Microcosms 61

Welcome, flash fiction fans, to Microcosms 61. Time to do what you all do so well, and knock out a story to knock our socks off!

 

*** ALWAYS REMEMBER AND NEVER FORGET ***

Include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry. 

 

In terms of deaths per passenger mile, airplanes are statistically the safest mode of transport. But an airplane crashed, with loss of life, on this date (4th February) in 1953, 1972 and 1974.

Not wishing to tempt fate, let’s take a trip by a different form of transport today.

Geoff

 

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be guest host, please contact me.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, transport and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are – character: Business Person, transport: Car, and genre: Crime.


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 inspires you.

 

*** Once again, be sure to include which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry. ***


  • Business Person
  • Student
  • Cruise Passenger
  • Bank Robber
  • Rambler
  • Space Tourist
  • Train
  • Bus
  • Ship
  • Car
  • Foot
  • Passenger Rocket
  • Romance
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Memoir
  • SFF

Spin!


Judging this week is Microcosms 60 Judge’s Pick, Steph Ellis.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time (EST) to submit.

*** If you are new to Microcosms, remember to check out the full submission guidelines. ***

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.

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Microcosms 62
Microcosms 60

29 comments for “Microcosms 61

  1. 3 March 2017 at 2:19 am

    Bank Robber; bus; memoir
    298 deposits
    @billmelaterplea

    Really, You Can’t Bank on Much These Days but Cobwebs and The Unsolicited Affection of Mice

    Diggy Blankenship found a cabin off the main highway outside of Crescent City. “It looks abandoned, Garth. Can’t swear to it a course, but the cobwebs are as thick as an old prospector’s beard so nobody in their right mind would want to live there.”

    “But I would?” I asked.

    “No, didn’t mean that,” he’d said, adding, “Okay, I meant that, but in a good way. Anyways, it’s a good place to hide out until the heist.”

    So, I moved in with the spiders and, surprize, surprize, a family of five mice.

    Two weeks later, I was bushed. The upside was I’d become bosom buddies with the Mice family. Good eggs, really, though they like to nestle in my armpits at night.

    Diggy’s plan was perfection. And overly optimistic. Two towns over, thirty kilometres away, the Independent Bank of Rudder’s Vale was a stone’s throw from the bus station. Diggy would drive his mother’s ’67 Valiant, drop me off on the edge of town, park, ride his bike to the bus depot, wait for me to stick up the bank at noon sharp, pass him the booty at the depot and he’d bike back to the Valiant and drive very carefully back to Crescent City.

    Meanwhile, I’d catch the 12:15 bus to the coast.

    We’d divvy up the take later.

    Perfection, right?

    Well, it all went pretty much as planned. The bus left on time. It was maybe two hours later that I started to remember what an untrustworthy cuss Diggy was.

    Then, my stomach started to get the heebie jeebies. Upchuck city, eh.

    The driver dropped me off at the next stop.

    “Nobody pukes on my bus, fella,” he’d declared.

    I thanked him for his service quality, and hitched back to Crescent City.

    Diggy was long gone.

    2+
    • 3 March 2017 at 10:27 am

      Well, darn if another edit wouldn’t help.

      “It was maybe two hours later that I started to remember what an untrusty worthy cuss Diggy was.”

      This should read “It was maybe two hours later that I started to remember what an untrustworthy cuss Diggy was.”

      This of course will lower the word count by one.

      Regards. And apologies for edit misconduct.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        3 March 2017 at 11:03 am

        Thanks for the arithmetic refresher, Bill. 😉
        Change made, plus a few other tweaks, including Diggy’s mother’s waylaid apostrophe.

        [ Impressive as your titles are, they still haven’t surpassed that of a book I read as a teenager – David Forrest’s “And to My Nephew Albert I Leave the Island What I Won Off Fatty Hagan in a Poker Game”; keep trying though! ]

        1+
  2. Profile gravatar of Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    3 March 2017 at 3:04 am

    Ronel Janse van Vuuren
    @miladyronel
    297 words
    Bank Robber/ Ship/ SFF
    Migraine Cure

    The sound of someone sucking the last milkshake out a glass through a straw played on repeat. Diggle knew that it was just whatever sea creatures happen to be in the umber waters they were travelling over tasting the hull. Still, it grated on his nerves. It didn’t help either that he was suffering a full-blown migraine.

