Flash Fiction | Geraldine

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This was a flash fiction that I wrote with my kids. We rolled dice for random ideas we used to create our story. I got:

  • Ugly toad
  • Desert landscape
  • Lost in space

As she searched, her movements were frantic. The ship’s alarms were blaring. The same phrases were ringing out, over and over.

“Fuel levels low. Oxygen levels low.”

Geraldine–oh how she hated the name her mother had given her, 20,000 siblings and she got Geraldine–looked at her scanners. An hour ago her ship had dropped out of the skip lane early and now she was lost.

Well not exactly lost. The ship knew right where it was, in the Epsilon Quadrant of Galaxy 1323. That did her no good though. She was light years from the galaxy that she had been shooting for and Galaxy 1323 was completely unexplored.

A quick look at the monitors told her everything she needed to know. Even if she entered into hibernation she had less than 2 hours of oxygen.

She poured all of the ship’s power into the sensors, expanding their range to their limits. She shot her tongue into her food bag, pulling a couple of insects into her mouth. The one thing she still had plenty of was food.

Thirty minutes later Geraldine had accepted the inevitable. She had broadcast a farewell message to her mate, Xerxes, telling him how sorry she was that she would never return. She remembered the pained look on his face when he had seen her off. The venom glands behind his eyes had been weeping.

After sending the message, and wiping her own glands, Geraldine gorged herself on the rare larvae she had brought to celebrate. Now sated, she sighed, it had been a good life, though rather shorter than she had planned.

A siren sounded. Probably going to tell me that oxygen levels are dangerously low.

“Habitable planet detected. Classification 3-m-h. ”

Geraldine’s eyes snapped to her scanners. A 3-m-h was ideal, almost identical to her home planet. She keyed in the coordinates, set the autopilot and then entered hibernation sleep.

As she faded off into hibernation sleep more warnings played over the loudspeakers, but she was too far gone to hear them.

“Signs of advanced intelligence on all major land masses. Advanced technology present…”

Geraldine woke to crushing pain. Both her left legs, front and back, were pinned and she couldn’t move them. She looked around frantically, trying to get her bearings. It was always disorienting upon waking from hibernation sleep.

Her ship was in complete disarray and the visor screen was visibly cracked. Hopefully the computer was right about the breathable atmosphere.

All the ship’s systems were down.

After a few minutes of moving she was able to unpin her limbs. She positioned herself with her back to the visor and kicked at it with her powerful hind legs. After a couple kicks the screen broke free from its mountings and fell out.

She sniffed at the air experimentally and then flicked out her tongue a couple times. The air seemed safe.

She crawled from the wreckage and was bombarded by a fierce heat. It seemed she had landed in the middle of a desert. The land was barren and parched with little growth.

She looked up at the sky to the sun. It was almost directly overhead. She needed to find shelter soon or she would overheat and die. She climbed back into the wreckage and pulled out her survival kit. She took a sip of water and checked her rations. She had enough food and water to survive for a couple days. That should be enough time for her to find water and maybe something that wouldn’t kill her if she ate it.

She moved away from the wreckage of her ship directly east according to her compass. It seemed that this planet had magnetic poles not unlike those on her home planet.

She had been moving at a brisk pace for less than ten minutes when the ground started to tremble.

Earthquake. Well at least I’m out in the open where nothing can fall on me.

Just then she looked up as a shadow engulfed her. In moments something crashed down around her. She rammed into the sides of it, hoping to break or dislodge it but it held solid. It was clear but surrounded her completely. She was trapped!

“Hey Billy, check this out. I found a frog…and it’s wearing clothes!” Tommy was dancing around the upside down Mason Jar on the ground.

Billy walked over to where his younger brother was dancing and squatted down on the ground to get a better look.

“It’s not a frog Tommy, out here in the desert it’s a toad. But there’s no way it’s wearing…”

Billy’s voice faded off as his eyes grew wider. Under the jar was a good sized toad, wearing what looked like a space suit and carrying a little backpack.

Flash Fiction | Musicians V Superheroes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is in response to another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig called FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: X VERSUS Z, REDUX. I hope you enjoy.

Garret leaned forward on the couch and turned up the TV, even though he knew Sally hated it when her super hearing picked up the TV on the other side of the house.

The lead news story was just coming on.

“We’re going live to Lisa Flores-Yao live at the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert in Daytona Beach. Lisa, what can you tell us about what’s going on down there in Florida.”

The scene switches to a beautiful blonde with blue eyes. She is standing next to a bearded guy in a stocking cap and thick, horn-rimmed glasses.

“Thanks Dave.” She says. “It’s total chaos here at the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert. Officials are trying to get a handle on the situation and get people evacuated in an orderly fashion but its total pandemonium. I’m here with Kick Spade, lead singer for Pygmy Dip And The Jetpack Witch and organizer of the ‘Save Us From Saving’ benefit concert. Kick,” she turned to the bearded man, “can you tell us what happened?”

“It was them!” Kick shouts. He has a wild almost hunted look in his eyes.

“Them who?” Lisa asks.

“The superheroes! It was them. I know it was! They’re afraid of us!”

“Okay. Kick. Calm down and tell us what happened.”

“We were out there doing the sound check, me and the guys in the band. So anyways, we were just out there, setting stuff up, messing around and then the stage caught on fire, and then the grass in the field was burning and then the shops and stands, everything just went up at the same time. I know it was them, the superheroes. They must have started the fires!” Kick shouted at the last.

“Did you see anyone?” The reporter asked.

“No. But do you think that matters? They’re superheroes so they can like fly, and turn invisible and whatever. I know it was them, they’re afraid of us an what we have to say!” Kick shouts into the microphone and then runs off.

“So there you have it Dave.” Lisa says, looking directly into the camera. “I can tell you that the fires are mostly under control and it seems like things are calming down. There’s a press conference scheduled in 15 minutes where authorities have promised to get us more information. Until then back to you Dave.”

The newscast flipped back to the newsroom but Garret wasn’t paying attention.

He whispered under his breath. “Sally.”

Before the words were completely out of his mouth Sally, his wife of 20 years in September, was standing behind him.

“What is it?” She asked in her no-nonsense voice. She knew that he only called her by her name when something was wrong.

“Is Garret home?” he asked quietly.

“No he’s out with some of his friends, why?”

Garret answered with another question. “Which friends?”

“Sally, Jake, and Jarrett, maybe a couple others. Why?”

Garret looked up at his wife. All superheroes. He grimaced.

“I think we have a problem…” and he proceeded to tell her what he saw on the news.

Flash Fiction | An Empty Saddle

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The horse came back alone. Slay stood staring at it’s empty saddle as it trotted towards him. When the horse, Slay’s sister had named it Diamond, reached him he pulled a bit of carrot from his pocket and let Diamond eat it from his hand.

He then reached up and grabbed the loose reins.

It’s done.

Sarah had left early the day before. She had been wearing a white button shirt and tan pants tucked into her bright red calf high boots. Her long black hair had been pulled back into a long braid that ran all the way down her back.

She had looked down at Slay with her haunting, purple eyes. He had always loved them.

“It’s time.” She said.

“How do you know? Couldn’t you be wrong?”

“No. It’s time. I know it is. Can’t you feel it?” Slay could hear the awe and excitement and fear in her voice.

Slay wanted to shake his head and tell her no, he couldn’t feel it. He wanted to scream at her to stay, to give up this crazy mission, but he couldn’t.

Because he could feel it. He knew as soon as he woke up that she was going to leave. It was like the world was waiting, holding its breath.

Slay played his last, desperate card.

“Isn’t there someone else?”

Sarah just stared at him.


Still she stared.

Slay felt anger and rage boil up inside him. How could she, his twin sister just leave him?

He almost shouted at her then. He wanted to tell her “Fine, go. Get out of here! I don’t need you!”

