August 3: 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 4, 2017

Science. It’s what brought my eldest and her spouse to the Keweenaw, where Michigan Tech has been a public research university since 1885. She’s now Director of Research News, writing and directing science stories for several academic publications, including the university’s research blog, Unscripted.

While I’ve had rocks on the brain since arriving — a common Keweenaw affliction — I’ve been pondering the relationship between arts and science. As a literary artist, science fuels my imagination. Yet science relies as much on creativity as it does data. As a geoscientist and dancer, my daughter understands this dynamic and writes about the intention of Unscripted:

“…This is a place where metaphor and methodology meet. Where curiosity inspires conversation, art, and science. We write the research you can’t find on news wires, capture science in action, and speak frankly about the work we do. Often succinct, we’re not afraid of an in-depth exploration either. Yeah, Unscripted is a university research blog—and then some.”

Metaphor and methodology. It’s like finding a mineral in its matrix with a spectacular inclusion at the juncture. As writers, we work to balance what drives our rawest ideas with the structure of craft. And like scientists we don’t go at this alone. We share research, theories and ideas. We encourage that curiosity to drive both art and science.

Tonight, I’m in a weather warp. Rain pummels my umbrella and I’m chilled in a sweater. Half-way up the hill I realize the “path” we chose is actually a broad rain gutter. At the top of the hill we’re greeted at the door with amusement and the comment, “Not from here, hey?”

(Note: “hey?” is an inflection not a question, a Keweenaw colloquialism.)

“Hey! No, we just relocated.”

“You’ll like it here, hey?”

We already do. The stress of the past year fades each new day, even though we face medical mountains and home hurdles. We have a safe pad at the home of Michigan Tech’s News Director and her Park Ranger/Bubbler/Baker/Solar Man. We’re exploring options to use the RV to get homed, setting up VA appointments and growing the Ranch. You might have noticed the banners for Carrot Ranch changed here, on Facebook and Twitter. That’s part of the growth that has been delayed by a year of wandering on wheels.

Branding is both art and science. The art appeal is subjective — it always is, so don’t take it personally if someone likes or dislikes your art, it’s not a true measurement. However, I like the art and what it conveys: we are a literary community. Ann Rauvola, my long-time friend, colleague and CR designer uses her skills, her scientific knowledge of color and collage to create the art. I’ll let you in on a design secret — the banner is a fusion of three photos. But the shot of the bird and horse? Hey! That one lucky shot from an afternoon of photographing the interplay between blackbirds and Elmira Pond ponies.

A science part of branding is consistency. The change was meant to be subtle, and yet I didn’t do it until I could upgrade all three banners. This is in preparation for a launch of Patreon in preparation for a launch of an annual rodeo in preparation for a launch of the first CR anthology in preparation for work on the next. Whew! Timing is everything and a misstep, or a house loss, can really throw a monkey wrench in the workings. It’s why I’m grateful to have this Keweenaw stability to actualize the literary community vision.

Why, you might ask? That’s a legitimate question.

My process is both art and science. The latter coming in the form of research — historical or natural. The art flows from the writing. Like the Unscripted researchers, I want that conversation and connectivity. Art and science is best shared, and we do learn from and inspire one another. As a platform for my writing I can be the lone cowpoke or a lead buckaroo. A community of writers is dynamic, and together we make a bigger footprint in the writing world. My long projects are, well, long so collaborative short projects keep me going. I hope you find something here, too that gives you purpose in being here.

At the heart of the community is taking time each week to interact, play and think. You all make me think. And I like thinking.

Which is why I walked up a rain gutter to listen to a scientist speak on the world-class mineral collection at Michigan Tech for a program called Science on Tap — a pub crawl with scientists. Four more blocks in the rain and we arrive to hear a second presentation on the shipwrecks of Lake Superior and here’s where science bent my brain. First, an oceanographer stands before us declaring the Great Lakes “inland seas.” He explains ocean currents and government funding; how he has to explain science to a current administration not keen on it.

Then, he tell us we can see with our ears.

