Loose Ends

The woman donned in colorful scrubs behind the counter at the nurses station stiffens a bit when I approach her. She doesn’t know my face, but she recognizes the authority of my lab coat.

“Good morning, Doctor…?” It’s clear she’s waiting for a name. I give her none. I am not accustomed to explaining myself.

“I’m looking for a patient. Mr. Toomis. What room is he in?”

My abruptness delivers the required response. She pauses momentarily and then, “Uh, he’s down the hall in 234.” She points. “The one with the police officer sitting outside.”

I nod my thanks.

The cop tries to impede me from entering the room. He’s only slightly more challenging to convince. After a quick exchange, I step into the dark room where a fat, balding man lies in bed, hooked to machines.

Removing the syringe from my coat pocket, I inject the contents into his IV. I’ll have less than a minute.

As I push open the doors to the stairwell, a heart monitor beeps it’s sorrowful tone. For one man, the end. For another, a fatter bank account. I leave the lab coat and the empty syringe in the dumpster behind the hospital.

Word Count: 198

[This is my entry into the Flash Fiction Challenge for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner by Roger Shipp. Write a story based on a photo prompt and introductory sentence in 200 words or less.]

~V

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It’s Been One of Those Days

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

The thunderous droning of the swarm drove the servants of the palace to flee screaming while cupping their ears. Winged demons buzzed tumultuously throughout the city, stinging and biting. The wrath of the Almighty was severe. Abu, Pharaoh’s most faithful servant searched frantically for the God-King. He burst into the throne room, sealing the doors behind him and collapsing in the empty chamber. The tiny beasts had not yet penetrated this far. Catching sight of the arm of the throne, Abu wailed in fear. A locust of lapis and gold fluttered it’s wings. The wrath of the Almighty was severe.

Word Count: 100

[This is my entry into this weeks Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Use the photo prompt to create a short story in 100 words or less.]

~V

A Man of Considerable Talent

Photo prompt courtesy of Mike Vore.

“Oh come on, Georgia, you simply have no appreciation for the arts,” Gerald complained.

“I just think piano recitals are boring,” replied Georgia.

“But I’ve been told this gentleman has a most unusual and creative technique for playing,” said Gerald.

“And what is that?”

“Well, I don’t know exactly,” he said. “But Mrs. Milligan down at the market said he was a man of considerable talent.”

“Since when did Betsy Milligan become a connoisseur of the arts? That woman is as crude as they come.” sniffed Georgia.

“Do it for me then?”

Gerald and Georgia worked their way through the crowds of women that packed the small theater down to their front row seats. As the lights dimmed, a handsome man in his twenties, adorned in a tuxedo strode across the stage. The crowd applauded loudly,

The man approached the grand piano, unfastened his pants and dropped his trousers to the ground. Gasps and cheers echoed off the walls. The man stepped up to the keyboard, hands in the air and proceeded to play a rousing rendition of chopsticks.

Gerald’s face was crimson. Georgia grinned broadly and leaned in to whisper in her husband’s ear.

“You were right, dear. I am enjoying this show very much after all.”

[This is my entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, hosted by Priceless Joy. A photo prompt is given and writers are encouraged to create a short story of 100 – 150 words, + or – 25 words. My apologies for going over the limit. I normally don’t include video to accompany my story, but I wanted to show my inspiration for this one.

Also, I considered an alternative title: “A Sizable Contribution to the Endowment for the Arts” but I thought it might be too long. 😉 ]

~V

Run For The Border

run-for-the-border

The glow from the TV reflected off of Bob’s face giving it a ghostly appearance in the semi-dark room. His eyes were affixed to the screen as the anchor from the local news station  discussed the massive increase in illegal border crossings in the past year.

“Border patrol agents report that tonight’s raid was hugely successful and twenty-three people were arrested. The latest statistics show that the influx of immigrants and refugees from the south have risen every month for over a year now.”

Bob turned to his brother Doug, who sat next to him drinking a beer.

“Damn illegals,” he said. “They keep coming here trying to take our jobs. We need to send them all back, eh.”

“Yeah, it’s not our fault their country sucks so bad. Why do they need to come here and ruin things for us?” Doug said.

The anchor continued with her report.

“The travel ban proposed by top government officials has been controversial, but proponents say it is necessary in order to secure our borders.”

“We need to build a wall like they was talking about,” said Bob, reaching for the Molsen on the table next to his recliner.

