Howl in the Wind

Leonard’s stomach turned as he stared at the $364 insurance check for reimbursement of the “vehicle contents.” Regret stung his eyes. The fateful day returned in a rush.

Officials called the narrows suspension bridge an innovative feat of engineering, above reproach. On November 7th, they’d begun their usual trip across the bridge to Tacoma, when the earth started to sway. The wind clutched the bridge. The car lurched into the curb. Cables whipped. Pavement buckled. Metal twisted. Violent sickness overcame Leonard as he stumbled from the car and floundered on the jellylike roadway back to the toll plaza.

“Thank goodness you’re safe,” the booth operator yelled over the screech of the corkscrewing bridge.

Pointing, Leonard panted, “Tubby! Save my dog! He’s still in my car.”

The bridge released a final groan, and the roadway fractured. As the car tumbled into the frigid straits, Leonard was certain he heard Tubby’s last howl.


In November of 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (aka Galloping Gertie) collapsed in relatively minor winds. The only casualty was a black cocker spaniel named Tubby who belonged to reporter Leonard Coatsworth’s daughter. He abandoned her initially, then tried to go back to save her, as did two other people on the bridge that day. Unfortunately, Tubby was too frightened to cooperate with his would-be-rescuers. If you would like to read more about the bridge and Tubby, check out The Washington State DOT.

Here’s a link to a video of the bridge collapse where you can see Coatsworth’s car and the survivors: Footage.

I embellished the details of my fiction short story for the 150-word VisDare photo prompt this week, but Coatsworth’s really did receive a reimbursement check from his insurance company for the vehicle “contents” as they worded it. I guess Tubby had a price. A sad story.

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Elephant on the Porch

Each morning, she loiters in front of her shack, dirt-streaked skin and unwashed clothes, mumbling to herself about “someday” as she sips tea. Locals nicknamed her Dirty Della, whispering as they pass by, gawking at her like she’s a caged animal. No one would ever address her directly, always avoiding the elephant on the porch.

Intrigued by her possibilities, the men wonder how dirty she is. Disgusted by her, the women gossip about her trysts with strangers while hoping their husbands haven’t notched her bedpost.

Della ignores them, daydreaming on the porch she once shared with her husband. He abandoned her eight years ago. Bills piled up. Her most sought-after resource proved lucrative.

Brushing the dirt from her apron, she refocuses on tending to her flourishing garden, ensuring her latest fertilizer is buried deep. No one ever misses the strangers. Someday, when her husband returns, she’ll tend to him too.


This story was written for VisDare weekly photo prompt. To learn more, click here.

A Time for Escape

Benny was tired of playing the same old inside games with his toys. He wanted to explore the beach, longed for an adventure. His mom wouldn’t allow him to take his toys outside, especially the beach. She said they were expensive and might get lost or broken.

But he had already decided today was his day to escape, to prove her wrong. He put his favorite toys into a backpack and slipped out the back door without notice. The beach was only a short walk through the tall sea oats.

Barely able to contain his excitement, Benny unzipped the backpack, placed his toys side-by-side on the sand, and said, “Come on you silly toys, let’s play.”

Suddenly, the toy named Soldier screamed, “Run! Escape!” and raced for the water.

Doctor, Teacher, Firefighter, and Nurse sprinted after Soldier.

Benny curiously watched and taunted, “Ready or not, tiny Earthlings, here I come.”


It’s been too long since I’ve written for my blog. Over the last few months I lost focus and motivation; too many distractions in the real world. What little I had left to give was saved for other writing. I’ll try my best to post more often.

This story was written for the VisDare photo prompt at Anonymous Legacy. It’s my usual strange kind of tale and clocks in at 150 words per the writing prompt rules. I thought I would start 2015 out with my favorite style of weird fiction. How could I resist with this week’s photo?

Happy 2015 to all my followers and visitors. I’m determined to believe this year will be better.

The Civilized World

We spoiled our planet. The weight of our needs surpassed her generosity. She was tolerant until she was not. She waged a war of unspeakable ferocity and violence, unlike any that we could imagine in our worst nightmares.

