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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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

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

 

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

Going Out With a Bang

Copyright -John Nixon
Copyright -John Nixon

Hershel watched as they wheeled away the stretcher carrying his mentor, Brick Longshot, The Human Cannonball.

Mr. Barns, the owner of the circus clapped Herschel on the back.

“Tough break. But now you get your shot at the big time, right?”

Herschel stared.

“Heh, I said ‘shot’. I crack myself up,” said Mr. Barns.

“I can do this” Herschel told himself as he climbed into the cannon that night.

He never discovered who mistakenly overloaded the gunpowder. His first and final landing was in the piano at the end of the big top. It was the performance of a lifetime.

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

Old School Technology

Old School Technology

Angus dropped to one knee and braced the M-25 phased plasma rifle squarely against his shoulder. Even though there was no metal projectile like the more archaic weapons the resistance used, the power generator threw up a bit of a kick when the pulse beam fired. Angus squeezed the trigger. The super-heated ionic beam tore through the titanium doors that stood between him and the eventual freedom of all humankind.

He rushed the fragments of the doors that still hung and kicked through them. Squinting, he allowed his eyes to adjust to the glowing green light emanating from the chamber beyond. There, not more than a hundred feet in front of him, rested the mainframe that housed The Enemy.

Though Skynet was essentially a computer program that had achieved “awareness”, it could not function without the advanced circuitry of the super mainframe that had originally been built by it’s creators at Cyberdyne. Destroy the mainframe and you destroy the program. That had been the mission John Connor had given him.

Delta team had disabled the secondary power generators which had provided the electromagnetic shielding of the mainframe. Without that protection, the hardware was vulnerable. A blast from a weapon like the one he carried would be enough to fry the computer into a huge lump of carbon.

The large chamber was relatively silent. Angus had almost expected to find an attachment of Terminators waiting as a last line of defense, but nothing stood between him and the abomination of a machine that had nearly caused the extinction of homo sapiens.

Angus once again took a knee and aimed the heavy rifle at the green “eye” in the center of the mainframe. Behind it was situated the primary motherboard. A couple of blasts and humanity’s struggle for survival would finally end. Angus breathed in deep and tried to steady his hand. He was so close now to victory and the residual adrenaline was still pumping through him, causing a slight shake in his limbs.

Finding his target in the scope mounted atop the rifle, Angus repeated the words he’d been savoring in his mouth for days. The words he’d been waiting so patiently to say, when it meant the most. The words that he hoped would signal the end of decades of horror and violence.

“You’re terminated, Fucker!”

Angus never saw the long, mechanical arm extend behind him. He didn’t see the needle or the large tube filled with a nanite infused fluid. It wasn’t until the needle pierced the skin on the back of his neck that he realized he’d been tricked. As the mechanical arm pumped tens of thousands of micro-computer particles into his bloodstream, he knew he’d failed. Falling forward he lost consciousness, his consciousness for the last time.

Soon the nanites would attach themselves to his central and autonomic nervous system. Once that was complete, Skynet would have a new, mobile host body and a new CPU. It was the most advanced CPU ever: The human brain.

A new age of machines was rising.

[Author’s Note: I’ve been toying around with fan fiction recently and this story popped up out of nowhere. I recently saw the movie “Terminator: Genisys” and I imagine this might have been the events that led up to the failed attempt to send Kyle Reese back in time to save Sarah Connor.]

~V

 

The Disco At the End of the Universe

© A Mixed Bag
© A Mixed Bag

From the balcony, Rose surveyed the room. Men with silk shirts unbuttoned halfway down their gold medallion covered chests, undulated next to beautiful women in short dresses that revealed extraordinary amounts of cleavage. Multi-colored lights reflected off of a large, rotating many-faceted mirrored ball, suspended from the ceiling.

Bobbing her head to the rhythmic beat of the loud music, she turned to her older companion.

“So this was disco, huh?”

The Doctor winced. “Yeah, not humanities finest hour, but it was fun while it lasted.”

“And you’re sure the power crystals are here?” Rose asked.

“The TARDIS indicated they were,” The Doctor replied, pulling out a short, cylindrical device. He pressed a button and it whirred, almost in time with the music.

He pointed. “There.”

Rose looked and saw the three glowing star-shaped orbs. They’d been set into light fixtures in the ceiling.

“But they’re glowing. Does that mean they’re…”

“Activated yes. Which explains the temporal stasis field they’ve generated around this club.”

“So then this disco will just keep playing music and people will dance forever?” Rose asked.

“That’s right,” replied The Doctor.

“Couldn’t we just… you know… leave them?” she asked, gyrating her hips.

The Doctor leaned in close.

“You’ve heard of the Big Bang, right?”

“Sure,” she replied.

“The last time all the crystals were activated, that’s what happened,” he said

Rose stopped dancing. “Right then. Let’s go.”

[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 a bit over the word limit and the story doesn’t really have much of an ending so I apologize for that. I don’t write much fan fiction (barely any at all) so this was my attempt at practicing for a project I’m working on. I hope you’ll all indulge me as I work out the bugs. And yes, the title is an homage to the wonderful Douglas Adams.]

~V

 

Recycling

FFfPP-6-10-16

When they finally discovered her body, animals and the elements had reduced it to nothing more than a collection of bones loosely held together by sinewy strands of ligaments. It would take them weeks to identify her.

I knew.

It wasn’t the first time one of my girls had been found, but the cops hadn’t yet realized the bodies were connected. They’d figure it out.

The first one was a surprise: a neighbor girl selling some kind of cookies for a school trip. I invited her in and showed her my playroom. I hadn’t planned on actually trying out my toys on a person, but there she was so I decided it was time to take things to the next level.

After that it was easy. Their delicious screams filled my sound-proof room. Their blood was sweet and warm. And when I was done, I was responsible. I am an environmentalist, you know, so I made sure to return them back to nature.

I didn’t count on that last one though. How she got loose I’ll never know. She showed me how much my toys really hurt. I hope they dispose of my body properly. I am, after all, biodegradable.

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 World’s Most Expensive Diving Helmet

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy
PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

The moment Jake saw the old diving helmet in the thrift shop, he knew he had to have it: A fantastic Halloween costume!

Driving home, he stopped at his sister’s house to show off his new acquisition. Theresa hated it and told him he’d wasted his money. Jake opted for a second opinion and walked into the family room where his two young nieces were playing. Their reaction was not what he anticipated.

Months later while checking his mail, he spied another bill from the therapist that was treating his nieces for emotional trauma. Sighing, he reached for his checkbook.

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