“Boy, do we ever!” replied Doug. “You know most of them are rapists and criminals. When America sends their people here, they aren’t sending their best.”

Bob nodded and then changed the channel over to the Maple Leafs game that was just starting.

[Author’s Note: My apologies to my Canadian neighbors. This was satire and not meant to suggest that Canadians are as piggish as Americans. Everyone from the Great White North I’ve ever met has been the picture of class and kindness.]

~V

 

Up In Smoke

Photo prompt © Dawn M Miller
Photo prompt © Dawn M Miller

“C’mon lazy, get off your butt.”

Andrea poked her brother Herschel in the shoulder as he lay sprawled on the couch.

“Stop it Andy, you’re harshing my buzz,” complained Herschel.

“That’s the point,” she replied. “I’m not going to have you getting high and lying around all day like you did at mom and dad’s. In fact…” Andrea grabbed the tall glass smoking unit that sat on the coffee table next to her indolent sibling.

“Hey now, what…” began Herschel.

“I’m locking this up until you can show me that you’re going to be productive around here,” she said, walking off with Herschel favorite possession. “Now, get some shoes on, you’re going shopping with me.”

For the next several hours Herschel lugged sundry packages from stores to his sister’s SUV. Eventually she stopped to admire a collection of chimeneas outside a small shop.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted one of these,” she exclaimed. “It would be perfect for entertaining on the patio.”

Herschel groaned. It looked heavy.

Several days later Andrea searched the house for her brother to give him his list of daily tasks. She eventually found him on the patio, stretched out on a lounge chair holding a long tube attached to a device that Herschel had affixed atop her chimenea. She smelled a rich, sweet smoke permeating the air. Herschel took a puff with a grin spreading across his face.

“Heeeeey, sis, wassup?”

Andrea rushed to her new clay fireplace and took a whiff.

“What did you do?” she cried, glaring at her brother.

“You never gave my bong back so I rewarded myself with this awesome hookah you bought. You’re the best, Andy!”

[This is my entry into the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, hosted by Alastair Forbes. Write a short story of 200 words or less from the photo prompt provided. I went over the limit this week but either due to laziness (No, I don’t own a bong or hookah) or perhaps just because I liked the story as it was, I chose not to edit it down. I hope everyone liked it.]

~V

Family Planning

fffpp-3-2-17

The pain from the contraction was intense and Gloria groaned loudly.

“Ahh! Michael, it’s time!”

Gloria’s husband scurried about, grabbing the bag they’d packed for the hospital. He spied one of his sons.

“Herbert, come here!”

“My name is Leonard.”

“What?”

“I’m Leonard, dad.”

“Where’s Herbert?”

“Mom ate him when he was an infant, remember?”

“Oh. Right,” said his father. “Well anyway, I have to get your mother to the hospital. She’s about to give birth again. You’re in charge of your brothers and sisters.”

“Again?” asked Leonard.

“We’re mice, son. We don’t use contraception.”

“But there are so many of us now,” said Leonard. “There’s never enough food, we all sleep in a big mound. It takes hours to get into the bathroom. Couldn’t she just, you know…” he pantomimed intense chewing.

“Hey now, she was under stress when that happened,” said his father.

“She gets stressed a lot,” muttered Leonard. “Remember Angie and Rebecca and Larry?”

“No, not really.”

“Exactly!” said Leonard.

“Well if I don’t get her to the hospital soon, she might eat me,”

“Fine,” sighed Leonard. “So what are you naming this one?”

His father paused, scratching his head. Then, “I know. How about Herbert?”

Word Count: 200

[This is my entry into the Flash Fiction Challenge for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner by Roger Shipp. Write a story based on a photo prompt and introductory sentence in 200 words or less.

I know, this story is kind of weird. I was in a strange state of mind when I wrote it. Too much coffee, perhaps. Or too little. I’m not sure which.]

~V

10K Word Challenge

368069041-writing-clip-art-write-a-book-review-clipart

For the past year or so I’ve been having fun participating in a number of flash fiction weekly challenges. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ve seen some of my entries. I enjoy writing flash fiction because it’s good practice for learning how to eliminate wasteful words.

I stepped away from writing for a while last year in part because I wanted to get back to working on some bigger projects. Life, it seems, had different plans for me and I stopped writing altogether. Now that I’ve gotten back in the ring, the flash challenges have been a nice way to acclimate myself back into a steady regiment of writing again, but I really don’t want to get sidetracked with just the tiny stories I post here.

