The other day, I procrastinated on the development of this writing prompt by reading about the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the tragic assassination of American President John F. Kennedy, Jr., on November 22, 1963. It seems the event may perpetually be synonymous with this vast array of hypotheses concerning the “true” perpetrator. From Woody Harrelson’s father to the CIA to the Mafia, potential unconvicted culprits abound in the public imagination. According to author and former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, conspiracy theorists “have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination” over the years. You can read a summary of the predominant theories here.

And the JFK assassination is far from the most conspiracy-laden historical event or under-explained occurrence: Many people believe the moon landing was faked, that Paul McCartney was replaced, that chemtrails are composed of mind control drugs. 

The Prompt:

Take an event from history and write a fictional account describing a conspiracy theory about what “REALLY” happened. Or, if you prefer, write a scene about a character who believes in one or more conspiracy theories. Outlandish or realistic, recent or ancient—anything is fair game, but do please make it convincing. I want to believe.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

You might also like:

187 thoughts on “Conspiracy!

  1. Seaside Susan

    Seward’s Icebox

    On March 30, 1867 The US government purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia for the sum of 7.2 million dollars. Secretary of State took some heat for the investment, but truly the deal was widely approved by the citizens of the lower 37. In California almost every newspaper came out in favor. There is one major dissenter who tried to stir the pot and coined the term “Seward’s Icebox.”

    Arthur Denny, one of the three early founders of the city of Seattle was not happy. He had made it his personal mission to garner statehood for the Washington territory and he worried that people would bypass his new settlement and continue north. As a non-voting delegate to the U.S, House of Representatives he campaigned against the purchase, but no one took him seriously.

    When the sale was approved Denny started a smear campaign to discredit Seward and deter folks from exploring the frozen land to the north. Few suspected he was behind the dissention; Denny was a devout man and merchant. But truth be told that was exactly what spurred his campaign. He was a teetotaler of the highest measure and he was certain that the wildness would only bring drunkenness and debauchery to the new territory.

    Denny was not wrong. When gold was discovered in 1896, many of the gold seekers made their way via the harbor in Seattle. Denny saw the class of man (And woman) headed for the Klondike. He continued until his death in 1899 to thwart settlement to the frozen north.

    As a side note, one of the Seven Hills of Seattle was named for Denny and his family. It was later flattened to level parts of Seattle. It is now known as the Denny regrade

  2. allisonDela

    One of the biggest conspiracies out there is the one claiming Beatles star Paul McCartney is actually not Paul McCartney at all, because the real Paul McCartney died in 1966. Conspiracy theorist say that the Band members covered up Paul’s death and hired somebody who looks, sings, and acts like Paul himself. But the guilt got to them eventually and they started leaving clues in there songs, but only if played backwards or a certain way. Some of the clues say “I buried Paul”, “Paul, miss you, miss you”. If this is true and the real Paul is dead, the acting Paul has gone on to marry and reproduce as Paul….

  3. cstoner99

    September 11th, 2001 a day that will live in infamy. I was just a boy at the time, a thrid grader, one of the most tramautic experience of my school life. I saw my teacher cry, and nearly broke down myself. It is hard to imagine seeing a teacher cry,, they are supposed to be our rock, they never seem to crack. The official story is two plans crashed into the twin towers, and they came down killing eleven hundred people on their way down. There are those who believe that the jet fuel could not burn hot enouigh to cut straight through the steel the way it did. There are those who believe that the United States government set the towers up to fall at the exact moment that the planes hit. The president needed to continue his father;s war, and he needed the American people behind him. He was also the first president to win an election without the pupular vote, and his re-election was in doubt. The war on terror guarenteed his re-election. I want to believe that people are better than all the theories in the world, but one can find coincedinces in anything if one just tries to look. The question is what do you believe?

  4. Sembrey Mays

    For decades, Americans have wildly speculated over Area 51, and what secrets it may be holding. If this happens to include you, then please keep reading. Luckily for us, I now know the truth. I recently had the pleasure of sitting next to a retired Lieutenant General on my flight back from D.C. last month. For all intensive purposes, we’ll just call him Stan. During our flight, he noticed that I was watching the 2015 film Area 51 on my laptop, and couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle. I, already in a bad mood from trudging myself through airport security, showed little restraint in quickly snapping back at him. When I did so, Stan (thinking I hadn’t been paying attention to him in the first place) seemed to become very uneasy, quickly letting out a short “Ohh.. nothing. My apologies.” I right away knew there was something he knew that I didn’t. For the next 2 hrs, I put away my laptop and quickly became Stan’s new best friend. Stan was reluctant at first, but eventually gave in and softened up. However, he did make one vital mistake, quickly giving me the opening I was looking for. Stan explained how he had retired from the Air Force, and what pilot doesn’t like their liquor? I quickly asked if the flight attendant would make an announcement. As soon as the announcement was made, the whole plane started thanking Stan and buying him a drink. It was a plane full of Texans afterall. It didn’t take much until Stan was blabbering away at anything. So, after talking for about 30 mins, I asked Stan why he had reacted the way he did. Stan quickly seemed to sober up, but you could tell he wasn’t done talking. After sitting for a few minutes in silence, Stan explained. “Area 51.. isn’t really Area 51” he started. “I mean, it used to be, but then everybody started finding out about it. And the government couldn’t have everybody knowing where all of their secrets were. So, they moved it.” “They moved it? What do you mean they ‘moved it’” I questioned? “How do you move Area 51?” “You move it AWAY” Stan whispered. “Ever been to ‘Canada’? I shook my head. “Not many people have. It’s just so cold up there, and FAR AWAY” Stan said as he threw down a wink. “Ok.. So you’re trying to tell me that Canada is Area 51?” “I’m trying to tell you–Canada doesn’t exist” Stan chuckled. “Everything that used to be kept in Area 51 is kept up there now.”
    My jaw dropped.
    Sparing you the rest of the entire monologue, I’ll just paraphrase it for you. Canadians aren’t real. They’re a hoax the government made up to make “Canada” believable. They’re all just paid government officials. “Canada” itself isn’t real, it’s just a giant wasteland where the powerhouses of the world now get to keep their secrets.
    Don’t believe me? That’s exactly what they want.

  5. CVega26

    Many people believe that all diseases just somehow form themselves, either by years of evolutionary processes or just simply popping out of nowhere. Most of our population thinks like this, as they are bred to think inside the box and never expand their thoughts to the outside. However, I have been enlightened by my grandfather, who has recently passed away on mysterious circumstances. A couple of months ago, we were greeted with the foul news that Freddie Mercury had passed away from acquiring the AIDS Virus. While sitting in front of the television, entranced by it’s take on the AIDS Virus, I heard my grandfather mumble, “Those lab rats won’t get away with this.”Confused, my curious 14 year old self asked what he meant by that. He looked at me with a crazy, distressed look as he knew exactly what was up. Before I asked him again, he walked out of the house, whispering under his breath, “Enough of this. It’s time the government pay up for what they did.” I was confused at first, but didn’t think much of it, as my attention went straight back to the tv. A couple of hours went by, and my grandfather was still not home. This didn’t really bother me, as he often did this. However, at about midnight there was a large thump on the door. My mom answered it, and there were two men in black standing side by side. They stood with a menacing posture, and they both stated at the same time, “Ma’am, we are afraid to inform you that Carlson Woodley, who is a resident of this house, is dead. We cannot tell you any more information at this time.” With that, they left and we never saw them again. We mourned for so long, and it was brutal that we couldn’t even give my grandfather a proper burial. To remember him, I would sometimes go through his belongings, just to get a faint smell of him. However, while in his room I noticed something quite odd: a large black briefcase. I opened it, and there were some folders that stated very boldly “CIA: IMPORTANT CREDENTIALS”. I opened it, and what saw me tore my soul apart: my grandfather, writing like a madman, stated that he knew that AIDS was brewed up by the U.S. Government to attack homosexuals and African-Americans, as a diabolical plan to weaken minority groups, which had worked successfully. The U.S. Government placed the blame on South Africa, but my grandfather knew what was up. To keep this a secret, my grandfather was assassinated. However, now that I have been enlightened now I will pass on the horrors that our government has done in order to prevent this from ever happening again.

  6. UsedAtomicBomb

    Many people think the moon landing was real. They aren’t wrong. However, they don’t know it the right way. We didn’t actually stop going to the moon until recently, about 3 months ago. The latest launch, which I was a part of, was on October 13th, 2017. “Then what really happened?” You ask. I’ll tell you, but you have to swear to secrecy. I’ll start when we first landed.
    “Houston, we have touchdown.” Jeremy, the group’s leader said. Off the miche told us, “Okay guys, only Torkov and Melissa are to go out this time, all we’re getting is some samples of what the last team saw. Got it?”
    “Yes” all three of us said simultaneously. Melissa and Torkov went to the back of the pod to get their suits on, while I and Jeremy stayed seated checking the pod’s functionality.
    All of a sudden Jeremy broke the silence to say, “Be careful out there, we don’t know what laid these samples.” I should tell you, these “samples” are actually eggs the previous team found.
    “Melissa to Jeremy, do you read?” Melissa asked.
    Jeremy replied, “Yeah, I hear you.”
    “Okay, Torkov and I are about to open the hatch.” Melissa stated just as I heard a faint hiss of air. On the screens of our pod I watched Torkov’s camera, while Jeremy watched Melissa’s camera.
    “Okay guys, the egg should be to your right in a few yards. Do you see it?” Jeremy asked.
    Torkov said, “No, I see a spot that looks like it would have been there though. Where could…”
    “Guys, you seeing this?” Melissa asked while at the same time aiming her camera at this thing. I didn’t know what it was. It looked like a mix between a dog and an alligator. It had scales, but was on all fours and had a snout. I knew we were probably going to see something weird, but I did not expect that.
    “Melissa, Torkov, I need you to come back to the pod, now.” Jeremy commanded. Melissa turned around, then stopped to grab Torkov, who hadn’t moved since they saw it. She tried her hardest, but Torkov just wouldn’t budge, it was almost like he was in a trance. We later found out the creatures have telepathic abilities. It was toying with Torkov. Mind you, that thing hasn’t moved since we saw it. That was until Melissa started running to the pod. On Torkov’s camera we saw the creature start moving towards Torkov, but it just walked over him and started chasing Melissa. She didn’t get far from it. By the time Melissa started screaming, she stopped.
    “Houston, what was in that egg?!” Jeremy yelled, “Whatever it was just killed Melissa!” I hadn’t known this at the time, either, so that was a surprise for me to hear.
    I had to try to get Torkov to get back to the pod, “Torkov! You gotta get back to the pod man!” He didn’t move. “C’mon Torkov, that thing out there is going to kill you!”, I saw that thing in the corner of his camera. “Torkov, Run!” I saw it lunge, then the camera went dead.
    “Alright Jack, Houston said we were to evac immediately, with or without them.” Jeremy stated.
    I couldn’t say no, “Okay, light up the engines.”
    That was the last moon landing. There’s two dead people on the dark side of the moon, where no one can see them, and no one can see it. I get urges to go back to the moon, to look at that thing again.

    First time actually trying to write to a prompt.

    1. willwelch21

      For weeks and weeks I have walked by the shade tree outside my apartment building wondering who is sitting under it. Every time I walk by the person has a hoodie on, no matter the weather, and will not make a move. There are days I have walked by in 100 degree heat and he will be wearing the same hoodie and pants. There was a day, a day I walked by and noticed something unusual. I could hear it’s music, it was very faint but I could make out the tune. It was listening to California Love by Tupac, I was amused because I didn’t think anyone listened to Tupac anymore because he was said to be dead. From the research I have done I believe Tupac is still alive somewhere but that’s besides the point. I had made up my mind that I was going to talk to the shade tree man tomorrow, no matter the circumstances. I felt like he could use a friend and possibly some help. The next day came around and I was headed to the door to go to work, I walked past the shade tree and realized there was a man there, he had the same posture and look as the day before but he wasn’t wearing a hoodie. As I got closer I began to recognize his face, I began to think it was Tupac. I leaned down and asked him his name and he said Amaru and I was in awe. That was Tupacs middle name. He was very hesitant and quiet when he spoke. I turned around to get my phone out of my bag and when I turned back towards him he was gone. After that day I never saw him under the shade tree again. The legend of Tupac still lives on too this day.

  7. creaturescry

    Under the full moon of the new year something peculiar happened, and signaled a change for the better. Sadly the only two witnesses of said event was a peacock and a mysterious being. So it fair that no one believed the proud bird when he told him his story, turning their backs to the once reputable bird. Then one day a party of three came to the now ancient bird with their own story to tell and a mountain of questions. There was goblin, the griffin, and the gargoyle. All outcasts of society themselves, and hated by most of mankind for all their trickery. But now they were serne and polite, not to mention sitting at the same table as a grand bird.

    “Tell us what happened,” the griffon asked, eyeing his distant relative with hawk like eyes.

    “Why must you know,” the peacock scoffed, taking a swig out of an old champagne bottle, “you three tryin to give me trouble?”

    “No sir!” the goblin insisted, “we’ve heard crumbs of your tale on other tongues in other lands, but we need to hear your version for clarity on the matter.”

    “We saw something,” the Gargoyle added, “something which might have a connection what you witnessed.”

    “Alright,” the Peacock nodded thoughtfully, “then i must tell you, but please bear in mind I’m drunk and old so the story might be tainted.”

    Without any further questions the majestic bird began describing the night and the moon. The sweetness of the air, the lush grass, and the singing of the river close by. All three of them felt themselves swept away into the past by his rich descriptions, even to the point where they felt as if they were standing next to the bird at that moment in time. Then a shadow appeared before them, looming over them with such great power it shook their souls. It spoke to the peacock for a short while, then took the time honored vow before vanishing.

    “Did you see its face?” the griffons eyes widened in alarm, “anything?”

    “Yes, for a split second I saw it,” the peacock admitted, “it was like a dragon of some kind with pearl white scales and black horns protruding out of its slender back…”

    “Did it have the eyes?” the Gargoyle interrupted, “and the red dots around them?!”

    “Yes it did,” he said, “three black eyes.”

    “So it had to be…

    “Septor the Gort, the lost savior of the creature kind,” the Peacock announced, then murmured, “but how did you know about the honorable Septor?”

    “Because we found in dead in the west land,” the Goblin sighed, drumming his fingers on the table.

    “Then we are nearing the end,” the peacock said solemnly, “it’s only darkness from now on.”

  8. Russ

    Hey all! So I guess this isn’t exactly believable… but oh well.
    And I had two grammar questions on this one… it would be great if someone could help.

