August 17: Flash Fiction Challenge

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 18, 2016

August 17In the Columbia Basin desert, a Velociraptor silently screams, frozen in mid-stride. If the echo of its voice could shunt through time, I might mistake it for a red-tailed hawk besetting a field mouse. Dinosaurs, according to one theory, didn’t die off, but took flight in smaller form — they became birds. If you’ve ever heard a sandhill crane, you’ve heard something prehistoric. I wonder, if my bones fossilized over thousands of decades, what could be discerned from their remaining matter? Would a future anthropologist have any clue as to my voice?

When I attended Carroll College in the 1990s, the movie Jurassic Park was a hit. Jack Horner from the Museum of the Rockies advised the creators of the film in regards to dinosaur authenticity and spoke as a guest lecturer. He based his  presentation on the following clip, posing the question, “Would T-rex have eaten a lawyer on a toilet?”

Horner, a native Montanan, is one of the world’s leading paleontologists, yet he doesn’t hold a college degree. Perhaps because his curiosity and access to finding fossils was not influenced by academia, Horner can imagine what others could not see in the fossils. His idea regarding T-rex and the lawyer was based on what original thought he’d developed from looking at the length of T-rex’s bones. Horner theorized that T-rex was a long distance runner, scavenging after carrion unlike the Velociraptor, which was smaller but more predaceous. This idea rocked the pillars of paleontology; T-rex, after all, was king.

As a student, I recall feeling energized at such a new and daring theory. Like my classmates, I awaited the conclusion. Would T-rex eat a lawyer? Scavengers eat dead and rotting flesh. They typically smell a potential meal at great distances and have the ability to get there. T-rex as a scavenger would have lost the need for reach, thus explaining the diminishing arms. However, scavengers work to clean the earth of organic garbage. Thus, in conclusion, the answer depends upon the lawyer. And if that’s a poor recollection of Horner’s joke from 20 years ago, or in poor taste, please accept my apologies, forgo any unnecessary lawsuits, and accept my distraction with Horner’s latest theory about creating a living chickenosaurus.

The fossil record might be set in stone, but it’s just as messy to decipher as human interaction and communication. It seems we socialize more than ever, yet communicate and think less and less. Trying to decode what trends on social media and why is as difficult as trying to figure out how the tails of dinosaurs mutated. Twitter has more wit and originality than Facebook. I’d like to think that the constraint of 140 characters makes people more creative in their responses. Facebook trends tend to copy, paste and repeat, which feels like social plagiarism. I always want to know who originally wrote the post and why can’t people express their own thoughts?

And yet there is beauty in both our messy attempts at communication and what we find in the ancient baked mud of a desert. Where the Columbia River cuts a gorge nearly as impressive as the Grand Canyon, fossilized ginko trees have left stunning stumps of glistening white and amber swirls. Brave writers craft sentences that leave impressions of beauty and grace, horror and suspense, enlightenment. And sometimes we fail. Sometimes the fossils are too embedded to discern from mud; our words lost on the page. Yet we pick away at the bones in search of new ideas, of voice, a career masterpiece.

This post is not it. A masterpiece, that is. My voice is weary, to be honest. But I have a spark, thinking about fossils and holding in my hand a piece of petrified forest where a Velociraptor once ran. This week, I’m offering something new. Not a chicken theory or a book, but a rock. Yes, a rock. Everyone who enters a flash fiction this week will be assigned a number and a random number selector will choose a recipient for a piece of polished petrified wood from when chickens roamed the earth with tails and T-rex collected garbage. Just a bit of fun.

August 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a fossil or uses the word in its variant forms (fossilize, dino bones, petrification, gastroliths, ichnofossils, etc.). Dig into your imagination and go where the fossil record leads you.

Respond by August 23, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Digging Up Bones by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)

“Coprolite,” said Danni.

Michael held up the polished stone to the lamp light. “Is it a type of agate?”