Thus, I have entered into my first real writing challenge: The 10K Word Count Writing Challenge at Chapterbuzz.com. Essentially all I need to do is write a story of at least ten thousand words by the end of March. That averages to about 323 words per day. Should be a piece of cake.

I’m doing this in preparation for this years NaNoWriMo which I’ve decided to enter.

So if you want to follow my work, here is the link for Chapter 1 of a story I call “The Ghoul of Grassville”. I hope you enjoy.

~V

Bad Dog!

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Lane and Ginny collapsed onto the soft grass in the back yard. Gazing towards the sky their six year old minds began conjuring shapes from the puffy clouds passing overhead.

“Look, a bunny!” cried Ginny, pointing upwards.

A few moments later Lane exclaimed, “That’s a puppy dog!”

The dark dog-shaped cloud rumbled. A torrent of rain let loose.

Moments later the twins crashed into their kitchen, puddles of water forming around them.

“What happened to you?” chuckled their mother as she regarded her two soaking children.

Ginny and Lane looked at each other sourly.

“The puppy dog peed on us!”

Word Count: 100

[This is my entry into this weeks Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Use the photo prompt to create a short story in 100 words or less.]

~V

Left Behind

Photo © Majesticgoldenrose
Photo © Majesticgoldenrose

Toby’s soft brown eyes peered through the metal bars of his pen as the next round of cattle boarded the big truck. His heart sank, just as it did every time he watched them leave. The Truck was a painful reminder of his own inadequacy.

It’s not fair, he thought. I try to eat as much as everyone else. It’s not my fault I can’t put on weight.

Toby was often the butt of cow jokes around the farm. The other steers teased him for his small stature and played pranks on him. Rex had been the worst. His constant bullying had left Toby silently crying at night sometimes.

Each month, The Truck arrived and took only the very biggest steers. It was said that The Truck shuttled them to a special farm, a place called “Slawter” with fields of endless grass and ever-blue skies.

As Rex strode up the ramp into the truck, he hurled his final insult.

“You’ll never make it to Slawter, pipsqueak. You’ll stay her forever. Hahahaha!”

Toby sighed. Forgotten again.

Word Count: 175

[This is my entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, hosted by Priceless Joy. A photo prompt is given and writers are encouraged to create a short story of 100 – 150 words, + or – 25 words.]

~V

 

If It Ain’t Broke

© A Mixed Bag
© A Mixed Bag

“One martini, two martini, three martini four,” chanted Elijah with slurred but measured speech. “There’s nothing the day can throw at you that a good drink can’t fix!”

He plunked himself down on the couch without spilling a drop while ignoring Rosie’s intent glare.

“Drunk already?” Rosie asked. “Why am I not surprised?”

The question was rhetorical but Elijah replied, “Because my dear, you know everything. At least, that’s what you’re always saying.”

“Father said you’d never amount to…”

Elijah cut her off.

“Yes, your father knew even more than you, didn’t he? What a fount of wisdom he was.”

“Leave my father out of this,” Rosie cried.

“But you brought hi…” Elijah hiccupped, “Him up.”

The two stared at each other in practiced silence. Their faces were stone. Finally, Rosie turned and stormed from the room.

Young Alexander, who’d been sitting quietly the during this exchange found the courage to speak.

“I had no idea you had such a terrible marriage. Have you considered divorce?”

Elijah responded, “Terrible marriage? Divorce? Are you mad? I love that woman more than words can express. Who else would tolerate an obnoxious drunk like me?”

Elijah laughed heartily as he downed his drink.

Word Count: 200

[This is my entry into the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, hosted by Alastair Forbes. Write a short story of 200 words or less from the photo prompt provided.

This wasn’t so much a story as just practice writing some dialogue so forgive me for that. I just couldn’t get Elijah and Rosie out of my head. Their brief exchange wouldn’t allow any other stories to come through so I decided to give them a spotlight for a moment.]

 

The Rendezvous

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The full moon cast a pale glow on the asphalt. He checked his watch again. 7:14. Andre was late. A knot formed in his belly. Andre was never late. With a final glance around, he turned and retreated to his car. The risk of being caught in the open was too great to give Andre any more time.

