The Ghost Road, continued #writephoto

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Below is a flash fiction story, “The Ghost Road, written for a challenge. It is continued below the line for this prompt:

They were driving the most challenging road they had ever driven. He had altitude sickness. They had been to the Grand Canyon. When they left for Phoenix, they took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that clung to the red rock mountainsides and took breathtaking drops down.

The road straightened out. They knew they shouldn’t turn on a dirt road. Phoenix couldn’t be this way. But they followed the GPS.

Later that night, her cousin called the police to report them missing. They scoured the desert. There was no sign of them. Not ever again.

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This is a continuation of a previous story, “The Ghost Road,” above.

They followed the dirt road for miles. She kept telling him it couldn’t be the road to Phoenix no matter what the GPS said. He seemed like a man possessed, determined to follow this ghost road no matter what. She was getting frightened. He was acting strangely.

Finally, he said, “I want to see where this road goes, Phyllis.”

”Chad, we’re obviously not on a road to Phoenix.”

”I know, honey. But I’m curious. Let’s just follow it a little farther.”

Phyllis found herself thinking she wished she was still driving. He’d had altitude sickness most of the way, but after they had turned on this dirt road, he had felt better. If she were driving, they would have turned around.

”All right, Chad,” she replied, “but only a little farther.”

Chad drove on, bumping along the dirt road. The GPS had long since stopped talking to them and appeared stuck on the location where they turned off onto the dirt road. Phyllis suddenly saw something ahead. It was so hot in the desert that day that the air was shimmering and she thought it might be a mirage, just a product of her imagination. Chad saw it too.

”Phyllis, there are buildings ahead of us.”

”I see something, but the air is shimmering from the heat and I wasn’t sure it was really there.”

”I’m going closer. Maybe it’s a town.”

”How could it be a town, Chad? This is a dirt road out in the middle of the desert with no services anywhere around. Who would live there? Anyway, it is probably miles away and seems closer than it is.”

”This is obviously what the GPS was pointing us toward. Let’s just have some fun and go exploring.”

For some reason, Phyllis got the feeling that Chad wasn’t just having fun. He seemed more like a man on a mission. She remained quiet as Chad drove closer and closer to the sand-colored buildings. Finally, Chad started to slow down as they came close to a small collection of old buildings seemingly built out of the sand of the surrounding desert. They didn’t see any other people.

“This is creepy, Chad. Let’s turn around and go back.”

”Look at that sign, Phyllis.”

Phyllis looked in the direction Chad was pointing. There was a sign that said, “Phoenix, Arizona. Population: 283.” She turned in amazement to Chad.

”The reason the GPS led us in this direction is because this is Phoenix. Maybe it is the first early settlement of Phoenix,” Chad said with astonishment.

”That can’t be. It would be a tourist attraction.”

”Then why, Phyllis, does the sign say Phoenix, Arizona? There is only one. This is an Arizona ghost town! Let’s get out and walk around.”

Chad and Phyllis parked the car and started to walk around the abandoned Phoenix. Some buildings were missing a roof, others a wall. Some were intact. They went inside some of the buildings. One had a skillet on a wood stove and plates on the table as if the people had left in a hurry. Another had blankets on twin beds in a bedroom and an old, rusty spur hanging on the wall. Another seemed to be an auditorium. A thick layer of desert sand was on top of everything.

Suddenly, Phyllis heard music.

”Chad, do you hear that? Music?”

Chad and Phyllis walked outside the old building and there, in the middle of the street, was an old-fashioned cart with the words “Dr. Green’s Medicine Show” written on the side of it and a tiny man standing on top of it screaming at a previously non-existent crowd of people. Everyone was dressed in old-fashioned clothing.

The couple looked at each other.

”See, Phyllis, this is a ghost town, complete with entertainment,” Chad said.

They walked around the show and Chad started looking around as if he’d lost something.

”Phyllis, the car is gone.”

”I can see that. Someone has stolen it.”

