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 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

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ NEW Image Prompt Week #13 @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and welcome to my weekly “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!”  Week #13 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.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, August 20th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

UPDATE: The response to the prompts has been just wonderful. As a result … FROM THIS WEEK (#13) I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here AS I RECEIVE THEM. Rather than posting all of them only over a few days.  Thanks to everyone for the amazing support.

Here is the week #13 Image Prompt.

michael-dziedzic-1bjsASjhfkE-unsplash

Thanks to Michael Dziedzic for sharing their Free Image on Unsplash.

 

I hope the image inspires you! Come and join in the fun.

Find me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

 

 

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge Week #12 Entries Part 4) by Mae Clair @MaeClair1 & Gwen Plano @gmplano #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #12.

Today I’m featuring contributions by Mae Clair and Gwen Plano.

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.

bryce-barker-cIcX_aO9LPo-unsplash

Yesteryear Treasures

By

Mae Clair

The antique store was small, tucked into a side street beside a dried herb emporium. Charlene studied the faded brick façade and low hanging wooden yardarm. The sign creaked in a slight breeze, its flowery blue script proclaiming Yesteryear Treasures. A man with long white hair greeted her when she stepped inside.

“Good afternoon.” He had eyes the color of midnight and long-fingered hands.

“Hello.” Charlene offered a smile then wandered away to browse aisles of pale milk-glass and cameo pins. Bone china teacups, vintage greeting cards, feathered hats and opera glasses, rag dolls with black button eyes. There was too much to take in.

She paused to finger an ornate four-sided clock.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  The white-haired man appeared behind her.

“My great grandmother had a clock like this when I was a child.” Strange how she hadn’t thought about it in years, but now she could see it nestled atop a dresser in Nana Ruth’s bedroom as though it was yesterday.

What are you doing?” The reprimand in her mother’s voice echoed in her ears. So long ago, yet powerful still. “You shouldn’t be in here.”

 “But, Mama.” She couldn’t look away from the stark numerals and gilded brass casing of the clock. “It has four faces.”

 “It’s not for you to worry about.” Her mother knelt in front of her, lightly gripping her arms. “This doesn’t concern you.”

 “But I’ve never seen a clock like that.”

 “And you won’t again. Forget this one while you can.”

Charlene drew a breath, a bird beating in her chest. The floor felt spongy, like she might slip through into a realm where matter weighed little and thought was tangible. “Why? Is it special?”

“In ways you can’t imagine.” Her mother stood. “Come, child.” Taking her hand, she drew Charlene from the room.

Charlene looked at the man beside her, his white hair a waterfall of ivory. She touched the clock, a barely-there brush of fingertips. “I’ll take this.”

“You should know it doesn’t work. The time has been stuck at 11:53 since I acquired it.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

His smile thinned, sliding into something liquid. Later, when she returned to her small studio apartment, she set the clock beside her bed. Weary, she made a meager dinner of tomato soup and olive toast, then settled in front of the TV. The day caught up with her and she drifted off shortly after 8:00 PM.

When she woke hours later, the apartment was dark, needles of moonlight splayed across the floor. Her bed was only a handful of steps away, the old clock on the nightstand stuck at 11:53.

She grabbed her iPhone, illuminated the face, and saw the time was an exact match for the bubble clock with four faces. Slowly, she stood—half of her drawn to the window overlooking the moon-silvered grass to the rear of her apartment, the other pulled by the clock. Four different faces, all reading 11:53.

She closed her eyes. Heard the sound of her great-grandmother’s voice. Her grandmother’s. Her mother’s. Three spirits bound together in a prison of brass and glass, collared and penned by time. Her mother’s voice was strongest. Not words as much as a sad, keening hum of regret.

“You wanted to keep me out of it.” Charlene set the clock on the kitchen counter, her pulse wildfire in her ears.

