father prepared a feast for the noblemen. But they were all, too busy too come. Now the door is open to everyone. Why don't you come with Me? Come on, come follow Me."

By this time we were all running down the road. You should have seen Mary; a smile came over her face. She ran down the road, skipping, jumping and laughing saying, "Wait for Me, I'm coming too."

Matthew was throwing money on the ground while eating an onion. Peter was so funny; he was flipping fish into the air, there were fish scales everywhere...tripping over his net. I was throwing up my guitar, screamin' and yellin'. A bunch of writers joined us, throwing their keyboards into the air, “Hey, wait for me”

We're all running down the road after the King's Son and people are looking around saying, "What are you guys so excited about?"

And we said, "What are we excited about? Hey, the King's Son is getting married and we've been invited to the wedding feast, that's what we are excited about."

They looked at us and said, "You mean the King - wants you people - at His Son's wedding feast?"

And we said, "That's right! He invited all the biggies to come but they said they were too busy. He turned to us and asked, "Do you guys want to come? We said wow, are you kidding, hey we'll come."

And then a member of the crowd stepped out and said, "We would like to come also to the King's Son wedding feast, but we ain't got much El Denero, Supremo La Grande, that's Taco Bell talk for not much money. We ain't got much money, what does it cost to come to the King's Son wedding feast?

And we look at each other and we said, "What's it cost? You want to know what it costs? It cost NOTHING! You see the guy up front. That's the Son of the King. He's picked up the tab for all the meals you can come for free!

They go, alright!

As we walked to the palace, I looked at the Son and said, thank you for being my friend today. And He spoke to me saying, “I’ve always been your friend…all of your life…since the moment you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.

Right then, I knew who He was.

The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:43:32 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

- Winner -

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Genna Watson

The fluorescent garden of paradise was translucent through the pure light that encompassed its boundaries. There was a deep blue ocean surrounding the circumference of this thousand-mile island. Every animal was at peace in this tranquil place of breath taking beauty. Serenity was present for there were no conflict or evil intentions, not even in thought. It was indeed heaven on Earth.

And then one day, there was a man, who by appointment, oversaw this ethereal vacation spot and all was wonderfully fine until....

...a woman appeared, fair and beautiful to tantalize the eyes of every man in this garden bliss - ah - well - one man in particular. She didn't escape his attention. He knew what elephants looked like, he knew what zebras looked like, and he was quiet familiar with every other animal for he took inventory of them for the boss.

He knew one thing though, her name must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that!

She was aware of him too with his muscular body and the beautiful dumb animal like expression on his face.

"Wow," she said, "Look at you!" "You're certainly a big boy. Are you dating anyone special?"

"Well," he coughed nervously. "Ah, I'm what you call a confirmed bachelor. I'm a career guy with a lot of responsibilities for the animals and the plants and...ah...things. Also, you're the first woman I've ever seen."

"You mean the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?"

Recovering nicely, for a man. "Yes, that's exactly what I mean."

"So you're big around here."

"Sure, I invent things in my spare time...which is all the time. See those two trees with that branch fastened to the back of those animal skins. That’s a catapult for knocking fruit out of the trees so I don't have to climb them." They both looked at each other confused. "I'm not all that tech savvy.”

Curious he asked, “Tell me, why are you here?"

"I'm just here for a side of ribs." She began stretching real slow. He watched...intently.

"You got anything to drink?" She was thirsty for a woman who only had been alive for fifteen minutes.

"We got...water!"

"You got anything harder?" She was checking him out wishing he were as smart as he was good looking.

"I got rocks! There harder."

She pretended not to hear that.

They continued talking, looking, interested in what the night would bring.

The days passed quickly, turning into years.

[Three years later]

The couple was hard at it.

"You never take me anywhere!" She was not happy...again.

"Take you out, we're in freakin' paradise!"

"All I do is cook...," she said.

"We have no fire..."

"Clean and do laundry..." she said complaining.

"We live outdoors and well, we're naked."

"All we do is talk and make love. Oh yeah, and take care of animals. Why can't they just take care of themselves?

"Because, they don't have a maid."

"The hell they don't, I do everything but powder their little behinds."

The man once again was at his breaking point, sort of. "Do you know how much you complain?

"Oh," she said with sarcasm, "What will the neighbors think?"

"If you're talking about the monkeys, they’re discussing by passing evolution, to avoid turning into...well you."

"They may throw doodee, but at least they have better sex."

"Oh fine, knock my manhood. Are you saying I can't satisfy you anymore?"

"You're not the same person I knew three years ago. Your seed bearers are not what they use to be."

"Oh, let me tell you, if they've shrunk, it's because of your nagging!"

Her voice became solemn. "I hate to tell you this, but I've found someone else."

He didn't believe her. "Right, a mystery date? Does he have a name?"

"His name is Mr. Slither. He approached me underneath the apple trees."

He became concerned. "You mean the two apple trees with the no trespassing sign."

"How would I know what the sign said? It’s not like I’ve been to school."

The man began trying to size up his competition. "What does he do for a living?"

"He's a produce salesman. Here's a sample, Try it."

The man hesitated, but eventually bit into it. He savored it for a moment.

The woman started laughing, "Do you feel any different? Are you becoming any wiser?"

After a few moments, the man made a face and spit out what he had eaten. "This is an onion. This is a damn onion! How am I going to get the bad taste out of my mouth?"

The woman laughed until she doubled over in hysterics.

He walked toward her and said, "I'm going to get even with you."

When he got to where she was laying, he turned her over and began tickling her. She cried out, "Stop, stop" and when he wouldn't, she began pulling him closer until he was lying on top of her. She started making those eyes at him, those alluring eyes that confused him.

They began kissing and making out as they always did this time of day. With the built up frustration released, they were close once again.

She stopped kissing him for a moment and pulled out a shining piece of fruit. "No joke, Mr. Slither gave me this to try. Let's both bite into it at the same time." Slowly, they leaned forward with open mouths and...

The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:20:45 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

The challenge this month was to create a science fiction tale told only in the form of letters.
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:21:15 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

Fumee D'opium at Night...