I’m all ears. Show me…And he does. Through a series of slides he shows us photos taken at sunset, elongating shadows. He points out optical illusions, and how to see beyond. Then he shows us slides of Lake Superior where it’s so deep it’s always dark in her ice water mansion where thousands of ships have wrecked. You can’t see those depths with a camera, but with sonar you can create a picture of light and shadow. Sound makes an acoustic image of many historic wrecks on the lake (cue Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of Edmunds Fitzgerald).

“Superior, they say, never gives up her dead…” And it’s estimated that more than 30,000 lives have been lost in this lake. This is why the scientists do not sound map more recent wrecks like the Edmunds Fitzgerald — not only is it an iron ore ship busted in half on the deep floor of Lake Superior, it’s also the grave of 29 men with family who yet live. In our collective psyche, we all think of Lightfoot’s song in this region, the scientist even admits to owning the musician’s collection of albums. Where science doesn’t go out of respect for the recent dead, our imaginations do. Art and science help each other to see.

Scientists have sent down dive teams on other wrecks they’ve discovered through the sight of sonar. In 1895, divers identified one of the wrecks as a coal ship struck and sunk by a steamer in thick fog. Four crew died in that wreck and the legs of one can still be seen poking out from spilled coal of the shattered hull. During WWI, the French worked on secret mine-sweepers in Thunder Bay (Lake Superior on the Canadian side). Two ships were lost in a November blizzard on Lake Superior without any clue of where. Two captains and 76 men disappeared. The search with sonar continues.

As writers we create images with words to tell these stories, to show these stories. Sound is often a sense overlooked in the craft of creating that image. It’s intriguing to think of how sound can map an action, character, tone or scene. Can we use sonar, sound navigation, to make a flash fiction? It might be difficult, but the art and science is there to push us to try.

August 3, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story. Just as you might “see” a scene unfold, think about how it might sound. Even one sound to set the tone is okay. Go where you hear the prompt lead. Feel free to experiment.

Respond by August 8, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published August 9). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


A Grating Sound (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Gears ground when the all-terrain vehicle powered up the slope. Danni heard Evelyn shout, “Giddy-up, Mule! Haw! Haw!” The revving engine faded, and a drone of voices washed over Danni like white noise. She studied the sonar graphs, puzzling over the dark features buried four feet below the Kansas clay. Trowels scraped, volunteers called to one another and the porta-potty door slammed intermittently. Danni focused. The active noises blurred.

“I’m a gardener!” A high-pitched voice like nails on a chalkboard.

Danni grit her teeth hard enough to hear enamel chip. A child. Who brought a child to her dig?


You May Also Like…


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing the sound of story-crafting!

  1. Reena Saxena

    “…This is a place where metaphor and methodology meet. Where curiosity inspires conversation, art, and science…. These words made my day, Charli! Enough to munch on for the day.

    God bless your brilliant daughter!

    • Charli Mills

      So delighted that resonated with you, Reena! I think you’d enjoy reading Unscripted!

      • Reena Saxena

        Is there a link to it?

      • Charli Mills

        Yes! Go to: You can subscribe or visit as you will. The stories are so interesting and the world filled with amazing science!

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful expression of the prompt challenge, Reena!

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Sound Track

    “I love it here.”
    “Yeah, Kid, what do love about it?”
    “Well, until you showed up jest now, flappin’ yer pie-hole, I was jest lovin’ the sounds. Listen. Hear that? Far off ya can already hear the clopping footsteps of some rider bringin’ one in. Soon ya’ll be hearin’ the easy lowing of the new herd in the corral. And from up by the bunkhouse friendly laughin’ and talkin’. And, ya hear that? Best sound of all. Bangin’ pots and pans, ringin’ out with the promise of vittles. Shorty’s fixin’ to cook. Cookin’ up somethin’ special.”
    “I hear that!”

    • Kate

      My strappin’ son always heard when I got the cutting board out to chop veggies, or the pots for cooking … he’d appear from nowhere, wondering when the vittles would be ready so he could eat. Nice flash!

