I tried to focus on the priest’s sermon, but the light fixture behind the altar, kept drawing my attention. How realistically it flickered; shadows dancing behind the coloured glass even though it wasn’t turned on! I craned my neck and squinted my eyes, trying to see what was moving. Suddenly, there was a high-pitched shriek. The congregation looked, confused, but I knew from where the sound had emitted. A black wing unfolded over the edge of the light fitting, as the creature found a more comfortable position. A bat who’s found himself a new bat cave! I thought incredulously.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – April 12, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bat. You can use an association to the winged, cave-dwelling critter, or you can explore the word for other meanings. Bonus points for including a bat cave. Go where the prompt leads.
I lifted the lid of the piano, running my fingers over the keys, tinkling a jumble of notes. It had been ages since I’d practiced and I was filled with trepidation as I sat down to play.
I leafed through sheet music, and found Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’. Resting my gaze upon the familiar notes, I poised my hands and began, cringing as I stumbled over the notes. My fingers clumsy; getting it all wrong.
I stopped, took a deep breath and tried again.
Giving over to muscle memory, I smiled as my fingers started to fly over the keys.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 29, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads.
It had been the perfect honeymoon. We enjoyed endless days swimming, relaxing and drinking cocktails. Barry announced that for our last morning, my dream of diving the reef, would finally be actualised. We were going scuba diving!
I plunged into the water, closely following the directions from our devastatingly gorgeous instructor.
I became lost in the magic of the world underwater when I suddenly found myself alone and my tank empty. Barry and the instructor had disappeared!
As I succumbed to the lack of oxygen, my puce coloured face realised the fiction on which our marriage was truly conceived.
Prompt: Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, Saturday Mix – Same Same But Different, 24 March 2018, Synonyms – lie (fiction), dive (plunged), realise (conceive), pass (succumb), red (puce); and also, Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 22, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale. Go where the prompt leads.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 16, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 8, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a balloon. It can be a party balloon or a hot air balloon. How does it add to your story? Go where the prompt leads.
The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before.
Hank couldn’t read any more of the officer’s detailed scrawl. It was a 120 page report and his fatigue, both physical and mental, was preventing him from analysing another word.
What was the point of it all? he wondered. It’s not like I’ll ever find anything that hasn’t been poured over 100 times before already!
Working Cold Cases was the worst. Frustrated, Hank closed the file from 1982, and pushed it aside.
Lifting his weary frame from the chair, he grabbed his coffee mug and sloped over to bench where the brew that Matilda had put on for him earlier that day, still sat warming. Bless my wife, he thought.
As he began to pour the acrid smelling brown liquid, he suddenly stopped, slammed his mug down and turned back, looking at the table, in disbelief. Brown spots sloshed across the counter but Hank did not notice. He was already lifting the file and scanning the cover, searching frantically for what he had missed before.
In the bottom right hand corner, neatly printed in the officer’s familiar hand were two codes:
Hank began to smile. He knew what those codes meant. A hair and blood sample taken from the scene was still locked up, safe and sound, preserved in evidence.
Of course, the samples had been no good back in 1982, but this canny young officer, had thought perhaps that one day, they might be of use. And with the DNA technology they had today, they certainly would be. It was just the break they needed to finally prove their prime suspect’s guilt and Hank couldn’t wait to lock the bastard away, once and for all.
He checked the officer’s name again and said out loud, ‘Officer Neil Bromley, I could KISS you!’
“They are the black-winged messengers from beyond,” my friend Bridget decreed, mystically.
I rolled my eyes. “You know they’re a real problem on farms?” I countered.
I remembered my farming mate telling me how the ravens particularly liked his grapes and soft fruits; and even how some of the larger ravens attacked the lambs! I’d seen them frequent Australian roadsides, feasting on the carcasses of the dead. Personally, I thought them altogether, quite opportunistic and horrid.
But I kept my mouth shut, as she continued, “When magic is near, the Raven will appear”.
Author’s Note: The Australian Raven’s call can be heard here. A sound, living rurally, we hear often!
