03/21/14
(Credit: The Third Man)

Run (Like Somebody Is Watching)

Kyle ran down the middle of street, dodging between the empty cars that had clogged the freeway for days now. He was not accustomed to the running, months before the rapture being spent comfortably seated in his Jetta – graduation gift from his parents long before they floated on with most of the world – delivering pizza to the drunken college masses of Madison. The shadow now ran 5 feet ahead of him, covering him and hiding him from the setting sun. He did not look back – did not need to – because the shadow was not the threat but was attached firmly to it. He didn’t believe it himself, but everyone this side of the rapture ran from their own demons. He ran down the nearest off-ramp, hoping to hide in a building if he could give it the slip.

At the bottom, he spoiled a precious three seconds glancing left and right before deciding on a peculiarly-lit facade across the street. Throwing the door open and slamming it home behind him, he heard the skittering sound of…

“Heya, a customer! Welcome to Mike’s Milk’n’Ice. Can I get you something?” The sound of another living person startled Kyle and he whipped around to the man who stood in classic soda jerk costume behind the counter. “Selection’s a little limited but the trucks stopped coming a long time ago. We do have Vanilla, Pistachio and… Well, the third one doesn’t have a name anymore, but it’ll cure what ails you.”

Kyle warily approached the counter and briefly broke eye contact with the glacial confectioner to glance down at the tubs of ice cream behind the protective glass sheet – the first two flavors were apparent but the third appeared nearly black even in the florescent lighting. Returning his gaze to the man, Kyle was not at all surprised to read the name tag that identified him as the ‘Mike’ of ‘Mike’s Milk’n’Ice’. “I, uh… I didn’t know anyone would be in here. I was just hiding from-”

“You lost your demon out there, eh? Which one is on your tail?”

“What do you mean?” Kyle took a nervous step backward, having not been questioned so directly about his phantom pursuer in the few previous human contacts of his post-rapture nightmare.

“I mean,” Mike chuckled as he scooped a single creamy ball of vanilla ice cream onto a small cone and leaned back on the counter, “What is the incarnation of beasty that chases you into my little scoop of paradise? I’ve heard of amorphous masses made up of the faces of all exes the pursued had failed to commit to. I’ve heard of giants the shape of saints and all manner of manifestations of latent failures of faith. What was chasing you out there?”

Kyle fell back into the chair, wincing as his funny bone contacted the edge of the table forcefully with the follow-through of his seated descent. Just thinking about the demon subconsciously pulled his eyes to the door. “It’s… Yeah, it’s… One of those. The giant saint thing.”

“Now Kyle, you shouldn’t lie to a glacier, especially one who’s harboring your from the unnatural.”

Kyle’s eyes slowly turned back to Mike’s leathery face, wondering as the man’s gray eyes twinkled. “I… How did you know my name?”

“It says it on your jacket, sport. You must’ve been running for a while if you forgot that already,” Mike chuckled as he made up a triple-scoop of the third flavor which he carried around the end of the counter to offer to the twenty-something at the table. Proffering the cone to Kyle, Mike descended to a wire-backed chair in the backwards orientation, resting his chin on the metal arch. “But I’m going to have to ask you to keep running if you won’t adhere to the best policy.”

Honesty is the best policy, a voice that may have been Kyle’s conscience floated across his brain. Oddly, it sounded like Mike. “I don’t know. It’s got like a thousand legs, and it’s just… It bleeds everywhere,” he gestures absently with the cone, not tasting or even attending to the frozen treat in his hand. “But it never shrinks. Just bleeds, constantly. When it stops, I can hear… crying. A baby crying. Like, I think that’s what it does when it breathes. It doesn’t have a face, or features. Just a pile of bleeding – oozing, maybe – junk on a thousand skittering legs.” He noticed the ice cream after a minute of silence passed between the two men; Mike leaned forward as the cone was raised to parched and starving lips. It tasted like the coldest clearest water ever to wet the face of the earth. “What about you? What’s your demon?”

“My demon? Well, I can’t rightly say that I have one.”

“But everyone has one. Everyone who wasn’t taken up has a demon to run from. That’s the way of the world now.” Kyle puzzled at the man as he took another bite; the ice cream seemed to taste a little grittier now. “The best policy cuts both ways, doesn’t it, Mike?”

The laugh and smile was genuine as the septuagenarian’s face lit up. “I like that, Kyle. I like you a great deal. And yes, those men who were here and remained after the rapture all have their demons to weather. But the rules are different for those of us who come up, or out.”