    • Charli Mills

      Terrific sound track, D. I can just hear the tappin’ of writer’s keys to Copeland and clopping. And that’s a great word to carry in one’s saddlebag. Time together ’round soon and share. 🙂

    • Norah

      Sounds like a warm and happy place to be. Glad I arrived in time for vittles. I’ll just pull up my stump, if that’s okay. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        You’re always welcome to pull up your stump, Norah!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli!

    • julespaige

      I spent some summers in Up-state NY – not quite cattle country, but we knew some farmers that had a few cows and chickens.
      Country is definitely different than city – I’ve had too much of that.
      Suburbs seems a good in between – especially when on the edge of it and near a creek…

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sending out the all for the challenge, Lady Lee!

  3. julespaige

    Charli (and Community),

    When plans change…(does someone hear a Celestial Being laughing…) schedules get rearranged. I was supposed to be hearing traffic noises heading south, but I have to wait a bit for my next northern travel adventure. I do however get the opportunity to dance at my own pace for a bit. So that’s what I did before the heat of the morning got too overbearing – I took a walk and listened – that was before I came home and read the Carrot Ranch Challenge 🙂 Please enjoy:

    Forest Bathing

    Most suburbs have cookie cutter houses and some
    neighborhoods are lined with concrete sidewalks, that for a
    time were required by law. They reside in between areas
    where the yards go right to the streets’ paved edge. Which
    were at one time disconnected from other areas by remaining

    Those houses with old growth trees nestled in hillsides where
    fox, deer and pheasant still hide… that is where you can hear
    the past meeting the future. Little pockets of Shinrin-yoku await.

    Insects buzz, woodpeckers tap out Morse Code. and early
    risers climb with dreamsand still stuck in their eyes…


    This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest. Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      So that’s what it’s called. I have been perfecting this! Got it going on even as I ride through the ranch this morning. Thanks for the background and a fine flash.

      • julespaige

        There is quite a bit of info in Forest Bathing. I think some of us have been doing this naturally whenever we could or can. I just found out about the concrete concept (oh a bad pun…) this year myself. 🙂

    • Kate

      “And that is where you can hear the past meeting the future.” Beautifully said. Ka

    • Charli Mills

      Thought I heard celestial laughter! And you heard the sounds of resetting for the day. The Shinri-yoku Forest Therapy is ancient and effective. I’ve swallowed its medicine many times. Forest bathing…what a beautiful concept. Thank for sharing the healing essence, Jules!

    • Deborah Lee

      Forest bathing…a beautiful name for a beautiful practice. I’ve been doing it all my life and just now learned the name for it. Beautiful flash.

  4. Kate

    I have driven along the north shore of Lake Superior on the Canadian side many times… rugged, wild and not a person to be found for miles.

    Paul Gross (Canadian actor) hoped to use Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of Edmunds Fitzgerald tune for his episode of the TV show Due South, “Mountie on the Bounty.” He discreetly tried to secure the rights to use the song, but out of respect for the families who wished not to be reminded of the tragedy he didn’t pursue the option aggressively. He instead wrote the similarly themed song “32 down On The Robert MacKenzie”. It was one of the episodes that somehow stuck with me. Here’s Paul Gross’ song:

    • Norah

      That’s quite a different way of telling the story, isn’t it. Interesting combination of instruments and rhythm. Quite powerful rock with Scottish pipers and an Irish sounding influence too. Love it. So sad for the men and their families.

    • Charli Mills

      The Canadian shore sounds similar to the American one! Thank you for sharing this rollicking ballad. Despite it’s vibrancy, the music captures the tragedy of those lost at sea on Superior. The line that caught me was, “If I don’t come home tonight, I’ll make it home some day.” There’s such a lack of closure loved ones must feel, knowing a ship sank with their beloved but living with that anticipation of “home some day.” It’s interesting how Gordon Lightfoot’s song set the framework, but Paul Gross made it into something new and different. Thanks for sharing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di! Not what I had expected — good set up.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Charli.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A twist! I did not see that tinkling sound coming.

      • floridaborne

        Always embarrassing if it happens. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That’s an interesting observation. And a fun flash!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Tell us more. There is more. There could be more. Tell us more.

