Friday Flash: Trapped

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From my pilot’s seat, I watch the contents of the aquarium tank strapped to the plane’s inner wall. My cargo’s withstood shipment far better than I anticipated. Mermen bodies are less valuable dead than alive, so I’m glad I took extra precautions to ensure this package is cared for properly. Thank the gods I took him to the vet and had him sedated before shipment. Though the tank is shatter-resistant, I wouldn’t want to test it, because if he becomes violent, he might damage himself.

Usually, men alone track mermen, but their rarity coupled with their ferocity makes capturing them almost impossible. No one expects a woman to bag such a vicious creature. But it pays to know the science. By synthesizing mermaid pheromones, I’m able to use them to my advantage. I’m actually surprised how easy it was to lure the thing into a cage.

Still, he is a handsome beast. The way his emerald hair floats in the tank’s water, the way his sea-green eyes sparkle–

He’s watching me.

He’s watching me, capturing me in the depths of those startling eyes.

I feel myself change course, away from land and back towards the sea. My hands are moving; I feel the plane’s weight shift now that the nose is aimed for those beautiful, calm waters.

The merman lifts himself from his tank. I smell salt air and realize just how wrong I’ve been about everything.

 

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

** I used a random word generator to get the three words I used as prompts: trap, weather, runway.

Friday Flash: A Match Made in the Heavens

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She can’t get over the look in his eyes. Well, are they technically his eyes when they belong to the humanoids looking through his rounded glass portholes, eyes enormous with unmitigated terror? It doesn’t matter. She is used to that reaction from most lifeforms, whether they have one set of eyes or many.

What do you want me to do, my love? She thinks to the ship in dragonsong.

The ship roars his response, but the dragon hears nothing through the void of space from which she comes. She only knows that she loves this gleaming metal creature sailing across the starry heavens, loves looking at the faces of the humanoid creatures he apparently swallowed, loves the electric fire shining off his exterior.

They have so much in common!

Then she sees where the vessel, the lovely silver knight of her nights, is heading and her thoughts fairly explode in her head for joy. The frosty silence of the void is replaced by the roaring heat of entry into the planet’s atmosphere; they are the match that ignites the heavens. Approaching the planet’s darkside, she spots his love offering to her: a city that sparkles and glints like a nest of jewels across the ground’s surface.

Telepathy or not, it is as if her beloved can read her thoughts. They sail together towards the world, a world where they can finally and truly speak. The planet’s oxygen-rich atmosphere fills her lungs, her wings whoosh through the air as she rapidly descends to inspect the brightly lit buildings that litter the ground like fallen stars.

Upon closer inspection, small circular windows in each metallic dome reveal more tiny humanoids. This must be his home, the place he’s taken her to feast…Oh, what bliss!  The creatures flee from their dwellings, feet pounding furiously as they run for their lives, and she picks them off one by one, savoring each morsel as the love offering it is obviously meant to be–like tiny bipedal chocolates that scream sweet harmonies as she gulps them down.

Running her long, forked tongue along scaled lips, she sways provocatively toward the ship that now sits parked like a gleaming silver tooth. Her back undulates, her eyes sparkle, and her nostrils flare as she inhales deeply the sweet stench of burning meat. She folds each set of iridescent wings slowly, dancing a ballet of death in this beautiful and burning world. She is surprised to find the ground still cool to her touch, as she crunches concrete beneath clawed, blue-white digits.

They had sailed the heavens together, her and her lover. He had brought her to dinner. Now, it is time for her to show how deeply she feels their connection. Her heart swells with happiness. With the high-pitched wails of dying humanoids to accompany her song, she fills her lungs with fire, her throat with blazing verse, and prepares to show her lover how hotly her passion truly burns.

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**This flash was inspired by prompt numbers 2, 3, 6, 11, and 33 from the thinkwritten blog.

Friday Flash: Capital Crimes

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What is the meaning of this?

You are here, Mister E, due to the nature of certain letters that have come into our possession.

I’ve told you thugs before, my friend B is innocent! Since when is it a crime to say you don’t like war? Who does?! Only madmen and–

I do not refer to your friend’s anti-war sentiments, though that shall surely be investigated…

Stop shuffling those goddamn papers, and look at me! I don’t understand. Why are you even reading the mail when–

Now, you are the madman, Mister E! An enemy may send coded messages, and even newspaper columns may be employed to–

No, no, no! I mean, why read our mail? We’re just ambulance drivers, and B’s only crime is hating all the blood and death we’re exposed to in the service of “peace.”

Aha! This “peace” you refer to is an example of exactly the sort of thing we are concerned about.

What? I don’t…what?

The scare quotes you used when you referred to peace, which is the end goal of this military operation.

It’s no secret that saying war in the service of peace is an oxymoron!

No, Mister E, I am not referring to your attitude but rather your punctuation.

My punctuation! What on earth does that have to do with anything?

Have you noticed, Mister E, how you have used punctuation and capitalization throughout our conversation? Even the questionable use of scare quotes? I have.

Well?

That is something notably absent in your published works of poetry, even to the extent of not capitalizing your own name.

Now, Mister E–or should I say mister e? what do you have to say for yourself?

I’m a writer! We expand the use of language; poetry often breaks the rules of prose–with the exception of prose poetry, and–

To the extent that you even lowercase your own name?

Hey! You used lowercase as a verb, and that’s-

That is not the point, mister e.  Do not dare change the subject! Who are you working for?

No one! My poetry isn’t code for the enemy, I swear! I’m not working for the enemy!

And your idiosyncratic style? Besides the occasional odd usage of brackets and parentheses, your methodology makes no sense.

Hey, watch it! Art is in the eye of the beholder!

Eye and ear, apparently. Your excessive use of exclamation marks during our little talk is giving me almost as much of a headache as your printed works.

It’s a stressful situation! I resent that.

You are meant to.

How can you accuse me of anything when you just ended a sentence with a preposition?

It was correct usage, and you are in no position to do anything other than answer my questions.

Listen, can you at least untie these ropes? I’m beginning to chafe.

No.

No?

No. Not until you explain.

That wasn’t a proper sentence! There was no–ouch!!!

I see you are beginning to slip and reveal your true nature, mister e. Three exclamation points?

Dialogue is different.

How do you expect us to believe you are an author with so little vanity that you eschew capitalizing your own name? You must be getting paid a great deal, mister e, to go that far.

I swear to you, I am not a spy!

Spy? Who said anything, anything, about spying? Admit it. You are a saboteur.

If you don’t think I’m a spy, then what am I sabotaging?

I ask the questions, mister e!

Ow! I swear to you, I’m not working for anyone! All I did was experiment with punctuation and grammar! Since when is that a crime?

Crime? You are not under arrest.

But the ropes, the cuffs…?

They are merely details to ensure your cooperation.

Who do you work for?

Wait, you don’t work for the military?

Military, mister e? You wish. I work for a much more important organization.

Who? Dear gods, who could that be?

Let’s just say certain union officials are unhappy with the turn the language has taken recently. The editorial costs alone are enough to put a significant dent in their annual budget–a fact which does not please them. So, once again, who do you work for? The CIA?

You just said it wasn’t a spy thing!

Don’t play dumber than you already are. The CIA in this context is obviously the Committee for Interrobang Adaptation! Is it them?  A rival editorial group? The Typographers’ Guild? Who? Confess.

if you could loosen these ropes and get me some water for my throat I would appreciate it all those exclamation marks really did a number on me

seriously

i will tell you everything for the right price

Stop smiling like that, mister e. It is giving me the creeps.

thanks for the water friend

You are evil.

 

.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

**written in honor of National Punctuation Day for #FridayFlash and inspired by e e cummings. I mean all due respect to Mr. Cummings.