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 1, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raven. It can be in nature or used to describe humanity as a metaphor. Follow the bird. Go where the prompt leads.
I inspected its creamy white head, and caramel-coloured body. What an amazing creature.
“Where can I get one?” I asked my sister.
She whispered the answer, adding, “There aren’t many left, so you’d better be quick.”
I didn’t hesitate, following her to its habitat.
The man beamed, “Ah, a wise choice madam! Inspired by the magical pillars of our universe: Unicorns, Christmas and Ice-cream; Bridge Road Brewers presents its limited edition, vanilla ice-cream ale, the Magical Christmas Unicorn. Please enjoy this beverage of fun.”
Handing over my money, rolling my eyes, I thought, Come on! It’s just a beer!
Author’s Note:The Magical Christmas Unicorn is in fact, a real beer, as described in the story. It was limited edition and available from Bridge Road Brewers, over the Christmas period. Despite my ambivalence in the flash, it truly was delicious and certainly worthy of such wax lyrical!
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – February 22, 201&. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a unicorn. It can be realistic or fantastical. Go where the prompt leads.
She awoke with a start, drawing a sharp breath and blinking her eyes. Retinas searched for light; searched for form, in the darkness.
Where am I? she thought, confused. How did I get here?
A sense of panic welled within her. Trying to sit up, the panic deepened when she couldn’t move her arms or legs, or anything neck down.
Racking her brain, she checked her last memory. At the club. Drinking. Then black…‘til now. Twisting her head, she felt flat, slimy, coldness beneath her cheek. The door opened, and she realised with horror, she was on ice…
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – February 15, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you.
* Please note: The fireweed I have used for the purpose of this challenge is the Australian variety. It is highly invasive and toxic as outlined here.
She was my fireweed*. Able to grow in any soil, in all aspects. Persistent if not controlled, and rapidly taking over neglected pastures. She competed strongly with those around her, and was extremely toxic.
I could feel her tendrils taking hold. Coiling themselves around my brain; trying to find an ‘in’ to feed her tap root. But I was not the only one and it was time for us to take control.
It turns out a dense cover can help reduce fireweed. So we took a stand together, covering the bare, exposed patches of ourselves, to become greener pastures.
Prompt: Daily Post Daily Prompt – toxic; and also, Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge, February 8, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write.
I pulled the pillow over my head, but the musical gargle intensified until I roused. Bleary eyed, I poured the seed, taking the tray outside.
The black and white bird was clever; already waiting for me. I stepped back as he gobbled the offering. His beak ‘click clicking’, eyeing me all the while. I thought, “Magpies really get a bad rap. They’re not so bad.”
As I stepped out the door, I heard a whooshing sound as snapping mandibles narrowly missed my ears.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge, February 1, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white. It could be a nun in a zebra monster truck, a rigid way of thinking, a bird in a tuxedo — be imaginative and go where the prompt leads.
I stood on the precipice and looked into the abyss below. My knees quivered and my stomach flipped, as my body struggled to anchor itself to the sanctuary of land. I forced myself to confront the yawning darkness and felt the fear take hold.
One move, I thought, and that would be it. Gone.
I didn’t know what terrified me more – the thought of staying? Keeping myself on solid ground and dealing with the crap that lay ahead. Or how tempted I was to just let go? Let myself fall off again.
Prompt: Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – January 25, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story.
Staring into the distance, I’m in disbelief at what has happened. How can someone you have known and trusted for so long, betray you? Turn out to be a stranger? These thoughts haunt me, and I shake my head, literally trying to rid myself from their grasp.
I consider the vast territory in front of me. It’s unknown. I have never ventured this far, nor pushed these boundaries. I lean down, tie my boots, and feeling steadfast on my feet once more, I know my course of action.
Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses and walk away.
Prompt: Daily Post Daily Prompt – grasp; and also, Carrot Ranch, January 18, 2018 – In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes boots. Whose boots are they, where do they go and what is their significance? Go where the prompt leads.