    • Charli Mills

      Funny how that goes sometimes! Thanks, Allison!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      So many unappealing sounds before the _____ peals. (Don’t want to ruin the surprise)

      • Michael

        Please don’t lol ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael. It was an interesting one with belly-dancing and roller derby. Lots of sounds similar to your flash, different outcome!

  5. Kerry E.B. Black

    True story. 🙁

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Crinkling, like anxious mice in an autumn woodland, woke Wendy from a sound sleep. She wrinkled her nose around a musty smell. The insidious crinkling crept deeper. She lit a bedside flashlight and shone it on the ground. She gasped. “No.” Water crept into her room, surrounding her as though she were Thumbellina asleep on a lilypad. Her feet splashed on sopping carpet as she rushed to gather the most valuable of her belongings. Tears splashed into the rising tide. The water rose above her ankles, collecting items to ruin, crinkling like a voracious wolf gnawing an ancient bone.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      That must have been terrifying. Loved your metaphor “thumberlina asleep on a lilypad.”

    • jeanne229

      Great imagery with the Thumbelina simile and the sound of “anxious mice in an autumn woodland.” Chilling personification of the waters “collecting items to ruin, crinkling like a voracious wolf gnawing an ancient bone.” What a frightening experience it is to come face to face with inexorable nature.

    • Norah

      What a terrifying experience. I understand the tears splashing into the rising tide. The crinkling sound and musty smell will forever renew these memories, I’m sure. I wouldn’t have thought to use the word “crinkling” for water, but it is very effective. I hope your losses weren’t too great.

    • Charli Mills

      Kerry, that’s a terrible sound to wake up to. And there’s nothing you can do to stem the flow. Good use of metaphors and I like the word you chose to represent the sound.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Offerings D. Avery

    She listens to comfortable thuds and thumps as he prepares breakfast, brewing coffee rumbling a baseline to the robins’ chirping. The last stair-tread squeaks as Hope joins her father. Both quiet and reserved, in the mornings together quite talkative, sharing observations from the farm or surrounding woods, their voices rolling soft like the round-rocked brook.
    Against the breeze in the open window the curtain snaps. The daily escape of Hope’s favorite hen is heralded by its triumphant flapping and clucking.
    They bring her coffee, tentative daily offering. Unconsciously they interpret morning sighs, worry they might rouse her to flight.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There’s a better version at shiftnshake. And yes, it’s them again.

    • jeanne229

      Let this comment on your site as well: Beautiful flash. How sounds reverberate in the underlying silence of the country. You evoked the scene so viscerally with the morning sounds. And then that insertion of the insecurity and tentativeness of the calm with that last line.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, D., I thought I recognized a return. Hope is a fitting name for a farm girl with chickens and a parent prone to flight. Great use of sound. Love the opening line, especially: “…brewing coffee rumbling a baseline to the robins’ chirping.” I used the one from your blog in the compilation.

  7. Annecdotist

    Love how you’re settling into your new community, Charli. And the world would be a better place if there were more integration of arts and sciences.
    So, I think I’ve written about sound rather than the more challenging writing a sound story. Look forward to seeing where this takes people.
    Two novels about a young woman’s breakdown in the context of enmeshed family relationships

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Your flash resonates with foreshadowing.

    • jeanne229

      Ahh, the deals with the devil a parent would make. Your flash so evocatively captures that impossible demand to provide for the sublime when money can only buy the mediocre.

    • Charli Mills

      This is a good community for both science and art, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Yesterday we sojourned to the nearest VA hospital for our first visit outside the local clinic and even though it was 2 hours south, it was still in a remote area. Upon returning, we first passed MI Tech University and then the old mining town brick buildings and house set on the hills above the lake channel. It felt surreal, realizing how far removed this place is and yet how vibrant its history, art and science makes it. A pleasant place to be! And thank you for taking the sound challenge. Sometimes, writing about it helps figure out the next steps in craft.

