‘Fiction in A Flash Challenge’ Week #17 Entry Part 6) by Jacquie Biggar @JacqBiggar #IARTG #WRITINGCOMMUNITY #WritingPrompts

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #17.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Jacquie Biggar.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here’s the image prompt and Jacquie’s contribution.

Message In A Bottle

By

Jacquie Biggar

The sand is cool and grainy under my toes, a refreshing relief from the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. I’ve been walking this mostly deserted beach for hours, lost in memories of happier times.

I arrived as a visiter, but for the last twelve years this has been home. I’m not sure how I’ll survive without the wash of the waves, the briny scent, or the crimson sunsets, but I must. It’s up to me to continue the search.

Something green glints in the shallows and I pad out to investigate. It’s a bottle, half-buried in the wet sand, its cork pointing toward the North Star sparkling brightly in the evening sky.

Heart pumping, I tug until the sand gives up its treasure with a pop and carefully carry the fragile glass up the beach. Upon closer inspection, I spot a roll of paper inside the luminous green bottle.

“Sam, is that you?”

A wavery voice from my past jerks my attention away from my find.

Could it be?

The woman I never thought to see again, picks up her skirts and runs toward me, her silver hair flowing like a moonbeam.

With a joyous bark, I bound toward her, the aches and pains in my old bones forgotten. She came back.

“Oh, Sam,” she cries, falling to her knees to wrap frail arms around my neck. “I can’t believe I found you.”

I want to tell her I’ve been searching and searching for her, too, but of course I can’t. Instead, I whine and lick her chin in greeting, my tail swishing the sand.

“It was the cancer, boy. I’ve been in the hospital all this time. I thought I’d lost you.” She puts her head to mine and weeps.

A long while later, she slowly rises and, with a hand on my back, follows me over to the green bottle.

“What do you have there, Sam, a treasure?”

I already found my treasure tonight, but I bark and push the bottle toward her.

“Okay, okay.” She chuckles. “I get the message.”

She carefully works the cork from the bottle and tips the paper into her hand. Unrolling the missive, she reads, “Whoever finds this note, know this; there is no greater gift than love.”

As my old friend and I make our way down the beach, I sigh, contented for the first time in months. The bottle is right, love soothes the soul.

~~~

Jacquie may be contacted here …

Blog: Jacquie Biggar- USA Today Best-Selling Author

On TWITTER

Books On Amazon.Com

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as I receive them.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #17 Part 3) A #Haibun by D.L.Finn @dlfinnauthor #iartg #asmsg #writingCommunity #writingprompts

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 3)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #17.

Today I’m featuring a contribution from D. L. Finn.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

This Haibun Contributed By D.L.Finn

message-in-a-bottle-3437294_1920

THE MESSAGE

The fog penetrated my skin, adding heaviness to my existence. The furious waves crashing against the shore fueled my anger. The salty air was bitter in my lungs, making each breath a battle. Alone, I pushed through the frigid sands, going nowhere, until I couldn’t take another step. I sat down on a flat rock and waited for the pain to end. This went on ceaselessly until I caught a glimmer in the haze. A bottle had washed ashore at my feet.

Foggy depression

A healing message offered

Remember, you’re loved.

~~~

D.L.Finn can be reached here …

Blog site:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

On TWITTER:

On FACEBOOK:

Thanks so much for stopping by! I look forward to reading your comments.

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #16 Entry Part 10) by Harmony Kent @harmony_kent #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #WritingPrompt

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 10)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #16.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 10)  by Harmony Kent.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt and Harmony’s contribution.

This week’s picture had my muse in a decidedly monosyllabic mood, lols 🙂 So, today, we have one word to express a full idea, packed into a three-beat verse for each aspect of The Way of the Wild …

The Way of the Wild

 

Bitten.

Beaten.

Banished.

*

Ostracised.

Outcast.

Omega.

*

Scapegoat.

Shadow.

Stalker.

*

Grizzly.

Growling.

Gnashing.

*

Tussle.

Tumult.

Terror.

*

Reassessed.

Redemption.

Reinstated.

*

Sanctuary.

Safety.

Shield.

*

Appraisal.

Acceptance.

Alpha.

*

Food.

Fun.

Family.

*

The way of the wild.

 

Copyright ©Harmony Kent 2020

CONTACT HARMONY HERE …

Website: https://harmonykent.co.uk and Story Empire (Co-authored)

Harmony’s Amazon Author Page: author.to/HarmonysBooks

Twitter: @harmony_kent

LinkedIn: Harmony

Goodreads: Author Page

***

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as they are received.

