Flash Fiction Entries

Whenever Janet Reid has a writing contest, I try to enter.  So far, they've always been the same -- write a story using 100 words only, and five of the words are given.  We are allowed to use the words as stand-alone words, or as parts of other words.  I've compiled a list of my entries here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
March 4, 2017

agent
99
max
well
smart


I hate my job.

Well, not entirely.  I loved it until today.  Sunshine, fresh air.........

Okay smart-ass, yeah it's not so great on rainy days.  But mostly it's blue skies and wide open spaces.  I get up to maximum speed and life just flows on by.

When I took this job, they promised I'd be an agent of change.   Bring happiness to the masses.  Now, I don't think I'll ever get this song out of my head.

The chaperone stood and called “Wanna start again?”

The happy masses shouted “99 bottles of beer on the wall!”

I hate my job.
 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
February 25, 2017

pry

jet
blue
desert
gnaw

The bright blue sky filled with the signatures of jets and the dusty Iraqi desert filled with the bodies of brothers.  Corporal Morgan, 23yo, grit his teeth and focused his thoughts on his wife.  Pain gnawed him to the core as he inched his battered hand to his chest.  He fumbled with his bloody uniform pocket, and extracted a pen and a photo.  Baby Benjamin, two weeks old.  He kissed him through the tears.  Prying off the cap with his teeth, he scribbled on the back.

Love you forever.  Daddy.

Yes, you can love someone you've never met.

Semper fi.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
February 18, 2017 
For this contest, we were given the poem Happiness by Jane Kenyon and asked to use it as a writing prompt


New job, day 2*

Nice office, fourth floor, window view
Friendly people, interesting work
Computer software from hell
Today's Friday!
3pm, rain slams window
Wind strong, palm trees horizontal
Lights flicker
Phone alert, flash flood warning!
Shut down computers, grab handbag
First floor flooded
Umbrella inverts, slog through parking lot, clothes and shoes soaked
Check traffic website, choose route
Join mass exodus
Dodge fallen trees, traffic lights out
Freeway 40mph
Grip steering wheel, say prayer
Avoid stalled vehicles in right lanes
An hour passes, exit freeway
Misjudge water level, pray car doesn't stall
Stop for train
Home
Happiness

*true story



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
February 11, 2017 
This entry was a finalist!


death
wren

red
brew
dig



Mildred finished digging and smoothed the dirt.  Good riddance.

Back inside, her alarm chimed.  They're almost here!

She grabbed a wrench.  “This'll do,” she said, hammering.

Pictures hung, she shoved dirty clothes under the bed, dirty dishes in the oven.

To cover the deathly stench, she opened a window and brewed some coffee.  That's better.

Social services arrived.  “Where's Charlie?”

“At a friend's house today.  Active boy,” Mildred said, laughing.

He scanned the house.  “You've cleaned up quite a bit since last month.”  He jotted notes, took photos.  “I'll close your case.  Congratulations.”

Mildred smiled.  Free at last.
 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 10, 2016
This entry was a finalist!


gut
shot
straight
whip
lash


Megan brushed the rat's nest, then curled the straight sections.  Satisfied, she whipped out the spray-o-perfection.  A little pouf, a little tease.

Passable, but still a teen from the gutter.

She applied concealer to hide the lines and blemishes, foundation, some blush-o-temptation for color.  A little lipstick.  Eye liner.  Shadow.

Still needed something.

Rummaging, she found false eyelashes.  Perfect.

She stood back and admired her work.

Megan changed into a black suit and set out refreshments.

Family and friends gathered, offering condolences.

“She's beautiful,” the mother said, weeping.  “Thank you.”

Megan smiled.  This was why she became a mortician.
 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 2, 2016


hope
next
year
a lot
better

Sixty-two million people believed in him.

Untold millions more were counting on him.

Or not.

Sure it was the biggest company he'd ever run.  But he could handle it.

Piece of cake.

He was, after all, no apprentice at this.

He turned, hair unruffled in the breeze, and faced the future.  The next four - no make that eight - years would be a lot better.

January 20, 2017

He raised his right hand.  “I do solemnly swear....”

