27 August, 2021

Fiction Friday - The Hunting Accident

Buster nudged Hannibal as they sat in their deer stand. When Hannibal looked over, he pointed to the kid hiding in the bushes. 

Rage lit Hannibal's eyes, and he breathed one word, "bastard." That kid was barely old enough to have a hunting license and here he was, haunting Hannibal's hunting areas. Of course, they were public lands and anyone could hunt there, but when it was the same kid over and over...

Buster knew that Owen was a thorn in Hannibal's side. They all lived in the same sub-division on the outskirts of town. Owen's dad must've gotten him the license, but Owen was always on his own. He seemed a decent enough kid to Buster, but grated on Hannibal's nerves. Not just here, either.

Owen lived across from Hannibal, and whenever Hannibal was out on his porch enjoying a cigar or a beer with Buster or another neighbor, Owen would show up. He needed attention, that's what Buster thought. He'd say hello, try to say something interesting about his life - what his dad was up to, something that happened in school, nothing truly interesting - and always asked if Hannibal would be hunting that weekend.

Sometimes he'd bring over a bird or a squirrel he'd pegged with his sling-shot. That was when he was younger. After he got his first B.B. gun, he'd show off the weapon along with his proudly caught vermin.

This year he had a genuine hunting license, and a genuine hunting rifle, and he'd somehow found Hannibal's favorite hunting area. This was the third time this month. But that wasn't the bad part. The bad part was how good he was. Buster had often listened to Hannibal complain about Owen "thinning the herd", or about Owen "shooting that buck when I had him in my sights" and worst of all about someday letting Owen "see how it feels". 

Buster had no idea how Hannibal could show him how it feels to have his quarry taken from him, when Owen was by far the better shot, and quick and decisive to boot. Something about the look in Hannibal's eyes when he said it frightened Buster, though.

Now, sitting in the deer stand staring daggers down at the poor kid, Hannibal looked as if he was about to do it. Whatever "it" was. He was about to "teach that kid a lesson" about the etiquette of hunting or some such malarkey. Buster didn't want to know, but he was a captive audience in the tree branches.

Before Buster had pointed out Owen's hiding spot to Hannibal, he could've sworn Owen glanced up at them: like he chose that spot specifically for the two-man audience above him. Now as he watched Hannibal's frowning face shift his aim, Buster wished he hadn't pointed him out at all.

People always say "it happened so fast" when calamitous things happen. Tragedies happen "in the blink of an eye" and no one ever knows what happened because it was all "too fast to see". Later, Buster would wish that was the case.

The rage had filled Hannibal's eyes upon seeing his young neighbor in the trees below. His brow furrowed and he shook his head. It occurred to Buster that Hannibal was having an internal debate. He was angry, but how angry? Then Hannibal's breath evened, as it did when he was aiming at a deer. The frown remained as he shifted the angle of the rifle against his shoulder, then one corner of his mouth turned up, satisfied.

Buster glanced at the rifle and followed with his eyes the track it was pointing through space. His mouth hung open as if to protest, but no sound came out. He felt the worry line his brow as he willed Owen to move away. Just leave. Now. Leave now. Go. But Owen was listening to the forest sounds and his eyes were alert for all movement through the underbrush. He was oblivious to the nightmare raging in the forest canopy above.

A deer approached the glade, grazing on the low bushes and saplings, and Owen slowly rose from his crouch to take aim. In the utter silence of the moment, Buster heard Hannibal's exhale and a whisper of a squeeze on the trigger.

The silence was broken by a searing scream as Owen arched forward, the backside of his camo pants ripped and streaming blood. The deer ran from the noise, and Buster watched, wide-eyed, paralyzed, as Hannibal descended to dress his prize. The scene was horrifying as he used his hunting knife to cut through the pants and then - Owen must have blacked out from shock or blood loss already - removed a hunk of flesh from Owen's quivering body.

He raised it over his head and leered at Buster, stuck in the deer-stand, unable to move. "Butt steak for dinner!"


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. This story was inspired by watching the geckos chasing around on our living room wall one night. The big gecko bit the tail off the little one and ate it in front of him! 

If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

24 August, 2021

Battling Writers' Block

I want to address a question from the comments.