She grabbed a hammer from the storage cabinet beside the sink. Without hesitation she bludgeoned the time piece. Spurred by anger and fear—a malice so strong each strike grew in ferocity until there was nothing left but cogs, broken gears, and scattered springs. The spirits of her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother soared free.

Calmly, she rounded up the scattered pieces of the clock, then dumped them in the trash. The next day she returned to the antique shop, but found the place boarded up. She caught a stooped over gray-haired woman opening the herb emporium and asked about the shop.

Yesteryear Treasures?” The old woman shook her head. “Hasn’t been here for over twenty years. Nothing has. The place has been abandoned for as long as I can remember.”  With a tired shake of her head, she disappeared into her shop.

Charlene stared at the building. At the space where the weathered sign had hung.

As she walked away, she was certain she heard the old wood creaking behind her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mae Clair can be reached here …

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

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

Website & Blog | Goodreads

~~~~~~~

This contribution by Gwen Plano.

When I saw the photo, I imagined a train station and decided to superimpose the clock on a station scene. Focusing on the time, I thought of a country rock song. You’ll soon discover why.   
Midnight Rider

“What’s wrong, Bernie? I came as soon as I could.”

“It’s Sam. He took off tonight.”

“He left—again?”

“Said he had a train to catch.”

“What the hell is wrong with that guy? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I should have expected it. I told him about the baby.”

“And the bastard didn’t give a shit?”

“He said something like, ‘that’s your problem, not mine.’”

“Why do you put up with him? Really! You need to figure this out, Bernie.”

“I know, I know. I just keep thinking he’ll settle down. He’s a good guy down deep.”

“Well—down deep doesn’t cut it. In my book, he’s nothing but a drifter.”

“Do you think that after the baby is born, he’ll…”

“Are you serious? Bernie! We’ve talked about this way too many times.”

“What should I do?”

“To start with, forget Sam. You’ll never catch this midnight rider.”

 

Gwen Plano can be reached here …

 

Thank you so much for stopping by. Tomorrow I’ll feature the 5) post for WEEK #12 by  Joan Hall. The image prompt for #Week #13 is now live.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 Entry Part 5) @MaeClair1 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 5)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring a 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.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

Mrs. Conway

By

Mae Clair


Jarrod Hamilton was not a rich man but considered himself a talented one. For the last eight years he’d made a living teaching the upper crust ladies of Victorian London the finer arts of painting with oils. During that time, he’d often had to bite his tongue rather than offer advice­. On other occasions, he fawned over inferior work all the while cringing at the substandard quality his students produced. But catering to delicate egos paid the bills and helped him maintain his lifestyle, mediocre as it was.

Perhaps that was why Mrs. Conway so surprised him. Unlike the other ladies who breezed in each Wednesday, chattering like magpies, Millicent Conway arrived early and alone. A quiet woman widowed for over a year—if gossip was to be believed—she rarely engaged with others. Of the near dozen students in his class, she was the only one with a dram of talent. He’d observed the growth of her painting for weeks, maintaining his silence on her progress. Now, with the final brushstrokes applied, he could no longer contain his thoughts.

“Very striking, Mrs. Conway.” Jason stood with his hands behind his back as he looked over her shoulder. “The assignment was to paint a representation of self. I’m curious why you chose a waterfall.”

Millicent set her brush aside with a graceful movement, as dainty and refined as a delicate bird. “Your praise is most kind, sir.” She seemed reluctant to say more.

Undaunted, he peered closer. “A more cynical man than I might guess the waterfall is not the subject of your painting.”

She blinked, wide-eyed and curious. “Pardon?”

“I suspect the true focus is the tree in the foreground. Desolate and barren while the waterfall feeds a valley rich with life.” He eyed her sharply, prying beneath the buttoned-up layers of her personality. “The tree is Isolated and alone.”

Her spine stiffened. She fingered her collar. “How observant of you. Sometimes people are much the same.”

“Only by choice.”

She looked away.

“Do you know what I see, Mrs. Conway? Despite the fact the tree doesn’t embrace the vibrance of the valley, its roots are deep. Steadfast. A strong force in the face of adversity.”

She relaxed, her smile wan. “Ah, but you don’t see beneath the surface, Mr. Hamilton. Sometimes there is a reason for that distance. The exterior is gilt and flash, while the inside has been poisoned with disease.”

His gut clenched. The chatter of his other students created a buzz like the constant drone of honeybees in the background. He wanted to swat them away. “Disease?”

She wiped her hands on a rag. “It destroys from the inside out. You can’t see the damage until it is too late, and there is nothing to be done.”

“Like a cancer?”

“Precisely.”

Bile burned the back of his throat. “Then there is no hope?”

She squeezed his hand, her fingers cold. “There is always hope. Especially when those who suffer have made peace and no longer feel the need to be part of the valley. They have their own verdant dell waiting, guarded by loved ones who have passed.” Warmth touched her eyes. “The tree must bend. Break at last.”

His throat grew tight. He nodded toward the painting. “What will become of this?”

“It matters not to me.”

“May I have it?”

She appeared surprised. “Of course, but I fail to understand why you would want it.”

How could he tell her? Finally, after years of teaching petticoats, dowagers, and debutantes, someone in his class had spoken clearly through canvas and oil. It may not have mattered to her, but even as disease shortened her life, she’d found a way to instill meaning in his work.

It made him believe he could find his own waterfall and valley.

At the very least, she’d taught him how to be a tree.

