Category Archives: Flash Fiction

A Trying First Day – #MWBB

The song for this week’s Mid Week Blues Buster was a very popular one some years ago, even familiar to me. When I tried to work with it’s main theme, there wasn’t anything interesting and new coming up. Once I opened it up a bit in my head, it seemed to find a hook into themes that have been going on of painful changes and new beginnings, and let a short bundle of words out. No matter how exciting the opportunity ahead, sometimes it’s ok to stop and mourn for the moments and circumstances being left behind.

The song is by Macy Gray, and called I Try.

A Trying First Day

Finally reaching the seclusion of my car, my stoic smile crumbles as sobs wrack my shoulders. Teardrops fall down my cheeks, and my world crumbles around me. As I stare down at a picture of you, there is no doubt that even as you are far away, I am a prisoner of your love. I wipe the tears away and try to find some way past the fears that threaten to overwhelm me. A brief comfort comes in the fact that fate has brought us together, but if forced to make a confession, it would certainly be a false front.

Just a few moments ago, we were together, and I choked on the farewell as you ambled away toward your destination. I turned before you could have seen me break down, but looking over my shoulder, you were looking forward to your next adventure. Each step back toward the car was an internal struggle about whether to turn and run back to you, or to let the changes happen. The issue became so intense that I nearly toppled into a rhododendron bush. The purple blossoms dancing in the wind were unsupportive, and eventually I made it to the car.

Having to content myself with the smell of one of your shirts from the backseat, there is no denying that this is not a good look. The streaked tearstains feel like someone has been finger painting, and my nose feels full and red. Trying to pull myself together, I force myself to put your picture down on the seat, out of sight. This is only the first of many things that must be done today, and it simply will not do to let the world know just how vulnerable that I am without you near.

Just as the wispy beginnings of control start to reform, the yellow school bus passes directly ahead. Your blonde curls perform the lively dance of an animated conversation with a new friend, already moving forward on the very first day of school.

Mermaid’s Kiss – MWBB

The song this week for the Mid Week Blues Buster was a bit difficult to find a story to pair with. Then, I remembered how seductive the sea can be, as well as the power of some of the denizens there. Maybe it’s the first hints of fall, or the vibe of the equinox that is nearly upon us, but the ebbs and flows of life have definitely been on my mind lately, and it all seems to have come together at the very last minute.

The song in question this week was PJ Harvey’s song: Long Snake Moan

Mermaid’s Kiss

Through the comfortable green of her watery world, Kerthala saw many things passing her favorite rocks, carried by the currents. Some deeper into the darkness were terrifying to behold, such as gentle behemoths frolicking in joy that could crush an unwary merfolk with an exuberant shift of a fin. Others, along the tops of the waves, solid wooden forms carrying men, always scuttling about like a colony of crabs. Some of those men, though, would be still, looking deep into the water. Those were her favorite.

One afternoon, as the bright sun was darkened by a large ship, she saw one such man hanging low off the side, almost within reach of the waves themselves. He was busily working away on some task or another, scraping at the side of the vessel. Her tail twitched involuntarily, almost a moan of delight from her lower extremities. With only a slight effort, she followed along with the ship, watching for the right moment.

Matching her timing with one of the larger waves, she flexed her sinewy tail, rocketing just above whitecaps, clutching the doomed sailor in her muscular arms. Together, they splashed back into the water, disappearing with an iridescent flourish as her damp scales caught the afternoon sunlight. In but a moment, the rickety bench clattered emptily against the hull, with only a stocking cap floating briefly on the water to mark his passage.

The sailor tried to swim for the surface, but he was too far out of his element. The mermaid, delighted with the sport, allowed him to make some progress before dragging him back down and away from the precious air. In a voice that would have been melodic if not for the distortion of being underwater, she began the incantations. “Dunk you under the salt water. Bring to me all your love and power. As once over, so lost to under, as you die of pleasure from my spell.”

With his lungs burning for release, she pulls him to her, wrapping him tightly in her arms and tail. Their lips meet as his lungs succumb to the fight, breathing out his last breath, laden with his life’s power and his very spirit.
As the seawater rushes into his lungs to smother the spark of life, the mermaid releases his limp body to drift into the darkness and feed the creatures below as his soul has fed her. Worn with ecstatic bliss, she meanders back through the waves to her favorite sunning rocks, and waits for another shadow to pass across the sun.