***For those of you lucky enough to live in Northeast Ohio, Saturday the 24th of September is the Western Reserve Writers’ Conference. I hope to see you there!

Friday Flash: Sea Life

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The blue dress uniforms co-opted from the Navy were itchy. The sailors imprisoned within them were tired and hot and couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. The captain looked across the water at the setting sun. At least this would soon be over, and they’d get some respite from this day’s infernal heat. But yet…

He looked down into the cool depths of the ocean waters surrounding the metal monstrosity he had called his home for the better part of three years. The setting sun glowed gold and orange upon the waves. He shuddered.

“And do you, Mark Wallace, take this mermaid, Jasmine Petals, to be your lawfully wedded wife? In sickness and in health… forever and ever, by Neptune’s salty bits?”

The young sailor looked down at the mermaid clinging to the ship’s side, gulped, and nodded his head. The red-haired beauty in the crystal blue waters smiled in approval, exposing sharp incisors in her delicate, full-lipped mouth.

“By the eternal laws of the sea, by Neptune’s trident and Amphitrite’s coral crown,  I now pronounce you mer-man and mer-wife. The bride may now—”

With a stupendous leap, the new bride pulled her husband over the edge of the warship, dragging him along with her as she splashed into the waters below. Soon, not even the emerald green of her tail could be seen as she brought the new merman to her lair in the deep, dark waters.

The men and women shook their heads in wonder. There was a reason humans steered clear of Neptune’s children. The mermaid’s kiss might cure their fellow sailor’s cancer, but the cure might just be worse than the disease.

Captain Deadly allowed himself a rare sigh of pity for his former crewman before ordering his crew to hoist the Jolly Roger. Fresh plunder lay ahead, and he might need the gold. Who knew? In his own future, he might need to hire an oncologist.

 

*originally inspired by a photo prompt from Six Minute Story, but has since been edited and extended. You can find the original here.

**I wrote this today, so I didn’t have time to let it simmer as much as I like before posting. Please be kind. Polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

****Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Friday Flash: Looking Glass

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The woman chuckled as Lady clawed at the clear window. Pressing her nose against the glass, the dog whimpered, her breath forming small moist ovals of condensation against the pane. Beneath the small table, Princess Puggles whined for a different reason–her frail backlegs would not support her ample frame, leaving her woefully floor-bound. Uncertain what marvels she was missing, she sat, firm in the knowledge she did not want to miss them. Meanwhile, her sister continued to follow the blowing leaf with the same fascination of a quest seeker in the presence of the Holy Grail. Earlier, she had seen a squirrel climb a tree and–Delight of Delights!–an elderly jogger wheezing across the busy street that ran athwart the house that she occupied with her sister, a beneficently tolerant feline, and her human. The woman shook her head again, wondering to herself at the insignificant things canines carried on about.

Winnie-cat shared this sentiment, perched peacefully on the windowsill, serene in her superiority.

Even the human, who had marginally better sight and intelligence than her four-legged companions, failed to notice what was truly important. She eyed the sparkling pest pressing through the glass from a fourth spatial direction. Which was ana, and which was kata? She could never remember. She swiped sharp nails at the tiny beast, but it only continued to wave at her with aggravating friendliness. She batted at the creature again, but the glass continued to foil her best efforts to harm. Exasperating little creep.

The woman snickered. Doubtless at something in her large book of pictures, because Winnie-cat knew no human would dare mock a higher being such as herself.

Meanwhile, Crinkle-puff smiled widely, her shimmering wings beat a joyful tune as she waved. The ghost behind the human finally returned her greeting with a hearty thumbs-up gesture, before its ethereal form leaned once more over the female’s shoulder. Evidently the spirit found the bound papers entertaining as well. When it grazed against the corporeal creature, the woman huffed and smacked the back of her neck in irritation.  “Damn fly! Must have snuck in…”

In an adjacent room, a lone fly sat on the edge of the kitchen trash can, enjoying a free buffet of fragrant and sweet-smelling refuse. Undistracted and undisturbed, it enjoyed a perfect meal in peace.