  8. Norah

    Fascinating post as usual, Charli. I like that you are talking about the relationship of arts and science, just when I was doing the same on my readilearn blog. ????
    I agree with this statement: “science relies as much on creativity as it does data”. Scientists must be forward thinkers, and future oriented. They must be able to see options that haven’t been thought of or investigated before. How can advancements be made and innovations inspired without a sprinkling, or more, of creativity. Sometimes scientists are thought to be left-brained and fact-driven; but without the creativity of original thinking we’d never advance far. I think scientists must be a wonderful mix of the two. How wonderful that your daughter is using her multitude of skills to write about science and direct the research news. I have subscribed to “Unscripted”. I don’t know how much I’ll get to read, but hopefully a little from time to time. It looks to have much interesting content. “The meeting of metaphor and methodology” – that’s pretty cool.
    I’m pleased to hear you are feeling more settled with each new day, and that the trials (and trails) of the past year are fading behind you, hey!
    The new banners are great and herald further advancements on the Carrot Ranch trajectory. The photo of the bird and horse is beautiful and combines the grounded with the flight of imagination and creativity. What a lot of launches are ahead. Both aspects are required for the concept to work. I wish your dreams come true! Your actions are taking you in the right direction. Your determination will get you there.
    Science on Tap – a pub crawl with scientists! What a great idea.
    The history of Lake Superior with its wrecks and drownings is tragic. Discovering what lies beneath using sound is fascinating; and seeing with our ears an interesting way of viewing it. The challenge of writing a story using sound is tough one, but not as tough as the challenge of discovering what lies beneath the surface of Lake Superior. Good one, Charli!

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my contemplative contribution, a bit of a cop-out, but never mind. Sounds surround us
      I forgot to comment on your flash last time. What a powerful use you have made of sound and the sound words. I used the sound of nails on a chalkboard in one of my earlier discarded attempts. You’ve used it well here. Sounds like Danni has important finds on her mind in this piece.

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for commenting on my flash, Norah. It’s a larger scene I’ve been working on since Kansas, and I think it helped to focus on sound because it helped me better feel what Danni is doing in that opening moment. Funny, but I like the sound the word “cop-out” makes! I don’t think it’s that at all.

      • Norah

        I’m looking forward to reading that larger scene in its entirety.
        Cop-out. I guess it’s in our interpretation, isn’t it?
        When I was in high school, we had a writing project. I can’t remember what topic was set but I was stumped. The walls of our shower were of a product called Tilex and was pattered with squiggly lines of gold on white. As I contemplated the wall, pictures popped out at me from the patterns. In desperation I wrote about that and got an A+!! Writing this “flash” reminded me of that. One can never tell what another will like. I thought it was a pretty poor effort.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s definitely getting inspiration from you environment! I think learning to accept inspiration from any quarter takes time to recognize as worthy. Somehow we think it has to be a certain way, but really it’s the unexpected from any way. Good job on that essay!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. It used to stun me what the teachers thought was good. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hey! I’m feeling invigorated by the meeting of metaphors and methodology in this new place. And notice the placement of my eh/hey — that’s an old western colloquialism. I thought I’d shake up the community a bit by reintroducing hey as I grew up using it! 😀 And the practical aspect of Unscripted is that the stories are quick reads, yet full of fascinating research and provocative ideas. Yes, scientists need to be thinking of the future, unless of course they are researching the past. Even then, historians are trying to predict the future by understanding current events through the lens to the past. Did I mention this all makes me feel invigorated, hey? I really loved your post at readilearn, melding the art and science of preserving the coral reefs and the inspired beauty they give us. Even the art on silk was a science, how to understand the timing and colors. Stunning!

      • Norah

        So pleased to hear you’re feeling invigorated, eh? (My eh = you hey!) I subscribed to Unscripted but haven’t had a chance to read anything yet. My hours used to be 30 minutes long. Now it seems they’ve been reduced to 15! I just don’t seem to achieve what I used to, or what I hope to. It flies by too fast!
        Enjoy your renewed vigor!

      • Charli Mills

        Yep! Your eh = my hey, although I’m confusing Finlandia with my early placement! ????

  9. Michael

    My first crack at this one, like the idea.