Sergio Palumbo

Dear Guillaume
(who is me)

This letter is a fourth attempt at reporting the strange experience I have been going through recently, and you’ll find it in the pocket of my gray jacket the next time, though I can’t tell you when this next time will actually occur…

I’m writing this because I don’t know how long I can still be myself, or how long I can master my mind before I lose consciousness again and everything changes. I can’t even imagine when my true self will be back again, so that I can write a new recount of what has happened.

The strange thing is that I don’t even know what I was doing before my mind came back to its senses, before I unexpectedly awakened again.

The room I am in now is the same room I was in the last time I can remember being awake. No window, only a bed in the center and no chair, no table; the wooden door is locked from the outside. I have at my disposal only an old pen and a few pieces of paper I can freely write my thoughts on - which is the text of this letter. I don’t know exactly where I am, nor how I was brought inside. Anyway, I feel that I am watched now, although the ones looking at me are unseen at the moment. But they are watching – I am certain of it!

Now carefully listen to me, who is also you. Somebody is keeping me here, against my will, and there is no way I can escape. So, bear in mind, next time that I am myself again, try your best to get out of here. Don’t forget, hurry up, I don’t know how long I can be in my right mind next time…


Dear Paul,
(the person who is me),

This is the eighth letter I have written, though unfortunately nothing has changed. I still keep writing my messages on this paper and I am provided with new pages every time I wake up in this place. I don’t know who gives me them or when he places the pages inside this room. But it is certain that, whoever he is, this person seems to be interested in what I think and write while I am being held within these walls. Maybe he is studying me, or maybe there is more than one person outside who is watching what I do. How can I find out the truth?


Dear Antoine,

Third letter written and nothing has changed. What the hell am I doing here? Why can’t I get outside? Who do these other letters belong to that I find in the pocket of my gray jacket and who are Guillame and Paul? I don’t even know these people! Pay attention, Antoine, next time you wake up you have to do something, or this will never end! I don’t want to die in here!

Yours Antoine


Dear Doctor Feng,

I’m Heng, the Chinese proprietor of the fumerie d’opium who is studying the forty-six-year-old subject on behalf of my superiors who rule over the mob in Hyères, France, who appointed You to this case. This is my thirteenth report. I don’t know if You have started reaching a conclusion about this matter.

To summarize the events so far, everything has begun when that middle-aged patron has walked into my premises some nights ago. Though there are other bigger venues like mine in town in these last years of the 1800s, that customer had made his own choice to try something different, probably.

After reclining in order to hold the long opium pipes over an oil lamp to heat the drug until it vaporized, allowing the fumeur to inhale, something has happened. When the blond-haired French customer awoke and stood up early in the morning, he didn’t seem to be himself anymore. He spoke differently, his voice was not the same and I thought he was another person. He really looked like another man, also his voice was different! After trying to calm him down, I have asked my henchmen to take the customer to a secluded room where he could calm down before being taken outside. The problem was that the man has never been himself again, at least not the person that he was when he first entered the fumerie the previous night.

I don’t know if the Frenchman’s disorientation had been caused by the drugs he smoked, or if it was due to something else. Anyway, this was the first time I sold this new mixture of unknown ingredients, and this was the only subject who had shown such unexpected behaviour.

I have been able to discover over the course of the following days - while keeping that strange patron locked inside the room - that every time the man was given the new drug he awoke as a different person, and wrote a letter to warn himself – or one of his many ‘personalities’ - about the dangers of his present situation. As requested from my superiors, I have allowed that patron to continue using the drug, as there was no way he could be released until he was in his right mind again. Perhaps the new drug mixture released all the other personalities already alive inside the man’s mind. Maybe he was one of those strange individuals with different selves, different persons in him, though unbeknownst to themselves, like those bloody killers You could read about in the newspapers…

As a humble owner of this fumerie d’opium I truly don’t know, but I would continue to keep the man locked up as my mob’s test subject. My superiors certainly don’t want a bad product to be widely released that could adversely affect other customers…which would be bad for their business.

They hope to be discovering more and more about that man’s different selves over the course of the next days. Or months, whatever it takes…

The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:22:21 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

Aryelle's Love

Aryelle, the Brethren slumber in their metal armor.

Until they awaken, I have nothing to do, save stare out the viewport. The stars remind me of yours.

I pass every day wishing I were back with you. We would lie like we did that day in the sand. So happy, so content, like this is the way we were meant to be. You were so beautiful.

We never saw the wave coming that drenched us. We laughed and laughed.

Later, by the fire, further back in the dunes, I lay down behind you. Your body melted against mine. Your hair smelled like wildflowers. Your skin was so smooth and soft, like nothing I had ever felt before. I ran my hand up your thigh, past the tight roundness of your belly and held you. In that moment, it felt like we were the only two people in the whole universe. We lay like that until slumber took us both. It was the happiest I'd ever felt.

I love this device, Haim. I think it, and the words appear on the screen. Are you sure it's safe to use? Can't it send more than one message a day? I hate waiting so long to hear from you.

It smells like rain is coming. Would you run in the rain and jump in the puddles with me?

I have the perfect outfit for it. Hint, hint.

Dearest Aryelle, if only I knew when I could come back. The Brethren require my service, so I must wait here, in their ship of war. I don't know our destination or when we will reach it but I am released after their assault, so may it come soon. I only know however long it will be, it feels an eternity without you.

The Brethren, the Brotherhood of Death, are the Imperial invasion force--more machine than flesh beings that spew their never-ending, burning hate onto unsuspecting worlds. I have searched many star systems, and because of that they value me enough to let me live.

It's how I found you, but don't worry, I never told them of your world. It's too precious. If we only send one message each day, the Brethren will never know.

It's lonely here, inside this old house in the woods. The power is out. Some kind of sun spot interference, or something. I lit the fireplace and I'm laying on the rug in front of it. There's room for you. I want you to know I miss you very much.