Book Review: “Murder They Wrote” An Anthology of Short Fiction. @MaeClair1 @virgilante @judypost @KathleenPalm @DawnDun66350980 #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a welcome to my BOOK REVIEW of “Murder They Wrote” An Anthology of Short Fiction. Seven great stories from seven talented authors. You’ll read shorts from these folks  Mae Clair ,C.S. Boyack, Judi Lynn, Julia Donner, Kathleen Palm D.P. Reisig and Rachel Sherwood Roberts

Murder They Wrote by [Judi Lynn, C.S. Boyack, Mae Clair, Kathleen Palm, Julia Donner, D.P. Reisig, Rachel Sherwood Roberts]

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Seven great ways to spend your reading time! A superb collection of Mystery Shorts from an eclectic selection of authors and disciplines.

I knew I was in for a treat when I began reading this anthology. You can’t go wrong with such a diversity of authors and genres. If you enjoy Speculative/fantasy fiction, cozy mysteries, Regency,  Ghost stories, and more don’t miss this chance to see each featured here.

It was pure pleasure to read selections from two authors I’m already a huge fan of, namely Mae Clair and C.S Boyack.  Mae Clair delivered my favorite of the collection, “A Winter Reckoning” This one is outside the genre I’ve come to expect from this author and she has nailed it. A beautifully written and totally engaging read.
Craig Boyack “From the Files of Jason Fogg” Allowed me to return to see  already familiar characters doing their thing. 

The introduction to authors I was previously unaquainted with has me now following them all on Amazon.

If you want a riveting reading experience, and a way to indulge yourself with a few hours of great escapism you need to add Murder They Wrote to your Must Read list.

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge Week #15 Entry Part 10) by Roberta Eaton Cheadle @RobertaEaton17 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 10)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15. Today I’m featuring a contribution from Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This contribution By Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Rex Bacon was a real person and he did die as described in the book. His ghost is said to haunt one of the inns in Bungay. I fictionalized the circumstances surrounding his death in this extract:

THE MAN UNDER THE STAIRS

As he set off along the pathway towards the town, Rex Bacon could feel the rage building inside him. It was a balmy summer afternoon and it was Saturday. He had finished his milk deliveries in record time and had a rare half afternoon free.

“Alfie saw them going up the stairs to the bed chambers,” Tom had said. “It’s not the first time he’s known them to meet at the Inn.”

All along the path, the wildflowers grew in a profusion of bright colours: blue, purple, yellow and white. Breathless, from his tightly constricted chest and fast pace, he remembered the last early afternoon he had walked this path. He had bent down to gather a colourful bouquet for Katheryn, binding them together with the pink ribbon he kept in his pocket for this purpose.

At the top of the rise, he stopped. The woodlands fell away on both sides of the path. On the right he could see the town including the two Market Crosses, St Mary’s Church, the Grammar School, and all the principal houses and shops that comprised the town centre, and on the other he could see his cottage – their cottage. It was tiny and ramshackle, but it was theirs. It looked just the same as it had that morning when he left home before the sun rose. There was no difference, none at all.

He swiftly descended the slope and walked to the door, the summer crickets jumping around his shoes. “Katheryn,” he shouted as he entered the one roomed cottage and stopped. A part of him hoped she would be there, that it was all an elaborate lie. She wasn’t.

Rex walked over to the pegs inside the cottage door and deliberately took down a coiled rope. He bent and grabbed a couple of the sharpened stakes he had leaned against the wall, in readiness for the weekend’s planting. Slinging the rope over his shoulder and with the stakes held loosely in his hands, he stepped through the doorway and closed the door gently behind him.

Ø Ø Ø

“Well, this is a surprise,” a harsh voice rasped.

Katheryn sat up in the bed, her dark eyes wide with shock. The blanket was pulled up over her chest and her shoulders, plump and white, rose above it. The young man lying next to her in the bed also sat up. He had a mop of vibrant and lustrous dark hair. His cheeks were flushed and his naked skin glowed with vigour and life.

“Rex,” said Katheryn. Her voice was soft and timid. Rex’s eyes rolled in their sockets, filling with hideous rage.

An inhuman force seemed to have taken over his mind, roaring in his ears, commanding him to destroy the figures in the bed. He lunged forward.

“Don’t!” whispered Katheryn. Her lover’s face drained to an ashy white. He had not moved but was whining, deep in his throat. The sound seemed to go on and on.

