Category Archives: Flash Fiction Friday

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A twisted bet and a lot of gold

Sally forced the smile to stay on her face as the throngs of people walked by. The thick, dusty air hung around her like a curse, and no matter how much she kept her expression excited, everyone ignored her.

It was bad enough that she hadn’t had a decent customer in a week, but even the Uriths weren’t giving her the time of day. And they were all desperate to get to their most holy ceremony over the mountains.

Word about what happened to Wild Bill must have gotten around.

That hadn’t been her fault. He was the idiot that thought a rope would hold if he jumped two hundred feet. It had held, but she’d lost the bottom half of him.

“What are we going to do?” Sally’s first mate, Texas, asked. They were all out of money, and people’s stomachs were starting to grumble.

Sally stood, rising to her not terribly impressive height. “I’ll find us a fare if it’s the last thing I—”

“Miss Sally?”

Sally stopped in her tracks. The crowd parted, and before her stood a tall, thin man covered in black robes that hung to the ground. His voice reverberated through her, much like the engines on her air ship when they were humming at just the right speed. But they didn’t make the hairs on her arms stand up.

The man closed the distance between them. The crowd went around him like water racing down a hill.

“Yes?” She held her ground.

Texas shifted away.

“You are Miss Sally?”


The man—even his face was obscured by the hood—glanced up and behind her. “This is your ship?”

“Yes.” Sally’s mind did a quick run through of people she owed money too. Had one of them come to collect?

The stranger continued to look at the ship. At least that’s what Sally thought he was looking at. It was hard to tell without access to his eyes. Enough time passed, that Sally cleared her throat.

“Did you need a lift?”

The darkened face turned down to her. “Yes.”

Sally’s heart jumped, but she kept her voice even. “Standard fare is—”

The man cut her off, holding out a leather purse with drawstrings. “This should suffice. Can we leave right away?” Without waiting for her answer, he moved past her and Texas and up the gang plank, which despite his height, hardly sagged.

“Wait a minute…” Sally trailed off as the weight of the purse pulled her hand toward the ground. She squeezed the bag, swallowed and looked inside.

And her breath caught in her throat.

Gold pieces. A lot of them. She looked up, her mouth open and ready to ask the man if these were real, but when she saw him, already leaning against the banister of her ship, she knew they were.

Sally shut her mouth, clasped the bag tight and moved up the gang plank. “Texas, cast us off. We leave. Now.”



Her first mate, and long time friend, knew not to argue.

“Where are we going?” Texas asked.

“Let’s find out.”


Less than an hour later, Sally’s ship, the Loose Cannon, was soaring above the desert toward the mountains.

The man had only given her a direction, not a destination.

Texas was worried.

Sally kept herself together. She approached the man, who had still not lowered his hood, and spoke.

“We’re going to need a destination.”

The man sat at a table that was bolted to the deck. The wind whipped around him, but the blasted robes barely moved. “I need to go to the place where Wild Bill fell.”

A fist clamped around Sally’s middle. “What?”

The man sighed and his hands came out of his sleeves.

Only they weren’t hands. Just bones. Glowing bones. They moved to the hood and lowered it, revealing a glowing skull.

Sally took an involuntary step back and covered her mouth with both hands to keep the scream in.

Death nodded. “Not bad. People usually run.”

Sally’s heart raced, and her hands shook as she lowered them. She could feel her eyes bugging out of her head, but couldn’t do anything to stop them.

“Are you…are you here for me?”

Death laughed. The air shied away. “No, Miss Sally. I’m not here on official business.”

“Then, why?” She hated the way her voice squeaked.

“Well, you see, me and the Death that takes care of the Uriths have a little, shall we say, bet going.”

Several questions surfaced. Sally blurted out the one that made it to her lips first. “There is more than one Death?”

The skull smiled at her. “Certainly. No one of us could keep up with all of these people.” He waved a skeletal hand.

“Why Wild Bill? He’s been dead for a week.”

“Oh, I know. I need something from his corpse.”

“We brought him back.”

Death held up a bony finger. “You brought his top half back. I need the bottom half of him.”

“For what?”

“I told you. For a bet.”

Sally shook her head. “I don’t understand.”

“Since you haven’t screamed, or tried to shoot me like Texas is about to do over there, I’ll tell you.” He leaned forward as if they had a secret to share. “This other Death and I have a bet on how many famous people’s toe nails we can collect in a month.”