    Pulling the black balaclava over his tender scalp, he then checked his gear. He’d been observing the ship and the security for the last week and knew that just before the dinner hour was the perfect time to rob the on-board bank.

    Though it would’ve made more sense to wait until this newest migraine had passed, he couldn’t. The Ring were very clear on his instructions: the vault had to be empty before they reached cerulean waters. Which would be the next afternoon.

    Diggle swallowed as another wave of nausea hit him. He’d already drunk all the necessary meds to get him through this, he just had to warrior up.

    He smirked at his own thoughts. Warrior up indeed. It’s been years since he’d left that life behind to use his skills to provide for his family properly. Even if he never saw them. Even if they thought he was the scum of the Nine Worlds.

    Sighing softly, he lifted himself up into the ventilation shaft above his closet. He wiggled through, ignoring the claustrophobia brought on by his migraine. He had a job to do.

    An hour later he knocked back shots of alcohol the same colour as the sea they were traversing. People were rushing around, whispering about the theft, worrying about how it had been done without anyone noticing.

    Diggle ordered a burger in celebration: once more, despite his so-called disability, he’d pulled off a job seamlessly.

    1+
  3. 3 March 2017 at 3:13 am

    @Nthito
    Business Person/Car/Crime
    299 words

    ’til Proven Innocent

    Schultz-Werner Automobil were renowned for their reliable vehicles – German engineering at its finest. The death of corporate magnate, Herr Michael Götze, came as a shock, more so when the story revealed that he’d died in a SW Automobil sedan. Once the coroner confirmed he’d died before the crash of a crushed oesophagus, however, the media was in uproar.
    I was in uproar.
    Herr Götze had promised to appoint me next-in-line at SWA before we helped move him along to the next life. Only it seemed someone else had beat me to it.
    A hurried board meeting was called by the higher-ups that same evening of the crash, where they duly informed us that Herr Götze’s Will had been amended earlier that day and the details would only be revealed in the next official meeting where his successor would be named.
    “Aren’t you his successor?” Julian whispered to me as we somberly stalked out of the boardroom. As usual, he carried a stench of aftershave that bordered on toilet spray.
    “How do you know that?” I hushed back at him.
    “Everybody knows. You were his favourite.” He placed a hand on my shoulder. “They think you did it.”
    It was then I noticed that stares from the solemn employees around us, suspicion drawn on their furrowed brow.
    “Well I didn’t.”
    Julian shrugged, then ambled off hurriedly, as though my supposed guilt was contagious.
    I arrived home to find the door ajar. I’d seen enough movies to know I should probably call the police. Twenty minutes later two bulky officers pushed through the door before me to a condemning sight. Frau Götze sat in a pool of her own blood, her husband’s tape recorder in her hand. The one we used to plan his death.
    I had been set up.

    1+
  4. Alva Holland
    3 March 2017 at 3:40 am

    Alva Holland
    @Alva1206
    293 words
    Business Person; Train; Romance

    The Girl On The Train Works It Out. Or Does She?

    His charcoal grey suit had that designer look. No ill-fitting sleeves, awry lapels, sagging pockets, uneven vents, shiny spots. All flawless angles and smooth wool, sitting on his frame in exemplary style. Tailored cuffs displaying a perfect inch of crisp white cotton, edges held by blue and gold Rotary links which caught the spring sunshine as it danced through the recently polished windows of the First-Class carriage.

    Alice glanced again, her favourite commute activity commencing. She would unravel the life of this mystery man in the time it took the train to get to its destination. She would dissect his thoughts, create his world. Bachelor? Wife and children? Partner? Entrepreneur or corporate whiz-kid?

