Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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21-Feb-2020

How Exactly Does a Centaur go Undercover??

I forced my expression to stay neutral as the Sabom clomped back and forth across the front of the dojo. The four rows of students in front of me stood at perfect attention. No one moved. No one breathed.

“I have heard some very disturbing news from yet another dojo.” His dark eyes matched the severe way he pulled his hair back. They met mine, but slid away without lingering. He almost got to the wall before turning around and walking back. “Sabom Nikius’ arrived at his dojo this morning and found that all of his practice pads had been replaced by sacks of flour. They didn’t find out until they started their kicking drills.”

No one sniggered.

In a room full of hyper-competitive centaurs, someone always sniggered. If not snorted. Yet silence hung around me heavier than a bag of rocks on my shoulders.

“No one has been able to catch the perpetrators.” Sabom Apostion stopped and stared hard at his front row. “If any of you know anything, you need to tell me.”

Again, no one twitched.

This had to be the place.

These students had to be responsible for all of the antics leading up to the tournament the next day.

Sabom Apostion waited. And waited.

I hadn’t been involved and I was getting uncomfortable.

My jaw started to ache from clenching my teeth so hard, and I was grateful when Sabom Apostion finally sighed and turned away.

“Twenty laps outside, then all of your kicking drills. Twice.”

“Yes Sabom!” the class answered in unison as they bowed.

I joined the rest as we lined up to go out the door. Being the lowest rank, I went last.

All the better to watch.

Sure enough, several of the mid-ranking students exchanged knowing glances as soon as Sabom Apostion wasn’t in their line of sight.

These had to be the guys playing all of the practical jokes. I watched them as we began to canter around the yard.

The flour sacks was the last in a long line of almost harmless pranks. As Sabom Apostion said, no one had been able to find out who was doing it.

Until now.

My own Sabom had been wise to send my here. I’d been attending for a couple of weeks, and I had to say that pretending not to know anything was more difficult than simply doing it. Having to kick wrong hurt my brain.

We were halfway through our first set of laps when a pair of mid-ranking students slowed until they cantered on either side of me.

“Hey,” one of them said. I hadn’t bothered to learn names. This guy had long blond hair and palamino coat.

“Hey,” I said, pretending to be winded.

“How are you liking class?” This one had dark skin and an even darker coat.

“It’s hard, but it’s pretty fun.”

“It’s not usually like this.” Blondie waved his hand. “Sabom Apostion is pretty mad about all of the pranks going on.”

“Yeah, I caught that,” I said between gasps.

“What do you think of these pranks?” the darker one asked.

I looked around, as if to make sure no one else was in hearing range. Then I leaned my body closer to blondie. “I actually think it’s kind of funny. I mean, no one’s getting hurt, right?”

“Right.”

The two of them looked at one another, then back at me.

“What?” I asked. I sped up, trying to look panicked.

“Do you like playing jokes on people?” the darker one asked.

I shrugged. “Sure.”

Blondie leaned in. “What if I told you we were playing the pranks on the other dojos?”

I hadn’t expected them to confide in me so easily. Maybe they’d figured out who I was. “I would say good job.”

They both laughed.

“Right?” the dark one said.

“Listen, we could use some help with our next one. Are you in?”

I looked around again. “Why are you asking me this?” I watched them as closely as I could as we turned the corner of the yard.

“We need a third guy. You like to tell jokes and you’re into funny stuff. We thought you might get a kick out of it.”

Either they knew who I was, or they were looking for a fall guy.

We finished our laps and we went on to kicks.

“Think about it,” blondie said.

I got partnered with the other white belt, and was apparently supposed to figure out if I wanted to go in with these guys.

They would likely give me a fun part to play, then leave me to take the fall for everything. It was possible that they actually wanted to incorporate me into their little gang, but I doubted it.

If they knew who I was, they could frame my dojo for the problems.

My partner—a red-head with a bay coat—stumbled back as I kicked with one of my back legs. A little too hard.

“Sorry,” I muttered.

She smiled.

Then I realized I’d kicked her so hard she should have flown across the room.

Maybe I wasn’t the only one here who weren’t who they seemed.

I returned her smile. “What number are we on?”

“Twenty six.”

“Thanks.”

My mind chugged on what I was going to do, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.

This called for the crocheter. Plain and simple.

***

Argh! I didn’t get to the afghan. I was going to have them replace a different instructor’s uniform with a crocheted one the morning of the tournament. So not exactly an afghan, but better.

Alas, I ran out of words. I’m really not sure how to do a caper in less than a thousand words. I’m going to have to think about it!

Genre – Caper

Character – Undercover Centaur

Setting – Taekwondo School

Random Object – A Crocheted Afghan

 


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14-Feb-2020

Showing off to impress a girl has no age limit!