Garden of Love – MWBB

There’ve been a lot of happenings lately that have me pondering relationships and affections that people feel toward each other. Different paths that people take, how long they stay together, when to go their separate ways, and so on. So, when this week the Mid Week Blues Buster popped back up with a song about a crowded bed, it definitely made a connection. I’m not sure it was the best connection, mind you, as some things definitely aren’t supposed to last forever.

Here’s the song that we were playing with: This Bed is Getting Crowded

Garden of Love

Janice paused digging in the flower bed long enough to wipe a bead of summer sweat away from her eyes. The best time for working in the garden during the summer was the early morning, just as the sun started to chase the stars away. The buds were just beginning to open up for the day like slow moving fireworks, filling the yard with bursts of yellow, red, and violet.

As she finished turning the rich dark soil over, she knelt down and patted the newly transplanted flowers. “This bed is getting crowded. We need to make some more room, but I just can’t help it. It feels like love to me.”

The petunias slowly settled into their new home, enjoying a steady flow of nutrients from the nourishing earth. Looking around the garden, her eyes rested on several gatherings of different flowers. Some tall, some bushier, but all grouped neatly into little spaces with benches scattered throughout. She had to have places to sit and be with her thoughts. Each set of flowers connected her to another person in her life.

“Travis, let’s get you some more water this morning. You’re drooping a little this week.”

As she went around and tended to each group of plants, it was like she was talking with each of her loved ones. Intimate touches trimmed away any brown spots or wilting, leaving the plants in each place the envy of the entire neighborhood. Visitors would come by and ask how she got them all to grow so well, and she told each of them that the secret was to “feed them love every day, and they’ll never go away.”

A man came down from the porch, sleep still in his eyes. As he wrapped his arms around her waist, he kissed her neck. “I thought I’d find you out here.”

“You know me so well. Yes, out with my other loves. I think it’s just about time for more, too. What are your favorites?”

“I like wildflowers the best, like the little paintbrush ones.”

Janice looked thoughtfully over the rest of the flowers, trying to find just the right spot. She raised the shovel and pointed. “Do you like it there”

“It’s nice, but let’s go somewhere quiet today. Somewhere away, and I’ll be your lover in the dawn, in the midnight.”

Janice frowned at that, at the thought of leaving her garden. Her loves were there, but Bruce was already trying to leave. Yes, even though the bed is getting crowded, she would have to make some more room very soon.

Once she had him set up in his very own spot with his favorite flowers, he’d never leave her.

Rejection – #VisDare

It’s been some time since I’ve made the time to participate in the wonderful Visual Dare flash fiction prompt. The summer storm raging outside is bringing a breath of cool new energy, and just as with the brown grass of the season, fresh growth goes on inside as well.

Woman with Cracking Mask

At the edge of her perfect face, the tiny edge of a crack catches the candlelight. Brilliant as a star, his eyes are drawn to it across the elegant table. The crystal wine glass in his hand is momentarily forgotten, and she knows.

Bowing her head, she knows her veneer has failed. She feels the flakes of the crumbling facade falling away. Her crumbling rosy cheeks reveal the imperfections she had glossed over. All the years of living, wounds, and mistakes being revealed. She had tried so hard to make the right impression.

Seeing her distress, he rounds the table and takes her hand in his. With his other, he brushes her cheek kindly and gently raises her head to look into his eyes. He sees the flaws in detail, finally viewing the complete woman underneath the mask. In that moment, he kisses her, and his eyes hold no rejection.

Zombie Mutations – Zombie Flash Fiction Contest

I heard about a contest being held for Zombie Flash Fiction, over on the blog. I thought it’d be fun to play along. The mutation of a person into a monster made me think about some other mutations that could happen.

The barricade slams shut with a cacophony of screeching metal, trapping Mitchell and Yvonne on the wrong side. Three years of survival since the Big Apple was lost to the zombie plague, all about to end due to an overeager sentry. Dropping the gathered supplies, they turn toward the pack of hungrily advancing monsters. Barely resembling people, the creatures move with a feline grace, loping on all fours with hardened nails clicking on the tunnel floor. Turning as a flock, they swarm down the tunnel after the pair of gatherers, a wave of ravenous death spurred to a fury by the noise and the scent of the living. As they close, they begin uttering throaty grunts in anticipation of a meal.

