Carrot Ranch Literary Community


Cryptozoology Collection

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.

The Bunyip of the Keweenaw by Doug Jacquier

Professor Drongo Farnarkle’s studies took him to the US to investigate whether diprotodon carrotranchia may have a common ancestor with the Australian bunyip. He hated his work being described as cryptozoology. Such an epithet always contained the whiff of charlatanism and he often had cryptid cross words with anyone skeptical of his proof that the bunyip exists. Recently, he’d heard uncorroborated reports of the hybrid of a flightless bird and alligator living in the Keweenaw. This creature, just like the bunyip, allegedly hugs its victims to death, like some demented grandparent. He was in need of some brave cowpokes.



Big Feet by Bill Engleson

It was name-calling that crafted this career of mine.
Cruel children. They were like their parents. Carbon copies. Anything different and it was to be spurned, shunned, scorned into dust.
Silly children.
They called me Big Feet. Not Foot. Feet. Got it wrong by one. I had two.
They were always big.
I’d never heard of Big Foot or Sasquatch before then.
Sheltered, I suppose.
Mother comforted me. My parents were both…large people.
With humongous feet.
My path was set.
The Himalayas seeking the Yeti.
A thousand other locales.
People paid good money to have me hunt their hallucinations.


Paundrake by Reena Saxena

“This is Paundraka, no ordinary buffalo…”

“Where does it come from?”

“Lord Yama, the God of Death rides it as a vehicle. It starts moving when a human is born and takes a lifetime to reach the person.”

“Then, why not a turtle?”

“Buffaloes signify ignorance, and that is how a major part of the human race lives – oblivious of the opportunity it has in the human body for spiritual work.”

“Have you found a carcass of Paundraka?”

“Shhh … the Vehicle of Death does not die. And it carries souls, not carcasses.”

“Are you a cryptozoologist or mystic?”


Under the Radar by Ann Edall-Robson

How long had they managed to stay under the radar? And now, because of an unfortunate recent slip of the pen and subsequent conversation, nine years of research are in jeopardy. The casual mention of their scientific name had blown the lid off of their fact-finding investigation of this international group. High on the list of data collected was the aptitude of the collective minds and their collaboration in creating the underlying code 99. Fostered by a group of imaginative characters, the tales were conceived. Future analysis by Cryptozoologists is in danger if their mole is found out.


The ‘Richness’ of Dreams by JulesPaige

one marten
huddled under the
raise garden

The garden, skirted with a tarp was supposed to discourage animals from making homes under it. Reese thought a small fox had made a den there and called for some help. Roger Stapleton worked for the county and fancied himself a closet cryptozoologist. He was up with the sun peeking through the tree in his backyard. Would today be the day he found a pine marten? Unlikely, but he was hopeful. The little rodent could make a comeback…

To prepare
For a deepening
Autumn chill

Pine marten
Attempts to
Dig a
Winter den


The Cryptozoologist by Norah Colvin

Josie and her cousins stood around the punch bowl, quenching their thirst after a rowdy line dance (family tradition).

Josie was catching up on all the goss she’d missed out while away: who was with whom, who’d broken up, etcetera.

“What about him? Who’s he with?” she nodded towards the lone one in the shadows.

“Don’t worry about him. He’s just with himself.”

“What do you mean?”

Susie laughed. “He’s a cryptozoologist.”

“A crypto-what? Does he mine cryptocurrency?”

“Not that interesting. He studies cryptids.”

“What are cryptids?”

“Imaginary monsters. They’re all in his mind.”

“Oh?” said Josie.

Everyone laughed.


Odd Tracks by Mario Milizia

I give talks to tourists as a cryptozoologist to supplement my income. I got a call from the local park ranger about Big Foot tracks. I rushed to the camp area, located the footprints, and instinctively followed.

I realized, when I was deep into the woods, that I had no gun, no bars on my cellphone, and no idea what to do if I encountered it.

After looking, the prints were too identical to be real. I told the park ranger.

We called the person who reported them. He admitted his girlfriend wanted to go camping and he didn’t.


The Scale By Nicole Horlings

Vragimyre carefully studied the scale, examining its luster, size, and durability, before looking back up at Alyssia. “This is indeed different and not from any creature currently documented by science.”

“So, it is a dragon scale?” the teen asked excitedly.

The herpetologist hesitated. “Well, to jump all the way to that conclu…”

“It’s gotta be. Between Karkenti’s sighting and my discovery of this scale, that proves it! Dragons do exist!”

“No, not necessarily.”

“I can prove that Karkenti wasn’t hoaxing anything,” Alyssia whispered to herself. “I can fix his reputation.”

“Please don’t misquote me while doing that,” Vragimyre begged.


Hunting Nessie by Joanne Fisher

“You’ve been camped out on the shores of Loch Ness for five years now to take the definitive shot of Nessie, and you’ve nothing to show for it?”

“I wouldn’t say that. What about these photos?”

“What about them?”

“Look at this one.”

“It’s a picture of mist.”

“Yes, but Nessie was in that mist.”

“All I see is mist.”

“Well I think this one is pretty definitive.”

“It’s a photo of Loch Ness and you’ve drawn in Nessie with a black marker.”

“Or have I?”

“Is there anything else?”

“How about a picture of Nessie and Bigfoot together?”


Shift’s Getting Real (Part I) by D. Avery

I said I wasn’t a cryptozoologist, I was a scientist, which got a grunt out of the ranch hand behind the plank table. The next question, also hard to understand with the dialect, was ‘which cryptid was I interested in seeing’.
“I’d rather not say,” I said. “People tend to see what they want to see. I just want to look around, find out for myself why Carrot Ranch has attracted so many cryptozoologists.”

“Our critters is legit,” the ranch hand replied. “But yer right bout folks bein predisposed. Thet’s why ya gotta think good thoughts an speak truth.”


Shift’s Getting Real (Part II) by D. Avery

Well. Maybe this Pal (seriously, that’s what the name-tag said) wasn’t such a curmudgeon after all. I was encouraged to roam the ranch, and told that if it looks like a pig in a shaggy angora sweater— it is.

I wandered all around this virtual ranch. Had the place to myself as the visiting cryptozoologists were busy chasing a so-called cryptid around the barn. (Pal clued me in to that hoax in a hat.)

Did I see any real cryptids? Does it matter? I saw that anything imaginable is possible and learned Carrot Ranch is truly a magical place.


Spotted by Melissa Lemay

Paul was determined to prove to the world that Nessie was real. While he understood her predilection for solitude, he needed people to see.

He planned a meeting for a small group. He didn’t tell Nessie. He went to the lake, as he did every morning, and brought her favorite arctic char. He’d forewarned invitees there could be no flash photography.

Guests gathered eagerly. Paul stood by with his fish bucket. Suddenly–a phone flashlight shone into the fog. The last anyone heard or saw of the people gathered that day was a scrambled iPhone recording. People were screaming.


Cryptozoologist Craig by Kerry E.B. Black

A reedy man in flannel extended his hand. “Craig. Nice to meet you.”

Cindy fought nerves as she shook his hand.

He motioned to a chair and turned monitors. “I staked out the area. Concealed surveillance. High angles and low. If your little friend makes another appearance, we’ll get him.”

Cindy chuckled at the irony. The creature that tore the screen door from its hinges was anything but small. Unfortunately, nobody but this gent from the Eastern Region Cryptozoological Society believed her. Friends and family called her insane.

Cindy just wished his name wasn’t alliterative. Craig the Crytopzoologist sounded – well – crazy.


Cryptic Or Not? by Sweeter Than Nothing

They told him he was crazy, called him all sorts of names but he knew what he saw last summer wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. He’d researched this area for months, mapped every nook and made a list of places she could hibernate.

He’d get a much better photo of her when she was sleeping.

He stopped at the mouth of a cave, hearing soft snores from inside and grinned, readying his camera he crept inside.

Sadly, the flash woke the sleeping grizzly and he was never seen again, the rumour of The Yeti claimed another life.


What do Two-Foots Know? by Duane L Herrmann

“What are we going to do, Mamma?” Little One asked. “The Two-Foots don’t think we’re real.”

“We’re as real as we think we are,” Mamma answered.

“So, we are real?”

“We’re here aren’t we?” Mamma answered back.

“Yes,” Little One answered slowly. “But, I can’t see you.”

“Not everything that exists can be seen.”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“No one can see wind, can they?” Mamma asked. “And, air. Most of the time you can’t see air, but when you can, it’s dirt in the air you see, not actually air.”

“Oh. I’m glad.” Little One relaxed.


Crypto-Wotsits? by Geoff Le Pard

Many assume that cryptozoologies thrive in the off-kilter world of Little Tittweaking. Rather, it’s, they’re cousins – the Typozoologists – whose home is here. Led by Sir David Rottenborough, they run a sanctuary for misspelt animals, hoping to reintroduce them to the wild. After an initial success revowelling a prides of loins, they straightened out a confusion of bewildered beests and saved a group of arctic minkeys from hypothermia by extracting them from a shawl of coldfish. Their latest challenge is to persuade a herd of lonely tonies they are really ponies. As Sir David said, ‘Any Paloyourno is a Palomino.’


Hit an’ a Myth by D. Avery

“Dang it, Pal. This prompt ain’t fair ta our shy critters that come ta the Ranch fer refuge. Cain’t believe Shorty’s invitin a bunch a pseudoscientists ta come pokin roun the ranch.”

“Aw, lighten up, Kid. Anyways, it was jist a matter a time afore creeptoe-zollogists foun their way ta Carrot Ranch. It’s hardly been a secret thet we got uni-corns, bigfoots… fairies, rainbow cats… it’s a magical place, Kid.”

“What if all the investigatin undoes the magic? Wisht I never said nuthin. Drop one little comment an dang Shorty runs with it.”

“Kid. That’s part a the magic.”


Shakin an Shiftin (Part I) by D. Avery

Shorty mighta run with Kid’s thinkin, but Kid run fer the hills. Cuz sure ‘nough, the ranch was crawlin with them creeptoe-zollogists. Kid wouldn’t have nuthin ta do with it, went off ta pertect our more unique critters. But I ain’t as free range as Kid, my main job is heppin Shorty, no matter. So I set up a table ta meet an greet all the creeptoe-zollogists, git em headed in the right d’rection. An what a camo-clothed camera-carryin crowd! First through the gate? Nanjo! Only thing worse an admittin ta bein wrong is admittin thet Kid is right.


Shakin an Shiftin (Part II) by D. Avery

Seems Nanjo’d misread the prompt, thought it said cryptocurrency. Well, I got rid a Nanjo some quick.

Next creeptoe-zollogist said she’s lookin fer long lost critters, not necessarily cryptids. Asked bout pantsers, of all things.

Course we got pantsers at Carrot Ranch I told her. Closer then ya know!

No, she says. Wants ta see a cougar. I referred her ta our writer’s character, Ilene. Again, she says no. Wants ta see a big cat. Sent her ta the Rainbow Cat collection.

Then Ernie happened by, an a bunch a these creepy folks chased him up the Poet Tree.


Shakin an Shiftin III by D. Avery

It was a hairy sitchu-ation. Ol’ Ernie didn’t have a poem or a prayer ta git hisself outta thet tree. Then, seeminly without rhyme er reason, all them creeptoe-zollogists left him, started off towards the barn. Fer a new kinda cryptid critter was a comin outta there!

It was stinky an bristly, lurchin about on two feet, but it weren’t no bigfoot, wasn’t much size to it, though the critter made up fer that with yowlin an caterwaulin. Them creeptoe-zollogists was creepin forward an droppin back, skeered an amazed at this heretafore unknown cryptid.

