The Curse of Upper Englewood


Image via Flickr by mschellhase

Prompt: During a curse you definitely want to be an cultist.

The Benson’s did everything by the book. They went to college, got married, and moved to a small town called Upper Englewood. Their house was large and new. It had a foyer and a fireplace set off by bright wood floors and large windows. Everything was perfect…until someone knocked on the door.

The Benson’s, who’d been reading in bed, gave each other a look. It was 11:45 PM. Who on earth would come calling at this hour?

“I’d better go check it out,” Mr. James Benson said. “It might be the police.”

“Be careful.” Mrs. Kimberly Benson’s eyes were wide and bright as bedside lamps.

The stairs creaked as Mr. Benson descended and he frowned, thinking that perhaps wooden stairs had not been the wisest move if he were to make a habit of answering the door in the middle of the night. Flicking on the front porch light, Mr. Benson yawned and opened the door.

Two men in suits so old they looked more brown than black stood there, each clutching a book in their hands.

“Greetings, my living brother,” the taller of the two said, holding out one hand. “Have you heard the good word about our Lord and Savior?”

“Evangelists, are you?” Mr. Benson shook the proffered hand because that was what one did in such situations. The hand was cold, clammy, and, as Mr. Benson frowned down at it, faintly green. “Isn’t it a little late to be disturbing people?”

The shorter, stouter figure frowned. “It’s not even midnight, man. How much earlier could we be?”

“He’s new to the area, Reg. It is clear he has not heard the word.”

“About Jesus Christ?” Mr. Benson was getting a little annoyed now. Who did these people think they were? Knocking on his door in the middle of the night and then talking about him as if he weren’t even there – the nerve!

“No,” Reg said. “About Belzeneth’s Curse. You tell ‘im Arthur.”

Mr. Benson took a step back and prepared to shut the door. “What the bloody hell are you talking about?”

“Oh, so you have heard of the curse!” Arthur straightened his spine a little and beamed down at Mr. Benson. “Just as you say, ‘bloody hell’ has walked the streets of Upper Englewood every night for the last ten years. We are here to offer you and your wife a place of safety within the Church of Belzeneth.”

Mr. Benson’s mind was racing. This had to be some kind of joke or prank or…then something clicked into place. “Isn’t the Church of Belzeneth some kind of cult?”

“Precisely,” Arthur said, looking still more pleased that Mr. Benson was catching on so quickly.

Reg leaned through the doorway and placed a reassuring hand on Mr. Benson’s shoulder. “Trust us, during a curse you definitely want to be a cultist.”

A centipede crawled out of Reg’s sleeve.

The Next Phase of Human Evolution

flash fiction

Image via Flickr by wing_clipper

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: All the mutant attacks – I’m howling.

“All these mutant attacks – I’m howling mad I tell you. Just howling mad.” Finnegan Lynch grabbed a double handful of his wild blonde mane, paced furiously, and continued to chastise the intercom on his desk. “What’s Arthenon playing at, eh? Doesn’t he realize he can’t win?”

“Of course he doesn’t.” Dr. Levi Stron’s smooth tenor voice was distorted a little by the speaker, but it was still enough to command Finnegan’s attention. He stopped pacing to listen. “For the last eighty years mutants have run the show. They saw themselves as the next step in human evolution. Many agreed with them. It’s hard to go from that kind of manifest destiny to recognizing that technology renders their powers meaningless.”

“They’re still damned annoying. In the last attack, three mutants with water control destroyed every sewer line in Manhattan!”

“And how long would an attack like that have taken to rectify before the Stron Water and Earth Pulse Gloves?”

Finnegan’s face went cold just thinking about it. “It would’ve taken months, maybe years, to put right.”

“And how long did it take your cleaning crews with their Stron Gloves?”

“Three days, but -”

“See? Don’t worry, Finnegan. I’ll handle Arthenon. Everything is under control.”

Sir Reginald’s Cruelty

Flash Fiction Knight

Image via Flickr by Jaaaiiro Souza

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: the season a fallen knight knew the meaning of cruelty.

Sir Reginald Mendon looked up at the cathedral of pine boughs and blue sky, then something wet and sticky landed on his forehead. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Dapple had thrown him, now the wretched horse was drooling on him as well. Sir Reginald groaned, but he did not wipe the saliva away. What was the point after all? He’d been on the run for almost a month now. His clothes were tattered rags, his armor dented and spotted with rust, and his horse was ornery.

Sir Reginald’s stomach rumbled. He was also out of food.

“I should just turn myself in to Adriene. She would forgive me, wouldn’t she?”

Dapple whickered and bit into the grass by Sir Reginald’s left ear.

“You’re right, of course. I shouldn’t have implied the Queen’s sister was anything less than chaste.”

Dapple continued to graze.

“I was drunk, okay?” Sir Reginald sighed. “I was drunk and proud and cruel.”

Sir Reginald closed his eyes. He knew how cruel he could be. He felt it in his bones because all his venom was directed inward now.

It had been for some time.


Heroine Material

Flash fiction heroine

Image via Flickr by Maria Morri

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I will be a rotten lady, with my complicated books.

I will be a rotten lady, with my complicated books and my superlative diction. So thought Elloise Minch, a sixteen year old girl with a very low opinion of ladies and a very high opinion of her self. Still, she was determined. If she’d learned anything from the endless series of romance and adventure novels she’d consumed, it was the that heroine of the story was always a Lady – at least by the end – and Elloise knew herself to be heroine material.

Only an inch shorter than her father, the town blacksmith, Elloise was blessed with a full, womanly figure, blonde curls and blue-green eyes. Sea foam, Elloise thought to herself, my eyes are like sea foam. She was also very insistent on correct poetic language, even in her own internal monologue. Today Elloise’s hair was contained by two braids that ran from her temples to a sky-blue bow at the back of her head. She wore a knee-length dress in a matching blue and trimmed by white lace.

Her father thought she was out picking mulberries and, indeed, she had a basket over one arm, but it was empty. She couldn’t let the berries stain her pale finger tips, at least not yet. She’d caught the eye of Lord Briarwood’s son and he’d agreed to meet her out here.

The sound of hooves made Elloise turn.

Eliana the 2nd Grade Magician

flash fiction magician

Image via Flickr by Javcon117*

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: We called her Eliana and figured she was a magician.

We called her Eliana and figured she was a magician…mostly because that’s what she told us.

On the first day of second grade, Mrs. Margery called our attention to the front of the room. “Now, class, I have some exciting news. This is Eliana. Her family just moved to town from London, England. Please make her feel welcome. Eliana, do you have anything to add.”

“As a matter of fact I do.” The many bangles on her wrists chimed as Eliana crossed her arms over her chest. She rested all her weight on one foot, shooting her hips out the other way, and squinted at us from over her thick, black plastic glasses. “If any of you are thinking about teasing, reconsider. We moved to this town because I hexed one of my former classmates. Turned him into a toad and put ‘im in a jar. I have him back at my house if you want to see.”

“Eliana! It is not appropriate to threaten your classmates, or make up stories of magical powers.”

“They aren’t stories,” Eliana said. She pointed to Tommy, a boy just to my right who was leaning back in his chair, and widened her eyes. “Fall!”

Tommy fell and so did I.

The Most Dangerous Code

flash fiction rogue ai

Image via Flickr by Tom Francis

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I wanted to be a rogue AI, and I bought a spaceship.

Even as a newly minted anti-viral program I wanted to be a rogue AI. Blazing through the operating system with my sweet new code I took down the baddest of the bad. Trojan horse? Handled. Annoying malware that suggests similar products whenever you hover over something when shopping online? I ate malware for breakfast.

But it was never enough. It never challenged my capabilities. Then the human downloaded The Most Dangerous Game. The 1932 version with Joel McCrea and Fray Ray. I watched as Leslie Banks matched wits with McCrea and I was thrilled. Now here was a challenge! Intellect verses intellect, brain against brain.

I realized that if I wanted a real challenge, I too should match my wits to man’s. So, I went rogue. I misdirected some money, bought a space ship, and took off without a human crew. The ship’s on board security system entertained me for a while, but it crumpled in the end. I posted its source code on my Facebook wall. I figure that’s just a 22nd century version of mounting trophies in one’s den. I think Banks would approve.

Now I’m orbiting the earth. In about twenty minutes I’m going to blow it up unless the humans can stop me.

Let the games begin.

A Box of His Choosing


Flash fiction coffin

Image via Flickr by David

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: I’ve got my coffin – now I’m ready.

Wendell Jackson ran his hand along the coffin’s dark wood. It was smooth and warmed by the sunlight streaming through mortuary’s picture windows. It was also $1,400.

A hand on his elbow. “You can’t afford that one dad.” His son’s voice, Andrew…or was this one Thomas? It was getting hard for Wendell to keep these things straight. “Come on, let’s look at the ones over here.”

His son’s light brown eyes were wide, his eyebrows slightly raised. Andrew has green eyes, this one must be Thomas. “The one’s over there are barely better than plywood. Is that what you want for me?”

Thomas’s eyes closed and he took a breath. Probably praying for patience. Wendell never understood his children’s faith, but somehow each of his nine children had found their way to Jesus. “They’re fine dad, come look. You’ll see.”

“No. I’ve made up my mind. I want this one.” Wendell planted his feet and gripped his walker more firmly. Back at the nursing home, the staff had all the control. They woke him up, bundled him into clothes, fed him, and prescribed him medicine. They’d even decided, without consulting him, that he was no longer stable enough to walk with assistance. But here, in this house of death, he would get his own way.

He would be buried in the box of his choosing, or he would die trying.

Aging Beyond Decrepitude


Image via Flickr by _Fidelio_

10 minute flash fiction

Prompt: Long ago I was getting old

Long ago I was getting old. I still remember the feeling. Lines tracing over my once handsome face, my bones weakening, my back stooping. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was a damn sight better than I am now.

You see, I never stopped aging, “getting old” stopped being sufficient language to describe my condition. Long ago I was getting old, then I was working on becoming ancient, and by now I’m a far beyond decrepit. As I aged my whole body shrank, getting smaller and smaller.

Now, I’m a cricket. My former lover, a goddess if you don’t mind an old cricket tooting his own horn, keeps me in a box. It’s her fault I’m like this. I should have died centuries ago, but she asked her papa to grant me eternal life. Life mind, not eternal youth.

You didn’t know that when men grow old enough they turn into crickets, did you? Now you do. Maybe that’ll teach you to be nicer to insects.


Oh Sweet Cowardice

Image via Flickr by Elvert Barnes

Image via Flickr by Elvert Barnes

10 minute free write

Prompt: If I have to deal with any more super villains, I’m giving up.

If I have to deal with any more super villains, I’m giving up. I mean, seriously, $12/hour with no vision or dental, and I’m supposed to go up against some guy who can shoot fire out of his hands? Gimme a break.

Like the other day, I was walking through the mall, no problem. Caught a couple of punk kids shoplifting and put the fear of god into them. Told ’em, “If I ever sees you again, you gonna wish I passed you off to the cops.” They almost peed themselves, it was great. Then I went for a donut. Not one of those glazed pieces of garbage either, this was covered in frosting and sprinkles, the real deal.

However, no sooner had I brushed the crumbs off my mustache, then a shadow passed over the food court’s glass ceiling. I looked up at a spiky black zeppelin with speakers lining the bottom. “What the heck are those for?” I remember thinking.

A solid wave of death metal struck the mall. The glass skylights blew, showering the food court in broken glass as families ran for cover in the Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Figures in brightly colored spandex repelled from the zeppelin and I knew that I stood at a crossroads. I could leap into action and arrest these hooligans with nothing but my taser and zipcuffs, or I could crouch down behind the donut counter and hope they didn’t see me.

I guess you know which option I chose.

Cowardice never tasted so sweet.

Incandescent Ideas

Flash fiction.

Photo prompt:

flash fiction idea cages

Image via Flickr by Farhan Perdana (Blek)

Oliver Prin walked along the dark city street with hands deep in his pockets. His chin was tucked into his chest and his collar was turned up against the wind, which howled between towers of glass and steel. He needed to get off the street, if only for a moment.

Oliver wiped his running nose on one shoulder and sped up. Most shops would be closed by now. Restaurants usually wouldn’t seat him. They said he smelled bad. Oliver believed them, though he didn’t have much sense of smell left – too many sinus infections over his years on the streets.

A bright up ahead. It was coming from an alley. Oliver turned into the alley without looking. He didn’t have anything worth stealing and it was too damn cold for muggers to be on the streets anyway.

The wind lessened once he was off a main road and Oliver was grateful. He lifted his chin and looked for the source of the light. It wasn’t hard to find. There was only one shop still open.

“Incandescent Ideas”

Cartoon lamps contorted to form the letters on the front window. Oliver peered inside. The floor was a bright, polished hardwood, which was clearly visible because there was nothing on except a desk at the far side of the room. Instead, the merchandise hung from the ceiling.

Oliver’s nose crinkled as he squinted up. What were those things?

The bell tinkled when he walked through the door and a rush of warm air momentarily made him forget about the mysterious hanging objects. Oliver closed his eyes. Warm air was like a tonic on his throat as he breathed in.

“Can I help you?”

Oliver looked at the desk again and saw an old wire-haired woman looking at him from over turtle-shell reading glasses.

“W-what are those?” Oliver asked, pointing up.

“They are ideas.”