Danni leaned in to look at the piece. “Uh-huh. Agatized dino dung from Utah.” Michael quickly set the stone back down on the bookcase.

Danni walked away to the kitchen. “Come on, speak your mind Michael. I know you aren’t pissed about me having petrified poop.” She watched him glare at her displays. Danni had her ethics and collected art, not artifacts. An archeologist knew the difference.

Finally he said, “I never should have let Ike marry a bone digger.”


Gordon’s Stone by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)

Cobb poured coffee for three and topped his with corn whiskey. “Gordon, you want a topper?”

The young man shook his head. Sarah noted Gordon’s slumped shoulders from across the campfire. She nodded thanks to Cobb when he handed her a cup. The journey on the trail was exhausting; only Cobb had vigor by nightfall. The fire crackled and none spoke. Gordon pulled a stone from his pocket, twirling it in his hand.

“What’s that,” Sarah asked.

“Was Mama’s. An elephant tooth she found.”

“Elephant? Did she bring it from Africa?”

“No, Miss Sarah, she found it in Georgia.”


You May Also Like…


  1. Norah

    Hi Charli, I haven’t read your whole post yet – will come back and comment on that later. I just checked out your prompt so I could start thinking about it. With a family mad keen on dinosaurs (yes, they consider me one of those!) and having just visited the La Brea Tar Pits in LA and bought my own (now confiscated) Smilodon toy, I’m all set. You didn’t include “old bones” in your examples or I may have chosen to write about mine! Thanks for this one. There’s plenty to dig into. I’m just not yet sure what I will find. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I think being called “old bones” is better than being called a “fossil”! Yes, I definitely had you and your family in mind when we visited the Ginko Petrified Forest which, despite its enticing name, was nothing but a hot trail up hill in the desert. The Rock Shop and interpretive center (with air conditioning) was a cooler experience and where I picked up a lovely polished old piece of wood now stone.

      • Norah

        I think I have been called a fossil, once or twice, even a dinosaur! I was thinking I would have loved to be with you as your explored – until you mentioned the heat. Maybe not! The air conditioned information area sounds much more pleasant. Ooh – a piece of petrified wood – sounds awesome. We used to find some petrified wood washed up on the beach when I was kid. It was always fun to find, but I probably took it for granted. I haven’t thought about it since.

      • Charli Mills

        Beach-washed petrified wood would be a fabulous find! I’ve looked for agates along Lake Superior and that was fun. I found a few, even.

  2. jeanne229

    Dinosaurs! Fossils! Rocks! Oh joy. Tom has his own collection of dino “toys,” and rocks and petrified wood dot the shelves all over our house.
    And glad to pop in again after my long spell out on the trail, Charli. Happy to hear your voice again, however weary. It always rings like a bell across the miles. I have been avoiding my blog but think it’s time to get back to it. A prompt from you is always inspiring.
    Feeling at a bit of a loss these days…sent off my client’s book to the publisher last Friday, and am waiting now for comments. That means a big empty space has opened up…ah the terror of the void to fill with my own stories 🙂 Will be back with a flash.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, rock on! Good to see you at the ranch and to know your client project is moving forward! Dino toys… 😀 Do you play, too? You might laugh, but of all the things I crammed into my 161-square feet of tiny living is much of my rock collection. And yes, I have a fossil or two! I have a sizable chunk of caramel colored petrified wood that looks like a round portion of a pine trunk, but that’s in storage. Fill up your loss with some good free writing! I hope it feels good to get back to your own words! See you in a flash!