I knew. It was CryptKid!


Shakin an Shiftin IV by D. Avery

Kid hadn’t got far in the mission ta pertect Carrot Ranch’s more exotic critters, fact only as far as the barn. The barn thet Kid s’posedly shovels out reg’lar. Seems Kid’s been slippin in thet department lately, so there was plenny fer Kid ta slip in, an Kid did, slip that is, right inta sticky slimy sh*t. Kep slippin, an slidin, ended up rollin through hay an shavins, which a course stuck ta the sh*t til Kid ‘peared ta be a shaggy monster.

Kid shifted the ‘ttention a them creeptoe-zollogists an our resident bigfoots an unicorns was safe afterall.


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

Shaggy Collection

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.

Have You Heard Of Shaggy Pages? by Hugh W. Roberts

I opened a charming bookstore called ‘Shaggy Pages’ in a quaint town.

It became a refuge for the LGBTQ+ community, where stories of love and acceptance filled the air.

My cosy shop, adorned with shaggy tapestries and shelves brimming with diverse tales, was a sanctuary for those seeking solace and connection. It was here that relationships bloomed, and hearts found belonging.

In the warm embrace of ‘Shaggy Pages,’ I wove together stories of love, courage, and pride, creating a tapestry of acceptance far beyond my shop’s walls.

‘Shaggy Pages’ – the place where everyone is welcome. Come on in.


Pals by Dianne Borowski

He looked shaggy, kind of scruffy. He wandered around town panhandling, searching for food. The pony was tiny. Doc Jenkins encouraged us to watch her closely. She was quite frail.

He came by the house looking for work. Dad gave him something to eat and let him bed down in the barn for the night.

He saw the pony and lay down near her. Dad said OK, just don’t bother her. Next morning dad hired him. He took good care of the pony. Together they grew stronger. They were like family. Years passed. Buried them together, side by side.


Shaggy, Shaggy, Shaggy by Sue Spitulnik

There’re dogs named Shaggy,
And there’re shaggy dogs.
There are even shaggy cats,
My Maine Coon, Big’n, for one.
There is Shaggin’ on the Boulevard,
referring to dancing in the street.
There are heads of hair that look shaggy
Because they need a cut,
Or because they are cut that way.
There are shagbark hickory trees,
And willow trees whose branches hang like shaggy hair.
Remember the shag rug era in the seventies,
When Moms took hours to vacuum
The shag in the same direction?
And then daughters who walked circular footprints on them,
Got grounded for their efforts.


The New Shaggy Carpet by Sadje

Sadie was very house-proud, and when she bought a new high-pile carpet, she wanted everyone to notice and admire it.

Sadie’s friends were coming over for tea to admire the new carpet when disaster struck.

Her two mischievous sons ruined her grand moment!

Matt spilled his chocolate milk all over the carpet, and when he and his brother tried to clean it, it spread all over the area, giving it a blotchy appearance.

Of course, they both hid in their room and Mom had to roll up the carpet and put it in the basement before her friends came.


Scare Bear by Doug Jacquier

Victoria knew that drop bears, an allegedly vicious killer form of the koala, were a hoax designed to scare tourists visiting Australia and the otherwise gullible. Naturally, as they set up camp in the bush with their parents, she couldn’t resist telling her younger sister, Charlotte, not to worry about drop bears. She stressed that they were a myth and that one would not suddenly descend on her from the trees and attack her savagely. Charlotte’s giant teddy, the now very shaggy Mr. Fuzzy, did very nicely as Victoria hid in a tree and dropped him on Charlotte.


Shaggy Sergio by Kerry E.B. Black

Sergio lifted his lip and snarled at his reflection. “I’m too hairy!”

His father ruffled his son’s already touseled hair and chuckled. “It’s your age. Let me introduce you to my favorite grooming tool.” He presented a razor.

Sergio groaned. “That only makes the hair grow back thicker.”

“Ladies like manly men, and we’re known for being hairy. Sculpt yourself a bit. Like Michelangelo and the marble angel.” He ran a hand over his own trimmed beard.

“The style’s to have a beard. But this…” Sergio growled. “This is excessive.”

“What do you expect?” His father shrugged. “We’re werewolves.”


A Life in the Deity by Geoff Le Pard

History shows gods tend to be (a) male and (b) hirsute. Final proof of the link between the tonsorial and the theological came when bounteously bouffant Terry Godd commenced his ministry in Little Tittweaking with endless tales. His adherents flocked to hear these shaggy god stories. One such was Japanese chef, Sue Nami who named her signature sauce after this mode of preaching: Terry Yacking. Terryists believe nirvana is finally achieved if rendered comatose by the monotony of delivery. It is also further proof that if, on waking, one finds another story has started, some gods are right bastards.


The Shag by Jill Marie

The stylist asks what I want today. “A shaggy haircut….you know what that is? A shag?” She sniffles and tells me that those are not popular right now. Well it’s come to that, as I realize I am not so popular right now. A woman soon 70 years old. Wanting to capture youth again. That shag that was one of the many different cuts I’ve worn over the years but the one that gave me pleasure with the way it looked and the ease of care. Let me try my younger self on again. “Yes, please, a shag.”


Wistful Thinking by JulesPaige

haloed ‘round
her mylar balloons
to bring cheer

Would Granny be able to overcome the ripped denim jeans she wore?

Claire’s Mom had warned her to dress nicely when visiting Granny’s retirement home. Most older folks there looked a tad shaggy around the edges, and some even as if they’d been through the ringer themselves. They’d frown on clothing that looked like it should have been cut into strips and braided into rag rugs. Claire hoped the balloons would be a happy distraction, so the old folks wouldn’t complain about her outfit. Claire never whined about ‘Ode du Old Folks!’


Shaggy Dog by Norah Colvin

“I want a dog,” said Jason.

“You’re in the right place,” said the attendant at Rescue Kennels. “We’ve all sorts of dogs. What sort are you after?”

“A shaggy dog, please.”

The attendant showed Jason the shaggy dogs.

“They need a lot grooming,” he warned.

“Oh. Not shaggy then. Curly perhaps?”

Jason shook his own curly head at the curly dogs. They’d need grooming too.

“How about short?” said the attendant.

“They’re awfully noisy,” said Jason, as they walked the aisles.

“They are dogs,” said the attendant.

“Right,” said Jason. “Do you have any cats? Maybe a shaggy cat?”


Big Pat by Gloria McBreen

I went there for a new-born girl, but I ended up with a twelve-year-old boy! He looked out of place with his shaggy hair and bald patch, so I asked about him. They said that when his mamma had died, he ran away. He was found wandering in the grounds of a nursing home. No one knew his name.

His eyes followed me. He looked sad but I sensed he had charisma. I signed the papers, and took him home. When he strutted into our kitchen, he charmed us immediately with his feline cockiness. We christened him Sexy Pat.


Hairin’ Up by Ann Edall-Robson

“Winter’s coming early, probably a long one too,” Mac said, rubbing his hand along the shaggy neck of the horse.

The young cowboy wondered if the decision to call about the advertisement for the ranch job had been a good one. Smirking, he asked, “Where’d you hear that? You some kind of a weather guru?”

Mac’s face didn’t change. Teaching youngsters the old ways of telling the weather had saved more than one who rode for them.

The foreman shook his head. “It’s August, the horses are hairin’ up.”


Mac chuckled. Sooner or later the boy would learn.


On and on and on…by Bill Engleson

I was twelve when Disney inflicted the first one on me. On the world. Didn’t have a dog, so I suppose I was at loose ends pet-wise. It didn’t help when I came home and told my parents that I’d just seem a movie where the main character turned into a sheep dog. Not that we had sheep so a sheepdog wouldn’t be of much use. And we certainly had no use for boy turning into a sheepdog. Especially as I was the only boy in the house.
Tried to get my sister to volunteer.
That went nowhere fast.


Powers of Perception by D. Avery

“My hair is the source of my strength.”

“Well, Sampson, you could at least run a comb through that bedraggled, shaggy excuse for hair of yours sticking out every which way.”

“My hair acts like radar when it’s like this, increases my powers of perception.”

“Boy, you’ve got an answer for everything.”

“No, that’s you Gramps, you never ask any questions, all you ever do is make judgements.”

“Here’s a question for you then; how long will she last at rehab this time?” but the boy’s only answer was to hang his head, thick hair shielding his welling eyes.


Shaggy Tail by Reena Saxena

I see a shaggy tail mid-air, and there …. She has landed on the sofa or bench.

It doesn’t help much that it is covered by a shaggy cover. Remnants of calcium bones get lost in it, and my girl has to work hard to retrieve it. It’s not easy for me to separate hair they shed from the covers.

So, well …. We’ll go in for a satiny smooth one before the New Year begins.

Let the self-anointed Queen slip off her throne sometimes, and yet … let her remain covered with the satiny smoothness of our love.


Freeda My Shaggy Dachshund by Brenda Fluharty

Freeda the Shaggy dachshund, my only sunshine,

You bring joy and happiness into my life divine.

With your long, furry body and wagging tail,

You could brighten even the darkest trail.

Through difficulties, you’re always by my side,

A faithful companion, my heart’s chosen guide.

In your company, all worries seem to fade away,

You are my sunshine, my ray of light every day.

So, Freeda the Shaggy dachshund,

I cherish the bond we share, until the very end.

You bring endless love and a zest for life,

Forever grateful to call you mine, my sweet canine.


Philippine Eagle by ladyleemanila

Philippine eagle
brown and white with shaggy crest
fast and agile bird

fast and agile bird
gives loud and high pitched whistles
our national bird

our national bird
critically endangered

we should protect and conserve
before it’s too late

not too late to save
without other predators
dominant hunter

flight’s fast and agile
monkey-eating eagle
still-hunting or perch-hunting

hunting to survive
once paired, monogamous
courtship begins by nest building

building relationship
aerial display and loud calling
copulation follows

eagle’s nest made of sticks
both parents take care of eaglets
threatened by deforestation
let’s protect and conserve them


Keepin Cryptoz Off the Ranch by D. Avery

“Well, Kid, s’pose yer all set up fer a shaggy hog story, what with Curly sportin her new angora goat fleece jacket.”

“First thing come ta mind was Ernie an that shaggy shirt he’s always wearin.”

“Better not write nuthin bout thet, Kid.”

“Why not?”

“Cuz Ernie ain’t never worn a shirt unnerneath his overalls, not even in winter.”

“Gulp. I see.”

“The unseein won’t come easy.”

“Reckon Ernie’s manscapin ‘splains Sassysquatch’s ‘ttraction to ‘im. But I ain’t gonna write bout that neither, won’t have a bunch a cryptozoologists creepin roun the ranch.”

“Thet’s write decent a ya, Kid.”


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

October 31: Story Challenge in 99-words

Yellow leaves and snowflakes fill the air. Chickadees burst from the snow-covered brush, searching for seeds and braving human contact. One such bird flutters so forcefully in my direction as I toss a toy for Mause I can see the intricate array of single feathers forming fans to encircle the bird in paused flight. It forms an unforgettable and dubious image in my mind.

Unforgettable for obvious reasons — who can unsee the beauty of nature, resist yet another sunset, or catch the shape of something ephemeral? Once I saw the chickadee fully fanned, my imagination recognized a living image. How that image plays out seven years or seven generations from now is up to the great mystery of life. Yes, I saw it; but didn’t you see it, too?