He'd make this place great again.

He hoped.

Or 128 million people would gleefully say

“You're fired.”

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


November 5, 2016
This one was a finalist!

cat
nose
tail
stare
hello


CAT – After midnight comes the social worker. One suitcase for 12 years' possessions.  Cole leaves his mom.  His dad.  His cat Lucky.  Tears for Lucky.  Goodbye.

NOSE – First placement.  Cole wrinkles his nose.  Pine-Sol.  Foster care - a disease to eradicate.    No tears.  Goodbye.

TAIL – Second placement.  The revolving door.  Cole's portion, the tail end of everything – clothes, food, sleeping accommodations.    No tears.  Goodbye.

STARE – Third placement.  Three strikes you're out, or three times the charm?  The lady embraces Cole.  “I'm so glad you're here.  Welcome home.”  He stares – smiling lady, purring kitten.

HELLO

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 8, 2016
For this contest, the requirement was to begin the story with the phrase "no questions asked".


No questions asked.

At four, Amber returned my favorite sparkly glitter pen while I wasn't looking.

At eight, Amber “found” her little brother's bike behind the tool shed.

At twelve, Amber sneaked her big sister's new blouse back into her closet while she was at school.

At sixteen, Amber arrived home in the back of a police cruiser.

At twenty, Amber was sentenced to probation plus restitution.

At twenty-four, Amber served two years in state prison.

At twenty-eight, Amber's grave is bare, so I cover it with flowers.

I'm sorry Amber.

My beautiful baby girl.

I should have asked questions.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
September 23, 2016

dixie
eleven
lies
home
mom


Hi. My name's Dixie. I'm eleven years old and we just moved, AGAIN. We live in base housing. This is my fifth home and my fourth school.

I'm behind again. Like usual. Changing schools sucks, especially when your parent is deployed. Last time it took two months, WITH a tutor, before I could catch up.

This time isn't any different.

My tutor is Anabelle. She's nice. No BS, no lies.

I'm almost caught up.

My dad picks me up from school today.

He has THAT face. The face no one wants to see.

We cry together.

Semper fi, Mom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 22, 2016

cow
league
road
trip
pry


Blorg lowered the exit ramp and turned to his colleague. “Let us fulfill the purpose of our trip.”

They descended to the road. Pryt approached a retreating life form with a strange head covering. “Take me to your leader.”

“You idiot!” Blorg scowled, whacking Pryt upside his starboard head. Good help was so hard to find.

The life form turned. Blorg squinted, sounding out the words on the head covering. “Make... America... great... again...”

The life form shook its single head. “What leader?” It shuffled sadly away.

Defeated, Blorg and Pryt ascended the ramp.

No intelligent life here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 8, 2016

thrill
grand
gin
pitch
16


Dearest Snooky-Sharkums,

The world awaits the unputdownable tale of my crazy life, UNJUST CONVICTION -- three kids, one horse, one rat-bastard ex, thirty years (concurrent plus good behavior) in the making -- a memoir/thriller of 256,387 words, “Kari Lynn Dell meets Laird Barron”. It's been on Amazon since 2011 and earned $16.37 so far.

I'm convinced it has a future with you, despite your multiple rejections.

Sorry I can't pitch you at RodentWheel Writer's Conference. Parole denied. I'll accept fifty grand. Graves need flowers.

I do miss them. The horse anyway. Maybe the kids.

Have a gin for me.

Cheers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 2, 2016

X
Bone
Devil
Slip
100


I'm a devil for Halloween.  I got a tail and a pitchfork and red horns on my head.

Joey got 100 fleas and a bone through his nose.  I tell Joey the bone's for his mouth but he don't listen.

Next is old man Walker's house.

“What's that X on the porch?”

I squint past a foam headstone and a plastic skeleton. “Beats me.”

We travel up the walk, careful not to slip in the mud.  Joey knocks.

“Trick or –”

I pitch my pumpkin bucket, heavy with booty.  Joey ain't so lucky.

Now there's two foam headstones.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 14, 2016 

miff
tiff
sulk
huff
fluff


“I'll huff... and I'll puff...”

