Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 05/10/2018

I suppose, if we had a conversation, it would likely start with you asking, “What the fuck are you doing in the middle of a salt desert wearing a blindfold, and handcuffs?”

My answer would, of course, be rather long winded. Perhaps it would start with, “Well. This is where the drone dumped me,” which would be quite accurate on my part, but wouldn’t explain why the drone dumped me in the middle of nowhere. Salt as far as I could see in all directions.

Welcome to the fate of a self educated man in our world. Seems I learned too much, taught myself too much, studied too much. And that made me dangerous. Which in turn got me arrested, jailed, pushed through a trial with a jury of my peers, found guilty, and sentenced to almost certain death in the salt desert.

Presto, blindfolded, handcuffed, and carried by a drone aircraft into the middle of the salt flat. The one that’s 11,000 square kilometers. Yeah. The big one. “If you make it out alive, your sins are forgiven, and we will all know God meant for you to be here.”

No one makes it out alive, of course. No shade. No shelter. Tiny little clumps of cactus scattered here and there, although none of them were visible to me. And, even if it rained, which it did frequently, there was no water, because of all the salt.

First thing I did was take off the blindfold. That lead to the second thing. Find the damn box with the keys for the handcuffs. That’s really fair, guys. Dump me in the middle of a salt flat, tell me I’m free if I make it out alive, and then make me spend the first few days looking for a treasure chest with the key in it.

At least I was getting to learn new things. Like how much a man can piss in the middle of a salt flat while slowly dying of thirst? Like if a man stops eating, does he stop shitting too? Or can a man sleep on a salt flat every night? And even what’s the worst kind of sunburn you can get, and still remain functional? Not exactly questions I wanted answers too.

“When looking for something, walk in a growing circle.” Yeah. Great advice there. How the fuck do you walk in a growing circle when there are no landmarks? When you could be moved twenty kilometers in any direction, and it would look exactly like where you are? That turned into, “When looking for something, guess which direction to walk in, and start walking in a straight line.” I figured, “If I find the damn keys, good. If not, no big deal.” Didn’t see any reason to hunt for the keys, wasting time I could spend trying to get out of the biggest salt desert on the planet.

“If this is a perfect circle, and they dumped me in the dead center, it’s roughly 500 kilometers in any direction to get out.” You have no idea how big 500 kilometers is until you try to walk it on foot. At least they let me have good walking shoes and socks.

I knew, of course, there was no way to get out alive. If the weather didn’t kill me, the lack of drinking water and food certainly would. Without water, I figured the longest I’d last was four or five days. Then dehydration would kill me. Or, I’d go stupid, and start drinking salt water out of desperation. And the salt would kill me.

“Well. At least I get to see the stars at night before I go.”

That old legend about water from cactus? Yeah. No one talks about the spines. And even if you can get to the water, no one talks about how much it is.

After the first day, I was coated in salt. That shit stuck to everything. Got on everything. Got in everything. Sweat, and watch the sweat trails turn white and crusty.

As luck would have it, I did make it to a lake. A big puddle of water, on top of a salt block. Yeah. That’s useful. Pink flamencos every fucking where. Zillions of them. Having a god damned party. Swimming around. Flapping wings. Dancing. Like a big damn pink orgy. All that water, and I couldn’t drink any of it. Not one drop.

That’s where I gave up. Sat down on the salt, and watched the fucking birds. And wondered why God made them impervious to all that salt.

760 Words

This is written for Week 53 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I’m still catching up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/05/06

I held the drawing before the board of regents, “This is what we found.” My antenna shook, but only briefly.

“Do we have any idea what it is?” One of the Emperor butterflies asked. “Or perhaps what it’s made of?”

What to answer? How to answer? That was always the problem with the unknown. Everyone wanted immediate answers, and there were none. “It’s not made of metal, wood, or stone.” I knew the items in the picture too well. I was there, with the ants, when the expedition dug them up. “It’s a flexible material we’ve never seen before.”

“And how far down was it?”

