Wonderful News

“You think I’m an evil old bitch, don’t you?”

“Oh grandmother,” Helen said. “Of course I don’t.”

“Liar. Everyone in this family thinks so. I am what I had to be, to hold this family and its fortune together for nearly seventy years since old Cyrus dumped it on me. Now the buzzards are gathering, sensing the end of my time. The distant relations are circling and everyone, everyone is eager for their piece.”

“Not everyone, grandmother. I was happy at school, enjoying a taste of freedom.”

“Of course you were. Beyond a certain point wealth becomes a lifetime shackle. You see that I can’t leave it to the grasping buzzards, don’t you?”

Helen paled. “What do you mean?”

“My lawyers have been working hard on the final revision; my will is ironclad, no one can break it. Everything, every penny, every piece of property, they’re all your problem now.”

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150 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt:

Photo provided by pixabay.com (free to use photos)

Unfortunately, it’s not speculative fiction. Pretty much undiluted melodrama. Oh well, maybe Heathcliffe will come through and save the day.

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First Class Aerial Seating

The voyage was uneventful until the ship arrived in America on Oct. 29, just in time to meet the 2011 Nor’easter (a.k.a. Snowtober). The Chairman of the Board, Hendrick Van der Decken, repeatedly vowed that his tulips would reach port despite the Devil himself.

Wind and surf drove the sailing ship miles up the coast, from Virginia to New Jersey. During a desperate Board of Directors Emergency Meeting, the ship capsized. A snownado scooped up Van der Decken and deposited his frozen corpse several miles inland.

Legend has it that on Halloween night, at lowest tide, you can still see a ruined office chair rising from the waves, and hear defiant swearing on the wind, in Dutch.

Thus began the Legend of the Flying Chairman.

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125 words, inspired by this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:
(Okay, I cheated the word count a little, too much fun.)

PHOTO PROMPT – © Dale Rogerson

Stranded

Help me, Morty.

I’m lost. I have no idea where this is. No one speaks English, just the people from my bus. No cell phone service, I can’t get any bars.

Every few days another school bus pops in. Most of them are ancient, made in the 60s. We’ve constructed shanties from available materials, gutted a few of the vehicles. There’s no communication with the outside world or any roads out.

It’s a Sargasso Sea or Bermuda Triangle. Only for busses, not ships.

We’ve found a mailbox! Going to try using snail mail. Except no one’s ever seen a postman.

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Warmup Wednesday prompt.

Light the Corners of My Mind

No one tells you it’s the good memories you’ll resent the most, because those are the memories most painful to lose. No one misses the memory of a bully, the one who broke your nose on the school bus. No one misses a wet and nasty buzzard-breath kiss from a great aunt with a great deal too much mustache hair. No one will miss the memory of those terrible freshman dorm dinners, the mystery meat with watery ketchup and a side of teeth-breakingly al dente pasta.

Forgetting those terrible memories is a blessing. Most people repress them without effort and never notice any difference.

That’s not what the court mandated, is it?

The series runs on the monitor again. Images flicker on the monitor at a rate of several frames per second. Some people I know, some people I do not recognize at all, and some people who appear to be Asian, or Italian, or Maori; but don’t trigger any change in my pulse or respiration.

For less than a heartbeat, I see a face that I do recognize. Dr. Penrose calls out, “Hit, pulse increasing, pupillary response on Image 87.”

He’s caught me again. His monitors have, anyway.

“Nicolette Sanchez. Of course you remember her, don’t you, scumbag?”

Don’t encourage him. Avoid eye contact.

“Oh, this one is a good one. Look at that sassy skirt, as if she was communicating directly with you. You thought she put that outfit on just to please you, right?”

I just work on keeping my breathing under control. Of course, his monitors answer every question he poses. I gave up trying to lie weeks ago. There’s just no point. You can’t lie to his monitors, and if you try the pain only gets worse.

“You became obsessed with her several years ago. Last year, you began stalking her. That ended well, didn’t it? Do you remember the FBI, the guns and tasers? Of course you do. Give us a playback on file 817, Bob.”

His assistant Bob calls up the file and plays the pain memory. Electricity locks my muscles tight, I’m twitching on the floor while fire burns through my body, and I scream and scream.

“It hurtses us, doesn’t it precious? Yes, it does. Playback 163 for this scumbag.”

I’m four or five, and dreaming of the ocean, waterfalls, crashing waves, and wake up in bed. I groan when I feel my bladder let go in the prison jumpsuit.

“All right, that’s enough fun and games. Time to burn her out, let’s do… File 905, and up the voltage to eight hundred percent. Bye bye to Nicolette, forever.”

For the first and last time, I reach out to touch her honey hair. She screams and struggles, and I lose my grip. The knife slips in far too easily, and hot blood explodes.

My mental treatment keeps me out of the Chair. That’s the last time I’ll ever remember.

What was her name?

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492 words, inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought (3-17).

 

Fat Bottomed Girls

“So there were gathered together a harlequin, an astrophysicist, and fifty nude women on bicycles?

“Well, yes.”

“Wasn’t that a strange thing, in the Seventies?”

“Not exactly common. It made a massive outcry in the newspapers at the time, but the excitement died away quickly. The interesting bit, to me, was that the nude ladies were actually trying to win the bicycle race.”

“So, who did win?”

“Florence Dollenberg, from Merton. She received a congratulatory handshake from the Prime Minister.”

“Heath, Wilson, or Callaghan?”

“Oh, I think I see your error; the Eighteen Seventies. She was congratulated by William Gladstone.”

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100 words for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Still confused? Take a tour with me back to the seventies…one of the seventies anyway.

