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

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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

 

False Advertising

© A Mixed Bag
© A Mixed Bag

Johnny stared glumly out the window of the small box in which he and Tracy were encapsulated. Just outside were other boxes containing people, most with the same bored expression that hung on Johnny’s face. Each box had a large metal hook arm that sprouted from the top and clung tightly to a long cable suspended a few hundred feet in the air. The cable was stretched across the entire park and each box slowly traversed the length of the cable, carting along it’s passengers.

“This isn’t what I expected when I heard they had ‘Flying Cars’,” sighed Johnny.

“Oh, c’mon,” said Tracy. “It’s not so bad.”

Turning to her he said, “And that ‘Matter Transporter’ was nothing more than a conveyer belt. Talk about false advertising!”

“What did you expect from a theme park called ‘Future World’?” she asked. “Not actual future tech, surely?”

“Well…” said Johnny as they stepped off the ride and headed for the park exit.

Spying a small booth near the exit gates, Johnny noticed that it seemed rather beat up and didn’t follow the same color scheme as the rest of the park. Despite his disappointment, curiosity got the best of him and Johnny felt himself drawn in. As he approached, he saw a short, white-haired man behind the counter. The fellow had a pair of large goggles strapped over his eyes and he appeared to be fussing with what looked like a small, electronic Howitzer.

“Whatcha got there, old timer?” Johnny asked.

“What? Oh!” said the man, looking up and noticing he had guests. “Right, uh… So what I have here is a transmogrifier. It can change any living being into another type of creature.”

“Oh really?” inquired Johnny. He winked at Tracy.

“Could you turn me into a dragon?” he asked.

“Certainly!” said the old man, his eyes lighting up. “You’d really want to give this a try? No one ever seems to want to volunteer.”

“Why not?” asked Johnny with a grin. “This whole park has been a sham. I’d love to see if anyone has anything really amazing.”

“Oh, I assure you, young man. This is quite real and quite effective. You certainly won’t be disappointed.”

“Hey uh… maybe you shouldn’t,” said Tracy, grabbing her boyfriend’s arm. She regarded the old man with a furrowed brow.

“Oh why not?” asked Johnny, feeling his excitement return.

“It could be… dangerous,” said Tracy, whispering the last word into his ear.

“In this place?” asked Johnny, waving his arms about. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”

“I’ll need you to stand right over there,” said the old man, pointing to a platform with a conspicuous bullseye painted on it.

As Johnny placed himself in the center ring on the platform, the old man began flipping switches and turning dials on the big gun-shaped device.

“Dragon… dragon…” muttered the old man. “Ah, yes, I think this is it!”

Johnny grinned and waved to Tracy, who stood nearby wringing her hands.

“Johnny, I really don’t think this is a good idea,” she pleaded one last time.

“Stand perfectly still,” instructed the old man, aiming directly at Johnny’s chest.

A humming emitted from the device. It grew louder and lights began to dance around some of the circuitry. The humming increased in volume and other park visitors began to take notice. A small crowd formed behind Tracy.

She opened her mouth to utter another warning but before she could speak a word, a brilliant beam of light shot out of the tip of the gun and hit Johnny, bathing him in a glowing blue radiance. The light was so intense, Tracy threw up her hands in front of her eyes to shield them.

The humming stopped. Tracy slowly lowered her hands, but it took a moment for her eyes to adjust. Behind her, she heard a collective gasp from the crowd. In front of her she heard the old man cackling.

“It worked, it worked!”

Tracy turned to the platform, not really expecting to see a dragon standing there, but still wondering what was causing the commotion.

She squinted her eyes. Johnny was gone!

“Where is he?” she screamed. “Where did he go?”

“Oh fudge!” replied the old man, turning back to his machine.

“What did you do with my boyfriend?” Tracy yelled at the old man.

As she approached the counter, stomach in knots, there came a loud buzzing around her face. She swatted with her hand and saw a large winged insect hovering in front of her. It then landed on the counter between her and the white-haired man.

The old man regarded the insect and shook his head.

“Oh dear, it seems I had the wrong setting on the transmogrifier. It wasn’t set to dragon after all. Looks like it was ‘dragonfly’. Such a shame. I would have loved to have seen a real dragon.”

Tracy stared at the long-tailed insect before her.

“That’s Johnny?” she squawked.

“I told you that my machine was real,” shrugged the old man.

The dragonfly took wing and buzzed around Tracy for a moment before flying off into the sky. As she watched her boyfriend disappear, she realized he finally got the future tech he had been searching for.

