Microcosms 34

It’s Friday, so it must be time for another round of Microcosms. This week’s guest host is Stephen Shirres. Over to you, Stephen:

Inspired by the holiday theme in Microcosms 33, I thought we should look at the other side of what holidays mean to many of us living in Britain – especially on a bank holiday weekend… the traffic jam. Those wasted hours looking at the number plate of the vehicle in front of you as you crawl along a motorway at a few miles an hour, getting generally annoyed at life. What pieces of flash fiction can you mine from this tight space?

As usual, our contest will begin with three things: character, setting and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are character: Driver, setting: Rural Road, and genre: Romance.

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspire you. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.


  • Bored Child / Adult
  • Driver
  • Squabbling Siblings
  • Passenger
  • Family Pet
  • Parent
  • Car / Automobile
  • Motorway / Highway
  • Rural Road
  • Crowded Service Area
  • Lorry / Truck
  • Coach / Bus
  • Memoir
  • Thriller
  • Romance
  • Aga Saga
  • Science Fiction
  • Parody
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Fairy Tale

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 33 Judge’s Pick, Sal Page.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time to submit. (If you are new to Microcosms, check out the full submission guidelines.)

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

 

If you like, you may use the following picture to inspire you – purely optional.

UK Bank Holiday Weather epSos.de (CC BY 2.0)

UK Bank Holiday Weather
epSos.de (CC BY 2.0)

 

Microcosms 35
Microcosms 33
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32 comments for “Microcosms 34

  1. Amy Wood
    26 August 2016 at 2:21 am

    296 words
    @jujitsuelf

    Driver/Rural Road/Romance

    Best Laid Plans

    “Are you sure this is the right road?” Annie flapped the map.

    “It’s the right road,” John said.

    “But look,” Annie cried. “We’ll never get through! We’ll be here forever. When they find us we’ll be two desiccated skeletons trapped in a Skoda Octavia with nothing but a bag of Revels for sustenance.”

    “Minstrels in the glovebox,” John replied. “Be there soon.”

    Annie was burrowing in the packed glovebox and didn’t reply.

    John let his head fall back against the headrest. Drama queen Annie. Same old same old. But he loved her, so what could he do but feed her chocolate when she was stuck in a Skoda crawling along a country road behind what looked like three hundred confused sheep?

    Sunlight lanced through the clouds that had dogged them all the way from London. The hills were suddenly green and empty and John breathed a sigh of relief. London was great but sometimes it was just too much. He needed to find a job in the country.

    Annie gave a cry of triumph and held up the Minstrels. “Okay, we won’t starve now.”

    “My hero,” John grinned.

    “Beep your horn at ‘em,” Annie said through a mouthful of sugar-coated chocolate. “Sheep should know the highway code.”

    “No,” John shook his head. “Just wait. They’ll move, we’ll get to the house and it’ll be fine.”

    Annie grumbled into her packets of sweets but let the subject drop.

    Nerves twisted John’s stomach. He’d propose at the house. It was all planned.

    “Want an orange one?” Annie said offering the Revels.

    “Marry me?” John blurted.

    “You really like orange ones, don’t you?” Annie said.

    “That didn’t come out as I planned,” John said, his cheeks on fire.

    Annie smiled and patted his thigh. “Shut up and drive.”

    5+

    • 26 August 2016 at 1:36 pm

      Welcome back, Amy! You don’t enter Microcosms very often, but this is a lovely, gentle tale that really captures some of the tensions of UK bank holiday getaways by car, with a really sweet ending. I’m glad that you appreciated the potential for tailbacks in the rural road network. Great stuff.
      [ Not sure about the “product placement” though – Microcosms would like to point out that other brands of cars and chocolate-based treats are available. 😉 ]

      0

    • 26 August 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Lovely story. Brings back memories of living in Wales, sheep slept in my porch and I used to fall over them in the morning.