Miss Tracey paused, book in one hand, stuffed wolf hovering inches from the Leggo cabin.  Little Timmy, sitting criss-cross applesauce in Storytime Circle, covered his eyes, body quivering.

“Don't be a scaredy-cat.”  Amanda fluffed her hair.  “Nothing-”

“Amanda!”  Tracey scolded.  “Let's all listen to the story together.”


Amanda crossed her arms and sulked.

Timmy opened his fingers a crack.  “Miff Tracey?”

“Yes, Timmy?”

“I help the wittle pigs?”

“Sure, Timmy.  How would you like to help?”

Timmy smiled, scrambled up, and grabbed the three-foot-tall stuffed mastiff.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


May 7, 2016

[this entry made the longlists of finalists!]


may
play
brie
whee
quick


The managing partner from hell loomed in Dena's doorway. “Felman brief done?”

She coughed and wheezed, suppressed a curse, and glanced at the time through watery eyes. 4:57pm. “I may finish today.”

If she survived. Stupid flu.

“Midnight filing deadline. Goodnight.” She gave his back a middle finger salute. A$$hole.

The page limit quickly approached. Crap. Dena blew her nose, deleted several thats, and played with the margins. Twenty-five pages.

Create PDF. Log-in. Upload. Motrin.

11:59pm

She slid her resignation under the partner's door. Good riddance.

At home, a text chimed.

“See me tomorrow for $25k bonus.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On April 30, 2016, the contest was different.

Start with this phrase:  "And then she saw"
End with the phrase: "stunned her."
Use these three prompt words: cat hat splat

[this story got a mention!]



And then she saw (or more accurately – felt) Janet Reid looming behind her.

“Ms. Pawling....”

The hairs on Dena's neck prickled like a startled cat. Crap.

“You began this story with a conjunction.”

“But-”

Janet waggled a finger. “No buts. Which by the way is also a conjunction.”

Stupid grammarian. Dena hated this agent. This workshop. Cursing, she visualized Janet splatting from the twentieth floor.

Feeling better, she deleted the beginning of her story.

Several months later, Dena emailed Janet her completed novel.

“When can we talk?” she emailed back.

And then Janet stunned her.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


March 12, 2016
[this story got a mention!]


sea
blue
salt
safe
land


Fifteen men on a dead man's chest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Took to sea to get some rest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Thought they were safe out on their quest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Men in blue soon came abreast

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

They were pressured and confessed

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Now they're on land under arrest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Of the state they are a guest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum

Missing salt spray and crow's nest

Yohoho and a bottle of rum


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


March 5, 2016


pinch
nick
lift
rob
filch


I love holiday dining.

“These pants pinch.”

January – harbinger of doom.

“I'll start with a short walk.”

Gray sweat pants. Each lift of her leg brought new pain.

“Mind over body.”

Why am I always second?

“Must. Keep. Going.”

Spring. Time to rebel.

“Those donuts looks delicious. I'll filch one bite.”

Delicious.

“Jogged two miles in the rain today.”

Robbed of victory.

“Almost there.”

New clothes. New pains.

“In the nick of time.”

Hey, I'm cute in shorts.

“School's out!”

Bikini's on!

“Barbecue and fireworks.”

I love holiday dining.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


February 27, 2016
[this story got a mention!]


snow
blow
ice
chill
spring


History Final Exam

First 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”

Chill wind blows snow. Rains in California.

Phil sees no shadow. Spring.

Second 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”

Cubs win World Series.

Phil sees shadow. No spring.

Third 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”

Cable guy arrives.

Phil loses shadow. Never spring.

Fourth 6am. Sonny sings “I got you babe.”

Dena's novel publishes.

Phil chips ice from Satan's pitchfork.

Fifth 6am. Sonny finishes “I got you babe.”

Ford and Arthur board Heart of Gold.

__________?

Q1: Today's date?

Q2: What happens next?

Q3: Ultimate answer?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


February 20, 2016


tank
chest
tray
sure
smith


She wore a tank top and jeans. No one noticed -- their eyes on her chest.