“Damn you all!” Yvonne yells as she lights a flare. She draws a pistol as she tosses the flare toward the oncoming beasts. Mitchell readies his axe, but as they look at each other, their eyes have the look of the condemned. The flare’s light shines back from one pair of eyes, then another, until the pack flows close enough to send menacing shadows up the ruined walls.

From the shadowy ceiling, more figures leap down into the mass of creatures. Red light flashes off of something sharp, and the momentum of the pack falters. Growls and snarls signal something being torn to shreds. With a hollow crack, the pair sees a festering head roll to a stop in the light of the flare, deformed by a crushing blow.

From the edge of the pack, one of the zombies resumes its charge at the humans. A chain shoots out of the chaos and wraps around one of the zombie’s ankles, yanking it out to the ground. Claws tear at the offending limb as the crazed beast scrambles for freedom. A strange knife flies out and strikes the monster in the forehead, ending its fight.

From the darkness, a voice rings out. “Nice shot, bro! Totally worth a pie.”

The fray begins to die down as more of the zombies are crushed or cut. Yvonne looks at Mitchell and asks a question with her eyes. Mitchell just shrugs, and then looks back at the strangest thing that he’s seen in a long time. A genuine smile brightens Yvonne’s face, a bright contrast to the accumulated dirt and grime.

The snarling in front of them stops abruptly. Shadowy shapes leap away into the darkness, smoothly and silently. Amazed at being alive, the pair of survivors gathers their supplies off the ground.

“What just happened?” he asks.

“No idea.” she admits. “Clearly someone is hunting the zombies. This could change, well, everything.”

Looking back she notices the knife in one of the zombies reflecting the light of the flare, which has barely burned in the brief altercation. “Thanks!” she yells into the dark tunnel.

Out of the darkness, “You’re welcome! Cowabunga!”

As part of the contest, they’ve asked to include some links. Seems very fair to me, and if you follow them, they’ll take you to stories that you might like.

Like my story? Kickstart the zombie apocalypse by publishing Dead Sea Games.
Want to write like me? Personal coaching and critiquing by Miranda Kate.

Dutiful Farewells – #DirtyGoggles Blog Hop

There is another leg to the Dirty Goggles Blog Hop, around Diesel Punk. This is a genre that I don’t understand as well, but love to see it growing. There is a lot of excitement in the art deco, tight military lines on the uniforms and equipment, and general sense of bleakness right around the corner, held back by honor and duty. I couldn’t pass up a chance to get another story in before the Hop closes.

Dutiful Farewells
652 words
Category: Diesel

“…I’ll always love you, but I just have to move on.”

Matthew folded the letter precisely, making it small enough to fit inside the sunglass pocket on his flight uniform’s vest. Right against his heart, where he always kept the latest letter that Maddie sent him. The perfume she dabbed on the note made it up to his nose, even through the oil and fuel scents. This note had no perfume, though.

The stresses at home had been too much for her to keep waiting, he thought. With the rationing and the destroyed cities sending refugees into homes that weren’t at full occupancy. Still, if she thought it was bad there, she should see it here at the front lines. With planes being shot down almost as fast as they could be built, and the men flying them barely able to reach the pedals, the Allies were in a bad way ever since the enemy put ray guns on the newest Fockers. Once their armies got established in Greenland, their bombers were nearly unstoppable and kept dropping bombs on American cities. The whole East Coast was dark, and the fighting had pushed up into the Midwest, not far from where Meredith was. Or at least, where she used to be. He didn’t even know where she lived anymore.

Running through his preflight automatically, his hand passed over patches and fresh welds. The engines were brand new, after the last pair were destroyed, and the patches rung solidly when he rapped them with his knuckles. He couldn’t afford one to blow loose during a tight turn and fly right into the propellers. Even a Rolls Royce couldn’t keep him in the air without blades to grab the wind.

As he was completing his walk around, a woman approached from the control tower. Heavy boots were an ill fitting addition to the tight uniform skirt and blouse, fitted a little too tightly and straining across the top buttons. The beret on her head did little to keep her dark curls from blowing across her shoulder and into her face. She crisply handed Matthew a folded piece of paper. He glanced inside to see orders and targets, along with the most current weather and troop positions available.