The strata of dirt, and rock, built by time, layer upon layer. It was our best way to determine an object’s age. “Even deeper than before.”

“So, millions of years, correct?”

“Yes. At least six. Maybe more.”

“How do we know it’s not metal?”

The same explanation I’d given a thousand times. For a thousand objects we’d found in the ground. “Metal would have corroded, and rusted, and turned to dirt. There was plenty of oxide in the dirt where we found this.”

It was, like everything we’d found, huge. It stood a good six Monarch tall. Looked for all the world like a megaphone. Only ridiculously big, and somewhat artistically crafted. Not just a basic cone. “We think we know what it is. Or what it was used for.”


“To amplify sound.” I pointed out the wide opening at one end, “Either to catch sound that otherwise could not be heard. Or to send sound out, from a weak source.” I shrugged, “Like a megaphone, or a hearing aid. And that is how it actually works. We’ve tested that.”

The conversations between the board members were hurried, excited, and nervous. All I could do was watch, and wait, until they decided what to do. I fielded any questions they had for me. “What kind of material, other than stone, can survive for millions of years?”

“None we know of. It’s constructed of a material we’ve never seen. I’ve sent a sample to be analyzed. The Swallowtails are working with that now.”

When they finished their discussions, the decided what to do with this new discovery. “We will place this in the museum, for all to see. It is our conclusion it is another object made by the giants that once roamed the world.

The giants. All we’d ever found of them were the things they made. We’d never found any fosiles. Nothing. “It’s like the wheels, and the tombstones we found. It shows giants once walked the Earth.”

No one knew what the giants looked like. All we knew was they were huge. The wheels we’d found, so like wagon wheels, but made of strange material that never seemed to decay, and hundreds of times larger than any wheels should ever be. The tombstones, sized like office buildings. With written text carved into them. Many of the symbols as large as a Pieridae, or Skipper, and a few, larger even than me, or any other Monarch. The etchings were deep enough, and large enough, entire colonies of ants could live in them.

And roads. We’d found roads. Made from some strange material that decayed into chalky, grey dust, with lines of rust, that had once been metal, all through them. Others made from a black substance. Bits and pieces of the roads remained. Preserved under the dirt. Out of reach from the wind, and rain. It could remain unchanged for millions of years.

The roads defied description. They were beyond huge. The seemed to be endless, and wide as entire cities. Mostly, they left discolored lines in the strata. Strange dirt, encased by normal dirt on either side.

We had no idea what the giants were. We kept hoping we would find remains. We wondered if we would even recognize them if we did. Until we did, or until we found drawings, or paintings, or some other images of them, we’d never know what they were like.

We only knew they were giants. And they lived here. Millions of years ago.

688 words

This is written for Week 52 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Since I got Week 51 out of the way, I can slowly catch up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

For The Roses…

In 3 days, it would be my turn. I would turn 50 years old. 50 orbits around the sun, completed. It was time. 3 days. All the time I needed, all the time I could ask for.

I packed my gun in the bottom of my bag. Made certain the fragmenting rounds were in it. I knew how to use it, what to do with it, as my father had known, and his father. I got dressed, and joined my wife for breakfast. We spoke of what was to come. “You know I only have 3 days, right?”

“You’re going to the gardens, right? To stay there? To see the flowers?”

I nodded. She’d made waffles. Blueberries all through them. My favorite, and she knew it. My favorite brand of soda to drink, no milk, no coffee. “Hope you like your meal, dear.”

“It’s perfect.” I smiled. “You’ll send Tommy after the car?”

“Yes. It’s all settled.”

“I wish Becky was older. Already moved out. Would make it easier on her, I think.”

My wife of 24 years nodded. “I’ll join you in a couple of years, you know.”

It was my turn to nod, “I know. I hope they’re good years for you.”

“They will be. At least I’ll have all my memories.”

I finished eating, visited the bathroom one more time, and got my bag. I kissed the love of my life on my way out. That was, I think the hardest part, saying good-bye to her. Even knowing the day was coming for my entire life didn’t make that any easier. Knowing I would never see her smile again. Never hold her again. “Dad told me this would be the toughest part, you know.”

