Beyond the Universe

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 13, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionSo you think the universe is infinite? How about multiple universes or parallel worlds? Just think of tiny places teeming with life–hair follicles or 80s heroes returning to help a girl find her father. Multiverses mess with the clock, timelines and realities.

Anything is possible beyond the universe. Worlds you never knew existed are as close as the car next to you. And what if you returned from one world altered, of found yourself somewhere else? Ribbons, naked, cloned, younger, older–anything is possible.

Stories based on the August 6, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) craft a multiverse situation, setting or character(s).

Clothed in Flames Flash by Ellen Mulholland

“Anything’s possible. Come on, curls. He’s right there. Go on. He won’t bite.”

Kathryn’s eyes roll about under heavy lids.

“I can’t, Doc. I can’t.”

“Who says I can’t? ‘Course you can. Just put your mind to it.”

She tosses, grasping the past, pushing away the now.

“My mind?”

“Your mind.”

“Not a good idea, Doc. My mind’s a mess.”

“No mind’s a mess. No mind’s broken.”

“I didn’t say broken. Messed. Tangled. Twisted. Like this head of crazy curls. My mind’s tangled up, on fire. I’m on fire. I’m burning up. It’s all my fault. All my fault!”


Worlds Apart by Pete

It was August hot in October, humid and sticky without the faintest hope of a breeze. Dad wiped his brow, taking a nauseating drag of his cigarette as we sat in the truck, waiting for Mom.

A shiny car edged into the space beside us, its thumping music drowning the tinny sounds of Dad’s country station. I peeked out as the mother unbuckled her child, the beads in her hair clicking and clacking with the movement. Dad exhaled purposely as he stubbed out his cigarette beside the pickets of brown butts in the ashtray.

“I just don’t understand them.”


The Duchess, The Daughter by Sarah Brentyn

I woke up at home.

My parents called lots of people. They cried and hugged me too much.

They said it had been three weeks since I disappeared.

I told them about the bears who declared war on the humans. The hedgehogs who made me laugh despite what was happening in the world. My wedding to the duke. My baby girl who I missed so much it hurt.

Now I sit in the place where Mommy and Daddy visit me. The place where people give me pills with my morning pancakes. The place where I’m six years old again.


Naming Wild Bill by Charli Mills

Hickok awoke to distant drumming. Since his release in matters concerning the shooting of Cob McCanless, he’d joined the Union Army as a civilian scout. Alone in the muggy backwoods of southern Missouri this nightly interruption continued. Soon the child on horseback would gallop past. A girl with auburn hair like his, wearing strange clothes the color of southwest turquoise. Each night she grew older until she drew up her horse above his bedroll, fully grown. She leveled a queer black gun at him, saying “Wild Bill, you shot my kin!”

No one had ever called him that before.


Every Mirror Tells a Story by Geoff Le Pard

Mary hated herself for her indifference to Alison, her late father’s mistress. She wanted to hate her but just felt empty.

In her father’s study she stood in front of the mirror, staring the reflection of his picture. ‘Why?’

Water ran down the mirror, like tears distorting his face. His lips moved. ‘I’m so sorry.’

Peter pushed through the miasma that separated his world from Mary’s, willing her to understand. They’d told him it would take all his courage, all his strength to make the bridge. If only he had had found the courage and strength before he died.


Multiverse Flash by Irene Waters

John jumped from the bridge without giving a second glance back. The swirling river below engulfed him, taking him into the dark depths. A crack of light appeared along with a voice whispering “Stay away from the light, ” but the current propelled him toward it.

Caught in an eddy he hurtled through the void and suddenly aware of the sun warming his now naked flesh he saw he lay in a verdant field. Rising he headed towards the sun uncertain where he should be headed. Thundering past the unicorns beckoned.

“Blast. Last time I landed in Paris with Hemingway.”


Shift Worker by Paula Moyer

Two months after they started dating, Jean met Charlie’s family. His
father worked at the gypsum plant, or “the rock crusher,” with
rotating shifts. Her own parents worked bankers’ hours.

One night after dinner, the phone rang. Charlie bolted from the couch
in his stocking feet, slid into the kitchen. He grabbed the phone
before the second ring.

“Hello?” he whispered.


“Oh, good evening. Could you call back tomorrow? Daddy’s asleep.” All whispered.

Part of Charlie’s world came into focus.

Work hours dictated sleep hours. Loud talk, ringing phones – toxic
when his dad’s workday started at 3 a.m.


Multiverse Flash by Laura Burke

Lily found it simple to slip between worlds. It was becoming more frequent each day.

Did friends in either world notice? It never seemed so. She smiled as if she were listening. That’s all they required.

She was a girl with two bodies in two dimensions.

Here she was single, the summer had ended with Jack’s infidelity and his declaration that they’d never work. That’s when There… suddenly existed. As if the heartbreak split time into two independent streams.

And Jack never left her… There. He loved her. He called her enchanting. And soon there would be a child.


Cosmostology by Larry LaForge

“I’ve always been interested in cosmology,” Maria yapped as she curled her customer’s hair.

“You mean cosmetology, dear,” Mrs. Krieger said with a condescending smile.

The hairdresser didn’t respond.

Maria saw far more than bristly hair. She saw an entire universe on top of the elderly woman’s head — a cosmos of follicles alive and interacting, some in concert and some in protest. She saw growth and decline. No matter the intervention, Maria knew the natural order would ultimately prevail.

“Thanks,” Maria said upon receiving a generous tip.

Mrs. Albertson was next. Maria smiled, anticipating the battle of the bangs.

The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.


