Three hours of waiting in an overly air-conditioned foyer, sitting on a skimpy metal chair, ended with a lukewarm “I’m sorry. Not this time, Herbert”, an icy handshake and a quick ushering out through a discreet side door.
Stood in the parking lot of the Science Administration building, as I dug into my pocket for the car key, I considered my loser status. I knew wonder-boy, Lucas Hunter, had aced the qualifying exams but I’d held out hope that the facility’s upper brass would uncover some bit of delicious muck in Lucas’s past. It didn’t happen.
Lucas was the jury’s ultimate choice for the only job in the universe I wanted: Dimension Researcher. I’d been swept up, up and away, with the idea of pursuing alternate realities, finding secret treasures in the worlds created at the finger snap moments when decisions were made, paths chosen, verdicts decreed.
As I drove home, the fog of jealousy cleared from my mind. While it was true that in the here and now, I’d lost the job competition, I took comfort that in a distant reality, the jury had chosen me. In one of a thousand parallel or past timelines, I was now the Dimension Researcher who would jump through schisms created by powerful anti-matter fission.
And in that fantastical world, I would make it my personal mission to kill that sonofabitch Lucas.
229 words (79 words over the 150 word limit) for Angela Goff’s weekly writing challenge: Visual Dare. This little piece of flash is actually fan fiction. It takes place in a world created by Chris James in his ‘Second Internet Cafe’ series of novels. Chris is a brilliant writer of science fiction, counterfactual history novels and short stories. Truly an author to check out!
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That night in early September, Enrico’s father sat him down outside, on an upended blue milk crate, tethered elaborately, tightly, with an orange bungee cord to the bar’s security-grate back door. Enrico would have to wait with crayons and a beige blanket, under the street lamp’s strong yellow light, through to the 2am last call.
That night in early September, a stocky, red-haired man appeared at the steel silver paling and asked the little brown boy what his name was. Enrico didn’t answer, kept his attention on the purple circus clowns he was crayoning in his colouring book. The man leaned down, reached through a gap in the fence posts, touched his damp, white hand to Enrico’s small back.
That night in early September, Enrico didn’t scream when the man grabbed him, lifted Enrico up by the scruff of his green flannel shirt. Enrico felt the orange bungee cord rope-burn his pink stomach skin as it pulled taut from the doorway. The unexpected resistance caused the man to lose his sweaty grip on the boy. He fell hard backwards, empty-handed. A sickening gurgle emptied from the man’s mouth as his white face hit an edge of gray cement.
That night in early September, Enrico used all the colours in his crayon box before his father finished his bartending shift and came out the bar’s back door to retrieve the boy. As his father held his hand and they walked home, Enrico wondered if the sticky red footprints he’d made beside the upended milk crate would still be there tomorrow night.
260 words – originally written for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare weekly photo writing prompt; however, VisDare responses are supposed to be 150 word maximum. I’ve promised to follow the rules next time.
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Dusk. You’re out of breath from climbing the embankment, up to the highway from the depths of a newly discovered hell. Standing uneasily on slippery rocks overlooking the darkened Fraser River, you shake your head to clear your mind.
And that’s when it happens. When the guy you’ve trusted since damned if you can remember, the person you’d tell anyone was your very best friend, when your lifelong buddy tells you the night’s event was a joke. A lark. Luck, timing, a little creativity; it all played right into your open hands, didn’t it?
“Nico, lighten up. A few lies and some elbow grease. Who’s got the money now? Despite your Jesus fish take on the world, you can’t tell me otherwise. It was totally worth it.
Besides, the guy was old. If he’d been our age, maybe- but fuck, come on, that geezer was ancient.”
He turns, cups his hand around a silver, rusted Zippo, sparks the flint with calm experience. In the shattering cold of a November wind, there’s only a moment to capture the flame’s hot surge.
The winter’s sleet has worked magic on the river bank’s loam and moss. It’s too easy.
His cigarette glows orange. You step forward and push.
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You were naïve and loved me too much.
I’d loved others the same way you loved me. Perhaps I will, yes I probably will, again. I recognized the fine details, the foreshadowing of a sad story. Yet I kept going, dreading, relishing the inevitable.
From our first encounter, I cringed as you searched then fought to find common ground. Unchanged, I continued life as it had been before us. Inevitably you adapted, made allowances, stepped away from your verdurous path to follow my gray barren way.
I should have declared at the outset that your adoration would not sustain us, could not be the load-bearing wall of our relationship. And in time, the us, the we, collapsed and crumbled. Our tenuous bond, built of un-mortared stone, turned to rubble.
I should have said I was sorry. But I wouldn’t have meant it then. And truthfully, I wouldn’t mean it now.
