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November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

Yellow cats prowl the neighborhood. She has come, the Lady of the Lake. I expected her cloak of white, her hair of ephemeral snow, and her rasping howl. The cats are not hers, although I could imagine creatures trotting at her feet, purring, and observing the wake through golden eyes translucent as honey agate. Instead, the cats belong to the county — grand Caterpillar road graders the color of working-man gold. They’ve come to plow what the Lady has wrought.

In all my life, I’ve known snow. Last winter was my first experience in a warmer climate (Mars) and even there I marched for justice and voice in half a foot of snow at the Kanab Women’s March. Yet, this is my first time experiencing lake-effect snow. It’s a weather phenomenon easily given over to myth and mystery because the science reads like fiction. According to air temperature over water temperature, the result can be snow, blizzard or thundersnow.

It’s the Lady. I’ve hunted the shores of Lake Superior to develop a deep respect, awe and healthy fear of her depths and power. Some days she pelts my calves with tumbled rocks like a mischievous sprite. Other days she intimidates the combers with roars and riptides. I’ve glimpsed her on the North Shore of Minnesota where I first fell in love with Lake Superior. I’ve bobbed in her gentle waves at Chequemegon Bay in northern Wisconsin. Now, I’m seeing her take shape as she rises to the land of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan.

Think about it — lake-effect snow is a visitation. Science or myth, it’s amazing to behold.

During the Flash Fiction Rodeo, Carrot Ranch had visitors of another kind — spammers. Because I pay for WordPress, I have hearty spam filters in place. Sometimes, too hearty. I’ve learned to check it frequently for the occasional writer who gets nabbed for no discernible reason. The spam never makes it through. But with the forms we used spammers did get inventive (such as copying and pasting their spam message in every required field). A few got through.

While it could have been the opening to a murderous musing, I doubt the Cialis ad qualified for Sherri Matthew’s Rodeo #7. Soon after, a dubious person named Male Enhancement began following the Ranch. Sherri quipped perhaps we were on someone’s target list because of her dongle, which had come up in conversation through comments. As naughty of a word as dongle sounds, especially in the presence of those selling vasodilators, it is a technology devise to enhance internet receptivity. Oh, the lurking innuendo in all of that.

And that’s why another piece of spam caught us off guard. Was it brilliant innuendo? Was is intentionally misspelled and miscalculated to look like spam, but be humorous? It was submitted to the Funny Man himself, Geof Le Pard of Little & Laugh Rodeo #2 for which the winner will be revealed on Tuesday, November 13. We laughed. We said, truly this is spam, and then we wondered. Norah Colvin, educator that she is, pointed out the plausible intention behind the content and its errors. One of the L&L judges suggested she might even know this character.

A character he is (or she). We’ll pick a gender and go with he to balance the Lady of the Lake. Both blow over Carrot Ranch in a shroud of mystery with a hint of playfulness. He, our humor spammer, is Nanjo Castille. While disqualified, we will share this clever spam that pulled our chain as an entry to Little & Laugh:

Website Overstock

Hello Mrs Geoffarey DuParts. How are you for ten dollars? Or just a $20?
i am Nanjo. I have lots of extra high end luxyry purses and handbags because of website overstock gilch.
Are you intestrested? Let me explain to you how this works, Mrrs Geofarai:
Perfume and excessories all loaded up ready to ship out. The man came in and fool#s forch lift broke down. Cant transport stock out of the building. Gfppd fpr the gppse. Good for the gander/. Hence shooting off quick message in your FAQ bored.
Some of the finest stitching amd sewing work in many of the persfume bptt;es.
Not only that but you will find purses and hand bags of Ralphiger, Verskatche, Mr. Tommy Rott, and Coco Carmel.
How much would you be willing to me for this in money? A very little amount of bitcoin?
$20? For as little as $20 of BiTCHcoin we candei;ver to you a fine Channel bag and perfume for just £20. Reverse the other side of it, and it will fill your home with deliicsours vagrance!
>>>>This is 1 time deal because of warehouse overstock. Lots of high end
>>>> merch including Coochi, Pravda and Choco Caramel handbags.
Fo go go! No time!
By bi.

Whether it was intentional or not, Nanjo harvested laughs among Rodeo Leaders. The only clue to his name was the email which we all avoided like the plague. Charming as Nanjo Castille might be, funny, nonetheless, we didn’t want to get sucked into his sketchy world. And if perchance you are a writer now realizing you absolutely fooled us with what was meant to “read” like spam for the sake of a good guffaw, fess up!

Writers are fond of personifying snow and lakes, imagining the lives of people in house we pass, and studying circumstances for stories. So, we are going to make up the life of Nanjo Castille.

November 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille. You can set any gender, era or genre to reveal the character behind the mystery. You can also imagine the daily life of The Real Nanjo Castille. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by November 14, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 15). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Interesting, but when I sat down to write my response I was thinking of all the funny stories we’d get. I’m a NaNo Rebel, revising Miracle of Ducks this month, so I chose to question what interaction my character might have with Nanjo. As what happens often, what I set out to write did not end up on the page. And I was struck by the lack of humor. Instead the  irony of those who witnessed history being told it happened differently appeared.

I mention this to encourage you to go beyond your expectations. This is your time to explore. You never know what you will discover.


Interviewing the Real Nanjo Castille by Charli Mills

Danni pressed record, fluffing the sound muffler Ike called “The Muppet.” Today, she had access to living history. An elderly man called “The Real Nanjo Castille.”

Wrinkled and shrunken, he hunched beneath a blanket in a wheelchair. “I was born the year they assassinated my father, Pancho Castille.”

“1923. What were you told about your father?”

“He was a great revolutionary. He captured Buffalo Soldiers after Americans attacked our border towns.”

“Wasn’t it the other way around? Castille’s forces attacked US towns, stealing gold coins and burning a purse factory.”

“Why interview me if you already know the story?”



  1. Liz H says:

    “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…You killed my father, Nanjo Castille…Prepare to die!”

    Your post today, about another unexpected reward of the Rodeo, is frakkin’ hilarious!

  2. […] November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge November 9, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille. You can set any gender, era or genre to reveal the character behind the mystery. You can also imagine the daily life of The Real Nanjo Castille. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by November 14, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 15). […]

  3. julespaige says:

    I may have to come up with another one … but this sort of fits… with giggles:

    “To Tell The Truth”

    “To Tell The Truth”
    There they were, three people on the panel. All claimed
    to be Nanjo Castille. Each of the four Judges got to ask
    questions. Charli, Geoff, Sherri and Norah.

    Norah started with; “Where did you go to school? Your
    Grammar and spelling are atrocious.

    “Hard Knocks,” said One.

    Geoff quipped through tears of laughter; “Where’d you
    come up with ‘Bitchcoin’?

    “My dog had puppies,” said Two.

    Sherri wondered out loud; “What bridge do you troll under?”

    “Took over from the Billies…” said Three

    Charli quirried; “Did you know you remind me of Lake

    “We know!” The ‘Three’ said in Unison.

  4. Brilliant!! 😀 I think he/she/it/they deserves their own rodeo for sure!

  5. OMG! That’s hysterical. I get some insane spam too, but that was priceless. I’ll be working on a new flash and posting soon. Thanks for the great laugh! 😀 <3

  6. […] taking a chance on one of Charli’s 99-word prompts over at The Carrot […]

  7. Ritu says:

    That is really too funny! Some of the spam I get is hysterical too!
    Here’s my entry!

  8. Just as funny as it was then. Mine

    Lake Superior sound like a being in herself. It is obviously huge. How many states border it?

    Love your flash. There are always two sides to every story. This part of your history has recently got me in via a novel and I’m hoping now with more time I might find out more. Nanjo at least had a long life so he didn’t starve to death by Duparts not buying anything.

  9. Norah says:

    Love this post, Charli. It’s great to have a touch a humour to warm the heart when it’s cold outside. I’m going to enjoy responding to this challenge. It’s a good opportunity to TUFF it out. 🙂

  10. A. E. Robson says:

    I knew who this person was as soon as I finished reading and having a good giggle.

    Fatal Error
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    “What have you done?”

    “I’ve been watching you. It didn’t look hard. I created a name and took a run at it. ”

    “But why, when I promised I’d help you set everything up to sell your bags?”

    “I’m old, impatient, and I don’t see what the big deal is. It still turns on and off.”

    “It’s not a light switch, it’s my computer. The one I’m writing my next book on.”

    “If you were going to show me how to use it, you should be able to fix it!”

    “Oooohhhh, Nana Jo Castle, if only it were that easy.”

  11. […] Carrot Ranch […]

  12. Juliet Nubel says:

    Hi Charli,
    I loved your post and the spam entry to Geoff’s contest . There is just something about it which makes me feel a bit dubious. It is maybe just a bit too ‘clever’ to be real spam. So I came up with the following idea for my 99 word story.
    Here goes:

    The Anagrammer

    She looked at her screen and let out a huge, belly-filled hoot.

    She had done it. Fooled them all. She laughed harder as she pictured them imagining her as Nanjo Castille. Could they see a wide sombrero hat and thick stripy poncho?

    Where was mousey Ms Stelliac now? Never one to joke around at school she was making up for it now. On their blogs and in these contests. She was the Queen of Pranks.

    They had even missed the last clue in the text – a second anagram, Najno.

    Joann grinned from ear to ear. Spamming was such fun!

    • You could have hit the nail on the head with this one Juliet. I love the thought of someone out there loving us loving it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Juliet! Yes, I know what you mean. It really is clever and reeks of an intelligent prankster. Norah Colvin picked up on those “misspellings” that seem deliberate, too when we discussed it for the Rodeo. We were let off the hook by the word count. It wsn’t close. But then, that’s probably intentional too. I like where you went with this! Great flash!

  13. […] For Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  14. […] November 9- Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  15. gordon759 says:

    As usual with these challenges I have retold an historical story, this time including a non-existent person.

    The French General read the letter and smiled, the English were on the run.
    “This Nanjo Castille is certainly our best agent, he seems to know exactly what they are doing. We march at dawn.”
    “But the reinforcements and supplies haven’t arrived.”
    “Read the message, they are demoralised, they have lost supplies, it will be the victory we need if we can catch them soon.”
    Two weeks later, as he looked across the ruins of the army at the impregnable defences, the Lines of Torres Vedras, he cursed Nanjo Castille.
    “Find him, kill him, he has cost us Spain.”

    The second story looks at the same events from the other side.

    Wellington looked across the battlefield at the retreating French, they had fallen into his trap and been decisively defeated.
    “I never thought they would believe it.”
    “Ever since we broke their codes we have been able to deceive them. But I must admit that the success of Nanjo Castille was unexpected.”
    “Who is Nanjo Castille?” Wellington asked.
    The spymaster pointed to two clerks.
    “NAthaNiel Chalk and JOhn Castle. They made that name up out of their own names, and the French swallowed everything.”
    He laughed, “We march at dawn, if all goes well, Nanjo Castille will have freed Spain.”

    The Lines of Torres Vedras were a remarkable series of defences built by the Duke of Wellington through Portugal and Spain, in a brilliant campaign he tricked the French into advancing into his trap, where they were decisively defeated.
    The British had cracked the French military codes, they not only read the enemy dispatches but also disseminated misinformation.

    • Enjoyed your history and particularly looking at the same story from different perspectives. This happens in history all the time and each country has its own version of events.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Gordon, I love these two creations of yours! You are a true historian able to take a techno-babble modern circumstance and show its possible mirror image back in time. And with a period of history you must enjoy. Thank you for these two stories that use a fictional Nanjo to explore the codebreaking in Wellington’s campaign.

  16. Pete says:

    Thanks for coming in, Mr. Castille. Have a seat.

    Thank you.

    What are you doing?

    I’m taking the chair.

    No, I meant to sit in.

    What is good for Gestapo is good for gander, right?

    I don’t think that’s it.

    Nice for you having me at your bored meeting. Very FAQ. Very yawn introducing.

    Right. About the bags.

    The bags, yes. $10 apiece.

    Are they knock-offs?

    Fine, I can do $20. Would you like the Ralphie Doppelganger or Tommy Realfinger? Also have her fumes.


    Top merch. At my house. Very aware. Aware house indeed.

    I’ll be in touch

  17. […] have become determined to overcome my fear Flash Fiction, by continuing to practice! Over at the Carrot Ranch, Charli hosts a weekly prompt. Ths week’s one is very unusual and definitely appealed to my […]

  18. Frank Hubeny says:

    The Funeral

    Senor Nanjo Castille sat alone in the church except for his bodyguards. No one else dared attend. They crossed the line this time.

    As the Mass for the Dead progressed his business adversary’s money laundering restaurant was destroyed. Twelve dead. The warehouse was next. Fourteen dead. Then the offices. One hundred dead.

    In his adversary’s desperation the expected fight around the church began. It lasted ten minutes.

    When the service ended Senor Castille walked behind the caskets outside the church and viewed the mess in the street. Then he went to the cemetery to bury his wife and daughter.

  19. […] 9, 2017, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille. You can set any gender, era or genre to reveal the character behind the mystery. You can also […]

  20. Here is my contribution in case my ping-back doesn’t work. <3

  21. Oh the lurking innuendo indeed…ha, you weren’t kidding when you said the dongle is never going away! Hopefully Male Enhancement doesn’t linger, ha! But onto thunder and lake-effect snow…I have never heard of either. Blizzards, yes, growing up in Suffolk on the east coast of England’s East Anglia, those Siberian winds howled their way through mean, bitter cold winters when the ploughed fields felt as hard as cement. But never in October! It does look so beautiful though and I love your description, so beautiful as always. You had me going with those cats too…clever. As is your flash. Isn’t it great where 99 words take us? I will be back for sure Charli, and I will be asking: “Will the real Nanjo Castille please stand up?” 😀 <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hee, hee, Sherri, if Male Enhancement lingers longer than four hours, I’ll call a doctor! Wait until you read the latest — Mr. Castille is now interested in selling us dongles that require a forklift. 😀

      Oh, wow, Siberian winds over East Anglia sounds epic. I was walking Bobo on Monday through the ski trails on the ridge and though I couldn’t see Lake Superior, I could see charcoal gray clouds pressing up from where I knew the lake to be. It was partly cloudy, blue and white, but that dark mass was different. It flowed a different direction, it had a different texture, it was massive and held back. By the time we reached the house, the hold broke and that gray mass rose and flowed overhead, beneath the cloud and sky. Within 30 minutes it was snowing. Wild!

      You bring Nanjo back, standing!

      • LOL!!!!!! We’ll need an entire hospital if we buy that forklift 😀 😀 😀 Oh Charli, that’s too funny…I’ll be chuckling all day now, and boy, I need a good laugh!

        You paint a glorious picture with your wonderful description of your walk with Bobo. The weather here is very changeable too, we can have rain, sun, sleet and snow all in one day and think nothing of it. I remember similar grey masses like that lying low and heavy in the sky, pressing down until they burst with snow. To see that magnified over Lake Superior must be breathtaking. I feel like I just took that walk with you! Ahh…a good laugh and brisk walk along the ski trails with you has set me up for the day…thank you my friend! 🙂 <3

      • PS I guess Nanjo really did stand up…just not in ways we expected haha!!! 😀

  22. Can dei;ver

    The ‘student of concern’ meeting was heated.
    “Well”, said the ELA teacher, “His spelling and grammar are low even for a second language student. He doesn’t even try.”
    “Sure he does. He tries to jerk your chain. This kid is smarter than you think. Just looking for attention.”
    “Yes, I agree. The kid does ok in math. Great flexible thinking and problem solving.”
    “That may be, but this kid’s behavior alarms me. He has no empathy and no boundaries. I worry he’s going to grow up to be a sociopath.”
    “Right. And Nanjo Castille could become president.”

  23. Annecdotist says:

    I thought your spammer might be a less extreme version of the loner with a grievance – is that stereotype? I really don’t know – who gets hold of a gun. Yes, it happens even in England! Ties nicely with a couple of recent reads, one set in the corner of the country where I grew up:
    Two mysteries against a backdrop of rampage and riot

    • Charli Mills says:

      Loner with a grievance would be a stereotype if you described him with cliches and expectations, otherwise it would be an archetype. Perhaps the Jester? A touch of Rebel. Maybe Magician.

      And I’m weary of the stereotypes in the US grabbing guns. Even Annie is sick grabbing her gun and ready to gather ’em all up and dump them in the boiling cauldron that is Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Off to see what’s rampaging on your side of the pond.

  24. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (11/09/2107):  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about The Real Nanjo Castille. You can set any gender, era or genre to reveal the character behind the mystery. You can also imagine the daily life of The Real Nanjo Castille. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  25. Liz H says:

    My apologies…

    The Real Nanjo Castille

    Blat of mule’s bray, and Nanjo rattled into the village square. People grumbled, crowding the buckboard wagon. They’d been waiting since dawn. The stench of unwashed clothes hung heavy in the morning heat.

    “Sorry, sorry!” Nanjo called. “My last stop had dire need of my services, but I’ve saved my best for you!”

    He reached behind him and flipped a tarp back. The crowd gasped at the rows of golden bars gleaming in the sun.

    “Accept no substitutes! The Real Nanjo Castille soap, a heavenly marriage of Greek olive oil and Viking lye, will cure all your laundry ills!”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Castille! Soap! You did well to misdirect the expectation with the “golden bars.” I didn’t see the soap coming though you placed it right under my nose with the dirty laundry! Good one, Liz!

  26. Charli, this has got to be the best challenge yet. I loved it. Here is mine:

  27. […] Charli Mill’s over at The Carrot Ranch, recently ran a fantastic Flash Fiction Rodeo. The various contests attracted a few entries by spammers, one of which has raised a bit of a laugh by Charli and the contest leader, Geoff le Pard. You can read Charli’s amusing post about this particular spam post here: […]

  28. susansleggs says:

    I am new to your challenges thanks to Robbie Cheadle, so will post here, and try a link.

    The Different Sides of Me

    I Nanjo Castille sit in my office staring at funeral home handouts. When with the public, I am calm, reassuring, kind and almost stoic. The mourning around me is not my own. When time permits, I write nonsensical flash fiction that looks like spam and submit it to Carrot Ranch. It eases the pain I see on a daily basis. I absolutely hate good-byes, those of others or my own. At day’s end, I loose my tied back hair, hang the suit up, and ride the long way home on my Harley enjoying the smells and sights of life.

  29. […] silliness is doubly inspired. It’s partly in response to Charli’s flash fiction prompt for this week: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about The Real Nanjo Castille, who was […]

  30. […] as an entry into the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest #2: Little and Laugh. You can read the email in Charli’s post, which also includes the challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a fictional story about […]

  31. […] as Charli points out in her latest Flash Fiction contest here, one of the funniest parts of the contest was the one who didn’t enter. We all fell in love […]

  32. […] This story is in response to this week’s prompt from the Carrot Ranch: […]

  33. Joe Owens says:

    Nanjo rules . . . thankfully not! Here is my turn on what happened with Nanjo Castille!

  34. Oh boy…still working on my Nanjo Castille. I’ll be in later…I hope!

  35. Hi Charli, as always, galloping in by the skin of my teeth/hooves/chaps! No idea where this came from, no idea at all…but here’s my take on the elusive Nanjo Castille…

    Aegean Dream

    Sunset diamonds scattered bright the Aegean Sea.

    Summer warmed my bare shoulders there, high above the glassy plain beneath the ancient Pepper Tree.

    Sea Nymph’s breeze whispered tales of gods and glory and the Minotaur while I clutched his words to my chest: scrawled on yellowed paper he declared his ageless love while I dreamt.

    I listened for his voice through the rustle of the small, crisp leaves; for the step to his music as I followed my pan piper.

    ‘I am Nanjo Castille’, he breathed into my hair.

    I reached to touch him.

    But he was never there.

    • Charli Mills says:

      You reached in to the Aegean Sea and drew forth a beauty, Sherri! Dust off your chaps and know you rode well. Your flash is both haunting and lyrical, the grasping of something that feels real and yet isn’t there.

      • Aww thanks Charli! The very name Nanjo Castille conjures up Spanish tones, but I went with the Greek angle to add to the mystery and stir things up a bit. After all, Nanjo could be anybody… 😉

  36. Thank you for your posts. Hope you find some time to read/keep reading my story, too.

    Would you consider recommending my blog to your readers/followers?

    They would have a chance of reading a blog still in the process of being written – and a woman rediscovered.

    Have a great November! X

    • Charli Mills says:

      I recommend you read the amazing writers that gather here each week. You passed by lots of fantastic stories to comment here. Interesting, too given this week’s prompt. I approved your comment in the hopes that you might join what we are doing. You appear to be new to blogging.

      Check out what we are doing at Carrot Ranch. All writers are welcome to join in the weekly challenges. No one is expected to read each other blogs. It’s best to comment directly on a post’s content — that shows you took time to read.

      It takes time to build a platform. Poke around the Ranch Archives and you’ll find some tips on platform building. You’ll get the hang of it!

      Be mindful of what’s considered author spam. We already have a Spammer in Residence and his name is Nanjo Castille.

  37. […] Geoff Le Pard and all who entered his contest. And we’ve had fun with Spammer in Residence, Nanjo Castille. He seems to be having fun, […]

  38. denmaniacs4 says:

    Quite a bit late, Charli. I thought I’d posted this but apparently not…better late than…as they say.

    What’s a Body to Do?

    Hank looked down at the latest donation.

    “Bit grizzled, Phil. None of his organs will be top quality…”

    “Check his pockets. See if he’s go a name.”

    “Huh, waddayaknow? A bloody diary. Here’s the name. Nanjo Castille!”

    “Not from around here, I guess.”

    “Small mercies. What’s it say?”

    “Okay… ‘My name is Nanjo Tyrone Castille. At the orphanage, they said I’d been left outside the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena on December 25, 1947. The Captain from Castile was playing. Two nuns, Sisters Nancy and Josephine found me…’

    “That’s it?”

    “The rest is blank?”



    “Great movie, though.”


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