~~~~~~

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. Tomorrow I’ll feature the final post for WEEK #11 by Miriam Hurdle. The image prompt for #Week #12 is now live.

I may be contacted here …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 Entries Part 4) @Chelepie & @gmplano #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 4)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring contributions from Michele Jones and Gwen Plano

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.

This Contribution by Michele Jones.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

Mike ran ahead of Carl toward the sound of rushing water. He’d always been faster and would be there first. As he darted through the trees, he saw it. The waterfall.

Mike stared at it as it fell from the rock above. Rumors about its existence had been around for centuries, but he didn’t believe them—brushed them off as a myth. But ahead of him, the water flowed, no gushed, from the rocks above. How could this be? What was happening? Who did this? The valley had always been dry. Hell, the entire region barely saw any rain.

He moved closer. The sound of the water roaring in his ears. He didn’t know much, but he knew a water source was needed for a waterfall, but no rivers or oceans were within miles of here. Something wasn’t right. Mike spun around looking for any possible reason for the falls. There wasn’t one and he didn’t believe in magic.

Mike pulled out his phone took several pictures. No one would believe him. This would be his proof. He moved even closer. The mist at the bottom splashed up from the basin and reflected the sunlight in its droplets. Lily would love this. He tried calling but had no signal. Strange. He’d had signal here before. Must be the waterfall messing with it.

He wanted to leave, but the water looked so inviting. Even though the falls splashed up, the pool remained still. No ripples, No splashes. He needed to be the one to change that. He pulled off his shirt, tugged off his jeans, dropped his phone, and dove into the pool.

After he surfaced, he heard it. A voice. He shook his head. His imagination must be playing tricks on him. He heard it again. A woman’s voice. Humming the most beautiful melody he’d ever heard. She must be behind the cascade. Mike swam closer. The humming got louder, but he couldn’t see her.

Something told him he shouldn’t go any closer. But he had to see her. That voice. It was so beautiful. He knew she wanted him. Confused, he treaded water trying to decide. Before going on, he heard his brother screaming and saw him flailing his arms.

Mike shook his head and swam to the edge of the basin, climbing out.

“What the hell are ya doin’? Do you have a death wish?” Carl ran up and yanked him from the basin.

“Aw, I was just cooling off. There’s no reason to be so—”

“Don’t you remember anything about the waterfall? It’s cursed. Now you’re cursed. And so am I. I can’t believe you did this to me.”

“I didn’t do anything. And we’re not cursed.”

“So, you didn’t hear the lady singing? You weren’t swimming to the sound of her voice?”