    His rimless glasses perched on the bridge of his nose like a bird on a wire, the temples threading through his grey sideburns and disappearing into a groomed tuft. He folded his pink newspaper in half, frowning as he browsed the stocks. Alice envisaged a chauffeur meeting the train, had a little trouble deciding the make of his luxury car but settled on a Bentley, also charcoal grey.

    The train slowed to a stop. Alice watched him reach for his briefcase and place his newspaper into the side pocket. As they stood, he beckoned her to go ahead. Alice waved him on, not wanting to miss the completion of her story.

    As he left, he pulled a small rucksack from the luggage rack. He stepped across the gap, walked to the bicycle rack, pulled out a hi-viz jacket and cycling clips, stuffed his briefcase into the rucksack and swung it onto his back. He cycled out of the station, the wind tossing his hair.

    Alice’s heart skipped a beat.

    Sometimes, getting it wrong felt as good as getting it right.

    2+
    • Alva Holland
      3 March 2017 at 4:07 am

      Sorry, Geoff, forgot to put in the title – ‘The Girl On The Train Works It Out. Or Does She?’ if you wouldn’t mind inserting it for me please!
      Thank you.

      0
      • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
        3 March 2017 at 12:14 pm

        I’ve added a reminder in the preamble – in TWO places – about including elements and a title… Still doesn’t seem to register with some people… 🙁
        Sweet story, Alva, with great sartorial descriptions; made me wonder if this really is something you do yourself on train journeys.
        [ I would understand ‘UPON exiting’ as ‘just after’, in which case he wouldn’t be retrieving anything from the luggage rack; how about ‘JUST BEFORE exiting…’? ]

        0
        • Alva Holland
          3 March 2017 at 1:17 pm

          I was thinking ‘upon’ as in ‘while’ – the way people pull luggage from the rack as they leave the train. As I have a few spare words, I’ll change ‘Upon exiting’ to ‘As he left’ – thanks, Geoff.

          Wrist still smarting after that slap on the title lapse. I had titled the story in Word and promptly thought I had done it here. 😉

          0
  5. 3 March 2017 at 7:16 am

    @geofflepard
    292 words
    Business Person; Car; Crime

    Hubris and the Wall

    Egon Tusk steepled his fingers. A good day. He allowed his gravitas a moment’s respite and smiled.
    ‘Sir. Egon.’ Jeremy hopped nervously.
    Egon allowed his perfectly-trained, beautifully-sculptured right eyebrow a chance to rise. What great news did his PA want to impart, he pondered.
    ‘It’s the lawyers, sir. On line 4.’
    A cloud skipped into view; he brushed it away with the confidence of the serially-successful entrepreneur. Four quick claps and the videocon came alive. ‘Yes, Jon.’
    ‘We’ve received a writ. About the new car.’
    Egon was not given to panic. His life was a testament to control. He had even trained himself to urinate in regular quantities. He ran through the possibilities. Angry competitors whose old-technology cars would be redundant in weeks. Garage owners or power companies whose fuelling businesses would be history in a year. They would lose. LOSE.
    ‘Go on, make me laugh.’
    Jon coughed. ‘It’s a summons. The Federal Government versus Tusk Technologies. It’s seeking an injunction to stop the car’s launch. It’s accusing Tusk of breaking the law.’
    ‘What law, Jon? We went through everything. It’s silent, it has no emissions, it doesn’t wear any road surface, it is incapable of crashing into anything…’
    ‘That’s the problem, Egon. An antigravity car might avoid all the old problems, but it breaks the law.’
    Egon tugged at his earlobe, a habit he had trained himself out of but which resurfaced at times of stress. ‘How?’
    Jon looked down at something and then up. ‘Nature, Egon. It breaks the laws of nature.’
    Egon Tusk curled his fist into a ball and punched the wall. The wall fought back, and pain seared through his arm, proving at least one Newtonian law still applied: every action has and equal and opposite reaction.

    2+
  6. Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
    3 March 2017 at 7:53 am

    I’m being slow today but what does SFF stand for again?