When they turned to walk back into the ghost town to report the crime, it was full of  people. The buildings were filled with activity and looked almost new. There were men on horses, as well as men driving horses and buggies through the streets. Chad and Phyllis looked at each other and didn’t know what to say.

A large man with a holster on and a gun walked toward them.

“Can I help you fine people?” he asked, “I’m Sheriff Martin.”

”Our car has been stolen, Sheriff,” Chad said.

”Your what?” replied the Sheriff.

”Our car.”

”Young man, you have had too much of Dr. Green’s elixir. I don’t know what you’re speaking of.”

With that, the Sheriff started to walk away. Phyllis ran after him.

”Sheriff, please stop,” she said.

The Sheriff stopped, turned around, and said, “Young lady, please go somewhere and cover up. You’re walking around in little more than your undergarments.” He walked off again.

Chad called after him, “Sheriff, what town are we in and what year is it?”

”Son, this here is Phoenix, Arizona and it is the year 1857.”

Phyllis fainted and Chad knelt down to revive her.

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam

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“Why is the stupid door pink instead of red,” Katrina mumbled to herself. She had just rented a room in the famous red light district in Amsterdam. An American girl in Amsterdam. No money, no way to get home, no job. It was just sex. She scratched a smiley face on the door and went inside.

It wasn’t bad. There were new linens. She had heard that putting a bowl of pasta puttanesca out drew in clients. A knock at the door. Her first client. He took one look at her and said, “Let me help you get home.”

99 words

Consequences

62B0EBD5-A0DC-4754-8F68-1FAD308E4814They docked off Grand Cayman Island. Dave and his wife were going on a day trip to the island on the little ferry. Dave had business there. Maria was looking forward to the shopping on the island. Dave knew he would be able to slip away from her for a few moments while she shopped. Dave picked up his backpack. No one would ever know about the large amount of money in it or the money laundering scheme. He had already managed to get it through customs by hiding it.Now to hook up with his contact.

Dave worked for a gangster who was a crime boss. He’d asked Dave to take some drug money to the Cayman’s and give it to his contact.

Dave sent Maria off to shop and sat down on a bench to wait, backpack by his side as instructed. A woman came along and casually picked it up. Dave was relieved.

When he got back to New York, the crime boss called him in and asked him what happened. The contact had not picked up the money. Dave tried to explain it must have been stolen. Wham! The bodyguard broke both of  his knees.

 

The Tower – #writephoto

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She spotted the old Gothic tower as she went to the bed and breakfast on the tour bus. She was determined to visit the tower, located right outside the small village. After lunch, she walked the mile or so back to the tower, climbing the ancient stone steps.

She gazed at the tower, watching the ravens fly around it. Ravens were often associated with death and bad luck. She wasn’t afraid. She approached the tower. The ravens squawked at her, a cacophony of noise. The tower was compelling. She ignored them and kept walking.

She reached the door of the tower. The door was hard to open. There was a sign saying, “Keep Out.” She pulled open the door and stepped inside. There was a brilliant light and she saw the most beautiful art on the walls. The inside looked so large compared to the outside.

When the tour bus left the next morning, they were missing one woman. The tour guide tried to find her. She was never seen again.

 

The Jealous Husband

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“Carol, I’m frightened.”

”Tell me what’s wrong.”

”Look at this photo of him holding the bird up to the camera. There is research that shows that people who abuse animals also abuse children and adults.”

”Deb, do you think he’s hurting the bird?”

”I’m not sure, Carol. I am sure the bird isn’t happy being held in that kind of position.”

Deb had been married only a short time. When she went home that night, she went to the bird cage. Hank pushed her away and grabbed the bird. He threw it to the floor.

“There,” he said. “Stupid bird.”

100 words

Photo Credit to Douglas M. Macllroy

The Song of the Horns

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When they were children, they would lie on the bank of the river and watch the barges and boats as they passed by. It was a game to count them. A way to fill their lonely existence at home. They only had each other as playmates.

As teenagers, they started feeling romantic feelings for each other as they watched those boats pass by. They held hands. They chased each other along trails by the river. They pitched a tent and spent the night by the river, but in separate sleeping bags. They listened to the lonely horns of the boats sound their song.