150 words written for talented Angela Goff’s ‘Visual Dare’ writing challenge. Please stop by her website to read other inspired stories and also to find out more about Angela’s own writing.
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Looking back on my blog posts, I’m shocked I didn’t write a Thanksgiving post last year. In July and August of 2014, I spent considerable time in the hospital with a rather difficult lung issue. I will never forget those days. Going to the emergency room, out of options, not being able to consider one more day of trying to get better on my own.
Now it’s been over a year since that awful period. I am grateful to be alive, grateful to be well, grateful for the kindness shown to me during my care. And I am grateful for kind, kind, kind friends, friends who are there with no fuss, friends who listen and remain calm, friends who support with words and with silence.
To celebrate this year, I’m not going morose. Something joyful is definitely in order.
This little piece makes me smile, smile, smile. Enjoy it, and I wish you a lovely, warm Thanksgiving. “Life is gonna be a wow wow whee!”
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Silence stagnates the air. Michael waits at the kitchen table, the untouched bowl of cheerios turned mush in front of him. Hard footsteps pound down the hall and out the front door. The screen door bounces, slams shut. A car revs to a start then takes flight down the gravel driveway and out into the street.
Michael pushes his chair back from the table, goes to the sink, lifts himself on tippy-toes, climbs onto the counter to hold a dishrag under the tap. He turns the cold water faucet, ensures no water escapes the cloth, no drops to pelt like stones, no echoes in the stainless steel sink. Both hands clasp the damp rag as he glances around the room. Then he climbs down, then kneels down, closes in towards the sharp, rusty smell on the floor.
His small left hand holds the cool rag against her forehead as he watches, waits to see her blink. Her brown eyes with the little gold flecks, round like marbles. He watches closely. She doesn’t blink. He covers her face with the rag.
He knows it’s time. He goes to the back door, sits on the little bench with his name painted on it, ties his sneaker laces in a bow and a knot like he learned in school last year. He pulls down her pilly gray cardigan from the hook above him and puts it on. Rolls up the sleeves so his hands peek out at the end. The sweater’s long, hangs past his knees, but it smells like her, like laundry soap and stale cigarette smoke.
Michael leaves through the back door, pauses, thinks about locking the door. He doesn’t lock it, he hopes someone finds her. He crawls through the hedge at the bottom of the garden, through the dug-out spot she made for him. On the other side of the locked gate, he stretches as tall as he can, brushes the leaves off, thinks about running, keeps walking, crosses the block to the next alley, then to the next.
He thinks about the car returning to the gravel driveway, about the screen door opening and slamming again. Michael thinks about his name being shouted throughout the house, white hot anger filling the rooms. But somehow, he knows that when he isn’t found, no one will continue to look.
He stumbles on his shoe laces, stops to re-tie and re-bow. He concentrates. He doesn’t see the car driving towards him.
Over 400 words for Angela Goff’s 150 word Visual Dare writing prompt. I usually follow rules, but this story needed more words to tell the story of a boy without a voice. The photo is scary and all too real in subject and tone. I hope I’ve done the story justice.
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You know, I used to say relationships were difficult for me. I blamed my inability to say the right things, do the right things, act the right way. I wanted a calm, sunny-bright, loving life. Yet, at every turn I created only charcoal-black shadows. Smudges.
But recent events (Yes. Her.) made it clear to me that the problem all along has been my criminal lack of judgement. My passion, trust, desire – they bled together. They created a pathetic display of devotion. And let’s face it, with people like you, devotion equals weakness, doesn’t it? When I raised my head up in prayer, I showed my jugular.
Take it easy now. Don’t gulp the air. Breathe slowly, it’ll hurt less. If you keep lurching and straining, the ties that bind you will leave angry incisions, cutting wounds that can’t ever heal.
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We bonded quickly, snapped together like two magnets that found each other and were defenseless to stop the attraction. Our smooth surfaces flushed together, heat conducting.
It was meant to be, for better and for so much worse. Unchangeable.
Unchangeable until you changed it.
We spent an afternoon in a suburban mall, searched for a birthday present, bought Tide at the Canadian Superstore, all before you decided to explain, over lukewarm Starbucks lattes, that you couldn’t love me anymore. Oh wait. Was it that you didn’t love me anymore? Or, was it that you didn’t want to love me anymore?
It didn’t really matter what you said. It was how you said it. You leaned forward, your elbows rested on the faux wood table as you stirred a plastic stick through muddy-coloured coffee foam.
A chill pierced and twisted me as you broke away. Suddenly, I was cold, exposed, jagged metal.
150 words for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare writing challenge.