Destination: Survival

Destination: Survival

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of SPF contributor, Joy Pixley (thanks Joy!). Not to give anything away, but don’t the cacti look somewhat human? 

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Photo Credit; Joy Pixley

Madeline contemplated Derek’s crushed skull. As first dates go, this one sucked. Exploring an Arizona ghost town in the middle of nowhere appealed to Madeline’s thrill-seeking nature. However, Derek’s sense of adventure left much to be desired and by 2:00 p.m., Madeline insisted he take her home.

They had not traveled far down the dusty trail before the pop of a blown tire broke their silence. An apologetic Derek confessed he did not have a spare.

With only five miles to a major road, Madeline convinced Derek they should walk. With any luck, they would reach the highway before dark.

Luck, it seemed, was on holiday. The 100-degree heat and Derek’s lack of stamina slowed her down. The last thing Madeline wanted was to spend the night in the desert.

A large rock to the head solved her problem.

Madeline grabbed the near-empty canteen and headed out. As twilight approached, she detected something in the distance; an automobile parked along the road. Convinced she was saved, Madeline, chugged the remaining water, and raced toward the car.

As the last rays of light faded, relief turned to terror. The car she saw was Derek’s.

 

 

The Bargain

The Bargain

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week was taken by a friend of mine who wished to remain anonymous

Seattle Terminal
Photo Credit: Sunday Photo Fiction

This was not how it was supposed to work.

Bill had looked forward to retirement; delayed gratification after years of frugality and self-discipline. He had played by all the rules; maximizing his contributions to his 401K and enduring a job that provided a good paycheck but no joy.

He sacrificed for his wife and children, providing them a good life.

He cared for everyone else for 40 years. Now it was his turn.

But when the diagnosis came back, his dreams died. Parkinson’s. A slow and debilitating disease.

You’re wrong! He protested.

It’s not fair!

Can’t you do anything?

The kind old doctor smiled. There is a way.

The details shocked him, but in the end, he agreed.

He arrived at the station, suitcase in hand. There were many others, like him, traveling to the crossroads. In his pocket was his down-payment; love letters from his wife. His most precious possession.

As the train pulled away, he closed his eyes and thought about what he was about to do. Once the contract was signed, he would have ten years of health, happiness, and prosperity.

It was his due, after all.

Who wouldn’t sell their soul for that?

Word Count = 196

 

 

Men in Kilts

Men in Kilts

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is was taken by C.E. Ayr in Glasgow, Scotland.  My story is a bit quirky. I hope it is equally enjoyable.

“Ever been to Scotland, Conrad?”

The question surprised me, producing a blank look that must have given The Boss reason to question my educational background.

“Scotland…you know, Loch Ness…Highlander… men in kilts?”

I blushed at the thought of naked male knees, conveying more information than I cared to share. I quickly came to my senses.

“Of course, I know Scotland. My grandfather was from Scotland. Or was Ireland? Never could keep the two countries straight. Why do you ask?”

“I need you to fly over and drop off a package.”

“Don’t they have postal service in Scotland,” I ask. The Boss has made strange requests before, but mail delivery was a new one.

“It’s all over the news Conrad! Amazon Corporation owns the USPS. Trump says so. Besides, I can’t take a chance this package is delivered to the wrong address.” The Boss leaned forward and whispered, “It’s for a lady friend of mine. If you get my drift.”

I got the drift. The Boss had lots of lady friends. I felt sorry for his missus, but still…

“Are there really men in kilts there?”

“The place is crawling with them.”

“When do I leave?”

 

 

La Chapa

La Chapa

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is was taken at the Raton Pass Motor Inn, on Route 66. Each room has a different theme, and this week’s photo was taken in the Pin-Up Girl room. The Raton Pass Motor Inn is a real blast from the past and I highly recommend anyone taking a trip down the Mother Road stop there for the night.  You can find more about Raton Pass Motor Inn  HERE.

 “Well, it’s better than the back seat of the car.” Jo Reynolds eyed the motel room. Scarce furnishings, but clean. She expected worse this side of the Mexico border. Jo had driven all night, crossing the International Bridge at Mission Texas. Dead-tired, she found the desolate motel near La Chapa. Jo needed sleep, but first she needed a drink. She poured several shots of cheap tequila into a dull glass left on the nightstand by previous occupant. Undaunted by germs, Jo emptied the glass quickly, then laid on the bed, closing her eyes.