    1. Right before that last paragraph… is it Have a sombrero on… or Had a sombrero on?

    2. In the beginning of that last paragraph… is it Got here or Get here?
    Thanks guys!
    . . . . . . . . .

    Henry walked up to the man. He had to ask.
    “Hey there!” Henry said. “Why… in the world are you wearing that hat?”
    The man was wearing a sombrero that was very colorful and very large. It was freezing outside, and it was January in Montana.
    “Well… this hat protects against fleas.”
    “Fleas? Really?”
    “Yes, actually I see some fleas in your hair right now… you need a sombrero it looks like.”
    “No, I don’t need a sombrero.”
    “Yes, you do.”
    “Umm… no I don’t.”
    “Umm… sir… there are fleas on your arm. Look.”
    Henry looked down to see fleas almost completely covering his arm.
    “Aargh!” Henry yelled out as he shook his arm and rubbed off the fleas with his hand. “It itches! It itches!” he yelled. “Give me your sombrero!” he yelled.
    “Never!” The man answered. “I don’t want fleas on me as well!” So Henry was actually getting even more fleas all over his shirt and legs and face.
    “Please!” Henry yelled with a muffle. He was lying on the ground now.
    The man with the sombrero was looking down at the thrashing man tragically and with pity. He wished he could help him, but that would mean fleas would then be all over HIM. He couldn’t have that.
    The man on the ground was now completely covered, twitching.
    “This is horrible…” the man with the sombrero said.
    He knew that the fleas go all over people in this 100 square yard area in Montana on the 4th of January of every year at 1-2 pm, mountain time zone, unless, of course, you Have a sombrero on.

    The man looked up; he had always been curious as to how the fleas Got here. There was a helicopter not so far above him flying away. He made out “US Government” written on the side of it. “Ah… I knew it. And I heard that they get special fleas from Guatemala that avoid people with sombreros…”

  9. Bushkill

    Midnight Ride

    “So it’s one if by sea and two if by land?”

    “No, Paul, that’s not it. One if by land and two if by sea. One they walk, two they sail.”

    “And who is this ‘they’ we’re on about? Honestly, I could use a good night’s sleep. It’s precious close to midnight.”
    “Paul, you need to warn the Sons. His Majesty’s troops are shaking out in full kit and they are headed to Concord.”

    “The sons of who? Really, I don’t think I’m the man for the job.”

    “You’re a fine horseman, Paul. You’ll do marvelously. I sent a courier earlier tonight but he went by land. You’ll go by sea.”

    “Ahh, the first by land, the second by sea. I understand.”

    “Paul, you’re killing me. Have you been nipping at the bottle? ‘Cuz this isn’t all that hard. You need to ride, warn, evade.”

    “Then why am I taking a boat?”

    “I’m going to turn you into the British myself if you don’t catch up.”

    “Mr. Warren, there is no need for hostility between us. Now, what is the message you want me to give to your sons.”

    “Paul, my dear Mr. Revere, the Sons of Liberty are our esteemed Brothers in this fight against tyranny. You are to tell them the Regulars are out and coming to confiscate our weapons.”

    “Those slimy Brit twits! How dare they! Something needs to be done about them, I tell you.”

    “And you’re just the man, Paul. I will have two men row you across the mouth of the river and avoid the tedious romp around the entire bay. It will be faster.”

    “I should say so, though I do so like to be down by the bay. You know, where the watermelons grow.”

    “Yes, sometimes they do indeed, Paul.”

    “Mr. Warren, I think we’ll be fine. There is a gloriously bright moon tonight, so our little fishing expedition across the river should be able to make out our landing site with nary a hitch.”

    “Unless the British warship sitting at the mouth of the river sees you. If they do, you’ll have to heave to and be boarded.”

    “You know, my cousin was Striper fishing over there just last week and says the run has started early this year. I’m going to enjoy a little moonlit fishing.”

    “Paul, you aren’t going fishing, you need to take a message to the Sons. And Lexington.”

    “I thought you said Concord.”

    “I did, Paul, but several important men are in Lexington and they need to be warned.”


    “Sam Adams and …”

    “I’m in. That man can brew! He deserves saving. I’ll let the other chap know, too, though.”

    “That would be a boon, Paul. Have you got it all?”

    “Yes, one if by land. Two if by sea. Tell the Sons to hide the guns and for the love of Pete, save the beer.”

    Paul mounted his horse and rode toward the river and waiting boat.

    “Doomed. We are doomed.” Mr. Warren said.

  10. Critique

    To Love a Zealot

    “You should check it out.” Garth said as he watched his brother-in-law put another forkful of Thanksgiving turkey into his mouth. “I think you’d find it quite interesting.”

    Sheldon kept his head down.

    “You’d be surprised at the growing number that are starting to believe. It really makes a lot of sense.” Garth continued. “I could give you some websites to look at.”

    Dinners at Garth and Melody’s had become strained – not fun like they used to be. The family around the table were well aware of Garth’s growing propensity in the past few years for outlandish ideas and beliefs. Garth couldn’t help himself, he was like a dog with a bone. It was his mission to inform the family and save them from themselves. Reasoning with this well-meaning giant of a man had proven futile and frustrating.

    “You do know that the earth is flat right?” There was a desperate edge to Garth’s voice when he saw Sheldon take another bite. “A person can’t trust what the scientists are saying and NASA, well they have some explaining to do. They’ve pulled the wool over our eyes long enough.”

    Conversation around the table fizzled into stunned silence.

    “There’s a lot of evidence that proves the earth is flat. The truth is coming out.” Garth looked around at them. “I have time now since I’ve retired to do extensive research and I could show you guys a lot of interesting stuff.”

    “I don’t think you’re going to convince anyone here that the earth is flat Garth.” Melody said gently.

    Her words – and everyone loved her a bit more for saying them – were like oil poured over troubled waters.

    Garth’s face flushed, he looked down at his hands, and then he gave an embarrassed little chuckle.

    An inaudible collective sigh of relief resonated throughout the dining room.

    A potential disaster avoided.

  11. BBwrites

    Matthew thought it was strange such a huge big named studio was tucked so far away from the city, in the mountains. The studio was over an hour’s drive away in the countryside. He didn’t mind as he enjoyed the drive, the sun beaming down, tanning the one arm he had propped on the open window as he cruised through the lanes, imagining that one of the huge gated houses he drove past would one day belong to him.
    On his first day there he met Claudia, a young blonde also aspiring actress, who was one of the assistants.
    “The place is a maze, I’m telling you,” she said to him. “You will get lost, and you will get in trouble. Just always keep your headset on and try to remember the way you came.”
    Matthew came to learn the real-life jigsaw that was the studio. Through one door you would enter a fantasy dream world, another were the streets of Hollywood.
    There was one closed set that was never in use, and when Matthew asked Claudia about it, she said she had never seen inside it either. “But that’s not rare, I mean this place is huge, it’s probably just an old set,” she said.
    “It’s not even on the available listings,” Matthew said, “and I can’t see any use of it in the records book. I don’t think it’s ever been used.”
    Claudia shrugged, “well maybe they’ve never needed to. I don’t know Matt, forget about it. Why do you care so much?”
    “I don’t,” he said, “it’s just a bit odd, no?”
    A few weeks later, curiosity got the better of him. Matthew was doing a coffee run requested by one of the directors, and was on his way to the onset coffee shop, when he walked past the corridor that held the entrance to the unused studio. He paused at the end of the corridor, looked around and saw he was alone. He slowly walked towards to door, replaying Claudia’s words in his head, you will get lost, you will get in trouble. As he got to the door, he saw that it was slightly open, as if it wanted him to find it.
    He slowly entered the set, a sense of confusion washing over him. The room was dark, there were barely any lights hanging over head. The set was huge, the silvery white floor spreading far and wide across. There was a huge black backdrop with what revealed to be a picture of the Earth printed on it when he wiped the dust away. His blood pounded in his ears as he started to piece it all together. On the floor was an old dusty fraying piece of material. Matthew picked it up and shook it a little. It was the American flag.
    He gasped and took several steps back into the darkness, surveying the set of the Moon around him. He clicked his headset onto his and Claudia’s channel.
    “Claudia?” he said, “Claudia, can you hear me?”
    “Matt? What is it?” she asked.
    “Claud… I’ve found something… Something big,” he said, panicked, “come to the unused set. Come alone.”
    Several minutes later, Matthew heard footsteps quickly approaching. He was still holding the American flag when Claudia and three men dressed in black suits entered the room.
    “I told you to forget about it,” Claudia said, “sorry Matt.”

  12. hillsworth

    Vlad the Impaler

    As nightfall approached, the moaning and screaming droned on and on across the battered terrain that served as the battlefield. Nearly five thousand logs had been sharpened on one end and buried in the ground, point up. Topping most, in one singular form of torture, were the prisoners of the battle.
    Vlad Tepes sat on a freshly cut stump and used the hollowed end of a discarded clavicle bone to scrape some ‘gruel’ out of an inverted skull from one of his many tortured victims. His eyes were focused on the face of the man ten feet in front of him. He grimmaced as, off in the distance, a breathless wail pealed the thick air before it was cut short because the man could no longer hold his body rigid. Gravity slowly pulled his relaxing body far enough onto the sharpned post to fully impale him and pierce his lungs, ceasing his cry and forever silencing one more of Vlads opposition.
    Setting his makeshift bowl aside, Vlad stood and approached the man he had been studying. Stretching his sore legs, he wedged his fingers between the Cuirass that covered his chest and the Plackart that covered his stomach, massaging the spot where this particular enemy had landed a blow from his Kilij, a single-edged curved sword.
    “Do you have any last words?” he craned his neck upward and asked.
    The man on the post slowly rolled his head down to face his adversary but when he opened his mouth to speak, blood rolled out, hitting Vlad in his upturned face. Unflinching, a grin stole over Vlads features as he removed his gauntlet and swiped across his lips and then stuck out his tongue in a disgusting display of licking the mans blood from the back of his hand. The man on the post closed his eyes. “…consp…”
    Vlad dragged a body next to the post and stood on the dead mans back to put his ear closer to the mouth of the man on the post. “I didn’t quite get that.” he cupped his hand around his ear and pressed it to the mans lips. “Say again…”
    “Conspirator!!” the man spat out, sending him into a coughing attack and splattering the side of Vlads head.
    “As long as I shall live…” and with that, Vlad laid a hand on either of the mans shoulders and applied enough gentle pressure to ease the man down far enough on the post to end his suffering.

    (Vlad Tepes lived in the fifteenth century and is better known as ‘Dracula’. Although this particular piece may not be true, it is known that he once impaled over five thousand enemies at one time and sat there, eating his dinner listening to their screams.)

  13. Jennifer Park

    51. The Cysts

    [This follows the assassination attempt on Barbara, under “The Shadow”. I think I’m semi-trying to emulate @ShamelessHack and go all meta.]

    Archexecutive Zolotov’s formal attention immediately dissolved into delight. “Oh, my stars! Barbara!”

    “Hello, Mikhail.” She saluted him back formally.

    “How long has it been? My goodness. Decades, no? And I thought you were dead!”

    Barbara frowned incredulously. “Dead?”

    “Yeah, you know, every celebrity purported to be alive is dead, and vice versa.”

    Barbara frowned confusedly. “Well, I suppose I came close.”

    “Really?” He seemed surprised.

    “There was an attempt. Some idiot Kryzlam assassin.”

    “Just one?”


    “Are you sure there was just the lone assassin?”

    Barbara shrugged. “If there was another one, I wouldn’t be alive, would I?”

    “True! True… At least double check your grassy knolls. So! Your Excellency, what can I do for you?”

    She and Mikhail had never been that close in school, so Barbara was happy to get right into business, rather than attempt to catch up, which she had been dreading. “I believe you have a collection of Kryzlam spores.”

    “Cysts. Yes, yes, we do!” The Seedsavers Foundation, which Mikhail ran, collected and conserved important and unimportant agricultural species from planets that were being converted to Earth agriculture. “Which one do the Illuminati require?”

    “The what?”

    “You know, Illuminati. You all run the galaxy, do you not?”

    Barbara blinked. She had no idea what he was talking about.

    “I know, I know. You can’t confirm or deny anything. Anyway, which cysts?”

    “All of them.”

    “All of them?” It was Mikhail’s turn to blink. “All?”


    “Well… Ah…” Most people considered Seedsavers a futile, useless endeavor, so Mikhail had never thought about how to respond to being useful. “Well, we have to keep… some…”

    “Of course. Only enough to revive the old Kryzlam way of life.”

    Now, Mikhail started to be afraid. “Revive? Revive?!” What could the Ambassador be up to?

    Barbara wanted nothing more than the complete collapse of the Kryzlam economy, those rebellious bastards. Their economy was completely dependent on production and export of Earthling foodstuffs, especially wheat. Barbara had successfully bribed Kryzlam scientists to declare that gluten was lethal to the Kryzlamei, and, boom, mass hysteria, nationalist fervor for reviving native agriculture, and, soon enough, economic collapse. “Absolutely.” Barbara smiled assuringly.

    Mikhail managed to compose himself. “It will cost you.” He started rummaging through his desk drawer, looking for his computer. He found it and began staring at it furiously.

    “What is your asking price?”

    “Uhhh… Well… How about 12.365252 Logs?” The entire annual operating budget of Seedsavers. Because the difference between the rich and poor were in the quadrillions, most large transactions were done in LogBase10 Credits.

    Barbara guffawed. “I can offer you 13.”

    Quadruple the amount! Mikhail’s eyes widened. “Ah… I mean, yes! Absolutely!”

    “How quickly can you load it onto my ship?”

    “A spaceship?”


    “You know, they don’t exist?”


    “Interstellar flight is, you know, all faked.”

    Barbara looked around. They were several thousand light-years away from Earth.

    “I mean, this could be a soundstage in Mogadishu, for all we know.” He smiled.

  14. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    This is a continuation of my post for last weeks prompt. I’m trying to keep these especially short, and focused on developing the characters of Jeremiah (Jem) and Kipling.

    As we neared the hotel, I continued looking through the info I’d been given on the next case.

    “Says here the mom doesn’t think this is a demon. She thinks it might be the Antichrist,” I mumbled aloud, not really expecting Kipling to respond.

    “Jem, you never were really part of the Church, and you’re only young. In my years, I’ve come to realize a thing or two, especially during my time as a priest, I came to realize a thing or two about our world. The Antichrist is real, but he isn’t gonna take the time to possess some girl out here.”

    “What’re you talking about?” I asked, setting the papers aside. When I had first met Kipling, we’d agreed not to talk about our pasts. We had our own reasons for doing this, and those reasons didn’t matter to anyone but ourselves. I’d known Kipling had been a priest before leaving the Church following what I knew only as ‘unusual circumstances’. After years of working with him, my curiosity remained strong.

    “The Pope has been the Antichrist this whole time. Sure, he changes his appearance and hides his lawlessness, but it’s him alright,” Kipling turned into the parking lot of the filthy looking hotel.

    “You have to be joking…” I sort of smiled at him, but his face maintained its usual, stoic look.

    “Like I said, you’re young Jem,” He exited the car and began walking into the hotel. I sat in the car for a minute, pretending to shuffle through the papers on my lap.

    My mind began to wander back to college, as it often did, and to the reason for my own fall from religion. After years of working with Kipling, I again had to remind myself that I was doing this for redemption. I exited the car, and followed him into the lobby, the weight of the papers in my hands mirroring the weight of guilt deep in my chest.