    0
    • Alva Holland
      3 March 2017 at 7:56 am

      Science Fiction Fantasy

      1+
      • Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
        3 March 2017 at 8:03 am

        Thanks Alva. So Star Wars then?

        0
        • Alva Holland
          3 March 2017 at 8:07 am

          I should have said Science Fiction and Fantasy! Yes, Star Wars is Fantasy. But resist using Star Wars in your story because someone will come after you! Maybe even Geoff.

          0
          • Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
            3 March 2017 at 8:40 am

            Last time I checked there was very few business people in Star Wars (unless you count the gangsters of Jubba the Hutt) lol

            I did once manage to get Doctor Who into a story and no one noticed

            0
        • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
          3 March 2017 at 2:31 pm

          I’m using SFF to mean ‘Science Fiction / Fantasy’, two different but somewhat similar genres. “Star Wars “(R) would be classed as science fiction (other SciFi franchises are available); Fantasy, to my mind, is more your “Lord of the Rings”, swords and sorcery sort of fare. But don’t take that as gospel.
          We’ve had SciFi and Fantasy as separate genres in the past; I’ve started to use SFF to allow for both, without precluded one of the other favourite genres.

          0
          • Alva Holland
            3 March 2017 at 3:54 pm

            Ah, Stephen has pitched us into the well of discussion on whether Star Wars (R) is Fantasy or Science Fiction. There are two distinct schools of thought on this, both of which are well documented online. George Lucas is quoted as saying, ” I knew from the beginning that I was not doing science fiction. I was doing a space opera, a fantasy film, a mythological piece, a fairy tale. I really thought I needed to establish from the start that this was a completely made up world so that I could do anything I wanted.”

            0
  7. Profile gravatar of Holly Geely
    3 March 2017 at 10:03 am

    Wrong Taxi
    @hollygeely
    car, crime, business person
    230 words

    The serial killer was a taxi driver, and he was murdering people in business suits – that was all they knew.
    “How are we supposed to find one taxi in a sea of them?” Jaynes demanded.
    “This is just a guess, but it could be the one that’s covered with blood,” Drift said.
    Jaynes hit the gas, and rammed their car into the bloodstained cab. She ran it off the road. Before the car stopped moving, Drift opened the door, and performed a perfect roll, landing on his knee with his gun pointed at the driver’s window. The driver was upside-down, held in place by his seatbelt.
    “Your killing spree is over,” Drift said.
    “What the hell, man?” said the driver.
    “What was it about those people in their suits? Were you jealous because they had better jobs? Did your mother wear a suit when she abandoned you?”
    “Dude, what is your problem?” the cab driver demanded.
    “Aren’t you the guy who’s been murdering people in business suits?”
    “No!”
    “I am so sorry,” Drift said. He lowered his gun. “This is so embarrassing. Are you okay? They’re going to have my badge for this. Oh, man.”
    “I’m just kidding,” said the driver. “I’m the guy. I was going to escape when you let me out, but now I feel bad.”
    “Oh thank goodness,” Drift said. “You’re under arrest.”
    THE END

    2+
  8. Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
    3 March 2017 at 10:22 am

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDog
    299 words
    Cruise Passenger; Ship; Comedy

    A Bridge Too Far?

    WEDNESDAY
    “Hello. I’m Colin.”
    “Alright? Geraint’s the name.”
    “First trip on a cruise liner?”
    “Yes. My sister Bronwen finally persuaded me to join her. She drove us down from Caerphilly.”
    ”Good trip?”
    “Not really. I was OK until we were approaching the Severn Crossing, but I get anxious when she drives over the…”
    “Bridge?”
    “…Speed limit. She suddenly realised we’d only two hours to reach Southampton, see.”

    THURSDAY
    “Crikey, Geraint! You don’t look well.”
    Bleurgh! It’s feeling seasick, I am.”
    “I know how to cure that. Here, have a treacle toffee.”
    “No, ta. I can’t. I don’t want to break my…
    “Bridge?”
    “…promise for Lent. I’ve given up sweets.”