Dubious for reasons of memory-making. Somehow, we expect our memory to record a given moment clearly as a snapshot. But we are humans, not machines. We all experience input, yet vary in which details to grab, which details to believe. Did I really see both wings and tailfeathers of the paused chickadee fully fanned or did my mind sharpen the blur my eyes caught? Did the feathers make a sound? Did Mause? What did the day smell like? The new snow? What was I feeling at the time? Thinking?

Do you think it matters that memory and imagination are roommates? I’m a truth-seeker, a dreamer, a creative writer, a literary artist. Truth matters to me. Yet truth is not found only in facts and clear unfiltered memories; truth is found in living images. The truth is, factually, a bird flew in my direction when I went outside with my dog. My truth is that a chickadee spread wings so close to me I could see universal beauty. Another truth is that a stupid bird startled someone who gasped and thought who cares what type it was? Thus, image-making is where writers play with pieces of memories like Legos. Yet, by playing, we are spinning the truth — not to change it but to see it from different perspectives; to deepen our experiences and the truth of them.

As a craft, we can add all kinds of elements to give shape to our images, our memories, our fictional truths. We can blend facts with stories; pair new ideas to old objects; give analysis emotional intelligence. We can play with words, build worlds, and bring characters to life. Writers are the best dreamers because we first write in the imaginal and then on the page. Dreamers need to cultivate a bridge between the imaginal and the waking world. Writers use that bridge all the time. Even when forming a memory to commit to story.

My ideas feel flakey to me. Not that I’m admitting to being a flake, even if I do write in a Unicorn Room. Somewhere, if I dig deeply enough, there is a gold nugget in my mind. In the meantime, I sift for flakes of its existence. I don’t know what this idea is, but I know it exists. It drives me to be curious about things like imagination, truth, deep psyche, and collective unconscious. It calls me to pay attention to the wonders around me, including Dreams. The gold nugget is my goal when I write, following the flakes. Beginning this Friday, I get to study dreams and the deep imagination.

What will I learn? How will that change the course of my thinking?

Despite the snow, my rambling thoughts, and the distraction of gold leaves on white ground, a hundred images visited me tonight. Halloween is a great time to people-watch. And remember how human we all are at the neighborhood level (let us not forget to build and maintain our villages). The tiny toddlers in fabric costumes over snow coats and fleecy baby lambs didn’t quite know what was going on as parents collected candy. I shared knowing winks. The ones old enough to understand the candy collection can be strong grabbers of handfuls, eyes glazed. The older groups run together, some dressed alike or to a theme.

A grandmother drove through the neighborhood, and each time her little tricky-treater jumped out, she grinned. I stood on my doorstep and grinned back. Soon, any day, soon I’ll be a grandma, too. I wonder how that will shape my living images? And I may never know because there will always be something to be learned or realized. How I write, where I gain inspiration, even why I write, will change — evolve; become.

Maybe I don’t really want to find the nugget of knowledge. Forever chasing flakes feels more appealing. Dream on, writers!

October 31, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word or idea, flakes. What or who is a flake? Is there tension or phenomenon that is creating flakes? Can flakes be massive or minute? Go to your flakiest memories for living images to play with. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by November 6, 2023. 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.

October 24: Story Challenge in 99-words

Last week, Kid (from the imagination and pen of Ranch Yarnist, D. Avery), mentioned the Ranch didn’t need to be overrun with cryptozoologists. Kid actually has a fun idea.

Cryptids are fantastical.

It was an early Carrot Ranch collection of 99-word stories that featured The Fantastical in June 2014. For several months, I marveled every time writers showed up to play with the 99-word art form with me. I began noticing the Collections held magic.

“Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.”

Ama H.Vanniarachchy

Art, in all its forms, expresses that wonder. With each individual perspective, idea, and image, the Collections became literary magic. To this day, it remains my favorite attribute of art-ing together weekly. When I arrange the individual stories, I see the wonder of creativity expanding collectively. Each story has merit; but as a collection, a living image rises up out of the whole, engaging readers more deeply than a a solo story. Writers and readers collaborate and inspire more wonder.

Expected the unexpected as you evolve as a writer.

Once I noticed the magic in the 99-word stories, I also noticed that we were collectively writing into a dark abyss. Reflecting back, I think we were perhaps finding a measure of trust among a group of online people from across the world. We were brave enough to walk into the dark of creativity together. To lighten the tone and share the magic I was feeling, I dared the first unicorns of the Ranch. Darker still, we wrote and yet we created one of the most profound collections.

Cryptids, though thought to be eerie, can be funny and cute, too. They make for an interesting prompt. But Kid’s question put me into a state of wonder — what are cryptozoologists like? Who are the people who study the unstudiable? How does mythology connect? How does the science of the unseen function? Why do some people want to bamboozle others? What would the Ranch look like if it were crawling with cryptozoologists? (Sorry, Kid, but you did compel the image.)

Whether you light a bonfire or don a costume to celebrate any variation of Halloween, a Peaceful Samhain Full Moon Day of the Dead & Sugar Skulls to all.

October 24, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cryptozoologist. Who is this character? What cryptids do they research and why? Are they serious about their work, skeptical, or scheming to fool others? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 31, 2023. 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.

Confidence Collection

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.

Capitalizing Characteristics by D. Avery

“Hello. I’m Confident.”

“Yes, I see.”

“No, that’s my name, Confident. Confident Lee. My parents, Frank and Constance, wanted me to always be confident.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Always confident?”

“I haven’t yet changed my name.”

“Haven’t yet… so you’ve considered changing your name.”


“You’re wavering!”

“It’s such an unusual name! My brothers, Willen and Abel, have it much easier!”

“Confident, you’re shaking.”

“Well, how’d you like being Confident all the time?”

“I wouldn’t mind more confidence, but no, I wouldn’t want to be Confident. Look, I’ll see you next week Lee.”

Then Confident Lee he left.


Confidence by Ann Edall-Robson

A memory of herself standing behind the podium looking out into a blackened room. A few whispered words escaped through her lips. Would she ever get past those first words?

​Clearing her throat, she looked up from the notes lying on the wood. The audience didn’t see her suck in a few deep breaths. The confidence butterflies flittering around in her stomach found a place to land. The words came easily, projecting her strong voice that had found itself somewhere along the way. When had that happened? Where was that other person?

“Thank you all for coming.” Applause erupted


You Can Walk Again by Sue Spitulnik

Michael, wearing shorts so his leg stumps showed, was speaking to new amputees. He looked forlorn, sitting on the platform between his wheelchair and prostheses. After being introduced, he started talking in an unsure voice. He demonstrated how to get in his chair and then how to attach his legs. Continuing to share his story with a stronger voice, he stood and took one step at a time across the platform. He finished with, “If I had walked in with the confidence it took me two, yes, two years to gain, I would have intimidated you rather than helped.”


Fall Swing by Mario Milizia

Luke is the shortest person on his Little League team. His fielding skills aren’t up to everyone else’s. To ensure that he made the team his best friend was on, he made his father take him to the batting cages twice a week.

Now, in the playoffs against another team from across town for boys thirteen to fourteen years old, his teammates are counting on him for solid hits.

After fouling off five straight pitches and seeing the frustration on the pitcher’s face, he’s sure he knows what pitch is coming next. The pitch is released and he swings.


That’s Confidence by Norah Colvin

When Bec was little I ran play/educational sessions for children and their parents at home. I worked hard preparing the room, dedicated for that purpose, for our sessions. Finally, everything was arranged, with various art and craft materials organised in boxes and tubs.

Bec, 2½ years old, was excited. ‘Of course,’ I said when she asked if she could make something.

I’d only moved away for a moment when her excitement drew me back: ‘Look what I made!’ Her face beamed.
She’d upended nearly everything (exaggeration, only slight) and glued one cotton ball onto a piece of paper. Wow!


Just Another Day by Frank James

A man sat at the bus stop watching construction of a skyscraper. A bus stopped and Abe walked off greeting the man,

“Hello, Sam.”

Abe put on his hard hat, walking on the job. He hopped in the cage elevator, soaring one hundred stories high. Sam cringed as Abe confidently swaggered across an I-beam.

“Ooo,” Sam cringed as Abe dodged flapping birds. Abe stopped at the tip, wobbling as he leaned over the edge, grabbing his welder. He squatted over a joint, welding it.

The whistle blew, “Just another day,” Abe told Sam as he stepped on the bus.


Be Brave and Beautiful by Sweeter Than Nothing

“Come out Lexi, strut your stuff.”

Lexi looked at their outfit in the small changing room mirror and grimaced, “Are you sure? Isn’t this skirt a little… short?”

“That’s the point, I’d kill for your legs!”

Lexi took a deep breath in and nervously stepped from behind the curtain to her sister cheering loudly. “You seriously look so good, get the skirt, it’s on me.”

“Do you think mum would be disappointed in me?” Lexi asked.

“Not at all,” Amanda said to her once sibling, now sister and best friend, “She’d think you were brave and beautiful, no matter what.”


The Kick of Confidence by Sadje

The kick of confidence

I was very shy when in school. My father and teachers recognized my weakness and set about to correct it by encouraging public speaking.

My father would help me write my speech and I would learn it by heart and recite it to him. He would correct my expression and pronunciation.

The first few seconds of my speech were pure torture, as my legs, hands, and voice all shook with nervousness. But afterward, I’d gain confidence and deliver the rest of the speech with aplomb.

With their support, I became the class orator, and acted in school plays too.


A History of Bottling by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s vibrant bottling industry began when Marj Oram-Poultice transitioned from cans to bottles for her herbal treatments for gout, viral conniptions and political irascibility. Recently, though cheap imitations from China and the western edge of Sodor have led the Oram-Poultice dynasty to diversify. Never lacking ambition Marj commissioned a wide-ranging survey that identified five main elements people most wanted bottled: hope, will-power, resilience, confidence and smooth bowel movements. Her first attempt was full of confidence but the smell was too strong so it was withdrawn. Despite this the press labelled her failure a classic case of bottling it.


Lost and Found by D. Avery

“I lost my confidence.”

“I’ll help you look for it. What color is it?”

“It’s sky colored.”

“But the sky is many different colors.”


“Wait, what’s all this stuff?”

“Hmm. Courage, optimism… should be here somewhere.”

“Determination, perseverance… resolve… all good stuff, but I don’t see confidence. Retrace your steps. Where’s the last place you remember having it?”

“Oh, I don’t know… a long time ago it seemed it was just always around.”

“Like the sky?”


“Maybe it’s just clouded over. Hey, what’s that?”

“That? Next to trust and surrender? That’s faith.”

“You sure?”

“I’m confident. Hey!”


I Don’t Fit by Nova Martin

Head up, they say. Walk with confidence, they say. People will love you, they say. They are wrong, so wrong. To them I am just another person in a place I do not belong. Everyone says they will get used to me and it won’t be long before everyone knows who I am. How can they get used to this? Compared to everyone else I stick out like a sore thumb. Everybody knows of me and they know my name but nobody my story. Nobody has asked because no one cares. How can my ancestors be so wrong?


Frightfully Optimistic? by JulesPaige

stalwart quality
in rose hips

Drink that soothing autumnal tea stirred with a cinnamon stick, with the confidence of a raised pinky – not haughtily, but graciously polite. Especially while in a costume, dressed and masked for a Halloween Ball. While others with long white gloves or blood red painted nails inches long – seek out all the desserts before you even get the chance to find that hauntingly good chocolate cake frosted with brown and blue icing to look like a vine grabbing at tree roots that’ll handily look to grab your fork before you can take a slice!


Noble Concept by Duane L Herrmann

“Noble have I created thee,” Bezur remembered how the phrase began. “Yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.” *

He was created noble! What an idea, Bezur thought, as he walked along, slightly bouncing in the light gravity. His confidence contributing to the bounce. He was NOT a sinful, wretched creature as so many people back home had been taught. What if everyone on this new planet knew they had been created noble? How would that change things? They didn’t want to replicate Earth’s problems. Not here! No! We can do better!