Sure is fine, they'd say.

Mighty fine, came an echo.

Yep, mighty fine.

And it's mine.

Happy hour's the worst. Tips were good -- their eyes on her chest.

Don't want you workin' no more, I'd said.

I can handle it, she'd said.

It's not you, I'd said.

You're mine.

Eyes strayed too many times. My blood boiled -- their eyes on her chest.

You're done, I said.

Make me, she said.

I did.

She's mine.

Locksmith came at dawn. Now only -- my eyes on her chest.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


February 6, 2016


ore
fan
ex
her
wits


The wits waited in the hallway until their turn to testify.

The bailiff secreted Johnny in judge's chambers, out of reach of the herd of granola-chomping fanatics in the front row.

Social worker: “Mom feeds the child [shudder] organic and vegetarian!”

Fanatics pointed gun fingers at witness. Judge banged gavel.

Doctor: “Child is healthy.”

Fanatics smiled.

Kindergarten teacher: “Johnny is smart, well-behaved.”

Fanatics sat back and smirked.

Judge: “Child may be returned to mother.”

Fanatics cheered. Johnny reunited with crying mother, who offers baby carrots.

Judge left the bench. Returned in excited rush.

“Where's my potato chips and Oreos?”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


January 16, 2016
[this story got a mention!]


scat
bop
diddy
cool
snap


“Today's dish is usually prepared with chicken.” Professor Meribo projected a recipe on screen. “Let's liven it up.”

That day changed my life. The day I learned my signature dish.

We'd steamed snap peas and rice, seasoned with salt and turmeric.

“Remember, your customers are looking for unique and satisfying,” Professor Meribo instructed. “Hmmmmm, did Dylan-- there you are!”

Dylan distributed the chicken substitute. I seasoned and steamed mine, arranged it around the rice creation.

A+

The dinner crowds now wait for hours in the cool night air.

I owe my master chef distinction to Scatological Cuisine 101.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


January 9, 2016


absorb
execute
bold
shim
chill


“Chill, Dad! I can do this.”

Visions of the crumpled car rose unwelcome in my mind. She'd progressed from wheelchair to crutches to shimmy to....

“Yes you can, Sweetheart.”

“Be bold.” Alexis gripped my hands and smiled.

“Yes, Sweetheart. Be bold.”

She gave me a peck on the cheek and stepped onto the ice. The audience hushed as she glided to center ring and posed. Her eyes held the determination of one absorbed in her task.

The music started. Alexis performed her routine flawlessly, ending with a perfectly executed pirouette.

Thunderous applause.

Modern prosthetics are amazing.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


December 12, 2015


trail
cob
robo
bark
vet


No behavior problem is too difficult for Jacob.

“Spike won't stop barking.”

He extended his leg. Spike chewed to his heart's content.

“Muffin won't stop yowling.”

He gave her his arm. Muffin scratched to her heart's content.

“Polly won't stop squawking.”

He gave her his hand. Polly pecked to her heart's content.

Jacob to the rescue. Pacified pets make satisfied customers.

This years' expansion plans: Enraged cobras. Stampeding stallions. Charging bulls. Marauding bears.

Booming business.

Whistling down the trail of a thousand accolades, Jacob inhaled the glorious aroma of victory.

Robo-vet, animal whisperer.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


December 5, 2015


week
rag
creak
snag
peak


Doris reclined poolside with a big hat and a cold Bud. “Edgar! Your week to clean the garage.”

Edgar shuffled away on creaking knees, trailed by his beagle Max. “All that woman ever does is nag, nag, nag.”

“Watch how you speak to me, y'old fart!”

“Wasn't speaking to you, woman.” He led Max through the house and into the garage. An hour later, he hoisted the money bag into the BMW as Max hopped in. “Cleanest damn garage in the whole county,” he said, admiring the neat rows of dynamite.

He set the timer and drove away.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


November 20, 2015


whisker
purr
tiger
stalk
prey


Katie remembered the seasons of gentle breezes. Whiskers alert, twitchy tail. Like a tiger stalking prey.