      0

  2. 26 August 2016 at 3:55 am

    258 words
    @Nthito

    Driver/Rural Road/Romance

    Title: Dust

    Dust. It pervaded the streets like flies over dead bodies. Endless. The windshield was a speckled window to the winding throughway that was more dirt and car denting dips than actual road. I had to ease the car through as each little bump would knock my passenger’s sleeping head against the window. Occasionally I’d look over the slumped form, pale skin almost white against the filtering rays, accentuating the dark blue lids shut against the glaring sun. The lips had parted and liquid seeped from the corners to dribble over the near transparent blouse she wore. So peaceful. Eventually the road smoothed out, allowing me to reach for the lighter and Marlboro pack in my breast pocket, balancing the steering wheel on my thighs as fingers worked to light the cig. She wouldn’t mind the smoke. I rolled the window down slightly letting the tendrils escape into the expanse beyond the road, an endless stretch of lush green on either side. One in particular ended at a gentle river where I had met the sleeping beauty. Long locks flowing down her shoulders, hands peacefully clasped over her abdomen with a single flower between. An angel setting my chest aflutter. Love at first sight. Rose petals overflowed from her parted lips, decorated silence of a floating soul amongst the dregs flowing around her. I’d stepped into the cold waters and rescued my princess from drifting through flooded eternity – such beauty required stilled peace. I would bury her in the meadows beyond where she would return to the dust.

    4+

    • 26 August 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Welcome to Microcosms, Nthato. Glad you could finally make it! 🙂

      I found this sad and poignant; I thought at one point that it was going to be a much darker tale.

      Loved the symmetry of the beginning and the end.

      Good job!

      1+

      • 26 August 2016 at 1:20 pm

        Thanks for the welcome Geoff.
        It was going to be quite dark, but that Romance threw me off and I was already 200 words in. I’ve never tried dark romance (is that even a genre??) so that’s the story I wrote.

        Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

        0

        • 26 August 2016 at 1:44 pm

          “Dark romance”? Definitely a SUB-genre. Here at Microcosms, we’re always happy to push the envelope!

          0

    • 26 August 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Beautiful language. I was going to say almost a poem but it IS a poem. Excellent.

      0

  3. A.J. Walker
    26 August 2016 at 5:23 am

    The Movable Feast
    A.J. Walker

    The Wedgewood Blue sky washed by wispy cirrus drenched Derek with the joy of an English summer’s day. Yesterday’s washout at the barbecue was quickly fading and filed under ‘predictable barbecue weather’. It was now time to say to all and sundry ‘it’s too hot’, ‘just makes me want to do nothing’, ‘good beer garden weather – why do I have to be in work’ etc. Meanwhile the sun was adding to his right arm tan to give him his annual lopsided look.

    As he came around the blind bend he was met with sheep. Lots of them. They bobbed up and down like balls in a bath. Constrained by the steep banks of the road and an unseen sheepdog behind them they were heading slowly but inexorably towards Derek who now feared to reverse. He pulled the handbrake on.

    ‘Mint sauce!’ Claire said.

    Derek had almost forgotten she was with him. She’d taken the earphones out as if she’d be able to better enjoy the scene without music.

    Derek smiled. A childish thing to say, but something he always said in his head when seeing the dumb but beautiful tasting animals.

    ‘Mint sauce indeed,’ he said. ‘Tell you what, after the debacle of yesterday and the distinct lack of meat-based sustenance… fancy finding a country pub and getting a Sunday roast down?’

    ‘Lamb?’

    ‘With mint sauce.’

    ‘Don’t even like mint sauce, but roast lamb sounds yummy.’

    She wound up the window despite the heat, worried that the sheep that now enveloped the car like a flood would hear her.

    Derek held her hand as they waited for the meat feast to pass them. He knew just the place. He didn’t like mint sauce either. But he loved lamb, and he loved Claire.

    ______
    WC: 293
    Driver/ Rural Road/ Romance
    @zevonesque

    4+

    • 26 August 2016 at 2:06 pm

      You turned down the comedy dial a notch or two this week, AJ, but still served up a wonderful, amusing tale, with a cracking title. I loved the detail that Claire wound up the window – afraid of being charged with sheep worrying. Marvellous!

      [ “They bobbed up and down like balls in a bath.” Mm-mmm… That’s a debate to be reserved for a private conversation, I reckon. 🙂 ]

      2+

  4. 26 August 2016 at 5:26 am

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    300 words
    Driver / Motorway / Aga Saga

    Summer’s End

    “You OK, Tommy? Sorry…Tom.”

    Three sun-filled weeks in a seaside caravan, and I was still getting used to my son growing up. We’d both loved it, but now I was taking him home.

    He continued gazing through the passenger window.

    “Stationary 15 minutes, and not a word.”

    BEE-EEP!