*Bahá’í scripture


The Grief Chart by Bill Engleson

Some truths you just don’t want to think about. I don’t anyways. I can live without knowing some things, who loves me, who doesn’t, who’s planning my demise, who doesn’t care a whit.

I just don’t think about those things. Each day is a complete set. I work out how the morning goes, what I can do to make it through, what might trip me up.

I keep a grief chart. It measures the pain the world experiences daily. I’m very visual. Always have been. As each day passes, I see my reason to weep. There are always reasons.


The Audition by Anne Goodwin

Little Miss Flawless went first. The piece was tough and, like her teacher watching from the wings, her face was all frown. She stared at the score which shook in her hands. But her effort paid off: her performance was error-free.

Little Miss Playful came next. In hand-me-down clothes, she’d come to the theatre alone. The crotchet and quavers were hieroglyphics to Little Miss Playful and she mis-read most of the words. But she fixed her ears on the pianist, her eyes on the director and beamed as she blasted out the song.

Little Miss Playful got the part.


No Contest by D. Avery

Velma Valentine, stopped at the four-way in her vintage Buick, was met by Daryl McGreely.

Driver door to driver door, he grinned through rolled down windows and revved his engine.

“I’ll lift my hood if you lift yours.”

Velma neither grinned nor revved.

“A lady doesn’t lift her hood.”

“Race? My Olds against your Buick, winner take all.”

“I don’t want your old-mobile.”

Daryl retorted by again revving his engine, which backfired.

“Daryl McGreely! Your old-mobile farted. Right in downtown.”

Daryl watched as Velma pulled smoothly and slowly away from the four-way.

“I probably would have won,” Velma mused.


The Moor by Nicole Horlings

The grey gloom cast by cold clouds had settled heavily upon the empty land.

The carriage ride across it to her uncle’s estate had been long and boring. As she looked out the window, she became more confident that she would be thoroughly miserable in this place.

But without a pandering servant keeping her entertained here, she had learned to explore life on her own, turned her attention towards that which had been deliberately overlooked, discovered joy, and shed her contrary attitude.

The warm afternoon sun highlighted the beauty of the various grasses and flowers that filled the moor.


Wishes and Witches by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“You sure about this, Jimmy?” Thora pulled the white forelock rising from her scalp, wishing.

“I am,” he whispered, playfully tugging the errant lock. That white spume rising up from her auburn waves had assured him from the day when first they’d met.

“Because I’ve told only you, in confidence. No one else knows,” Thora fretted. “If this doesn’t work, I’ll never be accepted.

They’ll blame me, and drive me away.”

“Have a little faith,” he soothed, feeling the magic of her wish spread and heal the community.

All that was needed was her strong love and fondest wishes.


Ghostly Advice by Joanne Fisher

“This is the first time you’ve haunted anywhere?”

“Yes I’m new to this. A family has moved into my house and I’ve made creaking noises, but they haven’t noticed.”

“You’re right to start small. You need to build up your confidence. Can I suggest you start moving things around randomly? Like keys or remotes? Items hard to find once moved.”

“I see.”

“And if they have a cat keep it entertained so it watches you for long periods. That will freak them out.”

“What about doing an apparition?”

“That’s really advanced. Just focus on the small things at present.


Who’s Talking? by D. Avery

“Maybe you wouldn’t text her, but I would, and will.”

“Texts are too flippant, a woman like that deserves better.”

“She’s seen me around, she’ll be delighted to get a text from me.”

“You’re certainly confident, but don’t you think, if you’re serious about getting to know her, you should, you know, actually talk to her?”

“Funny advice coming from someone who can hardly speak to women because of his lack of confidence.”

“I’m confident she’ll turn you down, but if you insist on texting her, here’s her number— she gave it to me after she asked me out.”


Procrastinationland by Kerry E.B. Black

Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

Even when you’re staring down a deadline, having painted yourself into a corner without the necessary tools. You can’t cry foul. The fault lies squarely on your imposter-syndrome-clad shoulders. Doubt bogs down the process. You self-sabotage, misplacing important parts of the project and stumbling over tiny obstacles. You work on other things instead.
That is until you land here. Smack dab in the furthest corner of Procrastinationland.

You can’t give up, though. You promised yourself even when others don’t believe in you, you’ll champion yourself. You have God-granted talent. Don’t waste it.


The Boss by Dianne Borowski

The kid was a new hire. Something about him was off. He had a big fist and an even bigger mouth.

I told him, “watch yourself. They don’t want no trouble here.”

“Back off, old man.” he said and give me a hard shove!”

Kid was mean. Started messing with Jonah. Jonah’s big but slow.

I told the boss, Lou, about the kid.

Lou said, “I heard. Stay away from him.”

Kid went too far. Jonah was bleeding bad. Lou come up behind him and shoved a pistol in his back.

Lou said, “Get out!”

She’s one tough lady!


Off She Went by ladyleemanila

She always said she’d be brave. She was sure that it would build her confidence and might be able to help her forget about him. He, the one who hurt her.

Today was the start of the new her. She signed up for some adventure training and today they were going to bungee jump from the top of the cliff. The tall crane was set up, They were given some instructions. As she stood there, she was determined to make it. So she counted quietly in her head, said a little prayer, controlled her breathing and off she went!


Airin Concerns by D. Avery

“Holy shift! Kid, why’s LeGume runnin so fast? Oh. Went inta the privy.
“Hey, LeGume, hear bout the fam’ly’s all got diarrhea? Runs in their jeans.”
“Dat ees not funny, Pal. Dees ees nerves.”
“What’re ya nervis bout?”
“Ello? Soon Logatha weel have our leetle bambeano.”
“I’m confident yer gonna be a fine papa, Pepe.”
“Tank you Keed. But eet ees confidence een our writer I lack. She knows notteeng about writeeng babies.”
“No pressure, Pepe. Yer a tertiary character, sure ta be upstaged by Shorty’s sprout.”
“I jist hope the expandin LeGume fam’ly’ll be staged downwind.”
“Shush, Pal.”


Rank in File by D. Avery

“Tertiary, third level. Pepe doesn’t need ta feel the pressure a folks readin all bout his parentin, cause prob’ly won’t much git written. We’ll jist assume this fictional family’s doin great.”
“Now jist hold on, Kid. First of all, LeGume here’s least secondary.”
“Number two?”
“Zactly. An, LeGume is yer friend, Kid, a friend who has come ta live here at Carrot Ranch. We ain’t jist assumin nuthin. We’re gonna pitch in an hep his fam’ly out cause he’s part a the Ranch fam’ly.”
“Yer right Pal. Think our writer can keep up?”
“Ain’t so confident bout thet.”


Their Writer Speaks by D. Avery

D. Avery, Ranch Yarnist here, with a rebuttal:

“Ha, rebuttal.”
“Shush, Kid, I wanna hear this.”

I understand Pepe’s nervousness and agree that my lack of experience with what he and his family are now committed to— because of something I carelessly penned months ago—

“Shoulda capped thet pen.”
“Shush Pal.”

— I’m confident that this imperfect storyline will work out because I have confidence in these characters. Pepe and Logatha will be good parents. Kid and Pal and all the others will step up. The littlest LeGume will find her role among this extended family.

“Kickin an screamin.”


Ravel Rouser by D. Avery

“Shift on a short stick, Kid’s goin an gittin all po-litical agin.
“Kid! What’re ya rallyin bout now?”
“Been thinkin Pal. It’s all well an good that our writer has confidence in us, but that don’t undo our vote a no confidence in her. Pepe ain’t gotta worry bout how she writes his family— she won’t be writin bout the birth or child at all.”
“Why not?”
“Child labor laws, that’s why not. Cain’t be exploitin the LeGume’s bambeano fer the sake of a 99-word yarn.”
“No one’s gittin sploited, Kid. I vote ta let the yarns ravel on.”


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

October 17: Story Challenge in 99-words

My bed has a shaggy coat. Colder temperatures call for afternoon hot apple cider, flannel sheets, and “blankets of joy.” The one who finds the most joy in winter blankets is Mause. The little GSP will be three in November and she shows no signs of slowing down, although she’s getting comfort dialed in.

I needed something warmer for my bed and when I saw the shaggy duvet cover on Amazon, I giggled at the image of Mause discovering shag. It was also the least expensive cover made of natural fibers, which sealed the deal. I bought a similar blanket from the same eco-friendly company out of Minnesota for Mause on the couch.

Shag is questionable to the dog. When Mause leaped onto the couch, the shag caught her by surprise. It was sleek, satiny, and fur-like. Good surprise or bad? It was hard to read her features. She kept her ears perked in curiosity but had a gleam in her eyes that foreshadowed naughtiness. Meanwhile, the grand shag duvet cover spent the day in the basement at the spa for bedding.

I’m not the biggest fan of duvets after spending half my life wanting one. The struggle to find the right corners, tie the loops, and get the cover situated places the chore low on my enjoyment list. Tussling with a shaggy duvet cover was like wrestling a creature from deep in the winter woods. Once successful, I felt like I had conquered Grendel and his hide covered my bed. I’ve never had a shaggy bed before. We’ll see what the princess upper thinks when she gets home from her run-around-town with her veteran.

When fall came to the small mountain town where I grew up, our herd of horses grew thick, long coats. They did not winter in the Sierras — they left for Nevada. I remember Captain’s coat long and more coarse before he left. I longed for his return in spring with the rest when I’d brush out his coat until it shined. There’s a lovely familiarity with changing seasons. Pre-winter shag feels right.

The Keweenaw holds its breath — will we get 300 inches of snow or will climate change cause different conditions? How much say does Lady Lake Superior have? We have no gales to report, no early white flakes, and no hard frost, yet. It’s due any day. Which has me thinking, so is my grandbaby! The last month of a trimester is the longest. While the maples outside slowly drop their leaves, I wait for news.

The Collections are caught up. Such different ideas, yet visible strands of connectivity. Your stories (and verse) continue to be a joy to work with and I can’t wait to start learning more about the connection between our literary art and the collective unconscious. On November 3, I will begin a journey into Dream Tending and Deep Imagination. I hope to unlock access to our collective “inner genius” for the continued work of collaboration at Carrot Ranch. Tending dreams is akin to how we create from a deep urge.

Another important aspect of dream tending is its potential for group work among veterans and their families. I don’t think veterans need more treatment for mental health; I believe they need more empowerment to work with their PTSD and brain trauma. What better way to bring troubled veteran couples together but through tending dreams. The very tools of dreamers include creating safe space within and working with intolerable images. Already, Todd has been happily sharing his dreams with me.

Another aspect of dream tending is the cultivation of a connection to something bigger than oneself. Do you ever feel that as a writer? The vastness of the space within, the many ways we connect with humanity around the world through literary communities like Carrot Ranch, readers, and our physical communities, take us somewhere. We return with stories. Soldiers believe in something bigger than themselves even when they know they are a cog inside the wheel or a war machine. Stories like “Band of Brothers” show this bond in action.

I feel hopeful that Dream Tending will expand what thrills me about creative writing. For gales, baby news, and shaggy warmth, stay tuned!

October 17, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something shaggy. It can be carpet, a hair-do, or some sort of critter. How can something shaggy steer the story? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 23, 2023. 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.

A Blade of Grass Collection

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.

The Leaving by Joanne Fisher

Niamh held a blade of grass in her hand. Letting the wind take it, she watched it float away. She wished to leave upon the wind too.

