Tag Archives: Alastair’s Photo Fiction

The First Time

The First Time

The Tower Bridge had always had good connotations for Robert before that night. He was waiting nervously by the north tower, as they had agreed, when the woman emerged out of the evening fog and walked towards him, high heels clicking confidently on the pavement. She was prettier than he had imagined from her voice on the phone. She walked past him a step, then paused and waited for him to fall into step.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“A café near here I use for this sort of thing.”

“In public? What if someone notices?”

She gave him a mocking smile. “This your first time? Trust me, no one cares.”

She led the way to a small café and took a corner booth. She held up two fingers to the waiter and two espressos appeared as if by magic.

“Now,” she said, leaning forward. “What have you got for me? Come on; the first time’s the hardest, but it gets easier.”

“I saw my neighbor, Gavin Henry, reading an anarchist newsletter,” he mumbled. “He holds meetings at his house sometimes. Here, I have photographs.”

She held up a hand. “No need for evidence. We’ll find our own. You’ve done a great service to your country. You should be proud.” She took out a thick envelope.

Robert pushed it away. “Actually, I was hoping that you could give me information on my daughter instead. She was arrested five months ago. I can’t find anything about her.”

The woman grimaced. “Next time. For now, take the money.”


Clock Tower Jill

I wrote this originally for Sunday Photo Fiction, which is a story challenge based on a picture. The stories are supposed to be around 200 words. I try to stay close to that but this week it’s a bit longer, just as forewarning.

Clock Tower Jill

I called her Clock Tower Jill, even back when I was still trying to eat her. I didn’t know her real name because we never talked, of course. She was a quirky one, Clock Tower Jill.

It was July and the hot, muzzy air was hanging like a lead blanket in the forest when I first saw those long legs stepping towards me through the undergrowth. I wasn’t starving but I roared and readied myself to pounce. She picked up a stick and swung it like a bat, right into my snout. That stunned me and before I could recover, she sprinted away. It was too hot for me to run far and by the time I found her, she had reached the ruined town. I saw her at the top of the clock tower, sticking her tongue out at me.

I kept her treed up there for days, out of spite for my hurt snout. Then I realized she would eventually starve to death and I would not get to eat her anyway. So I brought her some food. It was accepted imperiously, without even a thank you. I named her Jill. She was like my pet.

After a month of living up in the tower, she came down and called to me. “You, creature. I want to go down to the lake to swim.”

I had long given up trying to eat her and I stood by to let her go.

“I want to ride you,” she said. I bristled at that, but gave in eventually, since she was my pet.

She sat on my back and held my mane while I trotted down to the lake. I stood guard while she swam and then I brought her back. She was a good pet.

“Good boy,” she said, patting my head before she went back up into her tower. “Bring me something good tonight, okay?” That rankled but I did it for her anyway since I liked having her around. And after all, she was pretty quirky, my Clock Tower Jill.


Solitaire-y

Solitaire-y

“And finally, here’s something to keep you sane,” the freight captain said, pointing to the complex 3D matrix of wires and spheres bolted to the table. He said “sane” as if he meant the opposite.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Solitaire.”

And then we shook hands and he sealed me into the echoing metal coffin that would deliver a hundred million tons of ore back to Earth, five years from now.

I spent a week doing basic maintenance and chores before I even looked at the game. It took me a week to read and understand the rules. The first game took a month, with constant references to the rulebook.

The second game took even longer.

The fifth game took four years.

I realized it wasn’t a game. Not really.

Each of the 72 spheres was like a planet.

I named each one.

I knew the inhabitants.

I agonized over every move. Every one affected everything else.

I cried when I eliminated one, thinking of its inhabitants, snuffed out suddenly and completely.

I heard some noises but I ignored them.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and jumped. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Atmosphere Enforcement,” he said. “You weren’t responding to radio calls. We had to break in.”

“Where am I?”

“Earth. Your journey’s over.”

I turned back, trying to block out his voice. I needed to concentrate on what was important.


The Worst Thing About Skeletons

The Worst Thing About Skeletons

The worst thing about skeletons is that they’re heartless. It’s also true that they don’t have an ounce of bile in them, but this hardly makes up for it. I’ve only known one skeleton and he drove the ice cream truck that prowled my neighborhood like a jangling Jaws.

Tinkle tinkle tinkle

I was mowing the lawn one day when I heard the truck coming. The sound make the image of frosty popsicles and drippy ice cream sandwiches rise like mirages in my heat-addled mind. The truck pulled up and stopped next to me.

