A Story in Petroglyphs

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Dr. Michael Hurst and his team of students, from Harvard University, studying archeology and anthropology had been called in to study the rock face of a cliff in New Mexico. A new set of petroglyphs had been discovered.

”Petroglyphs are usually pictorial stories carved into rock faces by the Pueblo Native Americans who lived in this area,” Dr. Hurst explained to his students. “This small set of petroglyphs has just been found. The theory is that they are Navajo in origin.”

”Dr. Hurst, what do these petroglyphs mean?” asked one student.

”Jack, they are difficult to interpret. We’ve been able to interpret some of the most common. I’m not an expert, but the one of the left represents a person. The one on the right is more of a mystery to me. The two symbols together say that a person is doing something. Our job is to figure out what by interpreting the petroglyphs. It’s time to get to work!”

160 words

any1mark66

The Moles

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”It’s sunny outside, Theo. A dangerous time to go up above. But, the baby needs some food.”

”Cleo, I’ll be careful. It doesn’t look very busy out there.”

”it’s always busy in New York City. You can’t get caught stealing.”

Theo, Cleo, and their baby were three of the mole people who live in the tunnels under New York City. Theo had been homeless for more years than he could count. He had his own nook under the streets. Cleo found herself in the tunnels when she had the baby and her parents kicked her out. Theo took her into his nook. They were happy.

The baby was young and wouldn’t nurse. Cleo was only sixteen. They didn’t realize something could be wrong. Theo was going out to try to find solid food for her. He went into a small grocery and stole some baby food. When he tried to leave, he was caught and arrested.

Cleo kept watching for Theo out the openings to the street. She watched for three days. The baby was sick and she came to the surface. The baby was taken to the hospital just in time after Cleo walked to the police station.

199 words

The Past

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It was fall. The leaves were just starting to turn and it was still warm. Not hot, but warm. The nights were crisp. They were on vacation in a beautiful place. There was a crescent moon and they went for a walk to get a better look. It had been years since they had even taken a walk together. There was no romance between them.

The landscape was flat, but there was a small hill in front of them. They climbed the hill to get a better look at the moon. In front of them was the ocean. He took her hand to help her up. He held on. Her instinct was to let go, but she made herself let him hold her hand. It had been years since they had even held hands. His hand felt foreign to her.

The moon over the ocean was beautiful, casting another moon into the ocean. He had always enjoyed the moon shadow but had never seen it very often over water. Usually just on land. She was a child of the sun. Over the years, she had become afraid of the dark. She didn’t know why. She found herself taking deep breaths, hoping to avoid a panic attack because of being in the dark. He gripped her hand tighter. He knew.

They stood there for a long time. Talking. Reminiscing about all the past years. He wanted to talk about the good times. She could hardly bear to remember the good times, but she tried. Good times with him seemed so very long ago. When he mentioned them, she tried to remember and laughed with him even when she had forgotten something he remembered completely. She had blocked out so much.

He told her he’d like to spend the night there on the beach. That he had sleeping bags in the car. It was his birthday. She hated to disappoint him. She felt like she had spent years disappointing him so she agreed. He found a good place and put the sleeping bags and a cooler with her water and some snacks down. They got in their sleeping bags. If he had done this years ago, she would have been pleased.

They laid there and talked for a while. Not about anything significant. Just about the beautiful place they had found here ten years ago. He reached for her hand. He fell asleep while they were holding hands. She laid there awake for a long time, thinking of how they had been only roommates for so long. How she didn’t know how to be anything else with him now. His hand was warm and made her feel safe. It made her remember the night they met. How he’d made her feel safe that night too. So long ago. She listened to the ocean all night.

She thought of what his mother had said all those years ago.

”It doesn’t matter if you love each other. You come from two different worlds. It will never work out in the long run.”

How right she had been. But, for some reason, they had always hung on to each other even though they would have been so much happier with other people.

She watched the sunrise, her hand still in his. What he didn’t know is that, now, she was sick.

 

Mean Girls

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The two girls with bright red hair gazed at their creation hanging on the wall.

“See, Alicia, the one on the left.”

”Oh, she’s the smart bitch. The one the teachers all call on. Her Daddy drinks. She’s nothing.”

They giggled.

”The next one is the Marilyn Monroe chick, Katie. Ms. Beautiful. All the boys want her!”

”Oh, so is the next one, Alicia. She thinks she’s so tall and gorgeous, she’s going to be a model and smart to boot. Who wants to hang around with her?”

