Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.
We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
A Near Miss by Anne Goodwin
When the light flashes on my dashboard, I consult man in greasy overalls, who tuts and tinkers and charges me for my ignorance, but my car is safe to drive.
Beneath my skin my body is as much a mystery as that engine, but I can sense when some organ misfires. The scientific version of a fortune teller reading tea leaves, men and women in laundered scrubs can diagnose the problem through my blood. That’s if they are willing to wield a syringe and test tubes. The chap I saw refused to act until I’d reached the danger zone.
An Eyeful by Geoff Le Pard
The last corner before you enter Little Tittweaking is a notorious blackspot. There have been a few car-tree interfaces, but mostly the damage is psychological: the driver is found whimpering, with his or her eyes tight shut. This danger zone results from the unfortunate juxtaposition of Mrs Pendulous’ Bauble Emporia on one side and Auriola Snatch’s All-weather Nude Yoga classes on the other. Many’s the driver who mounts the verge when confronted by Colonel Guy Rope’s downward dog, as reflected against that day’s bauble, certain they will be crushed by a ginormous pair of rapidly approaching testes.
Eating at the Danger Zone by Nancy Brady
Going to an upscale restaurant causes anxiety for me; however, it wasn’t always that way. The first time it happened at a nice restaurant. One bite caused a reaction. A dose of epinephrine stopped it. Once diagnosed, it was easy to avoid by asking if there were any pine nuts because of a life-threatening allergy. Much later, it’s another restaurant, another bite, and then, anaphylaxis, a trip to the ER, and an overnight stay. Eventually, even cross-contamination of utensils causes minor reactions. Would another accidental bite be the one that caused death? Despite Epi-pens, it’s the Danger Zone.
Revelation by Michael Fishman
His next step would define the rest of this life.
He sat, legs overhanging the rock ledge, watching the waterfall in front of him. He listened to the water crash over the crest, he breathed in the mist that rose to the sky.
He leaned back, closed his eyes.
Analytical to a fault he ran the scenario through his head repeatedly. He would leave someone behind, would they care? But he might make someone very happy? Both paths uncertain. Both carrying varying degrees of risk and danger.
What do I want? he thought.
He opened his eyes and smiled.
Taking Risks by Ann Edall-Robson
Instinct told her the fence, and its guise of safety, was only a few steps away. Body and camera ready, positioned for the action shots, she waited for the bull and rider to explode into the arena. Taking the chance over and over until someone yelled at her, “Get to hell out of the arena.”
“Outside!” Came the call from inside the chute.
Breathing in the adrenaline, she held her breath. Waiting for the gateman to make his move to pull the chute gate open. The photographs were worth the risks. She was now truly in the danger zone.
Jumping by Sue Spitulnik
The conversation at the No Thanks was about parachute jumping. One veteran said he couldn’t wait to get the chance because he loved bungee jumping and wasn’t disappointed by the adrenaline rush of stepping into thin air. Another admitted it wasn’t his favorite thing to do but had learned to accept it as part of his job. Mac was quiet until asked directly. He collected his thoughts before speaking. “Parachuting into a safe landing zone is beautiful and reverent. But, floating through a hail of bullets or hopping off a hovering helicopter in a hot zone was absolute hell.”
Author’s Note: Mac is a Vietnam veteran that owns the No Thanks Needed bar and grill.
Facing Fear Saves the Day by Frank James
A window-washer screamed, “Help!”
Judd dashed to the edge of the building’s roof. The washer dangled from his Bosoun’s Chair. Judd’s thoughts vanished as he tied off a rope, stepping over the edge. Basic Training flipped through his mind, reciting repelling steps. His heart pounded stepping down. He stammered. ‘I will help,” He paused releasing his hand. Thud, halting at the platform. He scrambled to the man, pulling him on the chair.
“Thank you! How did you get here?” The washer said.
“Stupidity masked as bravery,” Judd said.
The man smirked, “I’m glad it did.”
Firefighters pulled them up.
Don’t Turn Back Flight Attendant by Padmini Krishnan
Siam Mendes steadied his hands on the control. It had been 6 hours since they lost contact with the Air Traffic Control. Their pilot was dead and the co-pilot was being restrained by a group of stewards. Amidst screams and swears from the co-pilot, Siam tried to concentrate, recalling the basic training he had as a recreational pilot. A slick aircraft flew to his right side. An angry face from the cockpit peeked out and a hand brandished something. Soon another lightweight flew to his left. Then the radio beeped soothingly, ‘’Mr. Mendes, can you hear me?’’
Danger Zone by D. Avery
The reporter put aside the binder of articles and commendations, all citing the husband’s legendary calm and commonsense, unflappable even under fire.
“I’m interviewing you.”
“Me?” She pulled nervously at the long sleeves she wore even on this warm day. “There’s nothing to tell.”
She wouldn’t tell how she holds him when he shakes and cries after a harrowing shift. She wouldn’t tell how she endures his punches when he’s in a drunken rage.
“Every time he leaves for work, I fear for his life,” she offered.
She wouldn’t tell how she fears for her own at his return.
Danger Home Duane L Herrmann
Screaming came first, then forced submission to do her will even though I objected and had physical limits, physically hit and screaming forced to swallow vomit, a concussion, and continual humiliation. It was constant hell plus torment by a younger one. Suicidal first at two, then nine years later I learned how. Not allowed independence, then criticized for not taking initiative. No decision was good enough and labor often fell short. There were no kind words, no affection, just labor demanded in very precise, exacting ways. I didn’t have to go far, my Danger Zone was my childhood home.
Pariah Pupils by Kerry E.B. Black
Katey clutched books to her chest, head down, as she scurried through the crowded hallway. Accustomed to loneliness, and preoccupied with personal matters, she ignored classmates’ daily interactions. They, however, refused her benign neglect. In particular, a cliche of antagonists noted her and positioned themselves to intercept. Unknowingly, Katey blundered into their midst.
“Too good to talk to us, Katey?”
Katey stammered, “Oh, no, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude.”
The queen bee of the group scoffed. “Really, why’s she talking to us?”
Katey’s mind whirled, unsure how she’d stumbled into middle school pariahdom.
The Hidden Gamble by JulesPaige
The Bone Boys were addicted to greed. Joe watched carefully through a hole in the wall. Joe stayed out of sight mentally projecting to the piano player to tinkle the ivories with a tune he could at least, in his head, sing. Couldn’t give away his position in the false wall behind the bar. Staying overnight in lock up was better for the whole town. Joe’s Pop made sure to keep them boys’ whistles’ wet. If the ‘Boys’ started cheating, Joe was to fetch the sheriff right quick!
too much dust
for brains to make sense;
Quicksand by Norah Colvin
I can’t see it.
That’s why it’s so dangerous.
It doesn’t look like quick sand.
It never does. Until you start sinking in it.
I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to scare me. I’m going in anyway.
Help! Help! Save me!
You don’t look like you need saving to me.
But I’m sinking.
It’s just your imagination.
You said it was quicksand.
I know, but I was joking.
Then why am I sinking?
You’re not sinking. You’re just — disappearing into the ground? Yikes! It really is quicksand. Help! We’re sinking! Save us!
The Best Rock Ever Pushed Down A Cliff by Gary A Wilson
It was just below the edge, a mammoth monolith-shaped boulder, visible to the whole Petaluma Valley, clinging to the cliff above the rock quarry.
“I’d bet Gary could push it loose.”
An un-resistible challenge. I thought. Couldn’t work – but slid down to try.
Unbelievably, the truck-size rock moved – then broke free.
The howl of crashing shale filled the valley.
Realizing it also kept me from falling, I scrambled up to the edge.
In slow-motion, it gained speed, gouging a trench, screaming destruction throughout the valley before exploding at the bottom.
“That was cool guys, but we should leave – NOW!
Disappeared 24 by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Prohibition had ended in early 1933. The speakeasy had already expanded its offerings to other delights not quite legal. Whisky, with her solid head and an iron heart for business, still used the Scotsman’s interdimensional tunnel to transport and store these goods and services. The mage, fine man that he had been and surely a boon in his time, was no longer useful and had become a hindrance. He had to go. To his credit, he was aware. His dark, unruly hair had grayed, his dimples and belly softened. The Fates smiled with regret. Atropos picked up her shears.
Jack the Ripper by Scott Bailey
Fog cloaks the chilly night, gaslights glisten feebly on damp cobblestones, the city sleeps. I prowl London’s side streets and alleys. The putrid stench of guilt exposing my prey. I hate what I’ve become but can these miscreants go unpunished? I follow a prostitute, dirty long skirt, ungainly stride, drunk. I know her type, laughing, ridiculing, belittling impotent Johns. She’ll pay. They all will. I grab her. She spins to me. A beard and a grimace surprise me as this imposter grabs my throat with powerful hands. Crushing my windpipe, he glares maniacally as life ebbs from my eyes.
Dangerous Intruder by Sadje
The doorbell rang stridently in the quiet of the afternoon. Misha looked up from her computer and peeked through the glass panel of the front door. She couldn’t see anyone. Resigned, she got up to open the door a crack and looked through it. Still, no one was visible. But a frisson of unease ran up her spine. “Is someone there?” Silence….. She pushed the door to close and bolt but it wouldn’t budge. As if something invisible was hindering it. Suddenly someone gripped her hand and pulled her backward. She wanted to scream, but couldn’t make a sound.
Danger Zone by MR Macrum
“We’d made a promise when we were kids that we would never see each other again. Yet, here you are on my doorstep and once again asking for help I cannot imagine giving you.”
“When I helped you bury that other friend of yours, I told you that was the last time. I won’t even loan you a shovel. Now take your sorry ass and ………….”
“Wait now. Let’s not get excited. No need to brandish such a large knife. You know what? Screw that promise we made when we were kids.”
“How can I help you old friend?”
Killer Doc by Simon
Jessica, at her backyard, underground she witnessed a horrible murder, knife inside the eyes of the victim, the body shook deadly on its last moment. She felt to puke, held her mouth shut and ran fast to her house, she felt the shadow followed her all the way home, she checked one last time, the killer was staring at her at the end of street. Jessica, woke up with her parents aside comforted about the accident. What? accident? something strange she felt, her fingers, her tongue, missed with bandages. She screamed, unable to explain the killer was the doctor.
Danger Zones by Reena Saxena
The title of his latest book is “Where there is no fear”.
The book cover shows his fingers tapping a keyboard and the image of a brain on the screen, with illuminated zones.
The message on the back cover:
“Danger zones are nothing but unfamiliar places, where we find ourselves powerless to respond in the right way. My characters have traveled all possible danger zones and conquered those.
This is where I’m today – in a zone where my imagination ends. Hence, this is my last book.”
The book is a bestseller. Everybody wants to see life at the edge.
Just Don’t Look Down by Doug Jacquier
The boss always skimped on safety to save money. Kenny tried not to look down at the 60 foot drop to the concrete below as he moved along the 50 year old timber bearers that had begun to rot and split. The new corrugated iron would hold everything together for another 20 years; they just had to get it screwed down before the really serious winds came tonight. As the light began to fade and Kenny carried the last sheet into place, a gust carried them both off before Kenny could let go and they sailed into the sunset.
Dead at the Canyon by Miss Judy
She feels her foot slip, feels the cool air, she’s falling. Trembling she awakes, skin clammy and cold.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona, its natural beauty – vast, wild, stark.
We left the arid desert, traveled past cactus dotted hillsides, snowcapped mountains glistened in the distance.
“Stay On The Trail!” A young man fearlessly climbed over the rail, onto a rock ledge; his friends watched, laughing.
He turned, catching the rock’s edge, and plummeted into the Canyon. An eerie silence then a bloodcurdling scream roused the visitors to the devastating reality.
Years later, the chilling scene still haunts her dreams.
Grown, Apart by Scott Bailey
Callouses have grown on my emotions where happy memories should have taken root. I never liked pain yet have grown too used to it. So for that, it’s goodbye. The danger zone is the unknown and my future is not known. Will I recognize pure joy if I see it? Will the confidence of my youth return or is my steely resolve merely a fools errand? Will I crash and burn because you’re not here? So for that, it’s goodbye. I’m older but wiser and braver than before and I want to embrace my future. So for that, it’s goodbye.
Sometimes Little Brothers Win by Frank James
Billy stared at the cracked open closet-door as an owl hooted. Hastened breathing compelled him from bed. The night terrorized Billy, since his brother scared him with ghost stories. The door moved, and he jumped. His father popped in his mind, “You react to fear, so you control the outcome.” His eyes never separated from the closet. A tree branch scratched the window, and Billy froze. The owl hooted again, and Billy grabbed a bat. The closet door flopped open, and Billy smashed it!
His brother screamed, “Ow!”
Billy yelped, “I’m sorry.”
His brother replied, “I had it coming.”
Dilemma by Hugh W. Roberts
Red lights flashed before his eyes, yet he felt the need to enter the building. He had an idea of what he would find once inside, but the danger would still be lurking. He had to be careful and ensure nothing or nobody threatened his life.
The fact that he was over 25 miles away from home helped release some of his anxiety. As he pushed open the door, adrenalin pumped through his body before danger stared back at him.
“Dad! What? I can explain. Did you follow me? Or did you know this place is a gay bar?”
Rodents R Us by Bill Engleson
“We’re so glad you called us,” she said, the tough-looking babe accompanied by her terrier. “If its rats, my Petunia is a pretty good hunter.”
“Better your bowser than me,” I confessed.
That got a giggle out of her. Bowser on the other hand started to pooch-whimper, a squeamish yowl that halted the giggler in her tracks.
“Petunia, “ she smartly asked, “What’s got into you?” She then turned to me and said, “This should be right up her alley. Heavens, she is a Rat Terrier.”
“It was twice her size,” I embellished slightly. “Maybe Petunia’s met her match.”
Write Over Their Heads (Part I) by D. Avery
“Hey, Pal! Where’s Kid? Headed to the Danger Zone?”
“Kid’s still stuck in a self-made stone zone. Went an built a pigpen outta stone from the inside out, kep stackin stones up an up an overhead til it was over Kid’s head. Now Kid’s stuck there in thet pen.”
“Should I head over?”
“Kin if ya want. Last I saw, Doc Ranger was tryin ta talk Kid outta there. Kid sent me ta git a pen fer ta write a way outta thet pen. But I ain’t in no danger a Kid findin me here injoyin breakfast.”
Write Over Their Heads (Part II) by D. Avery
“Kid! It’s me, Shorty! Why ever did you build the pig pen walls so high?”
“Jist kep goin I s’pose. It’s where the stacking stones prompt led. Now I cain’t climb out. Where’s Pal with that writin pen?”
“I’ve got it. I’ve tied a pen and paper to a rock. I’m tossing it over the wall for ya.”
“Yikes! I’m in a danger zone. Ow!”
“Sorry. Kid, I think it’s great you want to write your way out of this predicament.”
“Got to. Doc Ranger’s questions was drivin me crazy. Pal jist laughed. Here. I’m done writin.”
Write Over Their Heads (Part III) by D. Avery
“That was some quick writing Kid. Can’t wait to read the conclusion to this unbelievable fictional conundrum. Maybe you’ll use this week’s danger zone prompt to blast your way through a wall with dynamite. Or maybe Pepe and Ernie will come up with some whacky scheme to get you out, maybe with the hot air balloon, or Aussie’s zipline. Maybe Curly will go Lassie again and tunnel you out. Kid, did you write the resolution in 99 words, no more, no less?”
“Less, Shorty. Jist read it.”
“‘Fetch a ladder.’ Huh. That’d do it.”
“Yep. Kept it simple, Shorty.”