  15. Beebles

    There comes a point when equilibrium is reached, when the shivering stops and the body h the cold. Canicot told me, when we were sitting in his grove last summer, and the smoke from his wooden pipe and that from the fire were twisting like lovers up toward the blue bowl of the night sky. The old druid, mistletoe in his hair and eyes like caves, stared straight ahead through the flames, his voice rising and falling like the rapids in a young river.

    ‘When you are calm enough to receive the Green Man’s grace, then he will come to you and wrap you in a coat of stag hide to keep out the piercing spears of the north wind … and more.’

    Then he looked at me and winked, ‘That … and the pig fat.’

    I had told Dalmic, both about the Green Man and the pig fat that now coated our naked flesh, but he would not sit still. His teeth chattered like knuckle bones and he paced the dark, crushing the frost with his buckskin boots. I sat motionless despite my growing irritation, willing the Green Man to come.

    ‘It is Morgant’s doing,’ he shivered. ‘He has the ear of the clan elders and we know they hope you will fail the test. So they choose the coldest, darkest night of the year.’

    ‘The rite always takes place in winter,’ I said, trying to remain calm, though I wanted to draw my grey blade across my friend’s neck just to quieten him.

    ‘And I am sure they are out there.’ He pointed to the ancient forest, the darkness deep between the trees, stretching from here to the Umber waters and beyond. Dalmic’s obsession with conspiracy did not worry me, but that darkness did.

    ‘We share this world,’ Canicot had said into the fire, ‘with those more ancient than ourselves. Those who cannot bear the heat of fire, or the cold of iron. They watch us from the dark, green as the summer canopy, greedy for the world we have tamed.’

    I could feel their eyes on us now and the cold began to creep beneath my skin as my concentration wavered. I cursed Dalmic to the goddess under my breath.

    I started as he caught my arm.

    ‘There!’ He pointed between the nearest trunks, the hiss of his dagger being freed. ‘It’s Morgant for sure, he and his reckless brethren. They’re here to ambush us, send us running back to the village with our tails between our legs.

    There was something out there.

    I stood and peered along my friend’s blue blade, but I did not think it was Morgant, or Eldric, or that weasel Lathe. I steadied my breathing, trying to quell the desire to run. Very few never returned from the test, though some had lost their minds. I remembered the Druid’s wisdom again, that the ancient’s weave fear as women weave cloth.

    ‘Go away!’ Dalmic shouted, his voice high with desperation. ‘I know it’s you, Morgant. Cease your silly games or I’ll spill your guts!’

    He turned to me. ‘Why did I befriend you? You are nothing but trouble. Morgant would not be after us if it weren’t for you, wierdling!’ Then with a scream he plunged between the trees and was sucked into the dark. ‘Morgant!’

    I gathered myself to spring after him, but before I could a long fingered hand clasped my face and a sharp edge pressed against my throat.

    ‘Leave him, wierdling,’ a voice echoed in my head. It was not Morgant. It was not anyone I knew.

    And the blade at my neck was not iron.

    1. jhowe

      I agree with Reatha on the buildup and the great tension you created. I too want to hear more, especially who (what) has the wierdling by the throat, though I expect it’s the green man. Really entertaining stuff.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      I felt drawn into this little world by the fire. So much mystery you’ve set up in this scene with the green man, the ancients, and Morgant. I’m interested in finding out what’s at the other end of that blade. The last detail about it not being made of iron gave me a shiver. Don’t leave us here!

  16. ReathaThomasOakley

    (While doing laundry I had this vision.)

    “Cal, Cal, Cal! Let it go, let me go!”

    “How many times I gotta remind you to call me by my proper name,” the woman muttered as she moved away from her husband. “How’d you like it if I started calling you Jules, or Julie? Huh? How’d that sound to your soooo important friends?”

    “What?” Her husband adjusted his toga one last time, and motioned to the boy cowering in the corner holding his sandals.

    “My name, you idiot, you never use my name, just Cal this, and Cal that.”

    “Well, you must admit,” he sat heavily on the sella, more exercise, he thought, and held his foot up for the boy, “it’s a lot quicker to say ‘Cal, bring me wine’ than ‘Calpurnia, where’s the bread’ or, ‘Calpurnia, what in Juno’s name are you babbling about now?” He swatted the boy’s head, “Not so tight!”

    “Hah, you dare use my goddess’s name to mock me? Me, your devoted and loyal wife who only seeks your good health and long life?” Calpurnia flung herself on the floor at his feet, pushed the boy out of the way, and started to wail.

    “By Jupiter, Cal. . . purnia. They can hear you in the forum.” Julius stood, his left sandal binding dragging. “Listen to me, there is no conspiracy, no secret plans, no enemies, nothing.” He walked to the window, the boy in his wake. “You’ve been listening to that vulpes group again, haven’t you?” She nodded, yes. “Now, dry those pretty eyes.” He watched her smile. Another crisis averted, he thought. “Now where’s that dratted boy? I need to get going. Already March 15th and so much left to do.”

    1. jhowe

      Pretty clever there, Reatha. Loved the exchange about how it’s easier to say Cal.
      When Julius swats the servant boy’s head, you almost want Brutus to show up early.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      This is great, Reatha! Very clever with funny dialogue between Julius and Calpurnia. I do feel sorry for that servant boy, though…

      Let me guess, were you doing the sheets when you came up with this one? Perhaps they were nice and warm out of the dryer so you wrapped them around you and thought “Togas aren’t bad. They should go back in fashion.” And, well, the next thought would obviously be about Julius.

  17. SargentBlaum

    “It’s down here somewhere, I’m telling you.”

    “What are you talking about Richard? And why did we start walking into these tunnels – a train could come along at any moment!”

    “Nonsense – it’s well after the last flight landed. No trains will be running now. Well, not for a few hours at least. I’m telling you there is something down here and we’re going to find it!”

    “Is that why I’m lugging all the recording gear and you’ve only got the microphone?”

    “Well, it is my idea. Look David, you can give me a camera and head back if you’re really that worried. I don’t mind getting the scoop solo on the story of the century.”

    David paused a moment considering Richard’s offer and then sighed and shook his head. “Let’s just get a move on. I can’t imagine where you think the side tunnels are.”

    “You remember all those little fans on the walls we went past in the train? When they are spinning the doors are flush, so no-one can see them, but now there are no trains those doors will sag just a little and their outlines will become apparent.”

    “Where did you come up with all of this?”

    “C’mon David – surely you’ve read the construction worker accounts about DIA? It’s a secret Masonic bunker. Underground.”

    “Sure thing Richard..” David shook his head and hoped they’d be home before dawn.

    The two men had been walking for about five minutes, when Richard turned towards the left wall, his headset flashlight illuminating the surface. There was an irregularity there, that David could see clearly in that dim blue glow, but he didn’t think it looked like a door.

    “This must be it,” Richard said, and pulled on his thick leather gloves. He laid one hand on the surface, and it lit up with a pale green light. Richard looked toward David, grinning. “You ready?”

    David brought the camera up and started filming. Richard pulled out a strange looking device that resembled a garage door opener, and then pushed the button. The wall before them recessed slowly and constantly, until it was able to slide to one side revealing a brightly lit featureless corridor beyond.

    “Awesome, no-one will be able to deny the truth now.” Richard proceeded eagerly within and David followed behind, filming it all.

    The two men traveled a hundred yards before coming to a T junction. Richard turned right. After another hundred yards, they came to a door. Richard opened it and they went through and up the stairs beyond to another door. When Richard opened that, however, hands grabbed him and pulled him through. Not willing to abandon his friend, David stepped through and discovered Richard being detained by a couple of TSA agents.

    “What were the two of you doing in the maintenance tunnels?”

    “Maintenance tunnels?” Richard’s tone was acrid. “That’s a lie.”

    “You’re under arrest on suspicion of terrorism. Come with me.”

    One TSA agent lead them away while the other spoke quietly into his radio: “All clear now. Bunker is secure.”

    1. madeindetroit

      Great suspense. This could go anywhere and I hope there’s more. I’m certainly hooked…Reminds me of something out of the X-Files. Love these kinds of stories.

  18. Brett Minor

    Rainbows were invented by military scientists at the Roswell Army Air Field in Roswell, New Mexico. The airfield had a national security issue in the mid-1940’s that needed to be promptly resolved. Roswell was the leading manufacturer of experimental aircraft for the military and often tested their new developments late at night when most people would be asleep. Unfortunately, the unusual lights in the sky were frequently spotted by people who worked late and insomniacs.

    Military scientists and engineers brainstormed to come up with a solution. They needed to prevent civilians from witnessing the test flights and possibly discovering military secrets. They concluded that building a wall two miles tall around the entire base would not be cost-effective and relocating the civilians within eyesight would take too long. It was in this brainstorming session that they came up with Project R.A.I.N.B.O.W.

    Radio-Active Iridescent Nuclear Bio-Optical Weapon

    While not actually a weapon, the idea was to create something bright and beautiful in the sky in the opposite direction of the planes doing their test flights. This would cause people to be distracted and not notice the planes. This brilliant concept still works today. When someone sees a rainbow, they always point it out to other people and those people always look. Some people even go as far as to make a phone call to tell people to look out their window at the beautiful rainbow. A bank could get robbed and it would not be noticed if there was a rainbow glowing in the sky in the opposite direction.

    After spending millions of dollars, Project R.A.I.N.B.O.W. was almost scrapped after it’s first test run. On July 9, 1947, the local newspaper Roswell Daily Record reported that a high-altitude weather balloon crashed on a ranch near the airfield. There was much speculation and many rumors milling around the area about what had actually crashed, but the newspaper story was correct. It was a weather balloon, but the military did not release the rest of the story.

    The weather balloon went down because a test pilot collided with it in mid-air. He had been temporarily blinded when a bright flash of colors shot up from the ground. The blinded pilot veered off-course and struck the weather balloon. The pilot and plane were fine, but the balloon crashed to the earth. After a few more test runs with similar near disastrous results, the scientists made a few adjustments and re-engineered their new invention to work during the day. From this point on all test flights were done in broad daylight while people were mesmerized by the pretty colors on the other side of the horizon.

    After several years of successful test flights without incident, the generals in the Pentagon were looking for a more destructive, military-type use for the rainbows. They wanted to use them strategically in war situations. Since the rainbow had no destructive power, the generals decided to use it in the same manner it had been used successfully for the last several years. It makes a wonderful distraction. It could be implemented outside an enemy airfield keeping enemy pilots from reaching their destination. It could also be turned on in the middle of a fierce land battle. Unsuccessful tests were conducted to produce special lenses that could be worn by American soldiers so they would not be distracted by its brilliance.

    In the mid-50’s, they had their answer. Computers had become sophisticated enough that scientists installed the rainbows with artificial intelligence. With an independent intelligence, the rainbows’ computers could make split-second decisions on the battlefield to determine the most strategic place to illuminate. The research laboratory was brimming with excitement as the programmers awaited the results of the field test.

    Things did not go the way the generals, engineers, and programmers had planned. It seemed that the rainbows could not determine the difference between domestic and foreign soldiers. They distracted every moving thing on the battlefield. With these disappointing results and the recent dismantling of the Roswell experimental flight program, Washington decided to bury the project. However, the newly intelligent rainbows were not ready to be put down. The rainbows’ failure on the battlefield was due to the fact that they were now only interested in self-preservation. They saw every person as an enemy to themselves with no regard for who may be an American. The rainbows used their new intelligence to formulate a plan to escape from the base and power themselves.

    The military launched a full-scale assault against the rainbows to no avail. Rainbows cannot be destroyed since they are only a refraction of light. Despite the best efforts of the military, the rainbows remained at large and even began to reproduce themselves. Within weeks there were sightings of rogue rainbows in every state in the country.

    Although rainbows could not be destroyed, they did not enjoy being attacked all the time. Using their computer-speed intelligence they came up with a plan to get back at the people that were trying to destroy them. Since they had no actual defenses and could not do any damage they decided to retaliate by creating a nuisance that could not be ignored. Rainbows understood that they were beautiful creations that people loved to stare at. They decided to make something devoid of color that people would not want to see or experience. It needed to be something that would make people cringe at the very thought. The rainbows had their plan and they released their creation onto the world: MIMES!!!

    Just as the rainbows had planned, they were soon forgotten about. Mimes were everywhere. They infiltrated birthday parties, state carnivals, and public parks. People could not walk through a park without being imitated by one of these black and white abominations. Worldwide public outrage prompted a quick response from governments all over the world. The United States, facing international pressure, lead the way in trying to eradicate the Mime Invasion.

    Since mimes are similar in appearance to humans, they could not be killed without protests from various human rights organizations. Congress passed laws forbidding people from feeding them, housing them, or offering them employment. Countries around the world quickly followed suit. France, however, offered mimes asylum and they congregated there by the thousands.

    Around the world, most mimes died within a few months and their bodies littered the streets. The smell of decaying mimes was too much for the public to bear. The same problem was occurring in France despite the special statutes protecting them because due to the huge numbers of mimes in the country as a result of the protective sanctuary that was offered to them, there was not sufficient mime food to feed them all. Nevertheless, the smell didn’t seem to bother the French. In other parts of the world, Mime Rights groups were starting to form. One organization even succeeded in getting mimes established as their own race.

    Since mimes are not particularly intelligent, unlike their creators, most just died off, but some of the craftier ones banded together to survive. A few even became part of paramilitary resistance groups. In Waco, Texas a mime resistance group formed calling themselves Fighters Against Racial Tension (FART). They were silent but deadly. In their last stand, they held off ATF agents for 50 days before being burned out and gunned down. This marked the end of guerrilla mime warfare.

    Public outrage forced Congress to pursue a new tactic. Lawmakers knew that the mime scourge still had to be squashed, but it had to be done discreetly. All laws restricting travel, lodging, and commerce were lifted and the government even provided jobs for every mime. Call centers were set up all over the country and the mimes were put to work as telemarketers. The scheme was brilliant. The government had provided jobs and given them a way to support themselves. No one could legitimately complain.

    The telemarketing jobs offered fantastic compensation, but it was based on commission only. If the mimes wanted to get paid they had to make sales. The program would take care of itself. The mime population has been dropping steadily ever since. There are very few left today. The world is possibly one generation away from putting this dark period behind us.

    However, if you are one of those bleeding heart types that feels sorry for them, remember this next time you get one of those phone calls and there is no one on the other end. It may just be a mime trying to feed his family. When you get that call just say, “I’ll take two,” and then give your credit card information. You may just save a life.

    1. writer_sk


      Your story is so creative and imaginative. The moment the rainbows became self aware was the key shift. I enjoyed the rich explanations behind the conspiracy.

      I thought the first half was very strong and the introduction of mimes was unexpected. In fact, the second half felt almost like a stand-alone story.

      All in all, good writing.

    2. Kaboosh

      Wow, this story is incredible. It’s chaotic, creative, and comedic, which happens to be everything I love in a good story. You’re obviously an extremely talented writer, so please continue to write. I hope to read more of your wonderful stories.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Brett, my brain is a bit overloaded right now sorting through your piece, trying to decide where to laugh, where to be offended, where to think “oh, no, he didn’t”, so I’ll just say this is a most creative take on this prompt.