Another bite half-fell out of Kyle’s mouth as the ice cream turned to mud in his mouth. “U-… Up?”

Mmhmm. You got it right, Kyle. That time, he knew the voice was there.

“Well, not me. I’m out, not up. But I’m glad you like your demon so much. I picked it especially for you.” Mike stood up and pushed his chair back into the table, making his way back to the counter.

“Are you a demon?” Kyle looked around for a napkin, which he placed the ice cream on delicately.

“Me? One of those? No, that’s just crude.”

“Then… The devil?”

“Not that either. You’re in the right scope though. Consider me an independent contractor with many names. I’ve been Set, Anansi, Wisakedjak, Kokopelli, Coyote, Loki and – of course – Mike. You may continue calling me Mike because I think I generally like you.”

Kyle nodded a lot, mouth working silently as he struggled to process half of what was said. Three days prior, he would have discounted the man as insane, but when the world itself goes insane, then insanity is not to be questioned. Finally, he looks back up, bravely meeting Mike’s eye line. “So… What did you mean by ‘out’?”

“I knew I liked you.” Mike beamed, filling a glass with a clear and carbonated beverage from the fountain. Filling a second glass at the same time, he came back over to the table and resumed his backwards perch. He placed one of the two glasses in front of Kyle and gestured to it. “Well, out is not precise, but it’s suitable for the scope of the environment. I was neither up nor down, according to the paradigm. Not aligned with Capital G nor with the horned one. Simply elsewhere. But now that the flip has been switched, I was approached for my services.”

“So, you work for Hell?”

“They pay the bills, yes.”

“Then, why are you harboring me?”

“Do you have nothing but glowing things to say about your former employer, or was he kind of an asshole?” Mike took a long pull from the straw in his glass. “I agreed to work, I never agreed to go above and beyond. And, even if I had… I’m the Trickster, since when does my word mean what I say?”

Kyle stared blankly, but his head was nodding as though he understood. He took a sip from the glass in front of him and his eyes bugged out as an explosion of melon and rum detonated on his taste buds. His eyes bugged out and for a minute he forgot what lurked outside this ice cream parlor. “What is that?!”

“That’s whatever you most want it to be. I’m guessing it’s the wop you and your buddies made the first 4th of July after graduation though, right?”

Kyle took another sip and then nodded as that night came back to him. “Exactly! That’s…” His face fell again when he remembered that he’d probably never see any of those guys again.

“Well, you sure do get somber mighty fast Kyle.”

“It’s just, you’re not going to let me stay here forever. Which means I’m going to have to go back out there, running again.”

“Well, yeah, but you might die ten seconds after you go out that door. Why not do a little living while you’re alive?” Mike looked irritated, and he pushed his glass away from him.

“Or I’ll live three years, running for my life, and then die. That last bit is definite.”

“It might be. It might not. You don’t know either way, do you Kyle? Haven’t lived through one of these before, have you?” Mike stood up again, pushing in his chair as carefully as before.

“Do you know?”

“Me? Nope. I’m just a contractor. And it’s closing time.”

Kyle’s eyes widened at that and he flinched back towards the corner of the room. “I can’t go back out there!”

“You know Kyle, I can’t say, ‘See you later,’ if you don’t go.”

“Will you?”

“Say it? Yes.”

“No, will you see me later?”

“If I were you, I would act on the assumption that I mean what I say this time. But keep in mind that you’re going to be responsible for getting to our next meeting.” Mike picked Kyle up by the arm, gently escorting him to the door.

“How will I find you again?”

“You didn’t find me the first time. I found you, and I’ll be watching you. Make it popcorn-worthy and we’ll do this again.”

“Popcorn-worthy?” Kyle’s hand pressed the door frame, attempting to brace himself against the horror to which he knew he would inevitably return.

“While I’m quite good at amusing myself, I like to be entertained. Now, scoot. You might even have a head start.” With a twinkle, Mike threw the door open and Kyle out of it. As the young man’s eyes adjusted to the twilight that had fallen across the street, he glanced back to the facade, only to find an empty lot where he had sheltered only moments before. He stared at the pavement, wondering if it was normal to go insane after 3 days of running.

Faintly, in the distance or around the corner, a baby cried.

04/21/13

Trifextra: Week 64 (Headliner)

That’s me.  “Lost in the library for eighteen days!”  Don’t know where the people were. Or why I started the encyclopedia fire.   Incoming: “The library fine of the century!” And (of course) no charge cards allowed.

