November 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.

November 18, 2016

november-17Standing at the fire-pit made of stacked Navajo Sandstone, it’s easy to imagine who has sat here beneath the bright stars. I can hear the fire crackle, the rise and fall of conversation, laughter, silent introspection of humanity beneath the universal diamonds of light. It’s smells smokey in my thoughts. In the rosy atmosphere of dusk, I can see the backside of West Temple from this vantage. It’s 8,000 vertical feet of the same Navajo Sandstone that rings the charcoal of a former fire. I’m already at an elevation nearing a mile-high. The city of Denver is at the level of this abandoned fire-pit.

Why am I here? It’s one of those stories about how chasing flying monkeys led to a second Grand Canyon that revealed a hidden plateau and I really just wanted see if I could test my geological knowledge and find petrified wood again. But instead I found a lost city.

Ah! You see the mind I have to live with?

Let me start with the flying monkeys. After writers at Carrot Ranch explored Oz, space and beyond I had to see the place from where the US Air Force launched live monkeys in test ejection seats for newly developed jets (1950s era). Every morning I look upon the point of Hurricane Mesa from my RV, knowing launch tracks and camera towers rust beneath the same sun that warms me while I swill coffee. Finally, I took to pestering my husband who was reluctant to go up another clay road. “It’s not raining,” I say. He loads his camera and our dog, and merrily we drive off.

Off, meaning into the wild red yonder, not off the cliff face we are now climbing with a truck limping from the last adventure up a mesa. The old Air Force road I almost convinced the Hub would be a decent route is proving to be a meandering, broken trail better suited for mules. I was certain it was a designated road on the map and in the books. No stopping now lest we slide off for certain, plunging to a death where I’d have to listen to my husband rant until we hit the ravines and boulders below.

At last the old farm truck lurches to crest the mesa. This is it! The place from where monkeys flew. A huge sign advises we go no further. “But I can’t see the tracks, the towers, what’s left of the base,” I say. My husband agrees with the writer of the rock-hounding book who got me excited for this place. It’s a big no-no to trespass on a fenced former Air Force base no matter the monkey business that took place where stunted cedar trees now grow, obscuring my chance of a view. Reluctantly, I point out the road that leads to petrified wood and agates as mentioned in the book.

I’m sulking as I pick my way through prickly pear cactus toward a wash. There’s rock strewn across the ground and I kneel for a closer look. Every. Piece. Petrified. Wood. Suddenly, I’m thinking, monkeys, what monkeys, there’s treasure everywhere! I stuff so much silicified wood into my pockets my pants hang close to falling off. Bobo trots past, panting, enjoying her romp. I find a raw agate the size of a softball and I’m panting. It’s maroon, streaked with black and caramel. Then I find another of near-opalized chalcedony. It’s smaller, like a golf-ball. I pick up a thumbnail-sized crystal that turns out to be a topaz. A topaz! I found a gem!

Swooning, pants sagging, I leave in the truck giddy with discovery. The Hub brags he found petrified wood. I refrain from saying even three blind mice could in such a littered geological field, and enjoy his rare excitement over rocks. We decide to see how far the road goes, marveling at seeps of water and hidden coulees. The road narrows and climbs again. This time we are topping the highest red layer of sandstone. Once on top of yet another, taller mesa behind the one that launched monkeys the land spreads all the way back toward what locals call the Kolab Terrace. I know we must be near the rim and I ask the Hub to stop.

We find the rim and it is a mini Grand Canyon that overlooks everything hidden by Zion Canyon. This is truly a back-country view seldom seen by tourists. We find RV neighbors who laugh upon recognizing us. They congratulate us on finding this semi-secret place. They sit in chairs perched a mile above the staggered mesas and canyons below. It’s like looking at a quilt in 3D. I’m dizzy, yet can’t resist sitting on the rim like I did once when I was 18 and saw the Grand Canyon which is only 140 miles south. I can almost see it from here.

