Sunday Snippet (Flash Fiction), Call Me Ishmael by Bill Chance

In a moment of panic, Sam realized that he had almost forgotten the woman’s name. He thought it was Elizabeth… but he wasn’t sure.

—- Bill Chance, Call Me Ishmael

Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

I found some stuff in an obscure subdirectory that I think I wrote a few years ago. Looking at it – I have no memory of having written it at all. I worry that maybe I didn’t write it – maybe I typed it in (or copied and pasted) from somewhere else. I did a bunch of internet searches and found nothing. So maybe it is mine. Anyway, here is the shortest piece – which, ironically, has some relevance to today. If you have read it somewhere else – sorry – I didn’t mean to. Maybe it’s from a virus.

Call Me Ishmael

Sam was enthralled. The woman was beautiful, tall and slim – friendly, and she seemed truly interested in him. He felt that finally, someone genuine had come along. They met waiting in line at the buffet and walked together to a little round table at the rear. She was telling Sam her story.

“It was tough, having four sisters like that,” she said. “My sister Jane is older than me. She is very beautiful.”

In a moment of panic, Sam realized that he had almost forgotten the woman’s name. He thought it was Elizabeth… but he wasn’t sure.

“It’s amazing how different we all are from each other. My next younger sister, Mary, is so smart… such a good student. Lydia, the youngest, is a ball of fire and Kitty does whatever she is told.”

The woman went on with her story, telling of some man that was in love with her sister and a friend of his – some rich loutish oaf that was causing her a lot of grief. Sam became more and more suspicious. When the woman excused herself, saying, “I’ll be right back,” he pulled out his phone and opened the “Real or Not” app. Thinking for a second, he then typed in her name along with her four sisters: Elizabeth, Nancy, Kitty, Mary and Lydia.

The app immediately responded with, “Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.”

“Crap!” Sam said to himself as he gathered himself up quickly so he could leave before “Elizabeth” returned. “Another fake…. There are so many.”


It started with the CIA – a way to send secret messages. A method had been developed, deep within the laboratories of the Military-Industrial Complex, to encode English text onto a string of DNA. This was then inserted into a virus, and a human carrier was infected. The idea was that this person would travel to a destination, sneeze out some of the virus, and the DNA could be decoded.

A completely unexpected problem came up, however. To this day, nobody really understands the mechanism, but once the carrier was infected with the virus, he would understand the message. It would appear as if he had experienced it in the past. The message would usually attach itself to some real memory… like a favorite childhood scene or a more recent traumatic incident.

It didn’t take long for this to become a tool in education. Entire volumes were encoded in DNA and inserted into students. At first, an injection was needed, then a drop on a sugar cube. Finally, a professor would be infected with the virus and he would simply sneeze towards the class from the front of the hall.

And that was what spiraled out of control – the entire population was infected with an epidemic of literature. Modern, popular works were tightly controlled, injected, because publishers needed to get paid. Classic literature, out of copyright, was widely disseminated – there was nothing to stop the spread.

As the viruses evolved and duplicated the literature began to warp. Finally, all those stories mixed and changed and sank in until nobody really knew what was a true memory and what was a leftover from classic literature.

 

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Shoggoth Under The Bed by Tom Burton

There IS and it’s all gooey and bubbly and covered in eyes!

—-Tom Burton, Shoggoth Under The Bed

Mural on Construction Fence
Farmer’s Market
Dallas, Texas
Chris Hoover

Years and years ago -I was in the Garland, Texas library perusing the fiction aisles. The fiction, of course, was arranged by author. At the end of each row was the start and end of the author’s names… such as Smith-Thompson, or Adams-Baker. In the C section it had Clark-Cthulhu. That caught me off guard. I didn’t know that Cthulhu had written any popular fiction. I checked the stacks and there was a collection of short stories set in the Cthulhu Mythos written by a variety of authors and the person that cataloged the book mistakenly thought that Cthulhu himself, the great evil one, born on the planet Vhoorl in the 23rd nebula from Nug and Yeb had actually penned the tome himself.

I really wanted that little plastic sign and considered prying it off when nobody was looking. Unfortunately, I am too honest for that. When I moved to Richardson I stopped going to the Garland library on a regular basis and the last time I visited the fiction section had been reorganized and the sign was long gone.

So you have to take my word for it. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

Nothing better than flash fiction written in the Cthulhu mythos… even if it is only a monster under a bed.