04/11/13

All For Nothing (Trifecta Weekday Challenge)

And so I sit here on a golden throne, molded to my form and as cold as I am.  All of the twaddle and trash I can see, glimmering red-gold covering the trinkets that remain exactly as before – albeit with more luster.  With alchemy I forged this empire – platinum, silver and gold and as empty as I am.  I can buy anything.  I already did.

 

But nowhere in the secrets of alchemy is there a recipe, a secret transmutation, to bring me back to life.  The only glimmer in me is the reflection of my eyes.  Every golden breath I take is more precious than every speck of my kingdom.  And I only sit on my golden throne.  A throne as cold as I am.

04/10/13

5-Minute Fiction Week 144 Finalists!

I’m just doing a little volunteered pinch-hitting due to some temporary server complications.  I hope this will help everyone out with showing off your entry and voting purposes.

 

Meredith (@dailybipolar)

The man in the hat walked down the steps to the lawn. The briefcase in his hand was getting heavy but he knew better than to set it down. The night’s darkness soaked him up along with everything else. The strength of the pull made him instinctively recoil, momentarily.

The woman in the dress emerged from the garage and walked steadily, slowly toward the man in the hat. At first, he didn’t see her, the darkness, of course. He heard the swishing of the dress. It was a medium-length dress. His hand clamped down on the briefcase handle. Beads of sweat formed on his neck. What he wouldn’t do for a breeze.

The woman in the dress kept moving forward, figuring she’d reach the man in the hat at some point. She thought she was silent and knew she could hear him even though he was on grass. He was sweating. She needed that briefcase, that’s all. He was right-handed so she knew what she had to do.

The man in the hat put the briefcase into his left hand. His palms were beginning to sweat. He’d been told of this woman in a dress but he wasn’t told what she wanted. Somehow he knew.

The stray cat hit the barbeque pit with all its weight as it jumped over the fence. The noise startled both the man in the hat and woman in the dress.

Jesse awoke with a shudder. His neck and hands hurt. He looked around foggily. Oh crap. He’d fallen asleep at his desk again. Time to go home. He reached down for his briefcase…

 

AmyBeth Inverness (@USNessie)

Pillowed words. They came in her ear and lived there, comfortably forming a symbiosis she resented.

One of the words confessed to her that it was just a dream, but she stubbornly ignored it. She put the idea that it was a dream into the doppelganger then locked it as it walked the plank. The doppelganger liked the idea, and took it along for the cold deep swim.

She didn’t want the cold deep swim yet. She had something to do. It was truthful, and full of castigation.

It made sense, but only as long as she remained fully asleep, in denial of her otherworldly state.

Concentrating on her orientation, she lifted the door and turned into a word. At least this time it was an honest word, which was a good thing because usually it wasn’t and she hated to admit that deception could exist as a part of her.

The word spoke itself, and the clouds popped open. Sentiment poured forth, drowning her and forcing her closer to the waves below.

She hated the cold. She hated the deep. But it was time, and she knew she had what she needed.

The writer woke in a cold tangle of sweaty sheets.

The pen was there…the moleskein was there…

And most importantly, the words were there at last.

She’d finally broken the dam.

 

H.L. Pauff (@hlpauff)

“Stop I’m in here! There’s someone in here!”

Martin flailed his arms and kicked his legs trying to keep his head above the surface. Huge transparent walls soared into the sky in all directions, crushing any hope of escape. The walls would be too slick with milk to even attempt a climb.

“Please. There’s a human being down here,” he screamed with a mouthful of milk. His stomach was full and bloated from all the milk he had accidentally swallowed.

He swam through the thick liquid and latched onto a floating piece of processed grain. A massive metallic object swept in from the sky and scooped up dozens of the pieces.

“Please. Oh God, please.”

The object broke the surface and Martin could feel the liquid rise around him. A rush of wind hit him and sent shivers through his milk soaked body as he flew through the air.

He clung to the floating piece of grain and dug his fingernails into it. A black hole, blacker than anything he had ever seen opened in front of him. On the metallic object he rode, speeding towards the hole and his doom. “Stop! Stop, please I’m – “

Martin jolted awake in bed and screamed. His wife jumped out of bed and turned on the light.

“Are you ok?” she asked. “You scared me.”

Martin tried to get a hold of his labored breathing. “Yeah I’m fine. It was just a nightmare.”