“Standing in the grass watching the horizon again?” A voice behind her asked. Niamh turned to see Cara standing there.

“I’m leaving.” Niamh declared.

“But you’re a princess. You can’t leave.”

“I want to see the world, even where the humans are, not be trapped behind palace walls.”

“Can I go with you?” Cara asked.

“Yes, of course.” They set off into the woods. Cara wondered how far they’d get this time.


Parable of the Lawn by Kerry E.B. Black

Straight-spined, the blade of grass saluted the blazing sun. Of a height with its fellows, the grass together created a perfect lawn, lush, uninfested by weeds, American iconic, the envy of the neighborhood. The blades supported pedestrians with ease, the burden shared.

Change came when the gardener was replaced by a lawn service, manning an army of mowers, edgers, trimmers and aerators whose philosophy of ‘quick service’ differed from the old gardener’s ways.

Though the lawn retained its beauty, its roots suffered. Blades pulled away from one another, still lush, but not truly united. When trodden upon, blades crumpled.


Roots by Hugh W. Roberts

Technology overtook nature, and a blade of grass became a symbol of rebellion.

It sprouted in a crack between neon-lit sidewalks, a living relic of a long-forgotten past. Scientists marvelled at its resilience while authorities saw it threatening their synthetic world.

They dispatched the drones to eradicate the abnormality, but the blade fought back. Extending its roots into the digital grid, it sparked chaos.

Within days, cities crumbled, and nature reclaimed its dominion on Earth.

That lone blade of grass is me. I stand tall, a testament to the lasting power of life, rekindling hope in a dystopian age.


Amazing Grass by Duane L Herrmann

Slender, elegant, tough, resiliant, humble, common, essential; the blade of grass has grown far longer than humans have roamed. It is essential for life on Earth. Not flashy or ostentatious, but fresh each spring it delights the eye, in summer it sustains others, and in autumn after frost is streaked with colors that amaze. Lowly grass is magnificent in meadows waving under wind – a living sea of greens! In addition to sustaining life, grass harbors life – a multitude of forms flourish within its embrace. And, grass will claim waste space so there will be no barren land.


Is There Life on a Manicured Lawn? by Anne Goodwin

He stretched and grew and stretched some more, waving his tip at the sky. But when he’d almost reached his proudest, brightest, sharpest height, a rumbling monster sliced his top off.

“Get over it,” said the others. “You’ll grow back stronger. It’s not like you’ve been zapped with pesticides or yanked up by the roots.”

But, with every cut he felt weaker, paler. Now he dreaded growing tall. He dreamt of fields where each grass was named – meadow foxtail, fescue, Yorkshire fog – and interweaved with buttercup and clover. A wilderness where nature ruled and he could spill his seed.


I Weep by Bill Engleson

It was a mountain meadow
whence I last loved her,
dew-drop morning
long ago.
One blade of wild grass
was growing,
a lonely teardrop soon to pass,
I know.
Came to rest
alongside an old Arbutus,
arms falling to the ground.
Eyes weeping,
crickets creeping,
in the verdant dawn.
Our lips were praising
the soothing soil
as we followed the steep path down.
treacherous incline
O, love of mine
as she slipped into the sea to drown.
It was a mountain meadow
whence I last loved her.
dew-drop morning
come to pass.

And one lonely wild blade of grass.


Anomaly by Reena Saxena

It’s not unusual for Sara to feel this way – as lonely as a blade of grass in a well-manicured lawn.

She longed to be different, even if she was not worshipped, for belonging to an illustrious family. She envisions the arched eyebrows in her mind – the disapproving glance and pursed lips which will declare her to be a weed.

What happens to a weed after it is plucked and thrown out for being in the wrong place? Do they wither away or multiply?

It’s about finding the soil to suit your propensity. Anomalies prove the norm yet reveal alternatives.


A Beautiful Afternoon by Michael Fishman

It was a beautiful afternoon.

I woke to the sun’s gentle warmth. Rolling over I smoothed the blanket and propped up on my elbow. She was lying next to me, eyes closed, her brown hair fanned out in an auburn halo. The slow rise and fall of her chest comforted me. I reached over and plucked a blade of bluegrass and slowly traced her eyebrows, first right, then left. I drew a slow path down her nose to her lips. She drew a deep breath, stirred, and opened her eyes.

She looked at me. Into me.

She smiled.



Diamond Girl by D. Avery

“I don’t care if it’s still wet,” Hope cried. “The sun is out! There’s diamonds in the grass!”

“Wait up then,” her mother said, “I’m coming too.”

Pulling on her own rubber boots Hope’s mother followed her outside.

What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now forever taken from my sight!”*

“What, Mommy?”

“Hope! You’re kicking at the grass, scattering diamonds everywhere!”

“It’s just the leftover rain. It’s going to dry up anyway.”

But Hope slowed, finally stopped entirely and hunched down, focused on the sparkling spears. “They’re beautiful,Mommy, each and every blade of grass.”

* from Wordsworth’s “Splendour in the Grass”


Sharps, Flats, and Naturals by D. Avery

It was past noon when he spotted them, down by the beaver pond. He joined them, dropping to the grass and rolling about dramatically.

“I’ve fallen on my sward!” he cried.

“Your sword?” Hope asked.

“Sward. All these spears and blades of grass make swards. How’d you two come to swash up on this grassy shore?”

“Daddy, look, I wove a mat from cattail leaves. Mommy says cattails are the most amazing grass.”

“Huh.” He placed a blade of grass between his thumbs and blew, whistling loud and shrill.

Hope’s mom played a soft riposte from a cattail reed.


Blade of Grass by E.A. Colquitt

Flax was proud. After saving the holcus from grasping human hands, he was to be knighted at last.

The ceremony: he was given his own sword, not shoulder-tapped with another’s, by Mab. Then, all danced a roundel, and sang amidst the magic morel circle.

When alone, he drew his prize. Its blade flashed green in the firefly glow, revealing its origins: spellbindingly scythed from the plains of Oberon himself. These swords were known for the flexibility of their blades, their light weight…

He whispered to the weapon: ‘Grasses are hollow, so what have you found?’

‘Honour,’ his sword replied.


Stream of Conscience by Sue Spitulnik

A single blade of grass grows.
Have you ever watched a guinea pig eat a single blade of grass?
Their little mouth can move faster than you might imagine,
Then, they look for another single blade of grass.
My Dad loved guinea pigs.
He had one after another, all named Whistles.
When they heard the fridge door open, they’d whistle for food and expect it.
Whistles didn’t like that wide, heavy grass with its sharp edges.
We children used that to put between our two thumbs
and blow across to make it whistle.
It only took a single blade.


A Squawking Goose by Ann Edall-Robson

“Between your thumbs.”

“Like this?”

“Almost,” he said, “here, let me help you.”

“No! I can do it myself.”

He laughed at the spunk. Sitting on a rock in front of her, he picked another blade of grass, showing her how to position it between her five-year-old’s thumbs.

“Squeeze it, but not too tight and lock your fingers together.” He instructed, moving her thumbs against her lips. “Now blow hard.”

The noise sounded like a goose with a sore throat.

She danced with excitement before throwing her arms around her brother’s neck.

“I made the grass talk.”


Food for Thought by JulesPaige

blades of green yard lawn
kin to aquatic grasses
cooked rice in my bowl
has this wild grain been blessed
by the Inari Ōkami

Food travels from different parts of the world to be tasted and consumed by those with desires for something different, old or new. Recently I picked up a package of Thai Brown Rice (thin noodles, the package says; product of Thailand). Perhaps Mae Khwan Khao has blessed the rice in my bowl. Could this ‘giving’ goddess be a friend of (the Japanese god, ‘kami’) Inari Ōkami. Curiosity about a grass blade, brought me new knowledge.


Grass Tickles Your Toes by Dianne Borowski

Sammy lived with his Mother and brother in an apartment. There was a playground but the swings and slides were broken. There was no grass anywhere. Every day Sammy looked out his window and wondered if there was a place for him where grass grew. He wondered what grass felt like.
This summer Sammy was chosen to go to camp. The church paid his tuition. Pastor John drove him to the campgrounds. When they pulled into the drive Sammy’s eyes grew wide. There was grass everywhere. Sammy kicked his shoes off and began to run. The grass tickled his toes!


A Classmate’s Dare by Mario Milizia

They had a signal. Once Mark joined him, a short walk in the dark to the cemetery, then a quick picture would answer their classmate’s dare.

Jason put the blade of grass between his thumbs and blew his homemade whistle. A rustle of weeds, a quick hi, and off they went.

The shadows, cast by their flashlight, made the cemetery look creepy. Jason set the camera for a time delay.

As they posed, something jumped out from behind the tombstones. When Mark and Jason started running, they recognized two classmates’ voices laughing and heard them rolling on the ground.


Adventure Awaits by Melissa Lemay

Walking through the grass, I see wispy silk of conical spider webs painted with dew. I think about how monumental one blade of grass must look to the minuscule spiders that made them. It reminds me of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, when the Szalinski kids and their neighbors accidentally miniaturize themselves with their father’s experimental shrink ray in the attic. After being swept into a dustpan, dumped in the trash, and taken to the curb, four children travel through unexpected peril in an entirely new world—their overgrown lawn. A simple blade of grass can be an adventure.


Fairy Hang-out by Margaret G. Hanna

I searched everywhere and finally found her lying on the ground under the lilac tree. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Shhh, Mom. I’m watching,” she whispered.

“What? I don’t see anything.”

“Get down beside me. You’ll see.”

I lay down beside her. “I still see nothing.”

“There.” She pointed with her chin.

“That blade of grass?” Was she really staring at a blade of grass?

“Yes. Sometimes it moves and sometimes it doesn’t.”

“That’s just the breeze.”

“No, Mom. It moves whenever a fairy lands on it. Just watch. You’ll see.”

Housework could wait. Fairies were more important.


A Faery Warning by Colleen Chesebro

“Faeryn, stop! Don’t move,” whispered Luna.

The young witch stopped. “What’s wrong? What do you see, Luna.”

“It’s hungry grass planted by the faeries. Hilda taught us about this grass during our plant lessons. It’s a patch of cursed grass. Anyone who walks on hungry grass is doomed. They’ll experience everlasting and voracious hunger.”

“What should I do?”

“Walk backwards. Don’t step on a single blade of grass, or we’re both doomed.”

“Luna? I think I stepped in a mushroom ring.”

Faeryn turned. She watched Luna disappear inside a whirlwind vortex.

In the end, the fairies got their way.


One Blade of Grass Turns Yellow by Sadje

The ants were working in a frenzy, for just today the blade of grass near their hill had turned yellow. It meant that winter was near and time for gathering supplies for the long winter months was running out.

They weren’t the only ones worried about the scarcity of food. The chipmunks, the squirrels, and even the small birds were looking for food to tide them over the winter months but were coming up empty!

How were they to know that humans in their arrogance and ignorance had destroyed many food sources in their bid to build concrete jungles.


First Flight by Miriam Elen

Harry had been sitting at the top of the hill for most of the day. Studying the clear blue skies and the birds passing by, collecting sticks from here, taking them back there.

He’d even been engrossed by the critters moving inconspicuously around his hands. Paying attention to their surroundings; the softness of the ground, the whisper of the wind making the blade of grass nearest to him dance. Actually, that blade’s bright green colour reminded him of Jax’s eyes and caused a surprising pang in his heart. Jax, his brave little dragon. Off on his first independent flight.


Mice and Fairytales by Nicole Horlings

Sometimes a mouse just wants to pretend that imaginary worlds are real. Why ever shouldn’t she enjoy the wonder of a good fairytale, or seek to recreate one? Perhaps she’ll collect some hair trimmings from the salon to make a wavy wig to enact the roll of the princess or turn a sturdy blade of grass into a sword and become the knight. She may ask the turtles to pull a carriage for her, or request to put a saddle on a snail. With wishful thinking and practical intension her fantasy can become, at least in part, a reality.


In Heaven You Can Run Again by Gena Daman

The grass feels soft, slightly dewy, against your bare feet. You spread your toes wide and marvel at the individual blades poking through. Each blade is a bright chartreuse, tapering to a delicate point, gently suggesting a direction.

Granny takes off her gardening gloves, hugs you, humming softly. Gently she pushes your hair out of your face and kisses your cheek. Poppy is at her side looking proud.

They step back to admire how lovely you are. You smile your beautiful smile. Then Poppy takes your hand, boyishly grinning.

“Let’s run. It’s a marvelous feeling.” And off you go.


Growing Dirt by Charli Mills

Not a single blade of grass grew in the yard, but Mable bought the house. It was all she could afford after Nate’s mine accident. Winter was rough. She’d canned enough of her garden harvest to survive. How could she live off the gray grit from smelters? Come spring, Mabel began to dig out the stamp sands from her lifeless yard. She bartered for topsoil and cleaned chicken coops for a few dollars and all the poop she could haul. If she were to grow her precious seeds, first, she had to grow dirt. Her garden outlasted the mines.


The Inherent Dangers In Open Poeming by Geoff Le Pard

Dweeb the Insufferable is the principle reason the Little Tittweaking Poetry Slam is on a hiatus. In its last iteration, the committee challenged everyone to reimagine the poetry form. Stan Tzar couldn’t move beyond a single verse, Pen Tamiter returned to her alter ego – I Am Bic – to little acclaim, but the competition collapsed with Dweeb’s performance, during which he imagined visiting every field in Little Tittweaking, seeking the perfect blade of grass while utilising every poetry form. Everyone tried silencing Dweeb but finally accepted that while this Paean ‘In the Grass’ continued there could be no more Slams.


Blade of Grass by Inga Mary

There is a young handsome man coming from a rich and well-to-do family. He is friendly with a man of same age, who processed all the bad habits, such as smoking, drinking, etc….which the rich man is ignorant of. As the days passed, the rich young fellow started to get into some bad habits. He is unaware, that he is spoiling himself little by little. One day his parents and relatives realised that he is not of himself due to the bad relationship of a friend, which is like a blade of grass. Little poison is enough to spoil.


Rabbit Food by Norah Colvin

Everything was just so. She’d never felt worthy. This was a chance to prove herself. The fresh flower centrepiece belied her butterflies.
“Mum, Dad, welcome!” She smiled. They pushed into the room.
“I don’t eat rabbit food,” said her father, as Jacinda passed him the salad of mixed leaves she’d grown on her balcony.
“I grew it myself.”
“You should know by now your father never eats greens.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Are you trying to poison me?”
“Why would I?”
“At least I could whistle with a blade of grass.”
Jacinda was cut as from a blade of grass.


Just a Blade of Grass by Sweeter Than Nothing

She would have been lost forever, had it not been for a single blade of grass. 

Kate was a spectacular gardener, from the day she first toddled into the garden aged 2, her thumbs had been thoroughly green. 

By 7, she had cultivated her very own jungle, plants and trees from all over the world exploded from the earth. 

At 9, she was sowing and singing, happy as can be when a shadow loomed behind her. 

She would have been lost forever, had it not been for a particular species of grass spotted on the bottom of a boot.


Mower by Simon

What you doing?
Afraid? These blade of grass can cut you?
What makes you think that?
Look at you, soft feet, soft hands (Chuckling at his soft physique)
No. By the way (Walking to him) you should be afraid.
For these grass?
No, you see the marks at the bottom?
Yep. (Took out Cigarette)
You read news?
Yep (lit it, ashes fall on to his lawn)
Found? Who got murdered in our street?
Nope, it’s flash news, Gore death!
I still hear her screaming, it wasn’t easy crushing with a Mower.
(trembling) Why did you kill?
She smoked.


Toes of Summer by Meredith Caine

My memories from childhood stay inside me. Carefree days of a lazy summer every year. Waking up late to the purring of the mower just outside my window. The smell of fresh cut grass wafting in the air would make my soul feel impish. It would push me outdoors barefoot walking through it. My feet loved to feel the cold wet lushness. And no matter what, it happened, without fail there would always be, a time when I would have to bend over to pull out that one single blade of green grass from right in between my toes.


The Single Blade by Liz Husebye Hartmann

…Bows and trembles still,

But wind punishes, more likely to cut

Than caress and quicken the hopeful green of early months.

Pulsing chlorophyll sparking, breathing deep

The sinewy length of sultry Midsommer.

Samhain-sharp sun leaches its brittle length to liminal pale.

It crosses over, anon.

Soon silent white death shall cover all,

But waken it screaming in mid-winter thaw,

To die again and again, die deeper and harder.

Or simply spread a counterpane, softening nightmares,

To sweeten collective memories of family, dancing in a summer breeze?

As trees above shower color below, the single blade lies down and dreams.


Contemplatin by D. Avery

“Hey, Pal. I see yer contemplatin a blade a grass.”

“It ain’t somethin folks tend ta do, Kid. We tend ta see grass plurally. Like sand.”

“Somethin like trees an forests? A whole made up a multitudinous individual parts?”

“Somethin like. Reckon turf’s a interweavin a grass like the weekly collections is wove t’gether from individual stories. It’s powerful stuff, Kid.”

“Reckon so, Pal. An strong resilient turf comes from a variety of grasses growin t’gether.”

“Yep, growin t’gether. But ever now an agin it’s good ta focus on jist one blade.”


“Cuz each one’s a miraculous creation.”


Contemplatin Too by D. Avery

“Pal, we got a union? Shouldn’t fictional characters be strikin with the writers and actors out in Hollywood?”

“Thinkin we should strike up the band fer ‘em, Kid. They’re takin a stand ‘gainst creativity bein exploited by so-called Artificial Intelligence. It’s beyond AI replacin human creatives— it’s also bout AI manipulatin folks’ art an images, even likenesses. Ferever!

“Artificial turf ’s green; blankets the ground; might even feel good unnerfoot. But it don’t feed the cattle. It don’t photosynthesize. It don’t decompose an feed the soil.”

“It ain’t a miraculous creation.”

“Thet’s right Kid, not one blade of it.”


Tuft Negotiatin by D. Avery

“Aw, shift, Shorty. Kid’s doin it agin. Takin a idea an runnin amuck with it, as Kid is wont to do.”

“Must be why Kid’s marchin an shoutin bout wants.”

“What do we want?! Carrots! When do we want ‘em?!”

“Excuse me, Kid? Anyone can get any amount of carrots here at any time.”

“Really? Oh… Well, what should I negotiate for? I know! One more word!

“One hundred words! 99’s absurd!”

“Do you really want another word, Kid? Like carrots, 99 words are for all, no more, no less. It is fair.”

“Kin go where the prompt leads?”


Tipping Points by D. Avery


“But did ya see that, Shorty? Coulda ended this bit up there with yer ‘Yes’ if we were allowed jist one more word.”

“Or coulda used a contraction.”

“Contraction? Hey! It’s jist now occurrin ta me— I been workin without a contract!”

“Cuts both ways, Kid. Ya also didn’t refer ta a blade a grass in that bit.”

“Well, that bit followed the bits afore it. Aw, shucks, Shorty, I am thinkin bout the prompt. Got me feelin I’m jist one little blade confrontin big ol mowin machines.”

“Look aroun, Kid. All these blades standin with ya.”



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

Blankets Collection

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.

Get Your Furnace Checked by Liz Husebye Hartmann

(A VERY serious acrostic!)

Bundled in yards of heavy cloth and batting, the only signs of life are a red nose and beady eye.
Lamplight softens the tragic scene, but the furnace is out.
Add to that, a window broke, and rain and bitter night pulse inward.
Now flat, now horizontal, rain turns sleet to snow, and feeble attempts to block the window with cardboard failed miserably.
Kettle calls a shrill alarm, and quilt unrolls to free its occupants, cat first, then human.
Even so, a thermos of tea won’t see us through to daylight.
This is surely our final moment alive: Farewell!


Missing Her Laugh by Mario Milizia

I brought an old checked-comforter downstairs to drop off at a donation center. I went to move it later and it was gone.

I started looking around when I heard the girls laughing in the family room.

I watched as Emma and her friend Sarah, who was sleeping over, snuggled under the blanket, heads propped against pillows, watching television.

I remember when my younger sister and I did the same. Or when we tried to hide from Mom and Dad, under the blanket, but giggled too loud.

We haven’t talked for years. I miss that.

Is it too late?


Chronic Condition by Anne Goodwin

It lurks like an angry cloud, muting all colours, frosting the air. Life dragging on beneath it, she fails to notice that it blocks the sun.

Some days it’s a comfort blanket, a pardon, like a parental note excusing her from games. She cuddles up to its duvet softness and opens her book.

Sometimes she shrinks it to a single thread, blocks it from her mind. Forgets her pills, appointments, diet, not caring if she’ll crash.

Blanket or blank it? Neither works. Somewhere, there’s a garden lush with flowers and weeds. She’ll find it eventually. In her own way.


In Passing by Charli Mills

A homeless man camps in the woods along my commute. He has no tent. Piles of stuffed garbage bags form an unsightly plasticized nest. What does he keep bagged? Where he found two wagons – the sort gardeners use – I can only wonder. Throughout summer, he’s moved his wagon train of bags weekly, keeping proximity to the tourist toilets. The leaves and temperature begin to drop. Soon, state workers will close the wayside. I’m so relieved knowing winter will remove his open camp from my view that I don’t stop to ask if he has the comfort of a blanket.


The Legacy by Dianne Borowski

Her hands ached from arthritis but she continued to weave the multicolored blanket. She wanted to capture the land she so lovingly cared for over the last forty years.

The child would be called Beatrice. She would live here amid the beauty and solitude of this wondrous place during her formative years. She knew she would not live to speak with her only grandchild about the land and all its creatures so she decided to create a blanket which would speak for her when she no longer could speak. This would be her gift, her legacy for generations to come.


Security Blanket by Kerry E. B. Black

Libby cocooned in her Blankie, snuggled beside her mother as they watched the Charlie Brown Halloween Special. She especially enjoyed Linus who loved his blanket as much as Libby loved her own. She wondered if Linus’s blue blanket had wrapped him when he was a baby, like her blanket had done. She imagined he’d lost a family member, too, and found comfort within the fabric folds. When so ensconced, the blanket’s hug comforted and protected almost as well as Mom, but unlike Mom, Blankie never left her alone, never needed to work to earn money since its Daddy left.


Metamorphoses (Part I) by D. Avery

Hope sat on the porch cloaked in her blanket, watching the cosmos bend as the rain hammered down. Sighing, she went inside. After eating her breakfast in the tent she’d pitched, she removed her draped blanket from the chair backs and wrapped it close around her.

“You going to stay in that blanket all day, Hope?”

“I’m a caterpillar.” Hope wriggled around the kitchen. Finally, she curled up, still. “I’m a chrysalis.”

Her daddy put his farm magazine down, her mother turned away from her cooking, and together they watched as the butterfly emerged, the blanket cocoon now beautiful wings.


Metamorphoses (Part II) by D. Avery

The butterfly flexed its wings carefully before flitting around searching for nectar.

After feeding on switchel the butterfly metamorphosed once again, into a little girl. Hope sat on her folded blanket with her crayons and tablet, drawing flowers beaming under sunny skies.

“It’s been raining forever,” she said.

“Seems so, Hope. Keep making your pictures, remind us what the sun looked like.”

As she searched for a lavender crayon it happened.

They stepped out onto the porch. The western sky was the color of cosmos.

Hope lay on her petalled blanket, a sleepy bee buzzing with plans for tomorrow.


A Cloud of Butterflies by Norah Colvin

“I’m gunna dig all the way through the world and come out in China,” said Nathan.
“I’m going to the moon,” said Mandy.
“You can’t get to the moon this way.”
“Can too!”
“The moon’s in space, silly.”
Nathan sighed. “Let’s just dig.”
“It’s really deep,” said Mandy in a little while. “We can stand in it now.”
“Yeah!” said Nathan. He continued digging. “I hope it doesn’t rain. Tell that cloud to go away.”
Mandy shook her fist. “Go away cloud!” Then she said, “It’s not a cloud. It’s butterflies!”
“Wow!” said Nathan. “A cloud of butterflies!”


The Cat Blanket by Judy Dykstra-Brown

The kitties were all girlcatting it around outside when I lay down on the sofa, but when I woke up after a 3-hour unplanned nap, they were covering about all of me. I had been listening to a book on my Kindle when I fell asleep, but I suddenly realized it had a camera on it, so then and there, I learned how to use my Kindle to take these photos and how to send them to my computer, all while lying under a cozy cat blanket! I love it that I’m just the bottom cat in the pile.


In Hiding by Joanne Fisher

“You’ve got to get out of bed eventually. You can’t hide under those blankets for ever.” Sylvia told her flatmate.

“I’m never leaving this bed ever again.” Tori replied defiantly.

“Everyone gets dumped. I know you really loved her, but you’ll get over it, I promise.” Sylvia stated.

“The world is a hurtful place. It’s better to hide from it.”

Yes the world can be hurtful.” Sylvia agreed. “But we all have to face it eventually.” Sylvia knew Tori would eventually resurface when she needed to talk. Until then, Sylvia thought it would be best to leave her be.


Forlorn by Michael Fishman

I’m lying in the closet now. It’s dark. I’m not uncomfortable so don’t feel sad. I’m ok. I guess.

I miss Bobby, he was my friend. He’d take me everywhere, hold me and tell me everything. Then one night Mommy came to check on us and found me atop the dresser and Bobby alone. She said, “Are you ok, sweetie?”


“Don’t you want your cuddle blanket, baby?”

“Mommy! I’m not a baby anymore.”

It was that fast.

Bobby has new friends now. I hear them play sometimes and I’m happy for him. But I really do miss him.


Quilts of Valor Presented (Part I) by Sue Spitulnik

Quilts of Valor Presented by Sue Spitulnik

During the Irish dance practice, held each Saturday at the No Thanks, that Tessa had asked the band members to stay half an hour later; two ladies came in the back door with five full shopping bags. Family members of the band also arrived, along with the local newspaper photographer.
When the dancers were finished, the two ladies from the Quilts of Valor organization presented a red, white, and blue quilt to each band member in honor of their service. Many individual, family, and group photos were taken after escaping tears were swiped from the men’s eyes, including Mac’s.


Quilts of Valor Presented (Part II) by Sue Spitulnik

Tessa had helped make the quilts in the local Quilts of Valor sewing group. She was proud of her work and the people who gave their time to make them. During the presentation, she heard a friend call the quilt a blanket. She moved toward the person and said, “Actually, it’s a quilt.”
“What’s the difference?”
“It has three layers, a top, a filler, and a backing, which are then covered with patterned stitching to hold the three layers together. A blanket only has one layer. But they accomplish the same thing, keeping one warm and cozy when used.”


The Cat Blanket by Judy Dykstra-Brown

The kitties were all girlcatting it around outside when I lay down on the sofa, but when I woke up after a 3-hour unplanned nap, they were covering about all of me. I had been listening to a book on my Kindle when I fell asleep, but I suddenly realized it had a camera on it, so then and there, I learned how to use my Kindle to take these photos and how to send them to my computer, all while lying under a cozy cat blanket! I love it that I’m just the bottom cat in the pile.


My Grandmother’s Quilt by Hugh W. Roberts

A chilling breeze whispered through the creaking timbers as night descended upon the cabin I found myself in.

Shivering, I reached for my grandmother’s old quilt draped across the armchair. As the tattered blanket settled around me, it seemed to come alive. Shadows danced on its faded patchwork, taking sinister forms.

Goosebumps prickled my skin as I watched in horror. Then, a spectral hand emerged, beckoning me into its ghostly embrace.

My screams echoed through the cabin, but the blanket absorbed them.

From that night, the cabin was empty, except for the eerie blanket, waiting for its next victim.


The Missing Piece by D. Avery

She and her bankie— inseparable. Even as an adult (hard to think of one’s child as an adult!) she slept with her bankie. As a child she took it everywhere. In first grade, she acquiesced and let us cut a square from bankie that she could carry more discreetly. In high school mini-bankie was in her backpack, was kneaded during exams.
Now I carry a square from her bankie. It doesn’t bring me comfort, only memories. Her mini-bankie lingers in a plastic evidence bag. The remains of her big bankie are tucked in with her in that awful coffin.


Blankets Cold and Warm by Sweeter Than Nothing

Shuddering breath plumed in the chilly air from a crouched figure in a snow blanketed forest. Adrenaline kept her warm, even as the cold bit at her fingers. Sarah held her breath as she heard a crunch in the snow.


She eased from her hiding place- SPLAT! A snowball hit her hard.

“Ugh, you’re so dead, I never wanted to play anyway.” Sarah snapped at her sniggering boyfriend.

“I’m sorry, come snuggle with me, I’ll warm you back up again.” he said suggestively, gesturing to the firelit cabin behind them, pulling a warm plaid blanket from the porch.


The Beginning Blanket by Melissa

Before being married I dug deep into my creativity bank to craft a favorite blanket that has remained a constant source of comfort throughout the years. I pieced it together using a variety of scrap fabrics that I loved. This project was a labor of love, and one that I am particularly fond of. It has accompanied me through life’s highs and lows, reminding me of the importance of simplicity and the value of handmade items. Even after all these years, I still treasure this blanket, knowing that it represents both my youth and the beginning of my marriage.


Picnic Blanket by Di aka Pensitivity101

Family picnics were always popular, be it a get together for someone’s birthday or just an excuse to get out into the fresh air to pick wild fruit for Dad’s wine and have a picnic.

It wasn’t just the family that had fun though, especially playing scrabble with wrapped sweets thrown for the kids to catch.

At the end, the blanket was a game.

The kids loved being tossed in it.

But then, so did the dog.

He would happily climb aboard when everyone was finished and wait patiently for two people to grab the corners and toss him.


Where’s My Blankie by Sadje

My youngest daughter loved her blanket. She would carry it with her everywhere! This little girl is very much like her. She would be sucking her thumb and holding her blankie, ready to go to sleepy land.

When she turned two, she would take the blanket with her everywhere, even when we went out. The favorite blanket was getting frayed at the edges and in summer, it was torture even seeing her hold the blanket.

One day, the blanket disappeared. There were tears and sleepless nights. But finally, she got used to being without it! Phew!


Blanket Delight by Duane L Herrmann

I loved that blanket. It was bright yellow with a strip of pink around the edge. It was soft and fuzzy but thin and light as air. There was a clothes line above my bed in the attic room. Standing on my bed I managed to push the blanket over the closeline and make a tent over my bed. The tent kept the wasps from walking on my face at nights. I could sleep easier. I also used the blanket to make a pretend wall to play house with my little sister. My mother gave that delightful blanket away.


Miss You by Simon

The nights are still cold.
You are not here to keep me warm.
Missing talking with you at bed.
Your irreplaceable evening snacks.
Days I pretended to study; you knew it.
The days you cried and sick; I regret I was not there for you.
Your advice every evening to not to wear your dress.
The scar I gave you all running away.
I should not come back as a girl.
I was expecting acceptance, not hatred.
But thanks for the blanket, at least I have this.
The memories it triggers me,
Is all that I left. Miss you!


Norah’s Stars by Chel Owens

“See these stars, Norah? They are our friends of long ago, watching over us and giving us light.” Grandmother stroked her only grandchild’s soft hair as they lay, together. The night was still, with only crickets to hear their talk.

Norah rocked them with her small foot. The antique chair creaked.

“No, Gamma.”

Grandmother laughed. “No? Why not?” She could almost see Norah’s face scrunch up with the effort to explain.

“No, not fends. Ganket.”


The soft head shifted in a nod. “Yes. Ganket.”

They continued to rock in silence, watching the blanket of friends shimmer above them.


Love Coverlets by JulesPaige

Years ago I was given a gift certificate for a goat yarn store, for cat sitting. I used it to buy the wool odds and ends of blues, greens and some the color of ginger sky. When I found out that my niece was pregnant with twins – I knew what I was going to use the yarn for. I crocheted two toddler blankets. After all, babies outgrow baby stuff too quickly. I made the blankets similar yet slightly different. One is edged in the ‘reds’ and the other in the ‘blues’. Eventually they will be used and perhaps loved?


Security Blanket by writerravenclaw

Alessandra loved her mum’s blanket. Patches of a past she couldn’t forget. Each colourful addition was like a happy memory in time. There was a red and white check, which resided on her own mama’s tablecloth. An old dress, she wore when she performed at school, all their baby blankets, and her dad’s red parachute beret were only part of its elaborate history.

It gave her comfort when she couldn’t sleep at night; chemotherapy taking its toll in the silent recesses of her thoughts. It was here she was loved and kept safe from the dangers lurking in nightmares.


Narcissist by Reena Saxena

She appears to be in love with her words as she utters them. Maybe, it’s the glorious images those words conjure in her mind – her pristine superiority, pictures of herself and her loved ones ruling the world with an opinionated hand.

It’s no joke, but a narcissist mind at work. I’m a criminal because I see through the hollowness of her embellished language. It’s not the way the world sees her, but why should she care?

She thinks I envy her, and rightly so – for being cocooned in a blanket of imagination, never looking at life in the eye.


Safe And Sound by Geoff Le Pard

When Bea Ten-Up, the Dutch sleep guru was found strangled by her own sheets in Little Tittweaking, there was only one conclusion: it confirmed another outbreak of valence violence. Residents flocked to Bea Careful’s Safe Bedding emporia, clearing the shelves of: spring-loaded security blankets that expelled all potential attackers; quick-release sheets for claustrophobic sleepers that never self-tucked; and genetically modified pillows that self-perforated if ever inclined to suffocate their owner. The only disappointment was the duck down duvet, with surveys revealing users’ disappointment that, while warm and comforting, when in defender mode, its main safety feature required continual squatting.


Clandestine by ladyleemanilla

It was a clandestine affair and they agreed to meet on one of the private reserves for wildlife habitat. There was an unused shed which they could spend an afternoon of passion. They entered the shed but there was an unnerving atmosphere to it. It was dark and humid. She was frightened and hesitated to enter. Then, they stepped on something. She shouted. It was a body wrapped in a blanket. Someone must have left it there. They called the police and told them about the body. Since this meeting was to be furtive, they made their separate ways.


Faces of A Blanket by Meredith Caine

If you give a homeless man a blanket, he will cherish it forever. A baby blanket gift for the soul that is coming, a handmade treasure just for swaddling. A soft touch of color, folded neatly over the chair, a family heirloom that tells its own story. A blanket can bring comfort to all who will accept it, don’t hog it in bed or the spouse might not like you. A blanket is meant for all those big and those small, it shares of its warmth selflessly with all. Cut apart it can make more for generations to adore.


The Deer Man by Bill Engleson

I don’t recognize the truck as it heads down my driveway.
I follow.
There’s plenty of room for both of us to park.
The other driver emerges.
I recognize him immediately.
The Deer Man.
And then I see it.
A small deer.
Carrion flies swirling.
We, my partner, and I watch as he flattens out a plastic blanket in the back of his truck.
He scrutinizes the corpse, announces, “Maybe a year old.”
He picks it up in his bare octogenarian hands, lowers the carcass gently onto the blanket.
“Food for eagles,” he says, nods goodbye, and drives away.


Cold Comfort (Part I) by D. Avery

“Kid! Where’s my beddin? Hey! Is thet a pig in a blanket?”

“Fall’s in the air, Pal. Curly’s chilly. Was gonna jist borrow a blanket, then figgered, if ya’d give a blanket, ya’d give a sheet.”

“I didn’t give nuthin! Jeez, Kid!”

“Chillax, Pal, it’s temporary. Got a down comforter on order fer Curly. An a wool coat.”

“Hope it don’t cause ya any anxiety like thet faux fur coat ya had.”

“No, I feel good about wool. The original fleece!”

“Well ya ain’t fleecin me outta my beddin, Kid. We’re switchin bunks.”

“That’s cold, Pal.”

“Snuggle yer hoglet.”


Cold Comfort (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal? Ever’thin okay here in the bunkhouse? Might a heard some hollerin.”

“Jist had a little trouble settlin in fer the night, Shorty. All set now.”

“What’s that bundle, Pal? Looks like sausage links.”

“Thet’d be Kid an Curly. Seem ta be havin some troubles sharin thet beddin. Started out side by side, then one’d roll one way, one the other, each grippin the blankets. I’d say Curly’s winnin. Kid’s got turned aroun, s’gittin squeezed out the other end like toothpaste.”

“Oooh, hey, Shorty. Oof. Ya know, I’m prompted ta ask ya somethin.”

“What’s that?”

“Got a extra blanket?”


Cold Comfort (Part III) by D. Avery

“How’d ya sleep, Kid?”

“Fine, once Shorty brought extra blankets. Dang Curly’s a bed hog. Pal, why’s ever’one linin up outside?”

“Reckon they’re here fer pig-in-a-blanket, Kid. They’re hungry.”

“What? They’re gonna eat Curly?”

“Naw, we’ll set em straight. It’s jist thet pig-in-a-blanket is a tasty treat fer folks.”

“What is it, zactly?”

“D’pens where yer from, Kid. Kin be anythin from bacon wrapped oysters or sausage ta lil hotdogs wrapped in pastry.”

“Frankly, Pal, Curly an me’re ‘gainst sech foods.”

“Well, folks’s hungry Kid. Better fix em somethin.”

“Pancakes, wrapped aroun maple roasted carrots. Real comfort food!”



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

October 10: Story Challenge in 99-words

My son is having a “hot girl summer,” according to his wife who is nearly full-term in her pregnancy with our family’s first baby. Their first child. Our first grandchild. My two daughters’ first blood-related niece/nephew. We don’t know Boo’s gender, yet. It doesn’t matter. We have a child to welcome and raise. We are part of a village.

And Boo’s daddy is on top of his running game.

According to musician, Megan Three Stallion, who wrote a song called Hot Girl Summer, the phrase means embracing one’s confidence and joy. In a 2019 interview with Root, she said, “It’s just basically about women – and men – just being unapologetically them …”

My son is an unapologetic cross-country runner. He loves to run. Although he danced classical ballet, modern, and swing throughout his childhood and teen years, he found a community among runners. It wasn’t a community I fully understood, not being a runner myself. I wasn’t a dancer, either, but I could participate backstage or in the audience. Running families run. His wife grew up in one of those families and they hope for their child to, as well. I better understand, having conversations with her about childhood memories of meets like the S’More Fun Trail Run.

Held at Mirror Lake State Park in Wisconsin, the run features hills, sandstone bluffs, and more hills. My son was excited for the race, as I was to get to watch him. Though he had an incredible college career in cross country, I got to see little of it after relocating to North Idaho. He met his wife and her family during his freshman year of college. She moved for two years after graduation for her undergrad degree but returned to go to grad school with my son. The relationship grew from there to this moment, three weeks before their first child is due. And I saw what was so alluring to my son about this activity — the level of family involvement.

It’s not unlike ranching or farming. When Todd and I moved away from the landscape of our Western heritage, we also left a family community. For me, it was necessary because I broke cycles. For Todd, it was part of his journey. He used to tell me he was a lone wolf or the family black sheep. But he always had his family ready to reconnect. I was always looking forward, expecting to meet up with a new order of family. And I have. My grown children have all connected me to strong roots, values, and traditions.

With wonder, I saw the toddlers differently. Would I return to this fun run four years from now? Would I have a Mini Marshmallow to cheer? On this day, I cheer my son on the last race of his hot girl summer. He’s confident. Yet he told me earlier right before his race lined up that even if he confused the trail markers and had a bad race, he’d finish happy. He’s getting to do what he loves, surrounded by family he loves, running on a perfect autumn day, and expecting a baby in weeks. To witness someone in full gratitude and appreciation for where they are at this moment reminds me that we can pick a day and whisper, “Today’s a great day.”

But it definitely was my son’s hot girl summer. He smoked the race, crossing the finish line nearly three minutes before second place. The beautiful wife, two mothers, and almost a baby greeted him. We ate s’mores by a campfire. And he looked handsome and fit as he took to the podium to accept a trophy comprised of a wood round mounted with a resin flaming marshmallow. We all felt the squishy movement of imagining our future Mini Marshmallow. Later that day, my son said he imagined the moment his child beat his record.

For my part, I cooked to fill the freezer while I stayed in Wisconsin. My DIL washed newborn clothes and together we sat in the nursery and folded. The chore rewarded me; I got to touch each little onesie, bunting, and sock my grandbaby will wear. My son drilled and hammered to make the nursery safe. He secured the dresser and changing station to the wall. I got a first-hand look at their systems. These soon-to-be-parents are organized and yet allow life to flow, too. Like running.

Wheels carried me home to the Keweenaw; five and a half hours for pondering, singing to the playlists, listening to podcasts, and writing stories in my imagination. For my hag training, I’ve been blessing the bones of road kill as I travel. It’s a soothing ritual for acknowledging our kin and their trauma. I make elaborate hand gestures not because of any belief but for how good the crackling and stretching of joints feels, after all, becoming a hag means finding joy where possible. May your bones find their way back to Mother Earth. Your trauma is over. Your breath is free. I imagine a Hodag riding shotgun with me. As a fiction writer, at least I’m never alone.

Note: as of October 10, the Art Walk videos are loading to YouTube but a policy only allows me to post fewer than I have. I was hoping to announce they were up but alas, I have to wait until later tomorrow to finish.

October 10, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about confidence. Is a character confident or struggling? Why? Is confidence cultural, compelling, or conflicting? What is the value of confidence? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 16, 2023. 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.

2023 KIAW Virtual Tour

Years in the making, the first Keweenaw Interactive Art Walk took place on Saturday, September 30. We couldn’t have accomplished this feat of art without the willing feet and pens of those who joined us. Twenty writers from the Carrot Ranch Literary Community each wrote a single 99-word story in response to twenty paintings from TOJ at Red Rabbit Art Studio. We hung the paintings along a wooded trail and across a bog not far from the shore of Lake Superior and posted laminated printouts of each paired story. We tied jars to the trees to collect 1-word, 5-word, or haiku reflections from those walking the trail live or virtually.

How do I feel two days later? Like I got a huge vitamin boost of joy. What can be more joyful than collaborating with fellow human beings seeking a connection between art, nature, expression, creativity, and each other?

The day began with a 3 a.m. wake-up call from Lake Superior who reacted to a warm front with enough thunder to shake the house and lightning to illuminate the pre-dawn. Everyone across the Keweenaw Peninsula felt it and woke up. Next, came a downpour, followed by frantic scrolling through a weather app. It would be over by 10 a.m. We moved forward with the event but delayed hanging the artwork. Participants also waited to see what the weather was up to and came later, granting us a cushion of time.

The woods glowed with painted images, turquoise benches, and a neighbor’s borrowed geraniums and mums in pots. Comfort and color found in the wilds. And it was silent; a cacoon.

No, there was surf. Chickadees. Wind in the popples. A woodpecker. Rain-laded boughs dumping drops. The slugs were silent, shiny, and stuck to the labels on jars. I told one slug headed to Ann Goodwin’s story, “That Girl” to think better of it — she’s a vanquisher of slugs. Insect Nation whispered, “We are here, too,” and as I accepted that truth of nature a mosquito bit my knuckle. Easily, I slipped into a meditative state and felt held in this image of intersection between art and nature.

People arrived. Neighbors, ticket-holders, local artists. A waitress from the DreamLand bought a ticket before her shift. Grandchildren of summer lakers down the road ran to the trail. Chatter and giggles, banter, and calls joined the soundscape in layers. People listened when I explained the author-artist pairings. They commented on places outside the Keweenaw, cheered Pennsylvania for a good showing (four authors!), waved to Canada, and marveled at how people around the world could write together.

They got the Ranch Yarns! They understood the game; that characters from an author’s head escaped into life of their own. A. Kid wrote a response, and someone asked if the author used that voice for Kid in every story she lets Kid write. I had to explain about Pal. Well, and the whole Marge crew, Frankie, the Legumes, and the characters from other authors’ heads, even Harry the offshoot wandering yarnist. The audience understood the writing game and slipped into play. There’s no greater validation than an audience agreeing to go anywhere with artists — literary, musical, movement, visual.

I watched people watch. They viewed the art from different angles. They stood, sat, crouched. The deep contemplation hushed the humans. The surf carried our thoughts deeper and deeper. One woman began to cry. “This story, this story Kerry wrote. I see the painting differently now,” I heard her say. Another woman joined her and agreed. They talked about the painting, the story, their lives, and how the story expressed something neither could articulate before they read. Minutes earlier the two were strangers. Now they were having a deep, reflective conversation. I cried.

Happy tears. Joyous release. This coming together in art and nature. It was profound.

My intent was to post videos to give you all a virtual walk-thru but there was no internet or cell service from my post on the trail. Which was good. I decided to post the videos for the next challenge, and that’s when I realized my error. I have no explanation for why I set the deadline for the “Blade of Grass” for October 7. A certain kiddo pointed it out to me today. As joyous as the Art Walk was, the countdown to Baby Boo time has started, and I’m on multiple deadlines. I have to find that balance between caregiving, income, family, dreaming, and creative output.

The artist’s dilemma is not to force your art to be your work. I got to experience the pure joy of creation and collaboration on Saturday and it makes landing in the profit-driven linear world hard. Thus, I’m going to use my error as a speed bump. So, yes — writers have until October 7 to submit to the September 26: 99-word Story Challenge and I will post that October 12. In the meantime, I also realized I didn’t complete the Blanket Collection and will get that posted before I leave for Wisconsin on October 5. I appreciate your patience.

If you want to have a writing challenge this week, please go to the Virtual Art Walk page and scroll down to the art and story parings, and respond in the comments on this post with a 1-word, 5-word, 99-word, or haiku response. Be sure to indicate which pairing you are responding to by its number. We will pick responses to include in our commemorative booklet.

Now, let’s take a walk! Visit the Carrot Ranch YouTube Channel for a Virtual Tour Playlist.

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