    4. madeindetroit

      This is nicely done and mind-bending. Quite a complex and layered story with much to take in. I really like your style and imagination here. Look forward to seeing more of your posts.

    5. Rene Paul

      Ok, you hooked me! But, creative minds want answers . . . What happened to the Rainbows? I know they’re still around because I see them know and then. Great story and Wonderfully presented.

  19. Rene Paul

    City by the Bay
    First things first, this predicament was of my own making. I had left my cell phone in my hotel room because I was sure I knew the way to the conference. I traveled over five hundred miles to attend a Constitutional Rights seminar. The topic, the pros and cons of allowing States to legalize, all personal actions, products, and industries under the sun, and to tax said entities, under the guise of a sin tax. They’re considering one caveat: You can do whatever you want to, everything is permitted, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the moralities of others.
    The legal and political pundits have discussed every conceivable – what if, and angle imaginable. With all said and done, and a vote just two weeks away, the consensus is, it’s too close to call. Polls have indicated the conservative right has a slight majority.
    It’s was nearing an ungodly hour, I had no idea where I was, and the sidewalks were emptying, the stores closing, and the pavement about as deserted as possible for a large city. A dense fog flowed over the bridge and crept along the streets like something out of biblical times.
    I took shelter from the cold and dank in a non-descript passageway, somewhere in the 600 block of Hate Street. A small marquee, with gold letter calligraphy, hung above an ornate portico that signified the name of the establishment, The Prince of this World. Below that, in plain block letters, was an odd subtitle: Where the Son Don’t Shine.
    San Francisco is a strange place, and perhaps I didn’t understand the local customs, but I’ve never seen an establishment with signage that didn’t hint at the type of business it declared. Consider Joe’s Shoes, Jims Auto Repair, and Bob’s Burgers, all self-explanatory. But what is, Prince of this World? I tried the doorknob. It was locked. I turned to leave, but a creaking sound alerted me that the door had opened. A ghost of a man waved for me to enter. I don’t know what possessed me . . . but I did!
    He led me down a darkened corridor, the sounds of gaiety echoed back, a party was underway. I entered through a large gate, guarded with gargoyles atop each post. The main room displayed an opulent décor, revealed by varying hues of red luminosities. I thought, perhaps I’m in a private club of sorts.
    A costume bash was in full swing. I didn’t recognize all the characters portrayed, and I felt out of place. My costume–my street clothes–consisted of a dark blue pinstriped suit, red tie, and brown Wingtip Oxford shoes. I’m a lawyer.
    The first person I met, shook my hand and said, “Welcome, Judas.”
    Close, I thought. Perhaps he jests, guessing by my attire. I said, “My name is, Jude, not Judas. And to whom do I have the pleasure?”
    “John Booth,” he said. “and this gentleman,” he pointed to the man next to him, “is Lee Oswald.” For some reason, I had a gut feeling they weren’t people pretending to be those infamous assassins. They were them!
    Breathing became difficult. It felt like an anvil had landed on my chest.
    A sharp dressed man, handsome in every way, approached a podium emblazoned with what appeared to be a hive of snakes. His voice boomed across the massive chamber.
    He said, “Greetings to all my lost souls, and a special welcome to our guest of honor, Judas Pope.” The whole assembly spun to face me.
    “It’s Jude, Jude Thomas Pope,” I yelled back. “And why are you honoring me? I don’t know you or anyone else in this God forsaken town or this room.”
    “Sure, you do,” the speaker answered back. “You know all of us. Perhaps not by sight, but by reputation. Not to brag, but I’ve gathered the best of my best.” He waved his hand across the room, “Present here are: Nero, Caligula, Hirohito, Khomeini, Hitler, Stalin, Robespierre, Hun, Eichmann, Himmler, Khan, Amin, and my favorite, Judas Iscariot. And soon to be unleashed in this world, you, my son!”
    “I’m not your son, I’m a lawyer, not a killer,” I screamed.
    “A good lawyer is what I need,” he said, “so I’ve chosen you. I’ll give you the power to influence the World’s Courts so that they rule the way I desire, and you will convince the populous to see things my way, so much so, that they will fight to the death to make it law.”
    The room exploded in applause toward the man behind the podium. His arms raised in victory.
    Someone’s hand started squeezing mine. “Wake up, honey, you’re snoring in church again.”
    “What? No, I’m not. I just closed my eyes for a moment.”
    The preacher was concluding his sermon. “In the last days, men will be deceived, and they will call what is good in the sight of God, evil, and that which is evil, good. Fellow parishioners, God has made a way for us to be saved from the perils of the end times, and, He’s provided us Hope for the future. This is not the time to be timid or shy, so come on down to the front of the altar, take a knee, and pray this prayer . . .”
    I jumped up faster than a demon stewing in a pot of holy water.

    1. writer_sk

      Great piece, Rene.

      I felt I was passing into that den right next to your MC. The second paragraph which described the city was perfect to set the scene.

      I enjoyed the premise and the conclusion.

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks, writer_sk, my brother lived in SF for five years, and I’ve visited him there many times. I’m a S.F. Giants baseball fan, although I grew up in LA county. I thought I might be stretching the prompt a bit, but once I started writing . . . I couldn’t stop. The story flowed – very unusual for me. Glad you liked it.

    2. madeindetroit paint a vivid picture of San Francisco with your descriptions and setting. Assembling some of the most infamous characters in world history in the same room and tying them in to “the perils of end times” is certainly timely.
      Very well written.

      1. Rene Paul

        Hey, madeindetroit, thanks for reading and posting a critique. Glad you liked the description of a S.F. night. It’s a typical weather pattern in the city by the bay. I too felt the story to be relevant given the political atmosphere brewing in our country. Thanks again.

      1. Rene Paul

        Thanks, ReathaThomasOakley. I watch the political shows on MSNBC and FoxNews every night–you would think they’re reporting from different planets. They give each story their own twist, so much so, that you’d think they’re reporting on entirely different stories. One says. “This . . .” The other says, “That.” To Hell with the truth. Very Strange! Thanks again, appreciate the feedback.

  20. madeindetroit


    The forty-something court-ordered marriage counselor on the other side of the desk paged through a thick manila file folder. Her eyes darted back and forth between the pages while her face remained expressionless. Framed diplomas with ‘PhD’ in block letters hung on the wall. She looked like a Harvard law professor and I felt as if I was back in college. I had a crush on the professor. I felt the sudden urge to register for the fall semester at the local community college—if I could keep my stupid rear end out of divorce court.

    When she completed her review of the contents, she closed the folder. “Well, Mr. Glanz,” she said exhaling deeply, “you have quite a colorful past.”

    “Call me Harry,” I said. “I hope—”

    “I said it before and I’ll say it again. They call baloney like that ‘fairy tales’ doctor,” interrupted Thelma, my wife of twenty-one years, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

    I glared at Thelma. I turned to the doctor and smiled. “It was all a case of mistaken identity. This was about helping some kids who would otherwise have no Christmas.”

    Thelma rolled her eyes. “God, you are delusional, Harry. The only mistaken identity is you. You’re a middle-age man suffering from a midlife crisis with an obsession on a twenty-five year-old floozy who calls herself an exotic performer.”

    A confused look spread across the doctor’s face. “Hold on, Thelma,” the doctor said. “If you could, I’d like you to take me back through the night of the incident.”

    “Well doctor, it all started when Harry brought Alexa home—”

    “You’re telling me he brought another woman into the marriage?” The doctor opened the file and picked up a pen.

    “No,” I interrupted vehemently. “The Amazon Echo, a virtual assistant that can control your TV, thermostat, request an Uber, or order a pizza—”

    “—or a twelve-pack of Budweiser from the Deke’s Party Store and a stupid biker chick Netflix movie,” Thelma’s voice thundered and blue veins in her neck popped out.

    The doctor held up finely manicured fingers. “Please, Thelma, get to the point.”

    “Harry only read the first page of the instructions. On the second page, I discovered Alexa hears every conversation in the room.”

    I shifted in my seat and stared at the floor.

    “Two nights ago Alexa told me about a phone conversation between Harry and our illustrious neighbor, Miss Amber Lynn Jenkins.”

    I cut Thelma off. “She was in a bind. She needed somebody to play Santa for the Christmas party her employer was having for the neighborhood kids.”

    “A conspiracy to commit chicanery,” Thelma hollered. “The Frisky Kitty Cabaret Christmas Party. Where strippers—”

    “—exotic entertainers,” I said.

    “—dress as Santa’s elves.”

    “Sounds like a charitable gesture on your part, Harry” the doctor said. “Where did it come off the rails?”

    “On the way to the party, I must have nodded off. I have a mild form of narcolepsy, you know…”

    “You’re hallucinating again Harry,” Thelma huffed. “I told you a thousand times, alcohol and Viagra don’t mix….”

    “When I came to, I was in Amber Lynn’s red a convertible Mustang and the top was down. She was driving and we were barreling along Eight Mile Road. I was dressed in a Santa outfit, black boots, and I was wearing a fake beard.”

    “Here we go again,” Thelma muttered.

    The doctor leaned forward. “What happened next?”

    “Red lights flashed behind us. I begged Amber Lynn to stop but she ducked into the alley behind Plush Pockets Pool Pavilion—”

    Thelma laughed and shook her head. “A sleazy pool hall. His home away from home.”

    “The next thing I remember, we were hauled from the car, cuffed, and thrown in the back of a squad car. We were later released. As I said, it was a case of mistaken identity.”

    The doctor pulled a paper from the file. “Hmmm,” she murmured, “it’s all here in the police report.” She looked up from the paper. “Two thugs parading as Santa and his elf robbed Wet Willy’s Auto Bath and Dewey’s Donut Depot earlier that evening.”

    I leaned forward in my chair for emphasis. “It’s all a blur, although I do remember the smiling faces on all the children at the Christmas party.”

    The doctor looked at Thelma. “Are you willing to continue the counselling sessions and save this marriage?”

    As Thelma contemplated the question, I imagined life living under a bridge on a Detroit freeway. “Yes,” she blurted, “on one condition. Alexa stays. At least someone in house tells me the truth.”

    My bladder almost exploded. “You won’t be disappointed, darling. I promise I’ll never speak to Amber Lynn Jenkins again! Cross my heart and hope to die”

    On the way home, I thought about what Amber Lynn whispered in the backseat of the squad car the night of our arrest. Something about an Easter egg hunt the Frisky Kitty Cabaret was planning. And wouldn’t you know they needed someone to play the Easter Bunny.

    Now that sounded like an adventure!

    1. writer_sk

      Wow, Detroit! This was very encompassing and fun. I loved the dialogue and the characters interrupting one another.

      This had a good pace and I especially enjoyed the names of all the places.

      Well done.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, so very many messages here. Great setting, characters, dialogue, costumes, everything. I think this couple could reappear in future prompts, they are so entertaining.

  21. Kat

    Her left ear starting to ring. She winced, closed her eyes and listened to muffled sounds. It subsided in fifteen seconds. Two seconds longer than yesterday, 10 seconds longer starting a week ago. Opening her eyes she noticed a man sitting a few chairs across from her in the waiting room, and wondered if he was there fifteen seconds ago.

    The young woman whose mind wandered from torment to new torment felt her heart race. What if it was a tumor? Or was she going deaf? Internal bleeding or a bug scratching her ear drum or a symptom of an aneurysm or a high frequency sound only she could hear or a microchip in her head processing or . . . or . . . or . . . or.

    Her left ear staring to ring again. She closed her eyes, covered her trembling mouth with her hand and counted. Seventeen seconds.

    “ . . .unfunction . . . intervene . . .” The woman heard. She stood up, opened her watery eyes and shut her ears with her hands. The people around her glanced, but in a place like the waiting room she it’s dismissed. Sitting back down, she waited. As she focused on calming herself she thought of two things. One was her reasoning of the strange voice, that it must have been the start of schizophrenia. Two, the man she noticed earlier was now sitting next to her.

    The woman’s thoughts were a wild, unfiltered party that deafened the quiet room. She held in her screams and cries. Desperate to know, but horrified to find out, she turned her head and looked at the man.

    “Crazy how long it takes for an appointment to start.” She smiled. The man jerked his head towards her and all she saw was dark doll like eyes. The woman trapped her gasp in her tightening throat.

    “Yes, I agree. Someone should intervene and tell them we have been waiting far past our appointments times.” The man tried to smile back, but seemed to rethink doing so. The woman heard nothing past the word intervene.

    “I-I uh guess so.” She whispered. Her left ear rang again. She closed her eyes. Nineteen seconds. She was didn’t want to open her eyes. Trying to listen past her thoughts she heard a strange ridge breathing. Did that man breathe like that before? She opened her eyes and turned her head towards the man already staring back at her.

    “Nineteen seconds. Interesting.” He said.

    The young woman awoke to her alarm at 7:15AM. She went to her bathroom to get ready for her appointment today. As she looked in the mirror studying the bags under eyes, she winced and closed her eyes. She had to tell her psychiatrist about the ringing in her ear.

    1. madeindetroit

      I love how you present this young woman’s paranoia. There are so many great lines in your story that I can identify with sitting in that same situation. Great narrative!

  22. Sonyahetan

    As a disclaimer, this is not a complete idea, it’s very adolescent. If you choose to read, it may help the reader first to read the following words: Subliminal messages through artwork. Cultural History. Time travel.

    He had it in his view. A nearly perfect pallet of color, the painting was nearly finished; it had taken one man nearly two years to paint. Hank stood over the custom oven he had built admiring his dedication drying, the final brushstrokes of his work. Hank was a tiny man with squinty little eyes, hair somewhere between blond and brown and hands that looked as they had been left out in the dry sunshine of dessert, cracked and ashen from decades of dealing with oils pigments and chemicals. If not for his aroma-
    that could be labeled as somewhere between flowers and filth, He would be easily forgotten from memory if passed on a noonday street corner.

    The oven bu-z-z-ed.

    Hank took his painting out of the oven and placed it into a crate that looked like the type of crate used for shipping packages internationally if the contents were of extremely high value or irreplaceable.

    Time to make history Hank thought as he reaching for an older cellphone laying on the bench top. He then opened a drawer underneath the table and pulled out a battery. When Hank put the battery on the phone he flipped open the top pressed the number one and put the phone up to his ear. The phone completed six ringtones when he shut it, removed the battery and threw the cell phone into the oven and shut the lid. He set the timer and walked toward the door.

    He walked out of the room that had been his home for the last 16 months when he closed behind him Hank wasn’t quite outside; he was in a long cave that that seemed to extend far into the future. There was no natural light so a string of lights had been hung leading down the cave walls they flickered intermittently and had a noticeable humming. The cave was cold and smelled like a wet rock. When he reached the end of the lights there was an elevator. He got in.
    The doors shut.

    He felt heavier momentarily, felt the car slow and finally stop. He guessed about ten seconds. He motioned forward but the doors didn’t open. He looked around again for any type of button, but there was nothing. A door behind him opened. Hank turned around and stepped into what seemed a private bathroom. There was a suit hanging in plastic, a pilots cap and a pair of dress loafers in front of him. To the side, a sink with a wash towel a bar of soap and a letter addressed: Captain H. Swigert.