“Hey Mort,” I said.

“Hot day, isn’t it?” the skeleton said, leaning out, the afternoon sun gleaming on pearly white bone where his heart should have been.

“I’m on a diet,” I said. “You know that.” I’d been off ice cream for over 50 days. Ice Cream Anonymous had even given me a chip.

“For old time’s sake?” Mort said, holding out a Fudgsicle to me.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said, then had an idea. “Okay, fine. I’ll have one . . . when you gain one pound. How much do you weigh now?”

“17 pounds,” he said.

“Prove it,” I said. He came into the house and weighed himself: 17 pounds, 2 ounces. “The day you’re 18 pounds, 2 ounces, I’ll have an ice cream,” I said.

“No problem,” he said, grinning with all his teeth.

I saw him later that week, stocking up on calcium pills. Two weeks later, he stopped by. “I’m up 3 ounces,” he declared proudly. A month later, he’d made it up to 17 pounds 7 ounces. I wasn’t very worried.

The next week Mort showed up at my door. He was wearing a coat, which was odd for him. He usually only wore a coat in the fall to keep errant leaves from sticking in his rib cage.

“I’ve gained a pound,” he said quietly. “I’m 18 pounds 2 ounces now.”

“Really?” I looked hard at him. His bones didn’t look any thicker. I wondered vaguely if he’d gotten a brain.

He opened his coat. “I got a heart,” he said. I saw it sitting in his rib cage, pumping idly in a self-conscious way, like a shadow boxer who suddenly finds himself the main event.

“Fine, you won.” I fingered the 100-day chip in my pocket sadly.

“I’m sorry for before,” Mort said. “I didn’t understand.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a peeled apple perched on a cone of wrapped kale. “Snack?”


Kafka Crap

My first instinct was to write a story about Nepal, in recognition of the terrible tragedy that just occurred there. The reason it hits so close to me is that we have a very large population of Nepalese students at my university and one of my students is from Nepal. Actually, just a few days ago we were discussing in class what natural disasters occurred in their countries and the Nepalese student said none, except maybe earthquakes. That kills me now.

But I think it’s too soon and I don’t want to write something that will depress me further. So, instead I wrote something utterly bizarre and zany, because that’s who I am and sometimes I’m in the mood, and sometimes it’s just a coping mechanism. I hope this introduction didn’t kill the whole mood of the following story.

Kafka Crap

Mark woke up one morning and found that he had turned into a horse. His first thought was, I don’t have time for this Kafka-esque crap. I’ve got stuff to do. He tried to check his phone but he cracked the screen with his hoof. He was so frustrated, he kicked a hole in the wall.

His mother ran in and stopped. “Did you turn into a horse?” she asked.

Mark stamped once, for yes. “What a bunch of Kafka crap,” she said. “What are we going to do now?”

Mark didn’t know how many times to stamp on the floor to answer and he had no answer anyway. She sighed. “I suppose I’ll call into work for you.”

Later that day, a man showed up at the door. “We hear your son turned into a horse. That’s illegal, you know.”

“How so?” my mother asked.

“I can’t tell you,” the man said.

“Who exactly are you again?” she asked.

“I can’t tell you,” the man said. “Just have your son show up at this address for his trial. He needs to write out a deposition himself too. Make sure it’s legible.”

“What a bunch of Kafka crap,” Mark’s mother said, slamming the door.

His father was reading a blog story. He pointed to the screen. “Well, it could always be worse.”

 

*This story references two Kafka stories: The Metamorphosis, and The Trial. To understand the last line, click the hyperlink.


Car Hunting

copyright Joe Owens

copyright Joe Owens

My dad loved to show people around his trophy room, so when my college roommate came over for Thanksgiving, of course Dad gave him the tour.

“You’ve done a lot of hunting!” Kiefer said. I rolled my eyes. Don’t encourage him.

“Yep, I sure have,” my dad said, making a sweeping gesture to encompass all the license plates on the walls. “This here was from my first one. It was a ’68 Chevy Chevelle. I got it going down Route 46, not far from here. Single shot—bam!—right to the engine block. Damaged the body a bit but stopped it dead.”

“So you mostly go for sedans then?”

I tried giving Kiefer a warning look. My dad was going to talk for hours at this rate.

“I have tried all kinds.” Dad was beaming now. “When Bobby was little, we’d go out for hatchbacks. We tagged two in one day over in Breathitt County. We could only bring the fenders home, although of course Bobby liked to keep the spark plugs as souvenirs.” I blushed.

