Even the Largest Avalanche is Triggered by Small Things.

The “daddy longlegs” sits on a dry root, watching me with multiple prismatic eyes.

A common enough encounter, the little surveillance bots skitter everywhere in this desert. Microscopic plutonium chips power their round bodies, and they have multi-segmented legs that look very similar to pholcidae, cellar spiders.

The tiny scouts don’t take much notice of humans, as a rule. They still give me the jeebies, out here in the barrens, so I pack up my kit and prepare to move along.

A sharp buzzing draws my attention. One of the nasty hunter/killer waspbots, a “mud dauber,” swoops in on the longlegs. The two of them roll around in the dust battling, until the wasp lands a powerful electric “sting” that disables the smaller unit.

I throw my backpack over my shoulder and hike into the Omaha wasteland, while the machines continue to make war in the wreckage of human civilization.

parkinkspot sq logo

150 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Original image found here: http://www.thedesignwork.com/weird-pictures
Advertisements

Room with a View

“It was nice of your Uncle Caius to find a room for us to stay during the Bacchanalia season.”

“It’s… quaint,” Antonitus responded. “Peasants can’t expect a palace, I suppose.”

“Hush, at least it’s dry and warm. I’m concerned about getting sleep, though.”

Loud music pounded in from the main temple, with some very human squeals and grunts from time to time.

“Sounds like the orgy is in full swing already,” she sniffed. “Do you know why this pit is here, Tony?”

They both paused and leaned over to examine the large, deep pit in the center of the room. It dropped into the shadows of the temple’s sublevels.

“Not sure. Maybe it’s for some sort of sacrificial use?”

Caecilla squealed when he mock-shoved her toward the pit, “rescuing” her at the last moment.

“You bastard,” she kicked him, grinning.

“Is the wine cellar down there?”

A bacchanalia temple guard, dressed in full Legionnaire costume and obviously enjoying the party, weaved into the room from the temple. He grunted something unintelligible and raised his cantharus in salute before turning away from the bewildered couple.

He fumbled briefly with his pteruges and a yellow stream arced outward into the pit.

parkinkspot sq logo

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

A Room in the Roman Painted House, Dover

Lucrative Lucha

The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be. A small man, no one expected him to decide on such an unusual profession.

No one knows how he made his way to Mexico, but it might astonish wrestling fans to learn that Italian businessmen were the earliest promoters of Lucha Libre. In the 1920s, Luigi was one of the earliest and most successful luchadores in Mexico.

Decades after his death, his grandson revealed the secret of Luigi’s wrestling success:

“Grandpa was a horrible bigot. Pequeño Cerdo hated big men. He had an inferiority complex. Since luchadores are usually giants, Grandpa Luigi was in a horrific rage in the ring nearly all the time.”

“That first match he ever lost, in 1935? A crooked promoter changed the wrestling card at the last moment, and Pequeño Cerdo lost his fury strength when he faced Abejorro, the midget wrestler.”

parkinkspot sq logo

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

2015-08-24 – Photo taken of an old photo in 2014 – Barbara W. Beacham

Predation

Body snatching is a lost profession of a bygone age, but the gallant profession of burking is alive (ha!) and well.

Tonight’s selected student is a big, free-striding Valkyrie, stomping back to her dorm in the predawn hours. A walk of shame, I presume. Welcoming the challenge, I slip behind her. My sturdy nylon sack cuts off her air supply and muffles the screams. She struggles but I am both strong and practiced.

In the chill of my meat locker, the patchwork masterpiece awaits. This latest Brunnhilde will complete the puzzle. I pick up my scalpel and begin modification.

parkinkspot sq logo

100 words. Inspired by this week’s Micro Bookends (1-45) prompt:

Photo Credit: David Elwood via CC.

Added the link to explain burking to be useful to readers.

Let Me Look That Up, Sir

The scrawl on the index card on the end of the mobile filing case reads—“Pittsburgh, 15201 to 15232, 1979 to 1983.”

Each of these cases holds the records of tens of thousands of men. All cross-referenced, sorted by date and location. The filing cases recede into infinity, perspective vanishing point at the limits of vision.

Most file clerks have a nervous breakdown the first time they see this filing system. Is this Satan’s own record keeping, are the earliest entries scratched Sumerian logographs on hardened clay tablets?

No, but that’s close. These belong to the V. A. Hospital.

parkinkspot sq logo

100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT – © Claire Fuller

 

Back Off, Damned Sirens.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

The man’s opinions are inconsequential, of course. What use are male opinions in social matters?

Target your avaricious intentions on his holdings, his estates, and the production of your grandchildren. The mothers pander and their daughters spin webs. Machiavellian intentions hidden behind gowns of silk and taffeta, diabolical snares constructed of garden promenades and high tea. Once attached, their lamprey teeth make them difficult to shake loose.

Exhausted by the epic struggle to maintain my freedom I resolved to flee at once. I abandoned my secure and lucrative career, only barely begun. I would find a more physical profession, and settle in a place where a man could earn his bread without the sustained shrieking of circling harpies.

Greece. The home of Zeus and Hercules, and surely the perfect spot for the ultimate consummation of confirmed bachelorhood, wasn’t it? I would get a little fishing boat and live in quiet solitude in a tiny shack. What harm if a few of the local bronzed specimens of godly manhood should stroll past on the beach? We could surely jest and contest while quaffing our wine and discussing platonic ideals. Belching, scratching, and defaming the female of the species, as real men should.

