Ripped From the Headlines

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 5, 2015

RippedNo matter how remote, you can’t escape the news. In fact, the more remote a person was, back in frontier times in the US, the more a person craved news — word from home, thoughts on grain prices, titillating stories.

The thrill of the news has grown with global connectivity, social media newsfeeds and devices to read anywhere at anytime. CNN — or constant negative news — is 24 hours. We have no dearth of headlines.

Which means that writers have a constant source of ideas. The following stories are based on the July 29, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is ripped from the headlines.


An Empty Chair by Geoff Le Pard

‘Don’t sit there.’ Rupert, her half-brother’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. ‘It’s for… It’s her’s.’

Mary knew he meant Sharon, their long missing sister, without him saying. ‘Why Rupert? Are you doing this for me? Because you don’t…’

‘No.’ He spoke sharply. ‘For you, me, her, dad…’


‘He’s a victim, too.’

‘He’s the reason…’

‘No, Mary. We don’t know, do we? Not all the whys and whatevers.’

‘He abandoned her. I know it. I…’

‘You don’t know. You can’t. And until we find her, her story, our story, that chair will remind us not to judge.’


Based on a a headline behind the blog post, The Empty Chair: I Believe You at Suzie Speaks.


A Fan Every 190 Days by Dave Madden

Statistical analysis of Ronda Rousey’s scraps are staggering, though I noticed a missing factoid in MMA Junkie’s post-fight data points: my wife’s love of MMA when Rousey fights.

“Rousey fights next,” I call.

Before I breathe the last consonant, I was jockeying for position in front of the T.V.

Rousey’s intense walkout parallel the actual fight for my wife.

Neighbors phone their concerns at our impassioned cheers after Rousey, again, displays dominance!

After Rousey’s adorned in her belt at UFC 190, it will be approximately another 190 days until I see this side of my spouse again.


Link to actual article.


Sewer Smells by Kate Spencer

Marcy giggled as a sweet elixir of spice drifted past her. A most unusual odor, she thought as she looked at the serious faces of the executives sitting around the board table. Her department’s report just didn’t seem important any more. She sprang up and inexplicably blurted, “Hi everyone. Let’s get happy!”

That night, the main headliner in the local news was:

City Unsure why the Sewer Smells.

Authorities are trying to locate the source of a mysterious odor emanating from drains in several businesses downtown. Its unusual effects…

Marcy giggled. Her meeting hadn’t been the only one derailed.


Ignorance by Bill Bennett

“Thank you for watching Action 7 News. Disturbing news tonight coming from the Bronx area. New York City’s Department of Health is saying Legionairre’s Disease is rampant in the area. The flu-like symptoms of coughing, fever, confusion, diarrhea, has infected at least 10,000 victims. Apparently victims are fighting local healthcare workers and infecting them when they bite them. Dr. Oshi, NYC health commissioner, said he witnessed one worker being bit then “turning” within 3 or 4 minutes. Right now, the public is being urged to stay inside and do not go out in public unless it is totally necessary.”


Link to factual story.


Hitler Kitty by Sacha Black

I could still see the tip of the wooden cross buried in the dirt, marking Fluffy’s final resting place. A hard lump stuck in my throat and a few tears slipped down my cheeks.

Derek’s key turned in the lock, followed by three tiny mews.

Silence. Shuffling feet. The sound of a box hitting the ground.

“This is Hitler,” Derek said.


I peered in the box. It was fluffy and white except for a black Hitler moustache.

“Mew, Meow, Mew.”

For the first time in weeks a smile spread across my lips.

“Were not calling him Hitler, Derek!”


Twenty-five Cents and Found by Ann Edall-Robson

Another long day had ended working for someone else at 25 cents a day and found. He sat pondering his 14 year old life while reading the tattered piece of newspaper that he kept in his possessions. It was months old but the alluring headline was still clear.

Homestead Stakes Available – Five years to prove the land and build a house. $2.00 to register the claim.

He had squirrelled away much of his pay over the months since he had first seen the headlines.

Preparations were complete and it was now time to go.


Breaking News by Pat Cummings

Wall Street Journal (submitted online), 11:08:33am: Financial security firms revealed today that they had uncovered evidence of online attacks capable of rewriting news stories as they were posted over the wire…

Wall Street Weekly, 11:08:34am: Financial security firms announced today that the Chinese had rewired financial news feeds to post kute-kitteh pictures, flooding the Internet…

Asian Life Weekly, 11:08:35am: The Chinese government commented on news that cat photos were threatening to break the Internet…

Cat Life Weekly, 11:08:36am: Championship Siamese-cat breeders denied hairball-hacking attacks were behind closure of breeding services…

WSJ, (published) 11:08:37am: No hackers. No news. Move along…


One Rock at a Time by Charli Mills

Ramona waded into Grouse Creek. Mica glittered beneath cool pools. She searched for flat ones, the size of a salad plate. Shiny didn’t matter.

Once she had a pile, her t-shirt, cut-offs and scrawny white legs were soaking. It was hot and the cool creek felt good on aching joints. One rock at a time, she built a cairn like a small pyramid. For Vic. On the bank where they picnicked over many years.

Widowhood ached most of all, she thought. And then a sharp pain. What about that river rock she found by the wild roses at home?


Based on “The Sentinel Man of the Spokane River” from the Idaho Panhandler.


Blinking Red and Blue by Christina Rose

102. Another day from hell. All we wanted was an afternoon swimming, escaping the cockroaches that crawl out from their holes whenever heat intensifies, littering all shorelines with screeching and trash.

