Category Archives: Flash Fiction

The Last Family Vacation

St. Helena Island | © kyle williamson, Google Maps

They were fighting again.

Derek could read his mother’s moods like a seasoned meteorologist and something had happened while he’d sat on the precipice and sketched for the past hour.

Mom’d showed up, arms folded, mouth taut. “We’re going back to the ship. Now.”

Dad was all false cheer on the drive back to the boat, sneaking sips from the silver flask he kept in the front pocket of his Bermudas and going on about Napoleon and what a treat it was to finally see such a historical sight.

At the harbour store stop, she returned with a bottle of gin.

“Looks like someone means to have fun,” Dad said; the chuckle that followed rang hollow.

She shot him a dark look before turning to Derek. “Someone seems to think this trip isn’t fun at all.”

Derek looked down. It wasn’t, if you wanted to get all honest about it.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. My apologies to the people in this photo. Not sure why it inspired this sad family drama, but it truly had nothing to do with them.

To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

What Pegman Saw: Dr. Abara’s Strike

Al Jazeera News

Twelve years of schooling, five years of medical school, two years of residency—all for one purpose: to help people.

Years earlier, he’d watched his beloved Grand-Amai die writhing in pain–for the want of morphine and a kind doctor willing to travel the distance to treat her. He vowed when he got his degree he’d never let anyone suffer as she had.

Six years working at West End Hospital had proven him wrong. People in his care suffered all the time. They suffered from drug shortages, unsanitary conditions, a complete lack of medical supplies. They suffered from the scant wages paid to the doctors, so that only a handful stayed on.

He’d stayed—often spending his own meager salary on medicine and medical supplies—but it had only helped in the short-term. It was like buying Band-Aids for a sliced artery.

There was only one way to help everyone.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

This is a fictional account inspired by current headlines in Zimbabwe. To learn more, visit Zimbabwe doctors’ strike: patients bare[sic] the brunt of protests.

The End of Rational Thought

picture from google maps which appears to show people vanishing

Teatr im. Juliusza Słowackiego, Krakow, Poland | ©
Łukasz Pompa Google Maps

We were scientists, once. Then came the vanishings.

Epidemiologists called it a virus. They claimed some airborne illness afflicted the vanished on a sub-cellular level, causing their cells to spontaneously self-cannibalize. Physicists were split. Some insisted the vanished had slipped into an alternate dimension, while others talked of a warp in the space-time continuum. Psychologists tried to convince everyone it was mass hallucination, and said all we needed was a little therapy.

But me, I was an anthropologist, and I’ve grown to think there is an expiration date on reality. For a time, we worshipped gods of earth and climate, so at their mercy we were. Then we had the gods of laws and kindness—to get along as community grew. Once global, we worshipped science, believing every happening bound by reason.

And what we worship now, I cannot say. I just know I am a scientist no more.

149 words

This little bit of strangeness has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

Pretty strange, I know. Partially inspired by The Leftovers, partially inspired by a fevered dream from  The Cold From Hell. For the past ten days I have been getting my ass kicked by a non-fictional virus. Instead of making me disappear, it just makes me want to. I’m finally beginning to feel human today–food sounds good and I slept through the night without choking on my own snot. It’s good to be alive.

 

What Pegman Saw: No Distractions

Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout, Big Sky, Montana | © Matthew Kennedy, Google Maps

The ranger smirked at the sight of her store-fresh backpack and then eyed her tennis shoes. “You want me to check back mid-week?”

No distractions. That had been the point of this whole week. No kids, no husband—no interruptions. “I’ll be fine.”

She lugged the five-gallon water jug up the fire tower stairs as the ranger rumbled away on his AWD. She didn’t notice the leak until morning. By then, five days’ worth of water had spilled across plank floor.

That was four days ago. Her parched lips cracked as her mouth tightened in a grimace. How long could a person go without water, anyway?

She thought of Tilly, sticky fingers tugging at her sleeve: Tell me a story.

She thought of Robert, popping in her office for the hundredth time: Would you like a cup of tea?

What she wouldn’t give for such sweet distraction now.

148 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. Click here to read more stories inspired by the prompt.

If you’re looking for a prompt to challenge or inspire you, please join me on What Pegman Saw.

What Pegman Saw: Hallo Schönheit

Image result for elvis in the army

“They’re here again.”

Private Smith eyed the gate. A dozen German girls twirled their skirts and stared back hopefully.

“C’mon Smitty. Let’s go down there.”

He shrugged. “They don’t wanna meet no ‘nobody’. They’re here to see him.”

Even Johnson couldn’t argue that. Wherever the Third Armored went, throngs of fans followed—but they were no fans of the soldiers. They were fans of Elvis Presley. Meanwhile, Elvis spent next to no time at the base. He was seven kilometers away in Bad Nauheim.

Still, it didn’t stop the girls from showing up. Elvis wasn’t even all that handsome, Smitty thought. He ran a hand over his buzz cut. He’d be handsome too, if he hadn’t had to buzz his hair to the pink of his scalp.

“Let’s go down there anyway,” Johnson said.

There were a lot of girls. “What are we going to say to them?”

Hallo Schönheit, hallo.”

151 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

This story was inspired by my dad, who was stationed in Germany with Elvis. He never met him, but said he was always surrounded by a crowd.

 

 

Last Stop

Minilik Squar Bus Stop, Ethiopia | Dinberu Getachew, Google Maps

Minilik Squar Bus Stop, Ethiopia | Dinberu Getachew, Google Maps

Nyala be mad at me again.

She won’t say it, but I know she is by the way she stares  like the bus might pop out of thin air if she hope it hard enough.

“It’ll happen for you some day, I know it,” I say, because it’s what I always say, but neither of us believes it anymore.

Me and Nyala, sitting at the bus stop; last time. Best mates since barefoot days, forever friends, married us brothers on the very same day in a double ceremony. We’ll raise a dynasty, we said.

It’s not my fault my babies come easy. Five years, three healthy boys, and now another in my belly snake-dancing like a happy day.

“I can’t be your friend anymore,” she say, not looking my way.

Don’t you remember us? I want to say. Don’t you remember our promises? But promises mean nothing.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

This week’s story was a story I had in mind to write, and so I went in search of a photo of two women in Ethiopia to represent it. I landed at this bus stop where I found not only two women in the midst of some apparent emotion–also these two ghostly girls. I knew then I’d found my spot.

 

 

My Inheritance

PHOTO PROMPT © Nick Allen

Even after the investigation was over, I left the crime scene tape up in the shed. It was mine now: the house, the land, his shed.

I went in there sometimes; stood in the greasy dark, smelling the dried blood, the ancient fear, imagining the screams of his victims. And when I got used to the light, I’d see his still-intact oil can collection, and the outlines of his implements of torture on the now-empty pegboard wall. Sharp shapes; so many.

I’d look at them and wonder…would the police give them back?

And what would I do if they did?

100 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this party and thanks to Nick Allen for this week’s photo. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.