Our neighbors are gathered to watch the super moon. They tell us the road is better going out toward Kolab. We drive on and stop when a massive golden orb rises behind West Temple in the distance. Wolves howl. Like a topaz for the ears. No one will admit to wolves near Zion, but Mexican gray wolves are suspected of ranging this far north of their country of origin. The only thing more perfect would be a flying monkey.

But that was two days before the Hub suggests we go up the mesa again.

He turns the truck the opposite direction and announces he want to see the mesa at the Coalpits Wash. But that is Zion National Park Wilderness, and access is by foot — no bikes, horses or dogs on that trail. He explains he means the road that goes back that way. Now I know which one, but it’s a driveway, not really a road. Part of the adventure is being proved wrong. The road is neither a driveway nor one leading to Coalpits Wash. It leads to the backside of Zion, to a hidden back-country, to the fire-pit of sandstone. To the lost city. Flying monkeys, what flying monkeys?

We crest another mesa and I recognize the geological level. “Stop!” The Hub is reluctant, wanting to explore more of the road. He stops and I hop out, eyes to the ground. Glass glitters and I see the fire-pit. It’s obviously a campsite full of modern humanity’s detritus. Then I see one, a piece of petrified wood. I was right! This is the level. Now I’m seeing shards of agates. Not the hunks from before, flakes. Flakes? I look around 360 degrees. Could it be? The city begins to unfold in my imagination.

I was 17 years old when the State of California published my archeological report of Alpine County. I won an Outstanding Science and Engineering Award from the Department of the Air Force of the United States of America that same year. Having grown up under the mentorship of “old-timers,” in a place full of layered history and anthropology, possessing a keen imagination, I learned to see lost cities. To me, it’s obvious. My mind flits through a list of factors — water source, flatness, elevation, food source, proximity to game, fire-pits. Old ones. Ancient ones.

This was a large encampment, and those who lived here long before the Mormons ever followed a prophet, centuries before Rock Creek had a station, long before the eras Danni studies in historical archaeology, the lost city prized what I do. Agates from broken pieces of petrified wood. The mineralization creates smooth, slick rock that is glass-like. It fractures like volcanic glass — obsidian — in conchoidal flakes to shape knives, scrapers, spearheads and arrowheads. Mars just upped the treasure hunt on me, though I know to be careful with my enthusiasm.

Chippings are debris, the cast-offs of artifacts. Artifacts are not legal to collect. When I was 18, I donated my personal collection to my county museum. When we packed up from Elmira Pond, in my hope chest I found remnants of that collection, probably pieces I had in dresser drawers or old jewelry tins. I gathered it all, including my long lost Air Force Award, original archaeological recordings and drawings of artifacts, maps, and my published work. It had lingered in the dark recesses of my hope chest, a painful reminder of my past. The time I studied to be an archaeologist. An old dream.

But I can still see. One doesn’t ever lose the sight. I let myself hypothesize and prove. Over there, by the fire pit, I’ll find lots of chippings. That was where there tools were crafted. Yes! More flakes, broken scrapers. Over there, near the scrubby pines, that’s where they fixed meals. Yes! I find a broken matate. And those flat rocks expanding past the trees to the rim. They crushed pinenuts and collected water. Yes! I find an old reservoir and pits. Many of the modern fire rings are built right on top of old ones. Shards of clay pigeons and brown beer bottle glass mingles with colorful chippings. Magical place and I lament I have no tobacco to offer the Ancestors. I will return with an offering. After all, this place was a gift to “see.”

Now I use my imagination to write historical fiction. Miracle of Ducks is not historical, but Danni’s career is. Her nemesis who she must befriend in Ike’s absence is Michael. He’s my conscience.  He’s the one who calls Danni a bone-digger. He resents her interest in his ancestors and culture. She argues that she reads trash in the layers of dirt and that his ancestors would laugh at her carefully collecting pieces of debris to give the story of who lived there before. I felt as if Danni and Michael had traveled to this place with me. I cast the matate aside, beneath a juniper after showing the Hub, and taking a photo:

The exploration ends when Bobo tangles with a cactus and we have to pluck spines from her tender hide, nose and paws. As the sun sets I look across this lost city and can see the rim I had sat upon on the night of a super moon. As it does every night, the sun sets.