A foolish string dared scurry across the floor.

Pounce!

Laughter.

“Such a good kitty.”

The seasons of the crackling fire. A soft mouse trailed the string. No fur, strange colors, tantalizing aroma! Batted that mouse for hours.

The seasons of the warm window. Hours to snooze. Perfect.

Now the season of the warm lap and caressing hands. That one spot, oooooooh don't stop. Always heaven.

Long happy life.

Katie heard quiet sobs as she purred beneath gentle hands.

And crossed the rainbow bridge.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


November 6, 2015


crime
bake
train
bar
ruffian


Dena scowled at the agent's blog. Entering those contests? Waste of time. She never won. That ruffian contest judge. What a crime. Who did she think she was, anyway? Queen of the Known Universe?

Dena flipped the bird at the computer, spilling her drink and scattering the gulls.

Her assistant mopped the spill and refilled her glass.

A slow smile spread across Dena's face.

Sipping her scotch on the sun-baked beach in Barbados, (a relocation funded by her writing earnings, thank-you-very-much), Dena poked another pin into the Shark doll.

No straining necessary to hear the scream from NYC.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


October 31, 2015
This contest was held to determine the "fate" of two blog commenters who were banished from an exile planet.


bag
snack
exit
remains
lesson


Colin's knees wobbled. He gripped Lynn's hand as the exit doors opened.

Welcome to Writerhellville, the sign read.

That was thirty years ago today. Back when he wanted to be a writer.

He reached into the bag for another kale chip, remembering when they were snacks and not the meal.

Remembering the Shark's lesson.

Remembering when a TBR pile brought a smile.

“Hand me today's,” Lynn croaked. Colin retrieved four. The stack's remains shifted, threatening to bury them.

Thirty more books appeared at the top of the pile.

Colin sharpened his pencil, licked the tip.

“Synopsis number 21900....”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


October 24, 2015
This contest was held to commemorate a blog commenter being banished for misbehavior [in good humor] from an already-exile desert planet.


eject
chute
plunge
gape
less


@LynnRodz  @Colin Miss you. Where's plunger?

@Colin  @LynnRodz How's life? Check cave #4.

@LynnRodz  @Colin Found it! Sick of wind blowing sand into toilets. You?

@Colin  @LynnRodz Hangin'. Wind here too. Sick of palm trees.

@LynnRodz  @Colin Palm trees? I wish.

@Colin  @LynnRodz You have no idea. Painful. Lesson learned.

@LynnRodz  @Colin Palm trees! My mouth's agape.

@Colin  @LynnRodz Close your mouth. Rejection ain't what you think.

@LynnRodz  @Colin No kidding! Palm trees!

@Colin  @LynnRodz Don't forget wind. Painful.

@LynnRodz  @Colin Painful palm trees beats sandy plumbing.

@Colin  @LynnRodz Sandy plumbing beats forever swinging from palm trees on too-short parachute


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


September 26, 2015


six
crow
spy
secret
weapon


Escrow closed. Tabitha massaged her expanding belly as she applied shelf paper, arranged dishes, set up the nursery.

Deployments were so long...

She paused. Smiled at Jonathan's picture.

“I spy a cute guy.” Jonathan. Her middle school crush. A secret then.

“No weapon will keep us apart.” His wedding vow.

Memories.

~~~~

“Daddy's home!” Jonathan scooped Lindsey in his arms, covered her baby face with kisses.

Tabitha sighed. Her life full.

Satisfied.

~~~~

New orders. Six long months....

Lindsey toddling. New expanding belly.

A knock at the door.

Full dress uniform.

“I'm so sorry, Ma'am.”

Numb.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


August 15, 2015


remove
escape
away
lull
spare


March 1
I need a vacation. Escape from the rat race.

June 1
Soooooo burnt out. I'll spare you my pain.

August 1
Two more weeks! Remove myself far away from this hell hole.

Thursday, August 13, 6pm
One more day! Mow lawn, pack suitcase, stop mail delivery.

Friday, August 14, 5pm
Outta here! Lullaby to my tired soul.