    Each night it starts with a scratch scratch scratch on my window. I close my eyes and hope this it is just branches blowing against my window, but it never is.

    From the forest into my room they creep, scuttling across the ceiling, shrouded in darkness. Skull less eyes glow red, foul hissing breath on my skin as they envelop me. I lie frozen and unable to scream as their claws caress me, hungry tongues snaking out to feast on my fear.

    With a full belly they return to the night and I am free to scream, too late.

      • Michael

        Nice one thank you 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael and welcome to Carrot Ranch! I think we all went running to hide with hands over ears after your crack at the flash. Must be a hit, then. 🙂

      • Michael

        Thanks Charli it was good fun to write , looking forward to the next 🙂

  10. A. E. Robson

    It’s really too bad we can’t read and close our eyes at the same time. So much can be seen and heard when we let our minds take us to another place, another era.

    Jack Pine Wings
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    The wind in their faces, the full moon above. Always upwind of the unsuspecting herd feeding in the quiet, illuminated darkness at the meadow’s edge. Spooked to a dead run by the young men moving ever closer. The fleeing sound of pounding hooves, branches snapping, voices yelling. Escaping the open to the trusted sanctuary of the trees, only to face barriers built by those pushing from behind.

    Jack Pine pole wings guide them into the funnel opening of the corral. Held in the stronghold, wild-eyed, snorting, blowing. Squeals of defiance fight the ropes settling around sweating, heaving necks.

    (Read the whole story at

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Cool. Sounds of the round-up. I could listen and learn from you.

    • Charli Mills

      Ann, your flash has achieved that sonar status where sound has recreated a scene from the past. It’s like looking in the meadow and hearing ghosts in full reenactment. As buckaroos, my family worked often in Nevada where wild horses yet roam. Back then, they’d build similar wings of high desert cedar or take advantage of a box canyon. My father once showed me an old set up they used near a spring. There’s a tragic side to running wild horses in the Great Basin, but I’ll linger on the beauty of your wild hay meadow in Canada.

  11. micketalbot

    A newbie to this challenge, and by way of another blog, (she/he will know who’s when they clock the title), I arrived here, I think I’m at the right place? Nah, I am sure, couldn’t find the rules though. My entry is an acrostic, definitely flash fiction and follows the 99 word rule. My link

    Hope you like it, fingers crossed…

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Glad you came via and found us over on the Ranch. It is a nice place to join in and your flash was great.

      • micketalbot

        Glad I found you all. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Mick! We always like newbies getting roped into the challenge. You got it right — 99 words, go where the prompt leads you and let creativity take its course. If you want the rules, they’re more like guidelines, look on the Flash Fiction page. Thanks for joining us!

      • micketalbot

        My pleasure, thanks Charli. Hasten to add, not so much newbie to writing, nor flash fiction, just to the 99 words, challenge, looking forward to having another go 🙂

  12. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I like the process of combining art and science. For so long art has been seen as a very poor second to science although I think there is now a growing realisation that you can’t have one without the other. I loved that our nursing faculty (science based) and creative industries faculty (arts based) have joined together and are collaborating in their post grad projects. Some very interesting and exciting outputs are happening.

    Glad you are feeling the stress fading. A good feeling. The banner looks great and heralds a busy time ahead for the Ranch. I knew Lake Superior was large but had no idea about the ship wrecks that lay on her bottom.

    A great exercise writing sound. Mine

    Some good sounds in your flash. I particularly liked chalk on a board. It gave me the shivers up the spine and arms that I used to get in class many years ago.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hot dang! You did a bang up job with that flash.

    • Pete

      I loved the ending. Great flash, Irene!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Irene! I like what your nursing and creative industries are doing to collaborate. I think we’ve all become buried beneath the stuff of information overload via the internet, and science and art are leading the way in doing something productive with it all. Thanks! I’m glad you like the banner. Good things unfolding. And no chalk boards around. I recall a classmate doing that on purpose! Bang up job on your flash! 🙂

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Thanks Charli and relieved I do not have to hear the chalk board. I think there is going to be some very exciting stuff happening in multiple directions.