November 17, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is told around a campfire. It can be a bonfire, burning trash can, a fire pit, something flaming outdoors. It can be a prop, and you can tell the story of anything — ghosts, ancients, jokes. Who is gathered and listening? Note the extended date (Happy Thanksgiving to US writers; may turkey take our minds off the one about to enter the White House.)

Respond by November 29, 2016 to be included in the compilation (published November 30). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Looming Giants (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“And then that German pinned me, my face to his backside. Without much thought, I bit through his pants and clenched until he cried for mercy! And that boys, is how I beat the German Giant from Kansas.” Cobb tipped his bitters bottle and the bonfire gathering cheered.

Sarah listened from the porch. The more Cobb drank, the louder he told stories. She wondered at these men, many converts from the British Isles, headed to Mormon Zion with handcarts and talk of multiple wives. The women sat in the shadows, exhausted, on guard to fighting giants of their own.


Reading Miracles (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Campfire wasn’t light enough to read by. Danni shined her flashlight across the inky scrawl of penmanship no one today would have. She read aloud,

“The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden.”

“Sounds biblical,” said Ike.

“It’s from the letters Max found in a cigar box. He said his father’s Mormon grandparents left Zion for a miracle in Idaho.”

“A miracle!”

“Oh, Ike. It’s just a story. It can reveal facts about pioneer migrations.”

By firelight, Ike grinned. Danni refused his miracles. Facts mattered.


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    • Annecdotist

      That was quick off the mark, Michael, and a great flash!

      • Michael

        Thank you, I enjoy the challenge..

    • Charli Mills

      Fast as wild flame on this one! Thanks, Michael. You have a good weekend, too!

    • ellenbest24

      I tried to leave you a reply but… filled my email and name and whooshed it away like the proverbial fart in the bog! Great post good fun I’m going to do a toilet one now just to prove brits can… ????

      • Annecdotist

        Sorry about that, Ellen, and thanks for persisting with your comment. I hope you manage to come up with a toilet flash! We actually had it as a challenge theme a couple of years ago so you might find further inspiration here

      • ellenbest24

        Ahhh I go to Charli’s ranch regularly as I do the loo *chuckles* so maybe you willvisir me too? ????????

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Toilet Day just got interesting. Thanks, Ellen and Anne!

    • Sherri

      Have commented on your blog Anne 🙂

    • julespaige

      Reminds me of some of the games some play at trying to light their own body fuel… not the safest thing I imagine. Even if you eat plenty of beans. I’have to look up that item you mention.

  1. ellenbest24

    Toilet day! You are kidding me *gasp* whatever next… *thinks with frown on face* what do you do on toilet day ‘aggggghhhhhh’! Forget I asked. *shakes head as she leaves* ????????

    • Annecdotist

      I realise my post this year doesn’t give much of the background the importance of Toilet Day in breaking the taboo about tackling global inequalities around sanitation and its impact on health, education and women’s lives in particular
      So thanks for the reminder of the need for easy access to information.

      • ellenbest24

        My humour belies a wealth of concearn I spent some time working in India, my husb built a home for hiv kids and put in a freh water. I spoke to the son in law of the governor of New Delhi and business man William Bissell his quote was ‘We have the brains but lack honesty and toilets’ refering to corruption and sanitation. ????

      • Charli Mills

        Even in the US where I’m fairly certain a marmalade clown sits upon a gilded throne loo, those who are homeless struggle.

  2. Sherri

    Gorgeous photos…that last one is stunning, that sky…wow, so beautiful, it looks like glass… I shall return Charli! <3

    • Charli Mills

      When there are any kind of clouds (and usually they are of the wispy sort) the sky is like glazed stained glass! Be back soon! <3

      • Sherri

        Just gorgeous…and I will, you can count on it! <3

  3. elliotttlyngreen

    I know I won’t ignore what I want to burst before I finish reading… so is the minds we have..

    and …. Can’t believe I missed the monkeys.