    The car behind – again. I looked in my mirror: male driver, scowling… woman next to him, disgusted… kids behind, squabbling.

    “Back to school… Is that it?”

    “Mum’s got a new job,” Tom blurted. “Heard her on the phone to Gran. In Swainby.”

    My jaw tensed, rage seething… I took a deep breath,slowly releasing it – like my therapist suggested. “Look at things from Joan’s viewpoint.”

    She’d been made redundant, we had two properties in the Cotswolds: moving closer to her parents, where things were cheaper, made sense.

    How did Tom feel about it though?

    BEE-EE-EE-EEEEP!

    Things were kicking off back there.

    “Tom, I need to get some air. We’ll talk later, OK?”

    “Yeah.”

    #

    I could hear the fireworks through the driver’s open window. As I reached the door, he grabbed the woman’s hair, drew back his fist. I yanked his arm against the sill. He yelped, involuntarily, releasing the woman’s hair.

    You OK, lady?” I asked. She nodded.

    “Who the hell are you?” Macho Man growled.

    “Someone offering advice. Keep acting this way, you’ll lose everything – wife, kids, home. You’ll end up living a lonely, bitter existence.”

    “Why should I listen to you?”

    “You’re lucky I’m off duty. But I’ve got your registration number; I can get your details from the PNC. It’s up to you.” Letting his arm go, I added, “Have a nice day.”

    I returned to my car, hoping he’d learned his lesson… and praying he didn’t make a complaint.

    Impersonating a police officer is a serious offence.

    4+

  5. Marie McKay
    26 August 2016 at 5:57 am

    Andrea’s Satnav

    ‘Take the next right.’
    Andrea cursed as she took the tight bend. The windscreen wipers struggled to clear the heavy rain obscuring her view. She was convinced, though, she’d taken this turning before.
    ‘Turn around where possible.’
    ‘What now!’ Andrea slowed the car. ‘Stupid bloody thing!’
    Despite the stupid puddles, despite wearing her stupid, bloody sandals, Andrea would get out of the car and get her own bloody bearings.
    She pulled at the door handle. It didn’t budge. 
    ‘Bloody typical!’
    She pulled at it again and again. A slither of panic slid up her spine as she thought of the tangle of twisted lanes that had brought her to this remote point.

    ‘Where are you going?’ Andrea started at the sound of the electronic voice.
    ‘Haven’t I told you what I want you to do? Make the turn, now, Andrea.’

    @elaine173marie
    140 words
    Driver/rural road/ thriller

    5+

  6. 26 August 2016 at 6:17 am

    Pick ‘n’ mix
    Driver, rural road, romance
    254 words
    The traffic was horrendous. John joined the queue by the petrol pumps and slowly eased out of the services onto the motorway. The hitchhiker smiled at him but he shrugged; the car was full of dog and bags. She nodded and shrugged back. At least her smile kept him sane while the daydream lasted.
    Four hours later, having left the main roads behind, the cars slowed again. Another hold up. The sun still smiled, smugly hot for a bank holiday. He pulled into another smaller services. Duke grumbled; he needed a walk. As John allowed Duke to relieve himself, the dog whimpered and started limping.
    ‘You ok?’
    The hitchhiker. She didn’t expect a response. Crouching by the dog she expertly inspected its paw and neatly extracted some glass. From her rucksack she pulled a jar and applied cream. ‘Vic.’ She offered a hand. ‘Vet student.’
    They had coffee. They laughed, not saying much. ‘Better go,’ he said. ‘You ok?’
    ‘Sure. Loads of lifts.’
    He joined the traffic and crawled a couple of miles, wondering about Vic. It was a lonely spot. The clouds had built up too. ‘Come on, boy.’
    He spun the car and, against the traffic made it back in ten minutes. It was pouring. By the side of the road, Vic huddled under a waterproof. She looked up, framed by rat’s tails and gloom.
    John lent across to open the door. Duke slid out and licked her face of the droplets. John smiled. ‘He insisted there was room next to him.’

    3+

  7. Brian S Creek
    26 August 2016 at 6:33 am

    OPEN ROAD

    * * *

    234 words
    @BrianSCreek
    Driver / Rural Road / Romance

    * * *

    Sometimes I need to get out of town and drive.

    Work, family, friend; it all gets too much. Makes me feel like I’m drowning.

    But out here is as close to freedom as I desire.