“Thanks, Janice. Always count on you.”

He glanced at her and almost smiled. She had no idea what was in the damned letter, but every time he read it his ice blue eyes glistened with unreleased tears. Just once, she wished he would look into her smoky dark eyes and really see her. She smiled a sad smile and saluted him.

He turned to face her, returning the salute. She added, as she always did “Fly safe, and come back home to us.”

He nodded, already in another world, then turned and climbed up into the fighter cockpit. As he locked the canopy, he watched the ground crew, and checked that his rotors were clear. Starting the engines, his expression changed from pained to peaceful as soon as he felt the comforting vibrations. No matter how dangerous the mission, he always felt safest in the cockpit. It was on the ground that things were really risky.

She stepped back off the flight line, and watched the arcane hand signals passed between pilot and crew. Finally, the wave to take off was given, and she watched the engines pull against the braked wheels, hungry to leap into the air. Sunlight glinted off the clean lines, and for just a moment, there was a perfect pause as Janice was able to see the precision machine working at full power, living as it was meant to, before the brakes were released and the whole thing shot down the runway.

Walking back toward the control tower, the exhaust from the departing plane must have blown into her face. What other reason could there be for her eyes to be watering so much?

Albatross by Moonlight – #DirtyGoggles Blog Hop

It’s late spring again, a time of warm days and afternoon tea. No surprise, then, that several lovely authors are once again doing the #DirtyGoggles blog hop. It’s a great place to catch some Steampunk or Diselpunk stories, or even better, write one of your own.

Here’s my Steampunk one.

Albatross by Moonlight
564 words
Category: Steampunk

Far above the owls, another silent hunter soared through the night sky. Moonlight traced across metallic fins, spread to catch hold of updrafts and breezes. Looking up, no shepherd would see anything amiss over the countryside. Even an errant flash of the compass plate would look like no more than a shooting star. Through goggles lensed by the rarest of rubies to see the layers of heat in the sky, the figure scanned the sky for his target.

To the East, and several hundred feet above, an airship hung in the air lazily drifting under partial sails. Though no lights were showing, the heat aura from the power plant shone brighter than the full moon. With a grin, the figure twirled and pressed one of the control buttons on worn leather gloves. The tank strapped to his back hissed and pulsed as compressed gasses mixed and were forced out a pair of nozzles. As the spray entered each combustion chamber, a plug heated to glow red, sparking the mixture and sending a sulfuric jet of fire to and rocket the figure higher up into the sky.

By flexing the wings and careful adjustments to the spinal rudder, the figure rose high into the sky well above the ship called Orion’s Chariot. Gliding above, he could see a pair of guards patrolling the catwalks, watching for malfunctions as much as intruders. After all, high in the sky, what risk was there of someone slipping aboard?

The figure matched his glide to the steady progress of the vessel, gently floating above until the guards were on the far side of the ship. Scooping the wings, just like a bird of prey, the figure released all the captured wind and dropped onto the metal deck. Another button was pressed, this time on the chest harness, and the wings collapsed in on themselves with precise fittings. Though the servos whirred and the fins scraped each other with a metallic hiss, the guards remained unaware of his presence. Now, wearing what seemed to be an odd brass and leather backpack, he stepped quietly along the walkways until reaching the main hatch to the crew quarters. Crisp riding boots made the slightest sounds with each step, no matter how lightly he strode.

Opening the cool metal door, he found the Captain of the vessel waiting for him just inside, with a wary hand on a gentleman’s cane. “I was beginning to think that you weren’t coming, Reginald.”

“Come now, I just took the scenic route. You simply have to try the Albatross one of these days. The exhilaration, the freedom…”

“The very long fall when it malfunctions. I will pass, thank you very much. And what kind of a name is that, Albatross? Fairly ominous omen for a flying machine, don’t you think?” The Captain shrugged, sending his crimson cape to rest behind his shoulders.

“As if you’re one to criticize on name choices. You may have gotten the ship from a chap that called himself Orion, but it’s terribly pretentious.” The two gentlemen laughed over the old jests.

“I assume that sherry would be refreshing after your exertions?”

