Remote Collection

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.

August 12, 2022

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.

Working from Home by Kayla Morrill

My manager asked me if I would like to work remote. I told him I would appreciate some time to think about it. Later, I sat at home looking around and picturing myself remote.

I feel a slight breeze blowing through my hair and a warmth on my arms. I smell the wildflowers with their yellow pollen stuck to the bumbling bees that I hear in my ears. Looking up I see wispy clouds on my bedroom ceiling. I could finally be happy.

The next day I told him, “I would love to work remote; can it be Alaska?”


Thirty Minutes by Frank James

“Thirty minutes,” the driver told Jerome. He drove away. Jerome trotted into thick foliage toward an isolated radio tower needing service. His snowshoes crackled against crystalized snow. Hacking dense trees to climb higher, he paused resting. A mountain lion growled, so he scurried up the ridge. Twenty minutes remained. His GPS displayed his destination at the crest. He stepped from the trees to see he was on top of the world. He reached his tower, servicing it. Shooting his flare, a helicopter arrived.
Jerome gasped, “Why couldn’t you fly me here?”

“They contracted for one location,” the pilot smirked.


Too Remote by Ann Edall-Robson

The road, two single tracks wandering over hills and between the trees that had grown up with her. The children argued the location was too remote for a reunion, mostly because there was no cell service or wifi. She knew the ones who had spent childhood summers there would jump at the chance to bring their families. It would be like old times, playing in the creek, picking berries, playing cards by the light of a coal oil lantern, and watching shooting stars from the hill. The perfect venue for family history lessons. Yes, those who remembered would come.


Remote by Joanne Fisher

“When you said we should go on holiday, I didn’t think you meant a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere.”

“It’ll be great. There’s no WiFi, so we can talk and do things together without it distracting us.”

“What can we do?”

“We can fish, go for walks, cook meals together. We’ll be on our own with no one else around for miles.”

“I’ve seen several horror films starting with this premise.”

“You and your horror films. I think it would be good for us to get to know each other more intimately.”

“When can I go home?”


Alone Time by D. Avery

The bottle was old and weathered, but still. He’d just go even farther off-trail to find the unlittered, unpeopled remoteness he sought.

Time passed quickly but drinking the last of his water he realized he’d walked for miles. So he was surprised to see the discarded bottle again. Hadn’t he been walking straight away from it and the trail? Now he’d just have to walk straight back toward the trail.

When he saw the old bottle a third time his stomach lurched. This time he saw the skeleton with its grinning skull.

No one heard him laughing at himself.


Misled by Charli Mills

Rustic and remote. The vrbo listing advertised with snapshots of blue sky and glittering water. Helga and Hess shoved their kayaks into a rented SUV and drove for hours across the UP to paddle the Grackle River. Devices unplugged and hair undone, they followed directions to a farm road with three names. When the road shifted right, they stayed straight and wheeled over a two-track promising remote. The shabby-no-chic cabin squatted in shadowy woods like a horror novel. No river in sight. No place to unload kayaks. The composting toilet with cleaning instructions and no cleaner proved too far.


Maxed out by the Min Min Lights by Doug Jacquier

Charli and D. had become mesmerised by the Appalling Lights and soon they ventured into outback Australia, far beyond the Black Stump that marks the end of civilisation. They went in search of the Min Min Lights, only to find that the Lights followed them, not the other way round. When they tried to get closer, the pulsating discs in the sky that changed colours constantly, evaded them, always hovering just out of reach. Intrepidly, but inadvisably, they ignored the advice of locals and pursued this Fata Morgana. Their ghosts may be heard as you camp by the billabong.


Forest by Simon

Missed you so much during the pandemic lockdown.
Are you sure?
Yes. I was happy that I don’t have to hear your lame jokes, otherwise I still missed you.
You liked getting stuck in the forest?
I do, by the way who doesn’t love nature.
Nature… I saw a video about Crow. Before crowbars invented, crows just drank at home. Ever been to crow bars in forest?
Shut up! She giggles.
You are a micro biologist right?
Giggles … I am.
But you are much bigger than I expected.
Hahahaa…. Shut up! I am going back to forest again.


Up in the North of Pakistan by Sadje

In the remote mountains, in a small village lived a girl who wanted to get educated. Her family supported her in her efforts, sending her to the best school in the area.
But not everyone in that area was in favor of women getting educated. One group threatened her and then made an example of her and shot her in the head. She survived this attack and after recovery kept on advocating for women’s right to education.