    The road is my mistress, with only the car between us to translate. The hills, the bumps, the sweeping turns. What sensations. The wind. The sun. I wish it would never end.

    A car coming towards me causes my foot to lift. Best to take it easy.

    A red convertible closing in.

    A beautiful woman behind the wheel.

    Time slows down. It’s just me and her, we’re feet apart.

    Her red hair dances around her head. Her smile promises.

    That hair, those lips, those eyes.

    I remember.

    The love of my life. From days gone past. I’ve smelt that hair. I’ve kissed those lips.

    What are the chances, here, now? The universe has brought us back. A second chance? It’s her, I know, I feel it. Not looking like. It is her.

    The world presses play. The blink of an eye and she’s past. I call out her name but the wind steals it.

    I have to turn the car around. I can’t lose her again. I’m a schoolboy again.

    I try to brake but nothing happens. I carry on, carry on, carry on.

    A bend. A tree.

    How fragile I am.

    I’ve lost her again. This time forever.

    2+

  8. Alva Holland
    26 August 2016 at 9:15 am

    @Alva 1206
    WC: 300
    Driver/Rural Road/Romance
    Movie Night
    A convenient smudge on the rear-view mirror together with my tinted driving glasses prevent my beautiful 18-year-old daughter from catching my glance to the back seat. Fiona’s friend Tilly reaches over to tuck a wayward spiral of plum-tinged hair behind Fiona’s ear. The closeness of the gesture fizzes in the confines of the car. Fiona doesn’t look up.
    I turn my attention to the road ahead, crammed with bumper-to-bumper vehicles on a hot summer’s evening. Our journey to the open-air cinema normally takes five minutes. We are already thirty minutes in the hot car and I’m missing the coolness of our house, not to mention the glass of Sancerre I left chilling in the fridge.
    Fiona reaches out of the back window and plucks a couple of plump blackberries from the bushes lining the road. ‘Look Mum, we can pick blackberries while we sit in traffic,’ she giggles as she feeds the fruit to Tilly. Their heads touch briefly. Sighing, I wonder if they will make the opening credits.
    A grey rabbit scuttles along the ditch. I question the girls if they think rabbits are safer when the traffic is like this. Both girls shrug in that way they have.
    There’s a guy behind us in a convertible, clearly annoyed by the hold-up and jolting forward with half his car over the centre of the road. He blasts his car horn, vexed that the oncoming traffic is flowing smoothly while we sit. Someone blasts back, starting a cacophony of car horns. Mr. Mid-life-crisis behind us seems inexplicably happier. Idiot.
    Fiona offers to get out and walk. I realise she and Tilly would be happier doing that, hand in hand. I tell them to be careful. They jump from the car and leave me there, alone in the traffic, going nowhere.

    5+

  9. 26 August 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Kinfolked Seven Ways from Sunday

    The summer of 1957 stands out. I was ten; Pearl was eight. We had driven all night. As the sun was rising, my mother said, “There, Oswald. Dewdrop Valley.”

    Every summer my parents had taken my sister and me on road trips to visit lesser relatives: distant cousins, adult children of old friends, people they had once met at the local Legion who’d moved to some Hole-in-the-Bloody-Wall village off the most beaten path in British Columbia.

    I thought I took these pre-air conditioning jaunts rather well. I was a quiet kid, complained only in my head, and thought, as many kids do, that I was obviously adopted because I had little in common with these people. My sister, Pearl, on the other hand, was a whiny sort of child at the best of times which these bumpy back-road excursions were surely not.

    We had just finished climbing a rocky mountain road and had reached the peak. The sun was blasting into the family Hillman. Pearl was sweating like…Pearl.

    “Should I pull over, Midge?” my father asked.

    “No, darling. Clarence and Ruth are expecting us. They sounded so excited on the phone.”

    “Right you are.” And we began the descent. In fifteen minutes we drove into a long driveway that ended at a smallish older farmhouse.

    A man and a woman stood on the porch.

    We got out and my mother hugged the woman, a thin apparition with wrinkled skin. The man was also as thin as a nail and wore dirty coveralls.

    They ignored me and went up to Pearl. Both gave her a hug.

    “She’ll do just fine, Midge. We’ll treat her as if she were ours. And the pigs will love her.”

    We left the next morning.

    For a time, I missed having Pearl around.