Blinking red and blue, stopping and turning everyone around.

“Is it closed to recreation?” I asked.

“Absolutely, there’s a fire.” Goddammit.

Driving to the next fated spot, short-lived and teaming with their drunkenness, the stench of spilled PBR mixed with humidity unbearable.

Papers the next day told of the wildfire, the idiots that ruined our day with irresponsible play.

A pity natural selection failed to do its job.


“Woe Begone” by A. R. Amore

Peggy and the Skater Punk slept in the surf shack from his late wife’s final art installation. He had reassembled the shack in their Mission warehouse/studio/living space. The baby slept on his chest while Peggy strummed lullabies, thinking all the while, It is wrong for me to be here and I am being untrue to my friend.

Skater Punk closed his eyes and listened to Peggy’s strumming and her lullaby. He felt the one year old’s breath rise and fall inside her and he thought back: It would be more wrong if you were somewhere else; that would be untrue.


Based on article from The New Yorker.


Bridge Plans in Jeopardy by Norah Colvin

She scrolled through the headlines, searching …

Minister passes over bridge in favour of tunnel

Minister fails to dig himself out of tunnel fiasco

searching …

Minister reveals hand on bridge impasse

Minister’s tunnel vision blocks bridge improvement

searching …

Minister jumps from bridge over tunnel plans

Talks with Minister over bridge collapse

searching …

Bridge closure forces Minister’s hand

She was sure she had heard something … it must be here … why couldn’t she see it?

Scrolling … scrolling …

“Finally,” she sighed.

Bridge players wanted, Tunnel Street Community Hall, Wednesdays 10 am!


By Any Other Name? by Jules Paige

There used to be nine. Now there are eight. Scientists have flagged Pluto as a dwarf planet. I don’t remember how I learned to know the once nine planets order. I’ve come to find there are quite a few ways to know the old nine and the new eight.

I am not a scientist. Is there that big a difference between inner and outer space? Apparently so. Yet Pluto is spectacularly in the news showing its’ own heart. Is it odd to be named after a god of war and have such a big heart?


Keep Calm, Stay Alive by Paula Moyer


“Ladies and gentlemen, the bank is being robbed.”

Later, the evening paper. Bill’s stymied face under the headline.

This wasn’t scheduled. Bill and the FDIC team were just there for a routine audit. Before now, that is.

Now he stood frozen in the teller’s window. The robber made his way from one register to the next. Where was the key? Bill didn’t know. If seen as stalling, he could die. Quick. Think.

“No cash in this window,” Bill deadpanned. “Just used for loans.”

The robber moved on. “Thank you.” Then gone.

Bill then opened the register. Wall-to-wall money.


Buck, Tuck, and Chuck by Pete Fanning

We were on the creek bank. Buck hitting the bottle hard on account of him getting hitched. If you’ve seen Stella, you knew it took a lot of drink to do what he’d done with her. Figures he’d take to a drink before marrying her.

Chuck tossed in a line, ribbing Buck about his misfortune. I didn’t say much, being best man and all.

His line jumped. Seemed Chuck had snagged a snapper. I’d just took a swig when he let out a howl that’s still bouncing around Rockbridge County.

That snapper got him right in the wedding tackle.


Beat the Drought by Ruchira Khanna

The weather may be getting hotter, but the Californians are exceeding the state government’s expectations by conserving a record amount of water.

The State Water Resources Control Board reported that consumers cut their usage by 29% in May, one-upping the government’s request for a 25% reduction by the end of June.

Dozens of communities across the Golden State have risen to the occasion by shortening showers, using water-efficient appliances, and turning lawns into drought-resistant gardens, cutting their use upwards of 30% in some cases.

The mantra, “United we stand, Divided we fall” holds true for all aspects!


The Literalist by Larry LaForge

Ed rose early, turned on the coffee and grabbed his phone.

He opened his twitter feed and was alarmed by a tweet from City Hall. URGENT: RESIDENTS MUST BOIL DRINKING WATER UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Ed quickly sprung into action. He retrieved the largest pot he could find, filled it with water, and placed it on the hot burner. Within minutes boiling water spewed as it flowed over the top.

Edna woke from the commotion and was horrified. “Whattha?”

Ed held up his hands. “Stand back, Edna!” he shouted. “We have to let it boil until they tweet us again.”


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  1. Sarah Brentyn

    Missed writing this week but looking forward to reading all the flash! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      There’s a smashing variety to read!

  2. jeanne229

    Well I was stimulated to try this week but my unborn story never made it to the screen. Really enjoyed these entries though. Larry, your resolution was very funny! Norah, loved your surprise at the end too. Bill, great confluence of our communal fears about epidemics and the vampire/zombie craze (supreme “undead” genre.) Well done all!

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, I’m hoping a story will yet come to term for you, Jeanne! 🙂 It’s good to be stimulated especially when buried in work.

    • Norah

      What an encouraging response, Jeanne. Thank you.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s such a pleasure to have you in the saddle this week, Kate! It is fun to read all the creative twists in one place.

  3. Norah

    What a great variety again, Charli, from the serious to the humorous and many in between. It’s always interesting to see the ways different writers respond to the same prompt. Well done, and thank you. ????

    • Charli Mills

      I like that each writer is comfortable enough to write his or her own version. Makes for a great read at the end of the week!

      • Norah

        It sure does! 🙂

  4. Sherri

    Wonderful stories, one and all, thank you Carrot Ranch 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good “riding” at the ranch this week!

      • Sherri

        I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle this week, sorry to miss it, but just couldn’t rope one in… 😉


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