Ruh roh, Rhaggy

“So what is it?” Anton examined the unusual device, a constantly rotating metal circle with an hourglass in the center.

“It’s a fourth dimensional compass. You know how a standard compass points due north and south. Well, a fourth-dimensional compass points at the beginning and end of Time. The Big Bang and the End of Everything, I guess.”

“Why is it spinning?”

“It’s pointing at a direction that can’t really be expressed in three dimensions, from our standpoint it’s in perpetual motion.”

“Then what does that mean?” Anton pointed.

The stately rotation of the compass was slowing to a halt.

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100 words. For this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:


Inspirational Statuary

Maria Shulman held her boyfriend captive in her arms. Her dilated pupils stayed locked on Sheonog while her hands roamed freely over Stephen’s chest. She whispered in her boyfriend’s ear and her teeth tugged at his earlobe. Young Stephen flushed and then nodded.

Father Flaherty watched the couple exiting the chapel hastily with amusement.

“Are you sure this isn’t witchcraft of some sort? You cannot control this effect?”

“Others have thought that. Some villagers in France once chased me away with pitchforks and torches. There’s some magic involved, that just comes from being a gargoyle, but it’s partly psychological and doesn’t seem to be inimical. There won’t be any local demon-children or a general rise in evil or anything.”

Shenog settled his heavy stone body into the relaxed kneeling position customary to his race.

“It’s muted by range, which is why we generally hang out on rooftops. I tend to inspire more “charming gothic romance” when viewed at a distance, instead of the close-up “wicked lustful thoughts” effect. Which is why I asked to rent your belfry, Father.”

“You might even be good for the parish population, if we established some sort of newlywed chapel belfry tour…”

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197 words, for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here

Dust. All around her was dust.

Anomaly held her eyes shut and stooped on the sand, trying to still the coughing and feebly filter air through her cupped hands. The tempest raged on, and her simple bra and panties did nothing to reduce the sandpaper abrasions on her bare skin.

She drew the deepest breath she could manage and held it, concentrating on calm. Meditation techniques learned at the Facility helped push back the terror and control her coughing.

This dust storm was enormous even by west Texas standards. Oh yes, she could feel the immense power within it, the static potential from all of those countless trillions of wind-driven particulates rubbing against one another.

Anomaly focused and took control of the free electron soup, and she felt the snap of incoming power come leaping at her command. It was a trivial matter to apply an electrostatic charge to her skin surface, and she felt cleaner immediately when the dust and sand was repelled away and fell to earth. A few more coughs cleared her throat and lungs.

She stood, and expanded the charged bubble around her. The field blocked the blown dust at the charge horizon, and she stood watching the sandstorm unfolding from a bubble of clear air inside it.

“Put your hands up. You’re coming back to the Facility with me, freak.”

Anomaly half-raised her hands and turned very slowly, making no sudden moves.

The corporate mercenary stood atop a nearby hillock pointing a large-caliber automatic rifle her direction, its red laser pointer targeting dot dancing across her stomach.

She raised her hands fully, stepping closer.

“Sure officer, I’ll come along quietly.”

She could feel the delicious high-energy electron trails coursing throughout his armor and servos. That combat armor power supply would prove remarkably convenient.

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298 words. For this week’s Cracked Flash Fiction prompt (the first line).



Midnight on the Boulevard de Clichy

The bitter redolence of anise and herbs cloys and nauseates, lingering disagreeably on the palate like a penniless relation. The tourist sets the glass of “Bohemian wonder” aside, dismissing another exaggerated experience.

That evening, he slips in behind her, the cygnet he’s selected. She is a celebrated provincial artist’s model, an unattended swan with an exquisitely elongated neck. Beneath the great dark cloak, his fingers caress his dearest. Stroking the keen edge of his anticipation, he appreciates its firm chilly linearity emerging from its case.

Tonight, Paris’ flawless pen entertains his distinctive painting style. The traveler’s discovered the only piquant diversion offered in this fin de siècle washout city.

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109 words. For this week’s Microcosms (8) challenge, using Tourist/at the Moulin Rouge/Horror

Decline and Fall

I scuttle out of the waves like a hermit crab seeking a fresh shell. The tide is rising, and I loathe what’s coming.

The internet is proving to be one massive ocean of teeming ignorance, its hungry waves eroding whatever sense and restraint my country ever had. The world laughs at our politics, a cheap circus sideshow. Powered by the lowest forms of human life, the social media Lie Engine has replaced journalism with empty spectacle and dangerous nonsense.

The middle class ebbs away in the final days of the Suburban White Fantasy Empire That Never Was. “You got what you was supposed to get, bluesman! Ain’t nothing ever as good as we want it to be!”

Would anyone like to share some bread and circuses?

RecDave Seal

126 words, inspired by this week’s FFfAW prompt:

Herd Instincts

“Lulu, you’ve abandoned your guard post again.”

“I’m sorry, Nganga Abada. I just had to get away from the herd for a while.”

“Why, child? The herd needs you, it needs all of us.”

“I just feel trapped in this clumsy body. I’ve been keeping a secret from everyone, Nganga, my whole life. All I’ve ever wanted to do is dance. Can you imagine anything more alien for a rhino? I’m so ashamed.”

“Very well, stand still until I call.”

The massive old cow backed up and charged, muttering mystic words. With a thud, she buried her horn in Lulu’s armor just behind the shoulder.