”I like the next one, Katie. She’s nice and just seems to be one of us girls. She even kisses the boys, she says! Let’s invite her to our next slumber party.”

”Don’t even mention the next one, Alicia. Her Daddy is some big shot and she thinks she is really something.”

”Alicia, the last one. I like her. Her mom is sick though and she doesn’t get to go anywhere.”

”That makes four of us at our next slumber party, Katie. We just need to find four more out of our high school class.”

After high school, when the ostracized girls weren’t heard from again, the two redheads couldn’t understand why.

200 words

Photo Credit to J Hardy Carroll

 

#SoCS – 10/28/17 – Creativity

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Which should I take, the black or the navy? That was one of the questions I asked myself as I packed my clothes last evening. I am soon off to the ocean and, along with color-coordinating my wardrobe, I found myself thinking about all kinds of things while packing. One of them was how busy I always am and how I look forward to my months by the sea. My thoughts aren’t exactly rocket science, but I do want to share them with you. The busier I get, the less creative my writing becomes. My inner finance professor is screaming at me to call that a negative correlation. The writer in me simply calls the lack of creativity a problem.

My months at the ocean are a time when my life slows down and simplifies. I’ve always thrived on being busy and the complexities of life. As I’ve taken up this career of writing, particularly the writing of fiction, I’ve found that my previous way of life doesn’t work as well for me. Being busy and having a complicated life does not foster creativity. My head is simply too full of the details of my life for creativity to find a foothold. Perhaps that’s why my first career was in finance. Numbers and even the explanation of what those numbers mean do not require much creativity. They are right or wrong with explanations that are obvious. There may be a bit of creativity, but not much.

My creative outlet during my years as a finance professor was primarily music. Specifically, playing piano, generally classical music. I could lose myself, and everything that was in my head, during hours at the piano. I always wrote, but during those years, I wrote either academic writings or non-fiction.

Fiction writing is a completely different experience. Unless I give myself time to be quiet and still, to slow down and make myself feel instead of think, then the creativity needed to write fiction just doesn’t come. This is a tough gig for someone like me. Being still and letting myself feel is a new experience and I’m not very good at it. Developing these skills makes me feel vulnerable. Out of control. I haven’t allowed myself to slow down and feel in a very long time. It’s scary.

Scary or not, writing fiction makes it necessary. So soon, I’m off to my island in the sun. To experience a slower life where I don’t live inside my head quite so much. Instead I let myself have new experiences and actually feel the feelings they arouse. For me, that’s what arouses the passion that it takes to write good fiction. We’ll see what I come back with when I incorporate it into the books and stories I’m writing. Perhaps I’ll even come back as a more well-rounded human being again?

SoCS

 

 

Assault

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He didn’t leave the cool confines of his apartment very often. There, he was safe. Safe from from the broiling sun of the equatorial city. Safe from the cacophony of noise that assailed his ears when he opened the door of the hotel. Safe, most of all, from the germs that he could feel penetrating his skin when he wasn’t in the filtered air in his suite. An assault on his senses.

What he was in search of today couldn’t be delivered. He smiled to himself. It could be delivered but refused to be. He walked several blocks through the city. As he walked, he became less aware of those things that assaulted his senses and more aware at the prize at the end of his journey. Ahead of his, he saw the hotel that was his destination. He stopped and gathered his composure.

He walked into the hotel bar. He saw her immediately. His daughter, waiting for him,     for the first time in twenty years.

171 words

Photo credit to dorothy

The Bullying

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The school bus stopped with a screech in front of the fire station. The children had misbehaved almost the entire route and the monitor seemed unable to stop them. Now, something drastic was happening as the monitor was screaming for him to stop and all the children seemed to be screaming. Something about bullying. The bus driver shrugged his shoulders and came to a halt.

The little boy had been shoved around since he had boarded the school bus. He was pushed around every day. The monitor knew it, but she didn’t want to get in the middle of it because those kids would turn on her. The two bigger boys called him terrible names and said awful things to him.

Today, the unthinkable happened. The little boy reached in his backpack and pulled out a pistol. He was waving it around wildly, threatening to shoot the bigger boys who were bullying him and the other kids on the bus. The bigger boys were crying.

They were by the fire station. The driver quietly walked off the bus and got the firemen. When the little boy saw them, he sat down in the floor and started crying too.

199 words

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.