“A nightmare? About what?”

“I’m not sure, but I think I need to quit my job.”

 

Tauisha Nicole (@shells2003)

“Listen to me,” his voice echoed.
It was deep.
It was hollow.
It was sweet.
It was stern.
“Listen to me,” he demanded again.
Velvety steel, best way to describe him. He walked towards me, his breath echoing throughout my surroundings. His eyes, fathomless and focused on where I was frozen. People in slow motion around him tried to stop him from approaching.
He walked past them all as though he were thin air.
“Listen to me,” again he replied.
His words, his eyes, his features were all I could focus on. Though he fought to get near me, he never seemed to reach.
Soon he was gone, and there was nothing but me sitting up in bed, shivering, glancing around, sucking in gulps of air.
I was alone. And clearly, there was nothing to fear. Though I was awake, I could still see his eyes and hear his soft yet stern plea.
“Listen to me.”
Listen to what?
I got up and went to the connecting bath. Turning on the light and splashing my face, I pondered more on a dream that…shouldn’t have meant anything.
Except I’ve had this dream before.
Several times.
And though I’ve never met the man who wants my attention, he looked familiar. As though maybe I should know…
But I didn’t. Instead, I shook it off as much as the cold water would allow and went back to bed.
And when sleep finally captured my thoughts again, he was there, walking towards me again.
“Listen to me.”

Michael D. Hansen (@buzzynutkins)

Black. Everywhere, black. I grasp, but her hand slipped out of mine. How long ago? Wet as well. Water? Yes. The sound of the ocean. The ocean only smaller. How can it be smaller when it’s black as far as the eye can see? The water is so wide it’s pulled the light right out of the stars, leaving me afloat on top of an undulating, wet surface that sounds like the ocean, only smaller. Why is it so-

White. White? That can’t be right, everything was black. No, it’s definitely white. Colder too. I can’t see her anymore. Wait, see who? No, I know who, stop asking silly questions, she’s getting farther away and you can’t make it through the storm without her. A flash of black behind the white. A shadow. Her shadow? No, she doesn’t cast a shadow. She must be just ahead, I have to move faster. Hurry, before-

“Red wine.” The waiter comes back in an instant, so fast that I’ll never be able to tip for this kind of service. “Thank you,” as he pours into my glass without taking his eyes off of me. He looks familiar. I’ve seen him before. I must have come here before. Yes, I came here with her. Where’s she gone though? Silly question, she’s in the lady’s room. I’m in charge of ordering. I know what she wants. I open the menu anyway, to make sure. The menu has changed. Everything is different. We haven’t eaten here before. She’ll come back and all I’ll have ordered are these two large glasses of red wine. No, not red as I glance at mine. It’s-

Black. Everywhere, black. I grasp, but her hand…

* * *
“He’s writing in his dream journal again.”

“Is there anything of interest? Is he writing something new?”

“You know what he’s writing. The same dream he’s had for the last eleven years. The same dream you had him committed for. It’s not going to change.”

 

And now…

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE!

 

Look for the results at Write On Wendy, home of Wendy Strain and 5-Minute Fiction!

11/28/12

#5MinuteFiction: Week 127 Winner!

Well, that was a rather dynamic poll.  A lot of action in the voting today, but the final results are in.  Our winner is Kevin!

Here’s Kevin’s winning entry:

Kevin

Clouds are interesting, even when they are angry. I’ve seen my brother tell some girl that she “looks hot when she’s angry.” He must have stolen that from the clouds.

I laid down under the old tree I played on as the clouds rolled in. My brother says not to do that in case a storm comes, but then again, my brother drank something from a brown bottle and vomited it all up.

The clouds were gray, and then they turned to black. The sun was setting behind the wrestling clouds. Awesome.
Suddenly, there was a flash as the sun faded out of sight. I had never seen a flash at dusk before; when the dark clouds come, you can’t tell where the sun is. But I knew where the sun was; it was getting ready for bed behind the mountains, and a flash happened.

Maybe it was the sun’s mom telling the sun to go to bed. My mom does that. My brother was calling me back to the house; I didn’t want to go. The clouds look better when you’re looking right at them. I stood up and looked at the clouds. A sparkle was in front of me. I tried to grab it, but it kept moving. I ran as I could and I finally caught it. Another flash. My brother runs and hugs me; I looked behind me and the old tree I played on was on fire.

