Friday Fictioneers: House-Called

It’s not often these days that I get to participate in Friday Fictioneers, but I love the photos Rochelle chooses, as well as reading what people come up with. And so, this fantasy drabble sprang forth. Hope you like it.

FridayFictioneers_24march2017

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

House-Called

genre: fantasy

Pearl placed the last of the enchantments. Each spike brimmed with unseen poison; every adamantine bar thrummed with mojo enough to keep terrors at bay. Continue reading

FF: Don’t Feed the Black Dog

Don’t Feed the Black Dog*

 Genre: Realistic fiction, (dark) humour

Word count: 151 (sorry, Rochelle, I tried!)

 

She sends a photograph skittering across the caramel-colored desk.

emmylgant-friday fictioneers. 3.11.16

This beautiful photograph is by Emmy L. Gant; sorry I took it in a different direction, Emmy.

“What do you see?”

“What’s this, some new version of the Rorschach?” I crack a joke about Welcome Back, Kotter, conflating Horshack and Rorschach. Ah, before her time. Shouldn’t have said that.

“Jennifer, basically I just want to gauge how you’re feeling before we start the assessment.”

“Okay, but I think musically sometimes. Heavy cloud, but . . . no rain?” I offer my best Sting impression.

Silence.

Another flopper. Why can’t I get this right? Fecking feck. She probably thinks I have multiple personalities now.

“Unh-huh.” She scribbles down something I can’t see. “In your own words, what’s your mood today?”

I find myself counting the indentations on the ceiling. 23-24-25.

“Uhhh? I’m a resilient mess. Most of the time. I guess.” You indecisive moron!

“I see. Can we proceed to the PHQ-9 now?”

“Sure. I got nothin’ better to do.”


*Note: I much prefer the metaphor and idea of “miasma” for describing depression to that of the “black dog,” because I love dogs, but many people do connect with it. Hence the titling.

This short story/flash fiction was crafted for March 11th’s Friday Fictioneers, which is lovingly curated by Rochelle as always. I hope you’ll stop by her post(s)—this lady’s got novels and short stories galore—and take some time to read other FF posts. With the variety of stories, it’s easy for me to make this promise: you’ll be amused, surprised, entertained, moved, and, very possibly, shocked. .

Friday Fictioneers on a Monday: A Mother’s Mettle

chateau-de-sable-ceayr

Photo ©ceayr

A Mother’s Mettle

Genre: Realistic fiction

100 words

Mary Strongheart pushed the stroller up the dusty street, her baby tangled in blankets, silent.

She wanted the senator to see, everybody to see, such that they could no longer turn away.

Hana had given her the gate code, but she’d keep the ruse. A knot of fear fisted in her stomach and seared her throat. She’d never been close to the magnificent home. Will my camera work? Will he listen?

Offering silent prayer to the sky, Mary signaled Hana at the back gate.

Soon, the squealing of plastic wheels dovetailed with shouts and the crackle of the guard’s taser.


 

I don’t get to do too many Friday Fictioneers challenges, but this one kind of sprang from my mind fully formed like Athena. And it dovetailed with this article that a friend had recently pointed out to me (thanks, Brenda).

Most of us, unfortunately, have heard of the horrific water crisis in Flint, Michigan. But you might not have not heard about the contamination of water (and more) in areas of the Southwestern and Western United States (not even to mention the coal mining and shale fracking going on all over the world). Nor is Flint, Michigan, alone, either in the States or the world, with regard to environmental contamination. I did a little further research, discovering that some 15,000 abandoned uranium mines exist in the U.S., and there’s no apparatus set up to get these dangerous sites cleaned. One group, Clean up the Mines, calls this “America’s secret Fukushima.” One activist also notes that the Native American nations of North America are the proverbial ‘canaries in the mine’ for the rest of the United States on this critical environmental issue.

As such, then, I conceived of Mary Strongheart as an indigenous person whose child had been affected in some detrimental fashion by the contamination of their water.

Read and/or link up your own Friday Fictioneers post at this linky, and while you’re there, thank Rochelle for administrating these challenges (and adding her own fiction!) like elegant clockwork every week.

 

 

 

 

 

A Microfiction Story on Loss, for Friday Fictioneers

WARNING:

My wish, with my fiction, is never to harm or cause a traumatic flashback, but rather to express empathy, teach, show, embolden, entertain, and/or, when appropriate, enrage or frighten. That said, be aware that this microfiction story contains a disturbing aspect of physical (child) abuse and raises aspects of sexism and rape. If these are triggers for you, you might want to skip reading this.

Leviathan windows by Rochelle

Photo by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

 

WHAT DOESN’T DESERT HER

Genre: Realistic, literary fiction

WORD COUNT: 100

©Leigh Ward-Smith

Lorraine stands at the sink fronting purposefully leviathan window panes, mind muted by the task of sanitizing everything. The scene outside beckons her backward.

Continue reading

Friday Fictioneers: Good Woolf

PHOTO PROMPT © Lauren Moscato

Photograph © Lauren Moscato

Good Woolf

GENRE: Fan Fiction, Science Fiction

Word Count: 161

Meg Jansen rented the flat primarily because it met her basic requirements: not so much location, location, location as cheap, cheap, cheap. Besides, it made for a tidy little writing room of her very own.

One night as she burned the mid-write oil on a fourth draft, moonlight shot a shaft of light in through the window, moving her to the weird door that connected her room to the column of air above the street.