The Crosswalk by Sarah Unsicker

We wait together for the walk signal. She is dressed smartly for court; I push a twin stroller in marker-stained jeans. I ask what kind of hearing she has.

“Pretrial,” she says, “a bail hearing.” I recognize the client from her description. He was homeless and couldn’t afford health care. She looks as nervous as I remember feeling.

“You’ll do fine,” I say, confidently. This case will start her short but successful career.

My gaze rests on the pearls my husband gave me, on the suit that hangs in my closet. I again contemplate the cost of child care.


Multiverse Flash by Anne Goodwin

Shrugging off my rucksack, I find a flattish rock to sit and imbibe the view. Deep in the valley, the manor house nestles among fields of sheep. They tell the tourists North Lees inspired Rochester’s home in Jane Eyre.

I swivel round to watch the climbers on the gritstone and, when I turn back, flames lick the battlements of the hall below. I jump up and race towards it, skirt dragging on the heather, bonnet ribbons flapping in the breeze. I hear the ghoulish laughter of the woman in the attic. My heart calls out to Edward, my love.


Fast Forward by Susan Zutautas

I awoke to my alarm going off, stretching, and rubbing my glued eyes. In disbelief I looked around at my bedroom, which did not look anything like it did when I went to sleep.

The room had expanded; new furnishings, wall covering, and a master suite were all in my sight.

What the hell was going on?

I could hear voices coming from the kitchen but they didn’t sound familiar. What I saw when entering the room shocked me. Standing by the island were 2 twin girls and an older version of my son.

Mom you’re awake ……


Clone Magic by Norah Colvin

All night Leone had huddled in line, sleepless with excitement, waiting for the release.

Now she had them! Clone pills!

‘Take one with water. Cloning occurs in 30 minutes and lasts 24 hours.’

Leone swallowed one tablet, then another, and another; ignoring the small print: ‘Do not take multiple tablets. Effects are unpredictable.’

When three clones appeared she instructed:

“1. Clean the house. 2. Exercise. 3. Weed the garden.”

She flopped on the couch. “Now to read.”

But — their hands grabbed for her book, pulling her hair and clawing her eyes.

“Me read! Me read! Me read!”


New prompt on Wednesday! All writers welcome!

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  1. Sherri

    Great stories here as always Charli, I really enjoyed reading them and the theme (shame I missed it ) but I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle, so to speak, and galloping towards your next prompt. Great to read about the first mention of ‘Wild Bill’ and following your story development. Love the imagery of him staring down the business end of a ‘queer black gun’…

    (Just as an aside, and thought you might be interested, I knew another ‘Wild Bill’. He was a great friend to me in another time and I will soon be getting to the part in my book where I’ll be writing about him… immersed as I am in world long gone by… 😉 )

    • Charli Mills

      Definitely another great round-up of stories! The saddle always waits. 🙂 I was explaining to Norah how I’ve been researching Hickok’s guns, especially the one that Cob would have owned. So I think I had to give Hickok his own moment to puzzle over, “what gun is that?” That’s so interesting that you knew a Wild Bill. What I’ve learned is that Wild Bill was more of a term for a certain kind of person, as in “he’s such a Wild Bill.” It can get confusing though–Wild Bill’s name was James and people who knew him called him Jim. Then he was friends with Buffalo Bill Cody and appeared in his Wild West Show with the Congress of Rough Riders. His name was William and he was actually called Will. Will and Jim–both “Bill.” Well, enjoy your long gone by world! We’ll both be writing of Wild Bills.

      • Sherri

        Love this history, so interesting! Yes, ‘my’ Wild Bill was definitely named for his penchant for some pretty wild behaviour by all accounts but he helped me through a bad time when my first husband died (they were friends, American GI’s who were stationed at a US base in England). That is so confusing with the names and how both ‘James’ (or Jim!) and Buffalo Bill Cody (Wild Will!) both became known as Bill, and then Wild Bill…phew! Fascinating. Just goes to show how with the passage of time these things became stuck in people’s minds, misinformation and all! I’ve got a photo of me with my Wild Bill sitting on a beach somewhere in LA with his future wife and my future second husband but I can’t remember for the life of me how we all ended up there…I wonder what happened to him???
        Oh Charli, I could chat with you all day…but I’ll say au revoir, let you get on and see you soon 😀

      • Charli Mills

        It must be both painful and healing to sift these memories for your story. Wild Bill sounds like the good guy GIs I know. The Hub’s Army buddies are his brothers. I watched in a mixture of horror and admiration as they signed up for Iraq as civilian security. I know the media makes out America’s “private armies” as villainous but I know why these guys go over there–they can’t stop serving their brothers. The Hub even tried to sign up after one brother died in Iraq. I kept thinking, who in their right mind would do that. Thus, the seed of germination for Miracle of Ducks. My character has to face being left behind by her husband who signs up for the private army. I have to hand it to you memoirists–you write without that filter of distance that fiction can afford. Be kind to yourself as you enter the depths of your writing! Have a good session!

      • Sherri

        You amaze me Charli with your background stories and how you write your fiction. I find this fascinating, the difference between memoir and fiction the more I ‘grow’ in my writing and the more I read here and on other blogs.
        As for the ‘brotherhood’, it is a strong calling indeed for men like your Hub. They all have my deepest admiration and respect.
        Powerful stuff this…
        Have a great weekend and see you soon 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We have so much to learn from sharing process with each other! Yes, powerful stuff. 🙂 You have a great weekend, too!

  2. Norah

    Another great multi-verse collection. Thanks for roping them in!

    • Charli Mills

      Such an incredible array of worlds!

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