**Image courtesy of BigFoto.com

Friday Flash: Tempting Fate

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Clotho inhaled, enjoying the heady aroma of roasted beans and caffeine that permeated the small coffee shop. The temptation to step inside and grab a cup was irresistable. She didn’t know if mortals could actually smell caffeine, but it gave the goddess a deep sense of satisfaction–almost like the burnt offerings humans used to offer the gods in the past. But not now. Now, if they burned her coffee? Well, she’d be pissed.

What’s the worst that could happen?

A little chime sounded on the Fate’s cell phone. In the old days, there had been an actual tiny bell that would appear and disappear, but she savored the advancements that came with the passage of time, just as she savored a good cup of joe. She also liked the little bell sound. Best of both worlds, really.

And why not? She wasn’t trapped by linear time the way mortals were, but she enjoyed watching its passage from their perspective. She sipped her coffee, sighing with pleasure. The little bell chimed again.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Long ago, she’d put a filter on the alert, only taking note of those “great ones” who tempted Fate with those fateful words. Great ones? Ha! Just another term for “more fun to mess with.” As if politicians and celebrities held more sway over the tapestry of life than she and her sisters–or even wandering beggars in the right circumstances. Just pull the right thread, snip another, and whole swathes of cloth would unravel, only to be rewoven in the pattern of their choosing.

Even the gods themselves knew not to tempt Clotho and her sisters, for while they could be generous, they also found a challenge hard to resist.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s see. Buddha and Christ had both been beggars who changed the world for the better. Would she be that generous this time? She checked her notifications to see who had tempted…er, challenged her so often in the past few minutes. Upon seeing the name, she scowled and decided that perhaps this time, she and her sisters would not be kind.

She texted Atropos and Lachesis about their latest challenge. Their reply?
This will be FUN.
Clotho chuckled to herself. Two more mochaccinos suddenly appeared on the counter in front of the startled barista; the goddess grabbed the white styrofoam cups, tucked her cell back into her earth-friendly tote, and headed out the (now) automatic doors.

 

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.

FridayFlash: A Dream Life

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Cat sleeping on the bed by her feet, she dreamt of solitude, and why not?  The man she had given her past, present, and all her future prospects no longer cared for her. Her son would soon leave to start a family of his own, her oldest friend left her long before she died, and her parents were going, going, gone from her life and soon this world.

The background of her mind played soothing melodies as she travelled in empty trains, toured abandoned bookstores throughout the British Isles–wandering their brightly lit halls with noone to hurry her, no schedule nor expectations, just the joy of a world of literature all to herself. She walked with ease, knees and wrists bending readily and without pain; her body no longer betrayed her.

She was surprised she was not lonely, but the books themselves kept her company with the silent voices of those long gone. She hummed to herself as she perused each aisle, composing a little poem in her head:

Invisible or
ghosts…does it matter? This world, 
freedom hers alone.

Finally her journey ended in the far north of the globe. She took her paper pulp treasures with her inside the glass igloo, the Northern lights danced above her as she sat padded in covers within the dome–a miniature cosmos heated just for her from machines hidden deep within the earth’s crust. As long as she had food and shelter, books and a view, she could drink in eternity with her eyes.

Contentment filled her. The thought of being alone no longer hurt the hole in her heart but filled it with hope. Her child, the bright spot of her existence,  was fine and would be a great man despite his current growing pains. Her husband neither needed nor cared for her. Didn’t accepting her solitude grant her freedom?

Her eyes were weighted shut, her muscles stiff and unyielding,  but at last she pulled herself from her lethargy and forced herself to swim upwards, through the depths of her dreams, to open her eyes. The cat, the feline that had shunned her so often, lay curled at her feet. The woman smiled good morning, scratched behind the creature’s ears, then went to walk the puppies in crisp, white snow.

*Image courtesy of BigFoto.com.