For the last several months, I've only been writing my weekly flash fiction, and I've been very terrible - yes: very. terrible - at visiting other blogs, even my favorites. So naturally, there are only a handful of regular-ish readers on this blog. 

Since most of what I do is flash fiction these days, I thought I'd explain a little.

During the A-to-Z Challenge, I actively solicited suggestions from readers, and managed to write an entire month solely using reader prompts! Since then, although my concluding note always asks for prompts in the comments, there have been few. 

Sometimes, like this past Fiction Friday, I sit at my computer with a blank mind. No ideas, no characters, nothing. Writers' Block. There seems to be nothing to write.

However, I am dedicated to my weekly fiction commitment! What to do when the brain is devoid of ideas?

In cases like that, I force myself to sit down - there's a grace period, since I'm 12 hours ahead of the US - and just use whatever phrase or quote comes to mind. For my most recent flash fiction, I ended up editing out my opening line. It happens. I don't even remember what it was.

I have a list of prompts, gleaned from the internet and my verbose husband, but my favorite thing when I'm stuck is to follow a random phrase in my head.

Now, there is ALWAYS a song in my brain. Always. I can't stop it. But also, influences from nature, from TV, from daily life - what would someone else do? - or the illustrious "what if?" and those often feed these little flash fiction tales. 

It's quite freeing, to know that I don't need to follow the story through and actually answer the questions that come up. So WHAT happened to Paige? I don't know. Does she have amnesia? Was she at a resort that brainwashed her? Was it an alien abduction and replacement scenario? 

I don't have a lot of luck with this but...

...What do you think? Which direction should this story go?

21 August, 2021

Fiction Friday - Dead Eyes

She sat, staring at the computer screen, willing it to work. Her mind was a blank. Literally, since the incident. Now, alone in her room, it was up to her to figure things out. Everything. How does this device work? 

No one knew where Paige had been for the past week, but when she returned to the boarding house, clean, rested, well dressed, and made up as if for a big night out, everyone assumed she'd gone to a spa and had a makeover of some kind.

Of the seven people living there, only Mrs. Winchell, the boarding house owner,  harbored doubts.

"Have you ever seen Paige look so nice? She's stunning!" she said to Kit, the boarder in the room across from Paige.

"Exactly!" Kit was young and attractive herself, and had often encouraged Paige to take more effort over her appearance. "She finally went out and did something just for her. Or maybe not just for her." Kit's eyebrows waggled over her coffee cup. 

"It doesn't take a week to buy some clothes and put on a little make up," countered Mrs. Winchell.

Kit shrugged. "Coulda been a resort trip. A prize or something!" Kit rose to put her cup on the sideboard. She was quickly bored when the conversation wasn't about her. She left for the day, leaving Mrs. Winchell alone with her thoughts.

It was the eyes. Running a boarding house for the past ten years, Mrs. Winchell had learned how to read people. Paige had kind, innocent eyes and was staying here while she started her new job in town. Just until she saved enough for her own place, she'd said. But since her return two days ago, her eyes looked dead. There was no emotion in them, even when she smiled in her polite "Good morning, Mrs. Winchell," way.

Up in her room, Paige walked away from the device she couldn't remember. She knew her routine and had to go to work. There was a place. It was in her memory. She knew she needed to go there. She didn't remember why. Maybe someone there would tell her. She walked downstairs with her immaculately made-up face and stylish business clothes.

At the foot of the stairs, she turned into the front room toward Mrs. Winchell. "Good morning, Mrs. Winchell," she said with a dead smile.

Mrs. Winchell gave a skeptical nod. "'Morning to you, Paige. Off to work?"

"Yes, work. Good-bye!" Paige kept the same dead smile as she turned to leave with stiff steps.

"Like a robot, now," muttered Mrs. Winchell as she started clearing away the morning's coffee service. Something had happened to Paige, and no one, including Paige, seemed to know what it was.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

13 August, 2021

Fiction Friday - My Fair Gentleman

Genevieve reread the email as she drank her morning coffee: Don't you think it's time you brought him out into polite society? her sister was inquiring, above an e-vite to her daughter's production of Nutcracker Suite. She glanced across at Erich's browline showing above the Wall Street Journal. Was he ready for the ballet?