“A wise man, your father.” She held me a bit tighter. “Why do I never want to let you go?” I let her hold me for as long as she wished. Knowing she would let me go. Knowing this was her last gift to me. “Remember me, OK? Promise me. Promise me you’ll remember me, and wait for me.”

“I will, dear. You know I will.”

Those were the last words I spoke to her.

The drive to the botanical garden was quiet. I never turned on the radio, or any music. Instead, I listened to the world. The sound of the wind, the songs of birds, the laughter of children, the honking of horns in traffic. All of it. I’d never noticed how beautiful it was. Never noticed how much a gift daily life was.

The drive was uneventful. Quiet, even. The young man, still a boy, really, who let me through the gate, nodded. “I’ll let them know you’ve arrived. No one will disturb you.”

“Thank you.”

It all started a thousand years ago. It’s all there in the history books. How the world couldn’t support all of us. There were too many people. There was not enough water. Not enough air. Not enough metals, minerals, plants, animals. Not enough of anything. Tens of thousands of us starved every day. Tens of thousands of us fought in wars, every day. Old men shot children, boys and girls, to protect their own children. Murder was the only way to get a job. Someone had to die for an opening to become available. There were too many people.

It was the same with our religions. Every one of them claimed to be the only true faith. Claimed their god was the only god. There were entire parts of the world left in ruins, the ground radioactive, the air toxic to breathe, where religions had tried to kill each other. No one could go there. No one could live there. Even after a thousand years, thousands of square miles of land, all over the surface of our world, were still so deadly, not even bacteria lived there. And bacteria could live anywhere. Even inside volcanoes, where they thrived on the noxious gases, and temperatures that would melt rock, and incinerate a person so thoroughly, not even their bones would remain.

Our religions had killed parts of our world. No one would ever live there again. It would be 100,000 years, maybe much longer than that, before those parts of the planet healed.

Faced with our own extinction, we finally woke up, as a people. We finally stopped fighting. We’d learned there was no winning. That winning meant destroying everyone else, and everything else.

So, we changed. It started with the old men, really. They knew. They knew they were the problem. So, they wrote new laws. Then, they followed those laws. And all the old men, every last one of them, over the age of 50, shot themselves.

The women did the same.

Now, after a thousand years, it’s our way of life. It’s how we care for our world. For our children. For the life that remains here. We move on. We die. At 50 years old. It has limited the population, or at least the rate of growth. There are always jobs for our children when they become adults. No one starves anymore. Hunger on our world is gone. So is poverty.

We nearly lost our world, nearly destroyed it, and ourselves, before we learned. All life is priceless. All life is to be valued. All life is to be protected. Not use my life. Not just my families life. But the lives of those I have never known. The lives of the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea. They all matter.

It was three days until I turned 50. I stood in an ocean of roses. Deep, velvet red, pure, innocent white. And countless other colors. I’d always loved roses. They’d always brought peace to my soul. Calm to my life.

That’s why I stayed there, among them, until the sun set. And why no one came to get me after the garden closed.

My body will be here when the sun rises in the morning. But I won’t be. For the good of our world, the good of my children, the good of the roses. I’ll reach into my bag, beneath the light of the stars, sometime tonight. And I’ll get my gun.

And before the sun rises, I’ll do what I must. To make this world a better place for everyone.

Sunday, 06 May 2018


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/05/02

The two of the sit by the the patio door every day. They sit there from sunrise to sunset, only taking breaks to eat and other things they have to do. I know why they sit there. That’s the door she left through. When they carried her body away.

She died in her sleep one night. It’s been three years now. When they came and got her, they took her out through that door. Kitty and Pooch. That’s what she called them. They sat by that door, and watch as their mamma left. Now. They sit by that door every day. Waiting for her to come home.

