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.
Bad Day at Black Fly Rock by Doug Jacquier
In retreat from the world, Charli and D lazed by the lake, catching their breath for a few days before returning to the frayed edges of their lives, replete with accumulated peace and just a soupcon of wisdom. The detritus of their eclectic lunch of the mundane and the exotic sat on their tree stump table and they lay on the ground in post-prandial semi-snooze mode.
Charli lazily ventured ‘I can feel that sun repairing my bones.’
D replied slowly ‘Yeah, s’warm.’
Whereupon Charli launched herself from prone to full sprint position before diving into the lake, screaming ‘Where?!”
Swarm by D. Avery
Like my pal Kid, I didn’t come up with 99 words last week, and am barely squeaking this in after a second chance at swarm. I don’t know why this such a difficult prompt. I am not unfamiliar with blackflies. The stippled grill and windscreen of my truck are reminders of the season now past. My bumpy wounds have finally healed, just in time for the current onslaught of mosquitoes. Somehow they always seem to find me just before sleep does.
It’s only one thing
Then another endlessly
Insidious horde frenzied
hungry as worry
unseen answers out of reach
Meadows for Butterflies by Anne Goodwin
I remember Iguazu, the roaring cataract where three countries collide, water sheeting down the Devil’s throat, in Spanish or in Portuguese it was heavenly. The butterflies that thronged around us as we strolled between viewpoints, a dancing honour guard of brightest blue.
Our English garden was designed as a feast for insects, but we dispatched the invitations forty years too late. The thirsty soil thinks waterfalls pure fantasy, yet still we persevere and count our purple orchids, thrilled to spot a pair of ringlets or a solitary common blue. Will these too desert us or will the swarms return?
The Duvet, the Thread and the Wardrobe by Hugh W. Roberts
It was hardly a swarm, but they kept coming. A trickle at first, but the more Pauline pulled at the thread on the duvet cover she’d found in the attic, the more they swarmed.
Eventually, Pauline killed them with the hardcover book she grabbed from the bedside table before vacuuming them up with the battery-operated handheld hoover she’d found in the box hidden at the back of the old wardrobe the previous owner had left.
The following morning, there was no sign of Pauline or the swarm of whatever had eaten her. Not even the handheld hoover needed emptying.
Adding Insect Insult to Injury by Gary A. Wilson
“Insects should not make history. Look at this mess.”
“Damn! The country is trying to rebuild itself after Wall Street. We’ve got 15% unemployment and food riots. Now this – grasshopper swarms throughout Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska.”
“Actually, these hoppers have metamorphosed into locust. Locusts have stronger wings to fly further.”
“Shocking. This is your map? How can this be possible?”
“Scientists say it’s the drought. It’s already reduced crops this year. A fungus in damp soil normally kills most of their eggs. Without rain, they all hatch and swarm looking for food.”
“We’ll not soon forget July 1931.”
Swarming by Ann Edall-Robson
An ominous sound filters through the trees, a drone of thousands of voices, low and steady. Flying under a canopy of clouds, clearing on the tail of a storm. Surround sound exemplifies the direction of their existence. Nothing visual to substantiate the eerie din, yet. The song becomes clearer, not a song with words, humming, with a smattering of rustling branches accentuating the beat. Clouds move out, branches become a sieve for the evening sun, the unknown push into sight. The reflection of the setting orb danced over the iridescent wings of swarming bodies. Mosquitoes search for their prey.
Seeking Safety by JulesPaige
Alone with the swarm and a very thin vent screen between me and them. The small trailer home for vacations sat on a small lot in the country. Not something a city child was used to. Convenience had me in the back bedroom. So the adults could stay up later. But they’d gone out for the evening. Had they left me emergency numbers? Did we even have a phone? That I don’t recall at all. I woke to their incessant buzzing. I put on my robe and hightailed it to the nearest neighbor in the dark of the night.
A Swarm of Family by Duane L Herrmann
It was a reunion. The sister had returned to visit from far away, unable to return even once a year. The brothers lived close but saw each other seldom. Their wives had different lives and, in keeping away from their mother, kept away from each other too. At this reunion meal, one in-law challenged a brother. His reply was not sufficient. Another in-law started, joined by her spouse. Soon, all demanded answers, though he had done nothing wrong. They simply did not like his choice. Their swarm of anger left him drained. Then he had to go to work.
Encounter with the Yellow Butterfly by Sadje
I was four when I had my first encounter with wasps . I was alone on the veranda one summer afternoon. There was a hole in the wall and I saw a yellow butterfly crawl into it. I was intrigued so I stepped in for closer observation and was suddenly attacked by a swarm of wasps.
My mother came running when she heard my screams. Mercifully, my memory is a bit hazy but I remember being given medication to control the allergic reactions to the stings.
For a few days I was the favorite one in the family.
Mayflies by Nancy Brady
Summer at the lake usually includes the appearance of mayflies. They should hatch over the lake; however, the wind often pushes them onto the land where they’ll cover houses, garages, storefronts, trees, and bushes during their short life of nymphs, morphing to adulthood when they’ll mate. Mayflies, with large wings and even larger ovipositors, don’t sting, bite, or eat. They just mate in a swarm of insects. Then they die, leaving stinking, rotting carcasses behind. The week after brings the midges, called muffleheads, in another swarm of lusty mating, humming in what seems to be great clouds of smoke.
Disappeared 28 by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Joseph fell back, hands empty of the mallet and chisel used to strike the brass plaque from the sewer wall. The older man before him mirrored his seated pose, flickering between dark and nothing, until he settled to something between the two.
He looked familiar: wide green eyes, cleft chin, arching brows, silver-streaked dark hair.
Joseph cried out as memories of Bethany, Andrew, and Eloise gathered in a swarm around his head and flew toward the older man. He felt a snap, and muffling blankness.
“Oh dear!” the Scotsman sighed. He leaned back to catch and save the memories.
The Swarm by Norah Colvin
People swarmed like ants to a plate of jelly. Jodie stretched on tiptoes but saw nothing. She peered first left, then right, but heads blocked any view. There was nothing to hear — no singing, no instrument, no announcement. The crowd was silent and still. Jodie might have left but was trapped by others who’d filled the space behind. “What is it, Mummy?” her child whispered. Frowning faces pressed fingers to tight lips. “I can’t see anything,” the child declared. “Shhhhh!” the crowd admonished, breaking the spell. The swarm dispersed. “What was it, Mummy?” Jodie shrugged. “Nothing. It was nothing.”
Wayne Kerr Drops a Log by Scott Bailey
“The last poet for tonight’s ‘Open Mic Night’ please welcome Wayne Kerr,” the club’s owner announced.
“Like swollen torrents gushing through the canyons of my emotions, your love swarms over me, carrying my throbbing soul onward unto the precipice where I fall helplessly into the chasm of your loveliness while the swirling eddies of our selfless beings meld as one and we are whole,” the poet Wayne Kerr read aloud.
“Now, THAT’s one steaming load of shit!” the owner whispered to the bartender.
“Sweet Jumpin’ Jesus, flies are already swarming on that fragrant turd!” the bartender chuckled in return.
Seeing In Summer by Geoff Le Pard
Some places celebrate summer with fetes and festivals; Little Tittweaking has Arnold Paraffin’s bee swarm extravaganza. Arnold’s bees aren’t any old buzzers, but bestriped performance artists (who also make honey). Each hive choreographs itself into a sculptured structure which is then judged (from a safe distance) by the chair of the horticultural society, Bette Sensibly. Past winners usually disperse quickly, when the finger buffet appears. This year’s winners, a vibrating icicle surprised everyone, by self immolating on the barbecue. When interviewed later, the Queen explained she’d been told it was the only safe way to keep the bee swarm.
A Blind Payout by Frank James
Zambian Joseph Kaunda watched a locust swarm devour his crops. He surrendered his future for work in Lusaka one-hundred-fifty miles away. He labored at a construction company living in a tent. He earned poverty but believed change would come. He sent earnings home, except food allowance. While slogging away, Innovation Farmers saved the day with his wife redeveloping fields and green houses to grow larger crops removed from swarms.
One day, his foreman handed him a check, “Go home.”
He returned to his wife displaying seedlings. Joseph teared. His son hugged him. “New crops, Papa.” Sacrifice sometimes brings surprises.
Out of the Sky by Sue Spitulnik
After Mac’s comment and respectful silence, the talk about jumping continued. Tyrell was nodding his head in the affirmative. He took a swallow of his beer and then spoke softly, unusual for him. “I once witnessed some jumpers training for a night landing. It was just before full dark when I heard the plane, and it sounded like it might stall for going too slow. I looked up and could just make out bodies and chutes floating silently towards me. They looked like a frightening swarm of giant bugs descending. I was glad I knew what they actually were.”
Author’s Note: Tyrell is the African-American drummer in the Band of Brothers and an Iraqi veteran.
Swarm for Bees by kathy70
When 2,000 people show up to protest or support that could be considered a swarm. Like bees swarm and move out of a hive when it is no longer safe maybe people need to do more swarming. In the 60’s and 70’s protests were everywhere. I only attended one and it was pretty harmless for ZPG. Never have I seen a swarm of bees but maybe they need us to swarm now for them. Let’s plan a human swarm to protect bees habitat. Okay who’s with me lets swarm a parking lot and cover it with bee friendly flowers.
S’Warm, Isn’t It! by Bill Engleson
Up here, we’re accustomed to ‘normal’. Each year’s the same. Oh, there might be a slight difference one year from the next, a few degrees up or down, bit more snow in winter, spring rains, moderate summers with a few days hotter than anyone ever remembered, and Autumn winds that cause a bit of a worrisome whirl. Like I said, normal. Nothing we can’t manage. But lately. Mamma Mia! Seas and rivers rising! Mountains sliding! The sun slivering, blasting shafts of fire, a locust-like winged shimmering of heat barbs slicing our skin, swarming us in an unholy flesh-ripping inferno.
Swarms’ Warm Arms Receive My Soul by Scott Bailey
My spacewalk sabotaged, this spacesuit is now my home (as long as the oxygen lasts). Holding the severed tether, I stare at my glove, knowing a painful end awaits as I watch the spaceship sail away. Later, I watch a tiny sparkle land on my sleeve, then another and another. Raising my other arm I see many more. Soon the sparkles cover my spacesuit as they swarm and pass through me. They cause no fear. I feel safe, at peace. The swarms’ light overpowers me; blinding me, lifting me, holding me, peacefully letting me lay my head to sleep.
Twinkling Swarm by Kerry E.B. Black
Fireflies glinted, sparkled, bright gold fairy lights, illuminating summer and beckoning. “Come frolic!”
Jenny’s children answered their call, with pastel nets and jars with holes in the lids. They ran to the flashes, anticipated the glowing bugs’ next move. With giggles and mad dashes through the mint and rosy scented air, they amassed a small swarm.
“Time for cocoa and cookies.” Jenny shepherded her brood to the door where they released their luminous captives. The children applauded the impromptu display.
“They’re better than fireworks!” her little boy enthused.
“Prettier than Rapunzel’s floating lanterns!” her little girl exclaimed.
Got No Buzzin’ by D. Avery
“Jeez Kid. Yer burnin the midnight oil. If Carrot Ranch had midges an moskeeters they’d be swarmin roun this lamp. Whut’re ya up to?”
“Tryin ta come up with a response ta the prompt Pal. Sometimes I’m buzzin with ideas. Not this time. Got nuthin. Asked Ernie if he had anything fer swarm he said he swims when it’s warm an jumped in the crick an swum. Asked Pepe what he’d do for swarm he said he’d jist stamp his feet ta warn folks it’s comin. You got anythin Pal?”
“Nope. I’m so worn out, think I’ll turn in.”
Swarm by D. Avery
“Always thoughta Shorty as havin a sunny disposition, Kid, but seems ta be a dark cloud over her.”
“It’s that swarm a blackflies from headquarters. We ain’t gotta worry bout them here at the Ranch.”
“Bein fictional has its advantages, Pal. An we got Pepe. He’s made a product called LeGume’s La Fume, a organic grass roots bug repellent.”
“Ass toots? Hmmf. Jist keep LeGume an his products from stinkin up the Saloon, Kid. Folks is gonna be swarmin ta the Cowsino Friday ta play the story spine slots.”
“More writin prompts?! That don’t stink Pal!”
Wrangle, Wangle, a Swing and a Swish by D. Avery
“Thought I heard the whine of a swarm a bugs, but it’s jist Kid.”
“Hmmph. Pal, I’m thinkin Pepe’s repellent works too good. I cain’t net an idea fer this prompt even with an extension.”
“Thet bites. Yer usually buzzin with ideas.”
“Yeah, sometimes I’m swamped with ideas, but lately— jist swamped. Reckon I’ll go fer a walk.”
“Out on the sward? Thet might hep ya git ideas fer this prompt.”
“Or mebbe I’ll swing by Ernie’s swath of old still stream. Come on Curly!”
“Swimmin with yer swine?”
“Yep. You comin too?”
“It’s so warm.”