Rethinking the Hero

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.

April 15, 2021

There’s a different way to look at heroes.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Jester the Hero by Sue Spitulnik

Humans! Geesh! Last week that cute baby tried to twist my ear off. It hurt. A quiet growl escaped. The big people went ballistic, and the baby cried. I heard the words: chain, pound, and vet.

This week I growled and barked in that active kid’s face. She screamed and cried in anger. Her grandmother grabbed her and calmed her. Others praised and petted me, called me a hero dog, and even gave me a raw hamburger patty for supper. I guess it had to do with the fact I kept the little one from climbing up the stairs.


Survival Hero by Norah Colvin

“Consider this,” said the teacher. “You’re stranded alone in the desert. Your vehicle has broken down about 15 kilometres from your destination. Your visit’s a surprise so you’re not expected. There’s no internet service and your phone is dead. You’ve packed water and a little food in a backpack. What else should you take to be the hero of your own journey?”

The students huddled, discussing options.

“Compass,” suggested one.

“Pocket knife,” said another.



“A pencil.”


“I’d just add an ‘s’ — change that desert to dessert and she’s sweet.”

“You’re our hero,” the others agreed, laughing.


Pint-Sized Heroes by Ritu Bhathal

Four-year-old Nina watched her classmate’s plight curiously.

Joey had been struggling with that same jigsaw for the last ten minutes, and no guidance from his teachers was accepted.

Slowly, Nina sidled along until she was next to him. A pint-sized compadre, not as much of a threat as the adults who towered above.

She tentatively picked up the correct piece, turned it the right way, and handed it to Joey.

He popped it in, the tongue of determination that had been sticking out slipped back in, turning into a smile.

I think Joey just found his new jigsaw hero.


My Hero! by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He stuck his head in the refrigerator, resting his arm along the damp, dusty edge of the door. Plucking at the ruffles of insulation, he surveyed the interior. It certainly felt cooler in there than it did in his apartment.

Behind the jar of mayo and the near-empty carton of skim gasped the remains of an iceberg, a full jar of Claussen’s dill, a vacuum pack of Swiss slices, a lucky Ziplock packed with smoked ham, and chips.

Pile all that on the sub bun he’d pulled from the freezer, and THAT was a feast for a sweltering night.


The Inner Hero By Geoff LePard

‘That was intense.’
‘Another course, Morgan?’
‘Yeah. “Live your own hero.”’
‘Are you?’
‘Me? Not even in my own lunchtime.’
‘You’ve time.’
‘Thanks. You ever been a hero, Logan.’
‘Not knowingly. Though there was Mr Patel.’
‘Mr Patel?’
‘Ran the corner shop. Called me: “my little hero”.’
‘I saved his shop from being robbed.’
‘Not really. This bloke told him to give him the till. I distracted him and Mr Patel hit him with the takings.’
‘How old were you?’
‘What did you do?’
‘That would do it. You found the hero inside yourself…’


Personalities by Reena Saxena

He’s charming. He showers praise on every little effort I make to keep the office machine running smoothly.

Yet, I’ve a certain sense which reads between lines. Things can’t always be hunky-dory, so it made sense to accept that job offer which paid more.

He doesn’t want to let me go, and is using every trick in HR policy for retention …. the same guy who said I’m whatever I am, because of what he made me, and I should be grateful for having him as a boss.

I’ve read enough about narcissists to give him the cold shoulder.


Hero by Heather Gonzalez

Halfway into his hike, Kyle heard a woman screaming for help. He ran as fast as his legs could go towards the screams.

“My daughter is hanging off the side!”

Without a word, he bent over and reached for the young girl bringing her back to safety.

“My hero!” the woman cried, giving him a big hug.

He was on such a high from the whole experience that he walked with a huge smile on his face. He was a hero after all. Even if he hadn’t noticed the woman’s hand pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.


A Defining Moment by Kate Spencer

Ed unlocked the front door and put on his cap.

“I’m not going!” Mattie said. “I’m staying in London.”

“Lovey, you agreed to this. When France falls, you’d leave. It’s not safe here.”

“I know,” and Mattie placed her hands protectively over her belly.

Ed picked up her suitcase.

“But dear heart, what if I lose you?” she cried, trembling.