I'm going to town tomorrow to buy some groceries. One of my girlfriends, Melissa, is having a party, so I may go to that, too. Secretly, I think she's trying to set me up with someone. She doesn't know about you. I wish I could tell her.

What do you do all day besides miss the sexiest girl in this solar system?

I'm trying to figure out where the ship is going. Just about every instrument is locked out, but I think I can trick the sensors to give me a bearing to galactic center, and then I can read the stars I can see out the window and compute my general location. I am a scout. I'm used to finding my way without much equipment.

How was your get together? I wish I could be there with you, but I'm glad you can still find enjoyment without me.

It was really, really fun. Melissa introduced me to a guy named Joshua. He was very interesting, and it was nice to sit and talk to him. We saw a movie, too.

Was it ok that I visited with another?

When will you come back? I hate being alone. My pillow doesn't smell like you anymore. Did you know you smell like the sea?

Aryelle, we are very close to you. I fear they are coming for Earth. I believe they just flew past Earth, but they are going to use your sun to slow down and then be a plague on you all.

If I am right, I will sabotage the ship, even if it means my death.

I will not let them have you.

That isn't funny. Why would you joke like that? Why would you try to scare me?

They will be upon you in two days. I planted charges from the Brethren's munitions, and when we pass your sun again, all the lander engines will ignite, pushing us into the fire.

I cannot escape, but I choose this for you, in exchange for your life, with full knowledge the Brethren will kill me before we burn. You must live. I cannot bear the thought of what they would do to you and your planet.

The image of your sweet face, my Aryelle, is all that I can see when I close my eyes. I weep and curse the fates that brought us together. I am on a ship of cruelty, but did not understand how cruel it truly was.

Tomorrow, I will die for you, my love.

Haim, NO! You can’t leave me here without you. Please, if you are gone, then I won’t go on without you. I’ll step in front of a bus or drink lye. Please, please, don’t leave me!

Aryelle, the charges will fire in a few minutes. By the time you see this, I will be dead. I gave my life for yours.

Don’t let my death be for nothing. Live on.

Farewell, my love.

I saw the flash, and knew what it meant. I can’t stop crying. I have the pills to end it. I need only swallow them to join you.

When we meet in the afterlife, will you hate me for following so soon after? We’ll be together. Or I could throw them away and live, but I’d be alone. No one here could match your love.

The pills are in my hand.

Help me pick, Haim.

A breeze! It smells like the sea.

I chose.

The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:23:59 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

- Winner -

The American Prince

Kandi Tims


Dear Mr. Elderidge,

I really enjoyed your book. I couldn't put it down. I got your e-mail address from your publisher I hope you don't mind. I saw your photo on the back of your book jacket. You’re really cute. I am twelve years old too. Please respond.


Princess Miranda Heddington
_ _ _


Hello Miranda,

I'm surprised to hear from you. I'm glad you like my book. We’re the same age.

Do you really think I’m cute? I’m glad you think so.


Bradford Elderidge


5 months later



I’ve enjoyed writing you these past five months. We're settling in for Thanksgiving. We're having cranberry relish and stuffing, I know you enjoy that. I'll be thinking of you.

Will you miss me, I hope?

Your fan,

_ _ _



I just played with my food. I'm sad, you being far away.

Your friend,



4 months later



My tutors are teaching me quantum physics. It's so boring. I'm doing well in French, but not in other languages. Next they will tutor me in Canadian. Ha Ha!

When will your next book be available?


_ _ _



I check my e-mail over and over cause it's hard waiting for your messages.

I will be finished with my next book soon and will send you a copy. Thank you for your portrait photo. I framed and hung it above my bed. I say goodnight to you every night before I sleep.

Forever your friend,



14 months later



You are dear to me. I can't believe your turning fourteen. Send me pictures of your birthday. There is a package on its way. I hope you like my gift.

There is so much I've never done. I really don't have much freedom as you know. Being the only heir is lonely. You're the only one I think who understands.

My father is still sick.

Yours Truly

_ _ _



I'm setting an empty chair at the table for you. Thank you for writing me faithfully for the last two years.

My third book is being released and I now have enough money to come visit you this summer. I only wished your mom wasn't against you seeing me. I just sit and think about you.



15 months later



My father is in intensive care. He's been there for days. No one is telling me how he's doing, but I know he is not well. My country is so accustomed to having a king.

How does it feel to be a freshman? Do you like your high school? Send me pictures; I see your life through them. You are always in my thoughts.

_ _ _



Please ask your mom again if I can come see you. I want to be with you.

My freshman prom is being planned. I won't go.

Tell me more about your father’s health.




4 months later



The funeral is today. The minister of protocol has refused to allow you to attend. I'm so sorry. I pleaded to no avail. I hope you are not offended.

_ _ _



This is so hard not being there. I will watch the funeral on television in hopes I'll catch a glimpse of you. I did not know your father, but I grieve for you.



15 months later



Your daily messages give me hope.

There is an official function next week and it is expected of me to escort the Duke’s son about our city and there will be a dinner later. I am expected to do this so please don't think anything of it.

Warm wishes to you,

_ _ _



I'm scared of losing you.

I am jealous. Will you let him kiss you?


_ _ _



I only have room in my heart for one.



13 months later



My mom is pressuring me to wed the Duke's son. I do not love him.

Ever yours,

_ _ _



I've talked my publisher into letting me do a book tour in your country starting a few miles from the palace. I leave tomorrow. There's nothing more important to me than seeing you.

Your love (I hope),

_ _ _


My sweet man,

Please do not come. The palace guard protects the royal family and I can't guarantee your safety.

Brad, I love you too, but do not come.

_ _ _



Write me back. Please!

_ _ _



I will be at the Newkirk Street bookstore on June the 7th from noon to 3 pm. I will then come to the palace and if they will not let me in, I will sit outside the palace walls and there I'll be.

My love,

_ _ _


Dear Brad,

It is my choice to betroth myself to him. Do not make this perilous journey. I still care for you, but these things are out of our hands.

_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 11:56 am)


I'm standing inside the Newkirk bookstore. I'm about to begin my signing. I'm staying at the Royal Arms Sentry Hotel (it's a small flat). If something happens, take my things. There is a letter in my briefcase. It's for you.