[This was my first story for Sunday Photo Fiction, but since I went way over the word limit, I’m not offering it in the challenge, but still publishing it here because I rather like how this story turned out.]

~V

 

Lost and Found

FFfPP-4-29-16

“They’re bringing it up now, sir,” cried Donny.

Richard Charles had waited years for this day. Since he was a kid, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle had captivated and perplexed him. Now, standing aboard his salvage vessel, “Berlitz”, he waited anxiously to see the fruit of seven years of hard work and research.

The huge winch rolled the cable up, foot by foot. Thirty minutes later, the coral encrusted plane rested on deck.

“Check the numbers,” he called to Donny as he climbed onto the wing. The cockpit cover was still closed. He wiped away the slime and algae and peered inside. Empty and still locked from within. How could that be?

“This is it!” cried Donny. “One of the Avengers from Flight 19!”

Finally! The Triangle had given up one of its long held prizes.

“Sir, unusual weather approaching fast.”

Looking up, Richard Charles saw the strange green lights in the fog, flashing like ghosts. It swept in faster than a front should move.

“Captain, get us out of here!” Richard yelled to the bridge as the fog enveloped the ship.

Richard Charles spent his life investigating the Bermuda Triangle. On March 4, 1994 he became a part of its history.

[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

 

It’s About Time

SPF-4-17-16

“Hey Uncle Rick, this grandfather clock is broken. It’s stuck on 1:47,” said Morty as his uncle tinkered away in his workshop.

“It’s not broken, Morty. It’s not meant to keep time. I modified it to control time.”

“Control it? How?” asked Morty.

“I can stop time from flowing or even reverse it if I want,” replied Uncle Rick as soldering smoke curled around his face.

“Wow, so do you ever use it?” asked Morty, eyeing the old time-piece.

“Yeah, almost every day. Sometimes, I’ll stop time and take a nap or work on a project, but mostly I just walk around town and collect cash from people’s wallets and purses.” said Uncle Rick.

“Y…y… you steal from people?” gasped Morty.”

“I don’t steal, Morty. I’m not a thief. I take… involuntary donations for my work. My inventions help people, Morty. Geez.” said Rick looking at his nephew for the first time.

“But that’s wrong. You can’t do that. I won’t let you!”

“Oh please, it’s not a big deal,” shrugged Rick.

“I… I’ll call the police… or something.”

“Ok, ok, fine. I won’t take any more money,” sighed Uncle Rick.

“P…promise?”

“Yeah yeah… now go get me a beer from the fridge, will ya? I’m parched.” said Uncle Rick.

“Uh… Ok, sure,” said Marty.

After he left the workshop, Uncle Rick walked to the grandfather clock and opened the side panel to reveal several knobs and buttons. He pressed a button and made a slight twist of one of the knobs. The light around him blurred. He pressed the button again and everything came back into focus. He returned to his workbench where the soldering he’d just finished was now incomplete again.

Morty came walking into the room. The grandfather clock caught his eye.

“Hey Uncle Rick, this grandfather clock is broken. It’s stuck on 1:47,”

“Yep,” said Uncle Rick. “It sure is.”

[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 decided to pay another visit to my favorite mad scientist and his well-meaning but naive nephew. You can check out other stories with these two in The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Inventions and Seeing Double]

~V

Hair of the Dog

FFfPP-3-25-16

A blinding light assaulted his eyes as Grady regained consciousness. A shriek of tires on asphalt nearly deafened him as the oncoming car swerved at the last moment. Leaping to his left, he slammed into the cold guard rail along the side of the freeway and rolled over hard metal onto the gravel covered ground. Lying there, Grady become aware of his nakedness.

His last memory was of sitting at home, fixing himself his first cocktail of the night. That’s the last time I drink that cheap Irish Whiskey, thought Grady.

* * *

High above the Earth, in invisible orbit hovered the Xakturian science vessel. Zignat the teleporter technician fumbled frantically with the controls of the equipment in front of him. His captain’s face appeared on the large communications screen.

“Ensign, the coordinates from the tracking beacon we secured on that last human subject is 17 bartrots from his designated return location. What happened?” barked his captain.

“Teleporter error, sir. I’m working on it now.” he lied, trying to sound confident.

“Make sure the equipment is fixed before returning the next one,” growled the captain.

“Aye sir,”

That’s the last time I drink that cheap Alterian whiskey before starting my shift, thought Zignat.

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

A Visit From the New Neighbors

© A Mixed Bag
© A Mixed Bag

Nearly fifty of us huddled together around our equipment: Scientists from different fields of study all gathered by the government for this historic event. We watched with equal parts anticipation and trepidation as the unnatural midday clouds obscured the sun over the large mountain clearing. Magnificent flashes of lightning provided the only illumination.

By the time our satellite images revealed the objects true shape, we could do little but wait for arrival. Not knowing their destination, a coalition of governments frantically partnered together, placing “greeting teams” in locations across the globe. It seems my location had been the correct guess.

A collective gasp sounded as the massive ship burst through the thick cloud cover which it had been causing (Something about exciting the atmospheric ions, according to one physicist). Wide-eyed, I stared at definitive proof that we are not alone in the universe.

Then, not unlike the spaceship from that Spielberg movie, the craft rumbled ear-shattering tones. Having anticipated this form of communication, we all turned to the towering monitor from our computer, waiting for the translation. My mind swirled as I imagined what our first contact message from the aliens would be. Did they come in peace or as conquerors?

And then, the monitor glowed bright with words.

“Sorry to bother you, but we seem to have lost our way. Can you point us in the direction of Alpha Centauri?”

[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.]

~V

Rebel to the Future

Dean McFly

A huge crowd had gathered near Clayton Ravine, just outside of Hill Valley. The last quarter moon lit up the small meadow as Marty scanned the crowd of teenagers. There were white T-shirts and poodle skirts everywhere. He steered the DeLorean through the throngs of people that had all shown up to see the race. No one had ever challenged Biff Tannen to a race before, and the fact that it was a game of “chicken” meant that nearly every teenager in Hill Valley would be present.

As he expected, Marty’s car drew gasps and stares from everyone that he passed. He barely noticed the fingers pointing as his mind was focused elsewhere. About fifty yards ahead he spied what he’d been seeking. Biff’s ’46 black Super DeLuxe convertible Ford was parked off to the side of the dirt road that led through the meadow and nearly up to the edge of the cliff that dropped a hundred feet down into the ravine.

Marty navigated his way through all the bodies, his headlights illuminating the pink sweaters and poofy hair. As he neared Biff’s car, he saw the usual assortment of lowlifes, Biff’s “posse”, crowded around the automobile. It took Marty a moment to spot Biff sitting in the driver’s seat.

Biff turned his head as Marty pulled up next to him, the crowd buzzing with excitement. The door of the DeLorean whooshed open and Marty stepped out to face his rival.

Continue reading “Rebel to the Future”

Seeing Double

PHOTO PROMPT – © Sandra Crook
PHOTO PROMPT – © Sandra Crook

“Check out my newest invention, Morty!” exclaimed Uncle Rick as he whisked the sheet off the circular metallic object that held an hourglass figure inside.

“Wow,” gasped Morty. “Is it… a time machine?”

“Of course not,” grunted Uncle Rick. “Time machines are for chumps. This is a quantum oscillator. I can make duplicates of any piece of matter!”

“Anything?” asked Morty. “Even… people?”

Just then Uncle Rick walked into the room. Glaring at his nephew and doppelganger, he asked “Morty, what are you doing in here with my quantum double?”

Morty stared slack-jawed between his two uncles and promptly fainted.

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.

I thought I’d revisit my buddies Rick and Morty, from “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Inventions“. The inspiration for the characters comes from the television show “Rick and Morty” on Adult Swim.]

~V

Being in the Right Place at the Wrong Time

 © A Mixed Bag
© A Mixed Bag

“This day really sucks!” thought Chet, his white knuckles gripping the wheel of his classic ’68 Impala.

The engine roared as he floored the accelerator. His car tore across the California highway, unimpeded by other traffic. Normally, the freeway would be choked with morning commuters, but today he raced solo towards the coast.

His watch read 9:57 AM. He wasn’t going to make it. The last ships left at 10:00 AM promptly. No exceptions.

Approaching the curve of the off-ramp too fast, he was forced to brake to prevent flipping the car. Tires screeched in agony. Fishtailing through the gate of the shipyard, he closed in on the pier.

Chet slammed on his brakes, smoke pluming from under the carriage. He stared in disbelief at the empty loading docks. Half a mile out into the Pacific, three ships cruised away to the last sanctuary of humanity: The island city of Neptune.

Chet slowly exited the car. Sinking to his knees, fists clenched he screamed.

“Noooo!”

The wind blew warmly and not far to the east he heard the Horde. Those massive beasts that tunneled up from below the surface and devoured all of civilization. They were coming.

Chet wept.

“This day really sucks!”

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.]

~V

Welcome to Wallyworld

FFfPP 1-18-16

We were within a mile-and-a-half of the service roads when we found it. After hours of exhaustive searching and following the energy signatures through the mountains, Marilyn literally stumbled upon the debris covered entrance to the cave. Once we’d cleared enough earth away, we were left with a portal into a dark tunnel.

The EMF meters were going wild as Alex lowered himself down. Once in the cave I had to shield my eyes from the intense light of the glowing inter-dimensional rift. One by one we all plunged into it, not knowing what we’d find on the other side. I was the last to go.

Pure radiance bathed my body as I traversed time and space. And then I was standing. The scent of greasy food filled my nostrils before my eyes adjusted. Blinking, I took in the scene around me. Crowds of slightly sun-burned humans wandered around in shorts and silly T-shirts emblazoned with a sailor hat wearing duck. Round, mouse-eared caps adorned the heads of children. Swirling teacups carried whole families around in circles.

My heart sank. Instead of an alien world, I found that corporate commercialism had spread to the far reaches of the galaxy.

Word Count: 199

[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 Road to Hell is Paved With Good Inventions

Photo courtesy of Sunday Photo Fiction
Photo courtesy of Sunday Photo Fiction

I loved going to visit my Uncle Rick. Mom referred to him as the Black Sheep of the family and dad just sighed whenever he was mentioned but I didn’t care. Uncle Rick was the coolest guy I knew.

An inventor, his house was packed with all kinds of strange gizmos and contraptions. Most of them never seemed to work properly but my curious teenage mind reeled from the mystery of it all.

One day, while Rick tinkered with his latest project, I stalked around his workshop, inspecting all of his inventions. Spying a strange conical device that resembled a lava lamp, I reached out tentatively at the odd-looking dial fixed at the base. A sharp cry sounded from behind me.

“Stop!”

I wheeled around, startled.

“Whatever you do, Morty, don’t touch that dial!” Rick shouted, eyes wide.

“Why?” I gasped. “Is it some sort of inter-dimensional transporter or quantum phase generator?”

“No no!” he replied, waving his hands. “Those are in the basement. This is my Full Spectrum Receiver. It’s very delicate.”

“What does it do?” I asked, utterly fascinated.

“Oh, I use it to jack my neighbor’s cable and WiFi. Save’s me over a hundred bucks a month!”

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.]

My inspiration for this story. Great show!
My inspiration for this story. Great show!

~V

It’s What’s On the Inside That Counts

© Sonya - Only 100 Words
© Sonya – Only 100 Words

“Tell me again daddy, about the space pod!” cried young Zudnik.

Glorp smiled. His son had a curious mind. Gazing up at the droplet-shaped vessel mounted on the tall beams, he explained how he had been present years ago when the mysterious object had plummeted from space, crashing only a few Drathons away. Glorp’s team had been called in to extract the pod from the crater and construct the display tower.

“It was still steaming when you got there, wasn’t it, daddy?” asked Zudnik, his three eyes wide with excitement.

“It was,” Glorp replied. “You remember how I told you that the friction from the atmosphere heated the surface?”

“You never told me if anything was found inside,” Zudnik frowned.

“Oh yes, there were three aliens in strange suits hiding inside when we tore open the hatch.” Glorp leaned in close to his son and whispered “And they only had TWO eyes!”

“Really?” gasped Zudnik. “Were they… dangerous?”

“I don’t know really,” answered Glorp with a toothy grin. “But they were delicious!”

Word Count: 172

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

I thought I’d check in on one of my favorite extraterrestrials, Glorp. We first met him in Tis the Season. Seems he was getting some quality father/son bonding time with Zudnik as they visited a national monument. Hope everyone enjoyed this story.]

~V

 

 

Strange Day

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot
PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Friday at last,” thought Glen as he shuffled into the elevator. Margot from accounting and Adam from tech support were the only other inhabitants of the tiny metal box.

“Morning,” he managed to grunt. The caramel soy latte in his hand was not doing its job.

“Mmrrmmrr” They mumbled back to him with minimal acknowledgement.

Same shit, different day,” he thought glumly.

The elevator finally stopped and the doors opened. A cold wind blew in the door and the three stared incredulously out at the tall weeds and abandoned buildings. This wasn’t Teletech!

“Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Adam whispered.

Word Count: 101

[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