 

Congratulations to Kevin, and thanks to Linda Wendling for being the excellent guest judge that she is!  For those of you who aren’t winning a copy of Peculiar Pilgrims, make sure to check it out in paperback or Kindle – it’s most definitely worth a read!

 

It’s been a long and wonderful trip, and I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s return to our terrific, noble, benevolent host Nicole Wolverton!  I’ll see you all there.  If I may say, we’ve been brilliant!

11/27/12

#5MinuteFiction: Week 127 Finalists!

Guys, guys, you were brilliant!  I absolutely loved reading these, and Linda Wendling was also well-entertained!  She’s left some notes for each of you!

Meredith:

You gave us what I thought was a more unique setting than most, and I loved it: it was visceral. Great atmosphere right from the opening lines. Dusk but sky still clear and stars visible, cold wind. I could see the crew looking out that door, heard it roll up. I was gripped. I wanted to be there with them, out in the cold, arms over my chest, looking out over the empty acreage. That warehouse was so real. It all felt very cinematic. And of course, good, crisp dialogue always goes a long way, even in a short-short story. You used it well.

Finally, I also thought you gave us a great surprise when not only does Stan disappear but ALL THE FORKLIFTS!!! Leaves us wondering what in the world that’s about!! I was intrigued, but I also laughed, imagining the possibility that the forklifts were either needed on the alien planet, OR that they resembled the aliens themselves, who snatched them up in case they were intelligent beings! (I’m not at all saying that was your intent, but the fact that all of the forklifts disappeared was a great, funny, intriguing touch!) Smart, fun diminution—a complete story in 5 minutes! I’m dazzled!

AmyBeth Inverness:

What a suspenseful set-up, in your very opening:  “…illumination that came too little, too late.” Wow! Who can stop at that point????  I also relished the intelligence of the piece and its respect for the readers. The reflections on mathematics were delicious (something I ALWAYS love to encounter in good fiction. I ate that up), especially your linking it to larger reflections on mass communication and the absurdness of humanity’s self-confidence, considering how tiny and fragile we are in this universe:  the reader tenses, knowing this will all relate back to that first, incredibly ominous line. Then, the payoff is fantastic:  “…The flash came at the dusk of civilization. Humans all across the planet somehow figured out the connection, the spark that united and ignited the next great thing. But the flash also inspired fear.”  Wow. Isaac Asimov would be proud!

Rob Brunet

Oh my gosh! This story had, by far, the most unique take on the prompt! It was funny, mysterious, intriguing and the DIALOGUE was fantastic fun! Not only entertaining, but it contributes to the characterization of these guys (especially Tom). You really have a gift for dialogue, quirky details, and characterization. In fact, you accomplished a level of characterization that is rarely achieved in FIVE FREAKING MINUTES!!!!! We KNOW these guys. But the climax: four ducks and a flask! Fabulous! What a riot! You probably know this, Rob, but it’s much tougher to write quirky fiction that makes readers laugh AND think for a minute than it is to write the so-called serious stuff. So this talent is not something you should neglect.

Alissa:

You were this week’s budding novelist in my opinion, Alissa. What a fun, funny, intriguing set-up. I like that the narrator doesn’t TELL us up front that she’s waiting for this loser guy (he doesn’t say good-bye, even though she’s supposedly sick; and he slams the door on top of it!) to leave because she’s up to something. Instead, we see that she’s up to something, but we don’t know what (e.g., “I told him I was sick”…at the moment she tells us that, we think it could be true). But she clues us in immediately that she’s lying (the ginger ale). And with that, already with those first few lines, NO reader would put this potential novel (or story) down. And then when his door shuts—BAM! We get the whole girl and know something big is going to happen! Great visual details as well, Alissa. I like the tracing of the vines on the quilt and the fact that there’s ice in the ginger ale—nice nice nice. Pulls us in. And her outfit! Funny and charming!  It can be left like this as a cliffhanger story, but this could really be a fun novel—a la Stephanie Plum style! I really really really hope you pursue it!

Kevin:

I loved this opening reflection: “…I’ve seen my brother tell some girl that she “looks hot when she’s angry.” He must have stolen that from the clouds.” You’ve made this narrator a charming and thoughtful kid; we like him already and want to stay with him. I like the completeness of the story itself, but this kid’s too good to let go of just yet, and I envision this as evolving as well from a (very good) short-short into either a full-length coming-of-age story or even a novel. I’m impressed by the way it instantly provides three-dimensional characterization: this is not a guy of single, shallow dimensions. We, the readers, will stick with a guy like this. And that is NOT easy to accomplish in a 5-minute writing time!!! I find that very impressive.

