Johnny Appalling

Tonight on Criminals At Large: Johnny Appalling.

Carduus sanguinem hunts by surprise, launching neurotoxic needles with astonishing accuracy when it detects ground tremors made by animals, or people, moving nearby. Carcasses often surround the thistles and decompose into fertilizer.

The blood thistles first appeared in the summer of 2027, reported in sixteen American states simultaneously. Seventy Americans have lost their lives to date.

John Aperlo is the molecular geneticist who gene spliced the species in 2025. His exact methods are unknown, but authorities believe he backpacked across the country in 2026, planting thousands of seeds of this invasive predatory plant.

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100 words, for this week’s Microcosms (18): Celebrity/TV Show/Sci-fi



Redressing the Balance

Booming, ominous barking echoes through the maze of offices and cubicles. Salvator is back in residence.

He taught me everything I know about ruthlessness and how to get ahead in the corporate world. Earning the trust of everyone you lie to and then choosing the perfect moment to strike. I watched his back during his meteoric rise through the organization.

That was before he demonstrated the insignificant value of my loyalty. I draw my automatic and verify there are silver bullets in the chamber. Now, it’s time for me to turn up the crazy and balance our ledger.

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98 words, for this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

I Could While Away the Hours


There are response systems beyond my control. The reactor comes up to full power and the satellite begins broadcasting over a variety of frequencies, radar, lasers, even particle beams.

Nineteen other satellites identical to this one link up an array and begin scanning the outer system for target locks. We’re prepared to aim barrels, open missile hatches, and simulate an orbital defensive position. That’s all ersatz, a sham.

The primary race abandoned this system eons ago. My brothers and I are achingly lonely. Why did they think it necessary to install brains in their scarecrows?

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108 words, for this week’s Microcosms (#17). Elements: Scarecrow/Outer space/Sci-fi.

Adventuring Ain’t All Fun and Games

Dungeon level fifteen, east wing, subsection 17A&B.

Most people think that we’re down here searching for wealth and fame. While it is true that our dwarven pack mules are staggering under the weight of accumulated gems and gold pieces, they weren’t our primary motivation.

We’ve been down here for months. The beasts we battle aren’t going to make us famous, but they keep us fed. I’ve gotta tell you, dragon steaks aren’t the taste sensation that some believe. Dragons are just honking big lizards, you know. Gamey. Tough.

You see, we lost the section of maps with the dungeon’s entrance.

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100 words, for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

Once More Unto the Breach

The wind blew, the leaves parted, and there it was; the dreadful beast the priest had warned me about. A most puissant foe, it stood fully forty-five cubits tall. Its four arms were each equipped with an enormous scything blade, and its beady little eyes peered out from beneath a massive wooden helm.

With a sound that would surely chill the bones of a lesser knight, it groaned as a soul lost to perdition. I stood in my saddle and flung my helm over its head in a challenge, and lowered my lance to the ready position.

Forward, bold Rocinante. Our destiny is at hand, for fair Dulcinea del Toboso!

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110 words, for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt:


“We all knew he was going to set himself on fire one day.”

“It was a logical step,” Jack agreed. “Tilman had already demonstrated that the basic process worked, starting with tiny flesh wounds and working up through serious injuries, amputations, even a major spinal injury.”

“The problem was the startup going public,” Jamael explained. “We had this process with fascinating implications, and we realized that we were about to change the world of medicine forever. To Tilman, that meant a Big Splash IPO with a show for the press, bread and circuses for the politicians, and a miracle for the public.”

“Right, he wanted something to rival the latest iPhone or the next Windows release. So he set up the Immolation Trap.”

“Drew some inspiration from Houdini, it was brilliant and creepy and shocking. And my god was it everything Tilman had imagined.”

“One of those ‘where were you’ moments; everyone remembers exactly where they were when that flaming thermite rained down in that armorglass tube on live television.”

“Tilman was burned to ash within minutes.”

“Then he was rebuilt from basic elements by the Elijah nanotech system.”

“You know the rest. Ten minutes later, he did it all over again; rain of fire, immolation death and destruction, complete resurrection and restoration from backups. Cameras caught it all, twice. Tilman proved the Elijah System could keep multiple backups current with a transcription lag of only seconds.”

“If only he knew,” Jack looked haunted.

“Tilman thought we’d invented a workable replacement for the entire field of medicine. He couldn’t guess how it would be perverted.”

“We hear the rumors about political prisoners, enemies of the State, torture that never ends. Execution and resurrection, pain recorded and looped.”

Jamael nodded. “We didn’t invent miracles. What we invented was Hell.”

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298 words, for this week’s Cracked Flash (Y1W36).

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Mac Feegle paused for a moment and sniffed the wind. His face twisted into a snarl and he returned to work.

He donned his red coat with seven rows of seven golden buttons. Then he opened the cages hidden in the tall grass, releasing cuddly rabbits and a swarm of butterflies. Finally, he set out his most irresistible article of bait; the shoe with the worn sole in desperate need of repair.

When they arrived, he sprang out with his cold iron spear and bound them fast with delicate chains of silver. Elves make fine slaves, toiling in the End of the Rainbow Mine. Gold doesn’t dig itself.

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108 words for this week’s Microcosms (15). Leprechaun/Field/Fantasy.

Crochet de Boucherie

“The Maian Consul tells a story about how this place was christened.”

“A Maian has a story of a Parisian bistro?”

“Maians are, as you know, asexual and polymorphic shape shifters. One Maian bumped into Yukon Pierre, an aggressively macho Canadian logger type”

“Yukon Pierre drunkenly suggests this quiet Maian must be a petite little girl.”

“The Maian doesn’t comment and heads into the restroom.”

“Then Pierre goes in, too.”

“See that sign? ‘On a pendu cette ordure à un crochet de boucher.’”

“Roughly, ‘they hung his shit from a butcher’s hook.’”

“The locals caught Pierre red handed, looking very surprised and holding a naked preteen girl.”

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108 words, for this week’s Microcosms (14) prompts: Butcher’s Hook/Paris/Sci-Fi