Reginald clapped his hand to the Captain’s shoulder as he gently sets the Albatross backpack down on the deck. “Certainly! And let us catch up long into the evening. Tell me, old friend, what fine adventures have you been on lately?

Watching from Between – MWBB

This place has been quiet for too long, once again. Tonight, though, is May Day, a holiday celebrated by many peoples around the world by many names. A powerful day indeed, one of many where the curtains between worlds thin just a little for those who look. It goes along very well with a recent Mid Week Blues Buster selection.

This was a week or so back, and the song was Left of Center by Suzanne Vega: Left of Center

“What are you looking at?” the stranger asked Marjorie.

“Nothing much.” she answered automatically, standing just off of the Strip. The passerby just shrugged and kept walking. She wasn’t used to even running into anyone out on the fringes like this. It was so much easier to not have to deal with anyone else.

Looking around as she wandered across the outskirts of the town, she could see the most unusual world. A world filled with strange people, some as large and solid as mountains, and others small enough that they should fit in her hand. As she watched, they went through their lives, just as they had been doing ever since she was a little girl. “Looking left of center” is what she called it, and nobody else ever seemed to see what she saw.

The stranger that passed had no idea that just beside the path there was a pair of individuals the size of children. Dressed in the finest of Persian silks, they were tiny swirls of soft purple and orange, they sharply contrasted with the tiny winged man in a business suit they were talking with. At first, it seemed like they were mugging him, but the gruff voices were filled with words of deference. When they traded a single golden coin for several dew drops, the colorful pair looked around furtively. The ecstatic joy in their faces when they tasted the dew on their fingers made her feel awkwardly voyeuristic. The winged one looked right at her, and she realized they knew she was watching, and they simply didn’t care.

The tiny figure flitted by, over the shoulder of the first passerby, trailing a rainbow of dust. The stranger sneezed without ever seeing why, making Marjorie grin. Before much longer, several other people came and went on the sidewalk, an unusual crowd on the edge of town. They simply walked past without acknowledging her, or even seeming to notice that she was there. Sometimes she couldn’t tell which set of people were the ones that she could talk to and touch, causing more than one person to think she was completely out of touch.

She followed the winged business man down the around the corner, just another unnoticed figure moving through the night. By the time she stepped off the avenue, though, he was long gone into the night. Still, she wondered about him, and why the others.

The night was young, though, as she continued wandering through the hidden edges of the city, peeking in on the colorful world that went on just “left of center” from the regular world.

Going Home to Friends – MWBB

It’s been some time since an update, but there is still writing being done. Recently, there was a fun holiday. St Patrick’s day was a theme for the Mid Week Blues Buster last week, and the song of the week was specially chosen to go with it.

The song of the week was from the Pogues, called Sally MacLennane

“Kiss me, baby, I’m Irish!”

For the 3rd time, Johnny tried to stand up straight as the waitress brought another trio of green beer towers. She just rolled her eyes playfully right back at him. “The only thing Irish in you is the whiskey, bless your heart.”

Any further flirting from him was cut off as the Irish punk band in kilts and mohawks started another set. An electric guitar screams out the notes of a series of classic Celtic drinking songs, with the flying fingers of a bagpiper keeping a toe tapping harmony. The yearly parade had ended just down the block, and people from the street were pouring in with faces painted and all manner of green accessories. Before long, the bar was a throng of celebration, with a din rivaling that of the band on stage.

Within a tiny island of stillness, one older man sits on a stool at the bar, with hair the color of snow and a sweater that had seen too many winters, looking at a stack of old pictures. With each picture, he raises one glass of dark beer and takes a drink. Another glass sits next to his, filled to the top, like it’s waiting for someone to sit down and drink. Every time the bartender passes by, they trade a few words about whoever is in the current picture. Some of the yellowed photos cause a loud guffaw at a shared memory, but more than one causes the two men to make the Sign of the Cross across their chests, and for just a moment they pause and forget the pressing mass of patrons.

Such a sight was soon noticed by the trio of college students at the nearby table. Johnny wobbled through the crowd over to lean on the bar, over the shoulder of the white-haired man. “You gotta drink that beer before it gets warm, you know!”

