Leonard enjoyed playing with his train set quite a lot. The trickiest bit was near the end of a long downgrade, where the train had a tendency to pick up far too much speed. Leonard had to be particularly alert and ready switch off to a side rail to save the day. Fortunately, the switching went without a hitch, and the train barreled past on its new southern course. He leaned against the switchbox and watched his train roll past, whistling happily. Seven minutes later, the two trains collided head-on at full speed with more than hundred passenger casualties.
The Kaiser had requested LZ-38 to fly over Dover and Ramsgate on 16-17 May, 1915.
Waldo and Rudolph worked their way stealthily toward the back of the gondola. They crept silently back through the packed crates to the observation deck aft of the bomb bay.
The navigator said this morning they’d be directly over Dover Castle just after sunrise. Rudolph crouched silently, watching the target coming into view.
With a nod to Waldo, Rudolph rose and the pair released their payloads. Falling, slowly falling…
Bullseye! An Englishman stood below, angrily shaking his fist skyward; drenched by water balloons!
(Originally wanted to go steampunk…maybe with a longer story. Annie wanted to shoot arrows at the pedestrians! She’s mean!)
Inspired by Sunday Photo Fiction:
Incidentally–In the real WWI–LZ 38 also attacked Dover and Ramsgate on 16–17 May, before returning to bomb Southend on 26–27 May. These four raids killed six people and injured six, causing property damage estimated at £16,898.
My WWI was much more friendly.
“My name is Persephone,” she said.
“Like the Greek goddess?”
“Exactly like.” She smiled, finger stirring her drink.
Guess my face must’ve communicated disbelief.
“Uh huh,” she said. “Watch.”
She spread her hands and flowers started growing right out of the polished bar top. Peonies, I think. They grew, blossomed and died again; all in the span of less than a minute. The petals wilted and fell onto the bar.
I’ve seen some interesting slight-of-hand before, but never live flowers from a chunk of dead (and varnished!) wooden bar.
She grinned wide. “Can’t figure out the trick, right?”
I brushed the leafy debris into my hand, examining it, sifting through the brown wilted flower stems and the delicate remains of petals.
“Stumped,” I said. “Never seen anything like that one.”
“Don’t worry about it, there is no gimmick. This round is on me.” She signaled the bartender.
I decided to take that advice, at least pending more information to work with.
“So um, Persephone. What brings a nice goddess like you to a bar like this?”
She laughed. (Graciously, I thought. She was being kind, with a line like that.) “Mostly, just enjoying the Spring.”
“Spring. Isn’t that your, um, thing—if I remember right?”
“Yes it is! Spring, vegetation, fertility, other stuff.” She smiled. “Demeter is Fall, harvest and grains; she’s my mum.”
I can’t really describe the rest of the evening. It was—well sorry—magical. At some point I stopped doubting any of part of her story. She produced flowering plants from unlikely places, several times. We drank, traded jokes and just enjoyed the evening together.
We ended up outside the bar, for fresh air, sitting together on a bus stop bench. As we chatted the tree behind us flowered and petals fell all around us continuously. A gentle, feather-soft vegetative rain, drifting in errant breezes. Part of Persephone’s magic, plants really seemed to “like” her. So did I. Smitten, I just have to tell you.
“So what’s next?” I asked, vaguely hoping for some excuse to continue the evening.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She touched my arm with her fingertips, suddenly looking a little sad. “I’m waiting for my ride.”
Crushing, so long hope!
“He’s coming now. It was so lovely meeting you, Dan, thank you for the wonderful time.”
I smiled weakly, trying to quickly re-arrange my features into my “Be Brave” face.
Around the corner thundered four huge horses—jet black, breathing flames. Pulling a wicked-looking chariot driven by a tall, muscled Adonis in a toga with a heavy black beard.
“My husband, Hades.” Persephone kissed my cheek and turned to face the chariot. Hades gathered her up in one arm and lifted her bodily aboard. He spared me but a single glance, then cracked his reins and the gods and horses and chariot were gone.
I suppose the entire evening could have been alcohol-induced fantasy. But her tree is still blooming.
(title might need diddling; it’s a spoiler)
Inspired by today’s Picture It & Write image.