Saturday, August 15, 9am
Faithful dog. Fishing pole. Cold beer. Paradise.

Sunday, August 23, 6pm
Time flies. Emptiness descends.

Monday, August 24, 8am
Urgent tasks: 4
Mandatory meetings: 2
Feet of paper in in-box: 3
Unread emails: 367
Faded dreams: 1


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


August 8, 2015
[This contest was a tribute to Janet's client Sean Ferrell.  My entry included all of his book titles (including his unpublished one, much to my surprise.  I had no idea!) and was selected as a finalist!]


scene
feral
numb
suit
wry


Evolution of a relationship:


First date, Outback:

Her, staring at the book on the table: “You reading Numb?”

Me: “Yeah. Supposed to be an awesome book by some feral author who wears an empty suit.”

Her, eyes wide: “Like, he lives in the subway tunnels or some such scene?”

Me, with wry smile: “Something like that.”


Fourth date, Denny's:

Her, incredulous: “Why do you always have a book?”

Me, disappointed: “Why do you never have a book?”


Last date, McDonald's:

Her: “Sorry. I... I just... can't see this working.”

Me: “Why not?”

Her: “That... that author... he doesn't like koalas!”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


August 1, 2015


agent
paradise
armada
amy
toast


“What'll you have?” the barmadam asked.

Amy's mind gazed over the canyon. Scrub oaks along the hillsides. Hawk soaring overhead.

Her own personal paradise.

Her smile slid into a frown.

“Honey, you okay?”

“Huh?” Amy refocused. Never mind the canyon. Her house. Her life.

Prioritize.

She'd made it out. Along with her dog.

Her computer was toast, a popsicle on an August pavement.

A tear tracked down Amy's cheek. Her manuscript gone. Dreams of an agent vanished into the smoke.

“I need a double,” Amy said.

Then she brightened, raised her glass.

“To the cloud!”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


July 25, 2015
This one was chosen as a finalist!


Indiana
Book
Tattoo
Waffle
House


Welcome to Indiana!

I was never so glad in my life to see that sign. Ten long months......

So tired of flipping through guidebooks, living out of suitcases, eating strange food in even stranger restaurants, pantomiming communications with tattooed strangers.

No more “Does anyone here speak English?”

No more “Yes, I speak. Sorry. Please you no stand chair sit? Thank you.”

No more! I'm home at last. Time for a down-home American breakfast.

“Velcome to ze house of ze vaffle.”

“It's waffle.”

“Zat iss vat I said. Vaffle.”

Sigh.

“Does anyone here speak English?”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


July 18, 2015
[this story got a mention!]


watch
man
total
flim
flam


Yale and Haerter drew sentry duty.

“Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

“Yes, Sergeant.” Duh. They knew their jobs.

Minutes later, a large blue truck accelerated down the Iraqi alley.

Six seconds to live.

“Not on my watch.” The two sentries stood their ground and leveled their weapons.

Four.

The truck accelerated, the man behind the wheel resolute.

Three.

Without hesitation, the sentries faced death and opened fire, emptying their weapons.

The truck detonated, explosion and flames shattering the sky.

Total devastation.

Two Marines dead. One hundred fifty brothers safe, offlimits to terrorists.

Semper fi.

http://www.businessinsider.com/john-kellys-speech-about-marines-in-ramadi-2013-6


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


July 11, 2015


dongle
bangle
fangle
ten
tear


Jeremy hovered over Winifred's bed, fixated by the moonlight sparkling on her bangle. Glancing furtively about, he slid the prize gently from her wrist.

She stirred and he froze, willing her back to sleep.

Her breathing rhythmic again, he completed the task. This made ten.

A tear coursed down his cheek. The inner circle awaited!

Creeping down the hall, he focused on the final, most difficult requirement. A dongle.

Sebastian snored commando as Jeremy approached, the moonlight glinting on his carefully honed blade. He tiptoed forward, eyes on the prize.

Sebastian screamed.

Jeremy fist-punched the sky.

A fangle-member at last.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


June 20, 2015


mitten
phil
patty
gang
dish


Lord Philip Cavendish surveyed the party-goers and sighed. He supposed he must endure these dreadful affairs.