Softly, blue eyes turn to face the young man with bouncing shamrock antennae. “Lad, tha’ beer there is for another. Used to live in this neighborhood, too, a long time ago. We used to drink right at this very bar, and talk about women and the world.” Even though the bar is painfully loud, the old man’s voice is strong to the youth leaning close.

“What’s with the pictures?”

“These are people from long ago. Some go back as far as when Charlie here was barely tall enough to reach the top of the bar. Right, Charlie?” The bartender nodded and smiled wistfully as he passed by with 4 pitchers of beer precariously held in practiced hands.

“In fact, young man, I’m going out to see them again, just as soon as I finish this drink. Can I buy you and your friends another round of…whatever those things are?”

“Sure, Gramps. If you’re buying us drinks, you’re my new best friend!” Johnny weaves back through the crowd to collect his friends. When the 3 make their way back to the bar to thank their new friend, the old man has slipped away into the crowd. At the bar, though, 3 emerald towers are waiting, surrounding the stack of pictures. Unsteady, Johnny sloshes his beer all over the pictures. “Guess he went to go see his friends.”

The topmost picture, now stained a sickly green from the beer, shows only white marble stones, carved precisely and all in orderly lines, filling an entire field.

Magical Border Music – MWBB

As so many people around the US are experiencing another chilling dance with Winter, this week’s Mid Week Blues Buster took me to somewhere warm and comfortable. The song had an extra challenge to it, with no actual lyrics, but it was still a very nice song to write for.

Here’s a link to the song: Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela

She sat there as we all waited for the train, her smoldering eyes burning into my soul, then moving on to leave impressions on the hearts of the next body in the throng. She seems to have packed very little, just a long bag leaned against her legs heavily. She notices me staring, and then smiles at me. Nothing gentle hidden in that smile, but not unkind either. Her eyes are fierce and calm, with answers to the questions floating among the stars kept safe and secret beneath thick lashes.

Around the corner, a train engine’s rhythm starts to echo, a wave of sound that carries through the crowd and disturbing the stillness of waiting. Anticipation lights up the faces of dozens of travelers, as their vacations or loved ones become one step closer. The woman grabs her bag, and stands. Grasping the hand of a nearby man as they pass, she stands in line for the front of the passenger car. He weaves into the crowd headed for the back of the same car.

As we dutifully crawl on, the woman slides gracefully into the very front seat. A few rows back, I manage to find a seat where I can keep looking at her and her smooth dark skin showing around a black shawl. With a lurch, the train starts to pull out of the station. The air starts moving through the railcar, no longer stiflingly warm, and along the way picks up a hint of morning desert blooms, mixing with the various smells of people mixing. The scents are sweet and sour, and constantly changing.

Shortly after, the woman fiddles with her bag, pulling out something large and dark, shining in the sunlight slanting in the window. Above the noises of the train, a melancholy song rises up, notes pulled from the strings of a guitar. No words come with it, but the notes are carefully placed to speak of joy, loss, and desperation straight to the heart. The crowd goes silent, engrossed in the hypnotic song. In my mind, the song takes me to a villa in the springtime, lanterns burning and dancers twirling, before meeting my fondest love under the moonlight.

So wrapped up in the entrancement am I, that the stranger has to nudge me twice to get my attention. Looking over, I see a pistol pointed straight at me, over a simple bag half filled with wallets and jewelry. Never speaking, he places the bag right in front of me, waiting for me to make my offering. I almost don’t mind placing my wallet inside, just so he’ll leave and I can return to the music. He continues to the last few passengers before reaching the woman, and she stands. As the train slows to take a turn into the canyon of our destination, she takes her guitar and steps gracefully off of the train. He follows immediately, and silence descends on the railcar just as we pull into the station.

Police are waiting for us at the station, and roughly take us off the train, disrupting the spell of tranquility over the crowd. Angry voices rise to fill the silence as officers ask questions and passengers demand answers. When the officers come to get my description of the robbers, I try to remember any little detail. Think of anything that will help. The only features remaining, though, are those dark mesmerizing eyes and the song that she wove as we trundled down the tracks. From the frustration of the police, everyone seems to be similarly forgetful. Some officers even accuse us of collaborating, but someday they’ll see. They’ll finally meet her, and become lost in those eyes as well, a lifetime lived the too short a time they are together.