  13. Kate

    For the past week, in lieu of sunny skies, I have been waking up to blankets of smokey haze. Wildfires. Everyone around here is talking about them; the media is full of stories of courage, resiliency, kindness and hope. These became the inspiration for my flash this week, Wildfire.

    • Charli Mills

      My heart goes out to everyone impacted, Kate. I’ve experienced the great generosity of people in wildland fires. I was so caught up with them, mesomorized and yet sad and choking on the daily smoke when they hit north Idaho and eastern Washington so badly. I hope Americans are helping you out as the Canadians helped us.

    • Deborah Lee

      Or *pollution, even.

    • Charli Mills

      Both suck! 😀

  14. Pete

    My dad’s eyes flashed silver when he got into a bottle. His lungs darkened, his voice bellowed, and Mom would whisk me off to bed amidst the building gusts.

    In my bed I could still smell the sourness in his skin, his blood charged with ozone and bourbon. I counted the seconds between flickers of light beneath my door and thundering steps. I’d curl into a ball, flinching at every sudden bang.

    Sometimes it passed. A heavy downpour would turn to snores. Other times it thrashed about, uprooted and blowing a gale, heaving against the house through the night.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That’s a stormy flash; attuned to the sounds of a drinker, watching the weather. Nice take.

    • Norah

      That’s powerful imagery. Your final sentence is vivid and packed with meaning.

    • Charli Mills

      Pete, that’s terrific imagery casting a storm of sound. Sharp writing!

  15. denmaniacs4

    Jubilee Night

    Some might think it sounds like a drunken grizzly scratching a chalkboard.

    In the cities night air, the grizzled old academic, twitching in his fuming sadness, hears the piercing refrain from Marie’s Wedding seeping through the raccoon infested briar that separates his Edwardian from the Collectives.

    “Damn hippies,” he mutters, tips his flagon, and swallows his sour brew.

    But the beauty of the pipes, a surprize this Saturday Eve, intrigues him.

    He rises and is drawn to the window that overlooks the neighbours lawn, replete with a hundred celebrators.

    “Damn fine tune for the bagpipes,” he allows. “Damn fine tune.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I have seen where the grizzled find common ground, often music, and become more accepting of the damn hippies. And bagpipes, they always elicit emotion.

    • Charli Mills

      Bagpipes pierce the air and the heart, find a way into battered old lives. That sound drifts to my daughter’s back porch every Thursday evening as the pipers practice at the fire station down the hill. Great choice of sound to explore, Bill!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      So many lessons to be considered in this flash; a tale of addiction, of a mother with no boundaries, and of forgetting to lock.

    • Charli Mills

      Good job, Susan! I’m enjoying your flashes!

  16. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Just under the wire…hard to switch gears for this one. Hope it’s met the challenge! 🙂

    Sunrise Flash

    He stands on the bank where forest parts to sunrise on the rich strip of green, and lowers his muzzle to feed. Thick grass pops between his rotating jaws, snapping as he tears into clumps of equally satisfying roots.

    He sneezes, shakes his antlers, and freezes at the whisper of small feet on the low cliff, opposite.

    Alert, he steps back into shadow.

    She sees him and laughs as water over shallows.

    He nods, unconcerned, as she sheds her nightshirt and plashes into deeper water. Skin twinkles and turns, and flipping her tailfin, she’s gone.

    He nuzzles the grass.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like “where forest parts to sunrise”, visually. Then the sounds and their pausing and resuming as the moose feeds.

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you came in under the wire because this flash is delightful. Of course a moose would know a mermaid! Such pleasant, earthy morning sounds of the forest one almost misses…wait…a mermaid.

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        🙂 Always grateful or your inspiration!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Your flash sizzles with sound (and frustration).

    • Charli Mills

      Howdy C Jai! Glad you could gallop through!

  17. robbiesinspiration

    Lovely post, Charli. To write about a sound only is an interesting idea. I am intrigued by bringing senses other than the eyes into poetry and writing. My son was studying metaphorical poetry last year and that initially set me upon a path of trying to incorporate the other senses into my writing.