My Love,

_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)


This maybe my last message. I'm coming.

_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)

You do not need to come to me. Just turn around. I'm standing behind you.

The End
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Post October 30, 2016, 11:58:30 PM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

The challenge was to write a "ghost" story in the spirit of the weird & unusual or spooky. The stories did not have to contain an actual ghost, but had to be written as if it was being told around a campfire on a dark, fall evening.
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Post October 30, 2016, 11:59:18 PM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

Catwalk to the Fire

N.J. Kailhofer

Girls, come over here by the fire. I have a story to tell.

Comfy? Good.

Now, this could have happened anywhere, but it didn't. It was only about twenty miles from here. That chilly, dark October night was just like this one. No moon. The wind whispered through the trees, just like it's doing right now.

You girls hear those leaves rustling over there?

Better pay attention.

There was this girl named Sally. Sally wanted more than anything to be pretty.

Now, Sally wasn't ugly, but she wasn't good looking, either. She was just plain, normal in every respect, except Sally desperately wanted to be pretty. Well, you know how it is with girls, some of the mean ones figured out where she was vulnerable and never let her forget how plain they thought she was.

They laughed at her.

Sally was outside one night in her backyard and lit a campfire. She was hoping the couple of acquaintances she did have would come over, but they couldn't. So, she sat, watching the flames flicker and wishing she could be more than she was. The wind picked up a little, and she could feel the chill getting to her.

Then she heard a voice.

"Hello," it said, but in one of the best voices Sally had ever heard. Clear. Melodious. Like something you'd hear on tv or radio.

The wind died and Sally looked. At the edge of the trees was a gorgeous, dark-haired woman wearing an outfit like the ones Sally saw in those fashion magazines, complete with a stylish, faux-fur wrap.

The woman said, "I was out for a walk and saw you there. May I warm myself by your fire?"

Sally was so struck by the woman's voice and clothes that she couldn't answer, so she just nodded.

The woman came over to the fire, but she didn't just walk. She glided, swinging her hips like those runway models do. Sally saw the woman's face as she came close. She had alabaster features, perfect skin, and full, red lips.

"May I sit?" the woman asked.

Sally nodded again. The woman perched herself on a chair by the crackling fire and crossed her legs.

Sally asked, "Are those suede boots?"

The woman smiled. "They're from Jeffrey's new collection. He let me keep the pair I wore in his New York show. He's such a doll. I'm Lauren. I just moved in a little ways away."

"I'm Sally."

The two shook hands.

"Oh!" Sally said. "Your hands are cold like ice."

Lauren smiled a winning smile. "That's why I needed to sit by your fire. Fashion is fabulous, but it's not always warm."

Sally asked, "You're a fashion model?"

"And designer, yes," Lauren replied.

Sally looked around. "Why would you want to be here?"

Lauren explained, "My designs haven't hit it big. A pattern cutter friend of mine said if I ever wanted to go to a quiet place where nothing happened to work on them, this was it."

Sally laughed. "You got that right."

Well, the two talked until the fire burned low. Sally was fascinated about her guest, and Lauren seemed very interested in Sally and her quest to look pretty.

Finally, Lauren said, "Well, I must be on my way back now."

Sally asked, "Will I see you again?"

Lauren replied, "Light another fire tomorrow night, and we'll see."

Then she glided back through the rustling leaves. Once she reached the woods, she disappeared into the dark in a blink of an eye.

The next night, Sally lit another fire and Lauren appeared again, this time in a shimmering black dress with a green-feathered neck corset and belt. Once again, the wind stopped just as she arrived. Lauren brought a makeup kit and showed Sally how to do up her face.

The following night, Lauren showed Sally some of her designs and how Sally could mix and match the clothes she already owned for more impact.

To say that these two were hitting it off would be an understatement. Sally couldn't wait for nightfall each night, and with every fire, Lauren magically appeared, dressed even lovelier than the last time. Sally benefited from their exchanges, and with her improving looks, she started getting friendly talk from those mean girls.

Well, one very cold night, they were talking near a big bonfire when Sally noticed that the sash Lauren was wearing still had a tag on it. A tag from...

Something inside Sally snapped.

"Walmart!" Sally grabbed the sash. "This is from Walmart. You said all the clothes you have were from big-name designers."

Lauren replied, "No, I didn't say that. I know a lot of designers, and they gave me clothes from their shows, but you still have to accessorize, you silly girl."

"No!" Sally saw red. "You're just like those other girls, making fun of me! I bet those other clothes were fake, too!"

In her mind, all Sally could hear were those mean girls, calling her plain and ugly, over and over. "They put you up to this! Are they in the shadows, watching us? Laughing at me again?"

Lauren said, "What? No!"

Sally tried to throw the sash into the fire but Lauren grabbed her.

They struggled.

Lauren fell backwards into the bonfire.

Her high-fashion getup burned hot.

She screamed and screamed, but couldn't get out of the fire.

Sally just watched, smiling.

When there was nothing left of Lauren, Sally buried the bones.

It wasn't enough.

The next night, Sally invited one of those mean girls over, and burned her the same way. The following night, and every night thereafter, Sally went out looking for more of those girls, determined that mean girls wouldn't pick on anyone again.

So, you remember that rustling out in the woods before?

You might think that's the ghost of Lauren, warning us, but it's not.

That's Sally.

She's been listening to you, deciding if you're mean or not.

Be careful by that fire, girls.

Good night.

The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:00:13 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

A Brotherly Bond

Justin Zimmerman

Urban legends always have some truth to them. This one is no different. Two men weaved their way through the forest in an attempt to end one.

The men stopped and surveyed their surroundings. Flashlights revealed decaying wood, pieces of glass, broken bricks, and a number of beer cans around their proximity. The amount of building material, a rusted pick-up truck, a standing wall, and an empty square opening hinted at the past residential nature of the plot.

“Is this it, Bill?” Trevor asked.