Not only that, but you manage to create TWO 3-dimensional characters. We know this brother as well, and we understand their relationship, which is fairly complex and—though the brother’s bravado doesn’t fool the kid brother—it’s a loving relationship. What I appreciate about that as well is the fact that it’s so much easier to write about negative relationships: bitter writing is popular among writers, but readers appreciate the greater depth of something like this. You’re not taking the easy, cheap (bitter) way. Nice. I liked this line: it’s so telling: “…but then again, my brother drank something from a brown bottle and vomited it all up.”  Ha! Funny and sad at the same time. But his brother comes through for him, but we’re not sure if he’s on time. I love the slight, quiet mystery of that. The narrator DID catch that spark; the tree WAS on fire—but his brother catches and hugs him. Lot to think about here. I like it!

 

H.L. Pauff:

Loved the imagery set up in this line: “…Its metal outer shell hummed as it slowly rotated around a fixed red sphere. The metal beacon on the ground hummed to the same frequency and flashed a light of greeting.”

That word “greeting” then leaves us with a strong anticipation, following by the signs, a mother cheering to her child—we’re hoping she’s right (and what a deliciously creepy feeling comes over us that this mother has so much confidence in the ultimate “goodness” of this thing that she—hellooo—BRINGS HER CHILD! I smiled at the shivery foreshadowing that brings), and then: bam! It’s over. We had a strong feeling that was coming, and it’s very satisfying. (We don’t want the happy ending version in a classic thriller-style short-short. Rod Serling was a master at this type of tale and his stories still hold up today and have a great cult following. This is very much in that vein.) Finally, I liked the quick closure, which erupts just like that light, reflecting back to that color red; what had excited the crowd in that color now spells their final, terrible destiny. Nicely done.

 

 

And now we have our 5 finalists, as chosen by the wonderful Linda Wendling:

A special thanks to Linda Wendling for helping me make this guest-hosting gig work!

 

And now, the finalists’ entries!

Alissa

I curled deeper into the quilt after he left. I told him I was sick. That I hadn’t even gotten out of bed today. I didn’t explain how I managed to have Ginger Ale on my bedside table with ice in it. He didn’t ask. Perhaps he didn’t notice.

I studied the quilt intensely, trying to pass the time until he went out. I could hear him puttering around in the kitchen while I traced the ivy twirling from flower to flower. Soon now. He would decide there was nothing to eat and go in search of something, like an ancient hunter-gatherer, and either end up at Moe’s (down home country fare just a couple block away) or Nightshade (the bar downtown) – depending on how he was feeling.

He didn’t even yell goodbye before the door slammed shut.

Finally! I threw off the quilt and jumped up, shimmying to straighten the black silk dress. I ran to the closet, now was the time…black or red? Red. I slipped the pumps on and grabbed my red leather clutch on my way out the door.

I don’t even know why I was so dressed up tonight. I just felt like it was right. After a flash at dusk last evening, I knew I had to investigate. And a woman can get so much further with the right attitude. I was not about to let the possibility pass me by. I was hunting tonight…

AmyBeth Inverness

It was a flash at dusk, illumination that came too little, too late.

All the pieces were there. The visible spectrum had been the first to be enhanced and understood, followed just decades later by the audible range. Humans were finally able to perceive so much more.

Teenagers studying algebra look at calculus as being the end of math, the pinnacle that, if ever achieved, will fulfill any requirement they will ever have. True mathmaticians know better. They know that calculus is really only the beginning, and everything leading up to it was merely a foundation.
It was like that with the enhancement of the senses. Once humans were able to talk to each other instantly via phone or computer, they thought they had reached the pinnacle of communication. Once they mastered the enhancement of the senses, they suddenly realized there was so, so very much more. It was something they could not put into words…instant communication was no help when one did not have the language necessary to express and describe the discovery. There world, their universe was so very much more complex and interesting than anything any Science Fiction writer had ever imagined…

The flash came at the dusk of civilization. Humans all across the planet somehow figured out the connection, the spark that united and ignited the next great thing. But the flash also inspired fear. It was followed by annother form of illumination, a light that destroyed whole cities, leaving mushroom clouds in its wake.

The flash came at dusk.

And it was too late.

