Asking a Lot

PHOTO PROMPT© Roger Bultot

Is the human in this exhibit entirely isolated?

Close examination of the objects behind the human demonstrates he has at least one companion.

So why doesn’t he ask a companion to capture his image?

He’d probably answer that doing the task himself gives him more pleasure than having assistance.

Does he also enjoy producing a lower-quality image?

His process is more important than the product.

Is this what humans call “living in the moment?”

Perhaps.

Could one argue that obsession with immediate activity, without concern for its consequences, is causing their material shortages?

You’re asking a lot of this image.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.

The Elixir Magazine

After a lengthy hiatus, I’m ready to resume my series of reviews of literary journals and genre magazines.

The Elixir Magazine is an online literary journal that posts new fiction, poetry, and essays on a regular basis.

What They Say About Themselves: “In the same way that the “Elixir of Life” is meant to increase your time on this planet “The Elixir Magazine” adds years to yours, not in number but in knowledge.

The Elixir Magazine is a new online magazine that launched on January 1st, 2019. We are based in Sana’a, Yemen, but have managed to create an international team of 10 members via twitter. We started in the form of a WordPress blog, but will soon create our own official website.

The Elixir team works to produce and collect material that we hope will live up to the international standards. Our target audience is young adults. Our aim is to become an international magazine available both on paper and the internet.”

Issue Reviewed: Stories available online in the last week

Genre: Literary realism with some speculative elements

One Story I’ll Remember Not to Forget: “I Don’t Expect You to Believe Me,” by Cheryl Caesar. A young environmental activist is visited in her hotel room by two other young women who become notorious for bearing ominous news. Entertaining satire of modern technology with some neat classical references.

Exploding Helicopters: One Explosion. The stories are very short, leaving little opportunity to build suspense.

Profanometer: Gee Willikers. Didn’t find a single profanity or obscenity in any of the stories I read.

Day 494

Took a step away from the blog the past several weeks to attend an online literary conference as well as other concerns. Now I’m back — and so too is COVID-19.

Despite an enormous vaccination campaign this spring, a significant portion of this nation’s populace has yet to receive a single shot. And in an incredibly petty and short-sighted attempt to make a political statement, many are refusing to be innoculated.

“The government can’t tell me what to do!” Well the government makes you wear a seatbelt when you drive a car, and I don’t see you walking.

The second wave has started, energized by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Over 90 percent of the new infections are among those who haven’t been vaccinated, a fact which would make me happy were I petty and short-sighted. There’s no longer any appetite for mask-wearing or bans on social gatherings, so this new strain is going to have opportunities for spreading its predecessor never had. Hospitals are already starting to run low on ICU and ventilator capacity.

There hasn’t been much discussion about booster shots yet. I’m hoping those will be available in the fall in order to get us through what’s likely to be another rough winter. I also hope the nitwits who ignore science don’t force restrictions on air travel, as my wife and I have booked a return to what had been our annual winter sojourn to our land of warm sand. I’ve written before that I don’t believe in vaccination passports, but if that’s what it takes for my wife and I to get on that plane, let the no-nothings suffer the consequence of their decisions.

A lot can happen these next five months before our vacation begins. Unfortunately, most of what will likely happen won’t be very pleasant.

Petrified Ambition

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Thirty years ago the field had been a dense forest of poplar, birch, pine, and fir. A wealthy industrialist bought the land and had it clear-cut to build a summer home, yet as the last remaining trees were being uprooted he lost the property in a bitter divorce.

Two stumps were left among the acre of wildgrass. Their tops were smooth from the saw’s blade, the bark on their sides cracking and peeling off like scabs from a wound.

The tallest objects remaining in the abandoned field, the two lifeless remnants served as tombstones to a petrified ambition.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Honest Thief

Every once in a while, I’ll read a story or watch a movie and think “on my worst day, I can write something better than this.”

My wife and I decided to unwind this holiday weekend by watching an action movie. We both like Liam Neeson, so we expected his latest thriller would deliver what we were looking for.

We’re now wondering if Neeson was desperate for work last year, because this film was a complete disappointment.

The story begins with an amateurish plot hole — a notorious bank robber contacts the FBI to negotiate a deal for turning himself in, despite having no legal knowledge or representation — and compounds the error by introducing a love interest utterly devoid of agency. Kate Walsh’s character doesn’t get to do too much in the film, and when she does it’s always a poor decision.

The car chases through the streets of Boston were entertaining for the wrong reason. Neeson, under suspicion for murdering an FBI officer, escapes from his pursuers by stealing the delivery van of a bakery. Despite being adept at breaking into and hot-wiring cars, Neeson drives around for fifteen minutes before the cops finally figure out they should be looking for a guy in a bakery van. He eventually flees the vehicle and steals a white pickup which he drives for the last half hour of the film. My wife and I alternated between yelling at Neeson to steal another car and at the police for their inept search.

What bothers me most is that these problems in the script could have been easily fixed. Explain why the fugitive doesn’t like lawyers; give the love interest something to do; steal a few more cars. Give me fifteen minutes and I could make these problems go away.

But muddling through the occasional bad work of fiction is inspiring. Knowing I can do better, even on my worst day, makes me want to work even harder to get my own stories out there.

Wait a Little Longer

PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

The van was just outside the layer of crushed stone of the beach’s parking lot, far enough into the neighboring woods to have vines growing through its wheels. Just like Jeron said.

“Think anyone’d notice if we opened it now?” asked Walter.

Nevin shrugged. “No, but why risk anyone seeing what we take out? Do it tonight, like we discussed. Listen to the police radio, wait until they’re distracted on some incident.”

“But we’re so close. This is killing me.”

Nevin smiled, and pulled out a vine from the front wheel. “Might wanna think about your word choice, son.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge. I’m not sure why but I’m currently unable to add my links to the site, but I’ll keep on posting here.