Emergence at Dusk

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

The plaza at dusk was one of Connie’s favorite places, when she was alive. She returned there frequently after becoming a vampire, not to hunt for victims (the presence of so many camera phones was too great an exposure risk) but to find peace in her chaotic new existence.

Colored lights in the plaza’s fountain were programmed to illuminate when the sun dipped below the horizon. This was also when Connie could safely exit her apartment.

The plaza’s lights piercing the dusk were like a signal to Connie, letting her know she was free to continue her strange journey.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest with a photo prompt.

Surveillance

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Shoplifting at Eddy’s WikiPlaza had become a threat to the store’s survival. Kalani’s father had worked too hard for her to capitulate.

Thieves knew where the surveillance cameras were installed and avoided them. On her way to move one of her cameras, Kalani passed a display of tacky tourist caps and was inspired.

She installed small cameras at the crown of the hats, angling the lenses to provide full coverage of the store. Shoplifters were soon caught, and the threat to the WikiPlaza ended.

All Kalani had to do was remember to remove the cameras once a hat was sold.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest. Look at a picture, and write a story in 100 words.

Once in the dark

I wrote the following this week for a writing group exercise on fiction writing. The prompt was the four words in the title of this post, and the story had to contain each of the ten words I’ve bolded below. As I don’t feel inspired to develop it further (for now anyway), I’ll treat it as flash fiction.

***

Once in, the dark is more than an absence of light. The field where Gomez and I have landed may look barren, like a corn field after a harvest, but I can feel life teeming around me, the seeming void pulsating with energy, vibrant as an ocean. No heat source appears on my infrared goggles, which I’ve learned in my years in the corps is a sign that trouble is ahead. I check that my TR-400 is energized, and remove the safety lock.

“Captain?” Gomez is whispering for some reason. The night vision of the average Creature is far superior to its hearing; if any cluster of Creatures is within seeing distance, they would have found us already. We would also know we’d been detected immediately, as their aggression is even greater than their eyesight.

I respond in an overly loud voice, my way of reminding her that maintaining silence is not protocol. “You picking up anything?”

Gomez looks at her pad, and shakes her head. “No Creatures within 10 kilometers, sir. But that doesn’t make sense. Their attack on the Moisture Farmers was just an hour ago.”

“They’re learning,” I tell her. “They figured out how soon the corps will respond, and that they can’t overwhelm us. They don’t wait for their next victims like they used to.”

“I thought they couldn’t communicate.”

“Yeah, we all thought that. Not the first time we’ve been wrong about the Creatures.”

Gomez pulls up the topo on her pad, and we identify a small hill a few hundred meters to our right, a perfect spot for an overlook. I remind Gomez to walk over, even if her pad picks up Creatures, as they’ll be able to see us better if we dash. Heat lightning colors the dark dome above us like a paint brush, reminding me of an Aurora Borealis from Earth.

The lightning ebbs as we ascend a pile of rocks that form a natural bridge to the overlook. I call in our position to the overhead transport, and Gomez confirms her pad still shows no Creatures in range. Our CO reminds us to light a flare as soon as we suspect any trouble. After acknowledging the order, I tell Gomez to engage the safety lock on her TR-400.

“That’s not protocol,” Gomez reminds me. “We’re not supposed to engage our safeties during a field mission.”

“The pad gives us at least a minute warning if any Creature approaches,” I tell her. “I’ve been in enough fights with these things to know your TR-400 will need as much battery as possible. Engaging the safety saves power.”

Gomez doesn’t seem convinced, but being smart enough to realize I’ve been on many more of these missions than she has, she engages the safety. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to ask her why she asked to join my squad. If she wanted to fight, there’s squads that see much more action than ours, and if she wanted to be a face in a safe lineup there’s plenty of other outposts she could have gone. My squad operates in a land that lies somewhere between insanity and ennui; I’ve never been sure which I’d prefer.

Alerts illuminate Gomez’s pad. She looks at it and frowns; she then shakes it in frustration. “Sensors picking up Creatures?” I ask.

Gomez looks up at me, and shakes her head. “No Creatures, or any life form. Just… it doesn’t make sense, but a TR-400 was just activated two kilometers to the northeast. And it’s headed towards our position.”