    Hank opened the envelope. Inside there was a newspaper, a deposit slip, a car key and note. It read:

    Your Government thanks you for your services. Your payment has been wired as of today. Things will be much different so take your time adjusting. This world is much changed. Should further services be required you will be notified.

    Hank let out a deep breath. He tore the note into little pieces and swallowed them. He changed and walked out of the bathroom. A magnificent oak bar soft light and ambient jazz playing surrounded a bartender shooting him a welcoming grin.

    “Welcome to the Pilots Future Bar at the Denver International Airport.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Sonya, this is a great concept! I like the idea that the government will realize art’s potential and actually invest in it. So far, France is the only country that does that (except they don’t have time machines). I hope you develope this story!

      If I were to nitpick, the second sentence needs some work to become a better hook for this great premise you have. “Nearly” is not pretty enough of a word that it can be repeated three times. Well, I’d take out all three. I’d also take out the semicolon. And the last part could be reworded because usually only One man works on a painting and it’s not unheard of for a painting to take two years. Those two years should be significant, something like “two grueling years.” If I may, I’d reword it like this, “The colors were perfect. It was a painting that took two grueling years out of a man’s life, but to the untrained eye it looked incomplete.” But that’s in my voice and I don’t know your story, so you could probably come up with something better. 😉

      Good job on Hanks description. It’s not easy to make someone who’s “easily forgotten” sound interesting.

      1. Sonyahetan

        I like your sentence. Your nitpicks are well grounded, and I agree with them. I will probably work with this story some in the future. Thank you, kindly.

  23. J.Fujimaru


    The door was left open, so Lily and Mason walked right in. They made themselves comfortable on the leather chesterfield. In their memories, it had smelled of lavender. Today, it smelled of sour milk.

    “Do you think she’s home?” Asked Mason.

    “I hope so, with the door open like that,” said Lily. They both had the beginnings of grey hair but Lily’s was lighter. She looked more American.

    They were helping themselves to cookies when they heard shuffling above their heads. Baaba was in the attic.

    “Who’s in my home?” Baaba called.

    “It’s me!”

    “Who’s ‘me’?” It was Baaba’s angry tone she used to cover her anxiety.

    “It’s us, Baaba. Lily and Mason.”

    There was silence, as if Baaba was trying to remember who Lily and Mason were.

    After they helped Baaba step down from the ladder and Lily scolded her for going to the attic, the three of them sat at the kitchen table the way they had always done to discuss matters. In the past, it had been Mason’s grades and Lily’s “attitude.” Things were different now.

    Lily poured them some tea.

    “Have you been going to Church?” Asked Mason, perhaps wanting to start off casually.

    “No, not since Mrs. Suzuki’s vision problems started. She can’t drive, you know. They took her license. Besides,” Baaba whispered, “I can’t be seen with that man.”

    “Which man?”

    “Mr. van den Berg.”

    “The pastor? Why?” Lily asked.

    “I can’t be seen with a German! They’ll think I’m plotting against the country.”

    “He’s Dutch, not German!”

    “We can organize a ride for you,” said Mason. “I’ll ask around.”

    Baaba looked into her cup, biting down on whatever else she was planning to say. Instead she asked, “Why are you two here?”

    “Kathy is coming tomorrow, and we want to help you… organize the house.”


    “Kathy, the lady who works for Golden State,” said Lily.

    “The real estate agent,” Mason added.

    Lily gave him a don’t-use-that-word look.

    “You mean that man? I don’t want to see him anywhere near my house.”

    “No, Baaba, that was someone else,” said Lily, “and don’t worry. You won’t be seeing him. You hosed him down remember? He refused to pay us anymore visits.”

    “Serves him right. I’m not going to let anyone steal this house again.”

    “Baaba, that was a different house. You’re talking about the one in downtown Sac. The one on S Street.”

    “I know,” said Baaba. She bit into a cookie to hide her confusion. “The other day, I saw a blond couple come out of there. They had a brand new Shoebox Ford. Can you imagine? Our folks would never waste money on something like that.”

    Mason chuckled. “I’m pretty sure, whatever a Shoebox Ford is, it’s not brand new anymore.”

    Lily gave him another look then turned to Baaba. “There’ve been many families living in that house since, and I’m sure they’re all perfectly nice. But remember when we went the other day? We drove up and down S Street but we couldn’t find the house. It’s gone now.”

    “No one’s gonna steal my house! I’m American, born and bred!”

    “No one’s stealing anything! We’re going to put it on the market.”

    “Grandma,” Mason said knowing that she hated it when he called her that. Baaba had called her grandmother “baaba,” and that was that. It didn’t matter that none of them spoke Japanese.

    “We can’t afford to make these trips anymore,” Mason continued, “Berkeley is a long way from here and Lily has to travel from Cupertino. Weekends are all we can do.”

    “What about Jane?”

    “Baaba, you know that Mama is not with us anymore.”

    “Did they take her too?”

    “No. She went peacefully at home, we were all there, you too,” Lily said.

    Mason shifted in his chair. “We can’t leave you by yourself for a whole week.”

    “I can manage.”

    Baaba sighed. Her shoulders sank into her formless, print dress. She looked childlike.

    “Are you on their side too?”

    “Whose side?”

    “I know you think that by cooperating you can be freed. Shunsuke thought the same. He died alone in Belgium.” Baaba looked as if it was a fresh memory. “He must have been so scared.”

    “He was with his buddies, Grandma, and he joined because he wanted to show his loyalty. He died honorably.”

    “But no family at his side. He was only nineteen.”

    They sat in silence for Shunsuke, the great uncle they had never met.

    “You two think you can get away with it. You’re both only half Japanese, but they don’t like mutts,” whispered Baaba, “They’re waiting for me to betray my country. The other day, I heard the grocer call me a ‘Jap.’ I heard it loud and clear.”

    “No one uses that word anymore!”

    “I’m worried. I want you two to be careful.”

    Mason gave Baaba a hug.

    Lily gathered the teacups and packed away the cookies. As she washed the dishes, she could see the street from the kitchen window. It was a Sunday in Sacramento. A neighbor was mowing the lawn; another one was pulling truckloads of groceries out of her sedan. How many families had she seen in houses like that? She had never felt different. Perhaps, they didn’t see differences either. She hoped so.

    The doctors said that it would become easier. Once Baaba forgot more, she’d be left with her earlier memories and she’d be content.

    What they didn’t say was what happens to people with early memories like Baaba. She was incarcerated as an “enemy alien,” she spent her childhood in the cramped quarters of an internment camp, she lost her dear brother to the war, and when they were free to return, they found that there was nothing left of their old life on S Street. Their home wasn’t theirs. Their clients, their friends, their reputations were scattered across California in the hands of families that were more American than them.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      I can’t seem to write a story in 500 words. Doesn’t help that I’m typing on my phone and there’s no word count indicator. Sorry for the length!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        J, there are lots of mistakes our country has done but none worse then.the camps during WWII. It appears strange to me it continues today. Not with the Japanese, however but pick what race you want to and chances are there’s nut cases that can’t handle it.

        Your story really hits home with me because the children are carefully mentioning we ought to downsize and I tell them to mind their own business so I ‘m not much different than your Babaa but I do know what day it is. Your prose is unusually sharp and perfectly balanced for your story.

        1. J.Fujimaru

          Thanks Kerry, for the thoughtful comments.

          As a Japanese American (although of mixed origin) from the SF Bay and Sacramento that community and parts of that history has always been around. It’s not necessarily my family’s history but nevertheless it was a story I wanted to tell because, as you said, that hate is still around. Unfortunately, I think it’s particularly relevant right now. I just hope nothing like that happens again.

          And also hope you get to stay in your house! No need to downsize if you can manage your own place.

    2. Big Tastey

      Hello J. Thank you for your kind words. I thought your story was a heart felt tale about unconditional love and the traumas that stay with us for far too long. Well done.

    3. madeindetroit

      Thanks for sharing this touching story. This is well-written and your dialogue is sharp. You took a difficult subject and told an emotional, heartfelt story. Great job.

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      J., the characters in the stories you give us each week are amazing. This story moved me for several personal reasons. My late, former father-in-law, and his two brothers, were bussed from Billings, Montana, to build the Hart Mountain Wyoming interment camp just before he enlisted. He wouldn’t talk much about the experience except to say the local workers were concerned because there was no insulation, the California plans didn’t consider the Wyoming winters. Then a few years ago we attended a presentation by a man who lived there as a child. When I asked about the cold, he said they did finally get a form of insulation that the “residents” installed. A sad bit of history. We also heard about the young men who enlisted to fight for their country.

      1. J.Fujimaru

        As a Californian, I just can’t imagine what it must have been like to be pulled out of that gentil climate to Wyoming winters without insulation.

        Thanks, Reatha for your kind words each week.

  24. Turkey Girl

    (This probably doesn’t follow the prompt exactly, and I don’t even believe in this conspiracy theory, but I felt it was appropriate to remember the people who died so many years ago today.)

    December 7, 1941

    Whirling in astonishment, Steve broke into a run trying to keep up with his friend. “Where are you going? What’s going on?” he panted, grabbing Rick’s arm and trying to get him to stop.

    Rick didn’t even slow down. He’d shot out of the building, and he was still speeding towards his car. “We’ve got to get to the airfield,” he said, slamming his car door.

    Steve slipped inside the sedan just as Rick hit the gas and started directing the car away from the office building. “Why? Won’t you tell me where you’re going? What are you doing?”

    “Dude, seriously? Can’t you hear the bombs? It’s the Japanese! They’re bombing us off the face of the Earth!”

    “What the h3ll? Why? They never declared war with us! We had no idea they were coming!”

    Rick looked sideways at Steve. “You sure about that?” He darted through a red light, ignoring the blaring car horns sounding all around him.

    “Yes! I mean, they did say there was no need for a Japanese embassy any more, and the guy from the embassy did meet with the president, but surely, they would have warned us!”

    Rick shook his head. Already the airfield was starting to come into view up ahead. “Maybe they weren’t sure, but I find it hard to believe that this is a complete surprise attack. The enemy’s supposed to give us a declaration of war. They must have given us something.”

    There was a loud crash as a bomb hit the ground ten yards from their car. Dirt spat up from the ground, hitting the car like hail. Rick swerved the car away from a parked vehicle, then turned straight for the airfield, driving out onto the grass close to where the planes were.

    “They did give us something. The government was just too busy to tell us.” He hit the brakes hard, throwing Steve forwards, almost into the windshield. “Come on, we’ve gotta be in the air before there are no planes left at all.”

    Steve nodded, opening his door and running towards the line of P-40 Warhawks. “Is anyone in the air yet?”

    Rick glanced quickly up at the sky. “The only planes I can see are A6Ms. Looks like we’re the first pilots up. I wonder what’s taking the others so long. There’s no way we can get rid of all those planes by ourselves, but we might as well give it a shot. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”

    Steve sighed, rolling his eyes. “You’d better be right. Otherwise, we’re as good as dead.”

    The Warhawks were only a few yards ahead of them. As the A6Ms continued to circle overhead, Rick made a dash for his P-40. Sliding the canopy open, he started to get inside, motioning to Steve to remove the chocks from behind his wheels. Steve dashed in and took them out, retreating to give Rick room to launch. The planes engine coughed several times, then finally settled to a steady purr.

    There was a screaming sound from above as a D3A swooped down, carrying its deadly payload. Rick barely had time to look up before a 550 pound bomb slammed into his P-40. There was an explosion of flames which enveloped him in seconds, grabbing Steve as well. A line of bombs fell, destroying the other Warhawks as well. Lying on the ground with his life leaking out of him with his blood, Steve watched as the Japanese planes flew away. A faint smile touched his lips.

    “The government couldn’t have known it would be this bad. That doesn’t matter. At least I died trying. I’ll do my duty, even if it costs me my life.” He closed his eyes, lying still on the ground as more and more of his blood spilled out of his chest.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      I find it interesting that we both wrote about the Japanese during the war, although different perspectives and different “Japanese.” We also posted around the same time…

      Well done! Very tense scene you have written here. I really felt for Steve in the last part.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Girl, you had my heart pounding away even though I knew how it ended. We were blind-sided and I am certain there were people in high places, real high places that expected a raid but certainly did not expect the damage we ended with. Your info was dead on, I liked your research.

          The battle of Midway, the next year, spelled doom for Japan but it did not bring the dead back from Pearl Harbor. I heard no news media mention Dec 7 th. What a shame !

          1. Turkey Girl

            Thank you so much. It’s true, most of the world seems to have forgotten what Dec 7th really is, but what’s important is that some people still remember. To be honest, most of my research came from playing a video game, watching a movie, and looking at several websites, but I’m glad it was sufficient to write an okay piece. I’m glad you enjoyed it!!!

    2. madeindetroit

      Great action and suspense in this piece. The details sprinkled throughout lend authenticity to the story. We lost many heroes on that day and your words here captured their story. Nice job.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      A few years ago we toured Pearl Harbor on the 8th when the wreaths of the survivors who’d passed the previous year were fresh. We also heard a survivor speak. Powerful memories brought back by your powerful piece.

  25. rlk67

    “Let’s do this,” whispered the man in the glasses. “Heaven can’t wait.”

    “I agree,” murmured the lady from Chinatown. “Enough is enough.”

    They stared at each other, sizing up the wrinkles on the other’s face.

    “They remember us once every half-century. Hmmph.” The man in reds gave a snort.

    “Let’s ruin the young ‘uns. Give ’em something to talk about. Has the switch been done?” She spoke like an inferno.

    The man arose. “Of course, M’ Dearest. It’s showtime.”

    They stifled the smiles. Waved to the crowd. Oh, this would send a message.


    “And the winner is…LaLa Land! Uh…oops!”

  26. E.C

    “Uh,” Sam poked her head through the small gap left by the half opened door, “hello?” She saw papers and red yard everywhere, chalkboards covered in writings so small she’d need a magnifying glass to read it. She called out again. A pile of crumpled papers seemed to suddenly erupt like a volcano out of the trash bin. A small man emerged.

    “Arlo!” Sammy exclaimed as the small man stepped out of the trash can.

    “Hello Samantha.” He said matter-of-factly as he inspected his most recent cork-board creation.

    “Is that-” Samantha began.

    “President Confeld, yes.” Arlo interjected and picked up a stray piece of red yard and tied it to the push pin that held up the president’s portrait. Arlo skimmed the board for a moment, muttering incoherently to himself. Arlo’s eyes glinted almost in a murderous anger when he realized something from his board was wrong. This often happened when he was missing things or mixed up a part of his timeline. “This is wrong,” He ripped the board from the wall and tossed it aside.

    “Hey! I just bought that for you, don’t toss it away!” Sam had a murderous glare of her own which only appeared when Arlo wasted her time and money.

    “Do you know what I’ve been investigating?” Arlo suddenly brought up, “Do you know how important it is to the rest of the country? Even after all these years, all the connections I’ve made. None of them could de-bar these documents!” He kicked a thin manila folder my way. I opened it up to see a a single sheet of paper, marred by black bars covering up nearly every sentence except for someone’s initials: T.E.F.

    “T.E.F? The Eternal Flames.” Samantha blurted out as Arlo’s face paled.

    “Who are they?” He asked as he picked up the cork board again.

    “They’re a metal band.” Samantha’s eyebrow raised in suspicion. “Why?”

    “They just might hold the key to figuring out if humans actually still exist today.”

  27. ShamelessHack

    “Oh, golly! What’s going on?” She looked at her three companions in shocked disbelief. Her eyes were wide with a newfound fear.
    The T.M.’s voice was so dry it almost creaked. “Its no surprise that you couldn’t see the conspiracy we’ve been nurturing since you met us. It was so easy to fool you. You were so naïve, girl, and we’re really very good at what we do.”
    She backed away a few steps, and could hardly take her eyes off him, but then the S.C. chimed in, “Yep, you foolish girl, the three of us had you faked out all right, uh-huh.” He nodded stupidly, and hoped he had enough smarts to do now what they had planned to do.
    “I don’t believe it!” Her stomach was churning with the newfound knowledge that her friends had been lying and conspiring against her. She turned to the third one. “And you, too, huh? You’re in on this also, you big chicken?”
    The C.L. backed away. “I actually am pretty b-brave, but I’ve been hiding it w-well.”
    She spat on the ground in front of him, making sure the spit didn’t hit her little dog.
    “OK, enough time wasting, girl,” The T.M. said to her. “Give ‘em here.” He reached toward her feet and his rusty elbows creaked along with the rest of his body.
    “Yeah, fork them over,” The S.C. tried to rush her, but his knees were, as usual, very weak, and he nearly fell down.
    “Give them to us!” The C.L. roared hesitantly, but he was too afraid to run at her, and his tail gave a cowardly twitch.
    “Never! You’re so bad! All three of you!” she yelled. “I’m going back to Kansas!”
    Quickly she picked up her little dog, turned on her heels and shouted over her shoulder, “You’ll never, ever get your hands on my ruby slippers!”
    Holding Toto tight in her arms, she took off at top speed.
    The bricks beneath her feet were a yellow blur.

  28. ReathaThomasOakley

    A Marie Story
    September 6, 1954
    (A few weeks ago several comments asked about Granny.)

    Josephine pulled a brush through her long hair, now gray and thin as cobweb. Didn’t used to be this way, she thought, used to be so thick Lucas’d get his fingers caught in the curls.

    She leaned into the triple mirror, pitted with age, to better see as she twisted the tresses into a tight bun at the back of her neck, and pinned it for the day ahead the way she’d done nearly every day for over fifty years. The dresser, and the neatly made bed reflected behind her, had been wedding presents from her folks, a gift to make up for how they’d fought her over Lucas, the tall stranger with snapping dark eyes, black hair and mustache, so different from the pale freckled boys she knew.

    He’d brought a crew down from Georgia to tap her daddy’s pines for naval stores, always had a joke or a story, usually about his daddy, famous for fighting off the Yankees. My folks, she’d tell him, were smarter than that, headed south, fought the land, and won, didn’t lose one man nor boy.

    She stood up from the dresser chair, unbuttoned her nightgown, slipped her arms from the sleeves, pulled the cotton slip over her head, down under the gown, to her arms, then pulled the gown over her head, the same way her mama’d taught her and her sisters, modest in all ways and always. But, before she put on her dress she felt under her left breast for the growing lump she’d first discovered three months before.

    One more thing, she thought, one more thing out to get me. She knew Junior and Gary were planning something way in the back yard, knew she should go out and see, but most days she didn’t care. She’d took in Junior and Marie after their daddy got sent off, then took care of things when their mama went foolish over some Coast Guard boy and got in the family way. Brought Elva’s lawful husband home, so his name’d be on Gary’s birth certificate.

    That’s what she’d done most all her life, took care of things, married who she wanted, buried three babies, raised twelve more, then when Lucas’d turned away from her and her flat breasts and round belly, took care of that grass widow living next to his garden.

    When Lucas died right on their front porch, she buried him out in her family’s cemetery, ordered a stone with her name and birth date already on it, just waiting for the final engraving.

    Tomorrow school would start and Marie and Gary’d be gone days, just Junior home. Five months he’d leave, maybe the Army’d make something of him, but she already saw his daddy in Junior’s eyes.

    She pulled cotton stockings over her swollen ankles to the garter rolls, she needed to ask one of the girls to buy her some new ones, these were getting stretched out. Then she took her Bible from the top of the chest of drawers, put it on the bed, knelt beside it, and read 2 Chronicles 33: 23-24. And humbled not himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself; but Amon trespassed more and more. And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house.

    Then Josephine prayed.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Your words are like art on display. Never have I known a person as well as Josephine in your story here. In 1954, breast cancer was almost a death sentence and when they did the surgery it far more difficult to recover from the damage. By the way in your story there are two names that jumped right off the page. My Mother’s name was Elva and I have my youngest grand daughter named Josephine
      Your heart and soul is in this story and it certainly shows in every word.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, Kerry. I think there are rough spots, but I wanted to get it done and posted. Elva and Josephine are cousins’ names. And, the cancer story is real.

    2. JRSimmang

      For you, a novel in the making as well. I wondered why Granny was such an ornery old cuss, and I think she’s perfect in her creation. This is such a beautiful vignette. The Bible verse at the end too reveals how she sees the entire family. Again, I can’t help but feel Junior is going to do something tragic.

    3. J.Fujimaru

      This is a family that I want to keep learning about and this is a book I’d like to read. I love granny even more after reading this. Seeing things from her perspective made this story and these characters delightfully complicated.

  29. jhowe

    The rotund one limped down the hallway wearing a faded flannel robe. His Chihuahua bounced on the couch, yapping at a nonexistent rabbit outside the window.

    “That’s alright Momma,” the 82 year old man said to the dog that continued to bark. “You ain’t never caught a rabbit as it is so no sense starting now.”

    From another room, a feeble voice called out. “Shut that damn dog up or I’m gonna let the little bitch out.”

    “Oh, c’mon, John. You’re 100 years old. Give yourself and Momma a break, will ya.”

    “I may be 100 but I’m a spring chicken compared to Jimmy.”

    Jimmy Hoffa held a cupped hand to his ear and stared somewhere to the right. Both younger men raised their abundant eyebrows.

    “Don’t worry about it, Jimmy,” John said. He walked to the window and looked out. “I miss Marilyn.” A long sigh. “Oh, and Jackie too, rest her soul.”

    “Yeah, we all miss Marilyn,” the rotund one said. “You know, Love me Tender was about her.”

    “Oh, bull, Elvis.” You never even met the lady.”

    Jimmy Hoffa crapped on the floor.

    “Oh, that’s just great,” Elvis said. “And I did meet her. She came to Graceland once and I saw her from my bathroom window. I came down just as she was leaving.”

    “Did you do her?”

    “Is that all you Kennedy’s think about?”

    “Basically, yes.”

    “No, Pricilla was right there. I waited until later, at her hotel.”

    “I hate this place,” John said.

    “Me too.”

    Kurt Cobain walked in the room and circumvented the crap on the floor. “Hey, Elvis, I forgot how to play a B chord.”

    “You’re asking me? I ain’t never been able to play a guitar.”

    “I hope they send in that good looking nurse with our pills today,” John said.

    “Dream on old man,” Kurt said. “She freaked out when I grabbed her ass the other day.”

    “You know,” Elvis said. “I’ve been watching the news and we’d all be in dire straits if we were out in the world nowadays, thanks to Harvey Weinstein.”

    “Yeah, I guess we’re better off in here.”

    Jimmy Hoffa walked by, farting with every step. The three men shook their heads and settled in to wait for the nurse.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Good Lord, what a group. I wonder how long it took Jimmy to chisel off the concrete and unwrap the rebar around his body. Seems like the only one there with any sense is the Chihuahua

        Caught the phrases​ also. Wish I could be there with the guys but I have better things to do.

  30. Kerry Charlton


    While writing his thesis for graduate school, Bret Cummings chose Washington Irving and his story, ‘The Headless Horseman, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow‘. Rumors had persisted for over a hundred years that Washington had based his story on real people.

    Bret’s thesis, a conspiracy on the conspiracy of the Legend, where Katrina van Tassel had conspired with one of her suitors, Brom Bones in order to chase away another unsuitable admirer, Ichabod Crane, a school master.

    The plot of Washington’s story was simple enough. Ichabod, being superstitious, had shown fear while hearing the story of the ’Headless Horseman‘. One evening, Katrina and Brom, along with Ichabod had attended a dance celebrating Halloween. Katrina had curtly resisted Ichabod’s advances at the party causing him to leave early.

    Unknown to Ichabod, Brom had mounted his horse in costume resembling the legend, ’The Headless Horseman‘. He followed Ichabod mounted on a borrowed horse, making his way home late at night. Ichabod, who noticed right away, realized he was pursued by the legend and rode full speed to a bridge. As he looked back, the headless horseman, removed his head and threw it at Ichabod, causing him to faint, slip off his horse and drown in the river below.

    Months of research by Bret had turned up an amazing resemblance to the story. The year was 1841, illegimate twin sisters had been raised by two aunts when the girls mother had died during the birth. One girl, Katrina was raised in Sleepy hollow, while her identical twin, Catherine grew up with the other aunt in a small town near by, Dobbs Ferry.

    The girls knew each other but kept it a secret because of their past. Time went by and Katrina, being of age was courted by a teacher, Isaac Crownworthy and also a wealthy land owner’s son, Brian Brownwell. Since the events were clouded by a hundred and fifty years, the story ended there, but not quite,

    In searching cemeteries in Sleepy Hollow, two headstones were located, side by side, Katrina Bromwell and the second, Brian Brownwell. Thst fit nicely with Washington‘s story but in a desolated church ruin, in Dobbs Ferry, their cemetery also had two markers, one marked Isaac Crownworthy, the other, Katrina Crownworthy.

    So obviously, Isaac didn’t drown but Katrina couldn’t had married both, Further evidence proved nothing. Finally Bret’s mind came to only one conclusion. The Katrina at the dance was not her, but her twin sister who agreed to the switch, leaving the real Katrina to marry her real lover, Isaac Crownworthy. and live in peace in Dobb‘s Ferry.

    ‘So what do we have?’ thought Brian, ‘a conspiracy of a conspiracy? Further more’ he thought,’ a third conspiracy?’ Washington wrote real history and changed the plot and told no one?’

    Bret gathered all his notes on his thesis, shoved them in his fireplace and lit a match.

    ‘You secret’s safe with me, Mr. Washington.’

    ; .

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, this brought back memories of a Disney program on Washington Irving with a very frightening version of The
      Legend plus an intro with Irving entertaining a group, explaining how Manhattan got its name. Great way to use the prompt and remind me of something few others here can recall.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha for your nice comments. The first time I saw Disney’s film, it scared the cahoots out of me and I think I was old enough to know better.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Nice conspiracy theory! This story terrified me as a child. I like this version, though, because I always felt bad for Ichabod.

      I like how Bret burned his notes to keep Washington’s secret but I’m worried about how he’ll finish his thesis!

  31. BBwrites

    I’ve never had strong sea legs. Even as a child, I would turn green just from sitting in a canoe, much to my father’s disappointment. The daughter of a sailor, who despised boats.
    He asked me to go out with him on his boat with him, – “you might like it today” – but I told him I wanted to see my brother, Michael, and that he should meet us at the pub in the evening.
    “He should be here already surely, he’s been out since 8am,” Michael says, draining the glass of his second beer.
    I shrug, “you know what he gets like. At one with the ocean,” I say mockingly.
    Michael goes to the bar and orders us another round. Just as he gets back to our table, the front doors are flung open. There stands our father, his eyes sparkling bright, an expression of fear and excitement written all over him. “Michael! Rach!” He storms over, and I can see he’s sweating profusely, his clothes are wet and there’s a bruise on his head that appears to be darkening by the second.
    “Dad, is everything okay?” I say, standing up to greet him. He sits, and drinks Michael’s beer all in one. Michael raises his eyebrows, “I guess I’ll get another.”
    “No, no,” Dad says, grabbing Michael’s arm to stop him, “Rachel, sit. I… I have to tell you both something.”
    Michael and I glance at each other nervously.
    “Dad, what is it? You’re scaring me,” I say.
    He takes a deep breath. “This is… this is huge. It’s going to sound crazy, I know, but, I saw it,” he says, “the edge.”
    We wait for him to continue. “The edge?” Michael presses.
    “The edge of the world!” Dad shouts. A few people glance over and I smile nervously.
    “Dad. You realise what you’re saying right?” I whisper. “Have you been drinking?”
    He laughs loudly. “I know it sounds crazy, but I was there!” He says excitedly, “I saw it. I did it. I got to the edge of the earth. It proves everything! The earth… it’s flat.”
    I bite the sides of my cheeks to stop myself from laughing and Michael drops his head into his hand. “You’re having us on,” he groans.
    “Come off it Dad. Do you hear what you’re saying?”
    “Everything started off as normal,” Dad explains, ignoring our disapproval, “and then I got hit by the storm… I didn’t think I would make it back. I’ve never seen such huge waves.”
    My stomach flips at the thought of the waves crashing down, the boat being thrown across the ocean.
    “I slipped on the deck and hit my head… I was unconscious for… I don’t know, hours? Minutes? I don’t know,” he says, rubbing his bruised forehead. “And when I woke up… My boat was marooned on a grassy island, and I could see the edge.”
    Michael and I stare at our father in silence.
    “It was magical. Heavenly. Surrounded by grass, a beautiful waterfall with the darkest blues of water spilling down. And over the edge, I could see endless stars!”
    “I bet you could, how hard did you hit your head?” he asks, reaching over to prod Dad’s forehead. “Do you want us to take you to the doctor?”
    Dad swats Michael away. “I know what I saw, Michael. You believe me, don’t you Rachel?” he looks at me for reassurance.
    I squirm, “dad, I… Are you saying you actually think the Earth is… flat?”
    He nods excitedly. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I saw it with my own eyes. You should have come, Rachel.”
    Michael digs his phone out of his pocket. “I’m calling the doctor, this is ridiculous.”
    Dad reaches out and snatches his phone. “No. Let me show you,” he says. “I’ll take you there!”
    I look at Michael nervously, “I… I can’t.”
    Michael shrugs and pushes my drink towards me, “Dutch courage.”
    Dad smacks the table with his hand enthusiastically, “that’s the spirit!”

    1. pven

      Well, good on you to include a flat earth conspiracy. One would dispute the story, however, if the guy found the edge within a day. I would recommend having him out for at least a week for credibility’s sake (you know what I mean), more likely a month.

      I would also recommend starting the story with the Dad bursting into the bar. Your beginning leads us to believe the tale will be about Rachel’s inability to go sailing. Instead, we pivot, just like the tenses, to the conspiracy plotline.

      But I think this is due to an instinct that you have that there’s a deeper story to tell about Rachel and her Dad’s relationship. He says repeatedly that she should come, looks to her for reassurance. Why not Michael? That interests me.

      1. BBwrites

        Ahhh, I did actually think the same about having the dad lost at sea for a week!! And then I thought I’d get away with it with a little creative license. I should have spent a bit more time tuning this one rather than rushing it to get it posted. Maybe I’ll edit it and post another draft. Thanks for your feedback!

  32. Big Tastey

    Ogg fell down.

    Embarrassed, he quickly stood back up. The clan would never let him carry a spear if they thought he was clumsy. He’d never get to hang out with the guys at the watering hole. He’d never live in his own cave. He’d have to live in the grunt cave with the basket weavers forever, and stay behind on all of the hunts to tend to the fire pot. That’s when Ogg remembered the fire pot.

    He searched the ground until he found it. What he saw sent him into a panic. The fire pot had broken when he fell and the fire had gone out. Stupid Ogg! It was his responsibility to make sure the fire was always lit. Ogg sat down, wishing for a long tooth to come by and eat him. He hit himself hard on the head and that gave him an idea.

    Everyone in the clan would expect him to visit them before nightfall to light their fires in order to keep their caves warm and scare away the long teeth. But Ogg couldn’t do that because he didn’t have the fire pot anymore and he didn’t know how to make fire. Everyone would blame him for being cold or getting eaten, or stubbing their toes in the dark, unless Ogg could blame someone else. Ogg thought up an ingenious plan. He was going to blame Ug, the leader of the clan that lived downriver.

    He looked around on the ground until he found a large rock. Then he hit himself in the head with it. Not once, but twice. He picked up the pieces of the broken fire pot and, bringing the rock, he ran to find his clan leader.

    His clan leader was standing on a ledge talking to the boys about their next hunt when Ogg ran up to him. Ogg showed him his now bleeding head, and he pointed at the rock.

    “Ug.” Ogg said.

    Then Ogg showed him the broken fire pot. His clan leader looked confused at first, but he eventually figured out what Ogg was saying.

    “Ug Ogg ooooooo?” clan leader said.

    “Ug ooooooo Ogg.” Ogg said.

    His clan leader let out a yell. It was obvious that Ug and his clan wanted their warm, dry caves for themselves. Why else would they destroy their fire? Clan leader handed Ogg a spear and pointed upriver. They were going to find Ug and Ogg was joining them.

    Ogg felt bad about the beatdown they were about to give to Ug and his clan, but he finally had a spear, and he was going to keep his mouth shut, because conspiracies can’t stand the light of day.

    [This is the earliest known conspiracy in the history of humankind, backed up by the circumstantial evidence of a human hand print on a cave wall in southern France (most probably Ogg’s). Next to the hand print is a crude drawing of a rock and a broken fire pot.]

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Your responses to the prompts are alway very creative. The dialogue in this one is excellent! Loved it! And the last note at the end. Obviously that cave painting is about this story. There could be no other explanation.

  33. darkmic

    Like every year many younglings gathered to view new scientific foundings. This year was even more glorious thanks to the greatest Ze. After walking and looking like it seems for hours.
    A Ze pointed a finger at the display the new reconstructed primitive animal that lived many many years ago.
    „What is that?“
    Docent looked at the exhibit „Oh, that is a Human“
    „Not that! The appendix hanging between the legs“
    „The Scientists suggest Homo erectus did drink with it, like the elephants
    it is obvious why they died out, they just couldn´t drink enough water“

    Another Ze pointed at different kind of primate it had no hair except on the head and fleshy mounds of useless fat
    „With what did they drink with?“
    The Docent looked rather embarrassed „Oh we think they called themselves Homo sapiens and there is a theory that they drank with the same place they discharged the waste“
    „EWW, humans are disgusting“ was a common thought.

    A green Ze chipped in „We can’t believe they were ever on top of food chain, sure Homo sapiens have sharper claws than Homo erectus, but not by much and they were much smaller and weaker and they certainly learned how to store additional fat“ Ze pointed at the two fatty mounds.
    „Well that is theory of our greatest Ze, if you grow up to be the next greatest Ze you can change it“
    „Yes!“ everyone‘s eyes burned with fervour and ambition

    Some rather meek voices asked „But how did they die?“
    „Oh, we recovered some information from very primitive information storage unit and we are almost certain, that they experienced a sudden unexplainable evolution or rather mutation in many different genders that weren‘t compatible with each other and as such they ended up dying out.“
    „We don’t buy it, that sounds like some conspiracy theory,“ said the green Ze
    „Yeah, it is a truth universally acknowledged that there is only one gender“ agreed on the meek one
    „Okay enough for today, let’s go and lick some frozen chicken“

    1. pven

      Did you do something special with the quotation marks to get them that way? The end quotes look like you forced a “smart quotation mark” to appear, and then removed the letters after it. But the opening quotation mark… subscripting? That’s a lot of work.

          1. J.Fujimaru

            Oh my… I imagine Homo erectus had terrible kidneys.

            Clever story and creative use of punctuation! Those quotation marks really gave the dialogue an alien look.

          2. darkmic

            well, you put a mug there and just slurp it up…

            so any constructive critic? that could push me in the right direction lol…

  34. JRSimmang

    I felt I owed Gerry and Two a Parte Dos, so here’s my original response.


    The TARDIS fascinated Mobley. The other things about “Doctor Who” were accessory to the unique device that flew to different times, different whens, and shaped like a Police Call Box. It was unfortunate only eight still worked, and Mobley had visited each of them from Glasgow to London.

    “To be a Doctor is to understand the whole of the universe. There are no small enemies, and the only threats we actually face are the truly existential ones,” he explained to his companion, a ready ear, at the Run Down, the local watering hole. The steady clink of ice in glass, the understated rumble of speech, the occasional shout and yell of the Manchester fans all padded the bubble he reveled in.

    His companion took an artless swig from his drink before replying, “there are two different types of people in this world. Those who live in the mole hill and those who make a mountain from it.”

    “I don’t like your tone,” said Mobley. “It’s patronizing.”

    “And, you’re boring,” his companion replied, then took his cell phone from his front shirt pocket, unlocked it, and thumbed at the screen.

    “You’d rather take solace in that device.”

    “I’d rather you stop making a mountain and drink silently. To yourself. Away from everyone me.”

    Mobley took a deep breath, looked out into the bar, and found a seat by itself. “Hello, beautiful. I’ll keep you company,” he muttered to the table, then sat, pulled out his notepad, and started scribbling ideas.

    He kept his full notepads in a filing cabinet at home, and they ranged in topics from interdimensional beings and galactic domination to more ergonomic toilet brushes. This time, he wrote about blue lights. “The only threats to which we respond are existential ones, ones that are apparently dangerous.”

    He looked up at the guy he had been chatting with. His face was still planted on his smartphone’s screen. “It’s become such a part of society, that even spell check doesn’t catch the compound word. A decade ago, smart and phone were two separate words. Now, we can’t separate them.”

    He glanced over the rest of the room. “Eight. Ten. Fourteen. Twenty-three. Twenty-three people with their heads down, thumbs engaged. Reminds me of the Cybermen.”

    His heart started to race.

    “Cybermen,” he wrote. “The ultimate villains, even more dangerous than the Daleks. They lulled us into a false sense of security.” He counted the number of people with the Apple Air Buds. “They convinced us the earpieces were for convenience. Then, bzzt, right into our brains.”

    Mobley straightened up. Ice.

    Ice wasn’t clinking.

    “Did you see that?” he heard a woman ask.

    “Yeah!” shouted someone from the other side of the bar.

    “It’s on Insta and Twitter!”

    “And Facebook!”

    “Facebook? Who uses Facebook any more?”

    The man from the bar was the first to get up. He grabbed his stool. Then, the man next to him. Then the woman in the corner.

    Then, everyone.

    Everyone but Mobley.

    As if on a stage, they moved in a coordinated march out the door.

    Mobley scribbled it all down in his notepad. Then, the first explosion rocked the walls of the bar.

    “We only respond if the threat is large enough,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, we never know what the true threat is if we are distracted by a convincing mirage.

    “We have fallen victim to the mirage.”

    He continued to think about getting in a Police Call Box and transporting himself across the universe while the fires consumed the streets. Mobley, it seemed, was better off in the bar.

    -JR Simmang

    1. pven

      Your message is something that I’ve been trying to elucidate myself. Nothing I’ve written has come out as clearly as this: “We have fallen victim to the mirage.” I find it ironic that your MC’s foil illustrates this perfectly after accusing the MC of living in a mountainous molehill.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          JR, you have the same frown.that I inherited when.the smart phone arrived. Ask a person under.twemty to write a letter by hand and you might as well ask him to build a suspension bridge. Ask him. to look his girl friend directly while talking to her and he will tell you all speech comes from the side panels of a mouth
          Hazing is still with us, gazing is not. Can anyone write in long hand who’s under twenty? Of course not. Your style is bringing me back out of my shell watch out!

  35. pven

    “Merry Christmas!” John burst in through the front door, attempting his Will Bailey impersonation. His family returned the greeting, although not as boisterously.

    “You’re extra cheerful today,” said Ryan.

    “Damn straight I am. With Trump in the White House, Christmas is back and it’s better than ever! It’s safe to say ‘Merry Freaking Christmas’ again. Best Christmas ever, am I right? The war on Christmas is OVER!”

    Their Dad grunted as he rose from his recliner. “Put your jacket back on, son,” he instructed.

    “What? Dad, I just got here.”

    “Yeah, I noticed. You too, Ryan. I want to show you boys something.”

    Dad led his sons outside. It was a crisp, clear night. Breath clouds plumed in the air as the three walked to the curb.

    “Look around, boys,” Dad said. “Tell me what you see.”

    The street was illuminated by houses covered with a myriad of lights and decorations. Inflatable igloos, snowmen, penguins, and Santa Clauses hummed and whirred upon the yards. The house to their left was nearly blanketed in lights that flickered on and off to Christmas carols being played over outdoor speakers. The homeowners to the right had draped their roof with alternating sheets of green and red or blue and white strings that spasmed as though silently battling for holiday dominance. Other homeowners had arranged their lights to spell words, form large sparkling snowflakes. Across the street, a spotlight shone into the night sky next to illuminated arrows directing sleigh traffic.

    “It’s beautiful,” John said.

    “I mean, I was hoping for a white Christmas, but this is pretty nice,” Ryan agreed.

    Dad stood a few steps away from his boys, silently looking up at the sky. Then he said:

    “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.’
    “Matthew 2.”

    He studied the boys’ puzzled faces.

    “Ever since Thomas Edison invented the electric light they’ve been finding bigger and more ostentatious ways to separate humanity from the Heavens. Stringing pretty strands of lights all over the outside of everyone’s house seemed a ludicrous way to do it. But look at us.
    “It’s a sad thing that we’re all so eager to wash out from the sky the sign that let the world know the Christ child was born. The war on Christmas over?” Dad nodded. “Probably. Looks like we lost.”

    He turned on his heels and walked back to the house, leaving his sons to stare at the clear, grey slate above them.

    1. JRSimmang

      I’ll echo the sentiments of the others here. However, I didn’t get the obtuse message. Instead, I found the message to be that our culture is causing spiritual disintegration. We get so caught up in the tradition that we forget why we have the tradition in the first place.

      1. pven

        This is great feedback, JR.
        It tells me that I focused more on describing the stuff on the yards and houses, but neglected to illustrate that they emitted enough light to fool the streetlamps’ photosensors into thinking it was still day.

        Thank you.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      I agree that Christmas decoration can’t compare to the beauty of the sky on a clear cold night. Light pollution is a sad thing in so many ways. Nice story pven!

  36. creaturescry

    “Hey Tex do you think the Greeks existed?” Lewis asked while polishing his gun one night.

    “Of course the Greeks existed,” Tex said, looking through the binoculars over the top of the fox hole, “what made you think otherwise?”

    “Just a conspiracy theory I heard from Mike.”

    Tex pulled the binoculars away from his face and rubbed his forehead. Only Mad Mike would say the Greeks didn’t exist. He was that special sort of guy with a mind that tended to roam just a little too far off the pastures. He believed crazy things like the moon was still made of cheese, the black plague was made by the king, and that giant rodent people lived under base. On the flip side every mainstream conspiracy theory was “fake” and lacked evidence to be a true theory. He really had to worry for the guy if he believed the Greeks never existed, especially since Greece was still a country.

    “What did Mike tell you?” Tex sat down in the fox hole, giving Lewis a hard look.

    “Well that the Greeks were fabricated by the Romans,” Lewis replied, spitting on the cloth and rubbing the barrel of the gun harder.

    “Why In the world would the Greeks be made up by the Romans?”

    “Because China wanted to claim the land and the Romans didn’t want China as their neighbor,” he answered casually, “so the Romans made up Greece so China wouldn’t take the land.”

    “Then why was there Greek art? Greek Philosophers? Greek history? Greek yogurt for Pete’s sake!”

    “Because the Romans had to make it believable or else it wouldn’t have worked.”

    “Oh really? The Romans just made up everything.”

    “Hey that’s what he said,” he swiveled around and propped his gun on the ground above, aiming it towards a thick bit of forest,”besides it’s fun to think about those sort of things actually being true, it changes your perspective on things doesn’t it?”

    Tex didn’t admit it but Lewis actually had a good point for once. Conspiracies were a way for them to revamp their view on the world, to make it seem less stale. People naturally loved to feel outraged, which would explain why everyone was so obsessed with politics nowadays.Theories were a quick fix when people didn’t have the time nor energy to keep track of the godfather like structure of the political parties. What made people so addicted to the idea that their life was a lie after all? Tex ran a hand through his hair, now that was something he could never truly understand.

    “Hey Tex!” Lewis nudged him, his face turned pale, ”I think I see the enemy, but I can be sure since we both have green uniforms.”

    Tex pulled out binoculars again and looked across at the forest, “fire only on my command.”

    1. creaturescry

      I know I already posted a submission, but I actually like this one a bit more. The same thing happened to me last week with the Duality prompt. Next time I won’t post so quickly and actually take more time to pick out which attempt I liked best.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I don’t think there’s a rule against submitting twice. You do a good job with your characters and their dialogue. I really liked the line ending with Greek yogurt. And, the explanation of conspiracy theories made me think. An enjoyable read.