She was our true enemy, the one we should have feared and respected, but instead we immersed our hearts and minds in a battle of egos and superiority, a blind and deaf us versus them crusade.

We called our former prosperity civilization, a misnomer in every way. We left behind our dead world, blanketed in ice and the obsolete remnants of our shameless materialism. The few thousand of us that escaped vowed not to be driven by brutality in the name of morality, faith or love. We are resolved to coexist with reverence for nature and humanity with the peaceful inhabitants of our newfound planet known as Earth.


I wrote this bleak tale for the VisDare writing prompt, based on the black and white photo. If you would like to read the other stories or try your hand at writing one, click on the image below.

VisDare

Married to the Mirror

The mirror never lied to her. Through sickness and health, it whispered the truth, even when she no longer wished to heed it.

During the honeymoon years, it told her she was a flawless, natural beauty. Plump lips, creamy skin, bright eyes. The years were kind as the mirror spoke of her graceful maturity; together, they found a comfortable place.

Time dashed carelessly. The mirror began to tease her fine lines and exaggerate her once delicate pores. It gossiped of thinning lips, crow’s feet, and dull skin. It demanded she seek help for her affliction. It told her society dictated it. The honeymoon was over.

In her golden years, more sickness than health, the mirror laughed at her plastic-like skin, inflated lips, and cloudy eyes. She looked away from her reflection, ashamed, as the plastic surgeon prepared the syringe with more poisonous beauty. Until death, they would not part.


I wrote this 150-word flash fiction for the VisDare photo prompt hosted by Angela Goff. I’ve missed quite a few VisDare challenges over the last couple of months. I’m a little late entering this week, but I wanted to write something for this odd photo. If you would like to read the other stories or join the fun, click here.

 

The Accident, Part 1

He searches his face in the mirror and smirks at his 58 years of hard-earned wrinkles. They are reminders. Stuart often relives his ingenious triumphs, but lately, one in particular feeds his ego; that defining moment his brother Charlie died.

Charlie was their favorite, their golden boy, their reason to live. After he was born, Stuart was forgotten. His resentment festered.

“Charlie’s so smart, much smarter than Stuart,” his mother always said. Continue reading

My Soul Wept

Shoah – A Hebrew term for the Holocaust, meaning catastrophe.

I put a lot of emotion into my writing because I want the reader to experience and believe my stories, although they are ultimately fiction. While I wrote this piece with the Holocaust in the forefront of my mind, it is representative of a perpetual affliction of hate and intolerance that affects everyone in the world. I do not claim to know or understand the horror that any person experiences(ed) in wartime, in my story, I just tried to visualize it and write to the best of my ability. You can learn more about the Holocaust at USHMM.

For VisDare’s weekly photo prompt, I wrote what I felt, meeting the 150-word or less challenge in 136 words. You might notice I only used two extended sentences for a little extra drama and a sense of urgency. I’m sure I pushed the boundaries of proper sentence structure. Continue reading

My Afternoon Matinee

The afternoon matinee is the one place I can get away from life’s madness to contemplate nothing. I crave the thunderous sounds of the movie, drowning out the roar of my self-loathing thoughts. I don’t care about the plot; it’s the thrill of the darkness when the lights go down. It takes me away from my noxious mind. I ignore the characters and their inane conversations as they only serve to exasperate me. I close my eyes and enjoy the rush of just being, alone, adrift in my dispossessed world. No more pity or judgment.

But today I hear a steady beep-beep as it turns into a piercing, unbroken flat line. And the distant voices say… Continue reading

Greater Than a Pound of Flesh

“Mr. Rancher, you stand before me today for crimes against the society of Bovidae,” announced Judge Cowed. “You are charged with kidnapping, imprisoning, slaughtering and callously devouring the flesh of thousands of innocent citizens. How do you plead?”

With a mulish stance, Mr. Rancher replied, “Not guilty. I’ve committed no crime. I merely provided a service to my fellow humans. We must eat something, and you creatures are quite tasty.”