      • jeanne229

        Something very cosmic and profound about petrified wood. Arizona has the Petrified Forest out on I-40 between Flagstaff and Gallup New Mexico, not far from Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert. Chunks and logs of the stuff lying where fallen eons ago. To think of the time represented in wood become stone… simply awesome in the old original sense. Am reading The Age of Wonder right now, about science in the Romantic era. Among the greats were James Hutton who came up with the idea of “deep time” and ushered in geology as a recognized science. Fascinating! (Main characters are William Herschell and his sister Caroline and what they were discovering in astronomy, and Humphrey Davy in chemistry.) So…very apt prompt. I didn’t mention in my earlier post your flashes. Loved that you did two, one for each WIP. Great conveyance of unspoken hostility in the first one….bone-digger indeed. And love the way you set up the scene in the second…a small tribe, a fire, a fossil…so fundamental and human…

      • Charli Mills

        What a delicious read and perfect after the crunch-time of sending off a client project! Love this, “To think of the time represented in wood become stone.” Oh, yes! And thanks, I dig the humanistic summary, “a small tribe, a fire, a fossil.” 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ah! If you want, Jeanne, re-post your story and then I’ll delete this comment. I didn’t know how to move it yet maintain your Gravatar identity. Great flash, though! Sharp details!

    • jeanne229

      Sorry for the bother. Yes, remove it and I’ll repost.

  3. denmaniacs4

    Bare Bones

    Dobbs took the boy to Merle Taylor. She knew him, knew his story. “Gifford Barnaby was mostly a good man,” she offered, “Tried anyways. Where’d he fall?”

    “The boy said his father and Hinchey, the deputy, rode out to head off Caldwell’s rabble, a volley was exchanged, the Marshall fell mortally wounded. Hinchey was injured and barely escaped.”

    “Gifford’s body..?”

    “Left in the desert…”

    “Be picked clean soon enough, I suppose.”

    Yes, thought Dobbs, human scavengers killed him, vultures chewed on the remains, leaving the bone to wither upon a millennium of bone.

    “The way of it,” Dobbs concurred.

    • Charli Mills

      Sharp writing how you turned the prompt into one of the character’s wise reflections (which I’m enjoying in subsequent flashes). I’m also liking the introduction of the orphan character and all your experience to inform that character’s challenges and the plot. You are #1, by the way! Hold on to your drawing “ticket.” 🙂

    • jeanne229

      Such a deep story in a single flash. And I haven’t been following recently. Loved the ending…the reckoning we all must make with death and time….the inevitability of it all.

  4. Norah

    This post is right up my alley, or excavation site, Charli. Loved every bit you had to offer. Loved hearing about Horner and had to read the article and watch the Ted Talk. Oh my, fascinating. I was interested to hear of his involvement in Jurassic Park, that one of the characters was modeled on him, and that his chickenosaur is a similar experiment. Also the conversation recorded in the article between Horner and Harris was similar to that in the movie, and a discussion I think needs to be had with much scientific experimentation: just because we can do it, does that mean we should?
    I was also interested in Horner’s involvement with relation to velociraptor. According to David Attenborough, the dinosaur in the movie was actually a deinonychus, but velociraptor’s name was preferred. I wonder how similar they were and if they meet Horner’s criteria for juvenile and mature specimens. It’s all so fascinating.
    There have been quite a few dinosaur finds in Queensland, not close to me, but further out west. One day I’m hoping that I’ll be invited to accompany my dinosaur-crazy family on an exploration.
    What a lovely offer of a piece of petrified wood for a flash fiction submission. So kind. I’ll have to make sure I get mine finished in time!
    Yours are great as well. I’m wondering what relationship Michael is to Ike. I’m thinking brother? I think I’d be more fascinated than repelled by petrified poo, and I can think of worse things to be than a bone digger. Maybe Michael’s opinion is not one to be valued.
    Gordon’s elephant tooth is interesting too! Of course the mammoths and mastodons were their ancestors. They all have pretty amazing teeth and there’s not much mistaking them. I saw fossils at La Brea Tar Pits.
    Thanks for an interesting post and challenge.
    Oh, and the lawyer on the toilet joke. You could probably substitute one or two other professions for lawyer at the moment! Have a good weekend.