Finally, they parted. She was older and went off to college. He missed her, but there was nothing he could do. It was many years before they saw each other again. When they did, at her mother’s funeral, the old magic was still there.

They walked back down to the river after the funeral. She didn’t know he’d thought of her every day. They clasped hands, heard the horns, and knew.

174 words

Photo Credit to Barb CT

The Death of a Small Town

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Granny Atkins sat, hidden in the shadows, on the porch of the old house looking at what used to be a busy street in her hometown of Littleton, West Virginia. Drug addiction had killed this town. Littleton wasn’t even a town anymore. It was a death trap. Only a few people her age remained here. The rest had fled or died off. Her generation had worked on the gas wells, but they weren’t pumping much anymore. There was no work.

All that remained were a few families trying to raise some children. They didn’t have any money to move away. The teachers taught drug awareness classes in the only remaining school, but when the heroin came to town, it didn’t matter. The kids used it anyway. They got crazy, burned buildings, and overdosed.

Littleton was a ghost town now. Soon, she would be a ghost too.

Little Dude in Rehab

 

Lifetime Learning

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In 1936, Mrs. Owen, the teacher in the Bratton Branch one-room schoolhouse, asked her students to write the three things in their notebooks they felt they had learned during their time there that would serve them best in life.

Fern wrote, “I learned to have humility, gratitude, and patience. I think these three virtues will serve me best in life.”

She graduated with perfect grades later that week.

3LineTales

 

In God – or Guns – We Trust?

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America considers itself a Christian nation. We are also a nation armed to the teeth with guns to hunt food and guns to protect ourselves from other people with guns. We tell ourselves that we have the right to bear arms based on the Second Amendment of our Constitution. To protect ourselves against the tyranny of the federal government. How’s that all working out for us now, America?

It seems to me that it’s all out of control. We have the National Rifle Association as the largest lobby in Congress. In other words, they buy the votes of our Senators and Representatives. Millions of Americans are members of the NRA. We worship the NRA instead of God. We worship our guns instead of God. We worship the Second Amendment instead of God. Protecting ourselves against tyranny has become nothing but an excuse for gun ownership.

We’ve put ourselves in the position of having to own guns to protect ourselves – from each other. Does that sound like a Christian nation? A nation of people that love each other? Don’t kid yourselves! We even let the NRA run the legislative branch of our government.

The first guns I ever saw were a rifle and a shotgun standing in the corner of my grandparent’s bedroom. My cousins and I knew what they were for. They were for hunting. That was back in the day when hunting for food was still commonplace, even necessary. There wasn’t much hunting for sport. In fact, I can hear my grandfather ask who would kill an animal for such a thing as sport?

Our gun laws are so lax that mass murderers and the mentally ill buy guns and gun equipment. What Christian nation would allow that? What Christian would object to tightening up the gun laws so that would not happen? Remember Sandy Hook? Remember Las Vegas? Remember all the rest? Now remember the NRA? Who gave the NRA their power?

We did. The supposed Christians. Who has caused the mass murders? We have. The people. We have refused to support tightening up the gun laws. See that broken window in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas? Who caused that?

All of us Americans in this supposedly Christian nation.

Carnage

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A small crowd of protestors formed in a midwestern town in the U.S. They were taking a chance of being arrested by the roaming police of the U.S. government.

“Aaron, I’m terrified that we’re actually doing this,” Mandy said.

Aaron replied, “We have to be brave or we will never get our freedom back.”

The crowd was protesting the discontinued social programs, particularly those that provided them food and medical attention. The President had all social programs abolished in 2017. Since then, the disabled and the elderly people in their community had suffered and many had died.

Now it was 2019. There were few jobs. People tried to farm, but the change in the climate made it almost impossible. Aaron had organized this small protest.

A young girl was carrying a sign that said, “Love.”

They heard the police before they saw them marching in. They stood their ground. The police began the carnage by knocking the sign out of the young girl’s hands.

162 words

Photo credit to Elaine Farrington Johnson