His sister, Priscilla, lovely as ever. His niece, Patricia...

He shook his head. They called her Patty. Such a common name. He supposed it suited her, poor dear. She was plain and gangly, after all. No redeeming qualities. Fool child, smitten with some commoner. He'd forbidden the relationship, of course. Not on his watch.

Lord Cavendish gave a perfunctory smile to his guests. He delicately lifted a tea cake from a tray, took a bite, and collapsed.

The doctor shook his head.

Patty smiled.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


June 6, 2015


stage
actor
crane
chorus
ghost


I hate math. Prime factors, differential equations, electrical output....

I'd endlessly scribbled numbers, but dreamed of the stage. A chorus girl, in a frilly dress with a long leg stretched up to the sky.

My father would hear none of it. He'd spent his days pouring concrete and hammering wallboard, dreaming of one day operating the big crane.

“Engineering,” he'd said, scratching his crotch while he spat. “That's where the money is. I ain't wasting my money on no stupid fine arts rubbish.”

Tomorrow I change my major. I pushed away the memory of his ghostly scream, and danced.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


May 30, 2015
[this story got a mention!]


wife
balloon
heart
dare
plott


One Writer's Journey

There once was a writer, mid-June
Whose wife sent him off by balloon
He dared sail up high
Way up into the sky
And ended up crashed on Carkoon

There once was a writer, in exile
Whose heart wanted out of the slush pile
There were no distractions
Like problems with fractions
On Carkoon, he hoped would be worthwhile

There once was a writer, fair stuck
Mind blocked and all out of luck
His pantsing had failed
Tried plotting and wailed
“I'll never type The End, oh WTF!”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


April 11, 2015


dell
horse
long
ride
home


They met by Casa Della Tires.

“Wanna drag?” she teased, longing to show this cheeky young upstart the real meaning of racing.

“Your horses are the carousel variety,” he taunted with smooth arrogance.

“Says you.” She zipped away.

He chased after her at full power, enjoying the ride, the straight road, and the view of her bumper.

“You make this too easy,” he lied, straining through exhaustion as he eased up beside her.

Sally winked at him and gunned for home. “Amateur.”

McQueen blinked at the swirling dust. “Piston cup gotta be easier than that woman.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


March 24, 2015


smith
exile
link
seven
music


Dena stared at the blank screen, Beethoven music blaring.

“Write!” Smith bellowed.

Dena typed “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” This is NOT what she expected when she clicked the link for the Carkoon School of Writing. Curse that Janet Reid!

“Write!”

“Four score and seven years ago,” Dena typed, swearing at the blinking cursor. Seeing Smith come her way, she scrolled down and typed “and they all lived happily ever after.”

Smith wasn't fooled. He pointed toward the door.

Dena shuffled out to exile. Lima beans forever. A fate worse than death.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


February 6, 2015


signal
hour
crane
collapse
homer


Homer rubbed his face. Interminable hours of surveillance were maddening, but the lure of a hundred grand anchored him. He quietly stretched, then massaged the cramp in his side. How long would he squat, hidden in the trees, before he got a recognizable photo of her?

He peered again through the binoculars. She remained hidden, but he glimpsed movement. Homer held the binoculars in one hand and with the other, positioned his camera.

She rose. Homer held his breath and depressed the shutter. Gotcha!

He check-marked the final box, “crane,” signaling his win of the bird watcher marathon, and collapsed.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


January 30, 2015


death
red
show
me
state


Detective Johnson stood over the body.

“Yep, looks like Red Death.”

“Red Death?” his neighbor, Luke Westfall, asked with one eyebrow raised.

“Has all the telltale signs.”

“Show me.”

“Mangled state, holes here and here.” Johnson pointed with his shoe.

Luke nodded. “Others in the back bedroom have the same holes.”

“There are others?” Johnson followed him to the rear of the house.

“What's going on here?” Luke asked. “I don't understand.”

His Irish Setter appeared in the doorway, dragging another deflated sex doll, and added it to the stack.