    • Charli Mills

      This has stirred up your dinosaur-crazy bone, I see! Let me guess where your family gets their curiosity to know more…Horner is a fascinating authority on the topic because he sets what has been assumed on its head by asking simple questions. It’s like he’s brought that childhood curiosity of his and developed a profession. Like babies…where are their bones? And what that thought led to was a new theory. And he’s not afraid to question his own theories. It really was a highlight of college to get to sit in a lecture hall with him. He could go on forever and we’d all willingly sit there and learn. How fun it would be to go on a dig with your family!

      Micheal’s character is that of best friend. He and Ike served together and there is nothing that comes between them, not even Ike’s marriage to an archeologist. Michael (which it’s not in the flash) is Flathead Salish and considers all archeologists to be “bone diggers” because they disturb sacred sites. It was an opportunity for me to write about the multifaceted view in the western US about collecting, science and Native rights to their own past. Thus the two characters dislike each other though both love Ike. So when Ike leaves he asks them to bury the hatchet. He wants Michael to look after Danni in his absence, mostly because he understands she’s a recluse. Ike has been her connection to the world. She and Michael have tensions, but also form friendship through choosing to better understand their different perspectives. It’s the dogs that get Danni more connected to her community with Michael as support.

      Ha! Yes, I can visualize that joke for property managers and VA bureaucrats.

      • Norah

        One aspect of Horner’s profession that I find interesting is that, if I understand what I read correctly, he has no formal academic qualifications in paleontology. Obviously he still has the ability to ask questions. I’d like suggest there may be a link between those two pieces of information!
        Thanks for explaining the relationship between Michael, Danni and Ike. I now understand the reference to “bone digger” and its connotations. I am becoming more intrigued about this story and am looking more forward to reading it with each new tidbit you share. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Horner is like some of the “biologists” of the early government surveys who were keen farm kids who knew much about the flora and fauna of their region and could be relied upon to key (record) data with notes, samples and eventually photos. He’s overcome much with his passion and inquisitive mind.

  5. paulamoyer

    Hi, Charli! Thanks, as always, for Carrot Ranch. This is me taking a huge leap with the prompt:

    Fossil Etiquette: No Good for Modern Indignities

    By Paula Moyer

    On days like this one, Jean felt like a fossil. Outside, a jumble of good manners from the 1960s and her brave, buck-up “good-woman” persona. Hand shaking, a murmur of thanks. Yesteryear’s tools weren’t relevant.

    The root canal had exposed an unsalvageable tooth. The extraction proceeded with just a local.

    “This site is easy!” the dentist insisted.

    Jean’s eyes stayed shut. “Chunk” – her tooth broke mid-surgery. One root adhered to the gum. His thumb dug into her jaw as he pulled, a caveman attacking prey.

    Today, a black bruise graced her jaw.

    The situation called for civilized, modern rage.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Paula! So good to see you at the ranch! Leap away — fossils and dentists. Yikes! Can’t we get more modern means of tooth extractions? Great inclusion of “yesteryear’s tools” in reference to manners and persona.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli. I wrote this two days after the dental appointment and now, looking back, I think I experienced bad luck rather than bad practice. If I had known that the tooth was doomed, I would have gone in “NPO” (nothing pre oral, or not having eaten anything recently) so that I could have had a general and been oblivious to it all). And yes, unfortunately, when a tooth breaks during an extraction, and part of it adheres to the socket, the dentist has no choice but to keep yanking and pulling. Men on the moon but still in the cave with broken teeth …

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, Paula! Battered by bad luck in the dental chair. Hope you are feeling better.

    • Charli Mills

      You ticket holder #2!

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli! It was important for me to see that it could have happened anywhere, anytime, and that no one made a mistake.