Ed pulled her close and whispered, “My duty’s here, Luv. Yours is to look after our baby… Promise me?”

Mattie studied her husband’s eyes, her fear reflected in his. Eyes brimmed with tears, she nodded and opened the door.


Never Died by Simon Prathap D

He kissed the sword with pride, he became like his Father as he won his first battle.

He remembered the day he was protected by his father’s cloak, the swords clanged, enemies screamed and fallen dead, there was a Lion’s roar.

After a silence he came out of the cloak to find his dad standing strong with his sword, his eyes were glowing with pride, he won the battle, but he cried as there was a sword impaled his father’s chest.

He took his last breath, eyes looked at him, his lifeless body stood still, his father never died.


The Hermit by H.R.R. Gorman

“You’re so boring, pops. You only sit there and meditate.” The young man pounded his fist on a simple table, rattling a knife, bread, and cup of butter.

The elder took the knife and buttered a piece. “There are many ways to glory.”

He growled, pulled on his cloak, and left.


The young man returned to the chapel, this time much grayer. His hands were manicured, his wallet full, his clothes fine. He brushed his hand against the rough-hewn table.

He crushed the land’s deed in his hands. He’d sacrificed a quiet glory, but what for he couldn’t tell.


A Different Way to Serve by Charli Mills

Her bootlace caught the gunrack no soldier ever used. The force of the blast lifted her body as easily as a child’s balloon rises. Weightlessness defined the pause between rise and fall. When her body crashed, her bootlace held. It ripped every tendon, wringing her ankle. Two years later the VA removed the foot Hunter wanted gone. It flopped and failed, unlike the metal shank they pounded into her bone. Strong. Time to return. She wore no cape, no uniform, but stood to defend an Inuit village. She became the climatologist who sounded the alarm. The ice was melting.


At That Decisive Moment by Bill Engleson

It was expected
that in a pinch,
he’d hold the bridge,
not give an inch.

It was ingrained
in His DNA,
to guard his post,
in every way.

His inner voice,
had something to say,
“It’s a losing cause,
time to give way.”

In moments of doubt,
he thought to pray,
But realized
T’was not his way.

Still, he wondered
how to allay
this dune of fear
that so held sway.

“I’m no hero,”
he thus proclaimed.
I will care not
If I am blamed.

Life is a gift.
I’ll leave this war,
And make my peace
For evermore.


Earth by Saifun Hassam

At five, Annie wanted to be an astronaut, in a rocket orbiting Earth. She wanted to be a biologist, to protect Earth. Her imagination was fired up when her parents talked about pesticides affecting birds and other animals. A silent spring, not to hear birds singing, was unbearable.

Annie’s first telescope was in the backyard. She peered at the major constellations. Enough to start on a long journey.

The bird feeder attracted birds year-round. She was so excited one winter to find chickadees sheltering in the pines.

From the space shuttle, she saw Earth’s place in space, Earth’s fragility.


Celastrina Ladon by JulesPaige

Imprisoned by winter
Set free by sun kissed
warmth of seasonal changes

Our heroes attend
and prepare us
Perhaps they take breaks
In their duties to feed
Our honeydew to their own

How we enjoy to mend
The spirits of those
Who remained bound

Could we be heroic
In our small flight
As we cross their paths
Perhaps alight
On their garden flowers?

One of the earliest
Of our kind to flitter
Into this April

on my walk
I encountered a true hero
of the new season
one lone Spring Azure
as if the a bit of sky fell


Deadly Garden by Dave Williams

Discovery of treasure! Purples, blues, yellows! Like reaching a monochromatic street’s end to find Times Square.

The backyard garden rewarded Zuberstan’s long flight from the hive. Inebriated with joy, Zuberstan didn’t sense the golden retriever running — until the dog nearly reached the bee.

The beast’s jaws opened. The cave’s drooling maw ended with the darkness of death. Hot breath enveloped Zuberstan. He zipped backward. The jaws shut. Then flight from the dog’s reach.

Zuberstan gasped, headed back toward the hive. A group would return. Some bees would distract the dog, buzz its head, while other bees feasted on nectar.


