Monday, September 29, 2014


Hiya! Miss me? So glad to have you back this week! We had to shuffle around a bit as our Grand Champion from last week is off camping this week... But Voimaoy, the Special Challenge Champion, stepped up gracefully and with much excitement! So without further ado, go check out her prompts!

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Voimaoy, also known as @voimaoy. Check out her blog here. Read her Special Challenge-winning tale from last week here! Voimaoy lives in Oak Park, IL on the western edge of Chicago. She loves the possibilities of flash fiction. she has a blog, ChicagoWeatherWatch, where she writes about nature, weather, and other things.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-13 is:

The day it all began, the sky [was gray and rainy].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include 2 or more of the following:
1. A map
2. A number
3. An alien (or aliens)
4. A made-up word
5. A question



  1. Okay, let this relative newbie apologize for cluelessness in advance. Do the brackets mean it has to be weather related (not necessarily rainy)? Or that the only the verb tense can be changed?

    1. You can change the brackets however you would like to complete the sentence. Verb tenses and pronouns can always be changed, brackets or not, but very rarely are. Typically, everyone writes the sentence as given and may or may not change the words in brackets. But yes, the brackets can be anything that completes the sentence (not necessarily weather related).

    2. For some reason, the ethers seem to be gobbling up my comments. Thank you for the clarification (though intimidated by viomaoy's example, I had to labor to come up with a novel way to end that sentence.)

  2. I would say the entire bracketed phrase could be changed. but I am new here, myself. However, I am judging this time around.

  3. Have fun! Here's an example of substituted phrase--

    "The day it all began, the sky [did not exist yet]

    1. BTW, this is a really fun substitution. :) I love it.

  4. Pop Pop & Puddin' Pop Take Over The Universe

    The day it all began, the sky was kodachrome shot through with stars so that it looked like one of those weathered blue paper targets down at the shooting gallery, light streaming through the holes and the surface shimmering like a puddle in a blacktop pothole.

    I knew we were lost, even though Pop Pop wasn't about to admit it, because the map was crammed, all catawampus, into the console of the space skiff and we'd pinged through seven and a half galaxies in the last forty-eight hours.

    "If we were off course," I said, deciding to get the obvious off his back so's we could look the thing square in its lopsided eye and get some perspective, "you'd tell me, wouldn't you?"

    He scrubbed at his stiff-as-porcupine-quills eyebrows. "Now Puddin' Pop, when 'ave I ever -"

    Nope. Wasn't letting him off that easy. He had to square up. "How about that time Nana had to chase down the green skinned pzartzig to get back her diamonds after you traded them for directions out of Jalexeb?"

    He fussed at the razor nick on his winkle-and-stubble-fraught jaw. "Ain't that just like you to pick the one time -"

    I tried to keep my eyes from rolling like marbles on the playground. "That wasn't the only time, Pop Pop."

    "Whatta getting at, girl? Spit it out!"

    "I want my license."

    His fist connected with the digitron and we were yanked back through two galaxies faster than we could blink. "Tarnation! You aint' getting no dadgum license on account of you are your father's daughter. No girl child in this here family is signing on with the Cadre."

    I smiled at him, pleasant as a harmonic chord and big as a sunflower. "You're right, Pop Pop. I am my father's daughter. Meant it's his decision. But we both know he can't tell me 'no.' So out of respect, I'm asking you."

    He chucked me under the chin, a little harder than necessary, but I imagine that helped take the sting out his response, which came out a little strangled, sort of like his throat was constricted around a half dozen walnuts. "Yes but if your Nana finds out I was the one gave the okay -"

    "Never," I said, hugging him with as much enthusiasm as an elephant clutching a warm crinkling red-and-whit striped bag of carnival peanuts in his trunk, and then backing off because he started wheezing like an asthmatic in a ragweed field. "Just like she'll never find out that you're going to be my unofficial navigator."

    He puffed out his chest like a baboon fixing to hurl a war cry across the star-spangled cosmos. "Unofficial?!"

    I jerked a thumb towards the crumpled map.

    His mouthed blossomed into a smile, slow as molasses but sweeter than a baby's snore. "Unofficial will be right fine, Puddin' Pop. Right fine."

    - - - - -
    @bullishink / 478 madcap words / Special Challenge Accepted

    1. A little wordy, but bells if I don't like it a right bunch. Makes me wonderin if I can do anythin as well asin this. HEEHEE. nice story. got tagged below. sorry. commenting a 2nd time because this is the story I was aimin at.

  5. Mountain Top Experience

    The day it all started, the sky was gray and rainy. The participants shivered as much from their personal fears as from the weather, Jayvon perhaps most of all. He was the smallest, he was the weakest, he was the most hated, ostracized by his peers—he had the most to fear.

    The old men of the village lined around the courtyard. They were there to be sure that everyone participated. They also delighted in remembering when they had undergone the coming of age ritual. The boys would all head up to the mountains. They would survive for the next week in the elements, in the thin air of high elevation, experiencing the secret of the mountains alone.

    It was well known that some of the boys had gone up in advance, leaving stores of food and hiding maps to their caches. He could see a corner of a map sticking out of the pocket of one of the more arrogant young men. A number of men pushed the youth to the ground, wresting the map from the boy.

    Jayvon watched and his shivering stepped up to a higher frequency. How would he accomplish this task. He had never even been to the mountains.

    The preliminaries eventually finished and sixteen, fourteen year old boys headed for the hills. Spotters would take note from the lower elevations that they parted ways and faced the elements individually. Jayvon was the last to pass the spotters, already wheezing.

    When he broke free from the treeline, he looked around hoping to see some hint of what to do next. He saw nothing. He was breathing hard, and knew it would only get worse when he got higher. But he pressed on anyway. He wanted to pass the test honorably, so he continued slowly uphill.

    He reached the top of the peak shortly before nightfall and looked all around himself wondering what to do next. He continued turning around on top of the hill. Finally as the evening chill set into him, he screamed out in desperation, “I am here, what am I supposed to do now?”

    Just then he felt himself, get translated, spread out, and beamed up into the atmosphere. A moment later he was standing on the deck of space craft. For the next five days he was taught by aliens to understand the technological advantages his people had enjoyed for centuries. He also had the privilege of looking down on the other boys, gathered together in tents they had smuggled up for the purpose of cheating. The others had all conspired together to cheat in this manner.

    In every generation there was one who showed courage, obeyed the tradition, and became king.

    451 words. Yep there is a special challenge in there.

  6. A little wordy, but bells if I don't like it a right bunch. Makes me wonderin if I can do anythin as well asin this. HEEHEE. nice story

  7. Contact

    The day it all began, the sky was gray and rainy. Orakyla found it fitting that the doom of her people should be heralded by Lightning and Thunder, who were Sky Gods and the most powerful of the deities the People worshiped. The Lore spoke of Demons that rose up out of the Depths, but no mention had been made of Them striking from Above.

    She glared at the bright harbinger of Death and shuddered. The Vristmouss shook her head in disbelief. She had been so excited at first when the Map Of The Heavens had displayed the strange new light streaking across it. That excitement had turned to terror months ago when she realized that the light was on a direct course for Gwaedia. What had the Kristlahlia done to earn this fate, that a population of 16,456,208 (as of the last census) should perish by fire, the People had carefully followed every ritual given to them by the Gods to the letter, why had they been forsaken?

    She stood tall in her full regalia on the balcony of the Temple of Forgiveness overlooking the Plaza of Atonement. "My people, the Day of Cartonement is at hand!" Her sonorous voice carried across the assemblage. "Repent of your sins, for you go to stand in the Hall of Eternity before the very Gods!"

    A huge moan of loss and despair sounded from the crowd her words.

    "Within moments our world shall meet its End! Face it with Pride and Courage! Let us Pray. Oh Gods of Light..." She raised her face and arms to the ominous overcast sky embracing it, and the Kristlahlia followed her example.

    Two hours later she was shivering in her rain-soaked clothing. Why hasn't it happened yet? She wondered. Could my calculations possibly be wrong?

    An exceptionally loud Crack! of thunder split the air. The clouds above the Temple began to glow with light. Suddenly the rain sputtered to a stop. A huge, howling wind engulfed her, buffeting her body from every direction. Closing her eyes she braced herself for the impact and the flames, but nothing happened.

    Bewildered, her eyes popped open. A huge shape was taking form amongst the clouds. A gigantic, gleaming hot disc materialized in the air. It shimmered metallicly and was studded with odd protrusions. It hovered majestically over the Temple. Then slowly lowered to the ground. It landed in the empty fields on the City of Brighthaven's outskirts.

    Orakyla gaped, as stunned as the rest of the People. Her eyes widened as she studied it. Obviously It was no natural object, it had been made by Someone or she quaked at the thought, Something! The huge vessel smoked and steamed for long minutes.

    Screech!" An opening appeared in the object. A door slid aside and a ramp extended out. Eerie figures walked strangely down the ramp and the alien beings set foot on the soil of Gwaedia. The Vristmouss was frozen with shock and disbelief. Nothing in the Teachings had covered this!
    Special Challenge Accepted:
    Used allI of them.
    Made-up words: Brighthaven, Cartonement, Gwaedia, Kristlahlia, Orakyla, Vristmouss

  8. The Giver's Song

    The day it all began, the sky caught fire and spat out a craft of molten metal just outside our Sanctum. The rest of the Roost went to investigate the wreckage, but I stayed back as morning-song duty fell to me.