At the age of 17, she became the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize for her efforts. She is Malala!


From Darkness To Light by Hugh W. Roberts

Although Fatima knew this remote, off-the-radar place had existed for many years, she’d never plucked up the courage to visit it.

But instead of the darkness, isolation and dread she’d heard existed inside; she found her true self when stepping through the door.

Throwing off the shackles of a life lived as a lie, she swapped it for one she knew she wanted. Gliding toward the lights, she danced while being watched by rainbow-coloured faces.

As happiness finally filled her life and laughter filled her lungs, she decided she would tell her husband she was gay in the morning.


An Englishwoman Takes Precedence by The Curious Archaeologist

It was impossible, somewhere as remote as this and another man had reached the summit first.
He furiously stamped through the snow to the tall figure.
“How did you get here? I am the Prince of Moscowa and should have been the first man to climb Vignemale.”
The figure turned, he gasped it wasn’t a man but a woman in a long black dress.
Anne Lister smiled. “You may be the Prince of Moscowa, but here an Englishwoman takes precedence. As for how, my wife advised me to bring crampons.”
She nodded, turned, and left him gasping in anger.


A Remote Getaway by Gary A Wilson

Benjamin staggered through the silent, remote castle again because it comforted him. His head was bandaged, arm throbbing from infection, one knee weak from a bad twist, and everything else, just plain hurt, but walking in silence helped.

The tall stone walled rooms echoed each footstep and each heavy breath misted slightly in the unheated air.

A screaming rocket and explosion broke through his cherished image, rocking the ground, pounding his ears, and spraying him with loose soil.

“Ben!” yelled Andrew. “You have to wake up! The tallies are on us. You’re going to have to heal later brother.”


From One Extreme to the Other by E.A. Colquitt

A screaming bride: NOTHING was going how SHE’D imagined, PLANNED, and convinced herself it WOULD.

Her groom: filming the whole thing, cackling, resisting attempts to get him to do something, anything, more decent.

Father John sniffed. If he’d officiated, these two would’ve known gratitude long before the altar…

Still, being a guest had its perks. He slipped outside, following a familiar way into woods so silent, you’d soon forget that civilisation was near.

Father John prayed on a bench riddled with carvings: ‘R ? D 4 eva’, ‘I & J’…

Things could’ve been so different. Yet, he found calm.


The Philanthropist by Gloria McBreen

Dressed as an old peddler woman, I scrutinise everyone that gets off the small passenger ferry. No strangers today; only a few locals returning from work on the mainland. No city folk looking to escape from civilisation. And no uniforms looking for me.

I stroll along the shore, watching two puffins floating lazily on a crestless wave—in tune with Island life. This is where I belong now. Not in that shit hole prison. I’m not a killer. I’m a philanthropist.

‘Put me out of my misery,’ he begged as he lay in his sick bed. So I did!


Bereft on a Beach by Kerry E.B. Black

I walk along a lonely shore. Without even the screeches of gulls for company, I count a half-hearted breeze my only companion. Overcast skies meld into the steely sea, and the sense of the monochromatic drips with tears – mine and the clouds’ – to inhospitable gray sand. Waves slap and hiss, strikes from inner turmoil manifested.

I step over the transparent blob of a beached jellyfish. Within its carcass pulses malignancy. Dull driftwood ornaments the shattered black shells crunching underfoot. Values of darkness manifest along the shore, speckled reflections of my own failure.

I squint, searching for an understanding soul.


Britain’s Brilliant Solution to the Refugee Problem by Anne Goodwin

It took patience, imagination and dogged determination, but we achieved our objective by playing on your fears. We showed you oversubscribed schools and overloaded hospitals: you could see they’d collapse if we took in more of them. Of course we felt for the families in the crowded dinghies but we didn’t make them cast their fortunes to the waves. If it weren’t for the traffickers they’d never leave their homes. Problems need solutions, that’s why we were elected: Rwanda’s climate and culture are closer to their own. How can it be racist when our skin’s as black as theirs?


Who Killed Virginia Branch? by Judy Marshall (Miss Judy)

High in the Catskill hills sits the rustic, yet elegant, Hilltop Lodge. Visitors come from near and far to bask in the luxury and serenity of this remote location, Owner Virginia Branch’s dream come true.

We entered the bar as a wedding party was ending. No one noticed the happy couple had already retired. We settled in for drink and sustenance. All was quiet when we retired. Pondering a few days of solitude and self-reflection we quickly fell asleep.

Awakened by screams, sirens and loud chatter, we stepped onto our balcony and heard someone cry, “Virginia’s been shot, dead!”

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Reference to actual persons or places is unintentional. To my knowledge there is no Hilltop Lodge owned by one Virginia Branch in the Catskill hills.


Remotely by Jenny Logan

If you want to kill your marriage stone dead, don’t speak to one another for ten days. There’s no going back from that—not once you’ve reached double digits.

So, blow your whole life up, by all means. The remoteness caused by a petty struggle of not backing down first will have you straight to the divorce court. If you need to keep winning all the battles, you’ll lose the war.

Can you afford the crushing blow to your self-esteem? No? Think twice. Apologize and stop squabbling. You’re not as young or as hot as you think you are.


Remote by Reena Saxena

A remote in my hand lets me control devices. I’m happy.

How close is far, when the pandemic does not allow me to be a part of my neighbor’s joys and sorrows? Isolated by the virus, I draw closer to the world with messages and calls.

But those who are far … remain far. I can share, but feel. Warmth is to be felt in words, not touch. Vision needs a screen, if not eyeglasses.

Distance is the newest oxymoron. But wait, hybrid modes are not far behind.

It’s a new world, a new vocabulary. Realign, redesign, redefine …


Pass the Remote by Charli Mills

Rhea said, “Pass the remote,” but no one answered. Her screen continued to flicker before her eyes. Images of cats and nonsensical signs. One read I peed in her shoe. Tasteless.

“Pass the remote…please…” Rhea remembered her manners. Perhaps they ignored her because she forgot the “magic word.” Who were they, anyhow? Her eyes drifted to the people gathered around. Some were laughing at the dumb cats. No one answered.

More growl than request, Rhea said, “Pass the fucking remote!”

“Hey, Grandma’s eyes are open.” They all turned and wondered at the single tear down her silent frozen face.


Television: the Remote Wasteland by Nancy Brady

When we were young, it was black and white television only, and the remote was the distance to the set, turning to one of three channels.

My family was the first in our neighborhood to own a color television, but there wasn’t a remote control.

Technology brought cable television, with a remote to scan through many channels.

Televisions in rooms used for eating or sleeping became common, and with it, more remotes.

Now our television requires two remotes to find something worth watching; some days, it’d be easier to return to three networks, getting up, and flipping the dial.


Conflicted ‘Issue’ by JulesPaige

Many years ago, up in the north country where the stars were able to fill the night sky with the Milkyway… ‘They’ got married. Her Pop, in that quaint little church, slapped the new groom on the back… “You’re her problem now!”

What an odd receiving line, with divorced parents of the groom on either side of the newlyweds. Those two never spoke to each other that day. Attempting to enjoy themselves, separately. The father of the groom had been her first husband, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day. They kept their distance, emotionally remote.

Author’s Note: Issue; 13: offspring, progeny


Mom Has the Answer by Sue Spitulnik

“Mom, Adam seems remote lately. What should I do?”

Tessa looked at her daughter. “You and Emma are often here when he gets home. Are you sure it isn’t Adam feeling you are being remote, so he’s reacting?”

“Emma gets crabby if I wake her up when she falls asleep here.”

“Maybe you should leave sooner so she naps at home. You could have quality time before she wakes up.”

“I don’t remember you and Dad doing that.”

“We didn’t. But you see me doing it for Michael. Learn from my mistakes.”

“Got it. I won’t be over tomorrow.”


Beyond the Mountain by Bill Engleson

How far could one go,
follow the path through the woods,
follow until the hungry forest
swallows you whole.

How far could one go,
flattened against the rooted earth,
flattened ‘neath the crushing undergrowth,
swallowed whole.

How far could one go,
could one find a day without end,
could one not look back to the beginning,
engulfed in the quest.

How far could one go,
shattered by the weight of one’s life,
scattered on the mountains beyond,
absorbed into the wilderness.

How far could I go,
aimless into the arboreal,
aimless, gripped by the descent,
the deep swabbing wood.


Breath by Charli Mills

Life draws first oxygen and death expels it. The inhale of birth and exhale of death mark each person’s life. They say the wind is the breath of our ancestors blowing across the world. Wind of our bones and castoff creations. Nothing is ever wasted. Not breath. Love expands hearts and lungs, in and out, in and out. When grief visits, we gasp, losing our breath. Silent sobs follow until, realizing we are not the ones yet dead, we suck in breath like hungry babies and howl. No matter how remote we feel, we are all connected. Through breath.