Abada pulled with her horn, ripping away massive pieces of the younger cow’s armored hide. The pile of discarded plates grew throughout the morning, until nothing but leathery grey armor remained in a heap.

“Your disloyalty was the chink in your armor, Lulu. Therefore, I’ve banished you to a smaller and more agile form. Come forth.”

A brownish oxpecker bird hopped out of the armor pile and flapped its wings experimentally.

“In this form you still serve. Now, resume your guard duties from my back. I have an itch. Peck out the bugs, if you would.

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201 words, for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Too Heavy for Milan

“That enormous bloated hippo has been gobbling the pancakes again. Look at those thunder thighs.”

“She looked better in Milan,” Mr. Binky agreed.

The live video feed covered the closing catwalk march of this year’s Lingerie & Nightwear Trade Fair from Dortmunde. The last walk of the show went to Celeste, as usual. She was the highest paid model on the circuit and the holder of the most prestigious catalogs with six covers this year.

“We’ve got to get her back in shape for Paris. It’s only four weeks, Binky.”

“Sew her mouth closed until then, perhaps.”

“We need to do something. She’s going to eat us right out of the spotlight if we don’t stop her.”

Backstage, handlers moved in like practiced and ordered machinery, peeling the hair sprayed bustiers and panties from the models and issuing warm bathrobe replacements. Celeste walked directly to her personal dressing room, ignoring the prattling chaos.

Celeste spoke as she stepped inside, “Mission ‘Catwalk’ completed.”

“Not quite,” Anna Marie pounced. “We need to have a talk, Celeste. About your overeating, you’re putting on far too much weight.”

“This unit does not eat.”

“Shut up,” Anna Marie screamed. “Tell her, Mr. Binky.”

“The stuffed toy does not speak. The stuffed toy has never spoken,” Celeste replied.

Anna Marie Brownlee raised her large-caliber automatic pistol and aimed it directly at Celeste’s forehead.

“Look to your left,” Celeste responded.

To Anna’s left was a full-length mirror. Reflected in it were two dazzling and nearly identical supermodels. The model with disheveled hair was holding a handgun and a plushie unicorn.

“This android unit functions only as your security double in public exposure situations. This unit is incapable of putting on weight.”

Mr. Binky whinnied. “That bitch is cray cray,” and the gun went off.

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296 words, for ZeroFlash (February)

Black and Poisonous

Wicked people never have time for writing. There are so many worlds and characters waiting to be born, but through lack of motivation or lack of inspiration, they wither and die unborn in pools of dark despair. The writer feels it too, the black and poisonous knowledge that he should be producing something, anything, instead of watching television or web surfing.

The habits we should be building, write something every single day, don’t sit and wait for motivation. Grab a club and go drag your story home.

The seeping poison is can’t or won’t. Too tired, too uninspired, I’ll write it later, I’ll write it tomorrow. I hate deadlines, just give me a week and I can crank out something. I don’t like giving away my opening hook, that first sentence is important. What a silly idea, I’ll wait for a better one. I’ve written something just like this before.

Worse yet are the stories bravely begun and then abandoned. What’s next? This is stalling out. Oh, this is terrible. I just need a character. What’s the plot, where is this going?

I ran into an entire website of demotivation, once upon a time. M.F.A.’s and poets; my work was never, ever good enough. Look at all of those grammar and punctuation errors, oh my. Your metaphors are not strong enough, your similes don’t sing. Why do the same people win this competition every week? Your let the judges enter your own competition? Something smells fishy.

Now they want to sell me a membership. Purely for my benefit, of course, there are several levels of helpful advice. I see the direct correlation to the most frequent winners. This “competition” is, blatantly, For Sale.

I went searching for less mercenary setups. There are sites with rotating judges, there are sites dominated by a single clannish writing group, there are “Everyone’s a Winner” sites, too.

Competition does help me improve, even on the sites where it doesn’t feel entirely honest. Those clannish writing groups tend to vote for each other, for instance. Comments from more “social” writing sites help me improve, too, particularly from writers whose work I respect.

I keep a working list of fiction/writing sites that I like for various reasons. I don’t always visit all of them each week. I don’t always contribute stories, nor do I write every day (as I should). Sometimes, the toxic inspiration despair or simple exhaustion after a full time job still wins.

Sometimes, wicked television and evil internet still defeat your white knight, and often without a struggle.

But the sites that Did Things Right keep disappearing, and I feel guilty for that; like one more story might have saved them.

RecDave Seal

For Alissa Leonard and Finish That Thought. I’ll miss you both.


We thought the weaponized ground predators were bad. The arms race began with remote-controlled great cats (probably the most obvious choice), the enhanced lions and upgraded carbon fiber Jaguars. As the war dragged on and neural interface technologies became cheaper and more capable, other species came into play; the hyenas and wild dogs, the wolves and bears. The bears were awesome engines of destruction—do you remember that wartime video of the grizzly with four cougars on its back, brushing them off against trees and crushing them one at a time?

The real trouble didn’t start until the war ended and the corporate sector gained control of the technology for the consumer market. Consumers began controlling and piloting nightmares with their phone aps.

First were the reptiles, the consumer enthusiast clubs in Florida staging the crocodile cage matches. It took only months until the venomous snakes appeared on the scene and the first messy divorces terminated with messy murders.

The larger ground predators were nearly all extinct by the time the remote-controlled android drones began to appear. Seagulls were wired with cameras and capable of delivering munitions. High post defensive sentry drones and road rage effectively ended traffic almost overnight.

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