Bill paused. He inhaled the crisp midnight air and cleared his throat. He glanced at Bill and nodded.

“This is it. This is the old Webber house.” Bill said

“I can feel the evil surrounding this place.” Trevor said. “It’s all around us.”

Bill walked over to Trevor’s side.

“Nordonia Heights gets all sorts of paranormal weirdoes running all over the forest.” Bill said. “They disrupt our personal lives to further their ‘careers.’ But you were the first one who seemed concerned about the town’s well-being.”

Trevor smiled and patted Bill on the shoulder.

“We need to construct a fire to banish this abomination and free your town of its curse.” Trevor said.

The two men gathered nearby studs, old floor boards, and fallen tree branches. The two managed to build a massive teepee of wood.

Bill turned to Trevor.

“Have you heard the legend, Trevor?” Bill asked.

Trevor shook his head.


To the residents of Nordonia Heights, Theo, Elaine, and William, the couple’s son, seemed like a normal family. Except the Webber’s harbored a dark secret; William had a twin brother. A creature created from an ancient pact.

One day, the windows of the Webber house began to rattle as if a train was passing by. There was no train in sight. The couple stopped and stared at each other.

A loud crash came from the second floor. The couple jumped. Something hit the floor hard.

“Did you feed it, Elaine?” Theo asked.

“Did I feed him, Theo? Yes, I feed him last night.” Elaine responded.

Elaine walked towards the stairs. A growl echoed through the house. An experienced tracker would tell the family to make noise to scare away the bear.

The house started shaking. Pictures fell off the walls, glass shattered, studs creaked, and the ceiling cracked.

“Theo, where is the doll?” Elaine shouted.

Theo shrugged.

“I haven’t seen the damn doll.” Theo replied.

Theo and Elaine made their way up the stairs. They balanced themselves against the wall to the closed door at the end of the hallway.

Elaine looked at Theo.

“Do something!” Elaine pleaded.

Theo looked around and noticed a broken table. He picked up two broken legs. Theo took three more steps towards the door. Theo jerked the door handle, opening the door. He created a cross shape with the two broken pieces.

“I command you to stop this tantrum at once!” Theo shouted.

A thick mass that resembled a python with no head coiled around Theo’s calf. Theo clubbed the mass. The strike had no effect. The mass tugged with considerable force, knocking Theo off his feet. Theo clawed at the floor but couldn't move. The mass pulled Theo into the room but he caught the door frame. Theo kicked at the mass with his free foot.

“Help me, Elaine!” Theo shouted.

The shaking knocked Elaine off her feet. She crawled over to Theo. Elaine grabbed Theo’s wrist and pulled. Theo didn’t budge. He was losing grip on the door frame.

Elaine looked into Theo’s eyes and shook her head.

“I’m so sorry, Theo.” Elaine shouted.

Elaine reached out and grabbed the door handle and slammed the door shut. There was a loud snap from Theo’s fingers.

Theo’s screams only lasted a few moments. The shaking subsided.

Elaine wanted to cry. Instead, she dusted herself off and stood up.

“Willie, sweetie, are you OK?” Elaine shouted.

The basement door opened and little shoes tapped all the way up the stairs.

Willie rushed to Elaine, clutching a cloth doll. Elaine grabbed the cloth doll from Willie’s arms and slapped his cheek

“This is your brother’s doll. Do you understand that, Willie?” Elaine said.

“Brother gave it to me, Mommy.” Willie replied.

Elaine gave the cloth doll back to Willie.

“We need to leave now, Sweetie. Do you want to go for a truck ride?” Elaine asked.

Willie nodded.

Elaine walked to the stairs and turned back to locate Willie. “Follow mommy, swe…”

The door at the end of the hallway was open.

Elaine couldn’t hold back her tears any longer. She fell to her knees and sobbed. “Willie…”

A thick mass slithered out from the doorway. Elaine looked up and shot to her feet. The mass wrapped around Elaine’s waist and pulled her back towards the end of the hallway. Elaine screamed until her head hit the door frame.


“Dear God, that’s terrible.” Trevor said, covering his mouth with his hand.

Bill walked a few feet away from Trevor.

“Where did I put it?” Bill said himself.

Bill looked around and kicked a piece of wood.

“Found it!” Bill shouted.

Bill crouched down and picked up a cloth doll. He dusted the doll off.

Trevor looked at Bill and noticed the doll.

“Good find!” Trevor said. “That’s the doll the family used as a charm to keep the creature under control. Quickly, we need to burn it to banish the creature and avenge the three souls lost that day.”

“Two souls.” Bill corrected.

A growl broke the night’s silence. Trees crashed to the ground off in the distance.

Trevor gasped.

“Why help me?” Trevor asked.

“You might not understand this, Trevor, but brothers stick together. And I was building a signal fire, I’m not sure what you were building.” Bill replied.

Bill whispered to the doll. The pile of wood ignited into flames.

Trevor ran. He didn’t make it far.

Don’t come looking for us!

The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:01:52 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

Just be Nice Sometimes

George T. Philibin

In hills and mountains of Western Pennsylvania, a bigfoot family nestles themselves around a small campfire that the father made. The secluded area and vast forests, provide a secure site in which the humans will not venture into tonight. As the full moon looks down and smiles on the forest, the father bigfoot, Gormant, speaks.

“I was young at the time. Yes, younger than you my son-- when standing before me was a human! She didn’t have any odor about her and I didn’t smell her as she approached. You’ll get to know the odor of Right Guard and other scents they use----that’s one of the reason they never see us first. Remember, train you nose above all else.

“I looked at her and she looked at me. We just stared. Then, and I’ll never forget the sweet voice she had and the friendly manner in which she asked the question: ‘Are you a Bigfoot?’

“Her innocence shocked me. This young human who I could easily crush compelled me to say:’What do you thing I am? Some retarded black bear? Of course I’m a bigfoot!’

