Spirited Performance

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

“Where’s Donald?” demanded the ethereal presence of the woman known as Ethel in her mortal life.

“How should we know?” Stu replied from behind the cello. “It’s not like we can text him, being that we’re spirits.”

“He’s probably haunting his children again,” sighed Ellie at the microphone. “He’s into the literary tropes.”

“This band is nothing without percussion,” moaned Ethel, hovering over the keyboard. “Donald needs to be here.”

“Would you say,” joked Ellie, “that our band’s just a ghost of itself without him?”

Not wanting to hear any more bad puns, Ethel’s spirit fled the empty stage.

Feels good to have my first Friday Fictioneers story of the year posted.

The Most Valuable Commodity

Submitted another story recently to the weekly Reedsy Prompts contest. I was pretty satisfied with most of it, but the ending was a little weak. I’m enjoying the occasional prompt contest as it seems to engage my creativity and give me energy to work on my other stories. And who knows, maybe I’ll win one of these weeks if I keep at it. Fifty bucks ain’t much, but I’m not playing this game for the money.

Old Friend

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

When I was a child, this park was but a quarter of its size at its largest. But that was twenty years ago. Since its heyday it shrunk by half, still larger than my childhood’s imagination.

And next week, it’ll close forever. The developer who purchased the bankrupt park will demolish the rides and pools, and raise apartments and condominiums in its place.

I can’t bear walking into the park again. But just outside its gates is a burger shack with picnic tables outdoors. The view of the park is good enough to say goodbye to an old friend.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.

Eight

“How odd,” Johnson observed, stopping and looking down at the sandstone pavement.

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Henrietta followed his vision and saw the object which had attracted his attention. “Just some string,” she said disinterestedly.

“But in a very specific shape,” her husband countered. “A near-perfect figure 8. Hard to believe it would’ve just fallen into such perfect order.”

“So you think someone took the time to lay it out as an eight, knowing it would likely be kicked by someone walking or dragged by some animal?”

“Why is that so hard to believe?” asked Johnson.

“What’s hard to believe is your fascination with mundanity.”

One thing I’ve learned from participating in Friday Fictioneers is an appreciation for contractions. They really help in meeting the 100-word barrier!

Unstoppable

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

In years past, Julia’s family would bring the holidays to her and Carlton. Quarantine orders, lockdowns, and social distancing precluded such visits in 2020. Even carolers, routine in her neighborhood each December, had been prohibited.

But nothing was going to stop Julia from celebrating Christmas.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t put the lights around the front door,” Carlton suggested. “Why draw attention to an outside world that’s been shut down?”

“Oh I’ve a plan,” Julia replied. “Small LED screens over the windows, coordinated to show holiday images.”

“You really are determined to celebrate Christmas?” Carlton asked.

“I’m unstoppable.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.

The Absent

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

It’s the activity I miss most, the students’ energy between classes, shuttling books between their lockers and backpacks, the student voices a chorus of youthful grievances, earnest braggadocio, and conspiratorial whispers.

An energy not replicable over Zoom.

I return to the school building weekly, more out of longing than necessity. Walking through the long empty and now dusty corridors today, I remembered my dream from last weekend. Students at their lockers, gathering their books in the black-and-white of all my dreams.

“Where are you going?” my dream-self asked.

A nameless teen looked up at me. “We’re not here,” she said.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.

Slip 78

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

This has setup written all over it.

The marina, slip 78, 4. Elliot’s entire text message. Would have asked for more information if previous experience hadn’t taught me there was no hope of response.

The bike was attached to the pole when I arrived at 3:45. The bike has a rear storage compartment. Already checked it; the goods aren’t there, so the cash stays in my pocket.

After 35 minutes, a boat with a familiar pink hull finally back into slip 78. Somebody other than Elliot is at the helm. He leaves, doesn’t take the bike.

Somebody’s coming for me. And it’s won’t be Elliot.

Stake Out

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Getting a surveillance warrant was the first of Detective Warren’s challenges. Finding the optimum location for the listening device was the next big hurdle.

Prior investigative work had identified the suspect’s basement as the headquarters of the multi-state narcotics operation. Warren’s device needed to be close enough to the suspect to pick up clear audio but distant enough to avoid detection.

Warren’s mole in the operation identified the solution. The basement was also used for drying herbs. Hiding the bug among hanging garlic cloves worked perfectly.

Warren chuckled, remembering that vampires didn’t like garlic, making this a perfect stake out.

Inheritance and Opportunity

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

“I can send you a picture. Todd, it’s perfect!”

“No picture, Joanie. It’s just there on the curb?”

“On trash day! Probably bought a few years ago by one of the wealthy couples in this block. When their baby outgrew the high chair, they left it for someone else to take. Like us!”

“Or they found something wrong with it and cut their losses.”

“What’s the harm in finding out?”

“What’s the benefit of inheriting someone else’s problem?”

“Todd, cynicism prevents you from seeing so many opportunities.”

“And your exuberance is why we get into so many bad situations.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.