Monday, January 26, 2015


Welcome, welcome! I don't know where my brain has been this week, but if you find it, please let me know... You almost didn't get this post on time, and that would've been sad. Anyway, no harm done. I remembered in PLENTY of time...*ahem*...and you're none the wiser... oh. um. Anyway, thanks for joining us! Go check out the prompts and get writing! :)

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. (Allowable alterations listed below)
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 Phil Coltrane. Read his winning tale from last week here!  Phil is a software developer, husband, and father of two alien creatures known as toddlers. He enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction of all sorts, from atompunk to zombie. Some of his short fiction may be found on his blog,, and he hopes to complete a novel prior to the heat death of the universe. He can be found on Twitter at @pmcolt.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-30 is:

None of us really believed in [UFOs] until the night [the cameraman] went missing.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least three (3) of the following: an overweight tabby cat, a freight train, a wind chime, a sheriff, the planet Mars, chocolate cake



  1. Come The Revolution (Part One)
    499 words
    Special Challenge accepted (Freight Train; Overweight Tabby Cat; Wind-Chimes).

    None of us really believed in the revolution until the night Baz-Baz Chinnelle went missing. He always said he and Gina would get out before it started.
    I’d picked up their mail direct from the station. Not a hardship, the freight-train from Yeginder got in just before I came off shift. A cold breeze blew up the Wyrnal Canal and down my neck and I looked forward to a cup of chai with, if I was lucky, some of Gina’s home-cured marhog bacon on a still-warm bap.
    The first indication anything was wrong sat on their door-step. “Hey, Carradine, what you doing sitting in the cold?” I bent and stroked the overweight tabby who viewed Baz-Baz and Gina as butler and maid. She meowed plaintively. I knocked the door. Carradine mewed again. I knocked louder.
    When it remained unanswered I leaned an ear to the wood. A faint tinkle of wind-chimes was the only sound from inside. This was the first time I wondered if Baz-Baz’s revolution was going to happen. Gina never missed the weekly packet of mail from back home, never. And they both doted over the fat cat who rubbed against my leg.
    “C’mon, Carradine.”
    I scooped the cat up and headed to my flat. Carradine didn’t seem impressed, but a few chicken scraps and some milk mollified her.
    If the revolution was coming, it seemed sensible to prepare. My tiny garret flat began to look like a store-room. Boxes of tins, jars, and bottles were stacked everywhere. I put a new lock on the door, and installed a sliding barrier behind that.
    It was strange, though, I seemed to be the only one preparing. I said that none of us believed in the revolution until Baz-Baz and Gina disappeared. Afterwards it was only me that believed. The others wrote him off as an ex-cadet with memories of hope, but no future other than the castles built in his mind.
    “Gina’s dragged him back to her hometown,” Jonas said. The others agreed.
    “But, the revolution—“
    Carra interrupted me. “Sar-Chona’s always revolting.”
    Even I laughed at that. But no one else believed change was coming. No one. There was an ingrained expectation that The Inspectorate, the city’s security arm, would be on top of any situation. They had a reputation for having spies everywhere, and were run by a woman whose name, Kelly Secnish, was a byword for ruthlessness. Doing a Kelly, or being Kelly’ed meant doing, or having done to you, very bad things.
    Two weeks after Baz-Baz flew the coop things started with the unexpected death of Kelly in a shoot out. The city was quiet for two days, then hell broke out.
    I’ve been holed up in my flat for nearly a week now, watching the city burn, listening to murder and death from the street below, and wishing Baz-Baz and Gina well wherever they had escaped to.


    I am attempting to do a unified story across three flash challenges this week. This is part 1 - part 2 will be on and part 3 on

  2. California, No More

    None of us really believed in global climate change until the night California went missing. I was sitting at my kitchen table, eating a piece of chocolate cake left over from Ethan’s birthday party. It was a night like any other: my overweight tabby cat, Slippers, was sitting in the recliner licking her leg incessantly, as was her habit, and my husband was nodding away on the couch.

    I had heard on the news a few days before that the winter storm had been dumping buckets of rain on the West Coast.

    “Four to five inches more and California might disappear altogether,” my brother-in-law had said.

    My husband and I had laughed. We didn’t believe him. We knew global climate change was just a liberal ploy.

    The phone rang, and it was my brother-in-law, Pete.

    “I’m wondering where we’ll be getting our stuff now that Amazon is in the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

    “What are you talking about?” I asked, mouth half-full of cake.

    “Turn on the news. California is no more.”

    “Amazon’s in Washington,” I said.

    “I’m not joking. California is in the ocean.”

    “The next thing you’ll be telling me is that the planet Mars has disappeared,” I said, hanging up the phone and chuckling to myself.

    He obviously had no idea what he was talking about: Amazon in California, what was he talking about?

    I put my dirty dish in the sink, and walked into the living room, running my hand across my husband’s sleeping face. I found the remote, stuck securely underneath him, and all he did was groan and turn away from me as I removed it from underneath his back fat.

    I clicked the power button.

    “Yes Scott. That’s right. It’s gone. There wasn’t even time to evacuate. Dropped off the face of the earth into the Pacific Ocean. No Golden Gate bridge, no Oakland Raiders, no more Napa valley. This is a sad day for wine drinkers everywhere.”

    My mouth gaped open in shock as I took it all in: Pete was right. I glanced back at my husband snoring away on the couch, and my cat looked up at me with his bright green eyes then went back to licking his leg as if nothing had happened.

    375 Words
    Special Challenges Accepted

    1. I guess the cat should stay one gender. Last sentence should have female pronouns: "...and my cat looked up at me with her bright green eyes then went back to licking her leg..." Sorry about that!

    2. I hate it when I post a piece and upon re-reading it, I discover a mistake like yours. Fortunately, yours did nothing to detract from your story. Nice use of the prompts and your made this a plausible story.

  3. Missing Mars
    455 words
    Special challenge accepted (as long as using the freight train as a metaphor counts)

    None of us really believed in aliens until the night Mars went missing.

    I imagine the scientists were at their desk doing sciency things when a blip came on the radar...thingy. I’m not an astrologist. Astronomist? Whatever.

    Scientist One goes to Scientist Two “Johann!” – his name has to be Johann – “Johann, the solar system just got smaller!”

    “What the heck are you talking about?” Scientist Two asks. He’s got chocolate cake all over his face because he was slacking (and snacking) again.

    “It’s gone!”/”What’s gone?”/”MARS!” The news hits Scientist One like a freight train and he grabs Johann by the shoulders and say something like “THIS ISN’T A FUNNY JOKE, SCIENTIST ONE!” but of course he’s not joking.

    Then they freak out and call everyone, all the other scientists or whoever might care. After that it’s on the news and there’s all these interviews with Johann and Scientist One. I saw some of them. The interviewers kept asking “Do we have anything to worry about?” and the scientists would shrug because they had no idea.

    The conspiracy theorists said “ALIENS!” and plenty of people jumped on board.

    The hype died down pretty quick. Mars was missing, but we still had work and kids to worry about and Mars bars were still available so who cared – besides Johann and Scientist One, I mean. Day to day life continued, the sun still rose and set or the Earth revolved or whatever and everyone was still just as miserable as before.

    Jupiter was next, then Saturn. Then the moon got zapped and we were really screwed. The tides went crazy...You can look it all up. I don’t want to talk about it. That’s when they showed up.

    You know what they look like, with the stone skin and the horns – ugh, the horns.

    They started harvesting the Earth’s resources as quickly as they could; they said the clock was ticking. They were surprised to find anyone on Earth. I remember this big one, digging up my mom’s potatoes on the farm, and he said “There shouldn’t be any intelligent life in this solar system. The book said it was abandoned.”

    He was a nice guy, but not nice enough to try and stop the clock.

    The government evacuated as many of us as they could; that’s why I can tell you this story. I’m one of the lucky ones who got a job. Head of security’s not too shabby, and I can punch all the people and aliens I want.

    I’d prefer to be a lot more drunk, so you can go ahead and buy another round. Space travel’s still new to me, you know, and your alien drinks are still exotic enough to stop me from crying.

  4. That One Crazy Night Where We Met That Thing,

    None of us really believed in the Shadowlings until the night Amelia King went missing. She was always a strange bird, a poet you know. Her hobby was finding the perfect words to string into rhymes. I try not to judge.

    Amelia didn’t make it to the fish fry that Friday. Everyone in Quinnburgh goes to the fish fry. Her absence was noted, if only from the lack of dourness. Her friends, if you can call those Bohemian sonneteers anything so positive, didn’t even go look for her.

    “She’ll turn up,” one said.

    “That vixen is licking her wounds from last night’s open mic debacle,” another said in a pace so slow I nearly put my boot through his mouth.

    “What kind of poet forgets her lines?”

    They all scoffed.

    I left the useless hippies blowing rings from their clove cigarettes. I gathered Millicent and Bellefontaine, yes their parents hated them, and we headed to investigate. We started with the sheriff, who was less useful, and significantly more intoxicated, than the poets. He did ask us to join him, but wasn’t interested in the search. Ew, no thank you. We asked around until Diesel, the star of our curling team, said he saw Amelia performing a mime routine at the train station. At times I may judge.

