Schadenfreude Sports

Drake and Palmer have shared this bench for the past thirty years. The slats are bare of paint from Drake daily occupying the west end and Palmer the east. They meet every morning to enjoy the sunrise over the ocean, and watch the families and young people slowly filling up the beach.

“That family under the green and white striped beach umbrella, for fifty,” said Drake.

“Right oh. Those two girls sunbathing on the purple blanket,” said Palmer.

The old friends leaned back on the bench expectantly. After a brief wait, the village church bell began ringing Terce.

Palmer pointed, “Over there.”

An overweight bather in striped blue trunks suddenly vanished, instantly swallowed by the beach sand. After a few moments, sand erupted upward from the spot and a pair of blue swim trunks fell back to the beach.

“No winner,” said Drake.

“See you tomorrow, then,” Palmer agreed.

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150 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

A line of benches overlooking the sea

Ask not for whom the mystère hunts

Simon tried to apply pressure to the crude bandage on his ribs without slowing down. Blood was seeping slowly through the cotton and every step brought a fresh knife of agony from the gaping wound.

Thrashing in the trees—they’re still coming. Grinding his molars, he kept moving as quickly as his feet could stumble. A break in the jagged wood ahead revealed a miniature white building, some sort of tiny chapel. A church meant hallowed ground.

Simon grinned and lurched at the chapel, shuffling his way to salvation.

The shadows closed in violently. The brass placard at the door read: “The First Reformed Church of Voodoo Pharmacology.” Deliverance denied and Papa Legba laughed.

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114 words, inspired by this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt:

Night at the Museum

“Next up we have the Halls of Prehistory. This way,” said the museum guide.

Twenty second-graders shuffled in a line, paired up by “the buddy system.” Mrs. Pleasance, the children’s teacher, played tail-end wrangler, capturing strays and returning them to the main herd.

“Here we have the Dinosaurs, from 200 million years ago to about 66 million years ago. The dominant theory surrounding the extinction of the dinosaurs involved an asteroid impact at Chicxulub crater.

Our next extinct class is Mammalia, including Homo sapiens sapiens. The rise of the phylum Machinima displaced this clade. That means all of you, kids!”

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100 words, prompted by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

The Fool on the Hill

The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits. Even they won’t be around much longer.

I’m more of a transient, so I don’t count.

There really isn’t any word for what I’m doing. You might go with “Exorcist” as a rough approximation, I suppose, except I’m not a priest. I’m cleansing the town of spirits one at a time, proceeding uphill.

Atop the hill is a government building, see the one that looks like a hotel but isn’t? That was once the State Asylum.

Before the mine and the radon gas release and So. Many. Dead.

I learned how to make lenses. I stumbled on a combination of polarized coatings that could render the essences of the recently dead visible. Whatever your brand of religion calls them. Then I developed my cleansing lamp using essentially the same effect.

Don’t worry, Mother. I’m on the way.

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150 words. Inspired by this week’s Monday’s Finish the Story prompt:

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham


Journey to the Core

Ajax Seven launched with a scream of drill bit tearing through surface crust. The Core was an estimated sixteen hours directly below, along the central axis of Ajax’s drill.

Seven hours into the trip the ship lurched violently and the drill shriek intensified by an order of magnitude.

“Stop it! Kill it, or the gears will grind themselves to dust without resistance,” Captain Gustafson ordered.

“Did we strike some sort of air pocket, sir? A steam vent?” asked Briggs.

Gustafson waited patiently for the fog around the forward cameras to clear.

“A worm. Coddling moth larvae are common in apples.”

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100 words. In response to this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Rough work

“Well, he’s a billionaire.”

Leala leaned on the bar and toyed with her drink.

“He sends me all over the world, I’ve got a generous expense account, travel first class, and stay at the best hotels. I gotta admit, I have had worse jobs,” she grinned.

“You’re an art appraiser?” Dan asked.

“I have Masters in Art History from Swarthmore, ASA and ISA certifications, so it’s the salary I demand. Watterston isn’t interested in collecting old masters or fine art, really. His tastes are eclectic,” Leila replied.

“He’s into odd sculptures from unknowns?”

“He’s into everything. I’ve purchased armor, cannons, even a tall-masted ship for Watterston. It was fun to research; I didn’t know a damned thing about boats.”

“So the nautical angle explains his interested in this piece?” Dan said, tapping the photo of the Anchor sculpture.

“No, I don’t think so. Most of the art he chooses has some sort of personal connection for him. I can’t figure out what this one means to him.”

Dan smiled slowly, and ordered another round. “Watterston has ex-wives, right?”

Leala blinked. “Yes, I think so.”

“By any chance would he refer either as the ‘old boat anchor’?”

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198 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

A pair of Anchors


A mission of gravity

“All units, status check please.”

“Propulsion systems ready.”
“Navigation systems ready.”
“Communication systems ready.”

“Very well. As per mission parameters, at oh niner hundred we will deploy, seek and engage active targets in the southeast sector. If we find any active targets, we will apply standard targeted marketing systems. If successful, we will deliver our payload and return to base for debriefing. It is now oh eighty five nine, rolling out on my mark…three, two, one…mark!”

The lightly armored suburban assault vehicle sparkled in the morning sunlight as it rolled out from home base and turned southeast into “The Haven at Harvest Creek Gardens” subdivision.

“Communications. Deploy targeted marketing, please.”

The loudspeakers broadcast a jingling melody as the ice cream truck rolled past the playground.

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125 words. In response to this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

LEGO Ice Cream van



I pull the car into your grandpa’s antique filling station, last bastion of civilization in the badlands of western Oklahoma. Horny-toad weather is begging me for some air conditioning.

After a fill-up, I hear the siren call of the Dr. Pepper machine. Just a quarter, prices from the last century, too. It dispenses twelve-ounce glass deposit bottles, something I had been sure was gone from the world forever.

Cold and wet explode against the back of my throat at the perfect temperature, and my knees buckle. That joyous hallelujah moment; my body has only rarely been so pleased with me.

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100 words. In response to this week’s Velvet Verbosity prompt: “Reverence.”

Pretty sharp

“Did you bring it?”

“Yes sir, exactly as you requested.

Cavendish placed the leather sheath on the table, drew the knife carefully, and placed it for inspection.

Metcalfe whistled. “I didn’t expect it to catch the light like that.”

“Yes sir. Dr. Koufax told me the light refraction is an implicit result of the crystal formation. The molecular lattice is unique, and not found in nature. It will hold a durable edge that’s one atom thick. It’s completely non-metallic, of course.”

Metcalfe nodded at the image of Our Great Leader climbing out of his private jet.

“No metal detectors, perfect.”

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100 words, inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

No image attribution