(Fat Bottomed Girls and Bicycle Race were generally played together, and flipsides of the single. Freddy Mercury is the Harlequin, and Brian May the astrophysicist. That big-wheeled bike was contemporary in the 1870s…nude bicycle racing maybe not so much.

But it coooould have happened…)

The Cost of Genius

“I thought that we were special.”

“So did the Program. You know that only one child in ten thousand tests positive for the Sarasate gene. They went to enormous trouble to isolate and recruit all of us. We’re all pretty special, Sam.”

“You know that isn’t what I meant. You and I, us, we had something special, right?”

“We did. Outside the Program, the two of us alone wouldn’t have been able to continue and prosper. We needed the creative feedback from dozens of others, to keep producing new works at top level.”

“Does the art really matter that much to you? Screw the music. You know I’d give up the cello in a minute to be with you forever, Cheryl.”

“I wouldn’t want you to. You’d only resent me for it eventually. This orchestra is my home, and this violin is my life. I’m sorry about… How could they have known, when they recruited us as children?”

Sam hung his head. “The females soared on wings of genius, and the males could never be more than just competent musicians. No matter how long they studied.”

“We both have the gene, Sam. They just never guessed the effect would be sex-linked.”

“And the Program is finally tired of carrying the males, and out with the failed experiments. You’re still entirely committed to the Program?”

Cheryl drew a slow breath.

“I’m committed to my sisters, and to the potential we’ve shown. I believe this is going somewhere amazing, and I desperately need to be a part of it.

“I’ve already seen the wetware surgeon, Sam. He tinkered with some trivial memories, and you know they solved sexual orientation years ago. I’ve already been flipped, I’m sorry.”

“In my opinion, all of you have flipped.”

Cheryl smiled tenderly, “Bingo.”

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296 words. Inspired by this week’s Cracked Flash Fiction (Y1W18) prompt.

Lyc and a Promise

“I can’t decide when to change.”

“Come on, you know you need to. You don’t feel comfortable in your own body, you’ve told me so frequently. So this may be exactly what you need.”

“Maybe so, but I’m still scared.”

“Fundamentally altering your life is always scary. I have faith in you. Just think of how much better you’ll feel after. Sometimes, you just need to take the leap of faith, you know?”

“Good, the moon’s coming up, and I can already feel the Change starting.”

“Wait a second, the full moon is tonight?”

“Baby I’ve changed, please come back.”

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s 100WCGU prompt at Julia’s Place:

…I can’t decide when to change…

Borrowed the final line from New York Minute (Don Henley), it seemed appropriate.

Queued

What can I tell you? This is the greatest job.

Herding the tours onto the bus is less than spectacular, I suppose. Every group seems to have one particularly large, aggressive guy who had beer for lunch. The Family Units are all right, as long as their kids don’t scream too much.

But the pay is sweet, fifty grand per load, and it’s easy enough to drive another group out to the desert and have another “breakdown.”

You’d think they’d catch on, just from the name. “Tour Beautiful Fly Canyon.” Flies and the undead go together like helpless and tourist.

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

Cave Canem

Tiberius paused to mark a corner where a stranger had been. It’s best to be vigilant about your territory’s boundaries and strange interlopers. He left marking that he was willing to defend his space if necessary, and another mark indicating his sexual availability to any bitches that might pass. It never hurts to advertise, just in case.

Satisfied, he resumed his daily exploration. He was seeking the scent of the Master, as always. He’d started by the docks, worked his way up the main avenue and examined the surrounding plazas.

The strange little rocks were falling from the sky again. All of the people, the humans, were collected at the docks and fighting for places on the few ships. Many of them wore pillows tied on their heads as a defense against the solid rain. The fine ash collected on the people, buildings, and streets.

He grew concerned when he observed the feral dog packs fleeing the town. He whined when he felt the ground quake and his nose alerted him to the fires.

Tiberius was a good dog. But when the wave of mud and ash roared over Pompeii, he was certain he wouldn’t smell Master Pliny again.

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

Which brought to mind the most famous of all Pompeii’s preserved victims:

How to Win the Princess

“Seek out the sovereigns and monarchs of every land. The princes of the entire world, their eldest sons, shall meet here in one year’s time. He who is brave, strong, and smart enough to perform my task shall receive half of my kingdom and treasure for his reward.”

The king’s plan was set in motion. In one year King Olaf addressed the assembled flower of nobility gathered before him. A dozen princes of the noblest lines came to learn the details of the contest.

“Few people know of my family’s tragic curse. Three hundred years ago, in my ancestor King Anlaf’s day, he offended a vain fairy named Radella by endorsing Princess Iris as the most beautiful lady in the land.”

“This is the curse as Radella invoked it: ‘Princess Iris shall be imprisoned in the dungeons of this castle and sealed in by walls of stone ten feet thick. There she will sleep, forever, until awaked with a kiss from a prince of noble blood.’”

King Olaf led the assembled princes down in the castle to the dungeons, where a thick wall sealed off the corridor.

“If any has thoughts of how to breach this wall and rescue Princess Iris, let him speak now and win fortune and kingdom.

One by one, the princes tried various schemes, drew diagrams, and asked questions. One by one, the princes grew discouraged. Finally only Prince Joseph remained.

“Would you answer a couple of questions, your majesty?”

“Of course, ask away.

“How long did you say Princess Iris has been sleeping?”

“For three hundred years.”

“Only a kiss can awaken her?”

“It is so.”

“In that case, I’ll give it a swing. I can do it, but I’ll need a jackhammer and all the breath mints you’ve got.”

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295 words. In response to this week’s Cracked Flash Fiction Competition prompt.