But he didn’t. Instead he stood there. Hands clenched into fists with a solitary tear running down his cheek.

Sarah reached down and brushed her hand against his cheek. As she pulled her hand away sunlight sparkled in the tear that she had caught. She carefully placed the tear right below the corner of her left eye. It would stay there, now, forever.

“I know it’s hard Slay but there’s no other way. They need a Keeper and I am the strongest one left.”

Something happened that Slay couldn’t sense but that pulled Sarah’s head away from Slay and to the west. She stared off into the distance for a moment then turned back to Slay.

“I have to go now. I’m sorry Slay. I love you.”

She reached her hand out and Slay took it in his own. As always he marveled at how slim and delicate her hand was in comparison to his rough, course hands.

“I love you too.” He said, nearly choking on the words. Tears now flowed down both their cheeks.

Sarah dropped his hand and turned Diamond to the west. She set off at a quick trot.
Slay stood there, rooted, long after she had disappeared over the horizon.

Flash Fiction | Spices Under the Porch

Reading Time: 2 minutes

That summer seemed to last forever. It was 1982 and James was 5. It was the last summer before he went to kindergarten.

He spent that whole summer playing underneath the back porch of his family’s old farmhouse.

It was dark and musty and comforting. Of course there were spider webs and mice and nasty things, but there was good stuff down there too.

There was a little burrow, long empty, probably from some long gone family of foxes or prairie dogs, that he filled with GI Joes or Hot Wheels or water. Way in the back where the sunlight barely cast itself was an old wooden box with a latch.

When James had finally found the courage to open it he had found it filled with papers that had turned to dust in his hands. He imagined that those papers had been treasure maps or secret papers from a spy.

None of that compared though, to what he found under there one summer day, right before he started school. He had been shopping with his mom for school clothes all morning and by the time he got to climb under that porch the summer sun was low in the sky, turning everything it touched to golden treasure.

James was just making his way under the porch when he noticed something. The smell was different. He could still smell the musty earthy smell that was always there but there was something else, something he couldn’t quite place. Later in life, if asked, he would say that it was a spicy smell, like cardamom and cloves and coriander all rolled into one, but then it was just something different. Something other.

He hesitated, there at the threshold of the darkness. He wasn’t afraid but he knew instinctively that he needed to proceed with caution. He moved deeper into the darkness, slowly and silently, like a hunter stalking its prey.

As he moved towards the back, closer and closer to the old wooden box, the spicy smell grew stronger until it filled his nostrils.

He stopped when he was almost beside the box. There was only a little empty space left behind. James waited there for an eternity of heartbeats. More than he could count on his fingers and toes but still nothing.

He was just about to turn back and seek refuge in the sunlight when something shifted outside. A cloud broke or a branch moving in the evening breeze. Whatever it was a shaft of light somehow penetrated to the back of the darkness and then he saw it.

Two eyes flashed red in the darkness. James’s breath caught in his throat. For a second he thought it was maybe the neighbor’s cat, Tom, but he new that wasn’t right. Tom’s cat eyes were green in the darkness not red.

He called out, his voice tight and quiet, “Is there someone there?”

The eyes flashed again and then something shot by him, so quick he couldn’t even see it. He turned as it flashed by, catching orange and white as it sprinted towards the summer light.

James would tell the story for years after of the fox that had scared him that day but when he dreamed of it he would always remember the part that he had put away and hidden. The face he had seen just before the fox started its flight had been that of a little girl, with the eyes of a fox.

Flash Fiction Friday | The Theater

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I’m starting a new challenge for myself this week. Flash Fiction Friday. I will post a 500 word (there’s the ‘f’ again, can’t lose with alliteration) flash fiction piece on the blog each Friday.

This weeks idea comes from Chuck Wendig’s blog: Right vs. Wrong. I hope you enjoy.

Salem stood at the door of the abandoned theater. The people walking by flowed around him, though no one saw him or looked at him.

He tugged at the cloth covering his empty left eye socket. It had been empty so long that he didn’t even remember what it was like to see with two eyes. But the cloth still bothered him. He ran his fingers through his bright red hair which always stood on end, like candle-flame.

He looked at the door, reading what lay beyond. Layer after layer of posters had been posted and pulled down from the doors over the years, leaving a mosaic of past entertainment that was impossible to discern.

He opened the door.

An old man stood inside the ticket booth. Thick round spectacles made his eyes huge saucers of cloudy blue.

Salem walked up to the ticket booth.

“I have nothing…” Before he could finish the saucer eyes blinked hugely.

“Go on in.” Said the old man. His voice dusty parchment. “You’re always welcome here.”

Salem bowed his head in thanks and went inside the theater.

An old movie, black and white, something Salem had seen lifetimes ago, but couldn’t remember the name of, flickered on the screen. The theater wasn’t full but it wasn’t empty either.

Towards the front, he saw who he was looking for. The rough haired boy practically glowed. Salem reached up reflexively with his left hand to the massive sword strapped to his back. He hoped he wouldn’t have to use it.

He made his way down to the row behind the boy. The seat directly behind him was empty. Salem sat down quietly, then leaned up and placed a light hand on the boy’s shoulder. He closed his eyes.

Visions assaulted Salem’s senses. A visual and aural cacophony that only he could see and hear. Two lives stretched out before the boy; one a life of pain for him and everyone he met, the other a life of service and hope. That one was dim, like the shadow of a shadow. The life of pain was almost too bright.

The boy already walked this path, though he didn’t know it.

Salem watched visions, looking for something, anything, that could change the boy’s path. His empty hand reached, again unconsciously, to the sword on his back, that would end the pain for countless lives.

Just as he was about to pull the sword free Salem saw something. Something dim. Would it be enough? It would have to be. He couldn’t bear the pain of the sword again.

Salem opened his eyes and pulled his hand from the boy’s shoulder. The boy didn’t even notice.

Salem reached down under the boy’s chair and grabbed the ratty backpack. He pulled a small leather book from inside, the boy’s diary, and pushed the bag back under the boy’s seat.

Salem leaned forward and whispered into the boy’s ear, “I’m sorry.”

When the boy turned around there was only emptiness behind him.


The Porcelain Cat

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The ornate wrought iron and glass door swung open on silent hinges. The woman who opened it looked out on a man who appeared to be in his late forties.

He was dressed immaculately in a dark slate suit and matching tie. His white shirt, which was only slightly more pale than his skin, was brilliantly blinding in the Phoenix sun. He had a black cane, which was topped with a porcelain monkey’s paw, tucked under his right arm and a fedora, the same grey-almost-black as his suit, was perched on his head. Even his eyes were a dark misty grey. The only color on his entire person was a bright crimson pocket square, folded into a neat double triangle in his right breast pocket.

“You must be Mr. Jones.” Said the woman in that thick husky voice that only comes from a lifetime of smoking.

Where Mr. Jones was a study in monotone the woman was a cacophony of color. She was dressed in bright red pants and a leopard print blouse. Bottle blonde hair cascaded down around bright, red over-sized frames that encircled her violet contact-colored eyes. Her skin, which looked to have been stretched too tight over her face, was the weird orange-tan that only comes from a spray or a bottle.

She took a drag off the cigarette in her left hand and then held out her right, palm down, for Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones stared at her hand for a moment, his face a mask that barely concealed his repulsion.

“Yes, quite.” His voice was smooth and silken with only the slightest hint of the old country. “And you are Mrs. Anderson. If I may…”, he gestured with his left hand towards the open door, “I do detest the heat.”

Mrs. Anderson left her hand outstretched, but when Mr. Jones didn’t take it she pulled it back and grimaced.

“Of, course. Please come in.” She said as she stepped back into the house.

Mr. Jones stepped into the blessedly cool house.  She then closed the door behind him.
“May I take your hat and your” Mrs. Anderson stopped in mid-sentence. Mr. Jones’ upraised hand had shocked her into slack-jawed silence.