Jenni winced when she saw the pothole. The front tire of the private transport bus went into said hole, causing one corner of the vehicle to dip and then pop back up.

Cries of protest flew from the senior citizens.

“Every heard of dodging, buddy?”

“I think they’re trying to crash the bus!”

“I think the government is still trying to kill me.”

“Who got killed?”

“Give it a rest, Bill. The government doesn’t care about you. Probably one of my loyal fans trying to rescue me from this bus.”

Jenni exchanged an amused expression with Martha, her coworker sitting across the aisle. She stood and pat the air with her hands. “Just a pot hole, nothing to worry about. We’re almost there.”

A familiar face, sporting her favorite stern expression, glared at Jenni. “Where exactly are you talking us, young lady?”

Jenni sighed. “We’re going to the park to have a picnic, Claudia.”

“What about Nick?” someone from the back asked.

Martha snorted.

“Nick died last week,” someone else said.

Jenni shook her head and sat. Good thing they were almost there.

By the time the bus driver parked—only a couple of minutes later—a small scuffle had broken out behind Martha over a cane, and someone was asking if it was Rick that had died.

At least her job was never dull. Jenni stood and smiled. “We’re here. Everyone off!”

That drew a round of grumbles. The driver moved to help Martha with the three people in wheelchairs while Jenni made sure everyone got down the stairs in one piece.

This part was like herding cats. The first woman off the bus decided she wanted to get back on. The man behind her threatened to kick her in the face—he watched way too many Kung Fu movies—and the rest of the senior citizens asked what was going on in loud voices.

Jenni smiled through it all, making notes about the most entertaining comments so she could write them down later, and finally got everyone off the bus. She rolled her eyes when she saw
Alan tottering toward the gutter with one hand on his cane and his other holding a grabber claw that his granddaughter had given him for his birthday.

Claudia was the last one off, and she kept a hold of Jenni’s arm. There were bright yellow balloons along the path to the pavilion for everyone to follow, and Martha was already wheeling the first resident in the right direction.

Alan surveyed the gutter, pushing the dirt and rocks around with the rubber tip of his cane. He wore a t-shirt of his own rock band—he had been rather famous back in the day—under a leather jacket. He wore what hair he had left long and stringy.

“That man is disgusting,” Claudia said.

Jenni watched as Alan’s wrinkled face lit up and he used the grabber to pluck a gray rock about the size of a walnut out of the gutter. It only took him three tries. It took him another minute to get the rock into his hand. Then, in typical Alan fashion, he licked it.

Claudia strangled a cry of shock.

Alan smiled and sped toward them.

Of course sped was a relative term.

“Did you find a good one?” Jenni asked.

“Don’t encourage him,” Claudia whispered like a three-year-old. Lucky for her no one else could hear either.

Alan stopped in front of Claudia and held out his prize as he flashed his perfectly white dentures. “Granite. From the mountains.” He jerked his head toward the west.

“Really?” Jenni asked.

“Yup.” Alan’s face held both pride and hope. His eyes moved to Claudia.

Claudia sniffed. “You and your silly rocks.”

Jenni held out the hand for the rock, promising to put it with the rest of his collection. She didn’t miss Alan’s face as it lost a bit of excitement. So she pulled Claudia close as they shuffled along. “I think he’s trying to impress you. He knows you were a geologist, and he’s been reading all about rocks.” Plus, he thought it was hilarious to be a rock star who had a rock collection.

Claudia’s hand tightened on Jenni’s arm. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

The old woman said that, but she straightened her shoulders, as much as she could, and Jenni could have sworn Claudia began to sway her hips as she walked. Good thing they’d both been replaced, or Jenni would have been worried.

When they reached the benches, Claudia waited to pick a seat until Alan sat with a couple of the other guys, as he called them. Claudia then picked a spot where he could see her. As soon as Jenni dropped her off she fished a mirror and her brush out of her giant gold purse a checked her hair.

“Still using a horse brush?” Martha asked as Jenni came to sit with her.

“I can’t convince her it’s not a valuable antique.”

“Did Alan find another rock?”

Jenni held it out. “Granite.”

“It will look great in his guitar case with the other hundred or so he has.”

“It will.”

Jenni watched as Claudia put lipstick on, then practiced her smiles in the mirror.

“Uh-oh,” Martha said.

Jenni turned to see two of the other ladies fighting over a cane. “We never should have let them have the exact same cane.”

“My plan is to toss them both.”

“Good plan.”

Jenni caught Claudia giving Alan a little wave as she moved to break up the scuffle.

Nope. This job was never dull.

***

That was fun! My mom is in a nursing home, and sometimes it’s hard for me to go see her because it can feel so depressing there, but if I keep my sense of humor I always find a few things to smile about!

I forgot to mention the burial mound! I was going to have a random hill in the park that one of the old people thought was a burial mound. Then they were going to fight about it. Ah well, it’s still a fun story.

Genre – Senior Citizen Romance

Character – A Rock Star Who Collects Rocks

Setting – Burial Mound

Random Object – Horse Brush


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7-Feb-2020

Butlers and Suitors and Murder, Oh My!

Rain falls in a dreary drizzle, causing Miss Young to step closer to her long-time friend, Mr. Braxton. I watch closely as he pats her on the back. She curls in on herself, tears running down her cheeks just as the rain runs down the windows of the estate behind us.

“Alexander Young was a fine man. A hero of much renown, who saved too many to count from the unknown.” The preacher had been droning on for too long. I shoot him a hard look, but he doesn’t notice.

I sigh. Alexander Young, my master, is dead. Killed by an unknown force and found lying on the stone stairs leading up to the house. Some refuse to see the occult, but I know better.

So does Miss Young, which is why I wonder that she is standing so close to Mr. Braxton. Everyone knows there is something amiss about him. Any sane person can feel it as they walk by. A chill in the air. Fear rising up your spine.

Why doesn’t Miss Young feel it?

“We now lay thee to rest, Alexander Young, son of William Young, may you rest in peace, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

I almost snort. Unless God awards those that seek out evil, then Mr. Young is not going to rest in any kind of peace.

Miss Young dissolves into tears as the wooden box is lowered into the ground. Mr. Braxton puts his arm around her to comfort her.

How can she not feel it? Looking at Mr. Braxton straight on is like tracking a shadow in the dark. One second it is there, and the next it has slipped away so you have to find it again. He pushes your attention off of him. It makes me feel dirty. And angry.

Yet I cannot show my distress. I straighten and clear my throat. “Miss, we should get you inside.”

She nods, sniffs, and raises her head from Mr. Braxton’s shoulder. “Yes. Of course.”

I hold out my hand for her. It is not entirely custom for a servant to escort a young lady, but since I am the closest thing to family she has, I take the responsibility upon myself. She slowly disentangles herself from Mr. Braxton, before she gives him a smile and murmurs something in his ear. He nods, then hands her over to me.

In all the years that my family has served the Youngs, we have learned many things. First and foremost is to always keep a stony exterior. Miss Young slips her fingers into my palm, and my facade shivers. Even though I cannot feel the warmth of her hands through her damp gloves, a bright light heats my stomach, and the small smile she gives me pushes everything else away.

I bow to cover my reaction, then straighten and lead Miss Young up the stone stairs, through the heavy wooden door and into the house.

The entryway rises to a sweeping ceiling, held up by carved pillars. Large windows let in what little light comes from the day outside. Several lanterns hang from the ceiling, giving out a dull, orange glow.

The door shuts behind us, compressing the air and cutting off the solace of the world.

I stop, loathe to let go of the fingers in my grasp, but do so after only a moment’s hesitation. Now is not the time. I hold my hands out and gesture to her coat. “May I?”

She stares at me, as if she isn’t sure how to respond. Trembling hands reach to loose the hat from her hair. The rain hasn’t penetrated through, and her golden tresses remain lying in piles of luscious curls on her head. I take the hat when she offers it to me and wait for the coat.

I revel in the time it takes her to unbutton the front, taking in every movement. Every hint of the woman beneath. When she is finished, she reveals the slender figure beneath, clothed in layers of drab fabric—fitting for a grieving young lady.

What am I thinking? I shake my head and remove the coat from her shoulders when she turns.

“Thank you, Kane.” She turns back and puts a hand on my arm. “You have been a great support to me.”

I nod, unable to coax my vocal cords into making a coherent sound.

“My father would be grateful.”

I must respond. “Anything you need, my lady.”

It is only then that the traumatized, pale expression on Miss Young’s face slides away, revealing a small smirk and a glimmer in her eyes. She holds her hand, palm up, revealing a single hair. “I took this from Mr. Braxton.”

I blink. “You did what?”

“What better way to find out what he is?” Suddenly filled with energy, she picks up her sodden skirt and walks past me. The click of her boots echo through the house. “We both know he killed my father. He suspects you, even if you have that horrid haircut and wear your mustache askew on purpose.”

After a moment I follow Miss Young down the stairs into her father’s laboratory. She drops the hair into a round dish and moves to start a fire. “Come, Kane, we have much to do.”

***

Three things:

1) I had to look up exactly what a Gothic Romance was. I was thinking Whuthering Heights-ish, and I was mostly right.

2) Without having a time-traveling monster hunter who used a melon baller to take out the eyes and then brains of monsters, I couldn’t figure out how to get the melon baller in there. But that wouldn’t have been very romantic. 😉

3) I’m not great with present tense, so I probably messed that up a few times.

Genre – Gothic Romance

Character – A butler with a bad bowl cut and an askew mustache.

Setting – Funeral of a local hero

Random Object – Mellon Baller


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31-Jan-2020

Grandpa’s First Time in VR

I glared at Chrissy. Those big blue eyes and that blond hair was enough to make most men crack, but not me. I’d agreed to take the girls to new Rocket World in Toronto, but I never said I would participate. I folded my arms across my chest. “No.”

“Come on, grandpa, everyone is doing it.”

I glanced at the door to the VR room, and then returned my gaze to my granddaughter. “Everyone is vaporizing too. Should I try that?”

“Vaping,” Chrissy’s friend, Joan, said not looking up from her phone.

“Whatever,” I growled.

“We just need one more player,” Chrissy said. “You can basically stand there.”

Vivi, the third girl in the entourage, nodded. “You run a pub with really grouchy old people in it all the time. This should be a piece of cake.”

“A piece of cake?” I pat my head. “I’m too old to put some silly looking contraption on my face and pretend I’m somewhere else.”

Chrissy’s doe-eyed smile didn’t waver. “It’s like an interactive video game.”

“And how many of those have you ever seen me play?” I asked.

“Uh…”

Vivi moved in front of me and pat me on the shoulder. “It’s okay. Old people have trouble with this kind of thing.”

She was baiting me. I knew it, she knew it, and everyone in the waiting room knew it. I’m a grown man. I don’t have to rise to the bait of a pack of fifteen-year-old girls.

And yet…I could never say no to Chrissy’s mother either. It was those blasted eyes. “Fine,” I grumbled.

“Yay!” Chrissy yelled.

Vivi let out a little squeal.

Joan glanced up from her phone and gave me a nod.

Great. I got a nod. Go me.

I looked down at my watch. “I only have an hour, then I have to get back.” It wasn’t wise to leave the pub in the hands of my minions for too long, especially on a Friday afternoon. All of those distraught blue-collar workers would be heading home for the weekend in just a few hours. They needed a place to express their displeasure and drown their sorrows, and I needed their money. Win-win all around.

“Come on.” Chrissy grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me forward. Everyone in the room watched us go. I knew they would be watching the game too. Just like I’d been watching the group before us.

Chrissy’s dad was going to pay for this.

We stepped into the room and several perky employees greeted us. I listened as they took us through the ropes: Don’t get to crazy, try not to trip over your own feet, this was going to be a 5-D experience with air spraying on us, among other things.

The young punk that put my VR helmet on—what looked like a huge, solid pair of sunglasses—smirked just before he settled it into place.

“Does that fit okay?” he asked.

I nodded, then shook my head back and forth a few times. The dang thing didn’t move. “Should be okay.”

“Great. Now just wait right there.” His voice came through an earpiece, and I didn’t hear him leave.

Standing in a room, not being able to see, made me feel more than a little isolated, and my fingers twitched to pull the helmet up so I could see. Right before I gave in to the temptation, the screen in front of my eyes flickered on, revealing a beautiful landscape.

“You should be seeing a villa in the south of France.”

I’d never been to France. This was kind of cool.

“Take a moment to get your bearings. Move around a little to get used to the helmet.”

I grunted and turned my head. I stood on a balcony. Behind me the villa rose almost like a castle. The sky overhead was a brilliant blue, and the floor beneath my feet—

I swore and jumped back.

Then I jumped back again.

The stupid floor was glass! I could see through to the area below, and my brain wailed that I was about to fall.

“Language, grandpa,” Chrissy said.

They could hear me. Great. Just great. “Sorry,” I muttered.

“Okay, everyone, we’re going to test your 5-D experience now. Turn toward the lake and wait.” The teenage boy was in my ear again.

The trees around the lake shifted in the wind, and the scent of moisture and dirt filled my nostrils. The hair on the back of my neck stirred as more wind kicked up.

“No one panic,” the teenage boy’s voice said.

Good thing he warned us. Suddenly, as if accelerated a hundred times, dark clouds filled the sky, ran pattered down on us, quickly turning to hail.

Cold drops of water actually hit my skin. I shivered.

The clouds went from dark to green, and began to swirl.

Just like that, my hand started to sweat and I took a step back.

I knew it wasn’t real, but I’d always been afraid of tornadoes. I watched in horror as this one formed, then began reaching for the ground. The wind around us kicked up, and I felt small bits of something hitting my cheeks.

One of the girls screamed as the tornado touched down and started for us.

I was glad she beat me too it. I stood riveted in place, wondering if I was going to wet myself, when the tornado suddenly dissipated. The clouds cleared, the sun came back out, and the teenage boy was talking.

“Okay, everyone, great job. Now for the really fun stuff.”

All three girls let out a cheer.

I grunted. The things I did for my granddaughter.

***

Oops, I used Rocket World as the setting. My bad. Ah well, it works!

Genre – Rocket World

Character – Pub Owner

Setting – Toronto

Random Object – Tornado

 


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