Recluse on the Loose by Geoff Le Pard

Miss Ann Dree and Miss Ann Thrope are Little Tittweaking’s two spinsters. Both loath company and seek solitude. Miss Dree slavishly follows the concepts of local guru, Dee Poll, as revealed in her work, the Road to Remoteness, aka the Socio Path and keeps digging. Meanwhile Miss Thrope is inspired by that most famous work, the HHGTTG*. Adapting a technique for hiding from the Bugblatter Beast, she stays covered in her towel. While everyone knows she’s there and remains polite, when asked Miss Thorpe says she ignores everyone and ‘is not taken in by any of their old flannel’.

*the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: ‘uses of a towel: [you can] wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you)’


The End of the Road by Norah Colvin

Sandy coughed, gagged, groaned, and complained in the unbearable heat as the car slewed along the track with air-con and windows locked to keep out the dust, failing as miserably as Sandy’s attempts to convince her stupid parents to go home. No phone. No internet. No nothing. Might as well be dead.

“When I was your age, there were no mobile phones or internet. You’ll survive. We did.”

Don’t punish me for your deprived childhood.

Finally, they arrived. Mum did the introductions.

“Good name for yer,” said the boy, grinning.

“I guess you’re Angus,” Sandy snapped. “Aptly named, too.”


Disappeared 38 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The mage froze. He’d traveled the world, shadow and otherwise. Yet no one in the terrestrial world ever saw him, except for these two Twins.

They stared at him with fierce green eyes, daring him to step closer. One wiped a grubby hand over her cherry-flavored, dimpled chin and said, “Stay ‘r go. We’re in no mood, old man.” She clenched her tiny fist.

“Well then,” he stalled, “Will a song cheer you?”

“’Pends on the song,” said the other, raising one eyebrow.

“This is the song that does not end…” he croaked.

They listened, giggling, and joined in.*

*Again, for your listening pleasure: 10 hours of Shari Lewis and Lambchop and friends singing “This is the Song That Doesn’t End”


Remote Learning (Part I) by D. Avery

“Pal! Yer back from yer back forty staycation in the restful remote edges a the ranch.”
“Jeez, Kid. Is it remotely possible ya could quit yer yammerin? An whut’re ya doin a-settin here on the bunkhouse veranda with yer feet up? Ya was s’posed ta take care a things whilst I was away. Don’t remotely look like yer workin.”
“But I am workin remotely. Got a Yooper Scooper mounted ta radio-controlled monster trucks, with a go-pro camera strapped ta the handle. Look here, you’ll see how clean the barns are.”
“Why’s thet little bigfoot wearin Shorty’s hat?”
“Oh shift.”


Remote Learning (Part II) by D. Avery

“My Yooper Pooper Scooper backed Shorty inta a corner an kep pilin it high an deep.”
“Shorty’s done got a PhD. Remotely. We best hose her off Kid.”

“Pfft! Thanks for your help, Pal. Kid, no more automation.”
“Sorry Shorty. That was a shitty thing what happened ta ya.”
“I’ll say. But let’s move on. Pal, how was your staycation? Did you find some beautiful remote spots on the ranch?”
“Closer than ya’d think. Didn’t kayak, didn’t balloon. Floated in a hammock up in the poet tree.

suspend time an space
vast remoteness within reach
when you reach within”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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  1. Doug Jacquier

    A note left for the castle renters: ‘Re moat. Don’t forget to draw the bridge with the pencil and paper provided.’
    Nothing remotely ordinary in this week’s collection and here’s just a few that drew me in.

    Joanne – “I’ve seen several horror films starting with this premise.” All that horror of intimacy.
    D. – ‘No one heard him laughing at himself.’ (Except us.)
    Charli – The composting toilet with cleaning instructions and no cleaner proved too far. (Whatever happened to the pioneering spirit?)
    Simon – Pun-ishment in the forest.
    Sadje – Always important to remember Malala.
    Hugh – Wait, only in the morning?
    The curious archaeologist – A fine tale of putting a crampon privilege.
    E A Colquitt – Calm and assured storytelling
    Gloria – So sneaky. A delight.
    Kerry – ‘Without even the screeches of gulls for company, I count a half-hearted breeze my only companion.’ A gem.
    Judy – So there’s no actual Virginia? Phew, so she can’t be dead, right?
    Charli – Past heart-rendingly remote
    Bill – ‘aimless into the arboreal’. Great line.