Sally blinked.

Death grinned again. “So far I’m ahead.”

“Wild Bill wasn’t that famous.”

“Not yet, but he will be. Time is a fickle thing. Just trust me. Take me to where he fell and I’ll double the payment I gave you.”


“Maybe triple, depending on how quickly you can get us back.”

That much money and she could buy her own island.

“Well?” Death asked.

Sally turned and yelled at Texas. “Put down that gun and bring us about!”


Seriously, how many times can toenails come up on a D-20 dice???



Setting-On a Ship

Random Object-Toe Nail Clippings


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Convenient that I got to use a cruise ship in this one.

The captain of the cruise ship looked at me and made a face comparable to a man who had just eaten an extra tart lemon. His tan skin pulled tight around his lips.When he spoke, he used that tone of voice that said I should have seen this coming.

“So you’re telling me that your kaleidoscope is gone?”

“That’s correct,” I said. I did my best to square my shoulders and look into his eyes, but my belly won the square versus round fight, and it was hard to look into a man’s eyes who was a foot shorter than you. I held up a finger. “My Christmas kaleidoscope.”

“And that makes it worse why?”

The other officers kept their eyes down as they rushed past, preparing to pull into port.

“Because it is worth a great deal of money,” I said.

Which wasn’t entirely true. If we didn’t have it on the ship, we would sink the next time we went near the reef, and it would, in turn, cost someone a whole lot of money. We’d be dead, so that’s one burden lifted off of our shoulders.

“And you want me to turn this place upside down in order to find it?” His pinched facade cracked, allowing the red-faced fury to begin. His dark mustache twitched.

I squared my shoulders again. “Yes.”

“Just how much money is it worth?” the captain asked through clenched teeth. Steam from his anger clouded his gold incisor.

“How much is the ship worth?”

I got a glare in response.

“Because it’s worth more.”

“And you were waving it around in front of the audience last night? Telling them how valuable it was? Then you left it on the stage and someone took it? Am I understanding this correctly?”

All but the “left it on the stage” part. I nodded.

The captain threw his arm wide and pointed out the bridge window. “Then you’ve simply lost a small fortune. I’m not going to strip search every single person getting off of this boat.” He found his rhythm, and the volume of his declarations got steadily louder. “Do you have any idea what kind of a PR nightmare that would cause? None of us would ever work in this industry again!”

“Better than being dead,” I said. Aloud. Whoops.

“What do you mean?”

I didn’t have time to explain the laws of the sea to this man. Not the real laws. Not the things that kept us safe from the Sirens and the Kraken and the Kelpies. Not the reasons we always carried a *cough* magician on board.

I snapped my fingers, and the world around me froze. I was going to get hell for this, but the Brotherhood (and now Sisterhood—we’d considered calling ourselves the Hood, but hadn’t voted it in yet) would understand. And hopefully forgive me.

If not, they’d just leave my sorry corpse on this ship when it sailed again and then sunk.

Movement caught my eye through the window.

“Oh no,” I said, cold running through my veins. I rushed to the window and saw a single man hopping from the ship to the pier.

I squinted. No, not a man, but a faerie, identifiable by the soft blue glow around him.

How in the hell had he gotten on board past my wards?

The faerie stopped and turned. Our eyes met. He reached into his pocket-he was wearing a crew uniform-and drew out the kaleidoscope. The little imp waved it at me, and stuck out his tongue.

I rubbed my face. I had to get that thing back before we sailed.

As if the faerie knew what I was thinking, e lifted the kaleidoscope and threw it down onto the pier.

I felt the pieces shatter, as parts of my soul fled from my body.

I went to my knees, unable to see out the window.

How had he known?


So I stretched a few of these, but it works. And it’s a bit short this week!



Setting-On a Ship

Random Object-Christmas Kaleidoscope

Theme-You are your own worst enemy

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A tiny mobster, a one-legged bird and the Executioners.

The gray dawn stalked through the canyons of buildings. The eastern horizon showed signs of the sunrise, but it was still an hour away.

“Where in the sam hills are we?” a small, grouchy voice asked from the other side of the balcony divider.

“Will you get off of me?” another squeaky voice said.

“You touch me one more time and I shoot you.”

“Like I can help it, we’re in a box.” This voice sounded put out, but not irrational. “Who’s on the top?”

“Yo, Corey. What’s going on up there?”

Karl, the pink flamingo lawn ornament, felt a peck on his metal leg.

“Hey, Coral, what’s going on over there?”

Karl looked back at his fellow flamingos and found the other three staring at him. Sneering. The tallest, Spot—so named for the black mark on his side, which he wore with great pride—craned his neck, but couldn’t see past the barricade

“We got new neighbors,” Karl said. “I heard them come in yesterday.”

“See who they are,” Spot said with swagger in his voice. Since it was difficult to swagger with just one leg.

The other two, Gretta and Pink, giggled.

“You see who they are,” Karl said.

Spot’s smile faded, and he looked over his sunglasses at Karl. His voice held gravity. “Now. Or I break you.”

The girls giggled again.

The four of them were stuffed in to a two-foot square box of fake grass, but somehow only Karl could get his head around the barricade.

Karl sighed and turned toward the bars.

“Go on,” Spot growled.

“Give me a minute,” Karl said.

“What’s the matter, head too big to go through?” Pink asked through her giggling.

Somehow having a bigger head than the others had become a joke for them. Karl couldn’t reach them to peck back, since he was cemented into the fake grass facing the building across the road, so he twisted his neck to the side and gently pushed his beak through the gap in the bars.

It took several tries as  he avoided losing his glasses, which his owners would surely notice.

Just as he was almost through, something pecked him in a highly inappropriate place on his back side.

Karl jerked away from it, and ended up shaving the off paint of one side of his head as it went through. His glasses teetered on the edge of his beak, and Karl frantically jerked his neck around in order to keep them from falling.

Spot roared with laughter. The girls gave their normal response.

The glasses settled, and Karl heaved a sigh of relief. If he lost the glasses, his owners would probably replace him. He was, after all, the oldest of the birds.

After a moment reveling in his relief, Karl remembered his mission. He craned his neck and looked around the barricade.

The cold, cylinder of a gun greeted him.

A tiny gun. In the hands of a tiny…man. A tiny man dressed in yellow pants, a bright green shirt and a pointy, red hat.

“Yo,” the gnome said. A cigar hung from the edge of his mouth. He cocked the gun.

Karl blinked. “Uh, hi.” He’d never seen a gnome before, but he’d heard of them.

“Who the hell are you?” the gnome asked.

“Uh, my name is Karl.” Her jerked his head back toward his box. “I live next door.”

“Where are we?”

“New York.”

“New what?”

“It’s a city,” Karl said.

“Damn,” the gnome said.

For the first time, Karl looked past the first little man and found six more, all armed. All staring at him with hate-filled eyes.

“Where did you come from?” Karl asked.


Karl didn’t believe him.

“Coral,” Spot said. “Who is it?”

Karl felt another nip, and he jumped, dislodging his glasses. The eyewear tilted dangerously to one side, and Karl moved to compensate. But the glasses hit the fulcrum of their journey and went back the other way. Leaving Karl looking at the world through nothing.

One gnome, this one slightly taller than the rest with a green hat, pushed his way to the front. Quick as a cat, the gnome’s hand flashed through the bars and grabbed the glasses. He smiled, and despite the sword strapped to his hip and the knives sticking out of each boot, Karl instantly liked him.

“You might want those,” the gnome said. It was the one with the calm voice. “I’m Pete.” He put the glasses back on Karl’s beak. He lowered his voice. “It seems to me like you have a little problem over there.”

Karl didn’t say anything.

Pete smiled, his cherub face turning ugly. “In exchange for information on this, city, we’d be happy to take care of your little, problem.”

Karl blinked.

“It’ll be clean. Fast. They’ll never know what hit them, and we can make it look like an accident.”

“Are—are you serious?” Karl asked.

The gnome winked as the others began checking their gear.

“We’re the Executioners, it’s what we do.”


Karl didn’t really come out the fool, but this was fun anyway.

Between Larry Correia and Gnomeo and Juliet, I had no choice but to include the lawn gnomes.


Character-The Fool

Setting-In the City

Random Object-Lawn Ornament


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A heist, spurs and a flash of light.

Unlike the ancient, and now completely destroyed, towns of Earth’s old west, tumbleweeds did not roll down the dusty streets of Dabeau. Instead, the roads glowed blue, and vehicles whizzed past, floating a meter above the surface. Still, long porches lined the lane, attached to almost every building. Beings from all over the galaxy came here wearing their versions of cowboy hats and boots with spurs—some of which jangled as they walked. Some even went so far as to create an entire persona for the place so they could drink, gamble and visit the plethora of brothels as someone other than themselves, and then go back home to their dull lives as if nothing had happened.

S’ski shadowed a humanoid with a many-tentacled female wrapped around him in various, interesting places, and floated with them across the main street.

Even with the late hour, there were plenty of beings out and about.

This made S’ski’s job easier. Without a body, he could easily slip from place to place, but he had to stay close to another being, or the infrared sensors would betray him.

The humanoid and his, err, companion, veered through the swinging doors of the saloon, and S’ski glided to a set of cowboys who looked like they were headed toward the midnight shoot out. He followed them until a block before the bank, and then turned onto a side street.

This was the dangerous part, but to S’ski’s delight, he found a couple more beings headed toward to shoot out. He used them as stepping stones, and jumped from one signature to the next, making it all the way to the bank door.

The loss of his body had been traumatic, but in the end he had to thank the cyber pirates who had parted him from his flesh. He couldn’t go through walls, like the ghosts of stories told around the fire pits, but he had received the ability to trick almost any security system. And while his fee was comparable to purchasing a small planet, he always got results.

It only took a quick moment of concentration before the red light of the night security door to turn green and opened the small slot that clients could use for a night drop.

S’ski slipped through the rectangular opening and into the bank proper.

By day the place bustled with activity. By night, the tall ceilings and sweeping pillars looked lonely. The slightest noise would echo back and forth. Lucky for S’ski, he didn’t make sound.

But he would leave a signature, so he concentrated and found that part of the security system, and shut it off for five minutes. He made it look like a system reboot. If he’d had lips, he would have smiled.

Despite the real marble floors and the expensive wooden furniture—because who actually used wood these days—the bank felt like every other place of business he’d ever been in.

He’d visited the day before, using his client as a shield, so he already knew where the vault was. S’ski floated across the large lobby, past the teller desk and down a small hallway.

The first door was there for show. Any hacker with two minutes could take it down. S’ski did it in six seconds. The automatic latch released, the X-shaped handle turned, and the round, steel door opened outward.

Shelves lined the room beyond, covered with fake money. The paper kind. Bags had been stuffed into the corners, and one mound cascaded down onto the floor. All for show.  S’ski moved past it to the next door.

This one was going to be more work. He studied the pin-hole for a few seconds before sending his conscious into it.

As S’ski had suspected, the security here was top-notch, but not out of his league. This was why people hired S’ski. Like putting the pieces of a puzzle in the right order, he began to decipher the codes. Only instead of a picture, they made a pleasant buzzing in his mind when they locked into the right place. When he misjudged, well, let’s just say he was glad he didn’t have vocal cords anymore, because everyone in the town would have heard him scream.

The thoughts of his fee kept him going, and after what felt like ages, the lock clicked open. He slipped through the pinhole and into the next room.

Because no one used actual cash anymore, he’d expected a secured link to the Net. But instead, he found a tiny space—hardly enough for a humanoid to turn around in—with another door.

S’ski swore.

A wooden door. With a knob.

He thrust his mind into it, hoping it was actually a modern device disguised as an antique, but no. He felt nothing.

Somehow the bank had completely sealed the edges, and S’ski couldn’t get through.

He swore again.

A light went on. Then another. Then a pink beam hit S’ski, freezing him in place.

“Well, well, well,” a familiar voice said. “What do we have here?”

S’ski couldn’t glare, but he tried. The beam gave the newcomer the faint outline of what was left of S’ski.

“I told the boys back at central that you wouldn’t be able to get through that.” The Galaxy Marshal gestured at the wooden door. He grinned, causing his facial hair to follow suit, like a deranged demon. “Looks like you’re bank robbing days are finished.”

S’ski said several unflattering things, which no one could hear without his interface.

The Marshal laughed, and pulled out a small, wooden box with a cork in it. He pulled the cork, and S’ski felt himself getting sucked in. Like a genie in a bottle.

The space was small and became dark once the Marshal shoved the cork back in place.

“Told you crime didn’t pay,” the Marshal said.


I love it when I have a good idea come to me! Or at least not a bad idea.


Character-Not Human

Setting-Another World

Random Object-Door Knob

Theme-Crime Doesn’t Pay


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