    • Charli Mills

      Biting into truth and fiction this week! On the vagabond-trailer front, we are facing dental woes of dinosaur proportions (Todd, not me) and I’m afraid Paula’s flash is going to be Todd’s toothy truth by end of the week. I think I’d rather face a velociraptor than the dentist’s chair. Yes, I remember that toothy book review and it’s painful to look at the cover and consider the horrors of forcible extraction during the Holocaust. Bite down and spit out 99 words when you get the chance.

    • dnagai

      I guess dinosaurs of another kind…

      • Charli Mills

        And hopefully soon extinct! But certainly makes me think of a predator in the workplace, too.

    • Charli Mills

      You are ticket holder #3!

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    So cool. I especially like the non-academic theorizing and shaking things up a bit. Learning is awesome. I’m a huge fan of learning. And I’m a huge fan of organizations that teach stuff. I’m a learner AND a teacher. But there’s something to be said for teaching yourself something you excel at or are interested in. Anyway, I’m loving your voice in Miracle of Ducks. (I’m renaming it MOD Squad. Because.) 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I love it — MOD Squad! Thanks, Sarah! Yes, I like that balance of learning and teaching on the point of great curiosity and interest. Horner, to me, is like every other kid who dreamed of doing something passionate and just did it, breaking expectations. If you really want to master anything, it’s possible. And I’ll never forget meeting him in person and listening to his lectures. He is so dynamic and always open to learning as he teaches. I can see you like that with writing.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Hmm… Learning as I write? Yes. One of the reasons I created Lemon Shark Reef. And one of the reasons I love Carrot Ranch so much. <3

  7. julespaige

    Charli I like both of your stories. I like to watch the show ‘Bones’ where they solve murders. And your first one reminded me of the show and the two main characters and their tension. The second is, well rather riveting. To find a fossil in the young states…and the assumptions of its’ origin made me smile.

    Here’s my piece – Pompeii really was quite fascinating. Not sure if there are any dino bones there though I suppose if one digs deep enough 🙂

    Fight or Fight

    There is an eerie absence of fossils in Pompeii. But there
    are impressions of people and how they were buried by the
    ash of Mount Vesuvius. I have walked those ancient roads.
    I could have a relatives who once lived there…

    Birds are supposed to be descendants of dinosaurs, through
    DNA. Do I have anything from ancient humans? Perhaps
    survival skills. You know that ‘flight or fight’ response – where
    I fly from hurt, humiliation and loneliness and fight with a pen
    and words to be heard.

    How soon before my own grandchildren call me a fossil?
    Perhaps lovingly, anyway.


    post link with additional info on Pompeii:
    Fight or Fight

    • Charli Mills

      I might have to start watching Bones, especially now that I have Netflix and “real” internet…kind of dangerous after four years of no television or streaming. And for the idea that a mammoth tooth was an elephant’s, that is based on a real discovery in Georgia by slaves who recognized the sort of animal. Maybe there are not any dino bones in Pompeii, but it has its own allure. Your opening line gives me chills and hooks me right away!

      • julespaige

        I went looking to see if there were any dino bones in Pompeii and found this interesting article:

        Maybe after they finished with all the places and people and maybe dig deeper they might find some actual bones? After all I’m am just guessing that the time when Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii…well it must have had a few prior eruptions and might have some interesting finds deep down somewhere. Also the link has some interesting fossils. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      You are ticket holder #4!

      • julespaige

        Thank you. 🙂

  8. paulamoyer

    Love the way your characters take on so much life in 99 words, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Paula. I’ve found the challenge helps me gain clarity.

      • jeanne229

        Back to read and comment more but here is my flash.**

        **Moved to place under your first response, posted as the Lead Buckaroo…probably a better way but the Lead Buckaroo was unsure!

      • jeanne229

        Oops, too much in a hurry here and posted my flash in the reply. Maybe you can fix that Charli? Blush blush….