“Red!”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


January 9, 2015


bishop
wife
secret
hammer
repent


“Shark's running her first contest of 2015.” Jack pushed a pawn.

“That's no secret.” Larry advanced his bishop. “Check.”

Jack took the bishop with his rook and smirked. “You play like my wife.”

Larry positioned his knight and smiled. “Check again. Your wife this good?”

Jack retreated his king. “Hey, I need a plot point. Should Colonel Mustard kill him in the kitchen with the knife?”

Larry pushed a pawn. “How about Corporal Catsup in the kitchen with a hammer?”

Jack took the pawn. “Should he repent?”

“Naw, that's the sequel.” Larry ran his queen forward. “Checkmate.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


November 7, 2014


long
beach
sand
bill
max


I love the beach in winter. Slow waves caressing the jetty. Gulls floating on air currents, the mad dash-and-grab of the summer season a distant memory. Not another human in sight.

I meander along the shore, cool sand squishing between my toes. How did my life get so crazy? Credit cards maxed out, bill collectors constantly calling. My boss more of a jerk than ever, but I can't afford to quit.

I stop and gaze out over the water. So calm, so beautiful. A tear trickles down my cheek.

The water beckons me to come, and I accept the proposal.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


October 31, 2014


beautiful
thing
await
paper
back


Today is our paper anniversary. I procrastinate until the last minute, as usual, but she is always forgiving. I'm a lucky man. A book? No, not really appropriate. Origami? Not right for her. Ah! Beautiful roses for my beautiful wife. Nothing but the best.

I drive the short distance, through the gate, park the car, and walk. Then kneeling on the yellowing grass, I brush back the autumn leaves and gently place the paper roses on the stone.

“Happy anniversary, my love. I didn't forget. Aren't you proud of me?” I smile through tears as I await her reply.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


October 24, 2014


oil
boom
mother
ice
shower


I'm of the boomerang generation. Off to college, then back home to mother. Off to the oil fields of North Dakota, then back to--

You get the picture.

I need to get off this merry-go-round before I lose my sanity. But January in North Dakota is a beast, already a sanity robber.

But if I disappear, mother will come looking for me. Maybe bring a crazy friend along.

And my mother is a beast, for similar reasons.

I stole my work-issued ice pick before I quit and went back to mother.

A warm shower will clean up the blood.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


October 3, 2014


Pants
Magic
Blood
Spirits
Cat


“Do these pants make my butt look fat?”

“Stella, you're the assistant. People aren't watching you, they're watching me. A more relevant question is 'Does this blood make my show too scary?'”

“You're gonna put blood on me?”

“Don't worry, it's from a cat, not a human.”

“A cat? You hurt a cat? What kind of magician are you?”

“Hold still. I want it to look real.”

I jerked my hand away. “Eeeewwwww.”

“Look what you did! The spirits are angry now.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


June 27, 2014


evil
virus
mono
blush
piper


“Go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.”

~Sigh.~ I hate monopoly. I picked up my thimble and placed it behind bars.

Mandy waved a Get Out of Jail Free card in my face. “I'll trade ya.”

“For what?”

“Bra!” Gina shouted.

“We're not playing strip poker!”

“Up to you.” Mandy shrugged.

“I'll catch a virus.”

“Don't be silly,” Diana said.

~~~Thirty minutes later~~~

“I hate monopoly.”

“Bra! Bra! Bra!” the chorus echoed.

“You're evil.”

Mandy smiled.

I blushed and paid the piper.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


June 20, 2014
[this story got a mention!]


rose
berry
child
parker
finder


“Shark!” Captain Ahab rose abruptly, shoving Parker aside like a small child and cranking the wheel hard to starboard.

“I'll get him, sir.” Parker regained his footing and readied the harpoon gun.

“No, you idiot!” Ahab fought to control the boat in the turbulence. “I only get a finder's fee if I take him alive.”

“Alive? … Are you insane?”

The shark bore down, ramming the port side with tremendous force. Parker fired. The boat shuddered, then disintegrated.

Parker bobbed to the surface, surrounded by a berry-colored stain.

“Captain?”

A fin circled and closed in.

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