***

Maybe someday I’ll give the Captain a name, and let him and Gomez find out what’s powering up that TR-400…

When the Light Stopped Working

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Life became easier when we moved our refrigerator outside. We were running out of cabinet space, and had contemplated knocking down a wall, but then saw opportunity in all the open area of our backyard.

We buried a power cable and upgraded the weatherproofing. Thought about running a separate line for the icemaker and water dispenser, but decided against those luxuries.  Ventilation for the compressor was the biggest issue, so we installed fans at what used to be the unit’s bottom.

The light doesn’t come on when we open the door, but that’s another luxury we can go without.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the Friday Fictioneers weekly flash fiction challenge has a word limit of 100.

A View from the Past

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E.Ayr

Was that the picture that hung in my graduate school apartment for four years?

I should walk down alleys in this city more often. Tiling my head sideways, I can confirm the view of the Parisian skyline is identical to the picture that hung over my television as I earned my masters. Maybe not the same print; I have no way to confirm or refute that possibility.

If it weren’t in such bad shape, I might take it with me. Those were good years, and it would be a nice reminder of the work that lead to my success.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.

ASDF JKL;

PHOTO PROMPT © Jeff Arnold

”Jesus, it’s 1985,” Cal exclaimed. ”You’ve got the money for a PC or Mac. Even a Smith-Corona would be better than this relic!”

“What for?” Edie asked. “Speed?”

“Manual typewriters were designed to slow down typists,” explained Cal. “Typebar locations, the illogical keyboard, fingers hovering over ASDF, JKL;. The design keeps the machines from jamming, a problem computers don’t have. Five years from now, these beasts will be gone!”

“You’re missing the point,” Edie replied. “My typewriter’s inefficiency forces me to slow down and think more, and I like that. I don’t want to write faster; I want to write better.

A Forgotten Claim

“Was he any good?” Connie asked, pointing to the sedan perched on the pedestal outside the diner.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Jon nodded. “Grandfather was a champion stock car driver. That’s the only car he ever raced. A relic, by the time he retired.”

“Then he donated it to his nephew, for his diner.”

“Yes.” Jon smiled, reaching into his pocket. “But there’s one thing grandfather didn’t tell my uncle.”

Connie laughed when she saw Jon pull out a set of keys. “Going for a ride?”

Jon shook his head. “No. I’m going to claim what grandfather left under the floorboards in the trunk.”

Needed a break from the news, and Friday Fictioneers provides a great distraction.

Faith

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

I don’t trust unattended roadside market stands, where you pick what you want and leave what you feel it’s worth in a box nailed to a nearby tree (as if that’s any theft deterrent).

The owners are rarely here, judging by the numerous random messages left by graffitiists. The shelves probably get stocked once a week, then abandoned quickly before the owners are associated with this dingy display.

But the produce looks nice, I’ll admit. And while the goods weren’t inspected by the government, I trust my instincts regarding food.

Maybe I should show a little faith in low-yield entrepreneurship.

Participating in Friday Fictioneers has given me an affection for compound words and contractions.

An Unproductive Show

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

“Anyone look familiar?”

The witness leaned forward, squinting. “I’m… not sure. He was running away; I never really saw his face.”

Lieutenant Kelly pressed the intercom. “Turn right.” As the six men behind the glass shuffled in compliance, Kelly wondered again at the futility of this procedure. Picking a suspect out of a lineup made for good television, but the twenty-year veteran had never seen it produce a conviction. It’s just a show, he thought, imaging the men before him were on a stage, costumed and ready to bow.

The witness bit her lip. “Can they turn the other way?”

Always feels good to end the week with Friday Fictioneers.

Invitation

PHOTO PROMPT © Dawn Miller

On a Tuesday afternoon in August, as I labored with pick and ax to remove a tree that had fallen the previous winter, my good neighbor Josiah Keen visited me in my field.

“Do you believe this fall’s harvest shall be bountiful?” Josiah asked, expressing the opinion common among the farmers of Danby.

I lay my ax down. “Josiah, what is the true nature of your visit today?”

Josiah smiled. “The Friends asked me to request you meet with them.”

I spread my arms. “What prevents them from coming to my field?”

“Wednesday evening, Wing,” Josiah replied. “At the church.”

This week’s prompt for Friday Fictioneers inspired me to submit a portion of a story I began developing earlier this month. The setting is colonial Vermont, around the year 1772.