Instead of clicking Yes No or Unsure, she texted her sister: Why don't you come over tonight? 

Genevieve had met Erich outside a club. She and her cute, trendy friends had gotten into the club, while Erich - "K-Dab" to the buddies he was with - had been left outside the velvet rope. The girls had been talking and joking with the guys while they were outside, and she really thought he had something. 

Inside, after bouncing around to the thumping beat for a while, she confessed when they took a drink break, "I kinda miss K-Dab."

"What? That doofy guy outside? Are you insane?"

"Ugh. Sweetie, he can barely put a sentence together."

"Still, he was cute. Don't judge a hottie by his choice of slang. If he wasn't talking like a street-thug, you wouldn't think I was insane," Genevieve was suddenly on the defensive. For a guy she didn't really know.

"And if he wore clothes that didn't look third-hand."

"And if he looked employable." Cara was in HR. Judging employ-ability was her forte.

"That's it. I'm gonna get him in here. For all you know, he is employed," she shot at Cara. 

Minutes later he joined the trio in the VIP booth, paid for by Tiff, who made big bucks in the finance markets and liked to splurge when partying.

"Cara, Tiff, this is Erich," said Genevieve, already triumphant at having a reasonable name to present for the heretofore known "K-Dab".

"Erich. Join us," Said Tiff, waving to one end of the couch. "What's your poison?"

"Uh, 's'cool, y'know, beer, whatevs..." He looked and sounded totally out of place. The girls were trendy and educated, scornful of his street-style, and baffled by Genevieve's inexplicable attraction.

"It's not an attraction," she asserted after they'd left the club and Erich had rejoined his cronies in the street outside the club. "It's a fascination with the possibilities! Don't you see?"


"Never! Possibilities? He has possibilities to join a crime ring."

"Just because you think he talks too street. Let me fix that. What would you say?" They could tell that Professor Genevieve the linguist was serious. Cara and Tiff exchanged a smirk.

"We'll pay all expenses for a makeover, if you can train him to be a cultured human being instead of a thug."

He started living in Genevieve's guest room, learned better grammar, read literature, and after one month Cara and Tiff took him shopping. They returned impressed with his behavior, except for the moment he started chatting with an old pal they'd come across.

"Keep him away from those guys, or this whole thing will be a waste."

Here it was another month later, and Genevieve's sister was pushing her to show her progress. She looked at the evite. The ballet was two weeks away.

After her sister agreed to bring the family over that night to meet him, Genevieve said, "Erich, we'll have guests tonight. Be prepared." He lowered the paper, stared at her wide-eyed, gave a nod, and continued reading. She had trained him well, she thought. On their own. Could he handle random polite conversation without bringing up all the repulsive habits behind him? She'd soon find out.

The evening went swimmingly. He made good friends with Genevieve's niece, which made missing her ballet performance impossible. He was ready.

Two weeks later, Genevieve woke up without the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen. Without any sounds of newspaper crinkling. He was gone. He proved himself at the ballet the night before, and cut out that night. 

He had seemed to appreciate the life he was learning to live, but now he disappeared without a trace. 

The apartment seemed empty. 

She'd grown accustomed to his face.


Clearly, today's story was inspired by "My Fair Lady" which  was the first musical I learned by heart. When I watched it recently, I started thinking of role reversal...

Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

06 August, 2021

Fiction Friday - Heat Advisory

"Somebody help me!" the sunbathing beauty called out. 

Except that she didn't really call out. Her mouth wouldn't make the movements as her lips fused together.

As the infernal heat from an overzealous sun worked its magic, her body melted into the chaise underneath her.

After the heat-advisory part of the day passed and everyone else came out, nobody noticed her melted body. Some pointed to the oddly colorful chair with an abstract painting of a sunbather on it, but it was too grotesque to sit on.

The hotel staff disposed of it the following day, same as always. There was always one fool who ignored the heat advisory.


That's it for today. Short and not-so-sweet. We have been around 100° every day for the past few weeks and I'm melting. Typing takes too much energy. But have no fear: I'll be back.

Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.