‘Oh,’ she said. Then she pulled out one of those cameras and, believe me I’ll never forget this one, she said, ‘I just have to take you picture! Judy and Kyra will never believe me when I tell them I saw a bigfoot and my dad and brothers will just laugh at me and the teacher at school will call me silly and things like that, but you’re real. Oh, my name is Candice. You are, aren’t you. If you’re Billy Thomas dressed up like a bigfoot—I’m going to kill you! You are real aren’t you? I just live over there—you can see my house if you look. I was just out looking for blackberries when I seen you just standing there and....”

‘Okay, Okay,’ I said. ‘Give me a break, will you. You know I’m not supposed to talk to humans or ever let them see me. My father will kill me if he knew that I talked to a human!’

‘Well what do you think my dad would do? Huh? Give me a break, will you. He would send me to one of those head doctors and make me take pills and talk to me about why you aren’t real. You think I want to do that? If you do then you are not a nice creature. No you are not!’ Candice said.

“I didn’t know what a head doctor was but I remember my grandfather telling me about medicine men that the Indians used to have and conclude that many she was right about some things,” Gomant said at he campfire.

‘Please Oh please let me take a picture of you—I’ll be you friend for life. I’ll give you things----food and stuff like that. Oh, please! Pretty, pretty please!” Candice said.

“What could I do? I took a liking to her---- don’t know why because most human smell so yucky----but in her case I said, ‘Okay’ What he hell--- they would think that I was somebody in a costume anyway. You know, these humans and their Halloween and stuff.”

“So I got up, placed my right paw behind my head, titled my head up, leaned back against a tree and smiled,”

‘No, no, no, not like that! Will you growl and show your fangs—look mean and wild,’ Candice said.

‘I’m not mean and I’m not really wild! I’m a nice creature. All us bigfoots are nice and even civilized by your standards,’ I said.

‘I can see that, but please, please look mean for me, please,’ Chandice said.

“I said Okay and put on a mean face, growled a little and raised up my paws and tried to look like some werewolf.”

‘Oh, that’s wonderful,’ she said.

“She must have took ten picture. Then she said, ‘Thank you, Oh thank you so much! I’ll never forget what you did. I think we can become good friends and things like that. I’ll never tell them were I found you—I’ll say my uncle Billy shot these picture out West, you know. He used to hunt there all the time. I’m going to leave you things down by the big rock at the creek, you know the one, I’m sure you do. Just look there the last Friday of the month and I’ll have Goodies for you and thanks again and again,’ this Candice said”

“Dad, that’s one very scary story—coming face to face with a human. They have guns you know!” Possium said, Gomant eldest son.

“The humans have passed laws saying that they are not allowed to hunt us, but be careful anyway,” Gomant said.

“Did she every leave you anything by that rock?” Toadfrog said, Goment’s daughter.

“Oh, yea all the time now. In fact I started to leave her things like Indian arrowheads, tomahawk heads and colorful rock and sometime flowers in the summer and all kinds of things that I thought a human would like,” Gomant said..

“What did she leave you?” Toadfrog asked.

“Like those potato chips Toadforg? How about those Doritos, Possium? Like them? And that pizza we get once a month now, like it? It comes from Dominos they say. And how about that nice-warm blanket Honey. And those candy bars and those....”

The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:03:02 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

That Sensation Again

Sergio Palumbo

Campgrounds always offer a characteristic blend of action and pleasant moments. Featuring lots of free time for having fun, a person can practice canoeing or sailing, for example, or just rest, play sports, swim and sunbathe –for most of the day. However, it is when the night comes, while the campfire is blazing and the branches in the flames make a crisp snapping sound, that the real enjoyment begins for many. People get together near their tents to make small talk and tell stories- some horrific tales that fill the darkness in those moments.

On one such night, five figures slowly approached the reddish fire on the ground and sat around it. There was a strange silence at the beginning, and then I started speaking. My voice was low and feeble at first, before I became more comfortable with the place and the time. “I can tell you something incredible tonight, if you’d like to hear my scary story.”

“Yes, we have nothing else to do, and we are tired of wandering around, at least I am…” the oldest one in the company said, putting his right hand on his receding hairline.

The other three nodded in agreement. So, I took it as an invitation to go on.

“This is a story about a very strange experience I underwent a few days ago, and I still feel shaky because of it.”

“What happened?” the long-haired female of the group, tall and very slender, asked me immediately.

“I lay on a stone altar, situated above the ground. There was a lamp, some candles, walls around me and a strange wind coming from outside. At least, that is what I remember. Then I heard the words of a young man quoting from a blasphemous tome written in French that outlined a number of ghastly ceremonies to call down the souls of the deceased. You know, I never believed in such things, and I never would, of course, if only…” I paused for a while before continuing. “But I was there, and I couldn’t escape. Then the words ceased and I opened my eyes. That was when I felt something unbelievable…”

“What did you feel?” it was a fat graying fellow who asked me.

“I once again felt a sensation I never thought I would ever experience again... There was an impression of a strange warmth in my body, seeing the world through my pupils, touching the objects around me, walking on my feet and standing tall.”

And breathing…?” one of the few ones present dared to ask me.

“No, actually you can’t breathe anymore when you are brought back like a zombie.” I made that point very clear. “I thought I had become undead, actually, at that moment…”

“I see…” said the woman.

“But I didn’t have the time to savor it for as long as I would have liked…Probably that young sorcerer wasn’t experienced enough in the dark arts. So the effect was temporary,” I regretfully admitted looking down. “Even the name of the magical activity he was attempting to put into action, and its true origin, creates problems because ‘Voodoo’ is an Anglicized name. It is also called voudon, voodun, vudoun, or voodoux. From what I’ve been told, that slave religion was adapted to the new conditions among people who were brought here long ago to the Caribbean, possibly from the West Africa coast, by European slavers. At times, someone tries to revive such practices…I wish that the man who tried the ritual had been more capable so as to keep me in the world of the living beings again for a while longer…”

“You must not feel sorry for yourself, my dear.” It was the female who spoke. “You went through something none of us have undergone and perhaps never will. Being alive again! At least, you were allowed to go back to earth and walk over the ground once more, escaping - though for a short time - our pale existence as dead men and women…”

And children!” a small hairy figure at the right corner cried out.