Grumbling undulated through the courtroom. Judge Cowed glowered at him and said, “After much scrutiny, the state denies your plea. The evidence is overwhelming. The jury has found you guilty of mass murder.”

The courtroom erupted in pandemonium. The judge smacked his gavel on the podium and called for order.

“Punishment is as follows: MacDonald Rancher, you are hereby sentenced to life in solitary confinement at the human felony farm. Now, Bailiff, put this coward out to pasture.”

_____

VisDareThis story of strangeness was written for VisDare photo prompt over at Angela Goff’s new WordPress blog: Anonymous Legacy. Yes that’s right, VisDare has moved! Check out the prompt (click on the VisualDare badge) for yourself and read the other entries or write your own. Just a reminder, the rules are to write a story/poem of 150 words or less based on the photo and the weekly word prompt. This week’s word was Scrutiny.

Architect in the Looking Glass

Ananta reluctantly sipped the revolting liquid concocted by the village shaman. She gagged as the last swallow closed her throat, forcing it through her nose.

“Stings like fire!” she complained as tears welled in her soulful eyes.

“Ananta, do not defy Architect with blasphemous criticism,” the shaman cautioned.

“Sorry, Father,” she replied and bowed her head in shame.

He inspected the wooden cup. It was crucial that she consume all of the medicine before he began the second phase of the ritual. Except for the verbal indiscretion, she had been obedient. He could proceed with confidence.

Architect had chosen Ananta for her innocent beauty. Her sacrifice would bring a fruitful season to the village.

Ananta’s vision blurred and doubled. Two shaman, two staircases, two of everything. She was bewildered by such a strange feeling. She slumped on the bottom step and raised her face to the sky for guidance, as her mind went blank.

To prepare her for Architect, the shaman painted a stunning motif on her flawless, dark skin using gentle strokes of red ochre. Lighting a roll of sage, he encircled her earthly body with the healing smoke to rid her of wickedness.

The second part of the ritual completed, he lifted Ananta’s limp body and climbed the white stairs to the periphery of the clouds. He raised her above his head and chanted, “Great Architect, I deliver a sacrifice to appease you until the advent of next season’s longest day.”

Architect appeared from the clouds with the brilliance of a thousand explosions, reflecting in the smooth glass that floated in the sky. The shaman placed Ananta on the steps and retreated, knowing never to look directly at Architect’s radiance.

Ananta’s journey into the looking glass was complete. The village would flourish another season.

Written for NaNo Triple VisDare 2. The challenge this week was to write a 300-word or less story based on the three photos.

A Day to Remember: A VisDare Short Story

It was a romantic and dangerous place. It reeked of prestige and privilege. “The Gherkin,” a building shaped like a glass pickle; the name always made her smile.

The groom and his four groomsmen were drawn to it, pulled to the 41st floor by a great force. They gathered each year on October 31st, to remember her, to forget her, but mostly to lessen their guilt. The fifth anniversary of their wedding day. The fifth anniversary of her death.

They are forever connected by the bride’s memory. They had all loved her once, but she had chosen only one. They fought for her affections. She tried to stop them. They outnumbered her. The consequences were tragic.

As they admired the infinite cityscape, the groom whispered, “I wish I could tell her I’m sorry.”

“You can, my darling,” she answered. “You all can. I’ve come back to collect your penance.”

Another VisDare story based on the photo provided by Angela over at Anonymous Legacy. I’m back to creepy, but his one is a subtle creepy. The photo is of 30 St. Mary Axe, “The Gherkin,” in London’s financial district. If you want to join the VisDare challenge, click on the badge:

Anonymous Legacy

The Lady and the Lamp

Oblivious to the police officer, the woman gazed at nothing as she clutched the giant lamp.

“Ma’am, what’s your name?” the officer asked. “You’ve been riding the subway all day. Do you need help?”

He touched her arm. She felt stiff, cold. Instinctively, he jerked away.

A nearby passenger, horrified, scurried off to the other end of the car. The others took notice.