“Do you think I could give it a try?” Kiefer asked. My dad’s face lit up.

“Why sure! We’ll go grab you and Bobby some licenses and head out tomorrow. You haven’t tried car hunting until you’ve done it on Black Friday. You can use my SUV rifle.”

“Aren’t you a member of Greenpeace?” I whispered to Kiefer.

“This isn’t nature,” he said. “This is cars!” He and my dad high-fived and I knew that I’d lost him.


Death Don’t Us Part

Death Don't Us Part

Death Don’t Us Part

Life and death never end up like you think. I went to sleep one night, dreamed about being back at college with a lobster for a roommate, then woke up in a coffin. It was comfortable, at least.

I lay there for a bit, wondering why I had had a lobster for a roommate when I heard a tap, tap, tap.

“Who’s there?” I said. What else do you say?

“Is that you, Jamal?” It was my wife Olivia.

“Yeah, I’m in a coffin. Where are you?”

“In one too. I’m next to you.”

“Huh. Do you suppose we’re dead?”

“I suppose.”

There was a pause that could have been a few seconds or a few years.

“Do you think this is because we omitted ‘Til death do us part’ from our vows?” I asked.

“Could be. I never thought of this happening. So, you want to get out of here?”

“Can we?”

“After you, monsieur.”

I tried and a moment later, I found myself in a cemetery at night. A translucent version of Olivia appeared a moment later.

“Have you lost weight?” I asked. She rolled spectral eyes at me.

“You don’t have to be so grave about everything,” I said. That made her laugh.

“You kill me, you know?” she said.

“Not anymore. So, what now?”

She took my hand. “I don’t know, go visit our old haunts?”

“Now look who’s starting.”

We floated off. Together.


Linda's Bible Study

Come study God's Word with me!

Help Me Believe

Strengthen the believer. Answer the critic.

Citizen Tom

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Dreaming of Guatemala

celebrating in His light and pursuing His dreams for me.

The Green-Walled Chapel

Writings on Faith, Religion and Philosophy

To Be A Magician

A fiction blog of funny and dark stories

My music canvas

you + me + music

Eve In Korea

My Adventures As An ESL Teacher In South Korea

Luna's Writing Journal

A Place for my Fiction

Bikurgurl

Traveler, Foodie, Eclectic Unschooly Mama, Blogger, Outdoor-Seeker, Gardener, & Voracious Reader, sharing bits of my life at Bikurgurl.com

Upper Iowa University

Center for International Education

Here's To Being Human

Living life as a human

The Moving Quill

Writing & Blogging by Shailaja V

jenacidebybibliophile

Book Reviewer and Blogger

yuxianadventure

kitten loves the world

Strolling South America

10 countries, 675 days, 38,540km

It's All in Finding the Right Words

The Eternal Search to Find One's Self: Flash Fiction and Beyond

Reflections Of Life's Journey

Lessons, Joys, Blessings, Friendships, Heartaches, Hardships , Special Moments

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

Chris Green

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Finding Myself Through Writing

Writing Habits of Elle Knowles - Author

Commendable Soap

"...the manufacture of stories... a business safe and commendable as making soap..." Willa Cather, 1920

BEAUTIFUL WORDS

Inspiring mental health through creative arts and friendly interactions. (Award free blog)

Claire Fuller

Writing and art

TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND

Straight up with a twist– Because life is too short to be subtle!

Unmapped Country within Us

Emily Livingstone, Author

Silkpurseproductions's Blog

The art of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

BJ Writes

My online repository for works in progress

wordsandotherthings.wordpress.com/

she is confidence in shadows.

Musings on Life & Experience

Poetry, Fiction, & Non-Fiction Writings

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!

obBLOGato

a Photo Blog, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to dear dirty New York

Björn Rudbergs writings

Poetry and fiction by a physicist from the dark side

SightsnBytes

A.K.A. Ted White

WordDreams...

Jacqui Murray's

The Day After

Musings, Photography, Writing, and More

Mondays Finish the Story

This is a flash fiction site where you finish the story!

Sketches By Boze

An ongoing exploration of faith, culture, myth, life, art. An advocate for all who are trapped in nightmares.

Tiffys World

A diary type blog following the life of a Forensic Science Student

San Diego Professional Writer's Group

A San Diego based critique group for professional and aspiring writers

Five Years to Mediocrity

chasing kitties, crashing scooters, and learning spanish, one anxiety attack at a time

%d bloggers like this: