Terminal House: Flash Fiction

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg.

Photo copyright Björn Rudberg. Björn is also an amazing poet and fiction writer.

Terminal House

WORD COUNT: 183 words

GENRE: Paranormal, horror

If Megan Beuchanan had been the type of person to take the figurative temperature of a potential home, she’d have discovered the Turner House was zero at the bone.

Clinging to the cusp of the ravine, every bit the Victorian-era vulture, the now-dilapidated residence was everything the single mother sought: cheap.

It also, then, wouldn’t have come as such a shock when daughter Ava found the small sachet of letters stuck behind a swatch of old wallpaper in her closet. The letters spoke with the ghost-tongue of long-lost lives and lovers. Thomas would come back for Gladys, somehow. His illness—and confinement in the Turner pest house—would be only temporary. She was to pay no mind to the purported mystique of the manor. Indian haints* did not roam the grounds, nor could they be heard screeching as the diseased husks of their bodies were rolled into the waiting arms of Brine River below.

If only Megan could have steeled her psyche for the night Chief Swift-as-Hare John Harris’s smallpox-addled corpse came calling. Ready to reclaim the feathers of his people’s whisked-away souls.

THE END

*A Southern United States (dialectical) word meaning ghost, specter, or spirit.


This flash fiction is humbly submitted for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers photo-prompt challenge, though it comes in a bit too long (as usual). If you enjoy writing or reading (or both), I encourage you to take part with your own story or to follow along by absorbing the brilliant fiction out there in Rochelle’s quadrant of the WordPress-iverse. Cheers!

Friday Fictioneers: Meditatin’ on a Museum Wall

GENRE: Fiction with a historical angle, highly dialectical (Southern United States)

WORD COUNT: Too many for FF! (191 words)


Photograph "Old Wallpaper" copyright Mary Shipman.

Photograph “Old Wallpaper” copyright Mary Shipman.

Ever’body just stares and stares at the wall. Sump’un about people dat dey luuuuuuv a stony myst’ry, love them some bustin thu splinters an all.

From de time people, dey first built huts or stacked sticks and hung hides, dere been dat need tuh be boxed-out. Or is it tuh wall sump’un in?

All I know is, I come to my desk at dis museum, 8-sharp, 6 days a week. I make coffee so good, ever’body jaws ’bout it.

Mostly tourists come thu, but dey suhprise me now’n’agin.

“Why they bother to hide free-slave papers there?” a wheat-haired kid ’bout 8 crooked a thumbs-up at the two exposed vaults just yest’day.

“Cause de men chasin’ dem on this here railroad didn’t care nutin’ for freedom noway. They hearts was rotted out like parts of dis wall.”

Well, I made it my job to open de curtains wide each an ever’day at the Crossroads Underground Railroad Museum, so as nobody try’n’hide from de past no more. Uglified or not.

I ain ’bout to let no dadgum barrier be throwed up crosst any people’s necks evah agin. We all de same race. Human.


For Friday Fictioneers, 20 June 2014 “Summer Re-Run,” by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Any feedback welcomed as always, especially to help nail down the dialect.

 

 

A Memory of Mountains

Photograph courtesy of and copyrighted by Erin Leary. She writes, too. Go visit her!

Photograph courtesy of and copyrighted by Erin Leary. She writes, too. Go visit her!

His field filling up with fog that clung like a kind of cloudy cobwebbing to the tines of the mountain maple, hemlock, and white pine.

“Bah, those times are long-gone!” William Wallace MacIntyre, whose granddaddy Robert had a hand in naming him after a rumored relative, shoved the old photo back into a bulging envelope marked Family Memories 1951-1975.

Misty-Lyn’s baby will never grow up to see fingers of light tracing a ridge of sprawling, awing yellow and auburn. Never fish or take a dip in a sky-clean stream. The only mountain lights that child will ever see will come from them damn machines!

He winced as he worked the stick he’d cut earlier that month, pearl-handled pocketknife sliding and shearing as nimbly as ever, only pausing to sandpaper with the final touches later in the day.

Hillbilly older than Methusaleh’s housecat poses with Imperium Coal CEO Glenn Reed at site of proposed mountaintop removal. He imagined the goateed young photographer’s snarky caption.

“Well, we’ll see who has the last laugh this time.”

A grim chuckle escaped thin lips choked by wrinkles, as if ivied.

“Let’s go thu the big spot agin’, Gran-daddy!” Misty-Lyn’s cute gap-toothed smile swam up gradually from memory as he finished the walking stick by hand-winding a leather grip at the top and putting on the cap-piece: a phoenix . . . with a little extra spice, he thought. That through-mountain “spot” tunnel, too, would be taken out by Reed’s project as it thundered down the hollers he loved.

He thought of Misty-Lyn and her baby again as he struggled to his feet with his own newborn creation. The press and the CEO’s entourage would be there soon, and he didn’t want to be late to meet Mr. Reed.

***

Tuning out the old man’s yarn, Glenn Reed instead zoned in on the cursive “do unto others” painstakingly burned into the masterful walking stick and the birdy motif on the top near the grip, evidently leather, fantasizing if there might be some way to monetize the old coot’s obvious woodworking skills.

Maybe a series of on-demand subscriber videos, with different levels for different dollar-values, he mused.

When he saw Mr. MacIntyre’s cane rising, rising, through a molasses of air, to tap him in the dead-center of the chest, the last thing he expected was for his world to go ear-splittingly dark.


Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly Friday Fictioneers challenge. This is way, way overlong (by almost 4 times, clocking in around 398 words). If you are curious about either mountaintop mining or the legend of Cole Mountain Light (as a North Carolinian, I had as my original inspiration the Brown Mountain Lights, but the Old North State didn’t work as a setting here), check out these links.

 

 

 

 

The Gnarl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Copyright John Nixon

The Gnarl
GENRE: Fantasy or possibly magic(al) realism
WORD COUNT: 102

Meab had dared me, so I had to.

Cruuunnnchh.

In an auburn sea my footsteps cracked open midribs and sound mingled with mossy smells. Each gust drizzled my courage on the receding forest floor.

“Stay away from that cage of crape myrtle,” Grandpa waylaid us as we were leaving.

I could imagine little Meab’s back melting into Lookinglass Rock. His words knelled yet: No one’s ever come back from inside. It steals breath, you know.

As I neared the edge of the tangle of trees, my chest cinched. Are my still-wet wings enough to keep me from eternal silence in the Gnarl?


If you are a writer, I encourage you to participate in Friday Fictioneers, for which this piece was written. Thanks for stopping by, and please visit again.

Flash Fiction: If the Sea Spoke

Written for Friday Fictioneers

RedPavilionPhoto-Adam Ickes

Photograph by writer Adam Ickes. Be sure to visit his site!

GENRE(S): Flash fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, romance

WORD COUNT: 102

If the Sea Spoke . . .

When Helena McArdle reached rickety boards, she almost turned, with no fanfare and nary a flounce ruffled, back toward home. Father would be no wiser.

Instead, her footfalls hastened her forward. The inlet waits just beyond the pavilion flitted across her mind, a firefly waltzing with air.

At 17 years and ninety-eight pounds when not encased in a cage crinoline, she did not welcome the avoirdupois of womanhood. No one will make me marry Lucas Parish–that human Cerberus!

Still, the sound of waves slapping chert beaconed. “Hurry to me,” slipped from the swollen lips of the whitecaps, whose promises were lies.

Friday Fictioneers: On the letters of Shelley

lengai_summit_from_crater-danny-bowman

Photograph by Danny Bowman, of Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania, Africa, “the only volcano in the world that erupts natrocarbonatite lava,” according to NASA. The lava is “extremely cool . . . and relatively fluid.” Note that I did not use the actual location of the photograph (and I imagined “Hornmouth”) to write my flash fiction. In fact, I noticed the location only after I had written this story and when I downloaded Mr. Bowman’s photograph for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction challenge.

Lovers’ subduction and the letters of Shelley

GENRE: Flash fiction, modern fiction, slightly speculative

Word Count: approximately 146

Bringing a bird up here is daft.

James knew he shouldn’t have let Gavin wheedle him into it. Not only was it a difficult hike—if they legged it, some 12 kilometers from Hornmouth—but would anything come of it?

pshelley

Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote “Ozymandias.”

“The letters of Shelley,” Gavin had said then chuckled.

In reality nobody knew where the famed lost letters of the dead Romantic poet were buried.

“C’mon, love,” James gestured to today’s scrummy date, Trudi.

Finally the mist stopped long enough to reveal that the crater-sprinkled ground had subducted in some spots. Nearby a miniature mountain, several Sisyphus-sized boulders were strewn, but one erect column adjacent demanded their eyes.

As the couple neared, they could begin to make out the etching.

The word Ozymandias and more text snaked down the earth-upshooting.

Taking out his mobile for a snap, James concluded, “Blymie, who knew Shelley was a vandal?”

***

I go over the word limit, but this flash fiction was nonetheless written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers’ Challenge of 7 March 2014. I encourage you to take part!

Friday Fictioneers: 100 Words on Lamps (Flash Fiction)

LampsbyDawnM.Miller_FridayFictioneers7Feb2014

This photograph was taken by Dawn M. Miller.

Another week has almost passed, dear readers, and that has brought more ruminating and writing and more editing and brainstorming. Please bear with me as I suss out the scope and schedule of this blog so it’s not so irregularly themed and timed.

For now, I’ll leave you with another brief piece submitted for a different flash fiction writing prompt challenge I discovered today, called Friday Fictioneers. Using the photograph by photographer Dawn M. Miller, which was posted on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Addicted to Purple blog, challengers are to write a fully realized 100-word story with an end, beginning, and middle. I am not sure if the deadline is Friday or if it is posted by Fridays; however, the light bulb for the story crackled to life in my mind (pardon the pun), so I decided to take a stab at it even though I’m late for Friday.

This microfiction piece was challenging in that I couldn’t just plate up a solitary slice of time-pie, but I had to give you the whole, big (she)bang of the story arc in a mere century. I’m not terribly confident I succeeded with a real, flesh-and-blood flash-fiction story, but it was a fun springboard in any case. As ever, please feel free to offer suggestions or share your submissions, or both. In the meantime, happy writing and I’ll be back soon with some fiction not submitted for challenges!

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White Shadows

Genre: Microfiction/flash fiction; possibly suspense

© Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014

“What should we do, Luci?”

The tortoiseshell purred plaintively.

“I can’t believe the shed collapsed on our bulbs! And Fiat Lux is all out; I e-mailed,” David spoke aloud. He lived alone, so there was no reason to hide his words under a basket.

During a morning spent triple-checking lamps and locks, he had looked out the window and spied the damage.

As each lamp died that day, he chanted Nothing’s gonna take my last light. Come night, the survivors’ shadows weren’t enough to barricade him against the formlessness where his father took shape and sinewy arms wouldn’t let go.