I can’t blame them. Sometimes, I wish there was enough left of me to join them. To sit by that door, and wait, like they do. But, when she left, everything I was went with her. Now, Kitty and Pooch wait for her to come back, and I stare mindlessly at my computer screen, watching anything I can stand to watch, playing video games, and making routine visits to social media sites.

I’m killing time. Empty time. Time I have no use for. I used to go to church every Sunday, because she wanted to, and it meant I got to spend some time with her. We went to dinner several times a week, and I would have gone to dinner anywhere she wanted, because. She was there, and I could spend time with her. Long walks in the national parks. Long walks on the beach, or in the mountains.

Until the day she got sick. It was quick, at least. 8 months. She didn’t have to suffer through years of slow decay, watching her memories fade away, or taking endless rounds of toxic chemicals to fight it off. Just 8 months. That’s all. We found out when she fell while we were walking. She fell. And she couldn’t get up. I had to call for help. Was quite the scene, on the sand, with the ocean right there. She kept telling me at least it happened in a good place, so she didn’t mind waiting for the help to arrive.

I don’t want to remember what it was. Some Latin words used to name it, like they name everything. I’ve done everything I can to forget the name. To forget what took her from me. What left me here. Alone.

Kitty and Pooch are happy. They eat. They play. I let them out in the yard and they do their thing. And when they’re ready, I let them back in. They sleep on opposite sides of me every night. Kitty on the left. Pooch on the right. Kitty snores. Maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard in life. And Pooch has dreams. He talks in his sleep. “Yam, wow, wow, woo, woo, uff, uff.” I sometimes wonder what he’s talking about, and who he’s talking too. If pooch has a bad night, with bad dreams, he starts kicking, and snapping. Kitty gets up, every time, climbs over me, and plunks down on Pooch. Shuts him up, and calms him down. She takes care of him.

Like their mamma took care of me.

They sit there. Every day. Waiting. I don’t have the heart to tell them she’s never coming back. I think they know anyway. But they sit there every day. Watching the world outside the house. Rain or shine. I even moved the food dishes next to the door, so they can eat, and still watch.

And I sit here. Wishing I could kill my time. Wishing my time would finally run out.

It never does.

I think I’ll play another video game now. That should kill a couple of hours.

Kitty and Pooch will still be there, by that door, watching and waiting, for her to come home.

636 words

This is written for Week 51 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I fought writing this for 3 weeks. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

#ThursThreads Week 311 : I Think We Pushed To Far

It was 0245 hours when I reached the apartment of Sue and Linda. It was in flames, of course. And the police, and sheriff were there, making sure no one tried to stop it from burning. I had the armor scan the building. The remains of two humans. Sue and Linda.

After reloading every clip for my guns, I started my response. The sheriff was standing next to three police officers, talking about what a shame it was, all the violence in town, and what needed to be done to stop it.

I started with the police who were keeping everyone a safe distance away. I didn’t shoot to kill, only to wound, and disable. It took a few seconds before anyone realized what was happening, then everyone went stupid. People watching the fire started running in all directions. The police kept getting wounded, and unable to do anything.

After I’d dealt with crowd control, I moved to the police cars. Shot every one of them. High velocity, armor piercing rounds. Took out engine blocks everywhere. I set fire to the sheriff’s car.

The sheriff hid behind a tree, the police with him kept their guns drawn, and ready to shoot anyone. One of them glared at the sheriff. “I think we pushed to far! Now, they’re pushing back.”

Once more, I displayed the hologram of Michelle’s body, and right beside it, Officer Morgan, still sitting at her desk as she informed someone, “A transgender victim? Nothing has been done.”

249 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 311 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

#ThursThreads Week 310 : It Can’t Be Too Late

Case Street Fords had been a good car dealership. Small, but with a good set of cars on the lot, mostly SUVs and trucks. The service center was behind the sales building. One automated garage door, and room inside for six vehicles at a time.

The service center was on fire. The fire department hadn’t responded. A F-350 was pulling a dead body back and forth on the street next to the dealership. Men with guns cheered, “We got him! We finally got rid of him!”