    We ventured out into the sweltering heat. By the time we hiked to the station poor Millicent’s lace top had gone see through. It was quite a show, if one were into such things.

    That was when we first met it. Or rather, when Millicent must have felt the thing. She screamed, and swung out so she hit poor Belle with her purse.

    “What did I do?” Belle asked.

    Millicent was freaked. “It’s in me. Can’t you see it?”

    I shone my flashlight at her. “Just you Centi.” Milli hated that joke.

    Her eyes were wide. She threw herself into the rusted spoon and fork wind chime that the crafting kinds think is rustic — not that I judge.

    The horn from an approaching train shook me from my watching.

    “Millicent. Get hold of yourself right now.”

    She tried to grab my hand, but she looked crazed so I retreated. “What is the matter with you?”

    “It. Is. Inside. Me.”

    It was then that I decided I choose the wrong people to investigate with.

    The train zoomed closer to our station. Bellefontaine offered to buy Milli a latte.

    “I’m free,” Milli shouted before leaping in front of the onrushing freight train. Lights and shadows merged. I swear I saw her jump onto the train, but decided that was ridiculous.

    Once I finished emptying my lunch I called the authorities. Belle and I were not ones to cry while waiting. We climbed down to the track and asked Belle to hold the light as if she was coming at me.

    “Why are you asking that?”

    “There was something curious.”

    Belle dropped the light. “You saw the shadow too?”

    We knew what took our friend.

    499 Words

    1. Challenge was accepted, forgot to put that in.

  5. "Saved By The Smell"
    by Michael Seese
    499 words

    None of us really believed in UFOs until the night the cat went missing. That four-legged bag of trouble more often than not acted like he owned me. Scratch that. The whole world. Usually, all I had to do was run the can opener, and that overweight tabby would come running so fast he'd make the wind chimes sing.

    But not tonight. Concerned, I called Sheriff Brown.

    Now you may be thinking, You called the sheriff over a missing cat? What's the worry? They'll make more.

    Well, you need to understand three things. First, in our town of 34 people, there's never a whole lot going on, especially on a Wednesday night. So my call saved him from having to climb up on his desk and yank down all the pencils he'd flung into the drop ceiling tiles. Second, I make a mean cup of coffee. And finally, with regard to cats, something strange had been going on. I mentioned that our little burg smack-dab in the middle of Jessamine County has 34 inhabitants. That number does not include the 317 cats who call this place home. (You might say that some of the folks around here are a tad eccentric. And you'd be right) Of late, they had been disappearing. (The cats, not the eccentric folks.) So I thought there might be something to it.

    A few minutes after I'd phoned, Sheriff Brown pulled up, and stepped out of the car, his coffee cup leading the way. After a healthy swig, he said, "So what's going on, Clara?"

    Before I could answer, a sound reverberated off the... well, nothing, since there's really nothing out here. It reminded me of the theme from Close Encounters. Though instead of synthesizer notes, it sounded liked mews.

    "What the?" he said.

    A rustling in the cornfield across the highway drew our attention. To our half-surprise, half-amusement, there emerged from the stalks hundreds of cats, all wearing futuristic helmets. Leading the charge—or better said, waddle—was Mr. Puff. He stood up on his hind legs, licked the back of a paw and groomed himself for a minute before clearing his throat.

    "My real name," he said, looking me squarely in the eye, "you cannot pronounce. You may call me Commander Puff. I am leading a small tactical force that will take over the Earth. If you cooperate, no harm will come to you. And we will be sure to change your litter boxes often."

    Just then a freight train rumbled across the tracks that bisect the north 40. Its wake stirred a small breeze. A minty scent wafted over us all.

    "As I was saying," continued Commander Puff, "if you cooperate, we will show you... What's that smell? So intoxicating... Can it be? It is! Charge!"

    The furry armada coursed past us, and into the field. A chorus of contented purrs rose into the night sky.

    And that is how the town of Catnip, Kentucky saved the Earth from an alien invasion.

    Special Challenge: ACCEPTED

    Funny aside: When I read the prompt and saw [the cameraman] my first thought was to replace it with "the cat." Then lo and behind, I saw the first special challenge word...

  6. And Back Again
    499 words
    Special challenge accepted

    "None of us really believed in UFOs until the night the cat disappeared," Grandpa said into the arid night. My father’s hand tightened on his beer bottle. "You remember Edgar, don’t you Carl?"

    Dad took a swig enough to wash down a hefty dose of chagrin. "Dad, a coyote got Edgar." He usually reserved that level of sternness for my taste in Twilight Zone marathons.

    "Not much of a cat fan," Grandpa sighed, "but Edgar was a good one."

    Dad stalked inside. I sat tight on the steps. I didn’t mind Grandpa confounding Blair Witch with Mission to Mars.

    Grandpa tongued his menthol toothpick into the corner of his lip. "I’m telling you, Kit, I miss that ol’ cat."

    "Aliens get him?" I asked. Aliens were way more interesting than gout or clubroot or the last time Mrs. Gantry came over to cheer him up with a casserole-and-chocolate-cake combo.

    Grandpa leaned back, creaking on two chair legs, gaze scanning the star-salted night. "We thought it was a comet, but this cluster of lights keeps getting brighter and brighter."

    "Military?" I suggested.

    He snorted. "That’s the story the sheriff was telling’ and we were fit to buy it. What Uncle Sam’s army want with a fat tabby?"

    "How do you know the UFOs got him?"

    "Well, Jacksons’ orchards stood directly under that eerie cluster. Edgar took to hanging out there the week they appeared. The night he didn’t come home, the lights vanished. Not a very stock specimen of a cat, but he was a charmer. Even your pops liked him."

    "Pops" wasn’t sentimental enough to like animals. Ten years and I couldn’t wheedle a pet out of him, not even with the divorce still festering.

    After Grandpa went off to bed, I found Dad in the kitchen downing beers at the speed of frustration. "Wish he’d get off that damn cat."

    “It’s no big deal."

    "They’re going to commit him if he doesn’t shut up about—" The latest bottle slipped from his fingers and roll-sloshed across the wood grain.

    I follow his gape and see a blob clinging to the screen door, blotting out the porch light. A rumble rolls into the kitchen ending in a lilt.

    "I’ll be damned."

    Mrrrrrrrrrow, it said again. It dropped down and butted the door open. Dad slammed backwards into the sink. The sandbag of a cat landed on the table with a thump and flopped over, exposing the milky-way stripe down its belly.

    "Edgar," Dad half-whimpered.

    "Grandpa must’ve gotten another one," I said with the stoicism he should’ve been expressing.

    He exhaled and laughed (Dad hadn’t laughed since my fifth birthday) "That must be it." He veered around the table without touching the cat and slipped back out to the porch.

    The cat’s lolling powdered the tablecloth with dander. I drew a finger across the dust and came away with a ruddy fingertip. Local dirt was ochre, and not near this fine.

    Outside in the yard, my dad searched the sky.

  7. @weylyn42
    497 words
    Special Challenge not accepted

    Eyewitness ToNite

    None of us really believed in UFOs until the night Frank went missing. We treated it like every other story that Patrice lead us on; you could tell from her condescending tone when questioning the witnesses that even she didn't believe them.

    But they swore this was the Area 51 of the Northwest. You just have to know where, and when, to look.

    We assumed the locals had something set up where if we stood in just the right spot their jerry-rigged contraption could possibly be mistaken for something other than the cobbled together junk it was.

    Hell, the folks who'd done the "Loch Ness of Lake Eerie" had done a pretty convincing rig. But that was part of it, Eyewitness ToNite reported on these things like they were fact – used technical skills to cover up the wires in post-production, and edited together a pretty package.

    The night wasn't bad, and a light jacket kept out the breeze. My job is taking the files and doing the production magic, but we're a small crew, and more often than not I help schlep equipment.

    Frank had Patrice framed, the designated "hot-spot" just above her left shoulder, so he could switch focus whenever the locals got their act together.

    I did a quick check the feed was still running to my machine, then I turned my attention back to the night sky – there was a faint line of aurora, and more stars than I could believe.

    The sound happened first, a roar and a whoosh all at once, and Patrice started talking in her stage whisper, excitedly telling our future viewers about the vibration that accompanied it. It felt like a semi driving by real close, only we were in the deep woods. I thought they had a hell of a bass speaker to get that rumble.

    The lights came next, and then, predictably, just above Patrice's left shoulder, a saucer-shaped disc floated down into view. I checked the feed, and I couldn't see the crane they used. They must have wanted to be taken seriously.

    Patrice's acting was a bit hammy, as usual, but then there was a pop, like something breaking the sound barrier, and I lost picture. I started to tell Frank the equipment was futzing out, but when I turned Patrice was staring, stunned, at the spot where Frank had been.

    "...the hell?" I turned back to the screen, and though it was dark, I could see some movement. I adjusted the image and got shapes. Another knob, and I could hear Frank whispering "Oh God" – I never pegged him for the religious type, but given the creatures that were coming towards him, I don't blame him.

