Skeleton

PHOTO PROMPT © Bill Reynolds

A decade, Clem thought. That’s how long the skeleton of a building he was about (perhaps) to buy had been abandoned.

Only the roof’s ribs remained, no evidence of its former covering. Discolored and torn plastic sheets hanging from a few standards seemed improvised, temporary. A few long sheets of ribbed metal laying on the ground were the walls’ more likely remnants.

The interior was a bric-a-brac of weeds rising above disheveled piles of cinderblock and palettes. Near the absent front door, a mountain bike, incongruous except for its disrepair.

“Gone in two weeks,” Clem said, deciding on the purchase.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

The Glass Table

PHOTO PROMPT © Fleur Lind

“Odd construction for a table,” she said as the waiter left.

His head was turned toward the window to his right, attention focused somewhere outside.

“The curved glass-block windows,” she continued. “Not a typical base. Unique, but expensive.”

Two women at a nearby table erupted in laughter. He continued looking out the window.

“Is the top glass or some…”

“Composite,” he said without turning his head. “Glass would be heavier.” An acknowledgement, finally.

“There’ll be other opportunities.” She had to try again. “You’ll get there.”

He turned to her, smiling. “I admire your faith,” he said, as their waiter returned.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Horriblement Reussi

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Now that he was home, perhaps he could figure out what happened.

A typical day, until the sky’s darkened mid-afternoon. His office lost electricity. Fifteen seconds of black void, then power returned as the skies cleared.

Everything seemed normal until he drove home. That’s when he saw the altered traffic signs (Arret, not Stop), billboards, and business names. English had been replaced with French, everywhere.

Geography hadn’t changed, fortunately, making his journey home uneventful despite the altered signage.

After several hours of Internet research (thanks, Google Translate), he discovered the truth. An experiment in parallel-universe travelling had been horribly successful.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Rejuvenation

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The major cities had grown in size while shrinking in number, each its own benevolent dictatorship. Outside the cities civilization had stalled, like a car out of gasoline.

Those wanting to live outside of authoritarian rule went to the towns, where resource rationing was necessary. Liberty required sacrifice.

Technology not requiring electricity was rejuvenated. Bicycles, watermills, typewriters, spinning wheels, smithies, spring-driven clocks, agricultural use of domesticated animals. Humanity needed a generation to re-learn how to use technologies it had ignored for centuries, but the knowledge and skills returned.

Some saw it as social regression. Others as humanity’s return to sanity.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Scholarly Debate

PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Aldainian researchers debated the purpose of Christmas Trucks for months.

Scholars hadn’t even agreed on the tradition of installing and decorating a dead tree, a custom more prevalent in the planet’s northern hemisphere. The trees somehow functioned to increase both religious observance and non-essential spending.

Unlike those curious trees, the plants delivered by Christmas Trucks were alive. They were generally unadorned, and served no observable ritual or commercial purpose.

Penance for the tree’s death? Inspiration for purchasing activity? Agreement proved impossible.

The debate raged until Aldanian scholarship turned attention to the role of chicken eggs in northern hemisphere spring rituals.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

No Longer Liked

PHOTO PROMPT © John Nixon

“Can I help you?” asked Clem. The elderly man wasn’t blocking anyone, but he’d been standing in the doorway long enough to make Clem uncomfortable.

The man didn’t acknowledge the question as he stared into the antiques store. Clem asked again. “Is everything all right?”

“That dress,” the man finally said. Clem changed the mannequin’s dress at the entrance every few days. “Where’d you get it?”

“I dunno,” Clem replied truthfully. “Some people donate or sell us stuff from an estate. My aunt goes to yard sales. Do you… like it?”

“Used to,” the man said, backing away. “Not anymore.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

At Least the Flowers Were Worth Keeping

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“It arrived at 4,” she said. “The delivery driver said the senders chose to withhold their information.”

He walked into the kitchen and saw the present on the table. “The flowers are nice,” he said. “We should keep those. Balloon’s gotta go, though.” He began untying the red ribbon from the vase.

“Who sent it?”

“My co-workers.” He envisioned their sarcastic grins tomorrow morning. “I apologized for my recent surly behavior at a staff meeting today.”

“Seems a little passive-aggressive to me.”

“Another day at the office,” he replied, picking up scissors from an end table and stabbing the balloon.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Mist

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

“What are you feeling?” she asked, raising her voice over the fall of cascading waters.

He blinked. The hike had been his idea, as the helicopter tour wasn’t appealing. His feet now tingled with exhaustion, but he knew he’d made the right choice.

The waterfalls were arrayed along two levels, a dozen or so at the top of the cliff feeding a thin pool that flowed into three at the second level. Water flowed constantly, landing forcefully and creating a mist he felt on his face several hundred safe meters away.

“I feel small, insignificant,” he replied. “And content.”

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Green Space Violation

PHOTO PROMPT © Lisa Fox

The tree was doomed. City building codes prohibited any natural or man-made obstruction within three feet of a fire escape ladder. Annual trimming had kept branches a safe distance away, but the tree had grown unmanageably large, requiring monthly maintenance.

The city notified apartment management, and residents received flyers in their mailboxes. A 20-year tenant organized a meeting against the city’s decision.

“We need green spaces,” he wrote in his flyer. “The city needs a different solution for this code violation.”

He expected a dozen at the meeting, but close to 50 came – a promising start to the campaign.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.

Discount

HOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

“How about a bulk discount?” the white woman in the blue skirt asked. “Five for four perhaps?”

Danny’s family had a simple policy regarding discounts – none. The one-price policy was intended to ease operations at their roadside stand, yet some tourists (never locals) couldn’t resist.

“Pineapples are three dollars each,” Danny said. “Mangoes, two dollars.”

“How about calling your parents and asking?”

“No discounts,” Danny replied.

The woman frowned, her skirt flowing in the breeze. “One each,” she said, reaching into her purse.

Danny took her five dollars and sat. He checked his phone; two hours and 13 minutes left.

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction challenge.