Rex’s eyes locked with the man in the bed as he drove the sharpened end of the stake into his neck. The man’s attempt to shout out was cut off as Rex wrenched the stake free and a fountain of blood poured from the resultant hole. The body toppled slowly sideways.

He turned to Katheryn, sitting frozen with shock and horror, and drove the stake deep into her heart. She gasped, and her eyes rolled back in her head as she died instantly.

Ø Ø Ø

Richard looked up as Rex, huddled in an enormous coat despite the warm day, walked into the hall and sat down at a rough wooden table in the corner.

“Strong ale, Rex?” he called. Normally customers had to approach the counter to order but, as the hall was empty at this time of the afternoon, Richard didn’t mind taking Rex’s mug over to him.

Setting his drink down on the table, Richard noted the younger man’s darkly glittering eyes and straight, unsmiling mouth. He watched Rex overtly as he drained his mug.

“Are you okay?” Richard asked. Rex smiled, a horrible twisted smile, and looked at him out of eyes that looked years older than his actual age.

“I’ve had some bad news. It will pass. All things pass in the end,” he replied.

Richard was to recall these words later.

Ø Ø Ø

Thirty minutes later, Rex left the hall. Picking up an ale barrel that stood discarded in the entrance, he walked purposefully towards the stairs that led to the upstairs chambers. It was dark and dingy in the narrow landing at the top of the stairs. Shrugging off the dead man’s coat, he exchanged it for the coil of rope he had hidden there earlier. His shirt and trousers were a mess of blood.

He bled like a stuck pig, thought Rex as he threw the rope deftly over the heavy wooden ceiling beam. Reaching up, he grabbed the end and threaded it through the loop he had made on the opposite end. He pulled gently and the loop ran up the length of the rope and drew tightly around the beam. Standing back, he admired his efforts.

The barrel shook as he clambered onto it. He formed the loose end of the rope into a noose and placed it over his head. Closing

his eyes he pictured Katheryn, his darling, and kicked out his legs. The barrel wobbled and fell over.

Death did not come easily. The drop was short and Rex dangled helplessly from the end of the rope as it compressed his trachea and the arteries and blood vessels in his neck. The excruciating pain was unexpected as his survival instincts took over and his body struggled for air against the compression of the noose and the weight of his own body.

As the darkness descended over Rex’s mind, he heard a voice calling, “Rex, look at me, Rex.” It took all of Rex’s will power to focus on the apparition in front of him. Thickset and powerful, the monster had vicious teeth and claws. Its eyes struck terror into Rex’s fading heart. The glaring, red eyes were the last thing Rex recognised as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Ø Ø Ø

His heart blackened with rage and resentment as his spirit hovered above the stairs, listening to the black dog’s convincing lies and watching his body being roughly hacked down. The naked bodies of Katheryn and her lover had already been discovered and the men were making ribald comments about Rex and his inability to satisfy his wife’s needs. The glowing red light that flowed up from the depths of the Underworld faded as Rex shambled after his new master.

 

~~~~~~

Contact Roberta Here …

Roberta Writes Blog.

TWITTER

AMAZON.COM

***

Thanks so much for stopping by! I look forward to reading your comments.

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 9) by Karen Ingalls @KIngallsAuthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 9)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” WEEK #15

Today I’m featuring the contribution from  Karen Ingalls.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution By Karen Ingalls

A SHATTERED LIFE

My life before you

Was in shambles and lonely

But now it’s healthy

 Because your love and goodness

Give me strength, joy, and courage.

~~~~

Karen may be contacted here …

Karen Ingalls Blog.

On Twitter:

Karen Ingalls Author Page Amazon

On Facebook

***

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be featuring all entries as they are received.

 

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 7) by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 7)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring the contribution by Mae Clair.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Mae Clair

Atonement

Julian St. Croix. stood on the first step, testing the weight of the rotted tread. Behind him, Rexmont kicked through detritus littering the floor­—slivers of wood, dried leaves, tattered scraps of paper. Small puffs of dust wafted from his shoes, tickling the sensitive tissue of Julian’s nose.

He sniffed and dragged a sleeve across his face. “Second floor’s off limits.”

Rexmont stopped long enough to raise his head. “How come?”

“This step feels like rice paper and the others look as flimsy. Too much dry rot to risk it.”

“That sucks.” Rexmont wandered closer. He craned his neck to gaze toward the landing where shadows nested in a pocket of charcoals and grays. “Up there’s where he hung himself.”

“You’re sure?” They’d only been in the abandoned house forty minutes, and already Julian felt the drain on his energy.