      • Charli Mills

        My turn to blush, Jeanne I moved it but it posts under my name! Okay! Well, you are ticket holder #11 nonetheless and your story is in the comments and the compilation!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Anne. Danni was a character willing to take on two things I wanted to share — a love of place and history. In another life I would have been an archeologist — but wait! I write fiction, therefore I am…even a Vinegar Girl. I didn’t know of Anne Tyler’s commission. I’ll be reading that! You’ve been on an adventure from bards to bony structures!

    • Charli Mills

      You are ticket holder #5!

  9. rogershipp

    The Classics: An Interactive Pawn Shop

    I know, probably not the best place to take a group of seventh graders, But it was broad day-light. And truthfully, I felt more comfortable there than waiting in the decrepit Greyhound bus stop.

    Its name intrigued me: Welcome, The Classics.

    It was memory lane for me. For my students, it was museum.

    A pay phone booth with pictures on the wall of 15 teenagers wedged inside.

    A roll-top desk… a typewriter with erasable paper.

    An eight-track tape boom box blasting ABBA, Chicago, Simon and Garfunkel, and John Denver.

    “Wow, Pop. This is better than T-Rex at the Smithsonian!”

    NOTE: (I don’t know if a place like this is “real”… but I would love to spend an afternoon there with a group of teens!)

    • jeanne229

      Love the idea of an interactive pawn shop. I’d rather it be a museum though so nothing could stray. I was recently tempted to post a pic of my old Rolodex the other day and challenge millennials to identify it. Fun to think of all the things we could include!

      • rogershipp

        I could see my class wanting the stay at a ‘place’ in the 60s-70s forever!

      • Charli Mills

        So many things to stump the Millennials on…hee, hee!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Roger! Good to see you at the ranch! I love the impression of a pawn shop as both a walk down memory lane and a museum. It actually sounds like some quirky place one might find in a small town, or perhaps down the block from a decrepit Greyhound bus stop. It would be fun! “You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen…” now I’m hearing ABBA playing in my head!

      • rogershipp

        Good to be back. Dad has had several events overs the summer that kept me away. Also, the scholastic magazines for my curriculum took an abundance of time.

      • Charli Mills

        Good to be there for family when needed! The page does wait for us and sometimes we return with greater introspection. And a project. I understand the time consumption there!

    • Charli Mills

      You are ticket holder #6!

  10. elliotttlyngreen

    Dinosaurs are fascinating.. in fact all the world we can only read about and never experience is some kind of toiling argument now in an overabundance of free speech. Makes one wonder and question the truth. Ive always had a curiosity that dragon stories derived from mans conquering of that species too; in a twist what if the massacre was so awful and gruesome, that in the primordial shame the comet was a just a cover up?

    One of these days I am going to share small, fantastic fiction, pieces like the rest. Instead of my own abominable theories. I hope you enjoy!

    Covering up with Theory

    By Elliott Lyngreen

    as a great lethargic struggle… filtering religiously quite identically, dinosaurs were rising heads, passively nipping mighty trees and surface dragon stories in one man’s old oak groves; who went out with bare gnarled knuckles to wrestle mighty mammoth and harmlesly feast, bring the round fire, wonder, catching sassafras root that soothes ancestors bones which became flutes; and then hyoids called nature… Media claims a stone, a gem domino and rolled the fossils and prime us for the rage to slam into each mosh pit stain pavement in rebelllion that marches like realigned volcanic skyline, cosmic shot, was fiction too.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s such a fascinating concept: “in a twist what if the massacre was so awful and gruesome, that in the primordial shame the comet was a just a cover up? ” What if, indeed? Your flash is awesome and I like how it begins without capitalization as if we stepped into a continuation of a story. It portrays the idea of humans as deadly conquerors and makes me think of current cover ups of destruction — climate change.

    • Charli Mills

      And your ticket is #7!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Ahh! I beg to differ… masterpiece of an idea. Sounds fun. Hope i win!!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Larry! Ed has unearthed a magnificent fossil! And your ticket is #8.