But I promised a superpowers genre tale for Flush the Fiction, so here you go:
He billed himself as the Human Fireball. Generic name for a weak pyrokinetic. All that he could really do was light things he was touching aflame. He could light himself too–but that cost him a fortune in clothes, so he usually didn’t.
Lorelei was tending bar that night when he got drunk and lit it. All of those flammables—first thing, she tripped the sprinkler system. After the fire was out, she took his face between her hands and kissed him deeply.
When he crumbled to arid dust, she swept him into a dust pan. Don’t upset an aquamancer.
Oddly enough, this tale was inspired by this image:
That turned up on Google’s first images page with the search term “image”. That’s random, no? (Hell No.)
Continued from yesterday.
Rick removed the ring from the crumbled debris of his meteorite. It was highly polished and contained multi-colored metallic flecks. He brushed the remaining fragments of meteorite rock away, and rubbed the ring clean with his fingertips. It appeared to be the perfect size for his ring finger.
Without really stopping to think, Rick put the ring on.
And jumped back in surprise. His hand turned black. Jet, pitch, ink—the complete and utter absence of color. His other arm, his legs, his stomach, his whole body was now as dark as the deepest shadow, just a hole punched out of the corn and dirt and color of the world around him. Now that’s just eerie-looking as hell, Rick thought, and his heartbeat skyrocketed.
He turned his hand over, he could feel the muscles moving it, but he wasn’t getting any visual cues. No sunlight on the top or shadow beneath, no color at all. A hole shaped like a hand. Light behind it, cornfield and dirt and sunshine, normal.
Curious, Rick glanced down. He wasn’t casting a shadow. Light seemed to strike him and just disappear. Heat—no, he couldn’t feel any heat from the sun, but he didn’t feel cold either. Temperature neutral? What do they called that, thermal equilibrium? Is that even possible?
He touched his hands together, and that still felt normal. No pain, no discomfort. And he felt—yep, he slipped off the ring.
And jumped again, dropping the ring in the dirt. Color just turned back on, *snap*, and his hands were back to normal. He stooped and picked the ring back up, his hand shaking.
Whatever this thing is…
“Think it landed over there.” A voice, shouting from over in the corn field, maybe a hundred yards away.
Osterman. Without a doubt, the Frankenstein Brigade was headed this way.
Rick slipped the ring into his pants pocket and slipped deeper into the standing corn. Time to exit stage right before the Jocks found his meteor site. Once he felt far enough away, he turned in the direction of the corn rows and began running.
We’re knocking on a thousand words, and there’s so much still to explore. I’ve reached the conclusion that this tale can’t be told without at least a novelette. YA novel, probably; they tend to fall in the gap between long-form short stories and short novels.
So it’s inappropriate for Flush the Fiction. Going to just back-burner this project (for now).
Rick turned east to avoid the Jocks.
This last week had been a small slice of hell. Osterman and his Varsity buddies were all football players, and of course they’re all massive and bulked up. Steroids, Rick thought, I bet they have the tiny winkies to match their tiny brains.
Best avoided. Meeting the Frankenstein Brigade again would only lead to more bruises and pain. So Rick peddled his bike around the strip-mall and toward the corn fields today, instead of his regular route.
Thinking dark thoughts and plotting impotent vengeance schemes Rick knew would never happen. Not in the surrealist world at Beacon High. He pedaled along in silence, thinking about the math homework and what Mom might be making for dinner.
Suddenly he heard the eardrum-piercing low-flying military jet sound, almost directly overhead. Looking up, his eyes just registered the impression of a fireball, roaring past and into the cornfields. Just a blink, and it was already gone.
Then the boom, and an explosion of dirt and plants and flaming corn cobs. Expanding into the sky, and falling back just as quickly. What the hell was that?
Dumping his bike at the side of the road, Rick pushed his way through the rows of corn plants. Came from over here, he thought, just as his foot bumped against a sizable and charred clod of dirt.
Rick started moving more cautiously as he passed through the corn plants. Some still smoking, but too green to really burn. Not any real danger of a cornfield fire. He could see a clearing in the plants just ahead, and he pushed aside the last corn still standing around the–crater?