She opened the padlocks, cultivating a fervent hope of glimpsing the dragon’s orb surveying her. Yet she didn’t expect to step out into an expansive space of machinery—pulsing wires, cable trails, a console, and a man in a brown trenchcoat bent over it as if in study.

Where's that sonic screwdriver, now?

Now where’s that sonic screwdriver?

Stranger still: When he turned and introduced himself only as “the Doctor,” all she could think of was Virginia Woolf and weeping angels. Either way, it was going to be an interesting night.

****

This science fiction flash fiction piece, created expressly for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers, was edited down from 204 words to the more manageable 156. Of course, I had to butcher one or two darlings in the process and should have done more trimming to get it to fit the 100-word parameter better. I seldom get the chance to write any fan fiction. That said, I loved writing and editing this. And by the way, thank you for reading. Do check out the other fictioneers for some fine weekend reading.

Process is Progress . . . Right?

Three parts forward, two parts back. Ah, that’s the writing process. Believe it or not, I have been feverishly working on the fourth and final part of the “Valentines” story. It’s rather long, but I hope to have it posted in the next few days. If nothing else, it is an inward testament, showing me that if I resolve to “write long,” it (eventually) happens. And, failing that, I’ve heard from a wise bird that it can live forever as a “shitty [in this case, second or third] draft” you might have subjected yourself to.

On another note, the following flash fiction piece wrote itself after I read and was inspired by these two writer-friends’ Friday Fictioneers’ posts, each quite different. (There are others I haven’t read yet, brainburstingly great ones, to be sure, so check them out at Rochelle’s FF site.)

I thought you might also enjoy seeing the quickie editing process I applied to the typed versions (there was 1 written, with overlays, chicken scratches really, of edits). If you want to skip to the end, that’s the short version (“Mute-4”), at about 109 words. Here’s the little bit of research I did, paired with good, old (gold?) imagination. Cheers!


hollywood-crowd-photo by Rochelle Wisoff Fields

Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 Mute-1

Feet are a maddening mode. Some shuffle or scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Shadows, the lot of them! Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment, blotting out all that is light.

I’ve come to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat and triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. Is it Southern California, Asia, or a blip on Orion’s belt? I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its wordless taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

What approximates for ears feels them all, footpads fettered to them. Forever. With tenebrous eyelash-like appendages, I scratch walled words over and over in this sub-city hell. I, voyager, was sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place. Hear my mute mandibles’ message . . . (159 words)

 

Mute-2

Feet are a maddening mode. Some shuffle or scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Shadows, the lot of them! Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve come to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat and triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (120 words)

 

Mute-3

Feet are a maddening mode. Shuffle, scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve grown to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat. Triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (112)

 

Mute-4

Feet are a maddening mode. Shuffle, scuff. Run, roll, gallop, canter. Others amble. Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve grown to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat. Triangular. Moist, gluey, dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this nowhere, no-when place. I can’t be sure from this perspective, holed in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A syncopation of ceaseless toes drives me nearly circleward, taunting. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (104)

The Bermuda Banishment

bottles-marie-gail-stratford--FridFic9-26-14

Friday Fictioneers photograph courtesy of Marie Gail Stratford. Be sure to check out her fiction and other works, too.

Flash Fiction by Leigh Ward-Smith

Genre: Modern Fantasy

For Friday Fictioneers, 26 Sept. 2014

 

A swell of laughter pushed through fleshy lips the color of the Calypso Deep.

“The Egyptians got it wrong with all that Isis prattle.” He traced the rough underside of an amber bottle with his thumb.

“Me, I relished washing impertinent man ashore.”

He marveled at his collection, which now filled thirty-three warehouses and the bar in Bermuda.

“Even Zeus’ conquests cannot rival mine. From every ellipse of the Earth and practically every nationality and language!”

His hubris drifted to rage about the banishment. At least I have these glass reminders of measly man, he gestured.

“In the end, I judge all humans’ hearts are the same.”

He picked a bottle at random and hurled it to the stone floor.

“Puny.”

 

Friday Fictioneers: Arthropods’ Last Stand

One morning, when Samantha Gregson woke from what she could only hope were mangled dreams, she remembered it.

It was a whatchamacalit. She followed the ant trail of taffy-like memories. It was at my bedroom window, backlighted, silhouetted by the street lamps. In profile, it looked like all pincers. Snapping at what?

Copyright Janet Webb

Copyright Janet Webb

She shook off a shudder as she rose from the bed to begin the day, pausing only to mute a stridulating alarm clock.

A heated bath to steam up the room will make my sinuses chirp hallelujah!

As her gaze flitted around appraising the newly remodeled bathroom, a quick shimmer near the window drew her eye.

The thick window sections resembled segments of a skeleton. A living insect exoskeleton. And it seemed to be steadily extracting itself from the lacy cocoon of wall, curtain, and window casing.

By the time of the first citizen sightings of window-sized lobsters and transparent bugs as large as compact cars, a towel was all that remained of Samantha in the flooded bathroom.

 

432px-Haeckel_Decapoda

Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 86: “Decapoda” by Ernst Haeckel. Decapods are an order of crustacean, and Crustacea is a subphylum of Arthropoda. Via Wikimedia Commons.


A speculative flash fiction piece that’s a little bit long, at 170ish words, for the latest Friday Fictioneers. Stop by and read the stories, show some appreciation to Janet Webb for contributing her photo (and story), or create your own.

 

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.