“Yes, and children, too,” she conceded.

“Anyway, the sensation I felt was very pleasant…although I wasn’t entirely capable of controlling my will and thinking as clearly as I used to do before dying. It was like I was young and vigorous again. You know what I mean, don’t you?”

“We all know about that...” the slender female figure nodded in a dejected tone, sadly.

“We all know, indeed…” another young fellow added, two empty spaces where his eyes were once positioned.

There was the sudden noise of steps on the sand, near the foreshore.

“We need to get out of here. The living humans who own these tents are coming back to this part of the campground. It is time for us to go back into the darkness…” the soul of the graying man warned.

"We should go, for sure...” the others agreed. And so all of us stood up and moved away from the campfire, going back to the dark trees that stood around like silent shapes that only the night winds - that rose from time to time - seemed to be capable of shaking, giving those a sort of unearthly personality.

As I followed them, leaving the fire of the living beings behind me, I noticed how the flames highlighted the colors of the objects in the camp which reminded me of the vividness of the world of humans who still had their whole life ahead of them.

I took the chance to give a quick look back at the tourists who were coming out of the ocean, laughing after their midnight swim, and heading back for their tents on the beach. From the expressions I saw on their faces, I was sure they, too, were readying to meet-up near the campfire soon and tell scary tales before going to bed after they dried off.

The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:03:57 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure

Jim Harrington

“There are thirteen of you tonight. Tomorrow, when you wake up, one will be gone.” I paused and panned the open-eyed faces of the boys sitting around the campfire cross-legged, Indian style. “Thanks to Camp Halloween Adventure’s resident ghost.”

“Sure,” the chubbiest one said. “Like there’s such a thing as ghosts.” He snorted in disdain.

“It’s true,” another one said. “My friend told me about it. He was here last year.”

“So I guess you didn’t believe him. . .since you’re here,” chubby said.

I know I’m not supposed to use words like chubby, but if I didn’t one would assume I like kids. I don’t. I like their parents’ money.

“It’s my mother who doesn’t believe in ghosts,” the boy said, wiping sweaty palms on his jeans.

“Well,” I interjected. “We’ll all find out in the morning—won’t we?” They looked at each other, most unsure what to think. “It’s too bad, too, since tomorrow is the day you get to go rafting and zip lining, and maybe rock-wall climbing, if you’re not too tired.”

“But it’ll be cold.” Guess who. “And we’re not strong enough or old enough to go rafting.” Chubby looked at the others, all like him. “We’re only ten.” He paused again to survey his fellow campers’ faces. “And we could drown,” he said, looking at me.

The others nodded and made various sounds of agreement.

I held up my hand, as if taking an oath. “We’ve been running this camp for years.” I smiled reassuringly. At least, it was meant to be reassuring. “We know what we’re doing.” The boys glanced at each other, their necks on ball bearing swivels.

“Anyway, you have to worry about our ghost first. He’s in one of you right now.” They gasped in unison. “That’s right. He always inhabits one camper’s body.” I looked at Chubby. “Usually the one who complains the most.”

Chubby peered at me across the campfire, his eyes two slits, the rising heat augmenting their meaning. “You’re full of sh—.”

“Ah, ah.” I wagged a finger. “Remember, only nice words at Camp Halloween Adventure. You read the rules with your parents like instructed, didn’t you?

Chubby closed his mouth.

“Anyway, our ghost reads the inhabited camper’s mind to find out which one of the others he likes the least.” I scanned the group, pausing to look each one in the eyes. “That’s the one who turns up missing in the morning.”

Chubby said, “You’re so full of it.” He pushed himself off the ground and walked away.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait until morning to find out.” I stood. “Of course, the ghost can only take one of you away if you’re all asleep.”

The remaining campers huddled together, whispering to each other, while I went to get rid of Chubby. Little did he know he’d picked himself to be sent home early. No harm would come to him. He’d simply stop being a pain in my ass.

The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:05:07 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

- Winner -

Saba's Baby

Kate Stuart

"Have you ever?" I asked loudly over the crackle of the campfire and the chatter of my extended family.

"Woot! Woot!" my cousin Marian shouted. "Talbart's going to tell a story."

People quieted and a few clapped in excitement.

"Thank you," I acknowledged the tribute. "Have you ever heard the story of Saba's baby?"

There were negative murmurs and shaking of heads and I smiled triumphantly. Across the fire, my brother Colton frowned. His miscalculated bet would cost him.

"We all know of Saba, the first Empress of the Old Empire, but did you know that she was not the Emperor Havika's first wife?"

There were disbelieving mumblings. The love between Havika and Saba was legendary. How could she not have been his first, his only, wife?

"No, it's true," I continued. "In the folly of youth, Havika married the shrewish Mica. She was cold and vain and thought herself irreplaceable, but she would not have his children."

I accompanied my brother in his travels across the galaxy. He prospected investments that would grow our family's already considerable fortune and influence; I collected fables and legends; stories and myths. This made me a big hit at family gatherings such as this one where I could take my flair for storytelling and entertain our people. On our home planet Tuvane, in the Southern Hemisphere, the weather was turning cold and the leaves were falling. We, all of us from my grandmother Talbart—for whom I was named—through the most far flung second cousins, gathered at the family estate for a week to celebrate our success and make sacrifices and offer pledges of fidelity to our Goddess who had blessed us.

_When Havika saw Saba taking a bath that fateful night on the rooftop, he divorced Mica. Mica, clever and scheming sent up a great cry, pleading that she would be outcast and homeless, and the soft-hearted Havika gave her a wing of the palace to live in.

"In due time, of course, Saba became pregnant. Mica was a fury in her jealous rage; and, when the baby was born, Mica conspired to poison the child, slowly, repeatedly, until the child was dead."

There were several gasps as I made this pronouncement. Though in other pockets of the galaxy this story and even the history were well-preserved, so much was lost across the millennia and the light-years. We were simply too far away.

"No one knew about the poison. Mica lived a retired life, seldom leaving her quarters. No one even suspected."