Read it here:

Shoggoth Under The Bed by Tom Burton

 

from Slumdog Soldier

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, The Winner by GM Potter

Chelsea longed to run out and meet the postman, but she’d been warned the last time she’d done so. They threatened to stop bringing the post to her. She’d have to make an appointment to go and get it.

—-GM Potter, The Winner

This is from an ad drawn by Charles Barsotti for National Lampoon from almost fifty years ago. I had it tacked up on my dorm room in college along with a couple of other examples of odd humor. It served as a sort of gatekeeper – to keep people with (or without) certain ways of looking at the world from entering my domain. Sort of a symbolic “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”

Today’s story reminded me of this old cartoon.

Read it here:

The Winner by GM Potter

 

from GM Potter Writes

GM Potter Twitter

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride by Jen Julian

Orchids are erotic. You have to consider the honest look of them: the labial petals ballet-slipper pink and eggshell white splayed delicately open, the blood-brown leopard spots on ridged tongues; you’re always compelled to stroke them with your finger. When the children ask why orchids, their mother says, “Because they’re handsome,” as if she is describing a square-faced Irish washerwoman, and when they press her further she says, “Because growing things is good for people.”

—- Jen Julian, I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride

Sunflower

Though I would have liked to been one… I haven’t been much of a gardener – it’s tough when you come home from work exhausted every day. Now, though, I’m working on a shade garden in front of my house. The problem is, shade plants grow slowly and it won’t really look good for years. I might not live that long. To compensate I look up places I lived decades ago on Google Street View and see if the plants and trees I did plant back then are still there. It’s surprising how many are. Some have grown to immense size.

Read it here:

I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride by Jen Julian

from wig.leaf

Jen Julian twitter

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest by Jennifer Wortman

And I said that when I said I want to keep things light I meant not-heavy, not not-dark. I don’t want not-dark but I also don’t want dark, I tell her. I want an intense grey.

—- Jennifer Wortman, A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest

Transcendence, on the first night.

There’s overthinking and there’s overtalking and there are people that don’t know what is in front of them. Born in the USA was great, but I think it was also the tipping point where Springsteen began to believe his own hype. By the way, I thought Darkness on the Edge of Town was brilliant the first time I heard it. I remember buying a copy of the vinyl album in a KMart in Kansas when it first dropped. I guess none of those things have quite stood up to the test of time, but what does, really?

Read it here:

A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest by Jennifer Wortman

from wig.leaf

Jennifer Wortman’s Postcard

Jennifer Wortman’s twitter

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, How I Learned About Evolution by Michelle Ross

Mom taught me Earth with a buttermilk pancake. “We’re about right here,” she said, pointing just off-center of the middle. Dad taught me birds with a helium balloon. “It’s filled with flying gas.”

—- Michelle Ross, How I Learned About Evolution

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

We didn’t home school our kids. One reason (among many, I admit) is that we always thought that the public schools – especially in our ‘hood – needed our kids.

Read it here:

How I Learned About Evolution by Michelle Ross

from Okay Donkey

Michelle Ross Webpage

 

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Monte by The Abject Muse

To Monte, it looked good enough to eat, so he ate it. Come to find out that The Guy had had other plans for that hunk of meat. The fact that he’d left him the bone (albeit scored with tooth marks) didn’t seem to make much difference.

—- The Abject Muse, Monte

Isaak in the pond at NorthBark Park, Dallas, Texas

I always wonder what my dog is thinking as I take him for a walk. He acts like he really likes to play fetch, though (and he is very good at it).

Read it here:

Monte by The Abject Muse

from The Abject Muse (Susan Marie Shuman)

 

Sunday Snippet – A Ring in a Cup of Tea

After a period of time he decided to choose a different coffee shop, one that was not quite as mysterious. He knew he would miss his waitress, but there would be another in the new shop and he didn’t want to get to the point that his harmless crush would seem creepy.

—-Bill Chance, A Ring in a Cup of Tea

Mojo Coffee, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
(click to enlarge)

I don’t usually use writing prompts – but I was suffering from a moment of writer’s block and picked one out of a list. It said “A man finds a ring in a cup of tea.” OK

Sunday Snippet

A Ring in a Cup of Tea

There was a ring in his teacup. He looked around the coffee shop. At every table there were people doing what people do in a coffee shop on a Saturday morning. One middle aged man reading a newspaper… a few couples discussing the upcoming day… more than a few people confessing their sins of Friday night. What there didn’t seem to be was anybody that would have slipped a ring into his teacup.

He looked at the waitress. It was the same woman that he had bought tea from many times before. She was young and attractive in a coffee shop waitress sort of way. A world-weary smile that looked like it belonged on someone older than her. Slim, despite being around pastries and calorie-stuffed sugar-loaded specialty coffee drinks all the time. Short hair that bobbed a little when she turned her head. Odd glasses with heavy frames with a line of rhinestones on the side – glasses that have been out of style for fifty years – so out of style they looked cool in a hipster post-modern coffee shop on a Saturday morning.

Could it have been an accident? The waitress had brought the cup empty and he had picked a teabag out of the big wooden box that she presented to him – taking his time as long as he dared in order to enjoy the waitress bending over slightly in front of him. She then unpeeled the bag and said, “Good choice,” like she always did, even though he knew nothing of tea and picked the bag at random. She then had filled the cup with clear hot water, setting down the pot and leaving before the leaves had a chance to turn the water semi-opaque.

If the ring was in the cup she would have seen it. He might have, except he wasn’t looking at the cup.

He picked up the sugar spoon and fished the ring out of the hot tea, setting it on the table for a second to cool. He picked it up, still a little warm and examined the plain gold band. A fan of fantasy fiction he almost expected to see glowing writing in an elvish hand around the circumference – but it was an ordinary , plain, non-magical ring. No special power there.

He held it up to his eye and waved it around a bit – not enough to be obviously nuts – but he hoped that if it belonged to someone, had slipped off a finger into his cup, unseen, they would see him brandishing it and would say something.

“Excuse me, is that my ring?” they would say.

“It must be, it isn’t mine,” he would reply with a bright chuckle, “It must have slipped off your finger and fallen into my tea.”

“Well, then, sorry, let me pay for a fresh cup,” would be their slightly embarrassed reply.

But there was only silence.

He didn’t know whether to drink his tea or not. After looking carefully at the ring, he decided it was clean enough and gold isn’t going to wear off into hot water so he drained his cup anyway. Then he carefully slipped the ring into his pocket and stood up to leave. He looked around, put his coat on, expecting someone to come up to him and explain the joke of them slipping the ring into his tea.

But there was only silence.

At that point he couldn’t think of anything to do except to go home. He thought of leaving the ring in his cup, but that was crazy. At his place he rolled it up in a ball of socks (bright purple ones – a present from an old girlfriend – so ugly that he never wore them – but the woman brought back fond memories so he kept the pair) in his underwear drawer.

The next day, and every day for a week he stopped by the coffee shop and checked the bulletin board carefully – checking for a notice of someone looking for a lost ring.

But he found nothing.

After two weeks he decided to choose a different coffee shop, one that was not quite as mysterious. He knew he would miss his waitress, but there would be another in the new shop and he didn’t want to get to the point that his harmless crush would seem creepy.

He lived for many, many years and when he died his nieces and nephews were given the task of going through his things. He was a man of simple tastes and it wasn’t an overwhelming job. For some reason, though, his favorite niece decided to unroll the balled-up purple socks, so out of place, and found the ring inside.

The family talked for days about this discovery.

“I’ll bet he proposed marriage and she jilted him, wouldn’t even take the ring.”

“No, we would know about that. He probably just loaned some money and the ring was collateral and the loan was never paid back.”

“Maybe it was his mother’s?”

“No, it is too plain for her.”

They speculated over and over again. Every explanation for the ring was offered up and rejected.

Except nobody could possibly even imagine that it simply showed up in a cup of tea.

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, Suit by Rachael Poli

Jude stared at himself in the full-length mirror with disgust. In his 18 years of being alive, he had gotten out of wearing a suit with an almost 100-percent success rate.

—-Rachel Poli, Suit

Main Street Park
Dallas, Texas

We all remember being young – most remember going to prom. Even if it wasn’t the same everywhere and anytime, it was always a time of embarrassment and shame. Preparation for the rest of your life.

Read it here:

Suit by Rachael Poli

from Rachael Poli

Rachael Poli Twitter

Short Story (Flash Fiction) Of the Day, The Last Parade by Steve Prusky

It all ended at midnight, Fat Tuesday. Avoiding goodbyes, the sulking couple wandered, heads bowed, on a side street toward Canal, as if searching the ancient pavers on the Quarter’s cobbled road for advice on what parting words to say.

—-Steve Prusky, The Last Parade

Lee now, in New Orleans

New Orleans – Mardi Gras, Krewe of Zulu parade.

There are millions of Mardi Gras stories from New Orleans – a lot are the same.

Read it here:

The Last Parade by Steve Prusky

from The Flash Fiction Offensive