    In the middle of singing the Day Wards, a squalling fouled my song. I followed the sound to an escape pod rolling among floating stones. From the silver cocoon, I pulled a tiny wailing creature.

    That was the day I became Nurse, a new designation for us. Even now, I shiver at the differentiation from the Roost, the way I must individualize myself to interact with the foundling, the only survivor of the enflamed sky.

    Four cycles on, the boy Nicholas strokes the battered cover of the book that escaped with him in the pod. A sliver here and there retains an old gloss. Shimmering whiteness of fur against bright berry red.

    Pride shines throughout his little body, so I know he has unraveled something new from the pages. I nuzzle his ribs.

    "The Giver has hair like me," the boy says scratching at the pale tuft atop his head. No one has hair like the foundling, nor his fragile body. Even lifting him can splinter his calcium structure. And if I’m tickled by loneliness over the separation from my kind, the boy is increasingly scourged by it.

    The Roost is familiar with the Giver story, but the tumult of the written language was impenetrable until the foundling became of age to communicate (an endless amount of time!). I’ve taught him to access his infant memories, braiding them to a song that he might make sense of the pages and share with us.

    "This is the Giver," he starts out, as always. This is one of the first salvaged pieces. "On a special day, the Giver leaves his Sanctum to spread songs of grace. These over here—" he turns a page with reverent care "—are his Rayduffs, conducting him across space and time to the worlds of the deserving Listeners."

    "Don’t all Listeners deserve a song of grace?" I tease him.

    He presses his lips together. "It’s just a story."

    I wrap a second tentacle around him. "We are all just stories." But his body goes stiff.

    That night I curl into the Roost and sink my experiences in with the rest. The foundling’s solitude wrings a melancholy melody from our dreams. In the brown darkness, an idea thrums through the waves of breath and pulse. Before dawn, we prepare.

    What a sight, the Roost individuated across the icy land. We shiver, our connection attenuated and humming with anticipation. We hope we’ve approximated correctly.

    The foundling gapes at the paired branches twined to our heads, at the blanched faces borrowed from the long-ago wreckage. His brow trembles.

    "Rayduffs!" he cries and leaps around our feet.

    We sing to this little deserving Listener a song of union, a song of belonging. We hope it’s enough.

    - - - - - - -
    497 words
    Special Challenge accepted

  9. Love At First Sight

    The day it all began, the sky was pink and hazy.
    I stood out in my front yard to check the progress of the slow growing tree and the hazy light turned the leaves more tan than green.
    While I stood there, comparing the height of the tree in relation to myself, a moving truck pulled in next door.
    This was not an unusual occurrence, this neighborhood was a new development and it seemed like every other day I had a new parade of tables, chairs, and boxes to watch. But none of these parades included children and I continued to think that I would only ever have my own imagination to play with.
    But out of this truck, this truck that pulled in right next to my very own house, came a boy who looked to be around seven or so, just like me.
    And I fell in love.
    Later I would find better reasons to love him, like his sense of adventure and the way he could spit farther than me, but that day I loved him simply for being there.
    He hopped down from the truck and while his parents went straight into the house he stood in his empty yard and stared at the sky.
    “Hi,” I called.
    He turned and looked at me.
    “Hey,” he called back.
    “I’m Martha. Do you like dinosaurs?” I asked.
    He thought about it for a moment and said, “Sure, I like them okay.”
    Before I could ask him anything else his parents called him inside. But that night, before I went to bed, I crept outside to leave my second favorite plastic dinosaur on his porch.

    A few afternoons later he brought it over to my front yard where I was sitting and drawing in the more reddish light of the day.
    He sat down next to me and said, “Is this your dinosaur?”
    “Yeah, but you can keep it if you want,” I said and carefully selected a brown crayon to continue drawing.
    “What’s that?” he asked, pointing at the animal I was working on.
    “It’s a catadillo,” I told him, “Have you ever seen one before?”
    He shrugged.
    “No, but where I come from we have animals called armadillos and they kind of have the armor bodies that your drawing has.”
    I heard it as army-dillo and giggled at the idea of something like my cattadillos marching in a unit and wearing black helmets like our army did.
    “So you were born on Earth?” I asked.
    “Yeah. I guess it wasn’t so great or anything but I liked it there.”
    “That’s nice, “ I told him, curious about Earth but feeling a little proud to have been born on a new terraformed planet, “I was born here, and my parents were too. My grandparents were some of the first people here.”
    “That’s cool,” he said. He paused and then said, “You know dinosaurs are from Earth.”
    “I know. That’s part of why I like them.”

    498 Words
    Special Challenge Accepted

  10. Magical Marsha

    The day it all began, the sky was mapped in clashing swirls of pink and orange. The three of us lay in a star shape, feet touching each other, our backs damp from the grass, and talked for hours about what we were going to do when school was over. I was going to work for my uncle, learning all about haberdashery in his old-fashioned store (not my choice, but mom said I had to, at least for a while). Sally was moving down the road to Richmond to start her veterinary course. And Marsha. Well, Marsha was being uncharacteristically coy. It took us all afternoon and bribes of her favourite sweets for us to find out her secret. But it wasn’t just a secret for her – it was going to be a secret for all of us.
    Marsha was special. Different. I mean, really different. Through all the years we’d hung out together she had been the one to do everything first and best, even though I was the oldest really. She’d had the first boyfriend of course, but it had also been Marsha who had knocked her front tooth out (I forget how), had her picture in the paper (for rescuing a cat in the river), and now she told us this.
    Me and Sally didn’t believe her at first. I mean, who would? But after a while the little things that had happened over the years started to make sense. The way Marsha always knew the answers to things we hadn’t even heard of. The way Marsha ran the fastest in the school despite her shorter than average stride. The way Marsha liked to gramble (her word, folks) in the river after dark. It all began to fall into place. Unlike me and Sally, who were going to stay close to home and be really boring, Marsha was going to travel. Not just your usual gallivanting round Europe or Asia. She though Australia looked too dry for her. No, Marsha was going intergalactic. Her life on planet earth was just about over. She was getting transported in three days’ time and her first stop would be out of this world. Well, out of this galaxy. After getting over the shock of finding out your childhood friend is an alien, we started planning one hell of a leaving party.

    391 words
    Special challenges accepted

  11. Probing Questions
    by A J Walker

    The day it all began, the sky was wrong. It was smeared like a fresh bruise with purples, yellows and browns. It looked alive, sentient even, smears flowing in opposite directions, stopping to let other colours slide past, but it wasn’t just that. The most wrongiest thing of all to Arthur was that it was mostly below him.

    Arthur shook his head and then slapped himself hard, expecting the vision to change, but still the bruise pulsated below him. He looked down at his hands and saw he was holding a towel and then noticed he was in a strange pair of pink shorts.

    “What the hell type of cheese did have last night?” said Arthur to the window. He then tried to remember what he had eaten, or had to drink the night before.

    He burped and recoiled remembering the spicy chilli.

    “No cheese then,” he said. “but I must have had something in it perhaps those mushrooms from the seven-eleven were not all they seemed.”

    “And why am I talking to myself?”

    A door opened behind him and briefly the sky stopped moving for Arthur as time slowed. He was deeply fearful to confront whatever mushroom borne monster his head had concocted.

    Then there was a gentle cough, something a monstrous beast would never do - they never get a frog in their throat monsters, unless they are really frogs.

    And so he turned around and there was Derek from accounts smiling at him. “Hello Arthur, you okay?”

    ‘Well, there’s a question,” Arthur said, pointedly.

    “I’m surprised you have only one.” Derek said.

    Arthur turned to the sky and pointed. “Err, can you see that, what I’m seeing?”

    Derek went up on his toes. “Approximately.”

    ‘Well, what do you see?”

    “Earth on a peculiar day Arthur?”

    Arthur realised he was sweating profusely now and wiped his face with the towel. “Definitely the mushrooms.” he muttered.

    Derek moved over to the window, while Arthur couldn’t make out where the door he’d come in through had gone.

    “I need to lie down. I’m not used to this,” Arthur said.

    Derek looked at him. “Good timing Arthur, I hope you enjoyed the view, you won’t remember it of course when you’re back.”

    “What the hell Derek?” said Arthur.

    “Derek? You haven’t quite got it yet have you?” he said.

    Arthur looked at Derek like a man who had lost his mind many moons ago.

    “I’m too old for all this,” Arthur said, “you know, drugs and all.”

    Derek smiled as Arthur started to lie down on a convenient table.

    Then Arthur felt a soft juddering as the table adjusted around him. He saw Derek over by a console press a button and some metallic clasps erupted from the table and tightened around his legs, arms and neck. He could only just see Derek out of the corner of his eye and he saw he was even more alien than an accountant now.

    “So Arthur, are we ready for that probe now?”

    (500 words)


  12. Title: Aliens and Tea

    The day it all began, the sky decided it would spell words with clouds.

    Or more accurately, the aliens used the clouds to communicate.

    “Have you got the manual, Commander?”

    “Of course I’ve got the blasted manual, you idiot…I’m the guy in charge.”

    “OK, sir. Just asking.”

    “Now stop trying to think. Remember I’m in charge. I’m the one with badges. I’m the one with the nice photo of me and the Duke of Edinburgh hanging in my office. Now…go and mak’us a cuppa, there’s a nice lad. Oh, and make sure I get plenty of Jammie Dodgers, you know, for dunking. We can hardly fight a war without tea and biscuits, now can we?”

    This is how things typically went in the well-oiled machine that was the British army. Nobody was going to threaten this impenetrable island, especially not aliens. This sacred fortress, this green and pleasant land, this stronghold had stood up to worse than aliens, the cheek of them. They’d be sorry they tried to attack here first. Especially when said army had instruction manuals just for this sort of thing.

    Commander Wilkinson-Chivers, or Chunky as he was known, opened the Questalienology Manual. But he immediately got stuck on Question 1. This was not a good sign.

    Q1. Is the alien force visible? If answer is Yes – go to Q2. If answer is No – go to ‘freestyle war’ section.

    Being stuck he was reluctant to ask the lackey, besides which he’d gone off to make the tea and fetch the biscuits.

    He didn’t like the look of ‘freestyle war’ so went to Question 2.

    Q2. Have you tried to communicate back?

    This was useless, he thought. How on this planet was he supposed to communicate with clouds?

    Q3. Who has the greater firepower? The alien race, or Her Majesty’s army?

    Wow, this leadership thing was really difficult.

    Yes, yes, yes. Tea and biscuit time.

    “What are you thinking, sir?”

    “I’m thinking I rather like the clouds. They’re not really doing any harm are they? Shall we just pretend we never saw them? Get the map, lad, I never much liked living in Britain anyway.”

    By Mark A. King
    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog
    357 Words
    Special Challenge – yeah, of course, all of them, I think.

  13. Stormy Weather

    500 words
    Spec Challenge accepted: Number, Made Up word, Question

    The day it all began the sky was chalky, white as a freshly painted geisha face, and cloudless.

    Heavy with wine and excess, Raijin, thunder-god extraordinaire and all-around hardcore baller, achingly rolled to his back and struggled to crack his crusty eyelids. When he succeeded, as Raijin never fails!, he immediately regretted it. The light intensified the buzzing in his head and facilitated the rush of last night's memories.

    What had he been thinking? Haniyama-hime? The goddess of earthy clay! Sure, she was beautiful, and could be molded to fit any whim, but now, afterward, he felt so dirty.

    He slogged to his feet on the small mountain plateau, flexed his legs and arms, and seared his body with a strike of cleansing lightning. The searing light and energy cleared his head and gave him a much needed boost. He stifled the resultant thunder grumble and began the task of locating his pants.

    Glancing guiltily at the sky, he confirmed his earlier diagnosis: not a cloud. He'd have to thank Fujin later. Whether he had intentionally cleared the skies or had just been blowing air around for fun was unimportant; he'd saved Raijin a potentially large embarrassment.

    He found his shirt, smudged, torn and rasty, snagged on a scraggly tree. Slipping it on for now, he mentally made a note to ditch it so Kumokami wouldn't find it later. He could always claim he'd mussed it on the job, but with his wife as “business partner,” he wasn't sure that would fly. She wasn't stupid.

    Raijin crept to the edge of a nearby precipice, hoping his pants had not been flung carelessly down in the throes of careless passion. He peered hesitantly over the side.

    A low lying mist of cloud had been hovering just out of sight, but now rose onto the plateau, forcing Raijin to stumble backward. He let out a startled and quite unmanly yelp as the goddess of clouds and rain materialized before him in all her scorned-woman fury.

    “Seven!” Kumokami screeched, her eyes hissing steam.

    “Now, baby. I was just...”

    “Don't “baby” me. I wasn't born yesterday. I know you too well.”


    “This is the seventh time that you have cavorted with a god of the earth. Are my heavenly delights not enough?” Kumokami huffed and turned her back.

    “Now, look. Thirteen seems like a lot, but we've been together for centuries now and a virile man like myself has his needs.”

    “Centuries?” She drew in a breath, and exhaled water vapor, calming herself. “Seven times you have spurned me, seven years I scorn you. Seek your pillow elsewhere than my white cotton drifts.”

    “But, you can't function without me, baby. How will you release all that built up energy in your thunderclouds.”

    “I just won't!” Kumokami pouted.

    Sighing in annoyance at the prospect of a seven year drought, Raijin took a moment to consider the irony as Kumokami stormed off under the chalky sky.

  14. Title: Cloudy Below
    Words: 496
    Challenge Accepted

    The day it all began, the sky became the ground and the ground became the sky. It was a Tuesday. People stepped out of their houses onto Carolina blue Earth. Most looked bambified – walking like new born deer on unsteady legs, fearing each step on the blue Earth would not land on solid surface and they would fall forever into the ground. I myself was just standing and watching, not afraid to step but too amused at my surroundings to leave.

    Dogs and small children alike were uneasy at first, expecting to see grassy lawns in their backyards; but after the initial shock they chased after billowing cumulus clouds underfoot like a moving game of hopscotch. Adults did not fare so well. One heavier lady fell over as a string of stratus clouds flowed beneath her feet, throwing off her balance and perception. Several others aided her and then all toppled over when another stratus cloud carpeted underneath them.

    “Excuse me, sir?” I heard from behind me. “I hate to bother you but may I ask you a question?” I turned around and faced a thin man wearing dark sunglasses and a backpack. He was not looking at me but more so looking near me. In his hand he held a long white cane and was tapping the ground as he shuffled. His blind eyes did not perceive the oddities of the day.

    “Not a bother at all,” I said, realizing I was just staring and had not actually answered him.

    “Thank you. There seems to be something unusual going on. I keep hearing people shout and I’ve been walked into a dozen times. I know I am on the north side of Main Street just outside City Hall, fourteen steps from the fire hydrant up ahead on the left. I feel for once I am not the one confused?” he asked, still tapping the ground with his cane.

    “Well…” How do you tell a blind man that the problem is the sky is green and the ground is blue? What is blue and green to a person who lives in darkness? “Well,” I started again, thinking there was no reason to alarm the man that the world was upside down. “People are just protesting the new tax bill. They are just not paying attention where they are going and being extra clumsy. It is not you by any means. I’m sorry people keep bumping into you and this could be going on a while all over town.”

    “Ah! I forgot the bill was passed last night. Right here at City Hall I should have assumed,” he chuckled. “I’ll be sure to make an extra wide swing of my cane while this is going on. Have a wonderful day,” he said cheerfully and walked off, undisturbed by the collection of cirrus wisps knocking others to their knees. As he left I heard him distinctly whistling the chorus of Carole King’s hit, "I Feel the Earth Move".


  15. @stellakateT
    350 words
    special challenge accepted

    The Visit

    The day it all began was grey and rainy. It was always raining in Wigan. I hated driving especially since the accident. I’ve always been a careless driver never looked in mirrors so when I broadsided that car I was just amazed it hadn’t happened before. Thank God I’d dropped the kids off at school earlier else it wasn’t worth thinking about.

    She opened the door on my first knock so I presumed she’d been watching behind the net curtains. Her eyes full of reproach. Okay I was a couple of hours late but in my job I couldn’t map my life out to the last minute. I was too busy earning money to send her for the kid’s upkeep. She looked me up and down like I was an alien; she’d only known me for twenty nine years. She did look tired and worn out and for a fleeting moment I felt a tinge of guilt. That was one emotion I’ve never let enter my consciousness for more than a nanosecond. I’m all full of mindfulness now, not living my life on auto pilot like before.

    The kids hang back, clinging on to her skirt. They eye me shyly. It must have been three months since I’ve seen them. I’ve bought a dragon that roars for Brad, a transformer kit to keep Greg occupied and a pink tutu for Darcy to wear. She’ll think she’s a prima ballerina. Not sure if it’s the right size, she looks big for her age.

    “Ready kids” I try to sound full of fun. Always take them out, couldn’t sit in her house trying to answer her questions without flying off the handle. I’ve always disappointed her, ever since the day I got married.

    She pushes the kids towards me
    “You okay love?” she asks
    “Fine mum, say goodbye to your Nan”

    I feel her eyes on my back as I walk towards the sporty Mercedes. Stuffing the kids into the back I know I’m not being safety conscious but I need to impress. Since Jessie died I have to support us all.

  16. God's Dilemma

    The day it all began the sky was grey and rainy. The drones remained hidden by the murk but she soon knew what they were. Crumps like a giant's snores littered the morning air as her village was obliterated. When they horror stopped and she was still alive she crawled outside calling. Five children appeared, the only survivors. She picked up her meagre possessions and hustled them towards the safety of the caves. She knew she had to find a place of safety even if it meant a day in the dark and damp.
    It was while they walked the pockmarked road towards the hillside that she felt they were being followed. A rustle of a bush; a crack of a twig; a small noise, maybe a whimper of pain. Too high pitched to be a danger. A child perhaps, or young girl. She had the biggest boy stop and wait and then pounce. A dirty child, perhaps six years old came out of the scrub, scared beyond measure.
    'You alone?' The boy was a gruff questioner. His experience left him little choice.
    A shake. 'You'd better come out, the rest of you. Don't make me come in.'
    She waited, her hands on the shoulders of the smallest children as first one then two children appeared. By the time they had all emerged there were twenty ranging from a baby carried by a scrawny girl of about ten to two boys of thirteen.
    The gruff voiced boy stared at the woman, the unspoken question written in his expression. 'What about food?'
    She didn't know. She turned and headed for the caves. God will provide she prayed.
    As the grey day became a starless night she took the biggest children and headed for their village to see what they might scavenge. In the centre square, away from the bodies and the burning buildings there was a huge green crate, broken open by the impact and spilling with provisions. They took what they could and hurried back, relieved they might eat.
    The next day the woman led the children to the village but the remaining provisions had gone. They heard strong voices, dangerous voices nearby, harsh men and indifferent women. The woman hurried the children away, moving under the grey damp skies, to the next village.
    Over the following weeks they fell into a routine. Drones, destruction, shelter, green boxes and food. More children joined her, the older ones sometimes carrying weapons. The children asked. 'Why the drones? Why the food? Which ones are from God? Were they bad or were they good?'
    The woman just shrugged. She didn't know. All she knew was she had to keep the children safe and one day God would decide for her.

    @geofflepard 457 words. Special challenge accepted.

  17. Red Dirt Alice

    The day it all began, the sky was gray. Rain danced across the shiny red surface of the car. The cell phone chirped awake and Clara glanced down to see the all too familiar area code 580. She edged to the side of the road and picked up the cell. Her sister’s voice crackled across the airwaves. “Clara? This is Kit. Have you heard?”

    “I guess not. What’s up?”

    “It’s Tracy…she’s…well, she’s gone.” Tracy rarely made a move without telling four other people of her plans. If travel was involved, there would be an itinerary, a map, or something that would provide some idea of her whereabouts.

    “Have you checked her desk? She probably has something in her planner.”

    “Of course I checked it,” Kit clipped out in irritation. “She disappeared, I’m telling you. It’s as if she was abducted by aliens.”

    “Okay…so how long has she been missing?”

    “72 hours.”

    Clara sat up straight. “And you are just now calling me? Okay…I hear you. I’ll catch the next flight back home. Keep me in the loop.” Hanging up, she called her travel agent and soon found herself on a flight back home. By morning, she glided down the red dirt road in the rented Beamer.

    The farm house stood out against the back drop of the hay fields. Her sister Katherine stepped out on the porch as she pulled to a stop. Soon, they hugged each other close and Kit filled her in on all of the news, or lack thereof. Ten years prior, their mother had vanished. Before that, their grandmother disappeared. It was happening again and no one seemed to know why. Her father sat at the kitchen table, looking through boxes of papers. More papers laid strewn about the floor.
    “You know she is going to be pissed if she sees this mess,” Clara could not help but state.

    Kit looked up sharply and echoed, “If…”

    Clara pushed papers aside with her feet as she shuffled through the living room. A breeze blew through the window and lifted the corners and rustled a few more papers until one caught her eye. Reaching down to pick up the document, she was struck by the age of the leaf. It didn’t fit in this scene at all. Trying to make out the writing on the page, she read, “Crimista conlea amblia traversa...Kit, what is this?” Kit rustled through the piles and looked over Clara’s shoulder. “Hmmm…I saw her with something old…” Clara looked up as her sister’s words faded only to realize the entire room was fading around her.

    When her feet found solid ground again, Clara looked around. The world around her was black and gray. It looked like the farm house but…different. The letters were backwards. It was as if she was in the back side of the mirror. Did her sister go through the looking glass like Alice?

    483 Words

  18. “Seeking A Man Who Enjoys The Beach, Seafood…”
    By Michael Seese
    497 words

    ALL FIVE challenges accepted, with varying degrees of legitimacy.

    The day it all began, the sky was gray and rainy.

    The perfect metaphor for our relationship. I swear, I am never answering a singles ad again.

    Seeking a man who enjoys the beach, seafood, and quiet, cetantary evenings.

    “Cetantary?” Is that even a word? That should have been my first clue.

    But I ignored it—as well as all sense of reason—and dialed the number.

    “Heigh ho!” the voice chirped. That should have been my second clue.

    After about two minutes of alien conversation, I realized I’d need a map to find her brain. And yet, I couldn’t hang up. We talked for another few indeterminate number of seconds, then agreed to meet. She asked if I could pick her up at the pier. She said she’d be out front, in all gray. That should have been my third clue.

    For our first date, I planned a picnic. Why? I don’t know. I think I read somewhere that chicks like those kinds of things. Probably on the cover of one of those glossy, air-headed, chick magazines.

    When I got there, it wasn’t hard to find the “pewter woman.” I honked. She hopped in, and kissed me. On the mouth. Hard. (By this time, I had stopped counting the clues.)

    “Where’s the basket with the food?” I asked.

    She pulled from her purse a can of sardines.

    “That’s it?” I said, “What the F! I said we were going on a picnic. You’re the chick. Food’s a chick thing, right?”

    “I’m sorry. Would you have preferred calamari?”

    “Never mind,” I grumbled, peeling away from the curb.

    We drove in silence. Well, not actual silence. She kept making this weird whistling and clicking noise.

    At the park we settled down and (sort of) enjoyed the sardines. I tried to make small talk, something I was never good at.

    “So, are you close to your folks?”

    “Not really. I haven’t seen them in years. But I hang with my friends from school.”

    “That’s nice. So, what do you like to do?”

    “Whatever you do. I’m new at this.”

    I quickly grew bored with the conversation, which tells you something. Soon, it began to rain. She started making that noise again.

    “This is just perfect,” I muttered.

    “It is!” she gushed. “Now I don’t have to be back for another hour!”

    All things considered, it was one of the best dates I ever had.

    OK, so she’s strange. She talks funny. She tends to slide off the bed a lot. And when she lands, you hear it. That’s not surprising, though, considering she weighs 450 pounds.

    So why am I with her?

    For some reason, or maybe several reasons, women don’t seem to like me all that much. But Delphina does.

    On the one hand, she’s been a great wife. On the other hand, our water bills are HUGE. I’ve learned to accept it. But I imagine a lot of people rue the day dolphins learned to walk. And speak English.

  19. "The Sky Was Our Savior"
    467 words
    Special Challenge Accepted (2, 3, and kind of 4)

    The day it all began, the sky was our savior. We should have died. Humanity should have gone extinct. But we didn’t, because the sky popped the E.T.s’ space zeppelins like—well, like balloons.

    Russia was on the job from the start. They had a thing or two to prove to the United States, so they trained five thousand pilots and built a few hundred junky rockets to hurl at the moon, where the E.T.s had built their forward base. Their plan fell through, but at least they managed to fire a few shots before they blew up.

    We in the United States decided to use our resources to study the wreckage of the zeppelins and prepare for future E.T. attacks. Our first reconnaissance mission came back with a shocking number: two thousand. The E.T.s built two thousand ships in the time it took us to send a scout to the surface of the moon. According to several reputable sources, President Wu wet his pants at the news.

    As one of the leading experts in the study of Earth’s atmosphere, I was called upon to determine, along with a team of other scientists and photography analysts, whether the E.T.s’ new ships would be able to fend off the sky this time around. Let me just say the photographs were grainy.

    After six months of analysis and one more reconnaissance mission, we came up with our answer. The E.T.s’ ships would be able withstand somewhere between one-half and eight times the pressure needed to properly invade Earth. President Wu was not pleased with our response. I told him to keep his pants dry.

    A short stay in a Washington D.C. prison later, I had a better answer. I reevaluated my work and realized that a few numbers that I had at first thought were “ones” were actually “sevens.” The real range was from one-quarter to six times the necessary pressure tolerance.

    By the time the E.T.s decided to strike, their fleet flew twelve thousand strong. Between all the nations of Earth, humanity mustered five thousand battleplanes.

    The odds did not look to be in our favor, but we knew we had at least one advantage: the enhanced maneuverability of vessels designed to soar through Earth’s atmosphere, not space.

    It turned out we had another advantage. We learned quickly that those “grainy” photos we had were actually high-resolution masterpieces that made NASA several billion dollars in auction. The grainy aspect of the photos was really due to the fact that the E.T.s tried to build their ships out of moon rocks.

    The day it all ended—the E.T. Scare of 2147-2148, that is—the sky was not our savior. I mean, I’m sure the sky helped, but gravity sort of drug it off its high horse that time around.

  20. 56 Crows
    297 (horribly strung together) Words

    The day it all began, the sky was speckled in black. The cawing seemed incessant then suddenly ceased. The crows fell, dead. I remember the cold November air stung my nostrils and my breath formed clouds as I sat bewildered on the porch.

    The yard was littered with dead crows. I counted by two’s until I reached fifty-six. I thought about fifty-six for a while. I wondered if there was any significance in the number. I always look for signs in things.

    “Does fifty –six mean anything to you?”

    No, fifty-six means nothing to me.

    “Go on.”

    The sound of a faint caw startled me. I looked toward the sky and one last crow was gliding in slow spirals toward me. It landed directly in front of me, said the word ‘copa’ three times, and then fell backwards and died.

    “Anything else? Hmm? Did any aliens abduct you?”

    No, no aliens. But when I stepped back inside to grab my camera, every single photo I had, had been changed to the same picture.

    “You do know how inconceivable this story you’re telling me is, right?”

    Yes, but that’s what makes it so believable. Nobody in their right mind can think of something like this.

    “Ok, I’ll play along. What was the picture of?”

    A map.

    “A map?”

    A map. It was a picture of a map.

    “And what did the map show.”

    It showed me how to make it to the street without stepping on the crows.

    “That’s insane. Why are you telling me this? What’s the point of all of this?”

    I don’t know. I thought you could tell me.

    “Why would I know?”

    I don’t know, but I’ve been following a trail of dead crows for days now. They led me here, to your house.