Kevin

Clouds are interesting, even when they are angry. I’ve seen my brother tell some girl that she “looks hot when she’s angry.” He must have stolen that from the clouds.

I laid down under the old tree I played on as the clouds rolled in. My brother says not to do that in case a storm comes, but then again, my brother drank something from a brown bottle and vomited it all up.

The clouds were gray, and then they turned to black. The sun was setting behind the wrestling clouds. Awesome.
Suddenly, there was a flash as the sun faded out of sight. I had never seen a flash at dusk before; when the dark clouds come, you can’t tell where the sun is. But I knew where the sun was; it was getting ready for bed behind the mountains, and a flash happened.

Maybe it was the sun’s mom telling the sun to go to bed. My mom does that. My brother was calling me back to the house; I didn’t want to go. The clouds look better when you’re looking right at them. I stood up and looked at the clouds. A sparkle was in front of me. I tried to grab it, but it kept moving. I ran as I could and I finally caught it. Another flash. My brother runs and hugs me; I looked behind me and the old tree I played on was on fire.

Meredith

The whole warehouse crew ran to the roll-up door when they saw a flash at dusk. It being winter in Manchester, they didn’t get off work until dark. But what they saw was no lightening. The sky was still clear and stars were visible. The cold air whipped around the building’s pseudo wind tunnel but no one moved. All but the forklift drivers had left their stations without their coats. They all wore crossed arms and stared into the empty acreage being swallowed by the darkening night. Slowly, murmurs began.

“What was that?” asked Leslie.

“That was a UFO!” Stan proclaimed confidently.

“Ha. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. No one believes that,” said Marvin.

Stan just rolled his eyes and smirked to himself. He didn’t need to convince anyone. He’d been on plenty of UFO chasings and boy had he seen his share.

Marvin followed up with, “If that was a UFO, how come the flash was so quick? And why aren’t there anymore?”

Stan walked back to his forklift and drove it through the roll-up door. He wasn’t going to let this pass him by. Suddenly a longer and larger flash crossed the sky and earth. It was so bright, the onlookers covered their eyes with their arms. By the time it was gone and everyone began getting their bearings again, Marvin started noticing what was missing.

“Hey, where’d all the forklifts go? And what happened to Stan?”

Rob Brunet

George bent over the barbeque and cursed the burned burgers. Three nights, colder than hell, and here he was waiting again. Tom had been clear as mud, like usual, and when it was all said and done, he had no reasonable expectation of geting paid.

“A flash at dusk,” Tom had said. “When you see it, make for it. Bee-line. Once you’re out on the water, directions get messed up real quick.”

“Yeah, but. . . when I get there. . .”

“No worries. You’ll know what to do.”

Three nights he’d been waiting. First night, he wasn’t even sure he noticed dusk. It was light, then it was dark. Maybe it happened while he was taking a leak back in the trees.

Second night, he waited until he was sure it was night before he cracked his first beer. There had been the burning sunset, and that small explosion when the propane ran out. One or the other had blinded him, for sure.

Now, here he was, scorching burgers over briquets, dying for a beer, wearing sunglasses with his back to the water, wondering how in hell he’d ever see the flash, when four ducks landed on the shore. The forth one had a tiny metal something or other strapped to its back. George stepped closer. Sure enough, it was a flask.

And off he went, cursing Tom under his breath all the way.

Congratulations again to our finalists!  Vote for your favorite in the poll!  The winner will receive a copy of Linda Wendling’s anthology Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories from the Left Hand of God! We’ll see you tomorrow night for the big reveal!

#5MinuteFiction Week 127 – The Winner is…
  
pollcode.com free polls 
11/27/12

5 Minute Fiction Week 127

5-Minute Fiction time!  You know the rules (and if you don’t, once again you can find them here) but make it snappy because you have from now until 8:45 EST to submit your entry.  This week’s prompt:

Your entry must include the phrase “a flash at dusk”

This week’s judge is Linda Wendling, and the overall winner will receive a copy of her anthology Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories from the Left Hand of God!  An excerpt from the book’s description:

An anthology of stories exploring the spiritual realm, Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories From the Left Hand of God, will take us on a fascinating journey. Adventures in unorthodoxy, mysterious ways, moments of unbounded, unexpected grace. Things you might not read in Sunday School. The broad range of voices include those of John Dalton, Melanie Rae Thon, Erin McGraw, Alice Mattison, Alice Fulton, Lee Upton, Rose Rappoport Moss, Quinn Dalton, Jaimee Wriston Colbert, and a host of others.