    FRIDAY
    “How did you get on in the snooker competition?”
    “Knocked out in the first round, I was.”
    “Stiff competition?”
    “No. We were all square in the last frame, with just the black left. But the cue ball ended up in an awkward spot. I had to take the shot using the…”
    “Bridge?”
    “…Other hand. Fluffed it!”

    SATURDAY
    “Looking rather sheepish today, Geraint.”
    “With good reason. I sat down to speak to one of the violinists after last night’s concert, not realising his instrument was on the seat. I nearly broke the…
    “Bridge?”
    “…Caerphilly high-jump record when he yelled at me!”

    SUNDAY
    “See here, Colin! An official invite to the…”
    “Bridge?”
    “…Captain’s table this evening! There’s posh!”
    Pfft! All the cruise newbies get one… eventually.”

    MONDAY
    “You look different today, Geraint… No glasses!”
    “Mmm… I dropped them in the bathroom, then trod on them when I stepped out of the shower. I broke the…”
    “Bridge?”
    “…Toothbrush glass when I screamed!”

    TUESDAY
    “Can’t stop for a chat, Colin. Bronwen loves to play cards. I promised her I’d make a fourth at…”
    “Rummy? Euchre?… Whist!”
    “… Half past ten. We’re playing bridge. Ta-ta!”

    1+
  9. 3 March 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Words: 298
    Prompts: Business Person, Foot, SFF
    @CarinMarais
    http://www.maraiscarin.wordpress.com

    At the Bottom of the Bottle

    When Bernard showed up to the beach house, it was empty. Dust-covered furniture and knick-knacks stood as a testament to happier times the family had spent together. He placed a battered leather suitcase at the door, and headed to the back door.
    A thin layer of sea sand and dust crunched underfoot as he crossed the kitchen. The salt air burned his lungs as he forced the door open. Gulls’ shrieks drifted above the crashing waves.
    Bernard took off his shoes and stepped onto the beach, leaving a row of footsteps to where different coloured bottles rolled back and forth in the surf. Here and there, some of the bottles had become stuck in the sand or seemed to have been exposed to the elements for quite some time.
    He cursed the litterers under his breath, but paused when he saw a swirl of living colour and light within one of the bottles. He picked it up, held it closer to his ageing eyes, and then dropped it. Within, as if it was a small video playing over and over, was his eldest son just after being born by an emergency cesarean. He picked up another bottle, finding within it a ballet recital he had never attended. Clutching it to his chest, he ran from one bottle to another, looking through all the memories that washed up here that were not his, but his late wife’s. Everything he had missed, citing long working hours.
    Spent, he fell to his knees, the bottles in his arms clattering to the sand.
    “I can do one thing for you,” the Reaper appearing next to him, said. “I can let you keep one memory.”
    Bernard gazed at the bottles through tears, then looked around him, and said: “This one.”

    2+
  10. Profile gravatar of Angelique Pacheco
    3 March 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Rambler/ Foot/ Romance
    Word Count: 298

    Rambling Roses

    I just wanted to get away for a little while. I was sure I would go back. I remember having a shower one morning and deciding on my outfit. Sturdy denims, a thick woolen coat and a backpack full of supplies “I would need.” I was excited. No more responsibilities. I walked out of the house and didn’t look back.

    I walked for miles that first day, not caring where I would land up. The sun covered me with healing rays and I could feel the tension ebb away. Maybe I would make my way to the ocean. I stopped in at a deli and ordered a Monte Cristo sandwich and savored every bite of that fried ham and cheese. Reality was also looking for a bite.

    That first night, someone stole my backpack with all my money and supplies. I developed huge blisters on my feet and had to walk barefoot for several days. Food was a lot harder to come by when you had no money for deli sandwiches. I had no change of clothes and as the days went by, the levels of suspicion that people would rate me by, rose, along with my “scent”.

    Three months later I was still rambling, somewhat less excitedly. Along with money, I had no more dreams and hopes left. As I sat near a railway track, devouring the remains of what had once been a can of baked beans, I saw a man approach. He smiled, and all I could think was, “Oh crap! He wants my food!” He was a good-looking fellow though, with a charming smile, who approached and said “You’ve lost your shoes and I’m covered in mud. Here’s a toffee apple. We’re officially hobos.” I would love him for the rest of my life.