"You mean no one caught her?" my five-cade-old nephew asked.

"No." I shook my head. "No one caught her.

"But," I said with a dramatic pause, "Saba suspected.

"The grieving Empress said nothing and told no one. When it came time to bury the child, the mother switched the body for a bag of corn meal. She took her dead child's body to the catacombs beneath Mica's wing of the palace, and she laid her child to rest in a type of makeshift crypt.

"She didn't tell anyone about this either. Several months passed uneventfully. But rumors began to spread that Mica wasn't sleeping; that Mica wasn't well.

"Doing her queenly duty, Saba went to visit Mica.

"'Saba!' Mica cried. 'Lift the curse! I beg of you! Anything! I will do anything!'

"'Why, whatever do you mean, Lady Mica?' the Empress asked slyly.

"'The child! Your dead child weeps! He cries every night. He will not let me sleep!'

"'And why do you think that is, my lady,' Saba asked.

"But Mica's heart hardened and she would not confess, 'Because you hate me and you have cursed me.'

"This saddened Saba for she knew, in part, that it was true. Even if Mica had caused the death of her child, she in return had cursed the wretched woman. Shortly after her visit, Empress Saba went back down to the catacombs and she took the body of her precious baby boy away. Secretly, she gave him a proper burial.

"But the weeping did not cease, and Mica grew wilder and madder and one night, at the new moon, she threw herself from a balcony to her death.

"To this day, even in the decimated ruins in which the palace presently exists, a soul can hear the baby cry. Except at the new moon. When the new moon rises, the baby laughs."

The End
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Post December 03, 2016, 11:57:19 AM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

The challenge was to write a story with a happy ending on a present-day, alternate reality Earth.
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Post December 03, 2016, 11:58:14 AM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

On a swing and a prayer

Sage Heartwood

It was a sunny day and the tall gleaming tower that was the launch vehicle was a sight to behold. It bore the symbols of the united space colonization efforts. The clusters of stars reaching out to each other with a minute earth in the center spreading boldly colored flag lines toward the various parts of the stylized sky. It was a sight to behold and I hoped fervently that it would be as beautiful as the many launches I had seen on screens flat, holographic, and three dimensional. Taking my husband’s hand I held it tightly as we began to feel the shaking of the craft beneath our feet.
Over the comms I could hear the sounds of a dozen accents punctuated by different languages. It was strange to think that we had come to this point. At what had seemed the end of the space race with the United States landing on the moon everything had been going into a sort of standby mode. The Soviet Union had been defeated in the end and other foci were beginning to gaining prominence in the cold war. The sudden death of the soviet premier however had rapidly precipitated a renewed interest in the field.
It was Melody that noted it first. I could see her head cocked slightly to the side in front of me, listening. “Do you all hear that?” She asked puzzled. “You mean the buzzing that…” Raymond began but was cut off as the MagLev engaged and we began to catapult to the sky. It was much harder to hear at this point with so we switched to our built-in headsets. “Can you hear me now?” A voice said. The nametag identifier read ‘Amanda Hillman’. A much more familiar voice replied: “Yes we can hear you. Still trying to work out what the buzzing noise is. Any thoughts?” These words were from Yanovich who I admired for his calm demeanor and mean game of chess. “I’ve never heard it before” I chimed in. “It has me a bit worried”. As if fate had a sense of humor it was just about that moment that things went sideways - along with our ship.
There was a violent lurching of the craft and had we not been belted in so tightly the group would likely have been thrown against the side of the wall. A quick glance out the window showed that we were well off our projected course. Shouts of various orders and barks from ground station filled all channels and conversation was temporarily cut off entirely in favor of emergency procedures. Listening to the comms chatter between ground and our navigation specialists the nature and extent of the problem soon became clear.
Due to a stress failure in one of the struts holding us to the track we had gone into a freewheeling and uncontrolled spin around the remaining track. Spinning around on the tracks before exiting was a normal procedure lending additional stability when the craft vaulted beyond them into the sky. This spin however, was far too forceful and applied in the wrong direction. Ultimately what it meant was that we were hurtling completely in the wrong direction off into space. The near frantic calculations by Johnson, one of our astrophysicists, showed that we didn’t have the fuel to change course sufficiently to get back to anywhere if we continued on this path for long.
I tried to focus my thoughts and force back the panic. Ideas of slowly asphyxiating alongside my comrades as we continued hopelessly in the deepness of space kept trying to creep in. It was all the worse because in this situation I seemed all but useless. My training was in geology, metals, and medicine. Excellent skills for building colonial infrastructure and health but of no use to reorient a spacecraft.
In a fit of nihilism I started punching up current data on local geology in our part of the solar system. I wanted to see what the first thing that we might possibly hit would be. My husband looked over gripping my shoulder. “Dear, what is it that you are looking for?”. Thinking outside my panicked state for a moment I was almost ashamed. “I was looking for how this might end.” I replied phrasing my thoughts carefully. “So you are looking at some way to gravitationally change our trajectory”? The idea struck me rather hard and left me wondering why I hadn’t been calculating it sooner. I immediately transferred what I had been doing onto one of the main screens and pinged the physicist with the simple query. ‘Turn on an asteroid?’ Even before I got a reply I had found that while there were no asteroids there was a large telecom satellite that we would fly within half a kilometer of.
Pinging this around one of the energy experts pointed out that we did have a solar catchment system. It was supposed to deploy for additional power during the trip but if we dropped it early enough we might be able to swing along the thick and heavy cable pulling a hard turn on the satellites’ inertia. It would destroy the satellite and probably half our ship but we would have a chance to re-enter orbit with directional thrusters.
They are still calling it the miracle of the red dust the way we came hurtling around changing our positioning as fast as the computer was able on the position thrusters. Atmospheric braking into the arctic tundra. Hitting a lucky spot on the snow that buried the craft rather than shattering it wholesale. In the end there was only one fatality out of the 56 people who were on board. I couldn’t walk having broken a leg during the turbulent reentry but those that were in better shape helped those that were not and we wandered out into sunrise on an arctic spring.

The End

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