A cool breeze made him clench his coat tighter to his throat. If Andre was compromised he’d have to try for the border before dawn. It may already be too late. He grimaced. It wasn’t losing his life he feared most. The mission was more important. Failing to obtain the computer virus that would shut down the defense systems meant the rebellion attack was doomed. There would be no way to stop The Order from launching the nukes.

Keys in hand, he unlocked his car door. It wasn’t until it swung open that he saw Andre’s dead eyes staring at him from the drivers seat. Blood from the severed head stained the fabric. From behind he heard a voice.

“Oh, I”m afraid our systems will be quite operational when your rebellious friends arrive,” Sheila said.

A single shot from her pistol. Game over.

Word Count: 200

[This is my entry into the Flash Fiction Challenge for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner by Roger Shipp. Write a story based on a photo prompt and introductory sentence in 200 words or less.]

~V

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

White flakes floated gently down from the dark skies above. As they settled, the landscape outside Corrina’s window took on a pale gray tone. The monochromatic display in front of her would have been a pleasant sight if it were Christmas time. The calendar on the wall showed July. Corrina realized she should have evacuated with the rest of the town after the volcano exploded but she wouldn’t abandon her elderly mother who was too weak to move.

“Is that snow falling?” asked her mother from her bed

“Yes mamma,” she replied as she watched the approaching firestorm. “It’s snow.”

Word Count: 100

[This is my entry into this weeks Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Use the photo prompt to create a short story in 100 words or less.]

~V

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

fffaw-2-22-17
Photo © Dawn M. Miller

Royce fidgeted with his watch. His excitement over being chosen to visit the Kanamits planet was barely enough to quell his fear of interstellar travel. His fellow travelers milled around looking equally nervous.

When the loudspeakers in the sky terminal announced that boarding was about to commence, Royce sighed heavily. Still, as he walked past the imposing nine foot figures of his new alien hosts, he still couldn’t shake the same anxiety he felt when they first appeared on Earth several years ago. Since that time they had proven their benevolence to humanity but still – they way they leered at him as he climbed the ramp onto the spaceship – it was unnerving.

Just then a woman burst through the crowd of people on the ground below and started shouting at another passenger. Royce just made out her words before he ascended.

“Mr. Chambers, don’t get on that ship. The rest of the book… To Serve Man… it’s a cookbook!”

Royce shrugged. Not my business. He boarded the ship, never looking back.

[This is my entry this week into the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, hosted by Priceless Joy. A photo prompt is given and writers are encouraged to create a short story of 100 – 150 words, + or – 25 words.

This was a nod of thanks to one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes. I hope you liked it.]

~V

A Triumphant Return (I Hope)

Hello all. I’m sorry to have been MIA for so long. My “brief” hiatus consumed more time than I had anticipated. While I have been dealing with personal issues I have not lost my love for writing nor my resolve to pursue my dreams. I have a new story in the works (at this point it’s looking like a 5,000 – 8,000 word piece) and I hope to have it up soon. In the meantime I plan to start posting some of my flash fiction stories again. I’ve been feeling a bit rusty and need some practice.

I expect within the next few days (and possibly as soon as tomorrow) I’ll be back writing regularly again. Thank you to all who have followed this blog. See you soon. 🙂

~V

A (Brief) Leave of Absence

To anyone who follows my blog regularly or even if you just happened by,  I wanted to let everyone know I’m alive and well but taking a break from my usual flash fiction postings. It’s summertime and I find that I’m much busier than I anticipated and though I love sitting in front of my laptop, typing and releasing all the monsters from the Id, (Can anyone guess what movie that’s from?) I’m discovering that real life is beckoning and there are only so many hours for me to use each day and my flash fiction is going to pay the price.

More importantly though, I’ve decided that, for now, I may have gone as far as I can with the short, short stories I’ve been writing and I want to spend what time I do allow myself to create to return to a number of longer, larger projects that have been collecting far too much dust. I have several short stories that I want to prepare for publication and a few screenplays that have been unfairly neglected and if I really want to realize my dream of writing professionally, it’s time I hitched up my pants, tackled the big, scary stories that actually require some hard work and start writing the things that need to be written.

I’ll probably be posting things here from time to time and I should be paying a bit more attention to Dumasaphobic Diatribes as well, so fear not, gentle readers, I’m not abandoning this ship. I just need to change my focus a bit and hopefully you’ll get a chance to read my work in places other than just my blog.

Thanks to all and cheers!

 

~V