“Yeah, I heard her. So what. Nothing’s gonna happen.”

“Fool. The lady kills. I can’t believe you don’t remember that.”

“I remember. I just don’t believe it. Watch me.”

Before Carl could grab him, Mike dove in and swam to the cascade. He’d prove everyone wrong. There was absolutely nothing to worry about. He could hear that woman’s voice again. It grew stronger, more inviting. He could also hear Carl screaming at him to come back.

Mike swam behind the cascade. Just as he thought. There was nothing there. He climbed out of the basin and looked for her. He saw no one. Just an old timer myth. As he turned to go back to his brother, she was there. But the waterfall was gone. The ravine—gone.

“You should have listened to your brother. Now you’re mine. For eternity.”

######

Michele can be reached here …

 Twitter

URL: http://www.michelejones.com
Email: icoachgirls@gmail.com
Whois: http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/70.90.235.33 (IP: 70.90.235.33)

***

This Contribution by Gwen Plano

When I saw the photo, I imagined flying above the falls and mountains high. I felt the moist breeze and soared in the silence of the trees. My haiku…

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.

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 Entries Part 3) by Daniel Watkins & @KIngallsAuthor #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

“Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring contributions from Daniel Watkins and 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.

This entry Contributed by … Daniel Watkins.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

Falling

By

Daniel Watkins

“Dear Yuan,

I can still see you standing at the edge of the falls tiny and wilful above the roar. I couldn’t bear it. I mean the relentless boom so infinite then it haunts me now, after all these years.

I don’t believe you knew I was down there and that I saw you. No, I was watching. And you know it was not for me to call out. Anyway, my voice could never have competed against the sound and the distance.

And how could I have followed? The drop between us defined two worlds. And the time, now, just adds to the hopelessness of it all. I’m as helpless now as I was then. But I can write, can’t I?

Well, there’s the asymmetry. I’ve kept you in my sight, my mind all this time, though I’m lost to you in the landscape like I’m in a Song Dynasty painting. You have to be bothered to squint out the figure in the mountains. Your mind was always too busy and elsewhere for all that nonsense.

Yours is a people-less landscape and mine a portrait in a locket and we don’t represent each other at all, really. Not at all. And that amuses me. Maybe that’s the only reason I’m writing this to you. My letter will lie on your desk by some window out over the bay and you’ll be looking at the boats heading out, wishing you were there not in some dull room with a letter flipping on your desk in the breeze like some dying fish on a rock.

Yuan? What do you see up there? What were you looking for? I used to glance to where I thought you were staring but I didn’t see anything. I didn’t see me, that’s for sure…

Would you ever reply? You must be a little shaken? Surprised I found your address after all these years? Do you know now where your mind was turned?

It’s coming to that time in our lives where we should know what it was we sought, if only because time was going to run out; we all knew the narrative would end and the back cover was waiting for us. Did you find out? Can you write just one letter to me? Please?

I can see you there that time, just before you crossed to the other side of the river. Write to me. Tell me what you saw.

M.”

***

This Contribution by Karen Ingalls.

Fiction in A Flash week 11 entry by Karen Ingalls

Karen may be contacted here …

Karen Ingalls Blog.

On Twitter:

Karen Ingalls Author Page Amazon

On Facebook

~~~~~~~

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Find me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

 

 

‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #11 entries Part 1) @HowellWave and @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #11.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1) by John Howell. And Entry 2) My own contribution.

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.

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

John Howells one line entry.

“Helen, do I hear the shower still running?”

John Howell can be reached here …

Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

My Contribution …

adrian-mato-6kaPKnqwaYw-unsplash

“Another Mountain to Climb”

By

Suzanne Burke

Mitchell McCallister hoisted himself up onto the rock platform and reached down to assist his companion. He looked across as his friend gazed around and slowly turned back to him, “Mitch, this place is perfect. So, this is where you disappear when we can’t reach you?”

“Uh-huh, yes this is the place. My dad brought me out here for the first time when I was fifteen. It was around a year after my mom had passed and I was acting out the pain and turning on everyone around me. He said this place would help me regain my center of gravity, he said it would save my sanity … If I let it.”

“You’re probably the sanest person I know. So, why now, I mean what is it that you need to regain your center on?”

Mitch took a deep cleansing breath as he answered. “I have a question to ask and a decision to make based on the answer to that question.”

“Care to share?”

Mitch laughed, “Yeah, that’s why you’re here.”

“Is there alcohol in that backpack? This feels like one of your thoughtful let’s talk over a whiskey moments.”

Mitch nodded his head, “You lay out the groundsheet, and I’ll grab the whiskey.  Then, let’s just sit awhile and take in all of this.” He swept his arm wide.

They sat and sipped on the 12-year-old malt and allowed the thunderous noise from the waterfall to momentarily drown out their other senses. Until the scent of the pine that surrounded them reawakened their sense of smell, and their eyes looked beyond the mist and took in the splendor of the blue sky and the rugged rockface.

Mitch broke the silence. “Everything makes more sense here, you know. I mean every action is interconnected with the well-being of the whole. The only scars on this landscape are the ones our own species slashed across its surface.”

His friend nodded in understanding and held out the paper cup for a top-up of whiskey.

Mitch obliged and poured himself another good belt as well. “There’s a shallow cave we’ll shelter under tonight. The kindling and logs I left last time will be dry now and I have a rock firepit. I can’t wait for you to see the stars with no other light source to impede your view. Let’s finish this drink and then get the camp set up.”

***

Mitch sat gazing into the warming fire and turned to his friend. “I guess now is as good a time as any. Can I ask you a question?”

“Fire away.”

“Will you marry me.”

“Jesus! That’s some question, Mitch!”

“You really didn’t see this coming? Hell, David, and here I was thinking I’d been so obvious.” He tried to laugh again and failed.

David reached over and touched his arm, “I thought it was all just wishful thinking on my part.”

“Oh, thank God. Any chance this means you’re in love with me too?”

David mimicked back to him. “‘and here I was thinking I’d been so obvious.’”

“You will marry me?”

“I’d be honored.”

They kissed and Mitch gently stroked his new fiance’s face. “Now, I need you to know something upfront. My next decision is based solely on you being on board with it 100%. I will walk away from it and never look back if you aren’t comfortable with it.”

“I’m listening.”

“The F.B.I has asked me to Quantico. Seems they want me to take my training and my degree and head up a new task force. They had me study fifteen files over the past week, each file belonged to an FBI member, all field agents. I was asked to provide a detailed profile for each of them based purely on their responses to crime scenes.”

“Looking for what?”

“Statistical anomalies.”

“Any conclusions?”

“Uh-huh, and then some. See none of these men and women hold degrees in Forensic Science. They’re not profilers, but, in every instance, their case files reveal a high degree of success at identifying stand out traits of their perpetrator.”

“So, they’re intensely logical?”

“Sure, it’s partly that, but I believe they are all empaths.”

“The bureau concur?”

“Yup. They want me to train them, to hone their innate skill, and to help them learn to retain sufficient distance from the case so as not to incur damage to their own psyche. They believe this squad will ultimately save lives, and it’s hoped that it will significantly reduce the number of cold cases.”

“So, why the hesitation? God, this is your dream job!”

“I know it. But, I’d be asking you to leave everything you have here behind. You’ve your own career to think about.”

“Being an accountant isn’t going to save lives. I can work anywhere. You have to do this, Mitch.”

“So long as you’re going to be climbing that huge mountain with me.”

“You know I will. I’d be proud to take that journey with you.” He gave Mitch’s hand a squeeze. “So, let’s make the memory of tonight and tomorrow perfect. Do you have marshmallows in that backpack?”

“I love you.”

“Ditto. Now about those marshmallows?”

~~~~~~

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.