    This. IS. It. Indeed. This is the book. I tell you what. And I missed the monkeys chapter. [mmm considering my affinity with 12 monkeys and a flying instant distraction like your favorite gem piercing the peripherals…] Yes, but, In other words, damn this is a Great novel Charli.

    ‘and the less I seek my source for some definitive
    the Closer I am
    to fine

    Crossing over upon The Looming Wherewithal

    by Elliott Lyngreen

    In that sordid celerity you get but all connected via that fantastic crystal lattice, that similarity; feedback-diffusing-static; I answer this invite and go camping with mi primo. Never been… Turns out he needed my Cherokee. So, smooshed in a small group, counselors against the hatch; including two foreign types – empirically referred to as ‘Mike from Denmark’ and of course, “I am Frank,” drops the bulk of his arm to a surface, “the Anaconda.” – my first time; our first fire, right…? produces this gliding, smoothing, just coasting star slid so slow and so low tracing close the looming wherewithal…

    • Charli Mills

      I can’t believe you missed the monkeys, too! You would have had them sailing through the cosmos! Thanks, Elliott! Oh, what a great journey and I love the way the words knit so well to the web of story, the adventure unfolding. Cherokee is a great choice of ride!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        was a 5-speed / 2-peel too!! Such a ride. Was not enough room in 99 words .. .. for them details.

      • Charli Mills

        But I can imagine it!

    • Norah

      Oh to see one of those stars sliding so slow. I’ve never seen a shooting star. Can you believe that? I think I need to get outdoors more – away from the computer screen!

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, really! I think of Australia having big skies, too! Coming back from Phoenix, my SIL and I saw a bright shooting star over Las Vegas…or maybe it was a UFO! 🙂

      • Norah

        If you’re not sure, it’s definitely a UFO! 🙂

      • elliotttlyngreen

        No, your kidding me?? It was amazing!! Just dripped; across tho.. .. And This how i picture Australia; though. like even cities and more populated areas have a view of dense accumulation up in the night… i truly think that! And everywhere just beyond my daily travels and immediate areas i live; they are overwhelmed; i imagine, cuz ever since i got out Like this night im referring to –skies are filled! If i get out far enough. I swear its as if there’s a vacant, dull spot empty above me. . . . I dont get out much either lol

      • Norah

        I look. I just don’t see. One day!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        You can’t look…. but you will see!!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m looking forward to the luscious eats, and for the first time in 27 years, not cooking! We will do some adventuring beforehand, but hopefully not to the fate of those in your flash.

      • Joe Owens

        Just stay on the ground Charli! Happy Turkey Day!

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Joe! Hope you had a good one!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ellen! Beautiful burning in your flash, memories and letting go.

      • ellenbest24

        Thank you Charli. Have a super week.

  4. denmaniacs4

    Powerful prompt, Charli. And a way for my extended tale to conclude. Endings always engender beginnings. Well, almost always. Happy Thanksgiving.


    The next morning, Aggie paused on the outskirts of Union City.

    The funeral pyre was still smoldering, pumping out rings of foul smoke, smelling of dead flesh and the horror of divine providence.

    “We’ll bury Dobbs, Mrs. Runacre,” Hank Taylor had promised, “but for the others, even the flames won’t remove their stain.”

    Astride General Grant, bidding farewell, bundled and provisioned for her long ride back to the mountains, she was almost tempted to cry.

    “No, Mr. Dobbs. Clancy. I will not weep for you. You allowed me to see a good man do a noble deed. Farewell, friend.”

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, fare thee well, Dobbs and Aggie. I feel as though a great friendship has come to an end. Such as it is when I close the last page on beloved characters. What a terrific western you have written in serial! Thank you!

      • denmaniacs4

        Charli, thank you for the platform. I have so enjoyed riding the trail with you.

      • Charli Mills

        I have enjoyed it, too!

    • Charli Mills

      Allison! Welcome! Well, talk about good karma…today I went to purchase a book that a friend wrote and what popped up was one of yours. Complete coincidence! So I bought it, then come home to the ranch and here you are with a flash!

      • Allison Maruska

        How cool! ????Thanks for buying my book!

      • Charli Mills

        It was a great read (4th Descendant)! I left you stars, but need to post a review on Amazon, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Pensitivity! We’re getting well acquainted now. Should I call you Pens? 😉 Thanks for joining in this extended week!

      • pensitivity101

        My name is Diana, but most call me Di or Pen/Pens on the blog. I don’t mind which. Pleased to chat!

  5. julespaige

    Charli –
    I like that the giant shadows that get bigger each time a tale is told – I had a relative like that too… And as for facts – the straight fact is you have a welcome campfire here each week. We gather round to listen to facts and fiction as each writer migrates and evolves with their words.

    Happy family gatherings around the ‘campfires’ of your tables everyone for the holidays – they may have some different names and aren’t always celebrated on the same day – but I think we always cheer a bit when family and good friends get together.

    (the title should be the link to the post if I did this correctly.)

    Driftwood, perfect for a campfire on the shore. Make sure the
    tide is going out. Build close to the dunes. Won’t even be able
    to hear flames crackle or the guitar player due to the loud surf.
    Pass the Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

    Wear a sweater. After the sun sets it gets a tad chilly. Bring
    some blankets to sit or lay upon so you can gaze up to the
    stars. Maybe see the Milky Way. Be careful of the sand flies
    and crabs.

    Tagalong siblings look away from the couples. Who make
    a different kind of heat.


    • Charli Mills

      Ah, Jules, yes this a welcoming campfire for all who gather embrace one another with tales. I love the idea of the shadows growing bigger with each telling. Your title link worked! I really liked how this one unfolds!

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Agree…interesting prompt. Stories around the fire. Will be back with my flash. Happy Thanksgiving to US writers and a wonderful weekend to all at the Ranch!

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    You have found yourself living in a treasure trove. Loved being with you on your trails. Will be back with a campfire yarn.

      • Charli Mills

        Living in Utah has opened a window for me to peer through. In historical research, I encounter the Morman movement but here it’s more real because this was the destination. Some expanded to neighboring states and all passed through the Nebraska Trail. I think of the women who place their future in the hands of men for reasons of protection and promotion, yet have to deal with marriage and sexism. Yet for the Mormon women, they also had to deal with outside persecution (for their beliefs) and inside difficulties of polygamy and a cult-like system. I wonder at those giants, and the actual perceptions of the women involved and the women, like Sarah, who met many on migration to a new life.

    • Charli Mills

      Happy to have you on the trail where we never know what treasure we will find.

  8. A. E. Robson

    More often than not, this story gets told when we are not around a campfire.

    Campfire Mule
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “He’s a mule. Don’t tell me he understood people?”

    “I tell ya, it’s true,my grandpa was there!”

    “Old Jake mule thought he was human. He’d sidle in to where everyone was sitting yacking around the campfire. Stick his head in-between the people talking. One guy would talk. Jake would look at him. When the guy beside him talked, Jake looked at him. The nights it rained, Jake’d stick his head through the fly on the tent so he could keep just his head dry.”

    “Ya right.”

    “It’s true. Grandpa talks about that old mule all the time.”

    • Charli Mills

      Good point! I recall those stories not told around the campfire, too. I love this mule!

      • A. E. Robson

        Jake mule was quite a character.

  9. Pete Fanning

    The encampment swelled. Tents and tarps lined the sidewalk, shedding socks and gloves, wads of napkins along the curbs.

    Pockets of comradery formed. The grass gave way to mud. Occasional laughter from figures huddled over glowing fires, shivering in the shadow of capitalism that seized the sun and cast a fluorescent chill over the lot. Some slept. Other discussed strategy.

    At dawn, the fires smoldered. Knuckles cracked and smiles vanished as the mood grew tense. Morning inched over the lot. Commotion as the blue uniforms unlocked the doors.

    “Attention Black Friday shoppers. Best Buy will open in five minutes.”

    • Marigold blooms...

      Oh my goodness, I love this! Laughed so hard. Waiting for some apocalyptic event, only to discover it’s a run on big screen TVs. LOL.

    • Deborah Lee

      Brilliant take on the cue!

    • Sherri

      Haha…you really got me with this one Pete…I can hear the sound of that first punch thrown over the big screen TV even now. Great stuff!!! PS Black Friday is now in the UK, which is ridiculous as we don’t even have Thanksgiving, so it’s a normal work day, and actually, it’s more like Black Friday Week…or two…if that makes any sense…

    • Norah

      Hilarious! And timely!

      • Pete

        Thanks guys. I’d really like to tack on an S to that other!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no, that explains the Black Friday madness! We don’t go camping enough! Great use of humor and seasonal timing!

  10. Norah

    Oh, Charli, I have read this rich post a number of times over but am just getting to comment. I hardly know where to start. I am in awe of your adventurous spirit, and love that I can do the metaphorical ride alongside you to see all you see: what’s there now and what once was.
    I must have missed it in earlier posts, and hadn’t realised (but should have) that you had begun archaeological studies. It is so you. It reminds me of Jack Horner’s story – no completed formal qualifications, but richer qualifications earned through interest and experience.
    Belated congratulations on your paper and awards received when you were 17. That’s quite an achievement.
    I understand why you feel that Michael and Danni are there with you, and I sense your excitement at the richness of your finds. How wonderful that Todd is now asking you to drive out. I sense he is beginning to develop rocks in his head also!
    Yesterday I took G1 and G2 to the museum after school. We were looking at the collection of rocks and gems and I spotted a topaz, beautifully cut and polished, and crystal clear. I thought of you and your topaz, and wondered at your ability to identify it. I, with my limited knowledge, thought topaz to be blue, I hadn’t realised that in its purest form it is colourless and transparent. I’m learning; but ever-so slowly.
    I’m interested to see the inclusion of religion in both flash stories this week. I guess in the mighty Utah and so close to Salt Lake City it is inevitable. I have gone for a more spiritual than religious awakening in my “Around the campfire” response this time. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks, as always, for the challenge. Here’s the link:

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for the metaphorical ride, just as I feel I enter your metaphorical classroom each week. We got to show our daughter so many of the amazing mesas and rocks! Thank you, also for acknowledging my achievements at 17. I have kept that buried because of much pain. It wasn’t until sorting through those things I realized what a big part of my life all that was and I felt I deserved to have that award after all. It is actually with me! And yes, waxing toward religious exploration must be a natural progression being in Mormon country. Topaz is an amazing mineral and the blue version is stunning in jewelry. Initially I thought it was quartz. But topaz has a star-like fracture and I noticed it. It also has a slight smoky yellow color, ever so faintly. Quartz is clearer or white. My Geologist advised a scratch test. Topaz will scratch quartz! And it did. Still, I sent it to Michigan for a second opinion. So wonderful you to the G1 and G2 to the museum! I have a museum here I want to ship to you! It’s all about dinosaurs and the tracks they left in the desert. I always enjoy your posts and flash!

      • Norah

        Thank you, Charli. It’s wonderful to be able to share, and find unity in, our diverse experiences. There’s so much to learn and do, we couldn’t do all of it, though some people certainly manage quite a bit. How I’d love you to take G1 and G2 around the museum. How you would excite them with your knowledge, your stories, and your words. G2 starts school next year. 🙁 Where do the years go?
        I hope you find gold in them there rocks! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It passes by all so quickly! You have gold in them there grandchildren!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Lady lee! You have a great day, too!

    • Charli Mills

      I love those “rocky” days of discovery! Ha! I will keep following the flying monkeys!

  11. Sherri

    Hi Charli! So glad I have now at long last had the chance to read your entire, wonderfully rich post, and wow…you know I am beaming from ear to ear 😀 You entrance me with your geological knowledge, I truly felt as if I was right there with you, journeying through Zion and the Mesas, exploring, finding treasure and ooohing and ahhhhing just like you…although I have a tenth if that of the knowledge you have, despite once, a long time ago, also harbouring an ambition to be an archeologist! Flying monkeys? Who needs ’em when you have your amazing energy and brilliant mind, finding great stories right on your doorstep?! That’s fantastic to win such a prestigious award…you know your stuff and I can see more and more how this reflects in MOD. I love and am more than a little intrigued that you bring in mention of the ‘miracle’ here…and those early British Mormon settlers…and your Rock Creek flash, sublime in its kick in the pants ending. I can hear the raucous laughter from around that campfire from here…and you know, I can even smell the smoke, so great is your gift of creating setting and atmosphere. I will go away and return shortly with my flash, then I’ll read the others, as I don’t like to do so until I’ve written mine. I love reading about your adventures, especially knowing you’re safe and sound to write about them…yikes!…and I particularly love this line, and relate to it for many reasons: ‘Part of the adventure is being proved wrong’. Ha…never a truer word spoken my friend!! 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sherri! The fun escapades we could have let lose together on the mesas! Thank you for getting sucked in to the stories with me. I have to find fun in getting proven wrong, as it happens so often. But it extends the surprise of discovery. Thanks dear friend! <3

      • Sherri

        Oh what fun we would have indeed…and what fun in that surprise of discovery too! And I would say the same about your wonderful storytelling…oh what delicious discovery! Thank you right back, dear friend! <3

  12. Sherri

    Right, I’m back! I had fun with this…so you know what this means, ha! Thanks again Charli for another great prompt…and I’ve got to say it again, I am seriously in love with your last photo, it is just gorgeous 🙂 <3

    Ring of Fire

    “What’s that?” whispered Sam, turning towards the bushes behind him.

    Flames licked up into the darkness, a warming glow for the campers. Apart from the spits and crackles of the firewood, Mona didn’t hear anything.

    “Nothing…sit down and poke the fire before it goes out!”

    Another loud snap and Sam shot back on his feet. “That’s it, I’m going to take a look. Hand me the torch, quick.”

    “A little jumpy aren’t you?” sniggered Mona.

    Mona heard a howl and smiled up at the full moon, dreaming only of the Caribbean retreat Sam’s life insurance would soon pay for.

    • Norah

      Oh Sherri. Now Mona, she’s a dark one.

      • Sherri

        Haha…that’s what I thought!!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, that Mona! She’s like the shadows cast in the crevices of the mesas. You write such deliciously devious characters!

      • Sherri

        Oh I love that: ‘…she’s like the shadows cast in the crevices of the mesas..’ And this: ‘deliciously devious’. Wow! I’m liking this Mona more and more, think I’ll have to explore her character alongside your exploration of Mars! High praise, my friend, thank you so much! <3

  13. Kerry E.B. Black

    Fair warning: mine is a dark story.
    A Carrot Ranch Campfire Story told in 99 words
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Fire’s magic transforms all it touches. Its gold infuses elegance into humble surroundings, and its heat warms human souls.

    It dances across logs, graceful as a sprite. Its tongues send messages to heaven, wrapped in clouds of billowing gray smoke.

    I squeeze my eyes shut. Blue-bright flames lit by hatred to creep up my skirts. Hair sizzles. skin bubbles. Pain sears as fragrant flesh pops from bone until all that remains is unrecognizable char.

    My spirit clings to the spot of my assassination, but instead of damning my persecutors, I admire the flame’s artistry. Fire transforms all it touches.

    • Norah

      Dark indeed, horrifying even, but well told.

    • Charli Mills

      Dark, yet powerful. This is the essence of a witch-hunt: “Blue-bright flames lit by hatred to creep up my skirts.” Yet the transformation of fire is evocative in this piece, too.


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