“I did the research.” Rexmont swiped a paw over the back of his neck. He was a big man, twice Julian’s size, with massive hands, a chest like a double-wide freezer, and close-set eyes the color of motor oil. Most people labeled him a gorilla, but he was every bit as gifted in intellect as brawn, which was why Julian valued him so highly. If there was friendship between them, it straddled the line between employer/employee, still too new to venture deeper.

“No choice then.” Julian gripped his cane, the anchor that kept him from crumpling when spirit energy deserted him and all that was left was mortal stamina. “You stay here.”

“You’re the boss, but…is that wise?”

“The steps would never hold you.” Julian tested the first one. He was a trim man, not quite six feet, all lean muscle and bone, but still the wood groaned its fragility. Using his cane, he prodded each tread before adding his weight. When he reached the second-floor landing, he paused to glance down at Rexmont. “It’s an old house, but the structure is sound.”

His hired muscle snorted. “You’re two centuries older, at minimum. What’s that say about you?”

Julian’s lips curled. On his worse day, he could still pass for late thirties. “Let’s pray my fortitude is every bit as resilient as this structure.”

Without waiting for an acknowledgement, he ambled down the hallway. Over moldy carpet, once a rich burgundy, now frayed and discolored by grime. Fat cobwebs clung to the ceiling and sprouted in the corners. He followed a pulse of dark energy to a room on the right. The furniture had been cleared out years ago, but Sight allowed him to see the area as it had once been—a king-sized bed, ebony bureau, standing wardrobe, and roll-top desk.

His stamina wavered and he closed his eyes. When he looked again, the desk lay face down, papers and books scattered over the floor. A toppled ink well left a stain like blood on the paisley carpet. Above, suspended from the rafters, hung the body of a thirtyish man with white-gold hair. He had not died easily, his face bloated and purple.

Julian drew a breath to center himself. He bowed his head then murmured a prayer in middle English. When his voice faded, the specter’s form shimmered, outlined by tiny points of light. Within seconds, it vanished.

“Boss?” Rexmont appeared on the threshold. He glanced around the room. “That was quick work.”

Julian nodded, unwilling to say more. The ritual of releasing a spirit in bondage resurrected ugly memories. “How did you manage the steps?”

“I didn’t. I found a second stairway off the kitchen. Are we done?”

“For now.”

Rexmont frowned. “I still don’t understand why it’s your job to hunt down these ghosts and release them.”

“Because they deserve the peace that eluded them in life.” Something he’d yet to achieve.

Thoughts of his young wife and her lover filled his head. Visions of the blood he’d left them lying in before he’d flung a rope over a crossbeam and hung himself. Julian walked toward the door, his cane thumping hollowly against the floor. There was no erasing the sins of his past. Penitence would have to suffice, along with the hope that someday his spirit—like those he freed—might move on.

He paused and faced Rexmont. “I do it for atonement.”

“For you?”

“And them.” For the wife who’d broken their marriage vows, the brother who’d betrayed him by sharing her bed. He did it to erase the violent killer he’d once been. “I do it for my soul.”

~~~

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ll be featuring other posts as they are received.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 6) By Jacquie Biggar @JacqBiggar #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 6) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Jacquie Biggar.

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here’s the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Jacquie Biggar

The Stories These Walls Could Tell.

The wallpaper hangs in jagged strips from the walls, faded jacquard prints of a more dignified time. Cobwebs drape from the dilapidated ceiling, and I try not to imagine how big the spider is that created them.

Tom and I won this house at auction, before…

The floors creak beneath my sneakers and are gray with dust and grime, but they look original to my weary eyes. The drive took hours and all I can think about is a warm bath and soft bed- neither of which I’ll find here. I’ll go back to the small town I’d passed through soon, but first I need to finish what I started.

“We did it,” I tell my husband, sure he can hear me wherever he is.

The baby moves beneath my breasts and I gently rub the spot, my throat tight when I feel a tiny heel. Tom wanted this child so much. That and the home he’d grown up in. It’s bittersweet to know we’ve succeeded.

“It’s everything you said it was,” I say, continuing my one-sided conversation. “The fireplace is huge. No wonder you thought Santa got stuck up the chimney.” I trail a finger along the mantle. “Baby’s stocking will look lost on here.”

The tears that are never very far away wet my cheeks. It’s been five months, but I miss him still.

I always will.

With renewed determination, I climb the surprisingly sturdy staircase and enter the first room on the right- Tom’s childhood bedroom. A warm sensation flows over me and my tears dry as peace descends. He’s here, I can feel him.

The room is empty, other than an old blue chest shoved under the stained window. My heart flutters wildly and I’m suddenly scared of what I’ll find.

“Go,” a ghostly voice intones, his breath warm on my ear.

I startle and stumble forward. “Always so bossy,” I grouch with a smile.

The lid is heavy. I have to work to get it up, and then I sneeze as a musty fog rises from the interior. “Geez, Tom, you could have warned me.”

He chuckles from over my shoulder. I can almost feel his arms around me and baby.

His baseball hat from seventh grade sits on top the pile of memorabilia. My fingers tremble as they trace the Saints emblem. Who would have thought he’d go on to have a successful career in the NBL?

Alongside the hat, lay an autographed baseball bat, and below that, the reason I’m here. A leatherbound journal. My husband’s thoughts and dreams in his messy script fill the pages, front to back.

The house will be baby and my future, but this journal? It’s my link to the past and is truly priceless.

The baby rolls, creating a wave across my stomach and my dearly departed husband laughs.

His family is home.

~~~

Jacquie may be contacted here …

Blog: Jacquie Biggar- USA Today Best-Selling Author

On TWITTER

Books On Amazon.Com

Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as I receive them.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #15 Entry Part 5) by D.L.Finn @dlfinnauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution from D. L. Finn.

 I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the prompt:

lost-places-3035877_1920

This contribution by D.L.Finn

The Day the Ground Moved

By

D.L.Finn

It jolted me from a deep sleep. Belongings were tossed around like feathers in a windstorm. My wedding picture crashed into the back of my head, but I had no time to worry about the bump as my bed moved toward the dresser that was lodged on its side. My black cat, Sissy, dug her claws into my leg, and I could hear the dog howl from his bed.

“It’s okay, Max!”

It was unlikely he heard me over the growl of the shifting landscape and shattering glass. I pulled myself to the side of the bed as Sissy edged up to my chest.

“It’s the earthquake they said would come, Sissy.”

Hanging on to the cat, I slipped on the leather mules my wife of 35 years had given me last Christmas. I lost Nancy three months later to breast cancer right before everything changed. I pushed down my pain, grabbed our wedding picture, and attempted to run. I found the floor was like a carnival funhouse. I could barely keep upright. My stomach flipped as a powerful wave surged through the house. I grabbed the closet door frame.

“Hang on, Sissy.” She buried her head in my neck. “I should get the go bag in case…”

Tightly gripping the wood structure with one hand, I snatched the bag from the closet, tucked the picture in it, and slung it over my shoulder. Sissy’s claws deepened, cutting into my skin, but I barely felt it as I navigated the dark hall to the creaking steps. The rising sun was peeking through the broken front window, and the neighbor’s car alarm was blaring.

I clung to the shaking railing and made my way down the wooden stairs. Halfway the wall cracked open with a loud pop.

“Crap.” I quickened my pace. “Max! Here, boy!”

The sweet German Shepherd slowly walked to me with his tail between his legs. I grabbed his collar.

“It’s safer outside.” I tried the front door. It wouldn’t open until I used all my weight against it. We burst onto the porch and raced out into the morning dawn. I stood on my front lawn as the brick fireplace crumbled to the ground with a dusty thump on the side of the house.

“Is this ever going to stop?”

As if on cue, the grumble gave way to silence.

A weak cry for help came from across the street. The houses’ two levels were now one.

“I’m coming, Bert!”

The young couple who had just moved in last month stood pale and bloodied by their car.

“Bert and Kathy need help,” I yelled to them and set Sissy down, who immediately hid under my car.

“There’s nothing we can do. We need to get to a safety zone.” The husband replied. They got into their car and left.

I shook my head in disbelief; I knew there was no place to go. In the distance, I saw smoke and rubble as far as my old eyes could see. I rushed over the uneven street. Just then, I heard a screech and saw the young couple’s car fall. It was half in and half out of a large hole. The husband pulled the wife out, and they raced around the corner. Gone.

“Adam, can you hear me?”

“Yes, Bert, I’m coming.”

Thankfully, he was in a pocket by the front door, and I could lift the debris with a crowbar. Bert’s wife, who had been Nancy’s best friend, was crushed under a beam. She didn’t make it. We buried Kathy under her favorite maple tree. I understood his pain.

Bert took over that young couple’s house, and all that was left of our once beautiful area was two old men trying to survive each day. We lived in a world where no help would arrive. Our leader challenged the new directive, and as a cruel example, they detonated our earthquake fault. Later we found a renegade radio channel and learned part of our state was in the ocean.

It was a war no one had wanted. Luckily, Bert and I had a healthy supply of food, water, and weapons. When the time came, I would defend our old ways against the new directive. I knew Nancy would be proud of my stand, but I couldn’t wait to be with her again—when that time came.

~~~

D.L.Finn can be reached here …

Blog site:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:

On TWITTER:

On FACEBOOK:

Thanks so much for stopping by! I look forward to reading your comments.I’ll be featuring further entries as they are received. 😊

I can be reached here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

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‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge Week#15 Entry Part 4) by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #15.

Today I’m featuring a contribution by Mark Bierman.

 I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Here is the image prompt.

lost-places-3035877_1920

This Contribution by Mark Bierman.

“Grandma, are you sure you want to go up there? They’re in bad shape, and your hip.”

“Oh, pish posh,” Rosemary waved dismissively. “Should have done this years ago and those were built when quality counted.”

“That was seventy-seven years ago. This place has been abandoned for—”

“Twenty years, other than some vandalism, the bones are solid.”

“Maybe, but yours aren’t. Please, just let me have a look. The third floorboard from the back wall of the closet, right?”

Rosemary patted Emily’s hand. “I need to do this myself, with a bit of help from you.”

Emily wiped a tear and hugged her grandmother. “I understand. You were eight and you’ve waited this long. It was your only hope. All these years . . . ” Her grief soaked the purple shawl.

“Shh . . . I’ve made my peace. This must be done before I see him again. I pray God will allow it in Heaven. Father has the other half, that’s why they never found it on him.”

Rosemary’s eyes stung but she must show restraint, be the brave girl that her father had said she was just before he left for the Great War. “Let’s continue, shall we?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” Emily broke her embrace and took the tissue from Rosemary.

“But you must let me check each tread before you step on it and let me guide you. Those are my rules, I’m sorry. I love you too much to lose you.”

Rosemary nodded. “Agreed.”

They moved ahead, arm in arm, with Emily sweeping away the debris with her foot to clear a path. At the base of the stairs, she tested the railing and was satisfied.

“You see, built to last. The stairs will be the same, though the third step might creak. I learned to avoid that one when I’d sneak downstairs after bedtime to grab an extra cookie.” She pointed to the room they’d just left. “My parents would be sitting in their chairs, Mother with her nose in a book, while Father would be asleep. I never got caught, but sometimes I think Mother knew.” Rosemary smiled.

The stairs proved to be every bit as resilient as promised, but every tread protested the disturbance.

The hideous orange and white floral-patterned linoleum flooring installed by the last tenants had chunks missing and revealed the hardwood underneath. Decay wasn’t always bad.

Emily gingerly walked her grandmother across the tripping hazard to the first room on the left. Time had left only a thick layer of dust, cobwebs, and a musty smell in the barren room.

“Hmmm . . . used to be a lot bigger,” Rosemary said. She blamed her watering eyes on the dust and mold. “I loved this room, but after Father was gone, well, we had to move.”

She sighed deeply and shuffled towards the tiny closet. Emily’s hand went to grab her arm, but she brushed it off. “I’m good for now, but I’ll need you to help me kneel.”

The old woman reached the closet and Emily helped her to her knees.

Rosemary struggled to remove the floorboard and Emily offered to help.

“No! I must do this!” Her face softened and her tears splattered into the floor dust. “I’m sorry, dear, I didn’t mean to snap. This arthritis is making it hard. Did they nail it down?”

After what seemed an eternity, the board yielded, and was hoisted with a collectively  held breath. Would it still be there?

Emily handed over the flashlight. The small beam illuminated only cobwebs and dirt. Rosemary dug frantically to clear them, and the light reflected off a silver object lying in between the floor joists.

Rosemary picked up the necklace with shaky hands. Emily gasped, for there it was, the legendary object that she’d heard about since early childhood.

A heart, with one half missing, the other half perhaps lay on a faraway battlefield.

Rosemary clutched the jewelry to her heart, and then wept loudly. Emily rushed to her side and tried to console her grandmother through her own tears.

It took several moments to recover, and Rosemary showed her the inscription in the heart. Because of the shape and the missing piece, it read, ALW TOGE . . . Always Together.

“Oh Grandma, is that true? Do you really believe that?”

“Yes, Emily, all of my life I knew he was there, and soon I will get to see him again and this heart will be whole.”

~~~

Mark can be reached here …

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Thanks so much for stopping by! I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be posting further entries as they are received.