    1+
  11. Profile gravatar of Nic
    Nic
    3 March 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Word Count: 254
    @InquisiHedgehog
    Business Person/train/romance

    A Train Affair

    The glint off her carriage caught my eye. I slowly perused her engine, and knew that she had been constructed with meticulous care. There were millions of other engines on display, but none as beautiful as her. With her sleek curves and her every detail carefully arranged, her beauty kept me awe-struck.

    “Hey, lift your jaw; your drool is forming a puddle. She is a beautiful locomotive, don’t you think?” lilted the voice behind me.

    “She is a masterpiece.” I watched her hug the curves of the track with precision. “Who does she belong to?”

    “Me!” exclaimed the voice. I turned around. If the beauty of the locomotive had a human form, it would have been the lady who stood before me.

    “You? But…” I stammered.

    “…you’re a girl” she finished my sentence for me. It was very uncommon for women to be train buffs. “Yeah, and so? Does it make the locomotive less impressive?” she chided me.

    “No, the locomotive’s beauty is only outshone by yours.”

    She offered me a coy smile, and walked behind the table. This was going to be a game of cat and mouse, if I ever intended to win the locomotive and her heart.

    3+
  12. Sian Brighal
    3 March 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Sian Brighal
    @sian_ink
    280 words
    Space tourist/Ship/Horror

    Travelling Clothes

    The craft gave a sudden lurch; then came the strange rippling sensation underfoot as gimbals worked to level off the deck. Marla had felt it a thousand times, but it still sent her guts flipping, tugging her lips into a smile. Her elderly companion looked queasy.

    ‘It’s okay,’ she soothed. ‘We just caught the spring solar tide. It’s always a little jerky. It’ll settle soon.’

    ‘Oh, right… because of the…gravity in a binary star system.’ He fumbled with his travel guide, flicking through the well-thumbed pages, his knobbly fingers brushing against the paper tongues poking out. ‘Yes, where Proxima A and B are almost in…in—’ He paused and rubbed at the page. ‘Damned ketchup!’

    ‘First-time flier?’

    He stopped his futile scratching and glanced up, as though caught doing something. ‘I am. And I’m thinking that the guidebook was not the good investment it promised to be. Its section on suitable attire for long-distance travel falls far short of adequate.’

    His eyes flickered over her, and she felt unnerved by his gaze. It was appraising and almost…sad. She shook it off and tucked stray strands of hair behind her ear, annoyed at herself for falling into nervous habits. Seemed she wasn’t the only one; she caught sight of him running fingertips over his bald head.

    ‘This outfit was good for getting through security, but I feel it’s not going to do once I get to Earth. I think it makes me look too old.’

    Anxiety solidified in her throat, just as his dry and surprisingly strong hands gripped it.

    ‘Sorry,’ he muttered softly. ‘I think I need to slip into something more appropriate, and I think you’re my size.’

    1+
  13. Profile gravatar of Stephen Shirres
    3 March 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Kids Playing At Being Men
    by @The_Red_Fleece
    Another week, another crime tale this time about a businessman and his car told in 262 words

    They are kids playing at being men. Who has the best car, the biggest exhaust, hottest WAG. Everything a contest of dicks and peacock’s feathers. The only thing they agree on is me and my boring family saloon. A crowd of sneers but ideal for this job. A large boot for today’s cargo of a baker’s tray of a baker’s dozen bags of flour, two rows of six with the demo bag on top.
    Chief Kid grabs it before my boot reaches the top of its arc. In true kid fashion, he doesn’t open the top gently; no it’s a hunting knife to the middle. A swollen tongue licks the blade clean. The scar of previous attempts bulges. The tasting is an act, he’ll buy. He always does. Either he or his WAG is addicted. The rest, six bags or so, will get sold on.
    Chief Kid nods his happiness. His lackeys load the trays into a bright new green sports car, memorial to anyone who gives it a second glance. The demo bag dribbles everywhere in a way the cops love. Idiot children. Another lackey hands me a wedge of green. I flick through the bills to check they are all there. They always are, least the Kid has manners.
    I leave at a fast, yet sensible speed. I’ve got ten minutes to spare. At the third set of traffic lights, I drop my new money into the glove box with the first payment from tonight. By the time I get home I won’t know which wedge is the pig money.