The Elixir of Pyjamas and Citrus Juice by Anne Goodwin

HJ called to Writer. Writer rejected the call. “I’m a free spirit,” she claimed, plonking her characters in a featureless landscape without a map. Seeing them floundering, Ally asked questions. Listened. Reframed. Writer refused to control her characters, the novel more unwieldy with every draft.

Frustrated, she abandoned fiction for caving. When falling rocks blocked the exit, Buddy prescribed guided imagery to combat panic. “You’re home, safe in bed. What are you wearing? What are you drinking?” Writer envisioned pyjamas and citrus: PJ and OJ proved her elixir. She’ll plot the Protagonist’s cum Ordinary Person’s Journey if she survives.


The Chosen One by Joanne Fisher

There was a loud knock on the door. Clarice answered it to find a tall man with a long beard standing on her porch.

“Clarice Evans, would you like to join me on an adventure?” the Wizard asked.

“Ooh that sounds lovely dear! I’ll just go and get my coat.” Clarice replied. The Wizard waited patiently.

Clarice Evans may have been seventy four with a gammy leg, hard of hearing, and owned a preponderance of cats, but little did she know it was her destiny to defeat evil and usher in a new golden age of peace and enlightenment.


Heroes by Anita Dawes

My favourite heroes, da Vinci, Plato, Galileo
To name but a few
Not forgetting the classics, like Achilles, Hercules
As a child, Tarzan was my favourite,
Taking care of the animals, righting wrongs
Then I switched to Superman, fantasy maybe.
Turning to more modern heroes
Maya Angelou would be up there.
My father for leaving, before he knew I existed
What a hero!
I digress, sorry. It’s one of those days
when I feel like pouring out all sorts of nonsense
What would happen if you put them in a cave?
Would their mighty egos break down the walls?


Supply Run by Rebecca Glaessner

Slinking along the dark and barren hillside, pack of acquired supplies secured tight, I see movement.

Have I been caught?

I drop low, confident in my darkened out-wear, and watch the quiet, sprawling city. A flash by the edge reveals an individual stumbling past the barrier, long, unshaven white hair gleaming in the night.

I need to leave before next watch begins, but they fall.

I weigh the risks, and reluctantly return.

“Can you walk?” I ask.

They nod, startled.

“Put this on,” a shawl for their hair.

With sounds of next watch beginning, we disappear into the hillside.


Hero by Pete Fanning

I sit at the bar, sliding my glass over the rings from pitcher’s past. A muted ball game is on TV. Jim reminds me how he was an all-district pitcher back in high school.

High school. A wash of beer slides down my throat. I check the latest string of messages from my son’s mother. Damn.

I forgot about T-ball.

Jim beckons another round. On TV, the pitcher fans another batter. The kid is four, I’ll make it up to him.


A fresh cold pitcher slides onto the bar, leaving new rings for the next hero to find.


Hero in a Different Light by Hanna Streng

You must think I’m despicable”, he whispered and hid his face in his hands.

He had told her everything. That he had a 7 year old daughter he hadn’t seen in 6, that he only 4 years ago had been so depressed that he hadn’t been able to get out of bed for weeks and that he as a result had seen his job go down the drain.

Now she’d finally see him for what he was- a mess.

She did see, but differently.
“You’ve been through hell, and you’re still here.
“I  don’t think you’re despicable”, she said, “you’re my hero.”


The Unnamed Negotiator by Padmini Krishnan

The police inspector stood amongst the rioters, negotiating.
“They started it first,” screamed a youth leader.

The inspector told him what would happen to his future was he arrested. Anger reduced, they jeered at him. He was not the aggressive cop they were hoping for.

“Did you open teargas?” thundered the commissioner.

“No signal, sir.” The inspector cut the call and stood between the rioters, talking in soft tones, reminding them not to fall prey to their passions. Their mockery turned to exhaustion and they dispersed in the midnight, as a lonely figure walked back to his police car.


Brave and Strong by Brenda

Be true to yourself. You are a every day hero, brave and strong.

Hero, brave and strong.

Put down, locked up, and shut up.

A life of pain, hurt, and disadvantage.

Turn it around and fine true strength

When you get back up after being knocked down.

Take the dark events in life and find the light.

Sharing stories of pain. Showing others how to fight.

Scared and living in fright.

Gaining strength through the suffering endured.

Learned there is much more

Than what people can see.