A hole in the dirt, twenty or thirty feet wide. Must’ve been a small meteor. The field was pushed up around it, forming walls of earth. In the cavity inside, Rick could feel heat, and saw a small, glowing rock about the size of a fist.
The glow was diminishing quickly as the rock cooled. Rick approached, carefully testing the earth with the toe of his tennis shoe. Reaching down, feeling residual warmth of the earth around the rock. Carefully, he tapped the rock with one finger—hot, but not enough to burn.
This is awesome, Rick thought. How many guys get to find meteors?
He scooped up and examined the rock, tossing it from hand to hand as it cooled down. It looked vaguely volcanic, like something that had been melted and burned. In science class Mr. Scott said these things were supersonic, how fast is enough friction to melt rock?
As he turned the stone over, Rick noticed that bits and pieces of it were flaking away. Sandstone or sedimentary? Organic? It flaked and broke off like charcoal or graphite, my meteor is crumbling!
Just the tiniest pressure of his hands and the rock broke cleanly into several pieces. Among them lay a shiny, colorful ring.
First Draft, obviously, and more yet to come. Just concerned I may have to leave this story alone until after work. What’s the story behind the mysterious ring? What happens next?
Inspired by this Picture It & Write photo:
You never stopped to think about it, did you?
Just a toy for your child, a plaything. Cheap, plastic, made overseas. Your toy shop carries many similar toys, sold in bargain bins by the hundreds, all of their myriad varieties. You can even impulse-buy one on your way out of the store. Suitable for the smallest youngsters; too large to be swallowed or a choking hazard, soft enough to offer no threat of injury. Rubber Duckies are a bath-time staple, have been for many decades.
But you never stopped to consider if “waterproof” means we can’t be drowned.
Inspired by this photo plus my sick mind. And Ernie, o’course.
I have a nice ocean view, looking out from my cliff-top dwelling. It used to run in the neighborhood of a mill and a half, back when money still mattered. The real estate agent even told me that a minor celebrity from the 40s owned it once.
I’ve got that marvelous storage space, enough food to last me several years.
The ocean of zombies roaming around down on the beach can’t get up to me. Not after I cut the only access, the suspension bridge, from this end.
But I am running terribly short on shells for the sniper rifle.
In the furthest corner of the abandoned theme park, there is a tiny building. Its boards are weathered, paint flaking away. Around it lies a vast, flat, empty expanse of blacktop stretching away in all directions.
The wall of this tiny building contains a window. It is barred, like a prison cell, and inside is nothing but blackness which no light penetrates. To the right of this window hangs a poster, in lurid circus colors:
“See the Borneo Vampire Boy, accused in the deaths of 25 innocents!”
Over the barred window hangs a simple sign:
“All Night Parking, 10 cents.”
For this Flush the Fiction, I attempted to hit 100 words exactly (as tallied by Scrivener). Much more limiting than I imagined. Hat’s off to Adam Ickes, his Tiny Tales are even more impressive to me now.
This piece was inspired by a piece of Deviantart, this one by ValaVala, that I stumbled on while browsing.
Nobody was really sure how Bobby could do the things he did.
Mr. Drucker swore that Bobby’s ray gun was just a cheap toy; colorful plastic, a battery and a little light, Made in Japan. Anyone could buy one for just a couple of bucks.
But when Bobby pointed his ray gun at the playground swing set and said “Zap!”, the swing set vanished. Just gone, like it was never there.
Any time Bobby zapped something with his plastic ray gun, it disappeared. The grade school. Police cars, ambulance, a fire truck. All just gone.
The governor sent in the National Guard. Tanks, jeeps and rifles. Bobby was “an unprecedented danger and an unpredictable threat,” the Governor said. The soldiers marched into town, parked their tanks all around the town square and surrounded Bobby, rifles pointed. The news cameras caught all of the action as it unfolded, live to the entire nation.
And the National Guard marched out again wearing nothing but their skivvies.
Do you remember that day when the alien warships landed at the edge of town, and those tripod robot things were heat-beaming everything in sight?
Nobody was really sure how Bobby could do the things he did. But we were sure glad that he could do them.