    And then, not.

    Bored child; car; memoir
    300 pearls before swine
    @billmelaterplea

    5+

  10. 26 August 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Driver/Rural Road/Romance
    297 words
    Milking The Fare by Steve Lodge
    @steveweave71
    “The traffic jam has turned the main road into a car park. I can get you to the coast tonight, I know these rural roads like the back of my hand, so sit back and enjoy the fast moving scenery. You’re in safe hands, I know I’m a taxi driver but I used to be Formula One, no I’m kidding, but I do wear driving gloves.”

    “Vincent,” she said. “If that is indeed your name, will you just drive me to Sparrowditch? I don’t need your noise. This has been a crap day. The train broke down just outside the back of beyond. It’s eight hours since I left home and now I’ve moved from the back of beyond to the middle of nowhere. I’m not stupid either, Vincent. This is the third time down this road. I recognise it all, that farmhouse, that tree, that cow, yes, this place is Square One and we’re back. I think you and that cow are romantically linked.”

    “Haha, no. We’re just good friends. The farmer has first dibs on her. Mind you, he’s sick, he won’t be around long,” Vincent continued. “So why Sparrowditch, anyway? All those gruesome murders. You are one brave lady. They haven’t caught him yet you know.”

    “Just drive, preferably with your mouth shut.”

    Vincent replied quietly, “I knew you liked me.”

    Heather broke the next bout of silence.

    “Look, my sister lives in Sparrowditch. I’m staying with her and then we’ll go to Spain for a couple of weeks. You are right. Sparrowditch is dangerous. If I remember, there were 3 bodies found in that big house, then someone found hanged in the woods and last week they found 2 more bodies in the cricket pavilion. Any more since then?” she asked.

    “Soon,” he said.

    4+

  11. 26 August 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Running with Wolves

    Elements: parent, lorry/truck, fairytale
    299 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDog

    Once upon a time, a woman saw her husband talk to a wolf. The wolf was recruiting for the pack. Her husband agreed to join them and said he’d send for her and their son. Time went by and the woman heard nothing so decided she should try and find him. She waited for the wolf to return. This wolf said he was her husband’s brother and so she could travel for half the price – it was still all she had.

    She took her son and joined others seeking their families, all journeying blindly in the darkness. The woman told her son stories of the stars watching over them.

    “Do they watch over my father?” he asked.

    “Yes,” she said.

    “Then why didn’t they show him how to get home?”

    “I don’t know,” she said. “But I’ve left him a trail to find us.” And at each place they stopped, she took a small stone from her bag and buried it in the earth with her prayers. The stones came from home and would call to her husband as loudly as any message.

    “I wish the wolves would stop coming,” said the boy.

    “So do we,” said another traveller.

    And as if it had heard, the truck stopped. The human cargo held its breath. Their prayers had been answered.

    The wolves did not come.

    And nor did they come the next day or the next.

    One morning a little girl in a bright red coat was walking through the woods with her father. He carried an axe to cut wood for their fire.

    “Daddy, look!” she cried and ran off the path toward the rusting face of the abandoned truck buried in the undergrowth. The woodcutter though found no wolves, just bones and a bag full of stones.

    2+

  12. 26 August 2016 at 3:07 pm

    “Non-traffiction”
    @JBertetta
    <300 words
    Driver, Motorway, Horror

    IcanIcanIcan’t breathe, I can’t bre—bre—bre breathe. A busy chest, a busy street. Blasting horns, breaths like land mines. Too many cars, too many cars. Someone’s dead, I just know it. Know it. Knowit knowit knowit. Wagons twist into tanks. Fuming motorists pop cigs between their lips. Smoke billows. Car-bomb aftermath. Terrorists mount motorcycles, buried behind masks. Gas masks. Chemical weapons. Roll the window up, roll the window up. Turn off the a/c. Close the vents. Sidewalk jackhammers answer assault rifles. Screams and outside shouts. Shut it out, shut it out. Radio. Radio. Turn on the radio. Fingers fumble. Dials dilate. Hip-hop. No. Jazz. No. Something jagged, something heavy, something sharp. Something punishing. Outside must match inside. Death metal? Death metal. Swedish death metal. Hypocrisy. Grave. Entombed. At the Gates. Play the playlist. List the names. Jonny. Frankie. Gumbo, Jay-Jay, and Earle. Jonny, Frankie, Gumbo, Jay-Jay, and Earle. Castigating bass; gunshot drum. Growls and snarls and screams from the monstrous depths that is war, that is life, that is life after war. Whistles, sharp and wicked. Inch car forward, forward, forward. Stop. Dead bodies, carnal bodies, limbs and severations. Jonny. Gumbo. Jay-Jay. Earle. And…and…and…Frankie. Whew. Shells and mortars and missiles. Exploding speakers. Concussive chords. Daze after day after day. Nothing real but this. Nothing else but this. Whistles, sharp and wicked. Inch car forward, forward, forward. Stop. Man with gun, waving, waving, directing. Open the glove box. Pull out the gun. They won’t get me this time, not like they got Jonny and Frankie and Gumbo and Jay-Jay and Earle.