The officer reassured, “Everything’s fine. Please remain seated.” His statement ignited a flurry of panic as they stumbled over each other to get to the exits.

He felt for a pulse in her neck. Nothing.

The subway screeched to an abrupt stop. The woman’s head toppled to the floor and rolled to the huddled passengers. Collective shrieks were followed by sighs of relief as the officer picked up the severed head and said, “Calm down! It’s just a rubber mannequin. Someone’s idea of a Halloween joke.”

This story was written for Anonymous Legacy’s Visdare 40: Oblivious photo prompt. Just a little warning, October will be the month of sheer creepiness and trickery in all my stories. I’m starting off mild with this one, due to the 150 word limit.

The Payment: A Short Story

Crouching behind a scrawny shrub, you hold your breath and wish it away. Maybe if you avert your eyes, it will be fooled by your pathetic attempt to hide. Sweat trickles down your sides and the small of your back, feigning a ghostly touch. You shiver.

Seventy years ago, you were warned of the eventual sacrifice, but your ego decided for you. Time sailed by at an unfathomable pace, and now you’re running from an evil that is demanding repayment in the form of flesh. It has found you.

In a whoosh, it descends; a black-winged beast. You feel the flutter, a gentle graze on your cheek, and your transformation begins. Your flawless, once adored, youth drifts away as effortlessly as sand in a whirlwind. Your skin wilts. Wrinkles, as deep as fissures, ravage your body. You disintegrate into the earth. The ultimate payment received for prideful services rendered.

This has been another Visual Dare story, Visdare 39: Adore. Originally, this photo inspired me to write something sweet and happy based on the woman’s lovely face and the light in her eyes. But my dark side emerged once again. I just can’t help myself. If you want to read the other takes on the prompt, click on the Anonymous Legacy badge below.

Anonymous Legacy

The Hand of Liberation: A Short Story

Brutal waves conspired to drive them back to the even more violent shores of their war-torn island. Escape from the abusive regime that exploited them was a potent motivator to conquer the surf. Death at the white-capped hands of the sea was a more appealing and honorable fate than turning back.

János gave chase to his younger brother, Laszlo. A weak swimmer, he struggled against the current, but he had to stay strong. A better life awaited them.

As they neared the end of the wharf, their liberator bobbed only a few feet out in open water; a small watercraft that would deliver them to freedom. Just a couple more exhausting strokes and their fingers touched sovereignty.

A helping hand reached out and pulled them to safety. As they rested on the deck, breathless but exultant, their eyes locked on the fiendish face of the dictator’s minion and his gun.

This woebegone tale was written for the VisDare 38: Chase photo prompt. The rules of the challenge are to write a 150-word or less story based on the photo and include the word CHASE. Be sure to check out the other entries.

Anonymous Legacy

Of Unknown Origin: A Short Story

When the sinkhole opened in the courtyard of La Grande Arche in Paris, experts believed it was a natural occurrence. They were wrong.

The mechanical sounds began within 48 hours, followed by the ear-splitting squeaks that drove away the onlookers. Authorities cordoned off the area. They waited and watched in wonderment, tinged in dread.

Inside the hole, the earth swirled like a whirlpool. World scientists clad in biohazard gear milled around the opening, expectantly. On the fifth day, a grinding racket preceded the emergence of a wide, metallic object. A colossal staircase extended into the clouds.

Some believed it was a gift. Others believed it was a hoax. Some wanted to possess it. Others wanted to destroy it. The planet squabbled.

“It’s evil. It emerged from hell.”

“It’s good. It reaches to the heavens.”

The world chose sides, divided. On the seventh day, as the staircase loomed, world war commenced.

This has been another VisDare photo prompt from Anonymous Legacy. It was a challenge for me to keep this at or under 150 words. I barely made it; 150 words exactly. I was supposed to try to use the word Trajectory, but I couldn’t fit it in. However, the main challenge was to use the photo. I chose La Grande Arche in Paris as the setting because the photo was taken there.

If you want to join the fun, click on the badge below:

Anonymous Legacy