Sleep did not come. No amount of tequila could erase the memory of the past two days. Or of Jimmy.

They had been so good together. A perfect blend of desire and danger. If only Jimmy had kept his mouth shut. Jimmy loved to boast, especially after a few drinks. At a different motel, they fought hard. He pleaded, and she cried when he spoke the words that sealed his fate.

“Baby, you know I’m no good for you. Better kill me now.” *

They say a woman’s weapon of choice is poison, but if you are a Texas gal, a Colt-45 works just fine.

 

* Loosely lifted from the song Loser, by Beck.

 

 

Art at its Best

Art at its Best

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s interesting photo is courtesy of Fandango. I am sure there will be many unusual stories generated this week, so wander HERE read a few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection. 

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Photo courtesy of Fandango

 

Now for this week’s story…

“This will kill your career!” Andre screeched like a cat with its tail caught in the door as he stared in disbelief at the monstrosity in front of him. His own career was also at stake. Why had placed all his hope in one artist, Paul Best.

Paul rolled his eyes and smirked.

“Some agent you are! I should fire you. This is going to be bigger than any art exhibit you have ever seen.”

“Where did you get the idea.” Maybe Andre just needed to understand Paul’s motivation.

“It was along the curb in a low-class neighborhood. I think they call it trash, but I call it inspiration. Two broken chairs, and a tree limb. Fantastic!”

You picked it up?” Andre was horrified.

“Of course not! My driver did.” Paul beheld his newest creation. “I call this ‘Summer Evening.’ Reminiscent of those Southern hicks that sit under a tree drinking iced tea at twilight. Do you think I should add some Earl Grey tea bags to the limbs?

“Make it Lipton,” sighed Andre.

Perhaps Paul was right. When it came to creating art, he had the Midas touch. After all, he wasn’t called ‘The Best’ for nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Man’s Trash

Another Man’s Trash

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of C.E. Ayr. I am sure there will be many interesting stories this week, so why not wander over there and read for few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection.  You can find this week’s challenge  HERE

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Now for this week’s story, inspired by my grandparents. 

Grady had one goal in life: to make his wife Emma happy.

It had not been easy. After the crash of ’29, times were tough, but Grady’s cotton farm provided a place to sleep and food to eat. But when the ‘black rollers’ brought billowing clouds of dust across the Texas panhandle, his farm eroded into nothing. Taking only what would fit in the back of the 1928 black Ford pickup, Grady and Emma headed for California, unsure what the future would bring.

Grady landed a job in Los Angeles as a trash man. Picking up garbage paid less than white men’s wages, but Grady was happy for the job. His partner was an older black man named Leroy.

“You won’t believe what these white folks throw away.” Leroy said. “Keep what you want and sell it.”

Leroy’s words rung true. Despite the Depression, the trash cans of wealthier families were full of useful items. At their last stop, Grady noticed an Oriental teapot sitting on top of the kitchen trash.

Emma would be thrilled. All her teapots had been left behind in Texas. This would be the start of a new collection.

 

When my grandparents moved from Texas to California in the early 1930s, my grandfather spend some time as a trash collector in an affluent neighborhood. Many of the things that my grandmother gave me came from his days as a trash collector. They had been poor cotton farmers before moving to California and the idea of throwing away perfectly good items perplexed her. Below is a photo of the teapot featured in the story.

teapot
photo credit: Susan Spaulding

 

 

 

 

 

Little Pink Houses

Little Pink Houses

Good Sunday Morning.  I missed last week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge due to other priorities but glad to be back this week.  This week’s photo is one of my own, taken near the  Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma city.

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Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

For those who don’t know, Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. I am sure there will be many interesting stories this week, so why not wander over there and read for few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection.  You can find this week’s challenge HERE

Now for this week’s story.

At the end of the cul-de-sac sat a tiny pink house, sandwiched between houses three-times its size. Millennials Joe and Beth Campbell owned the quaint cottage, boasting to their neighbors they were no longer slaves to their positions.