    5+

    • 26 August 2016 at 3:10 pm

      Geoff, can you change the “of” in “Turn of the a/c” to “off” please? Thank you, Josh

      0

    • 26 August 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Terrific pace to this Josh, fitting words to the bands you name-checked. Loved it. (Thought you might have snuck that pic in of you and Mr Tagtgren).

      2+

    • 26 August 2016 at 5:32 pm

      Brilliant staccato rhythm, mimicking the shortness of breath of the Driver. Had my heart pounding! Magnificent, Josh.

      1+

  13. Richard Edenfield
    26 August 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Celebrating Christmas Under
    My Pine Scented Air Freshener
    _________________________

    It wasn’t Christmas. But it felt like Christmas when we finally arrived home the air freshener swinging from the rear-view hypnotizing the air to behave with manufactured floral dignity.

    We did this every year. All our faces bright red. Staring straight ahead. Sand in our hair. Sand in our shoes. Sand in our ears. Sand in our eyes as if we had just woken up to a cruel stiff reality stretched out before us. The Jersey Shore. Trampolines and boardwalks. Muffled screams and waves. We looked like blood awkwardly making its way through a body of traffic toward a home with 97 degrees beating on its country frame.

    There was silence in the car. The kind of silence that exists when you are underwater. A contained swaying kind of silence. The air conditioner felt like perfume an Eskimo would wear when taking a trip to Hawaii.

    My daughter,son, and wife looking out the window. The other blood cells making their way down the highway. There was a bruise up ahead.

    There is a soft, cruel sadness when a vacation is over. A nondescript depression. Like getting divorced. Every vacation is a quick marriage. We now have two children so that complicates things.

    The traffic thinned out as we entered the Catskills. They say home is where the heart is and we heard thumping from the potholes in the road. A steady untended beat.

    My wife said if she didn’t say a word the entire trip then she would stay married to me. As the car entered our drive she was still silent. Everyone was. As if they were listening to all the chatter on the way down to the beach. As if the car was a shell praying in our ears with the calm hushed voice of summer renewal.
    ____________________________________________

    (300 words)
    Driver, Rural Road, Romance

    6+

    • 26 August 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Wow, Richard. This was a tour-de-force of brilliant, beautiful imagery. You do this so well. I’m blown away.

      0

    • 26 August 2016 at 6:53 pm

      A beautiful rendering…

      0

  14. 26 August 2016 at 5:54 pm

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    28 words
    Family Pet / Truck / Comedy (or is it a ‘Parrotty’?)

    Who’s a Travel-Sick Boy, Then?

    A long-distance trucker named Brett
    Kept an Aussie galah as a pet.
    In a jam, it would flutter,
    And repeatedly utter:
    “Strewth, mate! Are we nearly there yet?”

    3+

    • Meg Kovalik
      27 August 2016 at 1:03 am

      There were galahs squawking in my backyard as I read this. I think they approve!

      0

  15. Voima Oy
    26 August 2016 at 10:48 pm

    The Red Car
    300 words
    parent/rural road/thriller
    @voimaoy

    I know this road. I have driven it in my dreams. It’s always night, a clear night and a crescent moon. It’s a spring night, and there are no other cars.

    Ahead is the cemetery, the fancy iron gates shut for the night. That’s where Mary’s waiting, wearing the white dress we buried her in. A white dress like a princess. It was supposed to be her grade-school graduation dress. She was supposed to be fourteen.

    Mary’s dress floats in the warm breeze, billowing like a curtain. I stop the car. Mary gets in, sits beside me. “Hi, Mom,” she says.