“Ma’am. Let us dispense with the pleasantries.” A slight grimace showed what Mr. Jones thought of “pleasantries”. He continued, “You have asked me here for a job which I would like to complete post-haste. You have the payment?”

Mrs. Anderson was still staring wide-eyed at Mr. Jones. She had never been dealt with so succinctly before. She was still staring at him until he cleared his throat with a light “ahem”.

This seemed to shock Mrs. Anderson out of her stupor as she nearly bounded off into another room and returned with her Hermes handbag. She pulled a bulging envelope from within. She went to hand it to Mr. Jones but hesitated, stopping halfway.

“It’s all there. Twenty thousand in cash.” She then extended her hand out the rest of the way.

Mr. Jones reached out and took the envelope, carefully avoiding even brushing her hand with his own.

“You can count it. It’s all there.” She said again.

Mr. Jones smiled a smile that didn’t leave his lips. He quickly tucked the envelope into the inside pocket of his jacket without even a glance. It could have been stuffed with Monopoly money for all the care he gave it.

“That’s quite all right ma’am. Now that that unpleasantness is out of the way if you would tell me where I may find the room in question?”

“I can show you…” again Mrs. Anderson was left wide-mouthed while Mr. Jones held up his to silence her.

“I think not Mrs. Anderson. Please just tell me where the room is.”

“Up the stairs. Last door on the right.” She looked like she wanted to say more but Mr. Jones’ cold glare kept her silent.

“Yes. That will be enough. Please wait here or in the kitchen. I will return as soon as I am done. It won’t be long.”

Mr. Jones turned to the stairway and made his way up the spiral staircase. His feet sunk inches deep into the plush carpet.

When he reached the top of the stairs he made his way to the end of the hallway. As he walked towards the end of the hall he noticed that it was getting warmer. By the time he reached the last door on the right it was almost warm enough to be unpleasant.

Mr. Jones licked his lips and then flicked his tongue into the air, almost like he was tasting it, like a snake. He then opened the door, stepped into the room and closed the door quickly behind him.

Where the hallway had been mildly unpleasant the room was a raging inferno. Mr. Jones’ surmised, correctly, that it was much hotter in the room than it had been outside in the scorching, Phoenix, summer.

He pulled a snow-white handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed at the perspiration that had popped up on his forehead. He had not been lying when he told Mrs. Anderson that he detested the heat.

For what may have been the thousandth time he wished that it worked like Hollywood thought it did. That when the other side was close things got colder and not hotter.

Mr. Jones sighed and then started to scan the room. Lost souls were usually bound to a location, though sometimes they would end up locked to a specific object, if it was something that they had held especially dear. He flicked his tongue into the air a few more times and then licked his lips again as he spun slowly around in the center of the room.

Finally he saw it, on the shelf. He couldn’t really describe what it was that he saw. It was almost like he caught it out of the corner of his eye. Almost like an impression of something that wasn’t really there. Whatever it was, though, he could find it. Always.
He walked over to the nightstand and picked up the object. It was so hot that he almost dropped it. So she was bound strongly.

Once long ago he had gone hunting for answers. He had spent years trying to find out why some souls got lost, or stuck and ended up bound to something before moving on, but he never found anything satisfactory. It was true, sometimes they were people that had suffered great tragedy or loss, but more often than not they were just regular people who died and then couldn’t move on.

Mr. Jones turned the small object around in his hand a couple times. He was now licking his lips almost constantly, like a child waiting for their ice cream.
Finally he held it up in front of his face and smiled a smile that was broad and wide and terrifying. It was a smile of pure ecstasy.

Mr. Jones then opened his mouth wider and wider and wider until it was a gaping maw that stretched his face into hideous proportions. His open mouth was a gaping tunnel that seemed to open into oblivion itself.

Then a sound began to grow. But it was a sound without a sound. It was like the voice of a million silent screams.

Then it was over. Mr. Jones closed his mouth and licked his lips one more time. He looked satisfied and filled and seemed less thin than he had been only moments before. The thin lines on his face had gone and the wings of grey that peaked out from under his hat had gone jet black.

The room was now blessedly cool and the small object in his hand was cold to the touch. Everything was as it should be.

Mr. Jones turned on his heel, made his way back to the door and opened it.

He called out, in a voice that seemed rather heartier than it had before, to Mrs. Anderson downstairs, “Your daughter, was she very attached to the porcelain cat on her nightstand?” Mr. Jones chuckled a bit at his own joke as he made his way down the hallway.

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge by Chuck Wendig. I chose the title The Porcelain Cat (d.moulou).

Flash Fiction | Another Day at the…

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Gerald turned on his laptop. While the Windows XX icon (for some reason Microsoft had skipped from 15 to XX) did its little dance he sipped at his coffee, hot and bitter and acrid, just how he liked it. After a small eternity (Microsoft could promise faster load times all they wanted but it was total bull) the welcome screen popped up. In another moment Gerald was logged in by the facial recognition component.

“Good morning Gerald.” Gerald had replaced the stock voice, a warm caramel that was simulated to be the perfect female voice, with a 2013 era badly simulated voice he had found on the web named Cortana. “You have 1 message from the IGF.”

Gerald cursed under his breath. He had been hoping for a quiet day of R&R.

“Open and read.”

The computer dutifully opened the message and read it.

Gerald Jimenez you have been selected for a mission today. There are three available missions for you to choose from:
1. Java trench
2. Urban Chicago
3. Mare Tranquillitatis (See of Tranquility)
You must login to simulator no later than 0800 local.

Gerald glanced at the clock on his laptop. 0755. Cutting it close as always, he really needed to stay off the sims and get to bed earlier.

“IGF. Login. ID:G Jimenez. Mission…” He hesitated for a moment. Java trench was out. He hated the underwater missions. Low grav missions were a pain too but he didn’t really want to deal with an urban mission either. Finally he made his decision. “…Mare Tranquillitatis.” The odds of dying were too high…and that would cost him credits he needed for the sims. He really needed to get off the sims.

“Welcome G Jimenez to Mare Tranquillitatis. Your mission…” at this point Gerald quit listening. As soon as he started the mission he would see a HUD with all of the relevant info for the mission. Enemies, targets, etc. For him the biggest goal was always the same. Don’t get fragged. Every time you re-spawned you were docked the cost for another Spartan. Die too many times and he might not make anything, or even worse might end up owing credits to the IGF.

Gerald leaned his head back and waited. As soon as the voice stopped talking there was a brief stab of pain as the neural link at the base of his skull was linked up to the system. This was accompanied by an intense sense of vertigo as the HUD came up.

Gerald quickly scanned the display, looking for objectives and enemies. Satisfied that he was safe for the moment he pulled his sniper rifle from his back and loaded it up. He loved being a sniper for a mission. Not only was he one of the best but it meant the odds of him being killed and losing a Spartan were very small.

Once he was satisfied with his weapon he tabbed through the objectives and then moved off to his primary location.

Gerald gasped as his neural link was severed. He felt the momentary emptiness that he always did when the link was removed and he lost the feeling of his Spartan’s body.

The mission had gone very well. He had recorded 24 kills..a new record! And he had managed to stay alive. His position had been overrun by the Chinese at one point-it looked like they had hacked his own teams communications-but Gerald had managed to get off an incendiary grenade and then retreated before they could take him out.

Gerald blinked to adjust his eyes. He then used his mouth switch to turn off the computer and turn his wheelchair around. It had only been six months since he had the procedure to insert his neural link, paralyzing him from the chest down, but he hardly even thought about what it was like to have working arms and legs any more.

His parents had told him he was crazy but he hadn’t even thought twice about joining the IGF. The IGF paid well. That meant more money for the sims which, with the neural link, were so real that he didn’t even miss real life any more…