    • Charli Mills

      Robbie, I’m so taken with your fondant characters and their role in your story-telling. I think they add another a sense of touch in that they’ve been molded into creation. I was thinking it could be fun to do a 5-senses challenge and write the same story but each time telling through another sense!

    • Charli Mills

      And thank you for taking the challenge!

      • kittysverses

        The pleasure is all mine,Charli 🙂

  18. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hey, Boss, i suspect yer riding’ through. If you want this one, here it is, or use it later or set it loose,as you wish.

    “What’sa matter Kid?”
    “Look at Shorty’s new sign over the gate. Use’ta jest say Carrot Ranch. Now it also says ‘literary community’.”
    “Well? Is it a ranch or a literary community?”
    “Cain’t it be both Kid?”
    “I jest wanna ride the range, wrangle some words now an’ agin.”
    “But ya generally begin an’ end here at the ranch. Where they’s other wranglers; an’ readers… you know, a community.”
    “I ain’t the communal type. I’m free range.”
    “Ah, Kid, come on in outta the cold. There’s bacon cookin’.”
    “This community has bacon?!”
    “And raw carrots.”
    “For me?”
    “For all.”

    • Charli Mills

      Takin’ a midnight ride? You know I’m always up for a story! And you are welcome at the fire and and to free-range, explore all you got stored up in your saddle bags and what’s still left in the hills for you to find. At this ranch you can range and rest. Happy to have your company!

      Wait…what’s this? A bacon-wrapped carrot? Well, I’ll be!

  19. Chris Mills

    Well, I don’t know if I’m too late for this or not, but I’ll just post it and see what happens. 🙂

    Little Rock

    By Chris Mills

    Brandon checked his pocket with his free hand to make sure it was still there. His other hand was occupied with that of Karissa. They strolled along the boardwalk around the harbor, talking and laughing as sunset approached.
    They sat on a bench and watched a fisherman. Brandon fished in his pocket for the box. He removed the top and turned to Karissa as she turned to him. Their hands bumped followed by a kerplunk.
    “What was that?” Karissa was looking through the slatted boards between her feet.
    “Oh, just a little rock,” said Brandon as he dove in.

    • julespaige

      Just a little rock…one can only hope she said ‘Yes’ 🙂


  1. My Spouse – Reena Saxena - […] Carrot Ranch Communications – Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  2. (nf) CR / Forest Bathing (8.4) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] August 3: Flash Fiction Challenge August 3, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create…
  3. Flash Fiction: The Chimes | Allison Maruska - […] fictioning. I can think of no better way to do that than with this week’s prompt over at Carrot…
  4. August 3: Flash Fiction Challenge – The New Bell | Morpethroad - […] Written for: […]
  5. Offerings | ShiftnShake - […] Carrot Ranch, August 3, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story.…
  6. 99 Word Challenge – Sound – Afterwards - […] August 3: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  7. Buzz to Bang: 99 Word Flash Fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to Charli’s prompt where she […]
  8. August 3: Flash Fiction Challenge -Acrostic Buzz to Bang: 99 Word Classified: TOP SECRET – Mick E Talbot Poems - […] Buzz to Bang: 99 Word Flash Fiction […]
  9. Wildfire | Eloquently Kate - […] wrote this in response to Charli Mills’ August 3, 2017 Flash Fiction Challenge.  In 99 words (no more, no less)…
  10. Quiet Sunday Morning – 99 Monkeys - […] week at the Ranch, Charli hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99…
  11. Sounds surround us | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) use…
  12. Sunrise Flash | From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (08/03/2017): In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story. Just as…
  13. A World of Sounds Enveloping Us | C. Jai Ferry - […] that covers two pages, which I condensed down just a tad for this week’s prompt from the Carrot Ranch: In 99…
  14. A mother’s journey – kittysverses - […] Thank you Charli Mills for running the challenge at Flash Fiction Challenge. The challenge is to write in exactly…
  15. Offerings | ShiftnShake - […] by the Carrot Ranch August third and August tenth flash challenges. A continuation from The […]

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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

Continue reading