    “Hi, honey,” I say. “How are you?”

    “I’m okay. I miss you. And Dad. I miss school.”

    “We miss you, too. Look, I brought your schoolbooks. History, math.”

    “Thanks, Mom.” Mary fingers the books, her eyes far away. “Let’s go.” she says.

    I start the car. Past the graveyard is where we’ll find him. The man who took my Mary. The man who got away.

    Lights in the distance, an oncoming car. It’s a little red sports car, with the top down. It was a warm spring night when he took my Mary. It was 4 a.m. when the sheriff called. They found her by the side of the road.

    The car is coming closer, stops. I stop. Mary gets out, looks back at me. “Bye, Mom.”

    “No!” I say in the dream. The car vanishes, and I wake up.

    This time, it isn’t a dream. I am wide awake, and Mary is sitting beside me, solid and real. The red car approaches, headlights like the eyes of a nocturnal predator. I turn to Mary. “Bye, Mom,” she says as she disappears.

    The red car approaches. I turn the steering wheel toward it. Will it vanish if I hit it head-on?

    5+

  16. 26 August 2016 at 11:30 pm

    The Haunted Rail Yard
    @vibhalohani3
    Passenger, Crowded Service Area, Horror
    Words – 300
    I quietly sat in the corner of the overcrowded waiting room; clutching bag with one hand and holding a book in another. A train had derailed in the morning because of which many trains were delayed and the station was crowded with people waiting for the mess to clear up. I somehow managed get a decent seat near the window. A lady next to me struck a deal. In case of washroom emergencies we would save the seat for each other.
    It was difficult to breathe in the humid air filled with sweat, piss and other pungent odors. I opened the window and saw the abandoned old rail yard. The lady in the next seat looked out of the window and said, “They vacated it because it was haunted.”
    A tea vendor moved around serving tea to people.
    “Don’t look towards that yard, Sir. Even looking at it is like a bad omen,” he said.
    I took the half filled Styrofoam glass from the vendor and asked, “Why do you say so?”
    “There is something evil about it. Any train bogie that was stationed in it overnight would meet with an accident the next day.” he said.
    “What rubbish!” I exclaimed.
    “The new yard was flooded due to rains so they parked some coaches here a day before. They are the ones that derailed today morning,” he informed.
    People around us, overhearing the conversation, started murmuring. The vendor, enjoying the attention, added more information. “Sometime back, a man decided to spend a night in the yard. Next morning his dead body was found holding a book in one hand and his bag in another. No one knows what happened that night.”
    A mad commotion started. The lady next to me shrieked, “It’s him!”
    Time for me to go!

    3+

  17. Meg Kovalik
    26 August 2016 at 11:41 pm

    The Final Lesson

    Melissa checked her reflection before sliding into the driver’s seat.

    Looking hot, babe!

    She smiled at Peter as she did up her belt. She’d been resistant about learning to drive as an adult, but the move out bush had necessitated a change of attitude.

    Plus her instructor turned out to be a total dreamboat.

    Truth be told, she could have passed the driving test weeks ago, but she wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Not yet.

    Possibly not ever.

    Peter smiled back politely, trying to remain professional. Melissa’s scent was maddening in such confined quarters. Truth be told, he should have sent Melissa off to do her test weeks ago, but he wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Not yet.

    Possibly not ever.

    “Alright, Melissa. Pull out from the kerb and head for the highway. We’re practicing tight, curvaceous- I mean,” he swallowed, “curvy roads today.”

    Melissa stifled a giggle. Time to play.

    She slowly shifted into drive and stroked the shaft of the handbrake a little before gently easing it off. Peter watched intently, biting his lip to stay in control of his treacherous body.

    They drove out of town to a secluded section of road that twisted through the undulating countryside. As Peter guided her through the motions – “Ease into this bit”; “Lean in harder”; “Watch out for rear-endings here” – the tension became unbearable.

    Finally he could take it no more. He directed her to park and took a deep breath.

    “Melissa, this has to be your last lesson. I… I can’t be your teacher anymore.”

    Melissa deflated a little. Have I read this wrong?

    “May I take you out for dinner instead?”

    She beamed and internally pumped her fist.

    “That works for me.” She smiled slyly. “I’ll drive.”

    @meg_mediocre

    289 words

    Driver; Rural Road; Romance

    4+

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