Until they won the lottery.

No sooner had the for-sale sign been staked when the couple heard a knock at the door. A strange little man with a long white beard and pointed nose looked up at them.

“The name’s Rump,” he said, “I can pay your asking price.”

The Campbells each wondered what their neighbors would think.

“I will pay more,” he offered.

The heck with the neighbors. The Campbells took the offer.

Before they could sign the papers, they hear another knock. A bent-over old woman clothed in a long black dress stood on their steps. Rump introduced his wife, Hilda.

Joe and Beth disliked their neighbors but selling the house to characters out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales seemed wrong.

“We changed our minds,” they said, slamming the door.

Rump glared at his wife. “Hag, I told you, stay in the car! Now what are we going to do? Houses like this don’t come on the market every day.”

 

 

 

The Devilish Mr. Jones

The Devilish Mr. Jones

Just under the wire! This week’s Tuesday Scribes challenge is to write a 25-word story, called Hint Fiction.  Writing a story in only 25 words is not easy, but I gave it a go just the same. If you like it, let me know. If not, well let me know that too. 

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The deteriorated wooden door at Number 3 Amherst was an open invitation to neighborhood thieves.

 And that was just how Mr. Jones wanted it.

Divine Justice

Divine Justice

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. The photo this week is one I took while on a cruise excursion. The couple in the photo look nice and cozy. There is nothing nice and cozy about this story. 

Relaxation
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

For residents of the Carolina’s, Hurricane Florence embodied death and destruction. For Annie, Florence was divine providence. In all things, Annie accepted her fate as the will of God. How else could she have endured the past ten years?

The police pleaded: evacuate. Ray, her captor, affirmed they would stay.

The officer turned to Annie, thin with lifeless eyes.

You can leave, he said.

God wants me to stay. Annie closed the door.

For hours, rain and wind whipped the white frame house. When the electricity went out, Annie never felt safer. The rising water swirled around her ankles.

It is time.

Annie pulled a plastic bottle from her bedding. Inside, a note.

What is that, demanded Ray.

Your death sentence, Annie rejoiced. Written in secret, the note named Ray for the monster he was; chronicled the atrocities Annie endured at his hand.

Annie raced toward the basement, filling with water. Ray followed in pursuit.

Him or me, she prayed.

The sound of a slamming door was lost amidst the howling winds.

After the storm, rescuers spotted someone standing on the roof of the white frame house.

Anyone inside?

A man in the basement, said Annie.

It was God’s will.

~~~~~

In the story, Ray is named as ‘her captor.’ I will allow the reader to decide how literal to take the take the label. Annie may have simply been trapped in a loveless marriage, in which case, her actions would then be considered murder. Or maybe ‘captor’ should be taken literally, giving justification to her actions during the storm. There were, however, three events this week where I took inspiration. First, the hurricane itself. I wondered, how easy would it be for someone to kill another and blame it on the storm? Second, Wanda Barzee, the woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart, will soon go free. This revived Elizabeth’s horrific story.  Lastly, I learned this week that one of my “neighbors,” a known sexual predator who preyed on poor black woman who could not pay their rent recently died of colon cancer. Death was too good for Ray.

The Wall

The Wall

Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Fictioneers. The goal is to write a complete story using 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. This week’s story is a rework of a longer piece I wrote a year ago. I don’t know what is more challenging; writing a completely new story or editing a longer story so it maintains the essence of the original. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this challenge and J Hardy Carroll for this week’s photograph. If you would like to add your own story, or read other stories like this, head to Rochelle’s Friday’s Fictioneers.

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Photo Credit: J. Hardy Carroll

Ziggy sat on the edge of the couch, mesmerized by empty space between the steeple clock on the mantel and the ceiling above. Her tail twitched as a guttural growl erupted from deep inside her throat. Ziggy’s odd behavior concerned her owner Charlotte. A recent bee sting had sent her daughter Adeline into anaphylactic shock. Another occurrence could be deadly.

Placing Adeline against her shoulder, Charlotte examined the wall. Relieved to find nothing there, Charlotte turned her back to the clock, facing Ziggy.

“Silly cat. There is nothing….”

Charlotte’s words were cut short by Adeline’s screams of terror.