    Congrats to all.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Nah, it’s just the Covid. I told you to rest up. 🙂 Seriously, hope your recovery continues rapidly.

    • Charli Mills

      Doug, as always, I enjoy your ability to succinctly state what caught your attention. As for my pioneering spirit, I poopoo it some days. hank you!

    • E.A. Colquitt

      Thank you, Doug! I enjoyed your newest take on Charli and D.’s trip – I didn’t know what a Fata Morgana was, either, so I’ve learned something, too 🙂

  2. ellenbest24

    I came and read each one. I can not pick a favourite, but I thank each and every writer for allowing me to be distracted by your tales. You all helped ‘remotely’ take my mind away from the heavy stuff for a while. Xxx

    • Charli Mills

      Glad we could form a remote break for you, Ellen. Be well and happy.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    As I have come to expect (never disappointed by this great gathering of writers) this is a terrific showing of individual pieces that make up a delightful whole. As I read through a second time I see that so many contain explicit and implicit advice for being human, but I suppose that’s what literature does, it guides and teaches or warns. Still, an interesting collective take on “remote”.
    It’s good to see returning writers, including Charli Mills. Ms. Mills, 3? You are more prolific than a three-pinkied billy goat, or some such idiom.
    Thanks everyone for a great morning read!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for helping me re-find my creative ju-ju in my pinky, no billy goats required. Yes, I agree–this is a fine example of the breadth of humanity in literary form.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    One more thing Ms. Mills (oh, and thank you! Despite the machinery and such, these collections don’t just put themselves here for us, do they? I love being a part of this assemblage and appreciate your time and space for it)
    But what I meant to say and you probably already know is that the latin word ‘spirare’ means to breathe. From that we get respire, expire and of course inspire and inspiration. The word also begets spirit. Words are life, on many levels.

    • Charli Mills

      Ahhhh, what a lovely reminder. Let me breathe in all that Latin roots have to offer on the word. Thank you, D.!

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Remotely Familiar

    “‘Spectin company, Kid? They’s a cloud a dust on the herizon, someone’s a-comin down the road.”
    “I ain’t ‘spectin anyone. Looks ta be a SUV. What an unusual means a gittin ta the ranch. Usually folks jist pop in. Ugh! The dust! Think they’d slow down.”
    “Howdy folks. What’s yer rush? Yer at Carrot Ranch. Slow down an injoy.”
    “That’s what we’d like to hurry up and do. Do you mind if we pitch our tents? Maybe have a campfire?”
    “Yes, and could we kayak that stream?”
    “Sure, it’s all good. I’m Pal, this’s Kid.”
    “We’re Helga and Hess.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Helga and Hess, ay? Which one a you’se which? Ya seem a lot a like.”
      “Heehee Heehee”
      “Uhoh, Pal, what d’ya s’pose that super an subscript means?”
      “Think it indicates these two each said ‘heehee’ at the ‘zact same time.”
      “Oh, gotcha. So Hess an Helga, are ya sisters?
      “Yes No. No Yes. Heehee Heehee.”
      “Hmmf. I’ll let Shorty know yer here. I’m sure she’d love ta here a story roun yer campfire.”
      “How them two squirrels doin Kid?”
      “They’re chatterin an gigglin with Pepe an Logatha like old friends.”
      “Wait till Shorty gits wind a this development.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Hmmf. Super and subscript don’t hold up in comments.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, non, unwittingly, I’ve unleashed the twins of different ages.

  6. pedometergeek

    Call me impressed. So many wonderful examples of remoteness in places and people. Thanks for making such interesting reading; I enjoyed them all. I have to ask: is the death of Virginia Branch just the start of a mystery told in episodes of 99 words? ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      I would enjoy such a mystery series to unfold, Nan. This was a great read this week.

  7. E.A. Colquitt

    Get well soon, D. Avery!

    And congratulations, everyone – sometimes, these stories follow similar elements from a prompt, but I think this collection is the most diverse I’ve read in terms of how everyone’s imaginations interpreted the task. I enjoyed reading, as ever 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I love it when I can see writers following their instincts and inspirations!

      • E.A. Colquitt

        Yes!!! It’s fascinating to see what destinations the (originally same) creativity ends up in 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’m toe-tapping too, Colleen!

  8. Ann Edall-Robson

    Another great compilation of words/work.

    • Charli Mills

      We do a fine job at words, eh, Ann?


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