    • julespaige

      Hubby was/is a big Craftsman guy – his dad was a sub contractor at one point. We used to have a parts store near by…but it’s gone the way of the dino’s… closed up and vanished!

  11. gordon759

    Here is my contribution, another of my historical tales

    “What have you there, child?” The tall lady smiled at the little girl.
    “It’s a curtsy miss.” She replied. It was black and shiny, shaped like a coiled snail.
    “She means a curiosity,” said her companion, “They are found in the cliffs, no one knows what they are.”
    “What are you going to do with it?” asked Jane.
    “Take it to father, he sells them.”
    “Will you sell it to me?” The girl nodded, shyly.
    “But she is Anning’s daughter, he overcharged us for that cupboard.”
    “But she isn’t overcharging me.” The coin changed hands and a legend began.

    In 1804 Jane Austen and her family visited Lyme Regis, in a letter to her sister she tells how they had been overcharged by a local carpenter, Robert Anning. As well as woodwork Robert also sold fossils that had been found in the local cliffs. His daughter, Mary Anning, the greatest fossil hunter of the age was his daughter, in 1804 she would have been five. Legend tells how she began her career as a little girl, selling a fossil she had found, to a lady she met on the beach. I have just brought Lyme Regis’s two most famous residents together.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, thanks for your contribution, Gordon! Your knowledge of history and ability to portray it in such real stories is as sweet as chocolate. I like the taste when you drop in with your flash bites! This particular one, bringing together Jane Austen and Mary Anning, is like a truffle with raspberry inside. A fine pairing! I also appreciate that women were obviously just as curious and observant of curiosities and stories as were enlightened men.

      • Annecdotist

        Charli (and Gordon), Lyme Regis is the extreme end of the Jurassic beach I wrote about in my clash. Tracy Chevalier’s novel Remarkable Creatures is based on the life of Mary Anning – perhaps another one for your TBR pile?

      • Annecdotist

        Ha, ‘clash’ indeed

      • Charli Mills

        Hee, hee…add that to your list of voice recognition misses, Anne! 🙂 But what a cool connection. I intentionally placed your flash after Gordon’s. Kind of like a fiction geological record! Another good book for the TBR pile.

    • Charli Mills

      And you have ticket #9, Gordon!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, always a good week to gain stories from the Brothers Le Pard! You are holding the ticket #10.

  12. Norah

    Hi Charli, I enjoyed the challenge of digging for dinosaur bones. Funnily enough I chose a dig of another kind for my flash. Here’s the link Thank you for keeping me on my toes.

    • Charli Mills

      So much rich dirt for fossilized stories! Thanks for dancing on your toes with this one! 🙂

      • Norah

        My pleasure! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      And you have ticket #12!

      • Norah

        Oooh! That sounds like a lucky number! 🙂

  13. A. E. Robson

    History Within
    By Ann Edall Robson

    I have been around for millions of years. I am elusive to some, over baring to others. I settle in places. Take my leave when I must. My pallor will often reflect my surroundings, but mostly I am pale. A striking contrast to the bluest sky and rock strewn mountain meadows. ?

    I may not be considered a fossil in the broad sense of the word, but I hold history within me. Stories of evolving life. Creating our world. Little known tidbits and facts discovered by chance. From my soul comes existence. A being that only a Glacier can spawn.

    • elliotttlyngreen

      Fascinating. Very creative and unique angle to the prompt ????

    • Charli Mills

      Glacier as witness to all the fossil held secret. Beautiful personification of something like the old bones of mountains and rivers. And your ticket is #13!

    • jeanne229

      Beautiful flash Ann. A kind of living moving fossil.