    It was not pretty, after that, but I'll say one thing about Frank. He was a damn fine cameraman. We got feed for almost half an hour. Now I just have to figure out what to leave as is, and what needs some post-production magic.

  8. The D-Pad
    - 499 words & all six special challenge prompts

    “I did not really believe in this alternate reality garbage until last night when my chocolate cake went missing”. Mayor Tahbey’s whiskers twitched. He was obviously upset.

    “I was headin in for seconds when I heard what sounded like a wind chime. A blue three fingered hand reached from nowhere, snatched the cake and then both disappeared.” He began to poke a plump paw into Sheriff Phideau’s chest every third word or so. “I expect you to …. not only locate ….. my missing dessert, ……. but find …… the low life cur…. responsible.”

    The sheriff rose from his haunches, his back fur bristled and he snarled, exposing his teeth for second. He didn’t like the Mayor. He didn’t like the profiling and most irritating, he did not like some fat cat poking him in the chest.

    Sheriff Phideau glared at the mayor. He dropped to “sit” position, lifted his rear leg and scratched behind his left ear. The ear scratching was more to calm him than actually attend to an itch. “Mayor, I understand you are upset. A missing cake I suppose is a serious thing. But if you poke me in the chest one more time, you will regret it sir. …….. Now, just the facts please.”

    Honorable Mayor Tahbey hissed. His eyes became slits. “Why you useless excuse for a sheriff ………….”. He stopped. Remembering he had not become mayor by losing his temper, he turned on the best bored cat face he had in his quiver. “Okay Sheriff. I did not mean to offend. I am upset and well…… you know how it is.”

    Both calm now, Sheriff Phideau wrote up the incident report. In his professional cop voice, “Thank you your Honor, I will get right on it.” He turned to leave.
    “See that you do.”


    Woz Jobba sat on the floor of the freight car considering the chocolate cake before him. He had not eaten for at least two e-peks. He had not worried, Good Luck always found him. And so it had just moments ago when he spotted this unattended D-Pad before he hopped a freight train back to Mars from the Inner Core.

    Gobbling down the chocolate cake with one hand, he flipped the D-Pad over with the other and read the instructions on the back.
    “Jeezum,” he thought, “this is the new extra dimensional tablet, the ‘D- Pad 4’. Has an app not only for everything under the Sun, but an app for every bleepin thing in the Universe. ……….. Won’t the folks back home on Mars love this gadget.”

    Under “Features” he saw that this new version, if left in default mode, read minds and would open up the appropriate dimension to address the current mindset of the user. No more accidents sticking a digit into a sun or black hole.

    “Ah, that’s why the icon was flashing the word ‘Eat’. Stuck my hand in and lookee there, a chocolate cake ……… And Double Dutch Chocolate to boot.”

  9. The Aliens

    (349 words; special challenge accepted; nrivershen {at}

    None of us really believed in UFOs until the night the cameraman went missing. That dark, moonless night, Donald Schmidt crouched in the front yard, taking infrared photos of an overweight tabby cat (we still don’t know why). My friend and I waited several paces back so as to not disturb his photography. Suddenly, we heard a sound like a wind chime and a blast of air made our clothes flutter around us. A blazing light appeared above Schmidt but he seemed oblivious to it. He was maneuvering in for a close-up of the cat when it happened. A luminous beam descended upon him and he began to levitate. A shockwave emanated from the place where the ray touched the earth. My friend and I were blown backwards. I landed hard on the ground, the wind knocked out of me. I lay there in pain for several moments. Another wind chime-like sound and a deep rumbling reached me. Then silence descended.

    I sat up slowly, shocked by how normal the night suddenly seemed. Stars twinkled in the sky and the planet Mars could just be glimpsed through a thin cloud that soared through the air. A faint breeze blew, causing the grass around me to wave and the leaves to rustle in the distant trees. Then I realized that Schmidt had vanished, spirited away by whatever strange apparition had appeared in the sky.

    My friend looked at me, stunned. His hair was wild and one of his shoes was gone. I realized that I probably looked just as disheveled. I hastily smoothed my clothes and straightened my glasses. Then I leapt to my feet and attempted to look as dignified as I could for someone with mud dripping down the back of his legs into his socks. My friend just stared at me as he knocked dirt out of his ear.

    “Well,” I said, “That was…interesting.”

    “Gee, you think?” My friend responded.

    Neither of us is certain what happened that night, but I don’t think either of us will dismiss UFO sightings as mere hoaxes ever again.

    by Ian P.
    Age 13