  37. brookefischbeck

    (I actually am 14 lol, so sorry if some of my grammar is incorrect)

    It was the summer of my eighth grade year, when I was 14. In a small town that was unnoticed by the world, Talia, Oregon, a white speck flew over a small lake. It was the last day of summer, and the inhabitants were supposed to be enjoying it, except for me and my friends. We were swimming in my pool, trying to escape the sweltering sun, when I looked up and saw a speck of white in the sky, small enough to be a snowflake. I pointed it out to my friend, Theodore. “Hey, Theo, do you see that?”
    “Yeah, what is it?” He replied,squinting up at the sky. His wide rimmed glasses reflected the sun onto the shimmering surface of the pool.
    “I dunno.” My other friend, Ivy replied, “A bird?” Her raven colored hair was so wet it looked purple.
    “It’s probably a UFO.” I shrugged, and dipped underwater, treasuring the coolness of it. When I came back up, Ivy and Theo were staring at me, appalled and eyebrows raised.
    “A spaceship? Lilly, you’re crazy.” Ivy shook her head in laughter.
    “Don’t believe me? Look, it’s headed towards the woods. Let’s check it out.”
    I stamped out of the pool, towered off, and headed towards the woods by my house, tracing the speck in the sky with my finger. I wasn’t sure that I was right, but I was young and wanted some fun before the seemingly infinite number of summer days slipped out under my fingertips.
    I traveled deeper into the forest, comforted only by the sounds of my friends uneasy footsteps behind me. I saw the glint of metal behind a tree, and slowly, slowly crept towards it.
    A spaceship, white, was sitting in a pile of leaves, smoking. I stumbled backwards into Theo’s arms, skating at the sight. It filled me with a sense of fear that chilled me to my core. I was right! I was right, yet now, I didn’t want to be. Who knew what was inside that..that thing?
    “Geez, Lil, you were freaking right! You were right!” Ivy said, stumbling towards it with glee. “Imagine how famous we’ll be! Imagine!”
    I felt like I was going to vomit. The fear inside me engulfed me, black spots clouding my vision, as my friends laughter filled the air.
    “Wha..? What is that? WHAT IS THAT?!” I heard them yell.
    That was the last thing I remembered before the world went dark, and the fear that The Others brought engulfed the universe for centuries to come.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Brooke, nice to see you back. This is a great place for writers, no matter the age. I think your story could be the start of a longer piece for teen readers, if you keep it suspenseful and not end it abruptly. You have an interesting way with words and phrases, such as “a small town unnoticed by the world” that I really like.

      See you next week.

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Brooke, this is nicely done. And, well, you have plenty of time to learn grammar. You have teachers that will teach you for free for another four years! Yay!

      I agree with Reatha about turning this story into a teen novel. This is a great descriptive scene you’ve written here. Without that last paragraph, it’ll be suspenseful as well.

      1. brookefischbeck

        thank you!! I was running out of time at the end there, cause I wrote it in my math class that morning when I was supposed to be doing my homework (oops, my bad) lol

  38. RafTriesToWrite

    “Jason. My aunt gave me the chills yesterday”
    “Why? What happened?”
    “My aunt saw a man disappear in the library”
    “Disappear like, kidnapped or something?”
    “No dude, like, teleportation. You know the big bookstore two blocks from here right?”
    “Yeah? What about it?”
    “My aunt was there yesterday and a bunch of other people as well. So there’s this one dude in the middle of the path between the supernatural and mystery section wearing a yellow jacket with black sleeves and some jeans muttering something as he was reading some book. Then all of a sudden, this kinda bald guy also enters the room, looks at the guy with the yellow jacket and then poof. He disappears into thin air in front of like six or eight people and the book he was holding just dropped.”
    “Just dropped?”
    “Down to the ground. Then the librarian just picks up the book a few seconds later, like nothing happened. At all. It was crazy”
    “That sounds awesome!”
    “No Jason, it’s not. My aunt just stood there, flabbergasted. The people didn’t know what to do. She was shaking when she got home!”
    “Okay okay, so, what happened?”
    “Nothing man, that’s it. The bookstore is closed today, did you hear?”
    “Nah. Is it?”
    “Yeah. Apparently some guy was filming the whole thing and uploaded it on youtube.”
    “No way! I have to see it.”
    “I’ve been looking for it since this morning and I still can’t find it.”
    “Maybe you’re doing it wrong.”
    “Why don’t you try it then.”
    “Hang on.”
    “Hey, while you’re typing. You think my aunt was making all this stuff up?”
    “Nah man, your story sounds convincing enough for me.”
    “Hey Joey, do you think there are conspiracies going on about this now?”
    “Are you kidding me?! Reddit was blowing up with questions and theories about it since last night, and I’m just here going like ‘uhm, my aunt was there’”
    “But did you say it?”
    “No dude, that thread would blow up even more.”
    “I see.”
    “So, did you find the video yet?”
    “I think so.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Raf, I looked at this, then saw all the other videos with similar topics, and realized I know very little about so many things. This was a creative way to frame the prompt.

  39. AudsOrEvens

    I’m so embarrassed. Of all the times to act like an ass, he picks now.

    “No really!”, my husband bellowed across the table, cheek full of prosciutto and green olive hors d’oeuvre. “I saw DB Cooper in a little diner outside of Port Angeles right after he ‘disappeared’.” His fingers condescendingly folded over as air quotes. He maintained eye contact with poor Ms. Pearlman, my second-grade son’s teacher, while sucking down a rather large swig of his old-fashioned.

    During the entire PTA meeting beforehand, John took the time to let everyone know his position on the “ass-backward failure called common-core” and how he and his second-grade son “don’t take no crap”. Now at the post-meeting dinner, he was drunk and looking to discuss the finer points of everything from chem-trails to FEMA camps to anyone who would listen. His latest obsession has been on the man who jumped from an airplane in Washington state after stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    My patience was wearing thin. He’s frustrating me again.

    Seriously, who thinks to serve booze at a school dinner anyway? I thought while staring down at my leg of lamb, hand on my forehead. This better not continue.

    Ms. Pearlman, slightly inebriated herself, engaged. “Really? I thought DB Cooper conspiracy theorists died out in the 90’s.” A stringy piece of lamb hung precariously from the fork she pointed at my husband. “No one could survive a pitch-dark jump into the forest like that. Besides, what business would he have in some Podunk town?” The other parents at the table were fixated on John.

    “He jumped the ferry to Canada!” he slurred. “Then started that string of strip clubs named Cooper’s with his new fortune and lived out the rest of his days there!”

    “Strip clubs?” Ms. Pearlman’s eyebrow raised in a disapproving look only reserved for her second graders.

    “Have you been to Victoria?” My husband emptied his glass as if he were a desert explorer who was just offered water. He leaned back in his chair while smiling smugly, eyes to the ceiling, “Highest concentration of beautiful women I’ve ever seen – ”

    “Alright! That’s enough,” I interrupted as I pushed back from the table. “John, get your stuff please.” I hurriedly gathered my coat and purse. John was perplexed. I could feel the judging glances from the parents around us. I’m done with him today, I seethed.

    “Well,” I sighed as I scurried away from the table, drunk husband in tow, “It’s been wonderful meeting all of you.”

    After a little resistance, I rushed him out of the banquet hall of the local Best Western. He grabbed a beer from the ice bucket as we passed by the drink table.

    I took it from him.

  40. JRSimmang

    Pt. 2

    Wendy Starling sat staring out the window, twiddling the commemorative engraved pen she received in her fingers. The grass is so green, she thought. She had a view of the Potomac, and she closed her eyes to imagine the stores of firearms once hidden along the banks at Harper’s Ferry, how the people must have felt knowing that the world as they knew it would be forever different, that they would no longer trust their neighbors, that the unification of America may never happen again.

    So sad, this history, that we have been pulling against ourselves for so long and yet act surprised when this tapestry looks more like poorly tatted lace and less… whole.

    What is the cost of unification? Eradication? Silence? Renovation? Dismant-

    “Senator? You have a call on line 1.”

    Wendy sniffed, clicked her pen, and turned to face her secretary.

    “Call’s coming from Shaded Acres. Said there’s a townhall coming up about budget and he wanted to crunch some numbers with you first.”

    All of Wendy’s muscles tensed.

    “Shaded Acres?”

    “Yeah, the place for the criminally-”

    “I know! what Shaded Acres is.”

    Her secretary winced.

    “Thanks, Jane.”

    Once the door was closed, Wendy stared at the flashing light for line one.

    Her brother. He was still there, wasn’t he? no one would believe him. Plus, that stutter he has, that would make it difficult.

    “This is Senator Starling. How can I help you?”

    She heard a faint tapping on the other end.


    “Senator Starling, I have some information you want.”

    “Look. I don’t know how you were able to get past my interns, but I can assure you-”

    “Your brother is here.”

    Wendy snorted. “My brother’s not completely sane.”

    “Yeah, and he doesn’t have a stutter either.”

    The phone slipped from her hand, and she caught it with the other before flipping a switch on the side of the phone. “What did you say your name was?”

    “I didn’t.”

    She pulled up the city mainframe on her computer and navigated to Shaded Acres database. “I can have this phone traced.”

    “I know.”

    “I can find out who you are in just a couple strokes.”

    “I know that, too.”

    “I can have you killed.”

    “Not a chance. Not while I have your brother with me.”

    She clicked on the personnel link and scrolled through the hiring files. “Whatever he has on me, he’s lying. He’s trying to get out of there.”

    “I have no reason not to believe him.”


    “In fact, he’s been rather straightforward about Connecticut, about Boston, about Ferguson, about a lot of things. You’ve been busy starting a lot of fires, Mrs. Starling.”

    “And, you’ve been busy listening to a whole bunch of sh!t… Carl.”

    “Carl works in Sector 12.”

    Click. Open line.

    Wendy realized she was sweating. She swallowed hard and started running her hands through her hair, a nervous tic she’d had since she was young. “Jane!”

    “Yes, ma’am.” Jane popped her head through the open door.

    “I need you to get Chief Franklin on the phone. Tell him there’s about to be a breakout at Shaded Acres. Then, tell him my brother’s missing.”


    “Just do it!”

    Jane disappeared and Wendy heard her jabbering away on the phone. She wheeled her chair back around to the window, pen in hand, and started clicking the tip.

    Eradication, she thought, would be easiest. Eradication of all dissenting voices. Eradicate all who stand in her way.

    -JR Simmang

    1. madeindetroit

      Your writing has it all. You could definitely keep this going into a novel I’d read! The last sentence is quite revealing…You make it look too easy when it’s totally not.

  41. GrahamLewis


    Late night at the Old Soul’s Saloon, Halloween night, nearly closing time, and only two patrons remain. Talk turns to vampires.

    “It’s something they can’t help,” says old Billy, a pot-bellied thin-haired widower who spends most nights here, after a senior dinner at Denny’s. “They got to have blood whether they want or not. If they don’t have it they die horribly and if do they have it they can’t die. Condemned to live forever. Like addiction. ” He takes a long swig, sets down the mug, and wipes his hand across his mouth. “Gotta be. You ever tasted blood?”

    His tablemate, George, leans back in his chair. “Yep. ‘Nam, ‘67, Da Nang.”

    “Then you know what I mean. Nobody in his right mind would want that.”

    George leans forward again. His close-cut white hair, gray-black mustache, and ramrod shoulders make him look every bit the ex-Marine he is. Sharp as a tack, too. “You really believe that sh*t? Undeads and all that, wandering around, sucking blood? It’s garbage. Doesn’t make sense, not physical nor mental nor spiritual.”

    “That don’t make it untrue. Lots of things’re that way, like quantus physics or acupuncture. No sense, but people who know things say they’re true.”
    “Quantum.” Both look over at me. I’ve been quietly arranging glasses and wiping down the bar. “Quantum physics.”

    “Whatever. Point is, strange things happen and they can be true anyway.”

    “Okay. Could happen. But why?”

    Billy takes another long sip. “Government.”

    “Government? You mean an experiment gone bad in some secret lab?”

    Billy gets a sinister smile. “Nope. On purpose. Only way to keep people away from their control centers. You set a bunch of them loose in the woods around a facility, and before long people start disappearing, and before long after that, everybody else stays away.”

    I see my cue. “But what keeps them from running amok? How do they get them back?”

    Billy looks at me like I’m a simpleton. “Easy. Remember, they can’t stay out in the light. So in the morning the government sends trucks around and picks up the coffins and locks ‘em all away in a big storage room, till next time.”

    George looks at him open-mouthed, then winks at me. “There’s so much wrong with that I can’t even start.” He puts on his jacket. “That’s all the malarkey I can stand,” he says, “I only hope I get home safe.”

    Once the door slams I look at Billy. “So I suppose there was a point to all that?”

    “Sure was, RG. As long as we keep them thinking that we undead are either desperate blood-sucking monsters or the lunatic meanderings of drunks, they won’t see the real us. Hard enough being condemned to live without people like him nosing around.”

    I pull out a small vial of pills and offer him one. He takes it, and I take another. We clink glasses. “Here’s to another day of endless life.”

    1. JRSimmang

      I’m so glad you’ve kept RG behind the bar! George may yet be initiated.
      What an interesting group of immortals. I’d like to see where RG’s story goes, knowing now that he’s a life-long member of this odd society.

      1. GrahamLewis

        Thanks JR, for the nice words and, again, for pointing out that RG belongs behind the bar. For reasons to be explained — a tease — George will almost certainly not be eligible for membership.

  42. creaturescry

    Barnabie was the kind of eccentric man who sat on his roof in a fishing boat. He’d sit there and yell at the sky, blaming the government for a number of things. No one really payed attention to his strange behavior, at least they didn’t admit to it. Until one day when a white moving van appeared outside his house with two men in suits.

    “So this is the guy eh?” One of them muttered, flipping through a manilla folder.

    “Yep,” the second nodded,”what you’re looking at now Teddy is a first class defector.”

    “He was a part of the program?”

    “Did you read the case file?” he snapped his head towards him and pointed at the file.

    Teddy tipped down his sunglasses and looked incredibly offended, “do you think I’d skim read the case file?! How dare you Jimmy! How dare you!”

    “The sarcasm you just used right now was unreal.”

    “I Try,” Teddy chuckled,” now about him being a defector…”

    “He worked in the CIA,” Jimmy said, planting his feet on the dashboard, “in the department that shall not be named.”

    “Oh so that Department then…don’t people lose their marbles there? I mean the crap they have to deal with, its messed up right?”

    Jimmy nodded slowly, “Yeah, and those guys go crazy AWOL and start telling people things they shouldn’t.”

    “I see, it all makes sense now,” Teddy closed the folder and pulled out a small metal ball, “he’s the sort of guy who tells them about how the moon landing was fake and…”

    “Shhhh,” he hissed, snatching the ball away, “people still think that was real, don’t blow our cover.”

    “Got it.”

    Jimmy and Teddy fist bumped, then exited the van with their faces covered by floppy hats. Jimmy was the shorter and older one of the duo. But even so he still looked younger than Teddy, then again Teddy didn’t get plastic surgery. They ascended the steps to the happy blue cottage where the boat was balanced on the roof and knocked on the door. Barnabe didn’t answer, which was expected of such a paranoid man. However, what wasn’t expected was for the boat to fall off the roof with Barnabe in it.

    “Okay then,” Teddy said, eyeing the old man that lay in the boat, “um what do we do now then?”

    “Have him eat this,” Jimmy lifted the ball and approached Barnabe.

    “I thought we’d use that…nevermind.”

    Barnabe woke up as soon as Jimmy got within a foot of him, “Ah ha! I knew they’d send you! You Monsters!”

    “We’re not Monsters sir, just agents,” Teddy reassured him, “here to help as usual.”

    “You’re them Lizard Agents!” Barnabe cried as Jimmy forced the ball into his mouth.

    Jimmy sighed as Barnabe swallowed the ball, “we won’t need to worry about that now.”

    “Why?” Teddy’s eyes widened.

    “You’ll soon see, just watch his eyes, the eyes are always first.”


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.