  14. elliotttlyngreen

    I have always enjoyed presenting or beginning a piece like that. And you are amazing Charli; your reviews and comments are a talent in themselves. And yes its sad, the cover ups I’m referring to now, makes me cringe. Climate change is just so blatant and obvious; the fact that there is no fossil of the man who claimed himself son of God; politicians…. the more we uncover (fossils and the like, planets and new info about blackholes), the more history changes and gets rewritten. Guess it gives us writers something to pursue.. wonderful challenge as always.
    I think you lost me about the ticket #7… ??

    • Charli Mills

      One of my favorite movies is “Braveheart,” and it opens with the line, “History is written by those who hanged heroes.” There is so much to explore between faith and science, but cover ups and denial seem to be the path to power and control. Not much enlightenment there. And, thank you, I’m glad to have you read and write here. Ah, the tickets are virtual, for a random drawing!

  15. Kerry E.B. Black

    Dinosaur in Translation
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Senora thundered like a Tyrannosaurus through the classroom, her glares quieting even the most troublesome of her students. “Open your books to chapter twenty-three,” she instructed, staring them into compliance. “Who can tell me the meaning of the passage at the top of the page?”
    None of the pupils met her gaze.
    Senora commanded, “Maria, recite.”
    With a trembling voice, Maria began, “Hay un dinosaurio grande en la entrada…”
    “Maria, por favor.”
    Maria giggled, noting Senora’s position in the doorway. She cleared her voice and restarted. “Hay un dinosaurio grandee n la entrada de la escuela.”
    The children laughed.

    • Charli Mills

      Not only a great take on the prompt, but also clever mingling of language. Your ticket is #15!

    • jeanne229

      Me encanto! I have experimented in poetry with mixing English and Spanish. so appropriate considering the mingled roots of both languages and cultures in many parts of our country.

  16. jeanne229

    Taking great liberties with the prompt but happy to be back in the saddle 🙂 For background on how I whittled this flash from a scene in a chapter from a book I’ve recently finished (for a client), visit me at:

    A Half-Excavated Fossil

    The whine of the drill got the orthopedist’s attention. He was chiseling a shard of bone from the patient’s hip while I worked at the neck where the dislocation was.

    “What are you doing?” he said.

    “I’m putting plates in.”

    He stepped up, peered into the cavity where the spine rose from the tissue like a half-excavated fossil. “Why?” he said. “Wires work perfect for the fusion.”

    “The plates will work better.”

    He pivoted away, ripping off his gloves.

    “Take me off the op note,” he said, striding towards the door. “I want nothing to do with this case.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I just deleted my/your comment and was going to put it in your pingback, but you showed up and saved my bacon! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      And great post, too, Jeanne! In case it got lost in our comment trail this week, you have ticket #11

  17. Charli Mills

    Thanks for a great week! Be sure to check the compilation to see who one an ol’ fossil from the ranch!

  18. Charli Mills

    Good to see you at the ranch, Drew! We don’t always hand out tickets, but this week you have one and it’s #14.


  1. Harassment – Fledgling Fiction - […] Response to Carrot Ranch’s August 17 Flash Fiction Challenge: Fossil […]
  2. (nf) Carrot Ranch / Fight or Fight (8.20) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] August 17: Flash Fiction Challenge In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a fossil or…
  3. The Classics: An Interactive Pawn Shop | It's All in Finding the Right Words - […] for Carrot Ranch Communications. (I don’t know if a place like this is “real”… but I would love to…
  4. Just because I’m old doesn’t make me ossified! #shortstory | TanGental - […] Mills from the Carrot Ranch prompts us thus this […]
  5. Digging for dinosaur bones | Norah Colvin - […] talk by palaeontologist Jack Horner, which I discovered via a link from Charli Mills’ post, demonstrates the process with…
  6. They Used to Call Me Fossil | Straight White Man Seeks Knowledge - […] tapped out a little response to the most recent flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications. The prompt was…
  7. Forging Flash Fiction from a Medical Memoir | Jeanne Belisle Lombardo - […] of stopping in at Carrot Ranch again after months “on the trail,” I want to use this week’s challenge…

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading