July 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

July 10, 2020

A sure way to loosen the black earth embedded beneath my fingernails is to go bob in Lake Superior. The icy cold water disperses warm pockets, electrifying the experience between soothing and shocking. My new favorite beach is off-limits with a big sign saying so. I’m not trespassing though; I’m a guest of a friend of a friend who owns property along a gated road of an undeveloped development. It’s not something we can do regularly. We don’t want to be obnoxious and ask to borrow the beach again, week after week, but it soothes my soul, cools my heels, and cleans my grubby fingernails.

While I was weeding yesterday, Monreal Dorb entered the July 2 Flash Fiction Challenge 574 times. He had all manner of websites to direct me to, but none were written in 99-words. I had to wade through pages and pages of his entries to find any accidental spam in the folder. We once had a literary spammer who spammed a Rodeo contest with a bizarre 99-word story about bitcoin, knock-off purses, and other suspicious topics. We blocked his website but included his amusing story in the roundup. We later questioned, who he was. I’m nostalgically wondering is Monreal Dorb is Nanjo Castille. Spammers have lives too, albeit strange and virtually criminal. How does one become a spammer?

It was an odd thought to ponder as I ripped up purselane. Spam, like the edible weed, sends tendril everywhere in hopes of taking hold and taking over. Soon, wildlife distracted me. A spider exited my blooming lavender in a huff, inspecting my activity. She saw me on my knees, pulling up groundcover, probably sending vibrations throughout the garden village at the soil level. That spider marched over on eight tall legs, climb my poppy, and looked me in the eye. I told her not to worry, that I had bought out the half-priced annuals at the grocers on Quincy Hill. Soon, she’d have a different cover, like new carpeting. Next, the toad revealed himself ever so quietly. I tried to convince him to go to the potato patch but he had none of my attempts to hold him. The toad wanted no kisses. He hung out, though.

One of my professors confessed that when she’s writing on deadline her house is immaculate and she hates housework. That sparked conversation about writing rhythms and where creativity comes from. For me, creativity permeates the air, the soil, the water. Like the truth, it’s out there. But my plot is upstairs, dissected, and tacked to my W-storyboard. The full write-up is pinned to a corkboard along with the character arc, subplots, and timeline that includes birthdates and anniversaries of my characters. The more I write into the book, the more I crave to be outside. I need to wash my nails and stare a spider in the eyes. Somehow, I need to fill up as I put out.

Then there is the craft side of the writing issue. The plot requires mastery of cause and effect. When life happens to your character, that’s plot. What happens though, stirs your character’s deeply buried desire and exposes their misbelief. This is the character arc reacting to plot, and one is internal tension the other external action. This creates a cause-and-effect trajectory that moves your novel forward (it can move your short story or memoir, too). To really get at the heart of your character’s current situation, you have to understand their past. It helps you focus on what is happening internally with your character because you want your readers to connect. And we do so through emotion. We have to write with feeling.

Emotions also play out in the classroom. Along with my thesis, I’m studying to teach creative writing. Our textbook this term is all about emotional intelligence in the classroom (EQ). It didn’t take long for me to figure out that my professor for this course is my favorite so far. He models what he is teaching, responding to tough discussions with great empathy to turn them into teaching moments for all of us. I’m in awe of his ability and, yes, I’m taking notes — or, as he says, “Fill the toolbox.” He prompts us to consider how we will respond, saying, “Good intentions do not make a good professor. Good actions make a good professor.” Then, it hit me — I’m going to be a professor! I think that realization made my knees weaker than any thoughts about being a writer.

I wonder what makes Monreal Dorb’s knees weak? Yes, I’ve circled back to our barndoor spammer. Before we answer that thought, I want to draw your attention to something exciting that’s happening right now — the Buxton Festival Fringe in the UK is going on virtually. Check out all the online events and performances. Among them is Anne Goodwin’s Becoming Someone event and Carrot Ranch’s Art of the 99-word Story. If you want an extra writing opportunity, you can enter the International Flash Fiction Challenge. Anne and I will select stories to read live (by us or the authors) on July 17 at 5 pm UK time (12 pm EST). Recently, Anne, Norah, and I met up on Zoom to record a reading and discussion. D. Avery will be playing it in the future at the Saddle Up Saloon (if she can convince Kid and Pal).

In the meantime, pull weeds, plant annuals among your perennials, and frequently jump in a lake to clean your nails and you’ll be all set to follow the creativity to your writing.

July 9, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes that answers the question, who is Monreal Dorb. You can imagine the life of this fictitious person in any era or circumstance. Is there cause and effect at play? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 14, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Nothing more to see here, Monreal Dorb. Bot off!

A Senior Citizen Will Survive by Charli Mills

Monreal Dorb teased her hair into a beehive, saturating her silver locks with hairspray. She dabbed her lips hot pink and stepped out into the blazing Arizona sunshine in wide-width flip-flops. Her neighbors sweltered in the shade, waving. Monreal – Rea to her friends, and she had many – mounted her scooter and set off for the office at the head of the gated mobile home park. There, she’d wipe down her desk after Russian Peggy’s shift of credit card hacking, don a glam mask, and start spamming. She’d survive covid-economics on spam just like her mother did during the Depression.

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  1. joanne the geek

    To me Monreal Dorb looks like an anagram. I’m going to have some fun working out different names from those letters ????

    • Norah

      Funny. I was thinking the same thing, Joanne. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a fun idea, Joanne!

    • Norah

      It’s brilliant, isn’t it?

    • Charli Mills

      I followed the prompt! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Got inspired at the Saloon, too!

  2. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Charli, I love your Monreal Dorb! Really rooting for her and the prompt is a great way of beating that hacker at their own game. We might not get 574 entries, but I imagine the compilation will be more fun than ploughing through all that spam. Did they have to enter each one individually or is there some kind of bot that enables it? Presumably the latter. Is there any way you can guard against this? Would it help to allow only one entry per person from us?

    Glad you found time among all this to make our video and to get your hands in the soil. I have no lake to play in but I know how hard it is to get that dirt out of your fingernails. I tend to recognise other gardeners by our dirty nails.

    I think you’d make a great creative writing teacher – you’re already well over halfway there. Although I will happily address you as Professor, in the UK we don’t give out those titles lightly – usually reserved for departmental heads or honorary positions and the rest are lecturers, junior or senior.

    • Norah

      I was thinking there should be a way of avoiding spam in the entries too, Anne. I wonder if a captcha can be added. That would keep out the bots. Who would sit there an do it 574 times!! They obviously don’t have anything better to do – like enter a flash fiction contest. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      They must have some sort of bot. The name is always the same but the website, IP address, and tag words change so it’s like spam calls — block one and they use a different number. Monreal struck again leaving 100 more entries today. I’m going to reach out to WP Monday. My spam filter is good and catches it, but unfortunately, it also catches at least 2-3 legit submissions so I have to scroll to make sure.

      Ha! I rather like the idea of gardeners recognizing each other like a secret society. I got into the lake today with huge waves. It was an incredible cleanse!

      Oh, I didn’t realize that the professor title was a reserved one in the UK. In the states, you have to have a terminal degree. Most end at PhD but the highest you can go with creative writing is an MFA, so it’s a terminal degree. One technically has to be employed in academia to be called a Professor. I’ll have to assign myself a chair at Carrot Ranch Uni.

      In the UK, does academia require lecturers to “publish or perish”? It’s part of what clogs the publishing system in the US because professors get published and then their books circulated among college-level courses. It’s nice if you are a professor! But I hear it can be stressful, too.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I haven’t heard of that term terminal degree – it’s making me smile! Sure, you can be a professor at the ranch – but don’t you have creative writing PhD in the US?

        It’s a while since I’ve had sustained contact with academics but yes that’s that pressure to publish. I’m more conscious of it in relation to academic papers than books but it does bias the publication channels. Or they produce one paper and then another quite similar in another journal – I suppose the same could apply to books.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! It is an odd term, but the MFA is “the end.”

        This might explain a bit more (from wikipedia):

        “The Master of Fine Arts differs from the Master of Arts in that the MFA, while still an academic program, centers around professional artistic practice in the particular field, whereas programs leading to the MA usually center on the scholarly, academic, or critical study of the field. Additionally, in the United States, an MFA is typically recognized as a terminal degree for practitioners of visual art, design, dance, photography, theatre, film/video, new media, and creative writing—meaning that it is considered the highest degree in its field, qualifying an individual to become a professor at the university level in these disciplines.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ya’ve been Perfesser Mills fer a while ‘roun here an dunno ’bout a chair, but Shorty’s got her own stool at the local saloon.
        What more could ya ask fer?
        Kinda likin he sounds a CRU, Carrot Ranch University…

      • Charli Mills

        Hee, hee…I’ll keep my stool!

      • Charli Mills

        Your story cuts the mustard!

  3. Norah

    Your fringe festival sounds fun, Anne, and I like the Fringe flash fiction contest you’ve got going with Charli. I enjoyed making the video with you and Charli. It’s the next best thing to meeting in person. Thank you for organising it, Charli.
    I enjoyed reading about your garden visitors. You attract quite a variety. It’s obvious you’re a good person to hang around. Monreal Dorb thinks so for sure.
    I love your flash. It’s very clever and I think you’ve provided a very plausibe answer to the question. It will be interesting to read what others devise.

    • Charli Mills

      The video was fun, getting to share three different times of the day, and meet “live” if not in person. I’m grateful to Anne for rounding up everything for the Fringe and making agendas and task lists. I think Anne is embracing her inner plotter.

      I once interviewed an organic cranberry farmer who said that after the first year going organic (in Wisconsin they use herbicides heavily to fight off maple trees in the bogs) he heard frogs. Then the birds came back, including eagles. I always think of a healthy garden as one full of wildlife.

      Monreal is getting to be problematic! Kind of like, too many bunnies. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed my flash. I had fun imagining her. I look forward to this collection.

      • Norah

        Yes! Yes! Yes!
        Anne is certainly showing that she is a lady of many talents.
        I love the story of your cranberry farmer. How inspiring is that!
        I’m sorry Monreal is becoming a real nuisance. The stories should be fun though. 🙂

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    A bunch a ranchers was havin’ a time at The Saddle Up Saloon
    Kid was in the Poet-tree, jist a-howlin at the moon
    When out a the void a the virtual, inta this place bright and vetted
    Come a sketchy pair with bot-spring hair, appearin ta be two-headed
    Steppin up ta the bar was Nanjo Castille! Always cause fer alarm
    An strollin’ with ‘im, eyes circling aroun, Monreal D’orb upon his arm
    The bar went chilly quiet, afeared a these two spammers joined
    But Shorty said “You kin stay, but here it’s jist play, so don’t be flashin bitcoin.”

    With apologies to Robert Service.

    • Charli Mills

      You caught the sound and vibe, Bard of Spammers! Love the variation of D’orb. Shoulda known it was French. 😉

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        D’Orb is actually, believe it or not, (small world), the maiden name of Pepe LeGume’s wife, Loggatha. Loggatha D’Orb Legume, no kidding.
        So she and Monreal may be related, F’Real, mon soeur.

      • Charli Mills

        F’Real? Gett O’tahere!

  5. Pete

    Montreal Dorb was the brainchild of Dorb Enterprises. Programmed to generate text in fiction form, the machine’s initial works were clunky, incoherent, mere lines of code submitted in bulk to online contests.

    With each rejection, the algorithm shifted. Datasets and patterns tweaked. The machine plugged away, its vocabulary expanded, and the scientists noted the machine’s style became less predetermined. No longer sci-fi but more tragic, heartfelt, more about love.

    Baffled, the scientists continued to monitor the broken-hearted machine. And they split evenly the $500 prize money, when Montreal Dorb took first place in the Southwest Texas Romance Writers Contest.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I can see you dropping the mic.
      Do you see me remove my hat?

      • Pete

        Ha, thanks so much. I appreciate it!

    • Charli Mills

      This is entirely possible! And I hope the underlying message to writers is to take those broken-hearted rejections and keep submitting! Congratulations on the launch of your second book. I’m loving the cover designs, too.

      • Pete

        Thanks, Charli, me too! I’m so happy to have found a home. Looks like 2021 is going to be even busier!

  6. Becky Ross Michael

    Great flash fiction, Charli, and I alway enjoy your intros with little details about the UP mentioned. Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I like your piece in this year’s U.P. Reader!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Becky! I also enjoyed your story in the UP Reader. I laugh, thinking about that tourist and his run-in with the pack of Keweenaw Wolves. In fact, I was thinking about your story when I was at the lake near Cedar Bay last week and it was so hot that fog formed out on the water. As it drew near, I wondered if it would bring with it your wolves! No sightings but it was surreal to get enveloped, bobbing ing the waves.

      • Becky Ross Michael

        Thanks, Charli:) Yours sounds like an interesting experience, as well!

      • Charli Mills

        It was one of those days, I can close my eyes and revisit.

  7. Jim Borden

    lucky you to take a dip in Lake Superior!

    • Charli Mills

      I dipped well today, Jim! It was full of thunderous waves which makes the water warmer (bringing in the sun-heated surface water).

      • Jim Borden

        That sounds wonderful, although I have trouble picturing waves on a lake. I guess I need to visit the Great Lakes more often!

      • Charli Mills

        Lake Superior is a mighty lake to visit!

  8. joanne the geek

    Spam Spam Spam

    Monreal Dorb, or was he Brad Romonel, or maybe Moral Broden, or even Ander Mordob? Infamous spammer and International Man of Mystery! Today he would spam a writing site with 574 posts. Not 575, but 574. The number had to be exact: the first three numbers he saw after waking up. The reason for his spamming? Monetary gain? No, he was a spamming purist. You couldn’t cheapen spamming with money. For him it was an art form, his mode of expression, as he gleefully clogged up internet sites with his posts. Why does he do it? Because he likes being a dick.

    I might put this up as a post tomorrow…

    • joanne the geek

      That last sentence wasn’t part of the flash.

      • joanne the geek

        Spam Spam Spam is the title. I hate it how they don’t post in the format you intend.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I rather like Moral Broden as a name. Fun flash, Joanne. Oh, I know, it’s irritating to lose formatting in the comment section. I wonder if there’s a plug-in for that? You should post this!

      • joanne the geek

        It looks okay on the app, but on my computer it’s all just a lump of text.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      574; no more no less. Just to be a dick. (C’kid? Kcid? Kidc?)
      Fun flash.

  9. denmaniacs4

    Tantalizing post, Charli. Spam is on the maps of every low-life dullard. Anyways, I decided to revisit my Nanjo 99 word tale from a couple of years ago, What’s A Body To Do, and carry on with the next installment. It might be the last in this tiny series but you never know. So, without further ado, here is:

    A Body’s Got to Do What a Body’s Got to Do.

    “I don’t want to get involved, Mr. Learnom.”

    “Call me, Brod.”

    “Fine. Brod. It’s just, Nanny…Nanjo…was my friend. When I read that the police discovered his body in the clutches of those repulsive organ smugglers, well, I wanted to do right by him.”

    “Right being?”

    “A decent burial. Money’s no object.”

    Money’s always my object, I thought, but kept my witty trap shut.

    “So, you want me to arrange a funeral for Nanjo Castille and keep you out of it?”

    “Yes. The whole unseemly process. And the coffin.”

    “You’re funny,” I said. And thought, ‘and ripe to be plucked.’


    • Charli Mills

      Good continuation, Bill, and who knows what a spammer will inspire next. Great last line!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Wait… Nanjo’s… dead?
      I demand a third installment! (Or 572 more installments)

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Canned Goods

    “Live around here?”
    Wary, but staying planted in the paltry shade of the parking lot tree. “Around.” The constant circuit of shelters and flophouses; what her mother had called ‘da orbit’.
    “What’s your name?”
    Wondering why that matters. Eyeing cases of canned goods in the cart. Hunger always a dull ache pacing a wire cage but add today’s heat, she’s weak kneed from it. Named for a city her mother’d always tried to return to, she pronounces her first name the way she, with her missing front teeth, had. “Monreal.” “Monreal Dorb.” Finally is given a can of Spam.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a flash with gritty realism and heart. And spam, the Spam kind you fry up with eggs.

  11. Sam "Goldie" Kirk

    574 times? This is just too funny.
    I’m drawing a blank right now, but I do hope to come up with something original, soon.

    An international festival? I will most definitely give that a go. What do I have to lose but precious time?

    • Charli Mills

      I know! Determined little bot, that Monreal Dorb. And yes — enter! I mean, we get to participate in the Buxton Festival Fringe!

  12. jgard3

    The Popcorn Thief

    When I was young, others spat names at me. Their insults struck like rubber bullets aimed at a Grizzly bear or unruly crowd. Ma said their hatred was just fear, that I was too strong for them, but the words still stung.

    In sixth grade, our class went to the theater to see a space pirate movie. They laughed as I fished an empty cup and tub from the trash. I carried them to the concession, straight-faced, and asked for my free refills. Everyone wanted to be my friend.

    That day, I renamed myself Monreal Dorb, the popcorn thief.


    • Charli Mills

      Brilliant! Strong details and character development in 99-words. And I love “popcorn theif” as Monreal Dorb.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You have deftly created a tragic character for it is (almost) a fact that popcorn leads to harder stuff- SPAM!

  13. Liz H

    You DID paint quite the picture with your flash, today!
    And fried up a load of prize spam, from AZ to Austin (MN).

    • Charli Mills

      I’m sure the senior citizens of Monreal’s AZ park all know the taste of Spam.

      • Liz H

        My dad remembered it, almost tearfully, as a wonderful treat after WWII and the Nazi occupation ended: “All that wonderful fat!”

      • Charli Mills

        After such an experience, Spam would be comforting.

  14. TanGental

    Ah ha. Morgan has sussed him…

    ‘You okay, Morgan? You’re white and sweaty, like yesterday’s tripe.’
    ‘You remember that protest?’
    ‘Where you made me wear a Mini Mouse mask?’
    ‘Yeah, well… I was chatting to the organiser…’
    ‘… with little regard for social distancing…’
    ‘She was very compelling…’
    ‘Oh yes, she forced you that close…’
    ‘Anyway, she said we’d be followed…’
    ‘…you’re paranoid…’
    ‘…and gave me this flyer. See…’
    ‘He was in the diner.’
    ‘And he’s just signed in.’
    ‘Probably coincidence.’
    ‘Guess his name…’
    ‘Ron Earlobe MD.’
    ‘Oh come on, that’s ridiculous…’
    ‘Yeah, but if you reorder the letters…’
    ‘Monreal Dorb!’
    ‘Now do you see?’

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Eww, yesterday’s tripe. Nice. Not. Well, yeah, I can smell it and see it. Nice one.
      Does Morgan yet realize that the Mini Mouse “mask” was a piece of undergarment?

      • Charli Mills

        They’re selling matching face masks and bikini sets now so easy to confuse which piece of garment is which!

    • Charli Mills

      Ron Earlobe, MD — of course! The boys need to watch their backs (and their six-foot bubbles).

  15. Hugh W. Roberts

    I always think of spam fritters (a schoolday treat) whenever I hear or see the word ‘spam.’ It’s become a big part of the lives of anyone who tickles the keyboards on a device that can bring so many different forms of entertainment. When I was in school, even spam fritters bought entertainment in the form of gossip and idle talk in the canteen. I wonder how many of my school friends ended up becoming a Russian Peggy?

    Glad you’re enjoying those occasional refreshing dips in the lake, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Spam fritters and gossip! That’s a lovely combination, Hugh. And funny to wonder about who we might have known and what they could be doing today. Ah, I’ll always take time to refresh in the the big lake!

  16. robbiesinspiration

    How interesting, Charli. I have also had a great deal of spam lately and need to delete it all. So time consuming. I remember the rodeo with the spammer entry discussion.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Seems to be more spam and scams lately. Maybe lockdown provides the time and incentive. At least the Ranch has fun with it.

    • Charli Mills

      The spammers are out in full force, aren’t they? I figured we had fun with the last one who entered the Rodeo.

  17. Jules

    Dear Charli ~ What a story! One of the reasons I ended up having to rearrange my own blogging system was because of spam hacker trolls. I hope WP can help you. It’s got to be frustrating to have to sift through to find the real folks whose fictional lives matter!

    Alas I’ve no answers in my reverse solo haibun. But that’s due to another prompt. And I like the anagram play so I did some rearranging too. I hope to read more but the garden calls… Also good luck with that international contest. And of course your continuing courses 🙂

    Angry, Frustrated, Sizzle Spam Hot?!

    who is Monreal Dorb?
    hot jammer spammer dude?
    dead end cul de sac?

    just the way things are sometimes?
    does he lack true courtesy?

    does the attention
    that he seeks warrant us all
    to say; “Let me go?”

    Is perhaps Monreal a dudette? Does she lack true confidence demanding to repeatedly be seen on our computer screens? How does she get to play spam-a-lot? How does she change her addresses on the spot? Is she a bot?

    Is his name Rob D. Learnom? Or maybe her name is Dorra B. Lemon? How can we collectively quench this hot bot?


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You dang near came up with lemonade outta that lemon scammer.

      • Jules

        Methinks we need us a whole lotta sugar! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Love the ide of collectively quenching the hot bot! My spam filter does its job. Monreal does not get through. The problem is that one or two legit submissions also get jailed in the spam filter so I have to do search and rescue. That’s how I noticed there was a particularly prolific spammer botting as MD. I’ve had a few other instances and usually, they quit after a few weeks of not getting past Askimet (the Ranch guard dog). Fun flash!

      • Jules

        I can’t remember the name(s) of my ‘trial’ errorer…;) Yes, always have to check spam to rescue the good ones – I did send an entry to the international Fringe… on time. Really I did! 🙂

  18. Jules

    I was playing with Scrabble tiles and rearranging them and came up with some names that – (in no particular order) well some sound plausible;

    Branden R Loom, Noel R Brandon, Brandon Romel, Branden L Room,
    Bel R Doorman, Rob El Dorman, Bar L Doorman, Mande R Brool,
    B. Droolerman, Dr Rena Bloom, Dan R Bloomer, Dr Abner Bloom,
    Rod Mal Boner, Romal D Boner, Dan R L Boomer, Lenardo M Rob,
    Roman Brodel, Roman Le Brod, Roman El Brod, Roman Lobed,
    Bre M Orlando, Mer B Orlando, Orlando M Erb, Omar Blonder,
    Mar O’Blonder and Marlo B Doner…. there could be more!

    I hope WP can snag and stop this bot before it attacks others.
    Cheers all.

    • Charli Mills

      You have an amazing mind for words, Jules! Rod Mal Boner made me laugh! Askimet contains the bot, but can’t shut it down. Askimet is 99.3% accurate so that’s a good rate.

      • Jules

        …I’ve got some ‘risque’ haiku I could send you – for entertainment… I saw that name in the Scrabble tiles and thought it fitting or unfitting 😉

  19. suespitulnik

    Hi Charli,
    I agree with the others, your gardens sound like a lovely place to live, even if it is critters that are keeping you company. I like critters.
    What a pain to have to go through all the junk. Thank you for taking the time so a real story doesn’t get missed.
    The Buxton Festival is right up my alley to attend. I’m glad we could enjoy it virtually. Thanks. I’m sure your meet-up with Norah and Anne was a highlight of this lockdown.
    On to the prompt…

    Monreal Dorb = Ronald Brome

    When The Band of Brothers finished a set at the No Thanks, Michael wheeled to a booth to chat with Ronald Brome who sat with his laptop open. “What ‘cha workin’ on? Your fingers and head were keeping beat to the music.”
    “Been spammin’ a website called Carrot Ranch.”
    “Why would you do that?”
    “Why? Because I can. I got in 574 hits during your set. They’ll think I’m a bot, but haha, I’m not.
    “You should use your skills for something productive.”
    “Government taught me how, then turned me loose. They’re lucky I’m not messin’ with their files.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Tune in next week when Ronald Brome turns his talents onto government files! He’s baaaaack…

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue! Isn’t that great — we can travel to the UK and attend a festival? It doesn’t take but a few minutes to do a search and rescue for a lost submission. Your flash made me laugh! It seems highly plausible and I’m sure many hackers are brilliant and bored.

    • Charli Mills

      You are prolific this week (your characters inspired me to write, too, over at the Saloon).

      • joanne the geek

        That sounds great.

  20. Charli Mills

    I’ve discovered a fun new challenge called “found spam.” Ol’ Monreal’s been busy lurking at the Ranch. I was about to dump three new pages of his drivel when I decided to put together a 99-word story out of the nonsensical tags MD uses in the submission form. At last! A submission cobbled together from MD in 99 words:

    The Pamphlets Are Being Printed by Monreal Dorb.

    Next year I think it will go further if you use people changing their names. Last year was a record high. Black Friday. Oval and pear cut glass created cela fut voqu and the ever graceful dolphins. Whereas in Japan, it remains unclear. I spent 20 years in industry as an executive and consultant and had a big voice. These facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, but it gets a mention in Bible Exodus 30. You know what’s strange? Disney and the Pentagon, soft core porn as much as possible, and another new hypersonic missile.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Seriously? In the words of?
      Good on ya Boss. Still, spam ain’t ham. Or bacon.

      • Charli Mills

        Mmm, I prefer bacon.

  21. Ann Edall Robson

    It is not fun dealing with things like this that can uproot and destroy everything we believe in and have worked towards. Yet, it happens every day because someone thinks it might be fun to see if they can. There are expletives I would like to use, but, well, you get my drift, I am sure. We all need to be on our toes and do what we can to keep this from happening. Now that I’ve had my little rant, onto the task at hand.

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    It’s everywhere. The fine mist-like clouds swirling, settling on everything in its path. Closing in like a blanket, obliterating objects a touch away. Everything important sacrificed in the blink of an eye. Those who are inexperienced, panic, and point fingers. When the smoke lifts, what will remain? That’s when the trauma of the carnage becomes real. Like a black screen appearing on a computer. The disbelief when the silent scars and skuz is all that stares back. Memories wiped out. All because people didn’t bother to protect themselves with a firewall. There had been time…There always is.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There’s much to like here but my first reaction is Yay, someone else uses the word skuz. I use, or did once upon a time, but don’t spell it. Scuzz?

      Yer flash is gritty real scary.

      • Ann Edall Robson

        D, I thought everyone used skuzz in some form. Guess maybe we are unique??? My favourites are skuzzy, or skuzz-bucket, but they didn’t quite fit here. And yes, there should be another ‘z’. But when the send button has been hit, it quickly becomes one of those ‘oh well’ moments.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yes! Skuzz-bucket, skuzz-bag, and more rarely and somewhat affectionately, skuzz-bum.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, wow, Ann that’s a great but chilling use of firewall. Such a powerful analogy to use the feeling of despair at the sight of a black screen for the blackened remains. In North Idaho, they started to make firewalls mandatory around those mountaintop estates. Ah, well, my Ranch guard dog, Askimet, does a good job containing spammers. Problem is, sometimes the guard dog corners a Rancher!

  22. Prior...

    Hi Charli (and others)
    I loved the part about your professor’s house is clean when the deadline is there.
    That used to be me – I would suddenly start random projects – like one day I was cloning the garage cupboards (Yeeks) and my husband asked, “Have a paper due?” “Yup!” haha

    anyhow, here is my link
    have a great rest of your night

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Yvette! Ha — yes, it’s amazing the projects that come to me when words are due. I decided to swap closets with the Hub this week (thesis work is due). Thanks! You have a good night, too!

      • Prior...

        Hahaha – the closet swap is hysterical – and I was about to repaint the posts on the front porch one Sunday when a ten page paper was due at midnight – haha
        Have a great week

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Padre!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jenn!


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