Later today I’ll be featuring entries Part 2) by Harmony Kent and D.L.Finn.

 

‘Fiction in A Flash Challenge’ Week #10 Entries Part 3) @KIngallsAuthor @JanSikes3 #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 3)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #10.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 4)  by Karen Ingalls and 5) by Jan Sikes.

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.

Flash image free PIER

This contribution by Karen Ingalls

CARIBOU LAKE

Every 4th of July, our family spent a week at Caribou Lake in Minnesota. I remember running down the old wooden pier and jumping into the water. Swimming in the safe water, our cabin nestled among the pine and aspen trees, and the long days.

By the time, I was fourteen I was an accomplished swimmer so my parents did not worry about me. My sister, Joan, who was one-year younger hated the water and never learned how to swim.

“Come on in, Joan. The water is great.” Watching her shake her head, with her arms folded across her chest, I’d yell, “You are a scaredy-cat.”

She would just stick her tongue out and holler back, “I’m going to tell Mom that you called me a name.”

“I don’t care. When you tell Mom that makes you a tattle-tale.” I laughed at her childishness and called her sissy, namby-pamby, and chicken making clucking sounds. I watched her run up to the cabin slamming the door behind her.

I swam further out into the lake enjoying the warm water that July day. With each stroke, I thought of how different Joan and I are. She is a red-head and I am a brunette. She is short and I am tall. She is a little plump and I am skinny. She is scared of spiders and other such critters. She struggles with math which I find to be easy.

Lost in my thoughts I did not realize how far I had swum nor the large, gray clouds now blocking the once bright sunshine. I turned back towards shore and the old wooden dock and began to swim. All too soon, my arms and legs felt heavy and weak. I shivered from the now chilly water. My heart was pounding and my chest hurt with each breath.

“Oh, God. I’m not going to make it back. I’m going to drown.” Those were my thoughts as I frantically searched the distant shoreline and surrounding water for help, but I saw no one. My cries for help went unanswered. I rolled onto my back, closed my eyes, relaxed my tired body, and hoped I would float to safety

“Rebecca, you are strong. Do not give up.” I heard these words but did not know where they came from. I looked up into the clouds where a shaft of light had broken through the clouds.

. “We are here to help you.”

I saw two angels swoop down through that shaft of light and surround my tired body with golden light. Soon I felt stronger, my legs and arms were no longer weak, and I could breathe normally. I swam toward the old dock and in what seemed only a few minutes my hands reached up to the rickety old ladder. I climbed up and stood looking around to say thank you to the angels, but they were not there.

The gray clouds were now dark and thick and thunder rumbled in the distance. I ran up the hill to our cabin shivering from cold, exhaustion, and elation.

As soon as I entered the cabin, Mother asked me if I had called Joan some names. I looked at my sister and saw her differently. I realized how my words hurt her. “I am sorry, Joan. You are not any of the things I called you.”

The next day while we were eating our breakfast, Joan said, “I wish I liked the water, but it scares me. I’m afraid I will drown.”

“I understand. The thought of drowning is scary, but I will always be by your side to help you.”

She agreed to let me teach her how to swim. We soon became swimming buddies, enjoying the water together.

We also became closer and our differences were less important.

The angels saved me for a reason and I learned a powerful lesson: live my life with kindness.

Karen may be contacted here …

Karen Ingalls Blog.

On Twitter:

Karen Ingalls Author Page Amazon

On Facebook

~~~

5) This contribution from Jan Sikes.

Flash image free PIER

AN EMPTY PROMISE

 

Emily poured a fresh cup of coffee and strolled to the end of the rickety wooden dock for the hundredth time. Where was he?

She sipped the hot coffee and stared across the tranquil lake, searching intently for any sign of a boat.

A twinge of guilt crawled up her spine. Leaving a note was a piss-poor way of saying goodbye. But the thought of a confrontation and one more fight with Malcolm was more than she could handle. When he’d left for work that morning, she’d packed her suitcase, left her keys, checkbook and a note by the door.

It hadn’t been hard to walk away from a twenty-year marriage. In fact, it had been one of the easiest things she’d ever done.

She’d skipped and twirled like a giddy school girl when she’d arrived at Levi’s cabin, where she’d visited many times over the past few months.

Lying in the circle of his strong, tanned arms, Emily found her center. He made her feel like a beautiful goddess, and when they made love, the earth tilted on its axis.

She sighed deeply and tugged her soft sweater closer. Despite the warmth it provided, she shivered.

“Where are you, Levi?” She paced the length of the dock. He should have been here hours ago.

She checked her cell phone for the umpteenth time.

Malcolm would be home by now. How would he react to the note?  She could picture him sinking into his favorite chair and dropping his head in his hands. Well, she’d set them both free, and he should thank her.

“Levi will be here,” she said to no one. “He just got hung up somewhere.”

She thought about the first time she saw him. Desire stronger than anything she’d ever felt swept the length of her body, leaving her knees weak and the sweet spot between her legs moist.

It had been a girl’s night out. The crowded club was the perfect backdrop for Levi to saunter onto the stage and serenade the ladies.

He was a gorgeous specimen of a man. Long legs, tapered waist, bulging biceps, and the most striking blue eyes she’d ever seen. And when a lock of his wavy brown hair fell over those mystifying eyes, women swooned.

She wanted him.

That had been three months ago.

Now she’d walked away from her stable life. The home she’d built with Malcolm meant nothing anymore. She’d traded it all to be with this tanned god who made her feel alive.

The sun began to drop below the horizon, and she turned back toward the cabin.

“Surely, he’ll be here soon,” she told the birds. “He promised.”

Minutes ticked by, turning into hours.

Emily wrapped a soft blanket around her shoulders and lay on the sofa. Her eyes took in every detail of the love nest where she’d spent many blissful hours.

A lump of dread formed in the pit of her stomach.

Something had happened.

Maybe he’d gotten cold feet. Or, perhaps he’d met someone else younger, prettier and richer.

Emily thought back over every conversation, searching for a clue.

She tried for the thousandth time to call him. It went straight to voice mail.

What to do now? She couldn’t go back home to Malcolm.

Bitter bile rose in her throat. What a fool she’d been to believe she’d found true love.

While her life crumbled around her, she squared her shoulders and walked the length of the dock one last time.

A plunge into the icy waters would end it all.

Her cell phone buzzed, and she grabbed it.

Sorry.

The text lit up the screen.

That was all she got? What a piece of shit! She sprinted down the dock, grabbed her suitcase, and tossed it in the car.

She stared hard at the cabin. A can of gasoline on one corner of the porch caught her eye. Without hesitation, she doused the dried wood, lit a match, and drove away.

Never again would she believe an empty promise.

~~~~~~~~

CONTACT JAN SIKES:

All books are available at http://www.jansikes.com

Amazon

On Twitter

On Facebook

Thanks so much for stopping by.  The Week #11 Image Prompt is now up.

Find me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

“Fiction In A Flash Challenge” Week #10 Entries Part 1) @HowellWave and @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to PART 1)  of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #10.

Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1) by John Howell. And Entry 2) My own contribution.

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.

JOHN HOWELL’S ONE LINER FOR WEEK 10

Flash image free PIER

“I thought you were just saying the name when you wanted to go to Milk Lake.”

Contact John here…

Visit at Amazon.https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 Twitter:

Author Blog Fiction Favorites:

 

2) My Contribution.

Flash image free PIER

Connected

By

Suzanne Burke

“Are you asking for my professional opinion, Ellie?”

“Yes, Martin. I am.”

“Mike is in superb shape. You and his physical therapist have both made certain of that. He’ll incur no physical harm from a weekend away.”

“I hear a but?”

“But, in my personal opinion, you’re taking on more unnecessary emotional pain for yourself by going back there. You need to accept that his memory of his past may never return.”

“It’s that may that I cling to, Martin. He has no sign of any mental impairment, nothing identifiable with dementia or Alzheimers. It was the trauma of the accident injury that stole his memories. You said yourself that it may return in part or even fully.”

“Ellie, dear. That was almost a year ago. Each day that passes makes the likelihood of that happening more doubtful.”

The slender woman stood and patted the neurologist’s arm, “I know you’re concerned for both of us, Martin. You needn’t be. You know I’ll never start a conversation with Mike that begins with the words ‘ We used to …’ and I will not ask ‘Do you remember …?’ I can’t force the memories back. But hey it’s a special occasion and just maybe he’ll like the new memories we’re making.”

The man looked at her with worried eyes. “Please, be gentle with yourself, and I wish you happy fishing.” He opened the door and showed her out of his office.

***

Ellie climbed from the RV and stretched her weary bones, she inhaled the sweet tang of the air and waited for Mike to join her.

They stood together taking in the view, and Mike broke the silence, “I wonder how old the pier is. That view across the lake is quite something, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yes. That it is.”

“Is that where we’re fishing?”

“Yes.” She turned back toward the RV. “I’ll need a hand to carry stuff.”

He smiled, walked over, and slung the blanket and the picnic basket from his shoulder. Ellie grabbed the flashlight and the tackle box and tucked the old cassette player under her arm. They made their way down to the end of the dock.

Mike spread out the blanket and removed two hand-held lines from the tackle box. He looked out across the water and then selected sinkers and hooks and began fixing them to both the lines. Ellie held her breath, this was something Mike had always done, he’d say she took far too long to do it herself and shake his head with a smile.

She took hold of herself, this kind of ritual had been deemed learned behavior as was his ability to read, even though he had no memory of how he’d learned to do it.

They caste their lines out and settled down on the edge of the dock. Almost but not quite touching.

The sound of rolling thunder echoed in across the hills, Mike sniffed the air. “Rain’s coming. But not too soon.”

Ellie placed her line on the deck and turned to open the picnic basket. she took out the bottle of Chardonnay and two paper cups. “Drink, Mike?”

“Uh-huh. Sounds good.”

She poured them both a good measure and watched Mike sip his with pleasure. “Nice drop.”

Ellie nodded as she sipped on her own and tried not to keep reading things into Mike’s behavior that just weren’t there. So, he still loved Chardonnay. No biggie.

The daylight hours slipped by comfortably with long conversations unnecessary between them.

They’d eaten their fill of the cold roast chicken and freshly baked bread and had begun on the cheese platter.

The thunder roared again almost overhead, “It’s gonna rain sooner than I thought.” Mike said.

Ellie smiled, “I like the rain. Can we just get ourselves under the blanket and stay?”

“I don’t see why not. I’ll grab the cassette player and the flashlight.”

“Oh, that reminds me … I’ll only be a minute. I need to grab the music.” Ellie hurried off to the RV and smiled shortly after as she picked out ‘Sitting on the Dock of The Bay” from her music collection. If this was to be the last time they ever came here then at least she’d be listening to one of their favorite old songs with him alongside her.

Ellie headed back down the pier and then stopped in her tracks. Mike was standing now and he was humming away to music that only played in his head. He turned towards her and smiled through the tears that now coursed down his cheeks.

“That tape had better be Otis Redding, young lady.” His voice was tight with tears.

“Oh, God! Mike? You remember.”

“Damn it, Ellie girl, where did you go?”

“I’ve been right here waiting, my love.”

She hurried into his arms and they sang together through tears and laughter, “Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun, I’ll be sitting when the evenin’ comes.”

They welcomed the rain and danced in it. It was a truly memorable fiftieth wedding anniversary.

***

Writing this piece linked me back to sweet memories of another pier in another place when I too danced in the rain. Here’s Otis Redding  “Sitting On The Dock of The Bay.

Find me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tomorrow I’ll be featuring entries Part 2) by Gwen Plano and Mae Clair.