The body had been Simon. The best mechanic in town. Everyone knew that. Simon had been shot in the leg, so he couldn’t escape. Then, beaten. Then, tied to the truck that was dragging him around.

Simon’s mate, Doug, was running down the street, heading toward the chaos, when I stopped him. “They’ll kill you.”

He screamed, he struggled, “Let me go! I’ve got to save Simon. It can’t be too late.” Doug collapsed to his knees on the asphalt. “It can’t be too late.”

“Stay here, Doug. Stay safe.”

The truck driver was the first person I shot. I kept shooting until none of the men with guns were left standing. Doug ran to Simon’s remains.

“I’m sorry, Doug. I was too late.”

There was an apartment complex I needed to visit. I hoped I wasn’t too late. If I was, well. “I am the violence. And the violence will respond. Will it ever.”

241 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 310 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/04/11

You were not there when the membranes touched. You did not see. You do not know. The membranes touched. They did not collide. They did not pass harmlessly through each other. They did not bounce off each other.

They touched. That’s all. A simple touch. Like you would touch the cheek of your loved one with your fingertips. The two membranes touched. Ours, and theirs.

You did not see what happened. The way reality shattered. Like a window someone threw a rock through. A small piece of the sky disintegrated. Radial lines surrounded it, shards of sky, and clouds. And through the gap, through the hole, where the rock passed through, I saw her.

My daughter. My daughter I buried thirty-five years ago. Whose tombstone I told a thousand stories to. And cried a river full of tears before. She was there. Her fingers grasped the jagged edges of the hole, and tried to pull it open more. She pressed her face against the opening, as if trying to see more of our world, our reality.

And she spoke. I heard her whisper, “Oh, Daddy, please be there. Please be where I can see you on last time.”

I don’t know why, but I screamed, as loudly as I could. Louder than I knew I could, “Here I am! I’m down here!”

My daughter heard my cry. I saw her searching, looking downward, trying to spot me. Trying to see me. I jumped, waved my arms, laughed, cried, and screamed, “Here! Down here!”

She stopped searching when she found me. She stared straight at me, and I heard her. The voice of my child. Gone for thirty-five years. “It is OK, Daddy.” I swear she smiled. I could see it in her eye. “It is OK. I’m OK.”

“I never got the chance to tell you good-bye. Never got the chance to tell you I was leaving. For a different world. A different place.”

I sank to my knees, looking at my child through that hole in reality. Through that fractured place in the window that is life. And she spoke to me. “I miss you. I wanted you to know. I miss you. And I’m so sorry we fought.”

I’d always said the words, countless times, on endless days, in the ice and snow, or the sweltering heat, it didn’t matter. I always spoke the words to my child, where she rested in the ground. “It was my fault. All my fault. I started the fight. I said the words that hurt you. The words that put you in that car. The words that made you drive that night.”

I reached to the sky, to my daughter, “I didn’t know. I didn’t think. And you were gone.” I felt my tears once more. “It was all my fault. All my fault.”

Her voice spoke again, through that hole in the world, “It was mine to, Daddy. I knew not to drive. But I did anyway.” I saw her close her eye, “I had to find you. Had to see you. Talk with you. Daddy. I’m so sorry we had to fight like that. So sorry I didn’t get to say good-bye.”

She blew a kiss through the fractured sky, “I love you, my father. I need to let you know I’m OK. And happy. And I miss you.” My daughter cried. I saw a tear fall from her eyes, through the fractured sky above. And in a flash of lightning, the shattered window was mended. And my child was gone.

And I stood beneath that place, where she had been, while the sky grew dark, and it rained.

You weren’t there. You didn’t see what happened. You can’t understand, I know.

But I know she is alive. In a place where she is happy. The happiest she has ever been. And I know, someday. When my time here, in our world, comes to an end. I will see my beloved daughter once again.

And I will finally get to tell her I’m sorry.

674 Words

This is written for Week 50 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I think I need a drink after this. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.