A Few Notes:*

 

  • In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box or notepad. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry. If your entry doesn’t appear right away, email me.
  • I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.
  • This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.

Go, go, go! You’ve got until 8:45p EST (on the dot. Yes, I’m serious) to submit your entry in the comments section of this post.

I’ll see you back here at 10p EST with the finalists.

*notes stolen from Nicole Wolverton

11/27/12

5 Minute Fiction night! I’m not sure what that feeling in the air is, but it’s palpable!

Welcome to 5-Minute Fiction!  It’s that time again, and you know what to do! If you don’t know what to do, head over to Nicole Wolverton’s Rules page but be quick, because once the prompt goes up, you’ll have a small, narrow window about the size of a womp rat (which happens to be about 15 minutes in length) to take the prompt, run with it, bring it back, give it a treat, tell it it’s a good nongenderedentity and submit it as a reply in the comments on the prompt post.  From there, you’ll have not long to wait, as winners will be posted around 10 PM EST.  Our wonderful judge this week is Linda Wendling, and the winner will receive a copy of her anthology Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories from the Left Hand of God!  See you back here at 8:30 EST!

11/26/12

5-Minute Fiction Week at Strife Eternal!

If there is a list of things I love about the internet, this 5-Minute Fiction contest has to be close to the top (to save my own soul, I shall never disclose this list so don’t ask me to).  Getting out on Tuesday evenings, getting the brain-blood pumping and creative adrenaline surging, not knowing what absolutely insane prompt you may have to work with…  To me it feels sometimes like I’m engaging in mortal combat, a fight to the brutal death, with the limits of my writing abilities.  So I’m rather excited to be hosting this week.  While I always wish I could be competing, I’m now aware that there’s a different kind of anticipation that comes with hosting: I get to see where everyone will take my prompt, see just how vastly different it is than what popped into my head when I was brainstorming.

I also get to see one of my favorite people in action this week: Linda Wendling. Linda is the sort of person who sits down with a pen and takes the simplest idea, the most normal of circumstances, and instantly makes a page-turning story that I simply can’t get enough of.  She’s lovely, talented, and one of the sweetest people on the face of this or any planet.  The winner of this week’s competition will win a copy of her anthology Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories from the Left Hand of God.  Excerpt from the book’s description: An anthology of stories exploring the spiritual realm, Peculiar Pilgrims: Stories From the Left Hand of God, will take us on a fascinating journey. Adventures in unorthodoxy, mysterious ways, moments of unbounded, unexpected grace. Things you might not read in Sunday School. The broad range of voices include those of John Dalton, Melanie Rae Thon, Erin McGraw, Alice Mattison, Alice Fulton, Lee Upton, Rose Rappoport Moss, Quinn Dalton, Jaimee Wriston Colbert, and a host of others.

Peculiar Pilgrims

Peculiar Pilgrims

 

So, tune in tomorrow for the fun at the usual time, 8:30 EST.  I’ll be there with bells on.  And pants.  Probably the rest of my clothes too.  But there will be bells.  See you then!

08/27/12

Dear Arizona

Dear Arizona…

What the hell are you doing?

Future laws and headlines pending for good ol’ AZ.

1) All couples married two weeks prior to wedding; break-ups due to cold feet to be treated as divorce.2) Prescription drugs to be available over the counter with signed affidavit of ‘intent to obtain prescription’.

3) Retailers may now charge you for items you look at in the store, if they certify ‘the look in [their] eyes says it was pretty-much a done deal.’

4) Anti-virus software now required by trade commission to protect against virii/malware/security weakpoints ‘reasonably believed to be imminent’ (within the next 10 business days; briefs of intended malicious software to be filed with newly created digital criminal accountability board).

5) Loans considered in default two weeks prior to the final missed payment.

6) Sporting events now able to be called early enough for evening news cycle, due to dismissal of all points scored with fewer than 10 seconds remaining. ‘At the buzzer’ results in penalty and even forced forfeiture of subsequent games.

7) Catholic Church sends out call for increased vigilance in the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, stressing adaptive measures for miracles of the living – immaculate conception among virgin women on the rise.

8) Two weeks prior to election day, political chaos ensues when both parties simultaneously declare victory and criticize their opponents for failure to concede. Recounts baffled by inability to produce ballots.

9) Fill in the blank?

Add your own ridiculous laws and headlines!