Early thieves of North Carolina’s Outer Banks waited for wrecking weather. These pirates did not take to the seas. They watched for storms to wreck ships on the sandy shallows to plunder the goods.

Driving across the flats of Iowa 12-hours after a massive blizzard forced over 500 vehicles off the highway, I calmed my frizzed nerves by trying to recall the name of the colonial thieves. We’d pass mile after mile of semi trucks with jackknifed trailers plowed into snowdrifts. The metal of modern merchant ships rose like bones from a snow apocalypse.

All I could think of was “wrecking weather.”

A story emerged in my imagination, and 21st-century characters — I still couldn’t remember the names of the historic beach pirates — shared threads of their dream/scheme. What if a group of people living in a small Iowa town waited for blizzards along I-80 to wreck semis carrying goods?

After we passed the twelfth stranded Amazon Prime truck, I received a message from Amazon that my shipment of vitamins would be delayed, indefinitely. Because Todd and I are traveling to Nevada, my daughter in Michigan was going to mail them to my MIL’s address. Instead, I will get a refund and re-order my supplements. And, hope the Midwest doesn’t endure more wrecking weather.

My developing story expands. What if merchants — like Amazon — file insurance claims and also fund the modern thieves, sharing in the take? Or maybe the Highway Patrol is involved. At any rate, I used my curiosity to think of ways to expand what could happen to these stranded delivery trucks. It was better than fearing we’d slide off the icy roads, too.

The setting could be rural, as I first imagined. Do the blizzard pirates have a milk barn or church basement to hide their haul? How do they get to the rigs? What timing is needed — before the drivers are rescued or later, when the trucks remain stranded until tow trucks can winch them out? I wonder how often these storms happen. Maybe the story is a near-future cli-fi (climate fiction). Maybe a murder happens; a young recruit to wrecking discovers a body in the back of a trailer. Or it could be a coming-of-age story, a fantasy, a modern myth.

I think of myths and I begin to amplify the story — and still, I can’t remember what to call the historic wreckers. I suppose wreckers will do. Can you think of other stories or myths about a gang of robbers, opportunistically preying upon stranded deliveries? But I did stop imagining the possibilities when the characters wanted to “animate” or talk to me. They always have so much to say and while I welcomed the diversion during nasty travel conditions, I’m not ready to play with these characters.

Let me share them with you. If you were to animate characters in a wrecking weather scenario, what story would they tell?

January 16, 2024, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that unfolds during wrecking weather. You can set the story anywhere and use any genre. Who are your wreckers? Your targets? Your merchants? Are there difficulties to overcome the weather? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by January 22, 2024. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

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