    1+
  14. Firdaus Parvez
    3 March 2017 at 10:12 pm

    @firdausp
    294 words

    A Walk to School

    My feet sank into the thick layer of pine needles, as I trudged down the path winding through the woods. In the distance, I heard the warning bell for the school assembly. I quickened my steps.

    Sliding down a slope covered in slippery dried oak leaves, my backpack bouncing behind me, I came to a clearing.

    Mist clung to the tops of the pines. Weak sunlight made its way through the trees speckling the grassy floor. The odour of mule dung and scent of pine filled the air.

    Then, above the twittering of birds, I heard someone humming a familiar tune. A little girl was hunched over, plucking daisies.
    Her school uniform made me slow down.

    “Hey, you’re going to be late,” I called out to her.

    She continued humming.

    I looked at my watch and stopped dead in my tracks, the hands were spinning like crazy.

    She stopped humming then, and looked up. My blood chilled as I looked into her eyes. I could see only the whites, as if her pupils had rolled into her skull. She giggled loudly, startling the birds.

    Staggering back in shock, I almost fell, and then I ran like a man on fire, her laughter following me.

    At the school gates, I slammed into the biggest bully in school. He grabbed the lapel of my school blazer and shook me, an evil sneer curled his lips before he punched me in the stomach. I doubled over in pain.

    “Squeaky mouse,” he jeered.

    For no apparent reason, I started humming that familiar tune. His surprise turned to horror, as he looked at me. I gripped his arm, and his mouth formed a scream I couldn’t hear over the humming. Then I felt his bone snap under my hand.

    Student; Foot; Horror

    1+
  15. 3 March 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Cruise Passenger/Bus/Comedy
    272 words
    @CalebEchterling

    Next Stop, Nassau

    The smell of rutabagas filled the air as Jerry applied another layer of off-brand sunscreen to his Minnesota-pale nose. “Excuse me, steward. How long until the ship docks in Nassau?”

    The driver’s eyes popped to the rear-view mirror for a fraction of a second before returning to the blacktop. “What the hell you talking about? You crazy or something?”

    “Bahamas. When do we get to the Bahamas?”

    “You’re on a Greyhound bus. The next stop is Des Moines.”

    “Oh yeah? Then how do you explain the indoor pool?” Jerry sucked the last of the yellow liquid from his glass and rattled the naked ice cubes in the driver’s ear. “And I could use a refill on my margarita.”

    “No pool. There’s a single stall, unisex bathroom in the back, which I wouldn’t recommend swimming in. I’ve been faking the cleaning reports for the past week.”

    Jerry looked out the window to see a vast vista of cornfields. He cracked the window to take in the alluring aroma of hog farms. “So that collection of chewed gum wads isn’t the buffet?”

    The driver’s posture went from slouched to attentive, as though covering up mischief when the assistant principal walks into the classroom. “Well, sir, that is part of the upgraded passenger experience on our business class coaches. We’ve added dining car options to appeal to discriminating travellers such as yourself. You’ll also find an assortment of half-sucked hard candies stuck to the emergency exit door.”

    Jerry topped off his margarita from an industrial-sized thermos. “Have you got any McDonald’s wrappers with leftover pickle slices?”

    The driver snickered. “You’re thinking of our first-class coaches.”

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    • Profile gravatar of Geoff Holme
      4 March 2017 at 5:31 am

      I’ve never been on a Greyhound bus (other mass transportation vehicles are available) – heck, I’ve never been to the States – but you paint such an alluring picture of the experience, Caleb. As the saying goes: “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”
      Great take on the elements, and a great tale.

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