Category Archives: Prompts

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.

 

 

Fulton Street

He didn’t have to stay, that was the thing. He had people in St. Louis.

“Not gonna sell,” he said. Replaced the bars with plywood and painted it green cause it was the color of money.

He was born on Fulton Street, in a brownstone three blocks up, east side. Back then no one lived on the west side—least not no one black.

“You just watch,” he said as he pasted up signs. “The neighborhood is coming back.”

He sold Coors fifty cent cheaper than Lees, but it ate away his profits. “I’ll make it back on smokes,” he said.

Then we watched the Murphy kid shot for no reason. Him just standing there, hand in pocket. And in six months’ time, he was robbed three times by the very people he was staying for. He watched the bank man tap up the notice.

“I didn’t sell,” he said.


150 words

This particular story was inspired by the history feature of Google maps. As I time traveled back to 2007, a story unfolded. Ultimately, I was not very happy with how my version turned out. It’s one of those stories Google Maps can tell better than I.

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2007 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2009 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2011 © Google Maps | Note the memorial on the telephone pole

 

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2014 © Google Maps

 

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2016 (Still in business) © Google Maps


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551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2017 © Google Maps | Note the notice of foreclosure tacked on.

 

551 N. Fulton Avenue, Baltimore MD | July 2018 Zillow Listing

Think of all the Time We’ll Have to Write

Pitcairn Islands

“Think of all the time we’ll have to write,” you said.

We’d done the math. Between us, we figured we could live three years, maybe four: cover the rent on the cottage in Adamstown, plus any taxes, and of course, the food.

When the first cargo ship arrived from New Zealand, we’d laughed as we hauled the ridiculous quantities back home in the golf cart: ten pounds of rice, twelve pounds of beans, and of course the coffee.

The coffee ran out first. The garden washed away in a February monsoon, and nothing grew in the endless blistering drought that followed.

“Next ship will be here in eighteen days,” you said.

That is what you said about the April ship. And the July.

This time, I don’t answer. I just look at your haunch and think—and not for the first time—that it is very meaty. Very meaty indeed.

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.

Apologies to my hubby J Hardy Carroll. I was inspired by my desire for more writing time, and this article:  Why nobody will move to Pitcairn the Pacific Island with Free Land.

The Rewards of Perfectionism

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

PHOTO PROMPT © Al Forbes

As kids we hated going there. Mary once shattered a Wedgewood vase and you should’ve heard Uncle wail. Everything had to be perfect. When we were old enough, we’d always find an excuse not to go, ‘cause what kid wants to spend a month of summer wearing white and sitting hands-on-lap. and watch the old man take tea from the sterling service? I couldn’t remember the last time I went. Which was why it surprised me.

Augustus swept one arm at ceremoniously at the Rambler and handed me the key with the other.  “It’s yours now, sir.”

It was perfect.

100 words

This has been an edition of the Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the gracious and talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt courtesy the gracious and talented Al Forbes of Sunday Photo Fiction fame 🙂

To read more flash fiction or to submit your own click the blue froggy button.

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As a side-note–I recall this picture from last February but I can’t locate it on my blog so I’m not sure if I posted a story or not. I vaguely remember writing one but sometimes they don’t make it to the blog.

 

In Real Life

Sunday Photo Fiction

Sunday Photo Fiction

 

The first thing he noticed was the cold.

 

The last thing he remembered was Ashlee. She was every bit the beauty her profile pic had suggested, with a banner of sienna hair pulled to one side and gamine features that put him in mind of the sprites in his Elfscape game.

He watched her scan the lobby, his heart poised to pounce out of his chest. Would she see him? And if she did, would she turn around and leave?

Just then, her eyes lit upon him and a perfect smile broke free from her croissant lips. She started for him, her long legs mirrored against the marble floor as she walked. With her came the scent of jasmine and the smell of something different. Something clean.

He held out a hand to shake hers—not knowing if that’s what one did on these things—if that was the customary greeting when people finally met in real life.

She warmly clasped his hand and brought her other hand around to cup his forearm. She tilted up and breathed into his ear: “Shall we have a drink first?”

 

He woke up Sunday, in a bathtub of ice.

This has been an edition of Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes. To read more flash fiction or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button.


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