I settled on the isle Lefkada, a typical Greek island that was only unusual because of its land bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Setting sail on my tiny new boat, I learned quickly how little I knew of sailing and fishing. Fortunately, the island had several tanned and muscular youths available for hire, and I was smitten. I quite enjoyed my lessons, and soon learned both crafts. My Greek grew less insulting to the listener, as well. Adopted immigrant turned semi-native, the locals did not long fault me for my unfortunate English birth.

I was content at last.

My occasional fishing employee and local tanned god Dimitrios introduced me to his cousin, Leucosia, a dazzling Levantine beauty in uncomfortably brief swimwear. This was surely an innocent introduction, I was certain Dimitrios knew of my proclivities. How unhappy it would make me to have my peace ruined by a ‘hook-up’—at least, if the hook-up was with her.

We drank much wine and the three of us chatted. She seemed almost human, this one, smiling and interacting without immediately shifting to predatory mode. They needed a lift to the far side of the island, and Dimitrios’ boat was down for sail repair, could I take them?

Of course, I accepted—making it clear to Dimitrios that I intended collecting on the favor eventually.

Leucosia leaned against the mast in the moonlight and asked, “You have heard that sirens have always frequented Lefkada?”

“You mean classical, mythical sirens? How do you know if they’re there?”

From behind me Dimitrios answered, “By the screams,” and his serrated teeth ripped at my throat.

parkinkspot sq logo

495 words. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (the first line, from Pride and Prejudice).

Just Like Paradise

Bzzzt Bzzzt Bzzzt Bzzzt Bzzzt Bzzzt *thud*

Blrergharghgroan No please, not yet. Just a few more minutes, please let me sleep.

Yeah, yeah. You’re going to nag me about responsibility and shit until I get in the shower, aren’t you? My mouth tastes like litter box. That’ll motivate anybody right out of bed.

As I take off my wristwatch in preparation, I notice it’s glowing faintly blue. Wow, that looks weird. I can even see the gears whirling inside.

I fiddle with the watch stem, and I notice the sun…going back down again. Turn it forward, and the sun rises once more.

Gamers are familiar with third-person view, somewhere over the left shoulder of your avatar, staring over his back at the world. Rolling the watch stem forward, my body got dressed, had breakfast, went to work; all with me watching, a spectator. Everything was moving fast forward, a literal blur.

I watched me working on autopilot. Hah, I always knew deep down that was possible! I can stay solvent without ever experiencing the tedium. At the end of the workday, I stopped winding, and everything snapped back to normal.

The implications are enormous. I’ll finally get enough sleep!

parkinkspot sq logo

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

Left it right here, I swear

Every time I go back to the apartment, I feel like someone’s watching me.

My husband tells me it’s just paranoia, but when the sunset lengthens the shadows, my skin always begins to crawl. I can feel them, over that way, watching and waiting for something.

All in my head, my husband insists. The only thing “out there” is the Pacific Ocean, uninterrupted for at least five thousand miles. Who do you think is watching, exactly?

***

The whales had been watching humans develop in downtown San Francisco just before the tsunami arrived.

…It was there just a moment ago…

parkinkspot sq logo

100 words. Inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT – © C.E.Ayr

Genesis

“Come on then, Jones, it’s your turn to give us a tale, mate.”

Jones had planned his tale during the previous traveler’s story and sat up on his robomule, ready to begin.

“Quite so. My lords and ladies, during my travels I have been many places and seen much. The tale I offer today is tragic, and true. It’s about a lady I met in the Lesser Magellanic who had more than forty thousand children.”

“Protraxilone is a frontier colony, and it would be idyllic if it were located elsewhere. Because it’s in the Cloud and its primary is part of an x-ray binary system, the local background radiation is enormous. Genetic damage is inevitable, and the birth defect rate is nothing short of tragic. For years, the Protraxan mothers had relied on IVF using imported ova, because of the risk.

That is, until Rothchild Zaggerty and his family arrived. Doctor Zaggerty set up a carefully shielded genetics laboratory and took on new patients immediately. He offered a new process, artificial oogenesis, the creation of new and healthy ova using the mother’s natural genes present in any tissue sample. Since the DNA came from healthy cells of the mature mother, he claimed, the new ova were free of damage from ionizing radition and could be stored in shielded containment until needed.

Protraxian mothers were thrilled, naturally. For the next fifteen years, ‘Zaggerty Eggs’ were involved in the majority of all childbirth. Not coincidentally, Doctor Zaggerty’s clinic made him a fortune, until genetic testing eventually revealed the disturbing truth. An entire generation, just about forty thousand children, all had the same mother.

Zaggerty’s process wasn’t anything like what he claimed. He’d actually harvested tens of thousands of immature ovum in the dictyate stage from his own pre-pubescent daughter. These oocytes were thereafter artificially maturated and produced as ‘miraculous Zaggerty Eggs’ whenever necessary. He took an enormous shortcut, completely unethical in every way. Thousands of Protraxan ‘natural’ mothers are unrelated to their children.

Doctor Zaggerty’s eventual fate was, well, ugly.

His youngest daughter Eva turned out to be uninvolved in the conspiracy. Eva is now the all-mother, oddly venerated by Protraxan society, yet has never given birth herself. Not her fault her dad was the most hated man of an entire world.

She enjoys fruity cocktails, you know.”

parkinkspot sq logo

385 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt. It’s a Canterbury Tale, of sorts.

(I actually went to sleep last night without an idea, and sat up in bed well after midnight with a dream–so I missed the deadline, but had a story.)

These write-it-before-midnight challenges just don’t seem to work the same way my subconscious does. That’s okay, it’s almost double the desired length anyway.

Nor am I an expert human geneticist. To do this tale right, I’d need to interview one, get the details right, and reproduce this tale at short-story or novella length.