Learn to look for the light,

Even in the darkness of night.

In everything and everyone, look for God’s light.

Love all you see.


The Late Knight by Nicole Horlings

Princess Elissa leaned against the wall of the tower, bored and frustrated. When on earth would Sir Garth arrive? She glanced out the window, and spied the red dragon, circling lazily above the tower. There was no sign of the knight in the distance. Surely, he would have gotten her message about the rescue? Hadn’t her servant survived the journey?

It had been too long. She descended the stairs, summoned the rest of her army, and instructed the dragon to lead them in their march to rescue Prince Arnold. She’d backtrack to search for Sir Garth, just in case.


Heroine Chic by Doug Jacquier

A ballsy Amazon, with a prodigious cleavage and legs that go all the way up to her backside, storms into a cave and kicks the crap out of The Devil Personified and, supposedly, women everywhere cheer. The fact that her methodology replicates that of her foe is, supposedly, irrelevant to the sweetness of her revenge.

Meanwhile, a woman, with breasts streaked from breastfeeding and whose legs end at her knees, stands in her cavernous kitchen, surrounded by children abandoned by their father, and turns ground beef into gourmet burgers cheaper than McDonalds. She doesn’t have time to imagine heroism.


No More Heroes by Hugh W. Roberts

What fate awaited an innocent woman?


As she ascended the scaffold, an image of her husband stood before her. His cloak, scruffy beard and stocky build still made him the hero she deeply loved.

Kneeling before him, she looked up.

Praising him, she told those around her that he was a gentle and sovereign lord.

Bowing her head, she waited for his forgiveness.

As the executioner struck Anne Boleyn’s head off with a single swing of his sword, Henry made his way to the woman he would marry a few days later. She’d become his hero, but not until she delivered him a male heir.


Choices by Lisa Shea

Anguish ravaged my soul as I cradled my boyfriend’s limp body. My hands were wet with his warm blood, the air rich with the metallic scent. The arrow lodged deep in his chest. I desperately recited the ingredients. Absinthe. Zedoary. Newt’s bile. I could do it – bring him back – but should I?

His glassy eyes, once aglow with adoration, stared blankly at the cerulean sky.

Revive him or let him go?

It took all my strength to stand. To turn away.

My husband smirked. “Nice shot!”

I drew my bow and aimed for his heart.


A Hero’s Journey of Staggering Proportions by D. Avery

“Pepe LeGume. Seen Kid? Thet lil’ greenhorn was unusually ‘thusiastic ‘bout the prompt. Scampered off, ain’t been seen since.”

“Teenk  Pal. Keed has always wanted to be beeg hero, so prob’ly went into dee cave.”

“Whut cave?”

“Remember? Dere was a beer cave installed at da saloon. Stores and deesplays 99 cases a beer at perfect beer temperature, no more no less.”

“Let’s go, LeGume. Thinkin’ this hero’s journey ain’t gonna end well.”

 “Jeez Kid! Ya smell worse  ’an Legume!”

“Drunker ’an a skunk too.”

“Come outta there Kid.”

“Okay Pal. Jist lemme grab one more bottle a ‘lixir.”


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  1. Doug Jacquier

    Congrats to all. My writing Superheroes this week are Pete and Ritu but the Hero of Humour Award goes to Geoff.

    • Charli Mills

      You are all my writing Superheroes, Doug! You show up for the journey.

      • Doug Jacquier

        So sweet and kind of you, Charli. Dreadfully non-PC of me to repeat Woody Allen’s famous quote that 80% of life is just showing up. 😉

  2. Ritu

    Heroic attempts, by all, methinks!

    • Charli Mills

      Indeed, Ritu!

  3. Dave Williams

    Neat to read the variety of stories based on the prompt. And thanks for assembling all the stories into this post 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      This is my favorite part of the challenge, Dave!

  4. joanne the geek

    This was an enjoyable read. You’re all heroes ??

    • Charli Mills

      Heroes all around!

  5. denmaniacs4

    Very enjoyable collage of 99-word creations. Heroic!

    • Charli Mills

      I like the word collage for these creations, Bill!

  6. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

    These are great Kudos to all Sorry I couldn’t participate this time
    Laughter, It’s a beautiful noise


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